Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note and I am making no money from this story.
AN: It's been ages since I've written anything Death Note related so I have absolutely no idea where this came from. I hope you enjoy it anyway.
"I'll be fine, Mum, really."
It didn't look as if his mother believed him, but she nodded anyway. She didn't leave, however, and continued to stand in the middle of his new living room, looking around the room as if she was trying to find something wrong with it.
"I still don't understand how you got this place so cheap, Light," she said.
Light winced. He had been hoping to avoid that question. Still, the apartment had been a bargain, and after his father had died he hadn't been able to afford to pass it up despite the…history. His mother wouldn't approve, though.
There was nothing wrong with the apartment itself. It was quite spacious for an inner city apartment and it was close to the university campus. The windows were quite large and the rooms were a good size, and it came with a private bathroom. It was everything Light could have wanted.
"I suppose that the owner just wanted someone to take it," he said.
His mother frowned. "That's the problem," she said. "Normally people would be dying to snap a place like this up. Especially at the price you got it for."
"It was something to do with the previous occupant," Light said. "I didn't ask."
That was a lie, but he didn't want to tell him mother that the previous occupant had died in the apartment, and that he'd only been found when people began to notice the smell. She would make him move back home if she found that out.
"Light…" she said warningly.
"It's nothing to worry about, mother," he told her firmly. "I need to unpack."
She nodded. "Alright," she said. "Just remember to call if you need anything."
He agreed and let her hug him. He kissed the top of her head fondly, and held the door open for her as she left. She paused in the doorway, and looked up at him. "I'm so proud of you, Light," she told him. "You're already doing so well for yourself."
He smiled. "Thank you, mother."
He closed the door behind her and leaned against it, turning to survey the chaos that was his new apartment. He'd labelled the boxes holding his possessions, but that didn't mean that they had been brought inside in any particular order.
His first week passed in a flurry of activity as he unpacked, shopped, and prepared to start university. He was going to be studying Psychology and Law, and the amount of materials he needed for the course was quite something.
He hadn't noticed anything abnormal about the apartment. Not really. He did get the impression that he was being watched sometimes, but he'd put that down to what the landlord had told him about the previous occupant.
Some kind of diabetic coma, apparently.
But other than the creepy feeling of being watched that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, he couldn't find anything wrong with the place.
He easily settled into a routine. He would get up, go to university, stop by the store on his way back home after his classes had finished, and spend his evenings studying. It was a lonely life, but despite what Light pretended with his classmates, he wasn't all that much of a people person. He preferred his own company to anyone else's; at least that way he could be guaranteed intelligent conversation.
About a month after he had moved in to his apartment, Light sat at his desk with his laptop and a pile of books in front of him. He was exhausted. He had been working on this same essay for hours, and no matter how many times he looked, he couldn't find the passage his teachers had mentioned in one of his books. That passage was necessary for a passing grade, but according to Light's text books, it didn't exist.
He wanted to scream. Instead, he stood up and padded barefoot into the kitchen to make some coffee. He was waiting for the kettle to boil when he noticed the reflection of the room in the dark window. His breath hitched and he spun round to look at the doorway, but saw nothing there. He shook his head and slumped back against the kitchen counter, glancing back at the window. For a moment, he'd thought he'd seen the reflection of someone standing in the doorway.
When his coffee was ready – instant, black with no sugar – he walked back to his room. He wanted to get as much of his essay done as he could, though that wouldn't be much if he couldn't find that passage.
He sat back down at his desk and placed his mug of coffee on the coaster next to his laptop, before cracking his knuckles. He looked back down at his books again, and almost burst out laughing. It had been right under his nose all along!
"I must be more tired than I thought," he murmured to the empty room.
There was no response – not that he had been expecting one – and he got to work, quoting the passage from a book lying open on his desk. He didn't notice that it wasn't one of the books he had been using earlier.
The day of the essay deadline came round, and Light felt unusually jaunty as he headed home from campus. He had bought himself some dark chocolate as a treat; he wasn't one for sweet things, but he did enjoy dark chocolate on occasion, and he supposed that successfully completing his first university essay by the deadline was reason enough.
His good mood faded slightly when he entered his apartment. It was freezing cold – cold enough to make his breath mist in the air – and all of the curtains were closed. He frowned at that; he could have sworn that he'd opened them before he'd left that morning.
Light placed his shopping bag on the kitchen counter and started to go around the apartment, opening all the curtains. He liked natural light; it saved on his electricity bill.
He went back to the kitchen and blinked at the sight that greeted him. The bag of shopping had been unpacked, but nothing had been put away. Had he done that?
"I could have sworn -" he murmured. He didn't finish his sentence. His chocolate was missing. He knew for a fact that he had bought chocolate, and put it in the carrier bag, but now it was gone.
"What the hell?"
He shook his head and got to work making his dinner. He really was letting those stories about his apartment get to him. But…he couldn't quite shake the feeling that he wasn't alone.
It was ridiculous, of course. He was alone. He ate his dinner alone, watched some television alone, and headed to bed alone. "There's no one else in this apartment," he told himself as he opened his bedroom door.
He wasn't expecting his laptop to be on. It was humming softly, and the screen showed an open Word document. Light blinked. "I thought I switched you off," he murmured. He had switched it off, he realised. He'd done so the previous night, but now his laptop was definitely on.
And next to it was his chocolate.
The bar had been opened and broken into little squares, which had been neatly stacked one on top of each other on the foil wrappings. Light looked around his room urgently, but there was no one there. It was just him with a laptop that was supposed to be off, and some chocolate that he hadn't opened.
He sank into the chair by his desk. He was shaking slightly. "Stop it," he told himself. "It's just some chocolate." He buried his face in his hands and focussed on his breathing.
The chocolate was still there when he looked up again. As was the running laptop. Light raised an eyebrow. There was something written on the Word document, text filling the page. He pulled his laptop closer and began to read. It was all one word, he noticed; a word that sent shivers down his spine.
Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira. Kira.
"Someone has a one-track mind," Light murmured.
Kira. If anything could inspire true hatred in Light, then it was Kira. That…person had murdered his father, among millions of other people, and had gotten away with it. After the task force the NPA had set up to catch him had been destroyed – right down to the famed super-detective L – the police forces of the world had pretty much given up, allowing Kira free reign.
Light knew his father would have been disgusted with the state of the world as it was now. But when L had died, hope had died too.
Light slumped back in his chair, performing a mass delete on the text. He knew for a fact that he hadn't written it, and – running on the theory that ghosts might possibly exist – there was no reason for the previous occupant of his apartment to have written it either. He had died of some sort of sugar overdose, according to the landlord, not a heart attack.
He switched his laptop off and shut it. He snatched a piece of the chocolate up off the top of the stack – who on earth did that to their chocolate? – and shoved it in his mouth. It tasted as good as he thought it would, but it was surprisingly cold for something that hadn't been refrigerated.
"I'm going to bed," he announced.
There was no reply.
Light shrugged, and stood up. He moved automatically as he changed into his pyjamas and slipped under the sheets. He buried his face in his pillow and tried not to think about his father and Kira and the sight of his mother's face when she had heard the news.
Sleep didn't come easily to Light that night. He lay with his eyes closed, trying to relax, but couldn't. That feeling of being watched was back, and it was stronger than ever.
He cracked his eyes open and glanced around his room. He froze when his eyes landed on the doorway, and his heart leapt up into his throat. There was a dark figure standing in his doorway, looking right at him. He could make out the shape of ridiculously messy hair and two darker shadows where there should have been eyes. Light tried to look away, but couldn't. He couldn't move.
The figure moved, raising one of its hands to reach for him, and Light clenched his eyes shut. "You aren't real," he hissed.
He only opened his eyes when the feeling of being watched dissipated. The figure had vanished. Light didn't sleep at all that night.
He found it difficult to concentrate at university the next day. He was exhausted and twitchy thanks to all the coffee he'd drunk in an attempt to stay awake. He barely made it through the day, and broke his routine of going to the store in favour of going straight back home. Light was not an insomniac by any means, and he needed his sleep.
What he found when he got home, however, distracted him from his exhaustion. All of his curtains had been closed again, and his laptop was sitting on his coffee table, the Word programme running. Light could have sworn that he had left his laptop on his desk in his bedroom like he always did.
He sighed and bent over it to read the text in the Word document.
"Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real."
Light supposed he had a right to feel slightly incredulous. "Of course you'd say that," he snapped. "You're a figment of my imagination."
There was a response this time. The coffee mug that had been sitting on the table next to his laptop shattered against the far wall. Light got the impression that whoever – whatever – it was he was talking to did not like being told it wasn't there.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
No one replied.
By the end of the week, Light was barely able to stay awake, and yet completely unable to sleep. He didn't want to sleep: whenever he did, the apparition would come back. It would mess around with his things, his head – though not only when he was asleep – and it would watch him as he lay unconscious.
He was beginning to understand why no one had wanted the apartment. The previous resident was haunting it.
There was nothing for it: Light knew that if he ever wanted to get a good night's sleep ever again – without having to move back in with his mother and younger sister – he would have to figure out what the ghost wanted.
The first step to that, of course, was asking the landlord who had rented the flat out before him. The question did not do down well. Light watched the man's usually jovial expression transform into one of distaste in a matter of seconds and knew that he was going to have difficulties. He wondered if the man was remembering the body's discovery.
"He gave a false name," the landlord said. "I never found out for sure who he was."
"What was the name?" Light asked him.
It was a pretty obvious alias, under the circumstances. Ryuuga Hideki was a famous pop idol and still very much alive. And who on earth rented an apartment under a false name? A criminal? That would explain the Word document with Kira typed all over it. Had he used a fake name to try and escape Kira?
Or maybe he hadn't been a criminal at all. There were such things as witness protection, after all. Or maybe he could have been one of Ryuuga Hideki's fanboys.
Or maybe, and Light felt slightly incredulous at the thought, he could have been L.
"Do you remember what he looked like?" he asked.
The landlord frowned at him. "Why do you want to know? He wasn't anything like that famous one to be sure."
Light smiled. "I'm just curious," he said, hoping that he sounded as innocent as he thought. The landlord was definitely suspicious.
The man sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "He was a scrawny guy," he said. "Pale too, and slouched. Wore cheap clothing and walked around barefoot. He looked ill all the time too, like he wasn't sleeping. He had huge bags under his eyes. Black eyes, I think, they might have been dark grey though, and his hair was black. Very messy."
Light sighed. Dark hair and eyes described the majority of Japan's population. "What did he do?" he asked. "You said before I moved in that his body had been…" he trailed off and the landlord grimaced at the memory. "Surely someone must have missed him?"
"No one I know of," the landlord said brusquely. "He was with an old man when he moved in – his grandfather, I think he said it was – but I couldn't track the man down when I found the body. He ended up having a state funeral. As for what he did…he was a student at Touoh University apparently, but don't ask me what he was a student of. The university didn't have any working contact details for him either, by the way."
He sighed and ran his hand through his hair again. "I don't know why you want to know all this. He was a creepy guy when he was alive and trust me, he was even creepier with all the maggots crawling over him."
Light winced. This 'Ryuuga Hideki' had been pretty unfortunate, even if he was mysterious and creepy. No one deserved to be found like that. No one. Not even a criminal.
"I was just curious," he said, smiling sweetly at his landlord once more. "Thank you for answering my questions."
The man grunted and rolled his eyes. "Sure," he said. "Just make sure that they're about your boiler or something next time, okay?"
Light laughed. "Okay."
As soon as he turned away his smile faded in order to be replaced with a calculating look. So his apartment was haunted by an ex-student at his own university? That would make tracking down his records a great deal easier, though Light knew that they were probably faked as well. If he'd gone through the trouble of using a fake name – albeit a fairly obvious one – then there was no way that he had used accurate information on a university application form unless he had been incredibly stupid.
Light wondered if there had been any reason behind using the alias of 'Ryuuga Hideki'. He knew that the first thing that sprung to his mind on hearing the name was the singer his sister had so many posters of up on her walls. He certainly wouldn't have pictured a scruffy student who had looked like a corpse when he was still alive. Could that have been something to do with it? He knew – everyone knew – that Kira could kill with just a name. Surely then, picking a false name that would make Kira think of someone else – an innocent that he wouldn't want to kill – was an intelligent move.
Light raised a hand and massaged his forehead as he walked back up to his apartment. Apparently the resident friendly ghost – Light hoped that it was feeling friendlier now that he had admitted that it existed – had been pretty smart.
He almost walked past his apartment in the end. Deep in thought and bordering on exhaustion, he had been too preoccupied to notice his door. He wouldn't have noticed at all if it hadn't been for his neighbour, an elderly woman, opening her door to tell him to turn his television down when he went back inside.
Light paled at her words. His television had definitely been switched off when he'd left to talk to his landlord. Evidently his undead roommate was up to something. Again.
"Sorry about that, Takeshi-san," he said, giving her an apologetic bow. "I put it on for background noise. I'll be sure to be more considerate in future."
She sniffed and shut her door in his face.
"Bitch," he muttered, and turned back to look at his door. It looked plain and boring and just like every other door in that hallway – apart from its little brass number – but in that moment it looked incredibly sinister. He swallowed nervously and pulled his keys out of his pocket.
The door unlocked easily, but when he swung it open he gasped. His breath misted in the air and he shivered violently. It had been like opening the door to a walk in freezer. He could hear his TV blaring and, mindful of risking his neighbour's wrath more than he already had, he darted inside. He hugged himself as he walked deeper into his apartment, rubbing his arms through his too-thin shirt. It was freezing cold and dark. Very dark.
The curtains he had opened wide that morning had been shut tightly, and the only light came from the flickering television.
He grabbed the remote off the coffee table and turned the volume down – it had been at top volume; no wonder he'd heard complaints – and took a moment to study the channel the ghost had chosen to play. It was Sakura TV.
Previously known for running tacky game shows, reality TV programmes and wildly inaccurate news reports, Sakura TV had made a name for itself recently as the first channel to ever show a video made by Kira and prided itself on being chosen as Kira's official television channel. Now it showed more accurate news reports in the aim of aiding its patron, showed documentaries on Kira – not that they knew much to make programmes like that on – and held religious services to Kira every hour or so, begging him to save them from corruption.
It was, in Light's opinion, still incredibly tacky. Personally, he thought that Kira could have chosen a much better station to claim as his own. Besides, the fact that Kira had his own cult didn't settle well with him; Kira had killed his father, after all, along with a lot of his father's co-workers.
It was one of those services now. He watched as a fat, moustachioed man dressed in a tent-like white robe trimmed in gold raised his arms above his head and screamed for Kira to bring damnation on the law-breakers.
"You have terrible taste in television," Light commented.
He hadn't expected an answer. The ghost had never answered him before, after all, but this time there came the sound of a dry chuckle from behind him. The hairs on the back of Light's neck stood on end and he pivoted slowly on the spot to look behind him.
Sitting on his couch, with his knees tucked up under his chin, was a pale, scruffy looking man with wild black hair and dark eyes rimmed with thick black bags. He was transparent.
Light nearly screamed, but managed to keep his mouth shut just in time. Instead he chose to stare wide-eyed at the figure – the ghost who had been making his life hell – and tried not to panic.
The ghost looked up at him, cocking his head to one side almost playfully, though there was nothing playful about his expression. He looked at Light calculatingly for a moment before returning his attention to the television.
"Yagami Light," he said, "aged twenty, born on February the twenty-eighth nineteen eighty-six. You are the only son and eldest child of Yagami Soichiro and Yagami Sachiko, and the elder brother to their daughter Sayu. You were the junior high school tennis champion in nineteen ninety-nine and two thousand, though you quit before you entered high school where you proceeded to get top grades in every subject."
Light gaped at him. The ghost merely blinked, glanced up at him again briefly before continuing to stare at the television. "I'm afraid that beyond that my information may be a little out of date."
Light felt like his knees were about to give out so he sat down before he fell down. He ended up perched on the sofa next to the ghost, trying as hard as he could to ignore the chill radiating off the spirit. "How?" he asked. "How do you know all of that?"
The ghost didn't look at him this time. "It is my business to check the backgrounds with everyone I work with along with those of their family."
"Who are you?" Light asked, forcing himself to keep his voice calm.
The ghost turned towards him, and Light noted that – rather disconcertingly – he could see the light from the television flickering over the cloth of the sofa through the ghost's body.
"I am L," the ghost said. He lifted a bony hand and bit down on the pad of his thumb, worrying it slightly between his teeth. Light absent-mindedly wondered if that was some sort of nervous habit. Could ghosts even have nervous habits?
The thought of a ghost being nervous around him, of all people, struck him as fairly ironic under the circumstances. After all, it was his apartment that was being haunted.
"Oh," he said. Then, "you worked with my father, then."
"Yagami-san is a good man," L said quietly, his words sounding slightly muffled by his thumb.
"Was," Light corrected. "Kira killed him too."
Light jumped when, suddenly, the people on the television burst into song, praising Kira's name to the heavens; their outstretched arms raised above their heads and their expression rapturous. He glowered at the TV. Kira didn't deserve such a spectacle. If those people wanted to worship something then they should have gone into religion rather than making one out of a glorified serial killer.
L, judging by the faintly disgusted noise he made in the back of his throat, agreed with him.
"Do you…" Light said awkwardly. "Is there something you need before you move on?"
From the corner of his eye, he saw L's lips quirk. "I must catch Kira," he said calmly.
Light had figured that it would be something like that. What else would it have been? What else would the greatest detective in the world have wanted except the completion of the case he had been working on when he died?
Light closed his eyes briefly. "Would you like me to help?" he asked.
There was silence, and it was only the fact that the freezing temperature remained the same that told him that his ghostly companion hadn't left.
"Yes," L said eventually.
Light opened his eyes, looked the ghost right in the eyes, and nodded. And he wondered if he had just signed his death warrant.