Author's Note: I was inspired to write this from a combination of the word "obsequious," which is just lovely, and the song Thnks Fr Th Mmrs by Fall Out Boy. :P
When I was reading Orson Scott Card's Ender series (which is amazing), I ran into the word "obsequious" a few times, and squealed with joy every time, because I'm a nerd like that.
There's a writing style near the end of this that was inspired by The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos, which I just read in my American Literature class. The book is total death, but kind of genius at the same time, in a really painful way.
Lots of thank you's to my betas, chibi-hime123 and Scaity. Chibi-hime123 - thanks for editing even though you don't have your own comp! Scaity - so great to have you back as an editor! :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note.
It didn't start looking like it would come to this.
Matsuda had known Light for a long time, first as the chief's son, then as a coworker, and finally as a friend. The way that boy talked and moved and charmed—my God, he could make a slave out of Lucifer himself.
But Matsuda was sure that he and Light truly were friends. When he dropped coffee cups and knocked over stacks of paper and crashed into vases, everyone else would frown and get mad and mutter, "Stupid Matsuda!" But Light! Light would roll his eyes and chuckle and warmly chide, "Silly Matsuda!" And Matsuda knew that Light saw more of him than anyone else did, saw that he wasn't stupid and clumsy and useless, because Light saw more of anyone and everyone than people knew, because Light was brilliant and perfect and really something of a demigod.
So it was an understatement to say that Matsuda liked Light. Nobody could simply like Light. People respected him, marveled at him, loved him. Or hated him, knowing all the while that there was a little part inside that idolized him fanatically. And Matsuda was no exception. Some days, the idea of seeing Light with his smiles and his radiance and his charisma was the incentive for getting out of bed in the morning.
But then everything changed.
Strange detective Ryuzaki with his creepy eyes and messy clothes and distorted posture pointed a gaunt finger at Light and declared that he was Kira.
Kira! Of all unimaginable things! Light was no murderer—he'd just as soon cut off his own arm as harm another person. He was too kind and generous and caring to kill people off like that. But Ryuzaki was certain, and Light had to be delusional because soon enough, he bowed his head and placed his wrists together and turned himself in.
It hurt Matsuda deep inside his heart to see Light like this, a prisoner with his arms trapped behind his back and cameras always staring at him with their cruel red eyes, because this was his Light, like a son and a father and a friend and a lover all in one.
It obviously didn't hurt Ryuzaki though, because the heartless bastard ignored Light's declarations of innocence, even in the face of undeniable evidence, and kept him holed up in that cell for weeks until Light was moaning and muttering under the weight of threatening madness, and all Matsuda wanted to do was scream and shake Ryuzaki, and once late at night when everyone else was asleep, he did scream and shake Ryuzaki and he sobbed and supplicated on Light's behalf, but Ryuzaki just stared at him with those strange, scary eyes and said nothing, and the next morning, Matsuda wondered if he had really done it at all.
Eventually, callous Ryuzaki gave in and released Light under a set of conditions that he didn't specify to Matsuda, but his creepy little smile at the time assured Matsuda that he would not like them. And even though it didn't happen often, this time Matsuda was right.
As Light stared in surprise at the handcuffs linking him to the great detective L, Soichiro gaped and Misa threw a fit and Ryuzaki stared like a perverted raccoon and Matsuda wanted to cry out at the injustice of it all. His poor Light, who was being subjecting to so much pain and torment to catch Kira! But Light was brave and declared that if it would help clear his innocence, he would bear the degradation and inanity of being handcuffed to Ryuzaki for as long as necessary.
Matsuda wanted to applaud at his courage. This was the Light he remembered and admired and cherished!
There was something undeniably different about Light now. The way he carried himself and talked and gestured was all slightly off, like he had been broken and pieced back together in not quite the same way. When asked, Aizawa said he was imagining things and Mogi grunted noncommittally and Soichiro just grumbled something about Light not being able to see his family. So Matsuda tried to forget that he had ever suspected anything.
At least, at first.
But then the day came that Matsuda tripped and tried to catch himself on the table and ended up knocking Ryuzaki's cake onto the floor, and Light didn't roll his eyes and chuckle and warmly chide, "Silly Matsuda!"
Instead, Light turned to him sharply and admonished, "Be more careful, Matsuda-san! Didn't you know that without enough sugar, Ryuzaki's deductive reasoning skills decrease by forty percent? That could be enough to determine whether or not we catch Kira!" And then he turned to pouting, awkward Ryuzaki and patted the man on the shoulder and promised him more cake, and together they walked off to the kitchen, leaving Matsuda alone with his shame and a mess of fallen cake.
And then Matsuda knew what was wrong.
That damned Ryuzaki was the problem! He was changing and warping and corrupting Light with his eccentricities and lies and exaggerations, and was taking Matsuda's Light away from him. This was all a big conspiracy so that Ryuzaki would have Light all to himself, the covetous creep.
Over the next several weeks, Matsuda was acutely, painfully aware of every interaction Light had with Ryuzaki: the friendly clasps around the shoulder, the secretive smiles shared over coffee, the silent wars they had throwing a paperclip at one another. Everything was a spirited competition and bonding moment, and everything was drawing clueless Light closer and closer into Ryuzaki's trap and farther and farther away from Matsuda.
Matsuda hated Ryuzaki.
And he hated and hated and plotted and planned ways to get back at Ryuzaki and to bond with Light and to kill Ryuzaki with increasingly inventive methods, and went on hating until the day that Ryuzaki died.
And that day came startlingly soon. One moment Ryuzaki was fiddling with a spoon in that disgustingly irritating way, and the next he was on the floor gasping his last breath with Light screaming and screaming and hugging his dead body to his chest and sobbing and oh! The noise was absolute torture for poor terrified Matsuda.
Light collected himself quickly enough and stopped howling, but it was clear that he never really stopped howling on the inside. Light floated around headquarters like a ghost, his comments and smiles and eyes as hollow and flimsy as gossamer—not the frothy gossamer floating in the summer wind, but the twisted cobwebs tossing about in a dark forest. Light was completely alone in his misery, withdrawn as far as possible from human contact. Matsuda had suspected that Light was different before Ryuzaki's death, but afterwards, he was pretty certain that he had lost Light altogether.
Fuzzy peripheral vision was one of the most irritating things mankind had ever known, right before water rings and chewed pencil ends.
(Light was willing to bet a whole lot of money that given a traditional pencil, L would chew on the eraser so vigorously that he would end up actually consuming it.)
Matsuda was also pretty high up there (though L was even higher) on Light's List of Things That Shouldn't Be Allowed to Exist.
(After all, there was that one time L had eaten a strawberry scented eraser.)
So when Matsuda started incessantly flitting in and out of his peripheral vision (without L there to distract him), his fingers started twitching for his lovely, sleek Death Note with its crisp, clean pages, just waiting to be marked with a few well-formed kanji.
(And then he made out with Light for a full minute, claiming that he had to get the horrid taste out of his mouth.)
Because his erratic heart would absolutely soar every single time he detected a flash of black hair and white skin and floppy bangs, and then it would plummet and crash with a practically nuclear impact when he realized that it was just Matsuda (not L, not L, he's dead, so not L), leaving him so rattled that beads of sweat hinted at his hairline and his fingers shook violently on the computer mouse.
(L was dead, completely, utterly dead, and he was never going to come back to adore the scent of artificial strawberries and do that thing with his tongue, because he was dead.)
It had been twenty five days since L's death.
(Not that Light was counting.)
When they thought he wasn't listening, they talked.
"Hey, Aizawa! Wanna go out for a drink tonight?"
"This would be our third time this week, Matsuda! Are you feeling alright?"
"Ha ha, you sure are perceptive! Maybe I'm feeling a little off with all the hard work lately."
"Light sure has been demanding lately. That's why I'm spending the evening at home instead."
"Sorry, Matsuda. Why don't you invite Mogi?"
"I already did, but he's, ah, tired of having to escort me home."
"You drunk! Get a taxi next time."
"Ha ha, okay!"
"You could invite Light."
"What – don't want the boss to see you drunk?"
"Ha ha, no, that's not it. Light is a great boss and a great friend. But lately…"
"You're right. I shouldn't have suggested it."
"I wouldn't want something to set him off in the middle of the street."
"He hasn't done that in over a week."
"Did something happen, Matsuda?"
"It seems to happen more often around me than anyone else. Must be my bad luck."
"Matsuda, you fool."
The way they talked about Light, it sounded like he had post-traumatic stress disorder.
"What? It's not like I do it on purpose!"
"Quiet down! He'll hear you."
"We never used to have to tiptoe around him like this. We could say whatever we liked, and he would just take it out on Ryuzaki."
"That's a terrible thing to say."
"It's true and you know it. Ryuzaki was his punching bag and best friend all in one. I didn't like Ryuzaki very much, but he was important to Light."
"Ryuzaki was proud of being able to get under Light's skin, and I think Light was proud of it too."
"Proud of being able to get under Ryuzaki's skin?"
"Ah, yes, but also of Ryuzaki for being able to get under his skin."
"That's ridiculous. It doesn't even make any sense."
"Yes, it does! I'm right. Light and Ryuzaki complete each other."
"That almost sounds romantic."
"What? No, Light loves Misa-Misa!"
"I'm just joking. But you do seem to be giving them too much credit. They fight too much to be able to like each other that much."
"It's part of their relationship. The fighting is their way of saying, 'You annoy me, but I'll always be your friend.'"
"Ha ha! I think you've been reading too much shojo manga, Matsuda!"
The way they talked about L and Light, it sounded like L was still alive.
"I'm so lonely without you here, L."
"You don't know what it's like, having all these people around without respite and looking at them and knowing how insufferably brainless they all are. Little lemmings, puppy dogs, sheep – it's disgusting."
"Yes, I suppose you do. Your form of justice makes it necessary for you to have to deal with them. But it's so unbearable for me."
"Because at least you could hope for someone of the same mental prowess. You were my last hope, but I blew it, and now you're dead."
"Yes, you are. You're dead, L. What happened to your deductive reasoning skills?"
"Do they not have cake in the afterlife?"
"Well, that's a shame."
"I miss you."
"You know you miss me too."
"I don't want to socialize with the sheep."
"Nope, it's fully intact."
"Why thank you."
"What? Don't go! I'm not ready. You stayed for much longer last time."
"Yes, you did! L! Wait! Ryuzaki! Ryuga—Ryu—L Lawliet, you get back here, you fucking bastard!"
Both were truer than anyone realized.
It began as a cliché.
Matsuda had accidentally mixed up the AM and PM on his alarm clock, and therefore he was stirred into consciousness by the disco jingle of his cell phone, and was then jerked into rapidity by the boom of Aizawa's frustrated voice. In the ensuing chaos, toes were stubbed on doorjambs and scalding coffee was spilled on the train and he was stopped four times by headquarters' practically impenetrable security system, and finally Matsuda burst into the main office, breathless and tousled and obsequious.
Aizawa scowled and Soichiro sighed and Mogi glanced up, but nobody said anything because Light hadn't moved an inch and that anticipation was frightening to everyone.
Matsuda scratched at his neck.
"Ah…I'm very sorry, Yagami-kun…how can I help today?"
Light's deft fingers paused in their playing of the keyboard, and he ducked his head, glancing to the left. "This is going to be another long day, eh?" he murmured. "What should we do?"
Aizawa stopped glaring and Soichiro caught his breath and Mogi closed his eyes and Matsuda shifted awkwardly, because it sounded a whole lot like Light was talking to someone, but not to any of them, and that was never a good sign.
There was a frightening pause in which Light closed his eyes and smiled. "Of course not," he whispered.
And then suddenly, "Matsuda-san," he called out, fingertips drumming on the armrests, and even though all they could see was his back, everyone imagined his eyes peering as fire from underneath his eyelids, and they shivered.
"Y-yes?" Matsuda whimpered.
"You are very late, and that makes me question your devotion to this case." Light's tone was so cool and slippery and beautiful that it hurt to listen to.
"I'm very sorry."
Light resumed typing. "Are you still willing to do anything necessary to catch Kira?"
"Then I would like you to get me a mug of coffee, black, and a slice of—"
Light slowly lifted his fingers from the keyboard, looked down at its silvery surface, and touched the broken key on the right. With a slender finger, he carefully clicked it back into place.
"…and a slice of—"
Matsuda was not stupid.
"Just the coffee then?"
"I-I'll go do that then."
Light was usually an expert at multitasking, so it surprised the task force that Light sounded so distant, as if he hadn't actually heard what Matsuda had said.
But then Matsuda tripped.
At the sound of a body skidding across the floor, Light jerked up suddenly, whirling around to stare over his shoulder. Matsuda glanced up into Light's narrowed, dead eyes and scrambled out the door.
Matsuda was having a bad day.
The coffee machine was whirring and trembling on the countertop and Matsuda was whirring and trembling along with it when Soichiro came in, all grey hair and worrying hands and downcast glasses.
"Good morning, Matsuda-san," he greeted, formal and uncomfortable on his son's behalf.
"Good morning, chief," Matsuda replied, smiling weakly.
"Please excuse Light's behavior," Soichiro said gruffly, eyebrows furrowed together. "He's very stressed, what with the Kira case and L being gone and—"
"It's alright, chief!" Matsuda assured him brightly, because he knew that this was harder on Soichiro than any of the others, because this was his son who was crumbling, falling head first off his pedestal, being whisked away in the wind, and he reached for his son and his fingertips passed through the dust left behind. Matsuda turned around and poured coffee into a mug and it steamed up into his face, leaving moisture behind, and he said, "I'm happy to be of use. I just want to help Light however I can."
So Soichiro turned away from poor, downtrodden Matsuda and said, "You're a good man," and then went back into the main office and turned away from taut, explosive Light and did his best not to think about the kind of man his son was.
Matsuda stumbled about and knocked over stacks of paper and tripped on cords and Aizawa slapped his hand to his forehead because "Matsuda, could you be any more clumsy?" and Matsuda blushed and "Sorry, sorry, sorry!" and Light's blood burned hot and bright and visible through his veins and after one particularly violent collision he spun around in his chair, wheels squeaking ferociously, and "Matsuda-san!"
Because there Matsuda stood, meekly hunching his shoulders in on himself, looking up with big, dark doleful eyes, nibbling nervously at his thumbnail.
And abruptly collapsed in on himself, eyelids falling shut, brow crumpling into great hills and valleys, fingertips quaking and digging mercilessly into the armrests.
The task force watched him with amazement, but barely reacted because this was as strange as watching a cornered animal on television. "Ahh…Yagami-kun?" Matsuda murmured weakly, vaguely terrified of the ever-increasing likelihood of being fired.
But instead, Light relaxed, eyes still closed, and quietly said, "Matsuda-san, could you stay late tonight and help me with filing? It's the least you can do after knocking down so much today."
"Of course!" Matsuda rushed to agree. "And I'll get started cleaning this up," he added, crawling around on hands and knees to gather up the papers littering the floor. So, Light spun back around and pounded at the keyboard and the taskforce gaped at the idea of Light willingly spending more time with Matsuda, but maybe he was coming around, getting back into the swing of things, and soon would be socializing and smiling and acting normal, so they let this pass with an optimistic smile and blindingly rose-tinted glasses, and filed blithely out later that night with waves and smiles and "See you tomorrow!" and "Be careful on the drive home!"
Matsuda sat glumly in the corner, chronologically filing newspaper clippings of Kira's victims, being as quiet as possible so as to not disturb the steadfastly laboring Light. There was something jarringly humiliating about doing this work, a feeling of absolute demotion inflicted by the one person in the taskforce he once believed enjoyed his company.
Imagine Matsuda's surprise when Light joined him with two cups and a bottle of sake.
"Good evening, Matsuda-san," Light greeted, shoulders less tense and mouth set less harshly than Matsuda had seen in over a month. He fluidly took a seat at Matsuda's side.
"Good evening, Yagami-san," Matsuda replied, eyes flashing down to the sake in surprise.
"We've been working for so long, I thought it would be good to take a break," Light suggested amiably. "Would you like a drink?"
"Ah, yes, thank you."
Light filled both cups and nudged one towards Matsuda. "Thank you," Matsuda murmured, drawing it close to him, then added, "But, Yagami-kun, are you already twenty?" This was the chief's son, after all.
"It's alright," Light assured him, and his lips quirked upwards and his eyes crinkled, and Matsuda hadn't seen Light smile like that in so long that his heart thundered in his chest and he swallowed thickly. "Cheers."
The young men lifted the cups to their mouths and Matsuda self-consciously took a small sip, but Light drank with practiced ease and Matsuda wanted nothing more than to forget the day, so he followed his companion's lead, and before long, several cupfuls had been downed.
Light was brilliant and sociable, and made Matsuda feel perfectly at ease, as if L had never existed and they had been friends for months. Together they chatted about women and teased one another and cursed Kira and threw their heads back and laughed. Light's pallor warmed and a light flush covered his cheeks and his eyes stopped flitting about in paranoia and his fingertips stopped shaking, and he laid his slender hand on Matsuda's arm and called him "Matsu" and made Matsuda feel so welcomed and worthy and wonderful that a warm buzz filled his stomach and his chest and flitted happily through his head.
Matsuda had forgotten how beautiful Light could be.
The sake ran out, so they moved to the kitchen with its endless cupboard space and tried all the alcohol they could find and played haughty wine tasters until Matsuda fell laughing out of his chair and Light tried to hoist him up but they ended up collapsing into a heap together.
And then Light's lovely, flushed face was so close and coming even closer and his lithe form was stretching over top Matsuda and his lips tasted of sake and coffee and bitter loss and saccharine sweetness,
and this was the chief's son! the new L! the boss! and Matsuda murmured protests and "This is wrong" and "What are you doing?" but Light whispered and kissed and "Shh, don't worry, just be quiet, don't think don't talk I'll do all the work,"
and the kitchen floor was so hard and cold and slick against Matsuda's back, but Light was perfect and knew everything and knew this,
so then they were stumbling down the hallway, a jumble of cloth and skin and arms and mussed hair and breaths, and then the hallway was gone and Matsuda felt himself falling into a soft bed,
a soft bed, Matsuda knew what happened in beds, and his pants were gone and this had gone altogether too far and what a day, what a day, what to do, what to do,
so he tried to claw himself out of the murky darkness of alcohol that obscured his vision and made everything a blur and he tried to say something but his tongue was like a weight in his mouth, but then finally he managed "Wait wait wait,"
but Light laughed a breathy, dark, dusty, unsettling laugh and swept his fingers through Matsuda's inky hair and something was wrong this wasn't right who was this and then hot air gusted against his ear and he heard "Shush, Ryu, stop fighting, mmm…"
what Ryu wasn't he Matsu who was he what was this this was a dream it had to be a dream because only dreams could be this nonsensical and visceral and
oh, what was happening, there was a terrible pain and Matsuda didn't like this at all and this was a dream a nightmare and he would wake up to the sound of disco music and Aizawa yelling and would cry of happiness because this was all just a dream
but then Light cried out and it was the sound of a thousand angels plummeting from heaven and "L!" and a thousand other names spilled against Matsuda's skin and then Light collapsed on the bed and it was all over
and there was water on his arm and the sweep of eyelashes and "Thank you thank you thank you I missed you oh God I missed you why did you leave me I love you don't ever leave me"
and Matsuda was so overcome with emotion that he could do nothing but let the world fall black.
In the moment between unconsciousness and consciousness, when dreams were reality and reality was a nightmare, and sunshine felt artificial compared to the light of the dreamworld, the most stunning mistakes could be made.
(After all, there was that one time Light had woken up and mistaken L for a giant panda bear and pushed him out of bed.)
Light prided himself on being quick to shake sleep off and get out of bed bright and refreshed, but after a night of drinking (or vigorous calorie-burning activities), even he was susceptible to foggy eyes and sluggish steps.
(L had the most endearing just-woken-up face, but the one time Light informed his bleary bedmate of this, L kicked him in the side and left a massive bruise that lasted for a good two weeks.)
So when Light opened his eyes the next morning after drinking (as well as vigorous calorie-burning activities) and saw a pale, dark-haired form curled up and drooling and naked a foot away, his first thought was to wonder why L was suddenly so much less bony than usual.
(Light whined about the bruise and made L thoroughly kiss it better and demanded that it be his turn again tonight.)
But then the form stirred and shifted its face out of the pillows and Light's vision cleared, and he realized that this was Matsuda (not L, not L, he's dead, so not L) and that Matsuda was naked and Light was naked, and the full implications hit Light like a shinkansen, and Light staggered out of bed and into the bathroom and locked the door and fell to the floor and absolutely screamed.
(L was dead, completely, utterly dead, and Light was never again going to see L's panda face and have him kiss his bruises and wake up in the morning with a smile because L was dead and Light was insane.)
Through the bathroom door and the sound of madness rattling in his skull, Light heard Matsuda getting out of bed.
(Can a God commit suicide?)
Matsuda talked and talked but never seemed to say anything.
"Wow, Matsuda, you're here early!"
"H-ha, yeah, Aizawa, I-I fell asleep here last night."
"Ah, so that's why you're wearing the same clothes from yesterday."
"Ha, that's right."
"Did you and Light get any work done?"
"A-ah, well, ah, I, ah—"
"Ha! Don't look so frightened, Matsuda! I know how you get distracted sometimes."
"Yeah, with computer card games and such."
"Ah, th-that's right!"
"Do you know where Light is? It's unusual for him to—Matsuda, what's wrong with you?"
"You don't look too good…"
"What? I feel great!"
"If you're sick, go home, because I don't want to catch whatever terrible thing you have."
"But I'm not sick!"
"Maybe food poisoning? What did you have for breakfast?"
"Oh, I didn't have breakfast yet…"
"You should eat then. Let me help you make something – I don't want you burning down the building…"
Matsuda talked and talked but never seemed to make any sense.
"What the hell! Matsuda, what happened in here?"
"Ugh, did you get drunk instead of working?"
"No! I was, ah, cleaning."
"By leaving alcohol everywhere?"
"L-Light said we, ah, had too much sake, so he told me to get rid of it."
"You did a terrible job, you idiot."
"What did you do – get drunk halfway through?"
"Is this a shirt?"
"Th-that's my shirt!"
"Then what are you wearing right now?"
"Ah, L-Light let me borrow this."
"Then what is he wearing?"
"He had an extra…"
"You idiot. We'd better get this cleaned up before the chief arrives."
"If I don't, you'll probably get even more drunk, eh?"
"Thank you very much!"
Light talked and talked but never seemed to be talking to anyone.
"You have to forgive me, L."
"You know it wasn't like that – I thought it was you!"
"Maybe not at first, but later on I did…"
"It's only because I missed you so much. It's your fault for abandoning me."
"Well, I didn't want to. You would have killed me otherwise."
"Right. What would you have done instead? Kept me in solitary confinement for the rest of my life, visiting me every once in a while for some gloating and mind games and sex?"
"Don't be like that."
"I really do miss you."
"You forgive me, don't you? I did it all for you."
"I love you."
"Y-you didn't say it back. You have to say that you believe me."
"It's you that's changed, L, not me!"
"Go away if you're going to be like that."
"No, wait, I didn't mean that. Please come back. Please, L. I don't know how I'm going to face them today. What are you doing? Stop! Dammit, I hate you! I hate you! Never come back! Stop haunting me, you selfish bastard!"
Appearances can be deceiving.