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The Parameters of Ghosts

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"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

― Edward FitzGerald

A lie was always easier to pull off when there was some amount of truth at the base of it. That was why Light Yagami permitted himself an expression of shock as the remaining life in the detective's eyes diminished; his eyes now permanently closed.

The shock was true on some level, yes. He had been waiting for this moment for ages, and some part of him had begun to think it would never happen. On a still more distant level, the part of him that had formerly worked with L to capture Kira, unaware of the death note and his real ambitions—the part he had used simply as a tool to defeat L and regain his rightful place as Kira—also felt shock at the loss of a friend. Light didn't acknowledge that part of himself, though. To him it was as good as dead the moment he grabbed the notebook back from L.

But he had planned meticulously, and L's death came as no surprise to him. Light had cleverly manipulated the settings and beings around him to produce this very outcome, and Rem had played her part nicely. It looked as if she had even thought to kill Watari, which was better than he had expected of her. And soon, now, the real God of this world would reign freely again.

Because right here, at this very moment, L was dead.

"Ryuzaki!...Ryuzaki!" Light shook L's shoulders. He had to admit, it was strange knowing someone had just died in his arms. That it had been L, of all people.

"What's going on!?" somebody else shouted. Panic had finally rooted itself in the others.

Thinking it was an appropriate time to do so, Light let out a loud cry, inwardly pleased at how convincing it sounded. "First Watari, then Ryuzaki... we're going to be next!" It wasn't hard for Light to keep his voice unsteady; the growing excitement he felt gave his voice the same quality that fear would. To the others it would look as if Light was alarmed at the apparent death of L, and worried now about the uncertain outcome of their own lives.

The room was bathed in an unsettling red glow, and 'ALL DATA DELETED' was displayed on the computer screens. The team braced for their seemingly imminent demise. Aizawa had at some point fallen onto the floor, and Matsuda had covered his head as if it would protect him from death, but they were all staring in shared horror at L's lifeless body.

Inexplicably—after a several minutes of agonizing length—they were still alive.

Mogi was the first to say anything, stumbling a little over his words. "W-we should get an ambulance."

"...What about a family member?"

Soichiro spoke then, managing to keep his voice calm though he was clearly very distressed. "I'll take him."

They all agreed in silence.

 


 

The rest of the team waited at the headquarters for Soichiro to return from the hospital. It had been two hours, and no one had spoken more than a sentence or two. All of them, besides Light, were wondering why they had been spared. Why had Kira, or whoever it was, not deemed their existence a threat, too? Or was it only a matter of time before they were disposed of? While they reflected over this, Light was thinking his own thoughts, inwardly pleased at how everything was turning out.

The grin that Light had shown L seconds before his death—surely the most unconcealed face Light had ever let him see—remained as excitement smoldering in the pit of his stomach; obscured, as all important things were, to the rest of the team.

The only one who had posed any danger, and indeed almost succeeded at defeating him on a few occasions, was thanks to Rem, no longer a threat. In comparison, Aizawa, Matsuda, Mogi, and his father were going to be exceedingly easy to control.

He had…

...he had won! The thought repeated over in his head. The feeling of triumph was intoxicating, and Light savored every second of it. His dream of a new world would be so much easier to accomplish from here on out. There would be no more obstacles, with L gone—at least, nothing that Kira couldn't handle. He doubted that anyone else who objected Kira's method of judgment would put up as tough of a battle as L had. 

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the elevator doors sliding open. His father entered, fists held at his sides. The grave expression on his face implied only one answer.

"Ryuzaki is dead."

Silence.

Light pounded his fists on the glass table in front of him, startling everyone else in the room. "Damn it!" he cursed, and stood up, fuming, and stormed past his father. "Damn shinigami, where are you? You must know something about this!"

Light had seen Rem leave through the wall into the adjacent room, and figured that was probably where she had stayed hidden to write down the names. He opened up the room with the card key, and noticed right away what looked like a pile of sand on the tiled floor with a death note half-buried in it.

Rem's death note. He needed to hide it before the others could see. Again, he was glad Rem had thought about this; since the room was never used the security cameras hadn't been turned on. She had been much smarter than Ryuk, in some ways. But caring for Misa, a human, had been foolish and had led to her undoing.

He quickly lifted the notebook from the pile, the sandy substance falling off from it. Good, now that he had Rem's note he didn't even need to use the original one. He stuffed it away, and then called out to the others. Before long they were all surrounding the anomalous pile on the floor.

"What is this? Sand?"

"The shinigami...?"

Light's head was turned downwards, his features shadowed by the artificial light above them. "Whatever happened here," Light began, "Whether it was a shinigami, Kira, or someone else who did this, I will avenge Ryuzaki's death. We must solve this case, not only for him and Watari, but for all the victims. For everyone who has been affected."

His father placed a hand on his shoulder—proud as ever of his son's dedication, but just as equally concerned for his well-being.

"Light…"

Matsuda looked up from the pile, his face appearing even more conflicted than before. "But if we do that, then we'll be killed too! Isn't this a warning to us?"

"No, Light is right," Aizawa declared, unwavering. "We've already chosen to put our lives at risk. We can't back out now."

 


 

It was dark out, the first night after L's death. Light stood atop of the building of the investigation headquarters. Earlier that day, though it seemed so far away now, L had stood on the same roof listening to imaginary bells playing in the downpour. The rain had cleared out since then, but heavy clouds continued to roll past, illuminated by the moon above them and by the city below.

It was cool out, but Light ignored the chill he felt as he looked out at the vast city surrounding him. Gusts of wind whipped at him, sending his hair in every direction. Ryuk sat perched behind Light, watching the sky. Because they had switched the notebooks, Misa was technically the human he was attached to now, but he had wandered from her temporarily in order to speak with Light.

Light's expression was contemplative as he watched the city. He thought about how odd L had acted up here, before his death. He had seemed… sad, somehow. Almost as if in some way he had been expecting his death soon; had realized defeat but would never surrender. L would have been too stubborn to do that.

The two fake death note rules had eliminated L's advantage, turning the tables on him and clearing Misa and Light from guilt long enough for Light to make his final move against him. The length of time it had taken to find Higuchi had given his memory-less self time to make L and the others trust him, and even if he was never trusted completely, it had been enough to make L slip and let Light get a hold of the death note. That had been L's fatal mistake. Not that L had had any way of knowing about the ownership of death notes.

It might not have been fair, but the best battles were never fought fairly, and Light assured himself that L deserved to lose. He had been asking for it from the start by challenging a God who would punish all those who defied him. L's sense of justice had been wrong, and in the new world Kira's righteous way of judgment would prevail.

Nonetheless, it was strange knowing that L was really gone. It still amazed Light, sometimes, how easy it was to kill. How the simple stopping of a heart was enough to end a human life. The simple writing of a name.

How long had it felt for L, to die?

In his final moments L's eyes had focused on his; as if searching for an answer from Light. And Light had given one to him. His unmasked grin had said it all. Light was Kira. L's instinct hadn't been wrong, but in spite of that he had lost, and would never get a chance to know the results of Kira's reign.

But there was one thing that still bothered Light. He had been somewhat curious to see what L's true name was—even though it really didn't matter to know it any longer. But when he had finally gotten a chance to look at Rem's notebook, there had been no names at all to be found in it. Not even a stray mark of ink.

"Ryuk," Light said suddenly. "Why aren't there any names written in Rem's death note, when she has clearly used it?"

"Eh?" He looked down from the sky to Light, apparently surprised by the question. "Oh, well I haven't exactly been around many shinigami when they die, but I think that when it does happen, all of the names that the shinigami had previously written down disappear from the notebook." A claw rose to his irregular chin, and he added as an afterthought, "All of the humans remain dead, of course."

Light had figured as much, but it still bothered him a little that he couldn't know L's true identity. And Watari had managed to get rid of all the information pertaining to him before dying... He still knew nothing relevant about the man behind the enigma known as L. And now he probably never would.

"So Light, L is really finished? Won't it be boring around here now?" There was a glint in Ryuk's eye now, a look of private amusement. It always gave him a kick to remind Light that he could write Light's name in his own death note at any time. Light had for the most part learned to ignore him when he got that way.

"No, not at all," Light answered, still focusing on the city before him. "There's so much left to do. Now that L is finally gone, I can show you the creation of a new world." He turned towards Ryuk, revealing a glint in his own eyes; the expression he often wore when overcome with righteousness and ambition. "Besides, there are a lot of people out there who remain against Kira. I'm sure there will be more battles for you to witness."

Ryuk chuckled in his bizarre laughter. "To tell you the truth, I'm kinda glad to be back in the human world. Apples in the shinigami realm taste even more terrible now that I've gotten used to the ones here."

 


 

As Light was drifting off towards sleep, he realized that there was something missing from this usual routine. Something he hadn't given much thought to yet, but its absence had become only too apparent now.

The feeling of being watched.

No longer would he have to be aware of L constantly analyzing him, dissecting his every movement, and watching through the cameras. No longer would he have to pretend not to notice L's sharp and cutting gaze as he played the part of an innocent suspect. No longer would he need to worry about making even the slightest error in front of the meticulous, ever-observant detective.

He rolled over to his side, and let out a sigh; out of weariness, perhaps, or relief.

No longer...

The intense high he'd felt today had processed into something else and left behind an unfamiliar sense of absence, one that he couldn't quite place. L's death... it had seemed so perfect before, but right now it felt inadequate, somehow. It was as if by putting so much time and effort into defeating L, directing all his energy towards it, he could never feel completely satisfied once it was finally achieved. All the effort that had been put forth for something that had been so easy to do, in the end.

"Won't it be boring now?" Ryuk had said.

Light turned over again. He remained awake for some time, though he was exhausted from the days events. Darkness had a strange ability to expose insecurities that at all other times seemed foolish. He hated to admit it, but perhaps it was because had become too used to the feeling of being watched. Maybe in the days with his memories gone, he had even confused being watched with being watched over, and that's why it felt so uncomfortable now.

But what did he have to be afraid of? He had no fear of demons hiding in shadows (he was only too accustomed to one of those). No, it wasn't even fear, exactly. Maybe it was the comprehension that with L gone—the only one who had thought on his level, who had in some way understood him even through all the layers of disguise—he was now truly alone in this.

But that was a small price to pay for being a God.