Haunted

Act One: Stalked

In the few days after L's death, Light had to glance twice whenever he turned a corner. He still thought he saw Ryuzaki, bored, accusatory, biting his thumb and ready with some snarky remark, as his reflection, staring at him in mirrors, or as a shadowy silhouette in the halos of streetlights. It was just paranoia, though, an aftereffect, a sort of visual imprint left on Light's subconscious by the detective. But L was gone, and Kira had won. It just took Light's mind a while to get around that, that was all.

When L showed up again, a year later, Light began to think it was something a bit more serious.

There were just glimpses, at first. Light would be crossing the street when he noticed a man in loose blue jeans and a wrinkled white shirt staring at him from the other curb. He would look again and the man would vanish. Or Light would see him, walking across the street in broad daylight, staring guiltily with unblinking eyes. And then Light would run after him and catch up just in time to see a bare foot flash behind the corner of a building, into a dead-end alleyway—and disappear, as if L had never been there at all, as if he had been just a ghost, lurking.

Light was determined not to be haunted. He wasn't being haunted, goddammit. He wasn't going crazy. He was sure that all emotion dealing with L's death had been rolled away and tucked aside. He, Light Yagami, was L now. He was.

Besides, phantoms didn't leave physical evidence. And, one day, when he was chasing after L's ghost, he stepped on something that crinkled under his shoe. He stopped the chase, which, he had learned by now, was a lost cause, to pick it up.

It was only a scrap of paper, no bigger than a house key, adorned in simple black ink with the Arabic numeral 13. Light couldn't say how, but he knew it had come from the L impersonator. Thirteen was, somehow, a clue.

"I'm think I'm being stalked," he said to Aizawa the next morning.

Aizawa looked up from his coffee in surprise, blinking the sleep away from his eyes, clearly unsure if he'd heard Light correctly. "What?"

"Stalked," Light repeated. "There's a strange man following me. I keep seeing him when I walk to university."

Aizawa was silent for a minute, contemplating. "Light, answer me honestly." His voice was very quiet, deadly serious. "Do you think it's Kira? Do you think he's found you?"

Light laughed. "If it were Kira, I'd be dead already. Kira doesn't wait. It isn't Kira. Although," he added belatedly, "we shouldn't rule out the possibility. In the words of my predecessor, though, there's a 97 percent chance that he isn't."

"Well, has he done anything to you?" Aizawa asked, considering this.

"No, that's the odd thing. All he does is stare at me." Light rubbed his forehead. "But he's been so consistent that I can't have any doubt, and it's beginning to unnerve me. When I try to approach him, he flees."

"Do you want someone to follow you?" Aizawa offered. "Mogi or I would be happy to act as a bodyguard for a couple of days. We can't afford to lose you now, Light, and it would be easy to shadow you."

Light shook his head. If Aizawa or Mogi saw this man, it would validate Light's sanity, but it would raise too many questions. And it would only make Light more paranoid. If Aizawa or Mogi were to see something that would implicate him as Kira... "I don't think that will be necessary," he said. "He seems harmless right now. I was just wondering what I can do about it. Myself."

Aizawa thought for a moment, scratching his chin. "Try not to go anywhere alone," he said. "Keep a cell phone on you at all times." He paused. "And just be careful, Light."

"I will," Light promised, standing. "By the way, does the number 13 mean anything to you?"

"Aside from those Western superstitions, no, I can't say it does. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious." Light fingered the paper in his pocket absentmindedly. "Thank you, Aizawa. We should be getting to work."

The paper kept bothering Light, though. Thirteen…yes, it did have "those Western superstitions" attached to it, but what could it mean? Was the L imitator trying to imply that Light was unlucky? He had to be wrong there. Light was one of the most fortunate men in the world, although luck, by a traditional definition, really had little to do with that. Light's luck rested in strategic planning and easy-to-manipulate Death Gods. So why thirteen?

When he arrived at his apartment that night, he barely greeted Misa, brushing past her and closing the door to his office. He didn't even bother with the main light, instead sitting in his chair and turning on the desk lamp. Withdrawing the paper from his pocked, he studied it. He could have it analyzed for forensic evidence, but how much could that tell him? There wasn't enough writing on it for it to be a proper handwriting sample, and Light's fingerprints had been all over it. Chances are, that would be a dead end. Thirteen…Arabic numerals…L was the twelfth letter in the English alphabet, so maybe…M? M followed L. Was this man, the one who dressed like L, trying to assert that he was the proper successor?

Suddenly agitated—how dare he—Light stood and paced, and, feeling that this room was too small, opened the door. Misa was sitting in the couch in a negligee, looking a little confused. "I'm going for a walk," he told her, grabbing his jacket. "I'll be back soon. Don't follow me."

"But Misa—" Light closed the door on her response and hurried down the stairs. Seven flights of stairs. In his haste, he barely noticed them. His mind was too preoccupied, to flighty. So someone else, then, knew of L's death. How?

The Tokyo streets at night were too bright and loud for Light to properly clear his head. He stopped and held his head in his hands and groaned. Someone was walking around the city right then, someone who might know Light's identity. But what could he do? He couldn't sit there feeling helpless. That wasn't how Kira operated.

He could find out how the bastard worked. Maybe…maybe by retracing his steps would help. If he could mentally map out where he saw the mysterious L, it might yield some kind of clue. Light began to walk the same route that he walked every morning. One block…two blocks. The man couldn't possibly vanish into thin air when Light pursued him. He was just fast. He wasn't a phantom, and Light wasn't being haunted.

Four blocks. This was the first place he had seen the man, peering at him from across the street. In the glow of the streetlight, though, Light could see no one. Of course. It was nighttime. He wouldn't be here. Light was being paranoid. He began to turn around.

"So, little Light-kun finally decided to come out and join the party."

Light froze. There was someone behind him. Standing so close to him. He could feel whoever it was breathing down his neck.

"Don't bother turning around," the man said. "You already know what you're going to see, henh henh henh."

That laugh…that grating laugh. It was so familiar. It was like Ryuk's laugh, or a Shinigami laugh. The man was right; Light knew exactly who it had to be. "Who are you?" he barked, trying to sound authoritative. "What do you want?"

Silence.

"Are you M?" Light tried.

That laugh again, this time a soft chuckle. "Oh no," said the man, his voice low and dangerous and really not sounding anything like L's. "Oh no no no. M is somewhere far away. Far away. M won't bother Light-kun for a long time."

Shit. The man was obviously insane, and Light was unarmed. He had a pen, and the piece of Death Note in his watch, but without the man's name, or Misa's eyes to figure it out, that was practically useless. Best to keep talking. Keep him distracted, and then strike when he wasn't expecting it. Light was strong, he could manage. "How do you know my name?"

"Henh henh…" The stalker inched closer. "No one's name is safe, Light-kun. You should know that by now. Not one name is safe from me when I have these pretty eyes. You'd know all about the eyes, wouldn't you?"

He was talking about the Shinigami eyes. Light broke a sweat. "You…do you have a notebook?"

A pause. "Why would I need a notebook?" asked the man innocently. "There are much better ways to kill someone. More fun." He paused again. "Don't worry, I'm not going to try any of them on you."

That gave Light very little comfort. After all, there were other things that the man could do to him, and there would be no one else around to witness them. Just be wary. Just stay on guard. Just keep talking. "What do you want?" he asked again, clearly. At least his voice didn't betray him.

"Oh, Light-kun…" The man sighed patronizingly, as if Light should already know. "You broke my Lawli. You broke him, and now I can't play with him anymore."

The hell…?

Light whirled around, but the man was, somehow, already gone.


A/N: "The hell" indeed. Before you ask, I don't have any idea. Everyone else was writing stories about B, and he's a pretty spiffy dude, my lovely/scary beta Lena liked this story, and I've been wanting to write an insane character lately. So, I bring you this.

The author's note comes at the end because I wanted to give you a chance to read the story before I answered some questions. So:

Rating - T, and will stay there.

Pairings - B/Light. WHAT THE HELL. Also, mentioned B/L and Light/L.

Parts - 3.

For those of you who've read MissUnderstanding, this is completely different. The tone is darker, and it isn't supposed to be funny, although Beyond Birthday makes some people laugh anyway.

Curious for your opinion, as always,

D