Chapter 7: Blind spot
Seeing Misa Amane in person again, Ryuzaki could tell immediately that his choices had narrowed down. This new Misa was alert, perceptive and distrustful to the point of paranoia. Deception wouldn't work. The girl desperately needed closure, a way to make sense out of her world. A fabricated story would not satisfy that.
He could deflect her, refuse answers, but that would be like refusing to offer his hand to a drowning person. If he wanted to do that, he might as well have not agreed to meet her in the first place.
His only alternative was deliberate candor. She must not feel she is grilling him for the truth. It must be clear that he is giving it up because he wants to.
So he told her everything. He told her the parts that were withheld from official reports and public knowledge. He told her about the killer notebook, and about the Shinigami who had the power to bring such into the human world. He saw that she paid attention, but was actually listening as if trying to catch him in a lie.
"You already knew about Shinigami?" He paused, nibbled on his thumb. "Matsuda told you?"
She frowned, suspicious. "Just how did you know I talked to Matsuda?"
"I didn't, until now. It just makes sense. Of all Kira task force members, he'd be the easiest for you to influence."
"I don't want him to get into trouble over this", she said.
"Don't worry about it, he won't. It's not like he's my subordinate, anyway."
"Do you promise, Ryuzaki? You won't say anything?"
So Matsuda must have told her everything except that Light was Kira. She was testing his honesty. His instincts were right about her.
When he told her the truth about Light, it made it one of the most emotionally exhausting days of his life.
What unnerved him a little was how many questions she asked about his role in Light's downfall. They had sat down on a bench, and she kept her hands on her lap, all elegance. She looked at him as he spoke with thoughtful attention that he found suspiciously gratifying. Misa asked her questions purposefully but delicately, without pressure; he couldn't pretend to take offense.
He understood. He could refuse to answer some of those questions, point out how they were not about the hard facts of the case. But she knew he'd not do that if he didn't want to risk whatever fragile trust he was managing to build between them. She wanted to understand the Kira affair fully, and he was so central to it that understanding his motives was an inseparable part of that. Candor and only candor would work here.
She clearly didn't buy into the idea of the great detective L, Champion of Justice. There was some truth to it, but it was just one facet of the truth. He told her about the others: his competitive nature, how it fuelled the enmity between him and Kira. He admitted he never really liked Light, not even when his memories were gone and he was a real partner in the Yotsuba investigation. He admitted he had been lying to her as well, when he accepted her offer of friendship at that time. He even confirmed that he had been telling the truth about how he could fall for her. (She just had to ask about that one, didn't she?) If just about every circumstance of their lives had been different, of course. She seemed amused. Oh well, it was the past now, and it wasn't sensitive in any real way. Nobody's life would be endangered by telling her about it.
At one point, she gave him the first true surprise in that conversation. She asked him what his real name was. He stared at her, honestly perplexed. Did she really have to do that?
"I'm sorry, Misa. I will not answer that question."
"No. After all I've told you, you must understand I'd never expose myself that way."
She did not seem disappointed. "I do understand. Thank you for being honest."
So it was another test, and he passed it. He had been correct earlier. She saw through him; very imperfectly, but she did. In truth, he admired the way she managed the conversation.
Since she stopped asking questions, he felt entitled to ask her some of his own. She took this patiently.
After that, she spoke more of herself again, of how she felt about her life, about Light being Kira. Then she cried again, and he held her. There was nothing in this, no matter what the rare passer-by thought, except that she was deeply unhappy and he was there, so what little comfort his shoulder could give her, she could have. That was all.
He briefly considered offering to walk her home. It was probably the polite thing to do, but that wasn't why. He'd made sure she'd be able to find a way to contact him, he had waited for this conversation for months, and just didn't want to see her disappear from his life yet.
But it was for the best. Even now, it clearly showed that her feelings were only for Light. It was logical that, now that she knew the truth, Ryuzaki's presence would only bring out pain and resentment.
He had made a correct estimation of how her views on Kira would develop. He'd also been correct to assume that she would eventually realize on her own how uninterested Light had been in her. But he had been completely wrong in supposing her heart might catch up to these developments. Of course, he'd never hoped to win her for himself. His more realistic expectation had been that she would at least find some real peace.
Perhaps he could at least remain on the edge of her life, to watch over her. Protect her. Then again, she had already named him 'pervert' before. He felt he didn't need to add 'creepy stalker' to that.
He turned to leave.
He faced her again. Misa stepped closer to him, tried to speak. Whatever words she wanted weren't coming easily to her. He didn't prompt her, but savored the moment as a pleasure that wouldn't last. She was lovely like this, looking up at his face, eyes still teary.
"Thank you for coming to talk to me about all this", she said finally. "It was good of you."
"You deserved to know."
She smiled bitterly, breaking eye contact. "I suppose I did."
"That is not how I meant it, Misa", he spoke softly. "I didn't come here because I wanted to cause you more pain."
"I know. But I did do all those things you said, didn't I? And it hurts, but I deserve it. Even if I don't remember."
"I'm not sure." He hesitated, then tried again. "If you want to know what I think, I agree with Rem. Don't torture yourself. You were a victim of the Death Note as surely as the people who died by it. So was Light, for that matter. In his own way."
For a moment he wasn't sure if she was still listening to him. Then she looked up at him again.
"Why are you doing this, Ryuzaki? Why are you so kind to me?"
He gave her that deadpan look she knew so well. "I told you I'm your biggest fan, didn't I?"
They laughed together. The laughter was soft, and died quickly; they really weren't in the mood for it. But Misa's smile was no longer so bitter. In fact, there was something about it now that he surely was reading wrong...
"Ryuzaki, you are going to walk me home, right?"
In another world, a Shinigami stared at a viewing portal incredulously. With a reluctant sigh, she removed her hand from her notebook.
He was not attractive the way Light Yagami had been attractive. Light had been a young demigod: handsome, popular, a top honors student from a good family, with an honest face and a bright future in front of him, simply too perfect - everything Misa needed to immediately become infatuated beyond all reason, shallow as that was. Yet she now knew that, under that pretty surface, he had been a liar, a dissembler, and most importantly, a serial killer.
Actually, most of her intact memories of Light were from the time when he didn't remember being Kira. That Light had been decent enough. But he was also so... uninterested. Not having a reason to manipulate her at the time, he simply didn't care, and avoided her accordingly. She hated herself for still not being quite able to stop aching for the golden boy.
Ryuzaki was his equal but opposite. Just as frighteningly intelligent as Light, the detective was secretive, reclusive, brutally honest when it suited him, but no less a liar and manipulator. His child-like behaviour, the habit of sitting like a gargoyle, his way of eating and holding things, the way he talked, all made him appear weird and alien. Yet, paradoxically, he was more human. His personality and its flaws were easier to connect to. He had a very real sense of the sardonic and he wasn't as pretentious (had she ever seen Light display a sense of humor?). And most importantly - to her - he was capable of caring.
He cared for her. She knew that for certain, and not just because he'd as much as proclaimed it to her in that adorably naive way of his. When he hugged her to his chest, she could tell that he genuinely wanted to soothe her pain, rather than just calm her down so she'd be less of a headache for him. She had no recollection of ever feeling quite the same way as she did in his arms. Safe. Protected. Loved. Not the way her fans loved Misa-Misa; that was silly to even consider, as much as she enjoyed the attention and idol status. They knew nothing about the real Misa Amane. But this man saw her for what she was, and wanted to help her. It was all the more endearing because, despite all his insight, he was so oblivious.
Being at the same time understood and cared for was a new and wonderful feeling. This hadn't happened to her before. If Ryuzaki disappeared now, perhaps it would never happen again. He was the only person in the world who knew, who ever could know, the truth about her.
Once they started walking, she reached fondly, and put her hand in his. He trembled. He trembled! But he didn't try to escape, which was just as well, because Misa was not about to let him go. She understood him too, now.
"Are you hungry?" she asked.
Misa smiled to herself.
She knew it would not be easy. Their radically different lifestyles, personal circumstances, habits, even their different diets were in the way; normally, she'd have concluded immediately that it could never work. But Misa Amane was not one to give up hope once she had it. This was Ryuzaki, and where he was involved, she felt like nothing was impossible.
Between her determination and his brains, they'd find a way.
It is hoped that you've enjoyed what the combined efforts of the Author and the Betas have brought you.
We've kept the promise regarding regular updates, too.
We deserve reviews.
Miss Bright has contributed a fluffy, lemony, well-written one-shot which follows some time after the events of this story.
It's titled A Midas Touch. Look it up.