Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note.
It had been one day since one very unfortunate, and very doomed, L Lawliet had fallen out of his chair following the spoon. And for the first time, when the task force left with their coats heavy on their shoulders and their jaws set, no one had exchanged a word.
No I think what we learned today brought us a step closer to Kira.
No Ryzuaki was right today about Kira.
Not even a have a goodnight, Aizawa. You too, Mogi.
There was a heavy burden on everyone's shoulders. There was a severe tension filling the air between them. And not a word was said simply because their brains were weighed down with contemplations that they all wordlessly understood they shared, but didn't need to voice.
Could we have prevented L's death?
Despite it being an early night in November, the air was heavy with chill and the wind was an icy blade cutting the men's cheeks as they wrapped their stiff coats further around their bodies and headed to their cars.
The only person who remained in the task force was Light Yagami.
Light had told the others to leave. That he would cover it for the rest of the night. That he wanted to examine Ryuzaki, examine the death note left behind, examine the tainted sand left untouched on the floor. That he wanted to be alone.
Matsuda, for one, understood. He had nodded straight away at the request. And the others had agreed simply because the whole group was shook with shock. And plenty of them wanted to mourn their leader's passing.
He also understood that Light understood Ryzuaki, L, the best. He was not only the only individual who could even measure up to L's intellect level and carry sturdy arguments with him, but he was also the one who was forced to spend twenty-four-seven by his side. And even though it had been decided based purely on professional reasons, Matsuda had surmised that the two of them had grown a bond.
Sharing conversations, sharing ideas, sharing beds, sharing chains. Matsuda couldn't help but believe that Light and Ryuzaki, whether either of them wanted to admit it, were closer than anyone else could comprehend.
And after the task force had masked their shock and shrieks, and after Light had walked back in after looking for Rem with his head hung low and his chin to his chest, Matsuda could sense something reflecting in his eyes. He knew he wasn't the cleverest detective out there to employ, and knew he didn't possess the brain power that the rest of his teammates did, but he did feel pride in his memorandum. He felt people's emotions reeking through their skin. And the hurt in the way that Light furled white knuckles into his fists hard enough to draw blood from his flesh with his nails, the fashion in which he kept his eyes away from prying glances, and the way his lower lip trembled unstoppably was enough to give Matsuda the cue to leave and let Light mourn alone.
The only person who had momentarily stayed behind was the young man's father, probably inquiring if Light would feel more comfortable at home for the night, or that he should keep his mind off of Ryuzaki in fear of making his grief worse.
Matsuda's intuition told him to stay away from the building while the two Yagami men delivered family-esque mollifying and consoling. But he realized right before slipping into his car that he had left a file relating to Kira he had promised to work on later that night on his desk.
He felt an overpowering wash of despondence as he recalled that it was Ryuzaki who had encouraged Matsuda to work overtime that night. And even though his current state of mind was not one to overstress with work, Matsuda felt he owed it to his superior to keep his promise. Besides, he didn't like wallowing in his grief much either.
Gently knocking on headquarters' door in fear of interrupting a heartfelt moment between father and son, Matsuda pressed his ear against the wood and listened intently.
There was no gruff voice that normally belonged to the ex-chief. Instead, all Matsuda could detect was a faint, muffled sobbing from further inside the building.
He knew he would get chastised for intruding, especially at such a moment where privacy was vital, but the unmistakable sound of Light weeping was enough to make Matsuda's heart ache. And in a desperate instinct to help comfort the boy's deplorable state, he opened the door without aversion.
The moment the heavy door was creaked open, the sobbing was stifled and Light's fingertips fumbled to find the keyboard. He began to clumsily type, pretending to not notice Matsuda's presence behind him, his eyes fixated on the monitor and only the monitor.
Matsuda could only imagine Light now – normally such a strong boy, his body shaking and his eyes red and swollen from tearing. And from the way Light had been biting his lip earlier to control his trembling, he assumed there was now a small cut sliced on his lip from his drilling teeth.
"…Light-kun?" Matsuda ventured, his feet padding a few steps closer softly.
Light merely grunted in response. He was most definitely embarrassed of his tone of voice, now broken and shaking like a newborn kitten mewling for her mother.
"Light-kun, I'm sorry to intrude. I just left my… my file."
It was then that he realized, as he sashayed closer to Light's chair in an attempt to place a warming hand on his shoulder without alarming him, that Ryuzaki's body was still lying frozen on the ground, his flesh deathly pale. But now, instead of his usual unhealthy white, he had changed shades to a cadaverous and corpselike gray. His whole complexion looked dull, even in the illumination of the lamps overhead. As Matsuda wrenched his eyes off the terrifying sight, feeling nightmares already being sown together in his mind, he bit his lip.
"Light-kun… we should bury him. Or at least move him, please."
A soft cry, unable to be suppressed, fell from Light's lips.
"L-Light-kun…" Matsuda whispered, feeling his optimism on the thought that the day after Ryuzaki's death wouldn't be painful or dwelled on vanish at the sound of Light's uncharacteristic loss of emotional control.
"Matsuda, please, please just go away."
Normally Matsuda, even though older than the young Yagami, would have taken the demand and promptly left Light alone. But his concern overrode his logic as he knelt down beside Light and lifted a hand to rest on his shoulder.
"It's okay, Light," he ephemerally dropped the honorific to attempt to soothe Light slightly, "but you can't leave him just lying here. He didn't want you to be upset like this."
"N-no!" Through his fecklessness and mental breakdown, Light managed to send a firm retaliation into Matsuda's direction. And even though his word was sob-smothered, Matsuda could feel the desperation behind it and nodded wordlessly.
"M-matsuda… I miss him. He needs to still be here. I can't already b-bury him."
"Shh," the black-haired man hushed delicately, gingerly rubbing the hand on Light's shoulder up and down, "Then don't bury him. But you can't leave him here, right where he died! Put him… put him somewhere until you're ready to bury him."
Blindly groping for a napkin nearby, placed neatly next to the plate of strawberries L had never finished in the morning due to his overwhelming sense of depression, Light dabbed his eyes and took a deep breath. He swiveled around to face Matsuda, thumbs still cleaning up his tear-streaked face, leaving lines on his skin like stains on shirts might. Matsuda bit his lip at the broken sight of Light Yagami.
"All right, I'll clean him up."
"What about Watari?"
Remembering the elderly man, probably still facedown on the floor nearby, Light sighed.
"Matsuda. Will you please… take care of him for me? I'd like to see after L a-alone."
The ex-officer managed a small, reassuring smile and a nod. Having heard no objected from Light to already burying Watari, Matsuda had simply placed the man on the nearest bed, closed his eyes and relaxed his face into a less horrified expression, and folded his hands together at his chest. He wrote a mental note in his mind to call the morgue in the morning to arrange Watari's burial. By the time he had returned to Light, the brown-haired man was already back in his seat.
"Is… is Ryuzaki taken care of?"
All Light choked out as a response was a stiff and controlled, "Yes."
Matsuda fought the urge to ask where Ryuzaki now laid, when Light was going to contact services to help bury the detective, and most importantly, if the feel of L's icy skin had worsened Light's mood to the point of utter deplorableness. But he bit his tongue as the first few words of his queries thoughtlessly tumbled out.
Instead, he stood in silence as he watched Light, his back once again to Matsuda and his fingers poised on the keyboard but refraining from hitting any of the keys. Then, in the light of the lamps, Matsuda noticed an innocuous spoon lying by the chair Ryuzaki normally claimed. He knelt down, furrowing his eyebrows, because didn't Watari usually tidy up after L? Utensils littering the floor didn't fit the meticulous man's actions. He reached to pick it up and clean it when Light noticed the movement out of the corner of his vision.
"Stop!" he demanded, his tone demanding and harsh and not at all gentle. Matsuda winced at the order and gazed imploringly up at Light.
"What is it?"
"Don't… d-don't touch that. Please."
Matsuda, although experiencing much nescience about the origin of this particular spoon, decided not to question it. Instead, he dusted off his pants, the faint, lingering scent of death still on his attire from hauling Watari's body around, and headed for the door, the file he had first sought out in his grasp.
By the next morning, Matsuda had most certainly ignored his alarm clock and slept in later than punctually acceptable. Then again, he was certain that no one received a good night's sleep, nor was anyone well-rested. And promptness to work didn't seem to be an issue anyone would harp on after the previous day's events. So Matsuda strolled into work forty-five minutes late, coffee in hand, and no one complained.
Everyone was facing their computers with ineffable, freakishly stiff expressions on their faces. As though they were wax figures – not pretty without a clean face – Matsuda was vaguely disgusted by the whole team's belief that leaking tears or showing grief was displaying weakness. But Matsuda kept his opinion to himself, merely trotting up to Light and prodding his shoulder tenderly.
"Light-kun," he whispered, as not to disturb the rare silence that graced headquarters.
"Where did… did you put Ryuzaki?" He was glad to notice that the utensil had been cleaned off the ground, but he assumed that L's corpse was still somewhere amongst the building. He scratched the back of his head awkwardly.
"He's where he deserves to be, Matsuda. Forget it."
Matsuda worried his lip and wrung his hands. Light stole a glance from him and snarled.
"Forget it." He commanded. The other man frowned slightly.
"I didn't say anything."
"But you wanted to. Everyone does."
Light was not very loquacious during the day. Then again, the task force was not keen on initiating discussions amongst the group either. It wasn't until the whole team agreed to go out to a friendly, outside-of-work luncheon proposed by Soichiro in what Matsuda assumed was a hopeful attempt to lighten everyone's attitudes, that Mr. Yagami asked Matsuda to fetch his son from his and Ryuzaki's old room.
Complying with his superior's orders, Matsuda strolled down the hall to Light's room and noticed the door was placed ajar. Matsuda severely doubted that Light wished for anyone to overhear either his tears or his verbal misery, but his curiosity overrode his better self telling him to close the door and simply report to the rest of the team that Light wasn't feeling well and would stay back for lunch. He leant against the doorway quietly, one peeking eye witnessing the scenes before the crack in the door.
All he saw, however, was L's body, tucked delicately into his side of the bed. Under the sheets, tightly wrapped up as though he were an infant in need of tucking in. The pillows looked flawlessly fluffed behind his head, L's eyes closed in an astonishing amount of halcyon peace. He looked merely as though he was sleeping soundly, but Matsuda knew better than that.
He then realized that even after the removal of the handcuffs on Light's and L's wrists, they had failed to move apart their beds. Matsuda pondered if L had never had enough time to ask Watari to, or if Light had just recently pushed their mattresses back together so he could feel L next to him, decaying and all. It was saddening, if not disturbing, but Matsuda couldn't help but wait patiently by the door to watch how Light behaved around the corpse tucked into his bed.
Light appeared a second later, his eyes focused on L as he knelt by him. And to Matsuda's shock, he ran a soft, feather-light thumb over L's cheek and stopped at his chin. The action, simple and sweet, was enough to give Matsuda shivers in his spine. The way Light treated L's body so delicately, like fragile china dolls adorned with lacy dresses and caged in display cases, was enough to make him sigh in sorrow for the boy's suffering.
"L," he murmured, "I thought I wanted this."
Matsuda couldn't take it anymore. Without any grace, he burst through the door, Light instantly springing up from the bedside like a guilty child caught sneaking cookies before dinner.
"Light-kun," For a horrifying moment, Matsuda failed to remember his reason for interrupting Light's tender moment with his deceased comrade, "The taskforce – um, wants to see if you'll have lunch with us."
Almost expecting Light to sneer crossly and tell Matsuda to for heaven's sake, have the decency to knock, he swallowed. But Light nodded stiffly and followed Matsuda out.
Even though both of them had it dwelling in the back of their minds, neither of them mentioned the corpse still protected although lifeless and in no need of protection, with the linens that he used to lie under.
In a way, Matsuda found himself too touched to bring it up.
And silently, he couldn't help but think if someone would do the same for him once he passed away. It seemed much more sentimental than having fond words engraved in tombstones or having flowers tossed onto his coffin.
By day three since L's last words had been uttered and his last sight had been seen, Watari had been collected. The task force exchanged looks of clear discomfort as the elder's bagged body was carried out of the building by officials. His heart attack hadn't even been considered to be the work of Kira by the men who had examined his body, mostly because of his ripe old age and his wrinkles to show for it.
None of the members of the team had known the elder all too well, which was why nothing but an aura of uneasiness passed between the task force. But they knew L had obviously felt fondness for the father-figure, which was why Light had taken the time to search for any wills or eulogies L had left in care for the man.
But a wordless question of when had L been shipped out by the officials? loitered between the men, unspoken and untouched. The majority of the men had assumed that L would be carried out alongside Watari. But when a significant lack of a body accompanied the elder, questions arose, but still remained unanswered.
Matsuda simply hoped no one would turn to him in search of answers; his rosy blush of shame always giving him away as he ineptly bluffed. But luckily, no one turned to him for answers.
He was halfway in between relief and indignance.
But under the impression that Light did not mind quite that much if he questioned him about Ryuzaki, having done so in the recent past without any negativity in response, he had strolled up to Light on the fifth day after L's passing and tenderly, as not to poke at a still bleeding wound, asked when he was considering cleaning up Ryuzaki's body.
Light had cocked his head to the side in a much similar manner that L used to, and wordlessly motioned two fingers for Matsuda to follow him as he got up from his chair and led him to his bedroom. And even though Matsuda knew that L was still under the covers, his mind was telling him to run away in horror. No human took a decomposing body well in their brain. Dying wasn't something that eased Matsuda's stomach, even though he should was expected not to have a nausea-reflex to it considering he was a detective and ex-police-officer who dealt with murders and corpses often. But he saw the bodies hours after their death, never days, and always refused to attend autopsies to examine the organs for clues for manner-of-death.
But if Light sensed Matsuda's awkwardness, he ignored it. Opening the door and automatically making himself a seat on the edge of the bed, he began to idly stroke L's hair. Matsuda cringed when his eyes fell upon L's body.
"Sit down, Matsuda," Light ordered softly, and the older man complied. L was beginning to resemble the cadavers that revived in horror films, and quite frankly, Matsuda was terrified to look at his body in fear of L blinking or his chest moving rhythmically.
"Did you know, Matsuda," Light began impassively, still raking his hands through L's hair, "that the body decays in stages?"
Matsuda pondered mentally if Light's question was rhetorical, but before he had time to answer or beg Light to spare the details, Light had started talking again.
"The decomposing itself takes a while. But the moment the heart stops pumping, tissues and cells have no oxygen. They die right away."
Even though Matsuda knew Light meant every single human that ever died as he explained the gruesome process to the queasy man, his eyes were still glued on Ryuzaki. He could do nothing but imagine Ryuzaki's body, normally so healthy despite the overload of sugar and malnourishment, slowly going through the same phases. It was making him feel not only physically ill, but also thoroughly repulsed.
"But still, not every cell dies. They die at different speeds. Brain cells die within minutes. For someone as bright as Ryuzaki, they might last longer," letting out a dry chuckle, Matsuda glanced up in horror at Light. The normally cheerful, dazzling Light was the reflection of a man plagued by fears and losses. The way he was speaking, especially of death, reminded Matsuda of a man on the verge of insanity.
"Skin cells can take a whole day to die. But still, they can be kept alive. And the moment all the cells are wiped, the real decomposing starts. In the air, decomposition is twice as fast as it would be underground. In a way, it would have been healthier to bury L. But then I'd have to dig him up everyday just to see him."
Light's elegant fingers moved from combing out the knots in L's hair to brushing his fingertips over L's face, caressing softly.
"Now the intestines are the real problem. They're packed with millions of micro-organisms that don't die. They organisms break down the dead cells of the intestines, while bacteria starts to invade the rest of the body."
Light ignored Matsuda's pleas and continued, firmer than before, "The body undergoes its own breakdown by chemicals that the dead cells release. The pancreas is packed with enzymes that once released, start digesting itself and the organs around it. The dying tissues release gasses that make the skin blue and blistered. The body swells. Fluid from the lungs starts oozing out of the mouth and nose. You smell that, Matsuda?"
Matsuda, suddenly noticing the stench, covered his nose and mouth with a paling hand and nodded, his flesh starting to turn a sharooshing shade of green as a wave of nausea plagued him.
"That's because of methane and hydrogen sulphide. That stage starts right around now, five days later. See, he's not doing so bad."
Matsuda, although still quite repulsed, felt a wave of understanding settle his stomach a tad. Light was doing this because it was the only way he could deal with L's death.
"If it wasn't for how awful his skin looks, I wouldn't be able to tell he's dead," Light confessed, and brushed his knuckles softly across his cheek, "If… if there would be insects here he'd be a lot worse off. But I've kept good care of him. Haven't I, L?"
Matsuda sighed, grabbing his knees, "Light-kun, please. It's okay. Just because he's dead doesn't mean he's forgotten–"
"You fool," Light spat, "He's gone. And that means there's nothing left but memories. Memories that certainly aren't enough."
The black-haired man remained silent after that, listening to Light speak.
"But… even if I keep the bugs away, I can't stop him from decaying. The nails and teeth detach themselves in a few weeks. And in a month the tissues liquefy and the body cavities burst open."
"Light-kun, please, you have to bury him–"
"And in a y-year," Light continued, as though not even registering the breaking tone of his voice, "All that's left is bones. There'll still be tissue. But… b-but no more L."
"Light, listen to me–"
But Light wasn't keen on listening. Rather swiftly, his hands jerked away from L's body.
Smart enough to realize that arguing would do him no good, he sighed and headed for the door. But still, more than concerned if Light would slide off the bed and stifle his tears in the bed sheets, he stood by the door and watched speechlessly.
And instead of a breakdown, Light shed no tears and instead leant down, merely an inch from L's now gaunt face. His skin's odor was reeking, and Matsuda was surprised Light wasn't pulling back in repulsion. But instead, as though not even startled by the dead tint of L's face and the hollowness of his cheekbones, he pressed his lips softly to Ryuzaki's unresponsive ones.
Light stayed connected to Ryuzaki for a few seconds before pulling back from his lifeless lips. Matsuda was frozen. In any other situation, his stomach would be throwing tantrums. Osculating with a corpse, kissing a dead, motionless body; it made his throat close up and his appetite wither and die. But now, corpse aside, the long speech expounding the wonders of the deceased human body from a descriptive Light forgotten, Matsuda felt another ache hit his heart.
But instead he said nothing, heading back to his desk to focus on Kira.
By the seventh day, the mark of the week for L's death-day anniversary, the majority of the task force had moved on and dealt with their woe. Although all experiencing different losses, the team had figured out that Ryuzaki's death affecting them was simply giving Kira what he wanted. And even though Light had regained his smiles and sat a little straighter once again, Matsuda couldn't help but wonder if his grins were fake and his behavior was all a façade. On the occasions when he wandered past Light's room and caught a glimpse of the interior, his eyes fell upon L's body still underneath the sheets, not a wrinkle in the blanket and not a disturbance on his skin with the exception of the withering that nature was inflicting on his flesh.
But worry for Light's health aside, and the thought of L's body still rotting away within the very taskforce aside, every time his eyes fell upon L's gray lips he couldn't help but recall the sweet kiss Light had laid upon his mouth.
So one day, he questioned Light about what he had witnessed in the most discreet way he could manage.
"Light-kun," he muttered softly, "why do you keep Ryuzaki in your bed?"
Light continued his typing as though he hadn't heard Matsuda, but answered nonetheless, "Because that's where he belongs. It's his bed."
Matsuda kept back his sigh and stared silently at his lap, "He's been asleep for an awfully long time." He mumbled.
"I know," Light replied, "I've told him."
"He'll miss us catching Kira."
"I know," he repeated, but this time a hint of melancholy plaguing his voice, "I know he will."
"At least he died for a good cause."
"He didn't, Matsuda. No ones dies for a good cause unless they die for themselves." Light disagreed instantly, but still refused to tear his eyes away from his monitor. Matsuda failed to pipe up his opinion in retaliation and instead continued staring at his lap.
"Light-kun," he started again, "do you love him?"
The answer he got was prompt. Almost too prompt. Stiff and prompt was not what a friend of a dead man replied in response concerning feelings to his departed companion.
Seven awkward seconds passed between them before Matsuda sighed through his teeth, his lips stopping his verbal exasperation from escaping, "I saw you kiss him, Light-kun."
"I saw you by the door," Light retorted smoothly, "I know you did."
"And you kissed him anyway?"
"Because that wasn't something I wanted to hide, Matsuda. I believe every dying man deserves a last kiss." Light said bitterly, his tone suggesting he wanted the other man to drop the subject.
Matsuda wanted to question the last instead of first badly. Someone like Ryuzaki, so sexually dormant, so serious, so devoid of feelings that his nerves had died from neglect, had experienced a kiss before?
"It wasn't his first kiss?"
"I wouldn't know."
"Was it the first kiss you gave him?" Matsuda pressed on, intent on doing so until Light snapped. That would conclude in two results, either a rambling string of blunt truths or a heated command to keep quiet and stick to his own business. Matsuda prayed for the former, but with Light unexpectedly temperamental lately, he couldn't predict which result would be the one that would actually happen.
Light slowly tilted his head to meet with Matsuda's gaze. He scoffed, tutting quietly.
"Are you so devoid of your own romance you feel the need to pry in mine?"
"No. I'd just like to know." Matsuda pestered, squirming in his seat. Now that the man was dead, Matsuda was eager to not let his impressions of the man remain emotionless and unlovable.
"It's rude to speak ill of the dead."
"I'm not. I think you are a great guy, Light-kun," Matsuda smiled hesitantly, even though Light wasn't paying attention, "it'd be great if you and him were in love."
"Oh, shut up, Matsuda," the brown-haired detective barked, "enough with the lovey-dovey drama. There was no love, okay? I just kissed him."
"Because I miss him."
The words struck a chord with Matsuda if Light intended them to or not. A grin was tugging at the corners of his lips as Matsuda leant on his elbow and propped his chin up on his palm.
"You miss him?"
"You love him?"
And even though Light had displayed reluctance before in answering the question, the affirmative response slipped from his lips like a well-rehearsed and routinely timed reflex. But if there was humiliation or shame in Light's mind, his voice betrayed his true emotions and left not a trace of embarrassment to be seen.
And Matsuda silently wondered why he hadn't figured this out before.
"Did he love you too?"
Although Matsuda was never one to obsess over male relationships or find them particularly adorable, he did find Light's behavior and adoration for L more than sweet. Both L and Light were closed books who kept their emotions under a brick-built aegis. They both carried the word serious on their backs and were more professional than CEOs in copious companies. But for Light to succumb to admiration for the man who was his utter equal, Matsuda found it endearing.
"Shut up, Matsuda. Kira is still killing."
Matsuda pouted, "Please, Light-kun?"
Light sighed heavily, rapping his knuckles on his kneecap as Matsuda insistently pestered him. He sighed once more and shook his head.
"No, Matsuda. I was in love with him. Not the other way around."
"How do you know?"
"Because he's L. The world's greatest detective. Not the world's most romantic boyfriend. He needs crimes to solve, sugar to eat. He doesn't need love." Light dismissed.
"Which means he can't feel love?"
"I doubt he did."
"So you only ever… kissed his corpse? Never his body when it was still… living?" Matsuda continued to ask, formulating his words delicately.
Light remained quiet, and for a moment, eyeing the way his jaw was set, Matsuda was under the impression that the younger boy was going to ignore the personal question and keep working on the case. But instead he stalled for another few seconds and replied with a dull and dry, "Once."
"Kiss back?" Light finished for him, sounding slightly sour, "No. And I'm glad he didn't."
"Because he was asleep," he hissed, glancing over his shoulder as though paranoid for eavesdropping task force members. But headquarters was almost completely barren with the exception of Mogi at his own desk in the corner. The rest were enjoying a small coffee break in the kitchen.
"But Light-kun is so popular, he could have kissed Ryuzaki when he was awake too–"
"It wasn't like that, Matsuda," Light rolled his eyes, and for a second Matsuda felt like the foolish child who everything had to be explained to. He frowned, but knew better than to complain. Especially when Light still had tales to finish.
"L wasn't the guy who just… noticed people because they were popular."
"But you were chained–"
Light's sigh, exhausted with a hint of frustration, made Matsuda trail off in the distance quietly. His eyebrows furrowed, creasing a wrinkle in his forehead, and he frowned softly.
"Just drop it, please, Matsuda," Light requested, his voice firm yet gentle as he asked Matsuda of his demand, "He's dead. I can't do anything anymore."
Matsuda sighed, realizing the truth of Light's statement. His encouragement and motivation of proving L's hidden love to the younger detective would do nothing but deepen his misery. Realizing that if he simply let himself remain silent, there would be no gashes to be able to toss salt into. So he held his tongue and returned to his screen.
Didn't you know he could have loved you back?
Light probably sensed his sorrowful thought as Matsuda contemplated it with a sad curve bending his eyebrows over his eyelids. But Matsuda made no move to confirm that that was indeed what his mind was brewing over.
Matsuda, in all of his life, had a nose that managed to worm its way where it didn't belong. Whether he wanted his nose to be there or not. He had been a child who was admonished left and right for snooping, being situated in places he didn't have permission to be in, and overhearing conversations his innocent ears weren't meant to hear.
But this was the first time he actually wanted his nose to be in the wrong place. Matsuda was more than intrigued about Light Yagami. He had always been curious about him; so strong, so notorious, so loved, so adroit, so talented. He had imagined that there had been no one better to join the task force and work side-by-side with L. But now? He was even more interesting as the opposite of most of his stellar traits.
Quite frankly, Matsuda was a little astonished that Light was so affected by L's death. Yes, he had expected mourning. Maybe even extended mourning. But Light Yagami was falling apart by the seams, missing his partner to the point of having been addicted to the sound of him breathing, the sight of his expressions, and the smell of his clothing. And now that all of L's traits, the traits that proved he was alive, were gone, Light must have been aching for him.
But this much?
Keeping his decaying body in his bed, kissing corpses, keeping up façades that weren't see-through-able.
It was a lot of work.
His curiosity at these interesting factors made him want to snoop more than he had ever accidentally done.
But of course, now that Matsuda wanted to, it was a common knowledge that he wouldn't be able to find anything snoop-worthy.
There was, in fact, one of Light's breakdowns that he had missed. It had been the only one he hadn't witnessed but if Light was aware of the fact that his coworker sought out so much interest in his emotional turmoil, he would have been glad that Matsuda had failed to witness this particular breakdown.
Curled up on his bed sheets in a defensive fetal position, Light slung his arm over L's fraying body and resisted the urge to pull him closer, as not to disturb the peaceful expression on his face.
"L… I don't think I ever wanted this… there were other ways to stop you from catching Kira… I didn't have to kill you…" Light ran a knuckle under his eyelids, catching a tear as it trickled out.
"Why did you have to leave me, L? I miss you! I miss your hunch, I miss your smell, I miss your eyes, I miss the way you eat nothing but sweets, I miss the way you chew on your thumb nails, I miss the way you looked at me when I talked, I miss you so much. More than I thought."
The corpse of L was impassive, not moving a muscle.
"Dammit, L! Can't you hear me?! I said I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry for everything I've done! I don't know what I have to do to make it up to you, I'm sorry! I know I was too late, I know my love is worthless to you, but dammit L, I need you! You can hear me, can't you?!"
He knelt over L's body, knees protectively trapping him in on both sides of his hips and his hands furled into fists next to his ear.
"L, I love you! What do I have to do for you to come back?! Fuck! Fuck, it's all your fault, L! It's your fault for leaving me!"
Rage fueling his actions, Light lividly sent a clumsy punch onto the sheets lying undisturbed next to L's motionless head. He bit his lip when still the only thing that L's face showed as a response was the light fluttering of a strand of his hair that had shifted with the force of Light's roaring.
His head collapsed on L's body, covered gently with the sheet, resting on his stomach tenderly as though he was afraid that if he leant too hard, L's bones would shatter under his head. Whispering straight onto his scrawny belly, Light breathed out a simple, "I love you, L Lawliet."
Under any other circumstances where a Shinigami he didn't even admire scribbled names down into a death note, Light would have ignored them and kept writing his own. But with L, not only had he had spent the majority of several years of his life trying to decipher meanings behind Ryuzaki's aliases and find out his actual identity, his blooming interest in the man also gave him a craving to flip to the page Rem had used.
He had done so the evening of L's death, the words L Lawliet reaching his eyes much like a famished child might stare at a bowl of fresh chocolate ice cream. Sprinkles too.
And in a way, he felt honored. Even though L hadn't delivered the name to Light himself, Light now had the satisfaction of knowing that he knew a piece of information about L that practically no one did.
"Don't worry, L Lawliet. Your secret's safe with me." Light had even uttered that to L's lifeless ear after he had asked Matsuda to take care of Watari and he had hauled L to their bed.
A few tears pooling on the sheets to make an expanding puddle, Light sighed, his shaking arms wrapping further around L's fragile waist, "No… you… y-you need to catch Kira, L…"
But L was not going to be solving anymore cases.
At least he died doing what he loved.
But even though the thought flitted through Light's head, he doubted if he believed that himself. He wondered whether it was the truth, or a desperate attempt to reassure himself that he killed L while he was still happy.
However, that had been the only occurrence that Matsuda had managed to miss. Once again stumbling on sights he hadn't desired to see, he had been the one to fetch Light from his room in the morning when Mogi had walked into headquarters with a sizeable hint leading to Kira. Matsuda dashed down the hallway in search of the younger boy, a broad smile across his face. If anything could cheer up the brooding Light, it would be getting a step closer to catching Kira.
"Light-kun! Light-kun, we have news about Kira!"
He approached Light's door. Once again, he refrained from going inside. There still had been no one to pick up L's body, and he certainly hadn't seen Light remove it himself. It had been ten days since Ryuzaki's untimely death. Matsuda definitely wasn't going to enter Light's room anymore, barely even able to imagine the odorous stench now filling the whole room.
He knocked carefully.
"Light-kun? Light-kun, hurry, this is important!" He rapped harder on the door, and finally, seeing no other option, he turned the doorknob and trotted cautiously inside.
And twirling a spoon, a very familiar spoon in his hand, Light was sitting with his back up against the bed and his eyes fixated on the utensil in his fingers.
Light gripped the spoon, ceasing his articulate twists and holding it in his fist. Another fist furled around the one grasping the silver spoon, his knuckles white from holding it so firmly.
"His… fingerprints. This is all I've got left of him."
"Light-kun, please–" Taking a step closer, Matsuda officially felt all of his professionalism slipping away. He considered Light to be his friend after all, and all of his idolization of the boy's unbreakable strength aside, he needed consoling. Falling to his knees next to Light, he glanced uneasily at the spoon in his grip.
"R-r-ryuzaki…" he stuttered, and fell gracelessly to the floor.
"He used this spoon. For… for his strawberries. It was because I told him it was cleaner to not grab food by his hands. So he used a s-spoon that day." Matsuda knew he probably should take the spoon away, ephemerally stop Light's grief, but the way he was clutching at it, like a child to a weathered security blanket, he doubted he would even be able to extract it from Light's hold.
And before he could even consider removing the utensil, Light's tongue had hesitantly reached out and stole a lick from the spoon. Matsuda watched, silent at his hopeless movements. Light licked it again, longer this time, his tongue dragging itself over the silver slowly.
"It's all I have left of him…"
Spoon pressed against Light's lips, Matsuda finally broke. He reached forward, wrapping his arms securely around Light from the side, and squeezed. He didn't worry about embracing the boy too hard, because right now, it seemed like the more pressure the better.
Light's head lolling onto his shoulder and hair pooling out onto his neck, Matsuda sighed on top of his skull sadly. Stifled weeping resulted in drops of salty tears staining his suit, but at the moment that wasn't his concern. That Ryuzaki was lying a mere feet away from them, eyes closed and body stiff, wasn't Matsuda's concern either. The boy crying in his arms, looking for comfort but afraid to ask for it, was his concern.
"I'm sorry, Light-kun."
"M-matsuda… he… he never knew–"
"Shhh, I'm sure he knew you loved him," quietly, as not to evoke a trigger in Light that pooled out negative emotions, even more than now, Matsuda added, "he loved you too, Light…"
And Light, limp and shaking, felt a twinge of guilt overtaking his emotions as he cried onto Matsuda's shoulder. He was certainly glad that it was Matsuda who was embracing away his worries at the moment, for his father would make a fuss and the rest of the task force wouldn't understand. Matsuda had genuine concern, lots of it, all reeking from his skin.
But still, when Matsuda had replied to his interrupted sentence with a I'm sure he knew you loved him, he couldn't help but bite on his tongue to correct Matsuda and tell him that his feelings for L was not what he was talking about.
He never knew I was sorry for being Kira.
"Shh, Light… Ryuzaki wouldn't want you to be like this…"
Light sniffed, the words flying by his ear and never even hitting his brain.
"He forgives you."
He forgives you.
He forgives you.
His only velleity he wanted to be granted was, even though he could never stop being Kira, to be forgiven for it. He wanted L to understand, for L not to loathe him for it. And even though he doubted that he would be forgiven, L's death and inability to verbally forgive him only one the reasons, Light knew he needed his condonation to move on.
And hearing it being spoken so softly, so earnestly from Matsuda's lips even though Matsuda was probably just babbling and wasn't exactly sure what he was saying, Light found a sense of relief at the words.
"He forgives me?"
Matsuda nodded thoughtlessly, reassuringly smiling.
"Of course he does, Light. Why else would he have remained side-by-side to you all this time if he didn't?"
Light pondered the thought, the words echoing in his head as Matsuda spoke them. The black-haired man said them so meaninglessly, like sweet-nothings being whispered by a caring lover, as though he had no real understanding of the subtext behind his soothing sentences.
"He'd want you to keep going. Finish what he couldn't."
"Matsuda…?" Light breathed, his words nothing but a murmured susurrus. Matsuda strained to hear him.
"I think I can bury him now."
Matsuda smiled gently, patting Light on the head in a speechless praise. He stood up, pulling Light along with him. Taking a deep sigh, the brown-haired man approached the corpse by his bedside. If he was repulsed by L's mangled features, he didn't show it. Instead, he knelt down beside his deceased friend and gently whispered in his ear. Matsuda couldn't catch any of it, but for the first time, he didn't want to intrude in the first place, all curiosity forgotten.
"It's okay, Ryuzaki. It's okay that you're gone. You're still inside the building," Light said softly, straight into the raven-haired man's ear, "I know you're gone. And shit, I still wish you were here. But it's okay. I know it can be."
Matsuda bit his lip, merely being able to wonder what Light was tenderly telling L.
"I wonder if things would have been different if you wouldn't have died. But know that I love you, L. I love you."
He stood up from the bedside, and cradling L's head in his arms, he murmured one last afterthought before turning to Matsuda, "I'll see you soon, L Lawliet."
And with a deep breath, he turned away from L and smiled tentatively at Matsuda, who gave him a congratulatory thumbs-up.
"No, Matsuda. It's all right. I'd like to bury him myself."
I won't let anyone else.
Naturally, the taskforce remained oblivious to the attachment that Light had developed to L, as they had never stumbled across the body lying in his bed. And naturally, Light had not been one to share this slightly humiliating act of weakness to his coworkers.
The only surprising bit was that neither did Matsuda.
AN: Wow. I had originally planned for this to be fairly short. But it grew… and grew… and I know why XD I had been writing it around two last night and even though my plan had been to go to sleep ten minutes later, I kept going and going and going because my muse was typing its own story. But here's the result.
I know it's a little angsty. And I know this certainly didn't happen. But I think it would have been sweet if it had.
It's dedicated to the same person I dedicate everything to lately. Hopefully you know who you are. Guess if you have to xD
P.S., my birthday's in sixteen days 8D