--Scarlet World--

It was over. It was all over now. Everything he had set out to accomplish with this wildly risky plan was done. L was dead, the investigation team was on his side, and both Misa and he were free. And yet, as he cradled the slowly cooling body of his archnemesis in his arms, all he felt was pain. No, that wasn't exactly right. Kira was rejoicing, triumphant. But for Yagami Light, who had foolishly managed to genuinely fall in love with his adversary, all he had was this empty pain and profound grief. It was his mistake, of course; he had no one to blame but himself. But now, he had finally paid the ultimate price for changing this world, giving up everything that was dear to him; truly, in this instant, he was a broken messiah, and he swore to make his losses worthwhile.

The rest of the investigation team exchanged glances as Light sat by the long table they had laid L's body on with a vacant expression on his face. A van would come in the morning to secretly transport the body for a quiet burial, since they had decided it was best to keep L's passing a secret from the public and, hopefully, Kira. In the meantime, however, no one really knew what to say or do where they had gathered in this smaller chamber to offer a moment of respect for the dead detective. While Light and L had seemed to eventually warm up to each other somewhat over the past months, they had mostly assumed it to be mutual respect and professional solidarity. Thus, no one had expected Light to react almost hysterically to the detective's death, to be so deeply affected or so stricken with grief now.

Matsuda had grown fond of both geniuses over their time here, despite their many fights and eccentricities. He admired them both, and it was always a thrill to watch them at work together, even if he usually didn't understand half of what they were really discussing; simple words always seemed to have a greater significance between them than he ever perceived. He was very sad that L was dead, although he supposed L would have been satisfied with this, dying in the pursuit of his greatest challenge, only regretting not having won in the end. And while he had watched relations between the two improve as time passed, he had to admit he was still rather shocked at the pained cry that despair, sorrow and anger had wrenched forth from the younger boy. At a loss for what to do, he looked surreptitiously around at the others, but it appeared that everyone else shared his predicament. He sighed. Just when he'd thought they'd made progress in the investigation, such a tragedy had to happen.

Yagami Souichirou searched for something, anything, to say to his son. He had never seen the boy like this, not even when his favourite grandmother had passed away years ago. The little boy had cried then, but today, it seemed the teenager's grief was beyond tears. In a way, he thought he could understand; Light had finally found a friend he could really connect with, that could think at his level, and to so abruptly lose him now just as they'd finally seemed to come to some sort of understanding… Well, he had to admit he really couldn't quite imagine just how terrible it must feel. It was probably best to get back to work to take everyone's mind off the sudden tragedy, and since there wasn't really anything he could say about what had just transpired, he figured he might as well ask if there was anything to be done.

"Light, if t—"

"Please," the boy interjected quietly, his voice a hoarse whisper. "If we—" He caught himself. "If I could have some time alone…"

Everyone made some inconspicuous sound of agreement and hastened to make themselves scarce, eager to get away from the oppressive gloom and tense silence of the chamber. His father was the last to leave, and Light felt the old man's eyes train on him for a few seconds in concern just before the door clicked shut. He waited till the last of the footfalls faded from his hearing before he finally let it all go.

Light laughed.

No, Kira laughed. Madly, insanely, maniacally. He had won, after all, and he deserved his moment of glory to stand triumphant over his fallen enemy and rejoice. The cameras had been turned off in this room to make sure there would be no record of L's death, so for now, there was no one to watch as he celebrated his victory, tears running down his cheeks to fall on pasty skin.

Light was crying. He hadn't cried since he'd finished grade school, perhaps even before that, and he certainly hadn't foreseen himself crying on this day, the day the culmination of everything he had worked towards in the past months finally came to fruition. It was funny, really. He'd never thought himself bipolar, but it seemed as if he might be borderline right now. At once, he was both Kira, who had just defeated his greatest enemy, and Yagami Light, who had just killed the only person he'd ever loved. He couldn't even decipher his own feelings about the situation as he laughed and wept simultaneously; it was all so terribly confusing. Yet, as he reached for his dead lover's hand through the haze of confusion, Kira's cold resolution reached his mind, and he knew. He knew then what he must do even as the laughter died in his throat. There was no place for these feelings in the world he was going to create; they could only impair his judgement. He would have to bury them with L; it was time to kill the boy known as Yagami Light and, in a sense of twisted romanticism, let him die with his beloved Ryuuzaki once and for all. This was the last time genuine tears would spill from these eyes, the last time this heart would beat with warmth, the last night of Yagami Light's life on this world. In the morning, only Kira would exist, but for now, he would rest and leave his foolish lovelorn former self to his sorrow.

Light pressed a kiss to cold lips, holding a frigid hand in his own, hoping to preserve what little warmth there was left. He hadn't thought it possible for the detective's pale skin to get any more ashen than it already usually was, but he knew better now as he buried his face in a still chest to let the familiar white T-shirt soak up his tears. He had shut this part of himself out throughout the past few days because it was imperative that he remained the cold and calculating God of the New World to think through the rest of his plan objectively, but now that it was all over, he could finally let himself grieve for this final loss. He'd hoped against hope that L would not force his hand, but he knew his lover well enough; it was too much to hope for, and as a result, he'd had to be eliminated as expected. What he hadn't expected, of course, was how much it would hurt to do so.

When he wasn't thinking as Kira, he remembered the last few days with painful clarity. The scream of horror as he'd regained his memory to realize that his worst fears were indeed the truth, and that he would soon have to kill the man he'd come to love, just before he had quickly let the part of himself known as Kira take over to carry out the rest of his ruthless plan still rang clearly in his mind. He remembered secretly praying fervently that Misa would remember L's real name, so that he could proceed with his ideal plan of letting the case blow over before killing L after he'd left and stopped investigating, thereby extending his lover's lifespan and giving himself time to forget these pointless feelings in the meantime. That would have been for the best. That way, this wouldn't hurt as much.

Then, there was the brief fight he'd had with L once they were alone in their room about why he was still with Misa. L had naturally suspected it was because they were both Kira, but because Kira obviously couldn't confess that, Light had been forced to lie to Ryuuzaki for the first time since he'd lost his memory. He explained that the others would find it strange for him to do otherwise after everything that had happened, seeing as they had been dating even before the investigation had begun, and he couldn't very well announce that he was now in a relationship with a certain sleuth, unless that was what L wanted. Thankfully, L had conceded to his reasoning, and they had dropped the subject after he'd almost gleefully coaxed a subtle admission of jealousy from Ryuuzaki.

It had been raining all day today, as if the sky itself had foreseen this tragedy, and he could still hear the sound of rainfall outside the window. Earlier, not finding the detective where he was usually questioning Rem about the workings of the Death Note, he had gone in search of him, finally finding the older genius on the rooftop, standing in the rain at the exact spot where they had lain holding hands for the very first time. When the other hadn't heard his calls –and he couldn't be sure the other hadn't only pretended not to hear him just to get him out in the downpour as well–, he'd walked out into the rain to ask him why he was standing there getting himself drenched.

"What are you doing, Ryuuzaki?"

"Nothing in particular. It's just the sound of bells…" The orphan had seemed melancholic, half lost in his thoughts.

"Bells?" It was so inane and obscure that he'd had to wonder if there was a hidden meaning to it; with L, that was hardly unusual.

"Yeah, the bells are really noisy today..."

"I can't hear anything."

"Really?" A pause. "Conditions are favourable today, so one can't help but notice them... It's a church… Maybe a wedding? Or…"

Or a funeral? he'd mentally finished, even as he'd hastily interrupted, not wanting the other to continue. "What are you talking about, Ryuuzaki?" The meaning he had begun to read into the seemingly idle observation was making everything he had known was to come so much harder. "Don't be saying such useless things," he'd chided quickly. "Let's go back." Because…if we walk forward now, we can never come back… Ryuuzaki…

Instead of agreeing, L had apologized out of the blue. "I'm sorry… I'm distant in my relations with people, and I don't trust anyone either…" It was as if he'd heard everything Light hadn't said, as if he'd known they were running out of time, that he wouldn't get another chance to say these outwardly frivolous things that at once seemed somehow so very important.

For a long time, he had remained silent because he hadn't known what to say to that. It was like grasping at a fading mist, that feeling…that desperation, desperation to convey some meaning that they either didn't have the language to describe or that they had too many reasons not to articulate. Always, all they could do was to verbalize what little they could and hope that the other would understand, somehow, all the emotion in the spaces between those painfully deficient words. It was never adequate, always somehow lacking, and even now, he didn't think they'd ever been enough. Like grasping at the mist, his fingers, even now, still closed on nothingness.

In the end, he'd agreed with a hint of fond exasperation. "Yeah, Ryuuzaki. You try not to get involved in relationships. If it's something that shouldn't be, then you won't involve yourself in it in the first place. I know that best."

And yet, they were together…somehow. It was a mistake, they'd always known, a mistake on both their parts, and yet, neither of them had wanted to stop; he hadn't wanted or needed an apology for something they'd both accepted and overcome. Of course he knew it was special. He had succeeded in ensnaring L beyond his wildest dreams, and he almost hated Kira's self-satisfaction about that conquest; it detracted from the quality of their bond. Naturally, he'd suspected the sleuth of trying to guilt-trip the truth from his lips, and a part of Light wished he could tell him, but that was sadly not to be.

"Yes, that's how it is, Light," his lover had confirmed his observation, still in that same gloomy voice. "But aren't you like that as well?"

"What do you mean?" Well, in a manner of speaking, it was somewhat true, but it wasn't quite the same. He wasn't avoidant of relationships with people; he simply didn't put any more of his heart into them than was strictly necessary to make them seem convincingly sincere. The problem was that he'd been careless this time; he'd let L in far too deep.

A piercing black gaze had turned to train intensely on him then. "Since you were born, have you ever told the truth even once?" Yet another insinuation that he was really Kira. And he had heard Ryuuzaki's real question, unspoken but implied in disguise: Have you been lying to me all this time?

Refusing to rise to the bait, he'd feigned bewilderment, asking, "What are you saying, Ryuuzaki?" Then, he'd paused, considering how best to answer both the verbal and silent question, searching for a way to tell the other what he needed to say, what his lover needed to hear, without either lying or disclosing too much. "It's true, of course, that I lie occasionally, but there is no human that has never spoken anything but the truth from his lips, is there? Humans can't be that perfect; everyone lies. Even so, I would never tell lies that hurt the people I love." It was the truth, undoubtedly; he hadn't lied where it really mattered between them. "That's my answer," he'd added, hoping that his underlying meaning had been communicated. Not where it counts, Ryuuzaki, no.

"I thought you'd say that…" The older man had seemed to grow terribly sad then as he'd turned away. "Let's head back. We're soaking wet."

"Aa." That was when he'd realized that L was about to make his last move.

They had gone back indoors to shower and towel off then, and he'd pulled his shivering lover into his arms the instant they were both naked in the bathroom. There had been a sense of finality to their lovemaking, somehow, as if they had both known it would be their last, and not a word had been exchanged. He was well aware that L had always known the truth deep down inside; the detective just couldn't prove it. And he also knew for certain that L would try to find proof no matter how futile it seemed. So as they had clung desperately to each other under the cascade of warm water, he'd wished time would stop for them, wished circumstances had been just a little different, wished there was a way to bring L over to his side, wished that they could just be Light and Ryuuzaki without at once being Kira and L.

And as Ryuuzaki had insisted on giving him a brief foot massage as they sat towelling their hair dry later, he'd wished he could find a way, any way, to keep the other from signing his own death warrant. L had even given him a final opening, remarking despondently that it was lonely and that he'd soon understand. But he couldn't, not without revealing the truth, and he knew that even if L would have been happy to win, it would not have been a satisfactory victory. L deserved better, and Light wouldn't disappoint him. It would be better to have lost fighting valiantly to the bitter end than to have won an easy victory because the opponent admitted defeat. And thus, he had remained silent, letting Kira relish the final showdown.

In spite of all this, despite knowing how things would end and that everything was as it should be, he still hadn't been prepared for the moment L dropped the spoon and fell over. He'd reacted instinctively, his body diving to catch the other of its own accord. A pale hand had gripped his shoulder as he'd held the now familiar lanky body in his arms, and he'd wanted to scream. There was no time; it was never enough; they'd never had any. L –Ryuuzaki– deserved to know the truth, but there was no way to tell him. And so Light had shown him, in that angle where only L could see, Kira's sinister smile of triumph even as his own heart was breaking. He saw the flash of betrayal and hurt in onyx eyes and wished he could apologize but couldn't, wished he could tell his lover how much he'd truly meant to him but couldn't, and then it had been replaced by calm acceptance as his archnemesis finally conceded a long hard battle well fought. And Light had screamed; it was too much. He'd called the other's name desperately, despite knowing full well that he did so in vain, and screamed from the depths of his soul. Kira let him, of course, even as he laughed maniacally inside the boy's head; there was no better cover for his malice then a lover's sincere grief. It had ended as it should have; everything was going according to plan.

He pulled the gangly corpse closer to him now, holding it in his arms for the last time as his tears finally ran dry. Yes, it really was terribly lonely. "I'm sorry…" he whispered at last. "If only I could have convinced you, L, we would never have come to this…"

It was really all he could find in himself to say aloud; there were no words to properly express everything he wished he could have told his lover in those few seconds before the end. Everything they had had always existed in the spaces between words anyway, and it was probably for the best that it remain as such, for words had never done anything but detract from the meaningful messages they exchanged in silence. Light had loved Ryuuzaki; if there was only one single truth he had uttered in the past months he'd spent chained to the late detective, that would have been it. But changing the world was more important than one man's feelings, and sometimes, sacrifices had to be made for the greater good. He knew L would agree in principle and that in making this terrible choice, he had at least preserved their mutual respect. Yet, there was no denying that he'd betrayed their love no matter how great his justification, and because of that, he swore now that his lover's sacrifice would not go to waste. He would ensure it using any and all means available.

I'll show you, Ryuuzaki; I'll prove my viewpoint to you. Let me show you the world I dreamed of, a world without crime, one where only the goodhearted will live in peace. So watch me, L, from wherever you are, as I shape this Earth. Perhaps then, when you see that I am right, you can understand; perhaps then you can forgive me. I'll show you, Ryuuzaki; you will not die in vain, Light promised silently, his arms tightening fiercely around the other's stiffening body one last time.

Knowing he wouldn't be disturbed for a while, he finally reached behind and under his shirt for the Death Note Rem had left behind, flipping it open to seek the name that had eluded him all this while. When he found it at length, he wanted to scream again, but he restrained himself, settling instead for a bitter chuckle of cruel irony as he tucked the notebook back in its place. Who would have thought the answer had always been right in front of him; he'd known half of it all along. And yet, in retrospect, he realized that it was just like L to do such a thing. It had been a perfect strategy, hiding the answer in plain sight, and it had caused Kira no end of trouble for so long. He probably should have expected as much. At long last, he stood, composing himself as he laid the late detective out on the table properly again and pressing one last kiss to white knuckles.

It was over. Everything had ended the way he had foreseen it all those months ago. L was dead, and he had died with Kira's respect, Light's love and the truth; it was far more than could be said for anyone, and no one was more worthy of the honour than he – his L, his Ryuuzaki, enemy, rival, friend and lover. L was dead. L Lawliet was dead, and Yagami Light had died with him.

Take me like you love me
Love me like you hate me
Hate me like I've broken you
Break me because I hurt you
Hurt me like you mean it
Mean it like it's over
And when it's over, kill me
Kill me and take me with you

The End

A/N: So... It's finally over. This was by far the hardest part to write, even for someone with a similar dual persona problem like myself; it's one thing to feel it, but another to describe it in words, so I hope it turned out alright. :) Thank you for reading and for staying with this series through the time it took me to write it. I did consider making it AU at the end, but in keeping with the premise of working with the canon in this fic, I finally decided against it. If an AU were to happen, it would be in an alternate ending or a sequel, but I'll probably resign myself to just thinking about that one due to my increasingly heavy workload. I really need to be finishing my other fics anyway, lol. Kudos to anyone who understood the flagrant symbolism in some parts and a gazillion thanks once again to all readers and especially REVIEWERS! I hope you'll leave some comment about the full story now that it's complete and that you've enjoyed reading all 15 parts as much as I enjoyed writing them. Thank you!!

The mini poems at the beginning and end are indeed written by me; I'm not missing any citations. This last chapter is the only one that was based upon the anime; the rest was written solely based on the manga. After they went to all that trouble to provide us with an extra load of fanservice, it'd be a shame not to use it, no? 8D

As some of you have noticed, the titles of the chapters come from songs, and each chapter contains some elements of the song(s) it was was titled after. The following is the list of songs in order of chapter with their respective artists. Do check them out!

01. Half-Pain by Bana
02. Sleepless Beauty by K.ITO + D.K
03. Eyes On Me by Faye Wong
04. Clouds In My Coffee by Bonnie Tyler
05. Unwell by Matchbox 20
06. Sleeping Child by MLTR (Michael Learns To Rock)
07. Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill
08. If I Were Gay by Stephen Lynch
09. What Child is This by Enya
10. Aka to Kuro (Red and Black) by Ali Project
11. Fallin' by Alicia Keys and Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls
12. Velvet Underworld by Weiß
13. Heavy Starry Chain by Tommy Heavenly6
14. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
15. Scarlet by Iwao Junko and The World by Nightmare

That's all! Thank you again, and if you have any questions, leave a review with some way to contact you (preferably an e-mail address), and I'll try to get back to you about it!