Warning: Rated PG-13. Most of the rating for this chapter. Also, beware of spoilers.
Author's Note: Fourth and final chapter. That was fun to write, but I'm not particularly happy with how the whole thing came out. This probably qualifies more as notebook scribbles than an actual story, and serves as a bit of a break for me.
Thanks to all of the people who reviewed, it was really flattering how much people came to expect of this brief little interlude. I'm only sorry it's so short – could have made it longer, but that would turn it into a twenty-chapter epic that would almost certainly start breaking the canon, and as far as I'm concerned the canon for both Holic and Death Note are near perfect so I am reluctant to mess with them as I would normally. Are there other xXxholic fics on the horizon? Maybe, but next up is a Hikaru no Go fic, so we'll have to see after that. More people should totally write xXxholic and Death Note crossovers, though. That would be rad. Go forth and do so!
Addicted to Death
Chapter Four – Logic Versus Superstition
Light stayed up past midnight that night, considering his next move long after Misa had retired to bed.
Once he'd managed to cool his temper yet again and remove the personal slight from the equation, it was becoming sort of tempting to leave the matter be. While this Yuuko character hadn't seemed terribly fond of him, she also hadn't seemed particularly interested in revealing to the world that he was Kira, or getting involved at all for that matter. People who had so much faith in fate tended to stay on the sidelines, after all, which was fortunate in this case. He didn't doubt that both she and Watanuki knew his true identity, even if they didn't say it outright. Watanuki's reactions to him and the woman's thinly veiled comments left no question. Fortunately, the high schooler didn't seem terribly inclined to tangle himself in the matter either, though Light expected that was purely a self-preservatory action at this point in time. When he stepped up his campaign next, that could change.
There was the issue of Yuuko's shop to take into account, as well. Even if Yuuko herself didn't care to entangle herself in his affairs, a shop that could grant wishes - any wish, if it was to believed - could eventually attract a customer that wanted to destroy Kira, and was willing to pay any price to do it. While Light didn't get the impression that he could be killed by someone's wish, it wasn't so hard to imagine that the price to have the Death Notes taken away, or to have his identity exposed, would be something a desperate individual would be able and willing to pay. It was dangerous to ignore the shop and hope that such a thing never came to pass. He'd already seen how far L had been willing to go to defeat Kira - there were bound to be others out there just as dedicated, even if they were not as effective.
This could very easily give him a headache. His only solace was the fact that Watanuki appeared to be relatively predictable and easy to control - he didn't seem particularly stupid, but he likely didn't possess the sort of intelligence or insight that made him an even slightly threatening opponent.
Since killing Yuuko with the Death Note was currently impossible - and he didn't like the odds of successfully doing it in person, either – that meant he needed leverage to prevent her taking action against him. Insurance, really. That was where Watanuki became the key.
Turning the matter over in his head one last time, Light finally felt satisfied that he'd considered all of the possible options. In the end, the solution chosen was far from elegant and more risky than what he felt comfortable with, but then again, it wasn't L he was dealing with and no one knew he'd had any contact with these people. They obviously weren't connected with any organization, either, otherwise he would have come across something in his searches – no one could cover their tracks so thoroughly, not even someone as apparently paranoid as Yuuko Ichihara.
He'd act tomorrow. There was no point delaying the issue – best to resolve it swiftly, before Yuuko or Watanuki started getting ideas.
Thus the next day, after classes had finished at university and the sun was starting to set, Light set out on his mission. It had been child's play to discover where Watanuki lived. It had been even easier to plan his move, knowing that the youth lived alone. An almost cursory investigation into his life had revealed everything he needed to know. It was surprising that a conniving woman like Yuuko Ichihara kept such a potential liability around, but then again, if the youth could see his shinigami there was obviously more to him than met the eye.
The apartment block was small and run-down, but neat and well cared for. Even if there were cracks in the plaster and rust on the door numbers, there was none of the dirt or grime typically found in such accommodations. Light approved – nothing was more disgusting than watching people wallow in their own filth and misery, too lazy to bother improving themselves when they were dealt a poor hand. One day, even such deadweight wouldn't have a place in Kira's world.
Knuckles rapped smartly against the door. There was a brief silence, then the quiet padding of slippered feet.
Watanuki seemed surprised when he'd opened his door to find Light Yagami standing there, with Ryuk no doubt an imposing figure filling the doorway behind him. The youth should have expected that he'd turn up again, though. Had Yuuko really not warned him at all? At the very least, the high schooler had to suspect that there was no way Kira would let anyone who knew his true identity walk so easily.
"Watanuki Kimihiro. It's a pleasure to meet you again." He took a few steps into the apartment without being invited, but the youth had to move back anyway to avoid touching him.
"What are you doing here?" the blue-eyed teen asked. He was nervous. Good. He knew he was up against someone more powerful than himself. Friends in high places could only help to a point, and this confrontation would be a lot more difficult if he had to first convince Watanuki of his utter vulnerability.
"I'm sure you can guess," he replied, closing the door behind him so that they wouldn't be disturbed. It wouldn't do to have anyone accidentally overhear their conversation, after all. As it was he was taking a well-calculated risk - the sort Kira wouldn't have been able to afford in L's time.
"Are you going to kill me?" The question was asked in a surprisingly steady voice. Light appraised the youth in front of him, standing rigidly straight as though squaring himself for his imagined fate. He wondered if Watanuki's life had become so governed by forces beyond his control that he'd come to merely accept what he thought was inevitable. The kid got some extra points for sheer guts. Having seen many people to their deaths, Kira could confidently say that few could show such courage at the prospect.
"I could... but then I wouldn't have anything with which to bargain," Light replied, before reaching out faster than what the younger boy could react and grabbing his shoulder. As expected, Watanuki spasmed, one hand covering his mouth and the other trying to push his arm away. Light intercepted it, fingers encircling the wrist and causing the teen to jerk again.
"Don't touch you?" Light asked, pulling the gagging teen closer. Watanuki slumped to his knees, cheeks flushing, but Light simply crouched with him. "It hurts you, doesn't it? The touch of Kira?"
"I'll stop. If you promise me one thing - that you never divulge even the slightest clue as to Kira's identity to anyone, under any circumstances. And that you don't allow your boss to, either."
"I can't control what Yuuko- Ah!"
Light effortlessly pushed the teen to the ground and straddled his hips in one fluid movement, actually eliciting a small cry of pain from the extra contact. "I'm afraid you'll have to find a way."
Watanuki actually managed to gain his composure enough to glare at him, though he spoke through clenched teeth. "Why should I help you?"
Light smirked, and spread the palm of his left hand against the high schooler's chest, leaning in closer. The kid had a surprising amount of fight, but that was okay. He'd been prepared for this possibility. "Because if you don't, you won't be the only one who suffers." He leaned down further so that his chest was pressed flush against the younger boy's. The position was uncomfortable, but obviously not nearly as bad as what it was for Watanuki, whose breathing had been reduced to choked gasps by now as he squirmed and thrashed uselessly from where he was pinned, face contorting in pain.
He leaned in, whispering in the high school student's ear, "Don't worry - I don't intend to kill you to keep my secrets. But it would be a shame if anything were to happen to that lovely Himawari Kunogi, wouldn't it? Or a good citizen like Shizuka Domeki. Or even those nice people that are lending you this apartment. It wouldn't be right at all that they should die for a crime they didn't commit."
Tears were leaking out of the corners of Watanuki's eyes by now. "Leave... them... out of it..." he gasped.
"I have no intention of bringing them into it, Watanuki. That's entirely up to you. But if I'm ever compromised, you can be sure I'll have more than enough time to punish whoever defied me. And both theirs and your deaths will be far more painful than this. And far more painful than any heart attack."
Behind his glasses, Watanuki's blue eyes were turning glassy. Light pulled back before the youth could pass out from the pain, letting his fingers ghost across the teen's cheek as he withdrew, causing one last spasm before standing and brushing himself off. Smirking, he made to let himself out, the high schooler still laying spread-eagled on the floor, chest heaving as he tried to get his breath back. What a curious affliction. Light would have liked to know more about it, but it would undoubtedly involve more of Yuuko Ichihara's esoteric babble. Still, it had served its purpose – Watanuki knew without a doubt that he wasn't bluffing, and that he meant business. He'd learned all about the various techniques that yakuza and other organised criminals used to hush people up in his criminal psychology electives. Of course, those classes were supposed to be used to identify when those techniques were at work in keeping a witness silent, rather than being practically applied.
As he walked towards the door, though, a faint voice called out behind him. "Isn't it heavy?"
"Excuse me?" Light half-turned, mildly disconcerted by the way the teen seemed to be staring just above his head, rather than at his face. That was rectified a moment later when the pale blue gaze from the floor matched his.
"Your bad habit. It's out of control. It looks like it's been out of control for ages. I thought you came to Yuuko's to get rid of it. It must be so heavy." Watanuki coughed after that, arms shaking as he tried to push himself up, only managing to get up onto his elbows.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I don't have any bad habits."
The youth smiled weakly at that. "You have the worst habit of all."
Strange that this child would consider Kira's work a 'habit'. Hanging around that incense-filled shop with that strange woman had probably messed up whatever sanity the poor orphan had remaining. "Are you looking to try and help me?" His words were dripping with sarcasm. Kira needed no help. Kira would soon be all-powerful.
Dropping back to the floor, the youth replied, "I suppose you're past help, now." Watanuki laughed weakly. "Yuuko once told me that killing someone was the very worst thing you could do, and there was nothing you could ever do to redeem yourself. The consequences for taking a life were so dire, she said, that they could not be avoided. The most you can do it delay it."
"I don't believe in karma, or any of that new age fiction," Light replied, though his words rang hollow to his ears. He already knew that only uncertainty lay in store for him after his death, but that was something he'd pledged only to worry about when the time came. Before that, he was planning to have a long reign over his utopian society.
"In my experience, it doesn't matter if you believe it or not. You will be stopped."
There was an odd sort of confidence to the boy's voice. Light raised a sceptical eyebrow and took a threatening step forward. "Are you planning to take me on?" Maybe the kid hadn't quite had all the fight beaten out of him yet after all.
Watanuki shook his head vigorously, making to scoot away slightly. Light smirked, but that smile vanished when the teen continued, "No, I'm not that stupid. But I wonder…" The teen's eyes wandered to Ryuk, who hadn't left his position by the doorway, and lingered there speculatively. For one creepy moment, the college student thought he could see some of Yuuko's all-knowing gaze in those typically clueless blue eyes.
It was gone an instant later, and Light figured that he'd just imagined it – after all, anybody could talk a little strangely and come off as an acceptable imitation of that bizarre woman. It was a waste of time to continue the conversation. His point had been made.
Light straightened his jacket and paused before opening the door, quietly reminding the teen, "Remember – if either you or your boss seek to speak of or involve yourselves in any way in my affairs, your life, and the lives of your friends, are forfeit. I'm only being generous now because it really would be a shame to kill those who haven't done anything to deserve it. Don't make me regret showing you this small mercy." Watanuki likely didn't know about his own apparent 'divine protection', and probably didn't realise that he couldn't kill Yuuko Ichihara using her alias, either, though if he did ever realise, the threat to his friends should be more than enough to keep him quiet.
Silently, Light Yagami left the apartment, closing the door softly behind him and heading back out onto the street, keeping an eye out for any witnesses. None – no one would ever know he'd been there. He could relax now, safe in the knowledge that the strange boy he'd met on the train wouldn't dare speak of him again, and neither would he allow his boss to. Yuuko would acquiesce, he was sure – for all of her cavalier attitude, the look in her eyes suggested that she cared a great deal about her employee – even if not personally, it was apparent she had something invested in the teen, especially with all of her talk about 'lessons'. The more paranoid part of him suspected that she'd already anticipated he'd take Watanuki and his friends' lives' hostage, but that didn't make his threat against them any less real.
There was no point giving the matter any more thought. The chance of the two of them turning up again and interfering with his affairs was extremely small. Following up on the matter any more than what he already had was the bigger danger – drawing others' attention to the mysterious shop through his interest was potentially more ruinous than allowing it to fade into obscurity. It was all mathematics – weighing potential risk against potential cost. Logic. Logic was what Light felt most comfortable dealing with. There was a small risk in letting them live, but there was a larger risk in trying to kill them. That's all there was to it. There was no 'fate' involved.
"You're pretty scary, Light," Ryuk said, looking back at the apartment as they walked away. He seemed cheerful, but then again with his clownish face and lidless eyes Ryuk nearly always seemed cheerful. "I think you actually enjoyed that."
"You think I enjoy torturing people? An upstanding citizen like myself?" Light asked, adjusting the cuffs of his shirt and smoothing his hair.
"Yeah. I think you really do."
The college senior smirked at that. "You may be right, Ryuk. I guess I've changed after using the Death Note so much. No - it's inevitable that I changed. But it's necessary, if I'm to become the god of the new world."
Light wasn't a superstitious person at all. There were no such things as 'inevitabilities', merely fortunate or unfortunate coincidences. Perhaps some time ago, he might have held some belief in 'god's favour' or 'fate', but he'd since killed a Shinigami. Nothing was invincible before him now. Not even God.
The end…. Or is it?
No, just kidding, it really is the end. I hope you enjoyed this little encounter.