Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note, Mido or Namikawa. Quotes are Catch-22, Robert Frost and - predictably - Oscar Wilde. Poem quote at the end is 'Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost. Title is French because I am once again on a pseudo-academic mood. It is, I hope, correct, and means 'After The End Of The World'.
Note: I have good news and I have bad news. Good news, I am managing to put up some updates before November. Bad news, it seems quite likely that In Passing will never be updated because everytime I settle down to do a chapter for it, it spins out of control and I turn it into it's own story. First time trying out these characters, had fun playing with the relationship between them. Enjoy.
Après La Fin Du Monde
"Yes, I certainly have," mused the treacherous old man, smiling again. "But I'm afraid you have it backward. It is better to live on one's feet than die on one's knees. That is the way the saying goes."
Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.
If you are not too long, I will wait here for you my whole life.
It is one o'clock in the morning, in mid-January when it's just warm enough to be wet and just cold enough to make all but the most hardened of outdoorsmen choose to stay inside. It is raining; not the fine, whispering kind of rain that promises of hope and clear skies, but the bitter, driving kind that pounds the pavements and beats patterns into upturned faces.
Neither of them have seen each other in several weeks. They still work in the same building, they still do - more or less - the same jobs, they still have the same hobbies and routines. Perhaps their Monday nights are a little bit more empty, perhaps they're a little bit more distant in their work, but things have stayed, approximately, the same.
Now, though, they avoid each other, and on the rare, blinding moments when one of them resolves to call the other, the phone goes unanswered, the messages unchecked.
Mido is standing in a phone box. His hand hovers over the receiver, debating. Tonight is one of those rare, blinding moments when the strict self-imposed distance between them almost breaks down. Mido stopped using his home phone for anything but business calls back in October. Mido stopped doing a lot of things back in October.
He picks up the receiver, and is half way to dialling Namikawa's number when the man himself rounds the corner, bound in navy and almost invisible against the darkness in the street.
Mido looks up. Namikawa is wrapped closely in his coat, shielding himself from the biting wind and piercing rain. Most of his hair is plastered to his face, though the wind whips some of it about behind him, carving patterns in the air. His eyes are cast down, focused on where he is going. He walks quickly - step, step, step - and his measured footsteps are the only sounds, apart from the beating water, in the empty street. It echoes between buildings, and Mido can hear it even from his cocoon inside the booth.
He figures he can save the money on making the phone call, pulls his hood up, and steps out into the rain.
It's quieter outside, now that there isn't the incessant drumming of water-on-plastic. Still, the pitter-patter of the weather and the click-clack of Namikawa's shoes remind him not to just stand around getting wet.
The man stops short, and raises his head towards the sound in one fluid movement. He sees Mido, blinks, glances round. They are the only people on the street. It's not safe to be out this late anymore, for fear of what people may think you're doing, and for fear of what they may do with your name and face.
Namikawa turns, long coat swirling through the air behind him. He's heading back round a corner, and for a moment, Mido thinks he means to ignore him - and then Namikawa twists his neck, jerks his head for Mido to follow. Clutching his jacket around him, trying to see through the raindrops collecting on his glasses, he does.
There is a bus shelter not too far down the road. Mido is running to reach it, hurrying out of the rain, but Namikawa maintains the brisk, professional, efficient pace he always does - in the office, through the corridors of a hotel, on his way to a bathroom in a restaurant. Mido can vouch for that.
They reach the covering at about the same time. Mido pushes back his hood, runs a hand through his hair to loosen it from his scalp. Namikawa leans against the side of the shelter, not bothering to check for chewing gum or waste where he's standing. There's no need to any more.
For a few moments, the shelter is filled with the drumbeat of rain, and Mido's harsh breathing. Eventually, Namikawa speaks.
"So he's back."
"So he is."
They mean Kira.
"Higuchi was only a proxy," Namikawa says, and his tone is absent, indifferent. He raises his chin a little, stairs out at the street. Mido, next to him, notices again how elegant he is in profile.
He nods. "I guess we knew that already. It was Higuchi, after all.
"The real Kira came back after Higuchi's death, then."
"So he did."
"You know what that means for us."
Again, silence descends, as heavy as the coats, weighed down with water, that they pull around themselves.
"We didn't really have a choice," Mido says, and it's twenty-twenty hindsight because at the time, they'd both been more than a little intrigued by the idea, more than a little excited.
Namikawa rolls his shoulders in a shrug. "It's too late for that now."
"Maybe we should pre-empt him." Mido removes his glasses, pushes open his coat, looking for a dry piece of clothing to wipe them on. He'd go for the cloth in his pocket but he's pretty sure it's soaked through by now - the jacket's old, cheap, and not at all what he's used to wearing because tonight, he didn't want people to notice him.
"Pre-empt Kira?" Namikawa arches an eyebrow. "I am relatively certain the Bible says something against that."
Mido laughs. "I never had you pegged as a Christian, Namikawa!"
The other man smiles thinly. "You never had me pegged for a lot of things," he murmurs, and in the clammy cold of the bus shelter, they're standing very close, and their shoulders brush.
He cuts Mido off. "It doesn't matter." He leans away from the side of the shelter, moving towards the edge.
Mido thinks he can't possibly have known what he was about to say, because Mido hadn't even decided himself. But Namikawa's right, really - whatever it is, it doesn't matter now.
"I'll give you a lift home," Namikawa is saying, pulling his coat even closer as he steps out into the rain. Mido pauses, still sheltered, and takes in the man before him. Vague light spills out of a door left open a chink - that, at least, if safe nowadays - and sets him in profiled silhouette. He thinks - and it's irrational, but Mido's always been one for an artistic turn of phrase - that standing there, cast in dark and light, Namikawa looks like an angel fallen from grace.
Which is what he is, Mido concedes, pulling his hood up again. "Whose home?" he asks, with a grin.
Raised eyebrows again. "Your choice."
"Yours," Mido says, impulsively, desperately, before he can lose his nerve.
Namikawa hesitates, then nods. "This way."
Mido follows him down the street, hurrying to keep up with his companion's pace. He feels almost guilty, skulking along in the shadows, moving between each pool of light cast down from streetlamps. Eventually, they reach Namikawa's car, and only then does it occur to Mido to ask why Namikawa was out this late, in this weather, in the first place.
He's answered with a strange smile. Somewhere between the secrecy and aloofness that usually lace Namikawa's expressions, there's a kind of warmth, a kind of affection, hovering almost out of reach. "I was thinking about visiting a friend," he says casually, twirling his keys. "But I don't need to anymore."
Namikawa is far too refined to shoot Mido the kind of significant look it might have taken him to understand, but Mido is too intelligent and too, too used to Namikawa to need it. He grins. "I'll try to be worth a walk in the rain."
The smile lingers on Namikawa's face as he starts up the engine. "You'd better be."
The night is still full of rain, and still full of chill. And both of them are still uncertain as to what's going to happen next, how long they have left.
For a few hours, though, it really doesn't matter to either of them.
These woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.