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Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the final chapter.
Last of the Changing Faces
Three Months After the Death of Nate Rivers
The psychologist was nervous for the first time he could remember. He was pacing. He never paced, so he made himself sit down. His knee then developed a twitch. He spared a few minutes to go through some breathing exercises before deciding that what he needed was one of Matsuda's coffees. He usually never drank it, but when Matsuda had made him one by accident, he found he genuinely liked it. He exited his office, and then paused. The new receptionist looked up with a polite smile. He had impeccable references, was the perfect receptionist. Bland, unmemorable. The psychiatrist had forgotten than Matsuda was no longer there. Not a good sign. He'd recommended the man to the FBI and they were taking him on a trial basis. From what he'd heard, in the week he'd been there he'd made many mistakes, but had been doing well despite that. The psychiatrist was happy for him. But he still felt a pang when he saw the new man in the chair.
"Has my last appointment arrived?" he asked to provide an excuse for him exiting the office. It was the end of the day, the end of his time there. He was finally doing as he should have long ago. Employing psychologists and psychiatrists instead of dealing with the cases himself. Of course, he could always go back into it if he so desired, but as it was he had no desire to. Except for this one last case.
He was finally seeing L again. Or, rather, the person that had appeared after all the personalities had been picked off, one by one. Watari had remained in contact, telling him of the boy's progress. At first, it had been hospital for a month. He'd been in a coma for half that time, but when he'd woken he'd made such a speedy recovery it had left the doctors and nurses astounded. Watari had told him that he would take his charge to meet him again when he'd recovered completely, and a month and a half later, he had contacted him. First, he had requested to see Matsuda. Matsuda had told him about it. He sounded healthy and happy. Then came the reason the psychologist was nervous about meeting him.
He was afraid to see how much had changed. He missed them. He missed Near, Matt and Mello with their separate eccentricities and personas, and he missed L, who had simultaneously been all of them together and one separate being. But he couldn't put it off any longer. Because, as he sat in his office, there came a knock at the door.
"Come in," called the psychologist, noting that his voice had its normal calm, cool tone.
The receptionist opened the door. "Your appointment is here."
"Send him in."
He stepped aside and a moment later, he walked in. The psychologist stood automatically, surprised by the smile which burst over his face. A similar one lit up the expression of the man who had just walked in. He wore a casual suit, smarter than anything the personas had worn, sharper. The shirt was still wrinkled, as all the shirts he'd ever seen the man wear had been. His hair was no longer messy and uncut, it had been trimmed fashionably. The deep shadows under his eyes had faded. His skin was still pale, but not unhealthily so. The two of them automatically shook hands.
"Afternoon, psych," said the man with a small smile. The psychiatrist started slightly. It had been almost, but not quite, Matt.
"Afternoon," he answered. "Please, take a seat." They both sat down, each one observing the other. "You look very well."
The man before the psychologist shrugged. His posture was lax, half relaxed into the chair like Mello always sat, but he hunched forward very slightly in a manner reminiscent of Near as he spoke. "I've been well. You look tired."
"I've been tired." They shared a look, and it was so like the many he had shared with L that the psychologist had to look away. "What have you been doing with yourself?"
"I was in hospital for a while. Watari was and is an incredible man; without him I would be nothing."
"He is," agreed the psychologist.
"I was in the same hospital as his daughter, Sayu." The man paused, sighed. "She's still traumatised from all that happened to her."
"I wouldn't be surprised."
"She's walking now, which is good. Better than I remember."
"Have you tried talking to her."
"No. I don't know what it'll do to her."
"I was going to step down from this job, but if you want I could make her my final case, if you think it would help."
The man looked at him, nodded. "I think that would. You are an exceptional man, after all." He paused, his mind going on a different track. "There was a lot Watari didn't know about what happened. The emotional side of things. As a father, he didn't want to know, so he never found out."
"The four of us, my brother and I and Watari's daughter, had… I suppose you could call it…" His lips quirked into an ironic smile. "A love square, I suppose."
"A love square?" Things slotted into place in his head, things he'd suspected but hadn't known. In his head, the little black book was trembling. But still he filled it. He couldn't stop filling it, even with the risk that it may explode.
"Misa adored Teru. It wasn't just because of the modelling opportunity that she went to meet that Tailor, it was because he was there. Although he never saw her that way. Me, on the other hand…" He paused for a moment, looked up at the psychiatrist. "I loved her."
"Misa? I see… And the conclusion to this love square is that…"
"Sayu had a crush on me, yes." The man sighed, shaking his head. "Love… It makes such a mess of things. We all loved the wrong people. If we could have changed ourselves, imagine what a difference it could have made…"
"Love doesn't work like that, I've learned," the psychologist told him.
"Very true." He glanced around, something prompting the psychologist to offer him a drink. "Coffee, if you have it."
"Certainly. How many sugars?"
"Just seven. I'm cutting down."
They shared a smile. The psychologist got his receptionist to take the order and sat back down again. "So… Nate Rivers? That's your name? After all this time, I still don't know."
"Not exactly. That was the name of Near." The man paused. "Do you know they were all real people?"
"Near. Mello. Matt. Except they never went by those names, they went by Nate Rivers, Mihael Keehl and Mail Jeevas."
"Who were they?"
"Watari worked in a special section of the FBI. They dealt with the special children. These were all special children with their own problems. Watari managed to help them all. The personas you met were caricatures of the children I met all that time ago. Nate is now a fully functioning detective. Matt's a game designer. Mello's the most troubled, he's been in and out of jail a few times, but he's always been defending someone, so they tend to let him out early. He's a stunt rider."
"Watari never told me that."
"He always saw the personas I took on as separate people from their real-life counterparts."
"What about L?"
"L was… L gained a name longer after all the others did."
Sensing the man didn't want to talk about that, the psychiatrist moved on. "And Kira?"
The man paused. "You were right about one thing. He was the corrupted part of me. Not only that, he was a separate persona."
"Yes. My mind shattered into five pieces, not four, after the… Shooting. Kira… Light was the final piece."
"Who was he based on?"
The man smiled. "Do you remember the book you gave me?"
The psychiatrist blinked at the quick change of subject. "of course."
"I finished it. The dream I kept having. I wrote it all down." With this, he drew out the little black book and gave it to the psychiatrist.
There once was a boy brave and brilliant.
One day upon the well trodden path of his life he found a blackened blade, a blade with the promise of damnation and of salvation.
With this blade the boy donned the white armour of justice, wielding the blade in the name of the innocent and the helpless.
Then there came a new knight in armour of grey, bearing a banner of black and white, holding the favour of the old order upon his arm.
These two knights did battle across the world, equally matched in skill, and in conviction.
But the grey knight struck back, and with a single blow dashed the blade from the squire's hand and holding his own at the white knight's throat.
But where was his blade? The white knight bore it no longer, it had been hidden from the grey Knight and he could not strike an unarmed foe.
The white knight donned the clothes of a friend, and joined the grey knight in his quest to destroy the bearer of the blackened blade.
And thus it came to pass that the grey knight and the one who was once the white knight became brother's in arms, and became unstoppable.
Together they found the new wielder of the dark blade, an unworthy thief in noble attrite, and struck him down.
Alas, at the moment of triumph, destiny's hand would not stayed, for the boy became the white knight once more and levelled the black blade at the throat of his squire.
The squire's protector, an old knight of foul armour yet pure of soul, could not bear to see their charge struck down and so did the white knight's bidding and struck down the grey knight from behind.
As the grey knight fell so did his banner, the squire's protector falling with him and their blade staining the armour of the white knight, and so fell the last hope of the old world order.
The blood-stained knight had won.
But his victory was not to last, for two more knights arose from the ashes of the grey knight, one clad in reflective white armour bearing the banner of the grey Knight alongside his own, the other in armour the shade of darkest night bearing a black cross of red shield, a squire trailing behind him.
And the duel of fate began anew, the three knights battling in a fantastic display of skill, blades of intellect meeting armour of foresight. They duelled across the world, carrying their battle across the earth once more, leaving the scars of war where they had touched.
Then finally a blow struck, the night of the dark armour was struck by the bloodstained knight and he fell to the earth, seemingly defeated. And thus the battle turned to the white knight once more, the bloodstained knight striking against him for in him he saw the spirit of the grey knight, the banner mocking him as he strove against it.
However what the two failed to see was the black knight rising once more for one final stand, with one strike of his blade he tore the bloodstained knight's armour. Quickly the bloodstained knight slashed downward.
The squire was finished. Then the black knight himself, his sword point shattering as it stripped the black knight of his life.Finally a blow struck, the night of the dark armour fell to the earth, seemingly defeated. And thus the battle turned to the white knight once more, the bloodstained knight striking against him for in him he saw the spirit of the grey knight, the banner mocking him as he strove against it.
The white knight struck a blow to the bloodstained knight, causing him to fall. He stood over the black knight's fallen form, his sword ramming through the broken armour the black knight had marred in his last moments. Desperately the bloodstained knight struck at the white knight only to find his blade too short, broken in the final battle with the black knight.
The bloodstained knight fell, and saw the white knight standing beneath the grey knight's banner once more, the spirits of the black knight, his squire and the grey knight staring at him, looking onward as the bloodstained knight fell into the dark abyss, his squire joining him but moments later.
The psychologist shut the notebook gently. The man was quietly sipping the coffee the receptionist had brought him. "So you defeated him?"
"Not entirely. Kira is still there." At the psychologist's sharp look, he smiled. "Not as vividly as before. I suspect a bit of Kira is inside everyone. There is always that part which wants others to suffer for their sins. In me. Even in you." With this, the man's eyes became even more direct, not letting the psychologist go. "I can see it, you know. You have a black book too. Except yours is in your head."
The psychiatrist smiled. "That doesn't surprise me."
"In it, I bet you write everything down. You capture people in your head, fill this little book with the stories of insanity, of twisted minds and difficult people, and pack it all away there so that it won't corrupt the rest of you. But what happens when there's just too much for it to contain? What will you do, then?"
The psychologist felt lost, empty. It was a question he couldn't really answer. But then the answer came to him. "I'll call you. Because you've already dealt with one Kira. And you're the only one who could deal with one like me."
The man nodded. "Sounds fair. I won't even charge you. If you feel you need to kill someone, call me and I'll sort you out."
The psychologist paused. "I suppose that makes us friends."
"Yes, I suppose it does." The tension leaked out of the atmosphere. "It will be nice to have a friend again. I think Matt promised to take you out sometime… I'll have to oblige, now."
"We can talk about cases. Perhaps I'll even help you out occasionally."
"Really?" The man smiled. "In that case, I must tell you my real name. I will tell you L's true name at the same time. Understand this; you were the only person who could have helped me with this, because we are the same. We have similar minds. We have similar control. If our lives were swapped around, I would not be surprised if I was in your seat and you were in mine. That's why, when I first spoke to you, L gained a name. He became L. Lawliet."
The psychologist started. "You gave him my name?"
"He took your name. He saw how your mind worked and realised that it was the same as his."
The psychiatrist, Mr L. Lawliet, smiled slightly. "I see. That means you…"
"My name is Light Yagami. Kira was the worst of me, and the part of me I felt most affiliated with. I identified with him the most out of everyone. That was why it took four other personas to defeat him. My greatest challenge was what would happen if I became a criminal."
"You gave L your face and my name, and Kira your name… And my face?"
Lawliet stayed silent for a long moment, processing this. After a moment, the receptionist knocked on the door. "Excuse me, but there is a Mr Watari insisting that he must talk to Mr Yagami?"
"Certainly, show him in," said Lawliet.
Watari entered a moment later, nodding at Lawliet and looking at Light. "Light, there is a new case."
"Can it wait?" asked Light. "I was speaking with Mr Lawliet… My friend."
"I'm afraid not, although I do apologise for interrupting."
They both stood. "In that case, Mr Lawliet, I'm afraid I must leave you for now. But if you ever need me, you know what to do."
They shook hands. "In that case, Mr Yagami, I'll bid you goodbye for now. We must catch up over a cup of coffee sometime."
"Call me Light."
"Then call me Lawrence."
"Very well, Lawrence. Invite Matsuda as well. Maybe you could help out with a case."
The two parted ways. It wasn't for the first time, and it certainly wasn't for the last. Because the two were like the worst of enemies or the best of friends. They knew how the other worked. They knew when the other needed to be put back on track. They would never be free of each other, or want to be free of each other, as long as they lived. But neither had a problem with that, because it meant someone always watching them, always making sure that their own personal Kira stayed in the dark recesses of the imagination, where it could hurt nobody and do nothing except tantalise the semi-conscious mind.
L. Lawliet sat in his office for what would probably be the last afternoon he had to do so. Light Yagami went to his limo while Watari told him the details of the case. In what would have been an uncanny moment if they'd been together, they both had the exact same thought at the exact same time.
Today is a good day.