"Did you know," L confides one day, "that in English, Raito's name would sound like the word for Light?"
Raito looks at the way L's smug, huddled face is poised behind a teacup, and his first impulse has nothing to do with speaking and everything to do with homicide-by-porcelain.
"I do," he states instead, wary without wanting to be. There are masks which are appropriate for school, and being suspicious of a professional detective is not among them. Raito's scores in foreign language have always been top-notch; he read the English notes from Kira without any trouble at all, assembling the letters together with no hesitation over Romanic spelling. L knows this, so the fact that he's bringing it up deliberately must be part of a greater scheme.
The only question is, what?
"This is interesting because if Kira wanted to kill Raito," L goes on to explain, maddeningly innocent around a mouthful of cookie, "he would be killing light."
"I don't plan to be the next target," Raito retorts, his chin set in warm scorn. Pie-bakes and butter are the cream of his indignation. He can taste his own annoyance.
What had started as a cup of coffee during lunch has evolved into an oblique interrogation, which risks too much when Raito is supposed to be pretending he is a wholesome normal student. They are surrounded by small packs of teenagers while they eat; this conversation could be spied upon, but L chose to voice his thoughts anyway.
A knot of schoolgirls bumbles by their table; one giggles behind her hand as she spies Raito's scowl, and it's all he can do to keep from memorizing her face for later. Given five seconds, he could find her name in the class records. Five more and he could have it written down in the Death Note, along with details of the traffic accident that would kill her later this evening. It would be just that simple.
"What about you?" Raito asks the other boy suddenly, sensing the primitive opening. It's clumsy, but he can't miss any chance to discover L's name. "If Raito means light, then L can't stand for darkness. What else would it be?"
"Yes," L muses. He stirs more sugar into his cup, clinking the spoon in tiny, clumsy chimes. "Maybe you are right. Maybe Raito should only be called R from now on. L is already taken."
And that's it. At the failure, Raito is instantly angry with himself; vexed with L's nonsense, doublyfrustrated that he can't outmaster the detective. It isn't right that L can thwart him. Raito has spent his entire life in the practice of excelling, and the only thing L is good at is being an impossible pest with an appetite.
L eats three sweet-berry cakes in the time that it takes for Raito to finish brooding. The teenager's thoughts are a back-room abortion: dirty, prone to infection, and best discarded before they can be exposed to day.
After lunch, Raito skips class. He heads to the library and stands by the upper windows in order to clear his head, savoring the privacy of the history section. L is a bastard's devil - Raito never knows when the detective is baiting him, or when L is simply adding insane fractions to that ever-growing chance of guilt. Three percent, four. Five. Five-point-three. L has no rhyme or reason to his mathematics, and half the time, Raito wonders if L would make anyone into a criminal if he found them desirable enough.
No one else is in Raito's corner of the library. Left alone, the teenager dumps his schoolbag on the nearest table and pulls up the blinds, allowing a flare of heat to wash into the alcove. Ryuuku slides beneath a chair in a form of complaint; Raito pitches him an apple to keep the shinigami occupied, and the wet, smacking sounds provide the library with a horror-movie soundtrack.
Raito ignores the noise. Instead, he chooses to spread his arms to the flood of sunlight, hands on either side of the window frame, and feels himself bake in the shine.
Killing Light. L meant it when the light would be the victim and death the aggressor, but Raito knows better. The two aspects are one, which turns verb into adjective thanks to a flexibility of language. Raito wonders if the phrase is apt, or if he is something quite different than a noontime's warmth. If his brilliance is only a byproduct of his true threat: the ability to slaughter wholesale if he so desires, the radiation of his judgement rippling through homes and offices alike. Unexpected, and avoidable once he is armed with the proper munitions.
A silent god in the sky.
Early on, Raito was confronted with the issue of science's war with faith. Unlike the other analytics in his class, Raito did not discount the possibility of the divine. If it existed, he reasoned, then it must be potent in order to achieve reverence without concrete proof, and Raito does not like to discount any opportunity for power.
If it took science to create effects that seem like magic, then Raito would sign up for every extra-credit class he could find. Godhood is not impossible. He's already proven that with the Death Note. There is nowhere that a criminal can run; Raito's hands reach through walls, guiding the guilty towards accidents or suicide, depending on his mood.
If he is a light, then it would be one that kills.
Raito knows, of course - as any student of Japanese history would, or even global - about the effects of the bombs dropped during the Second World War. How survivors said there was an explosion brighter than the sun before their eyes had burned away. It would be appropriate for the victims of Kira to find their vitreous humor boil, to have any who looked upon his true face pay the penalty of blindness. Like a primal deity, whose radiance was unbearable by humans - Raito might just be the living incarnation of Little Boy, equipped with the fallout of the Death Note in his palms, descending out of the clouds in the form of a black-winged shinigami angel.
Misa could be Fat Man, dropped afterwards but no less lethal. She would be an afterthought - an insult, disguised as a rationale for total domination, and she would drive home the last joint on Raito's throne. Lined notebook paper in lieu of red velvet carpets, frantic news reporters on every television screen to be his trumpeters. Glorious.
Raito opens his eyes. The glass is inches away, so that there is a small smear of oil where his nose has accidentally bumped against it. His own reflection smiles back, pleased with the taste of the ideas rattling around in his head and erasing the frustration of lunch. Iconized in the window, Raito is a mannequin dressed like a boy, a frozen effigy that bestows mercy when - and only when - he pleases.
"God is an atomic bomb," he whispers, making the words first in Japanese, adopted katakana rattling. Then in English. Ah-tom-ik, shini-gami, kami-Kira, a creature simmering in the light he casts to illuminate Japan's rotting crime. Divine. He is cast in the shape of the very thing that decimated his own nation, crippled survivors and left its stamp on generations still in the womb.
Raito's hands are very hot against the window frame, so warm that the metal is cold as winter to his flesh. He is careful not to touch the glass itself, clearly envisioning the whirled shadow-imprints his body would leave behind, a modern-day Shroud of Turin that would cause the investigative team to quarrel for days, nitpicking the subject of authenticity. From his vantage point, he can watch the ant-swarms of students hurrying through the school campus, sailor skirts mixed with plain, dark uniforms. The homogenization makes it easier for Raito to hunt for what is the exception to them all-the white untucked shirt and tousled hair of L, disheveled further with each lanky step as the detective lopes down the sidewalks.
Turning, Raito notices that Ryuuku has slithered out from underneath the table, apple core perched between thick, leathery lips. The shinigami has curled up in the long blob of Raito's shadow, tucking his limbs into the rich blackness of silhouette. He squints at the teenager. Then he extends one taloned hand in an accusatory point.
"Close the blinds," Ryuuku grins, and then swallows the rest of his treat whole.