"The vengeance is paid and justice will be served"

(Death Note X Jigoku Shoujo)

Author's Notes: I weaved the plots together to form a coherent storyline that differs from the original one. Death Note timeline is set after L's demise and is now focused on the current rivalry between Light Yagami and Near. Jigoku Shoujo gets involved and connected with Kira and additional original characters are thrown in to make the story more believable and effective with a concrete and stable plot. Review if pleased.

----000----------------------------------------------------000----

1: Depths and Echoes in Melodic Pretenses

----000----------------------------------------------------000----

The winds in the cottage where I live in were warm with a delightful scent and crisp that fills the air. My long dark hair moved with the wavelength of the winds restlessly and with amber eyes looking at the scenario that unfolds before me, I tried to contemplate all the things that happened to me for the last four centuries. I didn't sleep just as usual and the bitter aftertaste of my favorite cherries often causes my dismay. And now even as I stare across the orange sky, I begin to wonder why night never comes. My thoughts are randomly scattered like pollens, resting in one place then flying to another.

I bothered not with wishful thinking anymore. I was accustomed and was too exhausted to protest. I carefully removed my clothes and put on my white kimono. I dipped myself, my whole body calm in the cold, wide water. I closed my eyes for another moment or so and then heard my grandmother's voice from the cottage.

"Ai," she said in her usual cheerful tone. "You have an e-mail."

I sighed. There is always a sadness that never vanishes, a grief, they said, that can't be spoken.

The cottage was an old-fashioned Japanese structure. The doors are sliding and the floor is made of wood, like four centuries ago and my heart, no longer whole, still breaks from the lost memory I keep safely. My room, if you will call it that, is a wide vacant space and only the computer in the far corner, gathering dust, is the only thing there is. Beside the computer are three straw dolls.

I went inside the cottage and looked at the computer screen. The monitor was blinking with a red background. The sign of my contract appeared before me. I sighed again.

I took the three dolls. I whispered their names and they transformed into their human forms. The first one is Wanyuundo, an old man who served me for two centuries, Ichimokou Ren, the youngest, who served me for ninety-five years and then there was then Hone Ona, a geisha woman who was around me for forty-five years. They smiled and greeted me. I nodded and we went passed the formalities. I looked back at the monitor, touched it and there I was again.

The places where people would constantly summon me are always in their own rooms. Each room is different like each individual who calls for my services is different. But the atmosphere is the same; there is stillness, a sad silence, an anger that's dying to break out. The people who call for me desire only one thing and for four hundred years I've been fulfilling it dutifully without any complaints.

The person before me was young but aren't they all? When I look at them, it was the same misery spread before me and it would take time for them to realize how hatred can turn them into ashes and when the time does come, it would be too late to go back. But I have warned them. And the choice is always up to them. As time passes from each blooming of the flowers, I think about them and the candles where their names are written. I watched silently when the wax vaporizes and incinerates in the cold, hard wood beneath it.

"I am Enma Ai," I told him.

He was surprised, relieved, and hesitant just like they all are. The faces start to blur if you meet them all the time.

"This is for you," I offered him Wanyuundo as the straw doll. "If you truly wish to eliminate the person tormenting you, you must untie the string. If you pull the string, you will enter into an official contract with me. And the person you seek to take revenge on will immediately be taken to hell."

He took it from me and stared. I know what is going on in his mind.

"However if I do deliver your vengeance, you must, in return, make an equal payment to me."

He looked up, bewildered. How come they never knew the consequences? How come they never knew that in order to gain, there must be a price? He was lucky that I've warned him. I wasn't warned four hundred years ago and so I carry the symbol of my sins until now.

"When one person is cursed, two graves are dug," I continued in the same impassive tone. "And when your body dies, your soul will go to hell. You will wander forever. Your soul will undergo eternal pain and suffering. You will never know what paradise is like."

The change in his manner and expression didn't surprise me. I just looked at him and went away when I've accomplished explaining the conditions. I whispered to him in the solace of the night.

"And now it's up to you to decide what happens next..."

My duty is not yet done. I have to go back to the cottage and wait for him to make up his mind to know if I will grant his request or not.

"Ai, don't be sad," my grandmother called out, "Things will not always work out in your best interest."

"Yes." I answered.

Hone Ona sat beside me. Ren stood behind us and in silence we could only watch the orange sky. I picked up a cherry from the bowl and looked at it.

"Do you want us to watch him for a while?" It was Ren who has spoken.

"Okami-sama?" Hone Ona added.

I nodded and asked them to go. As soon as they left, I placed the cherry inside my mouth. The taste was usual as always but in the randomness of my four hundred-year old sentence, I consider it as my only paradise.

XXXXXXXXX

He clicked several times now.

Nothing.

There was that desperation, the nagging urge to kill somebody. He was losing his mind. But he'll have my way no matter what lengths have to be expanded in order to get what must be for him. He clicked again. And again. And again. He cussed under his breath and was sure to explode. Fuck it. He definitely feels like needing a drink.

He pushed himself away from the desk and stood up. He picked a glass of water from the corner and gulped the contents hard. He glanced slightly at the webpage. He was weary and the stupid hyperlink is giving him the hard time. He tried to relax, to control himself. He knew that what he was doing was probably one of the dumbest things anybody could do. But who said that nobody has ever tried what he was doing right now? He wasn't the only one who believed this rumor that he knows for a fact. He was angry though of why he was dumb enough to fall for it. There is no such a thing as the Hell Correspondence. There is no webpage that can send people to hell. What was he thinking?

As he was about to cancel the webpage, the screen blinked and the whole page went dark. His jaw dropped open and his hand didn't move from the mouse. He was clutching it so hard that his veins might break. Then an eerie silence followed, like from one of those scenarios that happen when you know bad things are going to come. His eyes are watery now, scared to his wits.

He let go of the mouse and took a step back. He couldn't believe what is unfolding in front of him. There it was. The webpage was no longer an error anymore. Trembling with anxiety, he stared.

The words stood clear and seductive, "We will take revenge on your behalf."

He was half-scared now. The rest of the half is relief, an intoxicating relief. Finally. All he could do now to make it go away, this pain, is make sure the person responsible for it will go to hell. And with enough strength left, he managed to walk back to the desk and rest his fingers above the right keys on the keyboard. He typed a name. He felt like selling this person into something horrible and it felt good. And the best part of it is it's attainable.

He laughed loud as he clicked the submit button and watched as the hourglass of the mouse pointer span around.

Nothing. What's taking it so long?

There was another minute that passed and then another one. Geez, where does he have to complain so they could improve their customer service?

A voice almost made him jump from his place.

"You have called for me?"

He shrieked and bumped into a table on his left. The glass of water fell and broke into pieces. He cringed and took a step back to avoid stepping on it.

Darn it. Who the hell did—?

He brought his eyes up and saw her. She stood still, not saying a single word. She stared at his face and he stared back.

"You have called for me?" she repeated.

He gave her the flat eyes. "It depends on who you are."

She looked mildly astonished of his hostile behavior. "I am Enma Ai, the hell girl—"

"I've been told. I just didn't realize you would be late."

She said nothing.

"They said you grant revenge requests and you have lived immortality doing that," he suddenly implored quietly. "I don't know much about the whole thing that you do but I like to join the circle so—"

She cut him off when she said, "This is for you, Otaru."

She knows his name. Swallowing hard, he reached out to take what seems to look like a doll with a red string tied around it. Ooookay…

"If you truly wish to eliminate the person tormenting you, you must untie the string. If you pull the string, you will enter into an official contract with me and the person you seek to take revenge on will immediately be taken to hell."

He was told. It was so terrifying how the narrative matches with what is happening now. He was right about the webpage and how the pretty hell girl visits you, offers you revenge and ask you for payment and you have no choice but to take it.

"I don't want to sound impolite, Ai-chan." He smiled weakly. "I think this is the part that you will tell me that I have to sell my soul to send the person I hate to hell, right?"

He watched her reaction. Her lips tightened.

"But I don't want to spoil your monologue so go on—"

"I've been told about the circle," she replied to him coldly. Her voice sent chills that filled the room. He felt like taking a blanket to himself from those eyes.

"I must warn you though," she continued to speak, the light from the monitor dancing off her dead eyes. "I do not mind the circle and the people part of it. You call me and summon me to take the vengeance paid and I have come here with the intentions of executing it. You know the conditions so it is up to you to decide what happens next."

He swore he saw a hint of smile in her lips. She added. "Go and do what you want with your life but keep in mind that time is short and its curtains will be the judge."

She said no more and disappeared.

He remained holding the doll. A smile spread across his face and he couldn't wipe it off.

Somewhere out in the dark rivers of the world, a man named Yamanagi Akira smiled the same smile.

XXXXXXXXX


Two requests in one night were enough to give me a stressful, surreal blur. I didn't take the immediate transportation back to the other world. I decided to walk the busy streets of Kanto, Japan. The bright lights were circling me like vultures and I felt compelled to look down as I passed through people in front of me. I was non-existent to the world of the flesh but I came to the terms that my mortal absence is practical although somewhat lonely. To be alive and not be seen is a painful circumstance. There is an advantage to it and I dwell on that often. And wasn't I dead for a long time being now? I feel drained as I have been dry for the last lifetime that I've lived. Sensations and time don't affect me like they used to. All in all the art of detachment has been perfected. When I walked passed a store where a big flat screen television was on, I glanced slightly. As the words registered, I stopped abruptly in my tracks. A young woman, maybe in her twenties, was speaking about Kira.

I debated on smiling or frowning. When neither of those reactions followed by the tight muscles in my mouth, I just stared blankly. I took a long glance at the young woman's face. I could look at a face and see their names. This one is named Takada Kiyomi. This quality of being able to tell names is one of the many job requirements I have as a Hell Girl. I wasn't the only creature who could do this. Shinigamis could do the same thing too. When the thought passed my mind I was finally able to smirk a little. How long has it been since this special event took place? Oh, that's right. One of my close Shinigami friends dropped his death note and when I felt the human presence overtaking it, I felt an unpleasant sensation that I ignored for some time now. I went to work each night time and have been hearing of the progress of this unusual event when I pass the streets. The human owner of the death note is making an accomplished career of being some kind of a grim reaper named Kira. It was a fascinating line of work, indeed, considering the ignorance in this young mortal's part. I wasn't in the position to judge. I haven't given myself to self-righteous acts.

It's hard to determine real evil but it had been staring at my face for so many ages. I've seen cruelty, malice and violence in their purest forms. I've learned that evil was never accurate and so is goodness. There are always lines drawn and lines crossed and whichever lies between is where I have placed myself. I was now an uninterested observant of situations. I do understand Kira's goals. Human beings are self-destructive. They hold onto grudges and destroy each other. They are made that way. You can hardly reason out a rational blame on their actions.

As I looked off in a distance to acknowledge the world as a whole, I saw the monotone existence of human activity. How fascinating the certain change managed to penetrate this, the change being the existence of Kira. During the first two weeks, I have passed by stores selling newspapers depicting Kira as a justice crusader or another mass murderer. I was astounded on how long the young mortal managed to possess the death note and made use of it for personal gain. Yes, his goals are set for the better good, I have heard. Man is however a selfish being driven by greed so in factual terms, there is a personal gain from all of these. I know that my occupation as a Hell Girl has an equal award when I've completed it.

I was busy observing in the corner when I suddenly received an energy that is only common to a creature I have co-existed with. I didn't bulge or give any apparent reaction when I felt the force. I waited patiently.

"I knew it was you." The voice was husky and high-pitched.

I turned my head to look up at him and then looked off to stare straight ahead. "Good evening, Ryuk-san."

I heard the distinguishable chuckle from his part. Then he spoke again. "Noisy world this is."

I said nothing. He went on, "You familiar with my new thing now, Ai-san?"

"Yes, your new thing." I could not suppress the amusement is my tone.

"I'm everywhere these days." Ryuk remarked. "I meet a bunch of fantastic humans along the way."

"I believe you are currently with a man named Mikami Teru, are you not, Ryuk-san?" I decided to engage in this conversation.

"Hai, Ai-san, you are well-informed."

"I have internet access," I gave him a small, almost invisible smile. "If you know what I mean by that."

He laughed his strange laugh with an effect of throwing back his head. Then he stared at me with those bright yellow eyes and grinned with those sharp teeth of his. "How about you, same-old, same-old?"

"Yes, Ryuk-san, same-old, same-old." I was already feeling rather bored.

"You look younger everyday, Ai-san, something to be thankful about, right?"

I didn't answer that and replied instead. "Yagami Raito was generous to pleasure you in many ways, wasn't he, Ryuk-san?"

"You make it sound dirty."

"I was not implying anything."

Ryuk feigned a confused sigh and then answered. "A Shinigami is a complicated creature, Ai-san. I am a complicated Shinigami. I guess I am also a Shinigami who wants to have fun."

"You have a fair share of that now." I rubbed my hands together to increase some friction in my palms although the change of temperature, whether hot or cold, doesn't bother me. I hardly feel.

"Hey, I'm still working, you know!" Ryuk said rather defensively.

I gave him a curious look, "As opposed to what I am doing which is a hobby?"

"Oi, Ai-san!" he called out when I started to cross the other side of the street. He spread his wings and flapped them in a slow pace as he followed behind me. "Ai-san, you're not mad are you?"

"You say the strangest things, Ryuk-san." I said as I kept walking. "I was just in a hurry to go to another customer. I received a message."

I raised my cell phone to let him look at the screen. The blaring red symbol was persistent and a phrase "you have one request pending" appeared.

Ryuk chuckled hoarsely. "There used to be a time when you used mailboxes. Guess you have to modernize yourself to keep the business going, eh, Ai-san?"

"A Hel Girl has to do what she has to do." I nodded to that.

"Cool, can I come with?" Ryuk asked.

"Weren't you supposed to be working as well?" I stopped to gaze up at him. Several people walked by and passed through our bodies. "I think you're doing a marvelous job with this whole Kira thing, Ryuk-san. Really, we should part ways now."

"You could always come by here, Ai-san." Ryuk must have smiled at me. It's hard to tell especially when his teeth were so long it gave his face a grinning expression all the time. I did return a courteous smile. The cell phone rang again and I flipped it open. I pressed the keys to reply back.

"What are you texting?"

When I was done, I sent it then I showed it to Ryuk. The message contained. "I am Enma Ai. I will come for you now."

Ryuk pointed at my cell phone. "I should really get one of these. Instant messaging is advantageous these days."

"Ryuk-san, you don't need to have a common trend in order to be noticeable." I said rather good-humoredly. "Believe me, this hardly increases that."

To give a concrete example of that, another group of people passed through us again. Seeing that, Ryuk laughed again in the way he only could and I managed to let out a genuine yet small smile.

"I will see you when I see you, Ai-san." Ryuk remarked.

"Perhaps you could visit me some time if we are available." I suggested.

"Hai, Ai-san, that would be nice." He winked at me visibly. "Good night, Ai-san."

I bowed my head and muttered. "Good night, Ryuk-san."

He flapped his wings faster now to adjust to the wind then he zoomed up loudly to the dark evening skies. I watched him disappear before I went away.

XXXXXXXXX

Incapacitated by an unknown cold rush of tension, I found myself lying face flat on the hard wood of our cottage. The sky is as always bright neon orange and the stillness of the whole place provides sinister thoughts more than comforting ones. I sighed for more than once or twice now, running my fingers through my hair several moments of despair and a half. I was really exhausted. My grandmother fixed me some tea and called Hone Ona to pick me some cherries. I sipped the tea quietly and watched Wanyuundo outside, cultivating the flowers with his rare gift. When our eyes met, he smiled at me. I regarded him with silent pleasantry and began to ponder of the days ahead.

I narrowed my eyes when I met the sunset's blazing gaze. I looked down at my lap and contemplated some more. I didn't like the things that happened lately. After my usual routine and work, I expected everything to be the same as yesterday and the day before that or the century before. But as some may not know, the youngest of my servants, Ichimokou Ren, is spending too much time in the human world. He has no business for his business is with mine but I doubt that I should give him the privilege to form his own life outside our alliance.

I am not selfish but I care about what happens to the people who lived with me for a long time and I do not know how to tell Ren. I bothered not with getting along, advising, getting in touch with people unless it is really necessary. My quiet and cold assurance to my customer is enough for me. But once in awhile I would like my three servants to realize that I somehow look at them with highest value. They were my only companions.

I am not sure if Ren would get the hints that I am casually dropping him. I don't want to make him feel degraded or offended in any way but I wish that he would tell me what he was doing in the human world. I am too proud to ask for any of Wanyuundo and Hone Ona's advices because it gives me the feeling that I am shedding the skin I have become accustomed with.

There is one thing that bothers me. It is not that much of importance but it still does deserve a thought. I closed my eyes and kept that thought there for awhile.

The thought about the circle...