A/N: You may have guessed, but this is crack inspired by an offhand contemplation of Light's in Redivivus. I'm starting to think I should just make a collection fic just for somewhere to put the ideas that aren't used or the events that don't get seen in-fic. Next up would be the Shinigami Betting Pool, or the Kira Convention, and after that, anyone and everyone could feel free to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks.
The Slow Path of Rehabilitation
Makoto was pleased with himself. At forty-eight, a social worker for twenty of those years, you'd have thought he knew better by now. Nonetheless, he was pleased. Sat in front of him in a staggered semi-circle of resentful faces were sixteen recovering addicts. All of them, he believed, were well on their way to recovery. At the very least, they admitted they had a problem, which was a start.
Makoto's problem was his sheer exuberance tended to irritate or exhaust his recovering patients (he had a grand total of seventeen scars that could bear witness to this) and he never seemed to realise he was fighting a losing battle. Two hundred and fifty-six of his former patients – that he knew of – had gone back to their addictions and at least half had died as a direct consequence. On the other hand, five hundred and twenty-four patients had gone on to lead quite possibly fulfilling but at the very least productive lives, so he considered himself to be winning.
"Who wants to go first?" he said brightly.
'Tama' – whose real name was Noriko, and he still wondered why they bothered – snorted. "Do we have to do this every time?"
"Now, now, it's a good trust-building exercise," he chided, "and it serves its purpose."
"Fine," she huffed. "My name's Tama," – Noriko – "and I'm an addict."
"Very good," Makoto praised. Half of the semi-circle ducked their heads with an exasperated groan that he ignored.
It was at this moment that Makoto's day went from good to bad in less time than it takes to slam a door. Which was to say, five seconds, that being the time to took for the door to slam open and a small figure to stroll in with more confidence than Makoto had witnessed in a long time. "Am I late?" it said curiously, its voice soft, high, and most definitely a child's.
Shimura. It had to be one of Shimura's practical jokes. Well, Makoto would show him. "No, no," he said brightly. "Take a chair."
The boy looked at him for a long moment. Makoto was in the habit of studying people – it made his job a little more interesting, to try and figure the stories behind his patients' falls from grace. He could tell at a glance that the boy was well cared for, probably denied nothing, and supremely confident. He would have to tell Shimura to pick his dupes a little better next time.
He dragged the heaviest, most padded chair over – despite the abundance of the generic plastic creations the rest of the room was seated on – and crawled onto it, to sit there and stare at them with half-lidded eyes that said he thought this all to be faintly pathetic.
"Well." Makoto found he couldn't stop staring. The boy blinked his dark eyes and continued to outstare him beneath his auburn hair as he compulsively straightened his already neat school uniform. "Would you like to introduce yourself?"
"Ah," the boy said, and cocked his head to one side, like a curious crow. "My name is Matsuda Takeshi," he said, and Makoto found himself unsurprised by the unshakable confidence in the voice he professed the lie in. "And I am a murder addict."
The room's inhabitants straightened involuntarily, even Hideaki, who couldn't stop jittering long enough to say his own name without stuttering.
… a joke too far.
"Did Shimura put you up to this?" Makoto demanded.
The boy looked faintly bored. "No," he said flatly. "I am merely seeking help for a condition that has recently been brought to my attention. I apologise if it unsettles you, but I believed it to be the best course available that I seek help for my – problem, rather than return to ignoring it, as I had been doing previously."
"That's enough," Makoto snapped. "I'm not in the mood for Shimura's games."
The boy rolled his eyes. "Your compatriot is in Osaka and has been for the past three days. His prank was the cake gag that you have already run afoul of. Now, this is a rehab clinic, isn't it? So rehabilitate me."
"Listen, er – "
"Matsuda." The boy said coolly. "As I have already told you."
"Little boy," Makoto said, and was pleased to note that the aforementioned boy sucked in an affronted breath, "this is a rehabilitation clinic, and it deals with serious problems. I'll thank you not to make fun of the good work we try to do here."
"I am hardly belittling your work, Makoto-san. I am simply asking for help. I fail to see how you reached the conclusion that I thought little of your work when I have made it abundantly clear that I require your assistance precisely because of your work."
Makoto had a very slow temper. It made him the favourite to deal with people like Tama, with people who hated his help and wanted to keep their favourite life-destroying crutch. Some of his patients were the most aggravating people you could hope to meet. Makoto had never lost his temper at any of them, even Hideaki, who had once hit him with a chair and rifled his pockets for the cash for just one more hit. They'd been doing so well too. "That's enough," he yelled. "I don't care what kind of joke you think you're playing, but that's it! Get out of here!"
The boy's expression of faint irritation became something close to malevolence. "I see," he said after a moment. "Do you suppose the prisons offer a similar service to yours to those individuals with problems equivalent to my own? It would be a very poor thing if I did have to return to my previous denial."
Makoto had never hit a child before. He didn't plan to start either. "Out!" he hissed.
The boy stood up, brushed his spotless clothes off and turned and walked away with remarkable indifference. He paused at the door. "I won't forget this, Makoto-san," he warned over his shoulder, hand still on the doorknob.
When he opened his mail two weeks later he discovered a packet containing photographs and documentation proving that his daughter – missing for seven years – was a prostitute. Makoto realised that he had seen her and not realised it. She had been in the news the day before as the latest victim of the Tokyo Strangler.
'I apologise for the delay,' said the typed note that drifted loose when he dropped the papers in shock. 'I was busy seeking replacement therapies, none of which matched my requisite needs. I discovered your daughter's whereabouts before I visited, but in all the excitement of my subsequent expulsion, it slipped my mind.'
"You're a bastard, Light, you know that?"
"Thank you, Ryuk."
"I mean it. Seriously."
"How was I supposed to know she was going to be murdered?"
"You could have posted it before she did though."
"Hindsight is 20/20. I'm going to catch the Strangler eventually, though, he can take comfort in that."
"Sh'yeah, right. Even I know better than that."
Prison 21 contained some of the vilest, most depraved criminals in Tokyo. Currently Doctor Nishida was listening to a serial killer fantasise about his favourite murder. He tended to linger a long time over the myriad uses he put his victim's blue hair ribbon to, and for the fifth time that hour Nishida felt himself become more than a little queasy. The rest of the circle either nodded in agreement or looked like they were contemplating ripping Osabuyoshi's spine out through his mouth.
At five o'clock the door opened and a little boy walked into a room full of murderers and rapists and sat down. Strangely, none of the men looked inclined to go anywhere near the child. Not even Takimura, who had raped and killed five boys of a similar age to the one now sitting cross-legged on a plastic chair opposite him.
"I do have the right place?" the boy said, eyes drifting from person to person. "Doctor Nishida? You do attempt to… 'cure' these men of their… homicidal urges?"
"That's not quite -- well, we-- uh. Yes."
"Oh good," the boy sighed.
Well, what was he supposed to say to that? "Um."
"Would you like me to introduce myself?"
"…That would be nice," he said helplessly as he wondered how to alert the guards to the fact that a vulnerable twelve year old was sitting in a room with some of the most vicious criminals in the prison.
"My name for the purposes of this room is Asahi. I've killed more people than everyone in this room put together, and to be blunt, I need some serious help."
He squeezed his eyes shut. It was simple. He was cursed. Nishida Isamu got all the freaks. His medical school companions had always teased him about it.
He opened his eyes and was surprised to see the dangerous men in the room didn't look in the slightest amused by the boy's announcement. In fact, if he was reading Ayoshi's body language correctly, they were all inclined to picking their restraints and either beating him to death or running as far and fast as possible in the opposite direction.
The boy sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Doctor Nishida, your input is required."
"…um. I can prescribe you some anti-psychotics…?" The boy stared at him. Suddenly Nishida had no doubt that he was perfectly capable of killing over thirty people. "Or not…"
"I see we are going to have some problems," the boy said.
"You don't seriously expect me to--"
"I seriously expect you to pay attention when I'm talking and make the best use of that degree you have sitting in your office."
He's only a child, Nishida found himself repeating over in his head. He's only a bizarre, absolutely terrifying little boy that frightens a room full of murderers. Nishida had never quite gotten the current trend of horror movies where a young child was the visible incarnation of senseless murdering evil. Looking at 'Asahi', who somehow made him think of the western Grim Reaper, scythe in one hand and list of names in the other, he felt he finally understood the reason.
"I think it's best that you leave," he said weakly.
Asahi gave each of the men in the room a long, measuring look. They all looked like they wanted to shuffle their feet and duck their heads. "Perhaps that's best," he agreed. "These… people… are giving me ideas."
Doctor Nishida, first in his class, hummed tunelessly until he heard the door slam and a guard poked his head round with a confused look. "Did you just see a little kid go by?"
"A little kid? Here?" Was it a creepy little boy who looked like he ought to have red eyes?
"Ugh. Must be seeing things…"
"I can't believe you got that guy fired."
"He was useless."
"You fired him."
"Useless. If it weren't for certain security measures he'd have been torn limb from limb years ago."
"Ah, so you did it out of the goodness of your heart?"
"Oh, of course. Speaking of the goodness of my heart, it was a really bad idea to go there…"
"Gave you bad ideas, right?"
"Must not write their names down. Must not write their names down. Absolutely… must… not…"
"Do you even know their names?"
"Of course I do. Do you want me to recite them?"
"… I could always decide to practise my handwriting."
"You're not helping!"
"I am a shinigami. It's in the job description that I kill people."
"Shut up, Ryuk!"
"Let me see if I have this right…" Kumiko had never, in all her eleven interminable years as a psychiatrist, heard such a bizarre introduction. That the speaker was barely twelve made it all the more fascinating. "You claim to be a member of an organisation of world-famous detectives, and you have a severe addiction to… murder?"
"Incorrect," the boy informed her serenely. "I said my name was Kira. I made no mention of the detective, or detectives, as you and many others believe the case to be."
"It's supposed that Kira must be a group," she pointed out over her clipboard. Kumiko had followed Kira's appearance in the Japanese law enforcement circles with interest, out of professional curiosity more than anything, finding both his choice of moniker and his likely motives to be of great interest.
"In a manner of speaking. However, all those people must answer to someone."
"And is that 'someone' you?" she asked, lips twitching.
He seemed unconcerned by her visible scorn. "Perhaps."
Kumiko decided that at least she was being entertained. "Please, do go on."
'Kira' tilted his head and smiled. "You don't believe me. That's precisely why I chose to use the name. You'd be laughed out of work if you ever seriously tried to use this session against me. But," he pulled his legs up onto the chair and wrapped his arms around them, "I really am a murder addict and I do need help."
"I'm not sure why you chose a psychiatrist for this…"
"Well." He paused, surveyed her a moment, that bleak smile still on his face. "The delight I get from killing must be more a psychological high than a physical one, wouldn't you agree? It's not as if I can use a chemical substitute to wean myself off. The desire to kill, also, is something psychological, isn't that right?"
Kumiko decided she'd never met a more screwed-up child. "How many people have you killed, Kira-chan?"
The look of irritation he gave her made her almost – almost – reconsider her former amusement. "Lots." He said shortly.
"Come now, I can't help you if you're not honest with me."
"Thousands," he said reluctantly. "Hundreds of thousands. I'm… not quite certain of the exact number." He looked irritated with himself at the thought of being unable to give a precise number. Kumiko could have told him to just make one up, it wasn't as if she didn't know it was an elaborate fabrication, but decided he needed to be humoured a little while longer.
"And why do you kill, Kira-chan?"
"Did," he corrected. "Why did I kill. I killed criminals. I tried to make this world a better place, that's all."
"It wasn't as if it was really killing," he mused, staring at her through his neat hair. "Write down a name, picture a face. Dokun. Heart attack."
Kumiko made a note on her papers to find out who the boy was and tell his parents that he needed intensive therapy, and not with her.
"Ryuk," the boy said, turning in his seat to look at the closed door. "Please give me a scrap of your note."
My. Seeing hallucinations? The boy was a bundle of mental disorders. She scribbled faster, until she felt the brush of paper against her hand and looked up to scold him.
Her mouth dropped open. She had to be screaming – although she couldn't hear it – because the boy slapped her, and she realised that the silence had a ringing sound to it and her throat hurt in a way it hadn't since that roller coaster ride.
"Hi," the thing floating behind the boy said.
"This is Ryuk," Kira said calmly. "He is a shinigami. He thinks you're funny, which is good. It means he won't kill you now. But precisely because you are funny he will remember you, so he might kill you later."
"Oh… oh my god…"
"You've been very rude, Hatakeda-san." The boy frowned – no, pouted – looking so hurt it couldn't possibly be true. "I came here in all seriousness, expecting help and understanding, and you've barely listened to a word I said."
"So I'm going to tell you something. You see that book, on Ryuk's belt? That's a Death Note. If you write the name of a human in there while picturing their face, that human will die. There are countless ways to kill someone with a Death Note."
"There are hundreds, if not thousands of creatures like Ryuk. They are all very arbitrary. You'd better hope, Hatakeda-san, they don't look at you and decide to write your name down."
She was screaming again, but she barely noticed.
"…I think you're the scariest being I've ever met."
"What? What'd I do?"
"That poor woman."
"She wasn't taking me seriously."
"Light, I know enough about humans now that I know nobody is going to take a twelve year old claiming to be a murder addict seriously."
"She could have pretended."
"Hello, my name is Sakurako and I am your psychic for this session—" she looked up, and started screaming. Light turned to look at Ryuk at the exact moment Ryuk looked at him. Light raised his eyebrows, Ryuk gave the impression of raising non-existent eyebrows and they turned back to the cowering young woman at the same moment.
"Are you sure she can't see you?" Light said curiously as he picked his way through the wavering stacks of paper that decorated the office.
"Positive," Ryuk said, hunching a little behind Light anyway. "Are you sure it's not you she's screaming at?"
"She'd be the first," Light said, stopping a foot away from where she huddled in the corner of the room, shaking. "Perfectly normal sweet child here."
Ryuk snorted. "I don't get you humans," he muttered. "I'm nowhere near as dangerous as you, but the minute they spot me s'all 'monster! Yaahh!'"
Light smiled into the near-silence. "Ma'am?" he said curiously, leaning in closer for a better look as she tried to make herself as small as possible.
Sakurako's rapid breathing was his only answer.
"Ma'am, you are in no danger."
"I merely wished to request your assistance--"
Ryuk covered his ears with a familiar whine that grated on Light's nerves far more than the repetitive shrieking. "Light, I know you're trying to kick your habit and all, but can I please have an apple now? I could cope with this better with an apple."
Light ignored him, staring at the screeching woman. "…Are you absolutely sure she can't see you, Ryuk?"
"Light, she's pointing at you."
"…Just our luck to pick the one real psychic this side of Tokyo."
"I don't know why you thought a psychic could help you anyway."
"I didn't. I just thought it might be funny."
"Well, wasn't it? Even with the screaming."
"Oh, absolutely. Can I have an apple now?"
"No. If I'm going cold turkey, you can too."
Sachiko was a smart woman. Not as intelligent as her son, but smart. So she never asked why he reached for a pen when angry, and she didn't ask where he'd been when he should have been at his non-existent tennis club, and she didn't ask what was wrong when he came home one evening, flung several train tickets in the wastepaper basket and stomped up to his room in a fine temper, pausing only to snatch an apple from the fruit bowl.
She turned the TV up instead, and wondered if cooking his favourite meal would help.
"That's it. I give up."
"I think you should try some more."
"I am not your travelling comedy act."
"Ryuk, if you shut up you can have an apple."
"If you give me more apples, I'll get you another Death Note."
"…Idiot… … How many apples?"