Okay, so here's the final chapter. Hope you like it. Sorry if Near's plan has been done before. Anyway, thanks for reading folks. Please leave a review if you enjoyed this.
Death Note: 23 Days Later
Entry 9: Theosis
Yellow Box Warehouse. It was here that I confronted and unmasked Kira. It was here I defeated Light Yagami. It therefore seemed fitting to me that it should be here that I vanquished the Death Note itself, once and for all. There was also the issue of minimising collateral damage should my plan actually fail. I felt certain it would work, but just to be safe, a remote and isolated place such as this warehouse would ensure the damage remained contained.
Everyone was present save for Rester. I had received a call from him informing me that he had secured the equipment I requested and was on his way. By my estimation he should arrive any minute now.
Unfortunately we only had five minutes left. I had brought the LED countdown clock and set it up on a stand in the middle of the warehouse. The SPK stood a short distance away from it, waiting and watching nervously as the remaining seconds of their lives ticked away. I sat on the floor with Linda and played rock paper scissors with her, much to the apparent annoyance of the others.
"What's taking him so long?" Gevanni started to pace, impatient. I could hardly blame him, given the circumstances.
"He'll be here," I assured him as I lost my fifth game in a row. I was trying to apply statistics and probability to the game, yet Linda consistently trumped my efforts through simple guesswork. She was annoyingly intuitive. Halle Lidner leaned over Linda's shoulder in order to better watch, smirking a little as she did so.
"Hey, you're pretty good," she remarked, "Who exactly are you, if you don't mind me asking?"
"I'm Near's girlfriend," Linda replied teasingly, which drew startled looks despite the tense situation at hand. I scowled, losing yet another round as her scissors cut my paper.
"Pay no attention to her," I said tersely, "She's giddy."
Thankfully any further questions were driven away by the arrival of Commander Rester, who entered the Warehouse carrying two large duffel bags. Gevanni hurried over to help him, and the team watched on with intense curiosity as the Commander unzipped the bags.
"Nice of you to join us, Commander," I said, glancing briefly at the clock (three minutes left, time enough). "I trust you had no difficulties obtaining what I asked?"
"I had to call in a few favours, but I got it done," he replied as he lifted out one of the devices. Lidner, Gevanni and Roger were all extremely shocked, to say the least.
"Is that what I think it is?" Lidner asked, her eyes wide.
"Yes," I said flatly, "Please put it on. There's one for each of us."
"You can't be serious?" Gevanni blurted out, taking a step back from Rester and the bags, "You want us to wear those?"
By now I was already slipping one on myself, Rester helping me into it. Linda and Roger wordlessly did the same, the former already being aware of the plan in advance and the latter not caring to protest the matter. As for the others, I could understand their trepidation. They had-
-left to live, and here I was, asking them to strap on suicide vests. Special jackets packed with explosives, the kind used by suicide bombers and terrorists. To them, it probably looked as if the cure was worse than the disease. Nevertheless ...
"There isn't time to argue or explain," I said coldly once I was securely rigged, "Do as I say, or die. It's your choice."
Harsh, but I was trying to save their lives, and there really wasn't any time to argue about it. This was our only chance to live. The only alternative was a heart attack, courtesy of the Death Note. A dead certainty, if you'd pardon the pun.
Needless to say, they got over their initial shock and put on their respective vests. Once that was done, Rester handed each of us a special detonator to hold.
"This is known as a 'deadman switch'," he explained, handing them out, "Once activated, it will trigger in the event you release it."
"Are they rigged the way I instructed?" I asked. Rester nodded.
"If any one switch is released, it will cause all the vests to simultaneously detonate."
"Good," I regarded my switch and then looked around at the assembled group. "Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention please?"
I did. Their full and undivided attention. We all had a minute left to live. I tried not to smile.
"Under no circumstances let go of your trigger," I said firmly, "Once Rester primes the explosives, releasing your trigger will result in all of us dying instantly."
"This is insane," Gevanni protested, "In less than a minute we're all going to have heart attacks, which means we're all going to let go of them. This whole warehouse will go up in one big ball of fire."
"More to the point, your girlfriend here will die along with us," Lidner pointed out, jabbing a thumb towards Linda. Ah. Now I did smile, I couldn't help it. Linda did as well.
"Actually, Linda here is precisely the reason we won't all die from heart attacks ..." I glanced around at the clock.
Forty seconds. How appropriate. Just enough time to make them understand. I turned back to them, a sly expression upon my face. Time for the speech.
"About twenty two days ago, I managed to get a peek of a certain guidebook used by the Shinigami. It contained all the rules of the Death Note, including those not found written inside the cover. Making a copy of those rules, Linda and I went through them one by one, trying to find a loophole to exploit. But no matter how we tried, we couldn't find one to help us."
Here I nodded to Rester, who primed and activated the suicide vests, reminding everyone as he did so not to let go of the triggers we were each carrying. Once that was taken care of, I picked up where I had left of.
"Then earlier today, we caught a break. We found someone who had survived having their name written in the Notebook. Repeatedly in fact. Her name was Shiori Akino. We tracked her down, and we soon figured out why - she was pregnant."
As they all exchanged looks at this revelation, I reached into my shirt and pulled out a card. The same card I had tossed to Linda earlier, the one that had that ever so crucial rule upon it. I passed this to Lidner and asked her to read it out. Frowning, she did so.
"Whether the cause of the individual's death is either a suicide or accident, if the death leads to the death of more than the intended, the person will simply die of a heart attack. This is to ensure that other lives are not influenced."
"There was another, similar rule, which states: 'Even though only one name is written in the Death Note, if it influences and causes other humans that are not written in it to die, the victim's cause of death will be a heart attack.'" I continued, "The intention behind these rules is clear; the Death Note will only kill people whose names are written down. You cannot use the Notebook to control someone and have them gun down a group of people before turning the gun on them self - not without also writing down the names of their victims as well."
Linda nodded enthusiastically. "That's why Shiori Akino didn't die. The Death Note can't kill a pregnant woman, because doing so, even with a heart attack, would kill her unborn child."
"From the beginning," I resumed, "it was clear to me that there were instances where the Notebook would refuse to kill someone, even if their name was properly written down. All I needed was a situation I could exploit, and Miss Akino gave it to me. As that rule you're holding states, in the event that the Death Note might kill someone whose name is not written down, then the person whose name is written down shall simply die of a heart attack, so as to prevent the death of the other. However, as Akino demonstrated, in the event that even a heart attack would cause the death of someone whose name was not written down, then the Death Note will simply not kill the victim at all."
They were starting to understand, I could see it in their expressions. The light of realisation hitting them. Roger was the one to actually put the final piece of my plan into words.
"That's why Linda is here. Out of all of us, she's the only one whose name has not been written in the Notebook. And right now, her life is in our hands. If we die, if any of us were to die right now, even from a heart attack, it would trigger these explosives we're all wearing and kill her as well."
"Precisely," I said, my voice almost gloating, "As it stands, if the Death Note were to kill any of us, Linda would also die. And as it has already demonstrated, it will not act if doing so causes the death of an innocent, of someone who hasn't been written down. We've backed the Death Note into a corner, and given it no choice: kill us, and Linda with us, or let us all live. And as you can all see, we're still very much alive ..."
They'd all been so wrapped up in my little speech that none of them had even noticed that our time had been up for over a minute now. Everyone turned to stare at the countdown, which had finally ceased counting down.
The clock had ceased ticking.
The sand had ceased flowing.
Our time was up.
Yet we were still alive. All of us.
I signalled to a stunned Commander Rester that he should deactivate the explosives, and as soon as he had done so I turned and stared across the dark expanse of the warehouse, my hand extended. Smirking, I released my deadman switch, letting it hit the ground at my feet.
"The game's up, Ryuk. Tell the Old Man I'll be calling on him soon to collect on my reward."
And just like that, it was over. I'd won.
I will spare you the varied reactions of my team upon learning that they were going to live. After three weeks of preparing for and facing certain death, to finally learn that they had just narrowly avoided it ... it had a profound psychological impact to say the least.
In the end they were grateful. I will spare you the details of their displays of gratitude as well, which was far more than I deserved, seeing as my less than stellar leadership had put their lives on the line to begin with. They were content to blame Kira for that though, and not me.
As for me, I had a few things to take care of ...
"It's a girl."
"Congratulations, Miss Akino," I said, staring at the newborn baby cradled in her mother's arms, while Shiori beamed at me. I shifted about uncomfortably in my chair. Hospitals made me nervous. Even with Commander Rester waiting out in the hallway, I still felt uneasy. "I'm happy to say that all charges against you have been dropped," I added after a moments pause.
"I know, they told me. I can't thank you enough ... L, was it?"
I shook my head. "Call me Near."
"Near. Thank you."
"As I said Miss Akino, I'm the one who should be thanking you. Were it not for you, I would not be alive today. So really, it was the least I could do."
Actually, it wasn't. I'd also taken steps to make sure that she would be financially taken care of as well. I neglected to mention this to her however, as I'd had more than enough gratitude from people lately than I could comfortably handle. Anyone would think I was a nice person.
"I haven't picked out a name yet," Shiori said carefully, "I was hoping that maybe you might name her. After all, it's thanks to you she wont have to grow up with her mother in jail."
Me? Name the child? I stared at the little girl, who was sound asleep. A name. Names were important, if anything I knew that more than most. I considered the matter seriously for a while. What should I name her? Hmmm. Finally I made up my mind.
Shiori rolled the name over in her mind for a moment, and then nodded.
"Yonah. I like it. Thank you, Near."
A week later and I was back at SPK headquarters in the United States. The rest of the team were still on vacation. Despite having already had three weeks vacation, I felt they all needed a little more time off to unwind after their close brush with death.
Before leaving Japan I'd bought myself some new toys to play with. Well, they weren't exactly toys as such ...
"Playing with dolls," Linda observed as she entered the command centre, "Hmm. You do realise how girly that makes you look, right Near?"
"I thought I'd give you something interesting to draw," I responded as I carefully laid out the miniature doll tea set I'd bought as well. "How was your trip?"
"Good," Linda set her bags down beside one of the computer consoles, "Sold three of my paintings. Had a nice review written about my work as well."
"Glad to hear it."
She was trying to force herself not to ask me, I could tell. Ever since she'd found out about it. It was gnawing at her, the curiosity. Given all the teasing I'd endured at her hands of late, I was content to remain silent and let her stew a little longer. I passed the time by pouring the tea for my little doll tea party while Linda stood and contemplated whether or not to ask.
"Oh c'mon Near! You're killing me here!"
Well that didn't take long ...
"Whatever do you mean, Linda?"
"You know very well what I mean! Your wish!"
"Oh that ..."
She threw up her hands in exasperation. "'Oh that' he says, like it was no big deal! You win a wager against the King of the Shinigami and you get one wish from him. So out with it already - what did you wish for?"
I'd been waiting for this moment. I wanted the execution to be just right. Like Sherlock Holmes, I have a flair for the dramatic. I couldn't help myself. Finally, I removed a folded piece of paper from my shirt pocket and held it out towards her. She took it from me and unfolded it, frowning as she did so.
"Wha-?" Linda glanced up at me, and then turned around. Then she screamed and fell over.
"Why Linda," I said smugly, "You look like you've seen a ghost ..."
"There's no need to be so bitter. Here, have an apple."
The Shinigami King snatched the offered fruit and devoured it whole. I waited patiently, seated on the ground beneath him once again. I'd wrapped up warm for the occasion this time, though, remembering how cold it had been before.
"Hmmph. You have made your point, human. We're all very impressed. Now what is it that you wish of me?"
I'd been waiting over three weeks for this moment. Ever since I'd struck a deal with the Old Man. Hard to believe the moment had finally arrived. I reached into my jacket and pulled out a piece of paper. It was a drawing that Linda had graciously done at my request during the twenty three days the clock had been ticking.
"His name was Mihael Keehl," I said, holding the drawing above my head until it was taken by the King, "I want you to bring him back."
"Out of the question."
"You won't do it?"
"I can't do it; when a human dies, they can never come back. Those are the rules. Even I am bound by them."
I snorted. These Shinigami were all so unimaginative ...
"I think you're overlooking the obvious loophole in the rules," I said, slowly getting to my feet, "It says that when a human dies, they can never return to life." I tilted my head back and looked up at the King, smiling as I did so.
"What about Shinigami?"
"Well well, if it isn't the little artist. All grown up now, I see. Hello again Linda."
Linda gaped at the gothic looking spectre perched before her, clutching a slab of chocolate in one clawed hand. She scrabbled backwards across the floor until she was right next to me, her mouth hanging open in utter astonishment.
"You're ... you're a Shinigami?"
He was, yes. The rules of the Death Note prohibited humans from ever returning to life. They said nothing about Shinigami. A technicality, but I'd recently defeated the Death Note on a technicality, so why not? The piece of paper I had handed to Linda was a fragment torn out of Mello's Death Note. A nasty surprise to spring on anyone, much less someone who knew Mello, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
"Thank Near for that," Mello muttered ungraciously. I snorted.
"Really Mello, I go to all the trouble of bringing you back from the dead, and as a god no less, to say nothing of giving up the title of L for you ... you could at least try to be a little nicer about it."
He merely rolled his eyes at that and bit into his chocolate. Linda was still struggling to get over her initial shock at seeing Mello alive once more. He remained recognisable as Mello, though there were a few noticeable changes to his appearance. I have to say, he quite suited the Shinigami look.
While I sipped tea from a tiny cup, Linda got up, sidled over to Mello, and then poked him experimentally. He glared at her.
"Will you knock that off?"
"Sorry. Just didn't expect to ever see you again. So ... what was it like? Being dead?"
Mello glowered. "I don't want to talk about it."
Linda hunted around one of her bags until she found a sketchpad and pencil. Then she sat on the table and began drawing Mello, much to his intense annoyance.
"Hey, what are you doing? Are you drawing me?"
"She is, yes," I said.
"I didn't say you could draw me! Stop that!"
I chortled. "Just count yourself lucky you don't have to sleep anymore. She likes drawing cute boys while they sleep."
Mello was not amused. "Linda, don't make me write your name in my Notebook," he warned, whereupon I threw a doll-sized tea spoon at his head. The expression on his face must have been quite funny, because Linda snorted with laughter and then scribbled furiously to try and capture it on paper. Meanwhile Mello turned his attention towards me.
"Don't think you're safe either, Near. I'll write your name down as well!"
I exhaled sharply and poured some milk into one of my doll's teacups. "Go right ahead, Mello. The Shinigami King was so impressed by me that he promised to make me a Shinigami when I die. Even suggested he might abdicate in favour of me. Imagine that - Near, King of the Gods of Death. Has a nice ring to it."
Linda made a sickeningly cute noise at that. "Awwww. It looks as if the two of you will be together forever. Isn't that sweet, Mello?"
Mello groaned and buried his face in his hands in dismay. Being a Shinigami was not turning out to be as impressive as he'd supposed. "That lousy Notebook is just full of it," he snapped.
Mello pulled out his own Notebook and read out one of the rules.
"Whoever uses the Death Note can neither go to Heaven nor Hell." He lowered it and grimaced. "I'm in Hell right now."
As Linda giggled incessantly, I smiled and held up a tiny cup.
"Care for some tea?"