Death Note Fan Fiction ❯ Unraveling ( Chapter 12 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
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Going to Marrakesh
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Not mine.

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The shinigami is pale, all too-long arms and one staring eye, and Light holds her gaze steadily, brazen and calm and studiously ignoring L as the detective rips a corner of paper from the Note and – is that duct tape in his hands?

« Rem! » Misa calls happily, and flings herself at the shinigami in a whirl of black lace and laughter, gloom in sunshine and murder in light. « Everything’s going to be okay now, we’re safe! »

Rem tilts her gaze from Misa to Light to L, silent, but the hostility flooding the room is tinged with the threat of homicide without aim, without intent, and it’s no wonder Ryuk admired him, if this is the force of a shinigami’s wrath. No focus, no grace, no aim – it’s all pointless without human judgment, and Light wonders how he was ever afraid of this. Just a force of nature and random chance after all, a pity and a waste and a crying shame, natural as a disaster and tainted by nothing more than foolish sentiment.

Light very carefully doesn’t look over as L reiterates blandly, « She’s safe now, » hiking up Light’s sleeve and eying his arm in a way that’s vaguely predatory, vaguely appealing, vaguely appalling. « This one bargained for her freedom. »

« Misa knew Light loved her! » she chirps happily, and he hides his sigh behind a gentle smile. He’ll never get his native sweetness back, so it pulls on his face strangely, but the fact that he once refused to use her is an insult to them both, and he’s sure that in retrospect L will find it hysterically funny. He probably thought as much the first time around, but then, things have changed, and maybe it’s not funny at all.

Rem looks down at Misa, then back over at him, and Light stares back, nonplussed and trying valiantly to ignore the fact that L is apparently going to tape a piece of paper to him because he’s tired of sharing the notebook.

« Why? » The shinigami demands, gazing steadily at a spot over his head, and though it’s a little disconcerting, the inhuman golden eyes scanning his lifespan are nothing next to the pitch-darkness of L’s cool blank stare.

Light shifts a little, turning his eyes down like he’s ashamed, like his plan wasn’t brilliant, like she was more than a weapon for him to use. Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t, but it was her choice all along. There’s a strength in that, he thinks, and that’s probably what makes her a better person than either one of them. « …I owed her. »

L snorts something that sounds suspiciously like « liar » and slaps the Note and tape down onto his arm. Tearing it off will doubtless take a layer of skin with it, and from the tilt of his smile, L’s going to enjoy doing the yanking. Sometimes he has to agree with Misa: for all of his elusiveness, for all the times his kisses have slid off of pale skin as he turned away, L is definitely a pervert.

Misa turns to Rem, clasping her hands together sweetly and beaming up at her, like some sort of angel or Madonna, like an intervention to save a life. Light remembers crimson and shale, and watches L through his lashes, ignoring the shinigami still staring at him. « Ryuuzaki is kind of insane, » Misa chirps happily, like everyone else in the room is something pitiful and normal, Rem included, « but that’s okay! We like him! »

Light thinks of spinning circles, lies spiraling along lies, and if they’ve woven a knot it will take more than just a hero’s sword-slice to untangle them again. Misa, their advocate and supplicant and staunchest defender, pauses and purses her lips thoughtfully – thoughtless and aggravating, yes, but she’s never been stupid, and he counts his blessings where he can find them, just another sign that he’s a god of his own making. « Misa will be sad if he dies, » she says slowly. « And so will Light. And Light being sad will make Misa even more upset. »

It’s sweet of her, but overkill, and Light diligently keeps his mouth shut. The last thing he needs to do is give Rem a reason to think Misa would be better off without him.

« You do realize, » L drawls, attention already drawn back to the Note, softly flipping through the pages, « that we’re going to have to tell your father and the team about this. » His head tilts and he gives Light a beatific smile. « Unlike me, they don’t know that you’re Kira. »

Light snorts and eyes the notebook. He doesn’t like the thought that Higuchi has scrawled all over it, that so many people not his own have touched it. « Higuchi makes a poor decoy. And you couldn’t prove it without me. »

« That is possible, » L agrees placidly, « and I assure you, that possibility makes me very angry. But you’ve forced our hands now, Kira-kun. » There’s a hint of mockery lacing the words, and if his hands weren’t tied by will instead of steel, Light would smash in his pretty face and laugh while he bled.

Light’s jaw firms as he stares past his head to the shinigami and the girl, Misa chattering happily to Rem, Rem just hanging there and watching them all with something that seems to be a mix between mistrust and disinterest. « I’m saving us all, » he says quietly, « just wait, you’ll see. »

« Is that what you thought when you first picked up this notebook? » L asks caustically, and turns away before Light really can lunge and hit him. « Shame on you, Light Yagami. »

* * *

There are cells below and apartments above, but for some strange reason they stop in a stairwell instead, away from cameras and Misa and the other detectives, still preoccupied with Higuchi and the confusion he caused. L has long since handed the matter over to Watari, and Light preens a little to know that after all of this, he’s still more of a threat than either of the ones that have the eyes. Where they are is quiet and private, and Light feels a strange sense of serenity slide over him as they both settle to the floor, because this, at least, is warm and familiar, and they both know who they are.

He breathes in slowly, closes his eyes and opens them again. Only them, now, only them, and this is what he can’t let go, this is his own weakness staring back at him with night-dark eyes and the faintest sliver of a smile that’s feral and wildly strange in the dim half-light. « Are you going to kill me? » he wonders softly aloud, watching him breathe. If I were in your position, what would I do? Murder is murder is justice, he thinks, and his lips curve just so – not so different, never so different, and in the end, who is the more mortal? The god or the legend?

L gnaws thoughtfully on his thumbnail, still crouched, still staring, still perfectly himself despite all the world’s turning. Light resents it, maybe, wants to peel his skin off to see the underneath, but when all the trappings fall in the end he’s still just another filthy human, still just flesh-trapped will and soul, still just as destined to die, and he watches with interest as his lips part and curve as he speaks. « If I took this away, would you know why? » L asks, dangling the notebook between his fingertips – there is no reverence for the tool of a god, and if it weren’t so annoying, it would be appealing instead.

Light glances down at his arm and the duct tape. It’s beyond ridiculous, but so is sitting here and not trying to shove him down the stairs, smash open his skull and splatter those lovely brains out against concrete and steel. He’s not quite sure why he doesn’t, even now, but there’s no longer any point in speculating, no longer any point in killing him save for the sheer elation of it all, and in the end there’s more joy in his life than in his death. Too dangerous, always, to let him go. « …not if you took this off me too. »

« Hn. » L looks away, flips open the cover of the Note and scans down the list of rules. In the quiet, Light counts heartbeats and the sound of his own breathing, and finds it almost sacred. Sublime divinity, or maybe it’s fate, but either way, it’s his alone to shape, his alone to hold. « …you’re not dead, so this rule is a lie. Clever of you. »

Light’s nose wrinkles in distaste. He knows, now, that he had almost forgotten how annoyingly driven he could be when faced with something new and interesting – too much time spent lazing together, and even now his memories are jumbled and strange, syrup-thick with heavy emotion and an innocence that makes him want to recoil from his own past naïveté. Kira has always been right, and L has always been his worst distraction and the source of his clearest focus. « Is it? Perhaps the rules no longer apply once you forfeit the note. »

« Wouldn’t that be a rule as well? » L smiles and tosses the Note onto his lap, chuckling lowly at Light’s blank stare and slowly-curling lip. « Here. Kill someone. If you drop dead in thirteen days, then we’ll know. »

« Are you deranged? » Light inquires, very calmly and seriously, but more than a little pleased. Still ruthless, still beautiful, still almost-perfect, still almost but not quite a god. The investigation team will never stand for it even when they do learn the truth, but it’s not like L will care. He’s never cared about anything else, and Light is self-aware enough to realize that he revels in his attention and in his lies, that he’ll do anything to keep all of that attention, that brilliance, fixated firmly on himself, because he’s the only one that’s worthy. « My father will kill us both if you make me do that. »

« I can supply you with a list of criminals who are both unquestionably guilty and awaiting the death penalty. »

It’s a golden apple on a golden platter, and a known Kira should jump at the chance, but he won’t stand for being manipulated – it’s a dance, but he won’t be lead, not now, not then, not ever. « …I really would prefer not to. » Lying lying liar, he thinks foggily, but he knows he can’t have both, no matter how sweet a dream it would be. Only truce, only now, and if he stabbed him in the back tomorrow, all he’d get was a knife in the spine.

His eyes are so dark. « You have no ethical qualms about it. »

Light smiles, sharp and bright and full of teeth and laughter. I know you I know you I know you, my own mirror, my own shadow, I know you and I know your lies. « Neither do you. »

They stare at each other in the half-light, and with a pleasant shiver he realizes that holding his gaze for so long even now makes him feel like he’s drowning. The newer memories make the older ones make sense, but still, it’s disturbing to realize he’s never seen anyone quite so beautiful outside the silver confines of a mirror. « Why me? » Light asks after a moment’s silence. « Why not have a death-row inmate do it? »

« You are a death-row inmate. I have the blessings of forty-eight countries to kill you whenever I so choose. »

« Oh, » Light says, caught somewhere between startled outrage and pleased smugness. Fools to condemn a god, all of them, but they fear Kira’s power, and fear isn’t a far cry from worship, in the end. « Heh. »

« Indeed, » L agrees, one hand digging into a pocket and coming up with his prize. « Pen? »

« No, » Light counters, not reaching for the offering despite the sudden sharp pang of longing in his gut. I still don’t know your name. « I refuse. »

« In that case, » L says mildly, idly toying with his pen, « I can drag you up to the roof and have Watari shoot you in the head. »

Light jerks a little and stares at him, eyes too wide, breath coming just a little too sharply in his chest. He hadn’t thought – not with a forfeit – that bastard. « Would you? »

L presses a fingertip to his lips thoughtfully, lips softly parted to nibble. Light thinks of the taste of his kisses, and waits for the skin to split, for a nail to crack, for blood to spill. It would be lovely. « It would make me sad, » L says decisively. « Yes. I would be very upset. »

Light closes his eyes and exhales more shakily than he wants to admit. Truth and truth and lies, again, but if he’d won, he would never cry, never regret, only live with a quiet ache overwhelmed with the power of a god. « So you won’t do it. »

It wins him a head-tilt and one long, slow blink. « Why ever not? »

« I’m not killing you, am I? » he points out, and crushes the tiny voice inside that whispers yesyesyes and nonotyounonever. « And I’m too valuable for you to waste like that. »

L stares at him again, and he stares back, unruffled now, thinking of shadows and silence and laughter that no one can hear. Apples and a manic grin, and hadn’t he once said…? « Mmm. Very well, we will have someone else test it. »

« Thank you, » Light says mildly, leaning back and closing his eyes. He doesn’t jump when pale fingers ghost down his exposed throat, just tilts his head up to accept the kiss, soft and cool and sweet.

« And the real reason? » L murmurs against his cheek, knife-sharp inquiry sheathed in velvet, sharp white teeth half-hidden behind the softness of his lips.

Light smiles serenely. « I like our playing field the way it is. »

« And your confession, Kira-kun? »

Light considers for a moment, then lets his smile slide into wildness, pleased with the husky chuckle he receives in reply. « That, » he murmurs, opening his eyes to stare into forever, « that much I can give you. »

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It’s early morning by the time they make their way back down to the investigation team, bypassing Higuchi entirely in favor of a breakfast of pastries and sweet tea. Light looks at his father’s haggard expression and frowns softly – but still, it’s all right, the man had known what he was doing when he decided to stay with the team. They’re almost swarmed when they walk in, a rush of crumpled suits and half-shouted demands that slowly falter as one by one they notice the new bindings, the Note carelessly dangling from L’s fingertips, the wash of serenity around them.

Light breathes in slowly and hides a smile. It’s all so normal, except where it isn’t, and there is something lovely in L’s calm disinterest and utterly blank stare, something wonderful in his certainty and calmness.

« …Ryuuzaki? » Mogi asks once all has fallen silent, and Light lifts his head and fixes them all with a placid gaze. Beside him, L shrugs, and it’s all he can do not to laugh outright, because the world is so very strange, and everything is so very normal. Nothing has changed except a confirmation and a soft withdrawal, and if he leaned over, he might steal a kiss before being shoved away.

« Hmn? »

The detectives exchange uncertain glances, but it’s Aizawa who finally speaks up, unusually hesitant. « What are you… why…? »

« Kira, » L says bluntly, and blinks back at the dumbfounded investigation team.

« You don’t mean… Light…? » His father takes a step back, stares at him with devastated eyes. It’s an expression he hasn’t seen in a while, and he does his best not to laugh in his face, because he’s a good man, if not a great one. So much self-sacrifice, and for what? His mask has been exquisite, he knows, but he’s never been that innocent, and feels the vaguest stirrings of pity for a man with so much potential and so much blindness.

Instead, Light pastes on a small, brave smile and gives an artless little shrug of the shoulders that he knows he’s picked up from L. It makes them both look younger, but after so much freedom to just be now it feels like his face is cracking. « I’m sorry, dad. We all knew it was a possibility. »

And just like that, the air seems sucked out of the room, and the world goes still and sharp as fingers clench into paper and crumpled suits, as worldviews are knocked askew and the men he’s been working with slowly realize just what he is and always has been. Matsuda crumples to the floor, Ide begins to swear softly and steadily, Mogi turns sharply away and slams a fist into the wall, Aizawa stumbles back and slumps down into an abandoned chair, and his father – his father just looks at him with mute horror and collapses onto the couch behind him.

Light just closes his eyes and instinctively follows the familiar sound of L’s soft tread over to the couches and their waiting breakfast. Blind and blind, he remembers, and sinks down as L hops up, trusting him not to let him fall, trusting him to expect his expectations.

They sit closer now than they ever have in front of the others, not quite curled together, not quite apart. Mirror mirror, Light thinks, and rests his cheek against L’s shoulder, breathing in the calm.

Swearing and crumpling and silence, and underneath the vague dreaminess of it all, Matsuda’s starting to cry. It’s sweet, if pathetic, and Light shakes his head and bites into the doughnut L is holding for him, chocolate cream spilling out the sides and running down the pale lengths of L’s fingers. « Slob, » Light mutters, feeling sleepy with contentment, with the certainty that L will rip his head off and never look back if he ever falters, with the coolness of the watch weighing heavy on his wrist beneath the lightness of the handcuffs, familiar enough that it’s long since ceased to bother him.

L idly licks off the spilled cream, curling a half-smile at Light, soft and dark and full of silence. Light tilts his head down and peers at him through his lashes, playing off his youth and beauty, playing off the danger in his answering smile.

« Too sweet, » he drawls, and watches as those same pale fingers dance over the extensive spread and pluck up a blood-red apple.

« Is this better, Kira-kun? » L croons softly, dangling it by a stem pinched between index finger and thumb.

« I suppose that would be appropriate, » Light says mildly, straightening up. « Hold it for me? »

« Of course, » L agrees, and holds his gaze as he leans in and bites down. The fruit is crisp and sweet and delicious, and he likes the way it crunches in his teeth, likes the way L is looking at him, likes the way he is looking back to see himself reflected in the infinity of his eyes.

Behind him, ten feet and a million miles away, he can almost hear the sound of his father’s heart breaking.

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