You know, it's been so long since I last looked at Detective Fiction that I actually didn't realise that it has 200 reviews. O.o

I apologise for the lateness! I have been pretty busy! To some of you this will be old news by now, but in September I upped sticks from Britain and came over here to Cincinnati, Ohio, for a year abroad as part of my degree. So, yeah, that kind of cut back on my writing time a little...

BUT I am now more or less fully-settled and right back to putting fanfiction before everything else in my life, so HERE WE GO!

Thankyou: Marie Ravenclaw, Gravefire, badwolf5, Plimsoul, Gone and forgoten, ZoneRobotnik, Poison's Ivy, ravensbbf, SeraphChronoMage, Kat, Scripta Lexicona, Ice Rain Mage, Norah, Tainted Ink and Paper, teito13, KhaosKat, PikaNecoMico, Vera-Sama, ?, Deus3xMachina, breadsticks, rianifitria, Lying In An Angels Arms, Damn Expensive Eggs, Gabi Howard, Tanaraza, One percent, Ookami Fuu, Nada1224, ichigatsu, OrangeR0se, Embers of Inspiration, Shebali, TheDustOfJack and ChOFee!

Ah, this chapter... I feel like I'm getting back to my (FFNet) roots a little here. :D

Oh, and also, this chapter was kindly betaed by 4udball. I was too lazy to reread it myself as I usually do, I am (not so) ashamed to say. She's a great beta. Hit her up if you need someone to kick your chapter up the ass.

Detective Fiction

Batman

"B? Well, now, Kira," B crooned, "it's hardly my fault if you can't be bothered to give your characters proper names, now is it?" His idle gaze slid from Light to L and then back again. "Still, it's not as though the trend applies entirely to me. Near? L? How lazy you are becoming. Really, it's just not attractive in such a successful author. In fact, it's rather disrespectful – to both your readers and your characters. It's unfair that you can't be bothered to name us properly. And this..." He plucked at his attire, raising his eyes towards L again in the same motion. "This is just downright shoddy. We're exactly identical."

Light couldn't speak. He had sunk into appalled silence as though it was quicksand and simply staring at B in dismay was doing nothing to enable him to haul himself out of it again. It had been dreadful enough to find that he was responsible – to all intents and purposes – for the string of murders that had been baffling both the law enforcement and the media for over a month now. It had been more terrible still to find that L, far from being the "real detective" that he had always taken such pains to identify himself as, was in fact nothing but words on paper made real.

But this...

He looked at B and the horror that seeped throughout him was indescribable. Author, writer, master of words – and yet words failed him.

"Light-kun." L looked at him, his pale face expressionless. "Did you know about this?"

Light said nothing. He couldn't even nod or shake his head. His fingers quivered on the cold notebook clutched in them and L looked down, following the tiny movement.

"He knew," B chirped gleefully. "Maybe he didn't care to know about it – so he took the cowardly way out and wiped it from his memory – but he knew that I existed."

"And we're the same?" L went on levelly, turning his attention to his doppelganger. "You and I? He subconsciously... fashioned me to look like you."

B tilted his head.

"I honestly couldn't say which of us came first," he replied. "Perhaps it is that he fashioned me to look like you. Or maybe... I simply fashioned myself to look like you."

L frowned.

"Why would you do that?" he asked quietly.

B shrugged and grinned.

"Because that's how I was written?"

"And the message that you wanted Light to deliver," L went on carefully. "It was addressed to... me?"

B gave a nod.

"Of course," he murmured. "After all, it seems like he's even thrown Ryuk aside too. You're the shining star detective now, L. And I wasn't even sure if you knew I existed, so I entreated Light to pass on the message. But don't be upset. I may have killed those politicians, but I didn't kill that little kid. Near, you know? He wasn't even real."

"If you didn't kill him," L said carefully, "yet you used him to get Light to pass on the message to me, then how did he die?"

B shrugged.

"I guess I'd call it something of a plot convenience," he said. "Maybe I'm not the only one who wanted you to know about me – and I know of only one person who has the power to give life – or death – to someone who doesn't even exist."

L looked again at Light, who was still simply staring at B with his hands wrapped tightly around the notebook. His knuckles were white and he was holding it as though he simply couldn't let it go.

He also said nothing, as though he simply couldn't. He was completely frozen but for the quick, desperate rise and fall of his chest as he took in breath after panicky breath.

"That," B murmured, nodding towards him, "on the other hand, is probably something that he could never hope to write. He may have honed his craft, may be on every bestsellers list there is, may have movie and merchandising deals piled up on his desk... Hell, he's good enough to lay pen to paper and breathe life into written words, but still... What you see in him now, L, is something too potent for him. He could never hope to write it, for he cannot handle it."

"He could never hope to...?" L trailed off, looking back at B. "I don't understand."

B grinned again.

"Fear," he said softly, whispering it like a secret. "No matter how a good a writer is, how could he ever know the fear of a murder victim in the last fleeting moments of their life?"

"And you do?" L replied stiffly, turning towards B properly.

"Of course. Am I not a murderer?" The facsimile held up his hand. "But wait, L – before you judge me, as I know you will, for that is how he wrote you... consider how he wrote me. Did I have any choice but to be a murderer?"

L opened his mouth, but B headed him off:

"Oh, I know what you're going to say. You're going to berate me for blaming someone else for the way I am – for saying that my actions couldn't be helped. However, I would maintain that you only think that because that is the way that you were written – nothing I say will sway you from your belief, but that is because it was the only thought process written into your head. You must know it yourself by now – you do what Kira wants you to when he wants you to, and that's all there is to it." He took a sudden few steps towards L and Light, his horrible twisted smile unwavering. "The fact is that he was playing God – and now he'll simply have to suffer for it. Isn't that only fair?"

L stepped in front of Light, placing himself between him and B – the young author still hadn't moved at all, not even his mouth to defend himself.

"Then do you mean to call yourself an agent of God?" L spat.

B stopped but his smile did not.

"Ah, L, I understand your bitterness, although I admit that I am torn when it comes to applying reasoning to it – is it that you are angry that I am right and you know it, or is it because I have admitted to being the murderer? Have I robbed you of your victory by making it too easy?" B nodded towards Light. "Please don't rely on him for anything – even the ending that you would like for yourself. Was it an audience you wanted, L... that is, an awed, silent group of simpletons who revere your talent and sit spellbound as you pace and forwards before them, laying out every clue and how you pieced them all together to reach the conclusion you will now draw back the curtain upon? How very formulaic, how very safe... Still, you are as 2D as I and you know it. Of course that was what you wanted. That's all you'll ever want, L. The end. The answer. Nothing else will satisfy you, because you have want of nothing else. You're as empty as the single letter he christened you with."

"Maybe that's true," L bit out. "Maybe's it true that I have want of nothing but the answer to whatever mystery I find before me, purely because that is all Light wants from me. However, how then does that apply to you, B? If you are capable only of complying with what your author wants, why rebel? Why murder when it only drives him to despair?"

"Rebel?" B snorted. "L, don't be so naïve. It made you angry when I said it the first time, but I'll say it again nonetheless: Both you and I can do only what he wants us to do. You're a great detective, right? Isn't that how he wrote you? The world's greatest detective? Then work it out!"

"Light-kun..." The thought seemed to have only just occurred to L – or, at least, this was the first time he had truly allowed himself to think about it – but he turned to Light again, wide-eyed. "You... wanted this?"

Light moved. He shook his head. His eyes were still fixated on B, but he answered L's question and shook his head; first slowly, then very violently.

B only laughed.

"That's not true," he giggled. "Maybe now, faced with me, you can't think why you wanted it, but you did. None of us would be here if not for you. Didn't you want to be God, Kira?"

His voice lilted up and down like a seesaw, tripping delightedly over certain words and inflections as if his accusation was a song. Light's white fingers twisted suddenly around the notebook, warping it beneath his terrified grasp.

"Light-kun!" L snapped, beginning to lose his patience with him. "Is this what you wanted?"

"No," Light replied hoarsely, suddenly looking desperately at L. "No, this isn't.... this isn't what I... I didn't write...!" He seemed suddenly incapable of holding up his own weight, for he sank to his knees before L and dipped his head and twisted further still at the notebook as though trying to wring out the ink, long-since dried upon its resting-place. "L, I didn't, I didn't...!"

Over B's sudden wild giggling behind them, L looked down at Light – always a detective, always with a "Who?" or a "What?" or a "Why?".

"Then what did you write?" he asked softly, his voice utterly toneless.

Light merely shook his head, not really looking at L anymore, instead gasping and shaking and—

"Light!" L knocked the notebook out of Light's hands angrily, sending it skipping over itself across the muddy woodland floor.

Light looked up at him with a gasp, as though suddenly breaking the surface of water; indeed, he truly did look as though he had just come out from being under the influence of some form of trance or something, his amber eyes wide.

L glanced uneasily back at the notebook, lying face-down on the grass.

And perhaps it had taken him too long to notice – great detective that he was supposed to be – but it was as his gaze fell upon the plain, unyielding card cover of that notebook that he noticed the sudden silence. Turning abruptly away from Light – who was merely looking up at him desperately, as though waiting for him to whip out the conclusion to the case and make everything that he didn't want to know about go away again – L instead faced B—

And found that B had completely disappeared.

There was no evidence of disturbance, even where the hideous facsimile had been standing; additionally, there had been no sound of movement. L glanced around, but his survey was idle. He expected to find nothing, for he knew that B was gone.

It wasn't that he had left. He hadn't fled the moment L had turned his back on him. It was simply that he was gone.

L looked again at Light. He owed this... child his very existence, but now, as he looked at him – pale, shaking, on his knees and, clearly, terrified of what he and his pen and his notebook had created – he felt a certain spike of frustration. It was so obvious now: Light Yagami had lost his memory because it was the easiest way out.

Did that make him a coward? L bit thoughtfully at his bottom lip as he looked at his creator. He wasn't entirely sure. It was true, naturally, that most authors didn't have to deal with this sort of thing – and Light was very young, to be fair to him. Young and, it seemed, rather naïve. He wrote about murders, about cold and calculating killers, about the very deepest and darkest facets of the human psyche, but, really, what could he honestly know of those things?

No, he wasn't a coward, L decided – but he was afraid.

He had been afraid of B. He had wanted him to leave. So B had.

"Get up," L snapped at him at length, stepping away from him to go and retrieve the notebook. As he bent to pick it up, he heard Light finally rise; he tightened his own grip on the notebook as he glanced back at the boy, determined to hold onto it himself for a while.

For as long as it took.

"So, Light-kun," he said blandly, "since you made a detective of me, let's try this again. What did you write?"

Light looked at him again, and this time his expression did not seem so much fearful as it did suddenly weary and weighed-down.

"I didn't write anything," he replied softly.


Matt was lighting up his third cigarette, leaning against the wall of the corridor just outside Teru Mikami's office, when Mello emerged from the room, stepping over the police tape none-too-carefully, snagging it a little.

The tiny room was now a hive of activity, with uniformed officers, forensics personnel and a few higher-ups all clustered in there, jostling and shoving and swearing under their breath. It was almost 1:30am and Matt felt their pain. He glanced at Mello, whose gold hair was dishevelled, probably from him tearing at it in frustration. Mello didn't like going through the motions. Paperwork and procedures bored the hell out of him.

"Hey," the blonde bit out. "Inspector What's-His-Face says we can go home and get some rest. Start again tomorrow at 8am."

His clipped tone showed exactly what he thought of that idea, but Matt gave a relieved sigh and pushed off the plaster.

"Sounds like a plan," he breathed, smoke coiling around every syllable. He left the cigarette in his mouth and slung his arm around Mello's shoulders as the pair of them started down the hall. Mello seemed slightly irritated by the action, but, nonetheless, he made no attempt to shrug out of it.

Matt was glad. He was exhausted and needed the support to make it down to the car.

Mello headed straight for the driver's side. Matt didn't complain. He usually drove but he was all for shotgunning right now. He could lean back and close his eyes and finish his cigarette.

When Mello pulled the car out of their space and started going in completely the wrong direction, Matt didn't say anything for a while. Instead he simply glanced at Mello, whose face was miraculously rather expressionless, and eventually rolled down the window to flick out the remains of his cigarette.

"Hey, Mello," he sighed finally, winding the window back up, "we're not going home, are we?"

"Of course not," Mello bit out in reply. "Idiot."


The apartment was unnervingly silent. It was to be expected, of course, since prior to their re-entrance, it had been completely empty, but the slam of the front door behind them echoed like layers of lace through every room.

L was practically dragging Light, who trailed behind him like a sulky child, his gaze fixed firmly on the ground. He had said nothing all the way home – and still said nothing when L hauled him into the bedroom and shoved him down into the chair at the desk.

He did, however, look up at him dully, his air all but defeated.

"Here's a mystery, then," L said coldly, throwing the notebook down onto the desk, making Light flinch. "You wrote a story and it became reality – only you protest that you didn't write it." L folded his arms. "Except that I see something of a hole in that argument, Light-kun. You did write that story – the one about the politicians being murdered. It's called Death Note."

"That's not what I meant!" Light burst out, averting his gaze. "Yes, I wrote that story. But B... I never wrote B. I had a plan for it, for him, in the fourth book I had started, but I never..." He glanced up at L again properly. "The same goes for you."

"Huh." L looked past Light at the window. "B and I... Are we the same? That is, is one of us a discarded version of the other?"

"Why do you assume that I'll be able to answer that?" Light asked stiffly.

"I just have a hunch that you have been miraculously cured of your amnesia," L replied idly, nodding towards the notebook. "Of course, if I am wrong, please forgive my insensitivity."

Light clenched his fists on his lap but said nothing, although he certainly took note of the slight smirk that ghosted across L's pale face.

"I started writing it," Light said at length. "Four chapters. Neither you nor B were in it at that point – your only... "existence" was in notebooks."

"Regardless of that," L said levelly, "you stopped. Why?"

"Car crash," Light said sullenly.

L nodded.

"Yes, I can't argue with that," he agreed absently. "However... you gave Mikami the four chapters before the crash."

"Four days before the crash," Light added blandly.

L looked sharply at him.

"Four?"

Light nodded, half-smiling – although was sour and ironic.

"Are you seeing a pattern, L? Four, four, four."

"The death number." L folded him arms. "Light-kun, at this point am I afraid that I will find it exceedingly difficult to believe that you did not orchestrate all this in some way prior to your memory loss."

"That's a fair enough assumption."

"I'd prefer a confession to an assumption."

"Of course." Light's eyes glinted. "That's how I wrote you, after all."

"And why write me?" L pushed. "Why create another detective when you already had one? Ryuk, right? And where is Ryuk? Why hasn't he come out of the books the way B and I have?"

"Why write you?" Light asked, ignoring L's subsequent questions; he glanced behind L at the bed, still littered with various examples of detective fiction, some of them a little crumpled, and several torn to pieces. "I don't know. Maybe I was just tired of Ryuk... No." He gave a sudden abrupt shake of his head. "No, I know what it was. It was an experiment." He suddenly got up and swept past L, going to the bed to look down at his scattered collection of detective literature.

"...Experiment?" L repeated, turning towards him and watching the boy lift two books, one in each hand.

The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Batman: World's Greatest Detective Collection.

"Writing, like anything, is something that you will get better at the more you do it," Light said absently, looking from one cover to the other. "That goes for every aspect of the practice of writing – command of vocabulary, weaving of plot, creation of characters. I guess you could say... that even after writing two books about him, I just wasn't completely satisfied with Ryuk. He wasn't a good enough character. He wasn't a good enough detective." He glanced at L over his shoulder. "So I rethought. I figured I'd just start over. I'd rebuild a better detective using source material. You see, I noticed something." He finally turned properly towards L, holding up the books. "Right from the get-go – and by that I mean Poe's creation of Dupin – there is a trend in fictional detectives. They're always the best. Poe described Dupin's genius as perhaps the result of a "diseased intelligence" – that is, his overly-logical way of thinking is abnormal, above the ability of most men. The same is true of other fictional detectives like Sherlock Holmes, who even looks down upon the police force because he knows that he will always solve any case that they cannot. Even Batman, who crosses the line between detective fiction and the American tradition of comic book superheroes, is often billed as the 'World's Greatest Detective'. I was not so ambitious with Ryuk – not so arrogant, perhaps, as to declare him anything of the sort. But I found that it reflected on him when I tried to write him. Sure, he could solve the case, but there were others who could solve it better and faster than him. He was good, but he wasn't the best, and that's because I'd written him that way."

Light gave a sigh and threw the Poe book back onto the bed, taking the Batman graphic novel in both hands and looking critically at the cover.

"It wasn't just that, though," he went on. "I was also tired of following the formula – you said yourself that detective fiction is largely formulaic. Conan Doyle followed Poe and Christie followed Conan Doyle and Chandler followed Christie. Sure, Dupin, Holmes, Poirot and Marlowe are all brilliant detectives, but why do they choose to pursue their hobby? None of them have ever been touched by crime – they, as detectives, were not born of it. Not like him."

Light turned the Batman book towards L on this, fingers splayed across the full-colour spread of the Dark Knight crouched like a great bird of prey on the head of grizzled, hideous gargoyle, ragged cape flying, stark against the artistic full moon that shone like falling chalk dust over the uneven spikes and dips of Gotham City.

He raised his amber eyes to meet with L over the horizon of the book.

"He's different to the others," the young author said, "and it's not just because he wears tights and a cape. His determination to fight crime stems from the incident that made an orphan of him. Aged eight years old, Bruce Wayne is walking home with his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, from a trip to the movies when a robber holds them up, demanding money. Instead he sees the string of pearls around Martha Wayne's neck and reaches out to snatch them. Thomas Wayne intervenes on behalf of his wife and is shot for his trouble; Martha instinctively screams and is shot too. Hearing the police sirens coming closer, summoned by the gunshots, the robber panics and flees, leaving Bruce standing in the alley with only the corpses of his parents for company." Light lowered the book further. "That's why I did it. That's why I created you out of a newspaper story. Bruce Wayne's sense of justice is far more personal because he is the victim of a terrible crime. I wondered... what it would be like to take that one step further. Batman's agenda is vengeance. For you, not merely a witness to a murder but in fact a murder victim yourself, your agenda would be revenge. What better reason would a detective have to desire to punish, for example, a murderer than if he himself had been murdered?"

"And that's me? Am I a perfect creation as far as detectives go, then? A murder victim who somehow grows up to be the world's greatest detective?"

"I guess it sounds pretty stupid when you put it that way," Light said absently.

"And what about B?" L asked in a low voice.

"You can blame Poe for that," Light said, his tone casual, as though Edgar Allan Poe was some personal friend of his.

"And how might I do that, Light-kun?" L inquired sourly.

"That's where I got the idea of the doppelganger from. William Wilson is the best example of it, where a man is stalked by a double bearing the same name as him, but in the last of Poe's Dupin tales, The Purloined Letter, there is a hint that the villain of the story is perhaps, in fact, Dupin's brother. Of course, I'm not the first to jump on that bandwagon – Professor Moriarty might not have been Holmes' physical double, but there is no doubt whatsoever that their minds were exactly equal. You said yourself that they were two sides of the same coin."

L nodded distractedly, not taking his eyes off Light – suddenly so full of answers.

"And which of us came first?"

Light blinked, slightly surprised.

"You, of course."

"That doesn't seem to be what B thinks," L replied.

"He's not talking about the order I created you in," Light said impatiently. "He's talking about the story."

"The story that you didn't write."

"Exactly."

"So I guess you'll just have to tell me the story, then," L said.

"What does it matter?" Light asked in a low voice, looking away. "That story is not the one that B has taken such pains to bring to life..."

"Because I need you to tell me absolutely everything that you know in order to solve this case," L snapped, making Light look sharply back at him. "And isn't that what you want, Light-kun? Don't you want all this to stop?"

Light looked at him a moment longer, exhaling deeply.

"Yes," he said defeatedly. "But I can only tell you so much. I didn't plan the whole thing. I didn't know how to end it."

"That's fine."

"Okay, so... the plot of the fourth book mostly revolved around you trying to solve this cold murder case. It was the murder case of a child found in the woods on Halloween years and years before – the twist was that you were solving your own murder case, only you didn't realise it until the big reveal. In the meantime you were also supposed to be catching this other murderer, one who looked exactly like you. He called himself 'B' because he said he was second-best, only your reflection."

"And was he?"

Light shook his head.

"No," he said. "He was your murderer."

L had no reply to that. Light bit at his lip, feeling strangely sort of... ashamed.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "Somehow... it feels okay to be so cruel when you're creating fiction. You and he were meant to be childhood friends. You played together a lot but he was terribly jealous of you. He wanted to be you in many respects. That Halloween, you went out to play with him in the woods and he killed you. He thought that with you dead, he could be you. Only it wasn't that simple. You didn't stay dead. That made it worse. He haunted you the way you haunted him. He'd murdered you and even then he was still second to you. So then he found another child, one that looked kind of like you, and killed him the way he had killed you. It was a message to tell you that he wasn't done with you."

"Near," L said faintly.

"That's as far as I got planning it," Light said. "I didn't know where to go from there and hoped I'd be able to come up with an ending when I got there. So I started writing instead."

"And then you stopped," L said. "Why?"

Light looked at him, his face pale.

"Because that's when B showed up."

There was a bout of silence between them, strung like a spider web, barely-there but strong.

And then came the pounding on the front door.

The little colour that had been in Light's face to begin with drained right out of it and he dropped the Batman book as he backed against the bed. L froze, but he appeared less shaken, tilting his head curiously. There was a pause, and then came the hammering again.

"Yagami!" they heard, yelled through the wood. "Get your ass out here!"

"It's not B," L said blandly, sticking his hands in his pockets and starting out of the bedroom. "That sounds like Mello."

He didn't wait for any kind of response on Light's part, drifting out into the hall and moving towards the shaking front door, unlatching it and opening it with a gentleness quite contrastive to the way that Mello – for it was indeed him, with Matt several feet behind him, looking wearily apologetic – was kicking at the panels.

"You," Mello spat on seeing him. "What are you, chained to Yagami or something?"

"Not chained, as such," L replied pleasantly.

Mello merely gave a snort, elbowing past L into the apartment.

"I have questions for you too, don't get me wrong," he hissed, "but right now I want to see that wretched hack writer."

"Of course," L said ironically, since Mello was long since past him; he gestured politely to Matt, who stepped into the apartment with a silent, tired nod, trudging after his partner.

L shut the door and followed Matt into the bedroom, finding that Mello had already backed Light against the wall.

"Okay, Yagami, you listen to me," Mello spat. "I am done fucking playing around here. Matt and I just found your agent, Teru Mikami, face-down, stone-dead with a massive knife sticking out of his back in his office. What do you have to say to that?!"

Light stared at him in mingled shock and horror, eyes wide, completely dumbstruck. Eventually he looked past Mello at L in desperation.

"What time was this at?" L asked, stepping in, although directing his questions more towards Matt – the much calmer of the two.

"Somewhere between one and midnight," Matt replied. "Had to have been recent." He looked from L to Light and back again. "Truth is, it's not even that we necessarily think that Light did it, but whether he did or not – and has an alibi or not – it can't be denied that there's a very odd circle of events that surround him and his books."

"I didn't kill Mikami!" Light burst out. "I was here the whole time. L was with me! You can ask him!"

"Oh, sure, like we're going to take his word for anything," Mello spat, glancing over his shoulder at L. "I said I had questions for you and I do, L: Like where exactly you got your detective's licence from. See, the thing is – and don't take this wrong way, either of you – but Matt's right. There's something seriously weird going on around here, and you two are at the centre of it."

L only smiled.

"Yes, that I certainly can't argue with," he agreed. "But really, you two couldn't have come at a better time. Now we can all solve the mystery together."

Mello stiffened, finally turning towards L properly.

"You think this is a game, you bastard?" he growled.

L shook his head.

"Not a game," he said. "A story. "Detective Fiction", I believe you call it."

Matt frowned.

"What do you mean?" he asked carefully. He nodded towards Light. "I know... he's a writer, but—"

"That's it," L interrupted. "But let's lay a few things on the table first. To be frank, the both of you are going to find some of this a little hard to swallow, but you'll have to humour us and do the best that you can to believe it. It's the only way we'll get to the bottom of all this." He looked at Mello. "I know exactly what you want to ask me. You want to ask me if I'm even a real detective."

Mello said nothing, but his scowl answered for him.

"The answer is, to my disappointment as much as your own, no," L went on. "I'm not a real detective. I'm not even a real person, as it turns out. I am a character created by Light-kun for his fourth novel."

Mello and Matt exchanged glances, completely silent.

"Right," Mello snapped at length, "if you guys are just gonna fuck with us, you can come down the precinct with us right now and spend the night in a cell."

But L only grinned.

"Sounds crazy, right? But it's the truth. Light-kun is capable of writing stories that come true. If you suspend your disbelief... doesn't that make everything make a whole lot more sense?"

More silence.

"You seriously expect us to believe that?" Matt finally said flatly.

"About as much as I expect you to believe in a notebook that kills people," L replied with a shrug.

"No, this doesn't make sense!" Mello exploded. "It's nonsense, and you know it as well as I do! What makes sense is that someone is after him!" He pointed accusing at Light. "Isn't it obvious that this is sabotage? A string of murders that emulates the plot of one of his books, the murder of his agent... For god's sake, even his girlfriend was hit by a goddamn car!"

L blinked, taken aback by that last statement; he glanced at Light, still over by the wall. He had gone completely white, staring at Mello in horror.

"Taka... H-how do you know about Takada?" he asked quietly.

"Please," Mello snorted. "It's called the internet."

"Light, can you think of anyone who would want to do this to you?" Matt asked.

"I... no." Light violently shook his head. "No, you've both got it all wrong! L and I know who the murderer is, but that... that doesn't have anything to do with Takada!"

All three detectives – two real and one of Light's own fancy – were now watching him in silence, bidding him to continue.

"It's as L says," Light sighed finally. "Some things I write... become real. L is one of those things. So is the murderer. His name is B and what he's doing isn't sabotage, but revenge. In the story, it was L that he hated, but here in the real world, where that story doesn't exist... his anger isn't directed at L, but rather at me, because I'm the one who created him. However, as I said... that has nothing to do with Takada. She died before I even wrote Ryuk. It was... an accident, but all the same, I admit... that I killed her."

Yet more silence.

"Yagami," Mello finally sighed impatiently, kneading at his forehead with his knuckles, "you can't possibly have killed Kiyomi Takada. She was hit by a car. You have a perfectly solid alibi. You were nowhere near the scene of the accident."

Light didn't reply, but finally pushed away from the wall, crossing the room towards the desk. He picked up the notebook – the one so long buried in a shallow grave – and began to flip rapidly through it, his eyes flickering back and forth over the pages as he searched for something. At length he thrust the open notebook out towards Matt and Mello, his expression somehow satisfied and grim all at once.

There, in Light's own neat kanji, was the condemning statement he must surely have known about all along.

Kiyomi Takada drives me insane, but despite her constant disagreeing with me on everything under the sun, she clings to me still because she doesn't think anyone else is good enough for her. At least if she was hit by a car I'd be rid of her forever without having to fight with her about it.

"I was venting," Light said in a low voice. "We'd had an argument and she stormed out like she always did. I really hated her by the end even though she was supposed to be my girlfriend, but I honestly didn't mean for her to... I mean, I didn't think that my writing that would..."

"So this was the first thing you wrote that came true?" L deduced, looking up from the page.

Light nodded.

"I didn't mean it," he said again. "And I thought... it was just a coincidence. I mean, she was pretty mad, so she probably wasn't looking where she was going, but... well, a few months after that, B showed up."

L gave a thoughtful nod of his own.

"My biggest question," he said, "is how you are able to make things that you write become real. Is it the notebook?"

Light shook his head.

"It can't be," he replied. "True, both the character notes on B and the stupid message wishing that Takada would get hit by a car are in this notebook, but the character notes on you are in the one I hid in the drawer of my desk."

"Where did you buy them?"

"The stationary shop at my university – but they're not the same type."

"What about the pens, then?" L pressed, completely cutting off Mello, who had opened his mouth. "Do you always use the same pen?"

"No." Light opened his desk drawer as he said it, blue and black biros skittering across the false bottom to illustrate his point.

"Then, Light-kun," L said blandly, making Light look at him again, "that means that it's you."

Light said nothing, merely lowering his gaze and biting at his bottom lip. Even though he hadn't wanted to hear it, it was what he had known L would say.

Hell, he had probably put the words in the world's greatest detective's mouth himself.

"It's you, Light," L said again, his voice a little gleeful, excitable; filled with all the self-satisfaction that Light had put into him as he fulfilled his purpose and – more or less – cracked the case. "This is all because of you – B, Near, me, the murders... You're the one doing this."

"Stop it!" Light put his hands over his ears in yet another ridiculous, childish charade, trying to physically block L's words from getting into his brain and bouncing around like marbles inside his skull. "I didn't mean for this! Stop it!"

"No, Light-kun," L chirped, stepping up to him and grasping his wrists, prising them away from his head. "You stop it. You want it to stop? Then make it stop."

"How?!" Light exploded desperately.

"The same way you made it start," L replied, shoving Light back towards the desk. "You said you started writing a story that had no ending – that is, nothing to tie B and I into the story that you weaved for us. So I guess you'll just have to write an ending, one in which B doesn't win."

"I can't!" Light cried, thrashing away from the desk as though it was the gateway to Hell.

"Yes, you can," L said in a hard voice, seemingly beginning to lose his patience. "You have your memory back—"

"No, I can't write anymore!" Light interrupted, near-hysterical, trying to wrench himself out of L's grip. "I can never write anything else, not after B, not after...! Why do you think I wrote that crash in the first place, L?!"

L let go of him, but he was smiling faintly; Light backed up, panting.

"You wrote it?" L repeated, smirking.

Light nodded silently, reaching for the notebook again.

"I didn't intend to ever regain my memories," he said. "I just wanted to forget about everything. I didn't want to be a writer anymore, but I needed a reason to quit. I knew that if I just stopped... well, Mikami would never leave me alone, always pestering me for a new book—"

"Yes," L murmured. "I can see that. I guess the only way you'd ever get peace from that vulture of an agent would be if he..."

Light's head snapped up, his eyes wide; L shrugged at him.

"I wouldn't imagine that B is immune to your charms," he said simply.

"I... I didn't want him to kill Mikami!"

"Are you sure?"

"I..." Light gave a sudden violent shake of his head and thrust the notebook towards L again. "Look, I didn't want to have anything more to do with this! I thought that if I... couldn't remember anything about my stories, and if I made it so that I could never write another book, everything would just stop...!"

In Light's own writing again, clean and clear on the page:

I know there are those who will never let Kira rest, but even Kira can't control the story anymore. I'm so afraid of it that I don't even know how to begin to write it. I can't think of an ending, so a car crash will simply have to do it for me.

"But here we are, Light," L said softly, looking up from the page. "It didn't work. I'm here because you wanted a solution, and I've given you the answer. I can do nothing more. You're the only one who can end this."

"I'm not writing anything!" Light spat at him, throwing the notebook to the floor.

"That's right – you're not." Mello, who hadn't made a sound for a surprisingly long time, suddenly made his move, a metallic click punctuating his words. "You two are coming down to the precinct with us right now. I've seriously had enough of this crap."

Light blinked down at the silver bracelet that he suddenly found encircled around his wrist; turning his head towards the direction of the second click, finding himself handcuffed to L.

Matt didn't say anything at all, but his shoulders heaved as he gave a silent sigh.

L, examining the handcuff around his own wrist, giving a tug on it to see how securely he was actually fastened to Light.

"Huh," he murmured at length. "Good idea. Wish I'd thought of it."


She looked like she had just come back from a club or a bar or something – her gold hair completely loose down her back, her mouth a bright crimson gash, her eyes thickly outlined with kohl and shimmery grey eyeshadow. Little scarlet dress, black velvet choker, silver bracelets jingling like bells, fishnet tights and black ankle boots.

Misa Amane stood at the front door of her apartment and rifled through her bag, supporting it on her hip as she searched for her keys. The jangle of them as she fished them out between two carefully-painted nails covered the sound of his footsteps as he approached her.

She did, however, see his shadow, superimposed over hers as she leaned towards her front door to open it. She whipped around, backing against the door, clearly frightened.

But then she relaxed, breathing a sigh of relief.

"Oh, it's you," she said. "Don't sneak up on a girl like that." She looked him up and down. "I see you changed your clothes. You really didn't have to take what I said so seriously, you know. I mean, sure, you looked fifty years out of date, but I was kind of in a bad mood when I said you should wear yellow."

He merely tilted his head at her.

"What do you want at this time of night, anyway?" she asked, resuming her campaign of opening her door again.

"I have a message for you, Misa Amane," he replied in a sing-song voice. "It's from Kira."


There was an envelope on the desk when the four of them entered Mello and Matt's temporary office.

"You can sit down," Matt said wearily to L and Light – still cuffed together – as Mello stomped to the desk and snatched up the letter.

"I swear to god," Mello muttered, tearing open the envelope savagely, "if this is a note from downstairs saying they've found another fucking body..."

Light dipped his head as he sank into a chair next to L, looking fixedly at the dirty, cheap carpet. He'd run out of things to say, to defend himself with. If they dragged him down to a cell and tossed him in and left him to rot, he honestly didn't think he would even care. He all but accepted responsibility for all of this—

"Oh, wait, my mistake," Mello hissed, raising his gaze and settling it on Light. "This is for you, Yagami."

Light's head jerked up. He glanced from Mello (who looked seriously pissed off) to Matt (who looked like he wanted to go and bang his head against a wall) to L (who didn't look surprised).

"For... for me?" he asked, barely able to get the words out.

"It says 'Dear Kira'," Mello snapped, storming over and throwing the letter at him.

Light didn't want to look. He didn't touch the note, which had landed in his lap, half-folded. In the end, L reached over and picked it up, holding it loose and open enough for Matt – leaning over Light, lighter halfway to the new cigarette dangling from his mouth – to see it.

It was written in red, but although on first glance it looked like blood, on second glance it was clear that it was, in fact, written in... what looked very much like lipstick.

The scarlet drew his gaze. He didn't want to read it, didn't want anything more to do with any of this, but he couldn't help but read the letter addressed to him.

Dear Kira,

You can't run away from this. Deny it all you want, but this began because you wanted it to. Don't start stories you have no intention of finishing, because if you do that, I'll finish them for you, you little coward.

B

P.S: Thought this story needed a damsel in distress. I'm going to kill her at the Yellowbox Warehouse at dawn. Come and watch if you want. It'll be better than any ending that you could ever write.

"First Mikami, now Misa Amane," L mused.

"Misa?" Light barely dared to look at him. "H-how... do you know?"

"You mean, aside from being the world's greatest detective?" L looked at the ceiling thoughtfully. "Well, you said – or wrote, rather – yourself that there were people who would never let Kira rest. You don't want to be Kira anymore, so it makes sense... that you would get rid of anyone who puts their faith in Kira and what he has created. Misa Amane, unintentional spokesperson for those who believe in the moral lessons in Death Note, herself more or less a believer—"

"You're implying that he wants her dead?" Mello spat; but he was paler now, the appearance of the letter having clearly shaken rather a lot of his indignant anger and disbelief out of him.

"I don't!" Light exploded. "I don't want Misa dead! We... we have to do something, we have to save her—"

"I wasn't implying anything," L murmured, ignoring Light. "I was merely pointing out a coincidence. And speaking of coincidences..." He looked at Light. "Light-kun, I've been wondering for a while now. What does 'B' stand for? Backup?" He suddenly smirked. "Bruce Wayne? Batman?"

Light shook his head, crumpling the lipstick-letter in his hand.

"Boredom," he said flatly.


In case anyone was wondering exactly how this chapter was me "getting back to my roots"... well, heh, feels like I haven't gone off on one about Batman in a while. And my first fic on here had him in it. Briefly. As an attendee at Robin's funeral. Robin being where my pen-name comes from.

Logic fail.

(Incidentally, less time has elapsed between me last going off on one about Batman than me last going off on one about Edgar Allan Poe. Go figure. Ironically, it being October – and with Halloween fast approaching – the pair of them are really farther fitting topics to be going off on one about.)

I honestly think that I will need only one more chapter to wrap this all up neatly! I'll try not to be so slooooooooooow with it this time, I promise! (And by that I mean I won't move countries again...)

I already announced this on my last update for The Ghost in the Machine, but I figured I'd mention it here as well: Is anyone going to YaoiCon? Narroch and I are going and I was curious as to whether we shall have the pleasure of bumping into any of you. :)

Til next time!

RR xXx