Chapter 25

I Know it's Over

I know it's over, and it never really began

But in my heart it was so real

And you even spoke to me, and said:

"If you're so funny, then why are you on your own tonight?

And if you're so clever, then why are you on your own tonight?

If you're so very entertaining, then why are you on your own tonight?

If you're so very good-looking, why do you sleep alone tonight?

I know...

'Cause tonight is just like any other night. That's why you're on your own tonight

With your triumphs and your charms while they're in each other's arms..."

It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind

Love is natural and real, but not for you, my love. Not tonight, my love

Love is natural and real

But not for such as you and I, my love

Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head

~ The Smiths

Light was sleeping before he heard the crashes. It almost came too quickly for his mind to process. Little firework cracks like at New Year, then thuds, and then the screams.

He jumped out of bed and ran to the window. There were fires outside and people in black running inside the building. Some were trying to escape but fell down like puppets and never got up again. Just ghosts illuminated by fire.

"They're inside," Ryuk said. "They're coming for you, Light."

"No," Light mouthed, but no sound came out. It was true. What should he do? He ran through his office and opened it to hear more screaming, only closer and more shrill. The screams were being chased by gunfire. He shut the door, forgetting to lock it, and ran to a large surreal framed painting which he tore off the wall, revealing a safe. He spun the mechanism, mouthing the combination to himself like a mantra. Inside was the Death Note.

"You better move, Light."

"I know, Ryuk, I know," Light shouted. He rushed to his bedroom and pressed a button under his desk before throwing some money and clothes in a bag. He didn't hear the door open.

"It didn't take me long to find you," a voice said behind him. Light spun around at the sound to see L standing in the doorway. "Whenever I need to find you I just look for the most expensive looking door," L explained.

Light knew that this could not have been entirely true; his door looked like all the others. What was true was that his floor was the most luxuriously decorated compared to the others, and the two security guards posted there might have given his location away. In any case, it hardly mattered now.

"Have you come to kill me?" he said bitterly. "What are you doing here?" L smiled and locked the door behind him.

"I suppose you could say that you're being shut down, Kira. This property is condemned."

And Light felt so much anger for him then, realising what he'd done. He saw L as a coward for doing this, and he was angry at himself for being unprepared for it. "I'll give you five minutes to get out. I've already called for reinforcements," he said.

"In ten minutes this building won't be here, and if your little army of idiots arrive before that, then I'm afraid that they'll be going with it." L said, as matter of fact as if Light had missed a train, but there would be another one. He sat on a chair and the whole thing was so unexpected and relaxed that Light just stood there like a statue. "Why didn't you hide?" L asked.

"There are a few reasons but the main reason is because this is my fucking building. I never thought that you would be so stupid."

"I could say the same about you. Did you really think that I wouldn't act at some point? Your little scientific experiment idea clinched it though." Light looked bemused and surprised as reality hit him. His hair was all over the place and his pyjamas so creased and crumpled that he didn't look like himself. He regained some self-awareness from the way L was looking at him, almost pitifully, and immediately began straightening himself out. "Does the name Ballard mean anything to you?" L asked.

"Can't say that it does."

"That's not like you, Light. You're usually so good with names. Anyway, he has decided not to go along with your offer. Sorry." Light looked at the look at the door as the shooting sounded so much closer. "So, it's up to you," L continued. "Shall we die here or will you come with me peacefully?"

"Why should I leave?" Light said petulantly. L glanced towards the hastily packed bag on the bed and looked back at Light sadly.

"I know that this might be hard for you to accept, I suppose it's something to do with your ego," he mused, pausing for a moment to pull his legs up onto the chair and fold his arms around his knees. "It's over, Light. You can die here if you want. Would it make it easier for you if I died here too? Because I will, you know."

Light put a hand to his forehead and laughed bitterly at the gesture. "Oh God. This is too much! I was sleeping there. Do you even know what time it is?"

"Yes, but this kind of operation is not known for good manners. Nice pyjamas," L observed.

"So your plan is to blow me up. That's it?" Light asked, like he was repeating the punchline of a ridiculous joke.

"That is it."

"I don't believe you. What would that achieve? Even if it is true, it won't happen until you're out of here." He grabbed his watch from the table, checking the time. The action seemed to calm him. "Which gives me enough time to get changed," he said at last, and walked to the wardrobe.

"You should not procrastinate to give your followers time to save you. That is not going to happen," L said, unfolding his legs. "I told you, we have eight minutes now before we die."

"Whatever you say," Light replied, quickly pulling a sweater over his head.

"L, where are you?" a voice screamed from somewhere outside. Someone on the same floor.

"Somebody wants you," Light said as he casually reached for some black trousers. "Sounds like Matsuda, judging by the level of hysteria. So you brought him? What a nice little reunion this will be."

"Your eyes are dilated," L observed.

"Are they? It must be all this excitement." He walked towards him and touched the back of L's hand. L never noticed the tiny scrap of the Death Note which Light pressed against his skin since he was so shocked by the monstrous black demon which suddenly appeared in the room as soon as Light touched him. "There. I'm sure that you've noticed Ryuk?" Light asked, walking away again as Ryuk waved a gangly arm.

"He's hard to miss," L replied. Light put a few more things in the bag as calmly as if he was packing for a holiday.

"Ha! Yes, he is. So now you know everything and see everything. I suppose that's all you ever wanted."

L ignored Light and continued to stare at Ryuk. "I want to talk to you, actually," he said to him. "Maybe I will if I don't die here -"

"Don't talk to him," Light turned on him abrasively. "How many people are there, L?"

"Why, are you scared?"

"I've never been scared."

"Not true."

Light smiled, knowing what L was referring to. "Ah, but I wasn't myself then."

"I think that you were very much yourself then."

"Why are you here really? Why now and like this? It can't all be because of what Ballard told you. You don't even like people so why should you care?"

"I don't know, Light," L rolled his shoulder, the cracks of his bones audible. "I suppose that I must love you or something."

"Don't..." Light blurted out, pausing to gather himself. "Don't say that. You can't come in here with your cast from The Naked Gun, kill my staff - are you actually killing my staff? - and say things like that."

"Ok then. I came here because you've gone a little too far, even for me. And you know that I've been more than lenient with you."

"So, you came all this way just for me and to blow up my building. How touching. Why are you always getting in the way, L? You lost and you really need to get over it because, apart from it being incredibly pathetic, it's becoming more than a little annoying."

"If I can make things just that little bit more difficult for you then I consider it a life well spent, dear Light."

The lights went out, the power probably cut by some anonymous idiot. The room was now lit only by the fires outside, and by that glow L could see that Light looked as if he'd been stung in the mouth by a wasp. He walked up to L and leaned towards him, propping himself up on the arms of the chair.

"By the way, I'm having your HQ torn down. What do think of that?" he whispered. "Someone will probably build a public toilet on there."

"Seems like an appropriate tribute to our little contretemps. I approve. Will you put up a plaque? 'On this spot, Kira and L did battle and various other things. No good came from it. Shit in peace.'"

Light's normally sensual mouth contorted further. "Please, please shut up," he said, pushing himself away.

L made a zipping motion across his mouth with his fingers and sat, grinning. Light walked towards a cabinet and took something out of a drawer, blocking L's view of what it was. L's first thought was that it was the Death Note. Then Light moved to the window and gazed out, taking in what he saw with indifference. He lifted the gun in his hand and checked the barrel.

"Déjà vu," L remarked. "When in doubt, pick up the nearest means of killing someone. This isn't your weapon of choice though, is it? If you're going to kill me you could at least stick to your normal MO."

"It's not necessarily for you. Just follow the rules and everything will be fine." Light pointed the gun at L. "Call them off."

"And you're the one who makes up the rules, I know. Are you worried about where your back-up thugs are? They have been an awfully long time. Then again, it is the middle of the night on a Sunday. What time is it now, by the way?"

"They'll be here."

"Oh, I'm sure."

"Call it off, L."

"No. Oh, look what I have here," he said, pulling out a gun from the back of his waistband. Light laughed.

"Can I ask why I have to go with you? I thought that we agreed that we were going to stay away from each other."

"You mean after you killed a few people that I was quite fond of and tied me up while you flounced off to become a god, or Wimbledon champion, or whatever you were planning?" L said, but Light wasn't listening. "Light, did you hear that?"

"No," Light lied. He thought about leaving L here and running, but part of him couldn't believe what was happening. It couldn't happen to him.

"It sounds like a shot from a silenced revolver," L said. "Not sure why they would bother with the silencer, but never mind. It sounds like an American make, but I could be wrong. Pretty close now."

"L, as far as your diversion tactics go, this is one of your less successful attempts."

"Alright, Light. This is all in your head, if you want to believe that. I'm not really here and you're not really about to be blown up and there really isn't gunfire outside. You just carry on pretending that none of this is happening. Ah, there goes another gun shot which I'm clearly imagining."

Light heard it. It wasn't the odd gunshot now, it was a volley of them. In fact, there was a strange opera of sound; there were footsteps from the floor above and he heard someone impatiently try the door to his office. "You're going to do this, aren't you?" Light mumbled. "You really have set me up."

"No, you set yourself up. You're right, there is a person behind that door who wants your head and he doesn't care who he has to kill to get it. You have upset a few people, to put it mildly. There's no use running, really. He knows you're here, he knows your name, and he is going to kill you."

"You told him my name? You did this."

"Not directly. I'm just letting it happen."

"Call it off, L! Do you want to see me die here?"

"No. No, I don't. But I'm going to."

There was banging outside. Ryuk stuck his head through the door like it wasn't there. He looked like he'd run straight into it at great speed.

"Ryuk?" Light asked. Ryuk drew back, his decapitated head materialising.

"It doesn't look good for you, Light," he replied with that awful grin which never left him.

Light rushed to the bag. L watched him and placed his gun on the floor before approaching him. "Did you find what you were looking for?" L asked softly. "I hope that you did. Don't try to run, Light. It's not like you. You always needed to learn about acceptance."

And L was at Light's side now. He noticed the pitch blackness of the Death Note, darker and purer than black, in the bag. He reached for it but Light grasped his hand so tightly that it hurt. They struggled over it until it was torn, nearly in two, and Light loosened his grip in shock. L took the opportunity to throw the Death Note behind the headboard of the bed and stood in front of it like a human barricade.

Light lifted the gun.

"Call it off," he demanded.

But L just looked at him in silence. Everything outside sounded louder now. The screaming had stopped and there was just the shouting for L and the hurtful noise of bullets hitting the wood of the door and the metal of the handle. Light cocked the gun and supported his wavering hand with his other arm while L continued to stare. Light closed his eyes. After a moment he lowered the gun, set it on the table, and stood there, waiting. He couldn't do it. Not even for himself, not even for his world.

"Light," L said, drawing closer to him.

"Please," Light asked, weakly. The door was splintering on the inside now as tiny holes appeared in the veneer, but L seemed immovable to his begging. "I didn't think I'd die like this."

Ryuk laughed.

Heavy thuds cracked the panel of the door in two and Mello and Aizawa burst in, followed by Matsuda and Near moments later. Everyone lowered their guns when they saw Light and L, apart from Mello.

L turned around, partially blocking Light from view. "Good morning, gentlemen."

"Get out of the way, L," Mello said. His voice was abrasive and without humanity. The blond hair at his temple was bloodied and stuck to his head like gory hair gel.

"Put the gun down," L told him.

"I said, move!"

"What? Oh. Yes, I do seem to have a habit of standing in front of him when guns are around."

"You are pretty low on my priorities right now. I'll shoot through you to get to him if I have to." Mello saw Light reach suddenly for his gun on the table and quickly shot at his hand, scraping it and knocking the gun to the floor. "Now that was pretty stupid. I had low expectations of you, Kira, but I didn't think you'd hide behind L. Now move, L. I'm giving you a chance even though you don't deserve one."

"Why? Surely this is my place in life, to shield him from bullets? Maybe it is the one thing that I have never failed in doing."

Light glanced at the distance between himself and the wardrobe where there was an emergency escape route, now concealed with clothes. It ran along the outside of the building and down below street level. He tried to think of a way of grabbing the gun and getting through the door without being shot.

"Don't be stupid. He won't kill me," Light told L. "That's your job, isn't it Ryuk? I thought that you were looking forward to killing me?"

"Who the hell is he talking to?" Mello asked. "Actually, it doesn't matter." He cocked the gun.

"No right to a fair trial then?" Light smiled. L inclined his face towards Light.

"Light, maybe sarcasm isn't the way to ease the situation here."

"Nah, that's not clever either," Mello agreed. "And a fair trial? Like the one you gave to the thousands of people you've killed? No."

"He has a point," L conceded, making Mello take a step towards them.

"L, choose a fucking side and make it mine or, I swear to God, I will kill you."

"Killing your employer is really going to hamper your chances for future employment."

"What were you saying about sarcasm?" Light said before turning back to the men at the door. "If he kills me, none of you will get out alive."

Mello grinned. "Well I can't speak for everyone else but I took that for granted when I came in."

"Yes, Light. Not everyone thinks that their lives are as crucial as yours," L stated. He turned back to Mello. "When you shoot, try to hit this shoulder, not this one. On cold days this one aches like a bastard and reminds me of Light. I suppose that it is only right that I should have a matching pair."

"Don't think that I won't do it, L."

"I believe you."

"L, get out of the fucking way!"

"Do what he says, L," Light said. He tried to get past L but was held back.

"You want him to kill you? He will, you know. If I move, he will shoot you and nothing is going to save you. I doubt that your friend over there will help you. You are not immortal, Light. Don't believe the hype."

"L, for the last time, get out of the way," Mello shouted. "Are you really on his side after everything?"

"No, but I would choose him over you. Do I really have to explain this? I'm sorry, but you were right. Wammy's House force-fed us with a concept of morality based on the enforcement of law, not always what is right to each of us. I have been blind to the truth; nothing is right or wrong. Why should I be restrained by a few thousand years of civilised preaching? I am in conflict with law and the vague, pointless, amalgamated concepts of what is good and what justice is based on ancient opinions. I see a need to stop Light, but I don't see why his death is necessary to do that. I should hand him to you, I know. I was trying to do that, but I choose not to."

"You can't! You promised me!" Mello said, he was suddenly crying and he didn't know when he started. The tears burned his eyes and he rubbed angrily at them.

"Why can't I? Because it might upset you? Promises mean nothing."

"Because of all the people who have died because of him," Near interjected. "You said to Mello that you had made a mistake with him. You can't do it again."

"It wasn't a mistake," L said defiantly. Near couldn't believe that L was rejecting everything he knew, and for a murderer. Aizawa tried to stop everything from escalating. He couldn't imagine Mello killing L before, but he could now.

"We need to calm down here," he said. "Let's just arrest Kira, ok, L? We'll just arrest him and get out of here. The building has been rigged, L. They're just waiting for us to get outside. Alright, Mello. We'll arrest him, ok? We'll figure this out when we're out of a building which is about to explode."

"Don't be so selfish, L!" Mello shouted, ignoring Aizawa's psychiatrist tones. "He killed Watari and you can forgive him for that? What is wrong with you?" L looked at the floor. Things were ringing true to him but they were just distant echoes. He wasn't that person anymore.

"I know. Yes, when it comes down to it, I am selfish. But would you kill Matt? I cannot allow you to kill Light. We have all committed crimes. I would rather choose my own course than be steered by textbook concepts of right and wrong."

Mello scowled coldly. He blinked to clear his eyes and raised his gun again, determined.

Light looked at Ryuk, who was holding his own Death Note in his hands, thumbing through the pages to find a blank space. Light wondered whether he'd prefer being shot by some no-mark or killed by Ryuk. Really, he didn't want to give either the satisfaction.

"You're V's son then, I suppose," he said to Mello, arrogantly. "So I killed that idiot redhead for nothing. What a waste of paper." Mello moved forwards aiming at Light's head, half hidden behind L's, when Aizawa held him back.

"You can't kill L!"

"As far as I'm concerned, he's killing himself," Mello shouted back, trying to loosen Aizawa's grip on the gun which was still pointing at L. "Let go, Aizawa! Get away from me."

"I'll trade," Light said quickly, looking at Ryuk. He couldn't see any other choice now.

"Light?" L asked.

"Half of two minutes isn't much, Light," Ryuk grinned, he could do nothing else.

"Just do it."

"Whatever you want, buddy." Even before Ryuk had stopped speaking, Light half-collapsed on L's shoulders, holding himself up as the pain burned through his head. L could only turn his face sideways towards Light. He couldn't risk giving Mello a clean shot.

"Light, what have you done?" he asked.

"Nothing. Nothing. I'm fine," Light replied, pressing his face into L's neck as the pain subsided.

"I don't believe you."

"You never did," Light laughed quietly. When he opened his eyes the first thing he saw was L's name. He quickly looked at Mello and reached inside his pocket, out of sight.

"Matsuda, get that gun and then we can restrain Kira. No guns," Near demanded, gripping Mello's right arm to help Aizawa hold him back.

Despite the havoc around him, L was fixed on Ryuk's prolonged giggles, which only served to heighten his suspicion of Light and his 'trade'. He followed the shinigami's amused gaze and turned around suddenly to see Light holding a sheet of paper with two names and the beginnings of another on it.

"No!" L shouted, reaching for the paper, as if he could stop it now. Light let him take it from him, the blood from his hand dripping down his side. L looked at him like he was a monster - like he was Ryuk. So that was why Light was so adamant about getting changed; so he had access to a little scrap of murder which he had secreted in his pocket. Whatever Light had traded was for the ability to know names. L realised that he was an abettor to this and that he had shielded Light so that he could be Kira. He had allowed this to happen. The thought pounded through his head that he had always known that it would be this way but had never allowed himself to believe it. He had chosen Light long ago.

"I'm sorry. I had to," Light whispered. L just stared at the paper and the bloody fingerprints, letters, and characters. The names had been written large and ugly in Light's own blood.

Mello's arm dropped to his side. He stood like a sleepwalker now, his face soft with clarity as Near shouted his name. Aizawa looked at L and Light, and he knew. When Mello raised his gun again, Aizawa let him.

What it is to see the bullet that kills you, Light thought. He quickly took L's hand and dragged him backwards, pushing the clothes in his wardrobe aside to reveal the metal door. A shot rang behind them but sounded like it had hit the floor and ricocheted off into nowhere. Light pulled a stupefied L into a steel clad corridor and slammed the door shut. They could hear thuds of bullets and shouting from the room that they had just left.

"You killed them," L murmured.

"Hate me later." Light tried to pull L after him like a possession that he'd won, but L shook his hand away. "You're coming with me, aren't you?" he asked.


"L, I'm sorry but they were going to kill us. I didn't have a choice, did I? I just gave up half my life for you!"

"I wouldn't have wanted you to. I wouldn't have wanted you to save me if it meant that you killed them."

"I didn't kill them all."

"Oh yes, you showed such restraint!" L shouted, pushing him away. "You would have killed them all if I hadn't stopped you!"

"L, please, we have to go. They'll blow the building up with us still inside if we don't move."

"Go then!"

"No. I... I can't leave you."


Ryuk appeared through the metal wall as by osmosis, you could almost see the atoms which weren't really there.

"You're still here?" he said, but L and Light didn't seem to know or care that he was there. "They've gone now. That was a good one, Light."

"I won't leave you because I need you," Light said.

"Huh?" Ryuk pulled a face which was probably as close to confused as he could manage.

"That's not a good enough reason," L replied.

"Oh," Ryuk chuckled.

"There's no time for this!" Light shouted. He took hold of L's arm and started dragging the fighting man after him. L successfully flung Light into the wall which made a hollow sound as he smacked against the bulging metal.

L stared down upon Light coldly. "You made me just like you."

"No- "

"You're a murderer."

Light paused at the accusation and slowly stood up. "I know," he said, seeing L's expression change minutely. "But I killed them for you." He was practically drowned out by the dull shouts from outside.

"No. You killed them because you wanted to save yourself. You killed them for nothing."

"I did it to save you! It wasn't for nothing!" Light argued. L could see time running in Light's desperate face. He was someone who wanted to live, but only if L allowed him to. "Ok," Light relented, his voice was soft and fleeting in that awful place. "It had to be this way. I know. But it's not enough."

It's not enough. Light had said those words before, a long time ago. L didn't know what he had meant at the time, but with the joy of retrospective, it was clear to him now that Light had meant that neither L nor Kira was enough for him. He had needed Kira and L, but he couldn't have both. What stood between them was only ever a matter of choice. Light could easily run now and have what was left of Kira, or he could stay here and die with L, and he was choosing L. Poor Light was always fighting with time and watching it drain through his fingers. Now, with those words in a new time and setting, Light meant that their time wasn't enough. And L knew that Kira wasn't a part of it.

As these thoughts flew by in precious few seconds, L's eyes filled with tears, something he had never really experienced before. He had known grief, but he had never really shed a tear for himself or others. Now there were so many bodies piled up because of him and the choices that he had made, but his tears were for Light. There was no regret in Light for what he had done, none of it. L would never see regret or guilt there because Light's conviction in what he believed was as strong as L's. He would hate L for denying him of Kira, but if forced to make a decision, it would be for L, like L himself had chosen Light. They were both seeing their very different righteous beliefs crumble like hollow shells when confronted with life without each other. So nothing had changed and everything had changed, with this new understanding at the end of days.

"Damn you," L said. Light looked into his eyes and smiled affectionately.

"You too," he whispered.

L couldn't smile back. When he looked at Light now, he saw shades of hatred for what they'd both done. In Light's eyes, he saw people who shouldn't have died, but even though they were there, they only very slightly obscured his love for him. They shared that blame. For Light, he could ignore other people's tragedies; they paled into insignificance, and it was something disgusting in its selfishness, but it was the truth. Did he and Light deserve to live? No. But he didn't want to see Light die here. Not when he could prevent it. Because there is no cure for love, and he was a fool to ever think that there was.

A slight motion in the corner of his eye dragged L from this realisation. Ryuk was standing behind Light. He was drawing out a black book from a bag at his waist.

"Don't," L managed, his voice was thick with the horror of what Ryuk was going to do.

"What is it?" Light asked.

L's eyes flickered towards him and knew that Light could see the answer in him as clearly as if he was a mirror. "Nothing." L lied. He spoke coldly, like it was an order. Don't look at him. Stay with me.

Light stood up. Something was stopping him from turning around to see what L was staring at. Acceptance stopped him. Not wanting to see his death, but to look at L and see his own life as it ended. He knew what it was. "He's writing my name, isn't he?" he said. It wasn't really a question. He was just going to stand there and let it happen, grateful for being the first to die.

"Please," L said to Ryuk, and saw that there was no pity in death. He would take life indiscriminately, but he was still just waiting. "Wait," L demanded, quietly and desperately, as though he was only asking for a little time to think, when really infinite time was what he wanted. Ryuk let the book hang limp in his hand, and L stole the opportunity he was being given. "Don't say any more," he told Light, as he walked ahead. When Light caught up, they started to run.

Mikami opened the door of the walk-in safe slowly and, after seeing no one in sight, ran past the rubbish, bullet cases, splintered wood and upturned tables, imprinting the silence with the sound of his own steps. He made it to his office and locked the door behind him. A black book was tightly held in his hand, his breathing laboured more from the danger than from exertion. He had heard the shouting in the lobby first, however long ago that had taken place. Peering over the large conch shell of a staircase, he had seen the chaos from above; people like ants running away from the sharp bursts of light and noise. Then he had run to the safe, where no one found him. The combination was a string of sevens interspersed with the oddly placed four. No one could have got in once he'd locked it from the inside, apart from Kira, and Kira had never arrived.

He placed the Death Note on the table and picked up the phone. In the eerie quiet of the now abandoned building, he heard the faint ring of Light's phone from down the corridor. It rang for minutes. No one answered it.

"He's dead," Mikami said to himself. He considered going to investigate, with the hope of finding a corpse riddled with bullets, but he wasn't yet sure of his own safety. He sat behind his desk. He should think about how to get out of the building and where he should go, but one thought obliterated all others; he was Kira now.

He started laughing quietly, his shoulders rising and falling with the force of the wave rushing over him, and then stopped with a shocking, inhuman abruptness. He should be certain that Light was dead. Reaching forward suddenly, he grabbed the Death Note greedily and knocked over a number of pens in trying to reach for one, sending them clattering on the floor. If Light was already dead, then this wouldn't make any difference, would it? He wished for a moment that the disgusting shinigami was here, just so he could make sure that it was safe for him to try and kill someone who may already be dead. There were too many stupid rules with this thing, he thought, looking at the black cover fondly. It was just one of the quirks and he could accept them for what it gave him in return. He decided that it was worth the risk, and he couldn't afford to wait.

He closed his eyes, and with an upturned corner of his mouth he pictured Light in his mind until it was fleshed out and clear. He opened his eyes again and placed the nib of the pen on the paper thinking only of Light's face, and slowly began to write.

Mikami had just written the characters for 'night' and 'god' when he felt an immense shudder. For a moment he thought that it was an earthquake, or something within himself. He didn't have time to realise what it really was. Almost immediately afterwards, the sound hit him, and then the fire, as everything around him and everything he ever was or could be, turned into ashes.

Light lay on the bed in the hotel room, the sound of voices more familiar to him than his own drifted muddily as if he was underwater. He tried to focus on the words being said.

"I am just questioning your reasons for killing him. Is it complete indifference or the need to close a chapter? You don't want to see him fail because you like him, be honest. Is it revenge?"

"It's a promise," Ryuk answered. "He agreed to it."

"But it's not over yet," L stated firmly. Light sat up on the bed and rubbed at his face in an effort to wake himself up.

"L," Light whispered. His voice felt broken and he coughed as he stood.

"My suggestion is this; you let us go. Think of it like hide and seek. Without cheating, you can search for us and we'll run from you. If you catch us, you can kill both of us."

"No," Light said upon reaching the door. L and Ryuk looked at him as if he was a stranger to them. Those red glowing letters and numbers were still over L's head every time that Light saw him. He blinked to try and make them go away but they were still there when he opened his eyes again. Sighing, he walked to the sink to pour himself a glass of water.

"Two for the price of one?" Ryuk asked.

"Yes, that's exactly it."

"No, L," Light repeated.

"Be quiet, Light," L replied, turning back to Ryuk.

"No. This is my problem, not yours."

"I beg to differ."

"It's nothing to do with you. Like Ryuk said, I agreed to this."

"I am tied to you whether you like it or not. I hate to rub this in since I know that it must annoy you, but I'm trying to save your life, so stop talking."

"It's not going to work. Look at him!" Light waved towards Ryuk. "He just thinks that you're funny."

"I'm interested," Ryuk admitted.

"Good," L smiled. "So, is it a deal?" He held out his hand to shake hands, but the god of death just stared at it.

"I don't know. If there's no Death Note, what will make it interesting?"

"There is no Death Note in this deal. To keep it interesting for you, we will leave clues to our new location so you will only ever be one step behind." Light swallowed a mouthful of water quickly so he didn't choke on his laughter.

"This is ridiculous! You'll be offering him apples next," he said.


"I like apples," Ryuk chuckled guiltily. L looked back at Light who simply shrugged to confirm it.

"Oh. That explains a lot actually. I suppose that apples can be arranged," L thumbed his lip as he watched Ryuk twist himself into a pose a yoga expert would have been proud of.

"Really?" Ryuk gasped.

"Don't you have to go back to the shinigami realm though, Ryuk?" Light asked the creature. "Can you really hang around here chasing someone without a Death Note?"


"Light, anyone would think that you don't want to live," L said.

"I'm just pointing out how this won't work."

"Well we don't require your input, thank you."

"I guess that you're still the a Death Note owner, Light," Ryuk said thoughtfully. "I could just stay here until you die, or you could ask me to give you another Death Note." Ryuk's smile widened, exposing all of his shark-like teeth down to his black, glistening gums.

"He won't be doing that," L said emphatically.

"So I just follow you? No Death Note, no nothing?"


"For fuck's sake," Light breathed out heavily. He turned on the tap and stuck his head under it so the voices were muffled again. He found that he preferred this conversation that way. This whole thing moving too quickly without him. He thought of trying to catch Ryuk alone but doubted that he'd get the opportunity to speak to him again if he agreed to L's proposal. At no point had Light accepted death, not really, and at no point would he have given up the Death Note for L or anyone else. He felt ashamed while admitting to himself that his heart was truly as dark as tar.

Light waited in the bathroom for the hoped for sight of Ryuk ghosting through the walls. He was not disappointed.

"Hello, Ryuk."

"Hi, buddy. You're lucky, aren't you? I like the way you got rid of L."

"I needed to talk to you, didn't I? Are you really going along with this then?"

"For a while, maybe. I don't know. It depends how interesting you make it."

"I need another Death Note, Ryuk."

"Yeah, but you lost it."

"You know that that wasn't my fault. Give me another one."

"I have to write a report and stuff about what happened to the last one," Ryuk said, scratching his head. "I'm not sure how I'm going to explain all this. Some guys are gonna be pretty angry at me. Y'see, your Death Note was someone else's. He lost it and I found it."

"So? Give me yours."

"Naaaah, can't do that. This is mine. I'll have to find out if any of this is allowed anyway. It's a lot of work," he groaned. "Besides, I don't know if I want to give you another notebook. You had your chance, Light."

"So that's it?"

"Maybe. If I change my mind, I'll get back to you."

Ryuk faded, mist-like against the tiled walls. They were in L's old HQ again and Light looked around him at the familiar surroundings. The bathroom was still as blank and boring as it ever was, like nothing had changed and no time had passed. Ryuk's outline was faint now, but his smile was the same large, spiked crescent. He phased through the wall.

Light decided to follow him to see where he went. It might be the last time he ever saw him, or the next time he did he may not be a welcome sight. He opened the door which led into L's bedroom. Ryuk wasn't there, just the red evening sky outside. It filled the room with red light like paint, with darker spots spattered up the walls by the bed, and the colour soaking into the bedsheets. The red was on the blond boy's hair where he sat like a doll against the wall alongside a red-haired boy. Both stared at Light. A middle-aged man was lying on the floor where Light had left him with a jacket under his head. A dark-haired man in a sharp suit and a burned face sat on a chair in the corner, his neck all bent out of shape. A woman was cross-legged in the middle of the room with a book near her feet. An old man and a blonde girl lay face-down next to each other. The room was littered with dolls and Light had to step over them to get through.

The red was wet on L's shirt, and across his throat like Ryuk's smile. Why was L just lying there, perfectly still and covered in paint? Light took a step towards him when he saw that his own legs were red and glistening. Blood dripped from his hands and from the knife that he held.

Light's eyes flashed open as he dream ended. He sat up in the chair and eased out the tension in his neck from sleeping so awkwardly.

"Good morning," L said, looking up from his computer.

"Yeah," Light replied, still rubbing his neck. L examined his face for clues. From Light's sluggish reactions, it was clear that he had had another bad dream again

"Do you want to talk about it?" L asked, but he had already turned his attention back to the computer, appearing to have lost interest already. Light's recurring dreams were old news to him now, as was the inevitable response.

"No, it's fine."

"One day you might tell me, then you might not have the dream again," L said.

"It's not worth talking about." Light opened a window. Cold air hit his face as he leaned outside into the darkness and a little solar system of shop and car lights on the street below.

"Have you had your medication?" L asked with apparent disinterest. Light turned to face him, leaning against the window frame.

"Of course. Why, don't you trust me?" Light smiled.

"I trust that you know that it's in your best interests."

"It doesn't help me, L. I don't need help."

L didn't rely. He only pushed his hair out his eyes and stared more intensely at the laptop screen. Light knew that L counted the tablets every morning and every night, but sometimes Light thought that he was being invited to do something.

"We can stay here a few more days by the way," L said. "You can choose where we go next."

"I don't care really. You choose."

"You cared a few hours ago."

"Maybe Russia then," Light suggested immediately to cut L short on that line of inquiry.

"Just any old place in the general area of Russia then. Nice and vague. Ryuk will never find us in Vagueinov."

"Or Prague. But really, you choose."

"We were only just in Prague. We should move about a bit more."


"Yes, I know. You don't really care."

"Sorry," he muttered. L's eyes glanced up quickly to meet his before he smiled slightly and looked back at the computer again. "No news tonight then?" Light asked.

"I wouldn't know. It's not my business anymore."

"No. It's not mine either." The thought did occur to Light that if L wasn't looking up the news on the computer, what exactly was he doing? Just travel plans? He couldn't bring himself to ask.

"Maybe you could try actually sleeping in a bed now," L suggested. "I should have woken you but... Anyway, you shouldn't keep my hours."

"Yeah, I suppose," Light agreed. He walked past L towards the bedroom, taking a little detour to kiss his forehead as he went. Just before he left the room he stopped. "L?"


"You don't hate me, do you?" L turned around at the question.

"No, I don't hate you."

"Why not?" Light asked. L stared at him for a minute and then went back to his computer.

"Go to bed, Light. You're tired" he said.

"You don't know," Light answered for him. He stared at L's back for a while before going to bed.

In the hotel, Light had found a library. He was impressed that any hotel had a library, particularly since no one seemed to use it, and was grateful that he could be sure of being undisturbed there for long stretches of time. Sitting at a table with his back to the door, he heard a recognisable footfall and the door creak open.

"What do you want, L?" he asked without turning. His voice was laced with sarcasm, disappointment, and annoyance, all of which were fighting for the top spot. He avoided looking at him for fear of doing something insipid instead, like smiling.

"Oh! Good afternoon," L said, cheerfully. "I didn't think you'd be in here. I thought that you would be slumming it with the bourgeoisie downstairs instead of slumming it with dead poets in here. How did you know that it was me?"

"Who else could it be? You sound like a one-legged flamingo in a funeral procession when you walk. Don't let me put you off though, you carry on with whatever you were doing. The romance section is over there." Light was lazily dramatic, gesticulating in strange directions like he was performing a Victorian melodrama.

"No more romance for me. Well, I've been caught out. I was actually looking for you."

"You shock me. I don't think my heart can take anymore of these surprises."

L picked up a bottle which sat on the table in front of Light. He read the label and placed it back down with no hint of surprise. "I was thinking that we could be tourists and explore the city, but since you're raging drunk we better leave it for another day."

"I'm not drunk," Light scoffed. "I just found this hidden behind an encyclopaedia so I had a swig. It tastes of mouthwash. And who needs the city anyway?"

"You found it and drank it? So you're a thief on top of everything else. In regards to the city, we are in Berlin, and there's no point in me going alone. Who would listen to my disparaging asides about the weather? What are you doing anyway? Only you could sit in a library this size and not find anything worth reading. Also, you're not really supposed to smoke in here."

Light frowned at his own horrible habit, but it was his, and he wasn't prepared to give it up until he chose to. "Aren't I naughty?" he said. "This is the one of the few things I have which annoys you. You control everything else so let me have this at least."

L looked at Light's modified ashtray, a teacup which was half full of tea and a couple of cigarette butts which floated sadly on the surface like victims of the Titanic. "Is something upsetting you or are you trying to send smoke signals?"

"None of the above," Light answered. L watched him, his head cocked to one side.

"Talk to me about Light's head right now."

"My head has nothing to say and neither do I."

"People love to talk about themselves and you're no different. Come on, what message do you have for a grateful nation?" L asked, taking the seat opposite. Light breathed out and smiled bitterly.

"They've elected a new Prime Minister of Japan."

"So you're seen the news. You really should try to avoid it. It is bound to lead to either indigestion or murderous thoughts in your case."

Light was so used to L's digs that they hardly registered. They added up over time, but he hardly ever objected to them individually. In turn, he said what he liked, not caring if it was too revealing. If L asked, then he answered, if he had an answer. L couldn't empathise with him on many things, which often led to one way conversations during which Light would have had a better response from a brick wall. "I've been completely forgotten. It's gone back to how it was before," he confessed.

"Oh no, Light. I'm certain that you haven't been forgotten. Try as they might, the world cannot forget you. Here, read some Kafka," he said, pushing a book towards him. Light glanced at the cover impassively.

"What is that, The Trial? Are you seriously suggesting that I read that at a time like this? Anyway, I've read it."

"Ah, but this is in German. You should only read literature in the original language. Don't let the fact that you can't understand German put you off."

"I can't take your cheerfulness, L. I really can't. Not today," Light said as he tossed the book as far away from him as he could.

"And what is wrong with today, Light?" L asked, bracing himself.

"The same as yesterday and the same as every day."

"Light - "

"Running and hiding with no hope. It's pointless," Light concluded. Just when he thought that he'd hit rock bottom, the ground gave way to several more flights of stairs. He felt a strong urge to smack his head against something solid. The only reason he didn't do it was because he thought that L might applaud.

As it happened, L appeared unmoved by Light's personal crisis. He raised an eyebrow at his statement, but decided that shrugging it off was the best reaction. "It's not so very bad," he said.

"We'll run out of hotels," Light grumbled. "We can't circle the globe forever like fucking... swallows."

"I don't see why not. And I don't understand why you're indulging in a pity party when we're probably less than five minutes away from somewhere which sells strudel."

The word 'strudel' caught Light off-guard as he was rubbing the headache from his forehead. He stopped and stared at L's blank canvas of a face as though he'd been unexpectedly shot in the arse. "What the fuck has strudel got to do with anything?" he asked, loudly.

"That's just the effect you have you on me, Light. You make me want to kiss you, hit you, eat something, or throw myself out of a window."

"I wish that you'd settle on the latter. Every time I try to have a serious conversation with you, you start talking about strudel or something else completely unrelated to what we're talking about."

"Correction. What you're talking about. And I have no interest in what you're talking about. Don't look at me like that. I just don't know what you expect me to say."

"Showing an interest would be a start."

L propped himself up in the chair to look slightly more alert. "Ok. Look, I'm interested."

"So I see. Well, firstly, you're trivialising things. I don't believe that you can actually feel as ecstatic about our situation as you're making out."

"What am I trivialising?" L asked, but was beaten down by Light's glare. "Oh, that. Yes, Light, we're going to die. This is not a revelation to me but I can see that it is for you. The only thing that's changed is that we know how we're going to die, which is nice in a way because it means that there's no point in us worrying about cholesterol and cardiovascular disease anymore."

"No, really, I think you're deluded. You're acting as though you've won the lottery. What if Ryuk gets bored with chasing us, hmm? Do you really believe that he has any sense of honour that he will keep a promise to you? He'll get fed up and then we'll be dead. Sometimes it gets really boring waiting for it to happen."

It was clear to L now that what he suspected was correct; Light's problem was not that they were living with a sword hanging by a thread over them, it was that he had no control over the situation. As long as L had known him, Light's search for domination, even over the most bland aspects of his life, had been the source of his greatest moments of angst and lunacy. Light had, in effect, been driven mad by it, and L's shoulders fell in defeat when he realised that he expected to contribute and console him for something he had no pity for.

"Well, at least we won't see it coming," he said. "You must learn to cope with your boredom in other ways because you've exhausted me with your sulking. Again, I feel the need to remind you that we're in Berlin and you have never been here before. It really is quite nice, despite the weather. I think that you bring a rain cloud with us wherever we go. Anyway, it may not happen, as they say. If I leave clues then it will keep him occupied."


"Because I have chased people all my life, Light, and it's actually quite compelling. I have also been chased and I find that the less you think about it, the better."

"But you haven't been chased by a shinigami before. Don't try to understand Ryuk, you don't know him. You're a man with obsessive compulsive disorder and what is interesting to you will not be interesting to him. He'll get bored with chasing us, knowing that he could find out where we are in five minutes if he wanted to. If he did then he could go and cause trouble somewhere else."

"There's no reason for him to stop causing trouble while he is looking for us. I won't stop him," L said. Light rested his head on his hand as he looked at L.

"What happened to you?" he asked.

L almost laughed at the question, the answer being something he thought should be perfectly obvious to Light or other any person with half a brain cell, but he didn't want to bring it up. Light wouldn't accept even partial blame for anything.

"I don't know," he confessed. "I often wonder that, myself. I wonder how it has ended up this way, disgraced and doomed with you, a depressed Dr. Strangelove."

"It won't work. This whole thing won't work."

"What do you want from me, Light? Do you want me to agree with you?"

Light abruptly leaned back in his chair, looking at the ceiling like a poet with writer's block. "I... I just want you to be honest with me. I just want you, I suppose."

"You have me. In several ways. And fairly often."

"No, I don't. Not really," Light said, ignoring L's feeble attempts to make him laugh. He wasn't entirely sure what he expected from talking to L like this, while somehow avoiding the main issue. Perhaps he should be blunt? The fact was that he wanted a lot from L which he wasn't prepared or able to give him. He wanted to hear L admit that he could never forgive him because, although it wasn't something he particularly wanted to hear, the pretence was making him feel perpetually sick. He wanted L to stop being so disgustingly blithe for nobody's benefit. But most of all, he wanted to know that L didn't think that he had cheated death, won the war, and that nothing at all was wrong. As it was, it seemed that all Light had achieved was to make L look suicidal.

"You're such a little kitten of joy, Light," L sighed. "As an analogy, it's a game of roulette and I have put all my chips on one number. It might turn out well, it might not. The banker might turn out to be a cheat, but it buys me you and it buys us time while the wheel spins. You do realise that had I not done this, you would have died three months ago?"

"It would have been better that way."

"Don't say that." L shifted in his chair. He was going to leave Light to it. They could sulk in different rooms. Light saw this coming and took hold of L's arm to keep him in place.

"Why not? It's true, isn't it? I can't say that being Kira was the happiest time of my life, but at least I had a purpose. Now I have nothing and we're Bonnie and Clyde-ing all over the place. You're just obsessed with winning. You saw two ways to win and you chose this one."

"I wouldn't say that I won, but I would rather be here with you, whining as you are, than alone or with you in a cemetery. Because I didn't like being without you. Although based on this conversaton, I have no idea why."

"Well, Ryuk is going to kill me and there's nothing you can do about that. My life has been halved anyway."

"If you keep drinking meths that you find behind library books then you're definitely not going to last long."

"But it's not just that. You've never spoken about that day and I think that you should."

"You don't want to know what I think. Let's just say that I'm not terribly impressed with what you did and leave it at that," L said, coldly. "There's no need to discuss it to death. I chose you. Hurray. There were bound to be casualties because that tends to happen where you're concerned. And it's done now, nothing can be changed. You don't care how I feel about it, you only think that you should. As you told me, Ryuk was going to kill you at some point anyway and you accepted that from the start. He didn't take much persuading to spare you for a while, at least. I think he sees himself in you. All in all, I really don't see what you're so upset about."

"Don't talk to me about Ryuk. And, for your information, I'm upset because all you've done is postpone the inevitable and dragged yourself into it. We're both going to die now, so I'm sorry if I don't feel like opening a bottle of champagne and singing the hallelujah chorus. You do that enough for both of us," Light said. They sat in silence for a moment as L tried to find the real cause for this sudden downturn.

"This is about the dream, isn't it?" L asked. Light's head fell into his hands with frustration.

"No. I'd forgotten about that. Thanks for reminding me."

"But you have been reading the papers again. I told you not to do that. You always get like this when you read the news, like an impotent Pol Pot."

"Oh shut up. I'm well aware that I can't do anything useful now, thanks to you. My work is being dragged through the mud."

"Ah, yes, your 'great work'," L laughed bitterly. "With your outstanding ability to meddle with and destroy other people's lives, you would have made a wonderful politician. Why get a law degree when you have one in being an egotistical bastard? So yes, despite your efforts, the world is slowly returning to normal. Are you surprised at how quickly everyone resumed being corrupt, wicked and murderous, or does it upset you that you're not the one doing the murdering?" L practically spat at him, his patience well and truly stretched, beaten up, and left to bleed to death at the side of the road. But he regretted the words almost as soon as they left his mouth. That Light didn't reply and was instead gazing longingly at the bottle of gin made him feel even worse. "Sorry," he added, hastily.

"No you're not."

"Ok, I'm sorry that I upset you although what I said is factually true."

Light's voice was barely a whisper as he attempted to defend himself. "I was doing good," he said. "I was willing to sacrifice myself -"

"To make the world a better place. Yes, I know. You're all about worldwide peace and harmony, but what it would take to achieve that is to annihilate the entire human race. That was more or less your conclusion, not mine. I don't expect you to like being thrown on the scrapheap of life, but one day I hope you can admit to yourself that in many ways you are a piece of shit. Thankfully, I like you quite a bit, probably because I am a piece of shit too, which is why you're still alive. I don't expect you to be grateful, but the least you could do is to make the best of things instead of lounging around the place, smoking this rubbish and stealing other people's mouthwash."

"I'm a piece of shit," Light repeated, tonelessly. "Great. I really feel like seeing the world and enjoying life now."

"You're a piece of shit with a diamond inside. Or maybe cubic zirconia, but it doesn't matter."

"Lovely." Light reached for the bottle of horrible stuff.

"I mean that I understand your reasons for doing what you did," L added, swiping the bottle from Light's hands. "It just happened to be warped and reprehensible. It is not my intention to tell you unless you're being a massive prick, which is what you are now."

"What I did was not wrong," Light said sternly, his eyes meeting L's.

"If you think so, Light. I thought that we had agreed to disagree on that issue."

"You said that you understood."

"I'm gifted with a magical power of seeing that a murderer is created. While I used to be of the opinion that murderers must be wiped from the face of the planet, you managed to change my mind. Remind me why I love you again?"

"Not in a library," Light said, casually. "And I don't like being called a murderer. You know that that's not true."

"Yes, it's true. You treated people like chess pieces and killed them if their deaths were beneficial to you. No, it's not murder, it's 'divine justice'. I forgot. One rule for you and a completely different one for everyone else. Will I ever learn?"

"You don't understand," Light exhaled after having that fact confirmed for him.

"Oh, I understand you well enough. You don't understand yourself. I've never known anyone who can make up so many hypocritical theories to excuse themselves as you can. Are you happy now, Light? Has this little argument stirred up your precious sense of indignation and recharged your batteries? Because I would have been quite happy with a cup of tea."

"What does that make you then? By your reckoning, you're like one of those idiots who marries a man on death row."

"Well, as you keep telling me, we're both on death row now."

"Really, I wish that you hadn't bothered," Light grumbled as L stood up.

"I'm sorry that you think that, but I'll buy you dinner anyway."

"I'm not hungry." He watched as L started clearing the table of incriminating evidence mess. Unsure of what to do with the cigarette box and cup of horror, he opened a window and dropped them to the street below. "So that's it? And now we have dinner?" Light asked, incredulously.

"I hate arguing on an empty stomach," L explained. Light pushed him away as he attempted to force him to stand.

"I'm tired of eating and I'm tired of being tired and I'm tired of this conversation!"

"My, what secrets you hide in your prism of a heart. That's the Light I know and love some of the time."

"You don't love me, you're just confused. You hate me. You only did this magnificent display of self-sacrifice because... I don't know why."

"I don't know why either sometimes. You should be pleased that I thought that your life was worth saving."

"I don't think of it as saving, I see it as selfish stupidity."

"That might be true."

"It is true, there's no 'might be' about it. Still, there's nothing to be done about it now. Whether I die today, tomorrow, next month, or in a few decades, there's a poetic justice about it, don't you think? I tried my best to get away from you, and now we're right back where we started."

"Oh, Light. You say the nicest things."

"At least you're happy."

"I can't say that I'm unhappy. I have some regrets but I have time to ponder over them at length."

"You might not have time. You might die any second."

"I hope it doesn't happen when I'm on the toilet. Imagine that," L said. Light laughed at his worried expression.

"That would be strangely fitting too."

"So, are you going to spend what time you do have gazing out of windows and reliving your glorious past?"

"I'm reviewing my options. I'm yet to find any to review."

"Just try to stay as stupid and unimaginative as you can. That way you won't get yourself into any more trouble."

Walking back from the restaurant on the cold night, each of them breathing warm clouds into the air, Light wondered how long L could rhapsodise about strudel. He desperately tried to change the subject but decided to make a run for it instead. He rushed ahead a few paces to the hotel entrance and jogged on the spot waiting for L to catch up to him. L was wearing a more substantial coat than Light, but of course, it was nowhere near as stylish, which was what mattered.

"Hurry up!" Light shouted.

"Bloody fishwife. All I ever wanted was a quiet life," L moaned, once he reached him. They walked inside the lobby of the hotel and past a congregation of bored looking staff in black uniforms. They looked like a murder of crows and were too drained by life to pay attention to whoever came and went out of the building. Light didn't reply until he and L were safely confined in the elevator.

"Well you have a quiet life now," he said. "The most exciting part of the day is having a hot chocolate before bed and waiting for death." Light appeared to find that funny. His life had descended into a mockery, but his mood had improved considerably from earlier that day. Sometimes it was easier to ignore his failure. He could even pretend that none of it really happened at all when in a suitable frame of mind. The intensity of his frustrated outrage forced his mind into autopilot. He was far from being an untroubled youth, but he never had been. Bring content was not possible for someone with his deadly combination of seriousness and antipathy for things others tended to accept as being part of life. But now he was in this place, and L was all he needed, wasn't he? If L could turn away from everything dear to him, Light could try to turn his face away from what he knew in his soul was wrong and ignore the urge to make them better. You can paint the wings of a moth to make it a butterfly, but it would still be a moth underneath, and that could not be changed.

L was inspecting the silver foil parcel of cake that he was holding and wondered if the foil was supposed to resemble an obese swan. "Now, Light, don't be morbid again," he complained. "It's not as if I have any need to earn a living; we have more than enough to live on, although I forgot how much you spend on clothes and hair products. Still, even factoring your extravagant self- indulgence, we are fairly well off. It seems you have courted a fitting suitor."

"Oh yes, I'm thrilled by it all," Light said, while leaning heavily on the rail. "And why not? Nothing seems quite so bad when I'm unconscious. What are you planning to do now then? Nothing? Rest on your laurels?" He hopped on the spot in the continuing effort to warm himself up and the lift wobbled from side to side as they ascended.

"Please don't do that," L pleaded as he steadied himself. "Haven't we discussed this? I still don't know. I don't see how I can continue doing what I did, and I don't think I know how to do anything else. I wasn't exactly trained for a career change."

"No, I suppose not."

"Do you want to do something?"

"L, when you've been who I've been, you can't exactly get a job in a service station. Besides, we have to keep moving all the time. I can die with dignity, or I can suffer abject humiliation. Or, in my case, both. But without the dignity." Light stared at the floor indicator slowly light up numbers as he spoke. He said desperate things with a smile on his face now, but it made L sad anyway because he knew that he meant what he said, or at least part of it.

L looked to the ugly carpet under his feet. "I don't like it when you're like this. Not that you've ever been anything else. But I wish that you were happier,"

"I am, in a way," Light said, bending over to look at L's face from an upside-down angle. "I'm sorry."

"You're sorry? What a step forward. You could break bones with your apologies."

"I mean for being miserable when you don't want me to be, not for anything else. Don't read too much into it."

"So you only care that you're upsetting me?" L asked, unable to comprehend it, and watched Light shrug off his shred of embarrassment.

"I don't want to upset you any more than I have already. Like I said, don't read too much into it."

"You don't owe me, Light. You never were the life and soul of the party. I've been thinking that perhaps this moving from place to place doesn't suit you. You need consistency, isolation and bad coffee to help lower your expectations."

Light took a step back, crossed his arms and smiled at how breezily L was attempting to control his life. "Do I now?" he asked.

"There's a cottage in Scotland which I was considering buying. Actually, scrap that. I bought it. I'm sorry. It was an impulse buy."


"It's very nice," L assured him.

"A cottage for cottaging. Sounds perfect. So are you imagining a little pastoral scene involving the two of us harvesting daffodils and turnips as the sun sets over the Cairngorms?"

"How did you know that it was near the Cairngorms?"

"I read your emails, L," Light replied, raking a hand through his hair, arrogantly.

"Oh yes, of course you do. So much has changed and yet so little."

"It's really cold there," Light observed. This was a bad idea. From what he'd seen of the area, there were probably signs warning you about dragons and aggressive men in skirts. He had time to adjust to the idea of living somewhere so desolate and inhospitable, but he wondered if there would be electricity and running water.

"We can stockpile jumpers," L reasoned.

"We could knit them using the wool from our very own flock of sheep."

"I'm trying, Light," L said, again, sadly. Light thought that he must be getting sick of looking at his feet all the time. He leaned down again and kissed him.

"I know and I love you for it. Thank you."

"And I'm sorry," L told him. Yes, he should be sorry for this. He felt guilty because most of the time he wasn't sorry at all, only for the people who had to die so that he and Light, who were so undeserving, could live.

"Why should you be sorry?" Light asked.

"Many things. I'm sorry that you've been ruined by what started out as a good intention."

"For a minute there I thought that you were sorry that you saved my life, kind of, at the cost of your own. I'm not 'ruined'." Light dismissed the idea that he was or could ever be ruined, but L would never let it go.

"No," L replied. "Just because you're breathing doesn't mean that you haven't been completely destroyed."

"I'll live."

They continued to walk in silence down the corridor. As they drew nearer to their room door and L fumbled for the key, Light laughed.

"What?" L said, looking up quickly, still unused to hearing Light laughing, however ironic it sounded. Light leaned against the door, facing him like he was imparting some heavy knowledge that not many people knew.

"I read once that when you walk away from all the gods, it keeps you safe from dying. But it doesn't. Not really."

"It's not very fair, is it?" L remarked, twisting the key in the lock. The click echoed around them.

"I don't know. Maybe it is."

Light walked in first. He turned on a lamp by the door but stood completely still when he caught sight of something dark in the corner of the room.

Last incredibly long A/N of ever because I can. I had to add some more twaddle because I left someone off who was very annoyed to find that they weren't mentioned. God's sake, this is not an acceptance speech.

To be clear (ironically), the last line is ambiguous, as are a few other things. It's not all doom and gloom if you don't want it to be. It could be that Ryuk found them, or it could just be a shadow and Light's paranoia, hence the weird dream, medication reference, etc. There's also the option that even if Ryuk found them, Light could ask him for another death note, he might say ok, and on it goes. Or, they might be dead.

Bit of an explanation about Light's evil plot of woe thing because when I ran it past the annoyed left-out-of-the-Nobel-Prize-speech friend he was like, "Nah, dude. No more Pimm's for you." I think I also ran it past WB ages ago and she must have been ok about it since I wouldn't have used this ending otherwise. So, what's the worst thing Light can do apart from his usual killing of loads of people? I heard about a link between chemicals/hormones in the drinking water and male infertility, so I read about that and made it worse. It's a mix between that story, eugenics, Children of Men by P.D. James, the use of Agent Orange, and formaldehyde which was poured down the drain in South Korea a few years ago. Of course, Light wouldn't mess up as much as he does in this fic, and Ryuk probably wouldn't want to play hide and seek, but whatever. Fan bloody fiction.

So, you know what this 200,000+ word fic needs? More words. Granted, I think that at least 100,000 of those words are author's notes. I've hacked the bejesus out the whole thing over the last week or so with the intention of editing it right down, but replaced the hacked out bits with new lines and blah. The early chapters need a complete rewrite which I can't be arsed with right now. I know, let it go, halfpromise, you mad bint. You have committed enough crimes against the perfectly good Death Note franchise. Yeah. It's just that the weather is awful here at the moment and there's not much else to do. Plus, some of what I have written makes me cringe more than usual and must be destroyed. Everyone's a smoker in this bloody thing. *shifty eyes*

Someone has very kindly written a page about this fic on TV Tropes (I'll add a link to it on my profile) which makes all of this sound better and funnier than it actually is since I've exhausted every trope going. Much love to you, whoever you are. I was surprised and even spat some coffee over my computer from unexpected funnies so I hope you're reading this. Being down as a Brit Com just made me happy. {Edit, I also stole the summary from the tvtropes page because it was so much better than mine. Really hope that whoever wrote it doesn't mind!?}

Anyway, done. Thank you for all the interest, support and reviews. Most of you have taken this the way it was intended even though it's the fanfic equivalent of marmite and is really silly. Love to all reviewers, especially those who've been there since the early days. Thanks for reading. Bye! xxx

Wordbombs, many thanks for your help, friendship, and for being one of the most amazing people I've never met. Ya know I lubbs ya, bbz. My minions are fucking. x MuffinGuy, if you're reading this, firstly, why? Secondly, look at this monster combination of Gwyneth Paltrow, Sally Field, and Natalie Portman while giving their Oscar speeches right now. Look at this shit. In a pirate hat. AMIRITE? Thank you, miss you, love you. Happy now?