"You do realize that even I don't remember the shit I say. I may have known him better than anyone else but that doesn't mean that I am him. I really don't understand why anyone bothers recording anything I say. Perhaps we all settle for things in the end."
Time passed almost without his realizing it. After the Lind L. Taylor incident Kira was everywhere. He was on the radio, in the newspapers, in the magazines, on the street, in the very air they breathed Kira existed and burned bright. Always Kira and L together, battling it out beneath the public eye as they had on that televised incident not so long ago, never a moment of silence. Even those who still claimed, but with little conviction, that he did not exist discussed him incessantly. His name was everywhere these days.
There were only two who remained immune to the contagious thought. The Shinigami and the girl, the alien visitors from other dimensions who merely deigned to observe. Ryuk took it in as a part of the game while the girl just watched with tired eyes. A little of Anna Jones slipped now and then, when Kira came up among others, her eyes would take on that haunted shade that belonged to the girl who thought too much and spoke too little. At first she had joined in the debate over Kira, whether he was right or wrong what she thought about all of it, but gradually she had stopped and would instead look out the window of the classroom to watch as the leaves on the trees began to disappear.
"Maybe I'm just tired," She had said one night in his room as she rubbed her eyes, "You know I would have loved this kind of thing back at home, all this philosophy and shit… but it's too real here. No one else seems to realize it though." She stopped and looked at him, the grim and weary expression she fought so hard against during the day claiming her eyes. It was a few moments before she began again, "I guess it really comes down to Lind L. Taylor. People argue whether it was right or not for Kira to kill him but no one is horrified enough to realize that he was just a puppet for L and for you. He wasn't even a game piece. L set a man up to be killed on national television and you killed him, and no one seems to care. I'm the only one who seems to be able to remember his name at all."
Ryuk was fascinated by her. It wasn't quite the regard he had for Light, whom he regarded as a kind of trickster or entertainer, but he still found her a great distraction from eternity. They never really spoke much to each other, but sometimes their eyes would meet, and Light would always wonder what secret thoughts passed between the two of them. The secrets of the universe, of universes beyond his own, all the twistings and turnings of the worlds that had brought them to him could have travelled through their gaze.
It was almost tiring; the constant noise of his name being called and the silence from his two shadows. Sometimes he would sit and leave the notebook untouched (now hidden more safely in an incinerating trap) and simply sit and listen to the cars on the street beneath his window. Even aspiring gods needed a break every once in a while.
And so time moved on in the death of criminals, the lies of Anna Jones, and his own carefully crafted words. It was an interlude, one of many to come, in which he could reflect and think before the game swept him off his feet once more. But the game was a hungry thing and soon enough it acted and with ravenous jaws it smiled as it knocked upon his door.
He had thought it might be Ryuk who would alert him to the next move with a grin and a laugh. Ryuk was probably waiting for the right moment to push Light back into the role of Kira. Instead his first warning of L's next move came from the girl who called herself Anna Jones.
She stood outside beside the barren trees waiting for him with a quiet intensity. She was staring behind her as she waited for him with a quiet intensity that she usually didn't have at school. As he approached her she continued to stare back her eyes narrowed without even a casual word or two that she would normally spare for him.
Before he could ask what she was staring at she looked at him and said in a rather dry tone, "You know I think my secret illiteracy is becoming less of a secret; if the magical voodoo god that messed with my brain in order to translate doesn't show up I may be thrown out of high school."
He couldn't help but smile. Anna Jones and her battle with the language barrier was an ongoing thing. He had to put it to her, she did try. Whenever he came across her in the house she was always with a dictionary and a stack of papers to write on soon enough she would progress to children's book, for having been trapped in a country whose language she didn't even really hear for only a few weeks she was doing remarkably well. Still, the school was starting to get suspicious of her 'stage fright' that prevented her from writing anything on the board, or anywhere else, in class.
He shook his head and said, "If your voodoo god does show up please let me know, I'd love to have a little chat with him."
Here her eyebrows raised and said, "Hey now, let's not be sexist who says voodoo god isn't a woman or a sexless blob?"
And then sometimes she said things like that. He felt that being Kira he should be above being floored by conversation with his future subjects but at the same time how the hell was he supposed to respond to the idea of his enemy, the god of Anna Jones voyage to his world, being a blob. She had been doing it with increasing frequency since the Lind L. Taylor incident, it wasn't quite what he had expected from the persona he dubbed 'Anna Jones' but it wasn't the quiet very careful girl he had gotten to know in her moments of panic. She had too many faces for comfort and like him she seemed to switch between them effortlessly hardly noticing the difference.
They had been walking for some time when her eyes drifted to their reflections in a few shop windows a frown appearing on her face. Finally she said in even measures, "Light, consider this an act of good faith. Don't stop walking when I say this either but wait to look at a sign or something and then you'll know. There's a man trailing you."
(How odd it seemed, that all it took to change roles was a few simple words spoken in quiet desperation and suppressed guilt.)
He stopped a few moments later by an advertisement on a shop window, there was indeed an extra set of footsteps. They walked the rest of the way in relative silence, their bodies puppets while their minds drifted elsewhere. It was only behind his locked door that they finally talked.
He stood out of sight by the window watching the silhouette of the man in the blue coat with narrowed eyes, it had taken L long enough but it looked as if he had finally decided to confront the rat in the police. He couldn't see his face from this angle but he wasn't desperate yet, besides a face would get him nowhere, he needed a name as well. The girl spoke even while he looked out the window.
"You know that I'm not on your side." She began solemnly, "It must be fairly obvious that I'm not a… supporter of Kira. You're ruthless; you'd kill your family if you felt you had to. Soichiro, even Sayu, you'd burn them all alive if you felt you had to." She said this as if it was written in stone, an irrefutable fact, and he wondered if that should please him or not. In her eyes he saw himself reflected, not a man but a fire, something that burned and blazed regardless of what was thrown in for fuel.
Her eyes moved past him to the window where the man waited outside, waited for Light to slip and the games to begin, "People to you are nothing; we're game pieces, convenient or inconvenient baubles that can be brushed aside with little effort and even less remorse. To you we are only our usefulness, the moment we outlive those uses you find ways to make us disappear." She then trailed off as if thinking on her words before shaking her head and continuing again.
She pointed toward the window her eyes taking on a harder cast than they had in the past, "I'm on their side, the side of all the inconvenient baubles who knew too little and too much. Lind L. Taylor should not have died on national television, even you know that." She laughed bitterly and shook her head even as a sad smile made its way onto her face, "You said we needed to change, that Lind L. Taylor could not happen again. That man out there is another Lind L. Taylor, just standing around waiting to die."
Light smiled coldly then, "Are you attempting to instruct me in my own field, Anna?"
"You asked for my opinion. Are you changing your mind? Think what you want, Light, but that man isn't an obstacle he's a temptation. What will you gain from his death?"
"There is always the possibility that I could slip." He said, "I would rather have him out of the way than hovering over my shoulder watching my every step."
She interrupted harshly, "It will only get worse if you do kill him. You think it's bad just because one guy is standing outside your window? He doesn't see anything! He sees your illusion, the brilliant high-school student who leads a perfectly ordinary life! To kill him you'll need his name, and I do know Light that you can get his name, but you can't kill them all without somehow differentiating him. And for what? What will he die for?" She held out her hand to the window as if she held the man's life on a silver platter before him.
"It was a risk he was willing to take when he decided to work for L." Light said calmly.
"No Light, I'll tell you what he'll die for. He'll die for nothing. Not for L, not even for you, because in the end L will use his death to narrow down the suspects. There will be cameras all over your house all because you couldn't be patient and you just had to beat L at his game." She put her head into her hands and drew shaking fingers through her hair. She looked as if she wanted to scream but instead was forced to grit her teeth in silence and take the blows as they came.
He realized then that he pitied her. He did not extend his sympathy or any warm feeling but her certainly pitied her. She was very young, perhaps younger than even he was, after all she had never told him her true age. There were times when she would fold into herself and he could see how very close she was to breaking and yet she screamed anyway. She was his own Cassandra, screaming at the top of her lungs while Troy burned away into shadows and dust. But pity was not a kindness and in the end it would change nothing, it would only cast her in a slightly more pathetic light.
His thoughts returned to L's crony waiting outside his window with seemingly infinite patience. He didn't like it, his very presence made Light nervous as if the spotlight had irreversibly turned to him and the true narrowing down of suspects had begun. Still, the girl was right in one respect, getting rid of him was going to be difficult. He hadn't thought of how to dispose of the man yet and if he asked she was unlikely to tell him details. And did he want her to anyway? Did he want her dictating his own future thoughts back to him? Or perhaps the Light of her world was different from him after all, less fluid, perhaps his errors were not Light's errors. (And yet Lind L. Taylor had died so terribly easily on television, it had not even crossed Light's mind to still his pen, to sit and think and simply wait…)
He walked toward her judging her serious expression, an act, how much was an act? There was no doubt she could act when she put in the effort. No, not just that she could act, but that she was very talented at it. She was almost as good as him. In public, in the house, everywhere else she was a grinning, odd, and adventurous girl who just happened to be in Japan during the debut of the Kira case. To the outside world she was his friend, waiting for him every day after school by the entrance to walk home, eating with him at lunch, and planning group outings with his friends. If she could maintain that façade so well in public then what did she manage to hide from him even now?
"You sympathize more with L than you do with me. Why on earth should I believe you?"
She drew her head out of her hands and looked at him with a curiously empty expression. Her eyes had frozen over and whatever emotion had formed the tempest inside them had gone leaving only a jagged ruthlessness, "I will not watch Lind L. Taylor die again. You asked for my advice, so take it or leave it, but I want you to remember when this is all over that I warned you that it would be a mistake to kill him."
"How do you know I won't find a different plan, one which eliminates my stalker but does not trigger L's attention." Light said with raised eyebrows, "I may come from a printed page but I can be quite flexible if the situation allows."
She continued to look at him with those grim jagged blue eyes and said coldly, "Maybe, maybe you will find some way, but I'll say this. There are things here beyond your control. Killing him is far more trouble than it's worth and say you do think long hours into the night. It may still be the same plan, you'll never really know. Lind L. Taylor still died, even after I had told you his name."
Yes, there it was wasn't it? Lind L. Taylor, how could such an unimportant man come to bear so much weight in their lives? Much more than when he was living, certainly. To him it was his mistake, glaring proof of his fallibility, and proof of forces beyond his control. That heart attack highlighted her knowledge, his own thoughts and actions listed before him so easily within reach. Lind L. Taylor made him afraid, he would dream of himself in the future attempting to think in a way that had not been written out for him and then reading the book to find that it had been self-fulfilling prophecy. For her it was the guilt of allowing a man to die, of standing by the side and watching as Kira did what he must. Useless, wasted death; in their own way they both longed to be rid of it.
She did look like a prophet that night, her eyes a cold fire sweeping through his future leaving nothing untouched, no stone unturned, and all the while that same fire burning through her and beyond her until it was almost blinding. In that moment she and Ryuk were mirror images, each turned to him with alien expressions showing him the threads that tied them together.
"Get out." He said softly, and her eyes still burned through him and beyond him until even he could see the ashes of his own future, "I said get out."
She stood and without a glance behind her she unlocked the door and left.
There had almost been no decision. It was as if she had already made up her mind the day Lind L. Taylor died and was only going through the motions of thinking until the time came again. She had already decided the moment she laid eyes on the poor bastard.
She had been expecting Raye Penber for some time. She had never been a Death Note fanatic, fan girls tended to scare the shit out of her, but she had known the plot very well. After L died got a little fuzzy but before then she was confident she could name every major event to occur. She knew the order of events, even vaguely the timing, but she didn't know the exact dates. After Lind L. Taylor appeared Light began to toy with the police and eventually L sent FBI agents to watch various families of agents.
She saw him the first night. She had gone out for a walk in the neighborhood when she saw him. It was beginning to become a slight ritual with her, getting out of the house, walking alone where no one would look for the truth or the lies in her. She could be no one then, a faceless stranger, a lost little girl among the street-lamps and houses. The illusion of freedom, it was so terribly beautiful, and yet even so she couldn't shake the fact that even in the illusion she wandered alone.
On her way out she didn't notice, it was only on the way back that she caught him loitering almost inconspicuously against the wall reading a newspaper as he did so. If she hadn't been looking she may never have seen him.
It was the next day that she stole Ryuk's thunder and informed Light of his situation. Now she was sitting on the couch attempting to plot nervously while she waited for Light to make his decision. She had done all she could for now, he would either believe her or he wouldn't. There was not much more she could do.
He had said they needed to change, Lind L. Taylor had been a slap in his face, he knew that something was wrong. He couldn't trust anyone else but damn if he couldn't trust himself either. He had allowed his temper to get the best of him and because of it he had been humiliated on national television. He may not trust her but he hadn't thrown her out of the room immediately either, he had listened to her argument. Of course he could have just been hiding, perhaps she overstepped her boundaries and he was planning on how to rid himself of her and Raye Penber at the same time.
She couldn't live like that though, not again, she would not watch Lind L. Taylor die again. That was why she was here, that was her purpose, to save the pawns in the great game that was Death Note. She didn't think she'd save them all, she wasn't deluded, hell she didn't even know if he would kill her for this but she would try. If this worked Raye Penber would survive, the other FBI agents would survive, he would never even meet Naomi Misora…
She lifted her eyes to see Ryuk floating in front of her with his usual grin. She looked around to find Sayu and Sachiko absent. She'd only seen Soichiro once or twice and even then he hadn't really paid much attention to her. He'd only nodded once or twice and stared tiredly down at his food. The poor man, he had such hard years ahead.
After checking again that the room was empty and that no one would think she was hallucinating she began to talk, "Shouldn't you be plotting with Light?"
Ryuk shrugged, "He's too busy thinking to start muttering yet. Besides we never talk."
It was true. She and Ryuk hardly spoke to each other. She supposed it was because for one reason or another they had both come to play similar roles in Light's life. They were silent and invisible spectators to Kira's great circus. They just thought of the show in different terms, she watched an absurd tragedy, he watched the best shit he had ever seen since humans invented arson.
"No, you're right, we don't talk." She said when the moments dragged on and he continued to stand there leering at her in his rather creepy inhuman manner. She had almost gotten used to Ryuk. He had been much less terrifying in the manga and the anime, he had just been there, but in real life he put any boogey man to shame. Whenever they were in class her eyes would drift to Light and to his seven foot tall shadow, they looked like death.
The moments wore on and eventually she asked, "So, do you have anything you want to ask?"
The shinigami laughed, damn that was unnerving, she had to fight from shuddering, "You're different from Light, he's more entertaining than you but you're not exactly boring either."
"Thank you?" Different from Light was good at least however entertaining in Ryuk's book usually meant insane and ruthless and she wasn't quite sure she wanted those qualities.
Ryuk continued, "I wish you'd let him kill the cop, he'd come up with something fantastic too."
"You think he won't?" She asked abruptly her eyes flashing.
"I don't know…" She trailed off and then leaned back to regard Ryuk, "If he doesn't are you expecting me to entertain you in his stead? I'll tell you now that I don't have Light's flare for extensive plotting."
Light was right, her improvisational acting skills had improved beyond recognition, only Anna Jones could sound so passé when talking to a shinigami about 'entertainment'. She was so tired of being terrified, it was leaking out of her, she looked fatigued. There were shadows under her eyes, her smiles even when she tried always looked a little grim, and she fell too easily back into this plotting.
"You already are entertaining. He still doesn't know what to do with you, talks about it all the time, when he's not talking about L or becoming God that is. No one knows what you're gonna do next, it's almost worth it when you foil his plans."
"I have yet to foil any plans." She said critically, "And besides, let's not call it foiling, I do enjoy being alive you know and I don't think people who interfere with Light's plans live long afterward."
"He's considering it though." Ryuk said.
How many gold stars would that get her? She raised her eye brows dubiously at Ryuk and sighed her feet still tapping. Considering it, that meant nothing, absolutely nothing. She had to take it one step at a time though, either he'd say yes or he'd say no and until then she had to sit and wait.
She frowned, somehow she doubted Ryuk had come just to chat about her rather minimal influence on Light's decisions. "What are you really doing here?"
And how it grinned then, so terribly, saying words more damning than any others she had known, "Always an ulterior motive? Eh, kid? I guess you could say I'm curious. Light's always ranting about what you might know and might not know and I'm starting to wonder to."
She looked at Ryuk critically, though her heart had begun to stutter and said in a quiet voice, "I will not become any less entertaining Ryuk if I happen to know more than you think I should."
Ryuk laughed, "Oh are you worried about dying again? You are paranoid aren't you?"
It said something that even through her terror of dying by the hands of a serial killer and his grim reaper she still managed to be somewhat insulted by his amused and patronizing tone. Seriously, did these people not appreciate that she appreciated the danger she was in?
"Yes I'm worried about dying again!" She whispered harshly knowing that shouting would only bring Light down from his room and that was the last thing she wanted, "I'm always worried about dying! I hate this place! I live in terror every moment that one of you might decide I'm a bit too much of a risk, too boring, too clever, too dumb, or any number of things and just get rid of me as if I was nothing! I have to be paranoid because paranoia is what is going to get me out of this alive and I will never forget it!"
And yet even as she said that she knew it was no longer true. She had changed. She could no longer live her life here as if it was something to simply be survived. She did have a duty to those poor bastards who would suffer Kira's wrath.
She could no longer live with the girl who played at being Anna Jones.
Author's Note: And so it begins, the dangerous deviations from the plot. Thank you readers and reviewers you guys are the best.
Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note