Death Note Fan Fiction / Pet Shop Of Horrors Fan Fiction ❯ Chapter 2
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Ryuk’s eyes were the size of unripe oranges and a similar color. They faded from passive, murky yellow to sharp red when he wanted to be intimidating. Their too-wide mass bulged from his lumpy skull.
Today, they were nervous, roaming around the worlds – both of them – that he could see. His eyes saw a few things that no other type of creature could ever see, and a million things that slipped past humans. They saw the red tinge of death on the claws of a crow perched on a neon sign, from where it had killed a city rat a few hours earlier. They could see the difference in bloods between humans who did and did not eat dead flesh.
Humans, Ryuk had independently realized a bit later than the rest of his kind, were rather the universal joke. They were hovering near the bottom on the scale of intelligence, below spiders and above grass, when it came to understanding the worlds they lived in. They were so diverse, so stubborn, so stupid, but they were so many in number that their amazing influence on everything was hard to ignore. The shinigami had grown so that almost their whole lives revolved around humans. They way they’d spread over the earth had killed many species, angered more, and amused many. They affected the interaction between other species in ways that were hard to see for all but the clever.
Ryuk, the great hulking outcast of the death gods, was cleverer than he looked.
“Hey,” he said to the nearest human – the nearest, the best, the most powerful, the most foolish – “hey. Hey. Hey, Light, hey.”
Yagami Light was eighteen years old. Sometimes Ryuk thought of that and laughed until he couldn’t breathe.
“Hey. Light I gotta tell you something. Light. Light. Hey.”
Light was ignoring him so that the other humans around them didn’t see him speak to the air. Another hilarious human trait, their obsession over what other humans thought when they looked at one another. The Yagami child more than most.
Ryuk looked around, rictus grin stretching his ugly features, but he wasn’t smiling. He was uneasy, hovering a bit closer to his human and trying to figure out where the tension in the air was coming from.
“Light c’mon. Nobody is looking. I gotta talk to you.”
The stylishly-cut auburn head didn’t twitch in his direction, and he could feel the cynicism rolling off of Light. Yeah, okay, usually he only wanted to “talk” about how stupid the human women looked in their warpaint, but this was different and Light was being very rude.
Ryuk stopped for a second. As they proceeded – proceeded toward the towering black obelisk (or at least the train station that would lead to its area) – Ryuk felt very wrong indeed.
“Light. I don’t wanna go that way.”
Something in his tone made Light glance over his shoulder – at a street sign, at a passing car – and his eyes met Ryuk’s wide jaundiced spheres. The glance was brief, and Light continued walking, but with a slight difference in stride. A moment later, he ducked into an alcove on the street and hissed.
“What is your problem?” He looked so innocent, Light did, all fashionable jacket and neat tote bag. Ryuk tried not to laugh. It wasn’t the time, he guessed.
“I wanna go somewhere else.”
Light rolled his eyes. “Don’t be stupid. I have to report in or L will arrest me on the grounds of insubordination.” He was watching the street hawkishly, making sure no one peeked inside. “Quit bothering me.”
“Light, really,” Ryuk insisted. “Just today. It’s the train station. I don’t feel like going there, y’know, too many weird smells. Can’t we take a day off?”
Light looked at him weirdly, like the idea was alien to him. He headed back for the street, not bothering to reply.
“Y’know what?” Ryuk said to his back. “I’m gonna go look at stuff at that food place. You go ahead.”
“Fine, whatever,” Light said, although he narrowed his eyes suspiciously. Ryuk voluntarily abandoning his post of hovering creepily over Light’s shoulder was unusual… but not unheard of. “I’m sure you know how to find me when you’re done. Don’t cause any trouble,” he added, giving the god of death a direct order like it was some kind of thing, and blended back in with the city traffic, making for the station.
Ryuk looked around, then up. His scrawny wings flexed as they carried him in an uneven ascent, and he alighted on the roof of one of the metal city buildings. Below, he just barely caught the back of Light’s head, and the ghostly red numbers above it.
From his new vantage point he looked ahead past the crowd. The train station, the one they took every morning and late every night, was so different today that it hurt to look at. Ryuk’s eyes, wide and yellow, naturally wanted to look away.
It almost glowed, lit up by a sense that wasn’t exactly sight. The humans certainly didn’t notice the difference, but humans barely noticed the outside of their own skins. Ryuk stared hard at the disquieting aura that surrounded the place, feeling his waxy skin crawl at the feel of it. It radiated a warmth and calmness that was almost pleasant; a smell of old earth and new trees that would have calmed and comforted another creature.
Ryuk was a shinigami, and the place burned his nostrils. He wasn’t going in there for nothing, not until the smell faded. That was the point, though; to keep creatures like him out.
He wondered who would consecrate a dirty subway station in downtown Tokyo.
He wondered if he should care and realized that he should. But he didn’t. He flew off in another direction, opposite the way they’d come, and looked for something to occupy himself with until Light got home that evening. There was always the television in someone’s home. He could make some dishes move in some spooky mansion somewhere. Where was the nearest apple orchard?
Now there was a thought. Hanging in midair, he inhaled, barrel chest expanding grotesquely above his rail-thin abdomen, taking in the many smells of the physical realm. Mid-city Tokyo wasn’t exactly prime farmland, but if he flew for a while he could reach the countryside. Perhaps that would be a welcome change of scenery.
So he did exactly that, raising himself up close to the clouds and heading off in a direction that seemed promising. He was, of course, breaking important rules – stay within sight of the Death Note at all times, yadda yadda – but Ryuk was made for breaking rules, and more and more, lately. And the day anyone actually bothered to reprimand him, he’d eat the skull strapped to his waist.
At this height, travel was speedy even in this sluggish material plane, and it only took minutes for the glass-and-metal city grit to become sparse, giving way to long rolling fields of Japan’s agriculture. Ryuk followed his nose and his gut, finally alighting on his prize.
An entire field of them, in neat little rows.
This would be a good trip.
Ryuk descended to the ground, his senses filled with the sight and smell of crisp red skin still beating on the branches. So distracted was he that he didn’t even notice the thing that watched him from the tallest tree, patiently awaiting his arrival. The death god only stopped when his feet touched the ground and he could feel how wrong it was, and his vision clouded and his eyes went red with fear.
Leon worked the beat and got himself good and grumpy. He’d come in on a domestic abuse case and the wife – apparently it was she who was the abusive one, regardless of what the neighbors had understood – got a little upset, and Leon had a great whopping bruise on his face to show for his efforts. Her husband had just cowered and apologized a lot, camp bastard.
But the paperwork on that took up more time than anything was ever supposed to take, and he ended up clocking out hours after his shift, complaining like it was unusual or something. In his car, he thought that although he’d decided early that morning that he would not be paying a visit to the pet shop, all of a sudden he realized that he should really apologize for his weirdness the previous night. If he didn’t, D’d be all icy next time he saw him, and he might need some shred of information about the case or something. Definitely better to get it out of the way now.
But apologies with D never worked unless he brought some kind of sacrifice, so he stopped and got some donuts from the corner shop by the station (and the attendant made the oh, so clever comment about his job and his snacking choices and Leon successfully didn’t shoot him, so there was that). It wasn’t gourmet but it would do.
The shop was closed by now, but that had never mattered before, and he walked in and made himself comfortable. The pets were a lot louder today than they usually were, like something had them agitated. It was doing nothing for his growing headache.
Another thing that didn’t help his headache was the middle-aged Chinese man with a badly-cut beard who hurried from the back and asked him rather rudely what he was doing in the closed shop. Leon gaped at him.
“The crap? Where’s D?”
The stocky Asian man eyed him nastily. “Count D has taken leave. I am tending the shop until his return. If there is nothing else, I shall ask you to -”
“Leave, leave where? When? When is he coming back?”
“Sir, the sign on the door clearly -”
“Dick the door, tell me where D went, you…” Leon shook his head in disbelief. “Did something happen? Is he sick? I just saw him last night and he…” he hadn’t said a word of anything to Leon, but that was pretty typical of that cagey twerp. This was unbelievable. As he argued with the temp help, Leon told himself to relax. The guy was just taking a few days off. He probably deserved it; Leon had never seen him take a vacation.
Still, he could have…
Yeah, and that didn’t hold up when he finally got an answer out of the shopkeeper. Leon stared.
“Japan?” D had up and gone off to Japan? Why? Family? He was from China! They were different places! “Why the hell did he go there?”
“I do not know, sir, and I cannot tell you any more. I will inform the Count of your visit when he returns. Now please leave.” And Leon found himself in the doorway, ready to yell but with nothing to actually say. The temporary shopkeeper was staring at him impatiently. From somewhere in the shop, a shaggy auburn animal bounded to the door, headbutting Leon’s thigh with unusual gentleness. Although he was still on the wrong end of the horns.
“Ow.” He looked down at Tetsu’s wide brown eyes and frowned. Even the goat was being nice to him. This could not get weirder. Tetsu gnawed on the leg of his pants.
And it wasn’t until later, when he’d finally left the shop in peace and was staring moodily at the bumper of the car in front of him, did he think back to D, the previous night.
I have to leave.
Stay here. Do not follow me.
He’d known something was up with the way D had acted, he’d just been too stupid to ask. D being unusual just wasn’t… unusual.
Fine. Alright. This probably wasn’t as big a deal as he was making it seem. D dealt in exotic merchandise; there was no reason he shouldn’t go abroad to look at weird animals. That wouldn’t take long. Leon could yell at him all he wanted when D got back. He just wished the fucker would have said something. Something not cryptic and mysterious.
He realized he was driving downtown by habit, and turned off and went home instead. He’d left his donuts at the shop by accident, and that annoyed him, because he wanted them a lot more now than he had when he was holding them.
The trees grew around him as Count D waited for death.
He rolled a red apple around in one hand. Such an amazing fruit, apples, so steeped in legend and lore, for quite good reason. Humans tended to pick up on significance like that, even if they got the details wrong. Apples contained more life inside them than any other thing that grew from the earth – but it was a special kind of life, a transcendent kind. So pure were their energies that even creatures of death, which were sickened by the process of growth and so could never eat plant matter while it was still alive, found them irresistible.
Apples were the only thing that every creature across the planes could enjoy. They were the only living things a shinigami could eat.
D wondered when he had learned that.
When the great black crow arrived, all feathers and teeth and irreverence, D waited a moment for it to notice him. When it did, he tossed it the apple in his hands – the reddest, purest fruit he’d picked from the orchard.
Ryuk caught the fruit in one bony claw, looking at it in surprise. It stared at D, red eyes sharp and suspicious. The silence stretched and grew tense.
“I guess that’s not a peace offering,” said the shinigami, its voice like stones.
“No,” replied D. He could feel its apprehension, and he shared it. But he could remain calm even when his blood was icy beneath his skin. “It is not. Consider it an invitation for parley.”
The shinigami fluttered creakily to the branches of the tree opposite the one where D was perched. They faced each other, several meters off the ground. It still clutched the apple in one hand. It looked at him darkly for a long moment, and then released a guttural laugh.
“I can’t even think what a thing like you would have to say to me. Just looking at you gives me chills,” it sneered, hunched on the branch like a fleshy gargoyle.
D raised an eyebrow and tried not to mimic the snarl. It was hideous in a way no earthly beast could ever be. “That goes without saying. I am having difficulty standing your presence as well.”
“Yeah? Then why the scavenger hunt?” Ryuk uncurled, reclining on the branch and tossing the apple from one massive hand to the other. “Cuz I just put it together. You’re the one who kept me out of the train station. Couldn’t have been anyone else. How’d you know I’d come here?”
D looked serenely around at the ocean of apples on the trees around them. “Lucky guess.”
“So what can I do you for, kami?” He spat the word. D watched him intently. Ryuk, for the first time, noticed the elegant sword strapped to the Count’s waist sash, and its eyes widened along with its grin. “Oh. I get it.”
Ryuk stretched his long limbs, still toying with the fruit. It did smell succulent, and he wanted it badly, but accepting a gift from this enemy was hard to stomach. He snickered at the god opposite him. “Bold move, I gotta say. Your kind isn’t usually the violent type.”
D glowered, never moving from his elegant poise. “Please do not evade. You know what this is about.” He had pulled the hair back from his eyes, full-faced for an unusual change, and the single golden iris shone powerfully in the dappled sunlight. “You have gone rogue and violated the agreements between your people and mine. I have every right to destroy you.”
“Mmmm,” Ryuk said languidly, crossing his ankles on the opposite branch. “Y’know, maybe you’re right. But you know what else?” He smiled his sweetest smile, which involved shark teeth and black gums. “Nobody else gives a crap.”
“Your people,” D enunciated, expressing his displeasure at referring to the death gods as people, “have no obligation to care. You will abide, or there will be punishments. There are no exceptions.”
“I didn’t mean just us. We don’t care about anything.” Ryuk pointedly looked around. “I can’t help but notice you’re all alone. Doesn’t look like your guys mind my little game either.”
D’s face darkened, as did, somehow, the sky around him. Ryuk looked at the gathering cloud cover and thought churlishly of earth god theatrics. “I do not need protection to dispose of you, shinigami.”
“Nope. You could probably kill me easy,” Ryuk said easily. This was only true because of where they were – the kami had far more power in the physical realm. It was their thing. “But do that and the entire shinigami realm takes it as a declaration of war. And,” he added over D’s reply, “it doesn’t really matter who’s right, because there are a lot more of us than there are of you.” He impaled the apple on one talon, holding it aloft and looking thoughtful. “How many of you are left now, eh? Ten? Five?” The skin around his jawbone nearly split, even further, around his smile. “Three?”
He wasn’t feeling as confident as he looked. He was trying to talk the life god into letting him off the hook, but kami were big on rules, and this one seemed even more hung up than the old ones. There was nothing specifically in the shinigami codex against giving a death note to a human. But the bigger rules, the overarching ones – they were all about balance. Light was just killing too many people who were meant to live. The ebbs and flows of the natural balance or whatever were tipping all wrongly, and kami got real uptight about that kind of thing.
The fury on D’s face said he’d hit the mark. “Do you suppose your kind will be so keen to avenge you?”
“Me? Nah. They could care less what happens to me.” Ryuk shrugged; that was more or less true. “I just figure they’ll take the first excuse to do bad by you guys. Really, killing me is a bad move.”
“Perhaps you should have considered that before gorging yourself on human life.”
Ryuk looked at the other god critically. He was young. Younger than Ryuk by far. He was all justice and balance and keeping to the code of his people.
That kind of loyalty could be played, if it was done right.
“Alright. You got me.” He spread his hands, red apple still speared on one finger. “If you wanna kill me, I can’t stop you.”
D stood on the branch and drew his sword.
“But,” Ryuk went on hastily, guessing that that slim body was a lot faster and less frail than it looked and really not keen on seeing the business end of that blade up close, “if you do, it won’t fix things. It’s not me killing the humans.”
D said nothing, waiting for him to go on. The blade of his sword had an intricate serpent wound around its metal tang, far more lovely and more powerful than any human weapon ever crafted.
“I gave my death note away. A human has it now.” D looked at the black book on his belt. “Yeah, not that one, I had a spare.”
“Well, because I picked one up in case I ever lost mine,” Ryuk reasoned, “you know it’d really suck to be left without a—”
The thick sword slammed into the trunk of the tree beside his head, entirely too close. Ryuk jumped animatedly, staring at the blade. As he watched, the shining metal melted into silver scales, transforming into a thick snake that shimmered back through the air, wrapping itself around D’s arm. It slithered into his hand and became a sword again, aimed threateningly high. The god stood to strike again, face thunderous.
“Do not toy with your words,” Count D warned.
Ryuk grinned nervously. Alright, this one wasn’t big on jokes.
“I dropped it, alright? Just to see what would happen. A human picked it up, just a kid. He’s the one killing all the bad guys. Thinks it’s a noble calling or something.” He cracked a shoulder, watching the angry god carefully. “It’s him you’ve gotta stop, not me.”
“Damned fool!” D said, sword arm not abating. The enchantment in the metal flashed. “Retrieve your property and put an end to it!”
Ryuk took a gamble, then. Kami and shinigami legendarily did not get along, and he could only hope that the younger god didn’t know how death rules worked. “Can’t,” he lied. “The owner of a death note is immune to being killed by a shinigami. I can’t touch him until he surrenders the book.”
D held back a frustrated growl. This rogue shinigami was playing games too dangerous to destroy, and the murderous human was meddling in unholy realms beyond the reach of his mind. He considered his options; it was true that the wrath of the death gods was something he couldn’t handle alone. But he had to stop this perversion of nature; it was his duty to his family.
He wished that his grandfather would help him.
“This kid likes to punish humans who do wrong,” Ryuk told him with a wolfish smile. The apple, speared on his finger, oozed its fresh and wonderful juices as he waved it at D. “You two would probably get along.”
Count D sheathed his blade, eyes dark. “Humans,” he said clearly, “have no concept of what is wrong.”
Ryuk shrugged. All that right and wrong stuff was boring to him, but the kami were all over it; they and their justice. He resisted the urge to cackle madly, imagining this new foe going up against Light. The fool Yagami was already squaring off against the most dangerous human possible… would he think himself smart enough to take down a god?
He couldn’t wait to see the look on Light’s face.
“You,” D went on, raising himself straight, “will not interfere further. And when I have dealt with this human, you will return to your world. Is that understood?”
“Yep.” Ryuk saluted. He was done with this place anyway. If Light went down, Ryuk would happily go home.
“Tell me who he is.”
“Can’t,” Ryuk said again, although this time it was the truth. “Not within my power to give away a name. You know how it is. He lives in Tokyo, though,” he added, grinning helpfully.
Count D looked away, folding his arms behind his back. The silk on his arms swayed in the cool autumn air. There was a long pause.
“What do you suppose the Endless would say about all this?” He asked mildly.
Ryuk tensed, and the smile dropped entirely off his jaws for the first time since he’d realized who he was talking to.
“We don’t work for her anymore. You know that,” he said acidly. D fixed him with a bicolored gaze, earlier rage gone and replaced with a cool amusement.
Ryuk started to reply, to demand to know what a kami thought he knew about death and all its estranged servants, but D waved a hand. “It doesn’t matter. You will face your rewards in time.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Ryuk shrugged, wings stretching against the branches and making them rattle their organic limbs. He tapped a claw against the death note in its holster. “But I think I’m in for a long life before then.”
D smiled coldly. “I’m sure `Kira’ does as well. We’ll see.” He stepped gracefully into the air, and the winds helpfully carried him to land, feather-light, on the ground. “I suggest you keep a close eye on your human. Pets can turn on their owners.”
The trees swayed in time with his footsteps, appearing to close in around him. He was gone before Ryuk could shoot back a reply.
The shinigami looked at the fruit on his hand. It had cracked around his talon and begun to peel. With a snort, he threw it to the ground as he unfurled and took to the air.
Relentless do-gooders always made him lose his appetite.