*This chapter is dedicated to Trying to Change Yesterday, my unofficial beta-reader. I highly recommend her own Death Note fanfiction - "Saving Light," rated T and in-progress - to anyone who cares to read it.*
**Special thanks to Trying to Change Yesterday, wingfire24, dotdotdanii, lolzy33, Faye317, Viyola, XxxxNaRu-ChAnxxXX, Stardancer Cloud, hudgens77, ChairoftheBored, ScarletCrypt, and nywd for reviewing the last chapter. In addition, I thank anyone who Commented for the last chapter on DA. Your reviews mean the absolute world to me.**
Disclaimer: As always, I don't own Death Note or anything associated with it.
Warnings: Violence, language, L's real name, and yaoi (Light x L).
Darkness pervaded Light's vision the moment he realized he could see, but this didn't seem to bother him all that much. The fact that couldn't feel his body, however... that was a different matter entirely. It almost felt as though he was floating in this darkness, weightless, detached from his physical self as he listlessly drifted.
He had no sense of time here, and so was unaware for how long he remained in this space. It was certainly some time later, however, that a voice permeated the all-encompassing blackness, a distinctly feminine voice, ethereal and not of this world. Though he still could not feel his body, the voice caused him physical pain to hear, as though it were resonating through his very being and pinching his every nerve ending. It echoed in his skull, quiet and loud and excruciating all at once.
Beware, Light Yagami. Things are not as they appear.
He had no time whatsoever to ponder just what that statement had meant, for in the next instant, a blinding whiteness invaded his vision and the voice was gone. Quite suddenly, he found himself staring up at a white ceiling, noticing immediately that his body was parallel to the ground yet supported above it – he was layed out on a bed, where he certainly wasn't before. The strange dream/vision/premonition he'd just had all but forgotten mere moments after his waking, he focused instead on recalling what had happened before his fall – how he had slipped, the horrified voices and expressions of the Task Force members, the unpleasantness of Ryuk's appearance...
Ryuk. He had not quite realized at the time, but was able to see Ryuk. Without the aide of a Death Note.
What did this mean, exactly? Would he be able to touch one with having to worry at whether or not Kira would take over once again? No. No, best not to dwell on that. Nothing good could come from such a train of thought.
But this did mean something significant, he knew, for if he could see Ryuk... perhaps he could see Rem as well. Rem was who he needed to converse with in order to save L, and now he was one step closer to his goal. It didn't even occur to him to worry that Rem would not agree, could not be persuaded to see reason – those bridges would be crossed once he reached them. For now, the most pressing matter was how to contact her.
One course of action would be to allow history to play out as it had in the past, up until the first confrontation between the Task Force and Rem – the point in time where he would have originally received his lost memories in L's helicopter. He could go from there, assuming he could indeed see Rem, and converse with her in an effort to save L. It was a farfetched method – not to mention dangerous and uncertain and for all Light could predict, by then it might be too late – but it would be an adequate backup plan.
Much more effective would be to ask Ryuk himself to retrieve Rem and bring her before them, a forced meeting that had not occurred in the past. It was not feasible at this precise moment because Light had no way to contact Ryuk without arousing L's suspicions, but if he confessed to being Kira sooner rather than later, it would then be the best shot he had to contact Rem.
The only fault with the second option was that even with Light's confession and the proof his scars provided, the older detective would still be unable to see Ryuk. It was weeks before they were to first sight a Death Note following the original time-line, and that particular notebook would only allow them to see Rem. By then, having told L everything will have useless, and the man would still be in danger.
And Ryuk would certainly not care about unearthing Light's buried notebook from its resting place in the forest – there would be no fun in that.
So, unless he discovered a third option for the problem of L being unable to see Ryuk, he would have to keep his mouth firmly closed on the subject of his past as Kira, and hold his tongue when around Ryuk.
"What must you be thinking of so deeply to give the ceiling such a trenchant look, Light?"
He was jolted from his contemplation by the voice, the words coming not in a gravelly rasp as he had feared. Nor were they an excruciating echo within his mind- Beware, Light Yagami. Things are not as they appear. -and now that he recalled said voice, he would have to analyze what those words could possibly mean as soon as he was able.
For now, he needed to focus on this third voice, the words having been spoken in a flat monotone, murmured barely feet away from him and above a bit, coming from only one possible source.
A gentle tilt of his head to the left and his gaze fell upon L, the man perched on a chair beside the bed, one bitten thumb lodged between his teeth as those onyx orbs studied his prone figure. It was then that Light realized his exact situation – he had fallen unconscious when his head struck the tiled floor of the investigation room- That would be the cause of my throbbing headache, though I didn't even feel it until now. -and as such, he should still be there. Where, then, was he, and how had he gotten here?
A quick glance about the room he was now situated in told him little – his new surroundings were unremarkable, the few pieces of furniture bland, the sheets of his temporary bed starchy and reminiscent of those found in a hospital room, most everything a too-bright white. He surmised that this had to most likely be a room on the infirmary floor of the building.
The "where he was" now almost assuredly was solved, but that still left how he had been transported here. L could answer that, he was sure, but he had to approach this ensuing conversation carefully.
Considering the situation – and how he had acted before his accident – Light decided he could use his injury to his advantage. Though he hated to lie to L- Again, his mind supplied -it was neither the time to raise the detective's suspicions nor to confess his guilt entirely.
Blinking uncomprehendingly at his captor, he forced confusion into his voice when he spoke. "...Ryuzaki? Wh-What happened? Where are we? And why does my head hurt so much?"
The thumb fell away from pallid lips, the now-freed hand lowering to rest on a raised knee. Those dark eyes flickered briefly with some undefinable emotion, the man's pitch-black hair ruffling just slightly as the head it was attached to tilted almost imperceptibly to the left – a sign of either curiosity or concern, though perhaps both. "Do you not remember what happened, Light?"
Hook, line, and sinker.
"N-No. The last thing I can recall is... working with you, Ryuzaki. The rest is just a dark blur." Large, honey-hued eyes rose to meet the darker ones trained on his person, a perfectly constructed mask of incomprehension in place. "Why can't I remember?"
The elder detective shifted in his perched position, as though unsure of what exactly to say. "You are not missing much by being unable to remember, Light. We paused work when the Task Force arrived, as you began to act somewhat irrational at the appearance of your father. This led to you accidentally slipping in a beverage that had been spilled by Matsuda, the resulting fall ending with your head colliding with the floor – the reason for the pain you are in and quite likely why you cannot remember what had happened before you were injured – as well as your loss of consciousness."
Light gave the frazzled detective an intentionally blank stare as he took a few moments to himself, processing what he had just been told. Irrational, huh? Oh, this should be good. But first... "I was unconscious?"
L shifted slightly in place once more before answering. "Yes, but you were only unconscious for approximately half an hour. Your father was the one to carry you up to the medical floor, where your head was immediately examined by Watari. The injury was determined to be superficial, a mere cut and accompanying bump that were promptly disinfected and dressed in sterile linen. I suspect no permanent damage to your skull or brain, and your lucidity suggests that you do not have a concussion. If you would like, I could arrange for a CT Scan and an X-ray, in order to be absolutely certain that all is well."
Light considered this momentarily, assessing how he truly felt (and quietly marveling how much L had just spoken at one time – it had to be some sort of record.). The back of his head had been steadily throbbing with the pain of his injury, that much was true – the length of linen wrapped around his cranium scraped against the wound every time he moved, and was certainly not helping things – but he felt that it was nothing so extreme as to warrant a CT Scan or an X-ray. "No, Ryuzaki. A few pain-killers will suffice, and I'll be fine."
A murmured "Very well" was all he received, and the room plunged into silence. With L apparently run out of things to say, Light seized on this opportunity to question the detective on the "irrational" behavior.
"...Ryuzaki?" It was rather sickening to Light himself just how innocent and lost he could make himself sound in that instant, but he wanted very much to know what L's definition of his "irrationality" would be. "When you said I had been acting irrationally earlier, what... what did you mean? Did I do something strange?"
Expression betraying nothing, L's response was immediate. "It was nothing, Light. A culmination of your stress, I imagine, but certainly nothing to fret over."
Interesting. Light knew that L hadn't actually lied just now, but concealing the truth was as good as a lie in some instances. For what purpose L would need to hide such a thing, Light did not know, but he could only assume it had something to do with his Kira percentages. "Well... if you say it's not important, then I won't worry about it. And if it was worth remembering, then I'll recall it eventually."
This seemed to be the exact right thing to say, for L responded with a nod of understanding – really, it was a bob of the head, but Light supposed it could be called a nod – before motioning to something in the far corner of the room.
Light's gaze followed the action with some measure of curiosity, and the honeyed orbs widened at the sight of the figure in the corner. Watari, a tired smile on his face, was seated in a chair– When had he gotten there...? -but that was not the cause of his surprise. No, it was the figure floating two or three feet above Watari (and floating upside-down, as it were) that really caught his attention. The Shinigami merely gave him a cheeky wave, as though nothing about his presence in this room was odd. "How's it hangin', Light-o?"
Brilliant. What had started out as a good thing was already becoming a nuisance – yes, it was magnificent that he could see Ryuk without the aid of a Death Note, but in turn, this also meant that he could hear Ryuk as well. This was only made worse by his inability to respond verbally to the Shinigami, and so he had no choice but remain silent while Ryuk could (and most likely would) continue to say and do as he so pleased.
And as predicted, Ryuk continued to chatter. "Got any apples? I haven't had one in ages!"
Light almost snorted. Sure, Ryuk. Like I'd really give you an apple in front of L.
When no answer was forthcoming from the brunet, Ryuk chuckled, the sound grating against Light's nerves to the point where he had to resist the urge to cover his ears. "Is that a no?"
No shit, Sherlock.
"You're so boring."
And you're annoying.
"You were much more fun before you died."
A heartbeat later, the weight of Ryuk's words came crashing down on him and he froze. You were much more fun before you died... What did he mean by that? Did Ryuk somehow know that Light had been brought back from the dead, sent back in time, and given a second chance at life? He WAS a being from another realm, so it could be possible...
Ryuk must have seen something in Light's expression that signaled what was on the man's mind, for in the next instant he cackled loudly, righted himself in mid-air, and disappeared through the far wall with naught but a flap of the wings. The laughter echoed through the room for a few seconds more, unheard by all but Light, before silence fell once again.
This... This was unexpected. Well, he mentally chastised himself. None of this is expected, per se, but this was even more unprecedented. Are there others who still have their memories? Is there a way I can use this to my advantage? He immersed himself in his thoughts, completely unaware of the odd look directed at him by L. The detective had seen the way Light reacted when he'd motioned for Watari to retrieve the pills that Light had asked for – upon glancing at the corner of the room, the younger man's face had flickered with a strange expression, one that was reminiscent of his earlier actions downstairs, bewildered with an edge of fear – and L's eyes narrowed as he contemplated what this could mean.
"Sir?" The voice came from just beside L, a weathered voice tired with age, and the detective in question shifted his gaze to Watari, noticing as Light's own eyes did the same. "I have what you requested."
Removing his clenched fingers from his jean-clad knees, L took the proffered items from Watari with a quiet murmur of thanks. Two pills pinched between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, the glass of water requiring him to use a firmer grip with his right, he then passed them on to Light, who accepted them with a grateful smile. He popped the pills into his mouth and washed them down with a few gulps of water, handing the half-empty glass back to Watari himself. The man bowed politely and strolled from the room, leaving Light and L very much alone.
The younger man could feel L's gaze burning into the side of his head, much as it had when he'd awoken, and once more he felt as though he were being studied. Again, it made him acutely uncomfortable, and he sought to either distract L from his intense scrutiny or stop the man's blatant staring altogether. "If I've been cleared of serious injury, can we now go back to work?"
"No." The response is quick, automatic, as though he had been waiting to answer this specific question. "I've sent the rest of the Task Force home for the day, with the exception of your father. He is waiting in the hall to see you before he also leaves. And Matsuda sends his sincerest apologies for his clumsiness."
With a quiet hum of acknowledgment, the brunet rose onto his elbows in preparation to leave the bed. His endeavor was thwarted, however, as a pale hand pressed against the center of his chest, exerting just enough pressure to stop his ascent. A curious glance to L proved that the detective's attention was not on Light for once, but on the handcuff chain instead, fiddling with one of the cuffs. It was then that Light took notice that both of L's wrists were bare of punishing metal, the handcuff that was supposed to be around the man's right hand now locked around one of the steel poles that made up the bland headboard of the bed. After a moment, the cuff came undone and the key – that, yet again, had appeared from seemingly nowhere – was stowed away from whence it came.
Returning the manacle to its proper place around his wrist, L then removed his had in allowance for Light to leave the bed. He did so gingerly, trying not to jostle his head too much, and was immensely proud that he didn't even waver as he stood. With the barest of tugs on the chain connecting them, the usual quiet tinkling accompanied them as L led the way from the room.
Almost immediately upon entering the hallway, Light was assaulted by two strong, warm arms that clung around his person, and he allowed himself to lean into the embrace with a quiet sigh. Soichiro was fairly sobbing on his shoulder, sputtering apologies and other nonsensical ramblings as the tears dripped onto the fabric of his shirt, but Light paid none of this any mind as he simply focused on the feeling of being held by his father. Such a strange sensation – for he never allowed such contact in the life he once had – but so right at the same time. His eyes fluttered closed as he basked in it, soaking up what he could while he had the chance.
If everything else in this new life were to descend into chaos before his very eyes, he wanted this one fleeting instant – the feeling of being held by someone who still wanted him around, someone who loved him unconditionally - to be etched permanently into his memory forever.
Shortly after Light assured his hysterical father that he was, indeed, alright, the man had gone home to the rest of their family, while he and L had returned to their shared rooms. Sleeping that night was an awkward affair on Light's part (and only on Light's part, because he could never be entirely sure that L slept at all). He had slept beside the detective many, many times before, but it somehow still felt new to him; and it took him quite a while to finally fall into an uneasy sleep, the quiet tapping of keys and the muted glow of a monitor lulling him into unconsciousness.
That was when he heard the voice for a second time.
It was just as beautiful, just as agonizing the second time around, and it whispered in his ear the same words as before.
Beware, Light Yagami. Things are not as they appear.
The words were pure agony to hear, and they echoed all around him in that empty space as the voice murmured them over again, pervading every single pore of his body until he could no longer stand it, until he was crying out against the pain.
He awoke with a start some time in the night, half-expecting to hear himself screaming. The room was quiet, though, and dark as well. L must actually be asleep, he mused, and stretched out his untethered hand to fumble at the lamp resting on his nightstand, eventually managing to flick it on. When he turned to regard the slumbering figure of L, his breath caught in his throat and he had to choke back a scream for the second time in as many minutes.
Hovering above L was Ryuk, upside-down once more, his grinning visage mere inches from Light's own startled face. "Yo."
Light said nothing in response – the room was bugged and constantly surveyed by video-cameras, so conversing with the Shinigami was made quite impossible – but Ryuk seemed to expect this, as he began to wander around the room aimlessly (still upside-down), going on about anything and everything.
Oh, Light could feel a migraine coming on, and it wasn't being caused by his injury.
He expected Ryuk to get bored, to leave and find something more entertaining.
But he didn't.
Long after L had awoken ("Light, if you were going to wake up early, you should have woken me as well. We could have already been working by now.") and the duo had each taken a separate shower (Don't let him see the marks...), Ryuk was still there, though he had thankfully stayed out of the bathroom. When they had gone downstairs to meet the rest of the Task Force (Matsuda was wailing about his mistake from yesterday- "I'm sorry, Light! I didn't mean to!" -and as much as he liked Matsuda and continued to assure him that everything was fine, Light could still feel his migraine worsening), Ryuk had followed.
(No one mentioned how Light had acted yesterday before the accident, and he assumed that they had all been instructed to keep quiet about it.)
All throughout work, Ryuk proved to be a constant irritant, but not nearly as annoying as the unexpected visit from Misa (that hadn't lasted long, but it was long enough for Light to gauge her actions and decide that she also remembered nothing – she wasn't that good of an actress, after all).
Even at the end of the day, as the Task Force was leaving and the handcuffed genii were turning in for bed, Ryuk was still there.
And again that night, Light's dreams were plagued with that agonizing voice, always whispering the same thing in his ear.
It quickly became a sort-of routine that lasted first one week, then two and on into three. During the day, Ryuk would find new ways to annoy him (though the few times that he'd played little tricks on Matsuda, like making objects on the man's desk disappear and randomly reappear in the strangest of places, were somewhat amusing). His nights, in retrospect, were not much better, as his dreams were continually visited by the woman's voice, each and every evening. He was losing sleep; not wanting to so much as close his eyes when he'd crawled into bed, waking insanely early in the morning, and even forgoing sleep altogether (though he could often fool L into believing he was asleep, he could never seem to fool Ryuk, and the Shinigami purposely annoyed him all the more at night) – and all just to avoid the pain those dreams brought him. He had no idea what she was warning him against, and could never seem to concentrate long enough to even consider it.
He couldn't even focus long enough to work on his plan to save L, and that was worrisome in and of itself.
His head had completely healed by the end of the second week, though the headache that never seemed to stop was still present even now in the third week. He just couldn't function correctly anymore - his concentration was slipping, his work was suffering, and L was noticing.
As with his faked sleeping habits, L never said anything to Light's decreasing work ethic, though he would often catch the detective staring at him contemplatively. It unnerved Light almost as much as Ryuk's constant presence and the voice's vague warning.
It was all overwhelming him, and on one particular day - in the middle of the third week since Light's reincarnation - things finally came to a head.
It was as everyone was preparing to leave for lunch that it happened. Light made no indication that he wanted to leave his chair, his head resting in the cradle of his hands, and L was in no hurry to halt his work, either. The other members of the Task Force left one-by-one, not seeing anything peculiar with the actions of the two young detectives, and they were soon left alone in the investigation room.
Neither of them spoke to the other, and if it weren't for Ryuk's inane chatter, the room would be totally silent save for the muted clicking of keys on L's part. Light's head still hadn't removed itself from his hands.
"Hey! Hey, Light!" Ryuk's too-cheerful voice floated to him from above, and aside from a twitch of his shoulders, there was nothing to say that he'd heard. "I'm bored! Pay attention to me for once!"
Oh, God... how much longer was this going to continue? He was at the end of his rope; too much more of this, and he was going to crack.
"All you do is work! You're no fun anymore!"
The sort-of insult bothered him not in the least, though he did disagree. The bit about him being no fun was true enough at the moment, but to say that all he did was work? No, that was completely inaccurate. He was quite good at making himself look busy when he really wasn't, but even that was becoming a chore.
"You were better off as Kira!"
...Now THAT was crossing the line.
"That's not true! Take that back!"
As true silence fell upon the room – Ryuk was finally, finally silent for once – he realized that he was on his feet and shouting at seemingly thin air, his hands clenched into fists and trembling from a mixture of rage and exhaustion. The handcuff chain jingled merrily with his shaking, and it distantly occurred to Light that L had witnessed everything.
He couldn't look. He just couldn't.
...But he had to.
Not knowing what to expect, he slowly trailed his gaze over to rest on the detective beside him, and in doing so, the full gravity of his situation hit him like a ton of bricks.
For a few heart-breaking moments, Light could do little more than stare at L in utter horror, as though he couldn't believe that he had just done such a thing. The man held his gaze easily, unwavering, and Light could see the swirl of conflicted emotions in their depths. His posture was rigid, his hands digging into his jean-clad knees, and even as Light slumped back into his chair their eyes never broke contact.
Light's mouth moved soundlessly, the words to defend his actions lost before they could be spoken, and somewhere behind him he could he Ryuk's delighted cackle at this new development.
It was L who spoke first, his voice noticeably tense but still managing to keep it's usual monotone, his fingers tightening in the fabric of his faded jeans.
One word. All it took was one word for Light's world to come crashing down. That wasn't an accusation L had just blurted out – it was an assertion.
And Light snapped.
Everything, everything rushed back to him all at once – the dreams, Ryuk, the loss of sleep and concentration, those all-knowing eyes and that one-word damnation – and he was positively drowning. He could feel himself breaking, shattering where he sat under the severity of L's intense, onyx gaze, those eyes boring into him as though daring him to deny what was now known to be true.
And that's exactly what Light tried to do. The words were bubbling at the back of his throat– Deny it... Deny it... It's still too soon for him to know... -and his mouth opened to speak them, to lie again, when his brain caught up to him. Too much. Everything was too much. It was all too much and he couldn't sleep and he couldn't concentrate and his headache never stops and he couldn't even think straight and he just wanted this to end-
"You're right." L's eyes widened ever so slightly down at the broken boy before him, Light staring back at him with a tortured expression encompassing his young face, and the words wouldn't stop coming, and please,make this stop, and oh God,what in the world was he doing?
"I am Kira."
A/N: I fail. So much. And I'm sorry for that. So very sorry. There's too much going on in my life, and maybe in a month or two – when the semester ends – I'll have more time. Until then... I'm sorry, but updates will be scarce.