Chapter Seventeen: Let it Be
On January 19, 2004, L left the task force to their work briefly, trusting them to work on their own for a day and a half while he took a short trip. He got on a plane to Los Angeles that morning, and when he arrived made straight for the state prison.
Flashing a fake ID, L was admitted into a small room normally meant for interrogations and face-to-face meetings. He waited for several minutes, before the door opened again and the guards came in leading a prisoner. The handcuffs he was wearing were hooked to a ring on the tabletop, and the guards turned to L.
"We'll be right outside the door if you need anything." they said.
L nodded distractedly. "Very well." He waited until the guards were gone to look up and meet the eyes of the young man sitting across from him.
"Well, look who came to visit me!" Beyond said with a mocking smile. "How are you, L?"
"Beyond…" L said slowly, still uncertain as to what he had actually wanted to say to his renegade heir. He stared into flat red-onyx eyes, and asked quietly, "Do you know why I'm here?"
"The murders!" Beyond sing-songed. "Criminals keeling over of heart attacks, with no explanation! So many lifespans to watch run down as they die…"
"So you think they are murders then?" L asked.
"Of course! What else?" Beyond said, then frowned. "You're not here to ask my opinion on the murders, L. You're here because of the murders. You're worried. You think that, if Kira is killing off criminals, he'll get me eventually."
"Naomi Misora is dead." L said flatly, interrupting Beyond's train of thought. "Murdered by Kira. I don't know how he got to her, but I think she knew something."
"Probably. Something important, for Kira to find her and kill her." Beyond said. His expression shifted into something almost subdued. "She's dead… She managed to beat me, and this person just kills her like it's nothing. That's not fair."
"You played fairly, Beyond." L said. "Kira gets by with something supernatural, I'm very sure. You got by on your skills alone."
"Praise for the murderer, L? Me, I mean. Kira the Coward deserves no praise."
"Not praise. Appreciation for equal intelligence. You know I don't support what you did."
Beyond giggled. "And you know the same thing that I told you two years ago. Those people were going to die at that day and time anyway. I cannot steal a life when there was not one left to steal. All I did was alter how their fate came about, not their fate itself." He looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully. "They didn't feel anything. They weren't in pain, because of the drugs, when they died. I think I might have just made their deaths more peaceful."
"You cannot justify murder, Beyond." L said sharply.
Beyond laughed. "Is that why you're here? To scold me? I don't think so, L."
L sighed, staring down at the table. Really, all in all, had it ever been about anything other than the two of them? Original and reflection; twins; mirror-mirror, could you tell us who the real one is? He stared up at Beyond, and the other saw the expression on his face: pain and guilt and everything that L was never supposed to feel.
"Beyond…" he tried to say, not knowing that Beyond had already heard it, that day in the hospital a little less than two years ago. "Beyond, I-"
But Beyond interrupted him, interrupted the apology he knew was coming; the 'I'm sorry, I failed you and Aisha', because for some reason, even though it was all he had craved for years, that apology… He no longer wanted it.
"L…" Just a single letter, the only thing he had ever known of the World's Greatest Detective. Beyond looked up with a smile and said three words, simple, but with so much meaning behind them, "Let it be."
And L stared, confused. He started to say something, but Beyond shook his head sharply. He was silent a moment, then asked quietly, "Why?"
Beyond looked at the ground. "I don't forgive you, L. What happened to Aisha was your fault, at its' deepest level. You abandoned us when we needed you. But after spending two years locked up in a room, you have a lot of time to think. And I know how to do this now." He looked up at L, an ironic little smile twisting his lips. "I don't want your apology. The past is the past, and cannot be changed, and I can think of no better punishment for you than not being allowed to apologize for something you are truly sorry for."
"Beyond, no!" L said. "Please, don't do this! I–"
"I don't want your apology, L! I do not forgive you!"
L gaped at him, unable to believe it. The door burst open, and guards with guns came in. "What's going on?!"
L forced himself calm, and said slowly, "We had a… disagreement."
"Should we take him back to his cell?" one of the guards asked.
L deliberated for a long moment, then murmured, "Yes." Beyond smirked, confident in his victory. L moved to walk past him, then pulled a scrap of paper out of his pocket. He reached up, holding it above his head for Beyond to look at, then walked out of the room without looking back.
Beyond stared in astonishment, watching L leave and feeling that somehow he had lost his victory abruptly. For the scrap of paper held in two fingers above L's head had said, in clear, precise handwriting, 'L Lawliet.' It was his real name, the one thing that Beyond had never gotten from him.
And so it appeared that they were even yet again. Beyond had denied him the apology, having already heard it while in the hospital, but L had freely given his real name, nullifying any sense of triumph Beyond might have felt. As they left him in his cell, he began to laugh.
Well played, L. Well played. I wasn't able to bring about your defeat, but maybe Kira can. I would rather it be ME! A cheating murderer isn't worthy of your time… But my time is coming soon. I won't be around much longer. Even without being able to see my own lifespan, I can tell. So, in the end…
…Thank you for telling me your name…
Two days later, on January 21, 2004, Beyond Birthday died of a heart attack like so many criminals before him. But it couldn't compare to the pain of being burned alive, and unlike those before him, he died with a smile on his face.
When L received the list of criminals who had died that night, handed to him by Watari, he could tell from his mentor's expression what had occurred. He scanned the list quickly, finding the name somewhere near the middle.
He crumpled the paper, setting it aside and forcing himself to be calm. The task force was staring, and he couldn't afford to let this affect him. Naomi Misora and Beyond Birthday… Now the only ones alive who knew the entire story of the BB case were him and Mello…
"Ryuzaki? Is everything all right?" Matsuda asked.
L turned to him, familiar blank mask back in place. "Yes, Matsuda-san. I'm fine. Continue with what you were doing." Matsuda nodded, turning back to his work, and L frowned. In the end, Beyond had won, in a way. Because now L was stuck with the guilt of not apologizing.
He looked at the monitors, where cameras were watching Light Yagami do his homework, and narrowed his eyes.
Kira… Whatever happens, I will catch you. You've made this personal, even without realizing it, and for that, I will defeat you. For Beyond…
I'm so proud. This stands as the prequel to Cor, and I'm glad I got it done. You'll notice that I skipped most of the BB case itself. You read the book, right? That's all the same. The way it ends is what's important.
I hope you all enjoyed this indulgence of mine. :) When I finish From One Life to Another, I have another story idea, so I'll see you then.
Love and hugs!