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Standards

by SunMoonAndSpoon

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For some reason, she started kindergarten in the winter. She can remember being asked to choose between cherry and chocolate anesthesia, and she remembers choosing wrong, but that's all. She never asked, because if she's going to be special, she doesn't want to be the reason. And Sayu wasn't meant to be special, anyway.

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She steels herself, fists balled and teeth gritted. Stands at the door folding and unfolding her report card. It's not that she's done terribly, it's just that Light's grades are stellar so far, and for some inexplicable reason Sayu thinks she ought to live up to his standards. As if that's possible. As if anyone could ever outshine her brilliant brother.

As if it will matter at all to her parents how well she does, as long as they have Light.

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Light and Sayu sit in the backseat of their mother's van, Light squawking loudly about an upcoming exam. He hasn't studied enough, and it's apparently their mother's fault. She never should have asked him to eat dinner the night before--he had a stock of food to get him through the night, but she insisted that he eat a full meal, and now he'll get a mere A- on his monumentally important exam. Their mother is apologizing, even though he's being nervy. "I'm sure you'll do flawlessly," she says, scraping her bottom lip with her teeth. "As always." And Light snaps that he'd better do flawlessly, or else the consequences will be…well he can't get into that now, because he's got to be calm, for the test.

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"Mom?" Sayu murmurs, staring at her mother's shoulder blades as they move in time with the knife in her hands. The cutting board is littered with bits of carrot, so much that Sayu doesn't know how her mother plans to finished chopping this one. She waits until her mother turns around, taps her toes against the linoleum. "Er…I got my report card today," she says, handing over the creased printout. "It's…not that great, but I mean, I tried. Really hard. Remember I started going to tutoring after school, and I got Light to help me out with my math? Even with all that effort, it's still mostly C's…I'm sorry."

Her mother quickly eyeballs the document, not even bothering to pick it up. "It's alright sweetie," she says, a smile that looks so fake it must be real plastered to her face. "As long as you're doing your best. You know we love you no matter how you do."

"Yeah…" Sayu says, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. She didn't actually go to tutoring, and she only sought Light's help once or twice. She wonders if that would make a difference to her smiling mother, if they have any standards for Sayu at all.

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They don't know that she's listening, and maybe they wouldn't care if they did know, but the Yagami parents are chewing out Light in the living room. "How could you bring home these abysmal grades? C's are unacceptable, you're much smarter than that," their father says gruffly, and Light mutters something that's garbled by tears. It's hard to tell when Sayu can't see them. She presses her ear to the door, digs her knee into the carpet.

"Light," their mother says, softer than Daddy but not by much. "You're going to have to do better than this. You're a bright boy, and I won't have you wasting your talents like this. If you bring home anything less than an A, you're grounded." After a pause she says, "we're only doing this because we love you."

Sayu giggles slightly to herself, pretends it's funny that they'd never yell at her this way. Pretends she isn't upset that her parents can't love her very much if she's allowed to bring home C's. Light stalks out with balled fists and his eyes brimming with tears. Mutters something about how they can't love him very much if all they care about is how well he does in school.

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"Hey, Light?" Sayu asks, ignoring the panicked look that briefly crosses his perfect features. "Next time we get report cards, lets trade, okay? Tell Mom you got C's, and I'll show her a fake report card covered in A's. Just to see what she'd do, okay?"