+ this is the epilogue. it is the story of Soichiro, Near, and another familiar person. it is also a story about botany.

+ I would recommend reading this epilogue if you want a slightly more complete picture of certain parts of this story. however if you don't want to read this story, please scroll to the bottom of this page for a link to Third Time Lucky. edit: for some reason my links aren't working. please go to my profile for link.

+ warning for a few gender-based slurs in someone's angry rant.

+ the apple does not fall far from the tree.


The bar is old and filthy. Every horizontal surface is blanketed by an inch of grease. The air is still and filled with acrid smoke. None of the patrons talk aloud, but most of them are murmuring quietly to their companions.

Nobody makes eye contact.

This is a place for people to escape. This is a place for damned people, filthy people. For people who have let down their entire families, who have failed in their duties to the world.

And in one corner, Soichiro Yagami orders another beer. He's been coming to this bar for a while now, but he never speaks with any of the other patrons. He sits opposite Greg, a white-haired man who is technically Soichiro's manager, but all he really does is handle phone calls so that Soichiro doesn't have to talk to people.

What would he even have to say to anyone?

If he started apologizing he would never be able to stop. Half the people in the second world are here because of his son.

Soichiro is a danger to everyone he meets.

"I took a call from an interesting fellow," Greg says, knocking back another whiskey. "Thought you might at least like to hear his proposal."

"No," Soichiro replies. "I don't."

He's tired of being a renowned gunman. He is tired of being Casey Maddox. He is tired of people treating him like he's a trained assassin, even though he hasn't shot at another person since the day he died. Soichiro usually hires himself out as a security guard, or on his worst days, as entertainment. Never as an assassin.

Soichiro has never killed anyone. Never. Except that he has. Because he unknowingly created a terrible weapon and it grew up and went around slaughtering people all on its own. And that same blood runs in Soichiro's veins. The precious child that he raised with love and care and support was evil, and that means Soichiro is evil.

And all he can do is try to keep people safe. There is no way that he can even begin to atone, but he desperately wants to. He wants to make things okay.

He wants to breathe again.

How can someone atone for their own child? How can someone ever repent for so much death and pain and heartache? There is no way. It is impossible.

And thus, there is no hope for Soichiro Yagami. All he can do is survive one more day, protect one more person, and hope and pray that he never falls the way Light fell.

The apple never falls far from the tree.

"He said you'd refuse," Greg replies, obliviously. "He also said that you might change your mind if I mentioned his name."

"What was his name?" Soichiro asks, gruffly, raising his glass to his mouth.

"Near," Greg replies.

Soichiro nearly chokes on his watered-down beer.

Eric Spitz opens up his laptop and scratches his chin. He has over one hundred new messages. Forty are from his adorable but wordy girlfriend, and the rest are from his dozens of friends. In a few minutes he'll respond to all of them, with careful attention to detail.

But for the moment, he opens another browser tab and accesses his favourite search engine.

'Transparent girl' he types.

This brings up roughly seventy-two million hits, of which at least seventy-one million, nine hundred thousand ninety-nine hundred are porn.

Eric sighs and tries again.

'Is it normal to hallucinate transparent girl out of corner of eye?'

This brings up a few supernatural-themed forums and a handful of news articles about a firefighter who died two months ago with an exploded heart.

Eric glances at the girl sitting daintily at the foot of his bed.

"You're not going to kill me, right?" he asks.

"Of course not," she replies.

"Cool," Eric says, and gets on with answering his friends.

A very handsome blonde woman is waiting for him just outside the scheduled meeting place. She has a gun in her hand, and she makes no attempt to conceal it. Soichiro is somewhat comforted by her openness.

"Thank you for coming," she says, politely.

Soichiro doesn't recognize her, but that doesn't necessarily mean he never knew her. He knows that Near was the name of the man who captured his son, and he knows that man did not kill his son. That doesn't mean anything, though, because detectives consider handles to be trophies, and this Near is not that Near. This is a new Near. Someone different. A hero. A prince among men.

Soichiro has met someone matching that description before. When he was starting out, as a police cadet, he met a young man called Ishida who was everything Soichiro had hoped to be. Manners are free and kindness is easy, but Ishida was an honest-to-god hero. He attended a would-be school shooting and got every child out alive.

And then they graduated and lost touch. Soichiro doesn't know which world he is in.

"Our proposal is quite simple," the woman says. "Near requires your expertise to help vindicate Juan Glenford, a man who was wrongfully accused of murder."

Soichiro raises an eyebrow.

"I thought Near was busy with serious crimes," he says. "Why would he bother with this man?"

"Miscarriage of justice is a serious crime," she replies. "And Near bothers with everyone. Your payment will be as previously discussed. Do you accept?"

There is no room for argument or negotiation.

"Yes," Soichiro answers.

Eric is cute, in a generic sort of way. He seems to be kind and clean and well-mannered. He's not her type, but that doesn't matter. She doesn't have to love him. He only has to love her.

If he loves her, she'll be free.

Eric is curled up on the floor, chatting with his two-bit girlfriend. Ugh.

But she goes and sits with him, anyway. Truth be told, she's happy to be near him. She's been alone for so, so long, and everyone she meets dies.

But… maybe Eric won't let her down.

Like L, Near's physical appearance is underwhelming. But unlike L, he meets Soichiro in person as soon as the contract is signed.

"Casey Maddox, I presume."

Near is tall and skinny, with short curly hair. His entire face is obscured by a comical looking robot-mask. His voice is obscured by the mechanical-sounding filter built into the mask. He is wearing unremarkable jeans and a sweater. The blonde woman – Halle – stands at the door of his office, watching Soichiro carefully.

And here, with this ordinary-looking man who is supposed to be the embodiment of all that is good, Soichiro feels utterly ashamed.

"No," he says, hanging his head. "If you want to work with me, you should know who I really am."

"I already know who you really are," Near replies. "Sorry for invading your privacy, but I can't work with someone without knowing their real name."

"Then you know about my son," Soichiro says.

He feels like he's talking to Ishida all over again.

"I know about your son," Near replies.

The shame is starting to manifest as physical pain. Soichiro sinks to his knees, tears burning in the corners of his eyes.

"I am sorry," he says. "I am so, so, so, so, so sorry."

Halle lets Soichiro have his breakdown for a good twenty minutes before she moves him to an office and gives him a computer.

"Your job is to research the Glenford case," she says, tersely. "Use your extensive knowledge of firearms to see if you can come up with any defense."

"Wait," Soichiro replies. "Haven't you already ascertained that he is innocent?"

"Not yet," Halle replies. "Please use the call button at your left to contact me if you need anything, but do not be wasteful of my time. We are busy."

She leaves before he can say another word, closing the door behind her. Halle still isn't sure about involving ex-Chief Yagami. She can understand Near's reasons for doing so, of course, but this could all end badly very easily. She suspects the ex-Chief still hasn't come to terms with what Light did.

She runs into Gevanni in the hall, and they walk to Near's office together, exchanging notes.

"Any news on the Reef case?" Gevanni asks, brightly.

"Yes. We arrested his brother this morning. But since he's based in a country that still implements the death penalty, we'll be flying him out to London in a few hours for him to be tried there."

That is the agreement that any government must make to gain Near's help. No deaths. No killing. Not even for the murderers.

"Excellent," he says. "I figured out that the Sarvis case is fraudulent. It's not possible for someone to fall that far and land in cold seawater without passing out. But Freddy couldn't figure out the Plate case, so that's come back to us."

"Damn," Halle replies. Freddy is usually pretty reliable. He is by far their best investment this year.

Still, nobody is infallible.

No deaths is an excellent policy, even when dealing with convicted criminals.

"Oh, I wanted to talk to you about the latest forgery case," she says. "Can you have a look at the files I sent and tell me what you think?"

"Sure thing. Hey, has Near made any progress on the exploding heart case?"

"No, but I made up a file this morning. He'll be onto it soon."

"Seriously?" Gevanni asks. "But he's already dealing with twenty-two separate cases. One of these days he's going to burn out."

Gevanni looks a little too worried. He looks like the way Halle feels, when Near works himself into the ground and saves everyone and never even comes up for air.

You're in love with him too, Halle realizes.

She probably knew that already. Near doesn't demand love, but he kind of attracts it. Halle would do anything for him. She even thinks of him the way he asked her to think of him. She'd die for him, but the best part is, she doesn't think she'll have to.

"Speaking of burning out, did you tape today's episode of Dazed Lives?"

"Yes," Gevanni says. "We now have four hundred unwatched episodes on tape. Seriously, none of us are ever going to have the free time to watch those."

"One day we will," Halle replies.

One day, they are going to save the world.

Juan Glenford is charged with one count of first degree murder. The victim was his fiancée, Marissa. A neighbor heard them arguing, and was worried enough to record audio of the entire altercation.

Halle has provided him with extensive file notes, and a copy of the audio track. With a little more research, Soichiro learns that Glenford's weapon was a Glock 17, a pistol of such sentimental value to him that he carried it with him from the first world.

The wound in Marissa's head is consistent with the use of the Glock. Soichiro brings up the photograph of the bullet they retrieved in the autopsy, and it matches almost perfectly. Friends of Glenford's report seeing him with his gun only days before the attack.

Soichiro can't see how he can possibly prove Glenford innocent. He listens to the tape, which is a whole lot of Glenford swearing violently and loudly, and Marissa crying.

"Fuck you fuck you fuck you, you stupid bitch!"

"I will fucking kill you!"

The shot rings out after four minutes of one-sided yelling. Glenford had recently discovered that Marissa was having an affair with his best friend. His version of the story is that he was angry and yelling and threatening, but that an unknown assailant had hidden inside his house - in a cupboard in the same room that they had the argument – who had emerged to shoot Marissa at the last minute.

Nobody in their right mind would believe Glenford.

Is that what Near is? Such a bleeding heart that he cannot turn away even the most ridiculous of requests?

No. If that were the case, Near would have gone bankrupt long ago.

So what is it, then? What does he see that Soichiro can't see? There must be something else. He has to keep searching.

Soichiro is not cut out for detective work, but for a whole glorious afternoon, he forgets about apples and trees.

Eric is miserable. He's never been dumped before. His friends want to take him out and cheer him up and look after him, but all he wants to do is be alone.

"What's wrong, Eric?" the ghost girl asks.

"Alana and I aren't together any more. She said I wasn't spending enough time with her."

"Oh," the girl replies. "Is that because of me?"

"Probably," Eric wails. "I've been spending too much time with you."

"Or maybe you haven't been spending enough time with me," the ghost suggests.

She places one hand on Eric's back, right under his neck. Her touch is cool and feathery and comforting. Eric leans back.

"You're a pretty awesome ghost, did you know that?" he says. He doesn't really know what he's saying. He's just confused and distressed right now.

"Do you love me?" the ghost asks.

Eric grins, in spite of himself.

"What? No, of course not. I mean, I've only just met you."

"Oh," she says.

She looks different, now. Her eyes are red. She looks angry, and oh hell, now Eric is having even more girl problems than he thought possible.

"Look," he explains. "You're really great, it's just that I'm not into you."

"I hate you," says the ghost.

Eric feels a sudden, stabbing pain in his chest.

Then he doesn't feel anything at all.

When Soichiro finally figures it out, the sun is already rising. Halle doesn't answer his call, so he goes down to Near's office on his own. He finds the man sitting on the floor, surrounded by piles of paper and charts and maps, calculator in hand.

A dark haired man is standing in one corner, arms overflowing with a laptop, a tablet and a cup of tea.

"An orphanage in England is contacting us," he tells Near. "They recently accepted twelve disabled kids, and they don't have the resources to provide for them."

"We have capacity for them at the Thornber Orphanage," Near replies, in his distorted mechanical voice. "Divert more funds to Bradley."

Soichiro doesn't announce himself. He just watches them working, fascinated.

"Thanks. Okay, we also just got a call from the Canadian government. They're having trouble cracking a drug ring."

Near thinks for a moment.

"What are the primary drugs of concern?"

"The ring mostly deals in heroin," the man replies. Soichiro thinks his name might be Gevanni.

"The major markets for that will be overseas," Near says. "If they hire Freddy and make him resident at their airport, he should be able to identify the carriers. Our regular fees will apply."

He turns to Soichiro.

"Freddy is a new generation of detection dog," he explains. "He is extremely reliable."

"Some of these papers seem unrelated to each other," Soichiro comments, stepping into the room. "Are you working multiple cases at once? Isn't that counter-productive?"

He realizes how disrespectful he's being as soon as the words are out of his mouth.

What am I doing?

I'm acting like a child.

I got so excited about actual case work that I forgot myself.

No. Soichiro can never forget himself. He must always protect people. He must always protect people from himself.

"I will work single cases once there are not multiple problems in the world that need my attention," Near replies. "Any other questions?"

"Actually, yes," Soichiro says. "I just disobeyed your orders, eavesdropped outside your office, and then started asking you questions. Why are you letting me get away with this?"

Near tilts his head, giving the impression of a curious bird-robot.

"I will explain that later," he says. "Did you have information for me on the Glenford case?"

"Juan was telling the truth," Soichiro says. "It's unbelievable, but the sound of gunshot on the audio recording is inconsistent with the Glock 17. It sounds more like a Glock 17.5, which is a gun that is only manufactured in the second world."

"Juan Glenford had many enemies," Near agrees. "He was an unpleasant man, but we have proof he was framed. Gevanni, please contact the defense lawyers, and then take some time off."

Then he looks at Soichiro.

"Well done," he says. "I knew you wouldn't let me down."

Now you have to go on, the witch tells her. Find someone else.

You won't be free until you find someone who loves you.

"I know," the ghost replies.

"You brought me here deliberately," Soichiro says, accusingly. Bright morning sunlight is filtering into the room. "I want to know why."

"You had the technical knowledge."

"As do many other people," Soichiro argues, moving his hand as if to brush away Near's flimsy argument. "I want to know why you chose me. What do you want with the father of Kira?"

"I want you to go on working for me," Near says. "But before you make that decision, there is something that you need to know."

Soichiro is getting really sick of all the fucking secrets. He really doesn't miss working for L, he just misses Matsuda. And Aizawa. And Mogi. And oh god, all his men. Some days, he just wants to see one of them again. Just one. Just for five minutes.

The apple never falls far from the tree.

They're better off not knowing him.

"What do I need to know?" Soichiro asks, quietly.

"I hate Light Yagami," Near says. "I hate him more than I hate anything else in the world."

"Everyone hates him," Soichiro says, testily. He cannot bring himself to use Light's name, or the words 'my son'.

Everything hurts. When Light was eleven, he built a remote-controlled airplane out of spare parts. It could fly. By the time Light was eighteen, he was already a mass murderer.

How is Soichiro supposed to live with this?

"Yes, but nobody hates him more than I do," Near says. "He ruined my life. He destroyed everyone I love. I am defined by my hatred for him."

"Then how can you even bear to look at me?" Soichiro asks, voice barely a whisper.

"You are not him," Near replies. "You are nothing like him."

Soichiro lifts his head.

"You can't possibly know that," he declares.

Soichiro doesn't have time to make a decision. A mass murderer starts aggressively and deliberately targeting Near, using a series of hateful television campaigns.

"Please stay until this is over," Halle implores. "We are overflowing with work as it is. Your assistance would be extremely helpful."

"Fine," Soichiro replies. It's not as if he has anything better to do.

"Would you mind working on a potentially supernatural case?" Near asks. He's putting on his coat, even though he must be exhausted. "Or are those problematic for you after the Kira case?"

"How did you know I worked on the Kira case?"

"In the first world, everyone knows about that," Gevanni tells him. "Kira is now public information."

Soichiro balls his hands into fists, impossibly unhappy.

"I see," he replies.

Who did this? Who let this happen?

Paul is a cheerleader with a lazy eye and excellent taste in shoes. He's as blond as she used to be. He doesn't have a girlfriend.

He isn't frightened when she appears to him for the first time in a mall elevator. He smiles and speaks to her gently.

Maybe he'll love her. Maybe he'll love her and then she'll possess him and then she'll finally get to go home.

She just needs to find one decent man.

She just needs a prince. Just one prince, out of this sea of metaphorical frogs, and then she'll be able to go home and be with her man.

Soichiro stays behind, sorting through files. He feels a little like his old self, waiting at the office for the lower level police officers to come back with information.

The exploded-heart case is an odd one. The relatives of victims report that they seem to have encountered some sort of ghost, and then died a variable number of days later. Every autopsy shows the same cause of death: spontaneously exploded heart.

That's impossible, Soichiro thinks. But then he remembers that he lives in a world where killer notebooks occasionally fall out of the sky.

He watches the news at three o'clock. Another message from the man who calls himself Antinear.

"You say Near is a hero," says the broadcasted voiceover. "You say that he protects your lives. But I am sick of this fraudster deceiving innocent people."

Soichiro wonders if Antinear is as evil as Light. Maybe more evil? How can somebody measure evil? It's either none, like Near, or some, like everyone else.

Or lots, like Soichiro.

Sometimes, when things get too bad, Soichiro likes to think about the younger police officers that used to be under his command. He likes to imagine one of them, in place of his son. He wants to imagine that his son grew up okay and did well for himself and didn't kill anyone. He wants to imagine that he raised Matsuda or Ide, instead of Light.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

"Well, I am Antinear, and I have murdered eight people in the past two months," the voiceover continues. "Today, at eight pm, I will be sitting in a recording studio at 3 Manly Road. I will have three hostages with me. My gun will be in my pocket. I will be wearing body armour except for my head and the area over my heart. If Near shows up, I will allow him to enter. I will also allow him to shoot me once before I reach for my gun. If he fails to shoot me dead, I will kill him and my hostages and a dozen more people by nightfall. If he does not show up, I will kill two dozen people. And then you will know what sort of man your prince is."

Soichiro chews on his lower lip. He understands this sort of psychological game only too well. And Near's moral code is a difficult one. By not killing criminals, he may be held responsible for any further crimes they commit. Now someone is finally calling him on that.

It isn't fair.

The world needs people like Near.

"Have you seen this guy?" Paul asks his new friend. "He's all over the news. He hates Near. Near is the good guy, though. But Near never kills and now Near needs to come in and shoot this guy or heaps of people are going to die."

"Why don't they just send in lots of police?" the ghost girl asks, propping her head up on her arms. She's really cute. Paul likes her.

"Because of the hostages," Paul explains. "If they try to enter, he'll kill them. You know Near is cool when criminals are betting that he won't kill them. I want to be a guy like that, one day."

The girl examines the television for a little while.

"They say that Near is a prince," she says, thoughtfully.

"Yeah," Paul agrees. "Oh, quiet now. It's eight o'clock."

He can't wait to see what his hero does.

Lucas Crisp grins into the camera. He likes making people suffer. He likes destroying great men. It makes him feel strong, powerful even.

He kicks at the hostages with his toe. One of them is only seven years old. Near will not want to be responsible for her death. But Near is practically a force of nature. He won't kill Lucas. He'll destroy his own reputation first. He'll sacrifice other people before his own morality, and that is exactly what Lucas wants.

Someone knocks on the door. The surveillance screen indicates that a tall skinny man is standing right outside the door. He has an ugly face mask and short brown hair.

Lucas is surprised that he has made an appearance.

What are you going to try?

He presses the barrel of the gun against the little girl's head.

"If anyone else enters, I will kill her," he announces, to the crowd of cops that are congregating behind Near.

Then he presses a button and the door unlocks. Near steps inside, and the door slams shut behind him.

Lucas is so fucking pleased with himself. He bribed a dodgy television station into broadcasting this live. There is no escape for the world's most pathetic detective.

"Well?" he says, euphoric. "Do you have the balls to shoot me, Mr Near? Or will I shoot her?"

In response, Near whips a gun out of his pocket, and fires square at Lucas' chest.


What? Soichiro thinks, numb with shock. What, is that it?

You just threw away everything, for him?

Near leans over to the camera, so that his mask takes up the entirety of the screen.

"I would like to thank one of my colleagues for making me this unique tranquilizer gun," he says, calmly, as police officers swarm into the room. "Good night."

"Woo hoo!" Paul yells, hugging a pillow and punching the air at the same time. "That's what I'm talking about! Yeah!"

Now seems like as good a time as any.

"Do you love me?" she asks. "Am I good enough for you?"

"Hell yes!" Paul replies, emphatically

But she has heard this response before. People lie. Sometimes people agree just because they're happy. And so she uses her ghost powers and she looks into his heart, and finds that it is empty.

And then she kills him.

"I didn't learn much," Soichiro says. "I think this case is dangerous."

"Danger is irrelevant," Near replies. "But I understand if you wish to leave."

"I don't," Soichiro replies.

He believes in Near. He has always wanted to believe in people like Near. For the first time since he died, Soichiro begins to wonder. He wonders if maybe, if he works with Near for long enough, maybe he can atone.

No. That isn't possible. So many people died. So many more suffered.

"You are a good man," he says, out loud.

"I don't consider that to be true," Near replies.

"Whatever happened to you, I'm sorry," Soichiro continues. "I…I shouldn't stay here. I'm not safe. And I would never forgive myself if I corrupted you. You see, I'm just like him."

"You've killed people?" Near asks.

"The apple does not fall far from the tree," Soichiro whispers.

"Oh, are we talking about botany?" Near asks. "I have a favourite botanical saying, too. It is this: the poison does not grow far from the antidote."

Soichiro hesitates. He knows that phrase. He's heard it before, he's just never applied it in this way.

"Perhaps," Near says, "you are not the poison."

I could atone, Soichiro thinks, desperately. I could atone. If what you say is true, I could atone.

He wants this life. He wants to work with Near. He wants to rewrite history.

"I wish you were my son," he says, overcome.

"That is the worst thing anyone has ever said to me," Near says, quietly, and walks away.

"Are you okay?" Halle asks.

"Not really," Near replies. "But I will be fine."

Halle sits beside him on the bed, and takes his hand.

"Gevanni is in love with you," she announces. "I'm sure of it now."

"Oh," Near says.

"Are you going to tell him?"

"Soon," Near replies. "Soon."

It was always going to end up this way, with the three of them.

"Hi," she says, leaning on the edge of the desk.

The masked man lifts his head and stares at her. Apparently, he never shows anyone his face. Well, that's fine. She doesn't care if he's ugly.

"I was just working on your case," he says, in a weird mechanical voice. "You are real, then."


"Why did you kill all those people?"

She rolls her eyes. Seriously, she's a fucking superstar. Why should she care about unimportant people? All she wants is to get rid of this curse so she can get out of this stupid body.

"I didn't," she lies.

"I see," Near replies.

He doesn't sound as if he believes her.

"Listen," Soichiro says. "I'm sorry about last night. I spoke out of turn."

"Apology accepted," Near replies. "I want you to work with Gevanni today. He's progressing a technical case, and mathematics isn't my strong point."

Soichiro frowns.

"Not your strong point? I thought you were supposed to be a genius."

"I am definitely not a genius," Near says, while typing two different word documents at once. "I am actually very lazy. That's why I put so much money into research. I want to find easier ways of doing things."

"You are actually trying to change the world," Soichiro says, admiringly.

"I am trying to undo what Kira did," Near explains. "I want to make it so that nobody lives in fear."

"I want to help," Soichiro says, earnestly.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees movement. But when he turns his head there is nothing there.


She isn't a bad person. She's not. She just does what she's told. Well, that's not entirely true. She does what she's told when it suits her. She's not stupid, either.

Near doesn't even pay her much attention. He spends most of the time working.

I gave up believing in princes a long time ago, she thinks, ruefully. What am I even doing here?

But the witch suggested that she target the prince, and she can't ignore the witch. The witch isn't even a physical witch, just a voice in her head.

Her only companion.

"Tell me about the witch," Near suggests, in one of the rare times that they are alone.

"No," she replies.

"Why have we stopped working on the exploding heart case?" Soichiro asks.

"Priorities have changed," Near tells him.

In the next week, they catch three serial murderers, two terrorists, and an international forger. They fund another dog training facility and Near investigates opening a cat training facility. People live.

"The ghost is here, isn't it?" Halle asks on Saturday. "The one people kept talking about. It's real, and it is here. I saw it yesterday."

"I will manage it," Near says. "Everything will be fine."

"Okay," Halle says, because she trusts him.

"How did you become such a good person?" Soichiro asks. "Is it innate, or learned?"

"My parents raised me well," Near tells him.

She falls for Near, just a little bit. He listens to her when he has the time. He saves people, like a true prince. His means are stupid, but he seems to be achieving Kira's goals.

She goes to him when he is asleep at his desk, and wakes him.

"Do you love me?" she asks.

"Yes," Near says, without hesitation.

She sneers.

"Liar. We've barely gotten to know each other."

She feels the bile rise up in her throat. She hates this curse. She hates being rejected again and again and again. All she wants is for this to stop. All she wants is to see Light again.

"I know who you are," Near says seriously, and nobody has ever said that to her. In all these years, nobody has ever recognized her. "In the first world, we knew each other. I loved you then, too."

"No," she says, shaking her head in denial.

"You were surrounded by brilliant and beautiful people," Near continues. "And I was never one of them. But I loved you, all the same. Kill me if you have to, but know that you are loved, Misa Amane."

He does know.

He knows!

And she looks into his heart, and she sees that he isn't lying. And she feels like she's finally made it home, after years of wandering.


And then the witch's voice rears up in her head, telling her that this is her chance. Telling Misa that she needs to possess him.

This is your only way out. Possess him. Take his life and his body, and you will be able to go home.

He let you into his heart. You can do it.

Halle storms into the room. Misa ignores her. She stands completely still, hands shaking, staring at this person she doesn't remember, who remembers her.

How is she supposed to kill someone who loves her? Even Light didn't love her. Not really. But they were so good at pretending.

What are you waiting for? the voice asks. Do it.

Misa bursts into tears.

"I don't want to be alone," she says. "I don't want to be a ghost forever. I want to go back. I want to see Light."

"Is Light here?" Near asks. He puts his arms around her shoulders. "It's okay. I've got you."

"I hate you," she says, because she can't, she can't.

Do it the witch says.

No, Misa replies.

She's so so scared.

Good, says the voice, suddenly. Do better next time, Misa Amane.

And then she disappears.

"What would you do if Light really did come back?" Halle asks, while sorting her most recent case notes.

"I would do what hurts him the most," Near replies.

"Kill him?" Gevanni asks, uncertainly.

"Ignore him," Near says, wryly.

"Halle says that you defeated the heart-exploder," Soichiro says, one hand wrapped around a mug of strong coffee. "I'm glad."

Near sits on the stair next to him. Soichiro feels like he's back in the force, having morning tea with another officer.

"I wanted to ask you something," he says, slowly. "Were you one of my men?"

"Excuse me?"

"Were we ever colleagues, in the first world?" Soichiro elaborates. "I've been here for weeks now, and I still can't figure out why you chose me."

"We were never colleagues," Near confirms. "But I looked up to you a lot. I still do. And I chose you because I wanted to show you that the world can be fixed. And that you can fix it."

"Why do you care so much about me?"

In a moment, they will both get up and go back to the office. In a moment, Soichiro will go back to atoning for what Light did. And some day, he may even be okay. Life will go on, no matter how this conversation ends.

"I am concerned that you will think less of me once you know who I am," Near says. "But you believe in me now, right? Please try to remember the way you feel right now."

Soichiro snorts.

"What could you possibly tell me that would make me think less of you?"

"Well, for starters, it was me who made the information on the Kira case public. I authorised that."

Soichiro drops his mug.

"How dare you," he says, quietly. "You had no right."

"I had every right," Near says, simply. "You really don't know who I am, do you? I hide my face and voice because I know they will make people think less of me."

"Who are you?" Soichiro growls.

"I am the antidote," Near says, and he reaches up and pulls his mask away from his face.

And Soichiro isn't sure what he was expecting, but it wasn't this. Not these eyes and this face that he knows so well.

Nobody ever talks about the other apple.

"Sayu," he says, stumbling over his words. Because…no. His little girl. No. "What has the world done to you?"

"I think you mean, what have I done to the world?" she says, and she's smiling. As if she hasn't changed. She still looks the way he remembers, and he can't imagine her fighting crime. He didn't even want her to date a police officer, let alone become a detective.

"What happened?" he asks, weakly.

"I stopped waiting to be saved," she says. "I started saving people. Would you like to help me? We can undo the damage that Light did."

She puts her arms out and Soichiro hugs her, and he actually did okay. He made this other wonderful thing. He isn't just Light's father. Because he unknowingly created a hero and it grew up and went around saving people all on its own.

He has already atoned.

"Yes," he says, thickly. "Yes. Let's do that."

And they do.

the end

food trivia from SC

+ L almost never ate the same sweet twice.

+ Rae only ate potato and food made from potatoes.

please go to my ffn profile for a link to Third Time Lucky.