Disclaimer: The Maiden of Autumn owns nothing.


Light could feel himself fading; the gunshot wounds barely throbbed anymore, and he could feel his heart fluttering and seizing as he knew Ryuuk had no doubt written his name in the Death Note, the ceiling of the old warehouse becoming blurry and dark as he felt life slipping from his fingertips and slowly ebbing away.

In the forty seconds he knew he had before he died, he reflected upon his life- his ridiculously short and wrong life.

He had fucked up, he knew. He had killed so many people. Snuffed out their lives like they didn't matter, when he should have realized that a life's a life, no matter how corrupted or evil that person might have been. He had killed his own father- his own father, who had done nothing but try to raise him the best he could, to become the best he could. He had shamelessly manipulated an innocent women's feelings, had caused the deaths of many good, upstanding police officers- one a woman, Naomi Misora.

But the thing he most regretted, he realized, was the killing of his first real friend. He had killed the only man who had ever understood him, the only man that had ever been able to match wits with him, probe his psyche and pick him apart and see through him like no one else ever had.

L.

L… was what he regretted most of all. So many missed chances, so many open opportunities he had passed up, all because he had been so damned intent on creating a perfect world.

His vision got dark at the edges and he sighed, feeling the last bit of breath leave his lungs. His lids felt heavy, and he let them slide closed, a tear slipping out of the corner of his eye.

So many regrets… if only… if only he had left that notebook there that day…

"I wouldn't give up yet, Light."

If Light still had feeling in his face, he probably would have smiled at the chance to hear that sorely missed monotonous voice once more. Not give up? It wasn't like L to be such an optimist. In fact, earlier in the case, he had been the one to be depressed and admitted to wanting to give up.

Blearily, Light used the last of his strength to open his eyes once more, focusing on a blurry, hunched figure in a white shirt.

Light wanted to open his mouth, put his tongue to use and tell L how damned much he'd missed him, but nothing would work, and he realized his face was numb and cold. The blood needed to circulate through it had long ago pooled on the ground- it wasn't of any use outside of his body, where it sat in cooling
puddles of crimson.

Faintly, he felt the cool touch of delicate fingers on his face, stroking, soothing. "Go to sleep, Light. When you wake up, this'll all have been a bad dream."

The monotonous voice was soothing, and finally, he let his eyes slide closed, feeling his fading heart give a last thump, before all was still and the world went black.

"Hey, are you okay?"

He blinked; there was a cool breeze caressing his face, scented slightly with the sweet smell of sakura blossoms. Quiet chattering filled the air, and the wool jacket that he recognized as being his school uniform itched at the back of his neck, prickly with small sweat drops from the hot summer day. "What?" he murmured, confused.

"You looked like you were spacing out there-and what is that?"

Confused now, he blinked and looked down to see a girl-the one from the table he had passed by that one day so long ago, the girl that had giggled so excitedly at getting a chance to be so close to him- standing there, looking up at him with a worried expression.

Something was in his hand, and he paled as he realized it was a black notebook with the words Death Note written on the cover.

Memories and flashes of a past life with the notebook came to him, and blanching, he was about to set back down, when he thought of something. With a slight measure of disgust, he tucked the thing that had ruined his life before into his backpack and turned to the girl. "I dropped this earlier; I'm just picking it up, and I'm afraid I got distracted," he explained, faking an easy smile. He ignored the blush she gave him at the smile, turned, and quickly left the school. But not along the route that he usually did.

Instead, he took a different way, one that would take him along the river that flowed through the city.

Standing near the edge, along the railing, he took out the Death Note and without any hesitation, threw it into the river, leaning over to watch with a sense of satisfaction as it floated for a split second before becoming soggy and sinking to the bottom.

Then, as it disappeared into the depths of the deep river, he laughed; not a hysterical, maniacal one, but a genuine, free laugh, without any trace of evil in it.

He was free now, free to choose his life as he saw fit.

Grinning broadly, he walked away, following the sidewalk until he passed the park, where he thought he saw a flash of blonde hair, belonging to a short girl dressed in black surrounded by a crowd. He took no notice of her other than the split second it took to see the color of hair.

The crowd parted slightly, and he saw the short blonde's eyes land on his face, hover there for a moment, flash upwards, then turn away, onto more interesting people than a single good-looking, random high school student.

He almost felt like laughing.

Continuing on, he followed the sidewalk until he found himself in front of To-Oh University, a place where he knew he'd be spending the next year in, instead of in a building in solitary confinement and working to catch a
killer.

He wondered what going to college and attending it for more than a few days was going to be like.

Wandering further, he passed the small café that he recognized from a certain few encounters and stopped to look thought the glass.

And his smile, if possible, got even wider.

Backing up, he entered through the doors, the bell's jovial ringing fitting his mood to a T. He waved off the sudden dumbstruck young waitress as he entered, instead zeroing in on the back of a head with black, spikey hair.

He strolled casually, slowly, to the booth that held the object of his fascination. The spiky-haired man was reading a book, in a strange crouch and sipping sugar-laden tea that had the consistency of sludge.

He chuckled, unable to help it, and the man's head whipped around, fixing him with a piercing gaze from obsidian-black, wide, fathomless eyes. "Can I help you?"

"Yes, you can, actually." He slid into the empty seat, the large eyes that he had missed more than he imagined becoming even larger, if that was possible, in mild shock.

He smiled charmingly and rested his head on his hand, propping his elbow up on the table in a relaxed, easy manner. "You see, it's not many times I see someone reading a book on advanced metaphysics, and I simply had to come see what you were like for myself." His smile grew wider as he perused the face he had missed so goddamn much for the past 5 years, and glanced down once at the worn black bag that was resting on the table top. "And wondering if you'd like to discuss the notes on that case there, the one that's sticking out of your bag."

"Wha-?"

"And, I was also curious if you'd perhaps like to share a game of tennis with me after we finish discussing those notes- or maybe a game of chess. I'm sure an intellectual such as yourself would prove a fine opponent," he continued, reveling in the look of utter shock in his new acquaintance's face.

He sat there, waiting with a good-natured grin as the spiky- haired man seemed to pull himself together and regard him with a wary, if not interested, look. "You're rather odd," he said, nibbling at a thumbnail. "Approaching me, a complete stranger, as if I were a close friend… Very, very strange."

He laughed, reveling in the ability to do so without it being analyzed for once in his life. "Pot calling the kettle black," he pointed out.

The spiky-haired man conceded that point and gazed at him, speculation in his black gaze. "I suppose…" Then, he sighed, as if making up his mind. "I do not know why, as it is exceedingly out of character for me, paranoid as I am around strangers, but… I feel comfortable with you, and that alone makes me want to investigate this feeling more. I suppose… a game of tennis would not be out of order. I must warn you in advance, though- I am quite good."

He smiled. "I'd expect nothing less."

The spiky- haired man nodded. "You know, this all feels a bit familiar, like the strangest sense of déjà vu…"

He chuckled, knowing the man had hit it almost right on the head. "That may be so. I'm Light, by the way. Light Yagami."

"Ryuuzaki Rue," the man replied, his introspective eyes probing Light's. He reached out a hand to grasp Light's in a delicate, two-fingered grasp. "Strange… this feels so familiar, as if I've done something like this before."

"Perhaps we met in a past life," Light said slyly.

Ryuuzaki nodded thoughtfully. "Perhaps… that may be so…" he thought for a moment, before saying hesitantly, "Maybe after the tennis match, we could by chance, come back here for another cup of coffee? I don't recall you getting one."

Light smiled and walked towards the door, holding it open as Ryuuzaki sidled out. "That'd be nice," Ryuuzaki," he said. He thought back to the notebook he'd threw into the river, the model he'd passed, the college he knew he'd actually be attending this time around and the man he had no need to kill, and could actually pursue without any repercussions.

He grinned contentedly, feeling lighter and more carefree than he had in a while. "That'd be really nice."

And when he went and brushed his fingertips against Ryuuzaki's in a passing gesture, he was pleased when he felt the slightest curl to them, as if they'd considered wrapping around his.

And Light knew that this time around, things- every little thing, would be okay.

Because he'd made his mistakes before.

And he'd make damn sure not to make them again.


Edited version uploaded 4/6/13