This idea came to me almost immediately after I finished watching the Death Note anime. This can be both a romance, an endless tragedy, and above all, a spiritual journey of a ceaseless cycle, one that does not seem to let go. Rebirth, re-incarnations, history and much else. This is not necessarily for the light-hearted, but there is a definite L/Light vibe to this one-shot, from Light's perspective. I always wanted more out of this anime, and I explored a facet I could not ignore and came up with this.
Rated for mature content in the form of gore, death, sexual content, and a very sad situation. Also, the style is fragmented for effect in parts, to show the thought process of Light's current circumstance, in whatever form he's brought back from.
Scattershot: delivered over a wide area and at random; generalized and indiscriminate
I own nothing.
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts."As You Like It, William Shakespeare
It ended in the dazzling spectrums of multi-hued pigments of twilight, both with the pointed edges of steps digging into his flesh, and the last-moment-alive vision of the man he was responsible for killing. Despite how impossible it was to believe, much less accept, L was there before him in his final seconds of life.
He was like an indifferent specter from the ether, merely watching him through the veil of his tousled coal-hair. It was almost as if he was waiting for him, waiting for an answer, a last word...anything.
Or, Light considered deliriously, he was here to attempt to drag him to Hell, if there was such a place. Even if there was, he would never see it and there was great comfort to be found in that. At least, he thought so. His perception and judgment as of late had led to this; what if he had heard wrong and there truly was a Hell?
The thought came and sputtered out in his mind, the last hint of logic fleeing him forever. There was no strength left in him to speak; even if there was, he would not waste his words on the ghost of the man who he killed.
His heart thudded, the organ gave a final moan of defeat, and he knew an oblivion that was almost Divine. There was nothing, and there was everything, and he was sinking, sinking, sinking down into the endless pit of abyss, evermore.
Where there was an ending however, there was an irrevocable beginning.
Colors came, surging forth from the ideal creator's pastel easel, painted and smeared on with both care and haste, almost as if the Divine entity had been in the biggest hurry to create, to bring something to life. Sounds came, amber eyes opened, and gun-shots were his orchestra.
A hand clapped his left shoulder, and he turned, bringing with him his rifle, canteen, and the helmet that was nearly blown off his head in the frantic melee of gun-shots. Fire fell from the sky and endless, obliterating screams of both pain and carnal violence tainted the air with red-rimmed malice.
There he was again, to his immediate left, the man who he had killed, the man who he had known simply as the twelfth letter of the alphabet...
Wait...that was nothing but a fancy, a symptom of shell-shock and the delusions of war. He had been warned about these day-dreams before, and promptly shook his head.
When he opened his eyes again, gray-irises analyzed his face, a color he knew so well, better than any other shade in the world. It was also the only color visible over the mud caked on the man's porcelain skin, the dirt smeared on his best friend's face.
"Come on! Just over that hill, Smith!" Smith? That's right...he was Smith, the man who had signed up with his best friend, all for the sake of their country. His friend's name was...was...
"Get up there, soldier! I don't want you dyin' on me!" The voice was persistent, shrill, and yet strangely audible over the maelstrom of shrieking and explosions on the battlefield. Never had he heard Logan sound so terrified, and yet so determined to grant them both escape.
He looked up to the skies, saw the tangled mess of gun-powder and smoke, and gripped his rifle.
The voice he spoke with was not his own, and yet very much his own. "Come with me. I ain't leavin' without you." His friend - Logan - nodded, and he gave him a small smile.
An explosion behind them caused a symphony of loud, high-pitched cries, and it was a caricature of the starting signal to a deadly race. And they went for the finish line, grunting and sprinting, back to where their division was safe, deep in the cluster of trees, just over this damned hill...
The world dimmed, he tasted copper, and Logan fell right beside him. The bullets fell like raindrops, and the result was a crimson spattered canvas.
They landed in a twisted mess of bloody fabric, their weapons spinning from their hands into the chaotic unknown. His hand was more than likely gone, and bullet wounds impaled him from all angles, drawing an insurmountable amount of blood from his main arteries.
It was not the first time he had been shot. The intensity of this death, of what was happening to him was realized, and he wished he could scream. The sound was no more than a newborn kittens mewling cries, and it was pathetic to his own ears. What it truly served to be, this war, this sudden onslaught of wounds was a violent wake-up call of his mortality, of a mortality reborn in the body of a soldier.
Light/Smith gasped, choked on his own fluids, and saw the man with L's face, the man who was L and yet not, reach for him. His hands were trembling, and bits of gray-matter were seeping onto the grass and dirt, revealing the mortal wound: head trauma.
In this world, he was not responsible for killing him.
Past crimes forgotten and yet always remembered, Light reached for L's hand. The world turned black, and there was nothing.
He awoke to the most horrible smell, a stench that he had never had the personal experience of smelling beforehand. Yet he knew instinctively what it was: the odor of burning flesh.
Amber eyes opened with a start, and he was met with ten-thousand sensations: the feeling of being restrained from behind and in his front, the filth from his soiled robes and garments, the perspiration caked in his once beautiful hair, and above all, the agonizing pain from the wounds on his back. Above all however, was the feeling of bone-chilling panic.
The answer was staring right at him with pained, lovely eyes. Before him was the scent that made his blood run cold. There was his friend...no, not his friend, his lover, getting branded on the back, scarred on his beautiful, alabaster skin. That was the skin that he had caressed deep in the heat of the night, all the while murmuring sweet promises of freedom, promises of a life without the monarchy, that wretched throne, and above all, a place where they could sleep without that hated daybreak calling them to their plethora of duties.
They had been caught, and without any forewarning, they were thrown into punishment where they stood. He remembered how the guards sneered at them, their teeth gleaming in the blinding sunlight like polished blades, and before long, they were beaten into submission, to a point where they could not see straight any longer.
For his discipline, he was lashed until he nearly passed out. Always, when he was about to find blessed delirium, was he yanked back into unmerciful consciousness. This was for incongruity, for blasphemy, and above all, for the thought of rebelling. Slaves could marry and have children, but two men laying together...the consequence was this bloody, resultant state.
His lover knew the brand, and that beautiful skin that reminded him of moonlight, of the way the curtain of water glimmered in his home land was forever marred. His lover screamed, and tears fell from his eyes, obscuring his vision. There would be no escape, for this would mean death.
The whip fell, again and again, creating an interlocking crisscross pattern on his skin. His back was a mutilated canvas, one that dripped with gore, gore that would kill him. They were tearing him wide open, exposing his secrets within, telling him that no matter how hard he worked, he would never know freedom and they would forever be the highest in rank.
Feeling was lost, Elysium was only a whispered dream, and he knew who he was once again. There was no time to revel in the enormity and impossibility of L being his lover, for time was being snatched from him, one lash at a time.
For, this had happened once before, on that battlefield with the bullets.
It had happened once more before that, when he had killed L by deceiving means.
And it was happening now, and it would occur again.
Rebelling. That was their crime, from the public stand-point. Once, they preached the word of the Lord and spoke about miracles, Divine entities, and above all, that there was salvation from any crime committed.
In secret, away from any prying and inquisitive eye, they kissed and knew miracles. With their caresses, they felt as if the Lord Himself was stroking their arms, their wrists, and above all, that spot that was considered dirty, unclean, and above all, evil and should have only be used with men and their wives, for the purpose of pro-creation.
They knew better, knew what others dared not speak aloud: that it felt so good to be touched by hands that loved, even when they were both men.
By candlelight, by moonlight, and in total secret they held their trysts. They were careful, and their public persona was flawless: by day, they spoke about the Lord, smiled to the altar-boys, lit candles, and listened intently to confessions. By night, they slipped into one another's rooms, for their role was to analyze a text together, and they bid to not be disturbed.
No one suspected anything, for it was tolerated if no attention was drawn to it. They were so careful.
And yet, the rumor was spoken that they were secretly rebelling against the law in some fabricated form, in a fashion woven from the lies of jealousy, boredom, and definite misunderstanding. They protested against this, showed them their findings and their work...and they were captured, seized, and marked for death.
They struggled, and he saw the fear in his lover's beautiful gray eyes, as well as the immense betrayal that billowed through the town, like a malevolent ripple on a vindictive ocean current. These were no longer the faces of the people he spoke with in earnest about how the world was not rotten, but a blessed state; they were the faces of monsters, facsimiled into a raw and fleshy mockery of mankind.
He hated them all.
His lover, his friend, and his brother in priesthood would go first to death, and then he would join him. When he saw this, he struggled, pleading with those who restrained him that he should go first. Only when the ropes were fashioned around that neck that beat with that beloved pulse did he realize his intentions were selfish; he wished to go first to death, for he did not want to see the face of the one he loved, dead.
All of this time, he was wrong about Hell. Hell was not the burning pit beneath his feet, the place where sinners would have their penance and pay for every crime committed; Hell was watching the one you loved above every earthly item, die. Die before your very eyes, die knowing that you were powerless to save them...die...
The rope was tightened, his ankles were bound, and his love was left to swing. He cried out, but words would not save him. The cord snapped, the bone cracked, and he knew true agony that blistered over his skin like angry, festering sores.
Almost did he fall to his feet, his knees giving out. Almost did he pass out, the situation finally pushing his psyche past its limits. Almost...
When it came time for him, he put up no fight. He was right behind him, and he welcomed a place where there would be the remnants of his lover's soul, if not his spirit in the true form, outside of the human body. This world held nothing for him anymore, for everything in it was dead, hellish...rotten...For though he preached with an immutable passion, smiled to children and strived to love all things, the world still betrayed him.
At some point, he realized he had been dropped. He swung like a pendulum, vacant-eyed and silent, waiting for the impending crack. It did not happen just yet. His body was left to hang, for his neck did not want to break. If he was capable of laughter, even in the smallest form, he would have chuckled bitterly; this was irony, for the moment when he desired death more than anything, he did not get to have it.
His tongue thrashed against his teeth, his vocal cords closed, and death came for him in the form of tumbling waves of black robes and skull-faces. He choked, and as he breathed his last, the faces of those who killed him danced in his vision, like badly-fashioned puppets...
Puppets. That's what he was now, in the hands of Fate: damned to be caught in a scattering of lives, a fly in the cloistering web of Time itself.
Once before, he had been a slave, whipped to death, sentenced to listen to his lover's tortured screams and searing flesh.
Before then, he was a soldier, dying with his best friend on a mud-caked, bullet-scarred field.
The time before...he had killed him with a cursed notebook, the ink revealing the true name of a man known only by a letter.
And now he was a priest, sputtering on his last breath of oxygen, wishing for his spirit to soar beyond this rotted world.
It was not to be.
Everything was too confined, and hope was beyond the iron-cage he had been placed in. It was there, just outside of that closed window...so...close...
He squawked until the owner rattled his cage until the world was a dizzying array of colors, and the man smiled through the bars with diseased, black lips made so by chewing tobacco. He reeked, and the primal desire for greed permeated off of him in thick, choking clouds of cigarette smoke, cologne, and worn denim.
Hope, freedom, the ability to stretch his wings was just behind that cage, and he would get it, no matter the cost.
His cage companion, deep in the night, would inch closer to him on their shared bar, merely to give him comfort. His feathers were like the night-sky, and his eyes were bottomless pools of gray. His own feathers were like the sunlight, honey-dipped, and he had startling amber eyes, oculars that gleamed with the intelligence that above a mere bird. The man who bought them knew that with their combined beauty, they would make a pretty penny.
Pretty pennies added to pretty cages, harder cages to break out of, and more evil men to laugh and cough in his face, taunting him with fresh food and clean water...
The sunlight taunted him outside of that window, beckoning him with a glass siren-song that orchestrated true freedom, the notes of how it would feel to truly stretch his wings after such a long time. His companion wanted it too, but he was afraid, too afraid to defy the one who purchased them.
He would be brave for the both of them.
When the man had passed out on his well-used leather arm-chair, snoring away in inebriated oblivion, he picked frantically at the lock with his talons. It was stubborn, but he wanted out. He wanted to taste the air, and feel the wind ruffle his feathers. He wanted to know the trees, the sounds, the shapes of the clouds, and the way it would feel to have his companion happily soar next to him, free from all cages and any semblance of restraint.
A warning squawk from his raven-feathered companion alerted him of the dangers, of the terrors of the outside world. He had been in here longer than him, and he had not known freedom the way that he had. He had not known a time when he could stretch his wings and feel the sunlight glimmer and shine through them, as if it was for him alone. He did not know the taste of the earth, of the insects, and the earthworms. There was a world outside of this damned cage!
The door swung open with a barely-audible creak, and their pathetic owner did not so much as snore. There was the window, flickering and flashing with the sparkle of the sunlight. It was far away, so far away...but that meant that he could fly out the window, to freedom, and know the air once more. There would be color, movement...and his friend right beside him.
It took a lot of time to coax his companion into flight, and he told him with a few head tilts and quiet squawking that he could fly. Only when the man clipped their wings could they not fly; he had neglected his duties lately, for there was a woman who was sometimes over. Once, she stuck her finger in the cage and made cooing, saccharine endearments, which resulted in his loss of patience and a split finger.
After an eternity, an eternity where the window beckoned, his companion agreed. They hopped to the table that held them, took a look around, and propelled themselves from the edge of the table to the window. There it was, that air, that sky, that freedom, and there it was...
The world was a frenzy of colors, shapes and sounds, and there was nothing sweeter than the silent air that moved through his wings and feathers.
And then...everything went completely black.
The window was not open, he had been wrong, and he had killed not only himself, but his companion.
This was not the first time. Once, he had been a priest who witnessed the hanging of his lover, and then joined him in eternal asphyxiation.
He had known the lashing of a biting whip, and heard the pained screams of his lover getting branded, burned again and again.
They had been soldiers, friends, hurrying to their death that they mistakenly believed was life.
And then...he had been terrible, killing him with a name on a piece of paper, by a skull-pen.
Now, two necks were broken, the window was un-open, and his eyes slipped closed. There was a quiet snapping sound, almost as if someone were taking a photo of them, a shot to hang on an immortal canvas of life. He wished he could tear up the paper, the very image, and dissolve into nothingness, a time where he was not doomed to repeat, again and again...
Where there was life, there was an end.
The wind whipped through his branches, but he stood tall, an irrepressible fortitude of a trunk. His leaves were still green, and the notches and scarring in the bark were signs of his long life. The inside of his trunk had more rings than he could count, and there was an immortality about him, for he had known the many people who used the shade he provided as comfort, from generation to humble generation.
He saw children playing on the grass before him, on picnic blankets where they were soft and pink, their eyes wide in play. When they grew, they swung from the one tire that hung on one of his countless arms, and they laughed in bliss, swinging in the sunlight in their golden summers. When they grew even older, they brought their lovers here, their faces dappled in both shadow and the moonlight. He had been the only witness to the heated caresses, the hushed moans, and above all, the loss of innocence.
Someone even had a marriage here, and never had he seen anything more beautiful. The girl was radiant, in a white-dress that fell to her ankles. Flowers were braided in her auburn hair, blue-eyes sparkled, and she stroked her pronounced stomach when her groom walked towards her. They were one of the lovers to be with one another in the moonlight, and it resulted in the growth of a child within her.
They kissed, he pressed his hand to her stomach, and the crowd cheered, a crowd filled with family and friends.
Twilight came, and in this twilight, the large tree stretched his roots, stretching them to the tree on the distant hill, for he had done this since he was strong enough - desperate enough - to touch his far-off companion.
This friend of his was a tree that had once been struck by lightning, the bark singed and burned with the fire that had plagued its branches. It remained flawed, a dark thing highlighted by the tall green grasses and the land of sun-flowers beneath them. It was viewed by all those that saw it as a cursed object, as something that would grab and devour, like in the story-books.
It was the furthest thing from the truth. Once, that tree had been more beautiful than he had been, and children had played beneath and within the branches, laughing and chasing one another around the trunk. They napped beneath the shade, smiled, and spent their childhood racing round and around it.
Now, it was something to be avoided, a blemish that, if it was not given attention, would merely disappear into the background.
And so, the tree stretched its branches, knowing that both of their times would end, but it would be long while before that occurred.
For now though, their roots tangled in one another, absorbing the others nearness the way they did minerals and moisture. They held hands the way that lovers did, providing the both of them with comfort, and endless affirmation that they were not alone.
The bulldozers came the following summer, and it did not leave even the roots. They both screamed together, screamed on voices that were too ancient to touch human ears. Their roots were razed, tore from the earth as if they were no more than abominable weeds, and their life was lost.
It was not lost before Light knew who he was, once again, to his utter dismay.
He had been a bird, bent on freedom, and he and his companion accidentally flew to their deaths, shattering more than a frail window-pane.
Then, he had been a priest, screaming and crying in vain as his lover's neck broke.
And once more, he had been lashed, whipped, and scarred until he knew no more.
He was a soldier, fighting in the night with his friend, and they died in tandem.
Then he was despicable, killing the soul that knew justice above all else.
And now, he had been a beautiful tree, depending on the caressing of the roots beneath the earth to prove that he was not alone, and that eternity was only a new-leaf away.
Once more, the wheel spun, the snapshot in time was captured, and blackness consumed whatever remaining vision he had left.
He was blazing, a brilliant light in the distant cosmos. The black horizon was painted with many of his siblings, the brothers and sisters that had no name, and yet were the Name in itself. They existed for the sake of light, to burn brighter and brighter until their time was finished. The hourglass touched their bodies, but it took a long, long while for such an event to occur.
He remembered his birth, and just thinking about it brought him intense happiness.
First, he remembered wishing to be born, wishing to be brought to life in the vast expanse of the heavens.
And it was so.
Then, he remembered beginning to spin, ever so gently and carefully. After what seemed like an interminable waiting period, he felt as if he was both collapsing and moving at the same time, becoming a thing of destruction and birth, time and again.
At last, he found himself getting joined, pulled in by a gravitational force. He was spinning, around and around in a merry-go-round of dust, knowing everything and yet nothing at all, understanding the significance of the spin, of the whirling mass that combined him with his brothers and sisters.
Then, he was hot, so unbearably and deliciously hot. He spun, knew warmth and intense heat, and relished the thought of life, of burning bright until he could not burn any more. Light came, such intense light from his core, and he felt as if he were emitting rays that earth knew about, that even the distant planets could see, with all-knowing eyes that captured all and forgot nothing.
And then...he knew him. He knew that point of light that was so much like this own, a star that differed from his brothers and sisters in countless ways. He wanted to be near him, pulsing and repulsing against each other. He wanted for him to join him in his ever-roving solar system in their period of sustained life. Together, they would live and shine bright, bright enough for any being to be granted glimpses of them, through their instruments of sight, and with luck, know of hope.
It worked, and he swirled around and around with his star, endlessly rejoicing in a symphony known only on Divine ears. They smiled without faces, sang without words and notes, but there was inarguable, unparalleled beauty in this symphony. There was peace, bliss, and an endless serenade that lulled them both to a waking hour, and a half-state of sleep.
He had foolishly thought that expansion meant that he was giving his life to others. He told his brothers and sisters what was happening, and especially him, so that they willingly went with the way their bodies shifted, becoming large, bloated masses of darkness.
He had always been the largest star, and before he knew it, he was engulfing his brothers and sisters into the wound that had been made of his literal body. Screaming was heard, and it fell on the ears of celestial entities. Had they hands, they would have scrabbled for the edges of his body, yearning to crawl out of the abyss that he had no hope for. He had no choice but to swallow them, and they dissolved into shadow, all the while he sobbed without tears, without eyes, but the effect thundered across the heavens until earth knew of a grave sorrow.
The one he wanted to be with, the one he wanted to be close to was caught in the path as well, and they screamed for each other, yearning for bodies, for forms, if only they could grip one another again, if only they could go around and around once more...
Only they knew it happened before.
Once, they were trees, spreading their gnarled roots towards one another, a mockery of hand-holding.
Once before, they had been birds, wanting freedom but not seeing the latch on the window.
Even further in the past, the present, the future, they had been priests, dying by the thick ropes and bindings of their time.
The page turned, and they were screaming for each other as they were beaten to death, their cries drenched in blood.
And before that, on the underbelly of the coin, they were soldiers, fighting for freedom, for their lives, and at the end, to simply touch each other.
Before all of that however, they were detective and killer, pitted against one another in a game of wits, and in the end, they both lost.
This was their scatter-shot, a frenzy of sunlight, phantoms, ecstasy and brief moments of peace. If it would end at any time, they knew not.
He had known countless deaths, pain so intense that it was eventually sweet, and pleasure that eclipsed any human word for bliss. He wished to know nothingness, the gentle MU that promised him a way out of all of the misery he caused, by his own hands, time and again through all of his lives.
Would there be an answer to these constant repeats?
What he did know was that his eyes were closing, the light was blinding, and he was falling, falling deeper and deeper into the frame of the canvas that he had part in creating.
Of which, there would be no escape.