IX.

The Dead


As they got off the bus at the stop nearest their apartment, Light let go of Misa's arm long enough to take a peek at his watch, and then smiled in satisfaction.

"Good, still six minutes...and it'll probably take a minute or two for whichever American network gets the story to hookup to the global monitors."

"Global...what exactly are you waiting for, Light? I thought there was something good you wanted to see, but you just want to watch American news?"

Light smiled a little and increased his pace; they rounded a corner and their apartment building came into view quickly.

"The American news is going to be showing the last actions of N, enemy of Kira...though the world will know him as L, of course. That isn't interesting enough for you, Misa?"

"Oh – yes! Yes, Misa will happily watch the end of N, especially since Light is sharing his moment of victory with Misa!"

She almost skipped the rest of the block home; only the thought of how ridiculous Kira's High Priestess would look doing such a thing restrained her. The streets had stayed unexpectedly quiet, and they passed like wraiths down silent sidewalks and past empty shops.

The lobby of their building was dim; overhead, only one of the bulbs in the hanging light fixture was still bright. The other flickered, occasionally sparking to full life only to fade away again almost immediately. Upstairs ,the apartment was waiting just as they had left it. Misa unlocked the door and disappeared into their bedroom; Light heard a rustle of fabric as she began to change clothes. He left his shoes by the door and wandered into the living room, turned on the television.

Immediately he was assaulted by a female voice that was speedily delivering a summary of the attempted assassination; with a yawn, he changed the channel a few times until he came to a more sedate reporter who appeared to be slightly more intelligent than his colleagues. At least he wasn't talking a mile a minute -

"...and of course everything has been dropped tonight from every station in order to provide up-to-the-moment coverage of the extraordinary events taking place right here in Japan; Kira has finally revealed himself, and the revelation is taking the world by storm. I have beside me here a live shot, streamed to us by Sakura Television cameras that have been on the scene since the beginning – as you can see, Kira himself is no longer present, having left the area shortly after the attempt on his life, but we have now received information confirming the identities of those killed during the violence.

The hopeful assassin has been identified as one Masuyo Yori; friends of the young woman who accompanied her to this evening's vigil have surrounded her body and are preventing emergency services from examining or removing it, but it appears clear that she suffered a heart attack and dropped dead on the spot. No claim has been made, but it seems obvious that her death is the work of Kira.

The body of the man shot on stage as he moved in defense of Kira is known to be that of Takari Lin, who announced the death and resurrection of Kira this afternoon on Sakura Television's startling broadcast. As he was the only witness to the supposed resurrection of the world's most notorious individual, I'm sure many are disappointed to have witnessed Takari's death. However, in light of the statement made by Kira before he left the stage, in which he promised that the dead Takari was undergoing some kind of testing and might "...succeed, and return to life, one of My Chosen", a small group has surrounded the body on stage and have refused to give it up to emergency services...hang on...it looks like...it appears-

Yes, it appears that a few paramedics have forced their way through the crowd – they are checking the body of Takari Lin...we have confirmation, if anyone needed it, that the man is indeed dead as a result of the gunshot wound he suffered...something is happening...one of the paramedics has been thrown off the stage! The others are retreating. Some of the followers from the crowd appear to have set up a temporary altar for the body - just a moment...just a moment...

I'm receiving word that our sister station in New York, CBN, has been contacted by L, the world-famous detective best known for challenging Kira! Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be switching over to a live connection with CBN in just a few moments – I repeat, L, the most respected and successful private investigator in the world, has just appeared at CBN headquarters in New York to offer a live statement in person, and we are about to transfer our feed -"

Light looked down at his watch; the second hand was just ticking past the start of another minute. 7:21; right on time. He heard Misa come out of the bedroom and pad towards the kitchen, open the refrigerator.

"Misa, it's starting -"

"Coming, Light!"

Hurriedly, Misa came running in and plopped down on her spot on the couch beside Light, scanning the screen eagerly. She had brought a bowl of fruit with her, mostly apples with a few peaches and oranges mixed in; immediately, Ryuk flapped his way over from his favorite corner and stared at the bowl with a hungry expression.

"Hey, Light -"

"Go right ahead, Ryuk, you earned them."

Grinning maniacally, Ryuk reached into the bowl and selected the reddest, most polished, juiciest looking fruit.

Crunch!

"Ahh...apples! So what's on the TV, Light?"

But Light ignored him, too focused on the television's shifting images to bother with a reply; Misa shushed the shinigami with a finger to her lips, and pointed at the small image of the news station's live connection to New York as it expanded to cover the whole screen.

"Thank you, Ryouta, for that excellent introduction. I'm Taylor Schulmann, live in New York with the antagonist of the hour – L himself. Our station has made absolutely sure that the person we are about to present is, in fact, L. He has requested a few minutes to speak to the world; L, are you ready?"

The camera zoomed out and revealed a young, white-haired young man sitting beside the news anchor. He was staring fixedly in front of him; he had dressed haphazardly in a white button-down shirt and a pair of loose khaki pants that were visible because he had crossed his legs in the wheeled desk chair, assuming a position which seemed humanly impossible.

On the couch, Misa narrowed her eyes at the televised N as she selected a peach and took a particularly vicious bite. Light watched her out of the corner of his eye, amused by her anger.

"Yes, Mr. Schulmann, I am prepared."

Once again, the camera shifted focus, cutting out the face of the TV anchor and focusing on the pale, impassive features of Nate River, currently recognized as L.

"Citizens of America and the world, I, like the rest of you, was surprised to find that this evening's broadcast from Japan was not a hoax; Kira has revealed himself, and I believe it is only appropriate that I do the same. I am L. In light of the events of the last twenty-four hours and the changes those events are likely to bring to all of mankind, it is necessary that I make certain statements which seem to be long overdue.

First, in regards to the claims made by Yagami Light: he is, in fact, Kira. At 8:17 pm three days ago, a small group led by myself intercepted Kira in cooperation with a secret unit inside the Japanese police. In the course of our altercation, Kira suffered six gunshot wounds; he was declared dead at 8:53 pm that same evening. In order to protect the individuals involved, as well as to prevent a spree of criminal activity, this information was concealed from the public and the Kira investigation was closed.

We acted against Kira because a human being has no right to take the lives of so many others into his own hands; mass vengeance is not an appropriate reaction to the crimes of our fellows. A human being, I say...and yet the evidence now is that Yagami Light became Kira with the help of the divine; I cannot argue with the judgment of God.

It is because of this that I must now offer my apologies to Kira. I retract all opposition to him; I remove myself from his path. The floors dedicated to the Kira investigation in the building at 57 Carras Place will be evacuated; all pertinent information will be destroyed, and the team that worked on the case has already been disbanded, confidentiality agreements in place.

There is but one more thing I can do; in penance – in the name of Kira!"

Light leaned forward eagerly in his seat, his eyes flickering impatiently to his watch. The second hand ticked over to 7:25. On screen, N reached down by his feet, lifted a backpack and removed from it a small container. Before anyone around him could move, he dumped clear liquid over his head. There was a splash as some of it hit the floor – and then fire!

Red and orange flames vaulted eagerly from the spark of a lighter in N's fingers to the soaked sleeve of his shirt; quickly, the fire consumed, leaping, skipping, running in threads and gouts across his clothes and exposed flesh, crisping away his hair – within thirty seconds he was utterly engulfed. There were audible shrieks from the news station, but none of them came from the young man who had immolated himself. From within the fire came words, high-pitched and piercing, fueled by gasping, eerie whines of breath.

"Hear me now, you who have stood silent in the face of many evils, greater and lesser, affecting many and affecting few! You who have brought a hand heavy with power down on the backs of many unfortunates; you who have made promises and have not kept them; you who have set down a cup overflowing with evils, with disasters and wars of profit; you who have let the ranks of the hungry, the ill, the weak, the miserable, the despairing and the destitute swell until those ranks made up an army! You, who have done these things - you are Judged! Justice shall be done upon you - the Justice of Kira!"

Finally, on that last, exultant word, his voice faded into a scream. N crumpled in on himself; the news anchor's desk caught fire, and only then, finally, did a pattern of vertical colored bars replace the terrible scene. After a moment, the screen flashed back to the original station broadcast, and the first anchor who had been on the screen was back, looking very shaken.

"Due to the distressing and graphic nature of the images being shown, we have been forced to take them off the air. For anyone just tuning in, it...it appears that the investigator L, who represented the greater part of the opposition to Kira, has just delivered an apology and...and burned himself to death on live global television.

On behalf of the network, I would like to apologize to anyone disturbed by those images -"

But Light had stopped listening; Misa was giggling uncontrollably in his lap, and he could not hold back his own, somewhat more manic laughter. It was still early in the evening on the first day of his resurrected life, and he had revealed himself and destroyed his opposition all in one fell swoop.

"Light, Light, did you see – he just went whoosh! And his hair – ahahaha! – it went up like a match, and then he was burning bald! B-b-burning bald!"

Light nodded his head and let out a little chuckle, but raised his eyebrows. He had wondered if seeing someone burn alive – something obviously painful and torturous – might have any effect on Misa. It was infinitely different being aware that the person you were killing was dead; looking at their body, hearing their screams, seeing their blood, their pain – he had learned that himself early on.

Obviously, I underestimated her. I wonder...

"Misa, would you like to read the Deaths I wrote for tonight?"

Immediately, Misa was up on her feet, and then down on her knees in front of him, hands clasped together.

"Oh yes, Misa definitely wants to read it! Did Kira-sama get rid of everyone who was bad?"

"Yes, all of them."

Misa pouted slightly.

"Even Matsu-kun? He was a good manager - he could have done that again and been even better, since he wouldn't have to worry about trying to catch my Light!"

Light's expression darkened slightly.

"Misa, did they tell you how I was killed?"

Misa shook her head.

"Misa was told something, but not the truth. Without remembering the Death Note, it was impossible for me to know that my Light was Kira-sama, and so I didn't ask questions when they said it was Kira who k-killed you..."

Misa's lip trembled, and Light patted her cheek affectionately, drew a finger across her lips.

"I'm alive; don't worry about it. Would you like to know the truth, or would it upset you?"

Her brow creased for a moment, and then she nodded.

"Misa wants to know."

"I was lured to a warehouse after Mikami Teru allowed his Death Note to be stolen. There, N, his SPK, and the four remaining members of the anti-Kira task force led me to my death. Matsuda shot me six times, Misa."

She drew in a sharp breath and words escaped her explosively, both furious and apologetic.

"Matsu-kun! How could he! Misa is sorry, Light, so sorry, Misa did not know that Matsu-kun killed you -"

"He didn't, Misa, but I'm glad you see why I didn't spare any of them. No, in the end, Ryuk wrote my name in his Death Note...for which I will forever be grateful."

Misa had gotten up angrily, staring in Ryuk's direction, as soon as Light mentioned his name. Ryuk looked up at her briefly and then descended on his third apple with a resounding crunch!

Light ignored her momentarily and looked back over his shoulder at the shinigami.

"Looks like Misa's mad at you Ryuk."

Dark shoulders shrugged.

"Don't care. How many more apples are there, Light?"

Light peered into the bowl.

"...Two."

"Only two? Are there any markets open around here?"

Angrily, Misa stomped a foot, interrupting their banter.

"Wait a minute! Light, you just said that Ryuk – that he killed you!"

"Yes, Misa; but I'm glad he did that. He resurrected me too, you know. I showed you the Eraser -"

She paused for a moment, considering.

"That is true. But – but – Misa did not like it while her Light was dead. Bad shinigami!"

Ryuk blinked in surprise at Misa's finger, shaking in his direction. This made two humans that weren't afraid of him; would wonders never cease?

Crunch!

"Light, this woman is crazy, you know. Toss me one of those apples, would ya?"

Light's laughter filled the apartment again; the apple soared through the air, and Ryuk caught it with a grin. Carefully, he shined it on his chest and then held it up in front of his face. His reflection was distorted in the shiny peel, made more grotesque than usual; the apple gleamed redly with reflected light from the television.

They were replaying a much-censored version of the earlier incident with N. Light watched for a moment, then stood and grabbed his bag, disentangled the Death Note from its yukata wrapping.

"Here, Misa."

She gripped the thin black notebook with reverent hands; her fingers trembled with barely suppressed glee.

"I'm going to shower now; I haven't felt clean since I...woke up. We will go out tonight, Misa."

He tossed a glance over his shoulder as he started down the hall towards the bathroom, and caught her shining gaze.

"I'm sure you can think of a place?"

She nodded fervently, and Light padded down the hallway. Misa returned her attention to the notebook in her hands, unaware that her eyes took on a gleam reminiscent of Kira-sama as she stroked the cover lovingly, then opened it and flipped through to find the right page.


In quiet, in utter silence, the four remaining members of the anti-Kira task force sat together around the television, their eyes wide with horror. Each of their thoughts was replaying the last moments of N; each of them knew exactly what had happened, why their one-time ally had sacrificed himself in the name of his staunch enemy.

"It's...it's unbelievable. I can't...even with the Death Note - "

Matsuda's voice broke the silence into little pieces. Aizawa shook his head slowly, almost shrugged and then thought better of it.

"We knew it was possible. All those deaths by heart attack weren't the only ones he was responsible for, there were many, many accidents – and those "experiments" with control at the very beginning, remember? Prisoners drawing pentagrams, leaving messages..."

"I still can't get over the fact that we trusted him, let him lead us -"

Mogi shuddered, remembering; the other three nodded in agreement, and they returned to their silent sitting for another minute, their eyes trained on the television screen. Matsuda watched the others through his peripheral vision. The longer they stayed alive, the better their chances were, but at the same time the weight of each minute ticking by was almost unbearable.

As it turned out, he didn't have long to wait after all. The numbers on the clock flashed from 7:29 to 7:30. Ide made a strangled sound, clutched at his chest, and fell out of his chair.

"Ide!"

Three voices called out as one. Ide took one long, strained breath, and then was still. Matsuda let out a startled sound and reached out, far too late, for his dead friend. Mogi's face crumpled and then took on a stolid expression; Aizawa was silent for a moment, his features stony, and then he took a deep breath.

"Well, we don't know who's next, or when. But it has been an honor to work with you – all of you."

Aizawa's eyes lingered on Ide's body for a moment, and then turned to Matsuda. In that same moment, Mogi toppled to the floor, dragging in a heaving breath. It was his last.

Matsuda and Aizawa locked eyes. A minute passed, and then Aizawa leaned back, as if he were stretching. After a moment he crumpled forward, his arms crossing over his legs, his face pressed against his knees.

"A-Aizawa? Aizawa?"

After another moment or so, Aizawa's body ceased defying gravity and fell to join the bodies of Ide and Mogi on the floor. Matsuda sat alone in the room full of death, and waited. It was not long before he felt a startling pain in his heart, a tightening, a single jagged beat that he could not escape.


Far away, in an all but deserted building, another group, this one two men and a woman, lay in similar distorted positions on the ground. They had watched in horror as their leader sacrificed himself in the name of their enemy. There was nothing they could do, but they knew who was responsible. Each of them had come here with the same thought in mind; find the Death Notes, destroy them, keep them out of Kira's hands!

It was unfortunate for them that Light was too clever to have forgotten them; none of them made it past the security entrance on the second floor. The three bodies lay sprawled in a semi-circle, their legs overlapping.

In a room deep within the the maze-like complex, a hundred television screens flickered and the room around them sputtered in the blue glare.

The Death Notes sat waiting.


A/N: And the first step of Light's victory is complete! Coming soon: Kira's Night Out and Revelations from the Resurrected! LEP-Surface Division: Wow! Thanks for such a great review! Hopefully this chapter is up to snuff :D Also, Kleptographer of Alternates: Sorry it takes me so long, but the real world is a pain in the ass! As far as resurrections goes, I decided to put them off a little bit. Otherwise, people observing might have assumed that they never really died; this way, the deaths are confirmed and its more of a 'definite miracle'. Thanks for the reviews, though, they're always inspiring!

Please, Read and Review!