To Majika923: Omfug wut now?? :D ?
Disclaimer: If I owned it, would I be writing fanfiction?
Chibi Raito: No.
Chibi L: So… do you have a clever excuse for submitting a late chapter this time?
Chibi Matt: Wow. That's deep.
Me: …Yes. So! Without further ado, here you go! Have a happy late Valentine's Day!
Chibi Matt: Happy VD!
Chibi L: -scoff-
Chibi Misa: Enjoy your late late late chapter of lateness. Read, review, and relax!
D S 23
Startled, L jumped out of his armchair. He swiveled his head and squinted in the direction of the sudden outburst. His eyes found Matt there, bolt upright on the battered Chesterfield, clutching his blanket in his fingers and gritting his teeth like a man possessed.
Somewhat less surprised than he expected to be, L remarked, "Oh. There you are."
"Where am I?" the brunette asked through a veil of tangled hair.
"There," said L, just because he could.
"Where's there?" Matt's voice slowly ebbed from a quaking catastrophe to a rhythmic trampoline bounce.
"You're sitting on it," said L.
"Oh." Matt seemed to study the buttoned couch carefully. "Sorry."
It was during this intense scrutiny of the couch that L finally decided to state the obvious. "You're quite out of it."
"What's it?" asked Matt.
"Whatever it is," L replied sagely, "you're out of it, so you do not need to worry about it."
"Yeah," Matt replied with the vacancy of a man who could not tell for the life of him which way was up.
L studied him indefinitely. He supposed that, having slept for three days, it was only natural for Matt to be a bit out of his element. L considered himself lucky that Matt had neither the energy nor the brain power to ask about Mello.
L hadn't understood it, either.
When Misa shared the news, L felt nothing. He wasn't surprised, he wasn't appalled, and he wasn't overjoyed. He simply was.
How Mello simply was, L could not tell.
According to the mundane news reports of his dust-beige home world, Mello was dead, had been dead, and as far as biology was concerned, would remain dead for quite a long time. That was the way things went.
Well, as far as L could tell, anyway.
In his indefinite years of experience, people generally stayed dead, with one exception. However, L absolutely refused to believe in the existence of a second Messiah after the first one hit his terrible teenage years.
After much thought, L came to a simple, startling revelation.
Yes, Mello was dead.
No, he was not dead yet.
Time was a funny, ridiculous thing. Sometime during the first days of their awkward camaraderie, L recalled having a discussion with Raito about it. Time was one thing in one universe, but an entirely different thing elsewhere. Time in L's suburb of perpetual mundanity ran in a straight line.
Earth's time was more like a plane. From his home, L could drop anywhere on the space-time continuum. Near and Mello made frequent trips to and from the Earth, so time travel was just another normal activity for them.
Then it would make sense.
Did that mean…
…Near was alive?
Raito wasn't surprised by the sheer amount of things there weren't to do in hell. He contented himself with the few activities he did find, which consisted mainly of watching old Ping-Pong tournaments on VHS, throwing rocks at the lower citizens of hell, and window-shopping. He had nothing else to do, really. For all Raito knew, Matt would wake up a minute from then or a year from then.
Raito didn't know why he was waiting for Matt to wake up, anyway. He was perfectly capable of finding and confronting Mello by himself.
…Or maybe he was waiting because he had no idea how to lure Mello out. He was also uncomfortably unfamiliar with the territory. Hell had no road maps. Raito hadn't the time to familiarize himself with his surroundings. He had been quite literally plucked off of the face of the Earth.
Suddenly, Raito's cell phone rang. Since he was extremely bored of wandering aimlessly, he answered.
"Ah, Raito-kun. Matt is awake," L's voice grated.
"Oh," muttered Raito, "How's he doing?"
"Not well," L remarked calmly. "He is talking to himself."
"And what is he saying?"
"Well, it's something about his car. His head isn't on just right, so I think he does not remember passing out after hearing about Mello."
Suddenly, Raito heard a ghastly, howling, "WHAT" blast through the speakers of his phone.
"Ah, Matt. How do you f-"
"WHAT?" the voice choked.
L went silent for a second. After a troubled click of the tongue, he remarked, "Raito-kun, I will speak to you later. Meanwhile, could you please come back to the apartment?"
"…Sure," Raito replied.
"Thank you. Goodbye."
Raito instantly decided to head back. The monotony of L's request was enough to convince him that the ex-mini-death was worried about something. On the bright side, Raito was ready for any surprise. As a matter of fact, he wanted to be surprised, appalled, or anything else that would get his adrenaline pumping.
He was bored as hell.
Raito shoved his way through throngs of sluggish demons, waded through puddles of pitiful beggars, and dodged mindlessly puttering taxi cabs on his way back to the apartment. Come to think of it, he had never properly thanked Misa for her generosity. She gave them the apartment as a gift for their volunteer work in catching Mello. For the duration of their stay, however, they'd been less than useless.
Misa made Mello's attacks seem frequent and full of furious fanfare, but nothing happened. Nothing ever happened.
Was it all a ploy to keep Raito stuck in hell forever?
He didn't have much time to think on it, as he found himself suddenly standing on the concrete stoop in front of the apartment door. Raito let himself in, much to the apparent dismay of the building itself.
The instant he opened the door, he was assailed by the most horrific keening he'd ever heard. He peeked suspiciously out of the foyer to see a pale, ghostly Matt sail across the living room and attach himself to the wall. Ryuzaki waited in patient, silent amusement with his fingers pressed to a twitching smile.
"You should really come down from there," Ryuzaki advised.
"Where's Mello?" Matt changed the subject.
"Well, he certainly is not on that wall there. Is that not a good reason to come down and stand on the floor like a civilized human being?"
"I'm not a human being," said Matt.
"You're not civilized either," Ryuzaki chided for the fun of it.
"On the floor."
"No, I am not. If Mello is Kira and Kira is a human being, then factually speaking, Mello must be in some field of gravity and therefore on the floor somewhere. You see?"
"Good. Now come down."
As Matt gingerly tested the floor with his toes, Raito crept furtively into the living room. Judging by the scene he had just witnessed, Matt was not on good terms with reality. Raito addressed Ryuzaki.
"Oh, no. Not now," Ryuzaki responded in an airy manner that implied he was too bored to be bothered. "Something was wrong, but not anymore. I predict, though, that something will be wrong again in a minute or two. In the meantime, have you uncovered any more information about our target?"
"Mello?" Raito inquired
"Yes," replied the ex-mini-death.
Raito glared with enough concentrated boredom and frustration to kill a whale. Ryuzaki maintained his mindless smile and sleepless eye. "Something wrong, Raito-kun?"
"Ryuzaki, has it ever occurred to you what a mind-numbing place this is?"
"Frequently," he replied.
"I assumed there would be much more action here."
"Chocolate heists. Everywhere. You know, the impending and repetitive events Misa warned us about."
"And you have dutifully observed that none of Misa's fears have presented themselves," Ryuzaki concluded with an exceptionally sage slump of the posture. "In other words, you believe she was lying."
"In that case, I suggest we beg an explanation from our lovely she-devil. What do you think?"
The corner of Raito's eye twitched. It wasn't that easy.
"One does not simply walk into Mordor, Ryuzaki," Raito pointed out.
"If you read the book, Raito-kun, you will find that one simply did walk into Mordor. Two, actually," countered Ryuzaki.
"Stop being smart."
"Intelligence is in my nature, Raito-kun."
"Fine. Tell Misa she was wrong. Tell her that Mello isn't here, but I'm not sweeping up your ashes."
"I don't expect you to," Ryuzaki remarked mildly. With no further input on Raito's part, the ex-mini-death twisted the dial on the greasy house phone and perched daintily on the edge of the old, three-legged coffee table. Raito took a seat on the vacant sofa and watched as Matt scooted mindlessly across the wooden floor.
"Ah, Misa-Misa-chan?" Ryuzaki chimed into the phone like a glockenspiel on Prozac. "Yes, the weather is beautiful. The sky is exceptionally bland today. Are you busy at the moment?"
"Wonderful, wonderful. Now, Raito-kun and I have noticed that our stay has been unusually relaxing. Hm? Raito-kun? Of course you can speak to him." Ryuzaki shot Raito a decidedly piteous look. He held the phone out and the spiraling cord thumped sickly against the arm of the couch. "Oh, Raito-kun, your princess calls."
Raito rolled his eyes. He dragged himself to the phone. He was dog tired from walking around all day and a conversation with the devil was the last thing he needed. "Hello, Misa."
"Raito-kun!" Misa squealed, "You never call me anymore!"
"I've been… busy," Raito replied lamely. "I want to find that 'Mello' of yours as quickly as possible so he can't bother you anymore."
"Oh, you're so sweet! I just wanna' eat you up!"
"…Yeah, well I can't find him. Could he have… left by any chance?"
"Yeah. He left a while ago."
"Well then, where did he go? Do you know?"
"Back to earth," Misa's very voice seemed to shrug.
"Then… why didn't you tell us?" Raito forced a smile.
"You didn't ask, silly! Duh!"
…Seriously? Seriously? There Raito was, steeped in the sludgy despair of boredom, surrounded by agonizing scenery, accompanied by questionably sane people, and he could have been somewhere else.
He could have been doing something.
"Misa, do you know where he is on earth?"
Misa cackled into her phone like a teenage girl at a sleepover party. "It's not where, you stinker! It's when."
"…Okay, then when is he?"
"I'm not telling yooouuuuu…"
"Come on, Misa. Give me a hint." Seriously. Raito could only play the 'cute' game for so long.
"Okay! Well, he's in the future…" Misa whispered with cryptic mysticism.
Anywhere but hell was fine with Raito. "Fine. So, can you send us back to earth in the future, or…?"
"Duh! Raito, you silly goose!"
Yes! Now they were getting somewhere. Raito had to admit, this 'future' of Misa's disconcerted him a bit. She refused to disclose the distance of this future. For all Raito knew, she was sending him to his death.
Currently, however, he didn't care. He had seen hell, which was arguably the worst the universe could come up with.
Just to be safe, he asked, "Give me a hint. How far into the future?"
"Just a few years. What, is little Raito-Waito afraid of flying cars or something?"
"That's so cuuuute! Don't worry, there aren't any flying cars yet!"
"Can you take us there, then? Back to earth?" Raito would die to go back to earth, which was a reverse pun, really.
"Aww, you don't like it here, Raito-Waito-chan?"
"I made a promise to you, Misa. I said I'd do whatever you wanted, and you want me to get rid of this pesky 'Mello' guy. If he bothers you as much as you say, I want to get him out of your hair as soon as possible."
Misa squealed. "You're so nice!" Then, she paused. "If that's really what you want… then I suppose I can send you back…"
"That would be fantastic."
"Okay, Raito-kun! Here goes! A one and a two and a-"
Abruptly, the fabric of space-time broke and the apartment fell out of the bottom of the universe.
L was really getting sick of falling. He was also getting sick of the darkness that accompanied it. What he hated most about time-traveling, however, was that it almost always ended on his ass.
L sat criss-cross on the floor of the dank, humming dungeon, arms crossed over his chest and eyes squinted into charcoal smudges. He landed there not a split second before and his spine was the sorest it had ever been.
He felt he needed to complain about it.
"You know," his voice echoed from the cavernous ribs of the beast, "the next time this happens, we're riding a mattress."
"Stop being such a baby," Raito coughed from some dusky, distant location. "Where are we, anyway?"
Ruefully, L threw his glare to the invisible ceiling. "We appear to be locked in a giant warehouse. The echoes tell that much. There must be a fan in here somewhere as well. That humming noise is grating on my nerves."
Somewhere within the yawning, sinister depths of the warehouse, someone sneezed.
"Matt?" Raito called out.
"DUST!" Matt wailed as if his life had ended.
"Calm down, Matt. What the hell is wrong with you, anyway?" Raito shouted.
"DROVES OF DUST MOTES," said Matt.
"It's no use talking to him, you know," L grumbled boredly, rolling onto his back and considering the invisibility of the rafters. "He has gone completely mad."
"A THOUSAND YEARS OF DARKNESS."
"Matt, where the hell are you?"
"Oh. There you are."
Suddenly, a faint blue halo traced the summit of a mountain of crates to L's right. Still in a foul mood from falling again, L glowered at it. Pinpricks of light appeared between immense, dark rectangles. A gap in the cargo revealed Raito's ghostly blue face in the light of his cell phone.
Feeling slightly more inspired to move, L crawled across the black floor and toward the gap. He entered Raito's circle of light to find him baby-talking Matt through a game of Tetris.
"Tetris," L observed.
"Tetris," Raito agreed.
"TETRIS," said Matt.
"Why Tetris?" L puzzled.
"It's one of the only games I have on my cell phone," Raito shrugged. "Maybe it'll help him snap out of it."
"Wonderful," grumbled L. "In the meantime, how do we get out of here?"
"Wait for Matt to revive enough brain cells. Then, he can get us out," Raito grumbled.
It was the only plan either of them had and they decided to stick with it. Waiting for Matt to liven up was an excruciatingly boring job, though. The warehouse was also very cold.
While the impervious Matt decimated hoards of little colored blocks, Raito grumbled and threw himself at L like a freshly killed bearskin rug. They curled up together in a ball of mutual misery. L tucked Raito's head beneath his chin and Raito rubbed irregular, soothing circles in L's back.
"Friction," Raito grumbled as if that explained everything.
L grinned lewdly. "You know, if you want friction-"
"Shut up, Ryuzaki. Seriously."
L happily left it at that. He and Raito snuggled closer and closer until they were nothing but an indistinguishable mass of limbs. Nevertheless, Raito still shook a little from time to time and L wasn't sure he liked that. The darkness told him to sleep, but he found he was much too attentive to Raito's little drops in heart rate and temperature. L shouldn't have been as worried as he was, especially considering that he was stuck in a warehouse, not on top of a mountain.
He worried anyway.
There L was, hands wrapped around Raito's back and neck, trying to keep the heat in, listening to his sleepy breath slowly evening out, when out of the blue-
"GOD FUCKING DAMMIT BATTERY'S DEAD!"
Raito and L both jumped as the light vanished and a deafening, resounding crack replaced it. Raito's cell phone shrieked beneath Matt's shoes.
"RRRRRAAAAAAGE!" Matt's roars filled the air.
"God damn, Matt! Shut the hell up!" Raito hissed.
"Aaaaugh! One more level! That's all I wanted! ONE. MORE. FUCKING. LEVEL! I was almost there!" Matt's voice reached L's ears in a spiral as the mini-death rampaged around them.
L smelled an opportunity to get Raito out of the cold.
"You know, Matt, if you get us out of here, we could possibly find another console for you."
"More video games," Raito chimed in. "I always have my wallet in my pocket. Break us out and I'll buy you something. In the meantime, give my phone back."
"Yessir!" Matt chirped.
He then tossed Raito something.
"You bastard," said Raito.
"I was angry, okay?" Matt grumbled indignantly. "Next time, make sure it's charged. Dumbass…"
Matt's anger was a good sign. He was speaking in complete, relevant sentences, which was also a plus. Raito's remedy had worked and now Matt was off to discover an exit.
L was pleasantly surprised when Raito snuggled back into his neck. "Everything should be fine as long as we don't mention you know who." Raito grumbled like the grouch he tried so hard to be. He seemed tired and genuinely unlovable at this point. Perhaps he had a more taxing day than L thought.
As luck would have it, Matt was incredibly good at finding routes of escape. Minutes after leaving, he soared back into the expanse. "Good news, lovebirds! I found a door!"
"Cookie for you," grumbled L, who really wanted more alone time with Raito, even if it was in a drafty warehouse. Raito didn't appear to loathe the news, though. He meshed his fingers together with L's and allowed Matt to pull his free sleeve to safety.
They traveled like a daisy-chain of blind mimes. L was constantly suspicious that Matt would deliberately drag Raito into a wall of crates. Raito, meanwhile, wanted nothing more than to escape. Frankly, L found it depressing.
"Raito-kun would rather leave than spend time here with me?" L asked in his best puppy voice.
Raito audibly rolled his eyes. "Ryuzaki, it's cold in here. We'd both freeze to death."
"Spoilsport," grumbled L.
Slivers of white light heralded a portal to the outside world. Matt disappeared for a moment into the inky blackness and a mechanical buzz echoed through the expanse. The garage door in front of them rose steadily to the ceiling and L had to squint his eyes at the bright outdoor light. It was then that he realized why the warehouse was so cold.
Misa had dropped them in the middle of winter.
"Fuck," Raito cursed as a gust of glittering wind assailed him. L quickly wrapped his arms around the brunette, whose body temperature had already dropped dramatically. Raito's body was all skin and lean muscle. While L loved him for it, it would also be his downfall.
"You need a coat," L observed.
"So do you," Raito retorted. "You're shaking like a maraca."
This took L by surprise. He arched an eyebrow and glanced into Raito's glowering eyes. "Really?"
"Fuck, yes," the brunette shivered. "First thing's first. We're shopping for clothes, not video games."
"Traitors!" Matt shrieked.
"If you're so angry about it, steal something for us!" Raito roared.
Matt seemed to think it was a good idea. "Sure thing. Anyway, it looks like we're on a pier somewhere. Water is that way," Matt pointed behind them, "and civilization is that way," he pointed in the opposite direction. "We're a ways out, but if you guys run, you should stay warm and make it in no time."
L didn't trust Matt's advice at all, but either way, he and Raito were going to freeze to death.
"I'll get you guys some coats or something once you find somewhere to crash," Matt offered unhelpfully.
"Why not steal the coats first?" L grumbled.
Matt gave him the stink eye. "Dude. Flying. Fucking. Coats. Duh."
L rolled his eyes. He would have continued, but Raito suddenly sprinted for the door.
Without much ado at all, the brunette dashed recklessly out into the weather. L chased after him. The instant he jumped from the loading dock and onto the street, the winter air froze L's lungs. The light snow that drifted to the ground became a whirlwind of razors once the slightest gust rose. Flakes of ice blinded him and every hair on his body stood on end.
He couldn't stop running, though.
He couldn't lose sight of Raito.
"Raito-kun!" L shouted breathlessly into the snowstorm.
The brunette looked back once, but kept running.
"What are you doing?" L shouted again.
"Running!" yelled Raito. When L asked him why, he turned around and said, "If we don't, we'll die anyway."
L shook his head in exasperation. The most logical move in a snowstorm was to find shelter. Raito had left the single safe haven they had and now he was running amok in the snow, freezing to death. Nevertheless, L had no choice but to follow him. Raito obviously had no regard for his personal health, so L had to do the worrying for the both of them.
It seemed to L like Raito was half a league ahead, vanishing into the veil of snow. He was trying to get out of the cold as fast as he could, but L had a sinking feeling that his speed was hurting him.
L didn't know how long or how far he followed Raito. His lungs burned from exertion and from the snow. His jeans had absorbed all of the cold in the air and multiplied it until he couldn't feel his legs anymore. His ears went, then his nose, then his cheeks, then his lips. Soon, L felt nothing but his own heartbeat.
Halfway through their mad dash, L closed the gap between Raito and himself. The brunette was still a few feet ahead, but considering his athletic background, he should have been a mile away.
Raito was getting weaker. He had been running around in hell all day, probably exhausting his energy just navigating the maze of streets and byways. Now, he was completely spent. His body was on the verge of shutting down.
As L pulled up beside the lagging Raito, he heard the brunette mumble something. He listened as closely as he could.
"It was a trap," Raito panted. "It was a trap."
She dropped them off in the middle of nowhere during a blizzard. Of course it was a trap.
But they weren't going to die. L knew they weren't. Far in the distance, through the snow, L saw a set of glowing, rectangular lights. Windows. They got closer and brighter with every step. Soon, L could see the building they belonged to.
Raito could see it, too. He forced the last reserves of his energy into a final burst of speed. He shot ahead of L and onto the street. So it would happen, the curb was icy. With a cry more of frustration than surprise, Raito tumbled onto the street.
The next few moments passed like a lifetime before L's eyes. There, where the street became the snow and the snow became the street, there in the mist, there emerged two bright, bleeding lights. A very large shadow formed in the blizzard.
L did not think.
Into the street.
He pushed Raito out of the way.
The brunette rolled violently across the pavement.
Hit the wheel of a parked Mitsubishi.
Regained his balance.
Looked over his shoulder.
And got struck.
By a bus.
So much noise.
There hadn't been this much noise before. No, as a matter of fact, there had been no noise at all. None. Nothing but snow and crunching footsteps. Panting. Breathing.
It hurt. Lungs hurt. Chest hurt. Couldn't move. God damn it. He couldn't breathe. His chest just kept getting tighter and tighter…
His arms didn't hurt. His legs didn't hurt. He couldn't feel them. He couldn't feel anything but his lungs and his aching head…
Why? Did someone hit him? Did something hit him? Maybe he hit something, but as far as he remembered…
That was a tire. He remembered that tire. It belonged to a car that he'd seen while he was flying through the air. Someone tossed him. Someone shoved him and he lost his balance again.
Ice. He hit some. He lost his balance and went sliding on the street. His foot got caught in the sidewalk and he went forward. Onto his face. Why the hell did he always fall on his fucking face?
No. Not onto his face. The side of his face. The side of his head.
(Oozing? Dripping? Flowing? Seeping?)
There was something on the ground below his eye. He couldn't see it, but he knew it was his. Used to be his. Then, it left. There it went. He couldn't see it.
He couldn't see anything but the tire.
Hearing things was a different matter. He heard all sorts of dreadful things. Yelling. Talking. Babbling. Disgusting. He was on the ground. He was tired. He couldn't breathe. He wanted to go to sleep.
He was nice and warm, though.
Ryuzaki kept him nice and warm, too.
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. He couldn't move. He couldn't move. He couldn't see. He could hear people talking but he had no idea what they were saying. It was Japanese. He knew it was Japanese, but he couldn't tell for the life of him what it meant. He didn't know. He didn't know.
Why was the tire flashing like that? Red. Red. Red.
Raito didn't remember what happened.
Ryuzaki. Ryuzaki. Ryuzaki.
Something touched him. Something happened. The tire disappeared. Up. Red silver red silver. Everything was red. Then, it wasn't. Dark. There was a dark spot. It was talking. He couldn't understand.
He wanted to close his eyes. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't close his eyes. Something shook him when he did.
He couldn't see Ryuzaki.
Where the fuck was Ryuzaki?
(Relax. Stay calm.)
Reeling. Spinning. Why was he spinning? He wasn't. There was the ground. He felt it there. Why?
(You have a concussion.)
…Oh. He didn't remember hitting his head. Did he? Wait… Shit, he didn't know.
"Don't sass me."
(You're talking. That's good.)
"What am I saying?"
(How many fingers am I holding up?)
"Fuck, I have no idea. Put them in front of my face first, moron."
Wait. There they were. Four, five, six, seven WRONG. That was one hand. Hands had five fingers. Five. Not… seveneightnineten twelve? Why twelve?
(You see twelve?)
Fuck no. Five. Twelve was wrong.
Now wait a minute. Where the fuck was Ryuzaki?
He blinked. He tried to get up. Something pushed him down.
Hang on. That dark spot was a person. He could see its lips now. He could see its eyes too. It had a big, disgusting beak of a nose and its eyebrows were like crows' wings. It had been talking to him and he had been talking back.
He couldn't see it very well, though. One of his eyes was blurry. The other one was a pinprick of murky light surrounded by red. Veins. Someone was shining a light in that eye. He could see the backs of his retinas. Unhealthy…
"Where's Ryuzaki?" he growled at Crow-eyebrows.
"Is that your friend's name?" asked Crow-eyebrows.
"He's going to be all right," Crow said with a slow, reverent nod.
"I didn't ask you how he was going to be, idiot. I asked you where the fuck he was. Do you even speak Japanese?"
"I've been speaking it."
"Tell me, son. Do you remember your name?"
"No," Raito lied just to fuck with his head.
"You sure?" asked Crow.
"Yeah, I'm fucking sure. Now answer my fucking question," Raito demanded.
"You can remember your friend's name, but not your own?" Crow cooed in a coaxing baby voice.
"He's a very important friend. Just tell me where the hell he is."
Crow looked to his side. Something must've given him the go-ahead because he looked straight back into Raito's eyes. He took a deep breath. "Ryuzaki is in a stretcher right now."
"The hell's a stretcher?" Raito grumbled.
"A stretcher is a thing that people use to carry injured people to safety."
"I know that! What do you think I am, a moron?" Raito scoffed.
Crow gave him a look.
Hang on. Injured. Injured people in stretchers. Ryuzaki wouldn't be in a stretcher unless he was injured. How injured?
(Honk, honk. Swearing. Air. Lots of air. Mitsubishi. Wheel. Tire. Black. Wake up. Blood. His blood.)
"Oh, my God."
"Hey. Just calm down. You're going to be fine. Breathe, okay?"
"Oh, my God."
"Stay calm. Shh. You're fine. Steady, there."
"Oh my fucking GOD!"
"Slow down! Slow down! Deep breaths. Breathe. Bre- are you listening to me? Oh, fuck. Now look what happened. He was just fine, and then-"
Lights go past. Light. Light. Light. Keening. Wailing. Ears hurt. Ouch. There's a fucking needle in his arm. He can feel it. Something touched him (stop fucking touching me).
Lights go past. Light. Light. Light. Babbling. Urgent. Green walls. Fluorescent bulbs. Sterile. Clean. Cold (I'm cold).
Room. Monitor. Beep. Mask. Tube. Clear.
Breathing. Slow. Deep.
"You found this in his back pocket?"
"It's definitely a wallet."
"But… look at it. This money… you can't buy anything with this crap. Yen! Can you imagine? What an antique."
"Did you see that ID? It's him all right. Is it current?"
"…This picture was taken ten years ago."
Ten. Breathing. Faster. Shallower.
"Shit! Go get me anothe-"
"We've contacted the police and they say a Soichiro Yagami filed a missing persons report in 2009."
"And you think this is…?"
"I have no fucking idea."
Raito woke up to the sound of a really fucking annoying bird outside his window. A crow. For some strange reason, he wanted to swat at it. His arm was stuck, though. Gingerly, he opened his eyes. He instantly regretted it.
Suddenly, everything was too bright, even with his eyes shut. He brought the other arm up, but it was attached to something as well. He tugged and the pressure on his pinky suddenly disappeared with a clip-like snap. He brought the arm over his tightly shut eyelids and rested his nose in the crook of his elbow.
Then, something noisy tightened around his free arm.
Raito had it. He gnawed on the restrictive band around his arm and kicked his legs up in the air seemingly for the fun of it. Blankets gathered around his body in clumps as he flailed angrily and aimlessly. He could tell by the sudden creak of the door and onslaught of worried voices that he had been discovered.
Raito had the last laugh, though. He couldn't get the band off of his arm, so he swung it into what felt like a pole. The pole rocketed away with the force of impact and Raito could feel a long, flexible tube sliding out of his arm. It left with a wet pop and a spurt. Arms and fingers were suddenly everywhere, pulling his liberated arm back to its place and imprisoning it there with an elastic strap. Most of the hands were frantically trying to dam his other arm up.
Raito sensed rather than saw the dark arterial sludge erupting from his flesh and dripping quickly earthward. The people in the room chattered and chattered. Some were talking to each other and some were talking to him. In any case, the room was getting far too loud, far too bright, and far too painful to be in.
Raito took a deep breath and yelled in all of four seconds, "Look-I-can-understand-why-you're-in-such-a-hurry-but-could-you SHUT THE FUCK UP, PLEASE!"
"Is something wrong, hon?"
"Fuck YEEESSSS something's wrong. God, you people are so loud and this room is so bright and I can't move my goddamn arms!"
"Does it hurt?"
"Fuck, it hurts."
"We're going to pull the shades and shut all the lights off, okay, sweetie?"
"We also need to put this IV back in your arm, so you might feel a little pokey-pokey. Mmkay?"
"God, woman. Shut up. Your voice is like train wreck."
The nurse laughed ruefully. She then proceeded to reintroduce the annoying IV to Raito's arm. "You're a little spitfire, aren't you?"
He didn't know what he was anymore. He just felt so… blah. There but not there. He knew he was forgetting something. He knew he was supposed to be angry about it. Hell, he was supposed to throw a fit.
What was it?
"What is it?" Raito groaned.
"Morphine," said the nurse.
"Fucking morphine," said Raito.
The brunette felt acrylic nails in his hair. The nurse was petting him. "Calm down, dear. You've had a rough day."
Wait. "Day?" Raito croaked.
"Mm hmm. That accident happened this morning at around three. You've been in and out of the ICU like a hot potato. First, we think you're okay, then you're not, then you are… So we kept you here just in case."
"…What time is it?"
"Five o clock in the evening."
"What year is it?"
The nurse paused. "What year is it?" she repeated.
Raito groaned. 2018. Nine years. He had been gone for nine years.
The nurse stroked his hair again. "I'm going to go get the doctor. He wants to talk to you. Okay?"
"Where?" Raito asked breathlessly.
The nurse paused. "Where what?"
"Where are we?"
Tokyo. Nine years…
He was still forgetting something…
Raito tried opening his eyes again. He squinted at his surroundings. As far as Raito could tell, he was in a room. Odd. The ICU was supposed to be an open place, wasn't it? Just beds and curtains and dying people…
Raito was in an isolated room and he liked it. No coughing, no groaning. No sick smell.
Suddenly, the door opened again. This time, instead of several nurses, Raito got a big, bulky doctor. The doctor slowly set a clipboard and a pen on a steel table at the opposite end of the tiny room. He greeted Raito with a long and careful "He-llooooo."
"Hey," Raito offered weakly.
The doctor smiled a doctor smile. "How are we today? Feeling any pain, dizziness… feeling sick?"
"Yes," Raito growled.
"I see," the doctor smiled. He pulled up a stool from beneath the steel table. "Let's cut to the chase," he said as he sat. "You sustained a severe concussion this morning."
Raito knew that. At least… he thought he did. He didn't remember much from that morning. He remembered landing in a warehouse with Ryuzaki. He remembered running out into the snow, and then he-
His heart monitor beeped very angrily.
"Hey, hey, hey," the doctor warned, rising out of his seat. "Calm down."
Raito didn't calm down. Raito couldn't calm down. Raito did not know the meaning of the word 'calm.' Not when he remembered running and sliding and falling and flying and colliding and bleeding and-
He couldn't breathe.
All of Raito's senses shut off. He couldn't hear, couldn't see, couldn't feel… but he knew he was awake. The massive sense of panic in his chest told him so. Something was very wrong with Ryuzaki. Something was so wrong with Ryuzaki that no-one could tell Raito what it was.
(He's dead, you bastard. That's why they can't tell you.)
Raito's heart thudded in his chest like a boulder on a tin roof. One final, deep, huge beat.
And then it stopped.
There wasn't much more to say, really. That pretty much summed it up.
He was almost certain that he'd been immobilized somehow. Either that, or the bus had taken his neck out of commission. There was a strip of self from his elbow to his pinky on his right hand that he could not feel, along with a numb foot. He could tell by the unnatural tranquility of his left leg that it would hurt like a bitch once the painkillers ran out. He could still feel the majority of himself, though, so the bus obviously hadn't done that much damage.
How on earth…?
Either L was a freak of nature or his constant slump had made his skeleton into an impervious fortress. He chose the latter. It sounded cooler.
L opened his eyes and yawned hugely. In examining his surroundings, he found himself to be boxed-in on all sides by distasteful hospital-blue curtains. He attempted to examine the state of his body, but his neck wouldn't bend that far. His rather uncomfortable neck brace refused to budge.
L was left with no choice but to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery.
In the midst of his sage contemplation, a nurse walked in.
"Hello," she greeted him with a cute, happy smile.
"Hi," L replied with what he imagined to be an impossibly stupid face.
"You're awake," the nurse smiled. "That's a good sign."
"Of course," retorted L. "Why wouldn't I be awake?"
"Well, you've been out all day. Zonked. Did you have a good snooze?" she babbled all in the spirit of playfulness.
"Hmm… passable, I suppose." He then delved deeper into his awakening consciousness. "My brain doesn't seem to be working like it should. Maybe that's because… my feet…" L attempted to remove his feet from their bindings with no success. He sulked sourly.
"What about your feet?" the nurse asked quizzically.
"I can't move them, you see. When I don't sit just right, my reasoning ability drops by forty percent."
"I see," the nurse nodded mirthfully, clearly taking it as a joke. "Well, I'm sure this is part of it," she tapped the IV bag with her finger.
"Morphine?" L quirked an eyebrow.
"Naw. Not that strong. Your friend, though. He needed some."
"Ah! Raito-kun. How is he?"
The nurse blinked and froze as if stunned. "I'll be right back," she mentioned after a second or so.
L frowned. He had pushed Raito out of the way, hadn't he? Of course. Then what was wrong with him? Had he gotten hit by another vehicle? Did he bleed to death? What?
The painkillers kicked in just then and L found that he couldn't really remember what he was so worried about. He was just… so…
A doctor returned with the nurse that had just left. The doctor offered L a grave, professional smile. "He-lloooooo," he lowed like a cow at pasture. L almost snickered at the thought.
As a matter of fact, his IV fluid gave him enough audacity to say, "Mmmm-oooooo."
The nurse gagged with laughter and slapped a hand to her mouth.
"That's very funny," the doctor not-laughed. He introduced himself, introduced the nurse, made small talk with which L was all too happy to oblige, and finally cut to the chase. "You… have a brunette friend, hm?"
The doctor was choosing his words carefully. Hmm…
"I do. What about him? Is he well?"
"Well, according to him, he doesn't remember his name. We found some IDs in his wallet, but… well, we had to make sure."
Obviously the amnesia was a ruse. L had blown it, but what the hell. Unbeknownst to Raito, he had just invented a game. L was going to play it, too.
"So, Ryuzaki-kun, are you sure his name is Raito?"
L made his best deer-in-headlights impression. He froze, eyes wide and lips sealed to a thin line. "Who told you my name was Ryuzaki?"
The doctor was blown backward. "He did."
"Raito-kun knows my name?"
"Oh, thank heavens. I'd forgotten. Well, problem solved," L grinned amicably.
The doctor's patience disappeared. "You're playing games with me."
"Delightful games, Doctor-san," L giggled irreverently. "Delightful games, delightful games."
The doctor not-laughed again. He rolled his shoulders and grabbed his clipboard. "I'm a busy man, Ryuzaki-kun. There are a few things I need to know about Raito. They're very important."
"Shoot," L sighed.
"What is his full name?"
"His full name is Yagami Raito-kun."
"Wonderful." The doctor growled in delayed exasperation. "So you don't know your name, he doesn't know his name, but you both know each other's…" he snapped back to attention. "So his name is Yagami Raito?"
"No, his name is John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt."
"…Are you screwing with me again?"
"His name is my name too, you know."
"This isn't funn-"
"Whenever we go out-"
"Oh, a funny guy are-"
"The people always shout-"
"Real funny. Real fu-"
"There goes JOHN JACOB JINGLEHEIMERSCHMIDT!"
The doctor fell into a silent glower, tapping his pencil impatiently on his clipboard. He glared into L's eyes and nodded his head condescendingly. "Are you done ye-"
"DA-DA DA-DA DA-DA DA!"
The doctor threw his clipboard on the ground and stormed out. L twiddled his toes in childish glee.
"They're like a fucking circus," L heard the doctor swear. "Both of them. The first one goes into spontaneous cardiac arrest when I mention the word 'concussion' and the other one's a living gag reel. Jesus Christ."
"Hold the phone!" L hollered louder than he ever had in his life. The doctor immediately reappeared at the curtain.
"Who is going into spontaneous cardiac arrest?"
"Your friend," the doctor muttered.
That wasn't supposed to happen. Raito already had a heart attack. It couldn't happen again. It was impossible.
(Why did they want his name so badly? Was he…)
"God damn!" the doctor stomped his foot on the floor as if he'd seen it all before. He stormed away from the curtain. "We need to get these kids in the same room or I'm going to have a… I don't know what I'm going to have, but I'll have one. That's for god-damn sure."
Minutes later, the nurse popped in, seeming much less excited than before.
"Is he dead?" was the first question that left L's lips.
"No," the nurse sighed busily. "They got his heart started again."
L blinked. How strange. From the sound of things, nothing odd happened. Matt had strangely disappeared, so his involvement was doubtable. "He must not have been meant to die from it, then," L mused.
The nurse didn't ask questions.
Minutes and much moved equipment later, L learned that the doctor meant every word he said. He wanted Raito and L in the same room together. Pronto. Of course L held no opposition to the arrangement. He wanted to see with his own eyes that Raito was alive. Judging from the doctor's rants, he had been even closer to death than L had been.
"Of the two of us, who would you say sustained the severest injuries?" L asked the nurse. She blinked down at him as she wheeled his bed down the wide hallway. "I haven't actually seen your friend, but on paper, you have more to cry about."
"Mmm…" hummed L.
The nurse continued tentatively. "Your doctor says the stress has gotten to him. Maybe that's what's wrong."
"He always did worry in my absence," L muttered.
The traveling trio of nurses pushed him into a small, quiet, dark room. The frazzled doctor waited inside, impatiently tapping his clipboard again. He watched with a hawk's eye as the nurses pushed the bed into a corner. From his restricted vantage point, L could see several IV poles that didn't belong to him. Straining his eyes, he could make out the exhausted lines on Raito's face.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, L recognized that someone was trying to get his attention. L didn't care. Raito took complete priority over these people.
"Take these restraints off," L ordered flatly.
The doctor, who had been prattling on about some important issue or another, paused. "What?"
"Take them off," L deadpanned.
"No can do," the doctor grumbled.
"Your safety is this hospital's top priority. Your spine is very vulnerable right now. In order to keep from further injuring yourself-"
"I would take these restraints off if I were you."
"I can't do that."
L flat-out glared at him. No amount of expression could convey the black, sick, deadly dislike that he harbored for such an impregnable medical professional.
"You will remove these restraints. You will remove this neck brace. You will let me move, because if you don't, I will tear myself to shreds. I will break this spine of mine in half if it gets in my way. Understood?"
"We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You let me move for a few minutes, or I will snap my own back to your discredit. You choose."
These medical professionals knew better than to goad a suicidal patient. Instead of surrendering to L's viciousness, however, the doctor challenged him.
"I can always sedate you," he shrugged. "There's not much you can do in that state."
L rolled his eyes.
The doctor shrugged his shoulders remorselessly. "Sorry."
L sighed. "You know, if Raito-kun were awake, right now, he could show you what-for."
"Could he now?"
"Oh, yes. When he snaps, people die."
"Oh, do they really?"
Yes. They did. Really.
L realized he couldn't draw his Kira sword on anyone. Its double edge would cut Raito as well. Therefore, he chose to mope sourly in his spot, threats made empty by the brazen arrogance of the doctor.
"The least you can do is get rid of this neck brace. My neck is fine," L grouched.
"Can't do that either. Sorry."
L pouted. He used all of the free movement in his body to catch a glimpse of Raito's face again. He needed to touch that face. He needed to trace its contours and run his fingers through Raito's soft, messy hair. He didn't want to wait for an outsider's permission to move.
"There are a few questions I want to ask you," the doctor introduced a new topic.
"Wonderful. By all means, go ahead," L grumbled.
"First of all, what is your full name?"
L grinned. "My full name is L."
The doctor slammed his head into his clipboard. "Not this crap again. Just give me a straight answer. We can get this over with and I will leave you alone."
"L is a straight answer," L replied. "As a matter of fact, it is straight in two directions. Three or even four if you count certain fonts. It must be a capital L, though. Elsewise your answer may be rather curved."
"Skipping that one," the doctor growled. "We'll get back to that later. Next question: Are you especially familiar with Yagami Raito."
"Familiar indeed," answered L.
"Is his father Yagami Soichiro?"
"That is his father's name, yes."
"Is this the Yagami Raito who went missing in the year 2009 and was also named a person of interest by a certain Tokyo police task force?"
"That would depend on what interest this certain Tokyo police task force had in him," L replied with a wiggle of the eyebrows.
The doctor glared shallowly. "Tell Inoue-san to call Yagami Soichiro right away. We've found his son."
"Ah. One question answered. What a skilled interrogator you are," goaded L. "I could tell you the answers to your other questions if you set me free, you know."
The doctor's eyebrow twitched. He would not have his authority challenged, however. He gave one of his associates the order to monitor the room before storming back into the depths of the hospital.
The door slid shut behind him.
What a wonderful silence it would be if he could just… touch…
And the silence shattered.
L quirked an eyebrow at the smirking umbra on the wall. "Well," he grumbled. "You certainly took your time."
"Oh, y'know…" Matt bobbed his head. "I actually lost you guys for a while. That snow is seriously nasty. But all I had to do was follow the trail of blood and voila! There you are."
"Not funny," L warned.
"I thought it was funny," muttered Matt.
Suddenly, L was struck by a bolt of inspiration. "Matt, you don't suppose you can come here for a moment? I have an itch I'd like to scratch."
"No, you don't," Matt smirked after he melted into the wall and reappeared at the foot of L's hospital bed. "You just want me to free you from your human bonds, eh, Calypso?"
"My pleasure," droned Matt.
He set to work unwrapping L's arms and legs. "Maybe this isn't such a good idea, L. I mean, your back's pretty messed up, right? You could do some serious damage if you twist around too much."
"I'll survive," L grumbled.
"Suit yourself," groaned Matt.
L carefully shifted his arms and legs, discovering that he had much less control over them than he thought. He decided to move only into a more comfortable position and left it at that. Once he had free reign over his neck, he carefully lolled his head to the side.
Raito was an angel, even in the cold claws of suffering. L could tell that his unconsciousness was by no means peaceful. Everything about him seemed hopeless and helpless. Thick, rouge smudges of restlessness pooled around Raito's eyes. His hair was kinked and matted with blood and stress. Even in sleep his breathing was shallow and ragged. His chest shuddered as it rose and fell.
A deep, powerful protectiveness blazed in L. He never wanted Raito to feel that much pain and he desperately needed to ward it away. Taking hold of his IV stand in one hand and Raito's bed in the other, L pulled his bed closer to Raito's. He covered Raito's cold fingers with warm ones of his own.
For now, it was all that he could do.
He ached and he ached and he ached and no amount of morphine could ever relieve it. He didn't want to open his eyes. He didn't want to be alone.
He wondered vaguely if he had made other people feel this way. He wondered if criminals had families to cry for them. He remembered the innocent people he framed. They certainly had families. They had been good, law-abiding citizens until Raito turned them evil and killed them for it.
They all died.
No knowledge of any afterlife could soothe the empty soullessness Raito felt.
He killed Ryuzaki, too. It was his fault. Like an idiot, he charged into an open street. Like an idiot, he couldn't regain his balance after slipping on a stupid patch of ice. Like an idiot, he let himself slip in the first place. Like an idiot, he tripped and he fell. Ryuzaki had to save him. Out of the fucking kindness of his heart, Ryuzaki had to save him.
And it had been preordained.
Raito knew it had been. The conditions were perfect. Raito, Kira, trips and falls into the street. His friend saves his life and dies in the process.
Ryuzaki. L. Whatever name suits him best. Saves a friend from being struck by a speeding bus. He, himself, is struck instead. Dies on impact.
Saves a friend.
Saves a best friend.
Saves a partner.
Saves the single person he would die to save.
Raito couldn't prevent it. He was such an idiot for falling into such an obvious trap in the first place, but he couldn't do anything about it. Fate made it happen and he was too goddamn weak to fight it.
Death note, snap, whatever it was, Raito was weaker. Raito fell prey to it and it killed Ryuzaki.
Raito killed him.
He felt cold, salty tears pooling at the corners of his eyes. He felt them rolling and dropping onto his pillow, his hair, his ears. He felt like a helpless idiot, lying there on his back, vulnerable and weak. Washed-up. Belly-up. Dead. Stiff. Rotting.
He turned onto his side and sobbed. He let guilt consume him. He cried and dribbled and slobbered into his pillow like a filthy animal. He wanted to die. He wanted the earth to swallow him whole. He didn't want to see an afterlife. He wanted to vanish. He wanted to feel the loneliness of nothingness. He wanted to hear nothing, see nothing, feel nothing, taste nothing, smell nothing, be nothing…
Then, he felt something.
Something on his hand. Surrounding it. Soft. Warm. Telling him to stop crying. Reminding him that he never cried. Something…
Raito opened his eyes. Misty smudges blurred his vision. He saw dark. Dark. Gloom. Grey. He saw himself. Skin bleached like his sheets. He followed his arm. Down. Down to his hand.
He found it beneath another one. Even paler than his. A peculiar, poetic sort of wrinkly. Hopelessly pink thumbs. Ragged thumbnails.
He followed it.
Up into an arm. Up into a stooped shoulder. Through wrinkles of clothing and a maze of indistinguishable bands.
Raito froze again and his heart dropped through the floor.
Lips curved, pressed, opened.
"It seemed an appropriate greeting. Especially since you look like you've seen a ghost."
"Earth to Raito-kun. Come in, Raito-kun."
Tears. Hot. Arms. Free. Legs. Shift. Hands. Grab. Feet. Walk. Sheets. Rustle. Blankets. Tangle. Tiles. Cold. Climb. Up. Up. Higher. Over. Move. Move. Move. Move!
"Move over. Now."
"As you wish, your majesty."
Raito climbed into Ryuzaki's hospital bed, nudged him over, cuddled desperately into his chest, and cried.
Chibi Matt: STRUCK BY A VEHICLE
Me: Mmm… I smell Karma.
Chibi Matt: Cue humanity.
Chibi Misa: Oh, the humanity!
Me: Oh, the Japanity!
Chibi Matt: That too.
Me: Well, I certainly hope this makes up for the wait. I'm a bitch, I know. If it makes you feel any better, I took an entire day off of school to finish it. (Finish, of course, meaning write the last twenty or so pages of it in size twelve font.) Enjoy your spoils. I definitely did. This was the best chapter to write thus far.
Chibi Matt: You love giving Raito excuses to act like a sap.
Me: Hooray for humanity, right? Finally, some true, non-awkward, pure love.
Chibi Misa: Your doctors are mean.
Me: My mom is a nurse and I watch too much House, okay? Leave me alone D:
Chibi Misa: You've reached the end of two rants and a chapter! Hooray for you! Cookies for survivors, but only if you review! Do what good readers do! Review, review, review!