It's strange. When he didn't have the Death Note he couldn't remember a second of anything he did with it. But now, even with the power back in his hands, he could still remember everything from when he had forgotten: what he saw, what he thought, what he felt. The contrast was still so sharp in his mind; he astonished even himself, at times.
Without the Death Note, the world didn't look as flawed. It wasn't perfect, of course, oh no, never perfect, but…somehow, it looked manageable. Not as good as it could be tomorrow, but better than it was yesterday. Like there was hope for it. Like Matsuda wasn't as stupid as everyone made him out to be (if impulsive and silly), like Ryuzaki and company had at least a strain of goodness in them for all of their bad points, like he really deep down was fond of Misa even if he wouldn't call it being "head-over-heels in love" with her.
The Death Note was like a pair of glasses. When he got it back in his hands, the world became clearer in an instant. The revelation crashed over him like a cold wave along with his memories, for the second time. And when he pulled up to the surface for air, suddenly he could see every crack, every smear, every mismatch, every patch of mold, every pimple and wart, every speck of crust lining every eye still blind to the truth.
Light almost wanted to throw up. How could he have been so ignorant, not once but twice?
There was no redeeming this world. Maybe at one time, but that time had come and gone, the opportunity slipped out of humanity's hands. All they had were remnants of a golden age gone by, like the ruins of a once majestic temple or sacred academy. Or had there ever been a real golden age at all? Humans were so profoundly flawed, the closest they could get were ephemeral scratches.
They could've gotten closer if they weren't so content in their ignorance and rottenness, like pigs wallowing in the muck and filth.
What good were ruins except to be cleared away to make something new, something better, something lasting? And who else had the wisdom and power to do this except him? This wasn't just a quest for the world at large (though it was, first and foremost), but also a personal quest to shed the chains of his humanity and ascend to godhood. With a god to guide them, people may finally reach the enlightenment they so desperately needed.
But they could not become godly. No. There could only be one god. That destiny was his to claim and his alone. The Death Note had reawakened him and made him realize his true nature, something that he would tentatively play with in his mind now and then when he had lacked his memories but due to his "ignorance" would not accept, never mind speak of it to anyone else. Higuchi had been a lowly servant at best. All the killing he'd done with his notebook, it had all been by his hand.
He looks in the mirror and finds shadows under his sunken eyes, green crust forming along his lids. His hair looks mangy, his complexion more pallid than he recalled. A faint body odor lingers on his skin, after-effects from the adrenaline rush that had characterized the past few days. It seems that spending all this time with "Ryuzaki" and company has taken a toll on him. This will not do. The handcuffs were removed last night from Ryuzaki's side; it's time that he did the same. Nothing that a good shower can't fix. He spends more time under the cleansing hot blast of water than he normally would, luxuriating in his newfound freedom, and the victory brimming just over the horizon along with the morning sun.
What a beautiful day. Misa is moving out today, now that he's cleared both their names. Of course he'll help, as a gentleman would, even if it is beneath him.
"Oh Light! Be sure to call and text me every day, okay?" Misa begs him as she pounces on him. Somehow her perfume smells stronger, nauseatingly so. Her voice is shriller, almost piercing. Light didn't notice these things nearly as much when he was "innocent." He can see a small smudge of lipstick on the corner of her lips as she moves in to claim his lips. She's unworthy, but he lets her have them. Soon Misa will get her powers back, and he figures he can indulge her a bit before sending her off to her task, from god to disciple. Yes, disciple. She could never be his goddess. She is inferior, too horribly flawed, pretty and popular as she is, even if she was a small cut above most in that she was aware how rotten this world really was. Or at least, she would regain that knowledge once she found her Death Note in the woods.
The cameras shouldn't be able to catch his words or the movement of his lips. He holds her close as he whispers his instructions to her, telling her only enough that she would understand without her memories. She can be attentive when she feels like it. As he does, he can see a few split ends hidden in her blond pigtails, but he doesn't tell her this. He appreciates that she doesn't seek to be his equal. She just wants his love. Poor love-starved girl. A god can't help but take some pity on her.
As he watches her bounce away, he wonders how Ryuk is doing, whether he's been watching everything from the shinigami realm. If things work out as he planned them (which they will), Ryuk will be trailing behind Misa, the next time she comes to visit. He figured that he could indulge him a bit as well for his part in all this. He had told Misa to take an apple with her into the woods, trusting that she would understand what for when she retrieved the notebook.
I doubt that after all this time, she'll still be able to remember his name. She'll likely make the Eye Deal again, with Ryuk, this time. Either way, I can only benefit.
Where affection used to lie, contempt and an odd sense of pity remain for these people. He supposes that it's typical for a god to feel this way when he's surrounded by lesser beings with no equals to be found. The members of the task force all look like caricatures from out of a simpering manga to him now. How can they be so clueless? He ought not to complain, it works to his advantage, but still, how it irritates him!
It's all falling into place so well, he can't help but shake his head, beginning to miss the challenge from days gone by. What's wrong, L? Have you lost your edge?
Yes. L has got to be the closest he's found in his whole life to an equal in anything, despite being human, despite being an audacious heretic. For the briefest of moments, he feels a twinge of pity for having to kill his opponent. Their partnership was impressive while it'd lasted. Why, Light would almost (almost) go so far as to say that perhaps in another time, another place, another life, they could've been real partners.
But it wasn't meant to be. L had many chances to see things from his point of view, the right point of view, and he had refused. This wasn't about justice. This was all a game to him. He could sweet-talk the task force into believing otherwise, but Light knew better. L was prepared to throw each of them under the bus at the drop of a hat, with the same effort it took to throw away a pawn. May his death be a humiliating and just one.
There is no middle way. Light would not take prisoners. Those who wouldn't see the righteousness of the path he was steering the world towards would just have to be swept aside, no matter how clever or cunning they are.
Light would not grieve. Outwardly he would to appease the outside world, but not in his heart. A god doesn't grieve. There is nothing for him to grieve.
"Uh, yeah, hey Light! Would it kill you to have your phone on a little more often? Listen, call me back as soon as you can. I know you're not normally into this sort of thing, but Aito Tsuka's coming to town and I got tickets for us to see her! You, me and you-know-who, that's right, I still haven't told anyone! Aren't you proud? Anyhow, maybe we can all go together or something? You know where to reach me! Love ya, big brother!"
Innocent Sayu, just asking to see her big brother again. When was the last time they spent time together, doing anything? Seems like just yesterday afternoon she was barging into his room asking for help on her math homework.
Of course. Even as a god, he understands that he must maintain his human façade, at least for a while longer. A god is too brilliant to be gazed upon by weak human eyes, no matter how eager or adoring. His glory could set them ablaze.
"Light, it's Mom. I'm just calling to ask how you're doing; you haven't called in a while and I'm a little worried about you. I do hope things are well. If you're available, maybe you can come home for dinner?" His mother's voice sounds tired and stilted, the way people sound when they sense that their loved ones are drifting away from them, for better or worse, and they don't know what to do about it.
She's probably been leaving messages like this one for Dad, too. Dad looks older than he did when the case began. He too looks tired, a man torn apart by the powerful wills on either side of him. If Light could change things, he would have never gotten involved. But it is what it is. He didn't know it yet, but Soichiro Yagami was the father of a god. The god of justice. Light can do everything that Soichiro could never do due to his mortal limitations.
Aren't there stories of gods who overthrew their fathers? No. He could never do that to his own father. He was only a threat because L had forced him to be. He had suffered enough. He'll see to it that he doesn't suffer anymore. Even gods can be merciful to those who deserved it.
A less striking revelation, but one all the same, comes over him then. If he was going to be god of the new world, he'd have to cut off his ties with everyone. Even Mom and Dad. Even Sayu. Not physically, not right away, but emotionally. He could love people enough to save them, but no more than that. A god couldn't afford attachment to finite things as mortal beings. Even if they were his family.
I'm sorry. But it's for your own good, he thinks as he erases their messages off his phone. He'd heard about Aito Tsuka from Misa, who isn't terrifically fond of her. The concert's a ways off, so it isn't like he has to respond right away. Still, he should at least call them both later. Tonight, perhaps, after dinner? That's what a good son and brother would do.
A home-cooked dinner and concert would be a lovely way to commemorate his victory.
About the time he turns off his phone and enters the hallway, he finds "Elin" out here. She's banging her forehead against the wall like a drinking bird, mumbling to herself and looking, unsurprisingly, frustrated.
"Boy oh boy, that Rem sure is a tough nut to crack," he hears her say between beats. "And so's Ryuzaki, for that matter."
Rem? Was she trying to ask Rem a few questions of her own while he had been outside with Misa? Given her current flustered appearance, Rem's answers must not have been satisfactory. That's good. But then, Elin was always quite blunt.
Tsk, tsk. Loose lips sink ships.
"So are you, by the looks of it. Elin, why are you banging your head against the wall?"
"Huh? Oh! Hey, Light!" She stops immediately, suddenly looking dizzy as she touches the red spot in the center of her brow. "What didja say?"
He suppresses a cringe. He always did find her a little babyish and obnoxious at times though not intolerably so. But ever since he found the Death Note again, he's started to notice how loud, how nasally and annoying she really sounds. At least Misa can speak their language. As much as he doesn't like to repeat himself, he reiterates, "I said, why are you banging your head against the wall? That can't be good for you."
She puts her glasses back on her face, leaving them crooked and sliding down her nose. "Uh, stress relief. Besides, better mine than someone else's, right? Hey, since you're here, can I talk to you for a sec?"
Oh great. What does she want now? It'd taken him more effort to get her back inside compared to everyone else, what with Aizawa occupied with pulling a lamenting Matsuda back indoors by his suit. Apparently she wanted to milk her last moments with Misa as much as she could, since they were friends and all.
She takes a breath. "Look. I know that you're mad at Ryuzaki on account of all the crap he put you and Misa up to for the past, meh, coupla months."
She has no iota of an idea.
"I'd be pretty pissed off too, if it were me…"
Will you please stop swearing? Is that the only way you know how to communicate? And you wonder why no one takes you seriously…
"But, do you think you can, I dunno, go in there and cheer him up? I just tried to. Couldn't even crack a smirk out of him. I don't know what's gonna happen from here, but we ain't going anywhere if he drags everyone down with that sourpuss mood of his, like last time. I mean, he let you out of the cuffs, finally. That's a step in the right direction, right?"
"I suppose that's true."
When she gets mad at Ryuzaki, no one can tell her differently. But if someone else is angry, she has a problem with it. She's almost as fickle as Misa.
She does have a small point. There is no use for anger. There is nothing to be angry about. Light has all but won. All he needs to do now is wait for the perfect moment to deliver the final blow. He'll put Ryuzaki out of his misery soon.
"Yeah. Don't worry. I'll shake some sense in him. I've done it before. Someone has to." That's what a good friend would do.
Elin smiles. Light notes the yellow tinge to her teeth that everyone seems to be developing, from all the caffeine and sugar and insomnia, no doubt. She needs a better toothpaste brand. Such a naïve, trusting smile. How could she be so foolish, after what L's done to her? It's probably Stockholm syndrome sinking in. What could be worse? He'll save her soon.
Then her face falls. "Hey, Light?"
"I-if that rule, the thirteen-day thing is true…do you think that means that whoever Kira and the Second Kira were are…you know….?"
He knows what she's trying to say. "Dead?" He closes his eyes, appearing to look thoughtful. "That's a good possibility," he answers, as gently as is appropriate. For someone with such a foul mouth, Elin turns green around the gills very easily.
Her voice gets smaller. "So, is there any point to carrying this case on?"
"Well Elin, even if Kira and the Second Kira are dead, we only have one of the notebooks. Two Kiras would mean that at least two notebooks are involved in this. We need to at least find the other notebook before someone else takes up using it."
"Hm. Yeah, I think I get that. I just…"
She stops to rub at her arms, as though she's cold. "I just wish that the killings would stop."
"I know. We all do."
"That doesn't mean that the Kiras should've died, though. Shit, I don't even think Higuchi deserved to die, not really, even if he was a scuzz-monkey."
Somehow it's getting harder for him to keep pretending that he understands. So naïve. It's like talking to a five-year-old. "I know how you feel, but just remember that they had to have known that that rule was in place before they used it. They chose to kill, Elin. It stands to reason that that sort of power comes at a price."
Erin huffs, "Yeah, yeah, I would figure that. I just—that doesn't change the fact that I don't think they should die! What would make somebody go and do that, anyway…ugh. I'm getting a headache. I've been giving myself a lotta headaches lately, it seems."
He can see tears polishing her green eyes like glass before she furiously blinks them away. She sure does cry a lot. How he hates that. She has no reason to cry.
Light chuckles with just enough light-heartedness. "Are you sure that's not because you've been trying to bash holes in the wall with your head? There are better ways to cope with stress, you know."
She stops to massage her temples. "I dunno, maybe. I guess for now I should be happy that at least you guys aren't suspects, anymore. Maybe things'll be better between you and Ryuzaki, once he gets his butt back in gear, that is. Good luck getting anything outta old Rem, though. You thought I was clueless? Try her on for size."
He bites back a smirk. She still thinks that they're friends. Maybe for the briefest of moments, they came close, but that's come and gone.
Suddenly she reaches over to slap him on the back, a boisterous gesture of affection that knocks him off-kilter for a second, though he quickly finds his balance again. How dare she? "Just be really careful, Light. Okay?"
"Of course. You don't have to tell me twice. If anything, I should be telling you that."
Her laugh is crowing, and horribly awkward. The meaning of his words is no doubt lost on her. Little wonder why she gets along so well with Misa and Matsuda. "Hey, I left that picture frame I made you out by your computer. I hope you like it!"
That's right. She made him a gift. An offering. A paltry offering, but it's the thought that counts, as they say.
He watches her disappear into the elevator, at long last. He straightens himself up, smoothing the wrinkles out of his shirt.
Yes, tread lightly, girl. You shouldn't even be here. I'd hate for you, or any of you, to get needlessly caught in the crossfire.
He enters the room to find Rem standing in the corner in unyielding silence and L on the couch, fiddling with marshmallows, stacking them into a pyramid shape. The picture frame Elin had made him sits next to it, untouched since she'd put it there. He's probably going to throw it away when he's alone again. That's just what L does. He throws away useless things.
So does Light. But that's out of obligation, as a god. A god destroys, and then he creates.
"You weren't out there to say good-bye to Misa with the rest of us," he points out to him, just to needle him.
They lock eyes, giving Light the chance to behold just how unsightly L is, on the outside as well as the inside. A husk of, if not a god, then a once very great man. No matter how great they are, stories about men who defied gods, they all end the same way. L will be no exception.
"I didn't see the point," he answers flatly, as always. "We said all that there is to say while she was packing. Besides, with everyone else going out to see her off, I didn't think that my presence would be missed."
"Still, it would be the proper thing to do."
Yes. Light will still say good-bye to him when he kills him. It would just be the proper thing to do, out of good sportsmanship. From god to rival. But there will be no grief.
A god has nothing to grieve.