Disclaimer! All fictional entities featured/ mentioned in this segment belong to Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata; except Erin Blogger, who I made up for the purpose of this fan fiction.
So here he is again. Another case closed and filed away into history. And yet, it's different somehow.
This is more than mere disappointment that the game, possibly the greatest game he's ever played, is over. Even though his opponent fell first, he feels…heavy. The weight of profound defeat lays on his shoulders, adding an extra curve into his already poor posture. He curls up tighter into himself, hugging his legs, resting his head on his knees, to keep from falling flat under it.
He glances at Watari smiling at him from inside the photo next to him. Did I do the right thing, he vaguely wonders, almost asking himself out loud before realizing how pointless that would be. Watari can't share his input anymore, or ask what flavor ice cream he fancies today or deliver messages from those asking for his assistance in another dead-ending case. He'd killed him, through one little oversight. Sent him to fetch Misa Amane and to his demise. Light and the shinigami had dealt the fatal blow, but L had offered him up.
I didn't mean to have you killed. I am so sorry, Watari.
Technically, he's completed the objective. He's won the war. Kira is dead, executed by him personally. But, when he looks at the costs, was this victory worth it?
At its core, war isn't so much about who's right as it is, who's left.
Watari and Light are dead, at the cost of thousands of lives that can't be returned despite the closure of their killer dying (if there is any actual closure to be had from it). Light had died in his shellshocked father's arms believing that he'd done the right thing in undertaking the role of Kira, like a martyr-turned-saint. Like Christ cradled in Mary's arms while Judas Iscariot vanishes out of sight to dangle by a noose.
An odd comparison, given that he's always found the Christian faith (and most religions following that vein) rather absurd. But maybe that's why the image comes to mind?
He had failed in showing him that he was wrong (although it's rather hard to show someone that they're wrong when your ideology is similar to his). Not only that, but he's lost a worthy adversary, someone who could've been a great asset to him and the realm of law enforcement, had neither of them been so tunnel-sighted. Perhaps even going so far as to be a friend of his…
Misa, a shrieking mess on her way to the hospital, will likely forget him, and once they've conducted the funeral rites for him out of obligation to a fallen comrade so may the task force. Or if they don't, at least they'll want to forget him. He wouldn't fault them for it; why should they waste their grief on someone who'd used them to destroy one of their own, never mind if he truly was the monster he had suspected him to be all along?
Aiber and Wedy and the rest of his associates are no longer under his thumb. With Kira gone, they are free to run as much amok as they please. He wishes them all nothing less than the best.
Once he's gone, someone will have to take over for him as the next L, most likely one of his successors from the House. Maybe both, if a miracle happens sometime in the future. It's unfortunate that he won't be there to see how they'll carry on his legacy…then again, a part of him doesn't necessarily want to see someone else take over what was once his, taking on all of the burdens and expenses that come with the territory.
And Erin…she hates him. The one who may have come the closest he'd ever have to a real friend, a woman he'd unexpectedly grown to—love? Is that the word for how he feels? The thing that made Misa so obsessively devoted to Light, the thing that could bring a shinigami to its knees? Here he's been, convinced that it would never happen, now wondering if it has, and if so, wishing that it hadn't—hates him for everything he's worth.
He's sad but not surprised. He'd known what he was getting into as soon as he'd decided to take action. It'd be much more shocking if she, or any of them for that matter, didn't hate him after everything that's happened.
No. What's more surprising to him is how affected he is by all of this. It hadn't terribly bothered him before, what people thought of him or his policies outside of being aware that some would want to track him down and destroy him (he had Coil, Deneuve, "Ryuzaki," and all his other rivals-cum-aliases to thank for keeping that from happening yet).
But, perhaps that was because hiding behind a monitor and speaker, working vicariously through agents and moles like a puppet master dangling the strings above the stage, had made it easy to maintain that disconnect? Before the Kira case, Watari had been the sole source of any meaningful human contact in his life for as long as he could or at least cared to remember.
(He wonders if Light had ever had the chance to see for himself any of the people he'd executed die since beginning his work as Kira, or any of the sorrow he'd caused as a result; if he had, would he have still had an easy time continuing his use of the notebook?)
Odd, how he hadn't much minded the howling emptiness that surrounds him on all sides as long as it remained at bay through the squeak of rolling pastry cart wheels, or the soft clink of a china tea set, or the baffled muttering of his co-workers scattered throughout the room, working towards the same cause, even when they'd stop to whisper critical remarks about his way of doing things.
It seems that one doesn't know or feel the gnawing silence of true loneliness until he's had a taste of companionship, real or not, and then lost it, through his own foolishness or otherwise. Salty and bitter like the tears soaking her cheek, no amount of sugar can completely wipe the taste out of his mouth. Not that that stops him from eating.
Perhaps like Light, he too had deluded himself for the longest time into believing he was something he wasn't. Light had thought himself as a god, while he'd preferred to think himself as a machine, more powerful than even the Internet, unfettered by those things that make humans as flawed as they are. Machines are objective, logical, efficient, infallible.
(They also can't function without outside support, and they eventually break down and become obsolete.)
He concludes once and for all when he goes to shower the following morning—the first time he's had a bathroom to himself in months—and wiggles out of his clothes to find still-tender bruises on his shoulders and around his collarbone where she'd grabbed him, yellowing bruises on his shins where she'd kicked him, splotches of mud and leaked motor oil against ice and snow, that he must be human. Machines don't bruise, and gods don't bleed.
The deeper wounds are the ones that can't be seen on the skin.
Enduring the pain, he exhales through his nostrils as he carefully takes off and places aside the broken watch Light had left behind, its hour and second hands gone and minute hand permanently frozen over 0:18 (Light's age in years when he'd died).
The pain isn't ever-lasting. It will eventually yellow and fade away with the bruises; he'll just numb it with a bit of ice on regular intervals until then. Erin put up more of a fight than she thought. He just happens to have a high pain tolerance. For physical pain, at least.
He doesn't expect her to hate him forever, either. He knows better than that. It's not in her nature to bear a grudge for such a long time. In fact, he can see her right now, trying to make sense of their last encounter, and regretting all the things she'd said to him, accurate as they were. She's the type that will, no matter what she says, save the villain rather than let him lie in the bed he made. He must confess that he has used bleeding hearts like hers to his advantage himself, a few times.
He also, however, doesn't expect her to truly forgive him right away. It would be unreasonable to expect any of them to recover, right away. They might not even start to consider forgiveness until long after he's dead, when it won't matter to him, either way.
I'd die alone, even if you or anyone else stayed with me, by virtue of the fact that I'm the one who's dying. But you…you still have so much time ahead of you.
Why waste any more of it on someone who doesn't deserve it?
These were his thoughts as he listened to the footsteps of a watery-eyed Matsuda leading her out of the room. He doesn't hate her for saying the things she had; compared to what he'd done to her, it had been rather minor retribution. And that doesn't count the grief she was already experiencing over earlier losses. Besides, how can he hate someone for their honesty, something he's gone through most of his life without? As a consummate liar, even he knows when it's useless to deny the truth, when it's glaring you in the face.
When he'd seen Misa pinning her to the floor in front of Light like a human sacrifice as he'd tried to write her and Mr. Yagami's names down in the notebook, indifferent to her cries for them to realize what they were doing (How could you, how could you kill Watari?), it had taken almost every ounce of self-control he'd had to stand back and tune it out—a highly unusual phenomenon in itself—rather than rush out there to kick him square in the jaw, beat him until his face was as blood-red as his eyes. Mangle it until it matched the hideous personality it had always disguised.
Perhaps the only true restraint here was the knowledge that the notebook in his hands was fake; nothing would happen even when Light finished the entries.
She was right. For a moment he rather enjoyed seeing Light being humiliated so thoroughly, more than he should have. Now he's gone.
Though his earlier actions had established that he wasn't above killing law enforcement in spite of claiming to be on their side, this act proved to everyone who'd been there to witness that Kira would kill even total innocents, the ones he'd claimed he was doing this for in the first place. Having lost sight of himself, Light no longer cared what—or who—he'd have to break to realize his dreams of godhood. He might have gone so far as to kill his own sister and mother, had he been allowed to continue at that rate: a fact that may haunt Mr. Yagami in private for a long time coming, if not the rest of his life.
I'm sorry for everything you and your family have had to go through, Mr. Yagami. I'm sorry I didn't save him.
Misa, though shocked to the point of tears about his decision to kill his father, could not be swayed enough to turn on him. She owed him, loved him, needed him too much to. He had given her meaning to a life she would've otherwise considered without worth. For avenging her family, she'd kill for him, not bothering to stop and consider that some of their victims had had families of their own that she had deprived them of in doing what she had thought was justified.
…Although he couldn't say he was much better. The difference between them was that Kira was fortunate enough to die seemingly without guilt. Misa, though still alive, will enjoy the same lack of remorse. After all, how can one feel guilty over something they can't remember ever doing? There's no telling what she'll do now that Light is gone though, and she finds herself alone and afraid.
Perhaps she'll be punished after all, if not by the law of the land?
That doesn't mean he hopes that she'll hurt herself oddly enough. Even if she was a dangerous criminal and a traitor, he couldn't wish that on her, or anyone. Her life, all life is too precious to just be given up on and wasted like that.
He'd hoped it wouldn't have to reach that point, the point of no return, letting any feelings finally shine through the cracks in the wall he'd painstakingly built around himself for his safety and that of the people around him. Or if he did, at least that she wouldn't have an answer to it. It would've been bad for him no matter what she thought of it. Whether she returned the feelings or not.
But that compulsion had swelled up from the depths, that thing that urged him to get the last word no matter what the situation, when she'd finished tearing his head off, her every word splashing his face like fire and venom and spit, gasping for air between sobs. Sometimes the best—and the hardest—way for one to get the last word is to say, "I'm sorry."
I'm sorry you were caught in the middle of our game.
A part of him doesn't quite want to believe that she reciprocated whatever it is he feels. She'd been here against her will for so long, it's completely possible that she's developed Stockholm syndrome towards him, subconsciously bonding with him so as to increase her own chances for survival. Six months (technically it's been five) is far more than enough time for that to happen. Why else would she go from demanding to be sent home to pleading to stay with him until he died? Why else would she go from calling him names to calling him "a friend?"
Writing off her affections as Stockholm syndrome sounds too simplistic, though, doesn't it? Imagining that that's all it is would make it that much easier to let her go, that much easier to make her cry one last time and drive her away, like it used to be. He'd put her through too much already; letting her stay for his death would have done nothing but cause them both more unnecessary suffering.
Though she had never actually said good-bye to him, he could feel her staring at him as she walked away, dumbfounded, as he'd already had his back towards her. He would miss her, more than he'd ever admit to anyone, but he wants her home where she belongs, with her family and people who can and will help her heal. He doesn't want her to look back. He's made his choice, he's finished. He will join Light in Nothingness, so intertwined were their fates. (And maybe it's what they deserve.) The world will keep turning without them, whether they'd like it to or not.
A part of him is strangely glad of that fact.
She should be looking forward, towards the future, towards happiness. The same goes for all of them. He wants them all to find happiness again. Mr. Yagami, Mogi, Aizawa, Matsuda, Wedy, Aiber, even Misa…
He smiles. Truly this case has left him soft in the center. As soft as the sweet bean paste oozing out of his snack as he takes another bite post-shower. Light's watch gleams in the corner of his eye underneath the fluorescent light, broken as it is, like its owner.
He'd told her to live her life to the fullest extent possible; whether she does this or not is out of his hands, but he has faith in her. He himself still has eighteen days. Now he needs to make the most out of the time he has left as the current L. That's how he's going to die peacefully. It seems like a futile effort; cases will pop up all over after he's breathed his last. Crime and suffering, like justice and peace, or any idea in general, will outlast the ones who fight against it, or for it. A detail that Light had surely overlooked when he'd discovered the Death Note and decided to recreate the world to better fit his ideals and rule over it as god.
Then again, perhaps that's what makes this world so…special? No matter how gifted he is, one can't change the world alone. Watari had told him that, even as he taught him the importance of autonomy. It's unfortunate that it's taken losing so much to finally take those words to heart.
As long as there continues to be people in the world who believe in the strength of kindness and what's right and live according to it, there will always be hope, long after one is gone.
All anyone needs is a chance.
He sits down in front of the whirring computer with a fresh chocolate bar in one hand, pausing to adjust Watari's picture so he faces him, can watch and encourage him through his smile. He trails a finger across the border of the frame, noting the dry frailness of the old comic strips wrapped around it.
Taking a snap off of the corner, he flips through a binder four inches thick with a case study. Seems like a relatively easy one, compared to the one he's just closed. The quicker he'll be able to jump to the next study, and the one after that...
Loss, grief, falling short is part of life. Of being human.
But it's no excuse for idleness.