One of the first humans Rem kills is a poet. The poet has long dark hair and soulful eyes, and she writes elaborate characters onto blocks of wood. Rem sees something about her – something fleeting – yet then it is done, the human collapsing with her hands folded over her chest.
Rem does not know why this death stays with her. But it does, and so do the ones afterward, but not in the same way as the poet.
Rem begins to wonder: where is this life, the one she took? Is it here, in her, the poet’s words inked across her claws and hair and skin? Is it in the marrow of her death god bones; is it in her blood, her teeth, her fingers, her tears?
(As if Shinigami often cry. Rem certainly does not.)
No, she thinks. She thinks instead that the poet’s words are weaved into the hem of her cloak. Human inanity stretched across her back in threads. The poet, and the other humans.
It doesn’t mean anything, except they died so Rem can exist.
Gelus is perched on the edges of the shinigami realm. He leans so close that it seems like he would fall into the world below. It is as if the sky would take him - the blue would take him - out of the dusty decayed greyness and into color.
“She can sing,” he says, and there is wonder in his voice. “Humans are unbelievable, aren’t they? Her parents were killed, she’s all alone in the world, but she can sing like that. ”
Rem, who is no expert on music, is silent. She can never understand Gelus’ strange fascination with humans, but she supposes that it is more entertaining than gambling with the others.
Gelus corrects himself. “No, she’s not alone. She has me.”
“She will die young,” Rem says, examining the numbers above the girl’s head. “Humans are fragile and short-lived. Will you find another human to watch, when she’s gone?”
Gelus blinks his one eye, as if the prospect hasn’t occurred to him. As if the girl shall live forever. “I don’t know,” he says. “Is there anyone else like her? A human who can sing and smile and laugh like her?”
She is just one human, Rem thinks. One life among millions, one life among billions.
“Why her?” Rem asks. “How did you find her?”
“I was looking for a human to kill to lengthen my life,” Gelus says, in a murmur. “And my eye happened to land on her. I wondered how and why she would die so early. I picked someone else. And I kept watching her.”
“You fool,” Rem says, kneeling down to touch Gelus’ remains. Ashes, dust, cinder, sand. The gods of death dissolve like this.
She stands over the opening to the human world, and takes the particles into her claws. She lets them drop into the boundless blue human sky, shinigami grey dust swirling, caught on the restless wind.
Gelus could have killed the girl back then, just as he had originally intended. The girl would have extended his life instead of ending it, becoming a part of him. (Rem touches her cloak and thinks about the human lives she has taken.)
But it is just this. Just nothingness.
There is nothing particularly remarkable about the way Misa Amane sings. She doesn’t have the voice of an angel, and the songs she sings are simple and sentimental. Cheap and manufactured. She is no poet like the human Rem had killed.
There is nothing particularly remarkable about the way Misa Amane looks. She has short dark black hair that curls against her neck, and she often wears a yellow wig when she performs. She wears whatever clothes she is supposed to model in, supplied by sponsors, the current fashion of the month to be usurped by the next.
There is nothing particularly remarkable about the way Misa Amane conducts herself. Many humans are orphans. Many humans have experienced terrible tragedy and persist. Many humans are devoted, loyal, stubborn, and brave in the span of their short lives--
There is nothing special about her. Nothing.
Rem holds Misa against her, encompassing her into the folds of her robes while Misa trembles. It is as if Misa would disappear into her arms.
“Half of your life, you understand?” she says softly.
Rem doesn’t need to do this. She doesn’t need to kiss her when she takes half of her life, but she wants to and she does.
It is just a soft press against Misa’s cheek, so low that it could have been the corner of Misa’s mouth. Then Rem pulls back and watches as the numbers above Misa’s head begin to fall.
These are the things Rem learns about Misa:
One, Misa is unwavering. She is enthralled in the flush of first love over Kira, and this love is expressed in how she sings and speaks. Desperation and hope makes her eyes bright and brings a spark of passion to her voice. Misa approaches life with an abundant, stubborn recklessness: I could have died then, so it doesn’t matter if I die now in service of Kira.
Two, Misa is a paradox. She has purity and sharpness contained within her. There are days when she will let Rem take her into her arms, into her cloak, embracing her there while Misa whispers of her fears and dreams and nightmares. There are days when Misa will watch television and laugh as Kira’s victims are named onscreen.
Three, Misa is beautiful.
Just that. It’s not exactly what Gelus saw, because Rem can talk to Misa. Rem can see Misa smile and laugh in front of her - because of her - cheerily explaining pop music to Rem, wondering if Rem has a favorite food like Ryuk, trying to teach Rem her dance steps. (Rem adamantly refuses to budge.)
This is beauty, and Misa Amane is irreplaceable.
If the sun went out in the sky, what would you put in its place?
So Rem kills him. She kills this man made of pixels and sugar and cruelty -- his death does not create threads that extend her cloak and her life, but instead it is ruination. Overbearing saccharinity -- jagged cunning -- crude and messy humanity. L Lawliet will die.
L Lawliet and Light Yagami circle each other at the warehouse. The waves near the wharf rush back and forth, back and forth. The sun rises overhead to make the sea burn orange and gold.
Rem does not watch the orchestrated confrontation. Instead, she watches Misa, who was brought down from the cross and is now sleeping soundly in a cell's bed at the task force headquarters.
Rem knows that Misa doesn’t remember her - won’t hear her if she calls out - and so she simply puts her hand on Misa’s. An intangible Shinigami claw clasping small human fingers.
The moment when L’s heart stops, Rem falls into dust, and Misa wakes up with silver sand scattered across her palm like stars.