Yay, new story! I've had this idea for a while, so… I'm glad to finally be able to get it out there.

So, um, yeah… Back last term I did a module for my university course about the detective story and its origins, different forms, inspiration from and impact on culture… It was very interesting indeed, and since Death Note has something of a detective-story format, what with half of the characters being detectives of one variety or another, I really wanted to apply some of the genre specifics and analysis to it…

Hence the title of this fic. So, yeah, while this story isn't (I hope) going to turn out to be an annotated textbook example of a "detective story", I do intend to play with some of the basic rules of the genre - being, as it is, extremely formulaic.

But it'll be fun. It totally will.


I – C. Auguste Dupin

"Well, there's nothing wrong with him physically," the doctor said, looking up from the file lying open on his desk, "and he's almost finished the rehabilitation programme—"

"Would you say it's amnesia?"

"A form of it, certainly." The doctor frowned. "But I… it's a strange form. Often patients who show signs of amnesia have damage to either their long-term or short-term memory, but he… Well, there's nothing wrong with either. It's possibly a variation of trauma-induced amnesia, causing him to forget a particularly painful incident, but that still doesn't exactly add up."

"Does he remember the crash?"

"Yes, he does. That's what I mean about the "trauma" explanation not adding up – that's the one traumatic thing that happened, and it's probably the reason for what's happened to his memory, but that's not the thing that he's blanked out."

"No." The detective leaned back in his chair. "It's very strange… that the one thing – the only thing – he doesn't remember is the fact that he's Kira."

The doctor smiled thinly.

"I'll tell you now that his agent isn't happy."

"I know – we've spoken." The detective stood. "And on that note… would it be alright if I spoke to him?"

"Well… I don't see a problem, but he is being released from the hospital in three days. Can't it wait?"

"I'd rather not. A lot can happen in three days, doctor."

"That's a fair point. But that taken into consideration… you still haven't exactly told me why you're here. What exactly is it that you want with Light Yagami so urgently? Is it to do with the accident?"

"I'm afraid not. There was nothing suspicious about the crash that put him in here – it was an accident, as you said. Unfortunate, but common. It's more… to do with his work."

The doctor blinked.

"His novels?"

"Something like that." The detective took out a brown envelope and handed it across the desk. "These are the basic case details – I thought it would probably be worth the hospital to which he was admitted having a copy. It explains everything more concisely than I can. There's no conclusion to the mystery yet, of course – that's why I'm here."

"Thankyou." The doctor began to open the envelope; but paused, looking up as the detective reached the door of the office. "You should be able to find his room easily, Detective…?"

"Yes, I trust that I shall." The detective leaned for a moment against the doorframe, looking at the doctor with his perceivingly-oblivional jet eyes. "And don't bother about the rank title. You can just call me L."

"I used to read stories with guys exactly like you in them," Light Yagami said, after a long moment of studying the man, calling himself a detective, who had just shown up at his door and asked if he might spare a moment to speak with him.

Having lived in the hospital for close to three months, firstly being treated for the wounds he had sustained in the car crash and then being moved out here to an adjacent apartment so that he could be monitored after showing signs of memory loss, Light was used to people coming in and out. So he hadn't been surprised by the knock at his door – but he had been surprised by the instigator of the knock.

Mostly because he looked like he'd walked straight off a film set.

"You're… a real detective, aren't you?" Light went on, choosing his words carefully despite the fact that they sounded casual, even a little redundant.

And as he said it, he glanced again at the man's attire. Really… although it kind of suited him, was he joking? He'd said he was a detective, and hell, yes, he looked like a detective… from about sixty years ago. He wore a black suit, with a white shirt and grey tie, and over it, open, a grey trenchcoat – and to top it, crowning his choppy raven hair, a matching grey fedora with a black silk band.

"Of course I'm a real detective," the "real detective" replied lazily. "Here." He pulled out a licence and handed it across to the younger man, who scanned it with narrowed amber eyes.

"Well, I didn't say I didn't believe you," Light replied shortly, handing it back.

"Then why the issue?"

"People… well, detectives…" Light folded his arms, growing irritated. "Nobody dresses like that anymore!"

"I do."

Light snorted.

"I can see that." He paused for a moment. "And you said your name was 'L'?"

"I said you could call me 'L', Yagami-kun."

"What's that, a codename?"

"Something like that, I guess."

"Hn." Light regarded him warily. "Well… you don't have to stand there." He gestured to the seat opposite his own. "You can sit down, if you want."

"That's very kind." L shot him a lazy little smile and sat down; Light had been expecting him to sit… oddly, somehow, but he didn't. He sat normally, took off his hat, put it next to him and gazed very pointedly at Light.

He said nothing.

"So why are you here?" Light bit out at length, starting to feel quite unsettled. "I haven't done anything."

L tilted his head.

"And how certainly can you say that, Yagami-kun?" he asked quietly. "From what I've heard, there's rather a large chunk of your memory missing – or being repressed, at least."

Light blinked.

"If you've only come here," he said coldly, "to accuse me of… I don't know, being a thief or a murderer or something, with the theory that I've lost my memory of it—"

"Oh, no, Yagami-kun," L interrupted swiftly. "Don't misunderstand my intention. I don't think that you personally have done anything arrest-worthy."

"Then why are you here?" Light pressed.

L gave a little sigh and averted his gaze to the ceiling for a moment.

"The truth is, Yagami-kun," he said quietly after a moment's consideration, "…I need your help."

Light stiffened imperceptively, taken aback by this statement.

"So, wait…" He kneaded his forehead briefly as he tried to make sense of what L was saying. "First of all you say that, technically, I can't be sure of anything that I have or haven't done because I'm suffering from memory loss, and then you say that despite that, you want my help with something?"

"More or less."

Light gave another snort.

"If my memory loss is such a big deal, to the extent that you think I can't rightfully say that I haven't murdered someone, then how would I be of any help to you?" he snapped.

"That's a good point – in fact, it's only fair to tell you now that you may in fact turn out to be completely useless," L replied pleasantly. "But this is actually a last resort. There's no-one else who can help me, Light Yagami – no-one but you."

"Help you do what?"

"Solve a case, of course. I am a "real detective", after all."

Light couldn't help arching an eyebrow.

"And why am I so special?" he asked coolly. "Why is someone who lost a portion of his memory after face-planting the dashboard the key to cracking this seemingly-impossible case of yours?"

"Because," L responded carefully, "it's the portion of your memory that you lost after you "face-planted the dashboard" that's what I need to unravel the mystery."

Light rolled his eyes.

"Well, good luck with that," he said nonchalantly. "Whatever it is you need… it's the one thing I don't remember."

"That's why I agreed that you may turn out to be completely useless." L smiled at him. "But for now, I'm optimistic."

"Well, that's a start," Light muttered sardonically.

L gave a little nod, either oblivious of or ignoring his sarcasm.

"Yes," he agreed absently. "It's good to have somewhere to start."

"And do you?"

L tilted his head at Light curiously.

"Of course," he replied. "I wouldn't be here otherwise, Yagami-kun. You ought to know that."

Light's expression became more sour.

"And why is that?" he asked coldly. "Why should I know why I'm your first port of call? You already said that I haven't done anything, but even if I had, I wouldn't remember it."

"That's an entirely fair defence on your part, but I…" L trailed off, apparently sinking deep into thought again. "Alright, well, there are two ways of going about this. Both come to the same conclusion in the end, so…"

"I don't follow."

"Don't worry – I'm confident that you'll be able to keep up. But first I need to decide…" L paused again; then leaned closer to Light across the gap between them, his dark eyes gleaming. "…Tell me, does the name 'Kira' mean anything to you?"

Light gave an irritated little sigh.

"That again?" he muttered blackly.

"So that's a no?"

"W-well… they've told me that I—"

"But without them telling you, it wouldn't mean anything to you?"


"So you don't remember."

"No, I don't," Light bit out.

"Okay, then that's obviously not the best way to go. We'll come back to it. Even if you don't remember… I'm going to assume that you're familiar with detective fiction. You did just say that you had read stories about detectives… who looked like me."

Light hesitated, then gave a little nod.

"Japanese reprints of things like Raymond Chandler and Ellery Queen," he replied. "And manga modelled on those kinds of detective stories."

"Pulp," L mused. "Or the 'Hardboiled' genre, as the critics like to call it. The American reclaiming of the detective fiction format in the 1930s and 1940s. Okay, good. How about back further?"

Light frowned.

"How far?"

"How about the quintessential British detective story? You know, British upper-class amateur detectives solving murders in sleepy little villages in Kent and Yorkshire, or on transcontinental trains."

"Like Poirot?"


Light shook his head.

"No, those never really interested me. Anything aside from Agatha Christie is difficult to find in Japanese, anyway."

"Ah, but Yagami-kun will surely not tell me that he has not read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories?"

Light scowled.

"Of course I have," he said sharply. "But those aren't from the same time period as the Agatha Christie novels."

"No, I know that – and I'm glad that you know, too. We're almost back at the source."

"Well… Sherlock Holmes was the first popular, consistently-recurring fictional detective."

"Of course – but not the prototype."

"No, I…" Light noted the way L was smiling at him, clearly amused by this little pop quiz. "…You're just waiting for me to say 'Dupin', aren't you?"

"Ah, but of course." L gave a satisfied nod. "C. Auguste Dupin, the creation of Edgar Allan Poe – the original prototypical fictional detective, if you will. First appeared in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, published in 1841."

"Thanks for the History of Literature lesson," Light said coolly.

"Oh, I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you that."

"I didn't." Light raised his chin, his demeanour no less irritated despite the gentle flattery. "So what does Dupin have to do with why you're here?"

"Everything, I'm sure you'll find. You see, when writing The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Poe didn't just create the prototype for every other fictional detective that has been invented since, from Holmes to Poirot to Marlowe. He also created the structure of the detective story – the formula by which the mechanics of that particular type of story works. Arguably, perhaps more so than any other form of fiction, the detective story relies on the impeccable balance of its elements – a poorly-written detective story will fail to have a satisfactory conclusion for either its characters or its readers."

"R-right, but—"

"So to strip down that structure critically… well, without getting into the complexities of the criminal mind or the methodology of solving a case, it actually becomes very simple: A criminal steals or murders, but only the outcome of the crime is revealed to both detective and reader at the beginning of the story. The bulk of the story is taken up by the investigation – that is, the uncovering of the murder or theft method by the detective, in addition to the mental or physical gathering of suspects. The story ends – and can only end – once the detective has reached a conclusion, pieced all the parts of the puzzle together and unveiled the identity of the perpetrator of the crime."

"That's not… Well, it's…" Light cut himself off and bit at his bottom lip for a long, incensed moment.

"Please don't feel that I am patronising you," L said airily, sensing the younger man's irritation. "I'm just making sure that we're of a common understanding. I trust that my thesis makes sense to you?"

"Of course it does," Light snapped. "But it doesn't explain anything – at least not anything about why you're here. And I know I've asked you that about four times now, but you keep giving me all these cryptic answers about Dupin and detective stories! Whatever this case is that you apparently need my help with, I'm sure it's nothing like a detective story – real crimes are never as formulaic or—"

"No, you see, Yagami-kun," L interrupted calmly. "This is my problem. This case is exactly like a detective story."

He looked very pointedly at Light, his black eyes locking with Light's coffee-coloured ones across the space between them.

"It's exactly like," he went on quietly, knowing that Light was, by now, enthralled by his words instead of annoyed, "your detective story."

Light blinked at him.

"The detective story that I supposedly wrote?" he clarified after a long, terse moment.

"One of them. Your latest."

Light gave him a piteous little smile.

"That's exactly what they've all told me," he responded genially. "The doctors, the nurses, the psychiatrists… That I'm supposedly an author of detective novels. Very successful, they say – famous, even. I've apparently written three to date under the pseudonym of 'Kira', derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the English noun 'killer'." Still smiling, half-amused and half-despairing, he began to shake his head. "But I don't remember. I don't remember ever writing even one book, never mind three—"

"You were working on a fourth at the time of the crash. Your agent has your original handwritten manuscript versions of the first four chapters."

The smile was still plastered on Light's handsome face as he leaned closer still to L.

"But I don't remember," he hissed. "I can't remember a thing about… about being Kira, or—"

"I know that."

Light hesitated, then leaned back again.

"Then I'm no good to you," he replied sharply, the smile having finally faded.

"Perhaps," L agreed again. "And perhaps not. Let's not be hasty in judging your worth to me, Yagami-kun. You may not remember writing the story, but you still wrote it. I'm sure the thought process you employed whilst creating it is still in your mind somehow; perhaps only in the subconscious, but there all the same."

"Even if it is, and provided you are able to somehow get at it, how will that help?"

"Slow down, Yagami-kun. Let me tell you about my case first."

Light folded his arms and settled lower in his chair in response.

"Have you read them?" L then asked, deviating despite the fact that it was he who had previously redirected the conversation.

"Read what?" Light asked irritably.

"Your books, of course. If you don't remember writing them—"

"Yes, yes, I have," Light interrupted with a deep sigh. "One of the doctors brought me his copies to see if it would trigger my memory. It didn't, but I read them." He thumbed at the desk across the room, upon which, next to a closed laptop, was piled several books. "They're over there. I really need to give them back to him, come to think of it…"

L nodded distantly.

"Your debut novel, published when you were eighteen, is called Ghosts of Dust," he reeled off flatly. "It won several prestigious literature awards and paved the way for your second book, entitled Poison Pen. Ghosts of Dust was a standalone story – a clever but formulaic detective tale of murder, lies and betrayal, weaved around the pursuit of a legendary, priceless jewel which, as it turned out in the end, did in fact never exist. Poison Pen, however, was the beginning of a series around a recurring detective character you created – a strange and original being whom you referred to in the story only as 'Ryuk', and who had a supernatural background, having been a God of Death, or Shinigami, before being cast out to Earth as punishment by the Shinigami King. So, with nothing to do in the human realm, he took on a human guise and became a detective, and his interest was quickly drawn to a strange sequence of events which were really quite horrific in detail, with people dying in all sorts of obscene and unusual ways. The mystery was laid bare when Ryuk found the "murderer" to be a pen made of human bone, cursed to take over the human who used it and make them write gruesome stories which became true. Both the premise and the popularity of Poison Pen led to your third book, Death Note. The idea of an everyday item with the supernatural ability to kill was one which you presumably thought could be used further, and so this third book was about a notebook from Ryuk's own home-world – the Shinigami Realm. It had the power to kill the person whose name was written into it any way the writer chose, and it fell into the hands of a young man who thought the world would be better run without greedy, corrupt politicians, so he began to kill them. The guilt did, however, drive him mad, and he killed himself at the climax of the story. Ryuk, meanwhile, debated both destroying the notebook and taking it back to the Shinigami Realm, but the last passage of your book narrated him as keeping it instead – no doubt setting the scene for your next novel."

Light was nodding impatiently.

"I know that," he barbed. "I already told you that I read them. But I don't see… I mean, you say this case of yours is like the third book, Death Note, but unless a notebook like that has suddenly—"

"No, no, not the notebook itself," L interrupted blandly. "Don't be silly, Yagami-kun – you know such a thing exists only in stories. You invented the thing yourself."

"Then what—?"

"Well, now…" L smiled lazily at him. "You can certainly kill greedy, corrupt politicians without a murderous notebook, can't you?"

Light's eyes narrowed.

"Politicians have been killed? I didn't hear about that."

"It's been kept fairly under wraps until now, but it's about to come out, I guarantee it – it's on the brink of being splashed over every news station and front page there is. The Government can't oppress the media forever."

"How many?"

"Five, so far. There will be more, I'm sure of it, if the killer isn't caught. The number might not sound very impressive compared to the scores the character in your book managed to kill, but our murderer doesn't have a Death Note to help him out."

Light's amber eyes grew sharper still.

"And why exactly are people immediately comparing the killings to the ones in my… well, that book?" he bit out. "There are loads of books about detectives and serial killers and, I mean, it's not as if politicians haven't been murdered before—"

"You'll recall the killings in the book," L interrupted lazily. "And, furthermore, the rules of the Death Note. You can kill your victim any way you like, dictating it via the notebook, as long as it is physically possible. If it isn't, or if you don't specify, the victim merely dies of a heart attack. By these rules, the killer in the book murders the first five politicians by specific methods of enforced suicide: The first by jumping from his hotel room window, the second by overdose on painkillers, the third by putting himself into a state of inescapable asphyxiation, the fourth by driving his car over the end of a pier and the fifth, most gruesomely, by committing the act of Seppuku. At the scene of the fifth "suicide" was found the message 'I am Justice', written by the politician in his blood on the floor before he died."

"But those are all suicides," Light argued. "Enforced, yes – but suicides all the same."

L nodded.

"Yes, that is true – and it is true that the five real politician's death were certainly murders, not suicides, enforced or not. But… they have been engineered and set up to mirror the suicides in Death Note. They're not supposed to look like actual suicides, you understand – they are merely supposed to look like the suicides from your book."

"How… how can you tell?" Light asked faintly, beginning to feel slightly sick.

"Well," L said with a dry smile, "I am a "real detective"."

"Don't joke about something like this," Light said in disgust.

"Who's joking?" L tilted his head. "But, if you must know… All the deaths are clearly murders. There are signs of struggle at four of the scenes – for example, the man who "suffocated himself" was found with a pillow over his face. You couldn't suffocate yourself like that – you would faint from a lack of air and your grip on the pillow would loosen, enabling you to breathe. Likewise, with the man who drove his car over the edge of the pier… when the car was retrieved, it was evident that the brake wires had been cut. As for the "Seppuku"… well, it was hardly the "art of suicide" used by the samurai. The man had clearly been butchered with the katana and the blade inserted into his stomach after death."

"What about… the message?"

"Hm? 'I am Justice'?"

"What else?"

"It was there on the floor, exactly where it should have been."

Light lowered his head, gazing intently at the floor.

"So…" he said faintly, "this… is my fault."

"There are people ready to blame you, certainly," L replied. "The news hasn't gotten out into the masses yet, but it's known about in the kind of circles that would benefit from it, you may be sure. Mostly critics, of course, claiming that authors like you and books like yours are to blame for the debauchery of society. I wouldn't pay any attention to it, Yagami-kun – people with any real talent are always being blamed for something or other. It's like their punishment for being so gifted, you could say. As for your books, however… I'm afraid to say that a lot of bookshops have, at this moment, stopped selling them and the print run of the second edition has been postponed – perhaps even cancelled."

Light glanced up again.

"How do you know that?"

"I've spoken to your agent. I didn't want to come straight here and start bombarding you with questions, since I knew you'd been in an accident not long ago, so I went to your agent first. He told me to come here for a better analysis of how you were doing, but…" L gave a little shake of his head. "Well, your agent is still on your side, anyway. He's been defending your name and your novels in your "absence". He seems like a very big fan of yours, actually."

L gave a wry little smile on this and Light met his gaze coolly.

"Yes, he seems that way to me, too. He's come to visit me several times. He was disappointed at first that I didn't remember him—"

"You didn't remember your own agent?"

Light shook his head helplessly.

"I told you, I don't remember anything about those wretched books," he spat. "I don't remember writing them, I don't remember getting any awards for them, I don't remember having Teru Mikami as an agent. I mean, we're "re-acquainted" now and he seems very nice and all, but I can't remember any of the stuff he tells me about. Apparently, before the crash, I was supposed to be entering the finalities of signing a deal for the rights to turn Death Note into a movie. It was meant to have this famous actress Misa Amane in it, and I've apparently met her, but I don't remember that, either." Light gave a thin smile. "You'd think I'd remember that if nothing else, right? Meeting a famous actress? I mean, I know who she is – but I don't remember ever being in the same room as her. But Mikami swears it happened."

L gave a little nod.

"The movie deal is on hold," he replied. "Mikami said he doesn't know what will happen with it, what with this politician thing, but they can't do anything without your signature anyway. But I didn't come here to talk to you about that."

"No." Light looked up at the detective again. "But I… I really don't think I'll be able to help you. I don't remember writing Death Note, and I don't remember the mindset I was in when I was writing it, and to be honest, now that you've told me about what that wackjob is doing – copying the murders from my story – I'm glad I can't recall that mindset."

"That may be, but I would appreciate your help nonetheless, Yagami-kun. I don't think there's anyone else who can help me."

Light frowned.

"Why do you need help, anyway? For a "real detective" like you, surely a messy trail of murders like this is easy to follow right to your culprit?"

L only stood up and shot him a little smile.

"You'd think that, wouldn't you?" he replied nonchalantly. He offered Light his hand. "So are you going to help me or not?"

Light looked at his hand, hesitating; he was appalled by the news of the murders, copied from something that he had – supposedly – created, and also a little scared, and certain, too, that he could be of no help despite being the creator of the killer's inspirational source, because he just couldn't remember a damned thing about Death Note at all.

But this L… This "real detective", with his authentic PI look, calm way of talking and clear level, logical intelligence… He seemed to genuinely believe that he would benefit from Light's help, whether he remembered writing the story or not, and although a part of Light desperately wanted to refuse, another part of him felt as though he mustn't, under any circumstance, deny the detective whatever meagre scrap of assistance he could give him.

Besides, Light was intelligent. He was logically-minded himself, very sharp and perceptive. All the doctors and psychiatrists had confirmed it, but he'd known anyway. Even if he couldn't remember anything about Death Note or Poison Pen or Ghosts of Dust or whatever the hell else, if L were to put some evidence down in front of him, he would be able to puzzle it out, certainly.

So then…

"Okay." Light rose himself and placed his hand in L's to shake with him. "I'll help you any way I can, L."

L smiled at him over the handshake and then took his hand back, retrieving his fedora with it.

"I appreciate it," he said. "…Your doctor said you get out of here in three days?"

Light nodded.

"That's right. Mikami said he would come and get me."

"Tell him to cancel that arrangement. Our investigation starts officially the moment you are released. I do want to speak with your agent again, Yagami-kun, but we have some work to do first. I'll come and get you myself."

"I… w-well, okay, but…"

"Good." L nodded to him and crossed the room to leave. "Well, until then."

He flipped his fedora on and left the room, closing the door sharply behind him.

Light hovered for a moment or two; then found himself drifting almost unwillingly towards the desk. He sank into his chair and pulled out, from one of the stacks of books, the red and black paperback copy of Death Note. He held it in both hands out in front of him and just looked at it for a long while – at the blank background and synthetic decorative bloodstains on the lined black notebook and the yellowed human skull that made up the picture on the cover. He looked at the gothic font that spelled out the words 'Death Note'. He'd chosen to have the title written in English and for the pronunciation to thus be in English, Mikami had said. Whether for a gimmick or a deeper meaning, or…?

Although he felt a sudden sense of revulsion towards it, he nonetheless opened it to the first page and began to read the story that was supposed to be his own.

Oh noes! Mystery and intrigue and murder, oh my!

So… that's that so far. Light is a memoryless detective writer, the ever-adoring Mikami is his agent and L… looks like Inspector Gadget.

(Yes, I read the description of his attire back after writing it and thought "…Oh dear. I totally just described Inspector Gadget. You know, minus the gadgets.")

But I hope you liked it so far! Thankyou for reading!

RobinRocks xXx