He sat in Matsuda's apartment as a ragged god. In Matsuda's borrowed clothing (a tad too large) he looked like a child, or rather a doll—something that simply screamed emptiness. Matsuda swore that if he looked hard enough, he would see the stitches holding the dead man in place.
Matsuda sat across from him, wondering if he'd be able to see Light's eyes under the overgrown auburn hair, but those empty eyes seemed caught upon a stain in the carpet and Matsuda could no longer see them truly did look like a god, or some forgotten spirit who had wandered accidentally into the human realm. Whatever humanity had died with Yagami Light had stayed in his grave.
Matsuda had removed Light from the edge of the headquarters building, carefully guiding his bleeding feet over the shards of glass. He'd pulled on Light's hand, pale as fish bones, and guided him through the streets. Light had said nothing; he hadn't even looked at Matsuda, had just stared ahead and stumbled behind on those bleeding feet.
Matsuda thought he had gotten most of the blood and grime off. He had bandaged the feet and pulled out the glass, yet Light still looked so terribly empty and inhuman. He still looked like he was on the edge of the roof, about to fall…
"Light, where were you?" was all that Matsuda could think to say to the man (or the boy—he could no longer truly tell).
Light looked up, his eyes the same as they had been. Nothing had really changed. Now he just lacked the height from which to jump so easily. Light looked down at his feet as if noticing the bandages for the first time, then looked back up, eyes wide and confused in a way that reminded Matsuda of those days Light spent in confinement, lying through his teeth.
It was then that Matsuda remembered that the ghost doesn't have to say anything; it must only linger, and stare, and bleed. Nothing more.
"Was it… Was it painful?" Matsuda asked slowly, waiting for some acknowledgement, some sort of goddamn reaction.
Light simply stared (like the ghost he was) and the seconds wore on. Eventually, he twitched his head.
No, so then no, it wasn't painful. He hadn't been punished, not really, not after death. That was good… Or was it? Matsuda looked at his apartment (away from Light), wondering if he would have felt better if he'd had some divine justification for killing Yagami Light. Perhaps it was better that Light only felt pain in the real world, the living world; it's what he had always been promised.
Matsuda searched for something else to say then, but words escaped him, and he wondered what most men said to the man they sent to death. Macbeth had gone crazy at his dinner party, but Matsuda wasn't having dinner and he wasn't having a party… No, it was just him and Light sitting in his apartment and Light staring at…
There was something wrong with him, something horrifyingly wrong, there had always been a spark of life in Light. An ember that burned in his eyes even at the end when everyone was dead and there was no hope left. This thing in Light's body, this marionette, was not Light. Light was dead, the dead didn't just come back, how could they? But then… Then Light had never been a man to begin with, even when human he had been steadily making his way into godhood.
"You're probably hungry." Matsuda interrupted himself and stood then making his way to the small kitchenette wondering if he had any food lying around.
Light didn't answer; he simply tracked Matsuda's movements with dull eyes, no expression on his face. His head turned slowly to follow Matsuda's movements and his eyes never wavered, never blinked. At least, Matsuda thought, he wasn't staring at stains in the carpet anymore.
"I'm not sure what I have, living on your own… well you know… my bachelor pad is pretty lacking but it's home, just not always the place for great food…" Matsuda trailed off as he searched his cupboards for anything other than granola bars and pocky. He closed each drawer and cupboard with a sizable dent in sound, as if to drive off the silence that was slowly but surely flooding the room.
He eventually settled on granola and brought two out of a box, one for himself and one for the stranger with a familiar face. He smiled as he turned around, "I don't know if you've noticed but I've been living on my own for a while, it seems kind of obvious to me… Not exactly the greatest apartment, the greatest furniture but… Things move on and I didn't."
The doll cocked its head a flicker of expression in its eyes before it was quickly snuffed out.
"You're probably curious how long it's been." Matsuda said looking at Light (it was Light it had to be Light even if he said nothing, thought nothing, did nothing…), "Things haven't changed as much as you probably thought they would have, people have moved on but they haven't really changed. We just… keep going."
The doll in his apartment said nothing.
"You know, you can talk to me. I… I won't hurt you… Not like…" Matsuda felt the words were lacking some vital entity, and that they were bleeding to death before they had even left the womb. They were born above the grave with Light Yagami's dead eyes staring up at them from the hole into the ground where they would soon reside with him.
Light looked away from him then, stood, and walked to the window where the stars had yet to reveal themselves against the glare of the city lights. He leaned against the window sill so very casually, calmly, as if Matsuda was not even in the same universe as him. As if his death had never happened, as if that past life was only a dream that could only vaguely be remembered.
"I won't hurt you." Matsuda said more steadily, "I promise."
It was a dollhouse.
A carefully crafted place where children could play pretend.
He was the doll and his world was made of cardboard.
In the background a clock ticked, the hum of the lights could be heard, and his feet tapped against the tile floor in the kitchen. In the living room a few paces away a dreary color of carpet awaited, softer than the floor but still enough pain that he felt the need to crawl (why was it only here that the pain emerged, all hands and teeth?) until all he could do was sit himself at the table and wait for the inevitable. Wait for the feet to stop bleeding and the swelling to diminish and the pain to skulk elsewhere to that place beyond the abyss.
Yet, even then, he was only a doll in a cardboard box.
The man who was called Light Yagami sat dimly with a piece of paper in front of him wondering what words might spill themselves if he dared to set a pen to paper. The pen tapped out a rhythm against the paper, a steady drumbeat that served as the only constant (incessant) reminder of reality. He frowned staring at the blank page thinking for a moment that it was his own reflection, that the paper had become a mirror, and that his face had turned into snow (a doll's) and he reflected nothing.
(Once, he thought dimly, I wouldn't have even considered that possibility. There was no world in which Light Yagami did not exist. It was not conceivable.)
It was a very good attempt at reality, he'd give them that. One could almost not see that the walls were made of paper and that the furniture was plastic, if one didn't look closely he wouldn't have seen it at all. Yet as soon as he was alone everything took on that manufactured glare, everything glinted and sparkled. Everything was superficial, even Light Yagami himself.
(Reality was far grittier. Reality screamed and writhed, tore through flesh into the marrow of bone, delicately slid three pin-needles into his heart to leave them there and watch as he bled. Reality was blood-screaming-dying-don't-let-me-die-I'm-not-ready-I-said-I-don't-want-to…)
He found that he didn't particularly enjoy this trend of thoughts.
Matsuda (or so he had called himself on the edge of the world; on that roof top that had almost been too high) had left and the man who was a stranger to himself found that he didn't like being left alone with his thoughts. He wanted the history Matsuda had provided him (however much it glinted) he wanted a name, to be nameless was… There was something horrifyingly inhuman in that thought.
(His feet stung and he wondered if he needed to change the bandages.)
There was something in the edge of his mind that had been pushed out in that blinding confusion, the initial terror of being born, that was slowly but surely creeping its way back. Through the woods it prowled, with name and past, to the point in the clearing where he waited and it would consume him there. (There was Matsuda's story, his unnamed history, the one he sought so desperately. They were playing right into his hands and they both knew it…)
He uncapped the pen and wrote the name that had been resting on his mind.
He crossed it out in a single black line and wrote it again, slightly more slanted. He crossed this name out as well. He repeated this process five times then dropped the pen.
The paper stared at him then, its face marred with the scarred remains of a dead man's name, the name of that dreaded drum beat in the back of his mind luring him into remembrance. He was not entirely sure he wished to remember.
(Gun against his head. Father's eyes. Cackling in the background. A yellow warehouse. An empty grave at sunset. Bleeding. Screaming…)
It pounded, how that blind rage and betrayal pounded.
Resentment, loneliness, anger, pride, betrayal, rage, disappointment, desperation… So many emotions pounding just behind his eyelids if he would only look.
He would not look…
"If I don't look, then I will remain a doll." He said to the room, to the empty reflection scarred by a name he felt was descending upon him. He spoke to the light fixtures and their glinting superficial nature. His voice felt unused, young, still in search of its purpose and destiny.
"If I run I will remain nameless." He paused closing his eyes and seeing nothing but the abyss, "If I remain nameless I will be consumed."
The room did not answer but the wolf inside his mind was grinning. It was then that the man who called himself Light Yagami began to comprehend his mortal state.
There were no choices, this was only temporary, this state of dull non-remembrance. He would return to himself…
Something about that thought was reminiscent of the barrel of a gun against his head, in the back seat of a car, dressed in white trying to look anywhere but into those heartless dead eyes across from him. The ravens had waited outside the car window that day as well.
He crumpled the paper and drew a new sheet, a new blank (familiar) face staring back at him. The pen resumed its tapping almost of its own accord.
(It was a dollhouse.)
His feet stung and he wondered if he should change the bandages.
He wasn't sure what he expected to find there.
Matsuda stared down the rabbit hole in vain to find the portal that had let in a man who was supposed to have died. Torn fragments of a blue suit outlined the edges of the hole Matsuda reached and picked one up tracing the threads of blood that had worked their way into the stiff fabric.
He closed his eyes and closed his fist with the fabric clenched inside and felt for the tears trickle down his face without seeing them at all.
There was something hideous about an empty grave. Who had grieved for Light? Who had left flowers at his grave? In ten years they had all managed to leave him behind, even Matsuda who thought he never could, they all looked back and pretended they still cared. Oh yes, how they pretended to grieve, looking down the inside of their beer bottles, counting the years, counting the deaths… and yet no one had been there when he came back (just as no one had truly been there when he died).
(In many ways Matsuda was the author of his own melodrama and Light Yagami was a plot point for convenience sake. A little trifle that made Matsuda a little more interesting, a little different from anyone else. Matsuda had been on the Kira case, had watched him die, and had killed him with three bullets…)
And so Light had pulled himself from death, naked and bleeding, to find himself desperately alone in a world that no longer remembered him.
He had pulled himself out of his own grave. That explained the blood and the cuts that would soon be scars. It explained the lack of clothing. It explained that wild eyed, suffocated, look of desperation on the roof top. It explained the almost broken fingers covered in dirt, blood, and broken fingernails. It explained the screaming as Matsuda attempted to clean the worst of the cuts…
He wondered why there wasn't caution tape, wasn't anything. Hadn't anyone seen it? Hadn't anyone seen him come back? Couldn't they have at least tried to help? (Matsuda wiped away the tears that were blurring his vision, he couldn't even see the grave properly anymore…)
He knew though, he knew what they must have thought. Someone's idea of a prank, a horrible prank, they should be put in jail for that. Damn kids, it's sick. It's terribly sick, to pretend that people can come back (that people crawl back out of whatever hole they were in). They'd fix the grave in the morning and find where the damn kids put the body. Nothing supernatural, just sickening, a joke taken too far.
No caution tape. No crime. Who would steal a corpse anyway? They're dead anyway. No one wants them, no one cares. (And so Light Yagami had pulled his bleeding body out of the hole in the ground he had been placed in only to find himself naked bleeding and terribly alone.)
Matsuda stuffed his hands in his pockets feeling unreasonably cold considering the mild weather. He should have brought a heavier jacket.
He wondered dimly if anyone was going to clean it up. It looked so empty, so… grotesque. No one walked near it, no one looked down at it, no one looked at all. He had the sudden urge to fill the hole, to make it look like it had never been disturbed, never been moved, like the hole had never existed in the first place.
That's just what was done with Light, he was put aside, shoved in corners of memories, and justified away as something that needed to be done. They'd been doing it for years, what was one more dismissal now?
Matsuda had outlived Light Yagami by ten years now, until he came back, until he crawled out of his grave. Then Light Yagami wasn't dead anymore, and Matsuda didn't have any statement anymore, and everything changed.
But maybe it wasn't really Light, maybe it was someone's sick idea of a joke. Near had quit his detective business but maybe he thought it would be good to remind the old task force of their place in the world. Just some guy that looked like Light (exactly like Light) but who pretended to be a trauma victim (it didn't seem pretend, no one would ever have guessed that even after pulling himself out of hell Light could be so empty) just a joke that would later be revealed. Ha, fooled you, Light Yagami has been dead for ten years.
And then Nathan Rivers would be waiting in Matsuda's apartment with a smile just like Light's and it would all be a misunderstanding. Just a cruel joke gone too far… (But who would have asked an actor to bleed the way he did?)
It was a very disconcerting thing, to stare down into an empty grave, almost like one was looking straight into the world beyond death. Mu, nothingness, stored safely underground. (Had he ripped a hole in reality, just to get out?)
No, he picked up his old trend of thoughts, he didn't really believe that Light was an actor; someone paid by Nathan Rivers to make trouble. Light used to be so hidden, so careful, so very practiced… If anyone had been attempting to attempt a Light resurrected they would never have conveyed the raw, desperate, dazed man who sat at his kitchen table.
(That was what really horrified him. Not the fact that Light, Light Yagami, had resurrected himself after ten years. That, despite being deemed impossible, wasn't truly surprising. It was seeing what death had turned Light into, what it had stolen from him, and to see what it would probably do to the rest of them as well. But then, if Light had truly come back, then he would have killed Matsuda on sight, so maybe he was better off with this hollowed out shell…)
Sometimes even Matsuda wasn't sure just what he wanted. Just came with the job, he supposed, when you were one of the officers who lived through Kira.
(Someone should really think about filling the hole, it wasn't decent, wasn't respectful. No one wanted to see an empty grave in a graveyard.)
He was trying to think of what to do. Something had to be done. Light had come back from the dead, that didn't happen every day, something had to change…
He would have to consult the others, but they would never believe him, unless they had no other choice. Light had returned, the big bad was back, but at the same time he wasn't really. Something had to… Matsuda didn't know what to do.
He was hoping the grave would give him some ideas.
It just looked so terribly empty.
Matsuda sighed and turned from the graven shaking his head, his footsteps heavier than usual, and began the long walk home.
"You don't remember anything, do you?"
The man who sometimes called himself Light (when he was feeling in the mood) managed to smile at that comment. It was the disappointed tone that caught him, as if Matsuda had been expecting something else entirely and wasn't quite sure how he felt about it.
At his approach the young man with the bandages on his feet (still bleeding) had set down his pen and given him his full attention. This attention did not waver now that a question had been asked, he stared, and waited with a smile to see what Matsuda might make of the beast that prowled inside his mind.
"You don't even remember your name do you?" Matsuda restated, sitting down on the other side of the table with an expression of horrified wonderment.
Light Yagami. Who could forget a name like that?
Matsuda only stared at him with that same expression as if waiting for something to happen, but there was only the reflection of the cheap table, the glinting of the lights, and the blank papers scattered haphazardly.
"Do you want to know?" Matsuda managed to ask finally in that same tone of voice, one that expected so much and yet received more and less than it expected.
His smile grew into a grin, "I expect I don't have a choice."
Matsuda seemed surprised by his words, "I'm sorry I don't understand…"
Light folded his hands together and looked down at them with a musing expression, "I am myself. All the faint, distant, jagged pieces of myself. I will remain myself when I can face what I truly am. When I face the bullets, and the executioners, and the heart attacks, and all those things that never leave… All the things that pound in my mind, the images, the voices, all the memories that will never let me die. "
He looked up and noticed that Matsuda's face had changed, he had grown paler and his eyes were beginning to water, his mouth had gained grooves, and he looked for all the world as if this table was the last place he wished to be. He opened his mouth as if to say something then closed it and looked away again.
(Someone screaming at him, you killed your own father, bullets in the flesh. Faces everywhere. Nowhere left to run. No one left to turn to. His heart, a failing faltering drum, lost as the faces grew nearer.)
He looked at the white pieces of paper, his pseudo reflection, and saw invisible threads of blood dripping down until his reflection was soaked in blood. His hands were shaking again, he hid them beneath the table but he knew that the other man had already seen.
"Just tell me if you want to talk…" Matsuda muttered slowly, more to the table than to the man sitting across from him.
(A girl with eyes glazed over like a dead fish, like his own corpse, sitting in a wheel chair. A man falling to the floor, a spoon dropping, and his eyes slowly but surely drifting closed…)
"What is there to say?" He said coldly.
"Do you remember?" Matsuda asked slowly as if this was important as if it mattered at all.
"Does it truly matter?"
"Yes." Matsuda said calmly with conviction as if there could be no argument against this.
There was only one path for Light Yagami and he would have to live it, relive it, delve into the mind that he felt had been thrust onto him by someone else. Far better to have remained dead, they would wish Light Yagami (Kira) had never been born by the time they were finished with him.
In the meantime the memories pounded away and he looked at anywhere but his own reflection and Light refused to humor a man so desperate as Mr. Touta Matsuda.
Matsuda had found the list of questions online, it had been a whim, but he usually followed his whims and most of the time they didn't turn out too badly.
He had come in smiling and placed the stack of questions in front of the dazed Light who had been making his first forays into the world of television. He looked up at Matsuda and something of his old attitude, the exhausted exasperation, showed on his face. Good. That was good.
"Do you want something?" Light asked slowly his eyes focused on the television but clearly seeing nothing, as if it was just a parade of images without sense or meaning.
"We're going to play a game." Matsuda stated looking down at Light.
Light's eyes moved at that, to gaze at Matsuda, the sharpness returning and that otherworldly light growing more substantial. Those other colors (the aurora) that sometimes drifted through his eyes and in them Matsuda caught a flash of red. "A game?" He asked.
(And Matsuda had the flash of intuition that Light's games were not the same as his. Light's games were played with the world, with people, and with notebooks…)
"Yeah, a question game; icebreakers. I don't know about you but I think we didn't really learn that much about each other the last time around, I'd like a second chance to get to know you." Matsuda said slowly drawing the questions in front of Light and watching for any change in expression.
For a moment it was Light's smile that greeted Matsuda, that cold humored smile, not quite reaching his eyes, the smile he gave L toward the end of the Yotsuba investigation. The smile he saved for Near, for Misa when she wasn't looking… Then it was gone.
"Alright Matsuda, I'll play your game." He consented.
(He did not offer an excuse such as he had nothing better to do, or it would be fun, he was allowing Matsuda to play with him. He was offering Matsuda a privilege that he would never see again. It was a favor that would be taken back at a later date)
"Good." Matsuda said and drew out the list of questions all of them suddenly seeming too inadequate and far too shallow to be of any use. But then, maybe that was what Light had needed, he'd needed an escape from the world he had attempted to create for himself. He'd needed shallow human frivolity to escape becoming God.
Matsuda held the questions in front of him and read the first, "If you could have a superpower, any one you wanted, what would it be and why?"
He had expected a faster reaction but then he realized exactly what he was asking and what memories he would be bringing up. Matsuda hastily added as the silence wore on, "You don't have to answer if you don't want to, we could go on to the next question."
Light answered though and all Matsuda could do was stare and think how unfamiliar he looked (he flashed in and out of familiarity so that Matsuda could only catch glimpses of the man he used to know), "I would never die. All other powers are irrelevant." That inhuman glare in his eyes was back, until his eyes were not gold anymore but a multitude of colors, "Anything else, I can do on my own."
Matsuda nodded slowly and said to nothing in particular, certainly not to Light, "I'd be able to change time."
Light said nothing but Matsuda knew he was listening as Matsuda swallowed and thought of Light's dead body abandoned in a warehouse before it was thrown underground. Matsuda didn't look at Light but added, "So that I could change things, if they were wrong… And it'd be pretty cool, too, don't you think?"
(But Light didn't think, didn't share, only stared and watched as the nonsense streamed past him with dull amber eyes.)
Before him the questions suddenly seemed inadequate, terribly inadequate, and so the silence grew and Matsuda threw the questions in the recycling. Tomorrow, he knew, there would be a new list on the internet.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading reviews would be excellent.
Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note