Full Summary: (Note: SPOILERS) When Light dies, and a funeral is held in his honour, Sayu can't help but not cry. However, things can't help but twist out from there, and before you know it, the rules are defied. Model for a competition – feel free to read and enter!
Disclaimer: I do NOT own Death Note, but I do own this fic. This has been written as a model to follow for a fanfic competition, that's it. I do not own the fandom, nor do I own the entries to this competition to come.
Thanks to: Ophelia Davis, the talented fanfiction author who helped shape the idea and beta this thing to perfection; Brooker-McPeake, for not getting tired of helping me perfect this, and for agreeing to judge (same to Ophelia!); My Chemical Romance for the awesome song that totally isn't mine; Evanescence and their Fallen album, for getting me in the mood for writing and editing this every day (I swear that album is the soundtrack to this story sometimes) and lastly to St John's gospel chapter 11 and composer Roger Jones for inspiring this story to begin with.
Sayu was lost for words when she'd heard the news. She'd barely stepped off the entrance hall when her mother told her of the phone call she'd received not an hour before. "We've got to go to the hospital. Aizawa-san and Matsuda-san are meeting us there." She'd said. Her eyes were bloodshot; her voice was barely a whisper.
She didn't know what to think, not at first. Who on Earth would request her presence by their bed? Off the top of her head, she could think of no one, not even her brother, who was far too sensible and careful to let himself get into danger, not even in his job – the same job that had claimed her father not two months ago.
She was still wondering, agonizing over the thought in the cab ride there. For whatever reason it was, it couldn't possibly be good. Her mother's eyes streamed constantly, her shoulders shook. It was like November all over again. The memory of receiving that news, of her father's funeral was still too raw, too sore, too soon.
As promised, Aizawa and Matsuda were in the foyer of the hospital waiting for them when they arrived. Neither of the men said anything, not even as they took Sayu and her mother past the wards, and towards the morgue. Led by a doctor in white, they were finally let inside. Only then did Aizawa finally speak up, quiet, hesitant. "I'm very sorry," he whispered, "There was nothing we could do."
The doctor led the group along the rows of hatches, only an unfortunate few marked as occupied by a cadaver, identities remaining secret. Finally, they came to a stop at the other end of the dark room, at a table covered over with a white sheet, the silhouette of a body formed in the folds.
No… don't say it's-
The doctor didn't waste time with explanations. With a flourish, he took off the sheet. He placed it on a nearby chair, and stood back.
He didn't need to, not really. No one else wanted to get much nearer. Not as her mother fell to her knees, screaming.
It was her brother, Light, covered in blood. His arms were crossed over his chest in an almost sovereign gesture; his eyes were wide open, staring at the ceiling. His watch, a gift from their father, was broken and frozen in time. A tray from within it was visible, slid out, stained with blood and clogged. His other hand was far bloodier, gouged open with a bullet. Further bullet wounds decorated his torso, marked out by the torn fabric in his shirt, and by the red blooms upon it.
It was too much, to see her brother's bloody face frozen like the watch in an expression of horror clouded with pain. Caught by surprise? Not possible. Tortured to the end? Much more so. She couldn't take her eyes off it, and yet nor could she cry for it. Not for his sorry state; not for Matsuda's mournful, solemn tone; not for her mother's loud wails of loss. She had always thought of herself as the type of person who mourned with tears, someone who could embarrass her family one day by wailing as loud as she was able to at a funeral, but not this time. As sure as she was that the flood gates would open, a sudden plague had hit her, causing a drought.
Had she always been this heartless, or was this just a simple case of underestimation on her part?
Gradually, her mother's cries reduced themselves to mere whimpers, her head bowed as she allowed Aizawa to drape a caring arm around her. "I'm very sorry this happened, especially so soon after…" his quiet voice trailed off, beginning anew after a brief cough. "If there is anything we can do to help-"
"No," Sayu spoke up, "we can do everything ourselves. We have to, for him." It was only when she looked back on the conversation that she realised how strong, authoritarian her voice had sounded, as though the very soul of her brother had possessed her, guiding her to become the family head.
Even her mother had noticed the change, and she stared at her with bewilderment and surprise; her once-bubbly little girl had become a strong, fully-grown woman in the space of five minutes, an apparition of the deceased.
From that moment, at the age of 20 years, Sayu Yagami had transcended to the position of family head; her grandparents were already long gone, her mother reduced to an unresponsive shadow of herself in grief. Just like the Sayu of long ago.
The rest of the day and the days that followed seemed to mould into one another, everything a dense fog in the middle of nowhere, a dream she couldn't fight her way out of. Every phone call for every arrangement for the funeral seemed to float by, and she couldn't focus. It was something to be thankful for, then, that she was dealing with people who'd seen and heard this all before, who knew how to speak to people in bereavement – even her dry, hollow, warped-out form – so somehow, she'd managed to find herself talking with the right funeral home, the right priest, the right caterer, sort out the right music, even the right venue.
Rather than the O-Tera that the Yagami family had visited barely 2 months before, she'd chosen a local church. She knew that it would probably break her mother's heart on the day, but she didn't really have a choice in the matter: Even now, many years later, she could remember attending her grandfather's funeral, he brother stood beside her as he whispered under his breath, only loud enough for her to hear. When I die, he'd said, his eyes glued to the portrait of the old man at the front, don't even bother arranging this. This is far too fussy – a service at the Kyoukaidou, even outside, that's far preferable.
She'd never thought of her brother being Christian, or even a complete believer in the traditional Shinto/Buddhist beliefs, but in the possession of a Humanitarian moral compass. She imagined that, when he'd mentioned a church service all those years ago, it had been the thought of the simplicity, of the ability to dedicate the service to his memory rather than centuries old Buddhist liturgy that had driven him to the decision, as it was the one to drive Sayu to hers.
Just a private service would suffice, with only close family and friends in attendance. No doubt the NPA would want to offer their own dedication, would want to trumpet their own farewells and give a 21 gun salute to the greatest police detective they'd ever known, who'd worked in and lead the fight against Kira from the very beginning.
She wouldn't allow that. This was her big brother, her idol, not theirs. Her brilliant big brother, her mother's solemn son, that's all he'd be remembered as. Not some stuffed shirt at the NPA, some would-be-head-honcho, had work and Kira allowed.
No, his remaining family would host, along with the widowed fiancée Misa Amane, who'd been hushed up by her manager from the media, who'd no doubt make a media circus out of it (there was the headline now: As Kira Judges An Innocent NPA Detective, Who IS Watching The Watchman?)
Matsuda, Aizawa, Mogi, Ide and their families: they were invited. Eye witnesses and work colleges, all of them. That more than qualified them, of course. His old school and college friends – that is, ones who had managed to stay in touch – the most noted of all of them Yamamoto, who'd only been discarded through her brother's efforts, and not by any fault of his own.
Yamamoto, Matsuda, Aizawa, Mogi became coffin-bearers, as his closest associates (he didn't seem to have friends, as she soon realised), willing to give their strength to carry his coffin into the Kyoukaidou on the day. The date, after much debate, had become January 31st: The traditional week after the 28th, on February 4th, was a tomobiki day – appropriate for weddings, and never for cremations. No one wanted to follow a loved one into the oven.
Throughout all of those preparations, her mother had shed buckets of tears for the loss of her son, as she had for her husband. She could afford to sit back while her family arranged the whole funeral. Sayu, however, who had taken charge of the proceedings, hadn't so much as shed a tear, the hole inside her still fresh, unable to heal. She wanted so badly to just hide in her brother's old bedroom, sit on his now musty bed and weep until the humidity disintegrated the curtains, but she couldn't. Even when she stole away with the telephone into his bedroom to make every one of the necessary phone calls, she couldn't even force herself to cry. Whether it was because she was still recovering from her father's death, or because she was a heartless harpy she didn't know. All she knew was that it was still as though she'd fallen down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, even as she spent hours with Misa on the 30th trying on Mofuku, working on the perfectly respectable ensemble for her role as the sister of the deceased.
Every so often, the fog would dissipate, but only ever for the manifestation of negative emotions. One minute, she would be gripped with a sudden anger and resentment for the mess her brother had left her – this would've been so much easier if she had her brother's honed executive skills to hand. The next, she would be praying to the gods, demanding that they take her instead of him. He, for one, would've been able to deal with it far quicker and better than she ever could. This feeling would soon leave her, and the truth would come back, as it did every time: The gods could not be coerced into changing what has already been wrought. If her brother was actually here, then there would be no need for a funeral.
Perhaps, one day, she'd get over her grief, cry, and begin to mend, but for now, there was no choice but to walk through the fog, and hope that she would safely come out the other end.
This was… boring, to say the least. What was the big deal anyways? The human, his Light Yagami was dead, gone, in the 'ECU' (if the doctors were to be believed). So, why were the Yagami women crowding round the body in mourning? It was already an empty husk by now, a shell waiting to be decomposed by bacteria, nature's bin men. What is more, they were either going to bury it in a casket, making things infinitely harder for the worms, or cremate it, and not let the natural recycling process take place.
And Light himself? He would be in MU right now, nothing that Light hadn't known beforehand, but no doubt a surprise for him, nonetheless. His hugely intelligent mind, his devilishly diabolical soul, he would take those with him. But his grand gestures, his mysterious little expressions that always kept him guessing, his handwriting? They were all staying here, with the body where they couldn't be renewed again.
This really was boring: Without all those things, everything that gave him his interest, he was just a meat bag with rigor mortis, a thing he couldn't poke and prod into reaction, while letting him think he was doing all the prodding. Well, Ryuk supposed he could prod him, but it wouldn't nearly be so fun. Still, there were some things he could laugh at. For one thing, it really was a testament to Light's ability to lie that his mother was crying over him now, hugging him, unwilling to let go. Seriously, Ryuk really didn't think that even this woman's unconditional mothering love would remain steadfast if she knew what her son had been doing, what he'd been planning for the world, how he'd killed his own father. It would be simply hilarious to see her back away instead, and stare at her son like he was the Shinigami he truly was (and would never admit to being).
So this genius, this god finally cops it, and what does the Shinigami King do? He asks Ryuk what the heck he was playing at by letting his human single-handedly destroy the human ecosystem, and kill at a rate too fast for it to cope with. Only recently, he'd just been threatened with level 2 torture and death if he didn't get his act together and do something about it.
And that's what brought him here. Light had always been the brains in the outfit (and often the brawn, too), always been the one to formulate the plans, and show him how it's done. All Ryuk had ever done was search and play fetch, and watch the spectacles that Light provided.
Without Light, there were no spectacles, no plans, no anthologies of interest. No more of them. No experimentations, no variables, just observation. Boredom. A total lack of apples. An existence as empty as the Dead's.
But, perhaps he could… get the laughs again? Both solve his problem and stop the Old Man's gripes once and for all? Tap into that archaic rule that no one had bothered with for centuries? Rules were rules, of course, and there was nothing saying he couldn't, right? As long as they hadn't been cremated, yes?
Cackling, he left the shell and its family alone. A few human minutes was all that would be needed to put his grand little plan into action.
He may not be learned in the human arts of antipathy and sarcasm, but he'd certainly learnt how to play all the right cards.
January 31st came too quickly for Sayu, a shock that woke her up early that morning better than the clock did. Somehow, she still hadn't managed to cry, even when she slept in his bed the night before, even when she came down to breakfast still wearing her brother's pyjamas.
Standing now inside the church entrance, surrounded by the decking out of bouquets of white, and peace lilies on the table in front of the altar, the memory was still fresh in her mind. The ever-weeping Misa had burst into tears at the sight of the pyjamas, barely controlling herself long enough to eat a slice of toast without choking. Her mother had merely smiled at the irony of 'creepy jamas', the smile dissolving into a mournful look at Misa's tears.
Sat not an hour before in a black Roll Royce with her mother and Misa, she watched as the hearse in front led the procession, the coffin in the back draped over with a Hinomaru flag and flowers, imagining the son, brother and fiancé laying within, never to wake again.
Stood by the door, the memory flitting through her head, she began stroking her hands over her kimono to iron out the creases, only there weren't any. The black five-crested Mofuku was still as immaculate as it was when she'd first put it on, the black Obiage still perfect. Her mother, now sitting in the front pew, wore a similar, almost matching costume of black mofuku and Obiage, as did Misa, whose Obiage was pure white. Sat down next to her mother, she too had found the grief too much to handle. Sayu couldn't help but remember the blonde's odd behaviour in the Royce, how she'd preoccupied herself with a bit of paper and an eraser, thinking it odd how she'd been using it on black ballpoint pen ink. Surely an impossible task, right?
Turning her gaze to the front, she looked back to the table, in particular to the framed picture of her brother, a modest smile on his face. In front of the photograph lay the broken watch, no longer ticking – blood had long since clogged up the tiny cogs and gears. The tiny second finger still ticked, but never moved any further, stuck on the time Sayu believed he'd last breathed. 1:49pm.
The church built to catch the morning rays, the coffin was laid to rest with the head facing left, facing North, in the proper manner. She'd long forgotten why, only that it was the proper manner.
As she accepted gifts and condolences from the guests, handing out orders of service and packets of purifying salt, the Priest was still hiding away in the Vestry in the South-East corner of the hall, getting ready to lead what was going to be one of the saddest services he'd ever conducted
A mature woman entered next, dressed in a simple long-sleeved and high collared black dress, a single string of pearls around her neck. It was Yamaguchi-sensei, her brother's former piano teacher and pianist for the service. A blunt woman, she took the salt and shook Sayu's hand vigorously, rather than bowing. "I tell you," she said, still shaking her hand, "when I heard the news, I couldn't believe it! My best student! Tell me, how old was he?"
"He was a month from 24." Sayu replied, keeping her voice quiet and formal, a necessary divergence.
"Really? So tragically, tragically young! Although, his age was a small mercy – your brother always had some sense about him, not like you when you were his age! Still, you know the old saying, don't you? Threes are better than fours, and fives even more so!"
Sayu merely narrowed her eyes at her guest, not wanting to appear rude in the face of rudeness. Somehow, she'd forgotten how truly… 'forthcoming' that woman could be, past a point where it could be called part of her 'charm'.
Sayu bowed to her then, letting Yamaguchi-sensei leave to the ebony and ivory keys that welcomed her more than anyone else did.
Finally, every guest and host seated, the Priest strode out of the vestry, a hymn book and a Bible in his hands. Before handing the hymnal to Yamaguchi-sensei, he opened it, pointing out her piece to play. As the music for the introit began, he walked to the pulpit as everyone sang to the words on their orders of service, stood up to allow their voices to ring out.
Spirit of the Living God; Fall afresh on me…
The short hymn finished within the minute, and the Priest gestured for the congregation to be seated, palms downturned. "Brothers and sisters," he began, his voice slow and deep, ringing out over his audience's heads, "mothers, fathers, children of God. We are gathered here today…"
"D…Damn it…" Pain erupted from his chest in the wake of the croaked utterance. Through the left arm… across the chest… up into the jaw. Save for the clenching of teeth, there was no other sound to the death from excessive force, having caused needless pain – the myocardial infarction would have been enough.
'Once dead, they can never come back to life.'
An explosion flared through his arteries, his heart breaking open with a start. The muscle walls, once gelled together, pulled apart with new force, the breath of life crashing through his chest. Dead cells reawakened once more, replenished instantaneously. The contractions forced a painful inhale, his chest shuddering with the shock of oxygen, forcing another inhale down his trachea, and another. The concept of breathing had somehow become foreign to him, something he needed to concentrate on to make happen.
The muscles from his neck downwards convulsed uncontrollably, cruising through his limbs, fingers tensing and relaxing in equal measure. His throat dry, unused, he could barely scream in the pain of reawakening, a pain worse than death itself as his heart sped up, pumping his lifetime's worth of beats in mere minutes, it screaming in the horror and joy of action.
As quickly as it started, the pain subsided, leaving him hyperventilating, recovering from the new breath, nerve endings crackling with pins and needles. Ignoring them, he forced himself to concentrate on the here and now. He was… floating, he decided. There was a sense of weightlessness, even as he laid there, his body free and yet not so. Was this… death? Heaven, without the light and angels? Hell, without the cloven-hoofed Overlord of fire?
'After they die, the place they go to is MU (Nothingness).'
No, this couldn't be either of those places, he could tell just by looking. That is, if he was looking, and the darkness wasn't down to blindness, somehow. He knew that a prolonged lack of oxygen to the brain could cause destruction of brain cells, and thus brain damage, so perhaps a breakdown of tissue had caused a sort of MU in the sight centre, thus blindness?
No, there was light. A slight, white horizontal slice on either side of his head, through his whole realm. Just there, a small mercy. So, then…
Where was he?
Moving his right hand slightly, he winced in pain, a psychosomatic gunshot firing through his eyes at the feeling. So… the dead feel pain, right? Flexing the sinister appendage, the weaker, he slowly lifted it, testing its capabilities. It too ached, possibly atrophied, but there was nothing more than that. There was very little energy, but there had been very little respiration. No, that was almost certain. He lifted his hand palm-up, feeling it touch something soft barely inches away from the end of his nose. With such little light, he couldn't define the actual surface by sight, only know that it was there, soft like velvet.
Suddenly, his floating came to an abrupt end, a jolt that caused his realm to shudder with seismic energy. It seemed a long time before anything else happened, silence broken with a sliver of music drifting through the crack, the words barely a whisper. A heavenly choir of angels on the horizon, waiting for him to walk into the light? No, not if Heaven doesn't exist, they're not.
He couldn't help but smile at the music, feeling more at peace here than he ever had in life. Spirit of the Living God… the words were becoming clearer now, Fall afresh on me. He would never have thought this possible, this lightness, this lifting away from responsibility.
The music drifted away, replaced with words muffled by the velvet ceiling, coming from the Outer Realm. Though muffled, the tone and the few identifiable phrases were a dead give-away: It was a funeral service, Christian in nature, a send-off for the unlucky bastard who'd died, no doubt tragically. By the tone, he could imagine that the person was young, perhaps a child?
The word went on like that for a long time, spoken with tones marred by tears and frequent breaking. Whomever had died, he had been loved by an awfully lot of people, so many who were willing to impurify themselves by attending a funeral in his honour.
Perhaps this person would be worth meeting, in the land of the Dead?
Sayu took her place back at the front, the microphone passed back to her. Allowing the congregation to settle once more, she spoke up, her voice as clear as she could make it, a feign of bravery-in-grief for her relatives, as not even the kind, kind words of her mother could have stirred her to weep.
"Thank you all for coming today," she said, a wan smile in place, "I'm so glad to see that so many of you have come to pay respects to my brother. We were all very blessed to have known him in life, and to be here to pay respects to him after death.
"Before we leave, I ask that we stand and sing a specially requested song. We may not know it very well, but we will certainly remember it. Now, we will sing 'Welcome'. Misa, if you please?"
By invitation, Misa stood up and walked at a measured pace to join Sayu at the front. Finding herself a microphone, Sayu gestured for Yamaguchi-sensei to play, and so the pianist's fingers began to move, soon accompanied by the militaristic beats of the drum kit.
Raising the microphones to their lips, Sayu and Misa began to sing.
Music pressed through the muffled silence, soft yet rigid, sharpened with drum rolls. He could imagine it was a march, a funeral dirge suitable for burial. Yet, he couldn't help but appreciate the melody himself – it took him back to eight years old at the piano in the old piano teacher's home, playing for her, watching her smile and occasionally tap his fingers with her folded fan when he let his fingers slacken, and palms fall less than perpendicular to the keys, just to see if she was still paying attention.
Then again, that wasn't really why it was so familiar to him: Misa, that poor, sweet, innocent, stupid Misa had made him listen to that song, playing it on her stereo as he worked in a bid to make him relax. He loved the piano, and knew the song had been adapted from an original, but he'd never listened to it, never bothered enough to.
He never did take that girl seriously, even when she had something serious to say. A pity, that: She had been like an atomic bomb wrapped in coloured tinfoil – you wouldn't know of the dangerous centre unless you took the time to unwrap it, which you wouldn't think to do unless you had the suspicion, which could never arise with tinfoil. Like Misa, tinfoil was only good for two things: Preparing food; and chewing up and spitting out for a pleasant high. That girl probably deserved better than him, but as if she'd know any better to realise this.
And that, after all, is something to be thankful for.
"Sometimes I get the feeling, she's watching over me."
The words poured in from the sides, the female voices soft and lilting. At least one voice he could recognise: It was Misa, and undeniably so, her voice the colour of mourning. The other voice, though obscure, he soon realised was Sayu. Having never heard her sing before, he had to admit she was pretty good.
"And other times I feel like I should go,"
But… why were they at this funeral? Did they know him? Did they just owe him one? Why?
"And through it all, the rise and fall,"
Was he someone he knew? Someone he'd made his acquaintance with? Was he a Kira victim? Someone who'd fallen foul of the criminal's evil machinations?
The bodies in the streets,"
If that was so, he hoped there was a competent enough man somewhere to continue his job, to do the duty of avenging his death.
"And when you're gone we want you all to know,"
He for one wasn't going to wake up and disturb his peaceful sleep to try.
"We'll carry on, we'll carry on, and though you're dead and gone believe me,
"Your memory will carry on, we'll carry on,"
There were four sets of footsteps now, slow, becoming steadily louder, the air around him almost vibrating with the sound. What was going on? He searched the dead space of his Realm, probing for clues, anything to clear the murky air.
"And in my heart I can't contain it, the anthem won't explain it,"
The footsteps surrounded him, filling his void, taking over his ears, becoming his whole sound.
"And while that sends you reeling from decimated dreams,"
Panic was welling up inside him, paranoia setting in. Was this really Hell? A private realm reserved for his torture?
"Your misery and hate will kill us all,"
A reverberating boom sounded around him, shaking his world, ringing in his ears. Every part of him was hit as he was tossed about, hitting every side of the prison. No, please God, what are You doing? Not yet, not like this!
"So paint it black and take it back, let's shout it loud and clear,"
It was like claws being sharpened on wood, scratching and clawing, breaking and gnawing, trying to break through, trying to get him, to kill him again. When- when will this end?
"Do you fight it to the end? We hear the call, to carry on, we'll carry on,"
The clawing stopped. Had his prayer been answered? Did he no longer need to cower alone and helpless in the tiny dead space? He was left trembling and breathless. His heart raced uncontrollably in the aftermath of the attack.
"And though you're dead and gone, believe me,"
Steady banging started up with a jolt, loud. The strip of light by his head shrank, closing up, ending with the sound of tearing wood fibres.
"Your memory will carry on, we'll carry on,"
Light source diminished, he could barely see the pointed end of a metal spine. A short time of just singing… and again, at the opposite end, pounding through his head like a steak.
"And though you're broken and defeated,"
His mind was whirling, a stronger dose of adrenaline coursing through. Muscles tensed up, hands hitting the low ceiling above, pushing against it with all his flimsy might, finding no relief. I'm… trapped? No… this can't be. I'm dead. Breathing, feeling pain, but dead… right? His hands scrambled across the Realm boundaries, pushing against it, trying for force, finding nothing more than velvet and… Wood. A wooden box. A- a coffin? Not Heaven? Not Hell? Not MU? Pounding, metal… nails?
"Your weary widow marches,"
This is my funeral? I'm being nailed in? For cremation?
The real panic set in, gripping him hard. He pushed against the hammering, banging against the top, yelling with unused vocal chords, which ached indignantly at the mindless abuse all too soon.
"On and on we carry through the fears,
"The disappointed faces of your peers,"
No use: The velvet muffled, his screams inaudible over the singing, piano, and drums. Panic and adrenaline renewed, he scratched frantically at the top, tearing away material. Feet kicked upwards, over-activity twisting nails in his torso.
"Take a look at me,"
He didn't stop even then, feeling his nails wear away at contact with hardwood, scratches etched in against tattered cloth.
"'Cause I could not care at all,"
His chest tightened, barely breathing as he began knocking again, competing with hammers. His knuckles began to bleed and find splinters as he all out punched, a race against confinement, fire and asphyxiation as he screamed all the louder for freedom.
"Do or die, you'll never make me,"
The hammering ceased, a new-nine-inch nail knocked into the end corner, the lid newly shut, the light newly blocked, eliminated. He had barely paused to take it in, his breathing laboured gasps, heart still pounding, practically anticipating the struggle.
"Because the world will never take my heart,"
It was sufficiently air-tight now: Whatever oxygen remained would run out shortly, and after that… nothing left.
Not like this… with new determination he carried on, knocking now with both fists. Whether it was a matter of pride or a pre-hard-wired command in his brain he didn't know, but it wouldn't let him give up.
Self-Preservation on over-drive.
"Though you try, you'll never break me,"
He screamed and yelled with sore lips, his prison shuddering from the abuse. "Let me out! LET ME OUT!" he refused to cease, even as his muscles ached and begged him to stop, imagining himself punching at that Near's smug little grin, already making him pay for this farce.
"We want it all; we wanna play this part,"
The nail by his head was slowly receding, the creak of a hammer head straining against the wood finding its way to his ears. What? Are they… helping me now? Fearing that the saviour would cease if he did, he punched all the harder, putting all of his force into loosening the nail. He yelled even louder, his throat stinging, practically bleeding with the effort.
Suddenly, the nail came free. The lid jerked upwards at the corner. New light poured in. He nearly cried with relief, barely able to hold back tears as he pushed harder against weathered wood, still shouting, inhaling fresh air with every breath.
Finally, the coffin lid flew open, the hardwood cracking and breaking away at the hammered corner, leaving a chunk of wood still clutching the mouth. Surrounded by light and clean air, exhausted from the herculean task, he screwed his eyes against the brightness, practically gulping air, dazed by freedom.
So, he was alive, then?
Recovering from the rush of adrenaline slightly, he stirred from recumbence, opening his eyes to find himself staring up at the Calvary set in front of a stained-glass window. He was glad his sister had somehow remembered the whispered comment at their grandfather's funeral, despite the old man's screaming, miraculously alive and yet stubbornly cooked by his relatives, who'd refused to believe that was him, begging to be freed as he himself had done.
His hand still sore and bleeding, the bullet wound reopened, he gripped tightly to the edge, hoisting himself up. The pain of a tired body returning with the ebbing away of adrenaline, he found himself bathed in light.
Even as the screams echoed through the hall, the music still played on, Yamaguchi-sensei refusing to stop, her drummer following her lead. She was deaf to all but her piano.
What was going on?
Sayu couldn't believe it. From the moment Mogi had started hammering the lid shut – no, from the moment he'd adjusted the flag to reveal the corners, strange noises and movements had been emanating from the casket, accompanied by screams and yells that echoed her grandfather's own all those years ago. Nothing could explain this, surely? The inhabitant, her brother, was dead after all.
And yet, someone was shouting, screaming, begging to be freed as Mogi carried on hammering, tears silently streaming down his face as the second nail sunk in, trapping the inhabitant. As her brother once told her, Grandfather had still been alive, no doubt, well into the hour of cremation. While he may have said it just to scare her, it had definitely worked.
There was no denying the grain of truth to this tale, however: Her mother was crying even harder now, shocked into remembering this Yagami family legend, no doubt, horrified that this could happen to her own dear son. The Priest, meanwhile, had backed away and fled into the vestry, where a large wooden rood would stand, ready for its secondary function of protecting from demons.
No one left their places as Mogi took the hammer away, hesitant, reluctant to open a Pandora's Box of Death and Destruction. Only Matsuda was willing, taking the hammer and trying to pry away the nails, straining with the effort. "Don't you see?" he yelled, crying, "He's alive in there, that's his voice!"
Misa, leaving her place at Sayu's side, ran to help Matsuda, so faithful to the cause, almost certain that her fiancé would live, was living. Only Sayu, his only sister, did absolutely nothing. She wasn't like Misa, who must have been praying for this miracle from day one, expecting it to happen for her, so full of the faith that had never touched Sayu, not once.
She really was a heartless harpy, an absolute witch undeserving of a brother as great as her own had been.
The nail suddenly came free, and Matsuda nearly flew back, his influence on the coffin ceasing. The nail fell to the ground, the lid buckling upwards, affected by an unseen force. The congregation yelled in shock. Whatever was in there, Yagami or demon, it really was alive, and would soon be free, its yells for freedom dispersed by rattling breath, like a true blue fiend.
The lid crashed opened, accompanied with breaking wood and the thud of the lid hitting the coffin's table. The Hinomaru slipped from the lid as silence crept over the hall, even Yamaguchi-sensei and her drummer quiet, eyes trained on the open coffin, the orbs wide in amazement.
No one dared to move.
A red, bleeding mass of flesh gripped as the coffin's mouth. A hand. Its finger dripped blood, staining the hardwood. Sayu fell back in shock, and the tension rose, setting over like a fog. Not a muscle moved, not even as clouds cleared, sending the bright midday light through the window, shining effulgent on the open casket.
The rest of the demon followed suit, rising from peace, back straight and sat up, reanimated. Him. He should be dead, and yet he'd arisen, fresh blood staining the burial suit, his face still a pale mask of Death, once-brown eyes burning red in the light of day as he stared at the ceiling.
The congregation screamed. Their son, brother, relative, idol… he was those no longer. He was possessed, most definitely so.
No, this can't be happening… don't say it's… Sayu could barely control her panic, her whole body a shuddering mess as she watched his – no, its – rise from Death. Every part of him was gone, swallowed by the Evil spirit. Every smile, every kind deed, every part of his modest dignity – gone. So consumed by Evil now, would he rise up and kill her?
Not even faithful Misa could move now, and nor could her mother: Knelt down, tears continued to stream, her features were clouded with ambivalence. Pleased? Horrified? Over-joyed? Terrified? Sayu certainly couldn't tell, not with her own confusion clouding her mind and marring her vision.
The Priest returned, now as steadfast as Peter, blocking the way between the wolf and his flock, brandishing his rood, commanding the Devil to get behind him. What would it do, with an amusing smirk on its face? Would holy artefacts blessed by God work against this creature, shielded by a human avatar? How would it react to such an open threat?
Light turned his head to find the greying priest, a great crucifix in his hand as he threw curses against the Devil. Although he could excuse the irrational behaviour, it didn't mean he would put up with it. He glared back at the stupid man, giving him his demon, letting him believe what he will.
No, he didn't matter, wasn't worth it, not at that moment. Instead, Light scanned the crowd, picking out honoured guests that stared, eyes filled with fear. The Aizawas… the Yamamotos… the rarely-seen extension of the Yagami family… yes, there. Right behind the old crank, he spotted his sister, Sayu, dressed in a beautiful black mofuku, her microphone on the ground and crushed by mob-like panic. She was cowering like the rest of them, unable to believe her eyes, as he once could barely believe his lungs.
Why should she be so scared? She's his sister, right? What right had she to be so frightened of her own flesh and blood?
Of course. Looking at her straight in the eye, he leaned forward, closing some distance between them. His mouth still sore from screaming, he slowly moulded it into a smile, the most reassuring one he could muster, more honest than the last smile he could remember giving her, one that reached his eyes. I'm alive, Light thought, almost wishing that Sayu could hear his thoughts right now, don't worry. Everything will be alright, you know?
But she didn't: It was no use. What was wrong with the girl? Here he was, his right hand outstretched to her, trying to tell her to be happy, and yet she's done nothing. Nothing more than sit and burst into loud, embarrassing, sobbing tears.
Once dead, they can never be brought back to life.
Only the first human user of the Note can be brought back, and only with the Death Easer, if the possessing Shinigami so permits.
Calvary – Usually referring to the site of the crucifixion, here it refers to the wooden cross or crucifix that will hang on the wall in front of the church, behind the altar, right where everyone can see it.
'Creepy Jamas' – From a child's pun, 'jama' generally means creepy or disturbing, and comes from the riddle 'What is the creepiest Western clothing'. The answer, of course, is Pyjamas.
Kyoukaidou – A church, or more literally a church hall (A place for Christians to meet).
Mofuku – A strictly black, five crested kimono made for funerals, to be worn by the closest family members to the deceased. The rules on wearing this are strict – the closest relatives must wear all black when wearing this, while the more distant relatives can wear colours. Non-blood relatives can wear Western mourning clothing, but it must be kept very reserved and simple for the occasion.
Obiage – The part of the obi belt that is most visible and famous, it's a long stretch of cloth, and it is usually brighter than the kimono itself.
O-Tera – A Buddhist temple, basically.
Rood – Here, this refers to a wooden crucifix that you will find standing on a platform and sitting on altars and other such table top in churches.
Tomobiki – 'Friend pulling'. A tomobiki day, in the Buddhist calendar, is an auspicious day for a wedding, as anyone not married will want to end up like the happy couple. For the day of a funeral, this is just the worst day, as no one wants to get pulled into the grave.
And that was Coffin-Side, the fic model for the Coffin-Side Competition. If you wish to enter, please read the Coffin-Side Competition rules that can be found on my profile here, and go on from there. The basic specification for this is:
Write a continuation of this fic, (that is, a sequel). What happens next? What will Light do with his new life, and what the heck is going on? You should answer all these questions and more in your continuation. What happens in it is more or less up to you, except that it must link with this and be a CONTINUATION.
Anything the Judges will be looking for: When writing your entry, you should keep a few things in mind too – the Judges are looking for quality (regardless of quantity), creativity and imagination, and for the ability to take something and stretch it to its full potential. As fanfiction authors, these sorts of requests should already be second-nature to you, so you can probably think of this as a more-enjoyable -than-most evaluation of your skills.
The rules to this competition (and there ARE rules) can be found on my profile under the heading 'COFFIN-SIDE COMPETITION', and you must read these before you start writing your entry. Why? Because they will not only give you some do and don'ts that must be followed, but they will also tell you how to give in your entry. Push, everything is explained better there.
If you have any questions at all, then don't be afraid to ask, although you should note that when I answer, I will not be giving any favouritism to you at all, and any attempts to get that favouritism will be rebuked firmly.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you do your best in the Competition. Good Luck!