The woman doesn't appear from nowhere; doesn't blink into being. She was always waiting, since the dawn of time, just for him. She wears virginal white, like a wedding; her hair is elaborately coiffed to match, and she knows everything Light ever did. "You've made a lot of work for me," she says.

Those eyes! They're the night sky and arctic cold, with that black curlicue trailing in one corner; if they could smile, they aren't doing it now. Light is broken before them; his mind snapped first, and then they shattered his body too, and then - and then... Something in her gaze reminds him of Ryuk - or rather, of Ryuk's infinitely older, wiser grandmother. Light hopes the done thing isn't a game of chess, because he doesn't know if he could even move the pieces. He remembers how, doesn't he? Gambits and strategies, and all of it part of him for so long?

"We can play if you like. Do you think you'll win?"

It's on the tip of his tongue to reply, but he's lost so much more than a stupid board game; the knowledge is searing, unbearable. He can't look away from her, the perfection she embodies, the way she glows like moonrise as she holds out one pale hand. She's the only woman he's ever wanted.

"Take my hand, Light."

She's stars and white velvet, and she draws him in with the promise of all there is to know. More than his power, more than the world, more than his own life, he wants to be hers. To feel the pressure of her hand, to be drawn close. To see what she sees, to know she understands; to be one forever with that indescribably compassionate regard. There's only one thing left that he wants more, and as he clears his throat, he knows he doesn't need to speak it.

"Never."

The Lolita frills bob around her; the ankh at her neck gleams, cold, incongruous. "You know, you'd still be alive if you weren't so goddamned arrogant. You haven't learned a thing, have you?" Her hands settle on her hips, and her sigh is soft. "Perhaps I'll stop by, down the road, to see if you've changed your mind."

And then he's tumbling away with the last bloody shreds of his pride clasped tight, and a horrible feeling that they weren't worth it, and as he drops all he can see are those dark eyes shining. The tunnel is black and white and nightmare, and he falls so far and so fast that he forgets her entirely, right down to the sparkles in her eyes and her hair, and the lonely, dark distances break him further yet, and he screams himself raw until he hits the floor, irreparably fractured but seemingly alive, unhurt and yet soaked with his own blood.