Disclaimer: This is fanfiction. What do you expect?
Summary: "Without doubt princes become great when they overcome the difficulties and obstacles by which they are confronted".
He is not a saint. He is not God. Even his sense of justice is skewed. After all, how can Kira rationalize his use of the Death Note when he himself is nothing but a common criminal? A member of the yakuza? On the edge of despair, with his beliefs teetering precariously, Raito seeks redemption… but all he encounters is the dark hopelessness that is humanity. (AU)
Pairing: Probably LxRaito (if I manage it)
Warning: This story will contain slash, deaths (what else can you expect from this fandom) and rape. I don't really expect to follow the storyline, but there will still be spoilers. Also, be warned that Raito's character, although fundamentally the same, will still show some pretty stark changes. He has been raised under quite stressful and different circumstances (as you would see in the flashbacks).
It must also be noted that all quotes come from The Prince by Machiavelli. It is a political treatise written in the Renaissance advising princes to be ruthless in order to keep their power and protect the state. This is where the term 'Machiavellian' comes from. I'll be basing this story on many of its theories.
Without doubt princes become great when they overcome the difficulties and obstacles by which they are confronted, and therefore Fortune, especially when she desires to make a new prince great, who has a greater necessity to earn renown than an hereditary one, causes enemies to arise and form designs against him, in order that he may have the opportunity of overcoming them, and by them to mount higher, as by a ladder which his enemies have raised.
January 27th 1998
January 27th 1998
"… A hold-up has taken place at… the suspect… believed to have two accomplices, escaped in a black Toyota… any infor – "
"… suicide at Chikoshi High School… seems to be another case of bullying… teachers advised to pay more attention…"
"… half price on all chocolate!"
"Kaa-san?" A soft hesitant voice slipped in from the stairways, interrupting the annoying commercial jingle.
Glad for the disruption – the television could only offer so much distraction – yet somewhat dreading its cause, Yagami Sachiko turned to face her youngest child.
"When will nii-san come back?"
Maybe her only child now.
Sachiko bit her lower lip, unsure of how to respond. The seemingly innocent query was one she had put off for quite some time. To keep her daughter from the awful truth, she had lied – something she had never wished to do – and had kept diverting her attention. After all, how do you tell your eight-year-old that her precious older brother had been kidnapped? That he may never come back?
Even she had had trouble believing such a harsh reality. For her perfect family to be torn apart like this…
No, she shook her head. It is useless to ponder on what-ifs. All will be fine.
It will be over tonight. All she had to do now was comfort her little girl one last time. One last lie. It won't hurt. And then, the truth will be kept hidden – her husband will surely agree that it'd be for the best. Raito, surely will want to forget the horrible experience. All will be back to normal.
Looking at her daughter's sweet figure, she knew that was the best decision. Standing on the bottom steps, dressed in her panda-patterned pyjamas, her small hand tightly clutched onto Raito-sama – the plush tiger her brother had gotten her for her sixth birthday (though he definitely had not been pleased with how she had named it). Her little girl looked so young, so innocent, so fragile. Sachiko would do anything to shield her child from all that would try to tarnish her purity. She herself would have preferred to remain in blissful ignorance.
No, one last lie will not hurt. It will be over tonight anyway. It will be fine. Then, they would put this horrible experience behind them. It would be a new beginning.
But first, Sayu needed to be reassured. She was so confused, the poor dear. After all, one whole week had gone by already – the longest Raito had ever left home.
"Come here Sayu," she gently told her daughter, opening her arms wide.
Her tired smile barely hid her deep weariness and her stress, but the girl did not notice. She didn't hesitate before jumping into her embrace. The eight-year-old was simply so affectionate, never one to shy away from hugs and kisses. "Your nii-san…" Sachiko tried again. "Your tou-san is trying to, no… will bring him back tonight."
"So he'll be home then?"
Eyes big and wide with innocence, oh how she envied her daughter. No, she couldn't bring herself to destroy that yet… not when there was still hope.
The negotiations were taking place tonight according to Soichiro. It will go well. It will… it will…
She hugged her daughter tighter, ignoring the hum of the television.
"Good," the girl continued insouciantly, giving a slight nod of the head – as though in satisfaction –, "he promised to go skating with me, but then left and went to his friend's and didn't come back. 'Fraid he forgot about me…" Then, as though realising what she had just muttered, her voice crescendoed. "But nii-san never forgets a promise! Never!"
No, of course not. Sachiko smiled with pride at that thought. Raito is too responsible and mature to ever go back on his word – unlike all those unruly little ruffians her neighbours have raised.
"I know dear… something just… came up. Now, why don't we go to bed?"
But Sayu was a stubborn child – always had been – and refused to get up from her position on the couch. "Don't wanna. Can't I wait for nii-san here? And tou-san! Don't wanna miss them. And plus," she finished off, mumbling, "I can't fall asleep. I miss nii-san too much… and I'm sure he misses me too!" Then, she stared fixedly at the television, her body wordlessly conveying, and quite effectively, her refusal to be parted from her position. Her eyes would not stray from the bright screen, where a young couple was arguing in the rain, even though she certainly had no interest in the current program (some sappy, entirely inappropriate and unrealistic sitcom).
Sachiko sighed. Tilting her daughter's chin up as she knelt down next to her, she looked into the miscreant's eyes, projecting an air of calm she was definitely not feeling. "Now now. How do you expect to have the energy to go to the arena tomorrow if you don't go to sleep? Nii-san wouldn't like that." But he'll be happy all the same to be back home. "And you wouldn't want to disappoint him would you now? After you've had this trip pushed back for such a long time…"
The eight-year-old shook her head.
"Come now. I'll read you a story before you go to sleep, 'kay?"
Grabbing her mother's hand with her own free one, the little girl reluctantly dragged her parent up towards the stairs. On the way up, she was suggesting titles, all the while praising the ones her brother preferred. He would always make his opinion quite clear at the end of every tale, harshly criticizing the plot and any clichés that had been used (not that Sayu really understood). Thus, it wasn't often that her kaa-san read her a story. It would be an interesting change, though still not as good as having her big brother undertake the duty as he had the best storytelling voice!
Sachiko could not help but reminisce as she tackled the fairytale her daughter persuaded her into reading. It had been so long since she had read a book out loud (the last time was when Raito had been no older than a toddler… no even before that). After she had given birth to Sayu, her little boy had taken on the duty of entertaining his sister (or, as he had said when he had first seen her, of turning that wailing baby into something intelligent). Oh, he doted on her, fulfilled her every whims and with such a loving, perfect son, how could life be anything but perfect?
He was as bright as his name suggested: her very own little genius. At the age of five, she had discovered him devouring thick novels. Where he had learnt how to read, she would never know. And when he had started questioning them about their contents, it hadn't taken long before Raito's inquisitive ways managed to stump both her and Soichiro. He clearly understood what he had been reading.
Soon deeming the other books asinine, Raito had found his interest piqued by detective novels. The mysteries waiting to be solved had at first drawn him into their very pages. It had only lasted for a solid two years though. After going through the greatest their genre had to offer, her beloved son had given up on them. They were apparently too predictable.
Obviously, bestselling authors could not compare to her Raito in terms of cleverness. Seeking to direct his intelligence into more productive pursuits, she had suggested he turn his attention towards facts: textbooks, references and scholarly journals would help him advance in the world – not fictional universes.
He had complied, of course, and had excelled there as well; soaking up the knowledge like a sponge. All was simply so easy – so natural – for him that sometimes, she wondered how the world would ever accommodate itself to his tremendous potential.
But she did not doubt he would find his place and thrive while doing so. He was simply talented that way. Perfect in every way.
Unlike nerds who were unable to balance their brains with their social skills.
Her Raito never had any trouble in that regard. Ever since his most tender youth, he had been extremely astute in observing and interacting with others. His amazing people skills and charisma, coupled with his faultless manners, served only to draw children and adults alike towards him. He was a perfect gentleman and made friends wherever he went. His altruism only further endeared him in their eyes.
Where Sayu was a bright bundle of energy, Raito possessed a quiet grace and charm that unfailingly attracted everyone's attention.
Though her son's sharpness had at times frightened her, she had never let it matter. She, unlike her infinitely jealous neighbours, was the mother of Raito and it made her heart beat with pride. She had the perfect son. She had the perfect family.
And now, it was all falling apart.
She didn't understand how it happened. Or more precisely, why it had to involve her precious Raito…
Yes, her husband worked for the NPA. Yes, it came with risks. She did fear for his life. But it had never involved the family before! And certainly not her innocent son!
One thing, for sure, she was glad her husband had refused to let her precious child help out with his cases – even though Raito had pleaded for the right. And had sulked about the rebuttal for a week.
Sachiko knew that things sometimes came too easily for him. That nothing truly held his interest as it wasn't challenging enough. Books, although interesting, could only offer so much, and no hobby could ever match his genius. During his childhood, he flitted from one pastime to the next, never finding one worthy of his talents.
They were either too simplistic or completely lacking in stimulation.
When he was six, she did what any mother with a child of the right disposition – meaning who had enough discipline and maturity to sit still and devote himself or herself to such an art – would do: she had him enrolled in piano lessons. Like anything, he had excelled in music. He understood the theory behind it quickly enough and learnt the notes in record time. In little more than a year, complicated pieces were being shaped under his skilful fingers' ministrations while his fellow students, who had started at the same time as he, or even before,still struggled with elementary exercises. Some couldn't even coordinate playing with two hands!
Yet, music was not for him and he left it soon enough. Though Raito had once mentioned that it was unable to engage his brains, Sachiko had rescinded his enrolment because of another factor. His teacher had been very agreeable at first, astounded that she had been conveyed the privilege of teaching a prodigy. She had not stayed that way however. She actually had had the gall to constantly criticize her son. She had accused him of lacking feelings when playing and had repeatedly complained that his music was too mechanical. As soon as Sachiko had gotten wind of this outrage, she had let her son abandon his studies with her full endorsement.
It certainly hadn't been her child's fault that his music lacked 'emotions'. As a matter of fact, she personally believed that for someone of Raito's age, passion did not come naturally yet and it was the teacher's responsibility to lure it out.
Besides, someone who obviously couldn't appreciate her child's talent did not deserve the honour of nurturing it.
When it came to sports, Raito simply stuck to tennis. He stood out too much in any other. Though he was charismatic enough to lead his peers to victory – through both his skilful play and his inspiring words – team sports did not appeal to him as much as the lone battle that was tennis.
It was perhaps this mentality of his that had led to his brief stint in chess and shougi, which had not been a complete letdown. Although he had had a hard time finding challenging opponents his age, he still occasionally played – especially against Soichiro, who took great joy in pitting his wits against his brilliant son.
And of course, he held no interest in meaningless hobbies like videogames, manga and anime. Unlike all the youngsters his age, he was immune to their addictive influence.
Thus, sensing that these few occasional pastimes were hardly enough for him, she had enrolled him in enriched classes. He passed through with flying colors. He solved logic problems as though they were nothing and his teachers had nothing but praise for him – unlike that nasty piano teacher.
He thrived there and she knew his future was bright. How could it not be, for such a brilliant boy?
And then, he had asked to solve some real cases.
Where he had gotten such a ridiculous idea into his head, she had no idea. How could he believe himself to be competent enough to help adults, professionals? It may be because he loved solving problems so much. Since mystery novels held no mystery to him any longer, he may have thought his skills were good enough to be applied to real life.
Or maybe, Soichiro had more influence on him than she thought.
However, a young boy, her son, had no business facing off against full-grown criminals.
And weren't his after school classes challenging enough? Those were much more useful to his future.
Thus, he continued with his classes, continued cultivating his much cherished intelligence. The matter was never mentioned again. Instead, he had intensified his personal studies on the inner workings of computers and other types of technology, apparently fascinated by its parallel to the human brain.
Therefore, life had been perfect. With her perfect Raito, her sweet Sayu, and her dear husband, Soichiro.
It had been perfect.
And then, her husband had gotten in over his head with the yakuza, her son had been kidnapped, held hostage… and her life was crashing down around her.
She didn't know if everything could go back to normal – even with Raito back. She wasn't even sure if she could ever forgive Soichiro for his involvement. But is it really his fault? Some part of her whispered.
Still… why would the yakuza want to keep an eleven – almost twelve-year-old? What would they do with him?
No. He will come back.
She just needed to think positive.
He will be back. And all will be fine.
Life will be perfect again.
"… and so they lived happily ever after."
Closing the small fairytale book, she placed it back onto the small bookshelf at the corner of her daughter's room. Looking down at Sayu's peaceful slumbering features, she knew all had to be fine. For her child's, no her children's sake, as well as her own.
After kissing the small forehead, she took a few cautious steps back, turned off the light and closed the door.
… they lived happily ever after…
Wasn't that how it ended? With such a perfect life, such a perfect family, how can it be torn apart so easily?
Back to her position on the couch, she stared at the flickering screen of the television again, waiting, waiting, waiting… for news.
"… And I love you R –"
"… the robber's car crashed into a tree in Ueno park. Police is now…"
All will be fine and perfect again.
Her husband finally returned home seven hours later.
Her heart sank.
Shakily, she rose from her position on the couch and walked towards him. Soichiro would not look at her, unable to face her grief.
Yet, seeing him so calm, so normal, as he followed his routine (untying his laces, taking off his shoes, unwinding his scarf, taking it off…), she wanted to explode.
She wanted to scream at her husband, at his uselessness, his inability to fix his mistake, to patch this family back together. Yet, she was too numb to do so. It was not her place. As his wife, it wasn't really her place. It wouldn't be proper.
And he really did try his hardest. Right?
Slowly, cautiously, she backed up, to give him room, so that she was no longer blocking the entrance. After all, he had to get in, right? It was his house, right? Right? She waited for his explanations.
Thankfully – but should she really be thankful to have her fears confirmed so quickly? To have her hopes dashed away? – she didn't have to wait long. Her husband was honest to a fault, taking his responsibilities to his heart and placing his honour above all else. He was not one to shirk his duty; he would not try to avoid explaining his failure. Even though he could not bear to meet her eyes.
As soon as his coat was hung, his voice – completely lacking its usual steady and authoritative quality – pierced the thick, tense silence.
"The Black Dragon Clan, they…" his tone faltered, "Although I ordered my men to stop the raids, they decided to keep holding Raito hostage as insurance. They refused to return him," he hesitated here, "and refused to let me administer any contact with him. I… will get a message every few months to confirm his continued well-being."
And that was all there was to it.
No hope. No son. It was over.
Her heart stopped.
"I… knowing I couldn't stay objective any longer, I requested a transfer out of the Organized Crime Department. I'll be working for the Serial Murders Investigative Forces now. I can't go… against the yakuza any longer. Not when they're holding…"
And with that, he left her. Left her for an empty bedroom where she may not be able to join him.
Not when the pain was so fresh.
Not when Raito…
No. What would happen to her perfect son now? Now that he was surrounded by those beasts, that filth?
Her brilliant, brilliant son…
And she broke down into sobs.
A/N: And that's it. The next update should be coming in some time since I'll be leaving to go up North soon. Anyway, Merry Christmas and hope you guys have a nice holiday.
Edited 07/05/08 (Recipe for Insanity)