There was a documentary about Kira on television tonight. Matsuda sat and watched, thought he'd had himself convinced until the last minute that he would not. Then duly sat in silence for a long time after the TV had been shut off, partway through its closing credits.
Not thinking anything much about it. Despite its scheduled high intentions, the depiction told him nothing he didn't already know. Same old, same old, only slightly rehashed. One or two added examples of the pitiful nature inherent throughout the dregs of humankind - a camera lingered over Kira worshipping websites still running; interviewed the leader of a cultist enclave, who maintained a shrine in honour of a mass murderer's divinity.
Yet the statistics piled up, droned through an announcer's bland diction and sounding all the more dire for it than worse read in spreadsheet on Matsuda's work computer. A tiny part of himself wondering once again if he'd ever been on the right side of anything.
Not thinking about it otherwise, mostly because what was left to dwell upon after a decade spent doing just that? There madness lay, or outrage. Guilt. A sense that one day he should snap. If only to honour the dead in showing he was not so unscathed in surviving. If only he wasn't so stubbornly, optimistically, stupidly sane.
Like emotion. Empathy. Reality.
It was as if Kira and all he embodied has been set behind glass. Immutable. Divorced from true experience. In the process of becoming severed from that through which Matsuda had lived. And Mogi. Aizawa. Casting them all surreptitiously adrift from involvement in that thing that changed, traumatized in subtle ways, still loomed large over everything, all society, the whole world.
Funny the things that got left in or lost; errors perpetuated into pseudo-fact, until reality shifted and tipped them off its plate. Those Who Were There. The steady drip-drip of Kira becoming a legend through credible channels. He'd long since been legendary among the digital, popular and/or vulgar culture moguls, and masses. Bellwethers of fashion bringing him in and out of consideration according to their whim. Sometimes it was good to approve of his methods, that strange phantom God who came and went and never came back. Sometimes Kira was to be condemned, the papers said, and all their readers spurted rhetoric stating the same.
And Matsuda felt cold. And contemplated that scar raw ancient moral dilemma for the latest in uncountable time. Boring himself with the stab of angst and indecision before any conclusions ever seemed reached. Just his conscience rocking back and forth on the winds of wondering what was right. Honourable. What Soichiro would have done. Said. Ultimately sided with.
The officer shook off a poised lingering now. This moment was already too laden with potential pathos. Tedious the things that unsettled him so far down the road. More distractions. Distraction aplenty. That's what he needed. Him and the world.
And where was Near?
Matsuda's hand stilled en route to lifting his bottle of beer to his lips. The chill coming white-hot this time. That modern L was the aspect in all of this upon which terror or fury could dwell, not at all muted by time. Made worse by the waiting for his greatest fears in context of that strange Wammy to metamorphose into real life. But either Matsuda was wrong - which was great - or Near's silent psychopathy in secret possession of multiple shinigami notebooks, and all the unfathomable power they afforded him, hadn't yet surfaced in the public sphere. Maybe Near was too clever for them all - which was probable - and they would never know what he did with that divine gift in vault, nor how he managed the death gods loitering in his vicinity 24/7. How he kept them from boredom. Enough to explode an imagination and jolt a mind into terrible places.
The young man continued to engineer reasons for some kind of reunion, usually in Japan, often en situ, on the anniversaries of Light Yagami's death. Matsuda had only managed to avoid three throughout the decade.
Near liked the Yellow Box Warehouse. He knew it. It was a good place for confrontations. "Lucky?" Matsuda had asked him once, and Near had sneered. Pure evil, Matsuda thought, surveying the foreigner's features. But Mogi had chuckled at the description, shared later, and Aizawa had merely looked grimly on and said nothing. Well, they could belittle him. They'd earned the right. Near had not. Or had. And Matsuda wished he knew which.
He occasionally saw Sachiko Yagami. She was keeping well. Sayu with her. She was not. It used to sadden him for all that lost innocence and glee. You got used to the most messed up situations given time. That they'd had. Yet Soichiro would have wanted him to ensure they were alright. Keep his eye on them. Of course they were alright. Sachiko was steel beneath the mumsy face and apron. What would dare not be alright with her to face it down?
And he hated that she remained not knowing what happened to Light. That she'd never know what her boy became. Nor yet his true Fate. It wasn't her fault. Kira. Bloody Kira.
Had it really been ten years ago? When the sudden cessation of Kira's regime caused a momentary global hush; as if the whole planet in chaos and ransom awaited with bated breath developments from its tyrant. Then exhaled as one and forgot about him. Overwhelming the void with pretty much a return to everything that had governed before. The Kira case reinterpreted; encased in ways more palatable to the new-old Powers That Be. Plastering over cracks each time the ripple effect marked the smoothness of their political surfaces.
Cementing it in studies too. Kira re-affixed as yesterday's fad; not so much out of vogue now as refashioned into old news - a failed endeavour; a detached legend; a tired topic eased off most fora. Slowly consigned by populists and professors into nothing much at all.
It was in hours like this that Matsuda felt himself falling. Not physically. But inwardly ajar. Survivors' guilt, somebody once said and he'd thought it must be, after a greater period considering it just guilt. Gullible; ineffectual; Matsuda knew he could have done more.
He did all he could. Heroic.
A message from Mogi beeped onto his device. Startling Matsuda into jerking, swept from his darkening reverie into reading it. "Watch that?" Mogi had asked.
Matsuda replied simply, "Yes."
No response to that forthcoming for a good fifteen minutes. Matsuda picked it up halfway to the pub. "Just ignore," Mogi's legend read. It seemed to sum up more. Matsuda didn't answer immediately, stomping bowed and way too serious through night dreary streets that turned suddenly into an onslaught of neon, as he entered the main strip close to his home.
Bright lights that initially repulsed, then seduced and lifted his spirits tremendously. He was hailing friends and laughing by the time he crossed the bar to get his drink. Only then he replied to Mogi, "Already have. So should you. Two for one cocktails on special and karaoke being set up. Coming?"
Mogi must have been secretly morose and musing, because his answer came so quick. Less than a minute. Perhaps a mere forty seconds. "Yeah ok. Get them in."
And just like that, Kira was gone; ghost and decades and all.