Pairings: LxRaito and tiny hints of one-sided KiraxRaito.
Warning(s): Perhaps Confusing Format, Adult situations, Brutality, Character Death, Murder, (light)Yaoi, Darkish Fic, Slight Sexual Implications and AU.
Summary: AU. Kira had stolen everything from him; his life, his identity, his art… Hate consumed him, motivated him, drove him…and fear was his prison. But Raito is breaking free, and his rescuer is far from a knight in shining armor…
Italics are flashbacks or separate stories relating to this fic. It's all connected though.
"In that situation, one is God. You possess that person, and they are forever part of you." -Ted Bundy.
As a child, Raito easily caught onto things, much too quickly to be interested in anything for longer than a few days. Subjects were easily figured out and therefore predictable. Things were solid, unmoving and uninteresting. Puzzles kept him occupied long enough to solve and then he went onto the next thing. People were monotonous, and tended to follow a personality pattern.
Everything was so very regular for a child like Yagami Raito.
And then there were his colors.
It had finally stopped raining.
But Raito hadn't stopped running, and his feet were sore as they hit the ground, one after the other, his heels stinging with every thud. Dress shoes were not meant for running in, he'd learned, but he couldn't stop, or he'd be caught. There was only one following him, a cowardly fool, but who knew how long it would take him to wise up and call the others? Now, one on one, he had a chance.
Raito panted as he dashed down the nearly empty alley way, soaked through to the bone and dirty from several falls. His legs were cramping and weak, and the ground was wet, making him prone to falling. Yet he still remained ahead of his pursuer, even as his heart pounded painfully against his rips and his lungs threatened to burst. He was still running.
Running meant freedom. It was akin to flight. For a moment, he was unrestrained.
But only if that man, that ugly, horrid, ever-smiling man didn't catch up to him. For if he did he'd be dragged back to there, his beautiful cage, either knocked out or kicking and screaming. After that…well, he wasn't sure what would happen. He wouldn't be killed; he was needed. But death was not the worst fate that he could think up for him, he was sure. The man was smart, perhaps not as smart as Raito himself was, but still very intelligent.
Cunning was perhaps the better word. Manipulative and sly, definitely.
Raito preferred 'Bastard' to any other less insulting synonym.
The sky was dark but slightly cleared after the heavy shower, and Raito's white shirt clung to him along with the sweat that had formed due to his unwilling workout. His hair was matted and plastered to the front of his face as he ran, and he roughly pushed it out his eyes as he made it to the end of the alley. He tripped again as the terrain changed from gravel to smooth, slick sidewalk and tumbled to the ground.
He'd bruise, that was for sure, and he twisted around onto his back to look down the alley as he groaned in pain. The first thing his eyes were drawn to was not the alley, but the group of people in front of him.
A strange group. Large, dark eyes. One old man. That was all Raito could take in before the gravelly voice of the man chasing him erupted from the other end of the alley.
"Hyuk, Raito, I so got you."
Raito's eyes darted to the incredibly tall, shadowy figure only about fifty yards away, and his eyes widened with fear and another pulse of adrenaline. He ripped himself off the ground and pushed through the people -five of them, his overanalyzing mind informed him unnecessarily -and began running once more.
It began raining again, and the droplets felt like needles against his skin.
Raito never really cared about colors until he got to create them.
It was a water color set that his mom gave him when he was four. He put it in the drawer of his small, wooden desk. It stayed sitting there for three months, until Raito was asked to bring it to school for a project. At first he'd just been telling the kids in his team how to make look good, but eventually a bratty little girl threw down her brush in frustration and yelled 'Why don' you do it!?'.
So Raito had. The strokes of his brush against the paper, and mixing of the shades to make different tones, the combinations of colors for the most poignant effect…He never got tired of it, not even twelve years later. It was like creating his own, perfect little world on a canvas. White was clear and perfect, but once the clothe was stained with color, it was bright, vibrant, meaningful and…
It was beautiful. Colors were beautiful, and Raito's genius made them even better.
They hadn't even bothered checking out of the hotel that night because there was no time. The next sight was in a hotel across town, and while it was after ten, they had gotten word from a source that Death Note was highly populated in that area at that time.
And while L was usually up for a challenge, he would not put the children in danger. Because they were children. Despite their minds, they were still children. They had yet to live. Two of them were thirteen and the other was eleven, turning twelve soon. Less than half of L's life span so far. He wouldn't get them killed because he was interested in Death Note, no matter how much their continued evasion of capture intrigued him to the bone.
The gang was said to have hundreds of followers, and it was not the typical street gang that one was used to hearing about. It was not as large as the mafia, Yakuza, but it was just as deadly and dangerous. The members of the gang were known as Shinigami, and the leader, an elusive man who no one knew the name of, was known as simply The King of the Shinigami, or simply The King. How creative.
But, L supposed, that was the point. To make it something so common that it was only a code to the members, and was common conversation in the rest of Japan. It wasn't easy to find all the members, and L doubted he ever would, the way things were. Death Note didn't make it easy. There was not a color they wore, or tattoos the adorned, or any physical attribute at all.
It was a question. To find out if a person was in Death Note, you said a coded question, and if they answered correctly, they were a true member.
So said the one police informant the police had ever managed to get, before he died of a heart attack.
He'd purposely not taken his heart medication after the police threatened to put him in jail if he didn't talk, and he'd rather die than betray his gang. The police that had held him managed to get a few things out of him, such as that there was a code, approximately the number of people in the gang and that there was, in fact, a single leader.
And the leader was in their part of town. L got Watari to gather up the children and they headed out to the limo with their things.
Under normal circumstances, L would never bring the kids along. However, it was not only he that was looking for Death Note, but vice versa. He was the only police force nowadays that felt comfortable enough to openly stand up against the group, and in turn, the gang wanted him gone. Unfortunately, a teen from the orphanage named B had leaked out information about L's successors to the group.
Afraid B would turn on them given the chance, Death Note burned him alive.
Now Near, Mello and Matt were on the run with L -in a way. They were in Japan, and staying there, trying to find Death Note before it found them. L figured that they would figure that all of them would split up, and so naturally L did the opposite. Besides, their genius minds together could defeat the minds of a hundred common men.
So that's what led them to walking down the side walk toward the limo that night, just as it stopped raining for a little while. L had been forced by Watari to wear shoes because the ground was wet, as had Near, and L felt a sense of camaraderie toward this shoe-hating person for this reason. It had been a nice hotel, but it was time to go now.
Besides, there had been some huge gallery opening down the street, so the traffic was horrible and parking spaces were scarce.
Mello had his arms crossed, annoyed by them having to move places so suddenly, and Near got the brunt of his release. He purposeful stepped on the back of Near's silky white pants to relieve his frustration, as his friend ignored the silent banter and played his video game. There was something about the night air, the atmosphere around them, that demanded silence.
And so the only sound was beep, beepity, beep of the redhead's game boy.
Then, as they approached the black, sleek car, a boy came tumbling out of the alley way just in front of them. The sound he made as he hit the pavement seemed painful, and L internally winced. The boy, perhaps seventeen, was drenched and dirty, not to mention huffing as though he'd run several marathons in a row. L peered down at the boy, and the teen turned himself over and looked up at them.
His face was…pale. Wet. His eyes were almond-shaped and his lips were trembling from the cold he must have been feeling, soaked like he was. The brown, autumn eyes took them in quickly, and then L's ears perked up at the sound of a rough, deep voice coming from the alley the boy had just slid from.
"Hyuk, Raito, I so got you."
Raito. It was a name? The eyes widened further, in something akin to terror and they looked down the alley. Seeming to spot their goal, the identical pools of brown seemed to grow years older within a matter of seconds.
L didn't have time to ponder the adolescent's name, his appearance, or the voice, because he was soon pushed out of the way as the boy dashed past them.
"Hey! Watch it!" Mello shouted after him, clutching his rosary as he swayed in his boots and threatened to lose his balance.
"Fuck, man," Matt cursed as his game move was nearly botched and Near merely frowned and looked after the boy with an apathetic curiosity.
"Watari," L stated as he heard footsteps approaching, the person the boy -Raito? -had seen that had induced such intense fear. "That boy…"
"Yes, L?" the old man inquired interestedly, ready to follow L's request in a second.
With his age, his talent grew. It wasn't a secret, but he did not flaunt it, either. It was his passion, and he was already planning on becoming a detective for a living. Painting was just…an outlet. Even if he was practically a mini-Van Gogh, and could probably become a millionaire with only half the paintings in his closet, that was not what he wanted.
Art was not a job to him. Getting money for it would make it such and then it would be…
…just as damn perfect as everything else in his life.
So he studied to be a detective in the NPA, like his father, and then at night he would. He would create his beautiful paradise on the canvas, what the world should be like and his life was fine that way.
But one day he wanted someone to know how good he was. He was sixteen, and he wanted someone to see he wasn't just a genius at cases and numbers and people…he wanted to be recognized for his art.
He'd brought one of his best paintings to an art gallery. Just for an opinion. To see if he was as good as he thought he was. That was all he'd wanted, and of course they'd love it. They'd even offered to host it. Raito thought perhaps this was only because the woman in charge was flirting with him nonstop, but he politely declined. After much insisting and 'are you sure?'s, Raito had gotten out of the gallery practically unscathed.
Then he met him.
"Excuse me, I couldn't help overhearing," said a man with a smile as charming as his own, "That's got to be the most exquisite painting I've ever seen. Pleasure to meet you, how you do you?"
"Sorry, I've already said I'm not interested, but thank you," Raito dismissed, and attempted to walk passed the stranger, but his arm was grabbed tightly. Painfully. He looked up at the man.
"Oh, that's alright, you don't have to agree," replied his captive, "But either we can make a scene and I can ruin that pretty little face of yours, or…we can go have coffee and discuss our future business deal."
The roof. The roof. That's were Raito was, curled up on the roof of a three story building, as rain poured on him. He buried his face in his knees and wrapped his arms around himself in attempt to keep himself warm as the rain splashed down upon him. The roof was, admittedly, not the best place to be in a rain storm, if one was fond of being healthy.
However, Ryuk was smart. He would think of where Raito would go in a rainstorm like this, and conclude that he must have gone inside or under something. The strange-looking man would never look on the roof of a building of all places. Ryuk was smart. But Raito was smarter.
But god, he didn't feel smart. He felt stupid…and freezing.
How long would he stay up here, he wondered. He'd have to get moving again soon, unless he wanted Him to find him. Kira would…god. He didn't even want to think about it. Meeting Kira…thankfully he was saved from face to face encounters with the man most of the time. Kira was too busy to keep track of him constantly. But every month or so, for the passed year, Raito would meet with him, and show him his art.
What was probably the worst part of it, was explaining what each one meant to the bastard. Sharing his motivation, every detail with the man, when he wasn't intelligent to truly understand it.
Over the course of his blackmail, Raito's style had grown darker. Instead of imagining his perfect little slice of heaven on a canvas, he pictured the world as it was. Dying, disgusting, corrupt…
Everyone loved it. Death was in. Morbidity was the new fad, and 'Kira's' paintings were the best thing since sliced bread to 76 percent of the world, said Sakura Television from their latest poll.
Raito was supposed to be attending the Gallery opening that was entirely oriented toward Kira. Before it had been a few paintings here or there, but this was huge. There was an event specifically for him. In his honor, in his name -
No. In Kira's name.
And it was repulsive to see Kira laughing along with his 'fans' while Raito watched, pretending to be one of them, all the while wanting to scream 'It was me! It was all me!'…but of course, that was impossible. It would not only mean the death of his family, but him as well. Kira needed Raito as long as the secret was safe, to be a good little painting machine and make him famous.
But watching the people around him, Raito couldn't take it anymore. It was impulsive, rash -alright, stupid -but there was something about seeing Kira like that. Happy. Pleased with an accomplishment that was not his own. To see art fanatics worshiping the ground Kira walked on, when it should be him getting this recognition, damn it!
He'd never wanted it, not until Kira ripped it away from him, like he had practically everything else.
The rain stopped again. Raito opened his eyes and lifted his head and found…that the rain had not stopped, it was still pouring. And yet he was feeling no drops. He looked up and found an older man, perhaps in his sixties standing beside him with an umbrella. Raito remembered him, from the group he'd fallen down in front of, but had no clue what he was doing here.
The gentleman had a cell phone pressed to his ear and his squinty, dark eyes gazed down at Raito.
"…Yes, I found him," said the old man, and closed the phone, dropping it into his pocket and held out his held for Raito to take, "The man chasing you has been subdued, son. I won't hurt you, please come with me, hm?"
Raito stood up by himself. He couldn't bare to touch that bare, rough, wrinkled hand.
It was much too human.
More than anything, even power, Kira wanted respect.
And although he got that in the midst of his Shinigami followers, the rest of the world despised him, and he didn't want that. He wanted to be admired, envied, praised. He wanted to fool people, woo them with something beautiful, make them love him as something that was a criminal.
And what, Kira asked Raito, was more beautiful that art?
Nothing, Raito wanted to respond at the time, but said nothing. Kira was a handsome man, oh so charming. His smile tempted Raito to believe he was a wonderful person despite the fact that his words threatened him bodily harm if he didn't comply. With this…business deal.
A dealing that consisted of Raito painting, signing it 'Kira' and Kira getting all the credit for it. Of course, this outraged Raito. He started shouting, but Kira just sat there calmly, his face cool and collective until Raito paused in his rant.
"I understand your anger. Blackmail must be frustrating for you," Kira informed him, in an almost comforting way. "However…I have grown tired of your tantrum. It was rather cute at first, but now it seems as if you think it's going to change something."
Kira stood up and left the money for the coffee on the table.
"I heard that a lot of artist are inspired by depression and death," Kira said softly, as though commenting on the weather, and then like a switch, his voice was cold and hard, "I suggest you accept this offer, or your going to have a lot more inspiration really soon…"
Raito's eyes were wide and his brow furrowed as he nodded. Kira grinned cheerfully.
Kira patted him on the head and walked out of the shop
"I…God, I have been looking for him and, uh…"
"Him? Who, Teru? Be more specific. And it better be important, pulling me aside from my people."
"Yes, God. Sorry, God. It's just…Yagami Raito…I can't find him."
"I've looked everywhere in the gallery, God, and…he's not here. Ryuk seems to be missing, too."
"Why wasn't I informed of this sooner, you fool!?"
"I apologize, God, I do, I wasn't aware of this until now. I fear Raito may have run away and Ryuk went after him…alone."
"Ryuk! That idiot! Teru, I want to you gather up everyone that's available; Rem, Demegawa, Namikawa, Higuchi, Sidoh…all of them! I want Raito found, do you here me?"
"O-Of course, God."
In the little more than a year Raito had been a Shinigami, he had met been to only one official meeting, where the entirety of the members in Japan traveled to Aoyama and met, giving reports. Who they'd killed, who they hadn't, who they'd inducted and who had screwed up…
Raito had been inducted three weeks after meeting Kira. There was no physical pain or mark involved, Kira made sure. Raito thought that was rather smart, and hated himself for complimenting the man, even in his mind. But Kira had inducted him personally, something he rarely did, and told him just who he was now, just who he served.
A God, Raito tried not to scoff as he remembered this. What a goal. How ambitious, and again Raito thought for a moment that if any man could achieve such a status, it would be Kira. In only three years he'd managed to warp the most intelligent of men into following him. CEO's of companies, Politicians, police men, doctors, lawyers…there were, of course, a fair share of fast food employees and high school drop outs that 'just wanted to belong to something' but they weren't nearly as valuable as the higher ups.
They usually ended up being killed, or caught by the police, and then they killed themselves.
There was a drug concocted by Rem, a female doctor that had been one of the first to join Kira, that caused a heart attack. Only because her step-daughter, who she loved more than life itself, had joined. Amane Misa was devoutly in love with Kira, and would do anything he wanted if he so much as implied the question. There were not too many Shinigami that called Kira a 'God'.
And the Shinigami…they were his minions. The day Raito was inducted, against his will, he had no longer been human, but a God of Death. Just another high-up follower of the King of the Shinigami.
Humans…like this man with the umbrella…were terribly off limits.
The man didn't seem offended in the slightest by his refusal to take his hand. As Raito stood, he picked up a small, knife-like piece of broken glass. Just in case.
"Who are you?" Raito demanded, and the older man just smiled kindly at him.
"Why don't you climb down to ground, wait for me as I go down the stairs, and then you'll find out?" said the man. He reminded Raito of his grandpa, who'd used to insist Raito sit on his lap.
He was dead now.
"Is Ryuk really gone?" Raito asked, wondering if these were just good Samaritans or if they…oh god, could they possibly be part of Death Note? New members Raito had never met?
"If Ryuk is the man who was chasing you, then yes, he is," agreed the stranger with a white mustache, which bristled as he talked. The rain let up a bit, to a light drizzle.
"Fine, I'll climb down and wait for you ," Raito said, nodding and starting toward the fire escape he'd used to get up their in the first place.
He had no plans to wait for the man. This could be trick. He would get to the ground and start running again, as fast as he could. Perhaps get a cab, and seeing as he had no money, he'd have to ditch it…
He climbed down the thin stairs, and then the latter, hopped to the ground and immediately started running in the other direction. He met a smaller, thin body and gasped, his body tensing for a fight or flight response depending on who it was. His fingers dug into the glass scrap in his hand, ready to use it if it were someone dangerous.
It was a boy. A kid. A boy that looked like a girl. Blond hair, black shirt, jeans and combat boots.
Also from the group, so that meant he was with the old guy. Damn it. Raito's eyes immediately took in the other two children around him. A red head with a vest a stripes on. Raito vaguely remembered that he'd been playing a Nintendo game goy before. Then a smaller person, an albino dressed in all white. The red head and albino were sharing an umbrella, which the gamer was holding.
"Mello," drawled the small, white-haired figured lazily, "He's got a weapon."
"Wha -!?" the girlie blond shrieked and looked at Raito's hand in panic. He put a hand on Raito's shoulder and shouted, "Whoa! Give it here -!"
In seconds, Raito had the younger boy in front of him, one arm around his middle and the other holding the sharp blade of the glass to his neck.
"Ah…" the boy named 'Mello' muttered, twisting his neck as much as possible away from the pointed angle of the shard. Raito looked passed the mop of yellow locks and to the other two children.
The redhead looked angry and frightened, and as though it was taking all his strength not to run up and save his friend. The white-haired one twirled a lock of his hair, looking disinterested.
"Who the hell are you?" Raito ordered them and Matt raised his hands to show they were empty of all weapons.
"Fuck, man, why don't you just ask nicely instead of going all gangsta-ass on us, would you? You'd think us saving you from that tree freak would give us some immunity to your psycho," the carrot top shook his head and sighed, "I'm Matt. That's Mello. This is Near. You met Willow, yet?"
"Willow…the old man?" Raito asked cautiously, and Matt grinned a bit.
"Yup, that's him. See, we don't mean any harm, man, so…why don't you let Mello go, huh?" Matt suggested, and Raito looked at the back of the blonde's head a second.
If he let him go, and they were part of Death Note, he'd be a goner. They were young, but Raito had seen people just as young in the lower ranks. They were being recruited younger and younger now, so it wasn't a stretch to think that these were new members. They were just kids, but 'Willow' and the other one with black hair and black eyes…all them together would definitely be able to catch him. Restrain him.
Take him back to him.
He couldn't take the chance that they were part of Death Note. If they were, he should probably kill the boy named Mello. Not like that was a good option, however, since he had not killed anyone in his entire time as a Shinigami. That wasn't his job. He just painted and made Kira famous. So the only option was to ask themm the question.
So he looked at Near and Matt in the eyes hard, looking for a spark of recognition in their eyes. Willow came up from behind them, eyebrow raised, and Raito made sure too take him into account too. Just because he looked grandfatherly didn't make him kind. If he was part of Death Note, he'd probably killed numerous people, and would have no trouble taking Raito back to Kira…
So, Raito asked.
"Do you know Shinigami love apples?"
"You see, Raito, once you are part of our little family, you are no longer human," Kira explained to him, stroking the sixteen-year-old's cheek. It was disgusting. "You are, from now on, a Shinigami, better than a human, and I am your God, better than a Shinigami…understand?"
Never, Raito snarled mentally. Never would he get used to such a demeaning title. Never, never, never, and Kira couldn't make him. Kira stood up straighter.
No, God, no, not if he had to call him 'God' again…just no…
"Yes…" Raito's teeth gnawed against each other, "God."
"Since Raito's been such a good boy today, I think I'll grant him this," Kira cocked his head to the side, "Do you know Shinigami love apples?"
…Huh? Oh, that was the question…How strange. But then, Kira did come up with it. Of course it wasn't something normal. It couldn't be, if they wanted it to stay a secret.
"What's the answer?" Raito inquired and Kira didn't bother to chastise him for the missed 'God' and instead he just smiled.
"There isn't an answer," Kira explained.
" The correct response, is another question," Kira looked pleased that he'd fooled him, "And it is…"
A dramatic pause. Bastard.
"Do you know how to kill a Shinigami?"
Raito nodded curtly, "Thank you for telling me, God. May I leave now?"
"Don't you want to know the answer to that question?" Kira grinned, and Raito blinked. Again, Kira seemed overjoyed that he'd managed to 'trick' Raito, in a manner of speaking.
"I thought there wasn't an answer…"
"To this one there is," Kira chuckled again, insanely, "Not many people know the answer to the question, Raito, it's not necessary…"
Kira touched his face again, gently.
"But, as always…you're so veryspecial…" Kira paused again. "So, ask me it."
"How do you kill a Shinigami...?"
Watari didn't do more than arch his eye brow up further. In curiosity. They…didn't know. Raito was pretty sure. That meant they weren't part of Death Note.
Letting Mello go and allowing the glass to fall to the ground beside him, Raito felt suddenly exhausted. He swayed a bit on his feet but didn't allow it to show. He covered up whatever fear may have been lingering on his face from the chase, and his face sunk into a perfect, calm mask of apathy.
Another voice, from behind Raito. Raito, slowly, calmly, looked over his shoulder and found the man with messy black hair and black eyes standing there, his face glazed with a shallow sheen of water and his hair drooping with the weight of the liquid. The shoulders of his white, long-sleeved cotton shirt were damp as well, and he was hunched in a Quasimodo fashion.
"I was thinking I might have to hurt you if you didn't let him go," drawled the man, looking Raito up and down, "The man chasing you had been incapacitated. He will not bother you again."
Raito scoffed, "Thank you. But that's not exactly realistic."
"So he's not just a mugger…" said the strange-looking man, "As I thought. There was a 74 percent chance that was the case. And that line about Shinigami…what was that?"
"Nothing," Raito said flippantly, turning his head back straight ahead.
"And yet when my companions answered in the way you wanted, you let Mello go," the thin, crooked stranger replied. The others stayed silent as he spoke, seeming to look at Raito again.
"Look," Raito snapped, "He's not the only one looking for me, so I'm not going to stand out in the middle of the sidewalk like this. It's practically saying 'come and get me', so if you feel that I am obligated to answer your questions, fine. But I'm walking away now, and whether or not you choose to follow and get your answers is completely up to you."
"No," L answered just as quickly, only without any spite, "You will come with us. I want to ask you a few questions, and if there is truly a group of people out to look for you, the first place they'll check is your home. You need a place to stay."
"…And you're offering," Raito snarled, turning to look at the man.
"It would seem so, wouldn't it?" he answered, and waved to Willow, "Please retrieve the limo. We'll be taking him to the hotel with us."
"I haven't agreed to anything," Raito said, his eyes following the older man as he disappeared around a corner, "I don't know anything about you, except for a few names that are most likely aliases."
"Yes," the man nodded, "That's all we can really give you at the moment, I'm afraid."
"And yet you expect me to answer your questions?" Raito restrained a scowl and instead raised his eyebrow, "Besides, why in the world would you, a complete stranger, go out of his way to stop someone coming after me, let along give me a place to stay?"
"Well, 'complete' stranger is an exaggeration," the man lifted a foot to scratch the opposite ankle in rather uncanny monkey impression, "I know your name is Raito."
Raito ran their meeting through in his mind and remembered that Ryuk had said his name aloud.
"So your not deaf or a total idiot. Congratulations," Raito suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. A limo pulled up next to them, and Raito supposed it was Willow driving. Mello was the first to the door, opening it and diving inside. Matt was next, hopping inside and pulling out his game boy at the same time. The last boy, Near, with the paper white skin and wavy ivory hair, crawled in after easily.
The man stood at the door, holding it open, expecting Raito to get in.
"What makes you think I want your help?"
"I don't think you do," responded the man quickly, "But I think you need it."
Raito glared for several seconds before walking toward the open limo door and bending over to step inside it. It was a pretty beige, and the seats were leather, and it had a television and a refrigerator inside. But Raito was more interested in the man climbing in next to you.
"So do I get a name…or at least a pseudonym?" Raito inquired as the door shut. Black eyes found his own and there was a tiny, almost goofy smile on the pale lips.
"You may call me Ryuuzaki."
"Yes, Sayu?" Raito asked, looking up at his sister from the couch, where he sat, watching the news, "Do you need help with your homework?"
Because that was intelligent older brothers did for their less talented and simple-minded little sisters.
"No, no, not today, spring break, remember?
You're the only one studying!" she laughed and scratched the back of her head, "So, um, I heard you got top of the country. Again."
"Yes," Raito nodded, raising his eyebrow.
"Congratulations!" Sayu grinned happily, her eyes squinting and her teeth flashing as she beamed brightly. Sayu was always so bright, happy, sweet, colorful…
"But the reason I came to talk to you is because…I'm sort of worried about you."
Raito laughed it off. A pasted, feigned laugh. So, so fake.
"Worried? About me? There's no need, Sayu, really," Raito waved it off, even as his fingers tightened around his pen. He'd been inducted into Death Note a month before. Sayu was…suspicious? That was bad. His dad was actively against Death Note, and if it was ever found out that he was a member of it, a helper, even by blackmail…
It would be humiliating.
"Are…you sure, brother?" Her brown eyes, very similar to his own, sparkled. A strange sight, to see his own eyes on the verge of tears. He never cried. "I mean, it's just, you've been even more distant than usual and…well…"
"Yes?" Raito had to know what was he was slipping up on. This couldn't get out.
"Well, I mean, didn't you used to paint?" her brow furrowed, "I never really saw any of your stuff, but I've seen you buy paints and canvases…I even saw them stacked in your closet once, even though I didn't really look at them. But…" her eyes darted over to his closet, which was empty except for clothes and shoes, "Their not there anymore."
Raito gave them all to Kira. All of them. Because if Raito's art was seen, and someone saw that it was an identical style to Kira's…the jig would be up. And so his art belonged to Kira.
"No, no, Sayu, I just lost interest in it, that's all," Raito smiled charmingly. God, he reminded himself of Kira sometimes. "Besides, I really need to study. Last year of high school and all, you know."
"Yeah…yeah, I guess," she still looked dissatisfied.
"Hey," Raito started kindly, "How about we go see a movie, tomorrow, okay? Did you want to see that movie…about that woman…?"
"Huh? Oh, that, but…that's a chick flic," Sayu pointed out and Raito grinned and shrugged and her face lit up. "Really!? Yay! I'm so up for it! You're the best, Raito!"
Sayu was always so bright. Like his colors.
And just like his colors, she too had ultimately been taken away from him.
The man had been rather easy to knock out. While almost inhumanly tall, and therefore intimidating, the man was skin and bones, and his gothic clothing, with leather and straps, didn't make it easy to fight in. L had, of course, pinned him down first and attempted to get answers, but alas, as he suspected, no such thing came forth.
So he'd slammed his head into the ground. Not enough to kill him, but enough to send him into sleepy bye land for several hours.
Upon following Mello, Matt and Near's path, L had found the boy he'd 'saved' holding a glass shard against Mello's neck. For a moment he thought he must have misjudged the boy, it was only a second, and his eyes hadn't looked insane, but…perhaps he'd been wrong. For once.
But then Raito dropped it after saying the most peculiar thing.
"Do you know Shinigami love apples?"
Shinigami. A violent chase scene. All in the vicinity of where Death Note members were supposed to be…? You didn't have to be a genius to figure out that it wasn't all a coincidence.
But the boy…Raito…whoever he was, was he part of the gang, or just a victim? Or a little bit of both? He would figure it out eventually, L knew, and so he invited Raito to stay with them. He had a puzzle to solve, and he wasn't just talking about Death Note. The boy was paranoid, smart, and yet there was a softness that L had seen his in amber eyes that contradicted everything else he knew about the boy.
But first, he wanted to know what the boy was talking about. And he had a hunch that it was connected to Death Note… 'Shinigami'…it could be a fluke. Raito could just be insane, spouting strange questions that held no actual meaning but…
…those eyes were not insane. They had been scared, and later distrusting, but not crazy.
The car began to move, and out of the corner of his eye, L could see Raito shivering. His clothes were soaked, ant the night air was not warm, so of course that was natural. Shivering…no, L supposed the correct description was he was suppressing shivers. As though it were…weak. Interesting.
L turned up the heat and sort of wished he had a blanket of some sort.
But oh well. Questions were foremost on the list, and they could get Raito cleaned up once they got to the hotel. He could get a bath, and wear some of L's clothing, and Watari could make him cocoa and maybe some food, if he so chose…but first, the questions.
"Are you related to the gang Death Note in any fashion?" L asked straightforwardly, not bothering to cover up his intentions. This would most likely clue Raito in that he was cop or detective of some sort, but it was necessary. There was not beating around the bush.
"No," Raito lied, and L only knew it was a lie because he had expected Raito to lie.
"I am looking for them," L informed him, "I am currently leading the investigation to find them -"
"Ryuuzaki! Jeez, that's a stupid thing to say," Mello snapped from his seat, shooting glares at the young man seated next to L. Matt was playing his game, as always, but his ears were perked, and L knew he was listening. Near was peering out the window, but he was always listening intently to his surroundings.
"No, it isn't, Mello," L informed his charge, "But your reaction to it has now given him more insight than my statement did."
Mello looked thoroughly abashed.
"Even if I was connected to Death Note," Raito started vaguely, "What would make you think that I would tell you anything? People have killed themselves and others for the gang instead of talking."
"Well, that statement for one thing," L began to nibble on his thumb as he peered at the boy. "It not only hinted that you are, indeed, involved with Death Note, but because you aren't staying silent about it, it also hints that you are not loyal."
"Or," Raito replied, "I am not involved at all, just intrigued as to what could have possibly made you think I was."
" 'Do you know Shinigami love apples?'" L repeated, and oh -yes. He'd got him. A subtle, brief tensing of the shoulders. But it was still there. But…Raito was good, L had to admit. "Shinigami…is what Death Note calls it's members."
Raito didn't answer.
"And your lack of response tells me that there is a 88 percent chance that I am correct and that you are connected to Death Note in some way," L said, tapping the fingers of his hand on his knees, just under his chin as he spoke.
"And what, exactly, do you want from me?" Raito inquired, "Even if I am a part of Death Note…you can prove nothing. You can't arrest me. I have done nothing wrong."
"If you are part of Death Note, I doubt you have nothing wrong."
L saw anger flash in Raito's eyes, and so he added onto the statement quickly, before the boy began to protest.
"Let me rephrase. If you are part of Death Note willingly," L said, and the boy looked at him with narrow eyes. Yes, now L was 90 percent sure. Raito was a Death Note member…but not of his own violation.
"Fine, let's say you're right," Raito responded after a long, drawn out pause. "If I am being blackmailed, then obviously he had something held above me. What could you possibly be willing to give me that is more important than whatever he is holding over my head."
L took this moment to look Raito directly in his large, pretty brown eyes.
"Your freedom, obviously," L said, and again saw the eyes widen. Just barely. "I do not know how long you've been under the Death Note's hold, but I will find Death Note's leader and it's willing members and send them to jail for their crimes. Then, you will be free from whatever they are forcing you to do."
Raito's eyes dropped to the seat thoughtfully, but he'd stopped shivering.
"However, I need everything you know about the gang, it's codes, it's secrets, and most importantly, it's leader. Anything you may have heard about him," L said, "I have been looking for someone like you to help me, and I can help you in return."
Near, Matt and Mello just watched him work. They were still learning and attempting to soak up his techniques. They didn't ask too many questions, and instead observed to find their answer. L liked that about them…Raito began to laughed lowly, a sweet, sultry sound, but mocking in it's tenderness.
"What makes you think you can find them?" Raito hissed, "If I help you, and you don't find them, I would die. No, never mind, I'd just be tortured and who knows what else…"
L nodded, but went on to erase those fears.
"I don't mean to be arrogant, but -" Raito snorted, and L made sure to not look amused. "I am the best detective there is."
"Please," Raito scoffed, "You're obviously overconfident in your abilities, which is fine if you find who your looking for, but don't claim to be the best. My father has worked with the best detective there is, and you're -"
Raito's eyes widened just as L's did. Raito had figured it out, something L really hadn't been counting on. He's underestimated the boy's intelligence. But that was the least of it. He would have had to reveal his identity to the boy sooner or later anyway, to gain his trust and support. But what was more…L was shocked to hear that he'd worked with this boy's father. Who…?The name was unique and familiar. The son of a coworker…? Oh. Oh. Soichiro. Yagami Soichiro. His son…Yagami Raito. This was…well, what irony. Soichiro was probably the most violently opposing agent in the NPA that only dropped off the case after he had a heart attack from the stress of it all. His son was in Death Note, unwillingly, but still…it was almost funny…it a morbid way.
"You're L," Raito said after a while, firmly, as thought certain, although L knew he couldn't be more than 65 percent sure, even if he had factored in intuition.
"What would you say if I told you were correct?" L queried. He saw Mello's hands clench in the back ground. Mello of all people knew that these risks were necessary, but he valued L's life too much to sit back idly as the man risked his life.
"I would say that makes a lot of sense," Raito answered in a low voice, "Especially counts toward that remarkable self-assurance that you seem to have…"
"Does it convince you?" L inquired.
"How do you know that this wasn't all an act just to figure out who you were so that I could go back to Death Note, have you killed, and be rewarded?"
Pausing to rub his toes together, L pulled his knees tighter against his chest before answering.
"Well, firstly you would have to have suspected me of being L in the first place and arranged this meeting to confirm it, and I am certain I have left no clues behind as to my identity," L watched Raito for any tells, but the boy merely listened, "And…the fact that you pointed that out. You wouldn't reveal your plan to me if you were going to execute it."
"Or maybe that's what I want you to think."
Matt snorted in the background. Mello slapped him upside the head. Near stared eerily.
"Perhaps," L agreed, biting down of his thumb, "However…I do not think so. Now, enough with the hypothetical talk. I want to know what you will do, not what you could do."
Internal struggle time. It was human to think things like this over for a long, and for L, boring, amount of time. Wonderful, he might as well get a piece of cake while he waited for the inner turmoil to pass. Watari did say that they'd gotten strawberry cheesecake recently -
"What do you want to know first?"
Well. Wasn't that…surprising. Good, but unexpected. No cheesecake then.
"I want to know what meaning your question about apples had," Mello spoke up, cutting of L, who was, incidentally, about to ask the same thing, "That was weird as hell."
"Language," came Watari's chastise from the front, "It's usually Matt I have to warn, Mello, don't sink down to his level."
"I wasn't even in this conversation!" Matt growled, and Mello shook his head, waving off the reprimand and looking at Raito.
"It's the code to tell if someone is in Death Note, since there are no physical attributes," Raito answered, and L was so happy. It was what he'd been searching for. "You ask a person 'Do you know Shinigami love apples?' and if they answer correctly, they are in Death Note because only Death Note members no the correct answer…and now, you."
There was a silence.
"…and the answer?" Near inquired finally. He was more impatient than even Mello, but in a more silent and subtle way.
"There isn't one," Raito replied, copying Kira's words from before. "The correct response is another question; 'Do you know how to kill a Shinigami?'"
"…I see…" L muttered after several seconds of silence.
"Do you want to know the answer to that question?" Raito asked, again mimicking Kira. He didn't know why. He supposed it was just easier that way for him, even if the man was a bastard.
"There's an answer?" Matt blinked, looking up from his game briefly.
"Yes, to that question there is," Raito leaned forward and propped his chin up on his hand, and placed his elbow on his knee.
"Make them fall in love with a human," Raito answered, and when he saw the incredulous looks on the younger boy's faces, he laughed. "At least, that's what Kira told me. Doesn't make much sense, but…"
"Kira," L prompted, and Raito gazed at him easily, nodding.
"He is the Death Note's leader."
That was it.
It was so, so perfect. They now had the leaders name. Who he was…it was only a matter of time now, until they caught him. L felt a thrill rush through his veins, the likes of which he only felt when he was on a roll on a case. And it was all thank to Raito. L could kiss him, really he could.
"But most Shinigami don't call him that," Raito explained, looking out the window and out into the rain, which had begun falling with full force once more.
"Ah, yes, The King of Shinigami, aka King, correct?" L said, and he noted the clenching of Raito's fists, the bones on the back of them jutting out with the force of his grasp.
"Yes, that's correct," Raito replied, and paused, as though wondering if he should continued, fighting with himself inside, but this time L wasn't sure of the reason.
So L waited, and finally Raito decided to speak again.
"But… he makes some of us call him God."
"Hey, look at this," Sachiko Yagami exclaimed, pointing at the television. Raito looked up from the book he was reading with little interest.
"It's this artist they're talking about on the news," Sachiko informed him, pointing at the television. None of the drama's she enjoyed watching had a new episode tonight. "Say he's brilliant. Young too, only in his mid-twenties…"
Raito's eyes found the screen and he tried not to tense as he saw the camera zoom in on his paintings, his beautiful, colors…not Kira's…Not his! It was he who should have been being interviews by the anchor with a charming smile on his face. His suit, his recognition. His.
"Oh, wow," Sachiko gasped, "Aren't they gorgeous, Raito…?"
They were beautiful. Stunning. His perfect little world on a canvas, displayed for the world to see, admire and envy. Just was Kira had wanted. His wonderful, genius artwork. Each painting captivating, even intoxicating in their unique sort of beauty, a morbid sort of paradise that fascinated the simple minded and intrigued the intelligent.
And they were his.
Or, at least, they used to be.
The hotel room was a suit, large and comfortable, with a plethora of different chairs of ever shape and size carefully placed for the best affect. There were paintings on the walls and a coffee table in front of a plush, beige couch and there were two bedrooms. The rooms on either side of this room were connected by the doors of either wall, and Raito would be sharing the suit room with L, while Mello and Matt shared the room to the left and Watari (who's name Raito had figured out not long after he comprehended Ryuuzaki was L) would share with Near.
Raito found these pairings strange at first, as he walking into the bathroom with a towel and a pair of clothes he wouldn't normally wear in his arms. But the more he thought about it, he supposed L did not trust him at all, and if the dark circles under the man's eyes were a clue, he wouldn't be sleeping much at all. He wanted to keep an eye on Raito.
"We will continue the questioning after you get a bath and new clothes," L had said when they arrived at the hotel.
"Fine," Raito had sighed, because he probably would have agreed to anything to get a bath. He was filthy and still damp in all the wrong places…it was just uncomfortable.
He turned the tap on and waited for the bath to fill to just the right amount. He was definitely taking advantage of the large, Jacuzzi tub made of some sort of ivory marble and tan. He'd treat himself this time because he was putting his life on the line now. For L's curiosity alone.
Well, not alone. Death Note's capture would significantly help many people, including people like Raito, who were forced into the ranks. If there were any more. Raito was pretty sure that he was a rather special case, and it didn't benefit Kira to have too many unwilling followers. As far as he knew, he was the only one that was being threatened 'or else'…
He stripped and got into the tub. It was hot, really hot, and it was perfect, even as his skin burned at the contact. He used the generic shampoo and conditioner bottles generously; his hair was slimy in some places and crusted with dirt in others. It was fairly repulsive, but by the time he was done with it he could have been a hair model with all the silkiness his hair had.
Ryuuzaki. L. What was his plan? Did he have a plan? It would seem that, if he was truly L, that he would have a plan of action…should have a plan of action. But then again, L was nothing like he would have thought in the first place, and must be a slightly intuitive person if he decided to 'save' a complete stranger from a freakishly tall pursuer.
Save. Ugh, that was a horrible way to say it. Rescue was even worse, and made Raito sound like some sort of sobbing damsel in distress. Which he wasn't, because he hadn't asked for help at all. He'd just been running, and even when he'd bumped into the abnormal group he hadn't said 'a man's chasing me!' or any other such declaration of help. L had done him…a favor. That was it.
Raito shook his head and stepped out of the bath and onto the mat on the ground, shivering slightly as he reached down to unplug the tub. He dried himself off and dressed in clothing nearly identical to L's, the white long sleeved shirt and jeans. Luckily, although L was probably a size or two smaller than him, the man wore his clothes baggy, and Raito was able to fit into them without any trouble. There was a black jacket thrown into the outfit, which Raito donned gratefully, still incredibly cold even after the bath.
But he felt a lot better, left the bathroom with one last glance at it, and turned out the light behind him.
He sighed as made his way to where Ryuuzaki was sitting in a computer chair, reading something, and was suddenly unsure of himself. But he easily pushed that aside, sitting down the couch quietly and waiting for L to address him.
He looked out the window and into the night sky, and blinked with the realization of something strangely familiar, and yet also foreign. Like seeing something in front of you that you had once forgotten, a strange sort of déjà vu…because he was abruptly overcome with this feeling, this tug as his heart strings and his hands itching to hold a long, cool, utensil and his eyes searching for a large expanse of white…
It was something he'd lost quite a while ago, just over a year in fact, this urge, this need…
He suddenly felt like painting.
"So, my little Raito-chan, how goes those paintings?" Kira said cheerfully as her sat down across from Raito in the small diner. A diner owned, ran and frequented by Death Note members.
"…Their good, but going slowly," Raito answered carefully, "I'm not sure I'll be done by the deadline."
"Oh, no worries about that," Kira grinned, "You'll definitely be done."
Raito felt his heart tremble in his chest. A passerby would see it as an encouragement, but…
"You can't really afford to not be done with them, can you? Haha!" Kira chuckled and shook his head, easily pushing a piece of hair behind his ear, "So, Raito, what makes you say they won't be ready by the time I need them? Brave, brave little boy, saying he won't be done on time…"
"I'm just unmotivated," Raito tried to explain, his hands balling into fists, "It's not just something I can turn on and off, you know. You took all of my other paintings to show the gallery, maybe if you'd left some we would have this problem -"
Kira stood up violently, "Enough!" he cried, slamming his hands on the table and leaning over to toward over Raito menacingly, "You dare blame me? How about this for motivation, Raito-chan? You get those paintings to me by the deadline, or else that pretty little sister of yours will have a very sad accident."
Raito's fists tightened further and he bowed his head, letting his hair fall over his eyes.
"Why is this so important to you, anyway!?" Raito demanded, "You're the leader of Death Note, hundreds of people think your some sort of God or King -why do you need me to make you famous? You're already practically the most notorious gang leader in the world!"
He was digging his grave, wasn't he? He might as well have a shovel.
Surprisingly, Kira's hand found his hair, and began running his long, slender fingers through the locks neatly piled on top of his head.
"Oh, Raito, Raito," Kira sighed deeply, "You just don't understand, do you?"
So damn mocking. Raito felt like punching him. Maybe stabbing him with the fork that was so usefully sitting right in front of him, but that would be a stupid move, because the dine had at least ten large men inside that were devout to a fault when it came to Kira.
Which was, most likely, exactly why Kira had chosen it for their fourth meeting.
"Well, let me try to explain this in a way you'll understand," Bastard! "I am Death Note's leader anonymously…no one save my closest followers know my name or have ever seen my face. The rest of Japan…the rest of the world…I want them to know me too…"
"Then why don't just you reveal yourself as the King?" Raito baited. Six feet under. God, his clothes were going to get so dirty when he was buried alive.
The fingers continued their stroking of his hair.
"I want to be known for something beautiful," Kira smiled gently , "And unfortunately the majority of the world does not find death as beautiful as I do…"
Raito thought that was strangely plausible, and them hated how he could understand the maniac's thought process so well. He glared at the fork on the table as if it was it's fault for taunting him with it's silver sheen, easily accessible and a sharp, painful weapon…if he got Kira in the jugular, he might actually be able to kill him…such fantasies were useless, however.
The hand in his hair tightened painfully, yanking his head up to meet Kira's dark eyes.
"Get it done, Raito," Kira snarled, and Raito found himself almost amazed at how fast that endearing little smile could turn into a vicious scowl, "Understand?"
Raito nodded, and Kira responded in turn with his own curt nod before releasing Raito's hair and again morphing his face into the picture of charm and kindness. And false kindness that, in all its sweetness, left a thick coating of bitterness of the top of Raito's tongue.
"Good boy," Kira said, winking at him, and starting to walk toward the door, "And good luck with those paintings, Raito! I know you'll do wonderfully."
Kira said this in a way that said he would tolerate nothing less.
And so, Raito painted. They were nearly as brilliant as his other pieces, but he painted out of obligation now. Not passion or need, no longer as an outlet.
It had become a job, a vocation to keep him and his family alive.
Only it wasn't perfect, and Raito wasn't happy.
"Is this him?" L had finally asked, turning the computer around so that Raito could see it. It was indeed a picture of Kira. From the most popular newspaper, the headline reading 'Genius Painter Wins Award!'
"Yes, that's him," Raito nodded.
"Interesting that it would be someone so much in the public's eye…" L commented lowly, rhetorically, and so Raito didn't bother answering it.
"Where are those children?" Raito changed the subject, since L and him were alone in the suite, which he found somewhat strange. He had come to the conclusion, after much deliberation in his own mind, that they were L-trainees. Why else would the world's best detective have preteens around him?
"I sent them to bed," L replied easily, "Which probably means Near is solving a puzzle, Matt's playing a game and Mello is either annoying Matt for ignoring him, or praying."
Raito nodded distantly.
"So tell me, Raito-kun," L started, rolling his eyes up to the ceiling, "Why does Death Note need you? There must be a reason, something special about you, that 'Kira' would go so far as to force you into his group. I've profiled him as the time that likes willing submission."
"Pretty much," Raito nodded, "And…as for Kira's need for me…Well, he didn't paint those."
L's eyes shot back down to them, and Raito felt somewhat pleased with himself for being able to gain the man's attention so distinctively.
"I did," Raito clarified, and went onto explain, "He wants to be famous for something beautiful. At least, that was the reasoning he fed me. You can never really tell if he's telling the truth or not."
"Those…are yours," L said, looking back at his computer and at the clips of Kira's paintings, "I'm glad."
"…Why?" Raito's brow furrowed, and L's eyes once again redirected themselves toward him.
"Because I like them," L replied, biting down on his thumb, "I thought they were brilliant, and to endear myself in such a way to such a criminal is annoying to me. So I am glad that it is not his work that I like."
"I'm glad you like them," Raito said flippantly, trying not to show how pleased he actually was. It was, of course, delightful for someone so notorious and well known to enjoy his art. And finally…for someone to know it was his. Not Kira's. It was a mix of pride, happiness, anger, hate and anticipation, making a rather confusing concoction for his limited emotional range to manage.
He couldn't put a name to the emotion if he tried.
"So…Kira is not only a criminal, he want the world to not only follow him, but love him, and those who don't love him…" L stated lowly, and Raito nodded.
"Die," Raito answered, "But he's patient, too, in some ways. He knows I hate him but…well, he's somehow managed to convince himself I'll eventually love him too. Like it's impossible, after a certain amount of time, to not love him."
L gave a small smirk, as though he knew as much as Raito did that that was ridiculous , in his case.
"You said he makes some of the Shinigami call him God," L said, and reached toward a plate of cookies that Watari had left for him on the coffee table. "I am guessing that the only person he has to 'make' is you."
Raito hesitated, but eventually nodded.
"That's right," he went on, crossing his legs, "Most people only call him the King, which the new people only think of as a nickname, but really it's subconsciously placing him at the top of a hierarchy, as the monarch, and some people, who've been in it a long time call him God. And…I'm pretty sure some people actually believe he's a God."
"So…is it qualified as a cult?" L inquired, large eyes blinking in a owl-like fashion and his thumb trailing across his lips from a moment before he bit down on the tip of it again.
"Not so much," Raito answered quickly, having actually thought this through rather thoroughly many times before when his guilt, humiliation and anger didn't allow him sleep, "Cults don't believe that their leader is God, just that he communicates with him…It's like…an aspiring religion, in some ways."
L stared at him.
"The most devout," Raito continued, feeling awkward under the scrutiny of those piercing obsidian eyes, and in turn needed to fill the silence with things L may or may not need to know, "Is probably Teru Mikami and Misa Amane."
"Misa Amane," L blinked again, more quickly this time, in surprise rather than curiosity, "The supermodel…?"
"Yes," Raito answered, "And Mikami is an upcoming lawyer…he's…insane. Absolutely obsessed with Kira, and may even hold an attraction for him…I don't know. However, Kiyomi Takada is probably third in line of the most pious, and both her and Misa actively fight for Kira's romantic affection. So I'm fairly certain that is Kira approached Teru in that light, Teru would have no objections."
"I…see…" L nodded, "So he's a modern day Charles Manson with a God Complex."
"Pretty accurate, yeah."
"You would think this would make him conspicuous," L sighed, "However, we have the same problem that the detectives working on the Charles Manson case had; proving he was the one who orchestrated the murders…"
"Yes," Raito agreed, "I'm fairly certain that he's never committed a murder with his own hands. I don't think he would do that unless he was really pushed."
"I agree," L responded solemnly, and then curled his toes in though, continuing to nibble and suck on his thumb like he was a three-year-old. Raito seriously had trouble picturing this man as L. He'd been expecting someone neat, in a business suit, with slick, tidy hair and at least good posture…
" 'Wouldn't do that unless he was really pushed'…L repeated Raito's words, "I think then, that a push is undoubtedly necessary."
Right. Because Raito hadn't thought of that. That would be easy as pie, cake and all other very simple, every day things such as tricking an intelligent, powerful psychopath into killing someone. Not to mention moral, so moral, because detectives caused deaths on purpose all the time.
Raito's look conveyed this, among other more sarcastic and rude sentiments.
"Please so not preach morality to me, Raito-kun, I am a detective," L said before Raito could voice what his eyes so sweetly suggested. "It is necessary…not to mention -what are the odds that the one of the Jury will be in Death Note? We need to have a sure thing, not just circumstantial evidence."
He was right. Kira would go up on the stand, and even if none of the Jury were on Death Note, Kira would smile and not only would he not be put in jail, he'd probably get twelve dates.
"And how, exactly, do you suppose you do that?" Raito asked impatiently, "How are we going to force Kira into killing someone in view of other people?"
"Pressure him," the 'obviously' was implied, "Kira thinks of himself as a God…with his loyal followers bowing at his feet…He has a set of rules that the Shinigami follow, and as long as they follow the rules, they are sinless. So…what do God's hate more than anything?"
Raito hoped his expression communicated just how much he didn't want to play this guessing game.
L seemed to understand, and so he continued.
"A God's commandments are meant to be followed, and therefore anything less than that is a sin, and a sin is the ultimate betrayal of God."
L paused once more, taking a bite out of his sugar cookie before finishing.
Once upon a time, there was a King was ruling a fine, prosperous kingdom. He had a clever, loyal minister who pleased him very much. To show his appreciation, he appointed him headman of a remote border village. His duty was to represent the king and collect the king's taxes from the villagers.
Before long, the headman was completely accepted by the villagers. Since he had been sent by the just King, they respected him highly. They came to trust him as much as if he had been born among them.
In addition to being clever, the headman was also very greedy. Collecting the king's taxes was not enough reward for him. After becoming friendly with a gang of bandits, he thought up a plan to make himself rich.
The headman said to his friends, the robbers, "I will find excuses and reasons to lead all the villagers into the jungle. This will be easy for me, since they trust me as one of their own. I will keep them busy in the jungle, while you invade the village and rob everything of value. Carry everything away before I bring the people home. In return for my help, you must give me half of all the loot!"
The bandits agreed, and a date was set.
"Have you found him, yet?" demanded his God, his eyes pinning him where he stood. Or rather, kneeled, because he was on one knee before his lord.
"Everyone is searching, God, I swear, we are doing our best," Teru tried to pacify him. His God had a temper, but he supposed it was only right when people
"He's been gone for a week!" Teru's God shouted loudly, eyes glinting manically, "You get him back, Teru, do you understand me?"
"Yes, God, I'm sorry, God," Teru bowed his head.
"You are dismissed! Get out there and find him, or you are worthless to me," Kira-sama snarled, and Teru stood calmly, although fear of rejection from his God pulsed through him. He pushed his glassed up the bridge of his nose.
"Of course, God, I am yours."
"Yes, you are," Kira agreed, "Now go."
"Yes, God," Teru nodded and started walking out the door, but Kira-sama spoke as he paused, as any servant should for his master.
"Oh, and Teru…if you don't find him by Friday, bad things will happen," said his God simply, "That is all. Too-da-loo."
Teru left, and climbed into his car and began his search for Yagami Raito. His parents hadn't seen him, they were dreadfully worried. It was the first place they'd gotten Higuchi to look. They'd gotten some good information from Ryuk, who informed them of the man, who was a head shorter than him and possibly a hundred pound lighter, had knocked him out.
They had a description. But nothing more than that. How this stranger knew Raito, what his name was, why he'd demanded to know who Ryuk was and why he was chasing Raito if he knew the boy…and if he didn't know him, why would he save him?
It was a shame. Teru was actually really found of Raito. He'd always appreciated paintings like Raito's, realism, not abstract, but containing symbolism without being disorderly. He thought the adolescent was a genius, and he reminded Teru a lot of his God.
Too bad, though, because Raito had run away. Teru would have liked to think that it was for a good reason -perhaps he'd even been kidnapped. It might explain the stranger that had beaten up Ryuk, if nothing else. But Kira-sama had immediately shot down this idea, claiming the Raito had always had trouble accepting him as his master.
Teru had not idea that Raito had been so mislead.
It wasn't ten minutes later that Teru received a phone call. As he drove, and still keeping an eye on the road, he skillfully pulled the cell phone from his bag and flipped it open with a jerk of his wrist, pressing it to his ear with his shoulder and then put his other hand on the wheel again.
"Hello?" Perhaps it was Namikawa, with good news. Or Higuchi with bad news. Or Ryuk with stupid news; he always seemed to call Teru for the most obnoxious reasons, like if he was bored or had eaten an amazing piece of apple pie…
It wasn't a voice he'd heard on the phone before, but it was familiar. Teru's brow furrowed.
"It's…Raito. Yagami Raito."
Teru made sure not to hit the car in front of him as he blinked and froze in surprise. How…convenient and strange that Raito would call just as he was thinking about how to find him. Speaking of which…
"How did you get my number?"
"I hacked into Kyoudo University's database," came the instant reply. Yes, Raito truly was a genius. But knowledge was power, and power corrupts, and the corrupted were sinners…so ungodly. At the same time, Teru wondered if it was possible his God was wrong about Raito…he was such a nice kid.
"I see…and do you understand that I am searching you for God?"
"I…I thought so," Raito replied. He sounded nervous. Well, he should be. God would punish him for his disobedience, and that was not a fate anyone would wish to go through. Teru felt a wave of sympathy overcome him, and turned the corner, although he was unsure of where he was headed anymore.
"I just…didn't know who else to call," Raito told him, hesitantly, "You're the only one I could think of that might not turn me in."
"God has asked me to return you to him. Going against him is not something I can do with good conscience," Teru informed the young man, and then added for good measure, "I'm sorry."
"…Yeah…but…Okay. When is the deadline?"
"For your retrieval?" Teru asked, and answered before Raito could confirm it, "Friday."
"Damn, that's the day after tomorrow," Raito hissed from the other end, "Okay then…Mikami-san, can you meet me?"
"When and where?" Teru answered immediately, finding the title Raito called him somewhat ingratiating.
"Tomorrow, noon, at Kiko's Café on Kuawabato Avenue," Raito replied easily, "But…listen, Mikami-san, I need you to come alone. If you do that for me, on Friday, I'll come back willingly."
Teru paused. If he went to talk with him tomorrow, Thursday, Raito would come with him to Kira-sama without a fight? Then Teru would be rewarded for getting him to come back, possibly even more so for getting him to come back without force…Yes. That sounded good.
"Agreed, Yagami-kun," Teru nodded for his own benefit.
"Oh! Gosh, please, call me Raito!" came the pleased voice. Again, sort of disarming.
"Then call me Teru, and 'kun' is an acceptable honorary. I will see you tomorrow, then," Teru said, then paused a second more before adding, "Raito-kun."
"Yeah, see you then, Teru-kun."
Teru hung up with a soft smirk, and decided that he couldn't wait to see his God's face when he present Raito to him, sorrowful, repentant and willing to follow him at last.
God would be so proud of him.
When the day arrived, the headman assembled all the villagers and led them into the jungle. According to the plan, the bandits entered the unprotected village. They stole everything of value they could find. It just so happened that on that very same day a traveling merchant came to the village to trade his goods. When he saw the bandits he stayed out of sight.
The headman brought all the villagers home in the evening. He ordered them to make a lot of noise by beating drums as they marched towards the village. If the bandits had still been there, they would have heard the villagers coming for sure.
The village people saw that they had been robbed and all their cows were dead and partly eaten. They were devastated and angered by this theft.
Matt was rolling around laughing on the floor, Mello was smirking mockingly, and Near was sitting on the floor, playing with his puzzle, seemingly unaware of the amusement the other occupants of the room were currently indulging in. But, as thought Raito could read his mind, he knew Near was laughing too.
Even L was smirking that tiny little smirk of his, looking at Raito, who had just hung up the phone.
They were all bastards.
"Oh, Teru! Please, call me Raito," Mello said in a horrible imitation of Raito, not to mention in a screeching falsetto.
"Shut up," Raito growled, crossing his arms and glaring at the blond, and then at L for not doing anything about his little successors. Matt was still laughing, harder now, due to Mello's impression.
"Raito-kun…is a very good actor," L complimented, and Raito glowered.
It was interesting, and strange, how living with L had become so very normal for him. Even if it was only a week, he somehow feel more at home with this other genius and his baby prodigies, and the intelligent old man, than he even had with his parents and sister. Especially over the last year, when things had becoming complex and dangerous, and he was forced to detach from them, lest they be killed.
The plan had been set. The call to Teru was the first step in a plan that could take several weeks, or perhaps over a month to complete. But it had been three years since Kira's reign of terror had began, so a few weeks was nothing to that.
It was dangerous, for Teru more than anyone, but also for the people present when they were going to get Kira to kill him. It was a complex plan, that required not only a perfect execution, but luck as well. But Raito was sure he could pull it off. He was intelligent.
Cunning, even. Manipulative and sly, definitely.
Matt, Mello and Near were more tolerable than any other children he'd ever met. They were as smart as he was at that age, with a comprehension of the world that was eerily correct for as much as they should be enjoying the naivety that usually came with youth. But he didn't know what he'd expected; they were L's prodigies, after all.
They would be leaving that night, taken away to a separate hiding place. L had deemed the plan too life-threatening to keep them all in the same place anymore. Raito didn't know where they were going, and that was for the best, in case something went wrong and Kira tortured him for information. He wouldn't put it past the man. But then, that would require Raito screwing up.
Which he wouldn't.
As much as he endured the company of the three kids without much effort, he couldn't say he was disappointed they would be leaving. It was not fault of their own, but that's just the way things were. It was mainly because they were nearly always there, giving him almost no time to talk with L one on one, which he acknowledged, he liked quite a bit.
Their conversations never failed to interest him, but again, he really should expect nothing less from the best detective in the world. Nonetheless it still surprised him when L seemed to read his thoughts, or analyzed something the same way, or came to the same conclusion…they managed to have long conversations about things that actually mattered.
And then Matt or Mello would come running in and interrupt them. Near wasn't so much of a problem, but the kid was always listening, even if he never took his eyes off that damn puzzle. And by listening in on them, even if he was just in the same room, their discussion felt violated.
So Raito wasn't unhappy about them leaving. At all.
Raito rolled his eyes at the scene as Matt grasped his sides, swallowing his final chuckles. Raito ran a hand through his hair and declared that he was going to go shower.
Matt made a sarcastic comment about him getting cleaned up for Teru, which Mello loudly exclaimed was just gross. Matt proceeded to make kissy noises, and was eventually shut up by Mello's elbow in his ribs, telling him that now he was just being obnoxious.
"Shouldn't you all be packing?" Raito sighed, turning around to look at them as he hovered in the open doorway to the bathroom. L was silent as he observed their interaction, his thumb in his mouth and his other hand idly clicking on the mouse of his computer.
"I'm done," Near droned, twirling his finger through a lock of his hair.
"Like it's any of your business, Raito." Mello scoffed.
"Fuck you," Matt frowned, just as Watari walked into the room. The old, gray-haired old man paused, drawing his squinty eyes toward the red head.
"Language," Watari scolded.
Raito snorted and shook his head, walking into the bathroom, ignoring the wide, black eyes on him.
Yeah. He was glad to be rid of the brats.
The traveling merchant came out of hiding and exclaimed, "This traitorous village headman has betrayed your trust in him. He must be a partner of the gang of bandits. Only after they left with all your valuables did he lead you home. beating drums as loudly as possible!"
The merchant pointed an accusatory finger toward the headman.
"This man pretends to know nothing about what has happened — as innocent as a newborn lamb! In truth, it's as if a son did something so shameful that his mother would say; "I am not his mother, he is not my son. My son is dead!"'
After his shower, Raito took a nap. Stress made him tired, but apparently it wired L. Or maybe the man wasn't stressed at all. Just to spit him. He wasn't sure if the man ever slept, ever the chronic insomniac, but he sure as hell wasn't going to follow that example. The darkness under his eyes were made him look tired and strange. Enough said.
By the time Raito woke up, Matt, Mello and Near were gone.
Raito rubbed at his eyes, and noticed that L was no where to be found either. He looked at the clock, and upon realizing that it was two in the morning, he couldn't help but wonder if L had actually gone to sleep for once.
Just as the thought crossed his mind, it was discarded, for L's laptop remained open and pulled up to the internet. L wouldn't actually go to sleep and leave his laptop open. So where was he?
Raito looked round the room. There were no signs of a struggle, and L would struggle if he were being kidnapped in some way. So he quickly ruled out foul play. Which meant that he was just out somewhere, doing something L-like, most likely, and would be back soon. Raito sat down at the computer and moved the mouse a bit, clicking on the square at the corner of the file to enlarge it.
He was met with the sight of one of his own painting's. It was mostly in shades of black and white, depicting a large, barren wasteland of nothing, with skulls and skeletons lines on the pale ground in disarray. Chains draped over boulders and rocks, and a sky that was nearly the same ominous, redundant gray at the floor. There was a small oblong clearing in the center, where the eye was naturally drawn because it was lighter than most of the rest of the painting, and before there was a dash of red there.
In the center of the open space was an apple, red and bright, with a single bite taken out of it.
It was the first painting Raito had painted after Kira had told him to get it done by the deadline, and he was actually rather proud of himself for it. That he could turn out such a piece without a shred of positive inspiration was quite a feat on his part. But the lack of happiness showed in the painting.
That brought him to his next question; Why was L looking at his painting? Didn't he have some sort of work to do? Wasn't he busy? It seemed like being L wouldn't allow such free time…
Raito stood up straight and looked back at L, who had returned to the room. With strawberries.
"You were looking at 'Lifeless'?" Raito took the emphasis off his snooping and onto L. L plopped a strawberry into his mouth, the stem having already been removed, and chewed, nodding.
"I was," L said, mouth full. He swallowed, "I told you that I enjoyed your work."
"Hadn't you heard of Kira before?" Raito asked, "He's extremely famous for my paintings now -"
"I'd heard of him," L interrupted, sitting in his chair and pulling his knees up to his chest, "However I do not have much time to indulge in art, I'm sure you understand."
"And yet," Raito waved toward the screen.
"It is different when I am personally involved with someone," L told him, shrugging. "Kira was unimportant to me before, and therefore I had no reason to look at the paintings, but my curiosity about you led me to looking them up when I found out they were yours, stolen by Kira."
Raito blinked, "Personally involved. Right."
"Do you find that phrasing strange?" L inquired, peering at him sideways, looking at Raito directly but only showing Raito his profile.
"Well, colleague, yes, but by saying 'personally involved' you make it sound as if we're…"
"Friends?" L asked, looking back at his laptop and putting the container of strawberries down to bite down on his thumb.
"Well," Raito pondered if that was the correct word he was looking for, and decided, "Yes."
"Ah, I see," L nodded, switching his fingers so that the index was pressing against his bottom lip lightly as his eye nearly rolled back in his head to peer at Raito. "However, I must say that despite the amount of time we've known each other, that Raito-kun has rapidly become my first ever friend."
Raito stopped himself from blinking again. Shocked, he instead narrowed his eyes at L, assessing the man's physique and looking for any hint of mendacity. Although he found none, he still said;
"You're a damn liar."
L ran his thumb across the front of his teeth and responded, "I'm not lying."
"Please. You must have had friends before," Raito shook his head and closed his eyes. Upon reopening them, he went on, "Watari, Near, Mello, Matt…"
"Watari is my assistant, and at most, a bit of a father figure," L confessed, wiggling his toes, "Near, Matt and Mello…I am fond of them to a point, but their age do not allow me to connect with them on a personal level most of the time, and out of all the people I've met so far with a mind like that, you are the only one that seems to have the same reasoning as me."
"Really," Raito said, controlling his facial features. What was L getting at? Was this supposed to make him feel special? For L to say he was his first friend…was he suppose to be honored by such a thing?
"Yes," L nodded, "Matt is intelligent, but not nearly ambitious enough. Mello is probably as smart as Matt, ambitious to a fault, but allows his emotions to drive what he does rather than just help his actions along. Near would probably be the best choice…only he is too introversive, I think. He only cares for the puzzle, and how your solve it, and while that is important to me and keeps me amused, that is not my motivation for doing what I do."
"Justice," L answered simply and quickly, and Raito's eyebrows rose toward his hairline.
"And you think I understand this," Raito said, "You think I believe in justice, and know what it is, and care about it…and that's why you consider me a friend?"
"If you didn't care about justice," L picked up another piece of small, red fruit, "You wouldn't be helping me catch Death Note."
"We've discussed this, haven't we?" Raito sighed, placing a hand on his hip, "I'm doing this for my freedom. What makes you think that it's anything more than that?"
"Your paintings," L replied, popping the strawberry into his mouth. When he finished it and swallowed, he pressed on, "They show me your idea of a perfect world, at first, and later on, the way the world is now, how the crime is rotting it…Justice is often portrayed as a bird of some kind, a recurring theme in many of your paintings."
Raito glared at L for a reason he couldn't identify. Maybe because he was getting it all so wrong -or perhaps because he was getting it all so right. And Raito hated it.
"And in one," L chomped down on his thumb distantly as he gazed at Raito, "With the bird in the cage…the cage with an open door. Able to leave, but staying put. I know you understand justice because your paintings understand it, and you created them."
You created them.
Him. Not Kira. Him. L knew it, and although L had known for days about this well kept secret, he was again overwhelmed with how wonderful it was for someone to know. It even seemed that sometimes, like right now, that L emphasized that they were Raito's paintings, as though to reassure Raito that they were. Like Raito was so wrapped up in Death Note, Shinigami, codes and Kira, that he might have forgotten that he was in fact the one who painted those pictures.
Perhaps he was. Perhaps he'd doubted it. The world seemed to think that Kira had painted them, Kira liked to pretend that he hand, and the name 'Kira' was actually scribbled at the bottom of each canvas…maybe he had start to doubt it, just a little bit. But L had reminded him that they were his, that even if they said 'Kira' on them, that there were actually Raito's.
That was reality, no matter what Kira would like to believe.
God, Raito was suddenly sleepy all over again. This was stressful, being about L with all his awkward straightforwardness and intense stares. Not to mention the 'you're my first ever friend' line that the man had so bluntly sprung on him, like he'd jumped out from behind a corner and shouted 'boo!'. Raito just turned around tiredly and headed back to his room, taking a deep breath.
As he collapsed in bed, he couldn't help but think…First Kira, and now L.
Powerful people seemed to randomly pop up in Raito's life just to screw with his mind.
Sometimes being special was a pain in the ass.
Before long, news of the crime reached the king.
He recalled the treacherous headman and punished him according to the law.
Raito wasn't looking forward to his meeting with Teru, and at the same time, he wasn't sure he wanted to be cooped up in that hotel room anymore either. Although he was dressed in the same clothes he'd disappeared in, an orderly outfit, ironed to perfection, and his head had not a hair out of place, he still felt as though he wasn't impressive enough. He supposed it was because so much depended on tricking Teru like he was about to.
And what kind of person was he that he would manipulate a man into eventually being killed? What kind of person was he that he could look at Teru, flatter him with a thousand different pretty lies, and then watch as the proverbial poison he'd planted spread through the man's system and ultimately cause his demise? What kind of person could smile kindly at the person that they were going to watch die soon…?
Raito didn't know, to be honest. What kind of person was he?
Right now, sitting in the café, awaiting Teru's arrival, he was a very nervous person.
It was two minutes until Teru would arrive, before it was three minutes until noon. Teru was predictable in the way that he always, like clockwork, arrive a minute before the arranged time. Raito had seen it in action four times before, the last time being at the gallery opening just a little over a week before. Raito hadn't ordered his coffee yet, although he was itching for some. He knew, however, that Teru valued politeness, and right now he needed to be perfect in Teru's eyes.
Just on time, Teru arrived at 11:59 on the dot, spotted Raito and came over. Silently relieved that Teru had indeed com alone, Raito shifted in his seat slightly and smiled at the approaching man sweetly. He knew Watari was watching from across the street, just in case something went wrong with the meeting.
"Teru-san!" Raito grinned happily at the dark haired man as he sat down in a stiff fashion. "I'm glad you came."
Such a charming, charming smile Raito gave him.
"Of course," Teru nodded, "Now, Raito-kun, please tell me why you ran away. Or was it involuntary? I had never pegged you for someone would go against Kira-sama."
"I did run away, but," Raito took a breath, "Please don't tell him that."
"He is my God and lying to him is akin to sin," Teru said mechanically, as though he were some sort of machine meant to spout lines about loving God to brainwash others. He practically way. "He is your God too, Raito-kun."
"Honestly, Teru-san," Raito sighed, pointedly looking down into his lap to convey bashfulness, "I'm…not so sure that Kira is…worthy of being a God."
Teru's eyes flashed, but his face remained the same.
"Please, don't be mad," Raito said, still pretending as though he was too ashamed to look Teru in the eyes, "It's just…the more I think about it…the more I think that Kira isn't a good enough person to be God."
"Well, I mean…." Raito shook his head and brought his eyes up to Teru's and then quickly back at his lap, and wrung his hands for good measure. Teru was listening to him. That was good. "Why do you think he's a God, Teru? What makes him so special?"
Teru peered at him for several moments, considering his answer, before answering.
"It's not every man that is given the status of a God." Teru crossed his legs and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, although they had yet to start slipping down. A nervous habit, Raito noted mentally.
Time to bite. Raito opened his mouth, sinking his invisible fangs into Teru's brain.
"You could do it, you know."
There was a brief widening of those dark, narrow eyes.
"…What did you say?"
"It's just, Kira is so power hungry," Raito lifted his eyes up to Teru's passionately, and did not remove them. It was time for conviction. "He doesn't care about making the world better, just being in control of it. But you…you're training to be a lawyer, your intelligent and would help bring order to the world. You…I think you…would be a much better God than Kira is."
Teru didn't answer. His lips stayed together tighter, and so Raito took this chance to go on. But he hadn't protested Raito's use of 'Kira' without the 'sama', which meant, to a degree, Teru must agree.
"Hear me out, Teru-san," Raito tried, leaning forward and pushing a good amount of emotion into his eyes. "What has Kira done except make himself famous and kill people? You would kill only bad people, and perhaps direct threats to you. Kira is merely a murderer with influence. If you were in his place, I have no doubt that you could do more for the world."
Again, Teru stayed silent, and Raito decided to end with a bang.
"The way Kira is going, the world will be in chaos," Raito's voice dropped to low and intense, "With you in power, you could make things perfect, a good place to live, with good people…and so very…orderly."
The venom was released from Raito's fangs, and he could see it spreading throughout Teru's mind, creating doubt and breeding pride. It wouldn't be long now.
"And, I don't mean to brag, but…I'm much more intelligent than most of the rest of the Shinigami…" Raito plastered a fake blush on his cheeks, and finished, "And I would willingly call you my God."
There was a long silence stretching between them for several minutes. The waitress came over to them, took their order, identical black coffees, and then left them alone again. Raito couldn't help but wonder if Watari was taping this, had bugged the table somehow, and L was watching this from the hotel room, laughing as he watched Raito's little skit.
Raito sipped his coffee as Teru watched him, and Raito made sure to stay in the character of the sweet, infatuated little boy he was supposed to be. Teru was considering it, what Raito his said. Is what he saying true? Could I be a God? Could I fix the world? It was running through Teru's mind, the compliments going straight to his bones. He probably didn't get man compliments, and Raito was fairly sure he'd been bullied as a child, making him predisposed to be susceptible to praise.
Flattery was the worst sort of fraud.
"I can't help but think…" Teru started, pushing his glasses unnecessarily up again, "That perhaps you could be correct."
And so it was set. Raito smiled at Teru happily then, and promised to help him overthrow Kira in any way he could right there. Teru was still hesitant, but Raito's feigned enthusiasm seems to erase most of the apprehension he was feeling. As promised, Raito would return to Kira tomorrow, and put on an act for Kira tomorrow, while secretly putting on another act just for Teru.
And then, Raito realized Kira had been wrong about something.
"How do you kill a Shinigami…?"
You make him believe he more powerful than he really is.
Raito had always known he wasn't normal. He understood things that his peers didn't, but luckily, because of his supposed people skills he was more popular than the usual outcast. It wasn't that he was a particularly nice person, except that he generally agreed with his father's teachings, it just meant he didn't feel it was worth the conflict it would create. If he expressed his opinion about common people, exactly what he felt about them, then …
He wouldn't be a very appealing person. And being a genius, good-looking, and apparently nice was what made him special. And usually, Raito liked that.
But then, of course, he wouldn't be in this situation if he weren't special. If he was a horrible painter with no talent then Kira would have never looked at him twice. Raito was currently sitting at his computer, reading the reviews for Kira's opening. It hadn't taken much to get him to a showing, or to get him in the papers, because there were gallery owners and reporters in Death Note.
Virtually all the reviews were good. 'Kira is brilliant', '…breathtaking…', 'symbolic and sweetly real'…
'…makes Kira an artistic prodigy…'
Raito was torturing himself.
L was apprehensive. His bit down on his thumb hard and rubbed his toes together. It was Friday, and Raito was due back from him meeting with Kira at any moment. Watari was driving him back to the hotel, or should have been. They were late. By twenty minutes. L wasn't positive about Raito, although the obsessive tendencies he showed suggested it, but he knew Watari was a prompt person.
He'd never bee later without reason in the twenty years L had known him.
Which meant, undeniably, that there was a reason. He did not allow his nervousness to show, even in the solace of his empty hotel room, but there was still that emotion gripping his stomach that made him want to tremble, just to release the tension. This was a mafia-esque gang they were dealing with…perhaps they'd been caught, and both Watari and Raito were dead now.
Downside of being a genius; an overactive imagination. He thought of practically every scenario in his mind, from the plausible to the unlikely, to the downright impossible, including spontaneous combustion and alien abduction. He took practically everything into account, from normal things like a traffic jam, to not-so-normal things, like them being eaten by a giant lizard.
It was Japan, after all.
But it was only three minutes after he'd considered all options including dinosaur-type beings when Watari walked in. L immediately hopped out of his chair when he heard the door opened, and turned to find Watari walking slowly, mainly because of the 119 lbs teenager he was helping support. Not that Raito looked all that happy about it either.
"I'm fine, Watari, you can let me go now," Raito said, and Watari complied. L found Raito's ankle sheathed in a tightly wrapped bandage.
"A sprain?" L guessed, and Raito nodded vacantly as he plopped down on the couch.
"I shall get you some ice," Watari told him, "And prop your leg up on the couch."
Raito sighed, but did so, grimacing as he moved his leg. L could have sworn he heard Raito mutter 'damn violent bastard' under his breath.
"The cause of your injury, Raito-kun?" L asked, walking over to the couch and sitting down on the other end of it, next to Raito's bound foot.
"What do you think?" Raito snarled incredulously, "Best detective in the world, my ass."
"Raito-kun is upset," L pointed out, noticing the immediate grinding of the teeth as Raito glared up at him with large brown eyes.
"What do you want me to say, L? 'No, I'm not'?" Raito scoffed and leaned his back against the arm of the chair and tilting his chin upward.
"I think the truth would be more appropriate," L stated, and he saw Raito's jaw clench, the bone protruding slightly, gnawing his back teeth together forcefully.
"Then, yes, what do you think, L?" Raito spat, "I had to go up to Kira and pretend to be one of his sweet little followers, and get dragged around by my ankle to the damn room where he hangs all my paintings and taunted about how they don't belong to me anymore. Oh, but he forgave me, of course he did, just like a good God would do, and I begged for that forgiveness."
Raito seethed, his fists clenching.
"Like a good little prisoner, like a drooling lackey," Raito closed his eyes, screwing them shut as his body heated with fury. "Oh, and I mustn't forget that he isn't the only aspiring God that I've got to grovel too, because I'm pretending to follow Teru-kun too."
Raito's eyes shot open, the amber eyes filled with anger as he glowered at L in fury.
"I think I have a right to be upset, don't you?"
L didn't respond right away. He led Raito relax, let the youth's outrage dissipate, until Raito had slumped against the couch, thoroughly spent. He seemed tired. Probably more than just 'seemed', L thought, peering at the boy. He felt a strange sort of fondness for him, one that had caused him to declare his friendship to the boy. Which had gone better than he'd planned. Raito hadn't run screaming, anyway.
"I'll leave," L said finally, and began to stand up.
"Wait," Raito sighed, closing his eyes once more, this time in a more relaxed way. L regained his position on the couch and listened for the next words. "Just…let me…"
Raito seemed to struggle with how to put his question. He always thought through his words, trying to find the most articulate way to phrase his sentences.
"Just let me…" Raito let out his breath slowly, "…paint you."
L wasn't usually one to ask questions that he had a chance of figuring out by observation. But his first, automatic response to this request was a quick, rapid, 'Why?'.
"Because," Raito opened his eyes again and looked at L, with somewhat resigned eyes. For some reason, L really couldn't stand Raito's eyes right now. "Kira owns my paintings, and he owns what they mean. I am forced to explain them to him…and so he possesses their significance."
L opened his mouth slowly, ready to protest, but Raito continued his explanation before he could.
"But you," Raito said, leaning forward a bit and hiding a wince as his ankle was disturbed, "You are something that Kira cannot understand, even if he were to see the painting, he wouldn't be able to grasp the abstract concept that is you.
Because you are L… and L is incomprehensible to him."
There was nothing to do then, but agree. When Watari came with a bag of ice, L asked him to bring Raito a canvas and oil paints, among other utensils that Raito would need. They waited for the older man's return in silence, and L wondered if he should be excited, apprehensive or perhaps he scared of how he would be betrayed in a painting.
Not to mention that they would have to lock the painting away somewhere would no one would be able to find it. It was dangerous to have pictures of him lying around.
But Watari came, and Raito set up the canvas and paints and brushes, shifting his calf carefully and propping himself up on a pillow. L stayed in his regular curled up position, his hands relaxed on his knees and his gaze straight ahead, looking at Raito as the boy began to paint him. The canvas was tilted away so that L could not see it, but he was too busy watching Raito paint to care much about what he was painting.
There were long strokes, short strokes, smooth strokes and jagged strokes. Sometimes Raito held the brush he was using loosely, and sometimes lightly. There were several colors being used, some of which made sense, like blue, black, beige, red and white. Others, which only an artist like Raito would know what to do with, like gold, silver and yellow, were less obvious.
But L paid very little attention to the actual act of the painting. Raito was captivating with his subject, and turning the black white expanse of white into something real and almost tangible. And in turn, L was captivated by him. He couldn't help but think, as he watched as Raito made a transition from the distress of before to the serene sort of concentration he had now.
L was fairly sure he'd never seen Raito more at ease than at that moment. More free.
But in truth, he wasn't free. He would only be free when Kira was in jail and his life and family was out of danger. Once he had his painting in his possession once more. L realized something then; In a short amount of time, his reason for catching Death Note had become less about justice and more about Raito.
And L wasn't really sure if he was proud of himself for this lapse in judgment.
However, he had given Raito his word, that he would give him his freedom. That wasn't to say that L was a truthful person, because lying came as natural to him as his love of sweets, but that promise was one he loathed to break.
By the time that Raito was done with the painting, hours and hours later, L actually felt his eyes drooping. He was used to thinking on hours on end, but not usually about the same person. People were limited, they were solid and certain beings, while puzzles and cases were easy to think about, having several variations and outcomes to consider.
Raito peered at the painting, seeming connected to it in a way that L tried to understand just by looking at him. The painting, untouchable by Kira, was perhaps something that Raito longed to be. Again, free, no longer imprisoned by the sick feeling of fear and extortion.
It was…so very personal.
L couldn't bring himself to look at the painting.
Raito hadn't been forced to attend the other two gallery openings, and so when Kira had informed him he'd be going to it, Raito had been shocked. His first instinct had been to refuse, but then, a Shinigami never refused his 'God' anything. And so he ended up at the gallery, being generically introduced as a friend of the artist.
People gathered around each different picture, trying to figure out it's meaning before Kira described all most word for word repeating Raito's explanation to him. The 'oooh's and 'awe's came then, and then the comments about how perfect, true and magical his paintings were. Kira smiles at him from across the room a time or two, as if he thought hearing this praise made Raito happy.
And Raito couldn't stand it.
Not the people, not the description, not the compliments or the smirks. He hated to admit it, but he wasn't strong enough to take it for long. He managed to stay in the corner for a while, gazing sourly from afar until a man tried to make conversation with him about the 'amazing series of masterpieces'.
He ran. God, he ran, because there was nothing else he could do. Luckily he'd slipped out wit Hough being seen, but unfortunately Ryuk was standing guard outside.
"Hey, Raito, where do'ya think you're goin' -?"
But Raito had just turned on his heel and began running, barely noticing that the shower had turned into something harder and he had little chance of escaping the long-legged freak. He fell and slipped and Ryuk tried to call him back, telling him it wasn't worth it, but Raito just kept going, skidding and getting glazed heavily with rain water.
And then, he met L.
The plan was set between Teru and Raito, and therefore between Raito and L as well. Raito wanted his paintings back, and told Teru just that. However, Kira was almost always at his home, and when he wasn't planning on being there, he got someone to watch over it. So the strategy was that Teru, Kira's supposed most devout follower, would inform Kira of an emergency.
Raito had suggested, via L's permission, that the 'emergency' be that they found L. L would be there anyway, along with Watari, with handcuffs for Kira. Once they took down the leader, the rest of the group would fall much more easily into their grasp. Once they got Kira, Raito would be free from his demanding grip, and L would…
…have caught his criminal. He would have succeeded yet again.
Teru's idea was that, without the paintings, Kira's social standing would fall, and along with it, the respect he drew from his minions. Once the weakness in their 'King' was revealed, the members would flock to the first person to take charge. Which, Raito had told him with a pleasing smile, would be Teru.
They set a date for their plan, and Raito told L everything that he and Teru had discussed, calmly, over the phone or at a coffee shop. It was only two weeks away, but that was enough time. L immediately set everything up, including the warehouse that Teru would be leading Kira to, which Raito then 'referred' to Teru upon their next meeting. Teru had accepted this easily.
Raito's venomous, adulating words had sparked a dangerous confidence in Teru. A confidence would lead to Teru's death, in the end. L wasn't sad about this, saying that it was necessary. Raito knew that, had his father been around, he would have never allowed it to happen. His father was a good person.
It was almost scary, the way he and L both worked similarly. They stoic fashion in which they talked about death, rape and torture. The way they claimed justice, but had no problem sacrificing lives.
What was even more frightening was how much time Raito spend in his day staring at the painting of L.
But that wasn't really important. What was important was getting ready for Kira's capture, because every second needed to be planned out perfectly. Kira was smart, but not smarter than Raito, and certainly not more intelligent than Raito and L combined. They would win, but it would take work, and so they spent the next two weeks talking about it, mapping things out, and deliberating on how things were going to go.
The day approached too quickly, and yet seemed to seep towards Raito as though it were molasses, crawling toward him slowly, inch by inch. Slow enough for Raito to move out of the way, but no real way to avoid it. It was the night before, and Raito dismissed himself, going to get sleep before he was meant to trick Kira right into prison.
It would be someone else in a cage, for once.
He showered, and then dressed for bed, and then crawled onto the mattress, sliding under the covers and pressing his face deeply into the pillow. It smelled of detergent and the generic shampoo that he always used in the bath. The lull of his computer monitor in the background gave him something to concentrate on instead of his thoughts, and he fell asleep much easier than expected.
He wasn't sure about what he dreamt of that first time he fell asleep, but he knew it must have been about L. The reason for this was because when he felt a dip in his bed, and, still groggy, felt the presence of another person behind him, he was not surprised. And, of course, he knew it was L, because who else would it be but the person he shared the suite with?
"L…?" Raito said, beginning to turn on his back so that he could look at L. Before he could do so, long, thin arms wrapped around his waist and held him facing away.
"Sh," L hushed him, and Raito, all his sleepiness, was confused but not uncomfortable. Why was L there, in his bed? Embracing him from behind? L wasn't one to openly touch someone for no reason, and Raito concluded, half-lucid, there was must be a reason, and tried to think of once. After several long minutes of them just laying there together, he gave up.
Raito would probably never know what L was thinking in that moment.
But when L's hand began to slide down his stomach, and to the tip of his loose, pajama bottoms, Raito's eyes shot open. He was very suddenly, totally awake, and his body tense as the long fingers teased the elastic band at his stomach.
"L," Raito said, trying to twist his head around, but L kept him where he was back tightening his arm and slipping the tips of his fingers beneath Raito's pants. "What the hell are you doing…!?"
"Just…let me…" L's breath met his ear and Raito did his best not to shudder, "Just let me…touch you."
And Raito's first instinct, as L's had been two weeks before, was to ask 'Why?'. But unlike L, he never got the chance. A thin hand wrapped around him, cutting off any and all words.
The sort-of hug restrained Raito from getting away, but it did not prevent the kicking and squirming that ensued, nor the noises that escaped his lips. L's body was much warmer than he had ever imagined it could be -or was that just him, being suffocated by a smoldering euphoria? He felt kisses on his neck and what little shoulder the shirt he was wearing exposed.
His writing increased, as did his shouts, and somewhere in the midst of his pleasure induced insanity L turned him around enough to press a kiss to his lips. His body seized up the most painful, incredible, wonderful way, and he cried out with his ecstasy as he climaxed into a blissful oblivion.
The brightest, most beautiful colors flashed behind his eyes.
But the King had a beautiful Queen that was deeply in love with him, who over heard that the merchant was part of the headman's plan, but had lied to the headman, and the village, to become a hero.
The Queen exposed the merchant, and he too was punished for his betrayal.
They were at the warehouse. They were hiding behind the back door, L, Watari, a woman name Wedy with guns, and Raito and a man named Aiber with nothing more than their clothes and, on Raito's part, clenched fists. There were no words of the night before, but it wasn't so much from avoidance of the subject as lack of time. They had to be at the warehouse before Teru and Kira were there. Raito had his cell phone waiting in his lap.
Watari was there, so there was no way to talk about it now. Raito wasn't even sure he wanted to. He had a hard time even looking L in the eyes. Besides there were more important matters than this romance…if one could even call it that.
He was not free yet.
He had to remember that, even if he was so close. Even if he was sitting right behind the building that Kira was about to be caught in. Even if he was so close to breaking out of his cage that he could feel the wind hitting his face as though he were flying.
His cell phone ringed, and L and Watari cast expectant glances in his direction. Raito nodded, cleared his throat and answered.
"Yes, Raito-kun," Teru replied, "Kira is with me, and he is on his way. Is L still there?"
"He is," Raito answered. And what he said next wasn't even a lie, like Teru thought it was, "I'm looking at him right now."
"Good, we'll be there in a few minutes, now -wait," Teru paused, and there was mumbling on the other end of the line, "…God wishes to speak with you."
"…Of course," Raito replied, sounding nonchalant even though he wanted nothing more than to crush the phone his hand, if it meant he didn't have to talk to him.
"Hello, Raito-chan," came Kira's deep, cheerful voice, "Aren't you the sweetest little thing? Giving me L to kill as a present. You didn't have to do that."
"…It was my pleasure," Raito was humiliated, and his hand tightened on the phone.
"Hm? Oh dear, I think you missed something there."
"It was my pleasure," Raito repeated, "God."
He didn't want to see the look on L's face. He really didn't. He'd rather talk to Kira forever then see the reaction to him calling Kira 'God'. It was absolutely mortifying.
"Now, we're pulling in this second," Kira's voice informed him, and Raito heard the slamming of a car door from beyond the phone. "I'll see you in a minute."
There was the click of Kira hanging up. Raito stood up, pocketed the phone that L had given him for the purpose of talking to Teru and brushed himself off. He cracked open the door, ignoring any attempt L made to catch his eye and waited for Kira and Teru to enter.
They did, and Kira's gleeful face immediately turned sour when he saw no one. The next step in the plan was Teru's act, pretending not to know a thing. Then they were supposed to rush back to Kira's home and find the painting nowhere in sight, and it would all be blamed on Raito…who would never be found.
"God, I'm sorry, I have no idea," Teru looked around, searching for the detective that he knew wasn't there, "I -"
"He's lying," Raito declared, slipping into the large, bare warehouse, and catching both Kira and Teru's attention. Kira's face melted into a smile. Teru looked thoroughly stunned by his presence, because their plan had been that Raito would be at Kira's place, stealing the paintings, at the moment.
"Raito!" Kira clapped his hands together, "There you are, I was worried. Now -where's L, hm?"
"He's not here, God," Raito perfected his act, making sure not to hesitate before saying 'God', "This was a plan on Teru's part to lead you here, to ruin your status as an artist…he blackmailed me into this, God, I swear. I did not wish to betray you."
Kira's face again transformed into the picture of fury as he spun on Teru.
"Is this true?" Kira demanded angrily, and Teru's eyes were wide and frightened.
"N-No! God, I swear, he's lying to you!"
"He wants to take your place as God," Raito said loudly, convincingly, "He thought himself better than you, that he could do a better job than you, God."
"N-N-No!" Teru was now terrified, and for a split second Raito allowed himself to pity the man. But then he was back to provoking Kira, who was already starting to shake with rage.
"Teru…" Kira's voice was low and his large hands were tensing, twitching.
"No, God, he's lying! He is a liar!" What was sad was, it was true. "God, he tricked me, he must be the devil! Please, God, I am yours!"
"No," Kira snarled, and pulled out gun from his pants pocket. Raito should have been expecting this; Kira wasn't exactly a law-abider, but it was still a shock to see Kira hold a gun up to Teru's head.
"No, Teru, you are not mine," Kira cocked the gun, and aimed, and Teru remained frozen, trembling where he stood, "You are dead."
"God, no! Please, forgive me -!"
The high-pitched voice echoed throughout the warehouse, and Kira paused. The front door flew open, dust blowing at them, and a short, tiny blond girl came running in.
"Oh, God, I'm so glad I got here on time," the girl, Misa, Raito recognized although he'd only met her once, "Don't kill Teru! He's right, that boy Raito tricked him!"
"How do you know that?" Kira asked her, and she looked slightly miffed that he didn't believe her right away, but explained.
"I didn't trust Teru, so I bugged his phone!" Misa jumped a little bit with each word, "How else do you think I knew when and where to get here? I only just listened to the recordings last night and you can barely tell but Raito's definitely the mastermind!"
Kira had only begun to turn to Raito, as Raito took a step back at his disclosure, when the back door opened and Watari and L stood there, guns pointed at Kira.
"Eh…" Misa covered her mouth up with her hands and her large blue eyes widened impossibly. Teru looked from the two to Raito and then back again.
"Kira, you are under arrest for the possession of a gun," L said, stepping forward.
"You…" Kira put the pieces together in his head. There was only one way anyone would no who he was, and it was obvious L knew he was the leader of Death Note, or else he wouldn't be there in the first place…Kira's eyes swiveled to Raito. "You. How dare you?"
Raito, for a moment, was sure that L had shot Kira. Until he was looking up at the ceiling.
And this time it was L shooting Kira, in the hand, making the gun fly out of his hands. Misa and Teru began to flee then, but Wedy and Aiber met up with them at the front door, a haughty smirk on Wedy's face, and a lazy smile on Aiber's.
There was a choking sort of sound, but Raito's hearing was incoherent and his chest hurt like hell. Not to mention the back of his head, which had hit the ground when he'd…fallen…
Why had he fallen again?
Oh, yes. He'd been shot. That was the pain in his chest and the choking noises weren't really choking noises at all but laughter. Kira's laughter.
Wasn't he shot too? Raito wasn't laughing. Why would Kira be laughing? He was going to go to jail for shooting him, for being the leader of…what was it called…?
Raito heard quick footsteps approaching him. His body was weak, as though the muscles at been zapped out of him, and he felt sick to his stomach and so dizzy -like he was going to fall…but he he'd already done that, hadn't he? That was why he was on the ground, wasn't it?
The cackles got louder, and he heard vague words, "What did I tell you, Raito? You're a Shinigami! What the hell did I tell you?"
Then it occurred to him…
Perhaps Kira wasn't wrong after all, Raito thought, as the edges of his eyes darkened and the crimson essence of his being seeped out of him. Somewhere, in another universe, he felt arms holding him, and shouted words that he didn't understand, could barely hear. To be perfectly honest, he really hoped it was L, because now that the pain was gone, that meant he was dying, really, really dying…and he'd like to see the man's face a last time, before he went to wherever it was he would go.
He was granted this picture, albeit a blurry one, of a pale fuzzy face and a messy silhouette of black hair. But the eyes, dark and solid, remained just as clear as if he were fully cognitive.
Yes, he thought vaguely, just as his mind began to shut down and his vision went fully dark, Kira hadn't been wrong. Raito had been a Shinigami. And L, although powerful, had been but a human. Kira wasn't wrong.
"How do you kill a Shinigami…?"
"Make them fall in love with a human."
He drowned in pools of black until his entire world went as cold and dark as the eyes were.
And Raito felt like he was flying.
L collected each and every painting from every gallery that Kira had given it to and bought it back from every person that had ever purchased one from Kira. Over half of the members of Death Note were caught and put in jail or punished for their crimes in someway. Kira was sentenced to life in jail for the attempted murder of Teru Mikami and the first degree murder of Yagami Raito.
Raito's family mourned him dearly, and felt horrible for their ignorance about the blackmail. L attended the funeral under the guise of a friend. Or perhaps there was no guise at all, even though Raito had never really said it back.
He finally looked at the picture of him that Raito had painted, and found him, much like he really was, surrounded by darkness with something golden in his hand. Watari, Matt and Mello had debated on what it was, that he was holding, pressed between his knee and the palm of his hand.
L knew it was a key.
Life went on much like before for L, one case after the other. The cycle that had used to interest him so seemed disturbingly regular and somehow monotonous. He was easily bored, and it wasn't easy for a genius like L to stay interested in anything for long.
And then there were his colors.
Okay, I'm sorry if you think this is too long. But to be honest, it's not completely my fault. This story said 'this is how long I'm going to be, this is how your going to write it, and hey! While we're at it, I think Raito is going to die.' Domineering little bastard, this story is. Bitchy, too. Wouldn't let me sleep. O.o The title is the Scream after the famous painting.
Most of that Mini-Story about the headman, king and merchant is from a Buddhist tale called 'The Motherless Son', except for the end, which I added in to fit my plot. I thought it fit really well. And 'Willow' is just an alias I made up for Watari…I thought it would be stupid to introduce him as 'Watari' when they didn't want people to know it was L.
Mm…Also, the writing style, the flashbacks and all, was inspired by the style of an awesome story I'm beta'ing called The Black Lamb by ChanceXIII. Also the emphasis on the non-monotony of colors. You guys should read it, by the way. X3
Anyways…so, there's actually no sex scene in this. Le gasp. There was a little tiny bit of sexy stuff there, but basically I was aiming for love, for the ending's purpose. And…I sort of thought that Raito's death was freeing him, if that helps. (ducks flying sharp objects)
So…please, please, please tell me what you think?