A/N: I really need to apologise for the delay in publishing. When I estimated 2~4 weeks, I did not recall that there would be the holidays there, and those were two weeks during which I was basically internetless (and silly me edits this on google docs so no access - this has been fixed). Then I got back here and spent a week so jetlagged I could barely function. Then there were tests, and a Pattern Recognition project, and ray tracing, and… Then I got back to writing. And writing itself took a while because I couldn't make this chapter feel right. It was a hard chapter to write, there was too much going on at the same time, and it's sort of a turning point to the story. Soooo… yeah, sorry. As for the next chapter, I cannot tell, I still have a lot to get done. So you should not expect the next chapter in less than 6 weeks. Sorry :/

A/N 2: Some of you have expressed disbelief at Light not having been immediately captured just by using Tor. Realistically speaking, he wouldn't have been captured for that because use of Tor is not that uncommon (I, personally, know people (plural) other than me who used Tor sometimes during High School) and considering Light in particular as deserving the attention necessary to bug his computer is privileging the hypothesis. They did not have any evidence in particular that would justify spending the necessary resources to actually figure out that Light has all the precautions he does, he didn't stand out that much from the millions of other suspects, and they couldn't afford to actually bug every single one of them in order to obtain that information. A preliminary differential search can only spend so much time and so many resources on each suspect, and Light was not suspicious enough compared to all other students to warrant the kind of resource expenditure needed to detect use of protective computational measures.

A/N 3: I still want as many reviews as possible ^^

December 5, 2003.

Erac hey, Jackal, look at this

The IRC message popped up on the screen, followed by a link. The one called Jackal clicked it and was led to an ugly backyard conspiracy theory website that talked about mysterious heart attacks of criminals happening for the past week all over the globe. Jackal rolled their eyes and switched back to the IRC chatroom.

Jackal Erac: Right. Sure. I'll look at it later.

Erac no, this is actually serious

Erac look at the sources of the news

Erac it's been happening hourly for the past few days, always on the first minute of the hour

The messages were followed by another two links, and Jackal decided to click them out of curiosity and boredom. Those were a bit less "conspiracy theory" and had even more sources. Huh. This is interesting. Jackal followed them and half an hour later had dozens of browser windows open showing the news in three different languages. Mysterious deaths by heart attack, all unrepentant or otherwise brutal criminals, all on the first minute of the hour. No discernible pattern in location. It seemed that they just… dropped dead, all over the world. This is very interesting.

December 6, 2003.

Erac Jackal: did you see? Some investigator chick called L appeared on TV yesterday challenging the person behind those deaths

Jackal checked out the link sent, but it was in Norwegian. They looked for some other link in a language they spoke and found a reference to an L - but he was a male.

Jackal Erac: uhhhh… L is a dude

Jackal sent the link to the announcement they'd found. After a few minutes they got a reply:

Erac What! No way! It was totally a chick.

DotDotDot No, it was a dude

DotDotDot But my dude isn't the same as Jackal's dude.

Jackal smiled. Wow, this is quite interesting. And… dangerous. I should do something about it. A part of their brain scoffed at the idea, but the rest of them just shrugged and thought that they could do it.

Jackal Erac: Do you think you can help me find patterns in these deaths?

Erac Jackal: You kidding? Of course I can!

Jackal grabbed their mobile phone and dialed someone. "Hey. I'm gonna need a break for a while. Think you can keep them off my back?"

"What? Why? How long?"

"A few weeks, maybe a month."


"Thanks, I knew I could count on you," Jackal said and hung up. Good, now that that had been taken care of they could concentrate on this. Much more interesting than their silly day job…

Jackal started working.

December 8, 2003.

Twenty-four deaths per day, starting November 29. That meant 216 dead criminals thus far. This was a lot of information. And the only thing all dead criminals absolutely had in common was the fact that they had either killed or severely hurt (physically or otherwise) someone in a repeated or calculated manner. So the killer wasn't just punishing criminals in general, but rather a very specific type of criminal. A criminal - one could say - that would never be cured, that did it because they were insane or took pleasure in hurting others or were unrepentant.

Jackal could see the sense in that, if you had no hope for humanity. If you really believed that the world was better without some people. There was something in it… but Jackal didn't believe it for one second. It was too sad to imagine that humanity would never get past these little roadblocks. No, humanity would do better and get free from its mortal shackles, grow beyond the presence of random glitches in some people's brains.

So that was the killer's M.O. This type of criminal, hourly. There was no indication of privileged place, the locations were randomly selected, but every single criminal's info had been available online before their death. And the only thing that all of their online appearances had in common was the presence of name and description of crime; furthermore, other than some of the criminals that had appeared on TV pretending to be L, all had had a face attached to the name. Thus far, the best bet was that the killer needed at least the name of their victim to murder, and possibly their face, too.

Jackal had spent over 33 of the preceding 48 hours on the computer looking and cross-referencing and researching. They had found a few news websites that had made available the details of a large part of the dead criminals, but that wouldn't be enough. Jackal needed more information.

December 15, 2003.

Three hundred and eighty deaths recorded thus far. The largest cities in the world were representative of the locations, and that was only to be expected. Jackal already had some idea of what websites were used the most frequently by this killer, plus suspected some that had also been used a few times.

Subjectively, they didn't feel too confident. But that was just symptomatic of how inefficient human brains were; Jackal had studied information and probability theory and knew exactly how confident they should be in their guesses. Well, not exactly. They kicked themself for thinking that. Still, they had actually done the maths, so unless Bayes' Theorem was wrong, they weren't. Probably. Anyway, it was time to act.

Jackal Erac, DotDotDot, Numia: I need to ask you all a favour. And it's going to be big.

December 17, 2003.

Silently, without anyone noticing, Jackal took over a few news websites.

It hadn't been particularly easy, but not particularly hard either. It'd been mostly risky. If anyone found them, well, they'd have some trouble with the governments of the world. But it was worth it. This… this killer, whoever they were, was a threat to Jackal's plans. They were disturbing the stability of the world. This would not end well unless Jackal intervened.

Jackal now owed a few powerful people a few ridiculously large favours. But it was worth it. It was all worth it.

December 21, 2003.

After taking over the news sites, it had all been laughably easy. I mean, who the hell would visit a website from Budapest followed by one from Argentina? And this killer… well, that he hadn't left himself completely open to being found was the best Jackal could have said about his defences. Browser fingerprinting, that's how Jackal did it. They had been preparing for having to work much harder than that. Oh boy. Time to watch.

5:22PM. January 17, 2004. Yagami household, Tokyo, Japan.

Light got home from the exam feeling profoundly exhausted, both physically and mentally. He hadn't slept well on the previous night, again, and not because of university. He tossed and turned, the words he'd read and said swimming through his mind, hovering just behind his eyelids and daunting him. He felt glad he'd already written the following day's deaths, it was one less thing to worry about.

As soon as he turned on his computer he checked his emails, and a specific one from a very weird address was on the top of the unread list. His spam filter should've blocked griuannb1728aouqpus09 , but for some reason it hadn't, and he clicked it with dread, knowing what he'd find.

"Turn your other system on," it said simply, and as soon as he'd read it the email vanished from his inbox. He checked the trash and it wasn't there either. Of course. He sighed heavily and felt Ryuk's presence looking over his shoulder but didn't turn, didn't say a word. He just turned his other system on to have another cryptic conversation. At least the Mysterious Hacker had promised to teach him how to protect himself better for a year. One year…

3:52PM. January 19, 2004.

Light had spent the past two days mulling over his information, over what the Mysterious Hacker had said. He was… he was being careless. He'd been careless all along, and it was only a stroke of luck or a consequence of how disorganised the world's governments were that saved him from suffering a fate similar to what he had inflicted on countless criminals. He was idly browsing news websites, looking for more of them, while his mind worked on the problem at hand.

You do realise that we need to stop, Caution said.

No, we don't! We just need to be more careful, and maybe find a new source of information. Or… maybe… Death trailed off.


Well. You know. The fans. What if we manipulated them so that they provided us with the necessary information? Not us specifically, but just… publish it. Make the world our eyes.

That… sounds like it could go very wrong, warned Common Sense. Too many loose variables, I'd think…

We'll store this idea and think about it some more later, mediated Practical.

But I stand by myself, Caution insisted. I think we need to stop and think. Mysterious Hacker said that they estimate that even with their protections we won't last a year. Now the NSA is on our trail and we can only imagine that the investigation will become even stronger and more dangerous. I'd love to say I don't want to say it, but I do, I really do, so I'll say it: I told you so.

He has a point, said Common Sense. We have gathered too much evidence already, there is only one sensible, rational choice now. Unless we want to die pretty soon, we really should stop and rethink our strategies.

It's not that bad! We don't even know for sure that the NSA is after us! The US government said they had backed down, and we could still get the Eyes...

What? This time it was the central Light, the one overseeing his own thoughts, that interrupted. He was looking at a webpage, Kira Revealed. It was a page dedicated not to actually reveal his identity but to show… to show…

January 16, 2014. Chief Yagami's office, Tokyo, Japan.

"You're one of our brightest investigators," the distorted voice of L said as soon as Watari and investigator Silva were seated in a private room. "You're capable, intelligent, quick on the uptake, willing to go the extra mile… and more than that, you're driven." She was completely red now, but was looking directly at Watari nonetheless. She believed one should receive praise with pride instead of modesty and embarrassment. "And that comes to my question: why? What makes you tick? Why are you so intent on this? You know this is dangerous. You know this is a risk to your life. In fact, it's even likely that you'll die here."

Watari frowned invisibly. This wasn't the first investigator L had picked to talk personally to. L had been doing that to each and every one of them, trying to scare them off, to make them quit. They needed people who would really go the extra mile, here. But Watari felt investigator Silva was almost certainly one of the good ones. She was going to stay.

"So tell me, investigator Silva. Why?"

"Because Kira murdered my brother a week before he was proven innocent of his crimes," she replied somewhat coolly, the heat having drained from her cheeks as soon as L had started asking the questions. "Because Kira is not a savior, he is a murderer who took the life of an innocent man and who knows how many others. Because Kira is not Justice, Kira is a cancer on humanity. Kira is just human, and makes human mistakes, and is making other people pay for things they don't deserve. Kira is evil."

3:59PM. January 19, 2004. Yagami household, Tokyo, Japan.

Light's breath caught in his throat. What… He scrolled down and clicked the links. He read the pages he was redirected to, article after article, each about one of his victims. As he did that, his vision started swimming and his mind started shattering; not breaking, shattering, shards of his mind separating. He'd have called this the cognitive effect of polarisation if his inner dialogue was comprised of actual people.

I told you I told you I told you, said Caution, something like this was going to happen. Obviously-

No, don't be silly. That's a ploy, explained Death. We have enemies everywhere. Of course there are websites denouncing the "failures" of Kira and how "evil" he is. Everything worthy of attention draws all kinds of it, good and bad, and you always knew it! This is no worse than anything before.

Common Sense chimed in: Are you sure? Because… really, we never did do any research. As he thought it, Light's hands were already doing exactly that, looking for more information, more trustworthy websites. I mean, sure, we kinda checked the background and stuff b-b-b-b-but…

Light noticed his thought processes were kinda stilted. He kept researching. He had to. Tunnel vision, tunnel vision, how had he missed something like this…

-but we know, we've always known that innocent people sometimes get convicted.

Sometimes? scoffed Caution, Try all the time. That's one of the reasons we stepped in in the first place, because the justice system is corrupted and weak. It doesn't- doesn't- doesn't-

Click. Hurt. Click. Hurt. Look. Pain. Read. Loathing. The New York Times: Famous Case of Innocent Convict Killed by Lord Death. Click. Keep clicking. Keep reading. Don't stop reading. One person. Exactly one person who was later proven innocent died of a heart attack at the start of the hour before that could have happened. One innocent person, one whose death served no other purpose, one light erased from the world. That was...

That's okay! We're allowed to make mistakes sometimes! There aren't even that many, and it's all for the greater good. They're collateral damage, we're good, we're doing the right thing.

He cracked.

We kill 24 people per day, we've been doing this for almost two months, Common Sense pointed out. Of course we will make mistakes, it's only natural…

Excuse me? They're not just mistakes, Caution expanded. Caution expanded. Caution grew. Caution, Caution became Moral again, reverted back to the voice of what was Right and Wrong, doubled, tripled in size. The rest of Light's mind didn't hold a candle to that, to the guilt, to the searing blaze of fury and shame and fear and… Those, Moral/Caution/Guilt continued, those are people. They are people we killed. And they are people who were not guilty. They are people who were convicted wrongly; they are people who had accidents; they are people that made the world brighter. They are people without whom the world is not a better place. One person. Even if it's only one person. A single person wrongly convicted, a single person who died and needn't have died. One. But no. Not one.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, that's just wrong, I'm wrong, this is wrong, why, why, this shouldn't have happened, shouldn't be happening, shouldn't, shouldn't, Light got up awkwardly from his chair, stumbled and almost fell, dizzy, dizzy, minds, people, death, innocence, he walked to his bed, he crawled to his bed, he fell in front of his bed, Ryuk was laughing, what was Ryuk laughing at?, Light fell, his head was on his bed but he was kneeling before it and he climbed it, he crawled to it, he cried, he knew he was crying, why is Ryuk laughing I'm going to kill him no I can't kill anymore this cannot happen can't can't, he felt the tears down his face, he could see the faces, he could almost hear the voices, he didn't know their names.

He didn't know their names.

How dare he not know their names.

He opened his eyes, or maybe they were already open and he just realised it, but he staggered back to the computer. He reopened all those websites showing all those people. The innocents. The false positives. The people he'd killed who weren't criminals, the ones wrongly convicted.

Annabelle Florent. Kawakami Junko. Pedro Silva. Haley Bright. Cyril Baskov. Fernando Ferrera. Johann Krause. More, many more.

Many, many more.

He couldn't read anymore, why couldn't he read anymore?

Oh, because there was water in front of his eyes. Stupid water. It was, was, was, was getting in the way. They… they deserved to be known. He deserved to suffer for them.

How? How had that happened? What had led him to be so careless, so, so, so irrational?

Death. That was the name he'd given to that part of himself. Why?

And in a moment of clarity, it happened. Light recognised who that part of him was, what it was, why it acted the way it did.

I know you, Moral/Caution/Guilt said. You're not death, or curiosity, or the part of us that wants to empirically test things. You're that part… you're that corruption of our brain, that part of us that got power and was thrilled by it, that part of us that couldn't wait to actually have control over other people. I should've seen it, should've known it, should've should've should've…

And that was the realisation that broke it, that was the point when Death no longer had a voice. Light no longer needed it, no longer wanted it, no longer listened to it. The only parts of him that he wanted arguing about his decisions were the parts aligned with himself, with his desires and his motivations, and an evolutionarily selected module that does things "for the good of the tribe" was not part of it. It was obvious in hindsight, clear that these desires for control were just that, just the neural circuitry that got activated once he got to be on top and that guaranteed his offspring would stay on top.

His vision was still swimming, still not straight, still not right, still, still, still. He could think, yes, he was thinking, complete words, complete thoughts, yes, that was good. He wasn't totally lost, no, not completely, no. Not not not-

This technique was useful, identifying one's conflicting desires and ideas, grouping them and naming them, letting them fight it out. But it was strictly controlled from within, it was no more than a self-hack to make it easier to think. His mind… it had been rearranged by that. It no longer had space for any of those four main persistent personas, because each of them only existed to complement the others. In the vacuum left by the one he called Death…

Pain pain pain how could he innocent people he had killed innocent people but he knew it, he'd always known it, always, in the back of his mind. He had known it when he threatened those police officers and news casters, he had known it when he imagined everyone in Sakura TV's building dead and it would've been his fault and he didn't catch himself he felt nothing it was wrong wrong wrong-

Light changed his mind.

Shaking his head, nodding, yes, changed his mind. Yes. Yes, he had changed his mind. How much evidence did it take to change one's mind? The Myste- Myste- Mysterious Hacker, they hadn't been enough. They they they they weren't, hadn't, couldn't- He hadn't seen the scope. He hadn't really updated. From the core, from everything, he hadn't really thought about it. He'd just pretended to take that information into account, the fact that MH had found him so easily, that everyone was after him, he had just pretended and then moved on and done all the same things, not changing his plans… not one bit.

Light changed his plans.

It was obvious, now. In hindsight, it had always been obvious. He paid lip service to the idea that one shouldn't trust one's own rationality, one's own brain. Sure, he said he believed it, he claimed he was taking the necessary steps, but really? He didn't, and he wasn't. He hadn't. He'd been stupid and naïve and irrational, he'd been letting his primal instincts drive him, control his actions. And it was obvious now that his plan… it was too small.

It was too small, just small enough to fit in a human brain. It doesn't fit us. It's not enough for us. We're larger than that, better than this petty plan. That was his Ambition talking, the first to rise after Death's death. Killing criminals? Cute, but obvious, simple and with very little chance of making the world any better. Too many risk factors, too much attention-seeking. We said we didn't want power. Well, we changed our mind. We are the only ones who can wield it. We are going to do the next thing. We are going to take over the world. This time it will not be some primal instinct that will try to seize control at every turn, to know power. This time it will be us, it will be planned, it will be carefully built, and it will be optimal.

From the corpses of Practical and Common Sense rose Analysis, who asked the obvious question. How?

And outside Light's mind the world saw the coldest smile his face had yet produced, framed by the streaming tears on his cheeks like a wicked photograph of resolution and madness.

11:08AM. January 21, 2004. Kira Taskforce Team Gamma Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan.

An investigator from Team Alpha hurried to Yagami's desk. "Yagami-sama, we have a situation. A very, very disturbing situation."

"What is it?"

"Kira has… stopped killing."

Silent spread in ripples through the room. "Please state what you know in detail," Watari asked.

"The last registered regular criminal heart attack happened yesterday at 11AM. Since then, the pattern has simply ceased. We waited 24 hours before notifying you, but it appears we have been a full day without a single reported hourly heart attack."

By then no one was talking anymore. Just cold silence. L's distorted voice broke it: "We will keep investigating as before. Nothing has changed. We still need to wait before we draw any conclusions."

January 28, 2004. Somewhere in Japan.

"Eeeehhh?! Kira is gone?!" Amane Misa was in a small cheap restaurant, counting on a dark wig, heavy makeup, decorative glasses and coloured contact lenses to disguise her identity. She noticed the sudden hush following that and realised she had not only shouted, but was also standing up and staring at the TV showing the news.

And it took exactly two seconds for someone to recognise her.

"It's Misa Misa!" a teenage girl exclaimed, and suddenly Misa found herself surrounded by squeals and autograph requests. She sighed, grinned and bore it for as long as it took, until they eventually cleared out. By then the news program was talking about something else, so she just focused on finishing her meal and left.

She walked home, having switched to her other disguise (because, really, it was silly to only carry one disguise with you) where she was a freckled redhead with a large hat, and mulled over that information. Kira… what happened to Kira?

Yagami household, Tokyo, Japan.

Light was staring at his monitor, not really using it. Ryuk was used to it, these spells of immobility that took the boy while he thought. He wasn't using his imaginary personalities there. He was fully concentrated on… thinking. Simply thinking. Because this was clearly a very delicate matter. And hard. And…

Who is this hacker?

That was it, really. The most important question of right now. After all, the cat was out of the bag, wasn't it? At least one person knew who he was, possibly more. And on the whole, it hadn't been a bad thing. It had probably saved his life, at least for the time being. He had completely erased his other system, the one he'd been using to be Kira. He had gotten some tips from the hacker, and some were pretty obvious, too. Have multiple non-unique browser profiles; actually update the browser, even if it's a read-only system (old code is very dangerous, apparently); use an anonymising local proxy; there were quite a few. But the only way MH had suggested of staying unarrested forever would be… changing countries frequently and discarding services - even identities - as he went.

That… would be near impossible, currently.

But it was a moot point. He was no longer thinking about just killing a bunch of criminals. That was… he wouldn't say "beneath" his abilities, but something along those lines. He needed to think bigger. And he'd been subtly manipulating his horde of fans into leaking more information on his fansites. It would all be okay. He hoped.

But to the problem at hand. Who was this hacker? This person who knew him… and how could he find them?

Well, how did they find him?

Differential attack. He'd been accessing many news sites using a single browser, 24 times a day. So they…

…took over those news sites…

…something that was highly illegal and could be quickly used to find them…

No, there had to be a flaw in the plan somewhere. It couldn't be that easy. Why would the hacker tell him this method of finding him if they could be found with it? Well, obviously because they didn't think they could be found. That meant that either they had covered their traces - which was a very plausible hypothesis - or…

…or they believed Light would not try to rat them out.

Going down that worst-case scenario, why would Light not-

Of course.

The hacker had weeks of blackmail material. Recordings of him talking to Ryuk - which would likely be interpreted as the ramblings of a madman at first, but a madman who at least thought he was Kira -, the text conversations between them, the access logs… Light's forehead thumped against his desk. And he had nothing. This wasn't fair. This type of situation, it shouldn't be lopsided like this. He should have some sort of blackmail material on the hacker, too. Ideally, their identity. But… of course it wouldn't be that easy. The hacker knew that if Kira found out who he was, Kira would kill them. That much was painfully obvious.

So the situation in fact had an odd sort of balance. The hacker hadn't ratted him out yet, probably because they'd also face penalties for confessing to all the work they had gone through and because they wanted something from him. The hacker would only turn him in if he was threatening the hacker's life. And he would kill them as soon as he found out who they were.

Well, the approach was always the same: differential analyses. Try to use what information he had about the hacker as evidence. And… he'd probably need to start learning more about information security and hacker culture.

Kira spent a month without killing anyone, without making any announcements, without showing any evidence of his existence. His followers were growing increasingly restless and felt abandoned. The NSA attacks were complete failures, and the investigations by the field team increasingly useless. It looked like Kira had left just as he'd arrived: suddenly, mysteriously, without explanation or cause.

Until February 20, 2004, when five of the most wanted criminals of the USA showed up with their hands up at a police station in New York and said they had a message from their Lord Death. It was quite sudden, and they were unwilling to say anything else until they were allowed on national TV. They accepted being cuffed and secured, and just wanted to speak their message. Additionally, someone had tipped off the media about it, so an hour after the five criminals had shown up at the station, there were three different news vans in front of it.

Eventually the criminals got what they wanted.

"Our Lord Death has a message to the world."

"He has not gone. He has not disappeared. He still watches over us."

"He has said that we are facing the most peaceful age yet. Countries have never gotten along so well, crimes all over the world are at an all time low."

"He would hate to be disappointed in us. We are capable of more. We can make the world an even better place. Crimes can disappear completely. Wars can be entirely avoided."

"Remember: our Lord Death is still watching over us. He knows, He sees, He judges."

At that moment, the five of them keeled over and died. Later analysis showed that the five had suffered heart attacks.

On the same day, the still existent fansites all received the same message, that now crime was in the people's hands. They weren't to trust the media; they were to repeat all information they obtained, spread it as much as they could. They were to help cleanse the world.

Kira's Kingdom and other similar shows received messages like that one. Kira was rallying his allies and supporters to make a stand for strength, unity and peace.

23:39. March 12, 2004. Somewhere in Japan.

Amane Misa was walking back home, completely alone, carrying a bag full of the results of her latest shopping trip. She took the alleys she was familiar with, those places she had visited many times throughout her life. The moon was waning and didn't illuminate much of the path, but it was enough for her to be able to see well enough. As usual she paid attention to all directions, making sure not to be taken by surprise by anyone who might be walking at that time, and so she didn't miss the suspicious movement in a side alley.

"A-anyone there?" she faked stuttering and fear, mapping the best escape routes should the need for them arise. "This is not funny!" She was aware it could be a cat or something like that, but it was better to be safe than to be sorry.

"Misa-Misa…" she heard, and a young man appeared from where she had seen the disturbance. She estimated he was around 30cm taller than herself, but not in very good shape. Indeed, he looked like the kind of person who didn't spend much time away from his computer - scrawny, wearing very large glasses, a white scruffy shirt, the typical stereotype of the 'computer nerd.' She hated that phrase. "I knew you were beautiful… But to think you are smart, too!"

"H-hey… what are you talking about…?" She took a step back as she realised he was holding a knife in his left hand.

"I've been following you since you left the store. You and I… are meant to be together! I love you, Misa-Misa!"

"Sir… I'm sorry but I don't even know you. And you're not e-exactly helping your own ch-chances with that knife, either!" Further step back.

"No! It's clear that you must be mine!" She didn't say a word and merely took another step back, dropping her bag on the floor for faster running. She already had her left hand in her pocket reaching for her mobile phone when he said, "If we can't be together here… then I'll kill you and kill myself afterwards! Then we'll be together forever!"

She didn't let him finish his sentence before she bolted, fast-dialing her manager as she did that. She had seen another side alley further back and, if she remembered correctly, it opened to a main street.

It didn't. It was a dead end.

Shit. Answer the phone, already.

She turned around, hoping she'd still be able to outrun him but he was already there, a manic grin on his face. "H-hey, sir… Sir, you don't want to do that! I-if you do that… I'll never forgive you! I'll never love you, even in the afterlife!"

"NO! WE-" Suddenly, he stopped. He dropped the knife, his body sagged, and turned around, walking a few steps before dropping dead on the ground. She snapped her phone shut and tiptoed to the alley she'd just left, staying as far from the body as she could, and then she ran. She did grab her bag first, but she ran as hell. What, was she going to just trust her luck that the guy who wanted to murder her decided to simply drop dead? No, sir. She'd run. And she ran.

March 20, 2004. Somewhere in Japan.

That was the house. Rem flew in its direction, her exoskeleton somehow being supported by… equally skeletal wings. She never even thought about it, it was just the way the world was. She held the extra death note in her left hand as she floated just outside Amane Misa's window, observing the girl that had been the death of Gelus. She seemed like an innocent and cute girl. Her room was absurdly pink with slashes of black everywhere. The decoration included many skulls and rock band posters, and even her computer was decorated like that.

Misa was doing something on it, and as Rem went through the window into her room, she stood up and left. The shinigami followed her, still undetectable to her, as she went to the basement of her house, stopping to grab a fruit in her kitchen.

She descended with a spring on her step, looking quite content and humming to herself. Rem could see how Gelus had fallen in love with her. She was… There was a certain magnetic aura about her. It wasn't just physical attractiveness; it was like she welcomed you, even if she didn't know you were there. You looked at her and couldn't help but feel a need to protect her.

Lost in these thoughts, it took Rem two seconds to take a look at the room Misa was currently occupying, and she dropped the extra death note involuntarily when she did so, paralysed by surprise. The girl turned on her heels upon hearing the sound of the notebook that had suddenly materialised. She approached it slowly and blinked twice. It had landed face down, so all she could see was its black back cover.

She grabbed it and looked at the other side, which read Death Note. At the same time, she became capable of seeing Rem, and held her breath for five seconds, swallowing the surprise. The two of them stared at each other, until Amane Misa broke the silence.

"You must be a shinigami, then."

Somewhen, somewhere, somehow.

A particularly attentive shinigami furrowed her brows as she looked at the human world and followed a few distinct people. "That's odd…"