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Black Tattoo

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He was an odd boy, that Jean.

He always had been. When he was a small child, he was a concern for both his parents and teacher what with his violent and unpredictable behaviour, bringing up questions on both his sanity and future. Was it safe to let him mix with the other children? Would he end up influencing others? No one was sure. Therefore, it was considered safer to isolate him, seclude him from those deemed “normal” in society’s eyes. He didn’t understand. So what if he enjoyed inflicting pain? People had their hobbies and, personally, he was fascinated with the human reaction to such sharp stimuli. Some screamed. Some cried like the small children they were. All ran in fear. It was interesting to watch their responses to such trivial matters.

Personally, Jean enjoyed feeling the pain as much as inflicting it. He often caused fights, just to feel the harsh blows against his skin, leaving bursts of multi-coloured bruises that he would study later with much awe and admiration. When moving into his adolescent years, he would slide the cool metal of a sharp razor against his skin, just to see the blood welling up from the precise cuts, revelling in the sting that accompanied. His lack of outward empathy to physical or emotional discomfort had forced him into being regularly seen by several therapists, none who managed to find the root to his “sufferance” as they liked to call it. He never saw it as sufferance. He simply saw it as study and strength, gaining insight into the flaws of the human body and strengthening his own to the point where he almost became immune to such trivial weaknesses.

It was this that, eventually, led him to discover the Death Note. His nineteenth birthday had just passed, his exams looming ever nearer, and on his way home from college, he happened to find a certain black notebook, proclaiming it could kill anyone who’s name was written in it. He thought it was a joke at first, but his sadistic nature prompted him to take it home and try it out for himself.

That fateful day in 1965 was the day that spelled his downfall. That fateful day was the day he became a murderer.

The police never caught him, but he had practically signed his own death when he first picked up that notebook. After all, the Shinigami, Andonis, had told him that any human who used the Death Note would never have happiness in their lives. By the time he died at the age of twenty two, he had murdered over thirty innocent civilians of all ages and genders and was killed himself by getting caught up in a gang fight. He wasn’t that upset though; using the note was only an experiment, no, his life was only an experiment. The only regret he had was not being able to explore further, not being able to truly identify what made a human. He could hear Andonis’ laughter as his consciousness faded away, but he didn’t feel remorse. No sadness. There was no last minute begging with God, no begging or pleading. There was nothing but silence, stillness, then darkness…

Then nothing.

 


 

So they called this place Mu.

Jean shivered as his arms were grabbed by two Shinigami, both leering down at him as he was dragged through the cold, barren landscape. He didn’t try to rip his arms away. He knew this was what he deserved. This was the fate he’d chosen the second he’d killed his first victim. To say he was curious about what would happen to him was an understatement; in actual fact, he was interested in having something to relieve his current boredom. After a while, the Death Note had become slightly tedious, which was why he had written down his own death, just to see what it was like to die. Death, he concluded, was not all it was cracked up to be.

The Shinigami King laughed when he first saw the pitiful excuse of a spirit before him; a thin, emaciated, cadaverous man with long, dark hair that was slick with filth and grease, an odour of malice and gloom radiating from his weakened body. That greasy curtain of hair obscured the view to a set of piercing emerald eyes and a wide grin showing sharp, yellowed teeth. The King raised an eyebrow as the man was thrown to his feet.

“Young Ryuk, stand.”

The man’s grin faded. “My name is Jean.”

“Your given name is Jean,” the King corrected. “Your real name is Ryuk. From now on, you will answer to it.” Jean scowled, but set his face to its neutral expression when the Shinigami handed him a familiar black book. “I believe this is yours, is it not?”

He looked at the Death Note. It wasn’t any different to the one he’d used, but when he opened its pages, they were blank. “Why are you giving me this?” he questioned.

“You touched the Death Note, did you not?”

“Well, yes…”

“And that settles it.” The King towered regally over him, then snapped his skeletal hand out suddenly, grabbing the man’s skull in an iron grip. Jean screamed as a burning pain exploded within his head, trying to rip away, yanking at the King’s hands in an attempt to dislodge him. Tears sprang to his eyes. His throat became hoarse, before his yells petered out into coughs. It seemed like an age before he was eventually released, collapsing to the floor, cradling his aching head.

“Upon touching the Death Note sent to the Human world, the Soul Ryuk has made a contract with myself to serve me for eternity, performing the duties of a Shinigami in stabling the balance of mortal life and death within the Three Realms. His Spirit shall be sent back to the Human world, where it shall undergo reincarnation upon death.” Here, the King paused, looking down again at Jean. “The only way for you to break our contract is to reclaim your Soul in order to progress to the Second Realm. If you do that, you can be judged to enter Heaven or Hell. I will tell you this though; if you should break our contract, then you shall be the first Spirit to do so.” A harsh laugh was emitted from decaying lips. “The chances of even you succeeding is limited.”

A burst of anger blossomed within the man’s chest, and for the first time, he let his emotions control his actions instead of quelling them. “At least give me a chance. For all you know, I may surprise you.”

This only made the King laugh harder. “Ryuk, my boy, I will indeed be very surprised.”

Chapter Text

 


 

 

A young boy, aged around twenty, made his way through the dimly lit streets, shifting his satchel to adjust the heavy weight. The pouring rain plastered his tawny hair to his scalp. He made sure to keep to the shadows, trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible, made better with the dark clothes he wore.

His target was slightly ahead. She was unaware of her stalker, seeming to be engaged with her phone at that present time, but once or twice she would look around with an expression far from innocent, seeming to confirm his suspicions of her guilt with a threatening glare. She hadn’t noticed him so far. This was good. He needed a little more time before his job was to be finished.

She stopped just outside a closed café, shuttered down and littered in graffiti. He eyed her with a predatory glare from across the street, taking in her attractive appearance, her blonde hair perfectly curled and unruffled, her black clothing hugging her slight figure, large doe eyes scanning her surroundings. From time to time her hand would drift to her bag in an almost protective gesture, but she would withdraw it before she could touch the zip, as if she was holding back. Any casual observer would place her to be a drug addict, though Kaito knew better. She hadn’t expressed any symptoms of withdrawal as of yet and, besides, he knew the truth.

He knew what was in that bag.

Footsteps sounded out from nearby. He tore his gaze away, towards the other end of the street, just as a large gentleman rounded the corner. His dark hair was pulled away from his face, his expression arrogant, his gait confident, a cigarette hanging from his lips. The girl shrank away when he drew close.

The two talked for a while. After several minutes, the girl drew out a small parcel, and after he checked the contents of it, the man began to walk away. His hand came up to flick in the air, a parting wave.

At least, that was what it looked like; really, it was a signal for Kaito to move. He shot up, casually making his way across the road to where the girl was standing, eying him cautiously, until his intentions became clear in her mind and she began to run in the opposite direction. Foolish girl. You can’t outrun a trained assassin.

He leapt after the fleeing figure until he was racing alongside her, then felled her in one swift blow with a dagger to the throat. Long ago had the feeling of horror fled him whenever he killed. Now, he felt numb. Empty. There was no longer any remorse left within him to feel for his victims, whether they were innocent or guilty. He did his job. That was all there was to it.

A sigh escaped him as he wiped his blade and placed it back into his jacket pocket. What a mess. He’d have to clean this suit now. His pay had better be worth it, for his client’s sake more than his; the messiness of the operation had left him in a bad mood. He turned to the man, who had finished his cigarette and was now stamping it out until the embers dulled from its tip and the haze of smoke slowly being drawn away by the winter wind. The client smirked as he drew closer.

“I suppose you’ll be wanting your pay now?”

Kaito didn’t respond, choosing to raise a delicate eyebrow in response. The man couldn’t see him behind his mask anyway. The black plastic wrapped around his jaw and obscured one eye, leaving the other free to wander.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have the money at this present time. If you drop by the shop tomorrow-” The man cut off abruptly as the impatient assassin hacked him down, crumpling to the floor in a tangled heap, a look of shock on his face.

Kaito sighed. It was one of his terms to be paid immediately upon completion of a job. This man should have known better to try and con him to benefit from his services. Even still, the client had been the son of an estranged friend, and he couldn't help but allow a hint of guilt to seep into his consciousness before his amber eyes hardened.

Two jobs in one night. He'd have to up his game.

 


 

He opened the parcel in the dim light of his bedroom, thumbing through the Death Note like one would a slightly stimulating novel. He much preferred the traditional method of murder (meaning doing the job himself) but he guessed that using this would make his job several times easier.

There was no writing in it yet. Strange, considering his client had bought it several weeks after the rumour spread through the city. He would have thought that the girl would have used it before now, though anything was possible pertaining to a supernatural murder weapon. He laughed at his train of thought. He’d always been such a sceptic of the supernatural until the incidents that had occurred in his previous life.

The former Light Yagami allowed himself a moment of reminiscence before standing and approaching the window where it overlooked the city. He lit a cigarette, revelling in the rhythmic motions of each drag and the way the toxins calmed his shaking fingers as the memories resurfaced after unsuccessfully burying them. He couldn’t remember much; only the idealism of a crime-free world and a weird creature named Ryuk. He’d looked up for himself the Kira case, now a huge historical event in the modern world, and found out about L, the great detective, and N, who was responsible for the eventual defeat of Kira. The name L was now given to another; over two hundred years had passed since that incident had occurred and the original L was long dead.

Kaito was glad. He didn’t want to associate himself with the psycho he had been. Light Yagami had been a foolish child playing at God while Kaito was a hitman for hire, with a simple existence of eat-sleep-kill and it worked out for him. He had no opinion on justice. He had no delusions of self-righteousness. He was simply himself, and what made him feel alive most of all was the killing, the thrill of the chase, the ease in his murders, the joy in the occasional challenge (a rare thing indeed in this world). There was not much use for the Death Note except to use it as a bargaining tool.

With a grunt, he shoved it into his satchel (he rarely held items of importance in his drawers in case he needed a quick getaway). He barely noticed the other presence in his room until he glanced up to see a shadow move in his peripheral vision. A feeling of dread washed over him.

In barely a second, he had the intruder by the throat, slammed against the wall with a knife at their throat. He slit it with ease. He looked to the face, waiting to see their eyes glaze over with a dead man’s gaze, their features slackening as the darkness claimed them…

Instead, he looked right into the grin of a Shinigami.

Chapter Text

 


 

 "Hey Light," the obnoxious female voice squealed at him. "Remember me?"

Kaito, for his part, stepped back with an unamused expression, taking in the decaying form before him. The thing was a slight figure, with greasy blue hair and hooded red eyes that were instantly recognisable. The way she held herself, her black garments, the high-pitched voice...unmistakable. The memory was faint, but there was an image lingering in his mind, of a young girl with the same doting expression, those rounded eyes, but brown instead of a burning crimson...

"Misa," he whispered, stretching out a trembling hand which fell to his side as soon as he touched her cold, dead skin. He struggled to comprehend the situation. "Misa...you..."

The Shinigami laughed, throwing herself into the young man's arms. "Isn't it great, Light? After all this time, we finally get to meet again!"

"It's Kaito," he corrected, trying to take a breath in her death grip. "That was another time, Misa. I'm no longer that person anymore."

There was a smirk that descended upon those blue lips. Even as a Shinigami, the girl was still beautiful, and there was that memory again, of them both entwined, him kissing her softly, gently, before pulling away in distaste. Why would he play with such a nice girl as this? Light Yagami had been a fool for turning down this goddess.

"And instead, you kill for business rather than out of justice." She ran her icy fingers up his arms, feeling the toned muscle underneath his shirt, running her hands over the definition of his shoulders. "I love businessmen. They're so...strong. So powerful." Her grip loosened, though she managed to worm her way closer to him, her breath ghosting over his ear. "It's a shame your human body is so weak."

And then she pulled away.

Kaito reached out for her. She danced out of his reach in graceful movements, twirling over to his satchel and plucking the Death Note from its folds. "What you going to do with this, Light? You going to pick up where you left off?"

Something snapped inside him. He stormed over to where the girl sat on his bed, snatching the Note from her grasp and stuffing it back in the bag. He stood before her, hands on hips, leaning over in a threatening manner.

Misa didn't seem the slightest bit afraid. Why would she be? She was already dead.

"I told you!" he yelled. "I'm not him, I'm not Light. I'm a changed man! I have no such interests in dealing out punishment to criminals when I am one myself. That boy was delusional Misa."

Silence descended upon them, where Misa lifted a finger to tap against her plump lips, head tilted to the side. "Hmm. You're different."

"That's good."

"I liked Light..." Here she trailed off, pondering. "No. I loved Light. I knew he was using me all along, yet I let him. I myself was foolish for following him. I knew the outcome wasn't going to be great, especially since I traded my eyes. He never cared for me. I was just an asset. I wished...I hoped that maybe, one day, he would see me as something more, that he would want to take me as his queen. At the same time, I knew it was wrong what we were doing...yet I felt like I owed him. He killed the criminal who killed my family. I couldn't just abandon him after what he'd done." A sigh escaped her. "You meanwhile. You seem nicer. You're not the same heartless ass he was, Kaito. Though I guess you've had a few lifetimes to reconsider your options. Tell me, how many lives have you had?"

"Too many," he replied.

"Do you want a way out?"

Kaito reeled. "There's a way out of reincarnation?"

Misa nodded, smiling. "You-" She pointed to him. "You are a Spirit. I am a Soul. Each and every Being within the First Realm has both a Soul and a Spirit. Those who do not touch the Death Note have both their Spirit and Soul still intact and can progress to the Second Realm, which is what you humans refer to as Heaven and Hell. Those who have touched the Death Note, like you and I, have their Being split. The Spirits are sent back to the First Realm for eternal punishment until the endless cycle drives them insane. Their Souls are slaves for the Shinigami King." Her face twisted into a picture of despair. "But none of the others do any work. The new Souls, which involve myself and your Soul, we are saddled with all the load. This is why I chose to drop my Death Note as an escape."

"Are you going to try and find your Spirit?" Kaito asked her.

She nodded. "I was hoping you could help me, though I've seen you change, Kaito. I don't want you to lose yourself like so many others have before." She pulled him down onto the bed with her and he knew he could have easily overpowered her, yet he let himself be moved. "Kaito...work with me again. Become my ally in this. Please...we can move on together. Don't you want to see what Heaven is like?"

A wry smile twisted his lips. "After all the things we've done? Misa, we'll be seeing Hell."

Chapter Text


 

"Where exactly are we going?" Kaito whispered as they made their way through the rush hour crowd.

Misa turned to look at him from up ahead. Her eyes sparkled dangerously. "Someone you've met before. Hopefully you'll both have some recollection of each other or this journey will all be pointless, though I'm confident that this will work." She paused. "Just...please, try to stay calm."

Thoroughly confused, he followed the girl towards a derelict house towards the outskirts of town, his apprehension increasing as he took in the sight of the pitiful ruins of the old building. He hesitated in the overgrown garden, wondering what he was walking into. What if all this was a grave mistake? How could he trust the word of a Shinigami, when the one he had trusted before had abandoned him to die? Just as these doubts crept in and the coldness of suspicion made its way through his body, he looked at Misa, who had stopped at the porch, turning to him with such an innocence in her expression and pure, unfaltering trust in her eyes. He couldn't abandon her. She deserved much better than a lifetime trapped in this form, split into two, never feeling whole. He himself knew the feeling. When she asked if he was coming, he nodded, banishing all negative thoughts to instead rely on his guide.

"You've brought the Note?" Misa asked him, to which he drew it from his bag. "Good. He won't be able to see me at first, and I have no doubt that he'll remember his previous encounters with it. He'll never touch it of his own accord. You'll need stealth on your side."

Kaito grunted in assent and pushed open the door, carefully so as not to make a sound. Darkness greeted him like an old friend. He melted into the shadows, testing out each floorboard to ensure a silent approach. He adapted to the familiar scenario like a chameleon. The only difference this time was that he wasn't there to kill.

"He won't be upstairs," Misa said. "I've been watching him. He spends most of the time in the sitting room around the back of the house."

He followed Misa's instructions carefully, making his way through the kitchen to hover at the doorway, eyeing the figure sitting beneath the bookcase in what looked to be a lotus position. Dark hair framed a thin, pale face, black-ringed eyes focused on one point above the ticking clock on the opposite wall, body thin and malnourished. Kaito turned his head to his dead companion with a raised eyebrow. Misa only shrugged.

"There's more to him than his looks," she said. "Go on. Say hello."

With trepidation, he stepped from the shadows into the lamplight emanating from a single source next to the person of interest. At this movement, the man immediately became alert, snapping his attention from his focal point to stare Kaito directly in the eyes and as soon as their eyes made contact...

 


 

Lawliet knew that he would soon die.

Why was he in the rain? He didn't know. He couldn't remember. That life was far in the past, over 200 years ago now. But still the memory came in full force and he was standing in his past body, staring out over the city, his city that he ruled from the shadows, drenched in the rain.

In his peripheral vision, a young man came to stand just out of the rain, a look of slight confusion on his face. When he glance over, his eyes were hypnotizing, an amber that subdued him and in that moment...

 


 

...He was drawn back to the present, staring into Light Yagami's eyes with both horror and repulsion.

"You," he whispered. "No. Go away. Get out."

Kaito frowned. "Wait-"

"We are not talking. Get out of my house."

The boy sighed in resignation, crouching where he stood. "L. Please. I'm not the same man I was."

"You're tainted. There's no escaping it now. Once you've touched it you'll always be cursed. We can't talk to each other, it'll only make things worse."

Misa approached them both. She seemed to be considering something. "I told you what happens to those who've spent too long here. It seems to me that Lawliet here has seen a cycle of at least a thousand years."

Amber eyes widened. No wonder the bastard was so paranoid.

"I know what you're here for, Light. In a previous life, we met in a similar situation. You tried to get me to touch the Note."

Misa nodded, while Kaito groaned.

"I will tell you now; I will never participate in any of your plans. You broke my heart one too many times. Stop finding me." The dark haired man leaped from his position, surprising both occupants in the room, rushing over to grab Kaito by the collar. "Leave me...please..."

Kaito didn't miss the tears in his eyes, but as he looked into their depths, it stirred up another memory of a different life, one that had been buried and forgotten...


Meet me at the bridge at midnight, he'd said to the raven-haired man.

It was midnight. He was still at home, basking in the fire's warm glow, reading a particularly stimulating novel while making his way through a bag of potato chips. A stirring of guilt made its way into his heart, but he ignored it. This was for the best. They couldn't be together, could never be together. He wasn't gay.

There was no way.

Around half an hour later, he answered the door to the same man he'd hoped would give up on him, waiting patiently for him to finish yelling before gently telling him to forget him, trying to ignore the cries of anguish that could be heard even after he had closed the door on him. With a weary heart, he sank back into his armchair, trying to focus on his novel but the words became a blur of black against the page, reminding him of glittering, dark-ringed eyes.

When news of the man's suicide came to him, the stirrings of guilt only became stronger until it consumed him. He hadn't ever expected things to turn out this way. He hadn't expected his friend to fall for him, or for the Death Note to warp his mind into something worse than he'd ever imagined. Part of him was glad that the man was finally gone.

But there was mainly guilt. He'd done this to him. He'd sought him out. He'd forced him to join in the killing spree and in doing so, he'd turned him into a beast.


 

"That won't happen again, L," Kaito told him. "It's different now."

L let go of his shirt, stumbling back and placing himself in the solitary armchair. "Even if it was, I wouldn't touch it. That thing drives me insane. In every life, it finds me, seeks me out, and...I can't deal with it any more." He placed his head in his hands. "It's too much for even me to handle."

It felt like approaching a feral animal. Kaito gradually made his way forward, watching the man convulse slightly as more memories flooded his mind. He waited until he sat directly beneath his former rival before stretching out a hand, placing it in the midst of that mass of hair, combing his hand through it in an attempt to soothe. Strangely enough, it seemed to be working. The man stopped writhing, the high keens of pain dissolving into silence, and he lifted his head to look at Kaito fully.

"There's something about you, Light. You somehow seem to find me in every lifetime since we first met." Then he seemed to snap back into his daze again, eyes misting over. "Too many lifetimes. So many..."

"What if I offered you a way out?" Kaito asked soothingly. "What if I told you there was a chance for us to find our way out of this hellhole?"

L scoffed. "There's no way out. You're deluding yourself."

"Please, L. Just...listen to what I have to say. To what we have to say." Kaito lightly pressed the fragment of the Note against the porcelain skin, ignoring L's screams of anguish.

Chapter Text


 

"Now you two are together, I'll need to find a way to somehow lure your souls here. It won't be easy." Misa seemed to be pondering for a moment. "I suggest that you stay low for the moment. You'll be the focus of both paranormal beings and other previous Death Note users."

"How so?" Kaito asked.

"I understand," L broke his silence to speak up. "Days before you arrived at my home, I felt your presence."

"Then how come I didn't feel the Death Note's presence before I actually picked it up?" Kaito wondered.

Misa shrugged, moving through Kaito's apartment to look in the fridge. As she bent down, her short skirt rode up slightly, and he fought the urge to stare at the perfect mounds being revealed under their folds, instead glancing into L's knowing eyes. A blush crept onto his face and he looked down at the floor.

"I have a theory," the Shinigami eventually said. "The more lifetimes that a spirit has endured, the more memories they retain. L here can remember many details of his previous lives whilst your memory is severely limited to those you recall from dreams. As you go through this cycle more, you will obtain more memories and in return, your minds begin to merge with your soul. So, if this is true, then the more memories that a spirit has, the more they can feel the presence of a Death Note." She gave an exclamation of triumph as she stood up, an apple in hand.

"They really do love apples..." L muttered.

Kaito leant against the counter, his expression one of puzzlement. "Misa, you say our minds begin to merge with our souls, yet how come no one has managed to claim them yet? How is that even possible?"

"You misunderstand me, Light. When I say that our minds merge, I don't mean we become one being again. Instead, our spirits slowly fade to nothing and the energy that is left behind flows back to our souls. We Shinigami can read people's real names they were born with, along with their true names and how long they have left to live. However, with a previous Death Note user, we can also see how many cycles they have left. Kaito, you're lucky, you have a long way to go yet." She then turned to L. "But you...not long at all. You'll be lucky to see one more cycle after this."

The raven-haired man gave a blank stare in return.

"Now, boys, there are two options we have here. One is to somehow lure your souls down here, which is near impossible because the Shinigamis never opt to come here volentarily. The other option we have is to somehow sneak you both into Mu. That, while also near impossible, is slightly more realistic than our other option." She chewed on her apple. "We don't really have long left. The other users will have felt the moment L touched the Death Note page. Most will leave you be, but the older ones...well, some spend their whole lives hunting the things. We need to be quick."

"You have a plan, Miss Amane?" L asked her.

A smirk was her only reply.

 


 
The man could feel them approaching from miles away. Two Spirits. One Soul. For some reason, they all felt familiar, as though they had a connection within a past life, though he couldn't place his finger on it. He was too old, he decided, to care about such matters.

This was his last cycle. He had long since pushed away his search for a Note, and had abandoned any chances of reclaiming his Soul. His Spirit was weary. All he wanted was to go in peace, with his only regret being the moment he touched that Note in his first life, the moment he split his Being. Now, it looked like he wasn't about to be that lucky.

He was at the door before they could knock.

The Soul addressed him as Ryuk. He vaguely recalled that being the name of his own Soul, but it was strange for someone to address his Spirit as such. The two other Spirits glanced at him warily, the light-haired one with much more trepidation than the dark-haired man. Again, something stirred within him, a flash of a memory that wasn't his own, a cackle of deep laughter that emitted from his lips, yet not his body, as eyes glanced over a self-righteous boy that was a spitting image of the one before him now. He huffed in amusement.

The female Soul seemed to know of his struggles. It appeared she had been there the moment he had broken into Mu, had seen his failure, had seen the moment he was close to becoming one Being again only to fall into the pits of despair again when the Shinigami King had thrown him early into his next cycle. He had been the only one close enough to reclaiming his Soul. But that was past, and he wasn't about to do it again.

"Ryuk, we know you're tired," she sighed. "But you're the only one who was able to break in. We need you."

"The last time I looked, you weren't a spirit."

"My Being still isn't intact. I'm suffering just as much as you."

He screamed at them to leave and shut the door again. He closed his eyes, slumping against the door. He was tired. Weary. This was getting to be too much. Maybe he should just end it all, take up a gun and blow his brains out before this got any worse. He felt something stir the edges of his consciousness, felt the youngest spirit moving around his house, but still he didn't make a move. He huddled into himself.

Minutes passed. He felt a hand run over his delicate skin. He remembered a time when the rebellious boy within had cut that very skin open, experimenting with his life, dabbling in the line between life and death. He kept his eyes screwed tight, as if to shut out all the pain, all the horror, trying to ward off the Soul before him.

"Ryuk," Misa whispered gently. "I can help. Let me help."

"It's not possible," he muttered. "I've tried. I've tried...everything. Every single way. I got in, one time. So close. That was the last time I tried. Never again will I get my hopes up like that."

"You aren't alone anymore Ryuk." Misa looked down at this man, this thin, long-haired man that was a far sight from the unfeeling Soul she had once encountered. She wrapped him up in her arms, feeling slightly strange. "Ryuk."

More memories. She twisted her face in pain as she felt the pain within him. Why were Spirits so fragile? Was hers like this? She sighed, helping him up.

"Ryuk," she repeated. "Please. We need you."

The man instead turned away.

"You may have given up, but there are still some of us who harbor hope."

"Easy for you to say, Shinigami." But he knew his heart was slowly warming. He remembered her. Such a willful thing. Maybe this lifetime, he would be able to fulfill the debt he owed Rem.

 


 

 

Outside, Light and L stood in awkward silence.

Occasionally, L would glance over at the younger man, seeing the troubled man, and would be tempted to talk if not for every memory of him clouding his mind. There were too many times Light Yagami had caused him pain. Too many lifetimes of his own death being caused by the Spirit beside him. 

"I have changed, L."

Still, he would not speak. He raised his head to the sky, watching the grey clouds pass overhead.

"I know there have been many times I have caused your downfall. Everything I've done cannot be forgiven." There was a pause. "But why do you think I would seek you out?"

Now that was interesting. For the first time since the Death Note had touched his skin, he looked into those amber eyes, filled with pain and haunted by death.

"You're the first person I've met who I've ever wanted to associate myself with. All those times I found you, I wanted you beside me. Why do you think?"

L remembered the first lifetime they met, chained together, passionate nights in bed followed by days of underlying jabs and occasional touches. He had thought, at the time, that it was all Kira's plot to seduce him into a false sense of security. Now he wasn't so sure. But still, he wouldn't speak, preferring to shut himself off instead of losing himself once more into the void of love and heartache that had claimed him too many times before.

It was as Light had once said; this was for the best.