never say goodbye because goodbye means going away
and going away means forgetting
Once upon a time, there lived an almost perfect sort of family in a not quite perfect sort of land. There was plenty grass and trees, a delightful forest perfect for horror stories around the campfire, and more cute little bunnies than any country could ever need. The weather, however, was horrible. More days were blustery than were not, and there was a day of sunshine for every week of rain.
The family, on the other hand, was practically heavenly. There was the hardworking father who knew the name of everybody who was anybody in the city, the doting mother who had over a hundred dessert recipes in her repertoire, the precocious son who was the despised in any debate, and the beautiful daughter who made more off of tips at the early shift at the bar than many physicians did in a year.
There was only one problem to be found in this perfect little family, but it was a problem so seemingly trivial and slight that hardly no one cared. This could most easily be seen at a regular family dinner.
"Nonsense, I say!" Soichiro pounded his fist against the table. Sachiko, Sayu, and Light politely pretended not to notice as their dishes and cutlery rattled. "There I was, just minding my own business, trying to get a nice little walk in before lunch ended-"
"Oh, is that so!" Sachiko exclaimed. "I've been telling you that you've needed to get a bit more exercise for years, and do I ever get a thank you? But one little heart attack and a visit to the good doctor, and now you're all for it!"
"Silence, woman!" Soichiro cleared his throat. Turning away from him, Sachiko pursed his lips while Sayu stabbed moodily at her peas. "Now, as I was saying, there I was, just trying to lose a little weight, all as the doctor ordered-"
Sayu hit her fork against her glass. The sound and bits of mush rang throughout the room. "May I be excused?" She asked. Soichiro took no notice of her.
"Because apparently eggs are out again, and fish is in, but I can't stand the little buggers unless they're fried to hell-" Sachiko gasped.
"Soichiro!" She admonished. "Think of the children!" Light, who had been eighteen for a while now, snorted. Sayu, who was of the opinion that if she was old enough to serve beer, no matter how often the management tried to rename it "juice", thought she was plenty old enough to hear the talk that went along with it. She expressed her disagreement with a few choice words she had learnt from her more regular customers. Her mother shook her head, appalled. "Just listen to our baby girl! I don't want you to be saying anything like that at my dinner table again, do you hear me!"
Soichiro bravely soldiered on. "Why don't you get back in the kitchen, woman. I could use another sandwich." Sachiko was not impressed, but left the table anyway. "But anyway, there I was, out for a healthy little walk, when I saw-"
Sayu pushed her chair back, the legs grating on the wooden floor. Light grimaced. "May I please be excused?" Once more, the table took no notice. Except for Light, who absentmindedly wondered if his father would notice if he got up and polished the scratch marks on the floor during dinner time.
"The most horrible sight!" Soichiro paused to take a drink. "There they were, in the middle of the day, right there out in public where anybody could have seen them. Do you know who they were? No, I bet you don't, because who could expect that two such upstanding men could possibly be-"
Her patience gone, Sayu slammed her hands on the table and stood up. "Matsuda and Ide, on the bench in the park, with a bottle of lube. You've only told this story every night for the past year. Now, may I be excused?" And without waiting for a response, Sayu stormed out of the room.
Light picked at his food, his appetite gone. His face was unnaturally pale as he bit his lips.
Soichiro looked a little bit deflated. "I don't tell the same story every night, do I?"
Sachiko walked out of the kitchen, took one look at her scratched floor, and threw his sandwich onto his plate.
"Just let me tell you," She started, "you no good, double crossing, queer ass, son of a-" Light silently walked away from the table as his mother started her usual rant. Although not as explicit as his father, Light's mother was not exactly Mrs. Politically Correct.
"I could have married the next fucking mayor, but no, I picked you, you damn goat fuc-" With a mother and sister like his, was it any wonder the thought of the opposite sex didn't inspire any heady emotion other than slightly paralyzing fear? It wasn't that Light was that interested in settling down with any particular man any time soon, but listening to his parents use him as a generic insult - fag, fairy, queer - wasn't exactly his favorite way to pass the night.
As his parents simultaneously continued their unrelated conversations, Light locked himself in his room, sighed at his collection of male model magazines, and debated revealing to his father that the articles weren't really what caught his attention after all.
Light Yagami was like every first born son you could find in any fairytale. He was handsome, smart, athletic, witty, and more than willing to marry for convenience and not love. He had been planning on marrying for money ever since Sayu had hit puberty and he learned why his mother sometimes acted like Satan himself, thereby ruining any chance of him being able to spend more than an afternoon with a woman without a very obliging Mr. Green by his side.
Marriages of convenience had been a respected career choice for women for ages, no matter how much those feminists scorned them. While Light didn't hold with most of their activities (bra burning parties, for one, frightened him. He was pretty that burning any kind of plastic was Not a Good Idea), he was very interested in achieving equality in that area.
Especially since nothing else about women interested him much. Besides their purses, and the fact that they would keep his father from yelling at him about fags all night, the weren't Light's favorite kind of people by a long shot.
If things had moved along on schedule, Light probably would have ended up married to his current rich girlfriend of the month (a rather frightening, assertive woman who went by Takada), giving his father another thing to brag about at work. Then he would have went insane at thirty five and either killed himself or his wife by forty. Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately after all - something happened that night that would change the name of history - literally.
While Sayu and Light sulked in their rooms, there was a knock at the front door. Soichiro looked away from his wife, abandoned his failing argument, and made his way to answer it.
Sachiko went to fetch her knitting. "Who's calling at this time at night?" She remarked. Soichiro gruffly shrugged.
"Be hanged if I know," He said, and then opened the door.
In the doorway, shivering slightly from the rain, stood one of the most disturbed looking men that Soichiro had ever had the displeasure of encountering. Despite the pouring rain, his hair still fringed his face in tangled looking spikes. The whites of his eyes had a yellow tinge to them, and his skin was so pale it almost seemed blue in the night light. His clothes, which might have been decent dry (although Soichiro sincerely doubted it), were one step away from scandalous. They were skin tight, black, possibly leather, and due to some optical illusion, seemed to be pierced into his skin. Soichiro wondered whether he was about to be asked directions to the circus or to the morgue.
The man surged forward, pushing Soichiro out of the way and then shutting the door behind him. He cackled slightly as he shook mud off of his boots. "Thank god," and then, apparently stuck by some unknown hilarity, his cackles increased. "Thank god you opened that door! It was positively dreadful out there."
Seizing this chance at normality, Soichiro did what countless of other businessmen did when confronted with strange people. He started to talk about the weather. "The rain is pretty bad tonight," He agreed.
The man turned to him with disjointed movement, his eyes unnaturally wide. "Oh, not the rain!" He exclaimed, still shaking from cold and laughter. "The boredom. I can't stand it-but I guess you wouldn't know. Unless," and here the giggles returned. "Have you ever tried going mad without power? Now that's boring."
Soichiro looked back at his wife, who seemed fairly dismayed. He knew he was going to have to be the better person. "Now, listen here," He started. "We here are a decent sort of folk, so unless you-"
"Oh, decent are we!" The man clasped his hands together. Soichiro took one glance at his nails - long and painted black, ripping out from leather gloves - and winced. For a moment, the man's eyes seemed to glow. "Then do I have a proposition for you!" Sachiko, being a relatively smart woman, took this as her hint to get the hell out of there, and promptly did.
Hours later, Light looked up from his magazines as his father opened his door. Schooling his face into a look of appropriate interest, Light forced his lips into a smile. "Did you need something, father?"
Soichiro slumped a little against the doorway, giving Light ample time to notice his considerably disheveled state. "Light," He mumbled, voice lost. "Son, I need your help." Interest piqued, Light sat up a little straighter.
"Did you get a case this late?" Light asked. His father shook his head.
"There was this man - or there is, I should say, this… person. And I thought it would be easy, because, really, with an appearance as strange as his, you wouldn't think it would be that hard-" Light slid his magazine under his pillow and stood up. "Three guesses for all the riches in the world, he said, and I've already used my first shout out with your sister - I figured she already knew all the strange men here-"
"Father." Light said. "Get a hold of yourself, and tell me what I need to do." And as his father babbled, Light followed him down the hall.
Light stared at the man with a barely noticeable hint of disgust. Still cackling, the man had no problem staring back. "Your name?" Light repeated. "All I have to do is guess your name?"
Tipping his chair back, the man took a rather large bite out of an apple. The crunch echoed in the room. "You got it, Night-Light. Give it a guess, give it a whirl, give it a shot! After all, if you get it wrong, what's the worse that could happen?"
Sayu, still disgruntled at guessing wrong, snorted. "A shot in the head would be more preferable," She muttered. Wide yellow eyes flashed over to where she sat.
Light drummed his fingers on the table. "A name, huh." Perfect brown eyes glanced down in thought. "Killer." The man's eyebrows went up.
"And why," He drawled, "would you guess something as boring as that?" As his father anxiously shifted in his seat, Light stared unwaveringly at the man.
"Because," Light said, "going by your attire and general attitude, I deduct that if your name is not in fact, killer, then now that our guesses our up, you plan to kill us for losing. Thus, even if by job and not by name, killer is how we will know you."
Wide eyes went wider as clawed fingers clapped slowly. "How clever, clever are you. Ah, oh so very clever." The Yagami family waited, tense, for the man's pronouncement to come. "But not quite clever enough."
Blue tinged lips spread in a grotesque smirk, revealing needle sharp teeth. "I never said," While the man stretched out his arms, the cloth of his shirt rippled and ripped as two feathery black wings exploded out of his back, "what the punishment for losing is."
The joints of his shoulders cracked as the man flexed his wings experimentally. "Man," He said, "I can never get used to this human outfit." His skin lost what little warm coloring it had possessed. The Yagami's sat, paralyzed, as he changed into something that was very definitely not a man.
Yellow eyes blinked at them. "Why so serious?" The man cackled. "But really, don't feel too badly. So far, only one man has guessed my name right," his features contorted into a scowl, "without any of my, ah, assistance." One lanky arm reached out to snatch another apple. "And even he live to pay an even greater price than most."
Light swallowed, his fear a hard lump in his throat. "What," his voice almost cracked, "exactly, is the price we are talking about?"
The man seemed to take no notice. "It's Ryuk, by the way." He crunched into the apple. "Seeing as names are the last things you all are about to remember," the way his shoulders shook made his amusement easily evident, "It won't hurt you to know now." Yellow eyes flashed. "Much."
Soichiro set his face and started to stand up. "Now, I have to insist," He began.
And he ended. One hand clutching at his chest, he crumpled to the floor. Sachiko's hand went to her mouth, her breathing quickened. Even Sayu looked moderately alarmed. Light clenched his hands until his knuckles stood out, stark white, under his skin.
Ryuk slid a slender notebook across the table. It stopped just in front of Light, whose honey brown eyes jerked themselves away from the figure of his fallen father. His fingers twitched towards it. "Go ahead," Ryuk's crackling voice commanded. "Open it."
Light stared at the creamy white paper, blank save a list of names. Arlene, Roger Pollack, Quinton Flynn, Alice Liddell, Jason Bo… Light looked back at Ryuk. "I don't understand," he said, the words ash on his tongue.
Ryuk cackled, gesturing towards a pen. "Write your name." He commanded. At Light's hesitation, he repeated himself. "You lost the game. Now, write your name and say goodbye." Almost in spite of himself, Light's hand stretched out towards the pen and began to move.
Light stared at the blocky characters that made up his name. The paper was too thick and rich for his usual handwriting. It soaked up and spread the ink, ruining his penmanship. He could hear Ryuk's voice crackling, but it seemed distant and far away, like he was underwater.
"Good boy." Ryuk laughed like nails on a chalkboard. "Now… while Killer does have the right, ah, attitude towards this, it's not good to be too, ah, obvious now, is it?" Ryuk stood, his new form towering over the table as his chair slid back with a screech. "I suppose it will all come out, ah, in the wash, as they say. But for now, just say goodbye!" Ryuk said in a jeeringly cheerful tune.
Light looked at Ryuk, his ears ringing, then stood. Brushing away his mother's trembling hand, he smiled one last smile, looked at his family, and forced himself to speak.