Something Wicked This Way Comes
~ An Alternate Death Note Fanfiction ~
Notes: So, I dropped out of 30_Kisses and without that deadline, this got backburnered. I will still be using the 30K themes since that's what this story is outlined to (for those of you curious, that means six more parts and one epilogue). Apologies for the delay, I'll try to be better. For those of you who want teasers of my fic, you can follow me on twitter under "aishuuyamada."
Part 22: Candy
L was an atheist, but the vision confronting him was making him reconsider his conviction. He was a firm believer in the evidence detected by his own eyes, and the monster looming in front of him was a rather strong argument that there was more to life than he'd known before.
The creature in front of him, logically, couldn't exist. While it had a humanoid form and size, it looked like it was constructed of bone, with pieces of shroud draped over its cursed figure in a mockery of clothing. Most of all, it was the scent that turned his stomach. For the epicurean L, scent was nearly as important as the sense of taste. He had smelled death before – a noxious mix of rot and decay – and this creature wore the fragrance as though it was perfume.
L's rational mind took all this in, but he wasn't able to control his outward, panicked reaction. He screamed so intensely that his throat hurt, but he was unable to stop. The creature just watched without any kind of expression on its face.
In the back of his mind, the small part of his senses that weren't engaged in a mental breakdown noted the sound of the bathroom door opening. But it was a muted awareness because L couldn't take his eyes off the monster.
"Ryuuzaki," Raito said, and his soft voice acted like a sedative, instantly stilling L's descent into hysteria. L never wanted to appear weak in front of him.
For a second, he wondered if the monster was some kind of hallucination brought on by fatigue, or if this was a dream based on his deeply-rooted paranoia, but Raito turned his head to the monster and addressed it directly. "I hope you're happy now," he said flatly.
The monster shrugged. "Happiness is a foreign concept to my kind."
L turned slightly so he could stare at Raito, trying to gather his scattered wits. The younger man was wearing black boxers, which rode low on his hips, and nothing else. A few minutes before, L would have appreciated the sight, but now it only served to undermine his folly. He and Raito had been intimate, but Raito hadn't trusted him with this vital piece of information for their case.
How in hell did Raito end up with the Death Note? Was it the one Amane Misa had possessed, or were there more than one? For that matter, exactly what was a Death Note?
Standing in that claustrophobic bathroom, L had never felt so alone. The tension in the air crackled, and the monster stood between them, the proverbial elephant in the room suddenly given frightening substance.
He could either confront Raito for hiding vital information, or try to communicate with the monster. The most logical path would be to define what the monster was before taking Raito to task.
"What are you?" he asked the monster, since the thing had previously spoken and he didn't want to inadvertently slight it by treating it like it was unintelligent. Though calling it a "what" probably wasn't diplomatic, either. He shifted his head so his gaze was directed at the creature, but Raito remained visible out of the corner of his eye.
"You may call me Rem," the ghoulish apparition said, and L detected a feminine quality in its tones. "I am a shinigami."
L wasn't Japanese, but he'd spent enough time in the Land of the Rising Sun to be familiar with the concept. Shinigami were popular figures in Japanese storytelling, having evolved from the European concept of the Grim Reaper. If he'd ruminated on it in the past, he would have found it an amusing example of cultural diffusion, but he couldn't laugh about it now.
"Are you here to kill me?" he asked.
The creature tilted its head in a lizard-like fashion, before shaking its head slowly. "I have no plans to do so at this time."
"Then what are you here for?"
"To observe," the creature replied.
L was an observer by nature, but the idea that something was observing him made him irritated. He understood it was hypocritical, but that wasn't the point. "Observe what?"
The monster shifted its gaze over to Raito, evaluating, before turning its (her, L decided) back to L. "On how the Death Note is used."
L's eyes darted involuntarily to the small black book he was still holding. "This?" L held it up, wondering how a couple of sheets of paper could kill people half a world away. Prior to learning about the Kira case, he'd believed such a thing was impossible; experience had taught him differently. "How does it work?"
"I will not tell you," the shinigami replied.
The creature was a master of short, non-informative answers, L thought. It was irritating, and he found his fear start to recede as it was overpowered by a sense of irritation.
"Then what can you tell me?" L asked, turning his head to the other person in the room. "How long have you known about the existence of this book?"
Raito glanced over at Rem. "Can you step outside, please?"
"She doesn't need to," L said quickly, his voice rising slightly, not wanting to let this creature out of his sight... and unsure if he was using that as an excuse to avoid being left alone with Raito.
Rem shifted her head with a peculiar kind of grace as she took a moment to regard both of them. "As long as the Death Note is here, I will be as well," she replied.
L looked back and forth at them, trying to think his way through this situation. His throat was sore from the screaming, and he'd barely managed to stop his hands from shaking. Trying to handle the situation was going to test his already overstressed nerves.
To his surprise, Raito took another couple steps toward him, and L had to restrain his instinct to retreat from the unknown variable. Raito lifted his hand from his side, holding out a small piece of wrapped dark chocolate. "This will help you calm down," he said.
"The thing isn't some kind of real Dementor, is it?" L asked. He wasn't sure if he dared take the candy Raito was offering, a part of him suspecting poison.
Raito blinked. "Excuse me?"
L couldn't help but snicker, even in this situation. Trust Yagami Raito to have not read Harry Potter. He accepted the piece of chocolate, deciding against over analyzing Raito's surprisingly thoughtful gesture. If Raito wanted him dead, he'd surely use a more creative method than poison.
"Never mind," he murmured as the rich dark chocolate melted on his tongue. The fact that Raito had brought it into the bathroom with him spoke only of Raito's uncanny ability to predict L himself. An hour ago that might have been an assurance that their partnership was working, but now it was another reason for L to curse himself.
And second later, he cursed Raito's perception. Raito was right, damn it. The sugar infusion served to settle L down, and kicked his more logical side into gear.
Along with his common sense.
A tingling sensation of unease went down his spine as he took another look at the shinigami. He didn't know how long Rem had been lurking, but it had to have been for a couple hours at least, since Raito didn't seem shocked by its appearance. Modesty was a concept he found quaint, but the idea of Rem watching them fuck made him feel vulnerable. While lost in the throes of lust, L had let his guard down.
He'd let Raito too close to start with, a mistake he would have to try to mitigate. A day ago, he would have glanced over at Raito to silently communicate his plan, but instead he remained focused on Rem.
"How come I can see you now?"
"Because you touched a Death Note that I have guardianship over," Rem responded. "That Note is connected to me, and thus you are able to see me."
"And Raito sees you as well," L said, tilting a sweet smile at Raito. "So obviously he has touched this Note as well." Never mind that L had found it in Raito's clothes; a good detective knew a case should not be built upon a single piece of evidence.
Raito, with his characteristic poise, didn't even flinch. Instead he raised an eyebrow, his lips curving slightly as he took a couple steps back. To his credit, he didn't bother trying to make an excuse.
Fitting, L thought. Raito hadn't changed at all; it was L's perceptions of Raito that were undergoing the revolution. When they had met, L had thought to use Raito. Now the shoe was well and truly on the other foot, and L was humiliated. He had never believed that someone might be able to outwit him.
He took a deep breath, struggling not to let his anger rise. Right now, he needed more information on the Death Note.
Then he could figure out what to do with his untrustworthy lover. L turned away from Raito, re-focusing on the shinigami for his next question. "You were with Amane Misa until recently, weren't you?"
"I came to this world to present her with this Death Note," Rem said."The shinigami who possessed it previously died to save her, so it was hers by right."
It was an actual, straight-forward answer. L distrusted that.
"How many Death Notes are there?"
"One for every shinigami," Rem replied.
"But this one belonged to Misa," L said, waving it slightly. "Was she a shinigami?"
"Amane Misa was human, albeit a special one."
"One who could use this Death Note to kill people she didn't like?"
"Anyone who has possession of Death Note can utilize it."
Questioning Rem was like questioning a police officer, L thought. Rem was clever, and limited herself to the shortest answer possible and deliberately choosing to interpret queries in aggravating ways. This was a contest of endurance, about whether L's patience would last long enough to weasel good intelligence out of her.
Curiously, Raito had little to add to the conversation, watching with sharp eyes as L tried to interrogate the shinigami. That little fact assured L that Raito had already known all these answers. It was another log on the pyre of their partnership.
"As a shinigami, you have one as well?"
Rem offered a slow nod, but didn't speak.
"So who currently owns this one?"
Rem shrugged. "Ownership is a technicality. Possession is the law."
In that second, L's mind raced through a staggering number of scenarios and possibilities. He was holding the breakthrough to the Kira case in his hands. With this Death Note, he'd be able to track down the "original" Kira, since he was convinced Amane Misa hadn't been the first to be visited by a shinigami. The Kira deaths, while petty, had served a more global purpose that the deaths that surrounded Misa. Misa had only killed those who got in her way; she had been a selfish personality.
And L could be selfish, too.
L needed to examine this Death Note to determine how it worked. For a second, L considered running some trials to learn how to utilize the Death Note. He couldn't confirm the little black book as a murder weapon without actually seeing it with his own eyes – because the very idea was outside of all the rules of science and logic he believed in. But the whole Kira case was the same in defying L's previously established reality, and he wasn't going to take the chance and accidentally kill someone. L wasn't about to descend to the level of murderer.
But if he had the Death Note, then he would have Rem. Eventually he'd be able to get a straight answer out of her.
There was only one thing L needed to do immediately – get rid of the untrustworthy element. He was holding the Death Note in his hands, which made him its de facto owner. The only other person who might try to claim it was standing in front of him.
And L wasn't going to let that happen. Alliances were meant to be temporary, anyway. And Raito had betrayed him first.
L stepped back toward the shower, out of Raito's immediate arm's reach, and offered a slight smile as he spoke the words to formally break their partnership, "Yagami Raito, I think the time has come for us to part ways."