Disclaimer: See the first chapter.
AN: This is the final chapter of The Apartment. Thank you for staying with me through my first multi-chapter Death Note fic and for all of your wonderful reviews. I hope you enjoy this, and the epilogue which is at the bottom.
Light closed his eyes in anticipation. The blond boy had sprung into action as soon as the lights had cut off, and there was an ominous click as his handgun was cocked. Light felt his hands start to shake. He was going to die. He was going to die because a ghost had set a couple of psychotic teenagers on his tail and because the fuse box needed fixing…
The temperature plummeted, announcing the arrival of Light's ghost in shining ectoplasm.
"What the fuck?" the one with the gun said.
Rather sadistically, Light found himself pleased that someone else agreed that his life was screwed up. He opened his eyes again, and was treated to both of the little psychopaths gaping at the sofa. Even the pale one, who had previously looked about as unflappable as it was possible to be while remaining human.
"Hey L," Light said.
He glanced sideways. Hunched over next to him on the sofa, transparent knees tucked up to his transparent chest, was the ghostly form of L. He smiled in greeting around the thumb he was brutally mauling between his teeth.
"Uh…" gun boy said.
"It appears Yagami-kun was telling the truth," N said quietly.
"Did you have to screw with the lighting?" Light asked. "I could have been killed." He waved a hand at the still gaping blond. "And my landlord's probably going to kill me if you've damaged the fuse box."
"Light is unnecessarily worried," L said calmly. "Hello again Mello, Near."
Apparently the psychos had names that weren't restricted to a single letter.
"Sv'ataya mat' Meri Boga…"
"L," N – Light was going to go out on a limb and say that this one was Near – breathed. "H-how?"
L made that odd arm-dislocating shrug again and bit harder at the thumb in his mouth. "Kira found me," he said tonelessly. "I woke up here."
Light had a horrible feeling that L had actually had to watch his own corpse decompose. He shuddered and looked away, not wanting to imagine what it must have been like.
"You're dead," he heard the blond one – Mello – say.
"Duh," Light muttered under his breath.
There was an awkward silence, where Light felt like his skin was going to crawl off from the hatred in the blond's stare. How had he managed to forget which one of the maniacs was toting a gun, exactly? Light was more than happy to blame sleep-depravation and overdoses of instant ramen.
Huh, his grocery shopping was still lying on the hallway floor.
"So what now?" Mello asked.
"We continue our search for Kira," L said. "Your cooperation will increase our chances of success by eighty – no, ninety two percent."
Light suppressed the urge to ask what their percentage of possible success had been before the terrible twosome had broken in. Instead he tried to act like this was the most normal experience of his life; like he often entertained psychopaths and ghosts in his apartment in attempts to solve murder mysteries.
"Your suspicions of Yagami Light's involvement in the case have been assuaged," Near stated. "Therefore it would be wasteful of his intelligence for us to proceed without the case without including him in our investigation."
He said it all in a perfect monotone. Light stared at him. He'd never met someone who sounded so much like a robot before. He wasn't the only one staring at Near in disbelief, though. Mello rounded on him, an expression of absolute shock and frustration on his face.
"Include this jackass?" he demanded. "Are you crazy?"
Light raised an eyebrow. "I'm a jackass?" he asked. "I'm not the one breaking and entering, psycho."
L sighed and muttered something that sounded distinctly like "children". Then, "Mello, Near and Light will be working together," he said, louder. "If Mello and Near require my input, that is, as my haunting locale is restricted to Light's own location."
There was another silence, where Near and L stared unblinkingly at Mello, who squirmed uncomfortably under the double weight of their gaze. Light rolled his eyes.
"Right," he said. "Well, while you're making your minds up, would anyone like some lunch?"
Later, Light regretted ever leaving them alone. In the space of time it took for him to put his shopping away, grill some mackerel, throw together a simple stir fry – actual vegetables! – and boil some rice, the three 'geniuses' in his living room had decided that it would be for the best if Mello and Near moved into his apartment – along with their friend, Matt, who'd opted out of trespassing – so that they could all work closer together.
Upon hearing of this decision, Light could have killed them. Mello, at least, seemed to recognise his eye twitching for what it was. Near and L either didn't notice or didn't care. Light suspected it was the latter, and was only prevented from committing homicide-by-chopsticks by the fact that L was already dead, and Mello looked like he was about to beat him to it anyway.
The looks he was sending his partner would have sent anyone who wasn't a robot running screaming in the opposite direction.
L just looked on at them all with an impish grin on his face.
After that, Light's degree was shoved very firmly to the side. The first few times he took a step back from the case to study or go to class earned him disparaging looks from Near, who was – apparently – still trying to get Mello to see his worth. Mello just looked unbearably smug all the time.
So in the end, Light called the Dean's office and claimed grief as a reason to stop going in to university.
"It was Kira, sir," he said, twisting the cord of the phone absent-mindedly round his finger. "He killed one of my friends. I didn't even realise he was a criminal. His mother's in pieces, and I – I have to help her. She has no one else. Yes sir, Kira killed my father too. He was a police officer involved in the investigation. I'm sorry sir, but it's the right thing to do. I'll make the work up next semester."
"You are a fantastic bullshitter," Mello said when he hung up. Light glared at him.
And with that, it was done. He had officially sold his soul to the Kira investigation and all the trappings that came with it. Trappings that included an agoraphobic albino, a trigger-happy asshole, and a lazy sonovabitch who not only spent twenty out of twenty four hours a day playing computer games, but who also happened to be the one who tracked Light down in the first place.
It was a good thing, Light thought, that he'd already got used to having a ghost around or else he might have gone insane.
Not that L was around all the time. He faded in and out of reality just as he'd always done, but every time he left, Light found himself starting to get antsy. He was still firmly entrenched in the belief that Mello would kill him without a moment's hesitation, and L's presence was like a very cold security blanket. L was the barrier keeping Mello from snapping and revealing more sociopathic tendencies.
It had come close when Light had accidentally walked in on him and Near doing things to each other in his spare room that made most yaoi manga look tame. Light had only just managed to close the door before a knife embedded itself in the wood at a height that – he discovered later – was exactly level with his eyes.
He hadn't been able to look at either of them for days. Matt, the useless one, thought it was hilarious. Light wanted to hurt him. So did Mello. Apparently the only time they would ever agree was when it came to people who they thought should die – apart from when that person was Light. Light didn't want to die; Mello would be quite happy to rip him apart with his bare hands.
It was the middle of May when they caught a lead. Amane Misa – fashion model, actress and L's main suspect for Second Kira – announced her engagement to the whole world. Her fiancé was one Mikami Teru, a lawyer. Exact details of their meeting were hazy, and Mikami fit the profile.
High sense of justice – check.
Obsessive compulsive disorder – check.
Moral superiority – check.
Known association with Second Kira (their possible acquaintance being in the high seventies percent-wise) – check.
Light could have cried with relief. If this Mikami guy was Kira, then they had as good as caught the bastard. Then it meant that L and his father could be avenged and he could have his life back. With the end in sight, he worked tirelessly, comparing data files and charts and researching Mikami Teru's background so thoroughly that he was pretty sure that – had anyone wanted to know – he could have told them the exact shade of Mikami's piss on any given day of the week.
The investigation ran smoothly. Then, predictably, the shit hit the fan.
Near, for some unknown reason, had decided to confront Mikami in a waterfront warehouse. At the same time, Matt – with the aid of some NPA officers who had all owed Light's father favours – blindfolded Amane Misa and took her into custody, leaving justice to be carried out on Mikami by L, Light, Near and Mello.
Near had passed around the Death Note he'd got Mello to steal from Mikami's gym locker – a thought that had made Light laugh hysterically; what sort of idiot carried such a weapon around with himself all the time, risking its exposure with every second, only to leave it in a poorly padlocked gym locker for two hours every morning?
Shinigami, as it turned out, were seriously ugly. The one that hung around Mikami alos kept glancing at L and laughing hysterically. Light seemed to be the only one paying any attention to it. L was focussed on Mikami; Near was revealing his brilliant cheat-riddled plan; Mikami was growing more and more psychotic by the second; Mello was used to laughing idiots, having apparently hung out with Matt for the majority of his adolescent life.
Mikami's face had turned a bizarre shade of purple by the time Near had fully explained the minutiae of his brilliant plan. The complex circles, lines, tangents and random squiggles of his thought process had all been laid out for all to see, and he looked smug about it. L, on the other hand, had pointed out to Light several times during the investigation what he would have done had he been alive.
L's version had been far more straight-forward, however, since that approach had led to L's untimely death, Light didn't have much faith in it. Besides, he too was more of a circular logic person.
Mikami burst out laughing. "You caught up with me, yes, but Kira will live on! Kira is God!"
"He's a raving lunatic," Mello said. He cocked his gun expressively in preparation to put a bullet between Mikami's eyes – something he'd been itching to do for days.
But Mikami ignored the threat and looked straight at Light. "You weren't careful enough," he said, and pulled a piece of lined paper out of the pocket of his neatly pressed trousers. "Ryuk! Give me the Shinigami Eyes!"
Like all crazy villains with delusions of grandeur, Mikami had focussed on the wrong person. Mello raised his gun and squeezed the trigger. There was an explosion, Mikami's head snapped back and a fine red mist blew outwards like a halo. As if in slow motion, Mikami's knees gave out and he dropped. For a moment, the corpse swayed on its knees, before toppling forwards and landing with a crunch on the concrete floor. Light privately thought it was almost offensive to L that Kira had turned out to be such a moron.
Mello blew the smoke from the barrel of his gun, flicked on the safety, and tucked it firmly back into his obscenely leather pants. In the front. Light, having seen far more of Mello's anatomy than he'd wanted, wondered how on earth he found room for it in there.
The Shinigami fell over, it was laughing so hard. It hovered horizontally in the air.
L walked over to the corpse and peered down at the man who had killed him. He crouched down, folding his knees up to his chest and inserting his thumb into his mouth. He looked…just as transparent as always. Light had thought that the end of Kira would let L move on. L had thought that. Was L going to be stuck in his apartment for the rest of his death?
Oddly, Light didn't mind the idea too much. He liked L, he realised. He was – improbably – his best friend. He was intelligent and made for good conversation and chess games, once they got past the initial problem of L not being able to touch things very easily. Having L haunt him a bit longer would be…nice.
Just as long as they got rid of the three other living people that were cluttering up his apartment.
L tilted his head at an improbable angle for a moment, and then looked up at Light. There was a tiny, transparent wrinkle between his eyebrows. He looked thoroughly miserable, and his teeth were chewing more vigorously on his thumb than ever.
"Please come here for a moment, Light-kun," he said.
Light approached him. He was aware of Mello and Near watching them curiously, but he and the Shinigami's laughter, but he ignored them. All he could focus on was L's silvery presence.
"What is it?" he asked.
In reply, L pointed down at the piece of paper that Mikami had pulled out of his pocket. When he'd first revealed it, Light hadn't been able to get a good look at it, but from this distance there was no mistaking the neat kanji.
Yagami Light, 5:33 pm, 31 May 2009, Heart Attack
Light swallowed and glanced at his watch. The digits 5:32:55 stared back up at him. He looked at L. They had been sloppy. They hadn't covered his tracks. Kira had caught him and Light was going to die.
"Shit," he said.
Something in his chest constricted. Light gasped for air, his eyes watered, and the last thing he saw before the world went black was L's eyes growing wide with horror.
Light slumped onto his sofa with an exaggerated pout on his lips. L looked across to him from where he had been watching Matt play Resident Evil on his Playstation with a kind of morbid fascination.
"They're having sex on my bed again," Light explained. He hadn't meant to intrude – again – but Near's laptop had beeped with a message for the new L and L had been too lazy to poke his head through the door and tell Near himself.
Or, perhaps, he'd realised what was going on.
L chuckled at his psychological pain as Matt whooped something about "owning Pyramid Head" or something like that.
"If it bothers you so much we could always haunt them into leaving," he suggested. "But then Light-kun would have to deal with new tenants having sex in his bedroom."
Light grimaced. "They can stay for now," he said. "They keep things interesting at least." And Mello's death glares were far less intimidating now that he was actually dead and could escape them by vanishing from human sight. "I'll just have to tell them to hang a sock on the door or something."
L grinned, stood, and held his spidery hand out. "Then let's throw socks at them until they get the hint," he said. "Mello is amusing when he's frustrated."
Light grinned back, and took L's hand with his own.
L no longer felt cold.