Chapter 1: Prologue: Dictum
L felt the hand of death wrap around his throat, cold and painful. After twenty-five years on earth, never truly caring of his own mortality, that hand accompanied a sense of dread and fear. Was this it--a damn Shinigami's hand hovering over a Death Note, a book that could take life indiscriminately? Was every case, every life, every hour that ticked by without sleep and every sugar cube just something pointless, an attempt to pretend that life wasn't as fleeting as he knew it was?
Light Yagami… L couldn't even hate the boy, so lost inside his own mind that the sick, perverted fantasy of regality, of controlling the entire world as a god, seemed possible. He was just so twisted. L wondered if it was one of the effects of using the Death Note--a lack of humanity, of sanity. By all understanding of the Death Note (which hadn't been much, because L was dying now and knew that only a day with a Shinigami wasn't enough to allow him any true understanding of an object that seemed as mythical as the Holy Grail of the Christian faith, the Mecca of all of death's workers), L knew nothing of the consequences.
That wasn't entirely true, L surmised as he felt his fragile heart give a painful thump.
That was right. L remembered those few words in the Death Note, ones that light Yagami probably hadn't cared too much for. He believed that this power, the power of killing all those who dared to interfere with his plans for world domination through fear-mongering, was enough to sacrifice his very soul for. Mu, the place where there was an eternity of nothingness. That was where Light would end up, curled like a fetus in the whirling winds of black. With hell, at least there was something, the pain that you waged over the world would be enough to haunt you for eternity. Nothingness, however, meant that you would be trapped within yourself, which was far worse than any hell, damnation or brimstone.
He knew from the beginning that he had lost his own soul, that neither heaven nor hell, or the fantasy of the human mind would be able to occupy him. He thought that it would not matter, in the end. He honestly believed in his ability to fight off death, to stop all from writing his name in their Death Note. A Shinigami, perhaps even Rem needing the extra soul life. Or there was another Shinigami that trailed after Light who will soon take his life. There was more than one notebook in the human world, for that I am… (Was?) certain. He will die, that is one hundred percent guaranteed.
L wanted to laugh, to sneer in the boy's face. His first friend, the mass murderer. His friend, the murdered. He wanted to see the boy's morbid death at the hands of another, just for Light. Even if he couldn't blame Light Yagami for all the blood on his hands (in his pen), the boy was guilty with sin, as bright as his sneering smile.
It won't matter in a minute, not for me, L thought as he attempted to suck in a breath, only to feel it rattle against his teeth. There was wetness in his mouth. Blood, no doubt, probably caused by hemorrhaging blood vessels in his body. It didn't bother him as much as the coldness. Even though he knew it was warm, so warm (like tea and sugar, L thought with a hint of melancholy), it may as well have been ice.
And Light Yagami held onto him in his last stages of death, through the slight shaking and hacking of blood across his pale cheeks, the bridge of his nose. That maniac smile was spread wide, even while spittle and red dripped down his face like a smear on a canvas.
L felt his face go flush and he took in his last breath. He didn't know exactly how he was aware that it would be his last, except that it simply was. Eyes going droopy, it was almost like going to sleep terrified of night terrors under his bed as a small child. His nurturing in the Catholic Church made him want to say a prayer, a prayer for his soul, one that would enter either heaven or hell; a prayer for the night terrors to keep away.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been almost fifteen years since my last confession.
A drip of fluid slid across his forehead.
I accuse myself of the following sins.
Light Yagami's face was distorting into the ceiling, a brown stain with red eyes.
I have betrayed others and myself. I have caused deaths in the name of justice. I have withheld information from the Church and the People. I have watched the deaths of countless men and women, and did nothing, even though I knew in my heart of the perpetrator. I have allowed monsters to grow and claim the false name of God.
There was something in L's eyes.
I have denied the existence of God in the name of Justice, in the name of myself.
His lids fluttered.
I do not feel guilty in regards to my actions, Father. I have attempted to prevent deaths, even if it was for selfish reasons. I am no saint. I will never be a saint. I do not want to be a saint, Father.
L attempted to suck in another breath, but his mouth and lungs wouldn't work. His heart, thrumming in his chest cavity, felt as though it was exploding. The colors of Light's face swam in front of him, but there was no anchor to the real world. There was only the pain blossoming in his chest. Something tickled against his chin, probably Light's hair. He had a flare for the dramatics, more so when it regarded Kira. Normal school boys had no reason to be dramatic and noxiously caricaturized.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned, and I don't think that I care.
But would you do it again, if given the chance? It was almost as if the words were spoken into his very core, a whisper of L Lawliet's subconscious. It reminded him of his mother's voice as she pet his hair behind his ear before church on Sunday mornings. It was that warmth.
L's eyes finally fell shut, and the pain from his heart, the blood in his mouth, the swirling of colors and the brush of Light Yagami's hair against his cheek faded away into nothing.
Death is the world's greatest fear, but it only feels like fading away.
Chapter 2: Brother's Keeper
"And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground."
--Genesis, Chapter Four
Reno wearily scratched his nose, looking over from his computer to Tseng. Sure, he admitted as he leaned further back, the two front legs of his chair jiggling upwards--this wasn't exactly what he wanted to be doing on a Saturday morning. There were people to do and things to see, and being cooped up in the Turk's main office on level 54 of the Shinra building wasn't his ideal way of spending what was supposed to be his weekend. Fucking Tseng. It wasn't Reno's job to be mucking with the computers anymore…especially when he could be having sex with that pretty thing that started working on level 20.
"You sure I gotta be doin' this? Ain't it better to have the newbie screwin' around with the damn thing, since he doesn't do anything but play computer-whiz?" Reno asked as he popped his knuckled.
Tseng twitched and looked up from his computer screen. He was dressed impeccably even though he had bruising around his eyes. He was downing another cup of coffee--his fifth in the past hour, and was beginning to look more and more like death. "He is busy at the moment, going over data that the Science department faxed in last night. They had a minor breech in security and they need him to fix the malfunction."
"Hojo mutated a few common plants."
Reno resisted the urge to wince. "Ouch. Crazy mutant trees stalking the Science department. I'll guess they sent in some big-guns to whack them before he got there."
Tseng rolled his eyes and tapped his fingers mutinously on the keyboard before taking another swig of his coffee. As the First-in-Command, the poor bastard did more work than he should. The Turks weren't exactly under-staffed, per se, but occasionally Reno wondered whether or not things would be better if they had another rookie that actually left Shinra's headquarters. Sure, the guy may have been a genius and one of the best hackers that Reno ever met, but it was beginning to wear down on Tseng and the others.
Like him. Fucking weekends.
"You know, boss," Reno started, but before he could finish his though Tseng interrupted.
"Do not start with this again, Reno. You know that L is one of the best Turks we have--"
"He's a fucking recluse, Tseng. And we're all getting hit hard with his inability to leave the building. What is he? A germaphobe? Maybe an Anthropophobe? Sociophobe? It's one of them phobe's, and I don't care which one as long as he leaves this motherfuckin' room once in a while. You haven't slept in wha'--six months? This is getting annoyin' and he's startin' to fuckin' smell, I swear to Gaia."
"Reno, L does not smell. He showers quite regularly, in fact. More than you do, but that isn't too hard of a task. But, besides that point, L is one of the best Turks we have, and… there are many reasons we cannot dispose of him." Tseng stared pointedly at Reno, his gray steel eyes bright and Reno could have swore there were little pits of fire in his boss's eyes. "Leave him be; do your own job once in a while and things would not come down upon your head at an inopportune moment. Understood?"
Reno knew when his boss was open for suggestions or comments (which happened about as often as he tied his tie and starched his shirts) and this sure as Holy wasn't one of them. So, without wasting anymore time, Reno tapped his foot on the floor--loud enough for the people downstairs to hear--and set back to reprogramming the sumthin-or-other L the Newbie was too fuckin' busy to play with.
L folded his hands together under his chin and stared with complete impassivity at his computer monitor. There were two faces and short descriptions underneath the black and white photographs; L bit back a harsh retort at the one on the left. His tongue felt like sandpaper that was covered in cat fur as he glanced over the very familiar features--he should have remembered them, as they were the last things he saw before his death.
Light Yagami; student slash Kira slash mock God; too young to be playing with death.
Midgar, Gaia, Shinra--L didn't know what happened, how everything fell into place, and whether or not this was some form of waiting area for the afterlife (L wasn't sure, because the people around he seemed very capable of dying, and ghosts and spirits couldn't die.) All he knew was that when he woke up six months before in the middle of an unfamiliar city with unfamiliar sounds, and all he could smell was death and blood around him, even though he was very much alive. A voice whispered in his ear, caressed his cheek, and if L had really been religious, he would have sworn God had come down from his internal heaven to kiss his ear with soft sounds.
He stood alone, staring at the people who passed by. At first it was difficult to hear them, as they were moving and running so very fast, but once L stopped panicking over "Why am I not dead, why am I in a place I have never seen before?" he listened.
English. His mother tongue. That was the language they were speaking, all around him. His ears had become so accustomed to Japanese over the past several months on the Kira case, and before then with French, that the sudden switch back to English was a little jarring.
Midgar--Mako--SOLDIER. These things didn't exist on Earth, that much L was sure of. This was not home, though the people did look very much like humans, and they seemed to speak English of all things. Too many ideas--separate worlds, galaxies, milky ways, alternate dimensions, time warps, different, different, different. Yet all the same, everything so customary and homely, even though he had never spent a moment on this Gaia before in his entire life.
Then again, should Shinigami--death gods--exist on Earth, then what else could exist without L's prior knowledge?
But, what L did believe (and rightly so, according to the new documents that were flashing on his screen) that if he could fall into this world upon death, then so would Light Yagami. His three successors would come up with an ingenious plot to bring Light down, and it would be a beautiful, painful death. He almost felt pity, because Light had been his first friend. Almost.
That was no longer important to L, however. Now, there was something so very much more important than Light in himself.
Two months ago a boy who spoke fluent Japanese, or Wutaian according to the people of Gaia, was found in the middle of a Shinra camp on the coast of Wutai. From the intelligence the other Turks gathered, one moment the space was empty, and the next he was there, clutching a book to his chest. He whimpered like a child, and L could almost taste death on him.
For all intents and purposes, Light should have been murdered on the spot--a boy who fit the description of a suicide bomber laying in the middle of the enemy's camp.
Picture on the right--Broad shoulders and slanted, catlike eyes. L saw them up close once, and they were a silvery hue that would go poison-green without a moment hesitation. Long silver hair (very uncommon in this world, too…) and that sneer. General Sephiroth could kill with that sneer… now that he had Light and the Death Note on his side, that is.
There were dozens of stories during the beginning of the war, about Sephiroth's power. But two months ago the body count tripled and the Wutaian Army began to crumble as major military officers were picked off, dying in their beds from heart attacks. They had met with Sephiroth recently--always. It was how the Death Note worked, afterall.
L could not assume reason for why Light would side with Sephiroth other than for protection. He was supposed to be murdered for trespassing, should have been killed on sight, but was spared. And now Shinra put a name in the system. Just a boy, perhaps some orphan Sephiroth took under his wing (others scandalously thought perhaps a lover, but L knew that Light was more asexual than anything, even with his precious Misa-Misa.)
They called him Light Lawliet.
Chapter 3: Through Faith
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith . . . not by works."
Light did not know how he ended up in the world of Gaia, nor in his particular... predicament.
But, if he truly contemplated it, ending up in this world after the atrocious failure that took his life, it could have been much, much worse. He could have been killed by the man with the bizarre cat-eyes, could have been tossed away without qualm, he could have been left stranded in a foreign land without his Death Note.
At least he finally lost that annoying woman who trailed after him like a puppy, and the obnoxious, apple-loving Shinigami. They had not followed him into this world, thankfully.
He could not say the same for L. Of course it would be L who followed him through to an alternate dimension (Light knew that technically, he had followed L, but it did not sound vindictive enough against L, whose luck seemed to cosmically follow Light through death.)
When L died, the first time, Light had felt no remorse. His nemesis, the one person on the planet who could have potentially destroyed him, was not able to interfere with any of his plans. He could mold the world into a better, more beautiful place. There would be Justice, for Kira was Justice. Kira was God.
And Kira needed L to die.
Alas, it would not be quite as easy in this world, Light knew. The moment he found out that L Lawliet could be found consuming large quantities of sugary substances in the Shinra Headquarters, he had pulled out his pen and with perfect penmanship, wrote L's true name. He wrote down a time of death, and waited. He knew the annoying red-haired SOLDIER would know almost immediately of a Turk's death, and so when the time came, Light subjected himself to several hours of time with the man (obnoxious as he may have been, he usually served his purpose well.)
But it did not work, and as such, it left Light with a bitter taste in his mouth and the sudden realization that killing a man you killed once would need a different strategy, and definitely a different weapon.
Which is where Sephiroth tied into Light's equation.
The man would get away with murdering a Turk, as long as Light kept his part of the deal.
Death to the Wutaians, and death to L.
Sephiroth rubbed his sword clean of blood, eyes impassively searching the dead. There were none breathing- of that he could be certain. There was enough blood around him that anyone not dead from his blade would soon be from exposure and open wounds.
"Pity," Sephiroth said to one of the other SOLDIER's, a Second Class boy he knew Angeal was fond of. The boy did not respond, an Sephiroth took it as initiative to continue, "Fair, they were given the option of surrender."
"Wutaian's won't ever surrender," the boy said as he flicked his blade, blood arcing around him. The drops were absorbed by the dry soil. "They would rather die as heroes than live as cowards." Zack looked a little peaked, his skin clammy. Sephiroth knew the boy was still rather green, and with it his squeamishness of blood and death was not quite dissipated.
A few more weeks on the battlefields, however, would cure him of that ailment.
"That they would," Sephiroth agreed, and payed little mind to the body near his feet, until he noted that the boy was staring off at one, his face losing pallor rapidly. "We should return to camp—there will be no further sneak attacks tonight."
Sephiroth looked into the trees above him, and let his teeth show in a snarl to the single Wutaian who he has let survive.
A warning for others, though they never really needed to know of the fear lurking before them.
A reminder, maybe.
A statement, mostly.
Sephiroth began to walk, though he turned to gaze at the other SOLDIER when he did not move from his spot.
"Does he mind?"
Sephiroth looked at the boy, and cocked an eyebrow. "Does who mind what, Fair? I am no mind-reader, so you will have to be more specific in your mumblings."
Fair's cheeks pinked, and he quickly responded. "Light Lawliet. I know he's Wutaian, and I guess I was just wondering how he felt about... all this. I know you saved him and all, so he's got to be grateful," the boy quickly stated, waving his hands in front of him, as if it would save Light from an untimely death. "But... does he mind that, you know, his lover's killing his people?"
"Pray-tell, why do you think his opinion would matter in the first place?" Sephiroth stated, bluntly letting the words smack into the SOLDIER with little finesse. "And second, despite the things you hear thrown around by lower-ranks, I do not have sexual relations with men, let alone Wutaian men. Please do not insult yourself by believing anything you hear."
Zack knew that saying that he had heard it from Genesis Rhapsodos would only land himself and Rhapsodos into hot water, so he acquiesced to his superior officer and when judging that it would be safe to walk forward, did so while keeping a good six feet from Sephiroth.
Just in case.
Of course, Sephiroth knew where the boy had gotten his very wrong information, and would be dealing with the matter when he got back to camp.
The stares were getting beyond ridiculous, and the lies were spreading out of camp and into the hands of those he could not control; the last thing he needed was for Light to be murdered by his fanclub before Sephiroth could take care of all the loose-ends in their plot.
After, the rabid women could have Light.
It would be the end of Shinra, and the dawning of a new era.
Sephiroth could only wait.