Inner world: This is the name for the 'world' that zanpakuto (cref. Soul Cutter) occupy in a Shinigami's soul. The inner world reflects the Shinigami's feelings and moods, and is the place where the true shape of a zanpakuto can be seen, although it is also possible for the spirit of a zanpakuto to be brought into the 'real world' by artificial means. It is thought it might also be possible for other things to inhabit the inner world, such as multiple personalities that have developed to such a point as to lead a semi-separate existence. In the case of separate personalities, this can be highly dangerous if the shinigami in question loses or relinquishes control to the personality, as the shinigami may then be trapped in the inner world in place of the personality, unable to interact with the outside world.
-The Shinigami's Handbook
I was back in the skyscraper in Japan at nighttime, the same place I'd worked on the Kira case. Tiny lights were visible below, streetlamps as well as other buildings stealing the skyline. The room was in semi-darkness, illuminated only by the light coming from the screen of my faithful Macintosh, still waiting for me.
I was human again.
Had this been a sugar-induced nightmare?
The room was empty, with nobody else here; if this was real, then there would be more people here working on the Kira case. I sat down in front of the computer, my hand selecting several options with decisive clicks of the mouse. The security cameras readily submitted to my inspection, showing that the building was completely empty other than for my own presence.
I walked over to the glass wall, pressing my face against it. While I could see streetlights down below, there were no cars making their way along the roads, no people walking down the streets. I couldn't see any signs of life at all.
My eyes drifted across the room to the white object sitting in the corner.
I picked it up, turned it over in my hands.
It appeared to be a helmet, similar to a samurai helmet in a way. There were two pairs of 'horns', one set larger than the other, and a ridge running down the centre of the head, all the way down to the separate segments attached to the base.
The front of the helmet was a mask, held in by an extension of the helmet's ridge, as well as two longer protrusions under the eyeholes. With a little jiggling, it slid out from the helmet itself, allowing me to inspect it properly.
It was the same material as the helmet itself – what I suspected to be bone of some kind – with teal tear lines running down from the eyes to its base, only interrupted by a row of sharp teeth and giving it the appearance of weeping.
I slid it back up into the helmet until the two clicked into place once more.
It disturbed me, because this object was the same in feel as the helmet I had been wearing before. I lifted it over my head, and hesitated before sliding it on.
It fitted perfectly.
Quickly, I removed it. The object was disturbing, to say the least.
I heard footsteps, and turned round to see my doppelgänger enter the room with a jar of strawberry jam resting on one arm and a white object under the other.
"Beyond," I said calmly. My focus quickly shifted to the jam as he sat down opposite me, behind the computer.
It has real strawberries!
"…where did the jam come from?"
No answer. His red gaze was fixed on the jam as he unscrewed the lid, then carefully dipped a teaspoon in, removing the crimson goodness.
"Could I have jam, please?" I asked politely.
"Of course you can, L."
I waited as B lifted the spoon to his lips, and ate.
I continued to wait, then realised the mistake in my phrasing.
"Will you give me jam?"
My stomach rumbled as I glared at him.
Beyond smirked. "You can't have the jam."
I pouted. "Why not?"
"It's metaphorical jam. It doesn't exist."
"Then do I get the strawberries instead?"
Beyond sighed. "Have you ever wondered why we look so alike?"
"…once or twice," I said, wondering where this was leading to.
"Well, you see," Beyond elaborated, eyes shining, "it's actually because we were twin brothers that were separated at birth!"
"I fail to see the relevance of – "
"And¸" he interrupted, "it explains everything about us. We both ended up in Wammy's House together, in London, in England. The same country and city! Think about it." He sat back, pleased.
"…that is irrelevant to strawberries."
"Ah, but you see," he continued, raising a finger, "have you read the psychological study that implies that twins are, in fact, the separation of a single personality into two separate halves, which is why the 'nature versus nurture' experiment worked?"
I sighed. "B… that study was never fully researched."
"It stated that with every pair of twins, there is a 'good' twin and a 'bad' twin." His fingers made air quotes as he carried on. "And of course, you're the good twin, since you ended up a detective, which leaves me to be the bad twin." Beyond paused to dip the spoon back into the jam. "Which means that I, as the bad twin, cannot just give you the jam, or the strawberries. Even if they existed."
I narrowed my eyes. "But if the jam doesn't exist, the fact that you are successfully interacting with it would imply that you, also, do not exist and are therefore subject to the laws of this world, which I suspect strongly is my dream. Therefore, I am in charge, and I order you, Beyond, to give. Me. The. Jam."
Beyond stuck out his tongue.
I glared at him, made a swift calculation based on his balance, and lunged for the jam, managing to knock the breath out of him with a surprised hiss. The glass jar fell out of his grip as I scrabbled to catch it, just before I was pinned down.
It hit the wall with a clink.
"Move off me," I growled.
"You left all my jam on the carpet!"
I pushed myself up off the floor as Beyond rescued his precious jam. There was now a long, bright red splatter mark on the white carpet.
Beyond glared at me venomously with eyes to match. "You spilled my jam."
"Most of it is still in the jar," I pointed out.
His glare intensified, then his face split into a wicked grin. "Perhaps I should use this, then," he proclaimed, removing the white object from under his arm.
"What is that?" I asked warily. It appeared to be a plushie of some variety.
"It's you," Beyond noted happily.
I stared at the plushie. It was wearing what looked like half of a broken version of the helmet currently next to the computer, was stark white with dark hair and bright green eyes, and appeared to be crying.
"… I don't look anything like this."
"It's a 'five years time' plushie," he added.
"B…I don't have green eyes."
Beyond stared at me. "Yes, you do."
"…I'm pretty sure they were brown last time I checked."
He shrugged. "Well, I suppose they could be brown. But then grass would have to be brown, and mud would be green."
I studied his face. There was no indication that he was lying; however, I had never expected there to be in the first place.
"There's a mirror in the bathroom if you want to have a look," he offered helpfully, as I got up.
I followed him down the dark hallway. The schematics of this building were subtly different from the building I had worked in for so long. For one thing, there were no cameras that I had seen, despite the numerous video feeds of the building on the computer.
But then, if this was all in my head, there wouldn't need to be, would there…
Beyond stepped into the second doorway on the left, and reached up to the wall to flick the light switch.
I blinked as light reached my eyes, revealing a white-tiled bathroom complete with shower, toilet, and sink, above which hung a mirror.
Beyond hung back as I approached it.
I peeled back my eyelids and leaned in for a closer inspection.
The colour commonly referred to as emerald, maybe, if one wanted to be particularly descriptive, but definitely not the same dark brown as before.
A check for contacts revealed nothing, as did further poking.
"Done yet?" Beyond asked, resting his head on my shoulder.
I closed my eyes, counted to five, and opened them again to see the exact same thing as before I closed them.
"It's a pretty shade of green," he noted conversationally, shifting his head slightly into a more uncomfortable position for me. "It goes well with the red."
I paused. "Red?"
Beyond nodded, digging his chin into my shoulder. He lifted one hand to a foot above my head, tracing invisible letters on the air with his index finger.
"Lucian Lawliet," he murmured, his eyes watching something I couldn't see before shifting down slightly back to my reflection in the mirror. "Of course, the numbers are negative counting up. I always wondered about that…"
I stared, uncomprehending for a few seconds before it finally clicked into place. "You can see lifespans?"
"Names too. They're all red."
…that would explain his eyes. Shinigami eyes… although then he'd have to have a Death Note in his possession, and that wouldn't make sense…
"Negative?" I asked, curiously.
"Well…" Beyond said slowly, "surprising as it may seem… we're dead."
"Or I hallucinated the last day or so, and am still under the effects of hallucinogenic drugs," I mused.
B's eyes flared, as he hit me. Hard.
"That was unnecessary," I pouted, rubbing the soon-to-be-bruise.
"Are you satisfied that this is at least partway real now?"
"Yes, thank you." I paused. "We?"
"Yes. We. First person plural pronoun."
"Kira had you killed?"
This was cause to be worried. Further digging into our pasts would reveal the entirety of the truth of Wammy's House, and with it Near, Mello, Matt and the other surviving children there. And that would give all the information necessary to prevent anyone from stopping Kira…
…which didn't bear thinking about.
I needed to stop Light.
"Is the white clothing symbolic of something?" I asked, gesturing at the plushie.
He shrugged. "It looks like an inverse shinigami uniform."
"I wasn't aware shinigami had a regular uniform."
"Black with white trim," he commented, twirling the plushie in his hands and arranging its limbs in a way I wasn't entirely comfortable with.
"Ryuk wasn't wearing that…"
Beyond gave me a curious look. "Ryuk isn't a shinigami."
That changes a lot of things. "What is he, then?"
He shrugged. "Don't know."
"How do you even know Ryuk?"
Beyond stared at me, his eyes wide. "How did you think my eyes got like this?"
I was about to ask whether Beyond had ever owned a Death Note, which seemed unlikely given the respect of his murders, when I felt a sharp tugging sensation at the base of my spine.
Beyond smiled and waved. "Ding-dong," he sang. "Somebody's calling."
"Wait!" I cried, just as everything disappeared and I woke up.