"Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man"
-Dune, Frank Herbert
Imagine a gray horizon and landscape. The clouds and rain washed away all signs of color, it was still raining the black umbrellas attempting to shield it but only diverting their path for a small amount of time. Life, they thought, was like that rain. There was no diverting it, no delaying it, only a desperate acceptance of feeling that cold ache in one's bones and seeing nothing but sleet above one's head. (Some say that this was how it should have been but there were older laws than man's even then…)
Death and the funeral always march onward as they always have, undisturbed.
A boy stood by the grave of his mother trying desperately to hold back the tears. He wouldn't succeed. Then again the adults surrounding him, his father, weren't succeeding either. The rain helped to uphold the illusion of stoicism, at the very least.
Everyone dies. That's what they had been told. It's true. Everyone does die. Even the Shinigami in their sunless kingdom of black sand above the clouds have this written in their ten commandments. They tried not to repeat this fact to themselves at the bedside of the coffin and the dirt but they said it none the less. Everyone dies.
Some people though, for one reason or another, come back.
(Though this too has supposedly been forbidden by the laws of that other world, sometimes the laws are ignored or overlooked.)
The funeral was interrupted by such an occasion. It was the boy who noticed. He turned from his father at the sound of knocking, a distant pounding against the earth, from below. The grave next to his mother's, it sounded as if someone was knocking from inside the gates of hell. He looked to his father but he hadn't noticed, the knocking became slightly louder. Yet it was almost indistinguishable from the rain, almost not out of the ordinary. He gripped his father's arm. The funeral proceeded.
The ground began to shift in the grave next to his mothers'. He read the name over his shoulder, though it was faded and untended. He wondered who that poor forgotten man might have been, that his grave had been so forgotten, he hoped that his mother's would look better in the end. He saw her then, no flowers, her name faded away into dust. No, that wouldn't happen to her.
Light Yagami. (Such an old, symbolic, and altogether dead name). He couldn't read the inscription. Just as well, there wasn't much there to be said.
They only turned when it was too late, when the spectacle had already occurred and the first bleeding pale hand grasped for dim sunlight that wasn't there. It was followed closely behind by another bleeding hand rubbed raw with dirt and rock. They did stare then there on funeral forgotten, the mother dead left forgotten, such is the way of the funeral and of death.
They watched the agonizing moments not daring to move as the man managed to pull himself out of his own grave. No one helped but no one ran either. They just watched as he blinked the dirt and grime out of his eyes and turned to look at them, his eyes were a curious color. At a glance they might label them as brown, but closer they saw flecks of gold, like a dragon's. He looked at them and in that moment they knew they were little more than the dust in his eyes to the man who had conquered death and burial. Then his head turned and he resumed his task of pulling his naked bleeding body out of his own personal hole in the ground.
Perhaps they had previously thought of resurrection as being a cleaner process, the man's chest and back were painted in thick black streaks of mud and he had managed to cut himself in the chest as well creating fresh grooves in his skin, because none of them had any inclination or desire to return to the process of their own unfinished funeral. They also had no desire to aid the man and it appeared that he did not desire their help either. Perhaps they liked to imagine it was a private process, rising from the dead, or maybe they recognized that in his eyes they were indistinguishable from the rain and the graves and the sky. One by one they turned away from the grave they came to attend, the funeral they meant to have, and turn back to where they came from. Resurrection does ruin the mood of the funeral.
So it came to be that Light Yagami found himself standing naked and alone standing in a graveyard.
By the time he reached pavement his feet were bleeding. The grass had been soft enough, but his feet were unworn and he had reached the gravel parking lot sooner than expected. Though he limped slightly he did not mind the pain extensively; it was nothing compared to the pain of the cold.
The world was so terribly cold.
Soon enough he found himself in a jacket though he didn't remember where or whom he had stolen it from. The thin cotton was soaked through before he noticed that he was wearing anything at all.
His eyes weren't working quite right either, he often had to stop so they could attempt to adjust. Light was everywhere, everything was bright and stabbing, and moving and nothing stayed in focus. Everything was blinding.
Blind, deaf, lame, and dumb he found himself in a gray landscape with trees made of iron and people without faces (buildings, like a city, a distant voice that seemed far too sensible to belong to him said dimly). He watched the ground and his traitorous feet for a sign of stumbling, the bleeding was worsening with every step. He wondered when he would not be able to walk altogether.
Once he saw a little girl and her mother looking at him, the mother backing away slowly but the girl simply staring, and pointing at him. He looked down and saw nothing, only the dirt and the blood.
Something in his head was screaming at him, something unintelligible and alien was screaming away in his head, the voice was like sunlight that bright jagged light that burned his eyes until he could see nothing but white. He walked on and ignored it, attempted to ignore it, but it was unusually loud. (This is the end?! This, is the end?!)
He hadn't remembered ever being so cold.
He felt as if there was something missing, some burden he should have been carrying, he had carried nothing when he came out. He had only felt the suffocation and the closing in and the wood and the death and he had felt nothing else. Still, there was some pain that he had forgotten to take with him, something he had left behind.
Three red roses, one at the wrist, the waist, and the shoulder. The fourth, hidden away, beneath his skin, frozen in time by the winter's chill that came with a name.
He had left the garden for someone else to tend.
He stopped walking and looked back over his shoulder. It was night then, twilight had passed by unnoticed. The rain too, had stopped, though the stolen coat was still damp. He brushed some of the grime out of his eye suddenly transfixed by a streetlamp. That captured star, he thought, had anything else ever been so beautiful? Yet the city was full of stars, too many stars caught and captured, pressed together they fought to outshine one another until all that could be seen was the electromagnetic fire. Had anything ever been so horrifying?
He couldn't say.
He wanted to speak then, to say something that he had forgotten, something of importance. The streaks of tears on his cheeks prevented him, the world blurred of its own accord, and he felt his thoughts slipping away like the mist.
He walked on.
The voice in his head was louder and more distinct this time. It was no longer an unintelligible beast that prowled and hunted and slammed itself against the walls. It thought and it watched and it had more of a sense of direction than he himself had ever possessed.
(I'll find them, I'll find all of them, and I'll kill them. One by one until they'll have nothing left, until they'll be like I was. Trapped in a yellow warehouse begging in their own pool of blood. I will kill each and every one of them. I owe it to them. They owe it to me. It is fate. It is…
Out, out, damned spot.)
He ran into a man on the street, the man turned to look at him a quirk of his eyebrows and his lips tugging into a frown. He backed up slightly holding up his hands in apology. He attempted to find his vocal chords but he felt as if they had been lost in the shuffle. He eventually found them lodged in the throat.
"Sorry." He said, surprised at the quality of the voice, he had always thought he sounded louder. The man turned and walked on, he did the same.
He began to read the names of the streets some of them striking distant chords of familiarity within him, like bells they reverberated drowning out that screaming in his head for a few precious moments. He'd pause and read the words again. He'd see better, brighter, days on these streets. On those days there had been birds perched upon the street lamps and the sun had hung high in the sky, a benevolent watchful eye of some god whose name he had forgotten.
He stood, bare legs, bare feet, hands in coat pocket looking at the sky for some sign of light. Something. Anything to take away from the screaming.
(How dare they? How could it have ended like that? They disposed of him as if he were nothing, as if it had all been for… It wasn't for nothing. That didn't make it worthless. All those years. All the lives spent and wasted. No, not for nothing.
He'd find them. He'd start with the ones that didn't matter and work his way down. He'd descend leaving the child for last. His judge and executioner, yes, he'd be the last. He'd find him, he'd find him and take that mask from him. Rip the mask away. Rip it away until he had nothing! Until he was bleeding and naked in his own grave.
No, it wasn't for…)
He brushed auburn hair out of his eyes and watched the street lamps for any sign of light.
And it was cold and it was sharp and it was so very jagged and bright.
As he stared at the absent stars and the glowing streetlamps his mind ran over faces he had assumed he had forgotten. A girl, a young woman, in a wheel chair staring at nothingness as if she had already died; her eyes had once been so very bright. Something about that face, those dead empty eyes staring at him, felt as if someone had pushed a silver pin into his chest and just let it rest there.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. His feet began moving and this time he felt as if he had a destination. A place to be, a place to go home to, somewhere, anywhere away from the shouting and the noise and the faces that should have been forgotten.
He brushed past the people who didn't matter, ignoring all their chatter and their lives, he knew how they would play out anyway. They were same person repeated infinitely reading off the same script. He no longer read the street signs but instead made his way by instinct into the heart of the city ducking his head so that he would not see the great towers scraping clouds from the sky.
In his mind the words fell into a rhythm, like the beating of drums.
(He'd find them, each of them, watch them suffer. Watch them bleed. He'd restart, He'd find a notebook, he could start over. He knew he could. Hadn't he proved that? Hadn't he proved that he could do anything he wanted with enough time and patience? There were no limits. Not even death was a limit… No, not even death.)
His feet stopped and he looked at the building in front of him. Forbidding glass stared back at him. He caught sight of his own reflection in the door. He didn't recognize himself. There stood the image of a young man in the doorway, hardly older than seventeen (though it was hard to tell for his eyes were so dark and jagged). His hair dark and wet with rain, sticking to his face, almost obscuring the amber eyes. Hands in pockets, shaking, feet and legs bare. And the blood and dirt dripping over everything.
He looked like he had crawled through hell and back.
The thought made him smile.
(And all those faces in his head, marching past him, with dead and dying eyes…
Out, out, damned spot.)
Matsuda had outlived Yagami Light by ten years.
That statement, he felt, was perhaps the most defining of his life. There were other things he could have said to introduce himself, but they lacked something essential, something absolutely necessary to say.
It wasn't really important that Matsuda was a policeman, that Matsuda had effectively ended the Kira case, or that Matsuda had been single for some time. No, it was far more important that Matsuda had lived and that Light Yagami had died.
Light had died only a few weeks before turning twenty four. He had been shot to death by a policeman and had his heart ripped out of him by a god of death. Those too were insignificant details though; it wasn't important how he died. Or at least, that's what Matsuda told himself.
It wasn't really about morals, because if someone made it about morals then it didn't make any sense to back Light blindfolded against a wall and shoot him through the chest three times for good measure. It was about survival, they had been balancing on the knife's edge, and someone had to fall…
Still, Aizawa didn't have any blood on his hands, he didn't really understand.
Misa died too, shortly after Light. She had lasted a few months, staring at nothing, looking at Matsuda as if she too had already died. There was no accusation, at least not through words, there had been with Sachiko. There was no cursing or weeping, she just clasped her hands and looked at her feet and told him quietly that she'd like to be alone for a while.
In the end, in the end Light was all she really ever had.
Matsuda didn't blame her, although he said he did, said she should have gotten better and gone on living. It wasn't as if Light had been all that great to her anyway, had treated her like garbage, as if she was worthless.
(Those were Aizawa's words though, Aizawa tried to justify everything through the incessant blaming of Light. It sometimes worked.)
Matsuda did not blame Misa. Not even when he heard about how she had jumped from the roof of a building far too high. He always knew she would jump, no sleeping pills for Misa, if given a choice she would run and fly before she fell.
Matsuda hadn't seen Sayu Yagami in nine years. It wasn't as if she had thrown him out of her house and life. Something had just… broken. There wasn't room for him anymore, without Light, there was no pretense for him. They'd be in the same room but it was as if she was separated behind one-way glass, not seeing him, only looking back at herself.
(Every night he prayed that he wouldn't read in the paper about how she fell asleep, too many pills, and hadn't woken up.)
Matsuda had been returning home from a night of desperate drinking. He often played drinking games with himself now. Times changed. It wasn't like right after the Kira case when justification was everywhere and it looked like they really had won a war. Ten years and you stop seeing the reason for anything. You just see the body count.
So many things had changed. Aizawa had retired, was a proud father, his kids would be graduating in a few years. Matsuda would attend the graduation and congratulate his comrade and arms and his friend, pretending all the while that they weren't standing on Light's grave.
Near, too, had retired. Five years ago the detective L had announced that it was the end, without warning, without a word after; he might as well have died. He had disappeared into whatever life awaited a dead detective. Matsuda hadn't seen or heard from him since then.
Everyone moved on.
Except for Matsuda; Matsuda never moved on.
The night air had been cool on his face, he had readjusted his coat thinking of all the things he should have been doing. Drowning the past, as entertaining and successful as it sounded, as a general rule didn't work. If it did work he usually ended up drowning the present as well until he'd wake up in a hotel room that he didn't remember coming to with a woman he had never met.
What on earth could he have told them to get them there?
Hello, my name is Matsuda, I've outlived Yagami Light by ten years.
He had been staring at the streets watching the cars, thinking of all the things he should have been doing, the people he should have been meeting. Moving on, the whole world had moved on. Or so he had thought, for ten years he had thought that, and it only took an instant and his thoughts were shattered.
The world moved on except for when it didn't. Some things leave scars; scars so powerful and poignant they can't fall to the bottom of the river with the rest of the silt of history.
Matsuda stared out at the scarlet eyes gazing at him out of the back of cars when Light Yagami passed by.
What was so interesting was that Light looked nothing like Light. He had been wearing nothing but a tan wrinkled coat that came down about halfway down his thighs. His feet were covered in dirt and blood and every time he took a step he limped a little. His hair had grown; it looked darker too, almost concealing his eyes. It was his eyes, smudged by shadows rubbed beneath either by dirt or death, which triggered the recognition.
And then he was gone. His back to Matsuda as he made his way slowly but surely down the street his eyes locked on the ground in front of him. Looking at the earth as if it was something to be mistrusted, an enemy to be conquered, just another obstacle.
Matsuda wasn't even aware he had begun to follow him until they had crossed at least two blocks. He hadn't even thought that he might have been a hallucination induced by alcohol poisoning. He had just followed steadily behind, feeling like running, and saying nothing.
Light never turned, never looked back, he must have heard. He must have noticed. He just walked.
He would pause every once in a while to view a street lamp, a street name, and then would shake his head and keep walking, never looking behind.
There was something about the way Light looked beneath the street lamp, in the light drizzle. His face had been bathed in a golden light, softening the harsh paleness and the blood and grit, making him look not only angelic but alive. Light looked alive, bathed in the golden light that had always accompanied him in life. But then he walked away and he was a ghost in a coat again.
Matsuda couldn't do anything but follow.
The defining moments in his life, the truly defining moments, weren't built on thought and planning. Matsuda's life was built on impulse. Impulsively he had fought for the Kira case, cared for Light. Impulsively he had shot Light to death in a warehouse. Impulsively he followed Light Yagami to the old headquarters building.
The building hadn't been used immediately after L had died and they had lost funding. It had been abandoned for a long time. It was marked as soon to be turned into condominiums, he hoped for their sake that L's, Rem's, and Watari's ghosts didn't linger. The dust was everywhere.
Light stood, looking at himself in the glass doors, as if for the first time. His head cocked to the side and he frowned as if trying to see if it was really someone he knew in that glass. Eventually he turned with a shake of his head and a smile.
There was a crash, broken glass, and then Light and his bleeding feet were through the broken door and into the building. The alarms had long since been dead. He didn't even look like he minded the glass, or noticed it at all.
Past the long dead computers (ghosts), up the glass stairs coated in dust, up they climbed. Light ahead and Matsuda always five steps behind, he must have known, he was leading Matsuda somewhere how could he not know?
(Oh god, so this was the end. Lured by a hallucination of the most dangerous man he had ever met to his death. He was walking right into a trap and he knew it too, but it didn't make a difference. It never made a difference with Light, even three bullets and a goddamn heart attack hadn't made much of a difference…)
Light left his bleeding foot prints on the glass stair case as they climbed, and Matsuda couldn't help that maybe the sleeping princess Aurora waited at the top of that tower, and that Light had travelled through hell and back in order that he might reawaken what should have remained dreaming.
They climbed and eventually Light reached the tower door, he paused slightly, then his hand jerked forward and he was through the door. Matsuda was left staring at a door in horror.
He was thinking for the first time. He had been given an out by Light. Light had given him a way out. He could turn back, he could go away, he could write it off as a hallucination. It probably was a hallucination (even Yagami Light didn't come back from the dead). If he walked through that door he would either become insane or he would die. If Light wasn't real then he would slip further into insanity, this was just the glimpse, just the crack in the window. However, if Light was real…
Sometimes though, it was better to remain dreaming, and so Matsuda opened the door and walked through on the roof top to see Light Yagami, covered in blood and dirt standing on the edge of the abyss ready to jump.
(Matsuda hadn't said that, someone else must have, it couldn't have been him. But Light turned so he must have said something, Light was looking at him and there was nothing in him, nothing at all, just a strange glow in his eyes that hadn't been there before…)
Matsuda cleared his throat and began to slowly walk toward Light, but Light didn't move, he just watched out of narrowed eyes, "Light, it's Matsuda. Remember, from before, it's Matsuda. It's okay, I'm not going to… I'm not gonna hurt you Light."
Light wasn't moving, he just stood on the edge and watched. Matsuda felt himself shuddering inside, something breaking, as he saw what was left of Light after death. It wasn't just the blood, it wasn't the dirt either, it was his eyes that had none of Light's pride or joy… nothing at all.
"How is this…? Is it really you? Are… Are you back? Can't you… Can't you say something? What was it like? Was it… was it bad? How did you come back? Light, you have to talk to me, just say something. Just say, say anything. Come on, Light. Please, just let me know you're really alive… Light. Light! Say something, damn you!"
Light did move then, he looked out over the horizon, his eyes tracing the clouds and the city lights. His hands in his pockets and the wind beginning to whip dangerously. He was standing so very close to the edge.
Matsuda moved closer, close enough to grab Light if he fell, or jumped. Light didn't even look.
"Light, please, can you come down?" Matsuda paused before adding in a cracking voice, "I'd feel better if you came down…"
Light turned his head slowly. His eyes were still very sharp, but they reflected light the way a knife did, his old eyes had been wells. Throw a stone in them and you could see the ripples of thought. There was nothing, only glaring light burning away; a will-o-wisp luring those who dared glance away from the world of the living; taking them to that place where Light resided. There was no smile there, no victorious grin, nothing at all.
Matsuda could say nothing, could only stare at his own curved pathetic reflection in the eyes that had seen the world of the dead. His mouth was open and he stared.
"Is this hell?"
(And Light said no more.)
Author's Note: Because resurrection would be the most traumatizing experience ever. Thanks to Scourge of Nemo for the beta job also thank you to those who read, please review.
Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note