Summary: L, Ryuuzaki, Ryuga - the man of countless empty names strives to feel alive in his world of constant calculations and investigations. He hates to be wrong, but he has a faith in Light Yagami that he doesn't know how to justify. Will this belief lead him to the final truth before the end?

Notes: This is a sister story to L is for Lucifer, L is for Lamb, which can be found through my profile.

Spoilers: L's real name, episode 25 / manga 7, the nature of death explained at the end of the series

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note, but one day this whole world will be mine. ..erm, huh?


FAITH OF AN ATHEIST
The truth is, my king is in check.

I've never believed in gods. Never believed in spirits, nor superstitions. Sometimes I don't even believe in people. I'm not one to fall for facades. I'm not just the top detective in the world, I'm the top three. Knowing a thing or two about what it means to have an alias I always look for the words between the lines and aim to unmask even the most complex cases. It has never been something that has come hard for me.

This time, however, I'm absolutely and utterly stumped. You made such a good move, Kira, and you're using pawns that I did not even know you had. I have always liked a good game, but I feel like we're playing chess in the dark and only you have the 'eyes', those mysterious Shinigami eyes to see the board. You may not know it, or maybe you do, but I'm guessing at where to move what few pieces I have left. I've made more than one impulsive move recently, and they've all been attacks. My defense is low, and I know this, and you know this. Well, I live for challenges. They remind me of just how alive I am, even though I hide away behind a computer monitor and a thousand walls. This game is a challenge, and I also love games.

But the truth is, I'm brooding.

Watari went shopping again. I sit perched on my feet, digging without thought into the cardboard box of cookies. Chomp, chomp. He picked them out especially for me. They're small, rectangular cookies with panda bears etched in on either side. Outside that thick layer is the wonderfully artificial gooey strawberry filling. The cookies are even a nice rectangular shape, good for stacking like building blocks. They double up as toys. Chomp, chomp.

I stick each cookie in my mouth one by one. I roll the cookie with my tongue experimentally, feeling for impurities in the outer layer. Just before the graham gets too soft, I press it hard against the roof of my mouth, making a lovely cracking noise. I press harder and harder until the sweet pink filling oozes around my mouth. I chew, swallow, and insert a new cookie. The actions have no purpose other than to calm the part of my mind that wanders, to give that part something to do so the important part can focus. I need to think. Kira, Kira, Kira. Shinigami. Second Kira. Death Note. No evidence, no proof, only a blind faith that goes against the reasoning of any good scientist.

The truth is, I'm frustrated.

How did Light do it? He is Kira, he simply is. I know this... no, I believe this. He is down to two, one, no, maybe just half a percent chance of being Kira. It's just that I believe that miniscule percentage is correct. It makes my heart race, it makes me excited and annoyed all at the same time. He made such a good move, I really want to compliment him. Good job, Light-kun! You really are very smart. I'm enjoying this game with you! But he gets angry and offended when I say those things. That in itself amuses me, and I wait patiently for him to say something that will give him away, but he's held true. He is a very good actor and has had me almost wanting to admit that maybe I miscalculated and the blame lies elsewhere.

After your voluntary imprisonment, I was not convinced. If anything, I knew for sure even more, and it was troublesome that the others wanted to believe you to be innocent so badly. Though maybe I just want you to be guilty, so I can be right. I admit freely that I am childish and I do not like to lose. But it is rare that I do indeed lose, and if I lose against you, Light, then I've researched and understand fully the consequences. I know that you hate to lose, too. The way you acted so righteous when I had you chained to me, the way you claimed with determination in your eyes that you would find Kira made me certain. It wasn't that long ago but though I knew it was you, you were a partner to me. It was peculiar having a person next to me so close when I have been working alone. But I like you, Light-kun. You are fun to play with.

The truth is though, the mood is different now.

The sweets are dropping through my stomach like chunks of ice. I don't stop eating them, perhaps out of habit more than anything else. Everything feels like ice. Your eyes feel like ice. I have a foreboding feeling, and I'm melancholy. I do not like undefended assumptions, and I do not like believing in things without reason and proof. I have broken this rule twice now. I know that you are Kira, Light-kun. And I know that our kings will clash very soon - and if I can't figure out my next move quick, it won't be check but check-mate for me.

Chomp, chomp.

These cookies aren't enough to save me right now. They are not helping me focus today. Did you plan that, Kira?

The truth is, my mood is different now.

DING, DONG. DING DONG.

I raise my head and look upwards. There is of course a ceiling that blocks my view but I can still see those bells. Their thick vibrations make a shape in my wide eyes and they are there, as clear as rain, swinging back and forth. I never understood those bells. They played all the time, at happy occasions and sad. Weddings and funerals. They also played for no reason in particular, marking the day at noon. What were they feeling...?

I turn back to my computer screen, ignoring Matsuda's questioning stare. I had typed up the rules as they appeared in the Death Note thirty-seven times already, and each time I looked for some kind of clue. 'L, didyou know Shinigami only eat apples?' There was nothing like that. Just a list of rules that defied everything I wanted to believe in. I do not like believing in anything but you are my exception, Light-kun. Just this one little thing is all that I'm asking for, but these annoying rules are in my way. I want to mow them down and shatter them.

And maybe I can...

The truth is, I am prepared to make sacrifices for my goal, just like Kira.

"You okay, L?" Matsuda asks, approaching me. His face always accurately reflects how he feels, and it is a nice change from the rest of us. Now he looks concerned.

My eyes flicker quickly to his direction, and I frown. "If you please, Matsuda-san."

"Ah, right! Sorry!" He grins, like he always does when he's embarrassed. "I mean Ryuuzaki! Are you okay? You look so stressed."

"Oh." I don't answer any further, I just turn back to the computer. This damned thirteen day rule. If the Death Note user dies after thirteen days of not killing anyone, Light-kun and Misa must be innocent. They certainly could not have murdered anyone with our constant supervision. The catch was that Light volunteered his captivity. Not only that, but Misa did not. She didn't act surprised or offended by her initial imprisonment, it was only later that she feigned her innocence. The actress had not been acting prior to that... she just sat there, tight-lipped.

What if there was no thirteen day rule? Could the Death Note be lies? Looking over my shoulder, I saw the haunting Rem, standing in observing silence. Rem was a Shinigami. I did not want to believe that there really could be such a thing initially, but when it appeared to be otherwise there was no point in being stubborn about it. They existed, the Death Note existed, fine. Eventually maybe scientists could explain such a thing, for nothing goes without logic.

Except my belief in you, Light-kun.

DING, DONG... DING, DONG...

...There was an orphanage. They had dropped me off at an old one, and the children were always crying... was I crying, too? I remember only the tall, skeletal trees that surrounded that place, and the noise. The wailing of children... and... the bells... and they called me something different back then...

"Are you okay, Ryuuzaki?" Watari had asked me. I just stared at him dully. More gently, he asked, "What will you do?" I don't have an answer. Watari came to get me from that old place, and he brought me to a new one. The children there did not cry as loudly. They did puzzles and read books...

...There were still bells...

My head is aching. All I can hear is that sound. Is it happy or sad? Is it lonely or does it celebrate? Angry, or calm? Forceful or tranquil? They chime their concurrence in indecipherable euphony. It always sounds the same, perpetually, but they are constantly ringing. How am I supposed to interpret this? I know this language. I know many languages. So why can't I think of the words? The process, the outcome, the name...

I get up from my chair without saying anything. The police force, who I've placed sitting at the table and studying documents, look at me questioningly, but they have learned not to bother putting such questions into words. I exit the room.

Where are the bells coming from?

I wander down the hallway, and up the staircase. If I can get outside I'll be able to find out. Up on the roof should suffice. The bells are up high. No one puts them on the ground. That would be too easy... they have to make people look upward. The bells are high and unattainable. They shake your ears, but no matter how high you reach your outstretched fingers the source of the sound is beyond your grasp.

I find myself outside on the gray veranda, standing up high where I can see the city surrounding me. It is raining, I guess. The wind is howling, too. I suppose it is cold. Logic tells me that it's a rainstorm. I couldn't even hear the rain fall from under such a sound before.

The truth is, I don't know what to believe.

I'm the top three detectives in the world. I have perhaps a thousand false names. But no one, not even Watari anymore calls me by my real name. What is a name, anyway? It's a word. It's a special word given to you when you are a child, and you are told to cherish it and love it and personify it. Make that name proud. Do what you can. This name that is just a word has enough meaning to us that a Shinigami can kill us with it. That's the way it's supposed to work.

Because we need a name to feel complete. In our minds even we identify ourselves with a word, a sound, and that is supposed to be us.

If they write my name in the Death Note, will I die?

I've tossed aside that real name that my mother gave to me right before she tossed me. For a few young years I clutched to that dearly, as it was the only memory I had of her. I used to like to believe that she was a beautiful, kind woman. A wonderful woman. She was a princess and she was forced to give me up because an enemy kingdom would kill me if they knew she had an heir. But she would eventually come back and claim me, and meanwhile I would become as intelligent as I could so that she might love me. The name that she gave me simply must have been special, I had thought, and it must have made me special... Ah, childish fantasies. I don't have many of those anymore. There are too many numbers and facts in my head, and daydreams don't fit.

Of course, she never came back to claim me. And then I knew - my real name was just a quick apology, and it was up to me to accept or deny. When I realized that, I began to give myself new names. Now I am Ryuuzaki, I am L, I am Ryuga, a thousand things. I do not think that any of my names means anything different to me than the next. Sometimes I think that the name my mother gave to me means even less than nothing.

So the bells sound sad to me.

I'm not very close to anyone. I think perhaps Watari is the only one left who loves me, but we both know that for security reasons I should even avoid confiding in him. I was raised not to confide in anyone, anyhow. I hide my face and I hide my identity (all of them) behind computer monitors. I am not often around other people, and so my mannerisms and way of thinking have become more and more alien.

The truth is, I know very well that I must seem awkward.

If I become more and more cut off from the world, am I becoming less and less human? Light Yagami and Misa Amane live in a real world. They are loved and they are popular. I was told never to trust anyone and I accepted this without a problem. Light-kun, I envy you. It isn't something I need, but seeing you at the university made me curious. How nice it would be to be you.

I am losing everything though that makes me like you. I don't think I even care about my real name anymore. I don't cherish that, or anything at all. That's why... I would be very sad if you wrote my real name in the Death Note and I did not die.

If my name can't kill me, then I must not have one. Then what makes me human?

DING, DONG... DING, DONG... I gaze up at the sky. I don't have the answers, Sky. I need some evidence, some clue. Exculpate me, Sky, discharge and liberate me from these damned bells. It's absolutely imperative, because... I don't know why. That's what I need the answer for.

I hear the sound of footsteps through puddles and I turned to see you across the balcony, still standing in the safety of the door. You look to me with a mild expression of some emotion, something between curiosity and irritation. Our eyes cross paths, irises colliding. Yours are the red of a dangerous challenge, but right now I am colorblind. "Ryuuzaki, what are you doing out here?" you call out.

I blink rain drops out of my eyes, and I put on a look of confusion. I move my hand to my ear to beckon you to speak up.

You shrug and call louder, because you aren't certain yet if my ears are truly clogged with water or I'm just joking with you. "Ryuuzaki, what are you doing out here?"

I had heard you the first time. But I don't want to move just yet. There is nothing sweet out here to harness my mind and allow me a controlled distraction. I still hear those bells. If I go back inside just yet, I will again only be L.

And the truth is, I like that Light-kun is here.

So I smile and again put my hand to my ear, nodding my head toward you. Talk to me. Stand with me. I'll leave L inside the building, and you can leave Kira in there, too. And then...

But Light, are you able to toss aside your name as easily as I? Maybe a part of me is still testing you.

Light, you sigh and raise your arm above your eyes as a makeshift shield from the water drops. You venture out into the downpour of rain, crossing the rooftop. You come to me. From the forced look of indifference written on your features, I can tell that you are troubled, too. When you are near me you ask, "What are you doing, Ryuuzaki?"

DING, DONG... DING DONG...

"Nothing in particular," I respond. "It's just the bells..."

"Bells?" Your eyes flutter this way and that, trying to see and trying to hear.

"Yes, the bells are really loud today," I explain, looking upward at the towers higher even than I. I can see them, huge metal things, and some are smaller. They toss in the wind, creating their melancholy music. They sail like ships through the air, but they are prisoners. Only their songs fly around the world. Because the atmosphere is so still, the sound carries really well.

You are quiet for a moment. "I don't hear anything," you finally declare.

"Really?" I don't know why I should be surprised. Light Yagami is the closest thing to myself that I've ever met. But of course, you are much different, too. You have lots of things that I'll never have. I try to explain further. "The conditions are favorable today, so the sound is really carrying." Such a quiet, still atmosphere. The sky was hushed, the sounds of the city were hushed, and all there is... is bells. "There's a church. A wedding, maybe...? Or-"

"What are you talking about, Ryuuzaki?" you reprimand me. "Don't say pointless things." Your words are a switchblade that cut through my wandering mind, and I remember that there is nothing still right now. It is raining and the wind is howling. Howling like an orphan child... "Let's go back."

The truth is that I'm sorry. I wonder if you came outside for the purpose of retrieving me. Why? Could it be...? No, I don't fall for facades. No, I just don't know. I don't know what's what.

I'm sorry as we sit on the staircase under the shelter of a roof that only protects us from raindrops, hugging the cotton towels that remedy nothing but damp skin. Indeed for us, it is more dangerous inside this fortress where we both plotted the destruction and downfall of the other. It is more dangerous because here we can hide from the sky under the roof that we call 'justice'.

The truth is I still believe that I was correct, but right now I can't see how it ever mattered.

"I'm sorry."

I kneel down by your unclothed toes, which are damp from the soaked cotton socks from which they were recently freed. They are beautiful to me, but beautiful things seem to only make me sad. Your face, your genius, your ideals, and what will eventually be your martyrdom. Being here with you in the calm before the storm is beautiful, too. At least I think it is, because it makes me sad, and this is inductive reasoning.

I don't know what to do about these feelings.

"Ah! What are you doing?" You who had been the pensive prisoner to thoughts that shackled you look up in surprise. You are tensed for an attack, eyes widened.

But this one isn't an attack, not this time. I am pressing my towel against your cold feet. My hands are skillful, and I clasp it, hold it, massage it. I rub it with the cloth, soaking up all the water. It was my fault that your feet are so wet in the first place.

"Ryuuzaki..."

"I'm almost done.." My voice is hasty and apologetic, but they were words that my consciousness didn't form. My gaze was on his golden skin, but I could hardly see that, too.

I don't know if I'm thinking anything anymore. I'm always thinking. They raised me to be always thinking. I'm no different from the computers that I operate, except that I'm superior. I've learned to swallow my feelings, my humanity, my name, and blot it out so it doesn't affect a neutral reasoning. I have to be detached and impersonal. It is a sacrifice for the job that I do that somebody has to do.

Now I'm blank and empty. No coherent thoughts. No theories. No calculations. Not so much as a hypothesis. The only words in my head are an apology for things that I can't explain.

Maybe I wasn't as unbiased as I should have been. Light, you are Kira. I know it, and you know I know it. However, I have been disinclined to pull out my trump card that would win this battle regardless - the world. I'm the greatest detective, I could've told any and all of the countries on this planet that you were Kira and they would arrest you in the blink of an eye. It's not too late. I could. I have the resources, I could have disposed of you months ago. But I never wanted that.

The truth is-

A thick cotton touches my forehead. A little bit shakey, it runs across my messy black bangs that fell down straight because they were heavy with water. Now I am startled. I look up.

"You're still wet," you say quietly, not meeting my eyes. You are holding that towel. You would dry me, too?

It is heartbreaking. We would just as soon be slicing the other's throat. It complicates everything that we should be... feel... what?

I haven't been this void of comprehensible rationalization since... since when? Since I realized that no one was coming back to get me? Since I realized that words are essentially meaningless, and my name, my humanity was just a throwaway word? Call me Ryuuzaki, call me L, call me Hideki Ryuga, call me... It is expendable and nonfunctional to me. It's just a sound and a few letters. Let me be a concept, maybe. Call me Justice. Call me, I will deliver.

Justice is the only reason I exist.

Justice is what I was told to become when they came to bring me to Wammy's. The other orphanage, the one before that, called me peculiar. No, no, they called me autistic. They gave me a new word - Asperger's syndrome, any pervasive developmental disorder, they tried very hard to label me. They wanted to give me medicine to make me human.

Then Watari came to get me, and he told me that there was nothing wrong. He told me that I had talents and that he could bring me somewhere where I would become brilliant. Too easy, too easy. Yes, I'll take the job, certainly I'll be your detective, puzzles are what I do best. Watari is the only one allowed to love me, under fierce instructions not to love me closely. If he interferes, perhaps the precious technology that is L will be depreciated. That L works best with nothing in his way, just keep him alive and help him when he needs you, they said. Let him eat the damn cake if that's all he needs. The only medicine for me now is being reminded that I can die, and I can fail. If I'm afraid, then I'm feeling something.

If I can feel something, then can I believe something too?

I'm feeling... sorry. I'm feeling empty. I'm feeling distressed. Light, I think you're making me feel all of these things. Is that why I love you? Did I use that word correctly... love? Friendship? My warehouse of knowledge doesn't provide me with a definition.

Do I want you to be happy? ...No, I don't care, that's absolutely irrelevant. Do I want you to live long and fruitfully? No, I want to beat you. I still want to win. Would I sacrifice myself for you? Not a chance. Do I trust you with my life? Ah, that thought is enough to make me laugh out loud if only I wanted to laugh right now. So what is love?

But the truth really is...

"I'm sad," I say out loud, and I look up at you. Again you are surprised from your thoughts and you meet my eyes. It doesn't need to be said. The atmosphere of our moods is very tangible right now. I think perhaps all I know how to do is talk and explain concepts and ideas. Perhaps, Light, I just want to hear your voice. Maye I just want you to look at me.

"Huh?" Ah, the guilt that's wracking your soul, it's sketched across your face because you're lacking the willpower to hide it. You damned child. Don't look so pained. It's not your fault that you've trapped my king in an organized array of pawns and knights. Just for this moment, please why not just look at me honestly? Just by your expression I can see that you know you've done something brilliant and you see your own victory just ahead. The part of you that is still a punk eighteen year old kid is second-guessing and wavering. You're wondering if you're everything that you cracked yourself up to be. You're wondering if you have the gut to stomach

You should know that there can't be second guessing. You can only play chess if you're able to move definitely. They're just chess pieces, Light. They don't have names. Naomi didn't have a name when you knocked her off, neither did Ray Penbar. Misa had no name to me when I locked her up, and neither did Lind L. Taylor when I sacrificed him to win some of your pieces. I don't have a name either.

"You'll understand soon enough."

If you write that name in the Death Note, will someone who doesn't claim it die?

It means nothing.

Light, would you kill me with your hands? No, you wouldn't. You are no murderer. You are just a poor impressionable fool who was so smart, he was bored. You found your toy, and...

But what good is that thought? By all evidence the toy wasn't yours. What can I prove? I am an ancient humanoid specimen who is trying to understand the concept of fire. All I can tell is that it burns. But who started it? If I don't understand it, what can I deduct? Why are you alive after thirteen days, Light? If these rules are true then your heart must have stopped beating and I am massaging the feet of a corpse. I feel you breathing, I feel your agitated pulse. You are not dead. You're afraid but you aren't dead.

So what if it's all a lie? Another facade? Facades are nothing new to me. So, Watari, this is what we'll do. We'll test the Death Note... on prisoners... of course... you don't know if any country will agree to such a thing? Will you find out for me, Watari? This could be the key to everything. It could unlock everything. It could prove to me that my faith wasn't blind. I would hate to be wrong.

Light, you keep looking away from me. You're going to try to kill me, too. You think you might be able to. You're going to run your own test, aren't you? It's going to happen soon.

I don't know what the truth is. Does it make me sad that our game is reaching its climax? If he can't kill me, I might be able to pull through and win. No. If he doesn't kill me soon, I will win. I believe I will win. The winning move is before my eyes.

Yeah. It makes me sad.

You know, maybe our words don't always have to mean three things. But if we aren't capable of not speaking in riddles and challenges... Can we just sit here now, perhaps? Being with you has clogged my thinking. I could've won, I could've, so what's stopping? Maybe... some of me does not hope that you are the killer? If I'm wrong, my pride will sting, but... I like that we're sitting here. It's probably better that we don't say much. That's the only way people like us can really be honest.

I don't want to think.

The truth is... I have faith in you, Light, for more things than just Kira.

And... those things... are nicer.

Ding... dong... ding... Ah, not the bells, it's just the ringing of my cell phone. You jump slightly. I blink, and then fish into my pockets for the technology that will determine all.

"Ryuuzaki," the voice says. "It's affirmative. We can take action."

It's heartbreaking. Light and I stand up, exchanging a final glance and then awkwardly looking away. We are silent as we go back down to the office, where one of us will meet our downfall.

I crouch down on my computer chair, staring at the monitor. My heart is beating rapidly; I must be nervous. The police force question the situation. What is going on? Well, we're going to test the Death Note, on live prisoners. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make, everyone. They are prisoners on death row who will die anyway. Why do you have issues? If you don't like it, you can leave. It's a necessary sacrifice. Go on, Watari, contact the President, please. And if you don't like it...

Light, you don't like it, do you? You... want me to leave...

ALL DATA DELETED. ALL DATA DELETED. ALL DATA DELETED.

"...Watari?"

Oh no. It's deleted. The monitors glow with that terrible text, and I might as well be watching the only one I trusted clutch his chest and fall. Oh, no, no. Watari is dead. No... no, no, no! This is not what I anticipated! How? How?! No one knew Watari's real name, no one except me. None of the police force would betray him, even if they could. Watari was... it's not... how could that happen?

Please, Watari! Don't leave me! Don't leave me all alone!

"What's happening?!" The police chief cries out. They are in despair, dreading the worst.

The words come out empty. They are cut off from my horror. "I told Watari to delete everything if something were to happen..."

That means... that means, of course, that something happened.

I have to focus! No time for anything, just think! Don't feel! Think! Everything is in front of you. If you don't figure it out... just think. Click, click, click. Colored puzzle pieces of cardboard in different shapes that only fit one way are scattered in front of me. Click, click, your mind is a battleground but it's just a child's puzzle and lo and behold. The red to the blue to the green, and then, I see the answer! The pieces fit! "It's the Shinigami!" I yell. "Everyone, it's the Shini-"

...wha...?

What's happening?

I fall off my chair, and vaguely I notice that I am in Light's hands, he is holding me. All I can comprehend now is that my chest is burning. It's a seething agony, and my brain is panicked. My body trembles involuntarily as it struggles to get my heart moving again. But whatever part of my brain that is still thinking logically lets me know that that organ is not ever going to work again, that heart has been attacked.

Light... you've attacked my heart. Your pawn has attacked my heart.

You're trembling too, I think that I can feel it now. Your eyes are bloodshot and you're hiding back a maniacal smile. It's all you can do to convince yourself that you're not insane. You are Kira. My faith wasn't misplaced. I wasn't wrong after all, I made no miscalculation, I was... a good detective... that, that faith...

DING, DONG, DING, DONG.

So let me try another hypothesis. I think that those bells are the pounding of my heart. I think I never stopped hearing them. Through the orphanages, the orphans, the missions, the trees and the fields, in England, in Japan... the bells...

Everything is hushed now.

The truth is... the truth is...

LAWLIET. LAWLIET. LAWLIET. LAWLIET.

The Shinigami wrote that name in the Death Note.

A name and a face are enough to kill somebody, if you're human.

The conclusion is...

The truth is...

Light, you're killing me, but it's been a long time since I've been this alive. Kira, how I adore the feral glint in your eyes. They mask no emotion. They are viciously alive and ferociously tearing at the world, howling and calculating and attacking. I love them because they are so damned real. This is so damned real. This is so much more real than the computers and the televisions and the papers and the secret agents with looks of indifferences.

They're real because they've wanted to kill me for a long time now. And in order to die, you need to be alive. Light, you make me so alive.

And the name. You had my name... you gave me that name... so that...

Lawliet. I guess I'm Lawliet.

The truth is, that's me. The truth is, I'm not sure if I ever would have found this if it weren't for you. The truth is you let me live before I died. The truth is, I can still hear them ringing, even though my heart has stopped. Thank you, Light-kun. You made a very good move. I try to smile, but I'm not sure if it comes through. My eyes are closed. It's awfully appropriate that yours was the last face I saw. You were the best rival I've ever had, and though you must have beat me just now, I feel victorious.

The weight is lifted from my chest, and everything fades away to something gentle. I'm done now. I am L Lawliet, twenty five years old. Born in Europe, raised in Wammy's orphanage. I am tall, thin, dark-haired, and lived my life as the world's top three greatest detectives. The world will never know the truth about me, and it's probable that I'll be altogether forgotten. But the truth is there and now that I have it, nothing can take it away from me.

In this last split second of darkness, before my mind is reduced to a mass of lifeless cells, the light is shining. I'm not afraid of what will happen next. I am human, like countless others before me, so there will be nothing left of me to be alone.

Don't be sad, Light. This nothingness that I'm fading into is the most beautiful mother, and it embraces me. She's embracing me like she's embraced the heroes and the victims of the past, and soon enough she will be embracing you, too.

Everything else is gone, and there is only peace. The judgments and calculations are gone, and the concept of justice was really just a human nightmare after all. We will be equal in death. This is the only truth there is, and I am satisfied with that.

-Fin


Author's Notes:

1. I hate killing L. I really do. I don't know why it's happened twice already. But honestly it's just so emotionally inspiring to me, I just have to write. Why do my fics always end up so angsty? (From beta- She only writes angst to channel it away from her happy-go-lucky nature. I try to make her stop but it doesn't seem to sink in ever.)

2. I was really encouraged by some very kind reviews for L is for Lucifer, L is for Lamb - I wasn't sure how much people would like this odd, 'philosophical' style I used. The other story is from Light's view, and I wanted to write one for L, too. Light's story uses a lot of religious symbolism, whereas this one doesn't use any at all - L is trying to understand humanity, not gods. It's a clashing difference that I wanted to make clear, and I hope it's appreciated.

3. L concludes that in death, everyone is equal in nothingness. I included this because at the end of Death Note we find out that this is the only nature of afterlife - there is no heaven, no hell. These are concepts of justice, and justice has plagued both Light and L throughout the series. I felt like the revelation of realizing that it is a man-made idea is appropriate for L.

4. I made up the stuff about L's mother. I'm pretty sure we didn't hear anything about his real family.

5. Also made up the fact that a young L was diagnosed with autism. I don't mean to imply that even in this fic whether or not he had it, but I could see adults psychoanalyzing little L.

6. Like Lucifer this isn't intended as shounen-ai. I like the idea of L and Light together a lot, but that isn't the focus of this mess.

Always, I love you all who stayed with this to read this far. :-) And I love those who give me feedback even more! Mwa!

-Serria