"The person whose name is written in this note... shall die."
Rorschach closes the morbid black notebook and looks it over once before settling his eyes on it's cover. The whole book is bound in some sort of odd black leather and is perfectly black save for the white letters scrawled sketchily on the cover.
"Death Note." The vigilante reads. A notebook of death. A killing tool. A weapon.
'A child's prank.'
Rorschach returns the book to the floor of the alley he was passing through and grunts. Obviously the notebook was a joke, so sort of scam perhaps, sold to some desperate criminal at some gypsy novelty shop. It would be better to leave it be, just walk away, and forget the whole thing. Let the scum get their kicks where they may. It doesn't concern him.
Or so he tells himself. Halfway out of the alley, Rorschach turns around and goes back to the spot where the damn book lies. This time he picks it up, tucks it in his jacket right next to his journal, and keeps walking.
It's only when he's in the privacy of his apartment that he looks the book over seriously. After removing himself from Rorschach and becoming Walter, he plucks the notebook from his jacket and lays it open on his small and cluttered kitchen table. There are pages of instructions on how to use the killing notebook, first in English, then in Japanese. Starting after the first line, he reads on.
"The note will not take effect unless the writer has the person's face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affected.
If the cause of death is written within 40 seconds of writing the person's name, it will happen.
If the cause of death is not specified, the person will simply die of a heart attack."
Sounded simple but effective. Rorschach mulled over the names and faces he knew and which of them he wouldn't mind see die. Of course any of the Crimebusters were out though there were a few from the group that he wouldn't mind see die.
He thumbed through a few more pages, reading rule after rule, specifying the rules and conditions in which you could kill someone. When specifying someones death, it had to be something realistic and practical, nothing that wouldn't normally be able to happen in reality. Also, there were certain limits on controlling one's actions before they die, including a rule about how no one other then the victim written in the notebook could die as a result of their actions.
What fascinated Walter most was the rule about something called "Shinigami Eyes" and the sixth rule, stating that the notebook became property of the human world upon landing on it's soil. The human world, as opposed to what other world? Then there was the words "God of Death" the aided his confusion and curiosity. Was the creator of the book suggesting the existence of Death Gods?
Something wasn't right. This was too methodically thought out to just be some prank. Why would someone go through all the trouble of making such a gag? It didn't seem like any joke he'd seen going around before (then again gags and humor weren't his forte).
It certainly couldn't be real. Could it?
"Ridiculous." Walter muttered and flipped the book closed. He scolded himself for even thinking it and giving this obvious farce attention that he could have spent on cracking a new case. It was a waist of time.
But he still didn't throw it away.
The ominous black book stayed on Walter's table for days, then weeks, then months, until it started to gather the same dirt and dust his back-issues of the New Frontiersman were littered with. Rorschach focused on new cases with Nite Owl as Walter carried on his daily facade as the unassuming naive tailor.
On a cold winter day, Walter shuffles through articles and news clippings on the table when he finds the book again. It's perfect timing. His journal had just run out of pages and he certainly didn't have the extra money or time to buy a new one. Rorschach hides his recently finished journal beneath the floorboards with the others and tucks the black bound notebook in his coat.
'Rorschach's Journal, January 28th, 1965
Working new case at the docs. Twilight Lady smuggling drugs in crates of children's toys. Threatening children's innocence. Hate to imagine bag getting through to youth, infecting inculpability. Working overtime to put a stop to evil deeds but late nights put strain on day job. No matter. Rather save children of New York then own skin any day.
Lead on man running collaborative drug ring. Pulled up police file on Daniel's computer. Tony Ascota: Wanted for over ten counts of drug smuggling and five counts murder. Broke twelve men's fingers. Twenty Eight digits total. Thirteenth provided information on planned rendezvous tomorrow night at midnight after adding three more to total. Met up with Daniel about plans for following night. For now, wait and prepair for moment to come.'
Rorschach closed the notebook and tucked the hook of the pen over the cover before stuffing it back into his inner coat pocket. It was roughly four in the morning, his moonlight job as Rorschach just ending. In four hours he would have to get up and go to work until ten, getting little breaks. Trying not to think of the day still ahead, Rorschach turns himself into Walter and lays on his poor excuse for a bed.
Outside in the cold polluted air of New York City, a hideously grim figure hovers with wings made of darkness. The Shinigami Ryuk bites into his delicious red apple with teeth like razors and watches Walter Kovacs lay down for the night (or early morning). He cackles to himself as he realizes that tomorrow things will get truly interesting.
Tomorrow, Walter Kovacs will know the truth.
When Walter get the news, it's late into the night and he's picking up his usual paper before the stand he frequents closes. The robust older gentleman hands him his paper, always holding his copy, and asks customarily if that will be all.
A headline on the front of the Gazette makes the grizzled ginger double-take. He barely has enough change for the extra issue but he manages to scrounge it up and pays for today's issue of the Gazette with shaking hands.
The title is all he can think about and preoccupies him until he turns off into a well lit alley and unfolds the crumpled paper.
LEADER OF DRUG RING DIES OF MYSTERIOUS HEART ATTACK. POLICE INVESTIGATE POSSIBLE SUICIDE
'But that's not possible.' Rorschach skims the article until he finds the man's name, though the familiar mug shot printed next to a picture of the crime scene (where the scum's image is represented by a bright chalk outline) is enough to sell him. Surely enough, it's there. Glaring in the light of an overhead street lamp, the man's name is printed as Tony Ascota.
The same Tony Ascota whose name he'd written last night in the Death Note. The same Tony Ascota he'd seen glaring from behind a computer screen. The same that now glared up at him from the newspaper.
'No. No, no, no.'
Walter quickly runs home, ignoring bystanders who tell him to slow gown and watch where he's going, ignoring the pain in his legs and the slickness of ice caked sidewalks. He takes off through the snow, never stopping once, until he reaches the inside of his small dingy apartment.
Not bothering to latch the door, or even really worrying about it, he rips the notebook from the folds of his tattered brown overcoat. The book settles now like a weight in his hands. Walter's vaguely aware he's cursing as he opens the book and flips to the recent page of his last entry. He had written it, there, clear as day. He knew the man's face when writing and he was even conscious of that fact while scribbling his name.
The newspaper had included the coroner's estimated time of death to be 4:03 am, the same time he had been writing in the death book. There were just too many things that added up for this to be mere coincidence. Everything in Rorschach was telling him that this Death Note, whatever it was or wherever it came from, was real.
He clutched it with shaking hands. Never before had Rorschach actually killed a criminal. He could be excessive in force when apprehending criminals, beating them until they were red with blood and broken and incoherent but he always left them for the police, never killed them. He was better than that. (In fifteen years, while driving a butchers knife through a man's skull, or burning his house down and leaving him to suffer, he would wonder where those morals had gone to.)
With his mind running through the past few days, Rorschach didn't hear the silent creek of wings behind him. He was too busy thinking about covering his tracks, making sure there was absolutely no way anyone could link him with the crime. He had been careful about telling people, making a point not to share his new findings with anyone. He may have mentioned something about it to Daniel but he couldn't quite remember. Damn it, why couldn't he remember?
"I see you found out it works. Perfect timing. I was starting to get bored."
With speed fast enough to crack a neck, Walter whips his head around and holds in a cry of surprise. The crackling and rough voice that pierced through his thoughts is now coming from some sort of monster before him, hovering inches off the wooden floor of his apartment with jet black wings like midnight. It's body is gawky, large, with thin arms and stretched fingers that sport a variety of gothic style jewlry. There's a notebook attached to a clasp on the creatures hip that Walter recognizes instantly.
A Shinigami. A God of Death.
The creature cackles with his sewn on head and large yellow eyes and continues. "I'm surprised it took you so long to use it. Most humans who have come in contact with the Death Note at least test it out right away. But then again you're not really like most humans. Just as I'm not like most shinigami."
It takes him a moment but Walter straightens up and faces the death god, book in hand. "So you're real."
"Of course I'm real." There's a hint of jest and humor in the shinigami's voice that vaguely reminds Rorschach of The Comedian. "You must have believed in it even a little if you were willing to hold on to it for so long."
Rorschach shakes his head. He's not afraid of this beast. "No. Just didn't want it to fall into wrong hands."
Ryuk cackles and points to Rorschach whose clutching the book tightly now. "If that's so, then why are you holding it so protectively." He laughs again and grins at the look on Walter's face. "Don't worry, I'm not going to take it from you."
That throws Rorschach off for a moment. "You're not?"
Ryuk shakes his head as he lowers his long clawed finger. "The moment you picked up that Death Note, no the moment it landed in the human world, it became part of this world. It now belongs to you. It's yours to keep."
"To keep..." There are a million and one questions running through Rorschach's head that they all almost come out at once. To start with, he settles with the most pressing issue. "You said the Human World... What world do you come from?"
Ryuk's laughing again and it's really starting to get on Rorschach's nerves. He doesn't know if he's being laughed at or if it's something he said but either way it's getting old.
"I'm what you'd call a Shinigami or a God of Death, if you will. My job is to make sure humans die when they're suppose to and reap their souls. I am the Shinigami Ryuk and come from the land of the Shinigami, a sort of afterlife if you will." Walter watches intently as the shinigami monster stalks through debris and furniture as if it didn't exist at all. The lumbering form stops in his kitchen and picks up a half rotten apple off Walter's kitchen counter before swallowing it whole.
The shinigami grumbled between chews. "Juicy..."
Rorschach never doubted the possibility of an afterlife, be it heaven or hell, but he'd always been too bust with the present here and now to give it much thought. In the Charlton Home he'd believed in God and Angels and the purity of Heaven but that was a child's dream and a far off memory.
"So if you're from a different world, why come here? Why drop something like a Death Note for anyone to find?" Walter moved to the cot where he sat at the edge of the mattress, book still in hand. There was a part of him that wanted to believe this thing invading his home but the majority of him couldn't believe it and was rejecting this supernatural nonsense with everything he had. This could just be a dream or a concussion induced nightmare or a side effect of the drugs from the shipping yard (assuming he'd already busted the case and this was some hallucinatory high from say a broken baggie of cocaine) but the last theory seemed even less believable then the first so he was left sitting, book in hand, with no other choice but to accept this as the truth.
"Why?" Ryuk gulped down the remaining core of another apple in a single large bite and wiped the apple juice from his mouth with the back of his hand. "Simple. I did it because I was bored."
It was then that Rorschach decided he didn't like this Shinigami. Not one bit.
He flips the book open and tears out his journal entries much to Ryuk's surprise.
"I don't want it." Rorschach holds the book out to Ryuk, a piercing scowl scrunching his features. "Wont stoop to murdering. Not a killer. Don't need it." and after a moment he adds, "derive entertainment from elsewhere."
Ryuk is hesitant for a moment, taking only a tiny step towards Rorschach with a dumbfounded yet curious look on his face. "Really? I've never had anyone give it back before. They all usually use it for about a few weeks before committing suicide or being killed indirectly because of their involvement with the Death Note but I ws sure you'd be different." This doesn't help persuade Rorschach to keeping it at all but Ryuk asks anyway, one last time, "Are you sure you don't want it?"
"Yes." The book is still outstretched in Walter's right hand as it has been the whole time. He's not going to compromise in this. "Take it back. Want nothing to do with murdering filth."
"Suit yourself then." Ryuk plucks the book from the small wiry man's fingers and laughs. "But so you know, I'll have to erase all knowledge of the Death Note from your memory now. Safety procedure, you understand."
Rorschach doesn't understand but before he can say anything, the Shinigami has tapped his forehead.
"It was nice meeting you, Walter."
Then Ryuk is gone, morphing through the solid structure of his wall with the black notebook in hand, taking with it the fleeting curiosity of how the shinigami could have possibly known his name, then of the eyes and 'Damn, forgot to ask about the eyes' but it's too late and Walter is left sitting with torn and black sheets of normal paper through his fingers and he can't exactly remember why or where they came from.
He'll shrug it off, prepair for his night as Rorschach, and hit the streets until early into the next day where he'll sleep about black feathers and cackles.
In the morning Walter looks over the issue of the Gazette lying on his kitchen table and for the life of him can't fathom why he would have bought such a leftist paper.
Walter notes absently that two apples are missing though he doesn't remember eating them. It's a small fact that's easily forgotten as he pulls his coat around him and heads for work.
A/N: Filled for the Watchmen Kink Meme on Livejournal. Prompt demanded something be done with the Death Note finding it's way into Manhattan so I delivered. There will be a second filling the other part of the meme (Dn/Rorschach = Light/L). Keep a look out.