Hope and Forgivness
"Present!" Barked Light in rage. "You are trying to teach me something, correct? Then let me think without leaping out of places screaming!" But as Light finished the last word, Present had already lost interest grabbed his arm, and sped outside, Light flopping along helplessly.
He grit his teeth.
It was just so... humiliating. There was something about Present that, like Misa, somehow just by being associated with such a creature, Light felt as if he had debased himself somehow.
When they paused, but a moment or two after flying out of the building, Light saw a church up ahead. A white path that reminded him of a bone curled its way to its large oak doors, weaving through various tombs. As Light began to walk up it, paying no heed to Present and its inane chatter ( "oooh look at the birds. A Robin! I like Robins…" )Light was somewhat disconcerted to see a lot of the tombs had toys and sweets placed upon them. Looking closer his fears were confirmed as the dates of birth and death were closer than an average tombstone. It seemed that a lot of children and teenagers died at this place. Was he incorrect in thinking that it was a benevolent, if eccentric, home?
Turning to Present he asked, " is this a good or bad place?"
Present looked at him strangely. Light noticed that his eyes were turning a strange greenish colour. It was discomforting to see in a face he knew so well as the innocent and naïve Matsuda.
"Good or evil?" Repeated the entity in a strange, slow manner. He then raised his arm and pointed to the church. "Of course." Replied Light keeping his voice flat and emotionless so the spirit would not know it was getting to him. "I find out on my own. Maybe God will tell me." The Matsuda doppelganger grinned, again, in a way that was completely foreign on the happy mans face.
It was sinister.
Light began to walk more quickly. He had gotten a positive, if morose, aura from Past, but Present almost seemed frightening. It also spent its time with the likes of Ryuuk. Was it possible for something such a Present, a time period personified, to be bad or good?
It was a strange concept.
The church looked desolate on the outside, standing there archaic and crumbling amongst the graves of children. The toys and sweets offered the only blasts colour, being winter all the plant life except for grass was dead. And even the grass looked withered and sparse. Around the church were smallish, grey trees. Light was certain they were dead and would not bloom even in the new spring. Crows sat on them, peering down curiously. Evidently animals could see him. Could they see the spirit?
Coming closer he saw the engravings in the church's black and grey stone walls. The first that came to view, near the bottom of the walls, were of demons ripping and eating sinners. The sinners were all naked and trying to climb out of hell. The demons were horned with goats feet and talons and claws. The stuff of nightmares. At the very bottom of the wall were flames in which the most unfortunate sinners wept and screamed. Light could almost hear them. Looking up he saw not heaven, but large statues of the saints and angels most of whom were looking up, to the real heaven Light supposed. The black-feathered bastions of death flew down and sat on the saints, still observing him closely. He was surprised they had not defecated the statues. Maybe they knew it was holy to the owners of this land?
Only one statue looked down. She had been designed to look straight at where visitors would stand before entering the church. Right where Light stood. It was the virgin Mary. Her eyes, unlike the cold, glazed expressions of the other saints, actually seemed sad and forgiving. Unfortunately it was a type of forgiving that gave no comfort. It seemed not to offer redemption, but merely expressed sadness at the inevitability of evil and the following punishment.
You only feel that way because of the guilt trip Past put you through. You're an atheist for pity's sake!
"I know," he thought in response. "But its just the feeling. Just a feeling."
Inside the church was cool. Winter sunlight shone through the painted glass, lighting the church with primary colours. It was clearly Catholic, if the engravings and statues outside had not been enough of a clue, then the golden exuberance of the inside was. The Catholics held nothing back in decorating the inside of their holy places it seemed. In stark contrast to outside, inside was all colour.
"That's what L is, according to you, yes?"
Light looked to where Present was pointing. It was a picture on a large, angular window. All old churches and castles in Britain had those strange shaped windows. The picture within it was of a very beautiful blond man who stood with his arms out. A halo was on his head and people were bowing to him. He would seem to be a Saint, if it weren't for all the gold and silver coins that lay in sacks at his feet, and plates laden with food and caskets of wine. Underneath the so-called saint's white robe, goats feet stood out. Underneath the picture a caption read:
…For Satan keeps transforming himself into an angel of light… Second Corinthians 11:14
"It's Satan, yes?" Pushed Present still continuing its observation. "A fake angel of life, the gives empty promises of love and a new world where he is God." He pointed as he spoke the kneeling humans and various goods.
Light scowled. He knew who that figure looked and sounded more like. The spirits really weren't giving him a break were they?
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. My last confession was yesterday. Forgive me father, for I have sinned."
An adolescent voice sounded out. Light looked to where the sound came. A box stood in the corner of the church. He recognised it as a place where Catholics confessed. "How can I hear?" He asked Present. "I thought those things were confidential."
"Magic idiot!!" Present waved its arms in Lights face, in a sort of abra-cadabra gesture.
Light rolled his eyes and refused to justify its idiocy with a reply. He couldn't wait 'til Future came, Present was insufferable.
"You!" A gruff voice sounded out. The Priest of the church stormed out of his side of the booth and roughly opened the door of the confessor, blond haired number two. The boy looked up with sulky indifference, which seemed to cool the Priest down. Light was stunned by his lack of proffesionalism, yet he and the blond boy seemed on friendly terms. "Why are you here again??"
"With number one, again." The Father repeated tiredly. He had an Irish tilt to his voice. He sat down on the front row of the church and gestured the blond boy to join him. "How many times have I had to explain that this will not make you like L?"
"I know!" The boy whined, indifference gone and replaced with passion.
"Quick mood swings," thought Light with disdain; this boy was now officially his least favourite.
"But I hate him! He's always number one, always one step ahead of me. He turned to the Priest quickly. "I was always the best! No matter what they did to me," he spat, "I was always the smartest. And now he's taken even that away from me!" The boy put his face into his hands and Light suspected he was crying. So maybe the boy did have a traumatic past like Luka…
There was a pause as Number Two slowly composed himself.
Light sat down on the bench.
The priest looked contemplative. "I'll tell you a secret." He said gruffly. "I was….I am no angel. Back in the old country, at your age, I too was filled with anger and hatred. I hated the English."
The blond's head shot up, red rimmed eyes giving away former misery.
"But you live he-"
The priest raised his hand, "I know I know. I was raised in a little village in Cork, that's just southern Ireland to you. My father and my grandfather had fought against the English rule of our country and it drove us all mad that the North still belonged to the English crown. From when I was the knee height of a grasshopper I was told the stories of all the injustices we had endured at the English's hands. So as soon as I was old enough, I joined an organisation that my forefathers had all been involved with, though back then they had different names. In my time it was called the Irish Republican Army." The man sighed wearily. "I joined the IRA."
"I recognise that," said the blond slowly. "They were terrorists, weren't they?"
The Priest nodded. "I was an idealistic boy. I had dreams of a perfect Ireland where the people that were good and noble were free of any kind of tyranny. But- but it wasn't like that. Unfortunately, young man, life is not so simple. Good and evil, right and wrong, they are not as convenient as to remain as fairytale caricatures. What does matter is how we treat our fellow man, regardless of what he does to us. As our good Lord says," the man made the sign of the cross and the Blond hastily followed.
"We blew up a church." The Priest stated.
The blond stared with eyes as wide as L's.
"We killed women and children. People who were worshiping a God slightly different from our own. A God I do not believe is actually God, but," he shrugged. "who am I? Am I God? No, I am a man. And I had no right to take part in that murder and chaos. I remember the smell of smoke and of charred bodies. People smell…revolting when they burn. The disgusting stench lingers on you; in your clothes, in your hair.
But its the guilt, the guilt continues even longer.
It soon did not matter to me what God they worshipped or what Island they were born on. All I knew was people had died, thanks to me, and I had no right to make such a choice. To make such a judgment." He took in a deep breath before continuing in a lighter voice. "I nearly drank myself to death after that. I became homeless. The guilt ate me up so I could not go home. How could I go and face my mother knowing that I had made orphans? I could not even stay in Ireland. I lived in England. It was a sort of self punishment I suppose. With all the tensions between the IRA and the English, it was not a nice place to live as a drunk, homeless man. I lived up to some of the worst stereotypes my country men fought so hard to alleviate.
Don't get me wrong, I still loved Ireland. I still wanted Peace. I still wanted independence. But every night I pray that I had tried another way. I pray that I had had a bit more sense and a little less arrogance."
"How did you get here?"
"Oh, out on the street I find two little whelps. A pretty teenage girl and a little boy. She said he was her brother but they looked nothing alike, her so fair and he so dark. They were both foreigners. German or something. Illegal I believe. They had been beaten and dehumanised by people both on the way to Britain and then by the British themselves who did not want foreigners here to either steal jobs or steal government benefits. She would have ended up prostituting herself I'm sure, if she hadn't done some of that already. She was a normal lass, but the boy, there was an intelligence in those eyes." Again he paused, lost in the memory. "Well, we sorted ourselves out enough. We started squatting in an abandoned house, and begged during the day. We moved to the city as there were more money to be scrounged. At home, we taught the boy what we could. His forte was language. He could speak fluent Gaelic by the time I was through with him. He learnt English on his own. When things got too bad we sent him out with us, to gain extra pity. He was starved and naturally quite miserable looking. He caught the eye of Mr Q who was working inside one of the buildings we favoured begging," he shrugged. "I suppose you can guess the rest."
The blond nodded and smiled. "Observation than a swoop down. And he took you in?"
"Aye, he's a good man. That forgiveness and trust he showed in me was what bought me back. The girl and the boy, they gave me my humanity. Mr Q gave me my pride." He looked at a statue of Jesus, its arms wide, the stigmata standing out in pale white hands. "Not too proud though Lord," he said to it nodding his head respectively.
"Anyway the point of this story young man, is this; there is a difference between revenge and justice. L stands for justice, but what you do is revenge. And you know what? No matter what excuse you use to try and make it seem noble, no matter how clever you are about it, no matter how justified it seems at the time, it will destroy you.
In the east they say karma, and this karma sounds like what the Lord means when he talks about doing unto others as you would yourself, to have it returned to you. He never said everyone will be nice back, but the goodness you dish out will return to you. It works the other way. Ask yourself, what has Number one," he emphasised the title, "really done to you? What crime? And how is your revenge working out?"
The blond sat quietly, looking down in thought. The Priest patted his head fondly. "Say a prayer, ten Hail Mary's, then go and get your present form L." The blonds head shot back up and he grinned.
"Forgot did you?" Chuckled the Priest. "On with it. I have things to do." He stood. "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good." He smiled.
The blond returned it, "for his mercy endures forever."
With that the enigmatic Priest left, and the blond got on his knees before a statue of the Virgin Mary. A rosary wrapped around his arm was bought down as he began to play with it; his eyes closed in concentration beginning with his own prayer first.
"Holy Queen Mother of God
Please forgive me.
I try I promise and I'm getting better."
He shifted on his knees a little. Light wondered if this was the only time the boy ever really bared his soul. Looking up at the figure Light knew that while he would never believe in God himself, he did envy that fact that some people could release themselves to something. To be completely honest and free. Light was always hiding. He had no one to share himself with. Not his family. Not Misa. Not the task force.
Maybe L, once.
But truly even then it had been a lie. He had been lying completely unaware to even himself; it was sad really.
"Please help me focus on studying. To be grateful that I have one friend. Please look after his soul, even though he isn't one of us." The blond opened his eyes and looked at the statue. "Because I'm sure that you understand that good and evil is not so obvious."
He looked back down and closed his eyes quickly."Remember not my sins but my tears of contrition.
Through Jesus Christ Lord and Redeemer, King Forever and ever.
He crossed himself and began to recite the Hail Mary Prayer.
"Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus, holy Mary mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death."
Light watched so carefully as Number Two repeated this litany, he did not notice Past, grinning like a satyr had drifted through the church walls behind him. The last thing Light experienced before plunging into darkness was Present grabbing his sides and dragging him backwards and screaming something he could not make out down his ear...