Disclaimer. I don't own Death Note or the song lyrics herein. It saddens me. All I will earn from writing this is a string of late nights.

This is crackish and very much dependent upon whether you have a rather warped sense of humour or not. I would also say that it doesn't really kick off until a good few chapters in (possibly a dozen chapters in actually, having reread it) but I suppose that you have to set these things up somehow. You could jump in at chapter 12 for the beginning of the bitchslaps, although it might be confusing at times.

Chapter 1

The Boy with the Thorn in His Side/This is How I End Up So Tense

How can they look into my eyes and still they don't believe me

How can hear me say those words and still they don't believe me

And if they don't believe me now will they ever believe me?

- The Boy with the Thorn in his Side - The Smiths


Watari's body complained of tiredness as he dragged himself up against the headboard. L Lawliet was standing at the end of his bed and through bleary, un-spectacled eyes he looked vaguely like a George A. Romero film extra. He certainly had the posture down pat.

It wasn't the first time that Watari had woken up to the sight of feral-haired L standing over him in the middle of the night. It was, however, the first time since the beginning of the Kira investigation. He wasn't exactly a comforting sight to wake up to. Watari reached for his glasses from his bedside table and his vision focused in on that strangely endearing little face under all that hair, waiting patiently. Watari couldn't prevent the corner of his mouth twitching upwards in humour. Poor L. All he needed was a blue comfort blanket dragging behind him from a weakly held fist and it'd be like Linus van Pelt from Snoopy was in the room, live and in person.

He better not be here to ask for tea and a sackful of sugar.

"L? What's wrong?" Watari asked.

"I have chained Light-kun to the bed. He's asleep now."

"Oh. Right. I did wonder where he was. I trust that there's a good reason for it."

A big part of Watari didn't want to know the reason.

"Watari, I wanted to make sure that the countermeasures I requested have been ensured in the event of my death."

1st August 2004

Each moment was measured by constant tapping of computer keys. The metronome sound was a near constant background noise in L's new and highly prized piece of Tokyo real estate. Unlike their in last base, any noise here was amplified and bounced off the walls.

Light gave up on burying himself under a cloud of pillow and duvets (an attempt to block out the noise... or suffocate himself, one of the two) and half-heartedly wondered what time it was. Sometimes Light lost track of whether it was night or day as there were no windows in the main room of the headquarters. Also, if Ryuzaki was the same here as he was at the hotel then Light knew that, despite his most fervent attempts, the blackout curtain would always kept drawn in the bedroom they shared. There were no visible means to show the passage of time once he'd taken his wrist watch off and laid it face-down on the bedside table.

In was like living in a vacuum. Some hellish vacuum.

The whole situation increasingly resembled a rather ill-advised scouting trip only without the bracing walks in the forest. Though Light was provided with more than decent bathroom facilities and surprisingly luxurious bed linen, this was offset by the fact that he was physically chained to another man.

Another man who didn't seem to understand the concept of sleep and who smelt of a French patisserie. Oh, and a man who thought that Light was a mass murderer of numbers that a war criminal would be proud of.

Now Light remembered that he decided against living in halls when he started university because it was inevitable that he'd end up with an insane flatmate who probably stapled dead animals to the wall and had a human skull on the mantle piece.

Since L hadn't, as yet, found a good enough reason to walk further afield in the time they had been chained together, Light reasoned that his life was not that much more improved from being locked in the cell. Actually, in retrospect, the cell had a lot going for it. He wasn't chained to some weird guy in the cell. Light missed the cell.

He sat up abruptly and gazed blankly at the bringer of all this woe into his life. The familiar curvature of the spine, the fingertip fluctuating between hesitantly hovering and lazily perfoming a tap dance across the laptop keys.

Light felt homesick. No, not homesick - heartsick.

If he could give the cell another chance he could make it more homely. It wouldn't be so bad this time! At least there he could sleep without the incessant drumming of keyboards and munching of sweets. Light rolled back onto his back and released a long, drawn-out sigh to the ceiling.

"Are you all right Light-kun?" came the familiar tone of the phantom tapper who stared like a demented owl down upon him.

"All right? Yes. Well, no actually. Could you give that a rest, Ryuzaki?" he indicated by jolting his fingers over an imaginary keyboard in mid-air. A perfect impression of L's two-fingered, staccato typing skills.

"The sound is annoying to you, am I right? Do you think that it's this sound which is keeping you awake at night?"

Ah, thinly veiled inquisition masquerading as concern. Nice.

"Yes, it really is. Annoying, that is," Light replied, propping himself up on an elbow to confront the problem head on. "It's just that it's who knows what in the morning and there's a time and a place for everything. Now is not the time for typing. What are you doing anyway?"

"The case never sleeps Light-kun. I'm looking through my notes and amending data to reflect events since," L answered, peculiarly animated all of a sudden. "As you know, the killings have resumed but the victims point to a new Kira. I'm endeavouring to find links or major discrepancies between these and previous Kira mur – "

"I'm sure that Kira, whoever they may be, is sleeping right now, dreaming of bunnies and fluffy kittens, so could this wait until tomorrow?" Light interrupted, rubbing his head as the drone of Ryuzaki's voice threatened to bore a hole into his skull.

"You're quite humorous Light-kun. This is most unlike you."

"I'm not trying to be. Please, Ryuzaki." Light sighed, feeling forlorn, he let his arms drop limply to the bed instead of propping up his head, which, denied it's much necessary support, also drooped as if suddenly too heavy for his neck. "I can't do this. I need sleep."

"I'm not preventing you from sleeping."

"Don't say that! You know that you are! You're doing it so I can't think straight. You're doing this so I'll confess to … whatever. You'll make me so crazy that I'll say that I'm Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac. You! And your tapping! You're like a one man seance. Once for yes, twice for no. If you're not tapping the keyboard, you're tapping a spoon on a cup. You're tapping a boiled sweet against your teeth. You're tapping your fingers on the table. You're tapping the side of your head. You're tapping – "

"Light-kun, really, you're becoming hysterical," L said, blinking once to emphasise the point.

"I'm not hysterical, I'm just … " Light breathed out, defeated. "Tired. I'm tired, Ryuzaki. I can't work like you. I need eight hours of sleep a night but I'd be happy with six. Hell, at the moment I'd be happy with one hour. You and I, we just don't … we're not working out. Our lifestyles, our working habits are too different. I thought I could adjust but I really, really can't. Look, I was thinking, couldn't I be put into a cell again at night? It'd be better all round. I'd be able to sleep and you'd be able to work in peace without me attached to your wrist. All the cameras are still operational, right? You and Watari can still keep an eye on me. Ryuzaki?"

L appeared to consider this, thumbing his bottom lip idly while staring at the carpet

"Hmmm... I understand what you're saying. Perhaps I have been too selfish. I am aware that my work ethic is stronger than most. I simply reasoned that you would share this. We seem quite similar in terms of intellectual ability. You seemed so eager to apprehend Kira. I was mistaken."

Great, so now this was a matter of his dedication to the case. Light could almost see the calculator of L's mind working out the percentages of how this affected his probability of being Kira.

"L... Ryuzaki, the case has nothing to do with it," Light said exasperated. "I just need some sleep. Please. I think you would benefit too, instead of catnapping."

"I do not catnap," L said resolutely, tapping open another browser window, refocussing his attention and ignoring Light because a line had been crossed. Yes, there was a line and it was the mention of catnapping and Light had crossed it. Now he would feel L's wrath. He would be subjected to so much tapping he'd feel like he was living with the motherload of poltergeists.

"Woooah, do you ever catnap! You did it this afternoon. Sitting up, with a lollypop in your mouth," Light argued.

"I was resting my eyes."

"Oh, of course you were."

"There is no need to be brusque, Light-kun," L said, waving a lazy gesture in Light's direction with one hand while clicking open another browser window on his laptop with the other. Light pulled harshly on the chain that connected him to L, catching the detective off guard and pulling him over sideways across the bed. His head landed on a level with Light's knees.

"Just try this once, Ryuzaki. Otherwise I will go mad and strangle you and then you will never know who Kira was." Light smiled mischievously, quickly turning over, snuggling into his pillow and switching off the light in an instant, determined that this would be the end of the matter. Perhaps L was like an animal who only understood action and not reasoning. It would be ironic if that was the case. A man who lived and breathed reason but was unable to understand it in the most basic of terms. Light squeezed his eyes shut, enjoying the silence. He felt L slowly raise himself from the bed and could almost feel his eyes fixed upon him, even in the darkness. Light silently challenged him, clenching his fist in anticipation. Go on. I dare you. You have no idea, do you? Just try it you boney bag of chalk. This was a line that he was drawing. It was a matter of respect as much as anything else.

Despite fully expecting L to prop himself up and start clacking again on his computer, Light felt a little shifting and dipping in the bed beside him. Not a word of protest, nothing. Just stillness and perfect quiet apart from the remnants of anger pulsing through his own temples. Well, this was unexpected.

Light, despite his amazement and an unbearable urge to turn the lamp on and stare at L and this miraculous turn of events, stayed exactly where he was.

He opened his eyes, not with a start and not with the usual sharp impact with the floor as L dragged him off the bed by the handcuffs with linked them. Light awoke serenely, feeling as refreshed as he had in a long time. The first thing he did was look at his watch on the beside table. He grabbed at it like it was a 100 yen note floating down to earth and stared earnestly at the clock face. Six hours had passed. Seriously?

"Good morning, Light-kun. I trust you slept well."


Sitting up in bed, resting against the headboard he turned his face towards L who, like a mirror image, was also sitting up in bed, resting against the headboard, his face turned towards Light. The only difference was that he was crouching.

L had let him sleep. This gesture surprised Light by how much it meant to him. He was aware that he wasn't a terribly emotional person but he truly was touched by this. He doubted that L actually slept during those six hours. He had probably just sat there - in the dark, his brain ticking over but being unable to express himself. Yes, Light felt incredibly thankful to L for allowing him to sleep. Pathetic really, but then this was his life now.

"If you're rested now, then perhaps we could have some coffee? I have waited, as you can see." L's eyes were impossibly wide and cartoonish, like a startled deer.

"Yes, I see. Coffee would be nice."

Light threw on a bathrobe and slippers over his pyjamas while L simply stood and waited like a scruffy lost street urchin. He always made a slightly comical figure, being a little eerie in his stillness and his peculiar mannerisms. Light stopped being taken aback by L's idiosyncrasies a long time ago but every now and then he looked at L and evaluated him anew. The way he hunched himself over as if he were Atlas, burdened with the world upon his shoulders. The orb-like dark eyes ringed with shadows and framed by the spiky mop of thick black hair. The way his entire wardrobe was made up of the same white long-sleeved t-shirt and stonewashed denim jeans. Yes, quite an odd bird.

Light on the other hand was one of those blessed people who looked as if he was born wearing a cashmere sweater and the finest quality trousers with a comb in his back pocket. Always so perfect and unflustered that you would think that even if he were to break a sweat, he would smell of Davidoff's "Cool Waters".

Once in the small kitchen which adjoined their room, Light immediately started preparing the coffee in silence while L seated himself in an almost-normal fashion at the tiny kitchen table. He looked as if he was trying to impersonate a piece of crumpled newspaper. With eyes.

"So, what's the itinerary for today?" Light enquired placing a cup down on the table. Unless anything had presented itself in a holy vision to L during the night, Light was determined to continue where he had left off. He had been investigating some recent deaths attributed to Kira. Some of the victims were very intriguing; they didn't seem to have many skeletons in their closet, well, no more than any other white collar. Wife and kids in the suburbs, floozy in a penthouse in Shibuya. What linked these deaths? Perhaps they were hits. Had Kira turned assassin? However, though Light felt he was getting somewhere, that was exactly the reason that made him nervous. It was usually at this point that L yanked the rug from under him and gave him something else to do instead. Light hated leaving anything unfinished, and that coupled with the L's disrespect of his work often played on his mind.

"I'd like to go back to the Misora case," L muttered, thumbing his upper lip.


"Ok. What can I do?" Light said, biting down on a piece of toast.

"Well, Light-kun, I've been thinking. It's highly irregular of me to have my lead suspect look into the case of people who I think you killed, isn't it?" Light simply sighed.

"What can I do then? I don't want to be the tea boy."

"Oh no, you couldn't take Matsuda's job. No, it's just your luck that I'm highly irregular. I'd like you to study footage from the train stations heading out of Tokyo on and around the 1st of January."

"Ok." Bumped off the real case and thrown onto a cold one. The whole thing reeked of L marking his territory as head honcho. Light had been too vocal yesterday in telling the team of his suspicions about Kira3. He'd stolen L's thunder and now L was pissed off.

However, Light was nothing if not adaptable. If L wanted him to investigate the Misora disappearance, then he would. Maybe if he could find something, something to prove that he wasn't any part of Naomi Misora's death. Maybe if he did that then L might realise that he wasn't Kira after all. L was convinced that Misora was killed by Kira after she started investigating the death of her fiancee, Ray Penber, who definitely was killed by Kira because, seriously, how many 28 year-old, healthy young men drop down dead of heart attacks? Also, this particular 28 year-old and healthy FBI agent was brought in to monitor Kira suspects, of which Light was one. It was even made more suspicious since he died at around the same time that an entire group of agents assigned to the Kira case also keeled over. Light struggled to swallow the tangled knot of anxiety in his throat. He knew it all looked grim.

"A bus driver gave a statement to say that he spoke to Misora on the 29th of December," L continued. "She asked him to id her fiancé as being a passenger in the bus-jacking and proceeded to ask him what he remembered."

"What did he say?" asked Light.

"Enough to convince her that Kira was on the bus that day."

Light couldn't repress a laugh at the idea of the mythical Kira taking the #124 bus to Spaceland.

"Where were you on that day, Light-kun? You were among the suspects being tracked by Penber after all but his notes for you on this day were very brief, almost as if you were boring him with your mundaneness." The eyes were on him and they were as unforgiving as a downfall.

"I don't remember. I'd have to check my diary," Light answered, shuffling through papers and letters and, oooh look, a letter from Mum and Sayu which his Dad must have had to run past L first. It was already open. Light glanced resentfully at L and stuffed the mangled envelope into his trouser pocket.

Right, back to it. Where were you on so-and-so? They'd had this same conversation at least 3 times. They both knew where he was and what he'd done that day. They knew it inside out. Perhaps the first time the questioning and the ruthless 'I don't believe a word that comes out of your mouth' L patented stare might have fazed him. If anything, today at least, the repetition and the predictability was rather soothing. It was like discussing the weather over the morning papers with a normal person. Except L wasn't a normal person.

"I have your diary and you wrote that you studied all day. You went into some detail while discussing your love of the subjunctive mood in English grammar," L said.

"Well, then, I must have been doing that."

"Hmmm..." rolled L as he inspected, deemed worthy and deposited a chocolate truffle into his mouth. "I like the subjunctive mood also," he added, licking a finger.

"How nice for you," Light replied, averting his eyes and sipping his coffee. Suddenly the ceiling looked very appealing.

"That's interesting, Light-kun. In your diary entry you positively enthused about the finer points of the subjunctive mood. Now, basic psychology would suggest that if such a person met another person with similar interests, especially something as unusual as the subjunctive mood, then they would exhibit feelings of excitement at having found someone who shares his passion."

"I'm not passionate about it, Ryuzaki."

"I pose to you that you are not interested in the subjunctive mood at all and that your diary entry was falsified," L said quickly, staring intently into Light's eyes. Annoyingly, Light's heart started racing.

"No! Why would I lie about something like that? I could just have said, 'Studied. Had dinner. It was outstanding. Went to bed.' I might had been temporarily enamoured with English grammar but I'm not going to start a fanzine for the subjunctive mood."

"That's disappointing. You're right in your argument though, of course," L said, reaching for another truffle. "Cherry!" he said, holding up the evidence.

"Ryuzaki, may I speak with you for a moment?" Watari's asked. Jeeves to L's Wooster.

"Is it something that can be discussed in front of Light-kun or does it require ear buds?" L replied blandly while perusing a red and white striped sweet.

"I'll be on line 3," Watari said, shuffling off into another room. Light grimaced as L screwed an earphone into one ear and then placed a thumb to the indentation in the centre of his bottom lip.

"Please excuse my rudeness, Light-kun," he said, briefly inclining his head in Light's direction.

"Not at all," Light replied and continued typing - the ideal of good breeding.

"Hmmm?" L droned, and in that single non-word there was a tone of familiarity which had, to this point, been lacking. Light turned and was unsurprised to find that L was clearly now listening to Watari. It was Watari who was clearly doing most of the talking considering the pauses between L's sulky statements. "I doubt that he could have left the country," L muttered. "They're probably together. Really though, this is hardly my concern. It's entirely up to him if he chooses to come back. The other will undoubtedly follow. I can't be troubled by his petulant strops. They are more than able to look after themselves."

L spoke in English with an accent straight out of an E.M Forster adaptation. He continued, answering questions while inspecting his no-mans land of a nail bed.

"Yes," L continued, "but I haven't named anyone, officially. In any case, it seems that he's made his mind up. I'm hardly going to force him. It is, after all, a voluntary position," he said, biting down hard on his thumb. "No, don't contact her. She'll probably be furious anyway. Ultimately, he's of an age when he can do such things, give or take a few months. Any obligations are imaginary. I just hope that they don't make a bother of themselves. What is expected from me in any case? If you and R are concerned then you can organise a tracker. Hmm, do. They're quite distinctive as well as socially inept. They are likely stealing from a supermarket as we speak. Right? Yes."

Light sniggered to himself as L abruptly removed the earphone, throwing it upon the quagmire of a desk.

"What is it, Light-kun?"

"Nothing, just the 'socially inept' bit."

"Ah, so you were listening?"

"I couldn't really not listen. You were speaking very loudly."

"I was not. My vocal volume was certainly nearer 35 decibels than 70. What is humourous about anything I said?"

"Socially inept. Pot. Kettle. Black."

"I am not socially inept."


"No. I'm eccentric," L stated, as if he'd been reliably informed that it was the case. He craned over from his crouched position to pick up a rogue foil-wrapped chocolate which had foolishly tried to escape across the desk.

Light's eyes followed L's motion as he splayed himself across the work-surface. He was temporarily distracted by L's side of the desk - the sprawling chaos of a disturbed and impoverished artist with a cake fixation. On the other hand, Light's was the ideal workspace of an Ikea advert, if, perhaps, lacking in personality. Of course, Light didn't think so. Somewhere between them, there was an invisible line and over that line their personal stationery must not venture. A stapler had already found itself on a monitor base shared between the two and was declared out of bounds. Light compared the two sides of the desk and felt the familiar stirring of pride. Then he suddenly felt sad and extremely bored.

"There's no way I can spot Misora during the rush hour trains, Ryuzaki. If she didn't want to be traced, which seems the case, it's likely that she chose one of those. I'd have to know in what direction she was heading," Light said, flopping back into his seat and resisting the bizarre urge to spin.

"She had friends in the North," L said helpfully.

"The North of where? Ryuzaki, that is not helpful. This is impossible. Can I look at the rest of your case file?"



"Get your own," L snapped. Light stared in disbelief for a moment.

"I'm going to have a coffee," he said finally, standing in frustration and running a hand through his hair - the very definition of a hard-working underwear model. He yanked the chain which bound him to L mercilessly.

"I'll have Watari bring you one," muttered L, allowing his boneless arm to be shaken like a branch in the wind.

"I don't want Watari-san to bring me one. I'm not used to having someone looking after me. I'm perfectly capable of making my own coffee."

"He doesn't mind."

Light fixed L with a icy stare. L physically backed down, sinking into his chair and gingerly unfurling one slim leg, placing a foot upon the floor, followed by another, eventually standing like a scolded child.

"What a completely wasted day."

"I don't know why you feel like that, Light-kun. There's plenty of work to do."

"For you, yes, but you're restricting the amount of work I can do."

"Would you like to visit Amane-san? Maybe a visit would lighten your mood."

"No, maybe tomorrow." If anything, seeing Misa would be the cherry on the icing of the cake of a horrible day.

"Seems a shame since she's in the building and lives for seeing your face," L mused. As he leant forwards his hair fell across his face like crows in flight.

"Don't be ridiculous."

"I beg your pardon, she lives only for watching daytime TV hosted by a stuffed crocodile AND for seeing your face."

Light just about managed to stifle a smile. L caught his eye - a glimpse of black hair and wide eyes coming into view as L curled in upon himself to get a better view of Light's down-turned face, peering at him like he was a scientific exhibit. Light couldn't resist breaking a wide grin.

"What a handsome smile you have, Light-kun," L remarked, though his expression was sour. He righted himself again as straight as his spine allowed him to.

"I've never seen you smile, ever," Light observed, feeling a dull ache of warmth in his cheeks.

"Not in all these many weeks that we've known each other? Surely not," L said, his interest now caught by the cityscape framed within the window in the hallway.

"Well, I saw something which I thought at the time might have been a smile, but looking back I think it was more of a grimace."

"A sort of gurning affair?" L inquired.

"Something like that."

"Ah. Well, I have been known to smile. Last time I did I think there was a party in it's honour , but in general there's rarely anything which warrants a smile."

"No. No I suppose not," Light agreed, joining L in gazing across the tall cement, glass and steel monoliths in the distance.

"She's really not that stupid, despite her doing her very best to appear as vacuous as she can," L said.

"Misa? She might have her moments."

"It must have quite distressing to come home and find your family murdered, only to watch the perpetrator evade justice," L said, his voice strangely emotionless.

"Yes," Light replied simply.

"However, considering that psychological trauma, she is most definitely and unsurprisingly unbalanced. She exhibits signs of erotomania in relation to you, Light-kun."

"I wouldn't go that far." In reality, Light did agree with the assessment and would go that far, but he couldn't possibly voice that opinion. "It's a crush. I can handle it."

"Yes, by avoidance. I dealt with a case where the victim handled it in the same way as you're doing. Didn't end well."

"They died?"

"No, but 56 other people did when their stalker decided that their deaths would be an appropriate tribute."

"Oh, that's comforting," Light said, distractedly rubbing his hand over his arm.

"Do you love her, Light-kun?"

"What? No. I mean... she's a nice girl but I can't really get to involved in something like that at the moment, what with university and the NPA and everything." 'Everything' was rather loaded.

"Of course. You have your priorities."

"You think I'm callous."

"I didn't say that," L said to the window.

"It was inferred," Light said, his eyes narrowing.

"I don't believe so."

Non-committal. Marvellous. Light studied L's profile for a few more moments before turning back towards the window as the thousands of people in nearby skyscrapers hurriedly tidied their desks, switched off computers, pulled on their coats and rushing but not rushing downstairs to return to their homes, their families, their lovers, their cats.

It wasn't a life that L or Light wanted. It was one thing they had in common. Neither of them really knew what they wanted.

Rem didn't look happy. But then, when did she look happy. She certainly didn't like being told to piss off out of his flat while he was busy. She didn't like his bit of stuff.

He might as well write it now while he could and then go back to bed. Get it out of the way.

The news channels were on mute as usual. Maybe he'd be lucky and the person he was about to kill would drop dead in a store or on the train or in a bar – somewhere where the panic couldn't be contained and the news would spread like wild fire. People would crowd, watching with morbid interest as the contorted corpse was carted out on a stretcher. Even with a white sheet draped across, tucked around the body neatly, imaginations would do the work. The paramedics would parade through the crowd and into the waiting ambulance amid the street noise and the hushed whispers of 'Kira'. An almost reverent hush would follow. Divine judgement was here, so close. Girlfriends would crave comfort by forcing themselves into the crevice of their lover's open arms. Consider your choices. Others would phone their loved ones, just to hear a voice they knew. The pleas for them to come home would set their legs moving again away from the death and the darkness. They'd get a coffee on the way back and the black thoughts would be gone by the morning.

The crowd would disperse once the ambulance doors closed. It would drive off, all oyster white and blinding lights and in no real hurry. There was no point to be in a hurry.

Kyosuke Higuchi directed his cruel eyes to the the oil-like rippled blackness of the Death Note. He always knew that he was meant for great things. It was a strange feeling, still new, he supposed. He hadn't adjusted to being able to write a name down and simply wait for the confirmation. He'd prefer it if it was reported on the news quickly or someone phoned him to let him know. Then he could sleep soundly. Part of him didn't trust the Death Note because he didn't understand it. He didn't trust Rem - that silent catacomb of bones. Strange, she tried to tell him something earlier but he cut her off. She was insistent but so was he. He didn't want to hear it. Not when he was entertaining.

Perhaps he'd got something wrong - messed the name up? What was Rem trying to say?

"Your numbers have changed."

Numbers. Whatever.

Ah, the Death Note. The power - that royal flush of power as he controlled who lived and died. Rem had asked him to kill criminals, which he did, but he also wanted to dispose of some irritants of his own as well. She didn't seem very pleased about it. She was hungry for the lives of criminals for some reason. He didn't ask. She didn't tell. He'd kill indiscriminately, killing any poor sod in the paper or on the news. His own killings - the people he'd killed so far were few: an ex-girlfriend, the bastard at Sony who gave that job in Berlin to someone else, and a few guys at work. They'd simply taken a moment of his time. Ending the lives of criminals he didn't know was be strange. He had trouble remembering their names and faces by the afternoon.

Anyway, wasn't this Kira's job? He supposed that he was Kira now.

As long as he complied with Rem's request then he was able to use to the Death Note to further his own interests. Soon, the Yotsuba Group was going to monopolise the market and he'd sweep the board. Still, part of him thought that all this was temporary, like a genie with only three wishes. Too good to be true for long.

The paper was sandy beneath his fingers as they glided across the cover, peeling back a few pages, trying to blot out the writhing image of that girl from the bar which had been burned into his corneas and visualise the face of Tarō Yamada, the CEO at Yamada Corporations instead.

Picture it, let it become you, write the name, forget it. Wait for the sirens.

Knocking out the competition wasn't exactly backbreaking. The name was written, a fate was sealed. A quick glance at the watch and then back to fantasising the girl who was worth going back for.

Higuchi stood in front of the safe and tossed the notebook back inside. Heard the hollow sound as the spine struck steel. He made to close the door.

Then he felt the gun at his back.

The coolness of the metal pressed against his vertebrae. Cool down to the bone. He felt it through his thin shirt and it spread across his body like fear. It was fear. There were no words, just the threat.

"I've got a couple of grand in the safe," he offered. "Take it and go."

Yeah, take it and see how far you can get with it before I hunt you down.

Amazing what money can do. The cold pressure lifted – his cue to hand over the money, he supposed. His shoulders fell slack in relief. He slowly opened the safe door wide again and pulled out the wad of paper bills.

The sound echoed lightly around the room - a dull thud from the silencer. His knees hitting the floor made more noise.

Then he felt nothing. The blood pooled around his head and dyed the corners of the money on the floor.