A/N – This is a first draft, and it was not sent to my betareader. I wrote it in a hurry to break the dam, so here goes. Happy Valentine's Day, have an angsty story?!


Matt looked over as L walked back into the waiting room. His hair was falling forward, and he looked like he had just run from Light's room, sweat trickling down his temples. L saw Matt staring and wiped his face coolly.

"Are you going too?" L asked. "He was equally unwilling to see me."

"But you went knowing that," Matt said.

L stuffed his hands back into his pockets. "I told you, there was something I had to say to him."

"An apology?" Matt asked, feeling a hint of antipathy rising in him that was not nearly as extreme as his past dislike for L.

To his surprise, L nodded. "It accomplished nothing. I didn't expect it to."

Near broke the silence that settled after that remark. "If you want to go, there are still ten minutes." Neither he nor L had taken very long, after all.

Matt stood up. "I'll just look. I won't go in."

They waited for a nurse to lead him back there, not wanting to antagonize the staff into barring Light from visitors again. When they reached the door, Matt peered around it. The nurse stopped walking, a question in her eyes.

"I just wanted to see him," Matt said quietly. She shrugged and remained in the hall with him.

The man inside the door said softly, "He's getting anxious. If you're going to disturb him further, you might reconsider. He's in a delicate state."

"I know," Matt said, his eyes on the nearest bed. Their soft conversation had not created any change in the shape he could see under the covers. A thin curtain blocked Light's face from this angle, but Matt could see the fingers on one hand, the only exposed skin that he could see. "I won't go in," he repeated

It was not that he did not want to. The whole situation brought back bad memories. Mello had died somewhere far away from him, and Matt had been sleeping, no less. He had only heard about it while eating breakfast on what became the shittiest day of his life. If something bad was going to happen again, he wanted to be awake and alert for it. He wanted to see it coming and find the time to say or do anything he needed to.

Not that he really knew what any of that might be, but he wanted to be there.

"What time do visiting hours start?" Matt asked. Light was in there, alive and not dying, at least not yet. He was not going anywhere. The nurse in the hall told him the hours, and with a final backward glance, he walked back down to Near and L.

He was not going to make it worse for Light. He, Matt, was fine for now. Light did not have to suffer to ease his conscience. It was one thing to tell L that he didn't care about Light's wishes. It was another to contemplate going in there and finding that he had no words, no reason for inflicting his selfish wants on Light.

Part of him wondered if waiting a day would make any difference.


Light drifted off late that night. Or morning. It was hard to tell the time when he woke. English spring days were still short, so the murky light that managed to get into the room seldom gave him any indication of time.

It was driving him mad. He was trapped in some timeless hole, like that wretched sleep deprivation exercise L had put him through. What a colossal waste of time. Time, time, everything was about time. He had not had enough time to bleed out in the car. He had not had time to drive further away from Winchester, urgency pushing him to complete the task while he still had both the energy and desire to do so.

Now he had too much time on his hands. He could think endlessly about how he would do it differently if he had another chance. He fixated on his humiliations, about the possibility of not having the use of his hands for the rest of his too-long life. It was hard to concentrate on one thing for very long, but the thoughts surfaced constantly.

Thanks to Near, he could think too much about Mr. Wammy being dead. Had it really happened right after he walked out?

His right hand twitched suddenly, sending shocks up through his arm. Always worried that he was ripping the stitches out, Light studied the bandages. His left arm was burning, but it always felt like it was on fire no matter what they gave him. His right was starting to itch, and that might have been worse. His ruined fingers could not scratch it, and he could not reach anything through all the dressings. Instead, he laid his left arm atop the itching on his right and pressed down hard. Maybe pressure would ease what fingernails could not.

Black stars and a wash of red across his vision warned him off that course. Something snapped. He could not be sure whether it was in his arm or in his head. Maybe he would give himself a stroke. If only he could be so lucky.

Someone brought in his next round of pills. His head felt thick and cottony already, but he did not want to be trapped here forever. If he took his pills like a good boy, they might let him go free; then no one could tell him what to do.

No amount of sleep ever felt like enough, and it took serious effort to remember how to swallow once he had the tablets in his mouth. After a false start or two, he got them down. The nurse noticed his discomfort and asked him a few questions. She was not even one of the counselors, but he answered and put his head back on the pillows.

His face felt hot, usually a precursor to vomiting. He shook his head when the nurse mentioned food. He really did not want to throw up again. He would save that for when they checked his bandages. It was almost like clockwork. See ruined arms; throw up.

Funny, his left arm looked strange. It was too big under the bandages, and his skin felt tight and hot rather than just the usual burning.

He could not sleep through this new irritation, so if they were going to keep him here, he wanted it gone. Maybe they could just cut off his damn arm like they had already talked about. There had been a tourniquet around it when he got to the hospital. He only knew that from asking once he saw the band of blackened bruises around his bicep.

The arm was a loss. His fingers were completely numb, and he could not move them even if he wanted to. One doctor said he might still regain feeling in time, but Light did not know yet how he felt about that, probably thanks to the drugs. He was not sure how he felt about much of anything, except L.

Sorry? L was sorry? Now, after so many months? He should go trying to kill himself more often if it got that bastard to treat him like an equal, or at least someone worthy of truth or respect.

Trying to ignore the fact that he still cared about L's impression of him, he shifted so the guard inside the door looked up. He could not push the call button, forcing him to talk every time he needed something. Humiliating. One more agony on top of so many others. Light told him he wanted to see a nurse about his arm, and the man got someone's attention outside.

By the time someone else arrived, the bandages on his left were changing color in places. A yellowish cast appeared in spots rather than the blood Light was all too accustomed to.

He kept silent through the next hour's manhandling, watching while they exposed the more artful of his self-abuses. The trenches from above his elbow through the middle of his palm were black and red and puffy, the raised edges dry and scaly in places and weeping in others. Thick threads and knots pulled the edges of his skin toward each other, shiny meat showing in the gaps.

Everything inside him was forcing its way out, squishing through the gap he had opened. His skin could no longer contain him. Yellow crust surrounded at least two stitches that had torn out, and the flesh puckered around the remaining ones. Visions of the remaining stitches snapping and tearing through his dead flesh made his stomach flutter madly.

Normally they would have shielded him from the sight, but something was wrong. He answered whatever questions they asked, their own conversation sliding off him unheard as he stared, transfixed. Swabs were taken and other staff members consulted, yet he still could not bring himself to beg that they just cut it off.

That thing attached to him was disgusting. With nothing but pain to remind him of its presence, it felt like someone else's decaying arm had been sewn onto his elbow.

Someone finally said the words he had been dreading, and he wanted to shout that of course it was, of course every possible thing was going wrong. Rather than picking the time, place, and method of his death, he was going to die slowly as some potentially incurable infection set in. In the meantime, he would be visited by an endless stream of the people he was trying to escape from. Eventually, his family would probably show up too.

It probably would not kill him before they got here.

Once his room was empty again except for him, his guard, and the invisible patient on the other side of the curtain, he put his head back and shut his eyes hard. He could not run or hide or even cover his face. Everyone could watch him die.

MRSA was not the clean, efficient kill that he wanted.


A/N – I realize this chapter may not be up to whatever standards (or lack thereof) I established previously. I had to type it up and get it off my chest, essentially. I have been stuck for way too long, and you have been stuck for way too long without updates. I didn't send it to my betareader first, so please excuse its rough edges. My spousal unit looked it over, but this person hates reading my work because it is so depressing, so there was no context for a lot of it. Here's to more updates! Thanks for your patience, and for not lobbing rotten fruit.