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Pursuit of Divinity

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When Light Yagami first became aware of Near, L’s successor, the young god had experienced a mix of excitement and frustration. L had been brilliant, and Light had once been forced to fight for every advantage; since the legendary detective’s death, things had been almost too easy, the Task Force eating from Light’s hand and the world eating from Kira’s. The idea of having a challenge again, of reliving that game of cat and mouse, had been somewhat appealing. In the end, though, Near turned out to be a poor mimicry of his predecessor, his plans not so elaborate, the man himself not so cunning. It was almost disappointing but for the best really; Light couldn’t risk the world he was creating.

With Aizawa, Ide, and Matsuda at his back (physically, though not metaphorically) and the squeaking of the tired fan grating against his nerves, Light stood in the warehouse facing Near and the SPK as well as Mogi. The air was thick with tension, and Light had to fight down a laugh. It was pathetic, really, how easy this all turned out to be.

As the seconds passed impossibly slowly, Light decided to amuse himself a bit to pass the time. “To the person outside,” he called out, as if he didn’t know exactly who lied in wait behind the warehouse door, “have you written the names in the notebook?”

His servant’s voice took on an odd distortion when it travelled through the room as he answered, “Yes. I’ve written them.”

Sharp inhalations echoed in the warehouse, and Light had to bite back a laugh that was equal parts victorious and condescending.

“That’s odd,” Near said from where he was crouched.

“Hmm?” Light asked, turning his attentions from the door.

“Why would he answer you so calmly when you asked him if he’d written our names?” His tone was just slightly too accusing to be truly monotone, and the black gaze from his pale face, the only thing he really shared with L, was piercing.

Faux curiosity dripped from Light’s voice when he responded, “Who knows? Maybe he’s honest. No, he’s confident. Maybe he sees through your plan?”

“Huh? So that means we’re all in trouble!” Matsuda exclaimed.

Near addressed X Kira. “Teru Mikami. Come in if you’d like. I know that you are doing the killings for Kira. There shouldn’t be anything to be afraid of if you’ve written our names. Come right in.”

Light agreed, “Teru Mikami? That’s right. Come in.”

The door was shoved opened, a protesting squeal coming from it at the abuse, and Teru Mikami, X Kira, stood there, framed by the light, his trench coat wrapping around his body, Death Note in hand, hair and eyes wild.

When Mikami said nothing, Light questioned, “How many seconds has it been since you wrote the first name?”

Mikami checked his watch, and the room held its breath as he began counting, “Thirty...thirty-one...thirty-two...thirty-three...thirty-four...thirty-five...thirty-six...thirty-seven...thirty eight! Thirty-nine! Forty!”

Everyone in the room braced themselves, Light included for the show of it. Near was the only one who remained unaffected. A few seconds passed, and confusion spread throughout the room.

It was Matsuda, of course, who stated the obvious, surprise in his voice. “We’re not dead. It’s been a minute, and we’re still alive.”

Light took on a relieved guise, his posture drooping slightly as if the sudden release of tension had rendered him momentarily weak before he straightened his spine once more. He felt Near’s eyes on him, but Light was looking at Mikami, whose eyes were wide and crazed, his expression panicked.

“I’ve been telling you that no one would die,” Near reminded, sounding bored.

Mikami, alarmed, stuttered, “Wh-why? Why won’t they die?” Snapping his head around, he shouted at Near, “God! I did as you told me!” Betrayal lined his features.

Light swallowed the laugh that bubbled in his chest and fought the grin that wanted to spread across his features at the expression of shock that Near took on when Mikami addressed not Light but L’s successor. Equally horrified gasps came from the SPK and the Task Force, and Light morphed his own features into something resembling astonishment. He pretended to shake it off and said, making his voice break slightly, “Aizawa, Ide, restrain Mikami!”

The two men, despite their previous doubts about Light, rushed into action, each grabbing one of Mikami’s flailing arms before cuffing him, and Light felt a rush of pride fill him for his servant’s acting skills. He kept his face in a sort of distant disbelief, though, and as the pages of the fake Death Note fell from Mikami’s hand, Light stepped forward and claimed it from the ground. Glancing at the front page, Light made his eyes go wide and his face go pale. He held the page up for everyone to see. Written at the top in Mikami’s careful handwriting were the names of the Task Force members and those of the SPK, excluding one: Near.

“Anthony Carter, Stephen Loud, Halle Bulook,” Light began reading, “Light Yagami, Kanzo Mogi, Touta Matsuda, Hideki Ide, Shuichi Aizawa.” He swallowed as if his next words pained him. “The only name not written here is Near’s.”

“What?” Near yelled, the first true emotion passing over his face.

“Mikami called you God,” Light said, “and said that he did as you told him.” Troubled, Light had to pretend to be troubled; he couldn’t smile, couldn’t laugh, not right now, later.

“Near is Kira?” Aizawa gasped, and Light watched as shame passed over both his face and Ide’s as they regretted siding with Near against Light.

Good, Light thought, just as things should be. He doubted either man would question him for a while after this. Not that they’d be around for too much longer, anyway.

“No, I’m not Kira!” Near shouted. “It’s a trap! He set this up to frame me!” His desperation was evident.

Mikami-- and really, after this was all over, Light was going to see to it the Mikami got a proper reward for his brilliant performance, Light could see himself falling for it if he didn’t know better-- let out a wounded howl and turned pained eyes on Near as if God had just turned His back on him.

Aizawa stepped away from Mikami, leaving him in Ide’s grasp, and asked, “Why would Near tell Mikami to write our names in the Death Note if he knew it was a fake? He told us that he’d tampered with it, right? And he didn’t seem surprised when we didn’t die.”

Light shook his head as if he didn’t know and looked once more at Near, who didn’t seem to know what to do. He had remained crouched in front of his toys, but now they were long forgotten. His muscles were stiff, his face showing more emotion than Light had seen so far, and the SPK members were looking at him as if he were a rabid dog, ready to pounce at any second.

“I didn’t!” Near screeched, but he didn’t seem to have anything else to say for himself; he hadn’t been prepared for things to turn out like this.

Mikami, wonderful, obedient Mikami, exclaimed then, “God! You told me that you would tamper with one of the fakes and take the other to throw off your team, leaving me with the real one! Why, God, why would you do this to me? I’ve served you loyally!”

As proud as he was that everything was falling perfectly into place, hearing Near be referred to as God, even as part of the plan, was beginning to take its toll on Light, and he felt the vaguest twinges of what he was sure was jealousy. It wasn’t an emotion to which he was accustomed to feeling, but he used it as a weapon against others often enough that he recognized it. He ignored it, however, and recited in an almost mournful tone, “He must have mixed them up, leaving behind a fake while tampering with or stealing the real-” he cut off as if in realization. “He might have the real notebook!” He forced no little amount of alarm into his words.

Sure enough, the SPK sprung into action, and Near, despite his worming around and protests of innocence, was in cuffs. A notebook, which only Light and Mikami knew to be a fake, was pulled from his shirt and handed to Light.

Mikami struggled against Ide’s hold, apparently upset at Near’s treatment despite the “betrayal”. Ide managed to keep his hold, however, and Mikami eventually went limp, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs.

Near carried on yelling about this being a set-up but he went silent when that got Mikami on another “How could you betray me, God?” rant, the white-haired menace sensing that he was only making things worse for himself.

The two men in handcuffs were pushed into separate cars and escorted back to Task Force HQ. Each was placed in a holding cell, and the Task Force and SPK settled themselves in the main room, watching the surveillance of the rooms. Near was sitting silently, grim-faced, on the bed, and in his room, Mikami was still shaking slightly, murmuring to himself now and again, looking convincingly like he was going into shock.

The group of law enforcement had been bouncing ideas off each other for an hour, trying to understand Near’s plan. Talking to Near brought only stony glares or claims of innocence, and Mikami was in no state to talk to anyone. Light was guiding the others to the answer he wanted them to arrive at but not saying anything overt, wanting them to think they had come up with it themselves so as to shake off any lingering doubts about Light’s own innocence.

It was Rester that said it. “Mikami seemed to be organized and methodical in his Kira killings, and he’s of above average intelligence. Maybe Near was afraid of him rising up eventually. He wanted to cut his losses while he still had a chance, so he left Mikami with a fake and took the real one as well as the other fake. He would have tried to get a message to Mikami telling him to write everyone’s names but Light’s, and then, he’d not have to worry about Mikami trying to overthrow him, and Light would be out of the way. The rest of us, thinking that both the original Kira and X Kira, would be easy to take out or manipulate afterward. I suppose something intercepted the message so Mikami didn’t see it and thought he was actually to kill “God’s” enemies.”

Light resisted the urge to pat Rester on the head like he was a dog that had just done a particularly interesting trick and instead gave a slow nod as if thinking it over. “That would make sense,” he agreed, and the others made noises of concurrence. To mask a smirk, Light raised his tea cup and sipped quietly at it.

They made a few more efforts at interrogating their prisoners before Light declared, “I don’t think we’re going to accomplish anything else tonight. I say we wrap it up here, get some rest, and come back to interrogate them both tomorrow when they’ve had some time to consider their circumstances.”

There was a murmur of consensus, and everyone retired for the night, the Task Force members to the rooms they’d claimed for the occasional late night shift and the SPK to their own hotel with a promise to return at nine the next morning.

Closing the door to his living quarters, Light asked, “How’s that for interesting?”

“Hyuk, hyuk,” Ryuk chuckled. “You humans certainly aren’t boring, Light.” He flew a few flips in the air. “How do you plan to get Mikami out of there? Or are you going to leave him to the chair, hyuk?”

Light felt offended Ryuk would ask him that. What kind of person did his Shinigami think he was? Frowning up at Ryuk, Light replied, “Of course I’m not going to leave him to the chair, Ryuk. Did you see him today? He nearly fooled me with his performance; it would be a fool’s move to send him off the slaughter.” Honestly, it was like Ryuk had learned nothing about him after all these years.

Ryuk chuckled again. “What are you going to do then?”

Lounging on the couch in his living quarters, Light said, “What fun would it be if I spoiled my grand plan for you, Ryuk?” A mischievous grin crossed his features. “You’ll just have to wait and see like the rest of the world.” Ignoring Ryuk’s complaints, Light pulled out his cell phone and called Misa.

“Light!” she answered, cheerful to hear from him. “Did everything go the way it was supposed to?”

“Exactly so,” Light responded. “Now, before I can come home, I need you to do something for me.”

Misa, eager as always, said, “Anything! I’ve missed you so much!”

Rolling his eyes but careful to keep his voice kind, he instructed, “I need you to go to the gym.” As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew he should have phrased that differently. He held the phone away from his ear as Misa’s shrill, incoherent screeching came though. When she seemed to be winding down, Light held the phone to his ear again. “I need you to go the gym to get something for me ,” he said, and Misa made a quiet, “Oh,” noise. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he outlined everything else he needed her to do.

“Okay, Light! Misa Misa can do that for you!” she agreed.

“Thank you, Misa. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Light! I love you!”

Light ended the call and stood with a sigh. He passed by Ryuk, heading into his small kitchen to fix something to eat. He tossed Ryuk an apple from the bowl on the table and then set about preparing vegetable stir fry for himself. After his quick meal, Light showered and tucked himself into bed. Tomorrow would be a busy day.

Chapter Text

When Light awoke the next morning to the insistent beeping of his alarm clock, it was with a buzzing sort of anticipation for the rest of the day. He suppressed it of course, letting nothing show even in the privacy of his own room. There would be time for that later. After taking care of his morning routine, he headed down to the main kitchen, much larger than those of the individual apartments the HQ housed, and began to prepare breakfast for the rest of the Task Force.

Aizawa was the first down, and he was lured to the corner of the counter by the promising scent of coffee that filled the room. He gave Light a nod as his greeting, not much for words in the morning. Ide was next, following Aizawa’s lead as usual, Mogi coming after, and then, Matsuda was stumbling down a while later as Light was setting out the last of the food. “Good morning, Light!” Matsuda chirped. “Good morning, Aizawa, Ide, Mogi.”

“Good morning, Matsuda,” Light replied, knowing that the others would only give noncommittal grunts at this hour. Light placed the now-finished breakfast on the kitchen table, flashing a smile.

Breakfast was a quiet affair as the four detectives apart from Light tried to get their not-nearly-so-efficient brains to wake up. As they finished up and Light, Matsuda, and Mogi set about tidying the kitchen, Aizawa and Ide headed to the main room to wait for the SPK and check the surveillance monitors. Light spared his watch a glance. The SPK would arrive any second now, and Misa would be calling soon as well.

Matsuda and Light worked quietly before they met the others in the main room. “How are they doing?” Light asked of Aizawa and Ide, who were watching the cameras.

“Mikami is sleeping still, but Near doesn’t look like he’s slept,” was Aizawa’s response.

Light took in Near’s appearance and silently agreed. His eyes were bloodshot, and shadows had formed under them. His knees were pulled up to his chest, and he was watching the door as if waiting for the executioner himself to come through. In his own cell, Mikami was curled up on the cot, his face tense even in sleep, and evidence of his previous crying lined his face. Again, that warm, possessive pride swelled at Mikami’s thorough performance, and Light had to swallow a smile.

“We need to take them for breakfast and for showers. Mogi, Ide, I want you on Mikami; you’ll be able to handle his strength if something happens. Matsuda, I want you and Ide with Near. I’ll be here watching the cameras and coordinating everyone. Everyone clear?” After receiving confirmation, Light said, “Alright. Head down. Breakfast and then showers, one at a time.”

The Task Force dispersed, and Light watched them from the security cameras. Mikami put on a show of being forlorn yet cooperative for his assigned detectives as they served him a tasteless but nourishing breakfast and led him to the showers. Near, on the other hand, gave Matsuda and Aizawa a fierce glare and refused to eat. Light wanted to laugh at how pathetic Near was, how completely helpless.

A nondescript ringing signalled that Light was receiving a call, and a quick check confirmed that it was Rester. “Agent Rester,” Light answered by way of greeting.

“L,” Rester responded. “We’re outside now.”

“Come on in. You’ve been given allowance.”

“Right.”

The SPK entered the main floor shortly thereafter, but Light kept his gaze on the scene playing out on the cameras. “Good morning, Agents.”

“How are they?” Rester asked.

“They’re being prepared for interrogation. Mikami has just had breakfast and is being led to the showers, but Near is still being persuaded to eat.”

“They sleep at all?”

Mentally correcting the grammar of that question, Light said, “Mikami seemed to exhaust himself and slept. Near almost definitely didn’t.”

Another ringing from his phone announced another call, this one from Misa. He apologized and excused himself. “Hey, Misa, Sweetheart,” he answered, pitching his voice sweetly and intentionally staying just within earshot of the SPK.

The next three minutes was filled with Misa’s excited chattering about nothing of any importance. It was the call itself that mattered and Light’s response. As soon as he could, Light made his goodbyes, promising to be home as soon as they wrapped up the case.

Apologizing again for the interruption, Light rejoined the SPK at the monitors and watched along as Mikami was led back to his cell and a few bites of breakfast were finally coaxed into Near.

“We’re taking him to the showers now, L,” Aizawa said.

Light buzzed the cell door open in response. He then pressed the button for the intercom and said, “Mogi, Ide, lead Mikami to the interrogation room now, please.”

Light darted his gaze to the time for a split second, not allowing the motion to be obvious. Any second now. Any second. Then the second hand touched five, and Light’s victory cemented itself.

As Mikami and Near crossed paths, Mikami leaving the showers as Near was brought to them, Near began truly struggling in Aizawa’s and Matsuda’s grip. “Mikami, help me!” he shouted, and suddenly, all the frantic, fanatic energy Mikami had possessed the night before returned.

“God!” he cried out, and then Near managed to worm his way free from Aizawa and Matsuda, his strength far more than either of the men had been expecting. Nimble and lithe as a snake, Near deftly evaded his captor’s hands, and as he passed Ide and Mogi, the two men instinctively reached out to grab him, a huge mistake as that meant the Mikami was now free as well, though like Near, his hands remained cuffed.

“Keep them away from me!” Near demanded of Mikami in a rush of breath as he began to hurry down the hall as fast as he could move.

Pretending to snap out of his imaginary surprise, Light ordered, “One of you stay here and watch the cameras; the rest of you follow me.” Without waiting for a response, Light took off towards the elevators. Lidner spoke to them through a spare radio, keeping them up on what was happening.

When the elevators spit them onto the proper floor, Mikami was being restrained by Ide, Mogi, and Aizawa, and Matsuda and Near were nowhere to be seen. “Lidner?” Light barked in question.

“Matsuda is chasing Near down the hallway to your left,” came the quick answer.

“Get Mikami secured in his cell, and keep an eye on him,” Light told the Task Force over his shoulder as he headed down the hall after Matsuda and Near. Harried agreements came, and the pounding of footsteps from the SPK followed him.

“Shit! Matsuda’s down, and Near’s getting away,” Lidner said over the radio.

Light bit the inside of his cheek to hold back a victorious smile. Narrowing his eyes as if outraged, he pushed himself further, picking up the pace, and the others did the same.

Lidner spoke again, “I lost him! I repeat, I’ve lost visual of Near.”

“Where did you last see him? And where’s Matsuda?” Light demanded as he turned the corner.

“Matsuda is two corridors down from your current location, and Near was three from there.”

Just as the last words came from her mouth, they came across Matsuda, slumped against a wall and bleeding from a wound at his temple. Light tossed his radio to Rester, saying, “Take that and continue on looking for Near. I need to get Matsuda away from here.”

“Right,” Rester agreed, he and his men scurrying away.

Kneeling by the fallen Task Force member, Light patted the man’s cheek gently. “Matsuda? Can you hear me?”

Matsuda groaned, turning his head slightly to the side before answering. “Light? Where’s Near?”

“The SPK is chasing him now. He dealt you a nasty blow. Let’s get you to the main floor, okay?” Light started coaxing Matsuda to his feet.

Matsuda wobbled a bit upon standing, but he steadied when Light put an arm around the other man’s waist. Leaning into Light, Matsuda put his own arm around Light’s shoulders. The two began making slow progress down the hall.

“Light?” Matsuda asked quietly.

“Yes, Matsuda?” Light responded.

“I’m sorry I let Near get away. I’m always messing everything up.” His tone was downtrodden, sincere in his apology and belief in his failure.

Perfect, Light thought. “It’s not your fault, Matsuda. None of us were prepared for Near to fight like that. If anything, it’s my fault for organizing this so poorly.” Light released a sigh, as if regretful.

“No!” Matsuda was quick to insist. “It wasn’t your fault at all, Light! You couldn’t have known.”

“But-”

“But nothing!” Matsuda said, uncharacteristically firm. “If it’s not my fault, then it’s not yours either.”

Light gave a small chuckle, his lips curling into a smile. “Fine, then,” he said, “it’s neither of our faults. The SPK are after him now, anyway, so there’s nothing to worry about.”

Light felt Matsuda sag slightly against him, the tension in his muscles relaxing. Taking the additional weight without complaint, Light merely adjusted his grip around Matsuda’s waist. They continued down the hall in companionable silence. When they reached the elevator, they took it up to the main floor, and a shocked, horrified gasp wrenched itself from Matsuda’s throat, and genuine surprise flashed over Light’s face.

In front of the monitors where she’d been left, Lidner was now lying on the floor, blood pooling around her, seeming to come from her neck. From the radio that Lidner had been using, they could hear the voices of the rest of the SPK and Task Force calling for her, concern in their tones. Unfreezing, Light darted his gaze around, looking for anyplace Near might be hiding. “Stay here,” he commanded Matsuda propping him on the wall beside the elevator. Light crossed the room to crouch beside Lidner’s body and felt for her pulse. He glanced back towards Matsuda and shook his head, and the horror on Matsuda’s face spiked.

Light grabbed the radio and pressed the button to project his words to the others. “This is L. Agent Lidner is dead, presumably killed by Near. Because I don’t have eyes on him on the monitors, I’m assuming he made his escape through the front doors after he murdered Lidner.” Light paused, and silence reigned before he continued. “My men, stay on Mikami. SPK, return to the main floor.”

He tossed the radio onto the table and returned to Matsuda’s side. “Come on, let’s get you sitting down,” he said softly. Wrapping his arms around Matsuda’s waist once more, he led the shaking man towards one of the many chairs in the room. He eased him down and turned the chair away from Lidner. “Hey,” he said, “it’s going to be okay. We’ll catch Near, and we’ll get justice for Lidner and everyone else he’s killed.”

Matsuda nodded, but his expression didn’t change, his eyes haunted and face pale, sweat beginning to break out over his forehead. Light frowned, not liking how sick Matsuda was looking, especially since the man was still reeling from the blow to the head he’d taken. They were on a schedule; Light didn’t have time for this. On the other hand, though , Light thought, playing nursemaid would be a good opportunity to sway him further to me and away from the others.

Behind Light, the elevator dinged and released the SPK into the room. “Jesus Christ,” someone said on a gasp.

Light turned around to face the SPK, his face shaped into sympathy and worry. “I’m very sorry for your loss. I can see to it that the necessary arrangements are made to have Lidner sent back to the States for a proper burial as soon as possible.”

Rester nodded, his face drawn. “Thank you, L.”

“For now, I’ll call to have her body taken care of, and Matsuda still needs to have his head looked at. Could you please keep an eye on the monitors?”

The group nodded, not seeming entirely easy with being in the same room with their dead co-worker but accepting it as necessary.

“Thank you. I’ll take another radio so you can contact me if needed.” He grabbed Lidner’s radio from where she’d put it on the table and latched it to his belt. “Come on, Matsuda,” he murmured gently, helping the man to his feet and leading him to the infirmary. Matsuda was unsteady on his feet, and Light found himself carrying most of Matsuda’s weight. He was relieved when they got to one of the private rooms and lowered Matsuda onto the bed. He set about gathering supplies and then returned to his side.

He started with carefully wiping the sweat from Matsuda’s brow and then examined the wound. It wasn’t too bad, but head wounds tended to bleed a disproportionate amount. Cleansing the blood around the area first, Light then started cleaning the wound itself, drawing a hiss from the until then silent Matsuda. “Sorry,” Light said quietly.

“‘S’okay,” Matsuda replied absently.

When he’d finished patching up the wound, Light suggested, “Why don’t you lie down for a while?”

Surprisingly, Matsuda didn’t argue at all, merely agreeing, “Okay,” in a subdued tone before lying down on his side, curling his knees up.

Light took off Matsuda’s shoes, setting them on the floor beside the bed. “Would you like a blanket or something?” he checked.

“No.”

“Alright. I’ll wake you up later to check on you, alright?”

“Mmhmm.” Matsuda closed his eyes, breathing evening out almost immediately.

Light settled in a chair beside Matsuda’s bed to make the call to take care of Lidner’s body. He’d just hung up when the radio at his belt crackled to life. “L, Mikami just had a heart attack,” Aizawa’s announced over the radio.