Scourge's Note: Set in a world where Light Yagami never truly was Kira.

Through the Faceless Crowd

The alarm went off at six a.m. sharp. The steady beeps reached a crescendo, like the beating of a heart or the rhythm of a patient's breath pounding away at his ears—the drums of war crashing, the funeral bells tolling, madness booming in away in his mind. His hand shot out, silencing the digital clock; his golden eyes opened.

The nightmares never did go away. They were always there, waiting for him to drift into a vulnerable sleep. Light Yagami accepted this; he knew they would always be there, and there was nothing he could do but try to move on as best he could. He rolled out of bed in his wrinkled work clothes, washing his hands and staring in the mirror at a stranger's face.

It was not too long ago that those golden eyes had appeared innocent, that he had looked happy; there had been a dull contentment that caused him to smile, even then. But now the reflection only showed a haggard man—the hollow-cheeked, auburn-haired, piercing-eyed man that he had become. Youth had passed so long ago from his features. He smiled as he thought of the change, rinsing his hands clean of the sins he had long since forgotten—the sins projected onto him by humanity, by the detective's dark eyes, by the months of interrogation.

Kira. The name still rang through his mind. Like the alarm, like the heartbeats, like the breath, like the bells, it rang through him, playing along his heartstrings… so close, so close to his soul, so close to his mind. Too close for comfort.

Doctor Light Yagami still felt the eyes of God upon him, the accusing eyes of the watchmaker, forever condemning, forever damming—stealer of life, bringer of death, Light Yagami was still Kira in God's eyes.

But Light Yagami was a good actor; he knew how to keep up pretenses. Even haggard and aging, he still was proving his innocence, still proving the fact that he was not Kira to the man with the raven's eyes. Like it or not, he was still trapped in the Kira case.

The door closed shut behind him.

They were surprised

But Light had expected that

He had expected his father's disappointment

His mother's surprised expression

His sister's confusion

But he hadn't expected his own apathy

As if nothing in the world could possibly matter to him anymore

"To Kira and other politically incorrect issues." Naomi Misora raised her mug of coffee to clink with Light's. They sat in a familiar café, celebrating the anniversary of the end—the capture of Kira all those years ago, back when Light had hopes of being a detective, back when she was still grieving for her lost fiancé.

Her eyes locked on the crowd outside, the mass of people that celebrated Kira's downfall in a manner far different from the toasting of drinks. She could see the masks' burning flesh as the people cheered, could see the white plastic bubbling under the fire's heat, its face dripping away. The people reveled in the sight of their condemned god, faces twisting into the reflection of Kira's façade, lying broken and flame-charred upon the ground.

"To L and other morally incorrect issues." Light smiled, looking carefully away from the slaughter of ideology on the street. His hollow laugh mirrored the broken smile as he drank down the black, unsweetened coffee. Naomi shook her head in mock disapproval, the ongoing joke left almost unsaid—a bout of laughter between the two forgotten agents. The widow and the bachelor. The man in white and the woman in black. Both mourned for the futures they lost at the hand of Kira; both saw their dim reflection in the eyes of the burning mask.

"You still haven't forgiven him, then." She sighed, pushing her midnight hair out of her eyes, focusing on events long since past. Sometimes, she wondered if they were the only ones who bothered to remember.

"Why should I? He hasn't forgiven me." An ironic smile lit his face. A bitter man running from his past—that was what he had always been, running from the nightmares, running from the accusations, running from the guilt that didn't belong to him. Sometimes, waking in the midst of the night, even he thought he was Kira. And he could never forgive L for that.

"Did you expect him to?" she countered, blunt as always, speaking the truth that barely needed to be acknowledged. It was her frank mannerisms that kept him sane in a world of his finely woven tapestry of lies; of them all, only she had the nerve to speak the truth.

He wanted to say no, he wanted to say that he expected nothing from L—wanted nothing from the man who called himself Ryuzaki. He had not dreamed of burning faces. But with Naomi, who gave honesty so easily, it was best to give the truth in return. She was far too good at seeing through his lies. "Yes, I expect I did. Idiot adolescent that I was, I did expect some form of integrity on his part."

(And yet the fire burned, the crowd jeered, and neither said a word.)

"That's your flaw, then. You pretend to be a cynic; you lie through your teeth, appearing as satirical as possible." She paused, taking a sip from her coffee before setting it down. "But deep down, I think you do believe that there is a spot of good in every man's soul, and that the hero is always kind and generous—or if not kind, he is always fair. You believe justice really is justice and not some figurehead we erected to make ourselves feel better."

Light's clear, apathetic voice interrupted her; his eyes were far darker than she remembered them being. "That… was a long time ago." He turned to watch the customers laughing, talking, their minds far from the Kira case, on what might have been, on what had been. "I've learned my lesson. There is no justice, there is no sense of fair play; each man is guilty as the rest. Kira was wrong. There is nothing of us to save. No innocence, no virtue, no purity, no goodness in general. Man is selfish and he is cruel; he stops at nothing to achieve his own ends. If Kira wanted to rid the world of evil, why then, he'd have to kill us all."

They were silent for a moment, reflecting, their faces pensive as each worked their way back to the memories of the raven-haired man and his dark, accusing eyes. The ends justified the means, an eye for an eye; I am justice. They remembered him well, though neither had laid eyes on him for years. L left shadows of doubt wherever he tread. Who was he to look them in the eye and answer their questions? Such men had no time for their people.

"Some might say you're being a bit of a hypocrite, doctor Yagami. You work to save the lives of the humans you detest, the ones you think are better off dead. Sounds rather counterproductive, doesn't it?" She knew why he had taken the job; she was the first to nod in understanding, to see the motives, to see the nightmares that drove him away from the land of judgment and execution. He no longer belonged to that world. Cast out like an orphan, he made his own living, even with a shadow of the past hanging overhead.

"Oh, I'm not truly saving them. I extend their time, yes, I make their lives longer; but a man marked by time cannot truly be immortal. Kira proved that. The moment we are born into this world, our strings are spun—and fate knows precisely when to snip away at the thread." He paused, smiling, proud of his rationalization. "Saving lives is much harder than taking them away. Why do you think it was so easy for Kira to kill? He only needed a notebook and a pen. But I, I need drugs, machines, time, patience, intelligence—all the things that were quite unnecessary in Kira's position. I will never save as many as Kira killed; I will never save a man from death entirely. I am saving no one. Not even myself."

She blinked, her grey eyes focusing on his face, attempting to discern the lies from the truth. Her grimace of concentration slowly faded into a frown. "Matsuda would be ashamed if he heard you now."

"My father would be ashamed if he could hear me now," countered the doctor, once the sole suspect of the Kira investigation, smirking in response to her joke.

"Your father would be horrified. It's a small wonder you haven't seen him." The accusations contained in her eyes seemed to overflow into the space between them; their strained friendship was formed of the betrayals and the injustices dealt to them. Between them truth was a knife cutting into their flesh, stained with their blood.

"I see my family on occasion, if that's what you're getting at." He watched for her nod of agreement, the slight tilt of her head as she waited for him to continue.

"But they don't see you," she cut in before he could continue.

"No, but then, I suppose they don't want to."

"Indeed," she replied, muttering toward the table. "You know, if I didn't know any better, I might call you a monster."

"I am honored."

And the fires burned beyond their eyes.

He had no training in the medical field

Returning to the university, he found himself at a standstill

He could not walk into the justice department again

He would not do that to himself

And so he transferred

Condemning himself

Draping his coat over the chair, the doctor sighed, his eyes straying to the date on the calendar immortalized by Light's own red pen—the new holiday created by the Japanese government, condemning the justice Kira had believed in, condemning Kira's vision of the future, condemning the fact of Kira's infinite power over humanity. Power the government envied, power they desired, power they could never have.

Light remembered that day so long ago, how young Kira had been, how innocent he had looked with that Notebook in his hands. No, not innocent—human, Kira had looked human. More human than his captors, more human than the detective who put him to death. In the present, a phone began to ring.

Once. Twice. Three times. The doctor awoke from memories best left forgotten and reached for the phone resting on the table. He didn't answer right away, listening to the breathing on the other end, wondering just who had the nerve to call him on this night of all nights, the night humanity executed its last prophet.

"Doctor Yagami," he said briskly. Not Light not to those who called, not even to himself. No greeting, no words of welcome for the stranger—he would not pretend to be grateful for their presence.

"Light? Is that you? Hey, it's Matsuda. Just wondering if you're feeling better."

The doctor blinked, looked at his calendar; his eyes narrowed as he tried to remember what disease he had named to the NPA agent. He couldn't remember, but then, he supposed it didn't particularly matter in the first place. Matsuda wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

"No." A short, definitive answer that would give a warning to anyone listening. Light's teeth were on edge; his eyes locked on the window's reflection. A man bent over his coffee, waiting for the sunrise to wash the day away into memory, where it could wait until the next year. No, he wasn't feeling better yet—not with those golden eyes staring back at him, not with the fires burning outside his window.

"I'm sorry. We all missed you tonight, you know. It's so weird to see everyone again—just like old times I suppose." Matsuda gave a small laugh, as if the old times were good, as if they were something to be remembered fondly. For Matsuda, the fires outside the window didn't exist and the Kira case was long since over.

"Was L there?" the doctor asked slowly, his mind moving backwards, back to a time when the raven had perched above his shoulder, hunched over, black eyes glittering like death.

Matsuda was silent. The words fell, haunting, in the space between them. They fell between the fires, the masks, the anniversaries, the lengths L had stooped to; they fell through the cracks with all the other things best left unspoken. Things that did not deserve mention.

"…No, Ryuzaki, wasn't there." The man on the other line sounded sober now; his excitement dissipated with his sympathy.

Light began to smile—because he knew why L wasn't there that night, why L had stayed away from the bonfires, from the toasts, from the death, from the people he had saved. Light knew why he strayed from the memories.

Once upon a time, they had caught Kira. They had thrown him in a prison, and they had killed him.

But they had not caught L's Kira.

He often walked alone through the parks

His eyes bright with the internal conflict

The revolution of thought that plagued him ever since the Kira case began

And looking upon him they wouldn't see a god

But a man crippled in spirit

Disguising his limp through his golden eyes and bitter smile

He was not a social man; he preferred his own company than to that of his family, or even to that of the few friends he had. Sipping his coffee, he watched the birds settle upon the branches to watch him, singing away in the trees as if there were nothing different about their world. Their world had not been turned upside down by the whims of a single man.

(And Light ignored the sight of the debris, ignored the smell of burnt earth and the sight of deformed faces thrown in the trash. Kira's eyes were nothing more than two blank holes, the caricature of what had once been justice.)

L called himself justice just as Kira had called himself justice; they were one in the same, L and Kira, two sides of the same coin flipped into the air. Light Yagami had never been a part of that coin—he had never been akin to the detective's nature. L spoke of himself as if he weren't human, merely an instrument to be used for the greater good.

(Once, when he had been a younger man, when the mornings had been less painful, when he had still believed in his own innocence, he had woken to the thought that he was nothing more than a compass—duly pointing northward toward truth, attracted to the pole without fail, nothing more than a tool to be read and analyzed by the gods.)

His world had been ripped apart by Kira and L. Between their tug of war, he lost all that remained of himself. The Kira case had stripped him dry. Murderer and detective—what was left between them? He felt old; the doctor had lived far too long, had been chained too many nights, had lied too many times.

He was tired of birdsongs, he was tired of sunlight, he was tired of a world that tried to pretend it hadn't been changed by the detective's reign of terror. It was the same as it had been before, a bad dream, easily forgotten in the light of the next day. Reality was stable, reality was consistent; reality was filled with laughter and friendship.

(One of Kira's thousand faces crunched beneath his boot. The expressionless visage shattered into a thousand pieces.)

He was not a coward, though. He couldn't return to that state of limbo, to the dull contentment he had once known. (Back then he had called it happiness, but then, that was another lie force-fed to him by the detective's pale hands.) He would not go back to the world in which he had once lived. He preferred the shadows, the things best left forgotten; he preferred the unspoken silence, the horror behind the actions all else regarded with curiosity.

(On his roof he could see the carnage of last night's revelries, the burning of the damned god. The wind blew his ashes through the air.)

Once, Light Yagami had known how to lie, even to himself. It was the detective L who showed him how to look into a mirror—and the truth of his golden eyes had turned him to stone.

He worked long into the night

The moon on his back as he worked to save the lives that he didn't believe in

He worked with a dedication his family would have been proud of

And yet when he came home exhausted

His clothes wrinkled and his eyes dark

The nightmares plagued him still

There were no photographs, no souvenirs, no memorabilia to be stored then forgotten. And perhaps that was the reason why he remembered so well, why he could never forget the accusations the silver chain. He would never forgive Ryuzaki for pinning his dreams on an innocent man.

Light Yagami had never been Kira; had never been close until he met the detective. The detective who with such assurance pointed the finger of blame in his direction, 'guilty' he said. And Light had said no, he would never dream of such a thing—because he hadn't. He hadn't been dreaming at all. His world was dark and cold and he couldn't see enough light for Kira's vision. The months of investigation dragged on, tied together the words, wormed themselves into his mind. Impossible became plausible, truth became implied fallacy; he lost sight of himself.

He was not Kira, he would never be Kira—but doctor Yagami sitting alone in his room, coffee in hand, knew that it made no difference. L had never been searching for the true Kira. He had been searching for a puzzle, for a nightmare to terrify him, a monster to conquer. Light could have been that monster; he could have been glorious, he could have been horrifying. But the Notebook had not fallen into his hands.

What ifs distorted his sleep, and suddenly he began to dream of what could have been. The Notebook had been meant for him; he could have completed the task Kira had failed. The gods of death had chosen the wrong prophet. Light knew, staring at that Notebook, that it would have been so simple for him, so easily imagined, and his world fell apart at the hands of the detective.

"You are Kira…"

Lies, he had never been Kira—Light Yagami had never been Kira would never be Kira. He was the epitome of innocence. And if he was corrupt, then what did that make innocence?

"You are a liar…"

Could a truth be nothing but a lie? The truth he believed in with every fiber of his being be nothing but a clever lie created by circumstance? You never were Kira, but you could have been.

"You will confess…"

Confess to a life he had never lived, a crime he had never committed, to a path he had never wandered. It was so tempting, to be shut away from those shadowed eyes, to be away from the guilt. Pride held him in place, but somewhere in his soul, Light Yagami died.

"And when you do, I will kill you."

They spread apart over the years

They faded from each other's lives

The first few years, they had remembered the occasion

Drinking their whiskey, their eyes on one another's face

As if to ask if they still remembered the look in Kira's eyes

When they condemned him to death

When they strapped him to the electric chair

Fed poison to his veins

But those days were gone

And now only Light bothered to remember

The dreams started in that cold prison cell, staring at the camera's single black eye. The voice would ask for nothing but confession—the raven sitting upon the mantle, obsidian eyes staring down. (nevermore, nevermore, nevermore) It started with the aching feeling in his feet, the cold stonework beneath them, the thin fabric of his shirt. Innocent. The word was a prayer, a prayer for the truth he desperately clung to.

(Trying to believe, trying to stay afloat in the raging sea of doubt.) The vision shattered. He was sitting in the helicopter, the Notebook fallen from his hands; he was blinking, shaking, his world shattered. Forgotten memories haunted his mind, truths he couldn't remember—the desperation, the panic, the power that had slipped so easily from his fingers, slipped from his fingers in the form of a black notebook.

Kira looked like a child. Waiting in that prison cell, he rocked himself to sleep. But Light didn't see Kira in those chains—he saw himself, condemned to death, waiting to die. The horror when he realized he was caught… Kira had screamed in agony, his world falling to pieces. Such a desperate attempt—failed, humanity had failed him. Condemned him to death, condemned Light to death.

The light went out of his eyes quickly, the needle was withdrawn; there was no blood. But Light knew there should have been. L had killed like a god, not like a human. He had been judgment in that sanitized room, sending his victim into the realm of death as if they were about to sleep—a distant trial, removed from the brutal nature of humanity. (It was at this point in the dream that Light would begin to scream.) The corpse was not of Kira, but of humanity, the humanity Light had believed in.

It was not goodness that prevailed that day, it was not justice—nor was it humanity. Light didn't drink for victory afterwards; he drank for grief. Grief for the sun which had set upon his world. There was nothing left for him now. Society had destroyed him—a needle through the vein, white latex gloves, rights read by a distant voice, the omniscient gaze of a cruel god gazing down upon the condemned.

He drank the sake with ease; it blurred his mind, but it was easier that way. They didn't understand what he had lost in that moment. The men he drank with, they were glad to be alive. Light wasn't. Light would have rather died than looked into the mirror at that moment, to see the state he had been reduced to.

The doctor had removed himself from humanity out of necessity, because he wasn't human anymore. It was he who wore the latex gloves, he who wore the doctor's mask, who held the needle in his hands. He was the executioner staring down with pity at his victims, destroying humanity with every life he saved. And how they beamed up at him, as if he were saving them. How they thanked him, smiles on their faces.

And in their eyes he saw Kira's dark brown gaze, dulled by artificial death.

(That was when the doctor woke, body shaking, sweat dripping down his chest. He crumpled into silence. And outside, if he dared to look, he knew he would see ash falling white as snow.)

Locked in a prison cell

Staring at the camera, defiance in his eyes

A final chance to prove his innocence

Failing, failing, failing

His last stand meant nothing

His tongue still twisted his words into lies of the purest kind

Those who worked with him couldn't see his face, not his true face. They saw the lies, the façade, the hard-working, diligent man he was. But they did not see the motives, the thoughts that lay in wait beneath the surface, so close to breaking free. A tragedy, they thought, the death of a friend. They never suspected that it was he himself who died.

Locked away in a room, without a voice, without a key, the eyes of the devil on his back. Guilty before he spoke, guilty before he acted, guilty before he thought, guilt written in blood upon his soul. Hope taken from his hands in the moment he saw Kira's face, the Notebook in his hands—the moment he realized the game he was playing.

L did not think he was Kira; L wanted him to be Kira. L wanted him to take the notebook, to use it as Kira had done, to surpass Kira, to play the game. L didn't want a criminal, he wanted an opponent to outwit him—an opponent who could match him. He wanted to dance with the devil in hand. It was with that epiphany that the innocent inside him died—for justice, justice craved a god of death. Justice longed to chase down a creature of masks and darkness. Justice wasn't human and it would never serve humanity.

So what was left to humanity then? If not justice, what could he give them? He had nothing, nothing but the boy standing where Light Yagami had once been. Shaking, he fell apart, and he never looked back.

He would never have his revenge, he would never pay L back for what he had done—but he would wait all the same, his eyes watching for the opportunity that would never arise, for the moment when he would never strike. Time had altered its course for him; he lived in a universe that ran off of another one, a paradox of a reality he had never known but felt all the same.

He lived in a world of deafening silence, of dark light, of blind sight, of true lies, of the time between the night and day—a world of twilight, a place of what ifs and what could have beens. It was driving him mad; it was driving him towards sanity.

And in his hand he held the broken face of the world, plastic gleaming, nothing more than a forgotten memory of what humanity might have been.