It was raining, loudly. Standing under the overhang as he looked out at the lone figure, it was the only thing Raito could hear. A warm, wet breeze picked up and blew across the roof toward him.
Why is he out here?
Inexplicably angry, he frowned to himself.
It shouldn't matter why. His reasons are insignificant to me.
He narrowed his eyes at the figure, but L was just standing there. Raito felt a pull. A part of him wanted to go out there and ask what was wrong, or maybe what he was thinking. After all, wouldn't it be beneficial to know L's thoughts on the case? But the other part knew that what L was thinking right now had very little to do with the case, so it shouldn't matter.
I don't care about him. I'm going back inside.
He continued to stand there, staring, for a long moment. Before he could force his limbs to move to carry him away, L seemed to sense him standing there. He glanced over. Even with how far apart they were standing, Raito could see his large, dark eyes peering out from under the dripping strands of his hair.
He gritted his teeth. "What are you doing there, Ryuuzaki?" he called.
L only tilted his head at him and turned away.
With an internal sigh, Raito lowered his hand and ventured out into the rain. As he approached, L stuck his hands in his pockets and looked off into the smudgy sky.
Raito studied him. There was a fragility in the way L's shoulders were hunched around his ears, a vulnerability in the way he was slouched over, uncaring. His hair was soaked and wilted, drooped and plastered around his face, and from where Raito was standing he could only see the tip of L's nose poking through. His eyes wandered down, until he became distracted by the spot in L's throat where the quick swell and ebb of the flesh over his veins betrayed his pulse.
He had the strange sense that he was observing L physically break down.
"What are you doing, Ryuuzaki?" he repeated.
"Well…" said L. "I'm not doing anything in particular, but…" He paused and raised his head to look out across the city. "The sound of the bells…"
Watching him like this, Raito felt like there was something achingly familiar about L, something that he couldn't touch anymore. Words rose to the top of his mind but they were choked off in his throat. He wanted to say, L, don't worry, we're going to solve everything, but he knew it was a lie, so even though he was struggling he said nothing. Then L turned to look at him, and all his thoughts died inside him.
He felt strange; as water bled gently through the fabric of his shirt, he felt trapped in a world of almosts: he was almost Raito, he was almost Kira, L almost knew. Things here were different. He felt – almost knew – that there was something coming toward them both, rapidly approaching, ready to obliterate everything they'd had and fought for and felt. Will I ever be able to talk honestly with him again?
He almost wanted to ask out loud – but he didn't.
"I don't hear anything," he managed to mumble, and it was true. The only thing he could hear was the heavy patter of the hateful rain.
"Really?" said L, looking at him almost as if he pitied him. "They've been ringing all day and…" He looked away. "I can't help but feel curious. Do you suppose it's a church? A wedding? Or, perhaps…"
Bells. L was talking about bells, and Raito wondered if he was thinking more about wedding bells or funeral bells or if his mind was just wandering. Or if it was even about the bells at all, because L's thoughts seemed to be elsewhere. Funeral bells – L had been about to voice it, but he'd stopped. Raito knew what he was thinking, and he didn't want L's mind going down that path.
"What are you talking about, Ryuuzaki? Don't say such silly things. Let's go back."
Neither one of them moved.
"I'm sorry," said L morosely. "Everything I say is complete nonsense so…please, don't believe any of it."
Raito almost smirked to himself. Of course – Ryuuzaki, the weakling, whose mind is on the bells.
"That's right, Ryuuzaki," said Raito calmly, as if he were indulging a small child. "Most of what you say is nonsense. There would be no end if I took you seriously all the time. I know that better than anyone." He watched L wilt, partly to his satisfaction.
"Yes, that's right…Raito." L's voice seemed to catch slightly on Raito's name – so slightly that Raito wasn't even sure he'd heard, but before he could analyze it, L continued. "But…it's true for both of us."
"What do you mean?"
"Have you ever told the truth at any point since you were born?"
For a moment, Raito couldn't seem to hear anything. It was as if the world had stopped, and the sound of the rain was just gone, leaving in its wake a deadly silence. L's eyes were locked on him, dissecting him, and Raito knew that L wasn't the one breaking down; L was breaking him down.
His thoughts erupted. I want to hurt him. I want to make him bleed, feeling his flesh bruise, pummel him into nonexistence. Because he knew now, from personal experience, that love and hate were surprisingly similar, just the way that kisses and punches, sex and pain, were, and if he couldn't have L one way, then he wanted him the other way. I want to hurt him. I want to take him as my property and kill him.
He took a deep breath and reached into the dark part of himself for the answers – not answers that he wanted to give, but answers that he would. It was his control.
"What are you talking about, Ryuuzaki?" he said. "It's true; I lie once in a while. But…how many people live their entire lives only telling the truth? Humans aren't made perfectly." Humans are scum. "Everyone lies." Everyone kills or gets killed. "Even so…I've been careful not to tell lies that hurt others." He paused to revel in the irony of that statement. "That's my answer."
L seemed to wince to himself. "Yes, I thought you'd say something like that."
Well. It seemed that though L could always do the unexpected by Ratio, Raito could never return the favor. It shouldn't have surprised him, but it did, that L knew him so well.
I don't want to hurt him. He's mine but I won't abuse him. He's dangerous – maybe too much of a risk, but at this point, he's not going to do anything to me. He's too emotionally compromised. But…does he know? I just have to play the game a little bit longer, and then I will control everything.
With a small smile, Raito reached out and gently pulled a bit of wet hair off L's cheek. "Let's go back," he said finally. "We're drenched."
"Yeah…" said L, closing his eyes briefly against Raito's touch.
If his face was wet, it was only the rain.
"Well, that was awful."
"It's your fault. You were standing in that rain."
"You're right. I'm sorry."
In reality, there were many sounds: the shuffle of L's feet, the water dripping off their clothing, the sounds their chilled puffs of breaths left on the air, but to Raito's ear the loudest thing in the stairwell was the silence.
It's too late. There's nothing I can do.
Raito bowed his head. He shut his eyes and tried to hide the expression on his face from L by scrubbing at his soaked hair with a towel.
Corrupt. The world is rotting. One boy doesn't matter, except that he's in the way.
L's cold fingers were wrapping themselves around his foot; with a jerk, Raito opened his eyes and the towel came away from his head. L was kneeling on the steps at Raito's feet and drying them off.
As he should be. He looks perfect.
"What are you doing, Ryuuzaki?" Raito blurted out, because he didn't know what to say, and it was the first thing in his head that made sense.
"I thought I'd help you." L's voice was muted, colored with a touch of sadness. His fingers tightened around Raito's ankle for a moment. "Since you're vigorously wiping yourself off."
"You don't have to do that."
Tentatively, L looked up at Raito through his hair. A bittersweet half-smile twisted up one side of his mouth as his hands wandered slowly up Raito's leg under his pants. "I can give you a massage as well," he said lowly. "It's the least I can do to atone. I'm pretty good."
Raito stared at L. He wanted, so desperately, to smile and say yes, to accept the offer to have those artistically slender hands on his skin. To keep close to him will only hurt us both in the end. He's in the way. He goes against god. He must be punished.
Raito, keeping his face carefully controlled, leaned his head back with a casual sigh. "Do as you please," he said, in a voice that was passably dismissive.
L looked down, lowering his hands. He didn't say anything.
Something in Raito grew cold and hard; he cast all regret away. I will be god. I make the rules. And Ryuuzaki, those who go against god are annihilated. I am god. I am Raito. I don't have to be like this. I will rule. I could tell him.
There was a war going on inside Raito's head, which ached with the strain of his mind tearing at itself.
I'll tell him. I'll kill him. There must be a solution.
L's hair was dripping on Raito's feet. Raito took his towel and wiped it gently across L's forehead. "You're still wet," he said, and his voice was flat because of all the effort he was putting in to keep his thoughts inside of his brain. It hurt – he did it perfectly.
Kill him. Save him. Hurt him. Trust him.
"How sad," said L, so quietly that Ratio could hardly hear him. His thoughts scattered like startled birds.
"What?" he asked.
L looked up at him sorrowfully. "We'll soon part."
What does that mean? Raito was going to destroy L; he was going to kill him and replace him because he was no more than a pawn. He means too much... Does he know? What's he talking about? Raito opened his mouth to ask, but…
Raito never meant to say that. He completely meant to say that. He didn't know. It didn't matter.
No. nononononono… too late.
L's eyes widened for a moment, and then he nodded his head to himself, hiding his face. "Is that so?" he murmured. There was something smug in his voice, but also something painful. "Tell me."
"Higuchi told the truth about the notebook," said Raito, eerily calm. "When I picked up the notebook, I regained my memories; I've been able to retain them because I killed Higuchi, the previous owner of the note. I was able to forget them before by forfeiting ownership."
Drip. Drip. Drip.
L looked up at Raito, something cold in his eyes, a kind of deadly silence permeating him. Raito knew he should feel afraid, but he couldn't – couldn't feel anything. L spoke. "You were under surveillance for more than fifty days, yet according to the death note, after thirteen days-"
"That rule is fake," Raito said immediately. A light bulb went on in L's head; Raito could see the way it lit up his eyes with a cruel appreciation – admiration – for what Raito'd done, outsmarted him. It pained Raito.
"I see…" said L slowly.
Raito knew that he did, understood that he always did. Things in him began to unlock.
"Ryuuzaki, it's powerful," he confessed. He lowered his eyes. "It's inside my head…fighting with me…it's hard to resist…" His controlled tone was beginning to break down, the pressure inside his mind mounting as L continued to watch him with that unfeeling expression. Just a pawn. He pressed his hands over his face, trying to keep everything in, wanting L not to look at him like that, but nothing helped.
"I couldn't stop it. It – he – is so overwhelming, and I can't help it. It's so tempting, the control, the power…everything." His voice barely shook. "Everything."
I was bored.
L was there, then, pulling Raito's hands away from his face, looking into his eyes as though he'd really been listening. "I know," he said.
Raito took a deep breath. What can he change? "What do I do?" he said hollowly. Foolish. I'll die.
He wasn't really expecting an answer, but L clutched his wrists determinedly and said, "We stop it."
Maybe he's as desperate as I am.
So Raito took his face in his hands and kissed him, long and hard, until they were interrupted by L's phone, and they had to go back.
But the hardness didn't completely leave L's eyes.
They headed back to the main room.
As they walked, L didn't say anything – didn't touch him, except for a brush of the fingers, didn't even look at him. Raito couldn't find it in himself to feel bad about this. Not when he was busy mentally screaming at himself.
That was a mistake, but you still won't get away. It's too late, Ryuuzaki. All the pieces are in place.
They both stared icily at the back of the elevator doors.
How did we – did I – get to this point?
All that was left was for Rem to make her move. I just need to alert her before Ryuuzaki tells anyone else.
The doors slid open.
"Ryuuzaki-san, is it true?!" Matsuda cried as soon as they were out. "Kira's back?!"
Mr. Yagami held him back with a hand on his shoulder. "More dead criminals," he said seriously to L.
"Show me," said L.
"Sixteen people during last night alone," Aizawa called from the computer. "People who were announced after the death of Higuchi."
Everybody looked at L and Raito, waiting to see what they would do.
Perfect. Raito was unable to keep the side of his mouth from twisting back in a sneer. L already knew he was Kira, and Raito knew he'd probably already extrapolated everything else.
"Interesting," L said. He ran his thumb over his lip. "From the instant that Amane became free…" His voice was heavy, laden with meaning.
Rem looked shocked, and then comprehension dawned on her face. Raito watched her with a great deal of satisfaction, and the smirk on his face unfurled wider.
You know what that means, Rem. Do it now.
He turned his gaze smugly from Rem to L, and saw that L's eyes were locked on him. The sneer on his face turned into a small smile.
As for you, Ryuuzaki… he thought with all the fondness of a predator considering its prey, you're eating out of the palm of my hand. You believe there's solution because I don't want to be Kira, so you'll try to stop me by helping me.
But L was still staring at him, calculating, with that darkness in his eyes, not smiling back. Raito glanced at Rem, who was subtly beginning to back out. There was a small clicking sound.
Raito's eyes snapped back to L, startled, and he stared at his cold expression – before his gaze dropped to the gun in L's hand.
It was pointed at Raito.
"Ryuuzaki, have you gone crazy?!" Matsuda cried, hands to his head.
"Please stay back everyone," L said calmly. "Rem-san, stay in the room where I can watch you, please."
Raito's hands have gone clammy. "Ryuuzaki," he gasped. "Ryuuzaki, what are you doing?"
That he would go so far…
"What's gotten into you, Ryuuzaki?!" Mr. Yagami said angrily. "Put the gun away!"
"Yagami-san…" says L quietly. "I'm sorry, but your son has just confessed to me that he is Kira."
The silence was overwhelming.
"What…" gasped Matsuda faintly.
"No," says Raito. He glanced at the task force, all standing there with blank, shocked faces, frozen in place. They don't know what to believe…it was a mistake to tell Ryuuzaki, but if Rem can get away now, it won't be too late. If she makes him go crazy before killing him, then I can say that he was speaking out of anger that his suspicions of me were incorrect all this time, and they'll believe that I'm innocent. "You've gone too far, Ryuuzaki. It's already been proven that I'm innocent. This is crazy."
L bowed his head, but the gun stayed where it was. "Maybe I am crazy," he admitted bitterly.
Aizawa protested faintly, "Ryuuzaki," but his voice was uncertain.
"That's enough," said L. He looked at Raito and raised the gun, straightening his arm to hold it properly. Then he spoke softly, only to Raito. "A killer may never be anything but a killer…" he said. "Will you relinquish ownership of the note again?"
Raito knew that L wouldn't shoot him – not just because the law said he had to undergo a trial, but also because L, more than anyone else, wanted Raito to surrender. You're not prepared to kill me, Ryuuzaki. He gave L a steady gaze. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said flatly.
For a moment, L's only reaction was to tilt his head as if he were puzzled, still considering. "Then I'm…too late…" he said haltingly. "I am sorry, Raito."
Go ahead and arrest me, Ryuuzaki. You'll be the only one willing to incriminate me, and this time I have the means to kill you before that happens. He blinked. There was pain in L's eyes, almost imperceptible beneath the layers of stoicism. "Ryuuzaki," he said. He reached out automatically, trying just to touch him, maybe to pull his hands gently away from the weapon and promise him this was fixable.
The sound was louder than thunder.
L's aim was less perfect than usual, but he was too close to miss. The bullet tore through Raito's torso, squelching flesh, shattering bone with a sickening crackle, and Raito staggered back. His entire world became pain. His head was swimming, his vision was blurry, and through the rushing in his ears he could only discover one thought.
He shot me.
He tried to suck in a breath, but his body felt like it was being swallowed up in fire, and he was sinking in it. Blearily, he ground his teeth together and fought his way through the haze, locking his eyes on L's face. I hate you, Ryuuzaki. I hate you for doing this to me.
"I relinquish…my ownership of the…note," he forced out.
L's eyes widened. His lips parted slackly and the gun clattered to the floor. For a moment Raito grinned at his triumph, a hellish travesty of a smile, but then he-
His body was weak, and it hurt all over. He reached out automatically for L's hands, desperate to steady himself, but instead he crumpled to the floor.
What's going on? I don't understand. Why did he try to kill me?
He lay, without the strength to move, staring up at the ceiling. The only sound was his heart beating powerfully in his ears.
Why is he doing this?
There was a shuffling sound and Ryuuzaki appeared in his field of vision. The expression on his face distracted Raito for a moment from the warmth that was pooling underneath him. For the first time since he'd met him, it was truly open; shocked and utterly horrified. He knelt next to Raito, looking into his face, and Raito felt him tangle their fingers together at his side.
"Raito…" L said in naked disbelief.
Why? Speaking was hard. "Ryuuzaki," Raito choked out, and felt the warm wetness seeping up his throat. I don't understand… "What's going on? What is it I've done?"
"You told me…" L began. His eyes flickered downward miserably, and Raito knew he could hear his heart again. "You were Kira."
thud. thud. thuthudip. thud.
His pulse faltered and another wave of pain washed over Raito, wrecking him. He tried to cough, but couldn't; he took deep breaths that felt wet and hot, like his lungs were flooding. "I don't understand…" how I let that happen… "I was going…" I promised "…to go with you…" But you wouldn't lie about this.
Raito fingers were squeezed tightly, and L swallowed. "You would not have," he said harshly.
How can he not have realized?
His heartbeat was slowing down. "But Ryuuzaki…" Raito tried to speak, but his voice gave out and dropped to a whisper. His hand moved, almost of its own accord, disentangling from L's fingers so that Raito could raise it and run his thumb over L's lip, the way L always did. It left a red smear behind. "…didn't you know…that…" he rasped. "…that I…I lo…..."
I guess one of us managed to save him.
His heart stopped beating.