Disclaimer: Not mine. Lyrics Stars. Quotes at end.
Note: I'm…not altogether happy with how this chapter turned out but I don't think I can rework it. This style was crazy difficult. Never again.
The Hope Stakes
It's nothing but time and a face that you lose
I chose to feel it and you couldn't choose
I'm not sorry I met you.
In the days that followed Sayu's return to Japan, I am unqualified to speak of the events that transpired. On this matter, Sayu's notes are vague, and on the occasion I tried to ask her mother, I was greeted with sudden frostiness and hostility.
What occurred in that time I can only imagine. The aftershocks of guilt and fear the young woman may have been feeling, coupled with the very visible effect her kidnapping had had on her father, and, of course, her meeting with Mello, would have bound together in such a way that, if I am quite honest, makes me marvel that she can sit in front of me today.
Sayu Yagami is not, and never will be, as intelligent, charismatic or brilliant as her older brother was. But she is stronger.
Time passed. In that time, a very great number of things happened, things that tilted the world on its axis and began to rearrange the fates of mankind. To this story, however, the machinations of a murderer and the schemes against him are irrelevant. So for all intents and purposes, and what with one thing and another, time passed.
This story picks up again almost a month later, in the middle of the night outside a building in Los Angeles. The scene is set: from the building, screams erupt, and from their hiding place, five men in riot gear rise and run. The audience is a pair of spectres, untouched by explosions, and a man in a hotel room some miles away.
Of the night her father died, Sayu was told nothing. She slept, if fitfully, until her mother roused her, saying only that Soichiro Yagami was injured. By the time she and her daughter were dressed, the second call had come in, telling them not to bother catching a plane, because it was too late now anyway.
After several weeks, the taskforce returned to Japan. From what Sayu tells me, Touta Matsuda alone visited the family to convey his sorrow and regret. Her description of his visit seemed tinged with awkwardness, and I have inferred that Sachiko Yagami met him with howls and accusations rather than tears and vulnerability. She demanded to see her son, and was told he was not coming. The commotion brought Sayu downstairs, leaning on walls for support and clutching the banister like a lifeline. She arrived in time to see her mother hurl a mug at Matsuda, and to hear it crash into the wall behind him.
In a few seconds they caught sight of her and froze. Their expressions, she says, were equal parts shock and guilt. Her mother had moved forward to check if she was alright, but Sayu had kept her gaze focused on Matsuda. This man could tell her, could shed some light on what had happened. She parted her lips, trying to focus on getting a sound out, but stopped, and closed her mouth again. She writes that despite the attempt, the idea seemed too foreign, too strange, to have her voice bounce around the walls of the kitchen and echo back to her, random sounds converging in communications.
Matsuda, however, took advantage of the sudden cease in Sachiko's onslaught to explain the events anyway. He told them that Soichiro had confronted Sayu's kidnapper, Mello, alone, had been shot at by a surviving member of the mafia group, and then when the taskforce had broken into the room, caught the full brunt of the ensuing explosion.
Sayu listened in silence as the story came together. Her father was dead, and with such facts - cold, stark truths - to fit into the picture, the full impact of this began to sink in. Her father…and Mello…had been in the explosion. Mello had caused the explosion.
As things begin to fit together into an image the human mind does not want to recognise, it blocks it out. Unpleasant truths are filed away behind the mechanics of every day life. But Sayu had no every day life to go back to, and her silence meant that she had only her own thoughts to enlighten her. The conclusion that Mello had killed her father was not hard to reach, but far, far harder to come to terms with.
I have never regarded Touta Matsuda as a particularly intelligent man. Upon hearing, however, that he thought it wise to tell Sayu, of all people, that the mission on which her father had died had had the aim of retrieving the notebook traded for the safety, I will confess to having lost any shred of respect for him. Already faced with the fact that the boy she had developed feelings for was responsible for her father's death, she was now forced to contend with the guilt of having been responsible for it herself.
I am not an emotional person. Nevertheless, the thought of being faced with such things, in a world that was becoming increasingly barren and alienated, sends a shiver even through my spine. Taking into account the fact that I was told Sayu was a particularly emotional young woman, it astounds me to see that she has come out of this with as much of her sanity intact as she has.
I do not know what to attribute it to. All I can say is that she has earned my respect, and my admiration.
At this point I can only guess at what happened concerning Mello. It is clear that he escaped the explosion either as it occurred or moments afterwards, for he was not found in the taskforce's albeit-cursory examination of the area. The next I heard of him, he was strolling into SPK headquarters with a gun against one of my team-mates' back.
Since that time, I have learnt that Lidner had contact with Mello some days before he made contact with me. Lidner seems determined not to reveal details of this time to me. Combined with her reaction to her death, this had made me wonder the precise nature of her feelings towards Mello. Did she, perhaps, come to care for him the same way Sayu did?
Could I blame her if she did?
After the scene he made at SPK headquarters, I never saw Mello again. I had a total of two phone conversations with him, and was updated on his well-being (if not his progress in the Kira-case, which would have been of more use) by a series of emails from Matt. It appears that at some point in late November, Mello accosted his childhood friend and convinced him to sign his life away on a fruitless endeavour. It was a fight Matt should never have been involved in, but I suppose I should not have been surprised by his inevitable presence. After all, who that knew Mello would turn down the chance to run with him?
Matt's emails may have been little more than medical updates merged with sardonic 'wish you were here's, but combining them with Sayu's scribbled narrative has provided a more rounded view of the situation. It has, at the very least, given me some insight into Mello's side of things.
For example, on the twelfth of December, I received an email from Matt containing the following line: "Mello seems weird. Evidence: I stole his chocolate and it took him twelve minutes to notice. He stares off a lot. Conclusion: Lovestruck?".
The next day, he visited Sayu at her home in Kanto.
Sayu was, understandably, shocked to see Mello framed in the doorway at past two in the morning. As mentioned, I may be no expert on these matters, but I genuinely believe that is the wrong way to go about wooing a woman. Conflicting emotions of her feelings for him and what he had done to her father battled each other out, and neither moved. When Mello shifted into the light, the scar disfiguring half of his face became evident and worry eclipsed any other emotions Sayu had been feeling. For the first time since her kidnapping, she let out a cry, and moving quickly, crossed the gap between them to push his hair back from his face and examine the raw wound.
She said, "What happened?" but then realised, and her question went unanswered.
He said, "I'm sorry," but knew it wouldn't cover it and didn't say anything else.
Mello did not stay long. He brought a hesitant hand up to touch her cheek, and when Sayu did not push him away, leant down to kiss her. After that, he left, promising to return.
It was three days before he did. He appeared in her doorway once more, and she greeted him with a sad smile and a tilt of the head. For the rest of the night, they simply talked. Sayu got used to her voice, trying out the familiar-but-forgotten sounds as Mello's hands played through her hair and light began to creep through the curtains. He left before morning broke properly.
Sayu writes that he visited her three more times that month, and that on Christmas, she had made her way out, alone, to a park near her house. Mello had met her there. They had walked, with her leaning against him for support. She describes this, almost bitterly, as the closest to normal things would ever be for either of them. He held her and repeated his apology, and she absolved him. To this day, she has not absolved herself.
On the twenty-fourth of January, Mello and Sayu met for the final time, and I received an email from Matt consisting of three words: "It's been fun."
Again, details escape me. I am more than aware that the somewhat-sketchy nature of my relation of these events has made me a less than reliable narrator. For this, I apologise. But as I said at the beginning of this document, it is written for their sake and not yours, and I will not plunder the memories Sayu preserves of a man who - for all the world's logic and sense of unfairness - she was essentially in love with, simply to please my reader.
But what I can say is that the meeting lasted three hours, took place in Sayu's bedroom, and involved both her first experience of sex and the last words she spoke.
Two days later, Mello died, and in memory, Sayu has kept her silence.
I questioned Sayu on her response to Mello's death. Her only answer was to wrap her hands around the rosary, and bow her head. I pried no further.
There are things in this world that none of us can understand. The reasons behind this story, the things that pulled a quiet Japanese girl and a bombshell of leather and fire together, are things that can only be wondered at. I will do them no disservice by attempting to rationalise it further, or by dissecting and pondering each element of their bare, half-formed romance. They had, in total, no more than a week together, and I will let what they have made of that stand as a testament to itself.
Instead, I will leave this story here. With the death of one of the pair, perhaps the dance is over, but while one still lives the trace of the tune will remain. In Sayu Yagami I have found, epitomised, the ideals of independence, rationality and emotion bound together in their purest forms (though, f this is where those ideals get a person - vitality and strength bound in casing of silence and sadness - then I, for one, want nothing to do with them). I have found a woman scarred by war and left on the edges of an explosion, ignored but far, so far, from unimportant.
She has lost father, brother and lover, along with any semblance of normality in her life. But, for what it is worth…she is still alive. After everything she has experienced she holds on, both to her sanity and her heartbeat, and that, above all else, must count for something.
Where there is life there is hope, after all, however hidden it may be.
After-note, woop: Argh. It's short and it's crappy and a let-down to a bad fic. But oh well. It's helped me get my head around Mello/Sayu a bit more, which means anything else I write will probably have this sequence of events as a backdrop. Needed to get one sorted so I didn't just resort to stealing keem's, which is conclusive and brilliant and difficult to pull away from. So, sorry, keem, if I kind of ended up ripping you off up there. YOU'RE TOO GOOD, DAMN IT.
Chapter titles have been quotes, so credit where credit is due:
"Courage is grace under pressure", Ernest Hemingway.
"The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means", Oscar Wilde.
"Now the stale chips are up and the hope stakes are down" - The Libertines, 'Time For Heroes'
Also, would it be cool to do a spin-off of this actually detailing the relationship? You know, in a third-person 'able to actually say with confidence what went on instead of glossing over things and cutting out all inferences' kind of way. Or would that make me lame? I don't want to be lame. I want to be like the cool kids.
Hope it didn't make your eyes bleed. Bialy out.