"No, Light. The only one who is going to die… is you." Ryuk's voice echoed ominously through the old warehouse; a well-delivered death sentence. Light's face abruptly changed from a mask of triumph to one of horror.

"No…" he said, voice shaking. "You fool! Stop it!" He lunged at Ryuk, but passed right through the ghostly shinigami.

"I'm disappointed, Light," Ryuk said. "I thought you would a find a way out of this one. Oh well. It's been fun, but now it's time for you to die. Remember? I told you when we met that I would be the one to end your life." Ryuk finished writing and cackled evilly.

"A-am I going to die?" Light asked, hysteria filling his voice. "No! I don't want to die! I can't die! I am Kira! I am God!" He fell to the ground, writhing in desperation. The Task Force and the SPK looked on, some with pity and others with disgust at the disgraced Kira.

"I don't want to die!" screamed Light one final time. His forty seconds were up. Light gasped and clutched at his chest as the heart attack hit him full force. 'This is it,' he thought. 'This is the end.' Light lay on the floor, which was covered in a layer of dirt and his own blood, his intelligent eyes clouding over with the pall of death.

"Damn it," Light whispered. His last words, so quiet that not a single soul heard, were, "I'm sorry, L."

Light's eyes flew open, and he sat bolt upright. He was breathing heavily and was still clutching his chest. The last thing he remembered was the erratic beatings of his heart before his vision was filled with white light. 'What is this place?' he asked himself, surveying his surroundings through narrowed eyes.

There was nothing but rock and dust as far as the eye could see. The nothingness was almost suffocating – it seemed to squeeze the life right out of Light until he couldn't even take in a breath. He panicked, thrashing around much like he had done in the warehouse, searching for air. After a minute, however, Light realized that although he couldn't breathe… he didn't have to. There was no other explanation.

"I'm dead," he said out loud, mostly to convince himself. He stared out at the barren landscape, his hands beginning to shake violently. Light fell to his knees and screamed. How had he let himself be killed? How had he not seen it coming? He was Kira - he was God! "I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead…" He repeated it over and over; a morbid mantra.

"That's a very astute presumption, Light-kun," said a voice from behind him. "Nothing less than I would expect, of course." Light froze, his eyes widening in shock. He knew that voice. It was the one that had haunted him ever since that incident, almost driving him to the brink of insanity.

Light turned slowly to face him, not daring to believe that he was real. His twilight eyes, as Light liked to think of them, stared back at him with stark attentiveness. He was perched precariously on a large rock, knees drawn up to his chest, messy hair falling softly onto his pallid face. His thumb was carefully tracing the outline of his lips, and his toes were searching the rock for a comfortable foothold. He was unmistakable.

"L?" Light questioned, more out of disbelief than anything.

"Surprised to see me, Light-kun?" L asked. "You have already come to the correct assumption that you are deceased, and have entered the afterlife. I, too, am deceased, meaning that I am free to speak with you at long last. At least for a limited amount of time, though I am not positive on any rules of this afterlife." Light took a step backward, clutching his head as if he were suddenly dizzy.

"I don't believe this," he said, mind reeling. "This can't possibly be real." L tilted his head quizzically.

"Why not, Light-kun?" he asked. "Is it really so unbelievable?"

"No. I remember my death… the feeling of defeat as my heart stopped beating… But now I'm faced with this horrible place… This is truly the afterlife? Why is there nothing here? Why is there no divine judgment or retribution awaiting me? And why are you here?"

"So many questions, Light-kun," L said. "This is quite unlike you. But to answer you queries… This place is indeed the afterlife. After arriving here, I myself also pondered the question of divine judgment, and I came to a startling conclusion. All death is equal." Light immediately remembered Ryuk telling him the exact same thing many years before. "Every person, whether they die a criminal or a saint, ends up here. This is nothingness, and this is where we spend eternity regretting that which we were not judged for. You, Light-kun, will have much to dwell on. As for why I am here… Not even I am entirely sure. Maybe I am here because I am one of your many regrets." Light almost gasped, and the corners of L's mouth curved upwards in what had to be a slight smirk.

"Yes, I know that you regret my death," he said. "That grin on you face at the moment of my untimely demise was no doubt a fleeting victory. You came to miss my presence, did you not? I was your most bitter rival, but also… your friend. Did you feel guilty for causing my downfall? Did you wish to repent for it?" Light simply looked away, attempting to hide what he was feeling from L.

"You shouldn't try so hard to be a God, Light-kun. You're human, with human emotions. Once you realize that… the rest of your afterlife will be well spent," L quipped wisely. But Light was getting angry.

"I am the God of the new world, L!" he shouted. "I am not affected by simple human concerns!" L shifted to look Light straight in the eye, dark-rimmed eyes peering deep into his soul. Light was unnerved, but L was chewing on his thumbnail absentmindedly, lost in thought.

"No…" L finally said. "There is no 'new world' now that Kira is gone. It is time to face the truth. You failed." There was an eerie silence as L let his words sink in. Then he suddenly looked at his hands and frowned.

"It seems as if my visiting time has expired," L mused. "I appear to be fading. How odd." And indeed he was, gradually becoming more difficult to see. A war was raging in Light's mind. He wanted to tell him, but could he bring himself to say it? Death had given him a chance to make things right, at least partially. Light knew what he had to say.

"L… I'm sorry."

L's eyes widened, but just for a moment.

"As am I," he replied. And then he was gone, faded from view but never from Light's mind. He could still feel L's twilight gaze upon him. The wind picked up, sending dust spiraling across the landscape. But Light couldn't feel it. As he thought about it, Light realized that he couldn't feel anything. Not the touch of the wind on his skin, or the bullet wounds in his flesh. No, there was nothing here to dwell on but his memories. Light settled comfortably against the rock where L had perched, wondering where to begin.

But then again, he had all the time in the world.