October 31, 2005 – 11:38 PM
Light glanced at the clock beside the bed and rubbed his eyes. He had only gone to sleep an hour ago; how was he awake? Thankfully, Misa was still out with her friends since he'd asked for the solace while he wrote his papers. As long as he was asleep or busy, she didn't bother him, hence his reasons for being busy until the moment he fell into bed.
It was far too cold in the room, and the thread of slumber continued to elude him. Twenty minutes later, he gave up, hoping that a cup of tea would put him back into the mood to sleep. However, upon returning to the bedroom, he caught sight of frost creeping up one bedroom window, faintly illuminated from behind by the city's lights.
He sat in the windowsill despite the chill to better study the imperfect patterns, natural fractals crystallized all over the window nearest his bed. He stared through the designs into the city, his thoughts slowly unraveling.
It was exhausting, building his empire while attending university and rebuffing his over-eager girlfriend's advances. Nothing in his life gave him peace or satisfaction since the tasks that defined Kira's existence were more of a grind right now than an actual challenge.
Light exhaled slowly, his breath fogging the window and obliterating part of the design. Water slipped down the glass like tears.
It took long moments to realize that the eyes staring back at him were not his own.
Light snapped his head around, glancing furtively into every corner of the room. The room was only faintly lit but still clearly empty. Fantastic. Now he was seeing things.
The dark eyes only visible between the curls of ice blinked slowly.
Light flinched, staring back at them. Hallucinations, that's all it was. He really had been losing sleep lately.
The eyes closed, and the crescents of black lashes only now visible against porcelain skin slid back and forth. Light glanced across the windowsill; if this had been a real reflection, those eyes would belong to someone sitting right across from him.
White fingers were reflected in the glass as a hand that didn't exist wiped slowly at Jack Frost's handiwork, sending another cascade dribbling down the window.
Now more of the reflection was visible: eyes such a dark gray that they seemed black, shadows underneath from sleeping too little, and a messy tumble of midnight hair against skin faded white from so little time in the sun.
L was a study in contrasts: black and white, just like his concept of justice.
He wasn't frowning, only smiling in the same false manner as he had when they feigned camaraderie at the university campus and in front of the investigation team. L's reflection leaned closer to the window and breathed on it, creating a new semi-circle of droplets. He used those attenuated fingers to write English words in the condensation.
"'Happy Halloween, Light-kun'?" Light read aloud, his disbelief turning the odd statement into a question.
Light glanced at the calendar on the wall, noting that it was, in fact, October 31st. His mind was choosing to remind him of the date in strange ways.
"Um, Happy Halloween?" He returned the greeting, curious what was going on other than him going crazy.
L shook his head again. He breathed against a different part of the glass and scrawled another message.
"'Happy birthday.'" Light read this time before the runnels of water made it illegible. "It's your birthday?"
L nodded and drew a '26' in the condensation that still lingered.
"You're 26? Or would have been."
L's smile faltered, the reflected eyes no longer meeting Light's own.
"It wasn't personal." Light dropped his gaze, unsure what might have made him blurt that out.
A brush of cold against his cheek made him look up, startled.
L's haunted face wore an unreadable expression. This time he didn't write a message and only mouthed Thank you, Light-kun.
When Light awoke, it was early morning and the sun was just starting to color the sky pink. He took a few minutes to watch the light crawl up the glass, burning away the curlicues of an unexpected frost. Before the last traces were obliterated, Light noticed an odd empty shape, like a handprint in one corner.
"Strange," he thought and closed his eyes, intending to get a few more minutes of rest before his alarm went off.
October 31, 2006 – 11:55 PM
Misa was out at an annual Halloween party that was due to go on for a few more hours. Light didn't care; he had his solace in the empty apartment and a bottle of wine. He only occasionally drank wine with dinner while eating out, but something had prompted him to ask Misa to get a bottle before she left.
Maybe he had thought he'd need it to relax. His coursework had been getting more intensive but his work as 'L' was growing more and more uninteresting. He didn't know how L had managed to be himself; he must have had cases lined up for months and contacts that Light didn't know how to reach outside the ill-fated Wedy and Aiber.
Being L was too easy for Light. He much preferred the challenge that a still-living L had been rather than standing unchallenged at the top of L's mountain.
It was boredom, not anything else that made him listless these days. He twisted the cork off the bottle with an echoing 'pop', leaving the cork and corkscrew alike discarded beside the sink. He half-filled a slender glass and headed for the window in his bedroom. The sill here was wide and made a good place to sit, and he liked the view on most days.
Tonight, however, it was nearly frosted over. The faintest prickling at his memory made him pause and wonder how this lone window was etched in frost when the others were clear. There must be a vent underneath that made it colder or more humid; it wasn't important.
He sat on the sill, rolling the wine around on his tongue as he studied the sliver of his kingdom visible through the gaps in the ice. It was midnight but the traffic still made steady patterns of light against his drying retinas. Now that he wasn't typing up thesis papers, his mind only craved sleep.
Lowering the glass to the space between him and the window, he leaned back and closed his eyes. He could feel the temperature dropping as his thoughts drifted aimlessly. When the chill started to make his exposed toes hurt, he opened his eyes, intent on finding a blanket or his shoes.
There were words scratched in the frost near his face.
"'Happy Halloween?'" Light read before the foggy memory clicked, making him sit bolt upright. He leaned closer to the glass, trying to find a reflection in it. "L?"
The eyes he finally found bobbed, as if L was nodding. Light wiped at the frost this time, letting the rest of L's face come into view. Again, the sill was empty aside from him, but it was definitely L looking back at him, translucent with the lights of the city peeping through him.
It was a dream but a very vivid one. Light raised his glass as if toasting L before taking a sip. L cocked an eyebrow and mouthed a question slowly and articulately.
Light-kun is celebrating?
Light shrugged. "I hadn't planned it."
L carved the single word 'liar' into the frost with his ragged fingernails, his expression less than amused.
"Why are you here, L?" Light leaned back, annoyed that L would think that anything Light did was for him, the self-centered prick. It was just a coincidence.
It's my birthday. L mouthed slowly, apparently reluctant to have to scrawl all of this into the ice. Is it inconceivable that I might want to celebrate it?
"You're dead," Light snapped. "You don't need to celebrate anything."
You don't need to rub it in my face. L looked away from Light.
Light drank the rest of the wine and set the glass on the window where L was apparently sitting, invisible.
"So why me? Don't you have family you could be haunting tonight instead?"
L shook his head, his eyes still not meeting Light's. Isn't it more fitting that I haunt my murderer?
"It suits the holiday."
I don't celebrate Halloween. L glanced at him for a moment. Not that I celebrated my birthday either.
"So what's changed? Why now?"
L's smile twisted with anger. Light-kun cannot do anything to me anymore.
"You've decided to torture me instead."
I would not call visiting you once a year 'torture'. You were always such a drama queen.
"Go back to hell or wherever you came from." Light was more than done with this pointless conversation.
L stared at him then shook his head with disgust. Light-kun's world is truly only big enough for himself.
In the morning, Light found broken glass all over the carpet on his side of the bed.
October 31, 2007 – 11:59 PM
This time Light told Misa to go trick-or-treating or a costume party, anything as long as she left. He discarded his headset and powered the computer down. He shut off his cell phone; any calls could wait until morning.
This charade as L wasn't fun anymore. He simply sat on the edge of the bed, watching the clock's minute hand edge closer and closer to midnight.
Midnight on All Hallows Eve, when the dead walked the earth. Two years of this had taught him to wait. It had also taught him not to leave glasses near the window; his feet were scarred from the previous year.
He didn't know why he didn't just go somewhere else. Surely L wouldn't follow him to a restaurant or hotel if he truly wanted to escape.
Maybe Light didn't want to escape. That was the coward's way out, after all. Light didn't fear ghosts or hallucinations born of his own sleep deprivation. That was all L really was, some figment of his human soul tormenting him for cleansing the earth of its filth.
He heard the nearly inaudible tick as the clock's minute hand shifted. His gaze moved to the clock face then back to the window; somehow the frost had crawled all over it in that moment.
"Happy birthday, L." He waited, feeling his mouth twist faintly at the strangeness of wishing L a happy anything when he was nothing.
The moon peeked from behind the clouds outside and cast a dim glow through the ice. L faded into view in the windowsill, both knees drawn up and his thumb between his teeth. Light was so taken aback by the sight that he froze, a deer in the headlights.
"You give me more power when you summon me, Light-kun."
L's voice was whisper-soft, barely more than a sigh, but Light could actually hear him. L was almost transparent in the moonlight yet far more than a mere reflection, which was crystal clear between the paisley patterns frozen behind him.
"I summoned you?" Light found his voice lodged somewhere in his throat.
"I would not have returned otherwise. Light-kun is a terrible host."
"What do you want me to do, L? I can't offer you cake and I can't give you my head on a platter."
L tilted his head, bemused. "Light-kun can offer me cake."
"What would you do with it?" Light felt himself strangely, perversely fighting a smile at the absurdity of this conversation.
"It would be the thought that counts." L wrapped his arms around his knees. "I don't want to fight with you. This is over between us even if you have stolen my title."
"You're not as angry as I thought you'd be."
"Anger fades quickly when you're powerless."
Light shook his head, closing his eyes and massaging his temples. "I can't believe this. If it was really you, you'd find a way to tell the police who I am."
"You're… I can't visit anyone else. I couldn't convict you if I tried."
Light took his hand from his face and opened his eyes. "I'm what?"
L shifted and looked across the windowsill to where Light usually sat. His expression had gone stony.
"Why keep secrets now, L?" L had already said that Light couldn't do anything to him anymore. "Why can't you haunt anyone else?" Light leaned forward, curious why he was the only one unlucky enough to have the specter of his greatest rival visit his dreams on Halloween.
"Because only Light-kun wants me to come back." L hissed, the harsh words accompanied by the feel of the room's temperature falling.
"You must be joking."
"Would I joke that my family wanted me dead? That my heirs only waited for the chance to fight for my title?" L's whispery voice wasn't self-pitying so much as disgusted.
"There are others like you?" Light sat back, already formulating plans. That could spell trouble for him if they were anything like L, especially if there was more than one.
L looked at him then, his eyes so dark that they looked like black holes. "Even Light-kun just wanted me to die."
The minute hand on the clock finally moved. 12:01 AM.
Light woke to a crack running through the window glass, allowing the dew outside to bleed through.
October 31, 2008 – 11:59 PM
"You were right." Light kicked the foot that wasn't propped on the windowsill idly, running L's last words over in his mind. "But I wish now that you hadn't."
He could feel the frost forming against the arm nearest the glass as the minute hand ticked.
"Light-kun is cruel to lie to me now."
The chill as L coalesced from the dimness almost took Light's breath away. It felt like L was made of ice. He was easier to see and his voice was clear even if there was a faint echo to it. That almost made him frightening, as if Light's dreams truly had taken on life and were sitting in the room with him.
"I'm not lying. You were the only one to offer any sort of challenge." Light looked up to meet the hard eyes across from him. "I miss that."
"Your sincerity moves me to tears, Light-kun." L deadpanned, glancing sidelong at Light as he turned to look into the room.
"I thought you didn't want to fight." Light pulled his other foot up into the window until he realized he was unconsciously imitating L's pose. He put his foot back down.
"Then stop baiting me." L looked back at him for a moment. "We weren't always enemies."
"When was that?"
"After your captivity, before Higuchi." L's answer was immediate. "I said I hated Kira, not Light-kun."
"You lied just as much as I did."
"I lied when I called you my friend, but now you are all I have." L smiled bitterly. "And I am all you have. That's why you keep calling me."
"Why do you keep coming?" L's incorrect theories about why Light would want him there weren't worth investigating. Light didn't need anyone; that was why he had succeeded thus far.
"I told you, I wanted to celebrate my birthday." Surprisingly L smiled. It lit up his expression as their previous conversations had not, given that they had always been spiteful or mean. "You have always given me what I wanted."
Light stared, flabbergasted. "What, accusations? Lies?"
L still smiled, even as his eyes grew solemn. "Mu is lonely, Light-kun."
Light's skin still tingled faintly, as if frostbitten the next morning.
November 1, 2009 – 3:15 AM
Misa stumbled into their room in the Westin Bonaventure, using her foot to push the door shut behind her. Dumping her costume and shoes on the table in the suite's main room, she tiptoed further inside to see if Light was still awake since the light was on.
Light was slumped in front of the computer, his headset still on and a half-empty cup of coffee beside him.
Misa edged the earpiece out from under his head and set it aside. He would probably be upset if she turned off the computer, but she did bring a blanket from the other room to put over him.
When she turned toward the bedroom, the blankness in one window caught her eye. The glass was etched with whorls and designs in frost. She leaned closer to study it only to see that there were English words scratched into it.
"I'll wait even if you forget."
"What did I forget?" Misa repeated, wondering what Light was waiting for. Why wouldn't he just write her a note? "God, I drank too much."
Resolving herself to ask him in the morning, she went to bed alone, again. When she woke, it was mid-morning and Light was already working at his typical breakneck pace with the investigation team. He had been so stressed lately that she didn't want to bother him about anything trivial, especially when his temper had a hair trigger.
She never did remember to mention it.
January 28, 2010 – 6:38 PM
At the end, there was no more 'new world' or shinigami or investigation team. There was no Kira and not even a 'world's greatest detective'.
There was only L Lawliet, waiting as promised rather than the other way around and this time, Yagami Light was grateful.
A/N - This was a response to the prompt "L's Birthday" rather than Halloween. It is a prequel to "Last Stop at the End of the World" as much as any of my stories can be true prequels/sequels for each other. I laugh even as I bang my head in frustration on the keyboard.