Death Note Fan Fiction ❯ The Secret Rule ❯ A Deal with the Death God ( Chapter 8 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Taro blinked. "Ryuk?"

"Yep. We meet again at last," the shinigami laughed. "After all this time. I was beginning to think you'd given up."

Taro shook his head. "No. There may have been a few years that I wasn't actively looking for Kira, but I never gave up."

Ryuk laughed again. "I knew you wouldn't. Humans are...so interesting."

Interesting? Taro pushed that to the back of his mind. "You didn't tell Kira about me, did you?"

"Me? No, of course not. Why spoil the fun?" Then Ryuk held up the copy of Weekly Jump, with Taro's story featured on the cover. "Although you didn't exactly make yourself hard to find. As soon as I saw this, I knew you had been the one to write it."

Taro shrugged.

"In fact..." Ryuk said, looking at the manga a little closer, "this is you, isn't it?"

Taro nodded. "The one-shot's basically all about how you brought the Death Note to me seven years ago. It's a horror story, about a kid who suddenly has the power to kill people. All the names have been changed, of course."

"Naturally," Ryuk said. "That would be, what, your fourth fake name?"

Taro smiled. "Fourth name. Third fake name." Now that the two of them had actually gotten talking, it was amazing how cheerful Ryuk seemed. It was like talking to an old friend. Taro liked that; he didn't have many old friends that he was still on good terms with. It was almost easy to forget that-

-oh yeah, Ryuk's responsible for a lot of deaths. Taro breathed deeply. I've got to remember that.

"Anyway, but the story's not that important," Taro went on. "What I really wanted was to see what people thought of the idea of a Death Note. Take a look at this questionnaire section." Taro flipped to the back of the magazine.

Ryuk read a few of the questions. "'Do you want a Death Note? Would you write people's names in it, and if so, whose?' This is some pretty neat stuff. But the one I really like is the last one." Ryuk pointed at the final question:

"Would you want the Death Note exist in someone else's hands?"

Ryuk laughed. "That's pretty clever. It'll definitely make some people stop and think about whether Kira in charge is really a good idea. That's a clever strategy: even while you've set bait to lure Kira towards you, you're subtly turning the readers' opinions against him. I'm impressed."

Taro couldn't help but grin at the praise. "Why do you look so happy, Ryuk? At this rate, I'll have your partner caught in no time."

Ryuk tilted his head. "Partner? I think you've really got the wrong idea about me. I'm not Kira's partner."

"You're not?"

"Nope. I'm not on Kira's side at all. Or anyone's, for that matter."

"I guess I thought you would at least be rooting for Kira, since he kills people, and you're a god of death and all that," Taro said.

"Not really," Ryuk said. "Killing people is a bore to the shinigami; we only do it to stay alive ourselves. Just seeing more people die doesn't give us any inherent benefit or pleasure. It's...the action."

"The action?" Taro asked.

"Precisely," Ryuk explained. "It's like you watching those TV shows. Heroes and villains fighting it out. You don't always know who's going to win; in fact, who wins in the end doesn't even really matter. But you still watch it. Because seeing the struggle itself is worth it."

Taro understood. "So it really is just a big game to you? You're just playing with people's lives."

"Well, like you said, I'm a shinigami. I cause death; human lives don't really mean that much to me." Then Ryuk paused. "If it's any consolation, I did tell Kira I may kill him too someday. So you never know; I may be the one to do all of you a favor in the end."

Taro somehow doubted that would happen. "Speaking of which, where is Kira? I thought that you were haunting him and you had to stay by his side. How come you're here on your own?"

Ryuk grimaced. "Well, it's a little bit complicated. All you really need to know is that I'm running a few errands for Kira."

"Wait," Taro interrupted. "I thought you weren't working for him?"

"I'm not. Not exactly..." Ryuk looked kind of embarrassed. "He kind of blackmailed me. I love apples, see, and he orders me to do what he says, so long as it's not something too important, or he won't give me any apples." Ryuk noticed a gleam in Taro's eye. "And I definitely shouldn't have told you that, right?" he muttered.

Now it was Taro's turn to chuckle. "Ryuk, if you tell me who Kira is, I'll get you the biggest, reddest, juiciest apples you've ever eaten." He could see Ryuk's mouth watering. It was a rather unpleasant sight.

"Sorry, I'm not falling for that," he said, although it looked like he was struggling. "You don't have the...how should I put it...charisma that Kira does. He can be real scary when he wants to be."

"Well, it was worth a shot," Taro said. He hadn't really expected Ryuk to be so helpful. "So you were just running one of Kira's errands, happened to see the manga, and decided to drop in for a friendly visit?"

"Pretty much," Ryuk said. "Although I did have something I wanted to ask you."

"What?"

Ryuk pointed at the image of the shinigami in the magazine. "How come this guy doesn't look anything like me? Did you not want to scare the children?"

Taro shook his head. "Well, I didn't want to make it too obvious."

"Didn't want to make what too obvious?"

"Think about it, Ryuk," Taro explained. "If I named the shinigami in the story Ryuk, and made it look just like you, Kira would know for sure that someone knew his secret, and he'd be much more likely to suspect a trap. With this, it's possible he might think it's just a coincidence. He'll still take a look, of course, but he'd probably do it more casually."

Ryuk frowned. "I don't know. You have the name 'Death Note' here and everything. It'd be pretty hard to ignore that. Of course, what you don't know about Kira is how smart he really is. He'd probably see through this plan in a second. Whenever you try to catch him, you have to assume he's already five moves ahead of you."

Taro gulped. "Really?"

"Yeah. Of course, his enemies are just as smart. That's what makes it so much fun." Ryuk cackled. "But if you want my opinion, I think you're safe."

"What do you mean?"

"Kira's in a really tough spot right now. I kind of doubt he would have time to read mangas and notice this, unless it became much more popular. Which means you won't catch him, but he also probably won't be able to backtrack this manga to you. Even that proxy of his is probably too busy." Ryuk gasped and covered his mouth, but it was too late.

"Aha!" Taro yelled. "So he does have people working for him?" Wait...crap...

"Yeah," Ryuk shrugged. "It's not that big a deal. In fact, that's the errand I was running. Kira needs to throw some people off his trail, so he had me give the Death Note to this other guy so he could judge in Kira's place and throw everyone off the trail."

I guess that makes Kira pretty much untouchable. "So, you're on your way back to Kira, now?"

"Yes," Ryuk said. Then, seeing the look in Taro's eye, he added, "But I think I'll just hang out here for a little while, until you go to sleep. Just to make sure you don't try and follow me."

Shit! There's just nothing I can do.

"Since I'll be here for a little while," Ryuk said, "why don't we just have a chat? You can ask me anything you want, except who Kira is." He nonchalantly "sat" down in one of the chairs, although he was still hovering a few inches above it.

Taro really wasn't in the mood to play Ryuk's games, but he figured, since Ryuk had made the offer, he might as well take him up on it. "What are 'the eyes?'"

"The eyes?" Ryuk looked amazed. "You really have been doing your homework. A shinigami can see a person name and lifespan just by looking at them. We can also give this power to any human who owns a Death Note, but in return, they have to give us half of their remaining lifespan."

I was right. "An exchange, huh? And the fake Kira made this...trade, right?"

Ryuk nodded.

"Okay." Taro thought about another question. "Did you and Kira actually meet the fake Kira in Aoyama five years ago?"

Ryuk started to answer, but then stopped himself. "I'm really not sure how much you saw in Aoyama, so I don't think I'll tell you."

That probably meant "yes," but Taro let it go. "You said that whenever someone gives up the Death Note, you take away their memories. Why didn't you take away mine?"

Ryuk scratched his chin. "That's a good question. I guess it was because I wanted you to keep the eraser."

"The eraser?"

"Yes. The Death Note and the eraser are part of a set. Normally, a human would get both of them, and then if you give up one, and keep the other, you can still retain your memories. However, I only gave Kira the notebook, so he has no idea the eraser even exists." Then he muttered to himself. "At least, I don't think he does. He is a pretty smart guy."

That made sense. "I guess what I really meant was why did you want me to keep the eraser in the first place."

"Ah," said Ryuk. "Because I thought that you would want it."

That I would want it?

"After all," Ryuk continued, "even now, you're still trying to find Kira, so you can use the eraser and undo all or at least some of those deaths that he caused. If I had taken the eraser away then, you might have lived a life in blissful ignorance. At the time, you didn't know what was coming, so I can understand why you might have wanted to just forget it all.

"But...if you want me to, I'll take the eraser back now and wipe your memory clean. You won't remember anything about the Death Note, and you won't have that lingering guilt that somehow all this is your fault."

That was an extremely tempting offer. To be blissfully ignorant...to not feel like the fate of the world was on his shoulders...that would be great. But...

"I can't," Taro said. "If I had given up my memories back then, it would have been different. If I were to choose ignorance now, I would just be running away from all those people I could save. So thanks, but I'll keep my memories and the eraser."

Ryuk nodded. What made Taro angry was that he knew Ryuk had given him no choice. He was still being manipulated.

The shinigami stretched. "Well, why don't you go ahead and get to bed so I can get out of here, okay?"

"Actually," Taro said, "there was one more thing I wanted to ask you."

"Oh?"

"You said the point of all this isn't that people are dying, right? It's all about the action?"

"What about it?"

"If that's true," Taro said, "then we could say that whether people die or not doesn't really matter. If it's all about the action, then having the people stay dead afterwards doesn't really make a difference, at least not to you.

"But it does matter to me, and you gave me the eraser knowing that I would try to bring those victims back. So, you would probably be fine with victims coming back as long as it didn't interfere with your...fun."

Ryuk considered that. "I guess that's true."

Taro stood up. "In that case, why don't I make a deal with you, Ryuk? I'll stop trying to look for Kira. From what you said, Kira's got a lot on his plate right now, so things should be plenty interesting even with me out of the equation. Of course, the manga's still out there, but other than that, I'll just settle down and try to live my life like a normal person. I've come to terms with the fact that I'm probably not smart enough to catch Kira on my own anyway."

Ryuk thought about it. It was true that things had potential to be a little less interesting without Taro, but so far he really hadn't managed to make any progress in tracking Kira down, and it was unlikely that he would be able to do so in the future.

Taro went on. "And in return, once Kira is eventually defeated, I want you to bring the Death Note pages to me so I can bring all those victims back. It'll be after you've had your fun, so that should be okay with you. As long as the battle continues, you should still have plenty of fun, and then I'll be able to set things right. Kira's human, so he'll have to die eventually, even if he wins against his enemies."

Ryuk smiled. Taro was a lot smarter than he looked. It was a good plan. I knew I chose him well.

"Alright, but why do you think you can trust me?"

Taro smiled. "This is in both of our best interests."

"Huahahahaha! Okay, it's a deal!" Ryuk spread his wings. "When next we meet, it will be after the death of Kira!" With that Ryuk flew out the window and disappeared.

It would be three years before Ryuk appeared to Taro again.

Chapter 7
Chapter 9
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