To be honest, I wouldn't terribly mind if lj went down about one Saturday a month; it's amazing how much housecleaning and so forth gets done when I can't bum around on the computer for three hours before lunch. Anyway, I wouldn't have been quite so eager to get back onto lj if it weren't for this Death Note fic I'd just written.
Light rolls onto his back and contorts himself over the swell of a nearby boulder, then loses interest and sinks down through the stone to the ground it rests on. "Don't tell me you don't regret it," he says.
"I will never regret it," L tells him, and it is true, after a fashion. Light was evil. L had vowed to see him executed for his crimes, and L had kept true to his word.
"What happens to shinigami when they die?" Light asks. "Can we finally go to hell, do you think?"
"Can this be worse than hell?" L counters.
Fifty-seven years passed between the day Light died and L's own death. It is impossible to know how many decades have passed since then, but even still, they have never once stopped locking horns with one another. After all, they have precious little else to do.
Light turns his head 180 degrees and twists his arms about his body in an impossible posture. It has never occurred to L, who used to adopt all manner of odd postures during life, to attempt such a thing after his death. He thinks Light must have learned this behavior from his shinigami while he owned the Death Note. While he was still alive.
"I don't know," Light says by way of answer to L's question. "Do you think hell is agony, or do you think hell is boredom?"
I think hell is meting out justice only to be damned for it, L thinks, but he says nothing.
"For me, hell is boredom," Light continues in L's silence. "I was bored while I was alive." He pauses in mid-contortion and says wistfully, "It's why I used the Note in the first place."
A human who writes a name in the Death Note can neither go to heaven nor hell.
Even if he isn't aware of the consequences of using the Death Note.
Even if he believes he can use the Death Note to create a sinless paradise on earth.
Even if he believes he's justified in taking the life of another human being.
Even if he believes that using the Death Note is a means to an end or a necessary evil.
Even if it means the difference between killing or being killed.
Even if he only ever writes one name during his entire mortal life.
Even if he wrote that name in a moment of crisis.
Even if he wrote that name to stop Light Yagami from killing him.
"Let me write a name," Light says. "Just one."
"If you do that, you will be trapped in this reality one human lifespan longer," L answers. "Why would you desire that, Light-kun?"
Light's fixed skeleton grin shifts slightly; he's gratified that L has used his name. "Because what if shinigami just stop when they die? I don't want to stop," he says, after a long while.
This is something which had occurred to L a long time ago. He does not give Light his Death Note.
L refuses to go to the human world, refuses to use his own Death Note at all. Light goes occasionally, when he tires of tormenting L. Just to wander, because no one can see him, and there's no way he can entertain himself without a Death Note.
Light had pleaded with L when he first took it. "What will we do if we don't write down any names?"
L had not answered him. They had been floating along the edge of a precipice, finding their way by the ghostly shinigami sun as its glow diffused over the giant reptile bones and other indeterminate objects far below them.
"I thought you were afraid to die," Light had said. "Why wouldn't you want to add more years to your life?" And then, more plaintively, "Aren't you bored?"
"Writing names in the Death Note increases a shinigami's lifespan. Therefore, a shinigami's lifespan is finite," L had told him. "Thus, it follows that if I refuse to write any names, my lifespan will eventually come to an end." And with it, this interminable half-existence.
Light had been impressed, as impressed as a shinigami could be. It is difficult, in their current state, to feel any sort of emotion, although L thinks he remembers emotion better than Light.
"Give me back my Note," Light had pleaded then.
But L had not given him his Note. Not then, and he's not about to do it now, either.
Light emits the dry, agonized hiss that serves him for laughter. His skeleton face is amused beneath the rotting lumps.
L is Light's favorite source of amusement. "You act just like a human," Light tells him fondly, if clinically, as if he can no longer appreciate what being human means.
L can still appreciate, or at least thinks he can. Either way, it isn't enough. He despises Light, who had surely known that this would be the fate of anyone who used the Death Note, and who had conspired to make sure L would experience it alongside him.
How ironic that after damning them both, Light is no longer capable of realising, let alone relishing, the enormity of what he's taken from L.
How L despises him.
And how he needs Light desperately, because without Light he will have nothing to despise, and that leaves him only the rocks and the bones and the leaden skies, and his own hypothetically finite but seemingly endless shinigami lifespan.
They play cards sometimes, and the games must stretch on for years by human standards as they stare each other in the eye and try to divine from one another's empty faces what hand the other holds. Sometimes they walk. Sometimes they just sit.
He is sitting now, and Light is sitting beside him, rotting face inches from L's own. L knows it is there, but he will not turn his head and look.
"Ryuzaki," Light says softly, tenderly, although L knows the tenderness is only an artifact of remembered emotion. He is silent.
"Let's do it again," Light urges. "Just once more."
"Why?" he asks.
Light is looking at the ground now, and his fixed grin does not waver.
"Because I want to feel something," he says. "It doesn't matter what." The part of L that remembers amusement is faintly amused that now, in death, Light has finally stopped lying to him.
"So do I," L says at last.
Light does not wait for L to change his mind. He lurches toward L, his grinning face lolling forward on a suddenly limp neck, then slowly unfocuses and sinks through, and then into, L.
A sudden overpowering sense of wrongness floods L's senses and sends him reeling away, but it's useless because Light is inside him, within him now, a part of him, and he can't escape from Light any more than he could exist outside of himself.
If L were to open his eyes, he'd see the corporeal Light - the gristle, the bundles of warped bones, the rotting gobs and stagnant blood - entwined with his own body, which is no less hideous. It is a sight which would incite horror in anyone - as it had when his shinigami had first appeared to him - but it will no longer arouse any emotion in him now.
It is knowledge of this that makes him keep his eyes shut as Light diffuses throughout him. As a disembodied essence, Light is not terribly different from L - just bundles of contradictions, justifications, half-remembered memories of a human lifetime that become vaguer with each passing second. What happens to us, L wonders, when they are gone entirely?
But the memories are not yet gone, and they sift through each other's minds like lovers handling precious, yellowed photographs with gentle fingers until Light separates his essence from L's and solidifies beside him.
Light brushes against him once, leathery lips catching on L's roughened, scarred face.
"I need you," Light says. "I don't have anything else."
"I know," L tells him, and tolerates it, because it is a fact he must live with for the foreseeable future.