Why am I alive?
Everyone in the streets was talking about how several people who had recently been killed by Kira (no doubt a shinigami having some fun, Light thought) had come back to life. His resurrection no doubt had something to do with that. Obviously, there was something about the Death note that Ryuk had failed to tell him. Something crucial.
And until I find out, I need to make sure I remember.
And so, in between bites of his granola bars, he muttered a string of names under his breath.
To say that Taro and the Yagamis were shocked at L's claim would have been an understatement.
"Th-there's no way Light could be Kira!" Mrs. Yagami shouted. "How dare you come into our home and make these kinds of accusations!"
"Ma'am, I wish they weren't true, but I'm afraid they are," L said, keeping his voice calm. "Before I died, Light made it very clear that he was Kira, and that he had beaten me."
"Light would never do that," Mrs. Yagami wailed. "He tried to catch Kira!"
"If I had to guess," L said, "he spent some time afterwards posing as me, and engineering the appearance of a cat-and-mouse game from both sides. He's incredibly tricky. I don't blame you for being fooled by him."
Taro thought to himself. He desperately wanted to believe that Light wasn't Kira. Not only because Light was his brother-in-law, but because if he was indeed able to be Kira right under the nose of both the investigation and his family, he was far more intelligent and cunning than Taro could have imagined.
But the more he thought about it, the more sure he was that L was telling the truth. Ryuk had already lied about Nate River being L. And if Ryuk had indeed planned to bring Taro those two particular names right from the start, it only made sense for one to be Kira and one to be L, since Ryuk just wanted to be entertained by the conflict. And this Ryuzaki guy couldn't be Kira, because Kira wouldn't have burned a Death Note so easily.
I did it again, he realized. First I indirectly gave Kira the means to gain power. Now I'm directly responsible for his return. Ryuk had had him on the ropes the whole time, and now, everything was much worse.
Taro sniffed back a tear, feeling like a helpless 14-year-old again. He didn't want to give away to the others how close he was to despair. But Ryuk noticed and grinned.
I won't let you win this time, shinigami, Taro swore. I WILL make things right!
Meanwhile, Mrs. Yagami yelled at L to get out of her house.
"Not until I've had my say," L insisted, his face darkening. "Because I don't think you realize how much I myself wished Light wasn't Kira.
"I grew up in an orphanage, and have no family I can remember. Once he realized my skills, my mentor Watari groomed me to be the world's greatest detective. And from that day forward, all the other kids in the orphanage strove to be even better than I was. A, B, N, M, J,...they were all my rivals. They may have have looked up to me as a mentor, but none of them considered me to be their friend. Nor did I consider any of them to be my friend.
"When I first met Light Yagami, he thought I was strange, but he claimed to have respect for me, and I myself had fun working with him. I said that Light was my friend, and I meant that. Not only that, but he was the first and only friend I ever had. Even though I only knew him because he was a suspect in the case, I had hoped desperately that he wasn't Kira, so we would be able to remain friends after Kira was caught. Maybe we could even play tennis again. But the moment my heart stopped beating and I saw him smiling over me, I knew that every friendly gesture he had ever made towards me had all been a lie. He betrayed my trust, perhaps even more than he betrayed yours.
"Now I know you still won't believe me, but I think it will become clear once criminals begin dying again. If Light comes here, I don't expect you to go against your own son, but please don't tell him I was here. Meanwhile, I will go and try to find him. Goodbye."
And with that, L turned and walked out without another word.
He's like me, Taro realized. He thinks that because he failed, Kira was able reign for five more years, and that's his fault.
Taro quickly pocketed the eraser, then ran after L. And before Mrs. Yagami could stop her, Sayu followed him.
L looked at the two of them. "Are you sure you want to join me? Are you prepared to risk your lives for this?"
Taro nodded. Sayu looked uncertain. "I still don't know what to think, but I have to know the truth."
"I understand," L said. He continued walking. "In that case, follow me. We'll get started immediately."
"Where are we going?" asked Taro.
"To meet the rest of our team."
NPA Director Shuichi Aizawa was having a lousy morning.
First there was that whole mess with the guy Near had dubbed C-Kira. No one had seen hide or hair of him since that disastrous broadcast last week, and there had been no more deaths, so Aizawa was beginning to think that he might be done, although he still had Mogi out doing a little checking, just to be sure.
Now, though, he had the opposite problem. All the people that had reported dead from C-Kira were now apparently alive. If it was only a few victims, he could have written it off as the doctors pronouncing death by mistake. But not for all of them. And no matter how long he thought about, he kept coming to the same conclusion: there had to be something about the Death Note that they didn't know. Near had already arranged a meeting, and this time he was coming in person. That meant it was really serious.
And speaking of Near, the phone started to ring. That was probably him.
"Hello?" Aizawa said.
"This is L."
"Near, we may have to wait a little while to start the meeting. Mogi's out on patrol, and Sanami left to get me some aspirin. I hope you at least have some idea of where to start." I wonder why he's not using the voice filter, Aizawa thought.
"Mr. Aizawa, this is not Near. This is L."
"What are you talking ab-" Wait, it couldn't be. I know that voice. "R-Ryuzaki?"
"Yes. Now, if you could instruct your receptionist to let me in to the building once I get here, I'd appreciate it. I would rather not explain to her who I am."
"O-Of course, L," Aizawa stammered, still trying to keep his head from spinning. "It's just, we're up to our ears in something really weird at the moment-"
"I just might be able to help you out with that."
"Oh, right." Of course. If he's alive, that means he was resurrected, too. "Just tell her you're Ryuzaki, and you're here to see the director."
"Thank you," Ryuzaki said. Then he hung up.
Still in a daze, Aizawa called the front desk. "If a man named Ryuzaki comes looking for me, please direct him to my office."
Taro, Sayu, and Ryuzaki arrived at the police station about five minutes later, and were shown to the director's office.
Three men were waiting for them. The oldest, presumably the director, spoke. "It's good to see you again, Ryuzaki." The second man greeted him likewise, while the third man was strangely quiet. Then, upon seeing Taro, the oldest man said. "I'm Shuichi Aizawa, director of the NPA, and this is Hideki Ide and Tatsuya Yamamoto." To Yamamoto, Aizawa said, "This is L," and gestured at Ryuzaki. The young man almost dropped his jaw in amazement.
"I believe you all know Chief Yagami's daughter," Ryuzaki said, "and this is her husband, Sota Nakamura." Ryuzaki had decided to accept Taro's request to address him by his alias. It was, after all, a sentiment he identified with. "They'll be joining us as we conduct this investigation. Sota, if you would?"
Taro nodded, and took out the eraser. "Please touch this, everyone." The three men touched it, and then jumped at the sight of Ryuk.
"What is that eraser? And what's he doing here?" Aizawa demanded.
They know Ryuk? "This eraser can be used to bring back those whose names have been written in the Death Note. Kira never knew about this eraser because..." Well, might as spit it out. "...because it's been in my possession for the last ten years."
"What?" Aizawa yelled. "You mean, you knew about the Death Note the entire time and never came forward with the information?"
He's a cop. It's understandable for him to have that reaction, Taro thought. To Aizawa, he replied, "I was a kid. I was scared. I wanted to be sure Kira never found out about it. And from what I hear, Kira was actually secretly on this task force for years. If I had come forward, I would have surely been caught and killed."
Aizawa was silent, so Taro continued. "I figured that if I ever managed to find Kira, I might be able to bring back the people that he killed."
The director turned to Ryuzaki. "So the eraser is what brought back C-Kira's victims?"
Aizawa shook his head. "Well, I admire your nobility, Sota, but the truth of the matter is that bringing people back from the dead is doing more harm than good at the moment. Everyone is in a panic. Even people who are convinced Kira didn't somehow use supernatural means to kill are at a loss to explain this. If it were to save people from death, it would be one thing, but this..."
Taro hung his head. It was one thing for Ryuk to tell him raising the dead was a bad idea (he didn't really care what Ryuk thought), but now that Aizawa said it, Taro knew he was absolutely right. Bringing back Kira's victims had been a dream, but only now did he realize how childish a dream it really was. He had never even thought of the consequences of bringing the dead back to life. His own victims during childhood had returned to life in a few days: he was extraordinarily lucky that none of these recent victims had literally sprung from their graves, considering some of them had been dead for months now. He shuddered to think of what would have happened if he had accomplished his original goal of bringing back Kira's many thousands of victims. Between this mess and actually bringing back Kira himself, he had really screwed up big time.
Ryuzaki's voice interrupted Taro's thoughts. "I'm afraid we have even bigger problems. Apparently, the shinigami has manipulated things from the very beginning, and has used the eraser to bring back both me and Kira. Apparently, he was...entertained by our struggle." Taro was relieved that Ryuzaki left out the part where it was Taro who had been manipulated into bringing back Kira.
The NPA members froze. "You mean...Light...is alive?" Ide asked.
Sayu buried her face in her hands. She had obviously been desperately hoping that Ryuzaki was somehow wrong, but hearing it from her father's co-workers wasn't a good sign. Taro placed her head on his shoulder.
The NPA members averted their eyes, obviously a little embarrassed about blurting that out. Ryuzaki kept his composure. "Yes, I'm afraid Kira is indeed back."
"Is that so?"
Everyone looked in the direction of the door. Three more people were standing there, having apparently entered the room making hardly any sound. One was a large, muscular man and the other was a tall woman. The man who had spoken was in the middle of the group, making the other two seemed like bodyguards. He had a head of thick white hair, but he didn't look any older than 25. Taro noticed he had the same look of determination that Ryuzaki had. This has to be Near, the man who succeeded L.
"Is Light Yagami alive?" Near asked. His voice sounded very cold.
"I'm afraid so," Ryuzaki replied. "You must be Near."
"That's correct," Near said. "If Kira has been brought back to life, I can only assume that you're the original L, and that you've been brought back, too."
It's like they're two of a kind, Taro thought.
"Yes, now, we need to discuss our strategy," Ryuzaki began, "First, we'll-"
"I'll be giving the orders around here, L," Near interrupted.
Everyone in the room did a double-take. Even Ryuzaki.
"After all," Near explained, "I was the one who defeated Kira, not you. I have surpassed you. Therefore, I should be leading this investigation."
"At the Yellow Box, you claimed that you couldn't have defeated Kira without Mello!" Aizawa snapped. "The two of you surpassed L together!"
"Mello, too?" Ryuzaki pondered, lost in thought. "Good for him. In any case, Near, since Kira is alive, I think the claim 'I beat Kira' has become a rather weak excuse."
Near stared blankly for a moment, then growled. "But I defeated him nonetheless. Why would the shinigami bring you back when Kira could have simply fought against me?"
Ryuk (whom Taro was pretty sure Near couldn't see yet) chuckled. "It was more fun when Kira and L were competing face to face." Taro explained that Ryuk was present and repeated his statement for Near.
"But that's not fair," Near snarled. "You lost to Kira, who lost to me! I-"
"Near," Ryuzaki interrupted impatiently. "This may be a game for the shinigami, but we must stop thinking of it as such. That was your biggest flaw; you don't work well with others. It's a flaw I have as well, but I learned to overcome it. Now, I am willing to work with you if that's what you want, but you can't give me orders. You were meant to succeed me, but since I'm still alive, I don't need succeeding just yet."
Near shrugged, but the look on his face was still one of anger. "Well, it should be fine. We know who Kira is, and without a Death Note, he is powerless. This will be-" Near froze, and pointed at one of his companions in horror.
The large man had clutched his chest in pain. Then he fell over.
Soon the woman joined him, and then Mr. Aizawa also began having chest pains.
Near's eyes bulged as he realized what was happening. "It's Kira!"
As soon as the apple began to move, Light knew he had won. He reached out and touched an invisible notebook, which instantly came into view, along with it's shinigami owner.
This shinigami looked very different from Ryuk. His body resembled a golden skeleton, which was adorned and embedded with jewels. Even his eyes seemed to be made of jewels. He stared at Light with curiosity.
"You were waiting here for me?" it finally asked in a deep masculine voice.
"That's right," Light said. "I knew that whoever brought me back to life did it so that I could fulfill some purpose as Kira. And for that, I would need a Death Note. Now, if you'll just give me yours..."
Light reached for the notebook, but his hand passed through it: the shinigami was still holding on to it.
"What makes you think I was going to give you my Death Note?" the death god demanded.
Light smiled. "If you hadn't planned to give me the notebook, you wouldn't have even come here, much less revealed yourself. I'm guessing you shinigami saw all the fun Ryuk had following me, and decided you would get in on it.
The shinigami paused, then relented, letting his notebook fall to the ground. "Ryuk was right. You really are one of a kind."
"I know," Light said. There were a lot of questions he needed to ask the shinigami, but first things first. He opened the Death Note, and copied down the names that he had burned into his memory. The ones that he had been repeating ever since he awoke.
Upon thinking about it, Light immediately wrote down a few extra conditions next to Nate River's name. Death alone is too good for him, he thought. That smug bastard gets something special.