It is merely the prelude, the opening monologue, the first lecture, and already the audience is captivated. Eyes huge and unabashed, they stare as their professor slouches his way across the floor, pinching an Expo pen between his thumb and forefinger awkwardly to write giant block letters on the board.
He is disgusting. He looks like a giant toddler, the way his hair springs out from his head, the way he sucks his thumb whenever some brave student answers a question, the way he crooks his knees and itches his calves with bare feet. He's skinny, too skinny—bones emerge from skin in places they shouldn't; ribs can practically be traced through his shirt. The slump only emphasizes his awkward thinness as he curls into a chair, knees to chest and bony arms jaggedly arrayed—the entire class finds itself comparing its professor to a leprous ape.
(And they can't help but watch the one-man play unfold before their eyes.)
He is so outlandish that they wonder if he means to be this way, wonder if his boor-ish presentation is, in actuality, calculated chaos, a distortion whose purpose is to confuse their minds—but who would go to such lengths, present himself in such a light, deliberately?
No one, they decide. Most certainly not him. Hair that unkempt could not possibly be a façade.
(They can't hear his hear his footsteps as he walks through their ranks. His bare feet give him as much presence as a ghost or a thought—merely a breath of wind on the air.)
No introduction, no explanation, no syllabus…. He plunges in and pumps them with information, manner and organization careless as his skewed clothing and his misaligned posture.
Repulsive, yes. Oh so repulsive. But he is brilliant. In the first few words uttered in his too-bland voice, they realize he is brilliant. They realize, and they do not care. They doze their way through his monotonous lecture, eyes drooping open every few minutes to jot down some irrelevancy or another. When he slouches through the aisles, they hastily cover whatever they might have written down—but they know he sees the dazed scribbles all the same.
They do not respect him, do not listen to a word out of his mouth—but they acknowledge his genius, his insight. They simply choose to ignore it.
Notes are passed in the back of the classroom; gossip is whispered. The professor does not move to stop it, but merely continues to write down key points on his cluttered white-board. If they had been paying attention, though, they might have noticed how scribbles like 'ooh, something shiny' and the quadratic equation managed to worm their way through the lecture notes.
When they selected the class, they imagined something to the effect of Silence of the Lambs—a psychotic thriller where they play the coveted role of Clarice Starling. They didn't realize that Criminal Psychology puts them to sleep; they didn't predict the way their professor's eyes seem to stare through to their very souls, remaining apathetic and aloof even as they did so. They, for some unfathomable reason, did not think their absent-minded, scatter-clothed professor would ramble on about statistics and neurological functions and percentages and how they shouldn't give him apples because they actually attract doctors, and he hates doctors because they make him wear shoes (but he didn't really say that, did he? Most of the class is convinced they hallucinated it).
They do not want his answers; they have not even asked the questions that run parallel to his words. They do not want to hear why pedophiles are not smote by God, or why murderers bloody their knives, why thieves dirty their hands. They do not want to hear that rapists can be redeemed, that vandals are merely in need of counseling. Not from this man, they don't, because none of it matters, none of them care—not when their criminals are dropping dead in their cells, when their celebrities are collapsing, bleeding, dying, adding a new shade of red to the carpet.
Not only is he boring—he is not telling them what they want to know.
They watch as his hand writes and they know he knows what each and every one of them is thinking. They can see it in the way he pauses before he adds each word to the board, the way he turns halfway through a word and pins them down with eyes made of granite.
And then he says the word—the single word, the only word, that can simultaneously jolt over a hundred bored college students from comatose to completely conscious.
It flows through the room in waves, growing in volume, reaching an almost painful crescendo as the title slams against the walls of the back of the room, repeated by hundreds of voices in hundreds of tones.
It is the name the reporters and detectives utter, the name that makes ghosts withdraw in fear. It is the name that haunts their daydreams and nightmares, that snags the fraying threads of their attention in its fist and yanks mercilessly. It is a word that makes them shiver with tightly-wound apprehension, that makes their eyes darken and their lips thin.
They can't see him smile as he faces the board, ignoring their hunger for knowledge as he continues his previous lecture.
Kira represents everything they have ever wanted—the psychological drama, the moral dilemma. They covet that case with a desire they never dreamed could have existed. This is the question they have asked, the word they have repeated to themselves again, again, again in the darkness of the night, in the safety of their minds. This is the only answer they desire. But the dark-haired professor merely smiles his vague, wide-ring-eyed smile and writes in Yiddish a phrase which translates, 'You will meet him in Hell in fifty years. I guarantee it.'
None of them speak or write Yiddish.
A few more moments of tension, and it becomes clear he is not going to so much as mouth another word on the matter. Once again, they lose their focus; straight-backed interest reverts to slouching apathy, and ready pens fall back to idle tapping. Their dreams of interrogating the greatest criminal master-mind of all time are safely hidden from view. They sleep once more through his lecture. The notes begin to fly through the air again; their eyes drift from the bent professor to something they might find more interesting—like ceiling tiles, or dead flies. (Because he may be twisted, but for that reason he is incomprehensible, and therefore not the least bit intriguing after the first five minutes of acquaintance.)
They do not notice the way his hands twitch as shakes their hands, they do not notice the how his eyes never blink as he watches them flow past him, and they do not notice how he slams the door after them, shutting and locking it before muttering, "Good riddance," in a tone that possesses just as little color as the rest of him—gray, bored.
The professor is still smiling when he finds himself alone, noting how not a single one of them looks at the board, where he eventually did write quite a lengthy discussion on the possible psychosis of Kira. The professor has a wry sense of humor.
Touta Matsuda should have left school years ago.
If he had, he wouldn't be cleaning a toilet right now.
There is something, though, about that tree by the staircase near one of the dormitories on the right side of campus—the one with disturbingly large leaves and thick bark… something he can't quite bring himself to abandon to the jaws of drunk college students.
Or, at least, that's what he tells people when they ask why he spent well over four years at college, then proceeded to bully the campus janitor out of his job. He would have stayed in school longer before attacking the janitor, really, but his parents refused to pay for a fifth year. "A psychology degree is good enough to get you a job," they said. "Go out and earn back the money you wasted on that university."
He tries to tell himself he is content with cleaning the world's toilets and watermelon-smeared hallways (because there are a surprising number of both on the college campus). He tries to tell himself he enjoys it—he enjoys watching as the younger generation mocks him, points fingers at him, puts the sign 'kick me' on his back.
And in a way he thinks he does—enjoy it, that is.
Sometimes, he sits by that tree outside the window of his old classroom, listening to the lectures the new professor gives day after day. He imagines he is still in there—younger, brighter, and altogether more hopeful of an actual future. (He wants to be a police-man. The world—his parents—say no, he isn't good enough, isn't strong enough; but he isn't smart enough for anything else, he knows, which is why he's gone nowhere.)
But a janitor isn't so different from a police officer. They both take out the trash. Or so the pun goes.… Even Matsuda cringes when he thinks about it like that.
It could be worse, he tells himself. He could be stuck at Nintendo headquarters, stapling paper packets and kicking the vending machine. He could be cleaning nothing at all. Better to be a metaphorical law enforcer than a fat, bald man sitting at a cubicle.
How else is he supposed to justify cleaning toilet bowls?
Light Yagami holds another human's heart in the palm of his hand.
To say he loves his job is an understatement. He is smiling behind his mask, ignoring the interns who stand outside the glass windows as they watch him dangle a man's life on a string. He runs his thumb over the muscle; crimson coats his latex-gloved hands. (This is the one job he could conceive of in which it is acceptable that he should be covered in human blood, and so his job it became.)
He could say it is about the lives, the act of playing the hero. He does, actually—mild tones, honeyed voice, earnest eyes… the fools believe it, every word. Some days, it is the good he does; others, the joy he receives from the grins on recently-recovered faces, or the thrill the scalpel beneath his fingers brings, the taste of success in his mouth. Often, it is all of them.
But really, it is the power Light Yagami craves—the idea that he is God, if only for a moment, flourishing human life between his gloved hands, delicately measuring hearts on a scale. He is a judge, a champion; before him, their lives are not even another statistic, not even another face in a crowd—they are lesser, lower, something only useful to him… another temporary amusement, another crumbling stepping stone, another joke to laugh over. He can grant salvation to anyone, and for that reason, the power of whim lies in his hands as blood flows through his fingers.
The dice have been rolled, the coin has been flipped, the strings—they have been cut—and the world cries out for the judgment day. He smiles as he gives it to them. Caprice is his master, careless and fleeting as a whisper on the breeze. At its fickle bidding, he giveth and taketh away.
This selfish callousness has been known to watch silently as it lets a patient die. …A feather is a light object, after all.
This heart is still beating. Slowly, but undeniably. He wants it to stop.
(He remembers the first surgeries, when these thoughts would hit—when he imagined the eyes of his family staring down upon him, asking why he had become a monster….
But his family isn't here, his father isn't here. All work and no play makes Light a dull boy. And his father wouldn't want that, would he?
Light is grinning behind his mask; he is laughing behind his guise of humanity… and daddy dear doesn't know….)
He feels the eyes of the dozen students behind the glass window. Witnesses. How annoying. Rationally, the man's chances are not good. No surgeon will blame Light if he lets this one go. But with Light it is always a choice—always the scale exists, Libra is tipping downwards.
But his reputation….
Light Yagami does not like college students. He doesn't like the pre-med students jotting notes down behind the glass as he attempts to concentrate, their hushed conversations full of banal concerns that cloud his operating room. The blood feels thicker on his hands; his eyes become fogged; and he can barely resist the temptation to turn on them with the scalpel in hand.
The heart beats faster, and he wonders, for a moment, if the blood is his own (but that's ridiculous, fanciful, and he knows it).
This patient lives, despite the odds.
At the end of the surgery, after Light stitches closed the wound, washes away the blood, he greets the eager-eyed students with a frown and a few vague replies to their comments. They do not remind him of himself, these poor souls who wander through the halls of the hospital with their awe-struck expressions and watch him pull a man back from the dead.
(Light and Death have nothing to do with each other. They avoid each other and when they do meet, they merely nod. There is no rope between them. Light is not in some heroic battle between the living and the lord of corpses. Both Light Yagami and Death have better things to occupy their time.)
Genius, they call him—master of his craft. And he is annoyed by them, by starry-eyed compliments such as those. They do not know that when he goes home at night, to his empty apartment, he wishes he were God.
It is the days when he returns to his empty apartment, relishes the fact that no one is there with him; when his patient has annoyed him, or when the college students have been far too numerous for comfort—those are the days he wishes he were God, or more than God, perhaps…. He doesn't know.
It is on days like these, when the college students swarm around him like buzzing locusts, when he is hammered with dumb questions he can't even bother to lie about, that he feels like Kira, holding another human life in his hand, listening to the slowing rhythm of a guilty man's heart. Yes, this must be how Kira feels.
Scourge's Note: Found this lying around in my documents. Doubt it'll get update any time soon (although it'll probably get finished eventually). I was theoretically supposed to do the skeleton writing for the rest of this, but... haven't. At all. Carni did this chapter's skeleton, actually. XD Posting for the sheer helluvit.
Anyway. Absurdly AU. Basic concept: None of the Death Note characters are involved with law enforcement. They all know each other, some way or another (for the most part, through the college), and as their lives intersect, they begin to have discussions about Kira at a diner. Yay. And, er, Light isn't Kira, L isn't… Coil/L. Et cetera.
…Despite that rather "ehhh?" initial concept, there is a plot. I swear. And Light seems too nuts for you? Yeah, we know. And we can back it up. Be patient and have faith.
-Temporarily marked as Complete, because it won't be updated any time soon.