I hate names
I would just as soon be called 'boy' than go through the naming process again
For they always seem to be biblical
And I feel as if I were the only one to appreciate the irony behind being named
The first time was difficult to describe. The air tasted of blood and the sky was red as Armageddon. Hands clawed at his skin and the world was cold, a chill that seeped into his fragile bones and rattled his soul. Or so Light would have said, had anyone asked him about the experience of being born.
He screamed as he had done so only at his death; blood covered his body and he screamed at the world he had been brought into. Despite what the scholars thought (and Light mocked them for it in later lifetimes), being born was all too similar to the act of dying. The world was filled with a darkness that seeped into one's mind and stole the heart—it left the human crippled and weak, hunched in on itself.
It took him approximately two years to figure out what had happened. It was not that he had become dumb in the years between lifetimes—far from it. It was that it was so unbelievable to him, to be born again into the human world with a different set of parents to fool, a different set of siblings to pester. He could not bring himself to believe it. It was all too ironic. (And deep down, a part of him had wanted to believe in Ryuk's lie—after all, nothingness appealed to Light's dark mind. It seemed far more fathomable than the recycling of souls.)
Two years after the event, with far too much time on his hands, while surrounded by people who thought he was an idiot, he came to a sound conclusion. Souls were reused; a business of sorts, he supposed—why make new ones when you could wipe away the memories of the first and use it over again? Good as new. The soul wouldn't have known the difference for the world. Or if not all souls were recycled, then his apparently was. From the depths of the yellow warehouse, he had been pulled into the screaming body of an infant.
They named him Gabriel. It was the first biblical name he would come to possess, and it was the one he liked the least. Mainly because it was shortened to Gabe half the time, and he didn't have the motor capabilities to shut them up until he turned three, at which point he insisted on being called Gabriel or nothing at all. They called him a prodigy—brighter than Einstein, and with twenty some years under his belt at the age of five, how could he argue?
James and Mary, they called themselves—the typical American couple in the typical American home in the typical American town. And Gabriel (Light Yagami to himself) was their typical American son; he resented them for it, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy that he had been transformed into. He was forced into playing baseball for the local team, forced into riding his bike with his 'friends,' forced into playing war with said friends—other normal activities. James and Mary had no idea how close he had come to killing them; arson would have been so terribly easy.
It took a while for his dimwitted guardians to realize that Gabriel (he must keep calling himself that for fear that he might slip) had no interest in going along with their schemes. He decided at a young age that he would never give them the pretenses they desired. So, they wanted a normal child—well then, that just wasn't him. He would read whatever he liked (whether it be The Divine Comedy or history reports on the Kira Murder Case); he would do whatever he liked (play chess with himself, twirl a pen in his hands, reminisce on days of old); and they couldn't do a damn thing about it.
Gabriel was brilliant, Gabriel was frightening, Gabriel was bored. Childhood, he found, was even worse the second time round—less entertaining than the first, and far more idiotic. The children avoided him, fled from his baleful blue eyes that frightened them so; the teachers secretly condemned him as he glared at them from the back of their classrooms, daring them to challenge him (begging them to); his parents never bothered rallying an attempt to open his bedroom door and check on him (it was always locked). Gabriel shut his eyes and the world disappeared from beneath his fingertips, intangible as always, ineffable in the way it slid past him like a slowly-moving river.
Gabriel did not truly believe he existed; he still doubted himself, and the world around him. He still clung the Shinigami's words, never forgotten in his mind. The words bloomed into something surreal, so fragile he dared not hold onto it too tightly (and yet he wanted to).
In time, Gabriel would become a policeman. (He couldn't find the energy to think of anything else to do—it was too easy, slipping back into that old role.) His parents were surprised, but proud all the same. Their boy, they thought, the boy who avoided and hated the world, became the force that protected them. Not only was he a policeman, he was a damn good one, the best. In time, he abandoned the job and became a detective to rival the greatest. His parents were still proud, if not somewhat confused.
He still held a fountain pen in his hands, every now and then. Twirled it about while watching the computer screen with the blue eyes that he felt did not belong to him, pale skin that was not his to wear, and a doubt that still befuddled his existence. It couldn't be real, after all, the dream he found himself trapped in—and yet, each morning, he never seemed to wake up. He abandoned the world in the hope that it would forsake him, and yet it never seemed to let him go.
James and Mary once had a child named Gabriel, a brilliant child with eyes as blue as summer skies, a dark child whose thoughts seemed wreathed in shadows, a golden child who shone like the sun, a child of labyrinths far too easy to become lost in. Gabriel grew to be a police officer with a gun that never fired too soon, then a detective who never lost a battle—and one day, he died.
Alone in his apartment, with no one to comfort him, no one to condemn him, Gabriel died as he was born—asking a simple question that no one seemed to be able to answer.
"What am I doing here?"
I lie too often
I know it's true, but how can I help but lie
You asked me to
When you asked for my name all those years ago
You don't remember me do you?
They named him Alexander, which was marginally better than Gabriel. Or so the boy thought, as he came in for the third time, screaming and wailing like a madman, with the woman cooing over him whispering Alexander. He truly hated himself in those moments of helplessness; being born was perhaps the most humiliating act in all his lives. And the way the couple smiled—as if he were some sort of an accomplishment for them, as if they had created him with their bare hands. He hated them for it.
And they told him they had known from the moment they first laid eyes on him, that he was going to be special. Alexander (no longer Gabriel, no longer Light) scoffed at them for it, as he sat gurgling in their arms like a pampered noble brat. What did she know of him, the child she had born into the world? Special, they called him—and well, wasn't he? He who remembered everything and forgot nothing, he who nearly brought justice the world, he who ran from his memories the way most men ran from death…
Yes, that was special, wasn't it? And indeed, Alexander was very special, intelligent (almost to a fault, some would argue), ambitious, and absolutely ruthless. Alexander would bring honor to his family with nothing more lethal or powerful than a fountain pen. Because Alexander decided, at a young age, to become a writer. He wasn't sure why he decided to do it, or what had prompted him into the course of action, but one day he had found himself facing a blank sheet of notebook paper once again.
His first book was an autobiography (though no one but him would ever realize it) of his life as Kira. The words flowed like rain onto the paper—so easily, as if he had been merely waiting for them to be born so they might leave him. Thousands of words, names that he assumed he had forgotten (but he never truly forgot anything, did he?). The look in their eyes as L fell into his arms, as Mikami slid open the warehouse door, as the world fell into shambles around them.--Light wrote down everything, every last detail he could remember, every name, every second, every word he wrote.
He had never intended for it to be published, but he wasn't surprised when he found it on the bestseller list. The parents must have found it (Grant and Abby, or so he recalled) among the piles of homework in his room; they must have thought it was fiction and decided to get it published for his birthday. To them it was fiction, the product of a creative mind on the dark labyrinth that made the Kira case, the detective L, and all those who were involved. (They asked him where he had done his research; he lied so convincingly). A psychological thriller, they called it, a novel to captivate the minds of audiences everywhere in horror.
The interviews started and Alexander felt bemused by the attention. Fiction, they called it, his life on paper—a fictional story to pass the time of bored housewives. He had become Hannibal Lector; dark and beautiful, he had become a forbidden love interest. Amusing, and disconcerting, he answered their questions honestly.
"How did you come up with the character Kira?" they would ask eagerly, their eyes shining with awe. For once, he tried to answer honestly, just to see what they might think.
"Boredom, sheer and utter boredom created Kira. The notebook, the Shinigami—they had almost nothing to do with it."
He was on television. A brilliant author they called him, the best of the year—possibly the decade, and he smiled to himself, thinking how foolish they were to worship him as a character. Didn't they realize what they were getting into?
One man did. The man who had once been a boy with white hair sent him a letter. Not a very polite letter, either, asking just what sources he had based his story upon. (Near never did learn his manners.) Alexander remembered smiling when he read those typed words, misspelled in their haste to be sent off into the world. He could almost smell the panic engulfing the white haired boy.
And so Alexander lifted his pen the second time, for Near, for the man who dared to call himself L. The second novel was actually a work of fiction—revenge, he called it, the return of Kira through an heir, an heir just as powerful as Light Yagami and just as lethal. The heir who would defeat Near in a Yellow Warehouse, where the white-haired man would beg on his knees and be refused by the world. Revenge in cold blood—the revenge Light Yagami would have wanted, the revenge Alexander created for him.
Words were just as good as blood. Kira had known that, and Alexander was content to let Near suffer. (The letters never stopped coming, but Alexander never bothered to answer them. Near should have known better than to dance with the devil.)
Three more books on philosophy would follow, and he would be praised—if not worshipped.
His parents were proud, he was envied and loved, but he was never understood. Alexander died an old man, sipping coffee on a bench, his hands clinging to a fountain pen that he had never loosed in his lifetime. The birds had been singing when his fingers finally loosened and his mind left his body to rot, a smile on his lips, his revenge finally complete.
Once upon a time you called me God
Once upon a time you called me monster
Once upon a time you called me human
Tell me, what am I now?
Ryuk found him in the fifth lifetime, when the world called him Faust. The guardians of that time were English professors, and although they did not pick a name that suited the child they would have wanted, they did pick the name that suited him. A man who made a trade with the devil—yes, it suited him very well. (It was perhaps the first time since being named Light that Faust actually enjoyed using his name)
The Shinigami found Faust sitting on a park bench playing chess with himself. (He found it far more entertaining if he didn't have an opponent, and all the more challenging for it.) He had spotted the Shinigami easily enough, and he had smiled. (Like memories, the being had managed to stay in his vision without the help of the Notebook)
"Ryuk, still bored?" he asked cheerfully, taking in one familiar face he had known in more than one hundred years. He laughed at the shocked expression on his clown's face, at the way he seemed to fly backward at the thought that a stranger was talking to him, was able to see him without the aid of the Death Note. "How are you, my old friend?"
The death god grinned and began to chuckle, and Faust found himself laughing with relief—relief to find something he recognized after years of confusion, of rebirth and death, and of losing himself in the folds of time. Ryuk, who was immortal—it was Ryuk alone he could speak to.
They walked in the park under the autumn trees, Faust looking forward and speaking loud enough so that only the Shinigami could hear his words. "So then, this is Mu, is it?"
"I lied. You needed motivation to get you moving—you were gonna die sometime, and I had to speed things up."
Faust nodded—understandable, it truly was. Faust could understand the things that Light could not. As aloof as Gabriel, but as cynical as Light, Faust acted as the mediator between his lifetimes, interpreting the way his past lives had played. Faust could understand the logic of a death god. For what else could one be, with four lifetimes behind him? Surely no human could have survived so long, could have lasted through the ages.
"I understand." Once, perhaps, when he had gone by a far more ambitious name, he would have misunderstood the Shinigami's actions; betrayal would have crossed his mind and the anger would have consumed him. Faust's russet eyes were filled with the blood of too many lifetimes to harbor such selfishness—the Shinigami was loyal to no one, certainly not one spoiled human. What was one white lie when Light Yagami had spun so many?
The Shinigami cackled. "You know, I hardly recognize you, Light. You've gone and gotten yourself a new name. Faust. Far less girly than Light."
Faust smiled. What was a name to him, who had forsaken each with the passing of lifetimes. The name was simply a way to address him, an article of clothing to be cast off and changed with ease—no, he did not mind the changing of names, whether they fit him or not. "It doesn't matter anymore what you call me—Faust or Light, I am still myself in the end."
The demon cackled, and Faust noticed the Death Note swinging by his side, bringing back far too many memories of a life lived too long. The world of Light Yagami still held sway over his soul; the radiance of a forgotten god still burned bright for Faust, his blood branding crimson against the pavement. "You did not come to see me, did you, Ryuk?"
The laughter increased. Faust was colder than the winter snow; it hardly bothered him that a Death Note was loose in the world. He could understand a death god's logic; he could understand their endless boredom, their desperation, he could understand an immortal's fear of eternity.
"What do you mean, Light?"
Games, apples and games—Faust could understand what Light could not. Faust was old-fashioned, Faust was clinging to a dying star with all his strength, Faust saw the world through an immortal's scarlet eyes.
"That notebook isn't the only one on Earth right now, is it? There's another one out there, somewhere, and in that place a human is scribbling away with a fountain pen, finishing the work I started all those years ago. You didn't come to find me, you came to find the next Kira."
Betrayal. The word was on the tip of his tongue, but Faust ignored it as he always had. Faust had been betrayed by the world which moved beyond him, betrayed by the companionship he lacked; betrayal by a Shinigami was nothing in comparison. Faust was not Kira. He did not have the youth to pursue such a doomed task. Faust much preferred the role of the observer, safe behind the crystallized spheres that carried the world.
Hyuk. "What makes you say that, Faust?"
Faust grinned and began to laugh. It was Kira's laugh still embedded in his blood, because while he might not have been Light, he would always be Kira. He would always be the vengeful god hiding behind a mask of white porcelain—no human name could take that from him. It had been years since he had first made the deal with a demon, and yet he still felt the price of it running through his veins, his eternal blood which defied his birthright of mortality. No human should have been given the gift of life past death, and so Faust laughed.
Ryuk had once offered him a pair of eyes. He had declined. He had asked for a pair of shadowed wings and had been denied, and yet it seemed that he had not been denied his divinity. Because what was an immortal but a god in the end? A miserable, inhuman god.
"Because I know you, Ryuk. I know you too well."
One did not need to be a Shinigami to be a god of death. Faust wore the porcelain mask without irritation to the human skin he placed beneath it.
I recognize you, sometimes
Every other lifetime I'll see your face in the crowd
I'll wave absently—a forgotten friend, perhaps
Or so you tell yourself
But in the end it is always me, smiling thinly as you walk out of my life again
Just as you always do
Gaia was an awkward lifetime, one that caused him much irritation and sexual confusion. For one thing, Gaia was a girl. A soul has no gender, as he discovered in his seventh lifetime. A soul is in itself without a dividing gender, enabling a smooth transition from one gender to another. Or, at least, an easy switch for those who can't remember. Gaia was awkward. Gaia did not act feminine—or at least not as feminine as one would have expected. Gaia was cold and unyielding, and was constantly seen glaring at herself in a bathroom mirror.
Those warm hazel eyes, those pouting lips, those dark lashes… how he loathed them. The lack of height, the submissive posture, the expectations of being a woman—it was demeaning, it was awkward, and he found himself losing his patience. With men, especially. Oh, the men, how he loathed the men—the way they expected her to worship them, as if their muscles transformed them into a walking legend. Gaia smiled coldly; he had once been a legend, someone who could kill them without a second glance. A name, a face, a drop of blood, and it was done.
Goodbye Jacob, goodbye Nathan, goodbye Fredrick, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
Gaia did not make much of her life. She never achieved happiness, she never gave her parents grandchildren, and she was always seen on the fringes of society. Outdated, obsolete, poor, lovely Gaia whose world moved much too quickly.
The country names were changing, the maps had begun to shift—no terms arose, and Gaia was losing track of them. The languages were beginning to change shape; Japanese was no longer the language Light Yagami had known. Gaia was losing herself to humanity's progress, forever on the fringes, a Shinigami in all but flesh.
(Ryuk found this, like everything else in the human world, dreadfully amusing—that as the centuries began to whirl past, the human found himself becoming less and less human, that dreaming of wings no longer seemed so impossible, that those jabs about Shinigami were no longer so far off.)
Her parents were worried (the parents were always worried—after his health, after his mind, after the very lifelines Kira had created through the centuries). Society created a disease for her, molded it to fit her cold green eyes, and she said nothing.
The doctors scratched their fountain pens against their notebooks. (He always found himself smiling at this, and Ryuk always managed a hearty chuckle at the sight.) The tests, the faked confessions, the anger they wanted from him—they wanted the emotions he had banished in his first lifetime. They wanted the anger, they wanted his frustration, they wanted his confusion and sorrow.
He had nothing to give them but hatred, Gaia's cruel smile as she watched their diagnoses—depression, autism, bipolar, manic depression…. The mental handicaps flew from their aged hands like a swarm of locusts—because what else could account for her cold eyes and her bitter smile?
Then came the drugs. They were desperate, staring at her as she locked herself in her room, away from all reflective surfaces writing away in old languages, dying tongues that were no longer used, odes to the death god he was becoming and the humanity he was losing. He lacked the flesh, he lacked the eyes and the wings—but when had those ever mattered?
They came in bottles he didn't recognize, in brand names he had never seen before, but they came nonetheless. Gaia refused them, leaving them untouched by the glass of water handed to her; then they were mixed into the food, leaving her mind fuzzy and blank. Dark holes appeared in her life; he felt his mind being twisted becoming hazier. He stopped eating.
Gaia grew thin. It was war, and sacrifices had to be made. The reflective surfaces showed her thin, jagged face, her chaotic hair, and her green eyes; these eyes would widen as the mirrors instantly reminded him of a detective who had died centuries ago. Forgotten in the folds of time, preserved only in fiction—how L would have cringed… had he known.
Anorexia joined the list of diseases. Listening to speakers was prescribed, and he sat and ground his teeth as he watched the women who had learned to love their figure express their feelings. He had become a stereotype, but he would not lose to them; he would not lose his soul to them, he would not give up his memories twice. Especially not for them. Kira would not allow it.
Gaia died young. Even for his standards, she died a child. She achieved nothing in her lifetime. Poor, lovely Gaia died with a fountain pen in her hands and her parents' name on her lips, with the laughter of a Shinigami in her ears. Kira donned his pale mask once again, turning his face away from the mirrors and medication cabinets, a Shinigami's wings painted on his back, a fountain pen falling from her thin hand.
Author's note: First half of a two-shot (supposed to be a one-shot) the basic premise is as you may have guessed that there's something wrong with Light's soul and he remembers every lifetime he ever lives, my version of the reincarnation fic. Because really, if Light is going to be reborn you have to make him as miserable as possible not just write the Death Note plot all over again. That being said the changing of names might be confusing but I am always talking about Light even if he does not call himself Light.
Thank you to my beta Scourge who received this during finals week apparently (it was actually closer to midterms) and wanted to cut me up into tiny pieces. Also thanks to any reader who decided to stick with this thing to the end of the first section.
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note.