For Light Yagami, the truth had been something hanging over his head just as much as the silver handcuff glinting on his wrist. The truth was something he had been running from his whole life and the truth was something that he had conquered a long time ago.
After all, the truth is different things to different people, and when you think about it that way, what’s truth but one more lie?
Of course, there are objective truths, like the color of the sky, crime, the way it feels to try and try for your father’s approval only for him to not notice again and again and again. The loneliness of always being above your peers, of never having an equal.
Light Yagami had been lying his entire life and that’s why, on the day that he could not tell the truth, he didn’t even realize anything was wrong until halfway through the morning when he accidentally agreed with L’s ridiculous thoughts on why ice cream was a proper breakfast. He had managed to play it off as a joke, but there was no avoiding L’s blank stare that still somehow managed to make Light feel as though L saw right through his forced nonchalance and right into the heart of his increasing anxiety.
Trying to test this new snarl in his life proved difficult with a genius detective, who was looking for a way to lock him up, forever handcuffed to him. Every time that Light found he was unable to tell the truth, L would look at him and whisper an increasing percentage in his ear.
Of course, this was horribly infuriating and, of course, there was nothing Light could do about it.
By lunch, despite having to perform his tests with L next to him, he was able to determine that he was unable to tell the truth at all. For a career liar like Light, this wasn’t as worrying as it should be.
What was worrying was that he was still able to proclaim his innocence in the face of L’s accusations.
If you were to ask any honest man what the opposite of the truth was, they would all say that it was a lie, but an ardent liar would laugh in the face of that common knowledge because all liars know that any great lie starts as the truth.
Light’s thoughts were racing. He needed to get away from L and figure out why he was able to deny his guilt.
The part of his mind that still believed that the truth existed was whispering because you are Kira, you are guilty, a Killer. But Light has been denying the existence of that voice for so long that it was barely there at all. There was no way that he was Kira, therefore, there had to be another reason that he was able to lie about it.
Light’s thoughts raced around in his head until finally L noticed a crack in his flawless façade and said, his sickly sweet breath washing over Light’s face, “Light-kun seems distracted, is something the matter?”
It was a warning and a barb all at once, it said I see you now, your face is slipping, watch out in a wrapping of friendly concern. Light was fuming.
“I think I’m just feeling a little under the weather today, Ryuzaki, thanks for your concern.”
Before L could speak again, one of the other, inconsequential officers that were in the room with them started shouting about finding a clue that both L and Light had already found and dismissed as a dead end a few hours ago. Light hated them for robbing him of the opportunity to continue this dance he and L were performing alone and unrecognized only because no one else was smart enough to realize that they were dancing in the first place.
One night, not long after his father pointed an empty gun at his head and pulled the trigger, Light and L found themselves on the roof of the building after everyone but Watari had left for the night.
In the moonlight and against the backdrop of the city behind him, L was a dangerous mirage. His grotesque angles and sickly pale skin turned into a thing of beauty in the dark. He had been entirely silent, his entire being focused on the problem that was Light.
And Light, still hurt and angry over his father’s fabricated betrayal, had practically preened at the attention from someone who saw more of his truth than anyone had ever seen and he was practically shaking with rage because of it.
What right did this monster of a man have to see Light-perfect, perfect Light-without his mask?
What right did L have to strip away the fabricated truths that Light wore like a second skin?
That night they had argued with subtle barbs and targeted words and then they fell into bed and created a new variation of the same game they had been playing for what had felt like months.
It was exhilarating.
The taskforce left around dinnertime and Light and L were left to eat a dinner of a salad and a mountain of cookies alone.
Dinner was by no means a truce, but it was a time when both of them stopped thinking about the Kira case and let their minds and mouths wander from topic to topic, only lingering on something long enough to argue a point with words that weren’t meant to sting as sharply. Unlike the day and night, evening was a time for play fighting. Evening was the perfect balance between the lie of the day and the truth of the night. Light liked evenings.
That night, the topic eventually landed on Misa.
Misa was an impossible contradiction that Light was never sure what to do with and was never sure why he still tolerated her.
She was at once a liar and one of the most honest people that Light knew. She was always observant, but purposely oblivious. Obsessive and selfish, but happy to sacrifice anything for him. She was the type of person that Light usually abhorred, but there was something that forced Light to pay attention to her in a way that he didn’t for anyone but L.
Love and hate are words that Light thought he could say anytime, because love and hate are nothing but contradictions and lies. But even those lies can be true if you believe them long and hard enough.
The truth loves nights the way that a child loves a beloved toy or a teenaged couple loves each other, jealous and possessive and true. There’s a certain comfort in darkness and sleeplessness that forces truth out of the unwilling and for a liar, night is the most dangerous time of day.
Light and L’s nights were hectic and genuine in a way that no other time of day was. They undress and shed their lies for a few hours before Light falls asleep and L goes back to working, his laptop the only source of light in the room.
That night, they were antagonistic and angry in a way that they sometimes tried not to be. Their monsters were out and it was always better to let them play than to try and rein them in. Their mouths pressed bruises into fragile skin and nails drew blood and their throats shamelessly created moans and their lungs were unable to draw in enough air and when it was over, Light pressed the words, “I love you” into L’s neck with his mouth before falling asleep.
Months later after the handcuffs fall off and a notebook is recovered, L and Light find themselves on the roof in the rain and Light’s blood is singing because he has won and L is oddly drawn and introspective and before the death and the detective drying him off with that white, white towel, but after L hears bells that aren’t there, Light hears the question, “Have you ever told the truth at any point since you were born?”
And he thinks about the day he couldn’t tell the truth and he thinks about the words whispered into a neck as white as sin during the night and he says, “What are you talking about Ryuzaki?”
He says, “It’s true I lie once in a while.”
He says, “I’ve been careful not to tell lies that hurt others.”
And L hunches his shoulders even more and makes a sound that almost sounds fond and defeated and says, “I thought you’d say that.”
L says, “Let’s go back.”
And in that moment, with the Light-that-was screaming in his head and Kira already laughing in victory, Light just agrees and follows the man that could have been his equal back inside and doesn’t allow himself to feel anything but triumphant when L finally collapses and dies and takes the few truths that Light still had with him.