I have returned! And I'm rewriting everything! Because I started writing it three years ago and I like to think I've improved and also have made more of a habit of writing recently. I'm planning on taking one week to write and one week to get my betas' comments in, so I wanna publish one chapter every two weeks minimum. Let's see how it goes.
CW: Attempted rape and discussions of same, premeditated murder and discussions of same
Author's Notes: The noted intelligences of Light, L, Mello and Near are mostly informed abilities. What if they weren't, though?
A/N 2: If you're arriving now, welcome! I'd like to ask you to review this, as there's no other way for me to receive any feedback and improve. So whether you love it or hate it, please do take five minutes of your time if you can to expose your thoughts, even if they have already been voiced by other people there! That way I can know which aspects are the most salient in my readers' minds so that I can work on writing better. Thanks!
Is there a meaningful sense in which you can say something is the cause of something else? Sure, that lightning strike hitting a particularly dry patch in the woods caused the fire, but the lightning itself can only exist due to other environmental circumstances that have been going on for, well, ever. You could say the hurricane wouldn't have happened had the butterfly never flapped its wings - or had it flapped its wings a second before, or a second later. But there's seldom, in real life, a single, specific event that could be entirely to blame for another. It's always a confluence of events, several things that, together, make something happen. Sometimes, something truly incredible.
That day, boredom was one of these several events. Two very different people were very bored. They didn't know each other. They didn't live near each other. They were just two people who happened to be very bored that one day.
3:37PM. Thursday, November 27th, 2003. Tokyo, Japan.
One of these people is a seventeen-year-old boy named Yagami Light. One afternoon, in a classroom in Tokyo, the prodigy was sitting at his desk, failing to pay attention, while the teacher droned on about something unimportant. He already knew, had already studied it at some point, and the teacher knew that, if she asked, the clues on the blackboard or in his working memory would be enough to let him figure out whatever the magic password she wanted to hear was. The teachers mostly didn't bother to do anything about it anymore. It's not like they expected his attention – or its lack – would seriously affect his academic prospects.
Though he was seeing nothing, he was still looking at something. His eyes never really wandered, as such; they were always focused. So when something changed, he noticed it immediately. It took him a few seconds to understand what had drawn his attention, but eventually he did see the black rectangle now lying on the grass outside. It hadn't been there before, he was pretty sure, and it was positioned just out of the way, not really visible from the vantage of anyone walking past it who wasn't actively looking for it.
He drove it from his mind – thinking about mysteriously appearing rectangles when he could do nothing about them for another twenty minutes would be a waste of his emotional energy. He thought instead about his plans. His father didn't care much for them, but he meant to become a politician. He was a member of various student groups, he'd been to rallies, he had friends who were friends of people who knew people. He was charming, attractive, unfailingly polite, brilliant in a nonthreatening way people admired and weren't jealous of.
He was going to law school.
He was going to make a difference. Small scale, sure, but it was what he could do.
(He knew there was no way he'd take over the world. That was wishful thinking and fantasising. He'd have to improve things little by little, and manipulate people into being better people, and do his best, and maybe take over Japan. By becoming its prime minister, of course.
The bell rang and class was dismissed. He took his time packing his things, watching the other students swarm out of the building. He exchanged a few words with a couple of his classmates, promised to send someone an essay and to lend someone else a book he had. Then he left the classroom. Once out of the building, making sure he'd be one of the last to exit, he made his way to the black rectangle, trusting someone else would've picked it up had it been theirs. In the worst case, he'd find its owner and give it back.
He recognised it as a notebook a few metres away from it, so he walked up to it and bent down to pick it up. The words "Death Note" were written in a stylised font on the cover. He opened it to see a black page with a list written on it, in English.
The first sentence read, THIS IS A GOD OF DEATH'S NOTEBOOK.
The second sentence read, THE HUMAN WHOSE NAME IS WRITTEN ON THIS NOTEBOOK SHALL DIE.
Hm, he thought, and flipped through the pages, trying to look for an owner's name. Not finding it, he put it in his backpack and made his way back home.
He bicycled to his family's house, stepped inside, removed his shoes, and called out a greeting, which was answered by his mother's voice coming from the kitchen. He made his way upstairs into his room, closed the door after him, and sat at his desk, sliding the notebook from his backpack for further study.
THIS NOTEBOOK WILL NOT TAKE EFFECT UNLESS THE WRITER HAS THE PERSON'S FACE IN THEIR MIND WHEN WRITING THEIR 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.
AFTER WRITING THE CAUSE OF DEATH, DETAILS OF THE DEATH SHOULD BE WRITTEN IN THE NEXT 6 MINUTES AND 40 SECONDS.
Hm, he thought again. This is cute. All other pages were regular white notebook pages, completely empty. The notebook looked like it had never been used, too.
He set it aside – it actually was really well-made, it must've taken some work to get that first page pretty like that – and turned on the TV on his desk to watch the afternoon news, flopping onto the bed.
"...the murderer who killed six people yesterday in Shinjuku's Hanka District is still locked in the preschool with the teacher and seven children as hostages," said the news anchor. Light grimaced and reached for the remote to change channels – this kind of news was a waste of time and energy, drawing attention to a statistically non-existent event and just making you feel terrible about the world – but he paused, his hand hovering above it for a couple of seconds.
He sat up instead, reached for the notebook and a pen, and wrote the man's name – Otoharada Kurou – as it appeared on the screen along with his picture, not bothering to pick a cause of death. And he counted forty seconds, looking impassively at the screen. He wasn't sure what he was trying to get out of this. Rationally, he didn't expect it to work – the world didn't look like a world where magic at this scale was real – but still, if a murderer of six and kidnapper of eight in a hostage situation wasn't a valid target for some empirical testing he didn't know who was.
(Well, he did, but it was just variations on the same theme.)
And in spite of all that, he felt tingly as his watch ticked towards the forty-second mark. And then ticked past it. Light looked up at the TV, where the anchor was about to switch stories when -
"Oh! The hostages are coming out! Seems like everyone is fine! And now the police are storming the school! Have they made the arrest?"
He stopped breathing.
Some part of his brain that wasn't watching the scene unfold (police go in, seconds pass) noticed that he'd dropped the pen and the notebook on the floor and that he was sitting on the edge of his bed, gripping the bedcovers. The police finally came out with – no one. No Otoharada Kurou in tow. The reporter started saying something about the suspect collapsing and Light decided enough was enough and reached to turn the TV off, accidentally knocking his desk lamp onto the floor.
(What had just happened?)
"Light-kun! Everything alright?" his mother called.
"Yes, Mother, I just tripped!" he lied, noting with some surprise how steady his voice was. He looked down at his hands – they were shaking, badly – got up, and made his way to the bathroom.
(The man had collapsed, that was what had happened -)
He locked the door and fixed his eyes on his reflection. His usually pale skin was now ghostly, even his lips drained of colour, and he was shivering like he had a fever.
(Stress, for sure, not that surprising, is it -)
He turned the tap on. Then turned it back off, deciding a shower would be better than just washing his face.
(He probably wasn't even dead -)
He stepped into the stream and let the steaming water bring some colour to his skin, trying to put his thoughts and feelings in order.
I killed a man.
It is impossible for me to have killed a man.
Not in the sense of "I could never do it." He could, he knew he could, the impulse to write the man's name had come from somewhere, from a part of his brain that looked at people and calculated how useful they were, how he could best manipulate them into fulfilling his goals, a part of his brain that sometimes decided there was no way they could do it and that they were, simply, obstacles to be overcome. Complex obstacles, obstacles whose behaviour he couldn't perfectly predict in advance, but obstacles nonetheless. A part of his brain that had considered Otoharada Kurou an obstacle to – a world worth living in.
But instead in the sense of "It is physically impossible for me to have caused that man's death." No matter what his immediate emotional reaction to the event had been, a few minutes and some thought made that clear. It was a coincidence. Obviously so. Painfully so.
So the man had collapsed. Was he even dead? It was a stressful situation, he wasn't very healthy, his actions could have been caused by (say) a brain tumour, there were a huge number of explanations for that more likely than "a magic notebook did it." He forced a laugh, telling his brain how ridiculous this all was, and that was followed by some more genuine laughter as the tension drained from his body. Don't be silly, boy, he told himself, and decided that since he was there he'd actually finish showering.
He towelled himself dry and went back to his room, feeling a bit steadier. His eyes were immediately drawn to the fallen desk lamp, and then notebook, and his heart skipped a beat (goddamnit). He shook his head, put the lamp (not broken, thankfully) back onto the desk, then reached down and summarily threw the notebook into his trash bin.
He'd better go do some homework.
7:32AM. Friday, November 28th, 2003.
The news online said Otoharada Kurou died of a heart attack yesterday.
Light rescued the notebook from the bin and put it in his backpack.
He was more distracted than usual in class. No matter how many times he told himself that dwelling on the bloody notebook was no use, no matter how well ignoring these kinds of thoughts had worked before, it wasn't working today. He felt slightly offended by his brain for betraying him so. Do I really want to test it again? was the recurring question. Because he knew it hadn't worked. The notebook couldn't have killed that man. But if it had…
What kinds of things did that imply about the world? How did the notebook work, if it did? Why did it need name and face? Wouldn't, say, DNA work? An intuitive impression of who the person was? And what was the mechanism through which it happened? How fast was it – it was magic, could he rule out faster than light communication? What was its point, why kill people?
Were gods of death real?
He was distracted from his reverie by a couple of bullies giving a boy a hard time over homework. "Stop picking on him," Light drawled. They turned to look at him and their outrage melted into mumbling excuses when they noticed who he was. He had a reputation – undeserved, he thought – for being tough as nails and not someone you mess with. He had never been in a fight, so he figured it was probably something about how he was apparently unflappable. Or maybe it was his police officer of a father.
…his police officer of a father who might find it pretty strange were he to ever find a notebook filled with names of dead criminals.
(What was he even thinking about?)
He'd come back to that later. It was time for his next class.
He left class unhurriedly, but not going out of his way to stay behind like yesterday. He wasn't going straight home, either. He was going for a walk.
He had decided on a few things. The first was to rip the instructions page out of the notebook. That was just good sense; whoever had left the notebook lying there on the grass – assuming they hadn't just carelessly dropped it there, which he thought unlikely – had wanted it to be used, fine. But he didn't want other people to figure out what the notebook was for. The cover would stand out, too, but maybe not that much, depending…
Anyway, crossing names out was also a good idea. Surely people couldn't come back to life if their names were crossed out of the notebook (or could they?) so there was no need to keep them visible. And if he ever filled a page, well, it would be destroyed, just like the instructions.
It was already dark when he found his feet had brought him to the small store he sometimes bought manga from. He hadn't noticed he'd been going that way until he reached his destination, but it made sense. He started browsing the shelves when he heard the noise of motorcycles outside, followed by a male voice saying "Hey, lady, wanna come hang out with us?" He looked over his shoulder and through the storefront window at the source of the voice. It was a man who seemed to go out of his way to be cool: burly, with shoulder-length dirty-blond hair and wearing sunglasses (who wears sunglasses at this hour?), lots of gold jewellery, and a biker jacket. He was surrounded by three equally thuggish friends. Light noted that they were also the owners of the motorcycles (of course).
And there was a girl there too, looking very much like she didn't want to be.
"Whoa, Taku-san is going after a hottie!" thuggish friend #1 said.
"Shibuimaru Takuo, they call me Shibutaku," blond guy introduced, pointing a thumb to himself with a smug grin. "Hehe… go out with me, lady."
Who on this Earth talks like that? Light pondered calling for help but – he definitely couldn't take those three on, and verbal harassment wasn't the worst they could do anyway, no matter how terrified the girl was.
He moved to a place with a better view, picked up a manga, and put the death note in it.
"Come on, hottie, come with us!"
"No!" the girl cried, trying to step away but finding her way blocked by one of the thugs.
"Hehehe... you better do what Taku said! He doesn't take no for an answer!" One of the nondescript thugs howled at that, which made Light pity the range of humoristic content he must have ever been exposed to.
His neutrality turned to anger when "Shibutaku" tried to put a hand under the girl's coat, and now four different possible spellings of "Shibuimaru Takuo" were on his notebook, all with the cause of death "run over by a truck" (because there were no trucks anywhere in view, so one had six minutes forty seconds to appear and kill this man). He could hear his blood pumping through his ears by the time he was done, and he noticed his muscles had locked up, like he was ready to bolt. He swallowed a knot in his throat and tried to take a few calming breaths.
The men continued harassing the girl, making as if to touch her then retreating, taking her purse from her and dangling it just in front of her, not letting her get it back, leering and catcalling. They were still trying to pretend she had a choice, which could only buy Light – the notebook – some time.
(This – is – not – helping!)
He moistened his lips, which had gone dry, and it occurred to him he hadn't turned the page of his manga yet. His eyes were fixed on the four spellings of the man's name. He unglued them from there and looked up. The girl looked right back at him, and held his gaze for five seconds during which her face ran through hope, fear, disappointment, annoyance, and anger. That felt like a kick in his stomach, and he couldn't stop staring at the scene anymore, couldn't pretend he wasn't watching. He realised with some horror that he probably looked like he was getting off on this.
(Come on, where's that truck, why was that slimy fucker still alive -)
Five minutes, he thought as his eyes finally managed to slip away from her and check his watch. Five minutes had passed already, feeling like an eternity, feeling like no time at all, the scene getting etched on his brain in its most minute details. It was almost déjà vu, the way he repeated what he was witnessing in his mind, played it on a loop, a stacking mountain of horror and disgust at what it would take to get someone to do something so, so vile and disgusting to another human being. He couldn't take it anymore, he'd do something, he couldn't move, he'd do nothing…
And a second after that the girl screamed, managed to get her purse back, and grabbed a can of pepper spray from it, pointing it at Shibuimaru's face.
He barked a laugh at that and tapped his sunglasses. "You think this is going to work?" (Did he expect it would protect his mouth and nose from the spray?) All four thugs laughed, and Light heard the sound of a truck in the distance. This can't be for real. They taunted and leered and dodged, the girl's unsteady aim couldn't hold, and they acted like she was a defenceless puppy, a non-threat. They hadn't even noticed Light, hadn't considered someone else might be witnessing this, might disapprove, might hate them, might hate himself, might like it, might be waiting on it, hanging on every word, every action, every movement, every breath and ticking second.
Six minutes after Light wrote the third name, as if inspired by some divine providence, the girl turned around and used the spray on one of the other thugs, one who wasn't wearing shades, then kicked Shibuimaru's knee, who yelped and jumped away in surprise. She ran.
"AAAH! THAT BITCH!" screamed the one who was hit by the spray.
"SHE'S GETTING AWAY! GO GET HER!" exclaimed another one, and Shibuimaru immediately climbed (limped, good girl) onto his bike.
Six minutes, thirty-five seconds. "You slut! I'll get you!" He kicked the bike into gear and accelerated.
Six minutes, thirty-eight seconds. The truck was finally visible.
Six minutes, thirty-nine seconds. "TAKU! LOOK OUT!"
Six minutes, forty seconds. The front of the truck hit the bike, killing the thug on impact.
By the time Light was coherent enough to understand where he was, he found himself leaning against a wall in an alley somewhere, breathing heavily and trying to keep his lunch.
Once is chance. Twice is coincidence, except the second time was ridiculously precise oh my god…
He retched, and watched half-digested food make contact with the alley wall and pavement. He continued dry heaving for a few minutes, trying every now and then to wipe his soaked forehead with the back of his right hand. He waited there, letting the cold November air cool him off (Takuo-san would be cool forever…). He shivered and closed his eyes, thinking.
The death note was real. It was real, it had altered the laws of causality to make a truck appear and kill someone, it had pulled who knows how many strings just to take a life, and Light was willing to bet there would be a perfectly plausible explanation behind every event that had occurred. There wouldn't be anyone who'd have missing memories or any unlawful flap of any butterfly's wings, it would all make perfect sense. He wondered with vague unease whether the death note had manipulated him.
I should check whether this is true, anyway.
He reviewed the evidence of his senses. Two people had died in specific enough circumstances that he'd be a fool not to believe the death note was real, now. So of course, he did, and went down a spiral of self-loathing at having killed two men.
(Takuo-san would be cool forever, Kurou-kun was rotting in hell…)
Two horrible men – a serial killer and a rapist. He was sure that girl wasn't Shibuimaru's first victim, the way his thug friends were acting, the way he was acting. There was probably very little that Light – or anyone – could have done to turn him into a productive member of society, into someone worth keeping.
He threw up some more, just bile this time. He waited a few seconds, getting his breathing under control, wiped his mouth with his shirt's sleeve, straightened up, and started making his way back home.
He arrived. He had dinner as if nothing had happened. He ate more than he usually did, and explained both this and his bedraggled appearance by citing a spontaneous desire to exercise. Then he went to his room and immediately ripped off the death note's cover, back, instructions page, adding the first page to the list just for good measure. No one could know.
He stripped and went to the shower. He let the hot water wash over him, his mind completely blank. Until it wasn't.
He'd killed two men in cold blood. The first time could maybe be excused, but the second, he'd known what he was getting into, if it had worked. He'd known and he'd made the decision anyway. He chose to end that man's life, when he wrote his name, chose to take it away from him. Chose to kill him.
Who was he to judge? Who was he to decide who got to live and die? What had this achieved? For him, for anyone else?
…why was he feeling so good?
He laughed again (laughing hysterically in the shower, what a charming habit to pick up), and started crying, and curled up into a ball under the stream and shook and shivered and laughed some more and raised his hands to his head. He was cold – warm – hot – cold – he couldn't decide, couldn't think, except he was thinking, he was thinking that he had such power now, power no one else could guess at, and what could he do with it, and what sort of disgusting human being was he for even considering this, he was no better than Otoharada and Shibuimaru, he was no worse than Otoharada and Shibuimaru, he could use this power for good.
He could use this power for good.
He raised his face up and let the water wash his tears away, his sweat, his fear and pain and anger and self-loathing and pleasure and happiness and glee and confusion and horror and love.
If he didn't have this notebook, who else would? If he didn't use it, who else would? Could he destroy it? Could he use it? Could anyone else use it like he would? Shibuimaru was dead, and that was – was arguably good – and Otoharada was dead and that was definitely good – and it was because of him.
He stepped out of the shower and returned to his room and locked the door and got under his covers without bothering with pyjamas and slept as deeply as the two men he had killed.
Except he would have the luxury of waking up, the next morning.
4:16PM. Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003.
Five days later, Light got home from school and went to his room, locking his door behind himself as he had the past few days. He grabbed a nondescript white notebook from his backpack and opened it. There were two pages missing, looking like they had been ripped off. On the first remaining page, there were two names followed by the words "heart attack," the same date and different times. They were an hour apart and in two different languages. The date and time of the second one would happen in four minutes. He booted his computer, switched to the virtual machine and opened a nice little text document with many more names, pictures, and locations on it.
That was when the actual shinigami showed up.
"Curious," a voice behind Light said, and he screamed and fell off his chair. The voice laughed.
"Light? Are you okay?" Light's mother's voice was heard from downstairs.
"Yes! It's just one of those online scare games!" He turned to look at the– the source of the voice.
"Why are you so surprised?" the creature asked. Light looked up at it from his vantage point on the ground, but it didn't need the difference to be taller – it could easily reach seven feet, head to toe, if it weren't hunched and looking down at him. Its face was white and it wore black leather. Skull-themed adornments could be found here and there, giving it a distinct "punk clown" air. Its mouth was painted with what looked like the Joker's finest quality lipstick, and the grin revealed razor-sharp teeth. Its most striking features were its enormous red eyes, which looked like they could see into your soul. "I'm the shinigami Ryuk, owner of this death note." Light's eyes flicked back to his desk, but he couldn't actually see the notebook from where he was sitting.
He struggled to get his breathing under control and stood up, trying to affect casual disinterest. Succeeding, too, mostly. "I'd wondered whether it was a metaphor for the user, but apparently it's not." He exhaled, and met Ryuk's gaze. "My name is Yagami Light. It is a pleasure to meet you." He inclined his head in a mock not-a-bow.
The shinigami blinked. "Eh… the pleasure is mine?" it half-asked, looking confused.
Light just smirked, slowly returning to his usual cool self (to all onlookers he had merely had a small fright there). "I have a few questions to ask."
"Oh?" Ryuk's facial expression should be unreadable – very few muscles actually moved – but Light could identify curiosity and amusement on its face nonetheless.
"The first is – does anything happen to me, now?"
"I used the death note, even though I'm not a shinigami. I killed a lot of people. Will… anything happen? Will I be punished, or…?" Light did his best to keep his face neutral and impassive, the picture of detached curiosity.
"No, nothing like that, I won't do anything to you," Ryuk said, in what was probably meant to be a reassuring tone.
Light's only reaction was a raised eyebrow. "So I can just keep using it?"
"Once the death note lands in the human world, it belongs there. It's now yours."
"– I see." Human world. Noted.
"If you don't want it, give it to someone else, but if you do that, I'll erase all your memories about the death note." Light's eyes widened only slightly at that. "Also you won't be able to see me anymore." Light did not 'erm' even though he really wanted to, but he almost fell off his chair a second time when Ryuk decided to turn around – revealing leathery feathery wings that hadn't been there a second before – open Light's window, and fly out to the top of a streetlight. Light hurried towards the window (keeping very dignified and composed, of course) and looked through it for possible witnesses. "Because you and only you touched the notebook," the shinigami started, turning around to face Light again, "you and only you can see and hear me."
"How do you know I was the only one who touched it?" Light hissed under his breath. He was, it was true, but this was not the huge flying clown's risk to take.
"The death note is the bond that ties the human Yagami Light and the shinigami Ryuk together," Ryuk explained. "I know who has touched it, and who owns it. Until you give up ownership of the notebook, or die, you will remember, and see."
Light blinked, but nodded slowly, calming down again. He had no reason to doubt the shinigami's words, and all the reason in the world to believe them. Plus, a bond. That… is interesting information. "So… there are no supernatural consequences to what I'm doing," he concluded, putting one of the niggling doubts of the past few days to rest.
"Oh, well…" It started flying back inside, and Light cleared the way. "There's the stress and fear this provokes in a regular human… which you don't seem to have… and also when your time to die comes…" It landed, and Light closed the window, looking intently at it. "I'll write your name on my notebook. And you won't go to either Heaven or Hell."
"– Oh. So afterlives exist?" Light asked.
"What?" Ryuk asked, not looking like he'd just run onto a brick wall but still somehow conveying the same emotional state.
"Well, magic notebook that kills people, sure, but it's not a valid jump from there to 'people go somewhere when they die.' Do they, then?"
"Um. I can't really tell you that."
"It's, ah…" The shinigami's eyes wandered around a bit before finding Light's again. "It's against the rules."
"Rules? What– never mind, I'll ask later," he said, driving this from his mind for the moment. "Anyway. Do all death notes come with instructions?" he asked – it only made sense for there to be more than one, if Ryuk mentioned writing Light's name in its own notebook (unless it'd meant Light's but…). "You're shinigami, shouldn't you know this already? And why was this death note here? Shouldn't it be in your shinigami world?"
Ryuk raised a hand to its chin and scratched it. "I was the one who wrote the instructions. I wrote them in English, so most people could understand them, and I dropped it here because… I was bored." It shrugged. "This may sound weird, coming from a shinigami, but I just didn't feel… alive. Being a shinigami these days is just so boring," it sighed, raising its hand to its hair in frustration. "We're either sleeping or gambling, you write a few human names in the death note and they laugh at you for working so hard. Killing humans from the shinigami world isn't fun at all." Confirmation of shinigami world, bingo. "And writing shinigami names in the notebook doesn't do anything." It looked at Light with the exact same facial expression it'd been using since it'd arrived, and this time the impression Light got was that of a widening grin. "So I figured it'd be more fun to do it here."
Multiple shinigami, multiple death notes, check. "Do Shinigami–" Then Light realised what time it was and quickly turned around, picking the first name from the list opened on his computer and writing it on the nondescript notebook he'd left on his desk.
Ryuk, who was floating without moving its wings, peeked over his shoulder. "What's that?" it asked.
Light turned to look at it again, relieved he hadn't missed his window. "It's your notebook. Don't you recognise it?"
The shinigami grabbed it without asking and stared at it, then flipped through a few pages. "What did you do to my notebook?" it screeched, losing its composure in a second.
Light's heart once again leapt to his throat, but he kept his cool as he explained, "Well, I couldn't just go around carrying a black notebook called 'Death Note' with instructions on how to kill people, plus a bunch of names of dead people in it, now, could I? At best people would think I'm a creep or insane, at worst a serial murderer. Plus my father's a police investigator, that would definitely be noteworthy if he found it."
"Ah…" Ryuk said eloquently. "But there's only three names…"
"Yes, of course, I removed the pages with the other names. It'd be just stupid to leave them there – I burnt them," he said, grinning slightly. "Speaking of which," he started, and snatched the notebook from the bewildered shinigami's hands. He grabbed his pen to cross out the two other names many times until they were illegible. Then he paused. "Incidentally, Ryuk, can I use a pencil instead of a pen? Didn't know if it needed to be permanent."
"Ah… A pencil would work. Pages? You've already filled pages?" It seemed to be having trouble processing everything going on.
"Well, it was in fact only one page," Light explained modestly. "At first I thought it'd be better if I just randomly picked a time and place for each victim – if I concentrate all my killings in Kanto, it'll soon become obvious that that's a pattern." Ryuk nodded slowly, probably more to acknowledge that it was following than to agree with anything. "But choosing random times during the day had a few problems. One of them was that it'd be annoying and I couldn't be bothered," Light shrugged. "I kill one person per hour, always from a randomly selected timezone, so the only pattern is temporal and it shouldn't be enough to actually pinpoint the source with any accuracy. I'm mostly safe, there."
Ryuk just looked at Light blankly, and he mentally patted himself on the back for the accomplishment of shocking a supernatural being into silence. It reached for the notebook again, more slowly this time, and stared at it some more. While Light waited for it to catch up, he removed the name and face he'd just killed from the text document and grabbed one six-sided die and one four-sided die from his desk's first drawer. He started throwing them together and writing the numbers down. He'd written three numbers before Ryuk finally said, "So you've killed ninety-six people so far."
"Actually, it was a hundred and five, I made a few tests with some lowly criminals first. After I confirmed the power of the notebook, I only needed to know a few more details."
"Criminals?" the shinigami asked, putting the notebook back down.
Light continued throwing his dice. "Yes. I'm not killing people for fun here – although I must admit there is a certain rush – but no, I'm doing a job, here. I'm finding people, criminals, people who do terrible things, serial killers and rapists, abusers, people who escape the law. People who dodge justice. People who, in a sentence, don't deserve to live." Ryuk continued to stare. "Using exclusively public information that can be, somewhat easily, found on the internet, I can start making the world a better, safer place." He pointed at the screen where the list of names and faces was still open. "These are all people I researched about and who I found to be… bad for society."
"And you put all causes of death as 'heart attack' even though the default is already that," the shinigami emerged from its stupor to observe.
"Yes. If I don't put a cause of death after the name, I can't choose a time of death – I tested it – and I needed that. Additionally, I don't want people to ignore this. I want them to notice. That's the other reason why I left the temporal pattern." He grinned. "I want them to know I'm passing judgment. I want them to know there's an overlord. If you do evil, you will be punished. That way, no one will do evil anymore!" His smile turned manic. He noticed he'd stood up at some point, and decided he was fine with that.
Ryuk, in the meantime, looked a little frightened… and very amused. "So you'll be the only evil one left," the shinigami replied, growing more and more amused as time progressed.
"What are you talking about? I'm the savior," he responded innocently. "I'm Japan's number one honour student. And I will be… the god of this world!" He started laughing, cackling, really. Until he stopped, and his laugh became more childish. "No, sorry, I'm just kidding. I needed to do the dark lord sequence at least once, you have no idea how much fun this is."
Ryuk – failed to raise an eyebrow, but conveyed the sentiment just fine.
"I want people to know," he said, returning to his previous, more serious tone, "that their failing governmental systems aren't the only negative incentive going on, here. If I just killed people randomly, no one would know, no one would notice – or it would take much longer. Now, maybe, they'll think twice. A sad contradiction that this makes me a monster as well, yes. I'm – the scapegoat. If for my sins my punishment is – whatever destiny is stored for users of the death note – then I accept it." He stopped, and frowned a bit. "Killing is bad. No one should kill. But sometimes… sometimes it's the best thing to do," he sighed. "Batman's insane. Everyone thinks he's some sort of paragon of virtue because he refuses to kill the Joker, but what about all the unnamed, faceless people the Joker kills? They're all on Batman. Batman could stop all that. He could just kill the Joker. But he won't, and many more people are dead because of him.
"So I won't be the Batman, and I won't let all those Jokers get away with it. I'll make the world better, unlike anything Batman has ever done for Gotham City, and damn myself on my way there."
Ryuk's smile widened somehow. Humans are so... interesting!
Then Light sat back down and asked: "So, Ryuk, is there a god? Other than shinigami, that is?"
Thursday, December 4th, 2003. Interpol emergency council.
"That's more than a hundred just this week…"
"From all over the world, it seems!"
"Only criminals, all wanted or who escaped judgment."
"All of a heart attack…"
"These are only the ones we know of, there must be many more!"
Elsewhere, someone, somehow, had access to the cameras of the meeting. He was wearing a plain white shirt and plain blue jeans, sitting on the wooden floor of a room that was empty except for the computer showing those images and himself. So Interpol is finally acting… I won't be able to avoid helping the police on a case like this.