This is my first ever Death Note fic and it was really, really hard to write. Firstly because this is a new fandom for me and I don't think I have a feel for most of the characters yet and secondly because the end of the manga made me so emotional (I'm not even going to go there with the anime).
This is Matsuda-centric, a POV I really wasn't expecting to take. (Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm a crazy Light fan. I was expecting to write fic about him here.) It just sort of ... happened this way. Set after the end of the manga, so spoilers for the ending.
Warning for language (lots of f-bombs) and for angst, because I really couldn't help it. I don't own Death Note or its characters and I don't own the title or the quote, both of which are from Auden.
LAW HAS GONE AWAY.
Other say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more
Law has gone away.
-- Selected Poems, W.H. Auden.
One year on, the world is back to normal and Matsuda isn't so sure it's a good thing. He should be grateful. He should be happy. Ide and all the others have repeated the reasons why over and over again, each time growing more exasperated like they're sick of him just not getting it. He should get it.
Matsuda's sick of it too. Matsuda wants to see things as clearly as the others do, wants to understand and, most of all; he wants to prefer this world to the one Light had created.
He tries and he tries, does his best to smile and appreciate the things the others tell him to appreciate. But his faith is shaken every day when he turns on the news and criminals leer at him from their mugshots. Every new case he takes leaves him sour and cold. It used to be that he worked on the Kira case and only the Kira case. It used to be that there were hardly any other cases around. Light had seen to that with his particular brand of justice.
He doesn't say this to the others because he doesn't think they'd appreciate it but there are days when Matsuda would rather go back to the time when he was hunting one criminal, not dozens of them.
Three months ago he entertained the thought of speaking to Near – no, L now, must remember that – one on one, of asking all the questions he'd asked of Ide and watching his expression (patronising and maddeningly calm) as the boy lied right to his face. Matsuda knows, deep down, that he's not looking for answers, that what he really wants is a reason to explode. You smarmy bastard, you smug fucking child, you killed him, didn't you. Mikami. You drove him crazy and you killed him. I know you did it. You fucking did it and no one will even listen to me when I tell them what I know.
What Matsuda wants is someone who'll agree with him when he says the world is still fucked, that nothing has changed. Someone who might even understand when he voices his confusion and says that maybe, just maybe, he wishes he had shot Near instead of Light that day.
Matsuda wants to stop drinking ridiculous amounts of sake at the end of the day, wants to stop telling himself he's only relaxing and that it's only a drink with friends (or with the barman or by himself or a toast to fuck all). Matsuda wants to do something with his life that will take his mind away from how things could have been different.
On a summer's day in the middle of July he's meant to be working a drug case with Ide but instead he's in Aizawa's office, sliding his badge across the desk and leaving without another word. He doesn't say goodbye to Ide on the way out, because he can't. Because Ide won't understand when he tries to explain that he just can't do this anymore. Being a cop is about maintaining order and Matsuda shot the person best capable of doing that in a warehouse last year.
He shouldn't feel guilty. Ide is right: if he hadn't died, Light would have killed them all. He should be happy Light's dead, but it just doesn't feel right. If Light were alive, this latest drug syndicate wouldn't exist. None of them would.
Fuck, he needs a drink.
"You're here," Ide says, sliding onto the stool next to him.
Matsuda gulps down his fourth shot and shrugs. "Why wouldn't I be here? I'm here every evening, sitting in the same seat, drinking the same thing. You think I'm going to avoid you all now?"
"I thought you might do," Ide replies. His voice has a veneer of calm, like someone has painted over the simmering tension underneath. "Aizawa told me about it. How you left. You didn't explain to anyone. Why?"
"It really doesn't matter, Ide. I just can't do it anymore."
He isn't looking at Ide so he can't pinpoint the moment the other man snaps. One moment there is silence and the next Ide is standing up so fast that his barstool has tipped over and he's slapped his fists against the table-top and he shouting, "Fucking hell, Matsuda, what do you want? Do you want Kira back? Do you want us to be dead? Make up your fucking mind, Matsuda. God. You can't be a cop anymore and I can't deal with your shit anymore. We did the right thing. We fucking did. That's it. That's it."
He storms out, ignoring the startled patrons and mystified barman and, after a long moment, Matsuda tears his eyes away from the door and signals for another drink.
It takes a long while before he finds that someone who understands. On a cold January evening nearly two years later, a sometimes-friend named Akira tells him they're going out and to take a thicker jacket. Akira's father had been a teacher until he'd been mugged and knifed outside a subway station six years ago. Light had killed the man who'd done it, made him slit his throat with his own knife.
Akira drags him onto a bus and says no, they're not going to a pub. He won't say anything else and after ten minutes of trying to wheedle out the location Matsuda subsides and spends the rest of the journey staring out the window into the dark landscape. They're leaving town.
"We're going there," Akira says finally, pointing to a mountain that stands a short distance away, hulking and forbidding. "We're going there because I want the old world back and I think you do too."
Matsuda thinks he might be right but, even now, even after three years, he's still not really sure.
"We aren't meant to feel this way. Try telling your wife and kids that you think it was better in the good old days when a faceless man murdered people while you slept. We're meant to be thankful that he's gone but something just feels off. Doesn't it, Matsuda? Do you know what I mean?"
Matsuda bites his lip and nods. Yeah, he knows.
He's standing in amongst a sea of people, all silent and still. He's holding a candle that burns steadily and does not flicker in the calm, mountain air. He knows he feels the same way as the girl next to him and the man in front of him and the two children behind him. He knows they all want the same thing, however confused they are or however guilty they feel about it or however much they try to hide it.
Matsuda stares down at his candle and the weak light it gives off. This is all he has tonight.
He bows his head and makes up his mind.
Feedback welcome. I'm very new at Death Note fic and I'd appreciate any advice, particularly on characterisation, that you have for me.