Fandom: Death Note
Characters: Rem, Misa (with onesided Rem/Misa and Misa/Light); a bit of L
Genre: Introspective, angst
Warnings: (Admittedly rather vague) adult themes
Summary: Misa knows that love conquers all, and Rem discovers that she herself knows less than she thinks.
Disclaimer: You all know I'm nowhere near cool enough to own Death Note... right?
A/N: Rem's relationship with Misa always struck me as one of the most tragic aspects of this series. Also, whoa, I haven't written for this fandom for, like, two years now.
“Love,” Misa says, “Is the greatest power in the world.” And she curls her two thumbs and forefingers up into the shape of a heart.
“In all the world?” Rem has her doubts; how can she not? She has witnessed with her own eyes forces of whose existence humans are not even aware.
“Of course.” –And she sets her jaw in that certain way, the way that means that there really is no reason in arguing with her. Misa would defend her love– both the principle and the person– unto death.
But Rem simply cannot understand humans sometimes (their small lives and bright passions, and the very peculiar things upon which they insist– love!), so she persists. She, whose life span has been measured in millennia, knows better.
“You are still so young,” she begins, but Misa cuts her off, fiery-sharp. (Why is this? Perhaps, Rem thinks, if she too had such little time to live in, then she too would be like this, she too would want everything to be swift, strong, and decisive. Perhaps it is merely that the dying– and that is what all humans are– tolerate no ambiguities.)
“All right, Rem. Name one power that’s stronger than love is,” she demands, and she wiggles one finger in the air before Rem’s face in a gesture that signals scolding. “Name just one; see if you can.”
She is one of the type of humans, Rem has noticed, who possesses a great deal of stubbornness. One name for it may be fortitude; folly is another.
Either way, this is painfully simple: “Death. Death is much, much more powerful than love.”
“Are all shinigami like that? You just want to think the power you have is something so special. It must be sad, only being able to feel love if you’re willing to die. Really, I feel bad for all of you.”
“But death is your power too,” Rem points out (she will ignore that last comment, for truly it is she who pities Misa), and she gestures at the desk in the room’s corner, where the Death Note sits with a furry pink pen placed across its cover. “Every time you pick up that pen and write down a name” (–With those slim, elegant fingers, nothing at all like the bony joints of a shinigami!–) “You hold in your hands a higher power than love. The people whose names you write die, and they will continue to die, as if love never existed. That is how powerful death is, Misa.”
“But I’m doing it because of Light-kun! For love!” She is insistent.
She is missing the point.
In her time, Rem has seen the empires of the humans rise and fall; oh, she has some stories she could tell this girl that would make her see. She has seen men declare themselves gods, for Misa’s Kira is certainly not the first and he won’t be the last (and they never are gods, not really, because they too all pass into Mu and forget themselves); even that powerful politician in the guise of sensuous queen was forced in time to seek the gift of that venomous little snake; and the self-proclaimed great lovers have always found their way to the grave just as readily as the even-tempered. Love? What of it?
But even in the human measurement Misa is barely more than a child, and Rem cannot help but feel a little protective; for her, she will furnish a simpler example.
“Do you remember that man you killed recently? The one who was a politician, and he was on your television all the time, talking about how he wasn’t a drug addict, how his enemies were just conspiring against him?”
Misa nods, and– is that a hint of a smile on her face? (“Look at how smug he is!” That was what she said at the time. “He thinks he can get away with lying to everybody just because he’s in charge! But Kira won’t allow that.”)
“And after that, surely you must remember how his wife was wailing on your news programs, saying that he really had been wrongly accused and that Kira shouldn’t have killed him.”
Even Rem is not quite sure if she will forget that; perhaps the trifles of humans are a little different when one witnesses them up-close. There was something in the way her face contorted, in the furtive gesturing of her paper-white hands. It was... unsettling.
“Do you really believe, after seeing that, that she did not love him?”
“She shouldn’t have. People who pretend to be responsible and then lie like that– they don’t even deserve to live.”
“It doesn’t matter whether he did it or not; that’s not what I’m talking about. She loved him either way. Can you deny that? You saw her. She may well have loved him with all she was, but her love could not prevent him from dying.”
(She does not say, You should understand; you also love one who does not deserve to live.)
“This Death Note I have given you is far stronger than that woman’s love could ever have hoped to be.”
Misa opens her mouth, then closes it, and her eyebrows knit together: she has no response, and that irritates her immensely.
“Fine. Whatever you say,” she finally snaps, “I’m going to go see Light-kun. Because our love is really powerful, and we’re going to create the new world. The world of Kira. And when we do... Well, even a shinigami like you will be able to understand what love is.”
She quickly stuffs a jacket and the Death Note into her purse, fumbles with her keys, and heads for the door.
“Is he expecting you?”
“I’ll surprise him! You can just stay here, Rem; you don’t know anything about Light-kun and Misa-Misa anyway!”
So she slips on her shoes, the pink ones with the very high heels, and goes off to see him...
...Off to his room...
Rem cannot help but bristle at that; she doesn’t want to think about him laying even one hand on Misa. It shouldn’t matter to her, of course. Light is using Misa, that much is clear as day. But she can spend hours on her hair and make-up, can pick out her shortest skirt and most low-cut shirt, and he still doesn’t spare her more than a second glance. Such disinterest! He is using her, but not in that way.
And what if he were? He doesn’t love her, but Rem wasn’t lying; she does not put much stock in human love anyway. And sex, sex is something that only the humans need worry about. (And worry they do; so much excitement over something so simple and stupid. It is mystifying, all of it.)
Rem may be a female shinigami, but her gender is a product of the mind only: no shinigami has ever had sex; no shinigami is capable of having sex; and they nurse no young. –Appropriate enough for gods of death, she thinks.
Anyway, sometimes she catches a glint of something in Misa’s eyes when she talks about her Kira– something fierce and entirely unhealthy, something that he cannot be worthy of– and she knows that Misa would gladly do anything for his sake. She would sacrifice herself, give herself over into nothingness, in an instant.
It is then that Rem is grateful for her unfeeling body of bone, for its passionlessness. Perhaps that is the most fortune of all the gifts that shinigami possess.
(And yet... even knowing all of that, there is still a bitterness that fills her up when she imagines it, and her mind’s eye cannot look away. All she can see is skin on skin– human skin, soft and smooth, not the jagged bone and leathery sinew that she and Ryuuk lay claim to– fevered motions....
For her part, Rem wonders what it would be like to kill him, that insolent, self-adoring man– No, not a man; let him be merely a little boy, an infant– or even worse, a creature, a something; let him be some slimy, small-eyed animal of the sort that humans feel so much revulsion toward; yes, that suits him.
Either way, she thinks she would very much like to kill him, to let him know what she has just written before it happens, so that she can see his face. She has seen his kind before, after all, and they never die gracefully. –Ah, but Misa would cry; she would demand to know why and would probably follow him to the grave. No good in that.)
No, she won’t follow Misa; she will leave her and her Light to it, whatever it is.
Instead, she wanders out into the world, lets her wings carry her where they will. (Ah, surely no human has ever been free like this: to fly under one’s own power, to feel nothing....) She passes through apartments and office complexes, follows the neat lines of roads, and eventually comes to the hotel room occupied by the man Misa and Light despise so passionately. They know him only as L (and mustn’t that be an immense source of irritation for the self-centered little demigod!), but she can see his true name, because she is a shinigami and is therefore unencumbered by the obstacles humans face.
He is no friend of hers, that is for sure, but she cannot help but like him at least a little bit. He too hates Kira. Surely if he is really the greatest detective in this world, he will be able to pin down Light, find the evidence... And because of this, Rem feels sorry for him. (The brightest of the humans indeed. But what misfortune!)
His life span appears to be around forty more human years, but that is a lie. He is lucky if he has even one year left to live. Like a shinigami, he will conceive no children; he will not even be able to finish his true child, this investigation.
Light will see to that.
(...And what if he cannot, and Misa cannot...?)
Rem has to go now; suddenly she cannot bear to look at that man, the great detective.
He is too clever, too dangerous (a mere human! He who sits like a trained ape and eats sweets while he reads over his case files!), and she knows that what Misa is doing, what she has already done, is a serious crime in the human way of thinking. He will hunt her down– vicious man! Even if he does look half like a child, with those big, round eyes– and see that she pays for it with everything that she is. He will squeeze her dry, wring her out like an old rag; he won’t hesitate to tear her to pieces; he has no mercy, only a thirst for answers.
For this, even Rem must admit that she fears him.
She will not lie to herself; that love for self-delusion is one of her least favorite human qualities. Misa is in almost every respect a very selfish girl. That is the truth. And now, the one time that she decides to act for someone else: it has to be him.
The Death Note ought, she thinks, to have been used for Misa’s own sake: she could have put it to work for herself, prospered; she should use it to live a happy life. It was never intended to aid fools who believe themselves to be divine. It is unsurprising that this L Lawliet is intent on capturing the ones who have filled his species with so much fear. She should not blame him–
And yet she must.
And yet all she wants is for Misa to be able to wake up in her own room, in her own bed on morning after morning to come; complain about how cold her apartment is, how it chills her; put on those high stockings she likes; even chatter about her love... If Misa can only feel the sun on her skin instead of the artificial light of a prison... In a well-ordered world, that should not be too much to ask for.
The feeling seeps deep into her rib cage, almost as if it were trying to drown her...
–No, it doesn’t, because that isn’t the right word: rib cage. She thought she was beyond this pitiful denial: a normal rib cage, she knows, doesn’t bow out quite as much as hers does, and not in that place. She knows that, and she knows that really, there can be only one meaning to the shapes hers has taken.
Almost as if it were trying to drown her, the feeling– and now the knowledge too– seeps deep beneath her half-formed bone breasts.
(What business does a shinigami have anyway, having those? There is no conceivable use to which she can put them.)
The explanation is there for all to see, and she wonders that she has not done so before now. (And if she had... she should never have come down to this world, that much is sure, should never have allowed herself to become involved with humans.) Shinigami only came into being after humans already existed, and they have no other prey.... And so, on some level, they must also take their form from humans. Rem closes her eyes, which won’t delay the terrible knowledge: We are nothing without them.
Humans with their short lives and limited insight, humans with their unknowable passions... They have spent so much time in search of some mythical Creator, all the while unaware of the fact that this is what they themselves are.
They made me. And someday...
(No, not someday, but rather a day that is quickly approaching...)
She has always been good, diligent; she has always written down names when she knew she should, didn’t spend all her time gambling, took her position seriously. She isn’t, she tells herself, a goof-off like Ryuuk, a trouble-maker– as if goodness were its own reward. Her only crime is knowing her true nature better than the others. (A creature that is of humans– therefore, a creature who must be afflicted by the same follies as them, no matter how much she may try to deny it.)
Prophecy may not be an ability commonly attributed to shinigami, but Rem can see the future clearly enough. Hers may be a small crime– less than a peccadillo, really– but because of it she will pay the highest price there is.
What more is there to be said?
She will take to the skies again, not so free this time. (Oh, freedom, that’s a laugh– she hasn’t been free since she gave Misa the Death Note.) She will find Misa now, or perhaps she will simply go back to the apartment and wait. Perhaps she will even apologize: Misa was right after all, and those beings whose power is death are easily laid to waste.
Easily, easily– because love is the greatest power in any world.