The notebook is not a thing. It is not an object or an idea or a thought or anything else that can be named. The notebook is not a thing.

The notebook is not paperinkpen nor is it deathmulife. It is nothing that can be burned with a match in the back alley or thrown into the river.

The notebook is entropy.

It is the movement of order to disorder in any and every form. It grows with the universe, and one day it may be the death of it. It thinks, it lives, it breathes, it speaks, and it always moves forward.

(A glass rests on the table, a careless hand pushes it off; it falls gracefully and shatters. There is nothing that prevents the reverse—yet it only falls. It never comes back. It falls and it shatters and it remains. (non)Spontaneous, irreversible action and reaction. The system. The impetus. That is the notebook.)

It is subtle, unseen, and sly. It watches and it waits and it acts passively, but it is there none the less. Burn it, or try to, because then it is smokeashdust and that is a little better. Burn it, and it may wait a little longer; it may pass over.

It may.

The notebook falls for little reason. The shinigami says it is boredom, casually, subtly, and the first time she doesn't notice. (She still thinks there is such thing as a spontaneous reaction, an effect without expense and cause. She can't see the cycle that rusts the nail, the hand that topples the glass, and she can't even begin to imagine the shattered pieces.)

This game has been played before. The old king is dead and she is his unwitting heir. It was a different chess set, then; the world has changed. Things have gone back and they have gone forth. Things are always the not-same way they used to be.

She likes to think she was waiting for it. She likes to think that there was a reason when her fingers brushed against the dark, silent cover. Justice, the word thinks for her. Death, the notebook answers. Yes, her lips respond.

And so it was and is.

She won't make his mistakes, she tells the shinigami, because she is different. She knows better.

It's not about the action. It's not about the death or the lies or the theft. There are worse things in this world. That is only the surface of the pond; the stone is still sinking. There are worse things in this world.

It is the thought. There is a thought and it is a plague. It spreads through the hands and the lips and speaks things unspoken. Its presence catalyzes it all, turns the up into the down, the good into the bad.

Light didn't understand that, she says. (As if he is her friend. As if she is his better. As if she ever knew him at all.)

You have to kill the thought, or nothing will last. The universe will keep on expanding.

The shinigami laughs and the notebook is smiling.

His name is Nathan now, and he has long since put away the white puzzles. Along with the puzzles he has abandoned the old letters that no longer suit him. He is simply a man, now, and he finds that he prefers it infinitely.

He is wearing black.

It has been ten years, but he hasn't counted. You don't count years like that, he thinks. You watch them, you keep them, you guard them, but you never count.

He is sitting at the table, nodding, nearly napping, and he hears a faint tap tap tapping…

The phone rings. It sounds as if someone is knocking upon his door.

He answers it. "Hello?" The word resounds and the walls of his apartment seem to grow with the noise. He hears the sound of a broken wrist watch, an old, rusted wrist watch, ticking somewhere in the room. He thought he left that in a yellow warehouse. (It counts the beats of a dead man's heart.)

"Near," the voice says, "Kira's back."

His name is Nathan now, and he has long since put away his white puzzles.

The line buzzes with the silence and the clock keeps ticking. The ravens in his eyes disappear beneath pale lids. They take flight.

"Why did you call me?" He means to say something else entirely, but he has never learned how to say what he means. He can only say blunt, block-like words.

"Near, you have to take the case. It's Kira. We need you."

His eyes say no but his lips say yes.

Near is wearing black in Nathan's apartment. In his closet he finds forgotten puzzle pieces. On the back of his tongue, he tastes the nepenthe.

(The glass totters over the edge.)

There are things that should not have been forgotten. They are misplaced.

She writes diligently, almost as he did; her eyes do not stray. Her fingers are the pens are the ink is the blood is the death. There is a path marked clearly throughout the pages, though she has not seen it, and she thinks that it is addicting but she hasn't thought to stop her hand.

There is pain and darkness, too. She has yet to realize this.

The shinigami laughs at the things she does not know, but she does not know this either.

Forgive her—she is young and the world is her oyster. Knife in hand, she sharpens and writes and writes.

Corruption is of the mind not the hand, she says. So they fall, those who see themselves in the mirror, those whose eyes have rolled inward and have grown too distant to care. Those corrupt men sitting on their pedestals topple one by one.

It seems almost random, but it isn't, oh, she knows it isn't. Light was far too obvious, too friendly, too blatant. Light imagined that he was proving a point, but she plays the game far better than he ever did.

(From the background, Ryuk's laughter always rings in her ears.)

"Ryuk," she comments when her fingers have stopped spilling themselves onto the blank pages, "tell me more about the last Kira. Light? What was he like?"

The shinigami starts laughing.

"You're a lot like him, actually," it says between chuckles. "He probably wouldn't have liked it if I said that, but he's dead."

She frowns and asks another question. "Why do you think that? I'm the next Kira—I'm the one continuing his work."

The shinigami grins and grins. "Let's just say that Light didn't like murderers. In the end he didn't even like himself that much. He just pretended to."

She doesn't hear, though, because her pen is nibbling at the empty page—another thought, another layer—working her way deeper until there will be nothing left.

Nathan (Near in a black sweater) doesn't like this new Kira. At first it is only a feeling, his eyes flashing when he sees the victims, but he doesn't understand it. Everyone is watching him like the old days—it's the same people ten years removed. They look at him as if he should understand, but he is only watching.

This, he thinks finally, isn't Light.

For Near there was very little difference between Light the man and Kira. They made the same choices; they were essentially the same view and pity Light as an entirely separate entity was not only foolish: it was also very dangerous. Hence Near, when he did play his own game of god and executioner, did not blink when he saw, standing at Light Yagami's funeral, Light's mother slap Matsuda in the face and tell him to never come back. He just pitied that she didn't know that Matsuda was justified. They were all justified—because Light was Kira and Kira had to die.

Nathan knows that Light was masks. One of those masks was Kira, but only one of them: Light had other faces. It wasn't simply lying. Some part of that other Light, the non-Kira Light, had been real. There had been a young man once, a young man who had spotted a black notebook falling from the sky. This Light had already owned all his faces. Kira had been waiting for his wearer just as Light had waited for his favorite face.

Nathan knows that when he captures this strange, different Kira that he (she?) won't be Light. She'll look at him through Kira's eyes, but there will be nothing else. She'll lack his subtlety, the game that was not a game—she'll only see one board and call it good. It's a game, he thinks, for this Kira it is only a game.

It was still a game for Light, but there was something deeper—there was a desperation and an honesty. He played backgammon, chess, Jumanji: anything to make the pieces fall and the gambit a reality. Game board over game board was superimposed in the hopes that one and all might change the world (their minds) and that he might win across all planes of thought... The game was a means, not the end. And he had lost. Every piece was taken, every board overturned—Nathan had thought. But he had forgotten, behind it all, the rule book, with its lines and names and bored (angry) gods. There will always be more players.

He watches the multiple screens but they are simply noise, only a distraction so that he can pull back and think. He is distracted by himself; when he looks inside he sees what he would have been, had the notebook come to him.

L had declared that Light was childish, and it was true. Yet that was oversimplified. You couldn't help but oversimplify Light—it was so difficult to see all his faces, and he passed so very quickly Nathan only caught a single glance. The last glance.

This Kira, this new Kira, is childish in ways that Light was not. It's not to create a god (promised land) that she does this, as it was for Light—it's to play a game. She (he?) wants to play a game with him, to play with the great detective L, who has come out of retirement only for her (how cute that he cares so much). She is a mouse hunting down a cat.

This new and improved Kira leaves bodies with knives sticking out of ribes; she leaves suicide notes. Kira has already returned and L has already noticed and returned as well; what's fun in seeing old familiar faces? Kira leaves him meaningless messages with scribbles for words, thinking he'll take the bait. Nathan already knows what those letters say without looking at them, without picking them up.

(They wonder why Nathan clenches his fists, why he wears black in the headquarters, and why his eyes are so very dark.)

They are meaningless, they are nothingness, they are a distraction and little more. She drops crumbs and feathers to lure the ravens. The real clues aren't in the obvious things, like the letters; the clues are in the victims. People, Nathan finds, get distracted by the mystery, by the obvious enigma. That, though, is nothing more than a bottomless hole. The notes are what the killer wants him to know—nothing more. But corpses always come with more.

Kira, he thinks in silence, has distracted himself. This Kira has missed the point and stepped over Light's grave without hesitation, without remorse. (Though he does not know it, this Kira also walked under a ladder, and the luck must follow). Whatever reason there might have been to Light's life is gone, long gone, shattered over the edge in long, sharp pieces. Nathan imagines that if he were to see Light again that he too would be looking over the edge and shaking his head.

Nathan feels as if he is on the edge, merely watching. This is not the end, and Kira has yet to meet him face to face.

It's a cancer, the thought. It spreads to the hand, but in order to get rid of the cancer you must strike at the core. Before it's too late. It's too late. She cries when she sees the pages: too many names, too many names, why are there so many? (They must deserve it. She saw them watching, she saw their smiles, she saw them and they saw themselves… They must deserve it.)

She is nameless, heartless, bloodless.

She sits in the corner with her head in her hands, realizing that her brown hair has grown and she hasn't even noticed. She was too busy writing, too busy peeling away that strange blue peel from the world, layer by layer to the core.

Some of the names she remembers writing, remembers thinking clearly that they must die. The others (ha, what others?) are new. She did not write them (does she really write anything?). She did not write them and she knows them. She has thought about it, thought long about it, but she didn't (yes she did, oh yes she did). Didn't kill them. Couldn't. Wouldn't. But now their names decorate the notebook like jewels. Glittering jewels that blind her and hypnotise her all at once, a world of wealth within her reach... But there are so many names. (The thought is the poison, and she is as damned as the rest.)

But somehow the notebook knows her game better than she, and she is rising from her corner to once again bear the instruments of justice.

She doesn't like thinking about herself or the notebook or the criminals dying. She likes to think about L returned, L resurrected, L who had died but came back from the grave just to hunt her down and kill her. She likes the game, the challenge, the call, the battle cry, and she thinks he likes it too.

(Or he should, he really should.)

She's succeeding, but they don't realize it. The old Kira only made them behave momentarily; she wants them eliminated, whether they notice or not. They like to think Kira has returned, but this Kira is different than the last, better, more lasting. This Kira will be there after she has died. They won't forget her because she'll make sure they are the ones who are forgotten. Peel the world piece by piece until only the core is left. Almost nothing. Light only went halfway, and in the end, that amounts to nothing. It's all or nothing. There is no halfway mark.

She wonders what L thinks, all alone in his ivory tower looking down on the world. Well, red death may be a bit late, but she is still coming to the party. L knows this and waits for her; she's going to take her time. She only needs the notebook, after all.

She smiles and begins to write again.

"Kira is in England," is all he says after the documents, the evidence, is laid in front of his team. "We'll be leaving in three days."

They look at him, staring wildly, as if they somehow thought that Kira was Japan and that Kira must be in Japan. They had forgotten that Kira, Light, only happened to be in Japan and that a notebook could fall anywhere. It didn't matter that Kira wasn't in Light Yagami's homeland or in L's graveyard.

This newer version of Kira is sloppy. His team is impressed by his deduction, thinking that it is Nathan (Near) tracking down Kira. But that's not true. This Kira is laying the tracks for him. When it becomes nothing but a game, it's no fun if the other player doesn't have a fighting chance.

For Nathan his evidence is a list, just a list, of those that seemed a bit too random and died a bit too soon. People no one would have thought of—no one major, just minor terrible people whose names Nathan had never bothered knowing before. Too personal, too private, they were all far too raw to be anything other than close to Kira.

As for the clues Kira had so freely given, those were a different story entirely. He had thrown out Kira's suicide love letters.

(The police had been horrified by this, claiming that it was evidence. He agreed it was. Suicide letters written by Kira's victims were definitely evidence. But Kira couldn't be caught on what he handed to the police. Kira was caught on things he hadn't intended to be seen, the subtle things that seemed to amount to almost nothing. Light Yagami was caught because Mikami Teru visited the bank one day, that was all.)

There was no televised scandal, there was no embarrassment; the public knew lacked L's showmanship. (It was undeniable that L loved his theatrics: with Lind L. Taylor's public execution, his appearance at Light's university, his script for Light's execution via his father's gun in the back of a car... The list went on. Of course, Nathan realized this only after the Kira case had long ended).

He feels as if he has disappointed his companions, as if he had somehow let them down. To them, genius is a spectacle. It's making a show of things, using arrogant smirks and crinkled eyes to make it more complicated than it really is. He never really liked them, anyway.

Nathan is not Near is not L. Nathan is a thing of things that used to be but aren't anymore. Nathan is the ghost who had missed the memo and decided to attend his own funeral, unaware that only the ravens were left in the cedar limbs above Near's grave. He knows this.

He likes to believe that L would not be entertained by this Kira either, but he knows that what L would feel would be something more akin to disappointment than what Nathan feels. Is it nostalgia when he looks at Kira's new victims? It isn't regret. It can't be regret. Even Light deserved his fate.

Still, there is something in this new Kira that is horrifying, wasted, a feeble, misinterpreted cry from the grave. There are so many dead from Kira's reign of terror, and now there are even more. He's growing tired of this never-ending game Light created; the unintentional consequences of his desire to change the topography of the world left a madhouse of unfinished moves. He's growing tired of the pieces Light has left on the surface of the game boards—so many still in play. The pieces dance on automated strings and the people die painted with black and white. (Is he black or is he white? Whose hand has painted him?)

She dreams she's talking to Light Yagami.

He's sitting on the edge of her bed, looking at her with wary golden eyes. He's frowning, too, and it doesn't seem to disappear as she looks back at him. His blue suit is wrinkled and stained with dirt and blood. Ryuk never had told her how he died and she had never asked.

"You're Light," she says finally because he doesn't seem to be disappearing and the dream is wearing thin.

He still doesn't smile, but she almost expects him to—as if she should somehow amuse him. Humoring him is better than nothing. She extends her hand to him; he merely looks at it critically.

She waits for him to speak and he sees this. This time he does smile slightly, but it doesn't reach those strange eyes of his.

"What do you think you're doing?" he asks. She's surprised by how soft his voice seems, how controlled, as if it is only a casual question and not a trap full of hot air balloons and deflating lies.

"Continuing your work," she answers thinly, then pauses and grins. "Playing the game better than you ever did."

"Really?" he asks slowly. "Is that so?" He laughs, then, and looks over to the corner where Ryuk is laughing, always laughing, even in her sleep.

"What's so funny?" Her eyes narrow. She remembers that she has a death note and this dream, vision, doesn't. He has a human face; she should be able to kill him easily enough. One name, no problem. He's dead anyway.

"You think you're me," he says with a smile, still looking at the corner. "You'll be dead before the year's out."

"What is that supposed to mean?" she snaps. He looks at her then, conspiratorially, that smile still on his face.

"The false show of ignorance doesn't become you, Kira." He pauses on that last word, eyes narrowed as if she doesn't match. "You've made far too many mistakes. He'll find you, and your Nathan isn't the same as my L. He won't wait around for evidence; he won't dilly-dally in hopes of entertainment. When he finds you, he will kill you." Light smiles and motions to his chest. She sees thatthe stains aren'tblood—they're bullets. Three bullets. Her eyes grow wide.

"I haven't made any mistakes. I'm not you." She thinks back to the names, all the names, so many names.

"No, no you're not." Light looks to the corner again, to Ryuk. "Is this the best you could come up with?" he asks. The shinigami laughs but all she hears is a strange tapping from outside the window, a tap tap tapping...

"Why are you here?" she asks, diverting and changing tracks.

He looks to the notebook and smiles. "Oh, I'm everywhere nowadays. Sometimes it's convenient, being dead."

"You aren't real," she says for him. He only smiles as if those words mean nothing to him. He is the shadow and the dim light from the streetlamps seeping softly through her closed window. He is nothingness. In that nothingness he contains every possibility.

Her eyes narrow and she knows it's just a dream, but she swears there is some truth in him. When he is gone the next morning, she sees his reflection in the notebook. For once in her life she is tempted to burn the damn thing. She doesn't.

She's smaller than he expected. She's little older than he was when he met Light. Fourteen, maybe fifteen. Fragile, malnourished, limp hair and spindly limbs, as if she suffers from a terminal disease. But there's something in her. He watches as she walks across the street, never looking back as if she is proud of what she has done. Perhaps she is.

Everyone around her dies. She is a walking plague. She kills and kills until there's nothing left. He only had to follow the trail of corpses.

For her it was the thoughts and morals that mattered. Actions were second to morality, so that a person who only sponsored death, promoted death, was just as guilty as a rapist and a murderer. To her they were in the same, perhaps worse.

What dread hands?

Even Light, even careful, practical, deluded Light, had his limits. There were some boundaries that were not to be touched, even in murder. Some things…

He doubts she even realizes what she's done, what world she aims to create. She's so young. In her world a person can die for a thought, for a look in their eyes, nothing more. In her world there would be nothing left but the empty shells of people too afraid to speak. In her mind she has created the place where there is no darkness, and it is full of the dead.

Light knew.

Nathan follows her to her school where she sits and thinks of nothing but death, the next hit, the next corpse, the next turn in the game. She doesn't see him there, right behind her, a silent shadow. She thinks she's safe and she smiles as if she has not signed her life away again and again and again...

She won't be the last, he thinks as he watches her cross the street, hair flying behind her. There will be others, other notebooks, other young people who think too much and too little of the world Light left behind.

What world, he thinks, have I inherited?

He can't stop it from happening again; there is no stopping it now. Light brought an idea to the world, one that would never change, never truly go away. They were trapped now, his successors, his rivals—trapped in his clever game. It would never end, there would always be some new step to take, a new position.

Each in turn would worship the same idols, the gothic L and the ever silent but ever present Kira. They would think they had thought of it first, never realizing that they are only reading off a script written long ago by a man who has long since been dead. His ideals would transcend through the generations, and there would be a new Kira and a new L. They would battle until they both died, thinking all the while that at least it was over, at least they had stopped it. Low and behold as another pair enters the game board.

(And Nathan realizes. Light does not play at his own game of God and martyr: he created it. Light is not the character himself, the poor players that follow him, but the author of their lives. That is the true difference. Light owns the game, but even in death he does not play it.)

He watches her and he knows that she will never realize that she is only Light's pawn.

The notebook is laughing.

The ghost isn't real. The ghost is a product of the notebook, nothing more, nothing less. The ghost is her, her thoughts turned traitor. The ghost is nothing real, nothing at all.

Yet it smiles.

Nathan is not quite surprised when he sees the shinigami again. It is standing above his bed; for a moment he thinks that this is Light's revenge, that Light has come for him, and that this will be his end. He closes his eyes and opens them only to see yellow eyes staring back. Light is nowhere in sight.

(Its eyes had all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming...)

"Are you here for the new Kira?" Nathan doesn't ask if he is here for the old; he doesn't need to ask. They are all in some way there for Light. It laughs, but then, he always thought it would.

"What do you think?" he asks with that jackal's grin.

"Yes," Nathan answers for him, not moving—just watching, waiting, and watching. In some ways he is disappointed because in his mind only Light, only the first had the right to corrupt himself so terribly.

Light is dead, though, and dead is dead. Even Nathan Rivers knows that.

"Still sharp," Ryuk says.

"I thought it took a lot of time and effort to get another notebook. You seemed to have a lot of trouble holding onto the last one." Nathan smiles like Near in the warehouse wearing a plastic letter over his own pale features.

"Oh, it does." And he leaves it at that, as if it is nothing more than ambiguity, and as if Nathan will never truly know these things beyond his own world. He never has.

"What a waste then, to give it to her. You know that this won't last."

L is different. She's not sure what to think of him, besides that he looks odd. Her frail wrists are handcuffed behind her back as she sits in the chair, arms twisted at an unnatural angle. Head down, eyes up, smile hidden, out of sight.

His hair is white but he isn't old, not as old as he should be. He sits casually at the other end of the table, looking at her as if she were a curiosity. He has nothing to learn from her; he's won the game and that's all that matters. It looks as if he's waiting for her to speak first, but she doesn't. It doesn't suit her, so she waits.

"I sometimes wonder what he would have made of us." The detective L leaned on the table, bringing his pale hands together below his chin, still watching her.

She doesn't answer, just looks down. Don't look at his face, don't look. To have a face is to have power, the power to kill and to die. She must not let him take her face.

"Perhaps he would have realized how futile his efforts truly were. Even those who follow him don't understand. Despite his brave words and his façade, I do not believe Light ever truly wanted to become god of the fanatic cult created in his name."

L smiles (a sad not-smile) and she notices that it has nothing to do with her; she is little more than a fleck of dust in his eyes. Her face is safe from him. He is looking toward the past; his eyes like ravens have already taken flight. His preoccupation is with masks and with lies, and he is no longer in this world. He is not a man. She is staring at nothing. Why is that thought so very terrifying?

She speaks for the first time, lifting her head and staring him in the eyes, taking in the dull, disinterested surprise on his face—it is as if the unexpected is expected, and so her words mean nothing: "He failed."

"Yes, but you're no better," L adds. He begins to smile again, tapping his hands on the table. For a moment she can not see their reflection and she wonders if he has truly faded from this world.

"The man who wore my name before I did failed as well as the man who wore yours, and I have fared no better," L says and suddenly Kira understands that he was not the first L, that she has been fighting a fake, she has done nothing, she is just a faded carbon copy of the original.

sub sole nihil novi est

Yet, she doesn't really believe that. She can't really believe that. History repeats itself but she could have been different, given the opportunity. She had been caught too soon, stopped too soon, and she could have...

She starts to laugh because suddenly she realizes that she's been playing at something she could not understand, not really. She called it a game and thought that it must have been a game for the other Kira too, for Light, but it wasn't. She's been played masterfully by an idea, something that isn't even real. And it doesn't matter.

All men are played by ideas... Yet even they accomplish something great; surely she could have as well... There was always hope.

She looks at him after the laughter has died (it dies so quickly) and asks the question, "So, are you going to kill me then, L?"

He stares at her, eyes hollowed out by the things that have passed, and he nods. In that moment though she realizes he hasn't moved at all; it's as if he's perched there, in that chair for all eternity, and no matter her shouting and screaming and weeping and dying, he will never be moved. A raven, he sits upon the bust of Pallas Athena, just watching.


"Not even a trial? Isn't that my right?"

Here the man smiles as well, as if thinking back on something he had forgotten. That smiles is not meant for this world. "In attempting to become god, you forsook that right. It's nothing personal, not like the last time—you really do mean nothing to me. Your secret just isn't safe with others."

She thinks of the notebook, the cover, the ink, the blood all dripping, draining away as she slip-slides down into dusty death. She thinks of all the waste, all the unwanted waste as everything means nothing and she fails, just as he had before her.

"It's a virus," he continues. "It sits in your mind even when you aren't thinking of it; like an anchor, it sinks there until you can no longer ignore its presence. It rots you out from the inside." He looks at her, still, out of those raven's eyes. She knows that he doesn't see her, that in her place he sees something older and darker, butshe only sees her own frightened wide-eyed, dead-eyed reflection staring back.

"It is not of this world," he says bleakly.

"I don't understand." Her whisper seems so loud.

"That's because you are a rationalist. This problem isn't for people who rationalize this world. You thought that you could do anything you wanted to, that you could rewrite humanity if only you had the right tools."

She lifts her head. He can not have her face. He will not take her face. She will have his. "I still could."

"That's because it hasn't devoured you yet." He says decidedly, with a confidence that offends all of her certainties, "You'll never really know, though. You'll die believing you could have done it if you had enough time, enough fear, enough death. You'll die cursing me for standing in your way, thinking, if only…"

She sees the fluorescent lights flickering, one by one.

"Don't worry, I'll burn it for you."

She's surprised she's still alive, but then again she has suspected that he doesn't have the initiative to kill her.

"I thought I was due for the electric chair," she says when he reaches the table. For a moment she thinks she has the power this time. He has not killed her; he can not. But he doesn't look at her, doesn't even acknowledge her—like the damned raven that he is, he just does what he wants. He does not need her face.

"Well?" she demands when he sits. "Don't I deserve an execution?"

"My fellows aren't happy with my interrogation. They want something more substantial," he says, folding his hands and looking down at his pale fingers. She can tell in that moment that he doesn't particularly care what she says. He is only there for the appearance, for the arbitrary pretension of his mere presence. He is no longer a man, but she is no longer a thing. He does not care.

She looks, for a moment, at the mirror of glass that separates the raven and the godhead from reality, and she smiles. In her mind's eye she sees it shattering, splintered by an unseen hand.

"You think it doesn't matter what I say, don't you?" She knows he won't answer (only a vague nevermore) but continues anyway. "I'm just a rerun, just someone playing at something that's already finished. I'm just playing a game created by some insane, misguided fool. That's what you think. But I think you're wrong. Yagami may have been an idiot, but he had the general idea. If I had remained out there, if you had died like you were supposed to..."

"It would have changed nothing." Nathan says sharply, "There are other fools besides me who could have taken my name. I was nothing special."

"You're L; you're the one who's responsible..." she accuses, twisting in her handcuffs, but he cuts her off.

"I am responsible for nothing. Like you, I am just someone who took up a dead name and paraded about ideals that I thought belonged to me. I wear these borrowed clothes because I believed I had no choice, and I don't."

She looks the raven in the eye, then, and asks in a soft voice with a small smile, "What is your true name, then?"

"Nathan Rivers."

She grins. It is the notebook's face. "You shouldn't have told me that. When I get out I'll know how to kill you now. It won't be pretty, either. Idealistic men don't deserve pretty deaths."

"No," he says, "I suppose they don't." (He seems to be looking at her when he says it, not worried about himself at all—as if he doesn't really count himself in that category...)

"So then, what do the conquering worms want to know?" she asks, thinking of the tragedy called Man.

"They want to know why you did it," he says flatly. Like it is ridiculous. Like it doesn't matter. Like she is done.

"Don't you want to know?" she asks the detective (who will never truly give an answer that is not nothingness).


He needs to know, needs to realize. She is right. So she tells him anyway. "I did it because I had to. Because someone had to. I did it because we are dying in our own excrement and we don't even know it. I did it because it would be wrong to throw out that kind of an opportunity..." She pauses and then smiles again. "And I did it because it was fun." The names are written on her tongue.

Nathan Rivers looks at her then. "That is one thing that Light would never have said."

"Light Yagami is dead and useless and a failure. The world doesn't need Light; it hasn't needed Light for quite some time. I'm sure it can make due with me."

For a moment he is silent, speculative, eyes far in the distance and ravens stalking other carrion. Then he says, expressionlessly, "You overestimate yourself."

Her arms bend against her bonds and she leans forward, eyes wide and crazy, to claw at him in a voice that derides. "Did you care for him? When he died, did you cry? I bet it hurts real bad to see how fine we're getting along without him."

"I liked to believe that there could be a world without Kira. That world is gone now. Thanks to him."

"Thanks to me," she corrects.

He stands, then, looking down at her with an expression of strange, pitying wonder. "You still don't get it. You're nothing. You have no name. You're just the notebook's next play thing."

"The notebook is just a book."

"No, it isn't." He shakes his head slowly, eyes now looking to a realm beyond the past. "Oh no it isn't. It's far more real and powerful than any of us. When I look at you, I don't see a girl with a name and a past. I just see a shadow of an idea that a dead man once had. That's what the notebook turned you into. And when you see me you see... a shade of a detective who had no face and no name. That's the notebook's gift to me."

He turns then toward the door, walking from her without a care. She calls him back. "Isn't there anything else you'd like to know?"

He looks back slightly, so that she can only see his white hair, his pale, sharp features, and nothing of his eyes. He is a silhouette in a room that lacks reality, a single shadow.

"If I've forgotten anything, I'll just ask the next Kira."

(On the floor below the table, time rewinds. The shards of glass fly back into place; the glass lifts from its irreversible fall. The hand reaches for it once more.)

And he is gone.

Somehow the world never seemed to run out of notebooks.