Shadow of the Valley

The stone angels and tombstones see him as an old man taking a stroll through the graveyard, his amber eyes dark with thought and schemes as he passes under their wings. They see the aura of power that laces his footsteps; they see a stoniness in his eyes unbefitting of a man his age. He looks older than he is—it is his eyes, shrouded in shadows, they think, that add the years to his features. For haggard as he is, he still has the features of his youth; his age is not expressed in wrinkles.

Or so the stone angels think as his thin fingers brush against their faces. They can taste the ink running down his hands—it smells of death, and they can see it running through his veins the way blood once did. He has become, in his power, something more than what he used to be.

His lips twitch into a smile as he begins to whistle his way through, dancing on the graves of his victims. A city built on the bones and rotting corpses of the dead—the stone angels can see their decaying flesh beneath his feet. It is his city, his Jerusalem, the beacon of light in the New World. They remember the day he erected them, making an example of their poor dead occupants.

It was a reminder, he said. He never said who he was reminding—himself, his people, or his poor wife and daughter. He never told them, but they saw the lightening in his eyes and thought better than to ask. Better to be made of stone so as not face his wrath; better not to be a human struggling beneath his far-seeing eyes.

He is far older than he dares to show. His world is built on death and the dying. They still fear him; his shadow is too dark and too great for them to escape any longer. Their hope diminished with his. They are tired, the murderer and his victims—they are tired of their endless waltz. God and the damned, they are growing bored and old. He is finding it harder, the ecstasy of the Notebook beneath his hand, the scratching of a name in a ballpoint pen.

Instead, he looks out his window and stares at the moon. The stone angels have seen him standing there, the somber expression etched into his eyes. He has become stone, just as they have. The white marble of his skin glows beneath the starlight. Only his eyes remain dark and weary. His humanity has lost itself within those amber pools. Somewhere, they'll find the boy he once was—deep within his memory, that boy must still exist.

He meanders through their ranks, ignoring their curious faces. His path seems nonexistent as he weaves through the tombstones, listening to his own hollow whistling. He doesn't appear to be looking for anything in particular; he stops now and then, smiles at a name, and moves on. He carries no roses or other sentimentalities—he can't afford such weaknesses. Though his people have never seen his face, and most likely never will, he still has the habit ground into him. The memory of the gothic L takes far too long to die. The stone angels wonder which one of them has come to guard the detective's corpse from the world.

He is not looking for them; he does not appear to be looking for anything. He is wandering in mind and in body. The wind has created his course and he follows it diligently with a wry smile and somber eyes. They can't help but wonder where his path will lead him next

our Father

His arms are filled with his newly born daughter, but his mind is far away as his wife squeals with joy. She cries at the sight of their daughter, insisting that he should be proud, that he should be glad.

He merely looks at her and nods absently; his thoughts are occupied by far heftier matters than an infant. But he obliges his cooing wife, if only for a moment, and looks into the child's cloudy eyes. He sees nothing of himself within their depths, but still he stares at his own reflection through their haze.

He sighs as the hospital bustles about him and finally, ever so slowly, his mind turns toward the child in his arms. He is not as delusional as L to believe himself immortal and spend so little thought on his successors. Kira feels the weight of his years like a cloak about his shoulders and he feels the hand of time ticking along with the Shinigami's laughter. He feels his death waiting, and while his power grows, he knows he is not immortal. His life is spinning away like thread at the hands of Fate, and he does not have the means to stop it. He is not as young as he used to be. The invigoration that had possessed him within the first year of his reign is ending and he finds himself standing at the edge of the world attempting to maintain his balance.

He looks up from the child and out the open window, watching his steadily-growing kingdom and wondering what kind of being would be suited to take his place. They must be ruthless, heartless, but never dark enough to drive others off. Kira, unlike L, is a position of charm; it involves bending the world around his fingers. L hadn't had to worry about social niceties when picking out his own heir.

He didn't, in fact. Near (never L) would have made a terrible Kira—he was too isolated from the world. He would never have the power to manipulate those working with him; if he had to work from scratch, as Light had, he would have failed before he started. Mello was charismatic but self-destructive; he thought with his anger and betrayal rather than with his head, which in turn had gotten him killed. Both of them were dead because they weren't as good as L or Kira; they were dead because they were smug little imposters playing at a game far beyond their understanding.

Mikami, despite what he thought in that warehouse, or the day when Light sent him the Death Note with a list of instructions, was never fit to be the true Kira. Mikami will always and forever be Light's pawn, until the day Light decides it is time to dispose of him. Mikami's passion and faith is dangerous for a true Kira, but useful for a pawn. With his faith, he can be manipulated—and Light's heir must avoid manipulation at all costs.

Takada had also never been capable of being his heir—she was too easily wooed, too vain to exist without some man attempting to steal her power from her. And then there was the fact that Light just didn't particularly like Takada. He felt little remorse when penning the words that would burn her to death. The only people close to suitable candidates are Misa—and L himself.

L was the obvious choice, if the pieces had been arranged differently. Despite his complete lack of charm, he still could manipulate almost as well as Light himself. He lied easily, he sacrificed easily—he was completely and utterly without conscience. The transition would have been so easy; it makes Light grin and chuckle every time he thinks of it.

But despite L's sheer potential, the pieces were arranged in the wrong position. It was impossible for Light to even dream of attempting to convert L. The detective was stubborn and would rather die before he groveled before Light. It wasn't ethics or morals that kept L battering against him—it was the fact that he couldn't stand to lose.

Misa was the second choice that had crossed Light's mind. She may not be as brilliant as he desires, but she can hold her own in the world of detectives and murderers. She proved herself years ago at the hands of L's torture; she is loyal and would rather die than betray her secrets. She is cunning, manipulative—but she is not Kira. She has some of the personality needed, but she will never be Kira simply because she does not have the ambition.

All her powers were used not to clear the world of criminals, but to secure a better hold on Light himself. She craved the power Light possessed; it was obsession that a young woman had foolishly deemed as love. She backed him into a corner and he had watched as she manipulated his limbs, demanding dates and kisses. At the time he had wanted to kill her, just waiting for the moment when she slipped and the opportunity would be his. But even then, he had been unwillingly impressed by her sheer cunning.

His pride, however, refuses to let him seriously consider her for the position of his heir. One day, he will kill her, just so he can see the betrayal etched on her face as he leans down and whispers that no one can use him like she had—but that day will come later, not in the hospital, not yet. The first thing Light learned as Kira was patience. You have to wait for your enemies to slip before you strike. Every name he wrote started with a single ink black letter.

L Lawliet, Nate River, Naomi Misora…. There are so many names. So many names listed across his own mind—his victims, his guinea pigs, his sacrifices. He can still remember each one of them, their faces staring up at him behind black and white pictures. It weighs him down.

Ryuk once told him that no one possessed and used a Death Note as long as Light had; no one killed as many as Light had; no one came close to Kira's legacy. And Light finds that more wearying than he likes to admit. Even at mid twenties, he feels as old as his father. Sometimes, at night, he looks out of his window and wonders where his youth went. Is that the price of killing L? Hope is the last demon trapped inside Pandora's box, the worst demon of all. Is it hope, is it ambition—is it pride that drove him all those years ago?

Whatever it is, L's death has stripped him of it. That day, staring down at L's grave, he let out his final demon. Even as a ghost, L is far more powerful than his successors could ever have been. There was a day when Light went to L's grave, asking him if that was truly the best he could do. He imagined L stewing needlessly down beneath the earth, gritting his teeth slightly so no one but Light could see his irritation.

"Hikari… our Hikari. Isn't she beautiful, Light?" Misa smiles at him from the hospital bed; sweat drips down her face as he watches his eyes turn back to the present and to his daughter.

He blinks at the name, shuddering at Misa's blatant affection for him. He wanted nothing to do with the naming of the child—he let Misa be content in her pre-maternal fretting while Light contented himself to his own work.

Hikari—light. Somewhere, L is laughing.

"Hikari. Isn't that a bit redundant?" He looks at his daughter again, searching in vain for some sense of himself to cling to. And yet within her tiny, newborn face he finds nothing of his family—nothing of Misa, either. Just a small, helpless stranger.

"You said you liked it. I thought it was cute." Misa pouts in the bed, attempting once more to wrap him around her fingers. He says nothing, frowning slightly at the wriggling Hikari in his arms. Shining, really—the woman has no taste at all.

When Misa babbled about names, he almost, out of spite, suggested to name the unborn fetus L, or Ryuzaki. But he held his tongue on the off chance that Misa would believe he was serious. And who knew—perhaps at the time, he was serious. He no longer remembers, but thinking of the name Hikari, he almost wishes he had suggested it.

"It could be worse; she could be Light Junior."

Light, being of Germanic base, is technically neither feminine nor masculine, making it a perfectly acceptable name for a little girl. Of course, the whole point of Light's name is that his mother was creative enough to think of it. The effect is spoiled when Misa comes out of the blue, suggesting they dub their child a less inventive version of the exact same name.

Light tunes out Misa's laughter and the smiling nurses. He counts the seconds until he can leave. He wonders if they can see the tedium in his eyes, whether they can imagine just how bored he is by this place. He has a job to do. His life is wasting away before his eyes and he is stuck sitting in a hospital with a woman he mildly tolerates and will one day kill.

He almost pities the poor child whimpering in his arms—almost, but not quite.

Scourge's Note: Part one of a three-part why-God-why-are-my-oneshots-so-long fic. It happens to be a vague idea-slash-not-quite-crossover with Repo! The Genetic Opera (and here is where I should be saying "GO WATCH IT. IT'S GREAT. GNAR." But I'm not, because I didn't actually like it...).

Anyway, reviews would be neat. And much appreciated. And repaid with gratuitous thank-you's 'n stuff. :D

Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note or Repo! The Genetic Opera. And yes, this disclaimer is at the bottom. It's called creativity. Apparently, Carni is averse to this, but I say "WHY THE HECK NOT?" Because the bottom is better than the top.