*CHAPTER DEDICATION! The final chapter is dedicated first and foremost to my two very best friends, Nani Hatake and Lawli-Chan. The two of you have been my inspiration since the beginning, and I couldn't have finished this without you (on a side-note, Nani Hatake's own fic "Bad Romance" is ending soon. Go read it!). This chapter is also dedicated to everyone who took the time to read this story. Thank you to those who reviewed, favorited, or alerted this story. I love you all!*

**Special thanks to Emela, Nani Hatake, scaryblondeconartist, Vega Nightshade, icywarm, Josefin Tonks, and Rein Mikazuki for reviewing the last chapter. Anyone who reviews for this chapter will be mentioned by name in the beginning Author's Note of my next new fic. Thanks for reading!**

***A VERY special thanks to those who reviewed "To Be Loved," my first attempt at a one-shot: Akai Nara, Secretsofthedarkness, xUzumakiYukix, and MatthewMellz. Thanks for reading!***

Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note or anything associated with it.

Warnings: Violence, language, L's real name – finally! - and yaoi (Light x L, and Mello x Near).

"Talking."

'Thinking.'

Flashback.


Dying wasn't as bad as people believed it to be, L mused. The gunshot had hurt, to be sure, but soon enough he felt himself just... give in to oblivion. He was now pleasantly warm – the pain he felt was just a dull afterthought - and his head felt strangely fuzzy, as though he were caught in that place between wakefulness and sleep. It was such a nice feeling... To just drift away, and never have to worry about anything ever again... To finally feel safe...

Except... he didn't. Not really. As long as Kira lived, L could never feel completely safe, even in death. There was nothing more the brunet could do to harm him, now that he was dead, but still... He just... didn't feel... safe.

L supposed that the only way he could feel completely safe was if Kira were also dead, but he didn't quite see how this was to be accomplished. With his death, he had lost the ability to kill Kira himself... and Mello was likely in the same state... which left only Near. And though the albino had been the most intelligent of his successors, L sincerely doubted Near had it in him to actually take another life, even one so despicable as Kira's.

No. Near wasn't an option. So, who then could he count on to kill Kira...? Matt, perhaps? If the brunet were to follow through with his earlier threats, and actually pursued the Death Note without the keys and the combinations, then the resulting explosion may be enough to actually kill him...

But probably not. Kira was a fighter, and though the explosion would certainly incinerate the Death Note, it was unlikely to kill Kira in the process – the bastard just didn't know when to quit.

Stupid motherfu-

"Breathe!"

...What? How can you breathe when you're dead? What an idiotic thing to say...

That voice seemed awfully familiar, though. He couldn't quite remember where he had heard it before, but it was one he had come to know well. And now... it was as though he were hearing it as an echo of a distant memory, rather than someone speaking to him directly. There was also a dull ache in the area of his chest, though he had no clue what it could be.

"Breathe!"

Oh. It was Light – or was it Kira? L couldn't remember... But why was the brunet demanding that he breathe? Was he not already dead? Why would Kira want him to stay alive, anyway? And that ache in his chest was intensifying... This was far too surreal...

"Dammit, Ryuzaki, just breathe!"

And as though he were actually following the command, L's mouth dropped open to gasp, his lungs burning at the return of the air that he hadn't been aware he'd stopped inhaling. His dark eyes shot open as he wheezed, three blurry faces above him immediately catching his attention. One of them was Light – or Kira? – as L could easily distinguish the brunet's vague outline to his left, but the other two were unfamiliar. A man and a woman, he surmised.

"Stay calm, Mr. Ryuzaki. You're going to be just fine." It was the woman talking, though he still couldn't focus on her face. Why were his eyes so unfocused?

A light was suddenly shining into said onyx eyes, further blinding him. He tried to talk – to protest – but he couldn't seem to make his voice work. All that escaped his still-burning lungs was a pathetically weak squeak.

"Don't speak, Mr. Ryuzaki. Just follow the light with your eyes." The light began to move horizontally from side to side, and L's gaze obediently followed it. It had been the male speaking that time, and judging by the tone and content of what was said, this man was a doctor.

"Will he be alright?" Ah, now THAT was a voice L recognized, though... was it REALLY Light, or was Kira simply putting on an elaborate ruse with the intention of finishing L off with his own two hands?

"Yes. He's going to need someone to take care of him for a while, but other than that, I would say he's in the clear." In the clear? What did that- oh. A sudden memory had flashed into his hazy mind, the sound of a gunshot still fresh in his ears...

*Flashback.*

"H-Hey!" The word was stuttered and weak, but it still managed to do its intended job, causing L to end his fight with Kira. The duo meandered to their feet, standing side-by-side, their dual gazes locked on Mello – the one who had caught their attention. Kira was the least battered of the two, and as such, paid little mind to his injuries. L, though much more injured than Kira was, payed no attention at all to his own wounds; instead, his complete attention was riveted on the gun in Mello's outstretched hand – the barrel of which was pointed directly at his chest.

As the dark-haired detective moved to question Mello's motives, he realized it was too late – the blond was rapidly losing consciousness, and his finger on the trigger was squeezing. The gun went off mere moments before Mello finally blacked-out, and a searing pain erupted somewhere in the center of L's chest. His mouth opened in a howl of agony, and the last thing he could remember before his own world went black from an overload of pain was the sensation of falling.

*End Flashback.*

Everything after his black-out was just a blur to L. He'd regained consciousness several times, but never for more than a few seconds, and he could only recall vague sounds and images from those scarce intervals – someone who was not him was screaming; being held in a warm, tight embrace; snippets of Light's panicked voice; the brunet's concerned face in his hazy vision; L's name as a distant shout on Light's lips... He wished he could remember more than that, as it was quite obvious that something important had happened in the time between his initial black-out and his arrival at the hospital – Kira was gone, or so L suspected, though the detective knew not when nor how such a thing had occurred.

"What... h-happened?" The effort it took to speak just those two words proved to be too much for L; the burn in his lungs intensified, and a searing new pain – somewhere in the middle of his abdomen – abruptly made itself known. He immediately identified it as the dull ache from earlier, multiplied by a thousand. L hissed through his clenched teeth, a pale hand subconsciously moving to press against the wounded area. This proved to be a mistake, however, as the hand he had chosen to move just happened to be the one with the broken wrist. The movement jostled the newly-applied cast, causing the detective to emit another pained noise.

"Mr. Ryuzaki! Don't move!" The woman – whom L could now identify as a nurse, thanks to his clearing vision – was suddenly at his side, and looking quite concerned. "Your injuries are far too great for you to move right now!"

The dark-haired detective was confused by this, and the look he gave the nurse quite plainly said, 'What the Hell are you talking about?' Light could see that the man was annoyed, and took the opportunity to jump in. "If you two wouldn't mind, I would like to explain this to him."

The doctor and nurse conversed on this for a moment, then nodded their agreement, both of them leaving the room to give Light and L privacy. Once they were gone, Light approached L's bed, reaching a gentle hand out to run through the detective's pitch-black hair. Though it was barely noticeable, the brunet could still detect a slight flinch when his fingers brushed against L's skin, and promptly withdrew his hand. "I'm sorry, Ryuzaki."

Had he been able to talk, L would have replied without a hint of hesitation, "For what? Almost killing me? Oh, that's alright. It happens all the time." And yes, his voice would have been heavy with sarcasm. As it was, the detective was only able to stare back at Light, hoping to convey his response through his eyes alone.

Apparently, the brunet understood the message, for he continued speaking. "I... I'll start with your injuries, I suppose. From there, we'll move on to... Kira." He received a nod from L, and proceeded to explain the injuries. "I'm not sure if you remember what happened, but you were... shot. The bullet missed your heart and any other nearby vital organs by a margin of only a few centimeters, but by the time you reached the hospital, you had lost too much blood."

Here, Light paused to allow L some time to ponder this. If he had lost too much blood... then the doctors had to have given him a blood transfusion. The dark-haired detective's eyes darted toward the IV near his bed, and just as he suspected, it was half-full of blood. But how had they known his blood type...?

"It was Watari." Light had noticed where L's gaze had strayed, and immediately knew what the detective was thinking. "I called Watari as soon as I learned that you would need a blood transfusion, and he told me your blood type. He's downstairs, probably on the phone with either Roger or Matt, and will return shortly." Ah, that explained it. Watari had been staying at Wammy's House for Christmas, which was why he had not heard any of the commotion at L's house, and was also why he had had to be called via a telephone. He was the only man in the world who knew L's blood type, and the detective silently applauded Light for his quick thinking.

However, there were several other holes that needed to be filled. It was unfortunate that he lacked his voice for the time being; there were so many other questions that needed answering...

"I can read lips, Ryuzaki." Light gave him a gentle, reassuring smile – the brunet had always had the uncanny ability to be able to tell when L was frustrated with something that was out of his control, and this situation was no exception. "If there's a question you need to ask me, just mouth it and I'll understand."

...How convenient.

Deciding to test this, L leveled a stare at Light and moved his lips, mouthing out the words, "I... had a dream... in which I died."

The brunet gave him a long, hard look, before replying, "You... did die, Ryuzaki." At the older man's shocked look, he hurriedly continued, trying to reassure him. "They had already removed the bullet, stitched the wound closed, and bandaged you up, but - here, L glanced down to see that his shirt was, indeed, missing, and a heavy dressing of tight bandages circled his otherwise bare torso - the blood loss caused your heart to stop beating for several seconds, twelve to be exact, and you were technically dead for that time. You also... stopped breathing, and I... I thought you were gone. But the doctors... they pumped air into your lungs, and performed chest compressions, and... you came back." L could vaguely recall the dull ache in his chest – caused by the compressions, he assumed - and Light's voice in his ear, screaming for him to breathe...

The dark-haired detective nodded his understanding, a signal that Light need not continue with this particular conversation. He could see this was a touchy subject for the brunet, and sought to find a safer one by mouthing, "What happened to Mello?"

The brunet didn't respond right away, his hazel eyes darting to look at something on the other side of the bed, toward L's right. Turning his head - he winced at the strain this action caused the injury around his neck - L moved to glance at the thing Light was gazing at.

Parallel to his own bed was a second one, an unconscious Mello situated in it. Beside him, in a chair that faced L, sat Near. The albino's head was resting on the bed, a tiny hand clenching at one of Mello's larger ones. It was clear to the dark-haired detective that Near was also asleep – the stress had probably worn him out - and L smiled slightly at the peaceful image the two of them made.

"He's alright. Just unconscious, because of the blood loss. He'll be just fine in a few days." Light's voice drew L's attention back to the brunet, as he turned his head back to face the man beside him once more. At L's renewed stare, Light continued with, "He woke up for a few minutes earlier, and I asked him why he did it Why he shot you, I mean."

Curious as to the blond's motive, the older detective mouthed, "What was his reasoning?"

Light was silent for a moment, as though carefully considering his words, before replying, "His response was, 'It was the only way to kill Kira.'"

"Kill Kira?" L mouthed back to him. "How did shooting me accomplish that? I'm not Kira – you are. Or were."

"Yes, I was." The brunet's eyes dulled as he immersed himself in deep thought. "And though I, too, was puzzled by what he meant at first... the more I thought about it, the clearer it became. Shooting you did help to kill Kira, in one way or another."

L's onyx stare became searching then, looking for anything Light may be hiding. Finding nothing, the older man then made a low whining sound in the back of his throat, drawing the brunet's attention. When he was sure Light's gaze was on him, L mouthed his next question. "How?"

"Well..." The brunet's honeyed eyes never strayed from L, though the dark-haired detective could tell that Light was having to fight the urge to shift his eyes away as the younger man became increasingly uncomfortable. "It's a long story..."

Without missing a beat, L instantly mouthed back, "Tell me. Please."

Heaving a sigh of resignation, Light capitulated. "...Alright. Kira was still in control at the time, but I could see and hear everything - he wanted me to watch, the sadistic bastard. And when Mello shot you, I just... couldn't take it anymore. I snapped, and I... I fought back." Light paused to take in L's reaction; the dark-haired detective was watching him intently, and this encouraged the younger man to continue. "Mello... he knew, somehow. Kira had been reluctant to kill you from the very beginning - as I was constantly finding ways to distract him from doing so – and I believe Mello figured this out. I think he also suspected that seeing you get hurt was the push I would need to rebel, to completely take back control, and... he was right." Again, Light paused, this time to take a shaky breath. "I... I still don't know how I managed to do it, but... Kira is gone, Ryuzaki. For good this time."

Once he finished, Light gave L a moment to absorb all that he'd said, before pleading for a response with his eyes. The older man eventually came to some sort of conclusion in his mind, then hesitantly mouthed back, "How... did you defeat him?"

Though the brunet had feared that L would ask this question, he was not quite prepared for it. Despite that, he could not deny L this explanation – the older man more than deserved to know what had happened – so Light pushed aside his own insecurities for the sake of the injured detective.

"That..." Light began, "...is an even longer story. As I said, I could see and hear everything..."

*Flashback.*

Kira was an abomination. The man seemed to take pleasure from Light's pain, and had found the ultimate way to evoke the most pleasing reactions from the brunet.

Rather than just leave the teen trapped in his own mind, with only the darkness for company, the evil spirit had gone out of his way to be a bastard. The man had somehow pieced together the broken mirror that Light had shattered upon his last visit here, and the image reflected in the cracked glass was of what was being seen through his own eyes – the eyes that Kira now controlled.

Light had the ability to watch what Kira was seeing through his eyes, and the teen was appalled at the images he saw.

But more than that, the evil spirit had also found a way to ensure that Light could hear everything as well, though the teen knew not how Kira had managed this. And though one might think Light could simply close his eyes or cover his ears with his hands, they would be mistaken; the evil spirit had found a way to ensure that such a thing was impossible. Light was bound by some invisible force, strong as steel, and try as he might, the teen could move not even to bat an eyelash. The bindings also prevented Light from talking – and thus verbalizing his protests - and as the restraints ensured that he was unable to move, the teen was forced to watch and listen as an evil spirit controlled his body, using it to torture his friends and loved ones.

It was sickening.

"What do you think? Beautiful, is it not?" The voice came somewhere from the darkness to his right, and though Light was unable to turn his head to catch a glimpse of the speaker, the voice of Kira was unmistakable to him.

The embodiment of that voice appeared in Light's peripheral vision, and he watched as Kira leisurely strolled up to him, pausing once he was standing opposite the bound teen. Several times had Kira visited him since Light had first been imprisoned, his voice echoing in the teens ears, but never had the spirit actually appeared to him; Kira usually preferred to hide in the darkness of Light's mind, whispering taunts and provocations to the helpless teen.

Kira allowing Light to see him was a first.

"I asked you a question." Light, still bound, was unable to respond verbally, and instead settled on his best attempt at a glare. Kira sneered at the silence, even more so at the pathetic look Light was giving him, and spoke again. "What's the matter, Light? Cat got your tongue?" The evil spirit threw his head back, cackling madly at his own horrid joke, as Light watched on with disdain.

Eventually, Kira's laughter died down, a smug look settling on his face. "Joking aside, I'm sure you're wondering why I'm here." Again, the spirit was met with silence. "I've come to ensure that you watch what I'm about to do to your precious L."

Light's eyes snapped to the mirror, and in it's cracked surface, he could see himself fighting with L. The duo were rolling on the floor, heedless of the broken porcelain around them as they tussled, both struggling to overcome the other. Light could understand why Kira had wanted him to see this; it was obvious that the spirit had the upper hand in this fight - Kira's intention was to kill, while L merely fought to just stay alive. If Light's eyes could widen, they surely would have as one of Kira's hands managed to get a loose grip on L's already-injured throat, the appendage beginning to squeeze...

...And that was when something happened that Kira had not anticipated.

"H-Hey!" The voice of Mello drew the quarreling duo's attention, and Kira's hand dropped from L's throat as they separated, climbing to their feet to stand side-by-side. Light could no longer see L, as Kira's eyes were now trained on the gun held in the blond's outstretched hand.

Light wished desperately that he could close his eyes – he had no desire to watch as Mello pulled the trigger, and even less desire to die, though that was certainly inevitable now.

"What is that little moron doing!" Light's eyes slid briefly to Kira – the one who had spoken – before flickering back to the mirror. Again, the teen's eyes would have widened, had he the ability to do so, as he realized that Mello's gun was not aimed at his own person, but at L's.

'No-!'

It was too late. The blond squeezed the trigger as he fell unconscious, and a shot rang out. The bullet struck L somewhere in the center of his chest, and Light felt his own heart stop as he watched the detective howl in pain.

'This can't be happening-!'

L's body fell just then, hitting the ground hard, shards of porcelain scattering with his sudden impact. Kira controlling his body seemed confused; his gaze constantly shifted from Near (who was staring in horror at L), to L's sprawled-out body (there was so much blood...), to Ryuk (that laughter was REALLY annoying), and back again. Despite all this, Light's own focus was directed somewhere other than the mirror.

Now, Light Yagami only had eyes for Kira.

And the brunet was livid.

Though he had been unable to move since the moment he became trapped in his own mind, he still possessed a tiny fraction of his willpower, and he'd been using that to prevent Kira from killing L in his borrowed body. With Mello's actions, though, protecting L was no longer an issue – now, saving the elder detective was Light's sole prerogative, and he'd be damned if he didn't do it!

Using every bit of willpower he still possessed, the brunet fought back again the invisible ties that bound him. At first, they didn't even budge, but the longer he strained, the more the binds began to shift – they were giving way under the force of his will alone, Light mused.

With one last push, the invisible bindings shattered, though Kira took no notice of this – the evil spirit was much too preoccupied with the events reflected in the mirror. This proved to be more than enough encouragement for Light to attack, and attack he did. The brunet tackled Kira from behind, sending both tumbling to the ground in a mass of struggling limbs – much as L and Kira, in his borrowed body, had done earlier.

L...

Just thinking of the detective's name fueled Light to fight harder, and he easily overpowered Kira. But, how would he rid himself of the evil spirit, and make sure he didn't come back?

Kira, pinned below Light's weight, grinned up at the brunet. "You may have broken my invisible chains, Light, but you can't kill me, and I will never let you have your body back."

This turned out to be the wrong thing to say, as Kira quite suddenly found himself lifted bodily by his shirt collar via a growling Light, and the evil spirit had no time to brace himself before he was then flung into the cracked mirror. The force of the impact completely shattered the already-broken glass, snapping the wooden frame into splinters. Kira's battered body fell to rest upon the broken remains of the mirror, but the grin never left the evil spirit's face.

"I t-told you, Light." The grin widened into a full-blown smirk, a trickle of blood escaping from the corner of his lips. "You c-can't kill me. And the only th-thing you a-accomplished by breaking the m-mirror last time was s-setting me fr-free."

Fed up with the constant taunting, Light stooped to gather a particularly sharp shard of glass into a shaking hand. Once done, he moved to hover over the fallen Kira, staring down at the evil spirit with contempt. "If I cannot kill you..." The brunet brought the glass above his head, then dropped to his knees beside Kira.

"...Then I'll just keep trying until I do!"

And with that, Light struck. The teen's arm dropped, stabbing the mirror shard deep into Kira's chest and piercing the evil spirit's heart. "Go to Hell, Kira, and make sure you stay there!"

A sharp cry of utmost agony erupted from Kira as he began writhing amongst the mirror debris, the man clutching at his own chest all the while, though his efforts were for naught.

As Light watched these proceedings, Kira started to fade, his body becoming translucent. The remains of the mirror, too, were disappearing, and the brunet knew then that it was over. Kira had been defeated, never again to return.

Light Yagami had won.

As Kira and the mirror finally vanished from existence, the evil spirit's final cries of defeat echoing in his ears, Light became aware that his vision had begun to dim. He gave himself willingly to the darkness this time, and as he took one last glance around his shadowed mind, a contented smile rose to settle on his face.

And then Light knew no more.

*End Flashback.*

"When I regained control of my body, I found myself clutching at my hair and screaming my lungs out, as though I'd just woken from a nightmare." Light paused here, deciding how best to proceed. "Mello was unconscious, Near looked visibly shaken, and Ryuk was nowhere to be seen. And you, Ryuzaki... When I looked down... you were on the ground, bleeding, and I... I thought you were dead." Once more, Light paused, this time to take a shuddering breath. "I... I shouted for Near to call an ambulance, which he did immediately, and both you and Mello were rushed to the hospital. I was so afraid..."

L made a whining sound just then, catching Light's attention. The brunet's hazel eyes rose to meet the onyx gaze of the injured detective, and Light saw understanding in those mysterious depths. L didn't need him to go on, especially if it was this difficult for the brunet, but Light had one last thing that he felt L needed to know before he stopped.

"I... I wanted you to know that it wasn't Kira who kissed you. It was me. He... He did take control somewhere in the middle, but I initiated it." The brunet began to fidget then, as he waited for L's reaction.

The detective made that whining noise once more, drawing Light's eyes. Once L was sure the brunet's full attention was on his person, the dark-haired detective carefully mouthed, "Why did you kiss me?"

"I..." Light knew how he wanted to answer that question, though he was unsure if he should. There were so many ways L could use those words against him, but... was the detective really capable of such a thing? After all they'd been through together?

Perhaps he should have a little faith.

"I... I love you, Ryuzaki."

Light's eyes darted up to L's face, carefully gauging the man's features. The dark-haired detective did not look as shocked as Light thought he would, and this both puzzled him whilst also giving him a glimmer of hope. Perhaps L... felt the same way?

L thought hard about how to respond to that. It was entirely obvious – to himself, at least - that he was also in love with Light, but he doubted the teen could see it. He hid it well, behind a blank mask and a monotone voice. And... what about the rumors of Light's play-boy reputation? Could he really be with someone who had a habit of dating anything that moved?

...No, he couldn't.

But as he gazed back at the anxious Light, L realized that those rumors had to be false. This Light didn't seem like the kind to want to be with someone he didn't truly love, and he had just confessed his love for L, not for someone else. In fact... the kiss Light had professed to sharing with Misa Amane that single time had probably been the brunet's first and only, until he'd kissed L.

L, who was his best friend.

L, who was his partner in detective work.

L, whom he was in love with.

And L knew then what his answer would be. Meeting those amazing honey eyes dead-on, the dark-haired detective mouthed out a single word, three syllables long.

Law...

Li...

Et.

Confused, Light mouthed the word back to himself. Lawliet. What did that mean?

"It's... my n-name." The brunet's eyes widened in surprise at the sound of L's voice, but more so at the knowledge that the detective had just told him his name. That signaled to Light that he was trusted, that L could possibly-

"I... l-love you, L-Light."

-Love him.

And he did. The brunet's heart filled to bursting with a myriad of emotions, though love was at the forefront, and he wished to express that. Carefully, he stood and moved toward the injured detective, leaning over the man just a bit. Silently, using only his eyes, Light asked for the permission he sought. L smiled back at him, nodding slightly, and the brunet took this as his cue to bring their mouths together in a delicate, sweet kiss.

Both participants could tell this was just the first – well, technically second – of many more kisses to come, and they both mentally swore to enjoy each one. True love only happens once in a lifetime, after all, and both Light and L planned to make the most of it.

No matter what.


A/N: Aaaaand... I'm done! Dear Lord, this was an ordeal! I hope the ending was good, and that everyone enjoyed the story. Any further updates will only be made when I eventually reread the whole story, and make any necessary corrections – and also to add names to the list of reviewers. On a special note, I am now taking requests (I already have a one-shot that needs to be written first – a Light x Misa friendship fic, with a hint of Light x L romance if you squint - and all other requests will be added to a to-do list. I am planning on only writing one-shots for a while, but perhaps I could be persuaded to write another chaptered fic, if I like the idea enough.). Please, leave me a review to tell me how I did, and also to make requests. I love you all, and I'll see you around!