Uwaaaaaaaaaa, I'm exhausted. Not only do exams seemingly keep popping up out of nowhere, school/group projects apparently enjoy adding to an already stressful school year. Oh! And did I mention I nearly broke my foot falling down the stairs in a hurry to get to school? It turned out to be a bad case of bruising which took about three weeks to heal properly. Side note, I have just officially rewritten this chapter 25 times ladies and gentlemen and yet I'm still not happy with it! This has got to be a new record when it comes to writer's block! Nice to see my creativity is sucked up entirely on 80 page essays and reports! Go me! Can anyone tell these rants are getting longer? Also, my hatred for Windows has managed to raise itself to new heights, life lesson learned, never EVER update vital parts of your computer through the Microsoft update service. Or at least not if you want your computer to have a long and healthy life. Always update your drivers through the official companies! I learned this lesson through 12 days of hell, trying to fix what Microsoft ended up breaking. To the older readers, remember what working with DOS was like? I do now and I can tell you it was one refresher course I could have done without. That and the 8-bit colour scheme on a 800 by 600 pixels nightmare!

In fact I can truthfully say the only good things to have happened to me as of late would be my initial graduation (propedeuse), meaning I completed half of my school. Confusing, I know. And I met a really nice fellow fangirl within my own country no less! Yes, this is a rare occurrence where I live. Also, she manages to shift my ass in gear when it comes to writing so give her some thanks and be sure to read her fanfics! They rule! Go visit her profile (Moondalian) to check them out!

For those who were interested in my novel (which is slowly but steadily taking shape), the original design for it's cover has been uploaded to deviantart. Feel free to check out the link I'll put up in my profile after posting this chapter.

Thank you for the lovely reviews! To those who find the story boring so far, I do apologise. Things should pick up soon enough, right around the time when I get the basic Death Note plot out of the way, it's more or less crucial though to see the subtle differences. Remember, there's tiny little clues hidden within this fic in order to figure out some of the questions (almost) everyone has been asking! They'll be slow at first and will gradually pick up in difficulty! For those who haven't noticed, no worries, the later chapters will eventually reveal everything, wouldn't be much of a story if it didn't have a proper ending now would it?

Now enough of my ranting and onto the latest chapter (regardless of it being like a year late)!

Chapter 8 "Risk factors"

Being shot in a proverbial manner

Matsuda could hardly contain his excitement! He would be meeting the one and only L today! If only the other rookies back at the office knew about this! Of course the only downside to this thing was that even if he did get to meet L, he wasn't allowed to tell anyone due to safety precautions. Such a shame really, but Matsuda was sure that meeting this guy would be worth it. He was a living legend after all, like a really real James Bond or something like that! L was by all means the most realistic embodiment of a genuine international man of mystery!

He could picture it already, an expensive suit, nicely polished shoes, neatly kept hair, the works! The minute they walked up to that hotel room a gorgeous woman – or two – would just be on their way out while giggling madly. Or perhaps there was an armed escort standing just outside the door! A man this influential would certainly need protection right?

"Gentlemen, he will see you now."

The ever faithful Watari was waiting for them at the entrance to the Teito hotel L was currently staying in. It was kind of funny how Watari somehow reminded him of that old butler guy in that one American series with the bat-thingy hero. Perhaps L was more like that – not some guy wearing a bat outfit mind you, but like this really brilliant detective one day and this serious businessman the other. Maybe he even had this really cool car! The type that could drive underwater and all! It was safe to say that a man who stayed in none other than the Teito hotel had enough money to buy such an awesome car. It was a gorgeous hotel to say the least. Shiny marble and expensive looking tapestry seemingly covered every wall, the crystal chandeliers emitted a bright yet gentle glow which caused the golden accessories to shine brilliantly. Matsuda somehow expected a fountain to be around here somewhere! Well, to complete the picture and all…

The doors to the elevator finally opened. At first he'd been a bit sceptic about the entire group being able to fit into what appeared to be a really tiny elevator from the outside, but clearly he had been mistaken. The inside was huge! Fine polished wood and red velvet all around! He noticed that Watari pressed what appeared to be the top-most button. They were going to the penthouse? This L person really did know how to live!

The balloon of excitement that had somehow managed to seek temporary refuge alongside of the contents of his stomach seemed to have grown quite a few inches when they finally did get out of their golden death trap. Must've been because he hadn't been doing his breathing exercises. He had never liked elevators much, when he was little he had ended up getting stuck in one for several hours. Quite a traumatising experience at such a young age, or at least that's what the doctor said after he had finally been freed and examined. Of course that elevator hadn't nearly been as nice as this one, or as big! He probably wouldn't have been as much as a nervous wreck had that elevator in the past been bigger, not that that experience bothered him anymore nowadays, he was just a little more jumpy than usual people. Especially around small closed off spaces. The doctor had advised simple exercises to maintain control of his breathing. Nothing to worry about, really…

This certainly seemed to be a long hallway though and so far they hadn't come across a single guard, the expected beautiful women weren't exactly pawing at the door either. As a matter of fact, considering the overall appearance of the hotel this floor seemed to be lacking the same expensive decorations that were so obviously present throughout the rest of the building. Why not here?

They eventually arrived and stood in front of the surprisingly simple looking wooden door. Watari knocked on said door – probably some sort of code to let L know they had arrived – yet no answer was given. Watari didn't seem to be in the least bit worried though and without further a due slid a card through the slot on the left side of the door. After a confirmative beep and a green light being activated as a sign of approval, the final obstacle keeping the group from meeting the century's greatest detective face to face opened. Matsuda felt like his stomach was about to burst when they finally walked into the warmly yet modern furnished room.

Though as with all grand expectations, sometimes the actual image simply doesn't live up. Sadly such was the case and Matsuda's little balloon of excitement deflated like a soufflé or some kind of meringue. Sarcastically enough, Matsuda believed to actually spot some meringue right there on a large dining table in the far left corner of the room.

'Is that a monkey?'

As expected good old reliable Yagami Soichiro stepped up to the plate and introduced himself, absolutely nothing could scare that man! Some day Matsuda hoped to be just as tough as him! Taking his role model's example he cheerfully introduced himself along with the others. No reason they couldn't be friendly to the guy, right?

The monkey however suddenly moved in an attempt to….point at something? Was there something on his shirt? No way! He had double-checked in the mirror before heading out today!


'What in the world?'

Raito's room of remembrance

In the mean time Raito was busy doing some calculations, no, for once not doing calculations on account of an assignment, but actually 100 percent willingly. Though he had all but vowed to himself to stop worrying about recent events, his father's mysterious outings and his limited and often unstable communicative relationship to his family had him on edge. His father above anything adored his family, his wife was his steady centre and his daughter his pride and joy. And Raito? Well, the man was trying his very best to do what he felt was right, one does not usually go this far if they didn't love a person, right?

He wasn't absolutely sure, but the indications were most definitely clear. His father was working on the Kira case, the basic clues – like the ungodly work hours and secretive nature of his investigation – and to top it of Raito's gut instinct were all indicating towards this newly risen hazard. Would he be able to avoid harming his father if said man intervened? What if he was ordered to get rid of the entire investigation team rather than just L? If presented with the choice of saving his father's life and saving the life of the one he loved, who would he choose? Though both in completely different ways and for entirely different reasons, both had managed to at one time – severely – hurt him one way or another. It was impossible to just pick a favourite in such a delicate situation.

"Please don't leave me alone, not again. It's not as if I wanted this to happen!"

Delicate indeed…

Why was he going so far for a person who had hurt him so badly? Hurt him and then left him never to hear from that person again? Yagami Raito had always been a lover of logic and reasoning, pitiful emotions like love did not under any circumstance fit into his well organised life. But if it didn't belong and therefore should not exist, why did it in the end still managed to creep up to him and end up hurting him so badly? Why was he silently hoping that his lover had been unable to contact him due to captivity rather than deciding not to do so by choice.

He was pathetic…

The shinigami hovering directly over his bed seemed to giggle – which was truthfully morbid beyond all reason – well at least he was keeping Ryuuk entertained. It seemed he was good for something after all, other than being either stepped on or being abandoned.

Somehow it seemed like his usual calm and rational thoughts had left him alongside of that very person he was trying so hard to save. And for what? To be left behind again?

"Where are you?"

Raito suddenly resumed his furious scribbling on the piece of paper with renewed vigour as if uttering those three words had somehow given him the energy to get back on track. Giving in to such depressing thoughts would in the end only slow him down so he would be having none of that. He was done standing by and waiting around for even the slightest sign of life, he would be the aggressive one this time and once he got his lover out of whatever hole they had managed to hide him in he would find a way to take Kira down for good…

Plotting, meeting secretly and conspiring. It's all the same thing really

So perhaps a monkey hadn't been the best of comparisons. One couldn't really blame Matsuda though, with the man's odd appearance and tendency to scratch his ankle with his toes it was simply the first thing to come to mind. Or at least that's what he kept telling himself. He thanked whatever god out there that he hadn't voiced his thoughts out loud. One did not simply insult this century's greatest detective without some serious repercussions.

Still. Even if the man had wanted to make a point about the importance of limiting the use of their real names, wasn't there a more polite way to go about it? Randomly pretending to shoot people was bad enough on it's own, randomly trying to shoot people who are trained to respond to violence and carry very real guns was downright suicidal. After that rather morbid performance, the sickly looking man shuffled towards what seemed to be the living room. Giving Yagami-san credit where it was due, he turned to his superior to wait for instructions. Yagami-san had – as expected – turned towards Watari as if non-verbally requesting confirmation that the odd individual was indeed L. The elderly man simply returned the look with a knowing smile and nodded, at least someone was amused.

The others moved towards the living room where L had already chosen his desired perch. Matsuda thought of the word 'perch' specifically because the pale and fragile looking individual had positioned himself in such a manner that Matsuda was somehow reminded of a parrot. Or an owl for that matter, especially with those dark rimmed protruding eyes and all…

"If you would be so kind as to turn off your cell phones and place them on this table so we can get right down to business."

Matsuda sent another doubtful look towards Yagami-san, he vaguely noticed he wasn't the only one.

"Does he think we plan on recording this conversation or something?"

That was Aizawa-san for you, straight to the point and always blatantly honest, albeit a bit rude and forceful from time to time.

"No, I merely do not wish our meeting to be disturbed by possible incoming calls. I am also going to have to request that due to safety precautions you must refrain from calling me 'L', you shall call me 'Ryuuzaki' instead."

The men sat down wearily, Matsuda somehow felt as if a camera crew for some candid camera show was going to pop out of a hidden corner and yell 'surprise'. But that might just be him…

"I have gathered you all here today because quite frankly you are the only ones I trust when it comes to handling this delicate case. I can assume you all are aware there is to be no contact with your co-workers during the proceedings of this investigation."

L noted Matsuda nodding eagerly. Out of all the men gathered here this 'Matsuda' individual could be considered to be the biggest risk factor due to his rather unprofessional behaviour. He would have to keep an eye on that one.

Yagami Soichiro on the other hand was pleased to see his previous assumptions about L and Watari shrinking down the team in order to increase it's efficiency were entirely correct. The more people involved in such a delicate procedure, the higher the risks. And with their lives on the line they couldn't slip up for even a moment.

"Hirokazu Ukita, Kanzo Mogi, Shuichi Aizawa, Touta Matsuda and Soichiro Yagami. You will be given fake badges in order to protect your identity. Please refrain from using your real name from now on unless given absolutely no other choice. We shall now proceed with a briefing regarding to my latest findings."

L certainly hoped these man were up to the task. Though he would risk his life willingly to bring the Kira case to a close, it didn't mean he felt like ending up in an early grave…

A bad case of karma

As luck would have it, another risk factor had been thrown in his general direction. A risk factor in the shape of an intelligent young woman whom had introduced herself as Maki Shouko. It was a false name. The last name was obviously derived from the word Shoukou, the Japanese word for 'evidence'. Maki, a name which could be translated into multiple meanings, the more logical ones in this case would be 'ma', "true; reality" and 'ka' "chronicle; account; narrative".

Not only did the name sound overly fake, it also seemed as if this woman was hiding something with that overly cheerful tone of hers. Without a doubt she was investigating the Kira case on her own and had come to the correct conclusions about Kira needing someone's name and face to kill. In other words she was dangerous.

And to think it had all started with his little sister attempting to shirk her duties. Their mother had asked Sayu to bring her dad some freshly washed clothes and Sayu had whined and complained – as usual when something interrupted her favourite soap series, the one with that actor, Ryuuga Hideki – so Raito had been the loving older brother and had offered to go in her stead. After having spent the entire evening and a large part of the night going over each and every minor detail of recent events he needed some fresh air anyway. Since he had been unable to reach his father through the use of his cell phone – which was a bit strange but not unusual – he had decided to drop off the clothes at the front desk and simply leaving a message there. His father would no doubt pick up the clothes eventually.

Upon arriving at the headquarters however he noticed a young woman making quite a ruckus about wanting to see someone involved with the Kira investigation team while giving the guy at the front desk quite a hard time.

"Fine. I'll see if I can reach the investigation team one more time…"

"Please do, it's important I get this information concerning Kira to L."

This was what eventually piqued his interest. What vital information could she possibly possess that would cause her to walk into a building and start giving out orders? Determined to find out what this 'vital information' was, Raito walked forward nonchalantly and calmly handed the paper bag containing his father's clothes to the other man behind the desk.

"I'm detective Yagami Soichiro's son, Raito. I brought him some clothes, but since I can't seem to reach him I was wondering if you could take these for me?"

The guy at the desk looked at him funnily before suddenly speaking out with a cheerful voice.

"Raito-kun? It's been such a long time! I hardly recognised you! How have you been?"

"I-I'm sorry…but you are?"

Who in the world was this guy? Certainly they had to be acquaintances at the least, why else would the man be so forward all of a sudden. Raito was unsure if he should feel insulted at the fact the man was referring to him by his front name…

"You don't remember? We met during one of the previous investigations you helped with. Remember? The one with the murder and the insurance money you helped us solve a while back. I was working on that case at the time, you really helped us out back then."

By all means he had helped out on several cases and a murder concerning insurance money wasn't all that rare. Did they expect him to keep track of every case he solved or did the guy think that a teenager helping out on a case was such a rare occurrence that he had treasured every single moment of every investigation he had ever been allowed to help with. In that case the guy was dead wrong.

"Is that right? In that case I feel like I should apologise."

"No, it's alright. You were practically two heads shorter than you are now, you probably made more of a lasting impression on me than the other way around. It's not often I get to work with such a young colleague after all."

The man took the bag from him and placed it on one of the shelves below the counter.

"So are you helping out on your father's new case as well?"

"I'll try to help him as much as I can, but you know him. Studies before criminal investigation."

The man laughed softly and his eyes glinted with amusement. How nice that Raito's life was a source of amusement to whoever the hell this was.

"He's still hammering on about that? Too bad, you would have made a great detective. I'll bet you'd be able to outsmart L any day of the week."

Even nicer how people considered his father to be the law within the Yagami household, as if Raito's opinion on this certain topic didn't matter at all. One would think ones future career would normally be decided by the individual in question. Raito chose not to give the matter any further attention and instead focused his attention on the woman beside him, subtly of course. That one comment seemed to have managed to catch the attention of said woman. This had potential…

"I guess we'd have to see that. I mean he is the greatest detective in the world after all."

The other desk attendant suddenly spoke up. And as expected he had been unable to get in touch with HQ. As if he'd be able to, by all means his father was in charge of this investigation – not counting L of course – and if one thing could be said about Yagami Soichiro it was that family always came first. If his own son had been unable to reach him a mere five minutes ago it would mean whatever he was doing had to be of the utmost importance.

"No for the last time, I will not leave a message! It's important I speak to someone on the investigation team immediately!"

She was driving the poor guy insane. Couldn't she see he was at his wits end already?

"Excuse me for the intrusion but might I be of assistance? My father is on the investigation team you mentioned, he seems to be unavailable at the moment but I'm sure he'll check his voicemail and get in touch with me soon. You'd be able to speak to him then."

She had looked somewhat apprehensive at the time, not that he could blame her. Having Kira as an enemy was dangerous enough as it is, not knowing who Kira was only served to make all people surrounding you seem suspicious. Regardless of her initial suspicion he had managed to get her out of the station which had eventually lead to his current predicament. She had told him she had realised Kira could kill in more ways than just giving people a heart-attack and she had come to the conclusion Ray Penber's death had been staged from the beginning. She also had given him a fake name and therefore he was unable to use the Death Note. Without knowing the woman's real identity he couldn't use said item and he couldn't very well ask her about it either. She was suspicious about him from the very beginning and suddenly questioning about her fake name would simply raise questions he wasn't willing nor prepared to answer. Meaning he would need a new strategy.

Ryuuku was chuckling somewhere from behind them, no doubt the shinigami found his situation to be hilarious. Especially since Ryuuku was more than capable of seeing the woman's real name and Raito wasn't. Oh hell, he was just going to have to improvise. He had managed to get himself out of tighter situations through improvising, for now he would simply have to grin and bear with it. Literally.

He made himself appear as sweet and innocent as possible, cringing internally at how disgustingly 'happy-go-lucky' it made him sound. One overly cheerful idiot was quite enough mind you, the world did not need another Matsuda Touta.

Regardless of the growing nauseous feeling within the pit of his stomach he started to spout some nonsense about being a part of the investigation team and working under L directly. Throughout the entire conversation she had betrayed her feelings when it came to the world renowned private detective, she obviously held him in high regard. Those feelings meant weakness and he had taken advantage of that. The second he offered to talk to L in order to make her a part of the investigation team he knew he had her cornered. He offhandedly took a note of her mentioning having worked with L before.

"To be truthfully…I haven't been entirely honest with you."

And there it came. She had made it entirely too easy. For some reason the nauseous feeling got worse.

"My name isn't Maki Shouko."

It felt as if his throat was about to constrict or clog itself with bile. Somehow he managed to carry on as if everything was fine.

"That's even more amazing. How you managed to figure all of this out by yourself. It's only natural to be careful with Kira still out there on the prowl, but with you joining us I have no doubt we'll catch him in no time!"

As expected she took the bait and handed him the tool of her very own destruction. Ryuuku's incessant laughter had in the mean time reached new heights, the shinigami truly sounded insane.

It took everything in Raito's power to grab the piece of Death Note in his pocket and write down the woman's name and cause of death while pretending to be taking notes. Naomi Misora. A name he would be able never forget. Her dark eyes went blank and as he asked her a question to make sure the Death Note was effective, she turned around and walked away. He had done it. He had for the first time killed an innocent without Kira having to order him to do so and upon realising this he figured out where the nauseous feeling was coming from as well. His conscience.

Raito proceeded to walk to a nearby alleyway in a daze without paying attention to the still cackling shinigami and promptly threw up…