I don't know what's wrong with me. I was planning to write something funny or cute, but no, I got this instead. Maybe I'm just in a depressed mood or something. I wanted to write a Christmas fic, but my muses refused to oblige.

So, I don't own Death Note, because if I did, L would be safe somewhere, not dead. Spoilers for Ch. 58 / Ep. 25. I also don't own the random lyrics from the Foo Fighters' song "Learn to Fly". I was listening to it when I wrote this, and it just seemed to fit.

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Inevitable

Rain poured in sheets outside the dull headquarters building, which may as well have been empty for all the life that inhabited it. With no new leads, and no way to tell who the new Kira might be, the task force was depressed. L himself was miserable, though he would never show it. Day after day, Kira sat right next to him, and he could do nothing due to a simple lack of proof. Light Yagami was just too good at what he did. L felt like he was trying to play chess without knowing all the rules, and with half the pieces missing. Everything was unfairly tipped in Light's favor, and there was nothing L could do about it.

Was it any surprise, then, that he found himself contemplating his life up until this point? Had it been worth it? Maybe, somewhere deep inside himself, a place in his heart that he refused to touch, he had known that he was not going to live to see the end of this case. Maybe he had been simply waiting for Kira to kill him.

He sighed. It had been a losing battle from the start. And the battle had ended the moment that Light took the Death Note from his hands in that helicopter. That was when he had lost the Light that had been his friend, and found Kira hooked to the other end of the chain instead. He found himself considering death. Would it hurt, the moment that his heart ceased beating? Would it even be a heart attack? What could Kira force him to do in his final moments? Poetic justice it would be to Light if he could force L to take his own life, as he forced Naomi and probably countless others. L shivered. Slitting his own wrists? Stabbing himself though the heart? Leaping from the roof of the twenty-three story building? Maybe he wouldn't use the notebook at all. He still didn't know L's name, after all. Maybe he would kill L with his bare hands…

He shook his head ever so slightly, cutting off his thoughts. No, it would not do to consider how he would die, only to think of what he could do before Light killed him. Maybe he was already being controlled. Maybe he was already dead.

L stood from his chair suddenly, startling the rest of the task force.

"Let's take a break. We've found nothing. Come back in an hour." He saw Light blink in confusion as he turned to walk away. Light hurried to catch up, trailing him into the kitchen. He watched him retrieve a slice of raspberry cheesecake from the refrigerator before speaking.

"L? You never take breaks. What's going on?" His acting was flawless, as usual, but the reality of death allowed L to see it for what it was. False, just like everything else he'd said since getting that notebook back in his hands.

"Light-kun…" L said softly, staring at the cheesecake in front of him. He wanted, for some inexplicable reason, to throw it across the room; to cry, and sob, and scream about how unfair it was and how he didn't want to die… But he clamped down on all of that, saying only, "Do you think it hurts, Light-kun?"

"What?" Light's puzzled face could not have been more perfect. L winced.

"Death, Light-kun. Do you think it hurts to die?"

Light blinked. "Ryuzaki, if this is another Kira accusation…"

L smiled sadly. "No, Light-kun… Not another accusation. I finally see the truth." He watched Light smother an expression of rage, and sighed. "I will see you in an hour, Light-kun." He left the kitchen, leaving a baffled Light to angrily demolish the remainder of the cheesecake.

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The roof. Probably not the safest place to be, but L went anyway, simply needing a moment to himself. Never had a building felt so confining, but maybe it wasn't the building at all. Maybe it was simply a certain murderer's presence in that building that had L feeling so smothered. He stared up into the rain, letting the pouring water drench his thin form, noting absently that the raging chaos of the rainstorm around him temporarily blocked out the conflicted emotions and fears and chaos inside his own head.

I'm looking to the sky to save me, looking for a sign of life…

L remembered the lines, from a song he had heard once, a long time ago. But it wasn't worth anything. The sky couldn't save him now; there was no life in the dull grey clouds, to match the lack of life in his building. His building. His investigation. The though gave him no joy now. It was only a reminder of his glaring failure. His eyes widened as he heard the distant tolling of bells, and felt something drip down his cheeks. Just rain. Obviously just rain.

Looking 'cause I'm tired of lying…

Yes, he was tired. Of lying, pretending… Everything. Maybe after today… he could finally sleep.

He didn't know how long he'd stood on the building, listening to the bells, when he finally heard a voice calling to him. He glanced up, not quite able to make out the words, and cupped a hand to his ear when he saw Light standing under the overhang. Light called again, and L smiled, shaking his head slightly. Come talk to me, Light-kun, since you cannot let me out of your sight…

Light came out to him, inquiring about what he was doing. L muttered something non-committal about bells, elaborating only when the other asked. Light couldn't hear them. Why would he? Their funeral dirge was for L and L alone. He stared at Light, not really focusing on the conversation, but on the rain, wishing that it could wash away everything between them and let them start over.

We'd live happily ever trapped, if you'd just save my life…

That damn song again, still no help. Light was going to kill him, and there was nothing he could do. He would not plead for his life like a frightened child. He asked Light about lies. As the younger boy rambled some answer about not lying to people he cared for, L suppressed a slightly hysterical laugh. You don't care for me, then! You never have! Liars like us…There was a tiny part of him that wished Light did care. He found himself wondering, briefly, that if he did fall down to his knees and beg, would Light spare him? No, no. No good to think like that. Light wouldn't anyway. L was too much of an obstacle to Light's wicked plans.

Not for the first time, he glanced to the edge of the building. Would it be easier than the worry and anticipation? Maybe. Would his dignity allow it, especially with Light right there? No. He turned back to Light, suggesting that they go in, not knowing how much longer he'd be able to resist if he stayed up here.

As they walked inside, he looked over at Light with his wide obsidian eyes.

"Light-kun…" he began, but couldn't finish what he wanted to say. A million things raced through his head, none of them fitting what he wanted to express to Light. Please don't kill me… I know what you're going to do… I'm afraid to die… Do it quick. Don't force me to wait with this anticipation any longer. Stop this torture…

As Light looked at him curiously, he finished rather pathetically, "I will go find some towels."

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He was miserable, knowing that this was the only thing he could do. He could try to show Light that even if Light was going to kill him, he was still L's first and only friend. The only person who had understood L so completely that he could use everything about the detective to destroy him. As he sat contemplating, Light's feet forgotten for the moment, he felt a towel brushing gently over his forehead.

"You're still wet." Light's voice was gentle, but with a definite edge of guilt.

"I'm sorry." The apology slipped out before he could stop it. Why was he apologizing to the boy who would take his life? But L didn't want to think anymore. "I'm sad." he whispered. Light looked down at him, confusion evident on his angelic features. L looked up at him and smiled heartbreakingly. "You'll understand soon."

The chilling words held a note of finality to them, and L was almost amused to see Light pale slightly. Emotion flooded the brunet's eyes, speaking volumes, yet only with two clear words: He knew

Oh, yes, Light. L knew. L had always known, everything. But now he knew that Light was going to bring about his death, and he knew that it didn't matter anymore. He answered his ringing phone, not really caring anymore, and turned away from Light at the close of the call.

"We should go, Light-kun. The hour is up. Things might turn out well after all."

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As he stared at the screen where Watari's 'W' had been only moments before, he couldn't stop his mentor's name from escaping him in a kind of panicked cry. No, no, no! It wasn't supposed to happen like this! What could have caused this?! He spoke to the task force calmly, hiding his internal panic, but thinking a mile a minute all the while. Glancing at Light, the answer snapped into place.

"The Shinigami!" he cried. "Everyone, the Shini-" And then pain gripped his heart in a cold clasp, and he fell from his chair and could only register that yes, it did hurt, it hurt quite a lot. He felt like his own blood in his veins was burning him, but the feeling slowly faded to an empty numbness. As he stared up into the eyes of Light Yagami, who looked utterly shocked, he tried for a brief moment to convince himself that it was entirely the Shinigami's decision. But that illusion shattered as he stared at Light. The other boy had appeared upset, as though he was trying not to cry, but L quickly realized that he was trying not to laugh. Trying not to laugh and reveal himself to the rest of the task force. L gripped the shoulder of Light's shirt tightly, wanting to speak, wanting to tell him yes, dying hurts, but not necessarily in the physical sense… But he couldn't summon the words. And Light smirked down at him and L could only imagine that his friend had betrayed him. May Light someday know the pain that L was feeling right now. But the pain was slowly fading, leaving a blissful emptiness behind. L's eyes started to fall closed on their own, his grip on Light's shirt went limp, and he almost smiled as he thought, Light Yagami… I wasn't wrong, but I guess… I've lost. I have… no reason to be afraid anymore…

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Dedicated to everyone who didn't want to turn the page in Chapter 58, when reality set in…

Dedicated to everyone who watched Episode 25 in Japanese with subtitles, and cried for the rain scene…

Dedicated to everyone who, like me, cannot wait for Episode 25 in English, even though it will only break our hearts again…