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Darkness (is the absence of light)

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I hate sleeping alone,

Terrified, with the lights out,

I hate living alone.

Talking to myself is boring conversation.

Me and I are not friends, she is only an acquaintance.

I hate dreaming of being alone,

Cause you are never there,

Just a shadowy figure with a blank face,

Kicking me out of his place.

It's almost disappointingly simple, in the end.

Light has technically been proven innocent, but L is not satisfied and L's word is law. Light is visibly furious - righteous indignation that L is holding him prisoner without a good reason, supposedly, but to L it looks more like anger that L has put a hitch in his no doubt perfect plan. Any version of Light would have been angry with him, but the narrowed eyes and poisonous tone tell L without a doubt that this is Kira he is dealing with.

does allow Light one concession. A conversation with Misa Amane, in private, with no cameras. He's curious to see what Light will tell her to do.

He gives Light the rope, and Light hangs himself with it.

The Kira killings start again only a few days later. L orders a raid of her apartment and finds a death note. The note is in Amane's possession, but the names written at the beginning match Light's handwriting - as does the carefully pressed letter in Misa's drawer asking her to remember L's name.

He supposes he should be grateful Misa seemingly has the memory span of a goldfish.

When he reads over the names - and yes, this is definitely all the evidence he needs for a conviction - it feels impossible, almost like a dream. This is the end he's pursued ceaselessly ever since the Kira case began, yet he had never really thought he would reach it. Ever since Light regained his memories, L has been prepared for this case to be the end of him.

It will take time for this new turn of events to settle in. Once it does, L is sure, he will feel the elation of victory - but until then, he feels as though he is floating through a dream.

 He does feel some of that elation once he confronts Light. He has him cornered, and Light knows it. L watches for a reaction, daring Light's silver tongue to attempt more lies. Light does, at first, coming up with reasons why this must be a mistake, Misa must have framed him in a fit of jealousy, but they fall flat and convince no-one.

Light is shaking now, face pale, tears glistening in his eyes. L has always wondered what he would look like in defeat, stripped of all pretences and composure, and the reality is everything he had hoped for. Others might have been entranced by Light's carefully constructed facades, but this - this is what L has wanted to see, since the very first moment they met. Pure, wild, feral honesty.

L smiles. It's subtle, but it's there - a small curve of the lips, checkmate, I win.

Light screams. It's awful and feral and monstrous, and it sends chills down L's spine. This is it - it's over. The most challenging case I've faced in my lifetime - and I win.

"Please," Light begs, "he's wrong. He's lying. I'm not Kira. You trust me, don't you? You know L has it in for me! He's wanted me to be Kira from the start. Please - Dad! Dad, you have to believe me. Help me. Dad!"

L watches impassively as Light is dragged away and imprisoned. He doesn't need to hear his excuses. The game is over, now.

 L doesn't visit Light during his imprisonment. Maybe he should, but he doesn't. The case is over, and L has washed his hands clean of it. What's left is up to prosecutors and the government. L is only interested in uncovering the truth - the aspect of punishment is not his responsibility, nor does he wish it to be.

(And maybe, just maybe, L doesn't want to see Light because he would rather not be reminded that his adversary is human. Monsters make for far better stories, and far less guilt and regret in the aftermath.)

He has no choice but to release Misa before her case makes it to court, and wipe her memories. The act leaves a bitter taste in his mouth - this isn't justice, but it is necessary to ensure his survival. L can see no way to deal with irrational and over-protective Shinigami that threaten him but by giving in to their demands.

 L does attend Light's execution. If there is one thing the Kira case has taught him, it's the necessity of facing the consequences of your own actions head-on. Light couldn't, which is why they are here now.

Besides. It would be rude not to give the greatest adversary he has ever faced at least the mark of respect of being there for his death. If L had not caught Light then Light would have been there to watch him die, he is sure.

He stands silently. He neither needs nor wants to speak to anyone. This is an intimate moment, the culmination of the game he and Light have been playing since the moment their eyes met, and everyone else here is an intruder that L feels no desire to acknowledge.

There is no need for the Ryuzaki persona any more, so he discards it, watching Light with a straight back and the proud confidence he has been masking until now.

It is, perhaps, a favour to Light in his final moments. L has always been able to see through Light's personas and understand the real person underneath, so now he is giving Light the opportunity to do the same with him.

Light probably doesn't see it as such. He'd consider it gloating. It doesn't matter, really; L honestly doesn't care what Light thinks anymore.

Light tries to keep his composure, but the panic when the needle enters his arm is impossible to hide. His eyes widen frantically and he looks like such a child -

L will not avert his eyes. This is justice, and justice can be harsh. He understands that; so did Kira.

He is right, though, and Kira was just a murderer. That is what will be remembered. After all, the history books always side with the victor. 

When it's over, L walks up to the glass and stares at Light's body, and feels nothing.

The brilliance is gone from his eyes. This boy had burnt too bright, and has now burnt himself out. He really is so young. That's not an excuse, of course - just an observation. L trades in observations; they are the bread and butter of his occupation.

It's over - entirely over - and L is numb. He stands with his fingers pressed against the glass, and allows his thoughts to spiral into the dark abyss within.

"Wasn't he your friend?" someone - L doesn't know who; he doesn't care to check - asks.

"No," L answers coldly. "I lied for the case."

Because only a fool would grow attached to his main suspect, and L has never been a fool.

Friends are a liability. L does not have friends.

 L has always found it difficult to move on from a case, especially one as momentous as the Kira case. L has an obsessive personality. This is a character flaw he has acknowledged within himself for a long time, but never sought to correct. It's useful; he would not be able to focus to the degree that he does without it.

L has long made a habit of encouraging and exploiting his character flaws whenever they can help him with his work, but it always creates a problem once a case ends. After months spent pouring everything he has into a case, it can be difficult to withdraw, and he is left feeling empty and drained for a long time before he can embark on something new.

He elects to stay in the Task Force Headquarters while he waits for something new to come along. It's probably a poor choice - living in the place he built to work on a case will not help him move on from it - but his threshold for self-control is currently low.

He will probably go back to England, soon. Or maybe somewhere else. It depends on which case is next to catch his interest.

The people he worked with don't know that he's still in Japan. He considers it wise to cut all ties to the case now that it has ended. He sends flowers to the Yagami family, but doesn't see them in person.

There is only so far he can take his philosophy of 'facing consequences head on'. Justice is a double-edged sword that will always hurt some people. Besides, the blame doesn't lie with L. If Light didn't want his family to be hurt, he shouldn't have become Kira.

Another difficulty L has with moving on from a case is that it can be very difficult to leave behind a persona once you've adopted it fully. Sometimes Ryuzaki resurfaces, especially in such a familiar environment.

Ryuzaki is dissatisfied with the way L handled the case. He knows L could have saved Light, if he had wanted to. Could have kept him away from the notebook and never allowed Kira to resurface. He thinks L is a monster for throwing his friend to the wolves for the sake of a resolution.

L ignores Ryuzaki. Conversing with a persona that you have created is not exactly a sign of mental stability. L has never claimed to be mentally stable, but he prefers to believe that the only instabilities he has are ones that enhance his deductive reasoning.

He has never claimed not to be a monster, either, but at least he is a monster that preys on other monsters. He and Kira are not so different, in that sense. The difference is that L has the law on his side. L is the law.

L is tired.

No - L is depressed. It's similar to how he felt after Light was released from imprisonment, when he had thought he was on the wrong track.

He takes on a few cases. They seem so simple, a child could have solved them. He sends on his preliminary conclusions to the police, and does not bother to see them through to the end. They are neither difficult nor interesting enough to be worth the effort of finishing.

He has read Crime and Punishment through three times over, L'Étranger five times. He enjoyed both at first, but now it has reached the stage where the words have become stale and meaningless through repetition. He has no-one to debate the themes or characters with; Watari is willing to discuss them with him (exasperatedly, with an air of 'yes, I've only heard this a hundred times before from you'), but he and L agree on most things so there isn't much point to it.

What he needs, he decides, is for someone to grab him by the front of his shirt and force him to be motivated. Someone willing to punch him in the face and tell him that it's high time he snap out of it.

There is no such person available.

There is not much to do in the Task Force Headquarters without the Task Force there and with no case to think about, so he finds himself spending a lot of time pouring through his notes on the Kira case, searching for any holes or loose ends that need to be tied.

There are an awful lot of photographs of Light. He finds himself staring at them a lot. There is an addictive quality to mentally dismantling Light's lies, staring at that poised perfection and tearing it to shreds with his thoughts. Even though it's no longer needed for the investigation, he cannot stop himself from constantly searching for new, cleverly hidden layers. Now that he cannot do it in person, he must resort to photographs.

He has already admitted to being obsessive.

He sleeps sometimes, too, now. A lot of the time, in fact. There is no case to keep him awake at night, and for lack of other activities or interesting things to think about, he supposes he might as well let his mind get some much-needed rest. He does not adopt a regular sleeping schedule, though - his sleep is as subject to his whims as anything else in his life, so he sometimes goes to bed at four o'clock in the evening and gets up at midnight for a slice of cake.

It's about three weeks before he finds a reason to go outside. The interior of the headquarters has become too boring, and there is a cafe nearby he's been meaning to go to for a while now.

(It's the one he went to with Light, after they played tennis. Not that that has anything to do with him going there - he just happened to enjoy their desserts very much, and wants to try them again.)

It doesn't live up to his memories. Perhaps it's the fact that he doesn't have the high of working on a case to keep him sharp and alert, so that all his senses are on edge and every experience is more pleasurable, or perhaps it's the lack of intelligent conversation.

He returns to the headquarters late and disappointed. Watari is not worried; he has become accustomed to L's strange whims by now. It's dark outside, streetlights flickering uncertainly, trying to make their mark, but L is not tired. He's already slept in the morning, and his mind now feels as alert as it's ever been since the Kira case ended. It's a good time to start working again, he decides. He flicks through the large stack of cases Watari has amassed for him until he finds one that does not seem entirely dull.

He makes an effort to think about it, and draws some interesting conclusions, but in the end his mind keeps wandering back to the Kira case. Specifically - to what Light would have thought of the case before them. If L had shown him this case, would the culprit be found dead of a heart attack by morning?

He is about to set the case aside and go get himself a snack when his heart skips a beat.

There is someone on his bed.

Or rather, there isn't someone on his bed - that much becomes obvious as soon as he identifies who the supposed 'someone' is - but it looks to L an awful lot like there is. 

The boy sits there silently, shoulders hunched slightly in defeat, copper-bronze hair falling over his eyes, but L does not need to see his eyes to know that his expression is reproachful.

That is, of course, ridiculous. Light Yagami has nothing to reproach L for - not that that would stop him from trying, if he were real. Light always hated accepting blame that rightfully lay with him, preferred throwing it on others. L knows that that is what he is trying to do, and he will not be made to feel guilty.

Leave, L wants to say, but the word stays stuck in his throat. This is probably for the best; he should not make a habit of conversing with his hallucinations.

He tries to continue working, pressing the keys slowly, one at a time, as Ryuzaki would, but he cannot shake the feeling of Light's presence, and it's starting to become unbearable. He gets up and walks towards Light. He's not sure what he intends to do once he gets there - he certainly doesn't plan to apologise - but it becomes irrelevant, because as soon he takes the first step he finds himself alone in the room again.

L feels dizzy. There is something heavy in his chest, and as he tries to draw a breath in, it feels like breathing underwater. Something floods into his lungs, but it is not air. It isn't water, either. L thinks it might be darkness, which is terribly appropriate.

Darkness is, after all, the absence of light.

 Hallucinations are not a good sign - they might be considered to signify the deterioration of the mind - but once L stops and considers it, the fact that he is suffering from them is not so unreasonable. Hallucinations are a common consequence of sleep deprivation and of solitary confinement. L is not currently suffering from sleep deprivation, but his sleep schedule cannot be called healthy either, and while any 'solitary confinement' he may be experiencing is entirely voluntary and something he undergoes frequently when he has no particular reason to interact with others, that does not make him any less alone.

What is harder to explain is the feelings he has come to associate with them. L is no stranger to darkness - he lives in it, purposefully shrouding himself in shadows - but the darkness he feels whenever Light disappears disturbs him and leaves him feeling empty. That does worry him, because it suggests there might be something wrong with his mind, and L's mind is the most important part of him.

The pattern of hallucinations continues for about a week. Light is always sitting on the same bed, in the same position, wearing the same black turtleneck he favoured while he was handcuffed to L. His hair always covers his eyes, and his expression is always the same.

L could avoid that room. In fact, he tries to. He takes his laptop to the kitchen and tries to work there, a slice of cake that turns to ash on his tongue laid out on the table next to him. It never takes long for his thoughts to wander back to the room he's left, and curiosity always forces him to return.

L has never been able to control his curiosity. 

 It stops as suddenly as it's started, leaving L feeling even more off-balance than he did when he first realised he was hallucinating. One moment, he's attempting to ignore the boy sitting on the bed and watching him work, and the next, he no longer has to.

The empty space somehow manages to be more distracting than his hallucinations ever were.

He puts it out of his mind. Whatever glitch his mind had, it's been fixed, and now L can at long last move forwards. It's been long enough since the Kira case ended for him to take on another serious case, one that he can throw himself completely into. He is tired of these trivialities he has busied himself with this past month. He needs something exciting, something invigorating, that requires everything he has to give and pushes his mind to its limits.

Something like the Kira case.

His search for such a case proves futile, though. He suspects the Kira case was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the case his deductive abilities peaked in, and he will never find something like it again.

It's a depressing thought that he tries not to dwell too much on. 

Meanwhile, as much as he would like to forget about his hallucinations, L's mind can never not dissect and analyse a question until all its secrets have been laid bare for him, and since he does not yet have a satisfactory answer he continues to chip away at the question during his spare time.

It's probably down to his familiar surroundings. His mind recognises missing pieces from the picture, and is trying to fill them in for him. That doesn't explain why he never sees anyone else from the Task Force, but then, Light was always the most important constant.

He tries an experiment to check this hypothesis. If he recreates as familiar a situation as he can, then if the hypothesis is correct his hallucinations should return.

He sits crouched in a chair with his laptop on his knees, a handcuff linked around one wrist, and waits.

Nothing happens.

No matter how hard he focuses, he cannot see Light - cannot even imagine him there. Whenever he tries to visualise his face, all he can remember is the deathly pale version he saw last, eyes dull and wide with the ghost of pain and terror.

He ends the experiment there and puts a strike through that attempt at an explanation.

The question of why he cannot picture Light's face is another one he feels he must try to answer, considering only a week ago he was picturing it too much. It's a perfectly natural question for him to pursue; it is essential to L that he understand how his own mind works, and right now it is throwing twists and turns his way that mystify him.

He attempts to re-construe it by going back through his notes. He pours through pictures taken at various stages during the investigation - from the cameras in Light's room at the very beginning, from the cameras in his cell when he asked to be confined, the cameras in his father's car during the fake execution (he has none from the real one, but he doesn't need any either; that is the only image he can still see clearly), the surveillance cameras planted around the headquarters while they were chasing Yotsuba - but all he can make of them is a patchwork of moments that sticks together in a rough collage and refuses to fuse into a cohesive whole.

Watari walks in on him with twelve tabs open on his laptop and a dozen or so pictures printed out and scattered around the bed. He arches an eloquent eyebrow.

"It's for an experiment," L explains without looking up. 

Watari's expression does not change. He looks distinctly unamused.

"A psychological one," L elaborates.

"I see." His tone suggests quite clearly that he does not see at all. "You know, the last time I saw a collection of pictures like this, it was Beyond's one of you," he adds pointedly.

L stares back at him with a blank face that says 'I don't quite know what you're implying'. Watari knows this face is one L has learned to make specifically when he wants to force others to leave him alone, so he backs out quietly. If there is one thing he's learned from raising L, it's that when L has set his mind on something, objecting is a waste of breath. 

Once Watari is out of the room, L tidies up the pictures and closes his laptop. Watari does have a point. L willingly admits to having an obsessive personality, but he only indulges it when his obsession is constructive. Obsessing over a dead suspect is decidedly not constructive.

He books tickets for a plane leaving for England the next morning.

L actually attempts to sleep that night.

He curls up under the covers, a cup of steaming hot chocolate cupped in his hands, and allows his thoughts to wander.

He should have left a long time ago. Staying here was a mistake; there is no use in dwelling on a case after it's been closed. 

He tries to close his eyes for a moment, but the darkness is too oppressive. It feels as though nothing will be there when he opens them again. His bed is cold from disuse and not very comfortable.

The city lights pour in through his window, reminding him that the world is still going on outside, but it doesn't feel real to him. He has not set foot there in a long time.

His mind is always sharp during cases, a deadly weapon, but at times like this it tends to fray around the edges and he cannot be sure of the world or his perception of it.

(It would be easier if you slept like a normal person, you know, a warm but amused voice whispers in L's ear. I mean it, Ryuzaki. Staying up all night with the laptop like that is bad for your health.

I'm trying, Light-kun, L answers.)

Sleep is not a valid option, L realises. He pulls open the curtains, wraps his arms around his knees, and watches the city lights flicker until morning.

The rain is coming down in heavy sheets as L arrives in England. He hails a taxi; the driver looks at him askance, but lets in him regardless. L dries himself off in the back seat, but still manages to form a puddle around himself.

He doesn't mind the rain. In fact, he welcomes it; the heavy, grey skies of England are a pleasant change from Japan's pale-blue skies and sakura blossoms. Delicate, beautiful and deceptive; just like a person he met there.

L stares out the window and smiles contentedly. He would have been glad to walk, just to feel the rain on his skin and be assured that it is real, that he has successfully escaped the strange state of limbo he has been trapped in for the last month and returned to reality, where life goes on and is not stuck in statis - but the walk is too long.

The taxi driver drops him off a kilometre away from Winchester. L will walk the last of it, he has decided. He hands the driver a wad of notes, with a heavy tip, and smiles. The driver smiles back, the apparition of money having gone a long way in dispelling his suspicions regarding L.

L really does like the rain, he decides. It is cleansing. He is returning home, with another case under his belt, ready to cast aside his brief spell of depression and move forwards. The case he has just solved was certainly a difficult one, but there is no reason to believe it will be the culmination of his career. He is not yet thirty; he still has a long life ahead of him, if all goes well. Well, perhaps not so long, considering his less than healthy habits, but not short either. There will be plenty of time to try to top the Kira case.

As soon as he arrives as Wammy's House, L buries himself in cases again. He seeks out the most interesting, most peculiar, most promising, though he goes through any case that passes through his fingers with a systematic rigour that's completely unlike him. He needs rigour, because there is no thrill to push him through it otherwise, no high that comes from pulling apart the threads and uncovering the truth hidden beneath. He remembers what that high felt like, but he has now he does not find the truth that much more enticing than the lies used to cover it. There is no particular need to scratch the surface unless there is a promise of something much better, much more intriguing, hidden underneath.

It is L's belief that in any worthwhile career - be it mathematician, scientist, author, artist, detective - one must strive constantly for intellectual purity and elegance. As much as he would like to hope deep down, he knows that nothing will ever match the Kira case for sheer intellectual purity.

He solves more cases within two months than he normally would in a year, but he feels no particular sense of accomplishment to accompany them. His reputation is, if anything, growing stronger, now that he has the achievement of the Kira case under his belt and appears to have grown an actual work ethic.

Whenever he sees an article about him, he wants to rip it to shreds and hide back in the shadows.

One day, he believes, he will remember the high of working a case that enthralled him. That promise is the only thing that keeps him going. Some days he wonders if he has made it this far through life only to find himself on the wrong track, but he can think of nothing that would interest him more, so it's best to continue doing what he's good at.

When he tries to remember the thrill he used to feel, the only thing he can think of is narrowed, calculating amber eyes and tennis matches and barbed conversation where a single wrong step could lead to either party's sudden downfall.

He decides he should start approaching suspects in person again. Solving cases from a distance is too cold and impersonal; it should suit L, since he is cold and impersonal, but instead it winds up leaving him somehow hollow and dissatisfied.

Her name is Lisa. She is an artist, a very talented one at that, and possibly a con artist as well. That is the reason L approached her.

The fact that he likes her incisive wit and her fluid expressions and the shade of her hair, which is natural but appears deep red under the right light, may be another factor. The truth is L is tired of being alone. He could speak to his successors, but he enjoys neither of their company. Mello is too emotional and Near is too robotic. Neither of them feel like real people to him; they might as well be caricatures.

He doesn't reveal his identity to Lisa; the case is not difficult enough to merit that. She knows him as Lucian Asahi, an avid fan of her work. She is quite taken with him; after only a couple of meetings, she asks him to a coffee shop, and hints that they might go back to her flat afterwards.

L orders strawberry cheesecake; Lisa has a coffee, black, no sugar. Judging by her figure, it's likely she rarely eats more than that. She talks a lot. Her conversation is not unintelligent, but the ease with which she speaks makes it unlikely that the conversation will reveal any hints of what she's hiding, so L feels no particular urgency to listen to her.

"I like working with light and shadow," Lisa is saying. "Contrast is important; if either element is lacking, the picture becomes bland and lifeless. I find my art works best when I turn it into a battle for dominance; light and dark are both at their strongest, then. They are enemies, but at the same time they strengthen each other." She smiles her easy, dime-a-dozen smile. "Is this making any sense to you?"

"Yes," says L, focusing in on his dessert. "It's quite fascinating. I agree entirely."

"You -" Lisa points with her dessert spoon "- I would put you in the shadows. Dark colours, I think. It's quite obvious, looking at you. Funny about your name, though - it's Italian for light, isn't it? Anyway, I would need someone else in the portrait for contrast. ...Myself, maybe. I tend to do self-portraits in bright colours, reds and yellows. We would go well together."

"Mmm," L says. He disagrees more strongly by the second.

Lisa puts down her coffee and tilts her head to the side, examining L seriously. "I want to paint that," she whispers. "You're too dark. It's beautiful, enticing, but there's something missing, almost like you're dead inside." She looks deep into L's eyes, and L holds her gaze unflinchingly. "It looks like there's a spark, a light, that's been burnt out of you. I want to paint it back in." She drops her gaze, suddenly flustered. "I'm sorry. I'm not being too personal, am I?"

"No," L says. She is being very personal, but L can put up with the violation of personal boundaries if it's for an investigation. The fact that he has not approached the suspect as himself makes it particularly easy.

"I'm glad." Lisa smiles, and suddenly she is leaning in to kiss him. L stiffens. Her lips are wet and uncomfortable and don't work well with his at all. Lisa seems to be finding the experience very pleasurable, but all L can feel is intense discomfort.

L Lawliet does not seduce people for an investigation, but Lucian Asahi might, so L allows it.

"I want to be your light," Lisa whispers to him, wide-eyed and sweet as honey.

"Trust me," L promises blandly, "you don't."

From the pleasant, calculated smile Lisa flashes him, L wonders if perhaps she has figured out what he wants and thinks that she is the one seducing him. It is easy to see why she might try to. She is attractive in more than just a conventional way, and L still carries the look of a social outcast with him. She might expect him to be desperate for her affection.

The truth is L is alone out of choice, not from a lack of options. It is simply that no-one has ever caught his interest.

(At least, if you exclude those whose interesting qualities have led them to an execution chamber.)

Later than night L ends up sleeping on Lisa's couch, and the darkness threatens to suffocate him. He could be alone in the house, no, alone in the universe. Lisa and everyone else he has met are as two-dimensional and uninteresting as paper cutouts. Perhaps he would see more in them if he cared to look deeper, but it's been a long time since L cared for anything much at all.

He used to love the dark, once. That was when there was a light he wished to hide from.

 L leaves Lisa in a pair of handcuffs and facing a jail sentence. He ignores the look of deep betrayal on her face as he walks away. Her crimes are not so severe, in any case. She should get off lightly enough. Maybe next time she'll know to be a bit smarter, not to try and seduce a detective.

(Besides. It's not like England has death penalty.)

"It doesn't matter what a painting makes you feel," Lisa had told him at one point over breakfast, "as long as it makes you feel something."

L smiled at her and felt nothing but a hollow absence her efforts failed to fill.

Direct interaction hasn't done much against the weight of L's new-found apathy, but it's better than sitting alone in a dark room and parsing facts and information. One day, perhaps, he will enjoy doing that again as well, but he cannot see that day ahead of him.

He feels a heavy weight on him as he leaves the police station. He thinks it might be loneliness. It's not from leaving Lisa - it could never be that. No, this feeling is much older. Lisa is full of honeyed words that have left him unmarked, but Light Yagami's sweet poison is festering inside him.

L sits by his bed that night with a book propped up against his knees, and sees an old ghost watching him from across the room.

In the end it's a combination of personal interaction and carelessness that bring L down.

He agrees to meet a suspected murderer in an empty warehouse. He's planned out everything, to the last detail, to a degree that would put Light Yagami to shame. There are police waiting in the wings, ready to move in the moment his suspect makes a wrong move.

In truth, L has nothing on the suspect but largely groundless suspicions, but the man doesn't know that. If he was smart, he'd play it safe; dance around L in an intricate battle of the wits, trying to figure out how much L knows. It's what L's counting on; it's what Light would have done.

The man is not so smart, so instead he whips out his Smith and Wesson Model 36 and empties it into L.

It takes time to register pain. At first, all L registers is darkness and the shock of being hit. It was a poor, reckless move; the man will pay heavily for it. He already seems to realise that, panic quickly setting in as the police approach.

Panic has yet to set in for L. He wonders if it helps, not expecting to die. Light Yagami never had that luxury. Perhaps L should have given it to him; a small mercy in return for the most exhilarating experience of L's lifetime. But then, Light himself has never shown much mercy.

The world is beginning to blur and swim around the edges of L's vision. The pain is hitting him in full force now; white-hot and excruciating, spreading through his chest. His breathes refuse to flow properly; they stutter and choke.

The world looks as dull now as it has felt for the past year. He feels like he's been living in the coda of a book that does not know when to finish. It's a senseless ending to a story that has long since trailed off and lost all sense of meaning and cohesion.

I'm dying. The realisation should mean more to him, but as he stares up at the rotating ceiling fan, he finds that it does not.

There is a figure in the rafters, hovering at the edges of his vision. He can't even tell if it's really there; it might be a person, or just a trick of the light.

(Hah. A trick of the Light.)

He can begin to make out features. As the rest of his vision darkens and fades, the figure sharpens in focus. He is wearing a Japanese school uniform, tidy and immaculate. The light coming through the shafts plays with his hair, making strands of it shine pure gold. His features would probably be arranged in a triumphant smirk, if they were true to life, but they are not; L reads a deep sadness in them.

L's heart-rate is slowing, now. Light's presence has had a calming effect on him, though it should have had the opposite. His vision fades out for a few seconds, and when it returns Light is kneeling at his side, tracing a finger lightly against L's skin. L doesn't know if the gesture is a threat, a promise of revenge, or a simple, human comfort that L never afforded Light. The double, triple layers of meaning send chills racing down L's spine that he has forgotten how to feel, and will never get a chance to feel again. He loves and hates the feeling in equal amounts.

He hates the feeling a little less than he hated loneliness, though.

He reaches out a hand, hoping to grasp a handful of Light's shirt, but his fingers pass through nothing but empty air.

 You and I were once friends,

Now you're only an acquaintance.

I hate dreaming of being with you.

I hate dreaming of being with you.

I hate dreaming of being with you.

Terrified, with the lights out...

(I hate being alone, feeling alone.)