Naomi Misora woke up to what she first thought was her alarm clock. After hitting sleep three times, she realized it was her cell phone.
That was Tuesday. That was the beginning.
What it was the beginning of, she wouldn't decide until much later—after the feeling of foreboding had faded into the feeling of nostalgia and distant regret. She wouldn't have a name for the incident until quite later, either. However, even in the beginning, on that fateful Tuesday morning, she had the feeling that it would involve passive aggressive detectives trying to beat the shit out of each other with words and threats instead of sheer violence.
That was normal for Naomi Misora's life. Being a former FBI agent and living with a current FBI agent, she had accepted her fate as having to deal with the most bizarre social pariahs to have ever walked the earth, criminal and detective alike. If something was going to go wrong in her life, at four a.m., it had detectives written all over it.
Also the caller I.D. said that it was from Ryuzaki—despite of the fact that the only Ryuzaki she knew had lit himself on fire in an attempt to beat the detective L at his own game. Somewhere, she thought, Beyond Birthday confused his logic. (B wants to be smarter than L. Being smarter than L means somehow manipulating, inconveniencing, and otherwise dumbfounding him. Therefore, B lights self on fire. She wasn't quite sure which fallacy that was.) If fire equaled victory and superior intelligence… That, however, was a long story she was not going to get into at four a.m. She had a resigned feeling that it would be repeated soon, anyhow.
"Hello?" Naomi answered in a groggy tone. It was just like L to call her at four a.m. after years of never speaking to her or even sending her an e-mail.
"Naomi Misora," said L's robotic and rather irritatingly loud voice. He didn't even bother to say hello. Naomi looked down at Raye, who still was passed out on the bed, and sighed. No doubt he would not approve of whatever scheme L had concocted.
"Yes?" she asked, getting up and putting on slippers. (She had a feeling she was going to be buying a plane ticket to somewhere ridiculous…)
"I have a job for you." How did a masked robotic voice manage to sound so very gleeful?
"Will I be working with another murderer?" Naomi asked. She had a gun but she wasn't certain she wanted to have to use it again. (Her license had been revoked, anyway.)
"Oh no, nothing like that. I noticed you are currently out of a job and thought that you might like to join the Japan's NPA. The homicide division specifically." L paused there, somewhat awkwardly, before continuing, "You will be compensated highly for this venture."
Well, L was going to pay her for getting paid to work for the Japanese police. In spite of the fact that she had worked for the FBI and had been living in America for several years now. Not to mention Raye had a job with the FBI—and he wasn't leaving America any time soon. She had to wonder why L was coming to her. Just because she was unemployed—or was she the only one left on his calling list?
"Why?" Naomi asked, wanting to get to the point rather than get on a plane.
"There is a man there, Yagami Light. I'd like you to meet him."
That was Tuesday.
Saturday morning Naomi was on a plane to Japan, resume in hand, ready to be hired by the NPA.
It began on a Saturday, or so Matsuda said if anyone had asked him. Really, it had been going on for quite a while, but no one noticed until Saturday. L didn't notice until Saturday, anyway. And if L hadn't noticed, then no one could have.
As NPA director, Matsuda created a first impression of respect in a lot of people. They missed the point. Matsuda wasn't director because he was impressive or good at his job; he was director because if he wasn't, then Light Yagami would be. When people claimed that the NPA had never been more efficient and that Matsuda was an unexpected surprise after the Kira case had killed off (or frightened off) the majority of policemen, what they really meant that was there had never been a police man quite like Light Yagami. They just didn't know that. The government and the people assumed that Matsuda did his job. He just did his best to make sure that things didn't get out of hand.
On that particular Saturday, things got out of hand.
Matsuda had seen it coming. Matsuda wasn't an idiot; he just wasn't L or Light. But that was okay, because how many Lights or Ls could the world handle?
It had started a while after the Kira case. Once criminals were reassured that Kira wasn't coming back, and the cases started disappearing. At first it didn't seem to bother Light because Light wasn't interested so much in being entertained as in getting rid of scum, but things changed. L had stolen almost every case Light would have been assigned—except for the Japanese mafia. (For some reason L wouldn't touch Mello and his gang with a stick.) Light, therefore, had been stuck dealing with the mafia for a good two years. Even that had been fine. He hadn't been thrilled, but he had worked. The straw broke the camel's back when Mello took out a restraining order on him.
Matsuda had tried to talk to him, but sometimes trying to talk to Light was like trying to convince the vampire not to steal the virgin's blood—it just didn't always work out.
The Saturday that marked the beginning of L's misery was the day of the Interpol meeting, the one that Light had smilingly told Matsuda he wanted to attend. Matsuda had said yes because if he was going to take anyone, it was going to be Light. He just hadn't realized that Light would make public threats to the giant gothic L.
There they were, Matsuda and Light, sitting behind the small Japanese flag. Light watched the room carefully and Matsuda tapped his fingers, thinking about how everything was going so well. There had been a few heart attacks recently, slightly suspicious—even though Kira was five years ago, people were still jumpy. There was an Interpol meeting. L was invited.
L showed up. He didn't always show up; no one really knew how to contact him. But sometimes even he had the decency to know when not to deny an invitation. Watari was standing beneath the screen in his usual trench coat, eyeing the crowd suspiciously.
If Matsuda had looked sideways, he would have noticed Light seething.
"There is no new Kira. These heart attacks are due to another cause. They are merely a coincidence," L's robotic voice stated. "Is there anything else?"
Matsuda wondered how a robotic voice could sound quite so bored and exasperated. The miracles of science, he guessed.
"Yes, I have a question," Light Yagami said. It was then that Matsuda realized he should never have under any circumstances brought Light anywhere near L.
There was silence in the room as all the other representatives turned to view Light, who didn't seem bothered at all by the attention. That was a very bad sign.
"Yes, Japan?" L asked.
"Have you been trying to aggravate me for the past two years, or are you just an idiot?" Light asked calmly, leaning toward his microphone.
"…What?" L asked.
"You've stolen almost every single case on Japan that would have been worth my time. Every single case. I don't think you've realized what this means yet."
"…" Matsuda could practically hear the silence on L's end.
Matsuda hurriedly said, "Hey, Light, um, maybe you shouldn't…"
"Shut up, Matsuda. I'm talking." Light continued. "This means war. I am going to find out where you live and burn your house down with your children inside. I will tear your assets into confetti and dance as I watch the bleeding carcass of your reputation dragged across the floor. I don't care who you are or where you live. I will find you. So, the question is not so much if you feel intelligent or safe, but do you feel lucky? Well, do you, L?"
Matsuda did not wait to see if L felt lucky or not. He stood up and spoke into the microphone—it gave a grating screech, and he winced but talked anyway. "You'll have to excuse him—his sister is dying of… cancer, and he's had a terrible childhood and he will be going now…" Matsuda grabbed Light by the arm and proceed to walk him out of the room.
Light was smiling the whole time.
"What do you think you're doing?" Matsuda asked him once they were safely in the men's bathroom.
"Just letting L know the stakes we're playing. I wouldn't want him to not take this seriously," Light said.
"You can't just say things like that in an Interpol meeting, Light. I'm fairly sure L has friends in high places, or low places, or not good places."
"That sounds fun."
"No, it does not! What if he sends someone after you for this—what if you go to jail for this? You threatened to kill him!" Matsuda said in a screeching voice.
"I threatened to drag his reputation on the floor. Not murder him. Although if he does push things I might have to resort to drastic measures." Light sighed. "Are we going back anytime soon?"
"No drastic measures!" Matsuda said, remembering the last time and the money it had taken to make drastic measures disappear. "Light, listen. Next time he comes to Japan I'll try to negotiate and get you on the case—at least get you to work with him…"
"That will not be necessary. I have plans for L."
Matsuda had a vision of L screaming and being dragged, bleeding, across broken shards of glass with three bullet wounds in his chest.
"Just relax, Light, let me work on this. I'll figure something out."
Light gave him that look, the look he had on the moment Matsuda became director, and the moment that Matsuda said how pretty Sayu was, and the moment that L first stole Light's case. Matsuda knew what that look meant. He did not appreciate it.
"A few weeks, please. Don't do anything drastic."
He didn't say stupid because Light being drastic wasn't the same as Light being stupid. It was, however, terrifyingly close.
Light just smiled. Matsuda knew that something horrible and unpreventable was going to happen to L, and that in two months he would be standing in the governor's office trying to explain why half of Tokyo was on fire.
The truly wonderful thing about destroying L's reputation was that it didn't have a marked beginning.
Light was alone in his apartment when he had this rather anticlimactic thought. Light's thoughts tended in that direction, nowadays, but it didn't bother him as much as he thought it would. When Light was younger, before the Kira case began and ended, he had always thought he was going to be special. He was brilliant, he was gorgeous, he had ambition. He thought that was good enough. Kira had proved him wrong. Being special didn't just require brilliance or talent—it only needed opportunity. Kira had opportunity, even if he abused it. Light did not.
This, he thought, was something L had yet to realize.
His apartment was, as usual, empty of people, food, entertainment, and heat. He flicked on the lights and tried to remind himself to get the heat going by the time he got back. There were stacks of newspapers and books he hadn't bothered to read on the table, as well as an unloaded gun. It was usually the gun, and not the state of the apartment, that frightened his mother. He sat down in the chair with a sigh, wondering what, after terrifying the living daylights out of the greatest detective in the world, he should do with his day.
Perhaps he had been too abrupt. Maybe subtlety was the better option. Perhaps he should have pressured Mello into sending a message. He knew they had connections; it was obvious from the way the blonde whore's eyes darted about whenever Light kicked down his door and mentioned that L had once again stolen the majority of the homicide cases in Japan. No, he wanted L to hear it from him personally. It wasn't war without a personal declaration or two involved.
Light had been destroying L's reputation for a long time—because for a long time he had known that L was something of a sham. Not to say he wasn't the greatest detective in the world, but rather that he wasn't the greatest man in the world. Anyone who was better at him mysteriously disappeared, then reappeared a few weeks later. Coil had been one of these—there had been others as well, but Light didn't bother to memorize their names. They were most likely decaying at the bottom of some forgotten river, anyway. Now, someone needed a case solved, they just went to L. There was no one else.
Light could be better than L, given the opportunity.
Light had patiently waited for his opportunity. He had attended high school, he had done well on exams, he had gone to college. Then Kira happened and something changed. The police began to die. Kira didn't like police. They got in the way, so he decided to kill them from the top down—that is, if they didn't quit first. The police had to display their names, L did not. Light began to work for the police during the case, saw the chaos first-hand and realized that he was tired of waiting for the opportunity. In the end, if he waited, he would find it, but L would find him too. L didn't give a damn about dead police.
If Light succeeded as L had succeeded, he would be marked for death.
Light smiled, reaching for the gun, remarking in his head again what a wonderful, long game it was—longer than anyone suspected. Things that long were guaranteed to be fun.