Authors' Note: Greetings and welcome to the story!
Note: this fic is based on the Death Note anime series and won't exactly match other versions of the series (manga, movies, etc.). As such, the fic begins on November 5, 2007, and the timeline diverges rather quickly.
(For godssakes, if you don't know the major spoilers up through episode 25 of the series and don't want to, TURN BACK NOW. Thank you. But you probably do know because it's only the biggest spoiler for the franchise, isn't it.)
Still here? Okay. XD So. Just about everybody that's watched Death Note starts thinking about How It Would All Be Different If L Didn't Die, right? The simplest explanation for this story is that it's our own take. The story took off, and while this first arc deals primarily with L and Light's relationship, the rest of the story will become more apparent as things go on.
I don't know how long it will take us to post - at this moment we're about 3/4 of the way through this first arc, and integrating the co-written parts into a cohesive whole takes a bit of time, and Real Life is a harsh mistress. But we solemnly swear to keep at it for as long as we possibly can. ;-)
The title of the AU, Furious Angels, is the name of a song by Rob Dougan. An instrumental version featured on the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack, but we're using the version with lyrics, which comes off a bit differently. (You can see this version of the song on Youtube.) This song also provided the lyrics that title the first chapter.
Furious Angels I: Nameless Here Forevermore
Chapter 01: I've Got No Options Left
One after another, each monitor snapped to the deleted data message. Watari was gone. One down...
Perched in his chair in front of the bank of monitors, L whirled, quickly glancing over the room. His voice was sharp, mouth tight, the spoon he'd been stirring his coffee with dangling forgotten from his fingers. "Where is the Shinigami?"
"Come to think of it -"
"What's the meaning of -"
Standing in the red glare of the emergency lighting, watching as the screens went blank, Yagami Light remained silent. Waiting.
Everything was proceeding exactly as Kira had planned.
"Everyone..." Still speaking swiftly, L drew himself up a little. "The Shiniga-"
Not swiftly enough. The syllable stuck in L's throat, his wide eyes going just a little wider.
Light already knew what was going to happen. He knew, and in that sudden silencing of L's voice, still felt like the floor had dropped out from under him.
Time seemed to slow. Light saw the spoon fall from L's hand, the silver glinting in the contrasting cool glow of monitors and dim red illumination, but he did not hear it land. He saw the chair start to tip, saw L slipping sideways - all of it happening so gradually that every detail burned itself into his mind, the images playing back like reflections echoed between mirrors into infinity - and something seized up in his chest like the heart attack that had just cut short L's life.
Light moved without thinking. His arms were around L in an instant; they hit the floor together, adrenaline spurring Light to push himself up even though some part of his mind knew there should be pain with the movement. Distantly, he could hear Matsuda yelling - but there was no room in this moment for anyone else. All he could see was L.
L's eyes - grey eyes, too wide, staring up at Light - were still aware. In that instant, Light knew that he had won. Triumph swelled in the pit of his stomach, a bloom of heat that spread up through his chest and blossomed on his face as a broad smirk. He saw himself reflected in the eyes of his enemy, the grinning god of a new world.
There was barely time for a moment of shock at the confirmation. Unable to focus any longer, L let his eyes to close, and went slack and still in his opponent's arms. His startled expression faded, and a soft, warm breath ghosted across Light's face, just once.
It seemed to suck the heat from Light's body.
Light had never heard his own voice tremble so badly, and a sudden fear gripped him. This... this was wrong. Too easy. He took L by the shoulders and shook him. "What's the matter? Get a hold of yourself!"
Some part of Light's mind registered his father's voice, but he couldn't process the words. The air seemed heavy, pressing in on him, smothering and crushing him. And suddenly he was screaming - a raw, primal cry of loss and terror that ripped from him in waves, rising and falling in pitch but not actually stopping even when instinct forced him to inhale.
"Calm down, Light!"
Light's head snapped up; the motion made L's head loll back, slack against his arm. He snarled a curse, the exclamation tearing at his already raw throat and bringing a wet sting to his eyes. "Where's that Shinigami?! Show yourself!"
But Rem was already gone.
"We- we're all going to be killed!" It was Matsuda's voice this time, panic-stricken, but Light didn't even look at him. He cast about for Rem again, desperate for the chance to change what had already come to pass.
This couldn't be real. It had been too easy. L had known all along, hadn't he? And yet he'd done nothing to save himself. Why hadn't he done something?
The others were shouting around him. Aizawa had taken up the call to find the Shinigami, who surely would know more than they did, if nothing else. He and Matsuda scrambled for the door, with Mogi close on their heels. Yagami Soichiro stayed, hovering near his son, torn between the task at hand and the instinct to protect his offspring in some way.
Light had gone utterly silent. He was staring, wide-eyed, his gaze fixed on L's lifeless, strangely peaceful face. A strangled sound started at the back of his throat; little by little, it built up into a low keening, then erupted as yet another shriek, this one so high-pitched that it cracked before it reached its peak and tapered into wrenching sobs. Abruptly he pulled his hands away, almost as if L's still body had wounded him, and he looked at them in abject horror for a moment, gasping and choking incoherently.
"Light!" Soichiro reached for his son, but Light screamed again and slapped his hand away.
"Ryuuzaki! L!" Nearly hysterical now, Light pressed his hands to L's chest and began a series of compressions, falling automatically into the CPR routine he'd long ago committed to memory - thirty compressions, then two breaths lasting one second each, pausing to check for signs of life before repeating the process. The tears that streamed down his cheeks dripped from his chin and soaked into L's white shirt, lost in fabric still damp from the storm that raged outside. Light didn't even realize that he was crying.
Soichiro had seen such hopeless desperation before, and it was rarely successful - but there was still a chance. He left only to step outside to call an ambulance. He shut down the alarm when he returned, and the room fell silent, but for Light's whispers of effort.
Light did not know how many times he counted from one to thirty; time only flowed as far as that number, and then it skipped a beat and began all over again. He couldn't escape the horrible, repeating nightmare of compressions and rescue breathing and checking for a pulse and not finding one. The tears kept streaming down his face, and he continued to force air into L's lungs and blood through his veins. His field of vision grew dark around the edges as he forgot even to breathe for himself, and the world contracted into a frigid, silent sphere that was only large enough for him and the rhythm of compressions and breaths.
And finally, there was a single, strained cry. Light became aware of movement, the body beneath his hands giving a violent spasm.
Light inhaled, his first deep breath in what felt like hours, and L's face swam into focus, mere inches away. His lips and skin were blue-tinged, but his eyes were opened wide.
L's heart was beating. And even that was overshadowed by the ragged sound of him drawing air into his lungs on his own.
A gagging sob tore itself from Light's chest, and he collapsed forward against L, apologizing over and over again in a barely-coherent stream of desperate words.
L made another sound between gasping breaths - almost a whimper - his brow furrowed in clear pain despite how wide his eyes opened. His back arched for a moment, as though he was attempting to struggle, but he almost immediately collapsed helplessly again. Breathing alone seemed to take all of his strength.
There were more sounds around them now, voices and footsteps and the rattle of a gurney down the hall - but it wasn't until the paramedics hauled him bodily away from L that Light heard any of it. He kicked and thrashed and screamed and sobbed, hysterical like a child at the loss of contact. It took all four remaining members of the Task Force to restrain him so that one of the paramedics could leave L's side long enough to administer a fast-acting sedative.
Light's father sat with him as the paramedics tended to L, holding his son in a tight one-armed embrace. Soichiro tried to turn Light's face against his shoulder, but even then, the young man refused to look anywhere but at L. It was only when his heaving sobs turned to retching, and then to vomiting - it seemed that the sedative did not sit well with him - that he at last looked away.
A terrible weight settled over Light then, and with the drug, exhaustion finally overtook him. Light sank into darkness, listening to the steady beep of the monitor that marked his friend's heartbeat.
L did not like hospitals. In his experience, they never meant anything good.
It took a long time before he could piece together what had happened, between his own memory and what those around him said. It wasn't that his memory was lacking - rather, it was all too clear, and the recollection of just what had happened was... distracting.
He remembered the sudden pain in his chest, and falling, and Light catching him, holding him, looking down at him...
He remembered his friend's mouth twisting cruelly, triumphantly, the red emergency lighting all too appropriate as it gleamed in the younger man's eyes. He remembered realizing that the disappointment lay not in losing, but in being unable to keep playing.
He remembered darkness that he'd never expected to surface from again.
The problem was that his awareness had not ceased. He remembered dark and silence and weirdly close emptiness and a complete disconnect from the sensation of the passage of time.
And that memory was terrifying.
L wasn't sure how many thousands of years had passed before that darkness changed. But it had changed at last, pierced by a sudden pain, and the feeling-sound of a brief, brittle-seeming snap. There had been motion then, too - a repetition that seemed to stab through his chest with each iteration.
He remembered a second snap, and an increase in the pain, but pain was preferable to the nothing in which he'd been trapped. And then L had found that if he counted, each jab of pain brought something new with it: time.
L had desperately clung to that realization, counting each agonizing shift: twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty -
He remembered the breathless dark horror when the repetitions had ceased. He'd wanted to scream more than he ever had in his life, and he hadn't the breath to do so.
And then breath had been given to him.
He'd still been unable to scream, unable to force the necessary air out. But then the pain had risen once more, regular and sharp, and he'd again desperately grasped at counting - and all at once he'd realized what was happening.
Hearing had returned first, and it had struck him that he wasn't the only one counting. He'd heard whispers, sobs, a voice keeping count exactly as he was. A sudden shift in perception - the return of a sense of what lay outside of him - came next, and was welcome, despite the blinding pain that accompanied it. And then his heart had begun to beat again, and between the nauseating pain and the fact that Light seemed to have collapsed partly over him, he'd become unable to think so clearly.
He remembered Light's voice, babbling inconceivable apologies over and over. He remembered struggling to breathe, trying to cry out - had he? - and being unable to quite control his movements at first. There had been an inexplicable taste of apples...
After that, there had been a rush of medical personnel and a vaguely recalled ambulance ride to the hospital. Important things were all right - his pupils contracted the right way (relatively speaking) when the paramedics shone a light into them, and his head didn't hurt unduly, and he knew the date (he'd asked what time it was first, just to be certain). He knew that his name was Ryuuzaki - it was lucky that he'd heard Mogi give that alias. His breathing was all right; he'd rejected the sterile oxygen mask as soon as he could.
But those were the only things he'd responded to. He'd had to claim that he only wanted to rest.
An electronic monitor next to the bed told him that his heart had finally slowed to a more reasonable rate - it seemed to have been trying to make up for lost time, for the first half hour or so.
A few of his ribs were fractured, but that was common with CPR, the attendant medical staff had said. They'd given him something for the pain and told him that his friend had saved his life. It was a rare thing - something wonderful to be celebrated.
His friend. L's grip on the bed-sheets had tightened as they'd said it, even as he'd agreed. He'd reassured the nurses and doctors that as soon as he was discharged he'd be seeing his (non-existent) private doctor, so as to determine the source of the incident - as no one that examined him could find any obvious physical problems. He suffered disapproval for his pallor and clear sleep deprivation, but his bloodwork appeared normal enough, if slightly high in sugar. There was nothing that should have resulted in cardiac arrest.
It was only a matter of time before someone on the staff would think of Kira, L was certain. It would be best to leave as quickly as possible, but "as quickly as possible" seemed to involve waiting until morning at least. L considered hiring his own medical personnel for Headquarters, so as to avoid the chance of involving a public hospital in the future, but it seemed rather pointless just now.
They'd been unable to do anything for Watari, he'd been told when he'd asked - the only question he'd asked. It was the answer he'd expected.
He'd heard Soichiro reassuring the staff over and over that no, neither of the young men were on any sort of drugs, but L wasn't sure if the doctors believed it. The man had finally been ushered out of the room for the night.
It was long into the night now, going on gray rainy dawn outside, and L still refused to close his eyes and refused any kind of sedative. At least they didn't blame him, yet. He'd never liked sleep to begin with - always dreamed things that didn't make sense, or felt that he was missing something - and now he couldn't shake the feeling that if he slept he'd only wake in the timeless dark again. Better to sit in the bed, watching the second hand sweep around the clock on the far wall of the room.
He couldn't even curl on his side or draw his knees up the way he wanted; his ribs hurt too much for that, even with the painkillers. At least the fractured bones would heal relatively quickly... but at present, it meant that all he could do was sit in the inclined bed like a broken doll.
The clock was a constant. He could watch time passing, unhurried and comforting. He could hear and feel his breathing and the beat of his heart, the latter measured in quiet pings by the device next to the bed. None of it erased the memory of horrifying nothing he'd experienced, but each beep, each second, pushed it a little further into the past.
He again remembered falling, and Light catching him, and looking down at him, and the smirk that twisted his lips...
L closed his eyes for a moment, and remembered when Light's first dose of sedative had worn off. Mogi had left but Soichiro had still been present, and he had restrained his son while the nurses had buckled down his arms to keep him from harming himself in his hysteria. L had simply lain still and watched as Light was sedated again, the younger man demanding to be released, screaming for Ryuuzaki - by what grace he'd not called out more accurately, L couldn't guess. Before long, Light had passed out again, and Soichiro - looking as haggard as when he'd been hospitalized himself - had put forth the notion that his son was at least as traumatized by the incident as Ryuuzaki himself. L had only looked away again.
The second time the sedative had worn off, L had again lain still, his bed inclined by that point, and merely listened as Light struggled and sobbed for him until the nurses came to sedate him again. The bedside curtains were drawn enough that Light couldn't see him then, though they were cleared back now. The hospital personnel were so helpful.
L's thoughts circled back again to that would-be final smirk.
It hurt to think about. All of it.
It hurt worse that Watari was indisputably gone. L had no one to go to, now, and thought it unlikely that he ever would again. It seemed impossible that anyone would ever know him as well, and he'd not even realized such in time to ever tell Watari how much it was appreciated.
There was a slight sound of movement, a rasping of material, off to L's right. Light's sedative must have worn off again. L didn't look, not even at the low, rough groan that followed. At least the younger man certainly seemed more in command of himself, this time, than he had a few hours ago. Not so loud.
The dim sounds of stirring abruptly ceased, and L glanced over to the other bed to see Light staring at him.
L simply stared back for a few moments, expressionless, too tired to do much else. His dry lips finally parted, though, and he forced through the first word that came to mind, his voice weak and scratchy in his own ears.
Disclaimer: Death Note (manga, animation, novels, etc.), its story, and characters are the property, copyright and trademark of Taugumi Ohba/Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc./Madhouse/DNDP/VAP, and no ownership or claim on said property, copyright or trademark is made or implied by their use in the work(s) of fan fiction presented here. This fan fiction constitutes a personal comment on the aforesaid properties pursuant to doctrines of fair use and fair comment. This fan fiction is non-commercial, not for sale or profit, and may not be sold or reproduced for commercial purposes.