Title: Somebody's Children
Author: SunMoonAndSpoon

Rating: PG-13
Pairings/Characters: Soichiro, Light, Sachiko, Mello, L, Mello and Soichiro's mothers, and L's baby sister. (OCs)
Warnings: This is obscenely long. I don't know how it happened—I thought it was a relatively simple idea—Soichiro watching the world and his son after death, but it just…got away from me. But it's got cool stuff in it, like Beethoven's 187th Piano Concerto! Also, there are spoilers. In fact this warning has a spoiler…er…sorry.
Word Count: 6314

Waking up here is just like waking up anywhere. Soichiro's back is as ragged and achy as it was before, and the last thing he wants to do is face the day. He shouldn't try, he's injured, isn't he, he was shot full of holes by Mello's henchman. And so he lies there, wondering vaguely what happened to all the tubes and wires that had previously consumed his form. He's shocked that he survived the night, but he accepts it, hopes that someone will come to see him soon. He feels intangible, unreal, and he needs a familiar face to bring him crashing down to Earth. Of course, almost everyone who matters is thousands of miles away. Except Light. Light is here. Perhaps he will see him today.

He closes his eyes again, but they fly open like torn curtains on a windy day. He doesn't hear anything, doesn't see anything that resembles a hospital. Just an empty room lined with tatami mats, and a futon huddled in the corner, by an open window with no light shining through. Soichiro is lying splayed across that futon.

This isn't the hospital. This isn't anywhere he's ever seen. There is something familiar about it, but it isn't concrete. Just a nagging sense of déjà vu. He recalls being small enough to stretch out across a single mat, and being told to get up and greet visitors. Oh, he'd kill for a visitor now. Anyone to tell him what he's doing in this place. Doesn't he need to be in the hospital?

He doesn't know, so he closes his eyes again. Assumes he's dreaming, and that it's a very boring dream. He craves boring, craves normalcy, so this is not unreasonable. And when someone finally enters, it's hard to think that this is anything else but a dream. Because crouching next to his bed is a man who has been dead for years. Ryuzaki, looking as wild and filthy as ever. Soichiro accepts it as a dream and does not move.

"You're not dreaming," Ryuzaki mumbles past the thumb jammed into his mouth. "Everybody thinks they are when they first wake up here—I think it's a protective mechanism, to numb the shock of being dead. But, Yagami, you're dead. You died from the combined trauma of multiple bullet wounds, and being thrown to the ground and hit with debris in an explosion. An admirable death, which could have been avoided if you had valued your own life more than that of Mihael Keehl."

The shock of this has left him temporarily stupefied. He tries to remember if he's ever had a dream that claimed not to be one, if it's possible to convince yourself it is while you're still dreaming. Before he can ask a single question, Ryuzaki says that he has to leave now, he has a lunch date with Watari, but he will return later, to help him get acclimated. Soichiro nods, and pulls the sheets up over his head.

--

He finds himself complaining incessantly about the pain in his back. In life, he never would have allowed himself such a luxury, but it seems fitting now that he's apparently dead. However, it does not seem fitting that there should be anything to complain about. If he's dead, the agony of torn flesh should be gone from him. He doesn't entirely believe Ryuzaki, and he wastes time constructing elaborate explanations for what the detective is doing here. Ryuzaki did die, the best doctor Soichiro knows about pronounced him dead—and why would he have faked it then? How could he have?

One day, Ryuzaki shows up toting a squirming baby. It seems considerably distressed to be imprisoned in his arms. Soichiro's cop instincts burn hot enough to rouse him from his bed, and he reaches for a gun that isn't there. "Where did you get that child?" he thunders. "Who did you take it from?"

"You jump to the strangest conclusions, Yagami," Ryuzaki says, sweeping the child's coal-dark hair to the side. "I am told that this is my younger sister. I don't remember her, but she died along with my parents. There was a fire…they said that I was very selfish, that I ran out of the house without stopping to help her. So, I haven't been allowed to spend time with her until now." The girl squawks in agreement, and Soichiro mumbles an apology, drops back into bed and wraps himself in wrinkled sheets. He hurts too much to keep standing, and though Ryuzaki's explanation makes little sense, it is, at least, an explanation.

"The pain is never going to stop," Ryuzaki states flatly, free hand fluttering across his spindly chest. "Nothing ever changes here. Your soul remembers everything your body felt before you died, but it's stagnant, now. You will always feel as though you've just been shot." He lowers his eyes, strokes the now-wailing baby's chubby wrists. "For my part, I suffer from constant chest pain. Amy here seems to be besieged with the pain of burns."

Soichiro reaches for the only agonized spot he can and finds it whole. Touching it does not excite the pain. Ryuzaki continues, says that while he does indeed have an eternity to get used to it, he could just as easily get used to lying around in bed and whining about it. "I saw your mother, Yagami, and that's what she's been doing for the past eight years. You don't want to end up like that. I strongly advise you to get out of bed."

"I'm not dead," Soichiro insists feebly. "There has to be some other explanation."

"There isn't," Ryuzaki says, setting the squalling child down. She writhes and shrieks like she's engulfed in flames, but Ryuzaki seems undisturbed by this. "She's too young to know how to adapt," he says as he struggles to open a closet that's hidden behind what appears to be a very heavy screen. "I'll prove to you that you're dead," he grunts. "I'll show you your window to the world of the living. You might want to avoid certain people, though. You might not be ready for what your son has to show you."

"You can't possibly still believe that he's Kira," Soichiro protests, struggling to sit in spite of his desire to curl up like a worm. He will not allow this slander against his son. Not when he saw proof of Light's innocence with his own eyes…his eyes. He no longer possesses the shinigami eyes. No name, no lifespan, nothing swims in the murky space above Ryuzaki's head. Soichiro does not remember losing those eyes. He shakes his head—there is an explanation. This does not mean that he is dead.

"I do," Ryuzaki says, fiddling with the knobs on an old, unwieldy television.

You will probably receive a newer model once you've been here from time. So, try not to let the bad reception bother you too much. I'll switch it to you wife, for now."

"Don't change the subject!" Soichiro snaps. "Why do you still suspect my son? It's been years since you've had anything to do with the investigation, so any information you have is outdated and inaccurate. I have evidence of his innocence, and I can explain it to you right now if need be, I…" He trails off, after finding out that he's been talking to Ryuzaki's spine. He is not listening, he is lifting his sister in an attempt to stop her sobbing. "Ryuzaki," he snarls. "This is important. I need you to listen to me."

Ryuzaki merely shrugs. "It is not as important as you think it is. I can't do anything to him now that I'm no longer among the living. When I died, he was grinning like a maniac, and if that weren't enough to convince me, I've seen evidence while observing him—I wish I'd had this kind of investigative technology in life."

"I'd like to hear this evidence," Soichiro says, glaring intently at Ryuzaki's soiled shirt. It's the same shirt he wore the day he supposedly died. Soichiro wonders if he's changed it once since then. He wonders if he's ever changed it. He continues, "As I said, I'd be more than willing to share my own."

"There's no point," he shouts in a half-hearted attempt to be heard above the screeching child, "you'll see on your own, when you're ready. For now, it's better that you don't believe me." And with that, he shuffles slowly out of the room, leaving Soichiro alone with the glow of the television set.

--

Though all the fuzz and flicker, Soichiro can make out the image of his wife slumped at the kitchen table, talking quietly to a thin, birdlike woman who he thinks is named Chie. Maybe Rie. He knows that she's a good friend of his wife's, and that's reason enough to remember her name, but he does not. She seems to be prying off Sachiko's wedding ring, and this nearly sends him flying into fury. Pain keeps him grounded, as does the nagging thought that perhaps Ryuzaki is right. "It's time to move on," Chie says, her voice as smooth and sticky as syrup. "No one's denying you the right to grieve, but you have to be strong for your children, especially your daughter. Maybe if you start dating again, you'll be able to get over Soichiro's death sooner—not to mention you'll have someone else to help out with the finances. You need to get a job, too."

Sachiko heaves a sigh, and Soichiro holds his breath, hoping against hope that she will laugh and tell this harpy that her husband isn't dead, he's only working. Because she doesn't even know he's been injured, does she? She just thinks he's on the job. But Sachiko doesn't laugh, and she doesn't say any such thing. "No one will hire me, and no one will want to be with me," she mumbles, her voice choked with held back tears. "I haven't worked in over twenty years, I don't think I'm even still qualified to teach at this point. I'm pretty sure my license has expired. And I'm old, Chie, I'm not smart or beautiful or anything. I can't just jump back into the dating pool and expect to find a man. Why would anybody want an old widow like me?"

He's torn between jealousy and the need to reassure her, to tell his wife how beautiful, brilliant, and desirable she is. How if he were a school administrator, he'd hire her on the spot, and how he thinks that anyone who wouldn't is insane. How there are thousands of old, widowed men who are looking for the same demographic, and how any one of them would kill for a chance with a woman like her. But he isn't there, and it's Chie who comforts her. Chie who makes her believe that she can find love in the arms of another man.

--

Time passes, or he thinks it does, and Soichiro decides that it's time to get up. He has grown weary of lying in bed, and loathe though he is to admit it, Ryuzaki has a point. He does not want to waste time feeling sorry for himself any longer. His pain has not decreased or increased since he arrived here, and he doubts a dream could take this long. Seeing Sachiko grieving for him is hard to rationalize away. Unless he gets evidence to the contrary, he will have to accept the fact that he has died, and this is some sort of afterlife. Aside from the pain it appears fairly neutral—and the pain is not like torture. It is simply a consequence of what happened in life.

He struggles to free himself from the comforting confines of his futon. When he finally rises from bed he decides to go track down all those people who meant the world to him, who died before he did. There are shoes—not quite his shoes, but close enough—lined up by the doorway, and he slips them on and heads out into the blinding lights of the new world.

--

It takes quite some time to navigate this new world well enough to find anyone he cares about. Despite Ryuzaki's previously convenient appearances, Soichiro cannot find him anywhere. He has no idea how to find his way around in this strange land. The streets wind through town like unsteady crayon lines in a child's drawing. With an effort that proves nearly impossible given the pain he's in, Soichiro finally drags himself to a directory office. Inside, he's given directions to a small house a few miles south from here, where his mother evidentially resides.

When he arrives, he finds it ramshackle and overgrown. Ryuzaki said that nothing ever changed here, so he thinks that perhaps these weeds and vines have always been. Maybe he just meant that the dead never changed, not the place itself. The doorknocker is shaped like a lion, something his mother has always been irrationally fearful of, and he wonders if he's in the right place. Surely in a world like this, things would be tailored more to the individual? Surely after years and years of living here, his mother would have been able to get a new doorknocker?

He knocks, and his haggard, yukata-clad mother lets him in, nodding sagely and saying that she was wondering when he was going to come see her. "I watched you die," she mutters, shuffling inside towards a kitchen area, where she immediately begins to make tea. "I always thought you'd die like that, Soichiro. I told you, you shouldn't have become a policeman. You should have pursued a safe career, like your brother did. If you delivered babies for a living, you'd still be in the world taking care of your own."

She hasn't changed a bit in death, apparently. Soichiro has to fight the childish urge to ignore her completely—he's heard this so many times it feels like nagging. Even though from her perspective, his failure to heed her has resulted in his death. He slips his shoes off, sits down on his mother's battered couch, and silently accepts the tea she hands him. Raspberry. He hates fruit tea, but he says nothing and sips at it all the same. "Obstetrics wasn't the right path for me, Mother. Goh did wonderfully in that, but I wouldn't have. We've been over this many times, and I don't think we need to discuss it right now. How have you been? It's been so long, I…well how are you adjusting to being…dead?"

His mother sighs, and sinks into the couch with her own cup of tea. Grinning slightly, she says, "it's really terrible, in some ways. As you know, I had horribly painful cancer…nobody tells you that the pain stays with you, after death. Everyone promised an end to it when they told me it was terminal. If nothing else, I can feel smug about them being wrong. But Soichiro, you must know about that. You're still feeling the shots in your poor back. Since we all go to this, it doesn't really matter that you died fast and I lingered on, does it? It's all the same in the end."

Soichiro nods gravely. He doesn't know what to say to this, or to her. He stares into his cooling tea and lets her continue. "There's something I've been wanting to say to you," she rasps, placing a hand on his knee, as if in sympathy. This gesture never means anything good, and it's all he can do not to shrug her off. He can't handle bad news right now, not when he's battling terrible pain, not when he's still digesting the fact that he's dead, and missing his family desperately…no, he will focus on the moment. Ask his mother what she wants to say to him. "What," she asks, "did you do to my grandchild?"

Her lipstick leaves grimy streaks on her teeth as she scowls at him. Soichiro furrows his brow, pretends that he has no idea what she's referring to. But there's nothing else, he was never violent with either of his children, or cruel to them at all. Perhaps she's referring to Sayu's kidnapping ordeal, something that would never have happened if her father were in obstetrics. Something tells him that that isn't what she means, so he grinds his teeth and waits for her to keep talking. "How in the world could my sweet, wonderful son raise such a monster? Light was a delightful child, you must have done something to turn him into a mass murderer. It must have been all that exposure to violent crime—I told you and told you, you should never have taken him to the police station, he was much too young!"

"He isn't a mass murderer!" Soichiro insists, but he cannot argue this with her the way he did with Ryuzaki. His mother knew nothing of Kira, nothing of Light being held in suspicion. The Light she knew had barely begun his ascent into puberty, the Light she knew was squeaky-voiced, awkward, and sweet. She assaulted him with presents each time he had a birthday, and demanded that he and Sayu visit her at least once per month. If Light's doting grandmother thinks he's a mass murderer, there must be something to it. Soichiro shudders at the very idea. "Well," he says, "I don't know. You're right, I must have done something wrong. I wasn't there for him, not at all…I don't know if that's what caused it, or if there was anything to cause…but I should have been there for my children. I should never have placed my job before them."

"Epiphanies aren't going to do you any good now," his mother quips, gulping down the last of her cooling tea. "It's alright. You've made plenty of mistakes, but I wasn't alive to set you right, so I can't exactly blame you. You're not entirely to blame for Light's actions. They're even admirable, in a way—if it weren't for the fact that he's sending all the criminals straight to us, I might even approve of them. He's working hard for something he believes in, and that's…well." She stops talking, and clutches her gut in apparent pain. It's obvious that she does not believe this. How can she admire Kira when she never even admired her son for stopping crime legally? She doesn't care about morals or justice, or any of that. All she cares about is keeping the ones she loves safe. "I feel sorry for Sachiko," she murmurs, proving his point. "Having to live everyday knowing her husband could die, or her son could. Not even knowing what a huge risk her son was taking. I know that pain. I truly feel sorry for her. I would feel sorry for you, too, if you didn't cause me the same damn heartache yourself. You should never have become a policeman, Soichiro."

He has never been compared to Kira before, but he accepts the barb without complaint.

--

Back in his tiny room, Soichiro engages in a staring match with the switched-off television set. After that harrowing conversation, he thinks that perhaps he ought to look in on Light and find out for himself. Unless this is an elaborate hallucination concocted by Ryuzaki to make him believe that Light is Kira—done by hypnosis, or perhaps drugs, but he doubts that either one would work—all evidence points towards his child's guilt.

He reaches for the television set with shaking, sweaty hands. He does not know if there's anything for him to find here, he does not know what his son will be doing, now. Perhaps he's at work, perhaps he's with his mother, perhaps he's taking a shower. There are all kinds of things he could be doing that don't point to his being Kira at all. But all the same, he doesn't want to see Light alone, or with Misa. He doesn't want to see that Ryuzaki and his mother are right.

But if he does not look, he will spend all his time dreading the truth, dreading mention of his family. Hating his son when he could be innocent. It's better to find out now, and find a way to deal with what's true. It still takes everything in him just to press the button. His heart is pounding with anticipation. He isn't sure how to focus the system on Light, but with some fiddling, he's able to make it work.

At the moment, Light hard at work on the Kira case. He looks exhausted, disinterested, but all the same he's doing everything he can. Behind him, Matsuda is screwing around, tossing a paper plane at Ide's head. There doesn't seem to be anything else for Matsuda to do, or Ide, so Soichiro doesn't blame him for this. But, oh, he's so proud of Light for all his efforts, it seems as if he wants nothing more than to bring Kira to justice. He had sworn to hunt Kira down and destroy him if anything happened to his father, and it had. Oh, it had. Even if he is not dead, he's been shot, and that's certainly something. Light had brought up his promise when Soichiro had an unrelated heart attack, so how could this mean any less?

Light is so diligent, so talented, such a good son. How in the world could he possibly be Kira?

--

Soichiro spends far more time exploring the new world than he does looking on the old. After that brief glimpse at his son, he cannot bear to watch them for long. Those he loves are saddened by his death, and while that does leave him with a slight sense of accomplishment, he does not wish to see them suffer. Nor does he wish to watch as they move on without him. His wife found a job teaching high school math, and she's become quite friendly with one of the school nurses. They've met for coffee, they've met for drinks, and Sachiko has discussed the logistics of inviting him over with Chie—would Sayu be able to handle it? Can she herself handle letting this new man—Tanizaki, she calls him—invade the same space she once shared with her husband? Soichiro doesn't want to watch any of this. And he certainly doesn't want to see whether or not Light is Kira. Not now.

Instead, he finds himself in the midst of a brand new society. It's easier than life—no one dies, no one wants for food or shelter, and as such no one is compelled to work. Soichiro finds this to be quite awkward. He has worked continuously since he knew what work was, and he's at a loss for what to do with himself. Constant pain makes it easier to relax—Ryuzaki was right, it hasn't left and it seems as if it never will. As such, he doesn't venture far beyond his immediate surroundings. But the dead write books, and the dead make music, and there's a whole new culture to be discovered, now. He spends his time devouring media, wondering if this is better or worse than the things he never had time to look at in life. He wonders if he can write a book too, now that he has all this free time.

One day, while he's sitting in the sun on a yarn blanket, listening intently to a lawn performance of Beethoven's 187th Piano Concerto, Ryuzaki appears before him, this time cradling a large box of cookies in lieu of a baby. So far, Soichiro has not felt the need to eat, but now he can see that it's possible to do so. "I have something to tell you," he says, crouch down on his blanket and beginning to eat. Crumbs spill down his shirt as he does so, and Soichiro pretends not to notice this. "I'm sure you remember Mello. Well, he died recently, and there's a good chance that you'll run into him. The land itself will make sure of it, actually. It may not be easy to face the man who's responsible for your death, so you ought to prepare yourself for that."

Soichiro nods gravely, and thanks Ryuzaki for the information.

--

Mello doesn't make an appearance for quite some time. It takes so long that Soichiro almost forgets that he's living in this world with him. After all, there are so many people living here who are so much worse than Mello in every way. The most inexcusably evil figures of history live here amongst the saints. Mello means more to him than Caligula or Hitler, but not to anybody else. Except for vague reports from Ryuzaki, he hears nothing, until one day he nearly crashes into him while walking down a crayon-line street.

"Watch where you're going, asshole!" Mello shouts, his voice squeaking oddly as he does. Soichiro almost laughs at this, but Mello's scowl and a mixture of propriety and dread stops him cold. "Oh," growls Mello, his hands shoved deep in his leathery pockets. "It's you. Just so you know, it wasn't my fault that you died, alright? I didn't fucking shoot you in the back, okay, I didn't even ask anyone to do that. And I set off the explosion so that I could get out, I wasn't wasting any thoughts on you."

"That doesn't matter to me," Soichiro says, wondering if it does. He can certainly blame Mello for the pain he's endured all these weeks and months, and he can certainly blame him for his death—but he can blame himself for that one, too. Mello didn't actually kill him, it was simply his actions that led to his death. If Soichiro had listened to his mother and gone into obstetrics, he would not be dead. "My life is of no importance," he says, fingers forming fists in spite of his words. "I do not blame you for the loss of it. However, Mello, you…you kidnapped my daughter. You put her through hell, and there was no need for that. What was that for, anyway? Was it just to get the notebook? How is that worth it, Mello? How was possession of a horrible weapon that shouldn't even exist worth destroying all the lives you did?"

Mello puffs his chest out, stands as tall as he can and yells, "your precious daughter was expendable! I don't know what you're complaining about, she didn't even die! There is no way that you could possibly appreciate the value of what I was trying to accomplish, so there's no point in even talking about this. Your daughter was better off with the mafia than with you, anyway. If we hadn't intervened, she might have become another Kira." He smirks, tilts his head so his blonde hair falls away from his face. A hideous burn scar consumes his cheek, and Soichiro can hardly believe that that barren mess was once whole skin. Mello continues. "Considering what you son became," he says, "I wouldn't be at all surprised."

Again with this. Soichiro has no idea how Mello came to the conclusion that Light was Kira, but he doesn't want to discuss this with such an irrational, hot-tempered boy. The conversation would be needlessly upsetting, and Soichiro doesn't see the point. Mello is probably not capable of rational argument, and Soichiro cannot respect a person who thoughtlessly breaks laws and plays with human lives like a child with their toys. "I didn't want you to die," Mello mutters, glaring angrily at the ground as he kicks a small pebble. "I meant it when I said I didn't have any intention of killing you. Not that you were anything special, it's just that, I wasn't in this thing to kill people. I just had something I needed to accomplish, and I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way. Besides, you were going to kill me first if…well look, it's nothing personal."

"I wouldn't be able to feel good about anything I accomplished, if I ignored the law, and human life," Soichiro says, knowing all the time that Mihael Keehl thinks no such thing. He does not care. This boy will have an eternity to reflect on his sins, and mature in mind if not in body. He will come to regret what he's done.

--

This place has days and nights just like the old world did, though their duration and schedule is somewhat different from what he's used to. For the first few days, he as almost jetlagged, but by this point he's grown quite used to it. He doesn't feel as horrid as he did in the beginning—he's still in pain, but he's growing used to that, too. Things do change here, it isn't exactly the way Ryuzaki said it was. At night, the new world dies down just as the old one did, and outdoors isn't anyplace Soichiro wants to be.

There is nothing to do, and his encounter with Mello is thrumming in his head. He has told himself time and again that there's no use looking on the living, that there is nothing he could see that would not upset him. Besides, he has yet to receive a better television set, there are forms he must fill out, and he has not yet gotten around to that. He doesn't want to listen to the static whine of the old, broken-down mess he is obliged to watch his family on.

Not that that matters. None of it does. Despite everything that says he shouldn't, Soichiro turns on the television set yet again. Sets it up to search for Light, and leaves it there, even though right now he's hunched over the toilet, vomiting. Soichiro hasn't seen this happen since Light was three, and back then he didn't know that he shouldn't let it dribble down the front of his Doraemon tee-shirt. Misa is banging on the bathroom door, asking in a high-pitched, shrieky voice if Light's okay. "Do you really hate Misa's cooking that much?!" she asks, ignoring Light's feeble request that she leave him alone so he can finish being sick in peace.

"It's not your cooking," he mumbles, wiping his mouth with a few squares of toilet paper. "It's nothing…I'm just a little nervous about an upcoming meeting, that's all. It's alright though, it's not anything I need to be nervous about. It's going to work out just fine. Everything will go exactly as planned."

"Of course it will!" squeaks Misa through the bathroom door, not appearing to have any idea what he's talking about. Soichiro doesn't know either. Perhaps he has an important meeting with a higher-up in the police force? Or maybe they've made more headway with the Kira case than he realized—maybe Light is going to confront Kira, maybe this will prove that he's not him! Oh, Soichiro can only hope.

He almost switches off the television when Misa flounces off, childish pigtails flying behind her, caught in the breeze from an open window. He almost doesn't see his son press his face to the bathroom tiles and grip the bathmat like he's strangling a hated enemy. "I will defeat Near," he whispers, "I willbecome God of the New World—no, I am. I am. There's nothing to worry about. There's no way I can fail." And he continues to murmur encouragement, soothing himself with words of greatness. "Kira is God, and God cannot fail," he murmurs, and with those words Soichiro's heart drops into his stomach.

He does not want to scream, and he does not want to cry. He does not want to hurl everything he can get his hands on up against the wall. He does not want to react in any way, but there seems to be no choice in the matter. In life, he might have killed himself, but Soichiro doubts that such a thing is possible in death. Despite himself, tears drip down the wrinkles in his face and burn like acid, and he nearly throws his room into disaster before he's overwhelmed by back pain. He wonders how he can still cry, if nothing changes. How can his body—soul? God, what is he anymore?—produce something as new and fresh as tears? He doesn't know, and so he sits there letting the tears come. There's no one here to see him sink to his knees with shaking limbs. It doesn't matter. He will not cry for long.

Some ragged sobs and hitched breaths later, Soichiro tidies up the place. Composes an apology for his behavior to people who are not there. He wishes he hadn't lost his composure like that, and he wishes it were possible to stay focused on his lack of decorum. But it isn't long before all such thoughts fly out of his mind. His reaction hardly matters in the face of its cause. Light is Kira. His smart, hardworking, talented son has slaughtered millions in the name of…well, Kira says it's justice. But how could someone as smart as Light not understand what justice means? How could he have failed to learn anything Soichiro tried to teach him? How could he ignore the law and human life?

He has heard that it is possible to return to Earth as a ghost if you file a long application. He's tempted to file one, to haunt Light for every moment he has left alive, begging him for an explanation, lecturing him until he understands that what he's done is wrong. But that's no outlet for righteous rage, not if it takes as many months as Ryuzaki said it did. Instead he simply takes to bed again, curls into the sheets and tries to keep from raining furious tears upon his pillow.

--

Days pass, and he spends them as far away from the television as he possibly can. Though it's only a box, and a small one at that, he finds himself blaming it for the fact that Light is Kira. And while that might make him feel better than believing that it's his fault, or even Light's, that doesn't make it sane or acceptable. It doesn't make him want to be anywhere near the television, either. He spends his time sitting on a bench in a nearby park, reading the latest novel by Franz Kafka, published against his will by a dead Max Brod. Maybe for some, it's true that nothing changes. Soichiro sighs and flips through the book, hardly taking in a single word. He folds his hands and taps his fingers against his knuckles, distracts himself as best as he can. Because he does not want to think about anything, now.

At some point, he looks up and sees Mello, holding awkwardly onto the arm of a young woman. Her white sundress, tightly cinched with a pale pink corset, is a stark contrast to his leather jacket, and her throaty laugh doesn't match his scowl at all. He wonders who this woman is to him—perhaps a sister, judging by their similarity in age. A lover. But Mello clears it up soon, says, "Mom, could you stop talking about that already? I don't blame you for dying, okay? What, do you think you're some kind of horrible bitch for not being immortal? Dad knifed you in the gut, okay, that's his fault. Stop blaming yourself and go kick hisass."

"Mihael dear, I'm hardly the type of person to resort to violence," she says, almost singing as she strokes his arm. Her smile is like sunlight, and Soichiro doesn't know how such a ruthless child could have sprung from her. "Of course I'm not happy you're dead," she says, "but I am so happy to see you! I've been watching you for so many years, and I've been so worried for you all this time! I never once thought that my baby would join the mafia—you certainly went to amazing lengths to beat Near, and I'm so sorry you lost, dear, but it's okay, it really is! It's fantastic that you were even being considered to succeed L! That's such an honor for our family—I couldn't be more proud of you, Mihael!" She gushes on like this for so long that Soichiro wonders if Mello is going to strangle her or scream. But all he does is blush and continue plodding forward.

Her words are schmaltzy, nauseating. Soichiro stares down at a discarded candy wrapper and does his best to ignore them. It's devastating to watch this woman wrap herself in delusion—if she's been watching her son all this time, she must know of the havoc he's wrecked, the people he's killed, she must know everything. And she doesn't seem like the sort who'd approve of such things—so how can she just ignore it? Is it possible to love your child, to be proud of them despite the fact that they've committed heinous crimes? Is that delusional? Light's just a child, he's not mature yet, will he come to regret his sins? Will Soichiro ever be able to conjure up a single memory of Light without hearing news reports of countless deaths in his head?

This woman loves her son more than anything. Soichiro wonders what she would think of Light. If his monstrous son could ever be loved that much by anyone who knew the truth. If it matters that Mello and Light are both somebody's children. He doesn't have answers to any of these things, and epiphanies will do him no good, now. He has fuzzy visions of another world, and a tiny room in this one. And that is all that he'll have until Light Yagami, his much-loved crime, arrives.