Ok, I know people will probably hate me for not updating TE and writing this instead. But this is also quite a fun read! Honest! Besides, truth be told, I wrote this because I felt like honing my yaoi skills. Plus, I have writer's block. This was just one of those things that doesn't leave your mind unless you write it, so I just did it to relieve myself!
Also, this one-shot is my personal way of taking revenge on TE, in the sense that it is an AU and there are various unexplained points in the plot that shall always remain unexplained. Even though it does have a plot, and even though I do try my best to keep everything canon, do not expect it to be like TE: not everything is explained and there may be more plotholes than I think.
But, more than anything, consider this a present from me to all of you! I hope you enjoy it. Unlike TE, I tried not to overwrite…a lot…But if you like TE, you'll probably like this too, despite the characters not being as IC as they are in TE.
There are various parts of text that I've copied directly from the Death Note manga in order to make my scenes look exactly like the canon ones . I don't know if you'll recognize the spots or not. In any case, I haven't really plagiarized anything, in the sense that I've pretty much tweaked everything I've used, in one sense or another.
Disclaimer: I don't own DN, and I don't own the (very few) parts of text that I've copied from DN. I should probably highlight those parts or sth but….frankly, I'm too bored right now. Don't sue me now, I'll do it later, after I receive a few reviews and get all excited (hinthint).
Ok, I hope the fic is full of surprises for you. Keep in mind that I was trying to create an original plot.
The story is a oneshot, there will be no continuation (for once)
Pairng: (what else) L x Light, Ryuuzaki x Raito, or whatever they call it these days(!)
WARNINGS: uh…violence…gayness…? Uh…just don't read this if you're not into this stuff, I guess (!)
Long Awaited Light
The rusty wheels of the chair screeched horribly as the elder man spun it around. These chair manufacturers were truly preposterous, these days. It hadn't even been six months since they'd bought this furniture, and here it was already falling apart.
"Watari" the dark voice echoed like a gong, not slicing through the air, but merging with it, as though it were a dark, reverberating wave of heat. At times like this, the very oxygen seemed suffocating, the smell of the machines – that overwhelming plastic smell – choking the very life out of them all.
"Ryuuzaki…is something the matter?"
From within L's head, it all looked slightly distorted. He hadn't seen the daylight in days. His skin looked raw, as though he was-
"We must talk."
It wasn't Ryuuzaki's usual policy to come to the control room himself. He usually preferred to contact Watari via phone, or other means. The fact that he'd gone through the trouble to come up here indicated that he had something crucial to discuss…something that he didn't want anyone else – and especially not him – to overhear.
"Yes." Watari simply said, expecting an elaboration.
"I think, perhaps, it's time we increased the intensity of our preparations…in case of mishaps." The younger man said.
Watari's eyes were slightly foggy from age. But they still felt very heavy. Suddenly, the older man found he could not lift them to look upward from the ground.
He'd been expecting to hear this….so why was it still so difficult?
"You mean…?" he started, managing to suppress the sigh that was threatening to escape his stiffened lips.
"Yes." Ryuuzaki answered, completely emotionlessly. Watari summoned the courage to look at the other. He raised his head, but instead of the world's greatest detective, the only thing he saw was a little boy wearing rags, small and fragile, looking upwards with wide eyes.
"...It is entirely possible, if I may say so myself…that quite soon I shall… die."
Then, like the transient hot mist that seemed to permeate this narrow space, the little boy was gone, and Ryuuzaki's grim expression was back again.
The old man leaned forward, the wrinkles on his forehead appearing deeper as the shadows completely sunk in them. He closed his eyes and clasped his hands together above his knees.
The words were begging to come out of his mouth, to express something, some kind of elegy, perhaps, or a precautionary dirge: 'I'm sorry that this is our life' or 'I'm sorry that I made you believe that being L was what you wanted'. But, as always, the only thing that managed to come out, from between the bleak blue-grey shadows, was a nod.
There was an awkward silence for a few moments, at least on Watari's part, since Ryuuzaki generally did not tend to feel awkward, regardless of the circumstances. Actually, generally speaking, Watari could personally testify to the fact that, after spending his childhood in a place where the line between genius and insane was utterly blurred, L had taught himself not to feel much of anything, lest he misunderstand or be misunderstood.
"…all the preparations have been taken care of." Wammy spoke, and slowly stood up, his eyes trained on Ryuuzaki's cold visage.
Amazing isn't it? How they change…how they grow. It's so strange when you realize. Only a few years ago, Watari could have sworn, he'd had to tilt his head downwards. Now, if only L would stop slouching, the old man would probably have to tilt his head upwards. At times it seemed magnificent – like a wonder of nature – that you could hold a logical conversation with them. That you now have to speak to them like proper adults
"That's exactly what I wanted to talk about." The voice uttered, deep and almost soothing, except for that constant undertone of panic woven deep within it, which probably only Wammy could detect. So deep, that it could never be fully extracted, no matter how many times Watari reassured Ryuuzaki that his identity was unrevealed, that all was safe, that their data was completely hidden, vanquished…wiped out from existence. No matter what Wammy did, the panic was always there.
It was the true definition of paranoia.
"We have made a plan to erase as much data as possible at the instant of my death. But even so, even by erasing most of it, there is still the possibility that someone – someone with enough skill and knowledge – can recover the files from the system…" L explained, taking a few steps forward, his bare feet scraping on the tiles. They both knew who that skilled and knowledgeable 'someone' was.
"It's highly unlikely, L. Our firewalls are practically indestructible. The system is ironclad." Watari explained, but not sooner had he finished speaking than the young man – his face much younger than his brain – whipped around to stare at him. "No one will ever be able to recover the files."
"The only superlative you can trust is never to trust the superlative." The detective said in an oxymoronically husky hiss, his eyes widening extremely. He moved forward again, his erratic way of walking resembling, as always, that of a mantis bouncing amongst the grass. "We must not rest assured of anything."
At times like these, Watari was tempted to remind L that, if the detective really did die – and if he did, then Wammy would most probably go with him to the other world – then it would hardly matter to their immortal souls what would happen in the living world after their deaths. But, as always, Watari knew that, for L, the battle did not end when life did. And if the process, even in the form of long-term seeds that no one would be alive to reap, could ensure a victory, then Ryuuzaki would do his utmost to snatch it.
"Fair enough." Watari nodded, turning around to watch Ryuuzaki, as the detective typed script commands into the keyboard of the mainframe computer, watching the endless streams of accumulated, priceless data stream across the screen.
Names, occupations, biographical reports, statistical comparisons. The mainframe computer: the control center and the place where all of L's secret agents fed their information from more than one hundred and sixty countries across the globe. This server could tell you when the prime minister of Zimbabwe went to the bathroom if you wished it to.
"Instantly erasing the data is not enough." L's voice echoed flatly, and Watari's eyes narrowed a bit, trying to shield themselves from the flashing lights on the screens. "The system can still be cracked. And if someone manages to hack into it, the data will still be recoverable…as long as the computer exists, the data will always be recoverable."
"So what do you propose we do?" the communications expert asked, watching L raise a pair of headphones and inspect them awkwardly. Wammy was tempted to grab the object away in order to restore L's attention, just as he'd done when L had been seven years old. But that had been a long time ago…and besides, Wammy had learned since then that, contrary to appearances, L never lost his focus.
"We devise a self-destruct mechanism." L stated in stony determination "So that the moment you activate the emergency shutdown, not only the data is erased, but the actual hardware breaks down. In other words…the computer explodes. Of course, the disadvantage of this plan is that, if the database does become utterly inaccessible, our people in England won't manage to use it either. In this case the only thing we can hope is that…we'll never have to activate it."
The old man stood still, his fists tightening a bit at his sides, as Ryuuzaki's ebony eyes stared at him. "So you mean that to permanently lock out our enemies, we must lock out our allies as well." The older man announced, more as a statement than a question "And you are sure this is wise? Just out of your personal spite you shall destroy all possibilities of the orphanage be informed of the Kira case, and your scions defeat your killer?"
The twin black orbs rammed suddenly into Watari's vision. L wasn't happy.
"Under other circumstances I would not be so retentive" Ryuuzaki explained, and, somehow, Wammy didn't really believe the words. "But this time, the enemy is too dangerous to let even a small percentage of risk go unnoticed….we must create a self-destruction trigger…he must never be allowed to use the information, or he'll cause much more damage than is imaginable." L said and nodded "besides, if he never manages to gain access to my data, then…then the orphanage and my scions aren't necessary. His guilt will be proven automatically, anyway."
"He?" Watari asked, an undertone of jest in his voice. Ryuuzaki stared at him silently. They both knew who 'he' was. They'd always known. To the trained eye, it was like a child's game.
"But before we do all that," L started blatantly ignoring Watari's question "we must create alternative personas for ourselves, to have as backup in case something happens. 'Ryuuga Hideki' is not secure anymore. It can be traced…"
Something was wrong with Ryuuzaki today. He was acting…strange. Was it sadness, or something else? Was it depression, melancholy? On the one hand Watari was concerned, yet on the other he knew that his concern was utterly useless.
What was the point anyway? It's not like even L cared for himself. He cared only about the case.
Thus, Watari reminded himself, that is what he should be doing as well. L didn't like emotions to begin with.
"But how? I'm not sure I can create both new identities and such a massive trigger at such short notice…" the elder pondered aloud, and L grinned apishly in that practiced way of his, which always made Wammy feel a bit lonely, deep inside.
"Not to worry." The detective answered, sliding one of his legs above the metallic arm of the nearby chair and using his bare foot to drag the furniture toward him, in order to sit on it. The wheels gave their trademark bloodcurdling screech as L's considerable bodyweight strained them. Bloody manufacturers.
"You won't be the one to do it."
"Has anyone spoken to Ryuuzaki?" Raito asked noncommittally, a cream coloured data sheet and a cartridge paper in his hands as he stood amongst the desks in the HQ main office. The other members of the investigation team, including Mogi, Matsuda and Souichirou, were scattered around the room, all working in front of computers.
And, as an everlasting omen, poised upon the central desk, protected in its steel and glass case, was set the charcoal book, which seemed to have risen from the ashes of a dead phoenix, which would never be reborn. Towering above it, silent and stoic as ever, the ivory Shinigami was watching Raito with questioning eyes.
Raito looked at Reemu for a few seconds, their eyes locking, and then he spun around, staring intensely at the empty chair in front of the massive computer.
The chair that, under normal circumstances, was always occupied.
'Where the hell did he go?' the vile hysteria began to squeeze his mind, like an epilepsy crisis within the privacy of his own brain. 'I mustn't let him out of my sight. Now more than ever, I need to keep him where I can see his every move.' He fancied he could almost feel the foam coming out his mouth as he stared around the room with narrowed eyes, watching his colleagues work their little brains out on idle, useless tasks.
'And then he shall die in front of them all, with the notebook sitting right there on the table, without any one having used it. No one will question anything.'
Raito was not aware of the slightly twisted smile that was starting to etch across his face, until he heard a voice calling him from behind.
"Raito-kun?" Matsuda quietly asked, his mouth shaped in an expression of confusion.
"Oh, sorry." Raito said, completely bypassing the matter by rushing to divert Matsuda's attention, a not so difficult task in itself. "Have you seen L around here?"
Matsuda stared at him silently for a few moments, as though trying to decipher the youngster. Raito gazed back at him quietly, not appreciating the look, especially when coming from this idiot.
"Not since this morning…" Matsuda finally answered. Mogi, who was sitting a few seats aside, pulled his nose out of the books he was studying for long enough to sarcastically mutter "He'll be back, don't worry. He always is."
'I don't have time for these morons.' Raito thought dismissively, ignoring Matsuda's strange stare as he smiled and shrugged slightly, starting to walk toward the stairs 'I have to find him before he starts doing some real damage.'
"Speaking of it, Raito-kun…" Matsuda's voice rung again, its fabricated cheery quality a clash with Raito's dark inner thoughts "How come you're still here? Haven't you been released of all charges? L isn't suspecting you or Misa-Misa anymore…so how come you haven't gone back to college?"
Raito grinned a bit at the other man, his hand tightening rather awkwardly around the page he was holding. What was wrong with Matsuda these days? He'd been staring strangely at Raito and asking too many questions. Too nosy. He didn't…suspect anything, did he?
"I can't just leave now, Matsuda-san! Have you forgotten my commitment to this case?! I'm not doing this because someone is forcing me . And now with this massive discovery" he said, motioning toward the table where the Death Note was set "how could I possibly abandon this case?"
"That's true, Raito. You would never do that. You're the kind of person who makes a promise and keeps it." Souichirou's voice echoed, and both Matsuda and Raito turned to stare at their elder. Raito thought that, once, he might have felt satisfied to see the ill-concealed paternal pride etched on Souichirou's face. Now he just felt indifferent about it.
Now he was Kira. He had bigger fish to fry.
"That's right…" Raito said, and his eyes slid once more toward the Shinigami's crystal ones "And I promised L, after all… That I would solve this case for him. Not only for my innocence…but for justice to prevail."
Matsuda was left to stare at him wordlessly, as Raito walked away. The Shinigami turned around slowly, to follow his back with its eyes.
And when the man walked by the black book lying on the desk, there was a small stir in the air, as though the way the particles moved around the room had switched their flow all of a sudden…as though the blacks and the whites of the world had been reversed.
As though the book was singing to be touched by its most committed lover, wanton and craving to have its heavy, crisp pages be caressed by him, just one more time.
'Misa's lifespan has decreased again!'
The anguished thought skittered through Reemu's brain, her crystalloid eyes widening upon the sight of the girl, with her golden tresses shining so brightly in the light – evident even through the computer screen. And yet, the red numbers above that small, lolling head of hers had changed yet again. And not in a good way.
There was no other explanation for it, then. She must have done the eyeball trade deal again, this time with Ryuuku. This was verified by the fact that the aforementioned ghoul was now floating right behind the girl, his dark wings rhythmically moving at his sides.
'Why is Ryuuku with her?' Reemu asked herself, refusing to identify that burning, green emotion hidden deep inside her.
Reemu was not accustomed to feeling many different emotions, and as such was keenly distressed not only by the uncontrollable bursts of her jealousy, but by that constant nag in the back of her head. And even though Yagami was supposedly a powerless human, a much less intelligent or advanced life form than herself, she still despised his presence like humans did that of vile reptiles, which one cannot help but detest, without any particular reason.
And his little rival, the detective, was exactly the same.
The Shinigami's eyes floated to the back of the man's head, his black hair fluffy as they fell across his nape. His pitch black eyes, wide and insistent, were fixed on Yagami's small figure on the screen like moths drawn to the flame.
'Screen'…? Ha. How ironic, Reemu thought. Who would have thought that, one day, she, a Shinigami, would fall so low so as to actually operate with the same machines these humans were so dependent on.
That's why a Shinigami who falls in love is not a Shinigami anymore.
"How come they're staying here to talk? Isn't it a little odd…? Even though they could go anywhere they want…?" that other human who was working on the investigation, Matsuda, said, staring steadily at the head-detective.
L, for his part, did not say anything. Instead he kept completely silent, eyes fixed at the computer screen and even wider than before. His throat, as he looked at the back of Raito's head, flexed.
Green indeed, Reemu thought. It was interesting, though, that these humans obviously thought they could conceal their emotions.
"But Raito… are you sure it's a good idea…?" the girl's voice was always so high pitched. It amazed him still, if anything, how she'd ever managed to become popular by singing.
"Definitely." He said, smiling at her with a carefully crafted love struck expression. Behind her, Ryuuku was already cackling in derision. "All that matters is that we create a New World where we can live happily, for you and me." He said, holding her arms tightly.
But Ryuuku, who'd been amused by this point, stopped laughing as he stared at Raito's face, noticing the expression.
Until then, as he'd lavished Misa with compliments, the young man had been wearing a completely fake smile. But now, strangely enough, as he talked about the New World, about even the possibility of living somewhere happily with someone else, Raito looked rather…
Well humans are always interesting! Ryuuku was learning something new everyday! Yesterday, with Misa, he'd learned that self-sacrifice and idiocy in humans are not always clearly defined. Today, with Raito, he was seeing that even complete and utter abominations of nature may actually have the ability to conceive the idea of happiness.
"That's why…I want you to start Judging criminals in my place. While I'm not there, do your best for me…" Raito said, and pulled the trump card: he took hold of Misa's shoulders, pulling the woman forward into an embrace. Twin blush stains floated on her cheeks immediately and she closed her eyes in bliss, eager to savour the moment.
Unseen by her, Raito was grinning up at Ryuuku as he held her in his arms, the expressions on their faces identical.
"What-…Whatever you say, Raito…" her dreamy voice echoed around them like a sigh, and it seemed as though her entire brain had turned into putty in his arms.
The sound of the door opening, and then closing.
"You know, Raito-kun…" the detective's familiar deep voice started, and Matsuda looked up from the papers he was shuffling around on his desk, to see L staring at Raito as the auburn haired man walked in the room. "No one is forcing you to stay here all the time. Whenever Misa-san comes in, you just briefly talk to her in the lobby…you can go outside and have a love life if you want to."
The statement was heavy as it fell amongst them. Raito stopped moving and stood there for a few moments. L was still staring at his back.
And Matsuda, a few paces aside, tried to pretend he wasn't listening in on the conversation, even though they all knew that he was.
After a few moments of silence, Raito slowly turned his head around, to look at the detective from over his shoulder. His eyes had a strange shine in them now.
"The Kira case has not been completely solved yet. I'm in no mood for love." A few beats went by, and Ryuuzaki's eyes did not waver. Even Reemu, standing beside Ryuuzaki on the couch, was watching the exchange; so intense were their gazes on each other. It had been like this ever since they'd taken the handcuffs off. This silent tension, which was indirectly killing the friendly atmosphere of the office around them.
"Except, of course, if you don't want me here." There was a tint of challenge in that tone, as well as something else –something unidentifiable.
Matsuda watched L's eyes lower, finally, until the thick black eyelashes became stark reliefs against the porcelain skin of his cheeks. Truly too smooth for a man. Perhaps that was why-
"Don't be silly." The detective said, his voice flat and insincere.
Ryuuzaki's wrist twisted smoothly as he spun the teaspoon around the porcelain cup.
Raito turned and walked away without a word, settling down in front of the computers and leaving L to sit peacefully on the black leather couch.
Matsuda felt his stomach loosen up, only now realizing that it had been tightened all this time. Suddenly, he felt a bit jumpy. A quick cursory look confirmed that L's black eyes, large and knowing, were trained on him.
The man, despite older than Ryuuzaki himself, felt his heartbeat increase and his palms start to sweat with nervousness. Ryuuzaki was staring him down, and Matsuda lost no time in turning away. He didn't know why this staring match had started, but he was more than eager to end it.
Finally, a few minutes later, still feeling uncomfortable, and indulging in that utterly instinctive human reaction, Matsuda hesitantly raised his eyes again in L's direction, to check if the other had stopped staring at him or not.
But, as people often did with L, Matsuda got a nasty surprise.
Because L's eyes were still fixed on him, void and unreadable, silent and deadly, as though trying to read into his very soul.
But, seriously! No matter what Raito-kun, or Ryuuzaki, or even the Chief, or all these other 'smart, genius' people said, he knew that he was a useful, capable and confident person. They had no right to try and bring him down like that all the time. And today, once more, he would prove this inner strength.
After all, he'd been the one who'd managed to lead L's team to success, through his – admittedly unrefined but ultimately successful – attempt to discover the secrets of the Yotsuba Corporation.
So today, finally, he'd discovered something that he believed would finally change L's perception of him, and would help him start building a better all-around image for himself.
He'd been torturing himself with working over all those Yotsuba personnel files all day long. Until finally, he'd discovered top secret information about the drug dealings of a manager of the Yotsuba branch in Kyoto. This manager was the actual living proof – and probably not the only one – that Yotsuba's associations with the Yakuza were not restricted only to Tokyo, but were spread out in Japan. 'A criminal network!' Matsuda mentally exclaimed.
Matsuda was aware, of course, that it was a bit late at night, but he was so excited that he absolutely had to tell someone of his great discovery, and potentially boast a bit about it too.
Now, of all the people in the investigation, the most likely one to match his excitement about his discovery was L himself, who was a notorious insomniac and a workaholic to boot. Perhaps Matsuda wouldn't feel comfortable enough to boast to L about his astounding research methods, but he absolutely needed to tell someone about it.
And in this state of mental levity, he did not remember that this was one of the very few days that Ryuuzaki and Raito – still tied together through handcuffs, of course – had decided to retire to their rooms for the night. They usually did not sleep and preferred to stay downstairs and work constantly on the computers.
So Matsuda, had he been in a less than absolutely superfluous mood, would have realized that, if those two obsessive investigators had decided to go have a rest, it was probably a rest well needed. Instead, Matsuda rushed upward, climbing the staircases hastily.
He did not know how the sleeping arrangements in this establishment worked, exactly. He'd only seen the inside of Misa Misa's room – through cameras. He knew where his own room was, and that the Chief and Mogi had their own rooms in different floors of the building. He had no idea where Watari, that kind old man, slept, but, fortunately, Ryuuzaki had informed him of where his and Raito's suite was. 'In case there is an emergency' L had said, and then muttered something unintelligible. Matsuda, as always, felt as though he'd been indirectly insulted, without really knowing why.
So he climbed the four staircases, too overexcited to wait for the lift, until he reached the renowned third floor. He walked silently through the dark corridor, noticing how the colours of the world around him seemed to switch only into cold blue, or grey, hues.
'Now where to go…let's see…he said his room was…left…left?' he wondered, and turned left, feeling a bit overwhelmed from the pitch black corridor. This feeling of entrapment and labyrinth persisted for a few moments, the darkness not making it any easier to navigate through the foreign environment. Matsuda was on the brink of returning to his own room, having slightly regretted being so childish about his excitement.
In fact, he was just about to turn around, when he heard something which made him pause.
His pupils having completely expanded in the darkness, he turned around and scanned the doors at the sides of the corridor. Finally, he heard the same muffled sound again, indiscernible but still audible, coming from the door a few feet away.
He moved forward slightly, feeling rather uncomfortable and guilty for his stealth, but unable to help himself. As he approached the door, he heard it again, a bit louder this time but not especially so. It was a rather drawn out, muttering sound.
Combined with the dark surroundings and his isolation in this building, it sounded a bit…frightening. Matsuda rubbed his arms to warm them a bit and to tame the hair that was standing on end.
Then, aware of exactly how crass he was being but still unable to stop his curiosity, he leaned in closer toward the door, carefully placing his ear against it to hear better. It was strange that it did not occur to him at that time to knock instead of eavesdrop, but it must have been that urge people sometimes have. That untamable urge of doing something you're not supposed to, or hearing something when other people don't know you're there, or-
"I've told you it doesn't work that way!"
The volume of Raito's voice was so sudden that Matsuda flinched from his position against the door. It took a few moments to calm his thundering heart and reassure himself that he hadn't been discovered. He stopped worrying about being discovered, however, when the dramatic tension of the voices augmented even more.
"Look me in the eyes and tell me!" Raito's voice sounded again, and Matsuda started wondering who he was talking to. Perhaps Misa was inside? It certainly didn't seem as though he was talking to Ryuuzaki – no one would dare to speak that way to Ryuuzaki – although that might have been the most reasonable hypothesis.
"I'm looking at you." A few beats passed, until Matsuda finally realized his guess had been wrong. That voice was neither Misa's, nor Mogi's…it was that familiar drawl that Matsuda had been hearing day and night for the past year. "And I'm telling you I refuse."
"Ryuuzaki! Listen to me!" Raito's call vocalized Matsuda's surprise. The older man waited with baited breath to hear what would happen next, having the unjustified impression that he was overhearing some kind of intensely personal discussion. However, even though he waited patiently for the long minutes to drag on, he couldn't hear anything else.
'Strange' he thought to himself, as he took a few steps backward, staring suspiciously at the dark door. He wondered if L and Raito had suspected they might be overheard. Very careful not to make any accidental noises, Matsuda tiptoed down the corridor and back the way he came.
'Strange' he repeated in his thoughts, and suddenly could not shake off the ominous feeling that had gripped his chest.
"Arrange for the book to be tested."
"You can't be serious!?"
The protests arose simultaneously from all four corners of the room. But the detective, sitting with his knees drawn to his chest in front of the laptop screen, kept his eyes down.
"We shall use two prisoners condemned with the death penalty. Prisoner A will write Prisoner B's name in the book. That takes care of verifying whether the book can kill or not. Then we shall monitor Prisoner A, and if he does not die after thirteen days of not using the Death Note, we shall conclude that the thirteen-days rule is fake." Then he typed something on the keyboard, until the profile of a blonde woman zoomed on the screen. Everyone around them was silent, the shock registering.
"If there is a person out there acting as Kira…I will certainly find that person."
"Ryuuzaki are you out of your mind?!" Souichirou's voice rose above all others "If we do that we're no better than Kira himself!"
"Ryuuzaki you're the worst! We already know the notebook can kill!" Matsuda's accusation rung.
Raito stood silently on the side, watching. Behind him, the Shinigami Reemu appeared troubled.
L turned around, his eyes narrowed for the first time since they'd met him. Was it possible that their accusations had struck a nerve…?
"This is a necessary sacrifice. By condemning the few, we save the many." He said, and ignored Souichirou's "But-!" and Mogi's "No!". The detective turned around quickly, his black irises narrowing down on the white screen with the black "W" etched on it.
"Watari, contact the USA authorities. We need a carrier plane and-"
"Ryuuzaki what country would agree to this lunacy?!" Mogi's voice rung, but L did not turn around again. His indifference was completely infuriating.
"I don't care what country. Let's contact them. There shouldn't be a problem if we're up-front about it" L said solidly, ignoring the others.
Of course they'd have to test the notebook in America, Matsuda thought. In some states of the USA the death penalty was still used…those would be ideal places to-
Matsuda stopped thinking, realizing the noises around him had stopped. Confused, and turned around.
L was sitting there, as always, teaspoon in hand with Raito right behind him. Had Matsuda missed somethi-
"Watari…? What's wrong…?" L bent forward suddenly, like a locust that springs upward, his fingers clutching the sides of the laptop like a plier.
"What's wrong?" Everyone's voices – with the exception of Raito's – echoed around. From behind them all, Souichirou's son's face was etched in a very occult grin indeed. That was until the computer screens around them started flashing red, the building's emergency sirens went off, and the hostile letters crawled in front of their eyes, piercing their vision.
"Data deleted?! What's going on?" Raito sprung to action, his eyes wide and disbelieving behind Ryuuzaki's black mane.
But in front of him, L's eyes were narrowed and cast in shade. Having completely recovered and obviously come to terms with some unspoken truth, he'd sat back down in his regular position, fingers kneading his knees a bit too tensely.
"I told Watari that if something ever happened to him, he should erase all the data he can. And to set his system up to erase automatically after a certain amount of time…" the detective said, his tone much too soft for someone who's completely indifferent about the subject.
"If something happened to him…"
"You mean like…death…?"
Mogi and Matsuda felt a spring of ice hit their bodies, their blood freezing within their veins. If Watari was in danger, then…then…
"Where's the Shinigami?"L's sudden bark shattered their already mangled nerves, and, upon hearing his words, they all felt an entirely new kind of tremor strike their hearts.
"Oh yeah, where did?" Souichirou's panicked voice sounded, but L spoke again.
"Everyone, the Shinigami-"
A few moments passed. Matsuda stared at Ryuuzaki's slouched back, watching curiously the way that the detective seemed to be stuck in thought. 'This isn't a time to start contemplating!' Matsuda wanted to shout, but knew better than to interrupt L's musin-
"Ryuuzaki?...What's wrong…" Souichirou's voice, starting calm and growing louder and louder and more and more frantic, echoed "Ryuuzaki…? Ryuuzaki?"
It happened fast. The one moment Matsuda was looking at Souichirou's rather horrified face, and the other he heard a loud, harsh noise – very much like that of a sack hitting the floor.
Matsuda turned around in alarm, his jaw falling open at the pathetic sight of his friends. He opened his mouth in confused terror, but nothing came out.
L's hand was fisted so tight on Raito's shirt that the clothing was almost slipping off the auburn-haired man's shoulder. The detective's entire body was so tense, coiled like that of a cobra before the lethal bite, as though the invisible tendons in it were being pulled simultaneously in all directions.
No one could see Raito's face – all they could discern, within those few incomprehensible seconds, were L's dismantled expression, and his eyes, wide and void and terrified.
Until finally, with a sudden convulsion, L's legs gave a cruel spasm, his hand on Raito's shirt relaxed, and his eyes, slowly and calmly, shut.
"RYUUZAKI??" it was high; it was hoarse. It was the sound of chalk against a blackboard.
No one could see from the back, much less Matsuda, who was standing behind them all.
"What's going on…?" Souichirou and Mogi asked, their throats dry and voices hesitant.
And then it came. Perhaps the most chilling, blood-curdling scream Matsuda had ever heard. The one who uttered it was the man who Matsuda had never seen lose his composure.
"Calm down, Raito!!"
"AHHHHHH!!! AHH!!" the youngster shook the body in his arms back and forth, the serene expression on the corpse's face a stark foil to his own twisted grimace of horror.
"AHH!! KIRA! Kira will get us! First Watari and Ryuuzaki, then us!!!"
Matsuda fearfully covered his ears and shut his eyes without even thinking, the image of Ryuuzaki's body still much too vivid.
"We're all going to die!!" Raito started, and as he deposited the body on the floor, L seemed to be nodding.
"I have to find the Shinigami!" the smartest of them said, and Matsuda replied immediately, without even a single doubt.
"Yes! I'll help!"
"Perhaps we should open the coffin…?" Matsuda said in a hushed voice, as they followed the small, modest funeral procession. The coffins were two and the visitors only five.
It would make sense, since the only people who knew the deceased in Japan were the ones working in the Kira investigation.
Had Ryuuzaki wanted to be buried in Japan, Matsuda wondered. Would he have been happy with the catholic Christian way they'd chosen to bury him? Had he wanted to bid them a proper farewell…? Poor L…he hadn't deserved to go that way…
It was probably the usual syndrome that overcomes the friends and relatives of the dead after the first few days. The actual memory of the person's idiosyncrasy gradually fades, leaving behind a rather romanticized, idealized version of the real thing.
As such, Matsuda failed to consider that L had never in life cared about any of their opinions, much less Matsuda's own. He hadn't expressed any interest whatsoever in funeral arrangements of any sort, and he'd never shown much affinity to neither Japan nor any other country.
L probably wouldn't give a damn.
"No." Raito's voice sliced between Matsuda and Souichirou, answering Matsuda's question even though it had not been directed at him. "Let's not…I don't want to see…to see that." He said, and turned away.
Matsuda was rather struck into speechlessness by this overwhelming expression of feeling from the youngster. He'd never known Raito to be passionate about emotions of any sort. But obviously, when it came to L…
Wait a minute…that night when he'd overheard L and Raito talking to each other in the HQ building…what had they been doing behind the closed door…? And Misa-Misa…she'd always been suspicious of…but…but…but the very notion of it was just so ridiculous – so completely fictional!
Fleeting discussions from the past flittered into Matsuda's brain, and, for a moment, as he so often did during detective cases, he thought he saw a glimmer of some unrevealed great discovery, thought he caught the scent of some juicy revelation. But as soon as he became aware of it, it was gone again, like fibers from a dream.
"…you shall be remembered…" the priest continued, and Matsuda looked at the dewy lawn on the ground. It was strange, he thought, as his eyes surreptitiously scanned the priest's baby blue eyes. He could have sworn he'd met this man somewhere before.
After they'd left L's corpse in the main computer room, they'd scattered all over the building in search of the Shinigami. When they'd come back, in place of the corpse, they'd found two human-shaped sacks, wrapped in white cloths. Raito must have covered their bodies while everyone else had been searching for the Shinigami.
"I'll take care of it." Souichirou had said, and everyone had left it at that. Raito had sat on the leather couch, relatively near the bodies, with his head buried in his hands.
Matsuda had felt bad for him then, but thought better than to approach him. He'd just left the building with Mogi.
Now, in the funeral, he couldn't leave again. He had to stay and watch, as the coffin was lowered to the ground. The chills that ran up his spine were very real, envisioning L's body – the body of a person he'd known so well, who'd been perfectly healthy only a few days ago – covered with earth, and never seeing the sunlight again.
"Poor L…poor Watari-san…" Matsuda muttered, as he threw a white lily in the pit. L's fake 'Ryuuga Hideki' identification indicated that his religion was catholic, apparently. Therefore, he was buried in the traditional catholic way, under a rather artistic marble cross. Raito followed Matsuda's example, throwing three gardenias.
"I'll avenge them. L…I'll avenge you." He said, even though no one had demanded it of him.
Matsuda stared at his back as the youngster walked away. He stared silently, at Raito's fisted hands. Then he turned to look at the priest, whose blue eyes and broad shoulders seemed eerily familiar, even though the young policeman was certain he'd never seen the other man in his entire life. Perhaps if the priest had blonde hair, then…?
Something didn't feel right. And Matsuda knew that, since he wasn't a particularly intelligent policeman, he should trust his instinct.
And somehow, as he stared at Raito's silent back, his instincts kept receiving some kind of…of…vibe.
Wrong, he thought.
Something was wrong.
"Ryuuzaki? Why?" Mogi asked, his eyebrow raising and his face skewering into a derisive expression "Oh. Oh, no. Don't tell me that 'Detective Matsuda' is back? Don't you remember what happened the last time you decided to take an initiative?"
But Matsuda ignored him, clenching his jaw a bit "Just humour me, all right?"
Mogi's grimace relaxed a bit, and he sighed silently "How should I know? It's not like he talked to me much." Matsuda was dissatisfied and didn't bother hiding it. He looked meaningfully at the other man until his colleague was compelled to speak again. Mogi sighed, louder this time "Look, from what I can remember it was…in one of the basements, I think. But this is Wedy we're talking about! It could be anywhere!"
Matsuda nodded, biting his lip a bit. Watching him for a few moments, Mogi spoke again "Look…I'm serious. Let it go. Soon we're going to leave this place permanently, what with Raito moving in with Misa and all…just…forget about it."
"Yeah, you're right." Matsuda said. His friend was right. He didn't know why he kept having this stupid recurring idea. He really should let well enough alone.
But still, when the lights went out in the HQ building that night, he couldn't stop himself from rushing to the basement.
"This cardkey is not authorized to enter this area." A female computerized voice said, and Matsuda jumped slightly upon hearing it echo in the silence. It was dark and damp around him, the walls emitting some kind of strange blue glow.
He looked down at his palm, at his 'Level C' keycard . The only ones with Level A had been Watari and L. When they'd died and all the data had been deleted, their Level A cardkeys had been neutralized at the same time.
Matsuda sighed. Raito was still trying to hack into the system and crack the codes. Soon, according to the boy genius's words, they'd all be able to enter any section of the building they desired.
Until then, Matsuda could not enter the basements.
Why did he want to go there, anyway? He admonished himself again. Mogi was right…Matsuda was being stupid. He'd seen what was in the basements: storage space for vehicles and a few prisoner cells.
What could there possibly be down there, anyway? Matsuda grinned at himself and knocked affectionately at the side of his own head.
"Stupid…" he muttered and entered the elevator again. He clipped the cardkey necklace back in its rightful place around his throat and ran a hand through his hair. He sighed contentedly. Then he pressed the button for the ground floor.
He smiled. He felt better now. He'd known he was being stupid, anyway, but he'd needed to feel like he was doing something.
The pleasant bell of the elevator echoed as he reached the designated floor. The doors then split open and-
Matsuda felt a chill run down his spine upon seeing Raito's silent – too calm – face. Against the light, Raito's face was cast into complete shadow, and Matsuda couldn't see his expression. Had the other been lurking around here…? But wait, what was Matsuda thinking? Why would Raito be lurking around anywhere…? He had the right to be wherever he wanted within the building, just like Matsuda himself…didn't he?
But still, wasn't it rather strange that Raito was awake and moving about so late in the night…?
"Still awake?" Raito's dark voice echoed the other's thoughts, and Matsuda gave a small uncomfortable laugh.
"I guess. I, um…couldn't sleep. All the excitement…you know…" he said, not knowing why he was blabbering but unable to help himself.
"Where did you go? The basement?" Raito asked nonchalantly as he indicated the glowing buttons in the lift. Matsuda turned to see where Raito was pointing, suppressing his irrational panic, upon noticing how long and bony Raito's finger seemed to be.
"Y-Yeah…just to see…you know…" he felt the need to justify and apologize, even though Raito was not technically his superior. In the end, Matsuda simply raised the cardkey around his neck and gestured with it, indicating that it was the reason why he'd gone to the basement.
"Ahh, yes…" Raito nodded, walking into the elevator at last and proceeding to press the button for the third and fourth floors without asking Matsuda where his room was. It slightly disturbed the older man; the notion that Raito knew of all the sleeping arrangements in the building… "I assure you I'm working on it…Soon we'll be able to come and go as we please…" At least, now that he'd stepped into the light, Raito's face looked completely normal, and Matsuda admonished himself for being so irrational before. It was just Raito-kun…just…
"I trust in your abilities, Raito-kun" Matsuda said, and if he stared a bit too intensely at the other in an effort to gage his reaction, he did not realize he was doing it. "After all you managed to replicate L's vocal simulation program so well.."
"I'm surprised though" Matsuda continued, just as the elevator signaled they'd reached the third floor. Raito walked out of the lift and turned back around to look at Matsuda face to face. "I'd expected at least someone to contact us about L's death…One of L's associates, perhaps…I don't know. Someone."
Raito nodded slightly, keeping his palm against the side of the elevator door in order to prevent it from closing automatically.
"I know what you mean." Raito answered, nodding. "I think it's because of the data deletion." He said simply, looking at Matsuda as though challenging him. The older man took the bait,
"What do you mean?"
"Simply that, because of the massive data deletion in the system…no one has been made aware that L has died." Raito explained, his eyes slipping away "Which can be seen as a double edged sword. On the one hand there are none of L's associates to help us…but on the other hand we are completely safe from Kira behind this impenetrable mask." Raito nodded.
Matsuda copied the movement, thinking over what he'd just heard.
Raito was right…it was true that-
"In any case Matsuda-san should not lose sleep over it…I promise you I'll find a way to solve this problem." Raito spoke, confusing Matsuda further by making unclear which predicament he was referring to.
"Good night" Raito simply said, before Matsuda could coherently verbalize his perplexed thoughts. By the time he realized he should probably ask for clarification, Raito had moved away from the elevator doors, and Matsuda had no choice but to answer with a "Good night" of his own. Then the automatic doors shut, and Raito's face and intense eyes were completely gone.
"Look me in the eyes and tell me…"
"I'm looking at you."
What? What was it that L could not do…? And why had they been talking in secret…? Why…? What…?
Matsuda's thoughts floated away as he watched the glowing elevator button, leading him to his room in the fourth floor.
Only after he'd entered his room and taken a hot shower did he realize that he'd come exactly where Raito had arranged for him, when the young man had surreptitiously pressed the elevator button.
"Matsuda!! Matsuda!!!" the brutally loud banging on the door continued, until it became annoying even despite the pillow that he'd used to cover his head.
Grouchily, thinking that it was too early to be thinking about work, Matsuda dragged his feet to the door and unlocked it slowly. The moment after he heard the click of the lock being released, the door opened quickly and Mogi's face zoomed into vision.
"What?" he asked, the sleep still lingering in his voice. He didn't sound even as half as excited as the other.
"They cracked it! Finally, they managed to open it!" Mogi exclaimed, a smile of glee on his face.
"What…?" Matsuda asked, now with a hue of curious cluelessness as opposed to disinterested exhaustion.
"The basement, you idiot! Remember you were asking me about it? They opened it just this morning!"
"WHAT!?" Matsuda exclaimed, unaware of the fact that he'd started sounding like a broken record by repeating the same word over and over again with different inflection. But this time, he paid Mogi no more mind, immediately turning around and fishing for his clothes, eager to go see the equivocal basement.
Mogi, much calmer and more composed, took Matsuda's eagerness to mean he wanted to hear more explanations "Apparently Raito was working on it all night, and managed to crack the code this morning. Now they've called technicians all over the place – apparently L had a whole stash of machinery hidden in there!"
"Machinery?" Matsuda paused in his frenetic search for clothes, turning to look intently at the other " What kind of machinery?"
"Computers, of course." Mogi huffed "Isn't that the only kind L ever cared about? Why…what did you think?"
"Hn." Matsuda simply said, pulling his shoes on and grabbing his cardkey and room keys from the dresser, rushing outside. His colleague followed closely as Matsuda walked toward the elevator.
"So now I just press 'B1'?" Matsuda asked, indicating the massive panel of buttons on the elevator. His voice sounded a bit disbelieving, as though it seemed so strange to be able to simply walk down there without a worry. Ever since the last time he'd gone there, late at night about a week ago…he wasn't too keen to rekindle the memories of the experience any time soon…
"Yeah, go ahead." Mogi said carelessly, and Matsuda took comfort in the other's seeming normalcy.
Raito was standing right inside the basement entrance, and he was the first thing they saw when they reached their destination.
"Yagami-kun! You must be very glad, eh?"
"Definitely. With all the extra equipment L has amassed in here, we can expand our investigation team. Not to mention that some of this equipment is extremely advanced technology…this must be heaven for any stealth and security addict." Raito motioned toward the labyrinth of machinery and crates. Matsuda could see the crew of technicians walking around in their dark blue suits. He turned back to Raito.
"Are you sure we should allow them here?"
It seemed to defeat the purpose of secrecy if any random technician was to be allowed in the HQ building.
"They're trusted by the national police. Not to mention they don't know what this place is. They think that they are here to check for stolen or illegal equipment."
"Which, knowing L, they probably are." Mogi made an offhanded comment. Matsuda watched Raito's face turn around immediately, an unreadable expression in his eyes.
"But why are they really here?" Matsuda simply asked, trying to sound completely calm and nonchalant. Frankly, even he couldn't understand himself. Why was he acting so jumpy lately…? On the one had he had to admit that he was being unreasonable, but on the other it was a fact that ever since L's death, there had been something off about Raito…something that gave Matsuda a very bad feeling. He remembered how he'd come across Raito's dark figure that night…how Raito had had a smidge of a threat in his voice…
"To check for bombs."
Matsuda and Mogi turned around simultaneously, their eyes as big as saucers.
"Shhh!" Raito made a silencing motion with his hands, and surreptitiously glanced over his shoulder at the technicians working near them. Then he lowered his voice even more and leaned toward the other men.
"I suspect, judging by the things I've seen when trying to hack into the system, that L might have rigged this building with explosives…"
Matsuda nodded, doubts temporarily forgotten in view of the possibility he might have been sleeping in the vicinity of a bomb without realizing it.
"In fact," Raito started and gently guided the other two toward the side of the corridor, in order to facilitate the technicians' job "I'm sure that there must be some kind of hidden self-destruct mechanism in this building. I thought of looking in the walls and floors, in case L integrated the explosives in the building itself. These people are specialists…"
"Ohh." Matsuda gave a nod of enlightenment, and Mogi nodded mutely. Then they lapsed back into silence, turning to watch the team of blue-suited men maneuver around the various crates lying around the large hangar.
"I thought there were prison cells down here…" Matsuda wondered, and Raito's head immediately whipped around, his eyes carefully neutral.
"No, the cells are in the lower floor."
So that explains it, then. Nothing to worry about.
Matsuda nodded, trying to still his thundering heartbeat.
Everything was normal. Raito was smiling genially. Mogi seemed content.
"Wait!!" Matsuda suddenly exclaimed, pointing toward a particular technician. Under the man's dark navy cap, he could see a few stray blonde strands. He thought he'd seen-
But before he could speak again, Raito's body had appeared in front of him.
"What was that?" Raito asked, his voice sugarcoated.
Matsuda searched for the person he thought he'd seen and shook his head to clear his thoughts when he couldn't see anyone around.
"No-Nothing…" he muttered, making Raito grin.
"You seem flustered lately, Matsuda-san. You should get more sleep." Raito said, lightly tapping Matsuda's shoulderblade, and taking advantage of the older man's disorientation to lead him toward the exit.
Mogi chuckled along with Raito, and Matsuda gave a small, uncomfortable grin. But even as he tried to force the smile, all he kept wondering was why that horrible feeling refused to go away.
The specialist squad hadn't found any bombs after all.
And even though the knowledge of their safety should have come as a relief, it was the exact opposite that Matsuda was experiencing now.
"The expedition will be separated into two stages. During stage A, we arrive in America…" Raito's voice faded in and out as Matsuda sat there, in the metallic rectangular table, gathered with everyone else. In the middle of the table, locked in its glass case and lying in absolute, incriminating stillness, was the Death notebook.
Raito was the only one standing, his eyes determined as he gave his harangue. But Matsuda, for once, was not swept away by Raito's words. Most importantly, the thing he kept thinking over and over again was that he'd never – not even once – been inside the control room, where Watari had spent his last hours.
Watari…Watari…and then, mere seconds later, Ryuuzaki.
Where was that control room, anyway? Why were they never able to enter it? Ryuuzaki was already dead, wasn't he?
"I hope you'll forgive me for this, but I need to go see Misa at least once before we leave…" Raito said apologetically, grinning a bit.
"Eh! That's rare of Yagami-kun, to ask for something like that!" Mogi remarked. "You've never gone to see Amane-san before."
"Of course you can see her, Raito. You deserve it after all you've sacrificed for this case..." Souichirou nodded silently and Matsuda's eyes focused on Raito's face.
"Thank you, father. I certainly won't let you down."
Matsuda smiled a bit, seeing the healthy glow in Raito's skin and the honesty in his gaze. Why did it all have to be so complicated…? Matsuda was probably over-thinking things…Raito seemed happy and content, so-
Raito turned around suddenly "And Matsuda-san…? Do you agree?"
Matsuda blinked, realizing that they were all looking at him.
"I'm sorry" he said in his familiar awkwardness, although this time it was accompanied by a distinctly uncomfortable feeling "What was the question, again?"
"Ah, Matsuda the idiot as always!" Mogi teased and Matsuda grinned goofily in return.
Raito's face remained rather blank for a few moments, until finally, as though remembering he was supposed to look amused, Raito smiled as well. However, it suddenly seemed rather fake in Matsuda's eyes.
Is that the way Raito always smiled…? Why hadn't he noticed it sooner…?
Matsuda wondered if Misa-Misa had realized it too.
Raito would be gone for the entire night, Matsuda thought as he looked left and right, making sure he wasn't seen by anyone as he walked toward the lifts. At times like these, it was convenient to forget that there were surveillance cameras everywhere in this building, and that Raito would surely find out what Matsuda had been doing when he was gone.
Because neither Mogi not Souichirou had said anything, Matsuda felt guilty about his own thoughts, but he couldn't stop them. He couldn't help but ponder…if it truly was prudent of them to rely on Raito for everything.
It was only Raito who had access to the surveillance system, because he was the only one who could operate them efficiently. But…but was it safe to show such unlimited trust in him…?
"Well, at least he's gone for now!" Matsuda eagerly thought, and pulled on the chain around his neck, which was usually hidden beneath his collar. He entered the lift and lost no time in pressing the button. As the doors of the elevator slid closed with a chime, Matsuda was brandishing his Level C cardkey, which was tied on the chain around his neck.
The computer's voice said as the elevator slowly came to a stop. Matsuda tightened his fist around his card and walked outside, feeling slightly disturbed by the darkness spreading all around him.
The doors of the lift shut behind him, and he jumped slightly at the sound, before reassuring himself that everything was fine, and that he was safe. Now sunk in complete darkness, he fumbled around his pockets for his small torch.
Finally finding it, he lost no time in jamming the switch almost roughly forward, impatient for the beam of light to start shining. He turned the spotlight right and left, unaware of the pronounced paranoia of his own actions.
"There must be a control panel somewhere…" he muttered, and decided to stop speaking when he heard the dark echo of his voice resounding around him. Swallowing dryly, he felt a lightness in his stomach when the torchlight fell upon an electrical board on the nearby wall.
Rushing to the control panel, he verified that he could control the basement lights from this place. Flipping two switches, he waited patiently for the white lights to flicker to life.
But no such luck.
Furrowing his brow, Matsuda made a low sound of disapproval in his throat and tried flipping the triggers again, but to no use.
The lights were dead.
With a sense of underlying dread growing inside the pit of his heart, Matsuda started wondering whether this was such a good idea after all. But it was too late to turn back now. He could have sworn that the last time he'd been here, he'd seen Aiber. Not only that, but the way Raito had tried to keep everyone away from this place was so… suspicious.
Matsuda raised his cardkey above the slot, only now realizing that there was a small number panel right next to the lock. He decided to go ahead with it anyway, and hoped that he'd be allowed entrance. So he carefully slid the card through the receptor, all the time thinking that he didn't remember there being a numbered panel on that door before. It must be a new installation…
As he finally slid the card downwards, there was a series of small resounding beeping sounds. His heart leapt, and for one moment he thought that he'd set off some kind of alarm. The number pad beside the lock flashed three times, and Matsuda took a reflexive step backwards. Had the system collapsed? Had he done something horr-
But suddenly, as though to dispel his awful doubts, The steel door in front of him gave a deep rumbling, like the sound of a convulsing stomach. Matsuda shielded his eyes, as though afraid.
To him it seemed like a century, but, in reality, it only took a few seconds for the flashing and beeping to stop, and for the basement to return to its former calm darkness. The only difference was that now, right in front of Matsuda's unsteady knees, the entrance was wide open.
Wasting no more time, and knowing that he'd completely lose his nerve if he let the situation continue without doing anything, he lunged forward, the torch raised steadily in front of him, shining ahead and lighting his way.
He twisted around narrow corridors, and felt chills run up his spine as he read the inscriptions on the various crates around him.
"CY-3464" one red inscription said, and Matsuda guessed that there was some kind of high-technology computer or surveillance equipment that L had hidden in there.
As he wandered down the corridors, he was constantly wary to keep his sense of orientation intact, in order not to get lost. Because if he couldn't find the exit again, and if – heaven forbid – he ended up getting locked in this horrible place, there would be no way to justify to Raito why he'd come down here in the first place.
But why had he come down here in the first place? What was he searching for? What was he expecting?
The more time that went by with no awesome discovery happening, the more Matsuda became convinced that the whole expedition had just been a result of his overactive imagination, rather than an actual real problem.
"This was a stupid idea…" he thought in annoyance, as he let his torch scan a cluster of new crates and unidentified machines "It's useless…I'll just go back before the others realize what I've been up to." There was really nothing here. Even though he didn't know what he'd been expecting, he was sure that nothing here was inconsistent with what Raito had told them.
As Matsuda spun around to start his return trip, he waved his torch in front of him.
"Wait a second…" he thought, curiosity overcoming fear as he noticed that there was a small passageway, narrow enough to become almost indiscernible in the darkness, that he'd missed before. He shed his torchlight into the distance, but he could only see darkness stretching forward.
A wave of coldness suddenly hit him, and he became keenly aware that, if he were to turn back then he should do it now. And indeed, he was willing to return…if not for this small, mysterious path.
So the detective, unable to quench his need for self-recognition, plunged forward. He squeezed carefully through the two cloth-covered machines that blocked the entrance to the narrow corridor and walked forward.
He took a few steps, then stopped and scanned the area with his torch. Nothing out of place. In the darkness, he sighed slightly. Then, walking a bit again, his eye suddenly caught something.
Feeling the blood freeze within his veins, he turned the light downward, to shine above the pile on the ground.
With unbending fingers and a thundering heart, he bent to his knees, and stretched his hand forward.
Slowly, with the air of someone who is preparing to jump off a cliff, the detective touched the wad of fabric in front of him, pinching the cloth between his thumb and index fingers. Then he raised it, as though to inspect it.
He used the torch in his left hand to illuminate what he was holding in his right.
His face twisted into an ugly grimace of complete horror, combined with disgust, as he realized what he was seeing. Because there, in his had, soft and cottony, was resting a pearl-white shirt. And beneath that shirt, thrown haphazardly on the floor in the manner a snake leaves behind its old skin, was the unmistakable colour of denim trousers.
Matsuda fisted his hand around the pliant softness of the fabric for a few seconds, and then threw it away, as though burned.
Jumping to his feet, his heart beating frantically, he took a step backwards, shaking his head almost hysterically back and forth.
"No…" he whispered, over and over again, his eyes wide and pupils completely dilated in the darkness. "No…no, no, no…"
But then, suddenly, as he took his third step backwards, he collided against something. Freezing immediately, he even stopped breathing. His fingers convulsing spastically, he took a shaking breath and closed his eyes. Then, with a mask of thinly veiled terror, he turned around.
The torch dropped from his wildly shaking hands. He stepped backwards, more and more, until he realized he was trampling on the clothes on the floor and he had nowhere else to go. His eyes were wide, his jaw completely lax. He raised his hands in front of his face and felt his lips tremble uncontrollably.
"No!" he whimpered, unable to register precisely how he sounded at that moment "Please, no!"
There was a sudden flash, a cruel echoing thud, as his prayers were not answered.
"I don't understand why this is happening!" Raito said, and he was so distressed that Souichirou could not help but hover over him like a protective mother hen.
"Why did it have to be Matsuda-san…out of all of us, he was the least dangerous one…" Raito shook his head again, his face sinking in his hands. Mogi and the other members of the investigation, who were all standing around the hospital bed, nodded along solemnly.
On the bed, Matsuda's form was lying completely silent, the resounding beat of the ultrasound cardiogram the only proof he was actually alive.
Alive as a vegetable.
Raito had been the one to discover him. Apparently, Matsuda had decided to exit the HQ building, and had fallen victim to some kind of petty mongrel attack. He'd been mugged, of course…but this wasn't the worse of it.
Those crooks had hurt him, and now he was left completely comatose. No one knew if he'd ever recover.
At least that's what Raito had said.
Mogi's eyes were trained intently on the younger man.
"I can't do this anymore…" a fellow member of their team muttered, as she approached the plastic transluscent curtains around Matsuda's bed "First L and Watari…it's as though each and every member of the investigation is being wiped out, one after the other…"
Raito stood up as well. "Even though we are to assume Matsuda – san's current condition has nothing to do with Kira, we can't exclude any possibi-"
"What tells us Kira isn't one of us?" Mogi suddenly vocalized everyone's thoughts, and Raito's jaw shut noisily. "What if Kira is in the investigation?! What then!?"
"It's dangerous for you to start assuming-" someone started shouting from the back.
"You seem to know much more that you're letting on, Mogi! Perhaps you know why Kira-" another man shouted.
"STOP!!!" Raito's yell was heard above all others, and, immediately, they all turned around to stare at him, temporarily silenced. "Don't you see? This is exactly what Kira is trying to do…divide us. Make us suspicious of each other."
They all fell into a form of self-conscious silence now, most of them staring at the floor.
"We have to stay united…" Raito nodded, and turned to the bed where Matsuda was resting, never to smile again from now on "We have to get through this…for all our friends."
They all became somber again.
With L and Watari, even though they'd all been so shocked, most had managed to recuperate from the shock quite quickly. But now, Matsuda was different.
Matsuda wasn't a foreigner and he wasn't a boy-genius. He wasn't a nameless cruel bastard and he wasn't an old indifferent butler.
Matsuda was one of them. And if this kind of attack could happen to one of their own, then what was to assure them that they were safe from Kira themselves…?
Everyone stayed silent now, their eyes scowling. Raito was standing closest to the bed. No one could see the expression on his face as he stared downwards at Matsuda's sleeping visage.
Mogi started watching Raito.
He tried to be discreet about it, and believed he had succeeded, since Raito had never paid him much mind anyway.
But Mogi, being the one who Matsuda had mainly talked to about his personal worries, knew that, in the few days before his so-called 'attack', Matsuda had been growing increasingly jumpy around Raito unwilling to trust the young man's word as much as he did his own eyes.
And Mogi knew that Matsuda had talked about going to the basement at some point, without being accompanied by Raito.
"I've taken the liberty of finding an apartment I've deemed suitable. Now all I have to do is rent it, and we can transfer the investigation HQ from here to my room immediately when we come back from America." Raito said, and the other members were keen to congratulate the young man on his quick plan of action.
Mogi congratulated him as well, of course. It would only seem suspicious if he suddenly started acting unnaturally to Raito. So he kept up the pretenses, until he could find a good excuse not to.
Surprisingly, however, it didn't take as long a time as Mogi had expected, for what he considered Raito's impenetrable personality to become strangely approachable.
"I think I'll go visit Misa again one last time, and inform her about the new location of our rented room…It wouldn't do if she kept coming to this place after we leave…"
"Of course Raito…" Souichirou nodded rather dismissively, and focused back on the pile of papers in front of him.
"This is turning into a rather unbecoming habit." Mogi muttered unhappily as he trailed behind the figure in the distance "If it weren't for Matsuda…"
He didn't know why he'd done it again, to be honest. But it seemed to be the smartest thing to do, at the time. Raito had grabbed his coat and mobile phone so casually – so absolutely noncommittally – that it had been impossible not to raise suspicion. Especially when one was looking to have it raised.
And this is how Mogi now found himself, among the shadows and hazy traffic lights of the late evening, squinting to see where Raito had gone. He took utmost care to keep his footsteps utterly muted, which in turn implied that he was forced to walk in a slow pace.
Raito, walking at least fifteen feet away, was moving quickly. When the young man entered the metro station, Mogi took off in a sprint, desperate not to lose sight of the other amongst the throngs of busy people.
One underground ride later and Raito started walking again, this time down the quiet suburban streets.
It took another half hour before the elder detective recognized the district they were in, and the fact that they were heading straight for Amane's house.
He groaned internally, calling himself an idiot. He was so stupid! Why did he have to suspect Raito of all people? It was completely obvious that Raito was truthful – as had been proven so many times under L's despotic – and strangely satisfying – reign. The only reason why he was probably acting strangely lately was because he was still mourning their partners' deaths.
Mogi started cursing himself and his empathy for Matsuda more colourfully. If he wasn't careful with his rampant suspicions, he might turn into L, he thought. And what worse could he compare himself to than Ryuuzaki's constant phobia?
So Mogi, hidden behind a dark corner, watched Raito walk up to Misa's doorstep and ring her doorbell. A few moments later, a female voice echoed through the intercom.
"Who is it!?" the high-pitched sugary tone resounded.
"It's me, Misa." The auburn haired man uttered simply.
"Wahhh!!! Raito came!" Mogi didn't bother to grin as he imagined Misa's overly excited face and shining eyes. The buzzing sound of the door unlocking followed her hyperactive voice, and Raito dutifully pushed the door open, disappearing inside the building.
The detective stalker sighed. Oh well, there goes an entire hour wasted in meaninglessly following Raito around Tokyo. He turned slowly away, considering returning to HQ.
Judging from personal experiences, Raito was not likely to leave Misa's house until early morning tomorrow. It made sense that he wanted to see his girlfriend before he left for a two-week trip to America, Mogi thought.
So he turned around, evaluating the dark alley he was standing in and only then realizing he had no idea how to walk back to the metro station from here.
Becoming aware of his predicament, he buried his fingers in his hair, almost starting to yell. He was supposed to be a responsible adult – not Matsuda! He wasn't supposed to be completely lost!
He started looking around in search for anyone to ask for directions. He was too reluctant to walk openly in the street in front of Misa's house, however, lest Raito somehow see him from within the house. On the other hand, Mogi considered, he shouldn't move too far from the girl's house, or he'd become completely lost in the labyrinth of this foreign area.
"Well…only one choice." He muttered unhappily, and slid down to sit uncomfortably on the dirty pavement. He'd decided he'd wait for Raito to leave and follow the young man back to HQ. Trying to comfort himself, Mogi thought he could at least see the stars from where he was sitting. He started tracing shapes in the sky, using the glowing dots as guidelines.
After some time, a cat mewled quietly from the direction of the trash can, and the tired policeman shrugged apologetically toward its general direction.
"Sorry, kitty…nothing to feed you today…"
But no sooner had he lost himself back to the galaxies, than he heard the sounds of people fussing around from the direction of Misa's house. Gingerly letting his head slide along the wall, he gained a clear visual of the girl's doorstep.
The door was open and Raito was slowly ambling outside. From behind him, still in the house, Misa was pouting.
"Mouu, Raito…Why do you always have to leave so soon? You never stay with Misa-Misa! Young couples like us should spend lots and lots and lots of time together! Right?" she said with a wink, and a worryingly seductive tone in her voice.
Raito's face was hidden from Mogi's vision, but the young policeman imagined he could see the expression of placating indifference that was always there when facing this woman. He wondered, as he many times had, why he still stayed with her if he was not as enamoured with her as she with him. Was it just friendly pity, need for a woman's body, or…something else which kept him with her?
"Now, Misa…you know how busy I am…"
"Promise that next time you'll stay the whole night!" Misa said, crossing her arms and sticking her chin out in a way most men would consider endearing instead of stubborn.
Apparently, Raito tried to say something, but Misa raised her hand in a stopping gesture and repeated loudly "Promise!"
A few moments passed, and Mogi saw Raito shake his head in perceived exasperation "Very well. It's a promise." A few beats went by, and Mogi saw Raito lean forward, telling Misa something inaudible. Even though he strained his ears to hear, it was impossible to discern anything.
"Don't worry! I will! Misa will always help Raito!" the girl answered loudly, and her quizzical words only served to fuel Mogi's curiosity. But he told himself he shouldn't be so suspicious, and that it was perfectly normal for an ordinary couple to discuss private matters.
Perhaps Raito had some kind of…problem in…'that' area, that he wanted Misa to help him with. And the reason why Mogi was starting to think this was because Raito had spent a very short while in there indeed. The policeman looked at his watch and was surprised to see that only forty minutes had passed since Raito had arrived.
Wasn't that…strange, for a young couple? And a couple who don't see each other often no less…and who were preparing to spend an entire two weeks apart?
"Well then, see you!" Raito said after being forced into kissing Misa's cheek, waving modestly as he left, contrary to Misa's pronounced wild gestures.
"Bai-bai!, darling!!!!" Misa cooed, waiting for Raito to become completely indiscernible in the distance before she closed the door. When she finally went back into her house, Raito had already walked a fair distance down the street. Afraid he'd lose sight of his 'suspect', and mostly fearful of becoming completely lost in this suburban area again, Mogi dutifully rushed out of the alley and down the street after Raito.
The older man cursed himself upon realizing how simple the route to the underground station really was. How could he have not thought of it? Raito led them straight to the metro and, this time, Mogi memorized the route which connected the station to Misa's house.
As the policeman boarded the train – a different wagon from Raito's, of course – he rubbed his nape tiredly. Today had been a complete waste of time and energy. In fact-
He almost jumped with surprise as he saw, through the window connecting the two carriages, that Raito was getting off the train already! Careful to remain inconspicuous, Mogi immediately walked out as well, greeted by the echoes of the incomprehensible megaphone announcements and the rushing footsteps of people around him.
He could barely discern Raito amongst the overwhelming traffic, and made an effort to remain in relatively close vicinity to the other – perhaps closer than was advisable under the circumstances.
But still, as Raito got on the escalators and lightly maneuvered around the crowd, Mogi could not help but wonder where the younger man was going. This wasn't the station closest to the HQ building at all…
Then, Mogi admonished himself again. Perhaps Raito just wanted to visit his mother and sister…or a friend of his…
But still, Mogi remembered well, that this was not the station closest to Raito's home either.
…Where the heck was Raito going so late on a Thursday night?
The police investigator kept his lips stiff and fingers coiled as he walked. They weren't in the suburbs any more, and the bright flashing lights of Tokyo around them were making Mogi dizzy. In the night, it was extremely easy to lose sight of the other if he wasn't careful.
Raito led them through complex twists and turns, seemingly knowing exactly where he was going – which could only indicate that he'd been here time and again. Mogi felt his insides freeze as he considered the possibility of Raito going to a brothel or a gambling PACHINKO parlour. Considering the gaudy lights and love hotel labels around them, the possibility was not completely far-feteched.
Mogi hadn't pegged Raito for that type of person at all…then again…you never know, and Matsuda had been very suspicious the last few days…
After they'd reached a particularly filthy, dark back alley with a dead-end, all of a sudden Raito stopped walking. Mogi froze, feeling utterly exposed. He quickly ducked behind a nearby pile of trash, hoping that he wasn't too visible from where Raito was standing.
Raito turned left, approaching a decrepit-looking building, with greasy walls and rubbish amassed beside the door. The whole setting was so surreal, so utterly unexpected and so entirely opposite of Misa's clean pretty house, that Mogi almost pinched himself to assure he was not dreaming. It seemed as though, within a few minutes, they'd had come to another world. From fairytale suburbia to nightmare downtown Tokyo.
Raito stood outside the door and looked around with the air of a man who wants to make sure he isn't being watched or followed. The policeman was keenly aware of the irony of his voyeuristic position.
But all thoughts quickly slipped away as Raito buried his hand in his pocket and produced a key seemingly out of nowhere. He then proceeded to stick it quickly in the lock and open the door. The youngster disappeared in the building so furtively, that Mogi didn't even realize he was alone again until the door shut behind Raito, with finality. Left speechless and confused, Mogi thought it only prudent to wait for a few minutes before trying to approach the house.
When he was relatively near the door Raito had entered, he lingered a bit, hoping to hear something through the filthy metal. But nothing happened.
Aware that, in his unsure attempt at stalking, he'd accidentally stumbled across something quite interesting about Raito, Mogi stepped back and observed the building, trying to assess it. There must be some way to infiltrate it…
Until finally, when his eyes slipped to the right, he found what he was looking for: a narrow opening between this building and the one next to it. Mogi rushed towards the passage, hearing his blood thumping loudly in his ears. He had to squeeze between the two walls, and for a few moments it felt rather claustrophobic. But it wasn't long until he'd finally managed to find what he was looking for.
It was a small foggy window on the wall near the ground, not larger than a shoebox. The policeman had to bend down awkwardly in order to try and see through it.
He realized, however, that because the window was half open, the pane was obstructing the view. Gingerly, careful not to make any sudden jerky movements and aware that the metal might make a squeaking sound, he pushed the glass of the window a bit, hoping it wouldn't betray him. Grinning to himself at his success, the happy expression on his face was wiped out immediately upon seeing what was inside.
His lips turned slightly purple and he started shivering, his knees and ankles becoming extremely weak, despite his bulky frame. His eyes were wide and unblinking and there were droplets of sweat sliding down the side of his face.
"Wh…what…?" he whispered, his throat scratchy and dry "What is… this…?!"
"No. Aiber came, as planned." The voice floated out of the window and to Mogi's disbelieving ears.
"…what?" a much softer, lower voice.
Mogi recoiled, his hands kneading the sides of the window as his face twisted in an expression of utter incomprehensibility, which swiftly turned to shock, and finally, horro.
"…don't tell me…you're still thinking about…that?" Raito's voice was gentle, emotional. Mogi had never heard it being used like that. He hadn't realized it had the ability to be used like that.
"…let go." The other answered fleetingly, trying to shake Raito's hands off his shoulders. Outside, watching them from above, the policeman was biting his bottom lip so hard that blood was starting to ooze out.
"Listen...Look at me." Raito's voice started again, this time a more authoritative tone "You know that sometimes sacrifices must be made…Even if…Damn it, look at me!" he wrung the other's shoulders harsher and harsher
Mogi's palms were becoming clammy, and cold sweat was pouring down his face. It wasn't a ghost. It wasn't a ghost…it was real.
It was real.
"Let go!" the other man said again, much louder this time, and roughly pushed Raito's shoulders away. The auburn haired man took a step backwards to regain his balance, but when he'd finally regained his footing, his partner had already turned his back to him, the delicate shoulder blades shivering slightly. Mogi noticed that Raito's eyes were trailing over them, as though savouring the sight.
A few moments of silence passed and Mogi could actually hear the frantic pounding of his heart as he waited, with baited breath and a rapidly twisting stomach, for the morbid continuation. He didn't know what he was waiting for, but it certainly felt very cold today…
Then, suddenly, with a harsh lunge, Raito pounced forward, wrapping his arms around the other's torso and pulling the person back against his chest.
"You've given him all your love…is there nothing left for…"
Matsuda could barely hear what they were saying, let alone discern the words. But even so, he could clearly see Raito whispering something in the others ear, could discern even from this angle how tightly the usually dispassionate Raito's arms were wound around the other's waist.
Both their faces were turned away, so the investigator couldn't actually see their expressions…but the way that their muscles were permanently tensed was enough for anyone to understand, even without hearing what they were saying.
Mogi swallowed dryly, and his stomach gave an unpleasant jolt as he watched the back of their heads start moving in sync together, and he realized what they were doing as Raito forced the other to twist around slightly in his arms. White fingers crawled upwards, to sink inside auburn locks, just as the muscles underneath Raito's burgundy blazer rippled, indicating he was tightening his arms around the other, bringing his forearm to press behind the other's shoulder, forcing their bodies closer together.
In a form of utterly inadvertent, appalled curiosity, which had become second nature after years in the force, Mogi noticed the speed and precision with which Raito's hands ran over the other's body, aiming to please, not to explore. And those long, spidery fingers, with the way they latched and yanked on Raito's hair, seemed greedy and not hesitant.
Then, still kissing fervently, Raito pushed the other forward, sliding his hands over his partner's thighs and lifting them slightly, until the other was sitting on the table. Automatically, without even a pretense of resistance, long legs spread open, letting Raito lodge himself between them with traitorous familiarity. Muffled groans started to echo around as they kissed, more and more passionately, their fingers clawing.
"Soon…" a low, visceral growl echoed, and Mogi, with a sense of growing impending doom, could barely recognize it as Raito's usually placated voice "Soon we'll be rid of them."
The other didn't say anything, simply opened his smoky eyes for a few seconds to stare at the other.
"…and I'll create a New World with you."
A few moments later, as deft long fingers started unbuttoning Raito's shirt – each button handled with that familiar strange way – Raito muttered again "A world with no fear…" a pause for a kiss "no crime" another pause "only us..."
Mogi felt bile climb up his throat, and realized he was having trouble breathing.
"we'll… change the world."
The endless months of careless optimism about the Kira case were now drawing to a close, as he realized suddenly that nothing in the world was as simple as he'd thought. And despite not knowing the exact details and complications of it, even he was not naïve enough to believe…to believe that…
But how had they managed it, these monsters? In retrospect, Matsuda knew that there exist certain poisons that could simulate the effects of a 'temporary death'. Somehow, back then, Raito and L had…
Matsuda jerked like a puppet, the images he was receiving refusing to cooperate with the facts he'd always known about these two people. Time had passed without him realizing it. The next time he focused on what was happening beyond the window, he was only partly prepared for the sight that greeted him.
Matsuda, feeling cold inside out, turned to watch them again, suddenly realizing that he could easily picture them in the exact same stance on one of the beds in the HQ building.
'The handcuffs…' he thought, with a growing sense of newfound, disbelieving dread, 'we never should have let them…Misa had said it but no one believed her…'
That's when it had all started, wasn't it? During those critical few months that they'd been stuck together twenty four hours a day, when they'd spent hours and hours working in front of the computers, eating and sleeping together, only the two of them, at times no supervision… that's when they'd… But the problem was not that they were together…but that they were…they were…
"With Misa's eyes, we will be…" Raito dived forward to kiss the sides of the other's neck, earning drawn out moans and convulsing fingers "…unstoppable."
Mogi froze, as though just realizing something.
"Misa…" he whispered, unable to stop himself. Misa was involved in this as well…Misa…they had always suspected her of being the second Kira…Misa was…
Mogi felt physically ill.
He stumbled backwards a bit, his back hitting the wall behind him. He thought he heard the sound of crumbling cement, and it took a few seconds for him to catch his breath once more.
"I have to tell the others…" he whispered to himself, shaking in anxiety "At this rate not only Raito but Misa too…and…and…even…even…"
He should go. He should leave now, before they realized he'd discovered their secret. Or rather, secrets. So he turned around, intent on going back the way he came. He should warn the other members of the investigation. Even though he hadn't yet worked out the details, it was obvious what was going on here.
It was obvious by the way they spoke about it. By the way they touched each other.
They were insane. They were…they were…
But just as he could test the sweetness of certainty, Mogi's jaw went completely lax, his eyes wide and petrified.
"Y-You…!" he shivered, his knees hitting the cement in terror.
But the monster towering above him didn't say anything. Truth be told, its crystal eyes looked rather sorrowful instead of bloodthirsty, as though it too was reluctant to do what had to be done.
She stretched her ivory hand forward, and a black book materialized in it with a wisp of a shadow.
"N-No! Wait!!" Mogi shouted, realizing what was happening and trying desperately to stop it. But even though he clawed at the skeleton hands, it was as though his fingers ran through Death's body. There was no way…there was no way he could stop it!!!!
"NO!...STOP!! PLEASE!!!" he shouted again and immediately heard a shout from the right.
"What-?" It was Raito's voice, and Mogi turned for a fleeting second, just in time to see that the two men in the room were looking at him, both with wide eyes and panic etched on their faces "You!" Raito shouted at him in disbelief, and abandoned his entwined position with the other to run toward the window, presumably to stop Mogi from leaving. But the policeman could not, even though he wanted to with all his heart.
"Raito!!" the other man immediately barked, running after his lover and grabbing Raito's upper arm, holding him back as though to stop him from climbing upwards to the window. Mogi looked at them both, their faces identical masks of anxiety. Raito had placed his body as a barrier between Mogi and the other man, as though he could stop the revelation from happening at this late hour.
But there was no need to hide anymore.
But it all happened within seconds. And suddenly, with a cruel jerk, a thunderbolt of pain sliced through the policeman's body, forcing the man to double over in half.
"Urgh!!" he gurgled pathetically on the ground, and started convulsing, grabbing his chest over his heart.
"no…no…no…" he groaned in pain, over an over, until he could speak no more. It couldn't be happening! Not now! Not when he'd just realized…not when he'd finally-!!
The last thing he saw, as his heart gave the last desperate few pumps, was the ivory body in front of him. How strange…
It seemed to him, in his dying hour, that the only thing he could see was…
"Y-You!!!" the elder man's voice whizzed pathetically, as he fought to speak despite his cracked ribs, which had pierced his lungs. He grasped fruitlessly and the floor beneath him, and the world was a sea of crumbling debris. "You" he whispered again, his voice laced with venom.
"I'm sorry, Yagami-san."
The sound of explosions around was deafening. Souichirou's world was darkening and narrowing, and, despite his overwhelming desire to stay alive for just a bit longer, to continue at this most critical moment, his body was failing him.
Everything was failing him.
"How could you?" he whispered, imagining that he could see a red glow in the eyes of the creature towering above him. "How-" he whizzed again, and coughed up blood, wincing in the process.
Then he saw the creature bend over him, the wide red eyes watching him carefully, like a scientist watches the insect.
"The logic is undeniable." The cold voice said, and Souichirou felt waves of outrage choke his already bleeding heart. Apparently noticing his disgusted face, the other continued once more. "If there is one chance for absolute justice to be attributed, aren't we obliged to utilize this chance?"
"You…You monster!" the older man hissed, and he was strangely pleased to see that some of his red-coloured saliva had made its way to one of the perfect alabaster cheeks hovering above him.
"I understand that you are distressed, Yagami-san…" the other nodded slightly, and Souichirou had to close his eyes to shield himself from that monstrous red glow in the man's eyes "I also must admit that I did not wish for it to end this way…but the justice of it is infallible."
Souichirou tried to writhe, despite the futility of the action. He felt a naked foot above his chest, pinning him to the ground. And then, just as his chest was threatening to burst from sheer ire, he froze once more, the cold shock overcoming him, as he saw a second figure, a much more familiar one, float behind the one that was already towering above him.
"Ra…" he started, unable to sustain such emotional peril at his dying hour "Rai…to?"he asked, more speaking to himself than to anyone else.
"I'm sorry father." The frigid voice came, and the eyes were just as red, the smile just as twisted "You of all people should understand the cost of such justice…"
Souichirou had no words. His blood was drowning him, and his heart was stopping. The explosions and the fire around him, as well as the corpses of the other members of the investigation, became dull and inconsequential to him. The only thing he could see was the two of them, framed by the smiling jester Shinigami, looking down at him with identical glowing eyes.
"I'll make it easier for you, father." The sugar-sweet voice that Souichirou had learned to love echoed in his mind. And then, as if through a dream, he saw his son's calm movements, Raito's unrushed hands as they wrapped around the other man – one around the white-clad chest and one around the shoulder.
"Let's make it easier for him…hm?" Souichirou heard the small, husky mutter, but the pain was too intense, and he could not register what he was seeing. He did not see the way his son had leaned into the other man's ear, and he missed the way Raito's lips lingered above the other's nape.
Long, sinewy fingers came upwards, spreading open an ebony black book. Raito was leaning over the other's shoulder, while his partner kept the book open in front of them, poised over Souichirou's dulled vision. Raito brought his right hand from beneath the other man's armpit, writing on the crisp creamy sheet that was in front of them.
"It will all be over soon." One voice said, dark and baritone.
"And then we'll finally create the New World…with no criminals and no evil…where we can live together…"
"We won't forget you, father…"
Souichirou's eyes were wide, and unseeing. And even though he could not understand what was happening, he could only say one thing, repeating it over and over again, like a mantra.
"…No…not Raito…not Raito…"
"It's going to be fine, Yagami-san. You're doing a good thing."
"You're insane…" the man whispered, as the pain attacked him from the heart, ripping his chest apart. "you're insane" the words were wretched from his mouth, until the very end.
"I'm-" one started, and, for a moment, his eyes weren't glowing as red as before. But seeing this, Raito immediately took the other in his arms, holding him tightly, burying his nose in the other's hair and inhaling.
"It's so difficult for them to understand now…" he started, making the other shiver by whispering in his ear "But we're doing the right thing…we are…we have to do this, or else…or else we'll never be…free."
And as the explosions intensified, and even the Shinigami's eyes were amazed by what they were seeing, the last of the investigation members, all dying on the floor, got a glimpse of two dark figures. And their eyes rounded in horror, as they saw that man standing there, watching them as they died.
One by one.
Sayu patted her mother's shoulder, trying to be strong for the both of them. The newspaper was tossed to the side of the living room, and the middle aged woman was still sobbing, her shoulders wracking now and then.
The young girl, unable to restrain herself, resumed her crying as well.
"God…why? Why me?? What did we do to you?!" the mother shouted at the top of her lungs, pointing an accusatory finger towards heaven. Sayu tried to restrain her mother's hysterical dirge, but failed terribly.
By the end of it, both women were curled into two shivering balls. In the glinting, faded light, the crumpled pages of the newspaper flashed their ugly headline:
'Arson and slaughter in southeastern Tokyo: bomb explodes in twenty-five-floor building. More than twenty casualties…Is this Kira? '
Because she was the chief's wife, they had divulged to her that the building in question had been the HQ of the police investigation against Kira. Her husband had been working there. And her son…? Her son…? Hadn't he been there as well?
The corpses had been unrecognizable, but Mrs Yagami had been called to the police station none the less. She'd been shown the scorched, gruesome terror of it. With her help, they'd ascertained that her husband was one of them - dead.
The machinery and equipment in the building was all destroyed, and, even though no one wanted to admit it, they'd found some very tricky pieces of technology in there, which they'd been less than happy to reveal to the press.
At first, when she'd heard the news, she'd been terrified not only for her husband, but for Raito too. Hadn't he been working alongside his father, doing some obscure work on the Kira investigation?
But, thankfully, Raito was safe. He'd come home the day after the terrible explosion, claiming that he couldn't stay away from his family at a time like this. He explained to his mother and sister that he hadn't been working in the building that exploded, although he'd known that his father had been in it.
His involvement in anything to do with the Kira case was erased from the police records, he said, since the database in the HQ building was destroyed and he'd never really legitimately worked with the National Police. It was best that it was all erased, he claimed. Now he could make a new start.
Now he could pursue Kira openly with the police, he said.
One night, almost three weeks after the tragedy, all three of them were sitting silently in the living room, until Sayu broke the stillness with a whisper "It's hard for us all…it's so hard…"
"I know…but we have to stay strong…and we'll get over it." Raito explained stoically, clenching his fists. Only now that she had him here next to her did Sayu realize how much she'd missed him all this time.
"You have to promise me…" his mother then said in a tremulous voice, standing up and approaching him, coming to hold the sides of his neck "You have to promise me that whatever you do…you won't take Kira lightly ever again."
Raito nodded seriously "I won't, mother." He said, a determined glimmer in his eyes "I promise I won't….for father's sake."
There was a muffled, tapping sound on the door. Raito blinked, as though emerging back to reality from his thoughts. He turned around and walked to the door, his previous sobriety suddenly forgotten.
"Who is it?" he shouted, and, from the other side of the door, an unfamiliar voice answered
Sayu was estranged as she clasped her mother's upper arm, feeling slightly disturbed for no reason. Judging from the tensing in her mother's shoulders, the older woman felt the same. Even though it was acceptable to have a guest after three weeks of mourning…wasn't this a tad bit unexpected…? It wasn't like Raito at all to do something so spontaneous!
But Raito either did not or chose not to notice their discomfort. Instead, without any explanation or justification, he grabbed the handle of the door and turned in slowly.
"Oh, yes….In all the panic I forgot to mention this but…Mother, Sayu, I want you to meet this friend of mine. I invited him here."
The wooden plane of the door opened, revealing the man standing behind it. He was young, not more than twenty three years old. His eyes and hair were a stark black colour, and his face – despite so very clear – seemed to have a foreign quality to it. He didn't seem hostile.
But he didn't seem particularly friendly either.
Raito's mother was surprised as she observed the man's demeanor. Scruffiness and lack of personal hygiene were not traits she would have expected from a close friend of Raito's.
"This is Takayama Ryuu. We met when we were working on the Kira case together. Ryuu, meet my mother and sister." Raito said, smiling serenely at his mother, as though nothing was wring.
"Nice to meet you, Yagami-san, Sayu-san. I'm Takayama." The stranger said flatly.
The mother and daughter were rather confused at first, as they stared a bit numbly at the two men.
"I'm sorry…" Sayu muttered a bit confusedly "Have we met before? I don't remember telling you my name…"
Raito had a rather strange grin plastered on his face, and it made his mother a bit uncomfortable. But she ignored it nonetheless, in order not to seen impolite to the newcomer.
"It's because Raito-kun has told me so much about you." Ryuu answered without missing a beat "He is so proud of his younger sister. I hope we get along well in the future." Ryuu said again, before stepping in the house. Sayu, who had previously thought that his black eyes were rather disturbing, now felt overcome by joy at his compliment, and decided to accept him as her brother's friend.
But still… the way he was looking at her…as though he already knew everything about her…that would make anyone uncomfortable, wouldn't it?
"Ryuu is in a bit of a pinch right now, so I offered to let him spend a few days here with us. Not to worry, he can sleep in a spare mattress. There's enough space in my room." Raito explained, and, by the way he was speaking, it seemed that he'd already made up his mind. It didn't seem as though the women could really object.
"Well, a friend of Raito's is always welcome here." The older woman said, slipping back into the familiar role of a mother. Even though the shadow of their personal tragedy was still looming over her heart, she at least rejoiced at being able to treat her son's friend like this. Raito had never brought any peers here before, except for his girlfriend…it was nice to see him trying to socialize, even at this turbulent time for their family. And she was impatient to find out what had made this slob of a youth her son's friend.
"I've prepared dinner…It's not much, but you're welcome to join us…"
Ryuu's black eyes slipped to Raito's, scanning the other's face. Apparently, just from that cursory glance, there was some kind of message exchanged between the two, until Raito spoke to his friend, his voice very light.
"Not to worry… We also have sweets."
Ryuu nodded slightly in approval, and Raito's mother made a note to remember the strangeness of this exchange. What on earth were they talking about.
She hadn't seen Misa-Misa in some time…Compared to Ryuu's strange antiques, the bubbly girl now seemed almost preferable.
Then again, the predominant feeling that this man, Ryuu, provoked in her was that of indifference, not annoyance.
"Well, mother. Ryuu and I will be upstairs. I'll help him settle in. When dinner is ready, please call us too." Raito explained. By now, Raito's rather tall friend had taken his extremely mangled shoes off and worn the set of green slippers reserved for guests. Sayu sighed in melancholy as she was reminded of her father's dark blue slippers, which they had hidden away only a few days earlier. Even so, being a teenage girl, she couldn't help but notice the rather well-shaped curves of Ryuu's nape and shoulders, who now, upon closer inspection, appeared rather…handsome. And that black hair…if one could overlook the scruffiness and the strange eyes, then this man was…rather good looking.
And he was a close friend of her brother's!
And he'd be staying in the house for at least a few days in a row!
"Of course." The mother said, nodding her head slightly. How could she verbalize the fact that she was reluctant to let an individual as scruffy as Ryuu enter her home? But was it really her fault for thinking this? For goodness' sake the boy looked as though he hadn't taken a proper bath in weeks.
But she verbalized none of these worries. Instead, she quietly watched them move toward the stairs. Raito was an adult, after all…he had the right to make friends with whoever he pleased.
"Come on, I'll show you my room." Raito said in a neutral tone, his hand resting on Ryuu's shoulder. At her son's choice of words, Mrs Yagami was keenly reminded of a teenager version of her husband, as he'd acted when she'd first met him. She swallowed back the tears at the memory, and felt awkward about having revived it.
"I've already seen it." Ryuu answered suddenly, making the two women turn to look at him strangely. The black haired man's expression remained completely calm, not missing a beat. Then he spoke again, flatly "You showed me that photo, remember?"
"Oh yes." Raito nodded with a bit of an awkward smile, and stepped in front of L "Watch your step, coz the stairs are hollow…" The way he kept looking at the other boy was so strange, Mrs Yagami thought. It was an expression that she'd seen before, but could not remember where…Some kind of emotion in their eyes…some kind of…
"Yeah…" Ryuu muttered as he walked after his friend. He was slouching as he held his dark blue backpack, and had his thumb lodged between his lips. How had a person like this managed to grip Raito's attention to the extent that Raito had brought him to their home…?
"Mom, why don't you call the plumber again? And if he still won't help you I'll come and ask him myself – hey don't shove!" Raito told his friend loudly as he climbed and Mrs Yagami nodded at his general direction, dismissing his sudden childishness and turning to walk back to the kitchen.
She hadn't seen him act quite so carefree since…
But Sayu stayed put, looking at the two men's backs. She was experiencing, for some reason…some kind of strange, oppressive…plainly strange feeling.
Because as Ryuu had walked by her, she'd noticed, inside his half open backpack, the shape of a black book.
(hides from pelting tomatoes)
Well… that was my dorky oneshot.
In every fanfic I read, it's always Raito who is reverts from bad to good….It's always Raito who sees the Light….I wanted to make sth different…but even though I wanted to write evil!L, I didn't manage it and wrote lovestruck!evil!couple instead. Shit…I promise, the next oneshot will be evil!L!!!
TE will be uploaded soon as well, so keep that in mind if you like that fic!