Regret is one of the only emotions that belongs solely to humans. Can you feel regret anymore? Or has the power with which you've been endowed taken away your ability to feel remorse? If you had the power to go back in time and stop yourself from taking the bloodstained path you've walked so far, would you? Would you pick up the notebook and burn it before your other self could find it? Or would you simply make sure that someone else discovered it and then pledge your support to them? Could it be that you wouldn't change anything, not even with the knowledge of what would happened after you wrote that first name?
Not that this particular line of thinking matters now. It doesn't matter one iota whether or not you would have done anything differently now—you've already decided the course you'll take and there can be no turning back. But despite this knowledge, I find myself thinking over your actions, as if twenty/twenty hindsight would help me understand the path you chose when you wrote your first victim's name. Was it a test, I wonder? Surely no sane individual would take at face value the phrase, "The human whose name is written in this note shall die."
Then again, you're not sane, are you, Kira?
As three of the world's top detectives, I have seen a disgusting amount of injustice in this world. I have seen some of the most gruesome crimes that the human mind can conceive, things that can make even a person like me cringe. I have seen mass kidnappings perpetrated without a single victim returned, despite whatever ransom the kidnapper might ask; I have seen a whole town obliterated and taken off the map just so a deadly new weapon could be tested; I have seen three murders committed for the sole purpose of making a suicide seem like a fourth in the series, the mastermind hoping to create a puzzle that would never be solved.
Your crimes, some might say, are not as vicious as those committed by the criminals you kill. But if they knew what I and the taskforce know—that their God was hiding in fear—they would abandon you. Kira's followers claim he is God judging the wicked, but would a god lie to his own household, fearing for his own life if his identity were ever revealed?
Now you've got me thinking—who was your first victim? Knowing you as I do, I can safely say it was someone you thought no one would miss. Just in case the notebook's claim was true, you'd pick someone you believed the world would be better off without, that the world wouldn't remember or care if they were gone. It would have been, rather than a true criminal charged and jailed for his offense, a person in the midst of committing a small misdeed. You would make it look like an accident, wouldn't you, so that no one would ever know that you killed simply by writing a name? Yes, that's how it happened, isn't it? You walked the streets until you saw something small enough and tested the powers of the black notebook you held under your arm.
Or perhaps you were finishing the night's studies and saw the notebook laying there on the desk. You contemplated it and decided it wasn't worth your time. You turned on the television to watch the news and saw some sort of altercation. A name flashed up on screen and a face, and just like that, you knew the identity of the perpetrator. Your mind went immediately to the notebook before you. It couldn't really work, could it?
Yet you wrote the name anyway. You were probably disgusted with yourself, weren't you, putting even so small an amount of faith in such an object? But then you heard that the criminal whose name you'd written had collapsed and his victims were saved. Just a coincidence, you thought. Perhaps it was then that you walked around the city looking for another test subject….
You're a coward, Kira. You are the worst kind of murderer, the kind who not only has a knowledge of the law, but who is intelligent and knows how to cover his tracks. Most serial murderers are caught either because they work in a well-defined pattern or become lazy or sloppy in their work. You are neither. You are meticulous beyond detail, thinking every move through before deciding which actions to take, much like a chess master. Perhaps all aspiring mass murderers should play chess in their spare time. You do, don't you, Kira?
Was this what you envisioned when wrote those first few names in the Death Note? Did you also tell yourself that you would kill anyone who got in your way? No. No, you wouldn't. That isn't your goal. You only want to kill the unrighteous, wicked sinners. What of the people who get in your way? We aren't criminals or sinners, but we are protecting such ones, aren't we? You would consider us accomplices, wouldn't you? Yes, I believe the Kira I have chased would. You would use some sort of twisted logic to convince yourself that killing innocent "accomplices" is justified. Perhaps you would throw the laws of this country in our faces, the laws we struggle to uphold, and tell us that aiding a murderer makes one just as guilty of a person's death as actually committing the act. We therefore deserve to die just like the criminals we protect. Don't we, Kira?
When I consider the type of background you came from, I can only wonder at the transformation you've made. Your father is a high-ranking member of the police, and your mother is a fine, upstanding citizen. But it is this background that has led to your decision to kill criminals, isn't it? Your parents have instilled within you a deep sense of justice and of right and wrong. Instead of looking for justice, however, you see examples everyday of how the law fails, how innocent people are hurt by the gap between the law's ideals and its realities. And that gap is the only thing you see. You turn a blind eye to the many times the law comes out victorious, when a murderer is put behind bars, or when a corrupt official is caught. You ignore the many ways the law helps us everyday, and you chose to focus on its failings and its limitations. Nothing in this world is perfect, Kira, and the human mind can be the most dangerous weapon of all.
Isn't that what you've done? Hasn't your mind taken the law and twisted it to meet its own needs? You are no better than the criminals you "judge." You think you are doing the right thing by "judging" criminals, but with every murder you commit, you are only becoming the worst sinner of them all. Are you not afraid that one of your proxies will see your sins and scribble your own name in that deadly black notebook?
Which brings me to another interesting subject—the Second Kira. I wonder how exactly you came into contact with her. You wouldn't normally put your faith immediately in another person, especially one as much in the public eye as Misa Amane. So why did you join forces with her? What did she have to offer? Did she pledge her eternal support to your cause and promise not to act of her own volition? Or perhaps Kira had avenged a deep wrong in her life by carrying out his disgusting plan, and you intended to take advantage of her emotional instability? Yes, I can just see it: Amane approaching her savior, her knight in shining armor, and promising to give her very life for the ultimate goal of ridding the world of evil. But even at this astounding declaration, you were hesitant, weren't you? What if she were careless in her "judging" and were caught? She would surely give your secret up to the police in exchange for her own freedom. I am still unsure what changed your thinking, what detail about her made you take her on as partner. Nevertheless, she began wielding the Death Note in your stead.
This is the exact moment in time that I consider your downfall, Kira—the moment when you started to put your trust in other imperfect humans. In this moment, you were destined to be defeated. One can never follow the footsteps of another individual perfectly, no matter what one does. And it is a well-proven fact that the more accomplices to a crime there are, the greater the chance of being caught.
And she was caught, wasn't she? Even though we cannot try her for her crimes, there is no doubt in my mind that Amane is the Second Kira. When we first took her into custody, she was silent to a fault, never speaking a word about Kira or any of it. You told her to do that, didn't you? You told her that if for some reason she were ever caught, she was never to say a word about anything she knew.
Then why did she start talking after her breakdown? She would follow you until death, so why admit knowing you in the middle of her imprisonment? When she did start talking, she claimed she was your girlfriend, not your accomplice or proxy. I never did believe that pitiful story. You would never willingly become involved with someone like her, surely. I'm not sure if you could be in any sort of relationship unless you firmly believed your partner was your true equal, worthy of ruling your New World with you. No one could ever fit that description because you don't see anyone as your equal, let alone nearly-world-famous model and actress "Misa-Misa." Your opinion of her would never change, no matter what she offered to you.
But if she naively offered it, believing you had her interests in mind as well, you would use it, wouldn't you? I had never considered the possibility that shinigami truly existed, not even when the Second Kira broadcast that tape. You were all too quick to quell the idea that they were real, and at the time, I had thought that you were merely being sensible, surprised at my momentary weakness. I now realize, however, that you were attempting to hide your tracks, your modus operandi. You didn't want us to contemplate the existence of your murder weapon. As I have said, before this case I would have never believed that one could kill by simply writing a name in that slim black notebook. Why, then, should I believe the old legends about gods of death? I am not the type of person who readily believes anything, let alone the type who is given to superstitions, and you knew that from the beginning. Had you said that the word might refer to literal shinigami, Kira, you perhaps could have held us off for a while. We would have laughed at your superstitions, teased you for a few days, and shrugged it off. (Perhaps it might have taken us longer to catch Higuchi, then, or maybe we would have never caught him or even known of his existence, or you might have killed him off before we got the chance, and your secret would have been kept for a little longer. But only for a little longer.)
You would have been caught eventually, Kira, no matter what schemes you thought up or what plans you carried out. You were destined to fail the moment you thought that a wholesale bloody sacrifice could cure the world of its problems. The moment you decided to become this God of a New World. The moment the shinigami gave you the notebook.
And then you came to me and told me you might be Kira. With a display of deep worry pasted on your face, you told us that you could be Kira and not know it, that you could have a split personality, because all of the evidence seemed to point to you. You wanted us to lock you up and keep you under surveillance until we were absolutely sure you weren't Kira. It was an interesting thing, hearing you admit to being Kira only in your sleep. I agreed that it might be plausible and locked you up as we had done with Amane. You stayed there for fifty-three days, nearly two months. By the end of that time, the rest of the taskforce were completely convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that you weren't Kira, and even scolded me for my stubbornness in believing that you were. They demanded I give up and declare that for once, the great, infallible L was wrong. I wasn't wrong, I have never been wrong, and I never will be wrong.
Did you really expect to fool me into believing you were innocent by simply giving yourself up to be confined? We already knew you had at least one proxy—I already knew you had at least one proxy—so what would prevent you from just bestowing the means to murder with a name and a face over to some other Kira follower and giving him precise instructions on who to judge in your absence? You might have fooled the other members of the taskforce, you might have pulled the wool over your own father's eyes, but you cannot hide from me. I knew what you were trying to do and went along with it, let you play your little game. If it tricked you into thinking that you had the upper hand in the situation, to know that you were confined and that Kira was still slaying the wicked, then we would lock you up as long as we needed to do so. Catching you off guard would be so much more satisfying an end than letting you see your downfall on its way.
You changed. While you were confined for those fifty-three days, you changed. Something happened to you and you became the pre-Death Note Light with which your friends and family were more familiar. You gave no indication of being Kira. It was as if you were no longer Kira, but only Light Yagami. It was as if the innocence had returned to your eyes, as if you were truly nothing more than a student. How did you pull it off, Kira? How did you manage to make it seem like you had never written in the Death Note? It was almost as if you had convinced yourself that you didn't even know of its existence, let alone have memories of it.
Did you? Did you remember the Death Note? Did the shinigami somehow take your memories of using the Death Note, of planning and plotting your murders, and discard them? If so, how did you get them back? After we caught Higuchi and found the Death Note he had been using, after witnessing Higuchi's "mysterious" death, you returned to being Kira. How did you do it? If you lost your memories of the Death Note and of writing in it, surely you didn't remember the shinigami. How did your memories return to you?
Was it perhaps when you touched the Death Note? You grabbed it from my hands to look at it—did the memories flood back in that moment? Is that why you screamed, and then hesitated when I asked if you were all right? I had thought the sight of the shinigami had frightened you, but that wasn't it, was it? Your memories were returning to you. Was there a moment of conflict and confusion when Kira again possessed your being and the real Light Yagami was expelled from it? Was that moment painful, Kira, having two separate beings living within one body, one mind?
Was it more painful than being threatened with a gun by your own father? I quite enjoyed that little display in the car. I watched in silence as he told the two of you that you were being executed, that the powers the be wished only for your deaths. I watched in silence as you screamed in disbelief and tried to defend yourself, even stooping so low as to say, "You trust L more than you trust me, your own son?" I watched in silence as he took you to a quiet, deserted field and told you he couldn't cope with the idea of letting other people kill you. You thought that meant that he was letting you go —I saw this erroneous understanding in yours eyes—but seeing your reaction when your father pulled his weapon out from under his jacket and seeing you finally understood his true intentions was quite entertaining. Your performance was as flawless as ever. As he told you he was going to kill you and then use the weapon on himself, you gasped and screamed and asked him to stop and reconsider his choice of actions.
My pulse quickened slightly in anticipation as your father turned to you and put the gun to your head. I stared intently at your face, trying to see something being given away in a moment of fearfulness. I had quite expected you to kill your own father to save yourself, or for Amane to do it in your behalf, thus proving once and for all to everyone that one of you was Kira. But you just closed your eyes and held your breath and waited for death to come. You flinched when you heard the sound of a gunshot, and it took you several moments to realize you were still alive. Your father heaved a sigh of relief and let out a quiet, "Thank goodness." He addressed me directly through the camera in the rearview mirror and asked if I was satisfied. To be frank, I wasn't in the slightest, but I had agreed that this would be the ultimate test of your guilt, and that if it proved you were not Kira, we would begin again from Square One.
Even as you were being driven back to headquarters, I was thinking of an explanation for this latest charade. The only explanation that made any sense at all at the time was that, once you had found out your father's supposed intentions, you had thought death at the hands of your father a quick, if cowardly, escape from your inevitable punishment. But now that I think back on this episode, possessing the knowledge that I do now, I wonder if you were not just genuinely afraid for your life? If neither you nor Amane remembered using the Death Note or the shinigami or any of it, how would either of you have killed your father by using those powers? (It would seem that I was correct in surmising that only after touching the Death Note did you regain your memories of it. An interesting scenario, that—Light Yagami swearing to catch Kira, only to suddenly and painfully remember that he is Kira!)
I still had my doubts, still had a certain knowledge in the pit of my stomach that you were Kira, even if no one else believed me. You asked what you could do to prove you weren't. The handcuffs wasn't exactly what I had originally intended, but it served the purpose just as well. Eventually, though, I had to unchain you. You were doing nothing that was even remotely suspicious, and criminals were continuing to die. As much as I hated to, as much as it went against the feeling in my gut, I released you and we once again started the search for Kira.
The Yotsuba group came along eventually, partially through Matsuda's stupidity and partially through their own. Giving away their identity by killing people who constituted business rivals for them was not a wise move. They knew that I would eventually trace Kira back to them, because if they didn't at least suspect this, then why would they have hired Heraldo Coil to ferret out my identity? It was a less interesting diversion than I had expected from you, Kira, giving the Death Note and its powers to a group of businessmen.
Higuchi was exposed as well, through Misa's interference, and then the plan to catch him was formed. Matsuda was, I am sure, quite hesitant at first about placing his life in danger, but I knew from the moment I suggested that particular course of action that he would agree. He had already put his life on the line simply by committing himself to catching Kira in the first place, and he had made it clear on several different occasions that his feelings on the matter had not changed. Besides, he had asked how he could be more useful to me, and I was giving him a chance to prove himself.
It was a rather boring mess of people, all too easy to figure out. What was more interesting about the affair was the discovery of the Death Note, and along with it the confirmation that shinigami actually existed. A shinigami was in the human realm and had given, or been instructed to give, the notebook to a human. We also discovered what it meant to "make the deal," as Higuchi put it—giving up half your remaining life span to possess the eyes of a shinigami.
I deduced the existence of a second notebook while sitting in the helicopter. That was the only logical solution. You begged me to let you see it, to test for yourself if the claims we were making were true. I had thought your scream was a sound of fear, but now I realize it was a sound of pain. (Did it hurt, Kira…?) We quickly found the rules of the notebook, and Aizawa read most of them aloud, including the two on the back cover. I knew they were fake. The task force believed them unfortunately. Matsuda pointed out that they completely proved your and Misa's innocence, which is exactly how I knew they were fake. The first rule protected the Death Note from being destroyed if it fell into our hands, and the second cleared your names without a doubt. They were worthless rules as far as killing people was concerned, whereas the rest dealt directly with that purpose, and they only served to dramatically underscore your innocence. They must have been fake.
And just as I expected, the killings began again when I freed Amane. You threw the fake rule back in my face, told me it wasn't possible, but I knew better. Misa was once again killing as the Second Kira, proving to me that my theory about multiple notebooks was true. We had Higuchi's Death Note in our custody, so it was impossible for Amane to be using it. There had to be another notebook, and with it another shinigami. I wondered briefly what had possessed two of these creatures to carelessly hand their Death Notes over to humans. You asked me, Kira, if we even had the right to imprison the person behind the killings, if we ever did catch them. Matsuda responded in that childish way of his with something that made a certain amount of sense. You were baiting me, weren't you? Asking me if we could really arrest and try Kira for his crimes in such manner was quite brazen on your part, knowing as I am sure you did that I still had heavy suspicions that you were Kira.
I don't suppose it matters now. None of it matters any longer, now that I'm lying here with this wretched pain in my chest. I have had a sense of impending doom for a while now, and I somehow knew that this would be the day my life ended. Call it a premonition if you like, but I knew. I took to the roof and thought about everything while I still could, tried to reason things out for myself. I thought about my past as well, and my future, if one could call the knowledge of one's own death a future. Even when it began raining, I stayed on the roof, as if I could prolong the completion of whatever plan you might have implemented by not sitting in my swivel chair.
The rest of it came to me, sitting in that same blasted swivel chair, in a blinding flash of clarity. It was already too late. The shinigami wrote Watari's name in the notebook, and with the last bit of his strength, he reached out for that little red button, the one that would delete all the information stored in our computers. As I looked at the screen, at my friend clutching his chest in agony, I realized what was happening. It was too late. I had thought that this case would kill me, but never did I imagine that the shinigami would dispatch Watari as well.
I exclaimed, "Everyone, the shiniga—" and I felt my heart stop. I felt my breathing slow and it began to pain me as I fell to the ground. You rushed at me, Kira, and yelled my name. You might have even feigned trying to save me. I don't remember.
What I do remember, however, is that smile on your face—that sickeningly evil smile and the absolute pleasure in your eyes that sprang from my death. You think you've finally won just as planned, but defeating the great L is only the first obstacle you'll have to face. Perhaps you think you've come out victorious, but you can only see your side of the story. It is impossible that you know about the orphanage in England where I grew up, where there are (to start with) three boys waiting to replace me, trained extensively by Watari and myself. They are my proxies, Kira, just as you have Misa Amane and had Kyosuke Higuchi.
You think you have killed me, but I will live on through these boys. One of them will catch you, will take the eternal credit for your capture. But I want you to know that, although you have taken my life, I feel victorious over you even while you smile maliciously at my dying body. Do you know why?
Because I know, Kira, that I am justice.