Light was dying. He knew it. Felt it in the blood gushing from the wound in his side. Tasted it in the iron fear on his lips. Saw it in the way Ryuk carved out Light’s name in his Death Note. Where did he go wrong? How could God have failed? (And why Matsuda, of all people, to be the one to take him down?)
In his last moments, crying and pleading and writhing for his life, a haloed figure in a white shirt and blue jeans reached out for Light.
Light woke up and screamed. He screamed his voice raw and only stopped when he recognised the voices and hands clawing at him weren’t his pursuers but his classmates. His English classmates who were all looking at him like he’d gone insane. With his splitting headache and awful sense of déjà vu Light could hardly have agreed more.
Grounding himself in simple facts, like his location (school; school, not a warehouse, abandoned, dying), Light steadied his frantic breathing. He forced a smile onto his face, one which said well isn’t this funny, and addressed his classmates and teacher.
“I dozed off. It was just a nightmare,” Light deflected.
The shallow concerns of the people around him dissipated into conspiratorial gossip, and Light knew he’d be hearing about this incident in the future. He’d speculate it would make excellent fodder for Sudou and the other idiots who bullied kids at his school, but Light had scared them off last year.
Through sheer force of will, Light composed himself enough to sit back in his chair like a normal person, and not someone whose heart was still racing a million miles an hour. Not someone who still felt the ghost of a bullet in his flank, the pain of betrayal, the sting of defeat…the weight of the knowledge that he had killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Light was Kira, in his dream. A name which had meant so much in the saga of a nightmare, but nothing to him now. A serial killer, that’s what he was. A God, of a world he had single-handedly composed into a symphony of justice in his name.
The class went back to discussing poetry, but Light was too busy gently examining the place in his side where the bullet had been (would be?). Matsuda, the cute idiot his father had been partnered with, had shot him. What a weird way for such an elaborate nightmare to end. Light tried to shake off the sinking feeling he had, like it wasn’t some silly dream, like it was something more, but the feeling stayed with him all class. It just wasn’t like him to dream much at all, let alone a seven year marathon of a nightmare in which he became God.
And killed L.
L. The world’s greatest (three!) detectives. Light wondered if that were true; if his sleeping mind had deduced something about L, Eraldo Coil and Denevue, that no-one else ever had before. Regardless, L was an enigma, even in his nightmare. He had known Light was Kira, had chased Light no matter where or how he ran, and when confronted, had been willing to die to stop Kira. And he had, died that is.
Light couldn’t unsee the world’s greatest detective’s lifeless body, limp in Light’s arms. Couldn’t shake the way L had looked at him in his dying moments. The way L had known it was Light that killed him. And Light felt nauseous remembering the exhilaration of victory that had thrilled through him at that time.
What a monster he had become.
The dream had started innocently enough, with a notebook and some good intentions, but it was swiftly spiralled far out of control. Light’s first mistake had been killing the FBI agents. He’d crossed a line there, one that delineated him from a common criminal. He had been redeemable in his own eyes until that time, even if he was feeling ill at the thought of killing anyone, even a criminal. He had definitely crossed a line in L’s eyes. Kira was truly a childish, selfish monster. Actually, Light thought hard about the dream, both willing it to go away and trying desperately to not let the details slip away like sand through his fingers, not until he understood at least. Why he dreamt this nightmare.
Actually, his first mistake had been killing Lind L. Tailor. Then the FBI agents. Then Naomi Misora. (So many mistakes.) Tailor wasn’t innocent but he had represented an innocent man, and the others were certainly innocent. Kira felt justified, as it was for Justice, but Light couldn’t stomach it. It hardly made sense. He could easily have avoided killing any of them, but he’d chosen to relish in their deaths instead.
His second mistake wasn’t even something he could have controlled. Misa Amane. The girl’s obsession with him had been his ultimate undoing. She had been solely responsible for the unravelling of every plan he concocted. She had threatened his life to be his girlfriend. He had been coerced into an (eventually) sexual relationship with an older woman, who would kill him as soon as obsess over him. At times in the dream she had seemed pleasant enough, but Light felt she was the biggest danger he had faced. Far worse than L (whom Light was trying to think around rather than about, because it made his heart and stomach do funny things), and light years worse than L’s successors.
If Light’s dream were real, L’s successors would still be in primary school right now. How quaint.
Light scoffed at himself and forced himself to stop fingering the non-existent bullet hole, forced himself to stop analysing his weird nightmare, and forced himself to look out the window at the sky to clear his head.
As it turned out, it had the opposite effect. Light saw a thin black notebook fall from the sky and land, conveniently, beneath his classroom window. Impossible, he thought.
As soon as the bell let him out, Light scooped up his bag and darted from the room. He had one destination in mind. Light all but shouldered his fellow students out of his way in his haste. He earned himself some annoyed looks, but his aloof reputation saved him any retributions.
Finally, he skidded to a halt in the grass beneath his English classroom window. Grass was a luxury in Tokyo, a luxury at his school. It was a throne for a slim black book which presented it tenderly to Light. Light bent over and picked up the notebook.
Death Note, the spindly white writing on the cover read. Just like in his dream. Just like he had seen.
Was it his future he had dreamt? Had his destiny presented itself to him? Or was it a warning?
Was Light really Kira? A murderer?
A sudden wave of nausea saw Light dash for the nearest garbage bin. He emptied his stomach, but couldn’t empty the screaming pain of contradiction from his mind. Light wasn’t a killer! He could never do those things he’d seen in his nightmare!
It was true this world was rotten. It needed someone strong and brave and pure and willing to sacrifice, to do whatever was necessary, in order to clean it up. Light had been (would be?) the only one who could do it.
…At least, that was what the nightmare version of him had thought.
Light slumped to the ground beside the bin, aware he was making a scene, and for once not giving a damn. His world was pulling apart at the seams and he couldn’t seem to piece it back together.
The Death Note. The cause of all of this. He was still holding it. His fingers locked around its dark spine like it would kill him to let go. Maybe it would kill him to hold on.
No, get a hold of yourself, he thought firmly. He didn’t have any proof the Death Note was real. His nightmare was…unsettling, but it didn’t prove the veracity of a notebook that could kill whoever you wrote into it.
Light paled even more when he realised that he would have to test it. Not only because he was curious, not only because he was so endlessly bored, but because it had happened a certain way the first time around, in his nightmare, and if he wanted to prove the Death Note to be the fake he wanted it to be, he would also have to disprove his nightmare.
He could see clearly the name and face of the man he had first killed with the Note. He would appear on the news later this afternoon, holding children hostage. The man was scum. If Light killed him again (assuming the Death Note and the nightmare were real, which they weren’t) then the world would be no worse off.
It was the only way to be sure. Light could not know who this man was ahead of time, so even his existence and his criminal actions would be proof. But Light wanted to be beyond sure. This was…so unreal.
Light dragged himself up off the ground, brushed the dirt from his uniform, and straightened himself out. He was still a ruffled, imperfect version of his normally perfect self, and this disturbed him almost to the same degree as his nightmare and this Note had. The fact that he could hardly bring himself to care about his appearance – he still managed to, but barely – showed him how shaken he was, if the vomiting hadn’t already done so.
Whatever happened next would change his world forever.
Light had walked home in a daze. He hardly registered other humans, his mind a carefully constructed blank. He collapsed on his bed as soon as he returned home, face first into his pillow. He wanted to scream his lungs out, but his throat hurt from doing that earlier in class, so he refrained. What the hell was happening to him?
Light knew he did not have long for his respite (he refused to call it sulking), as Kurō Otoharada would soon be on the news. Hating everything about it, Light crawled out of bed to his desk and flipped on the television to News 6. Far sooner than he ever wanted it to, the news arrived.
“The man who indiscriminately killed and wounded six people yesterday in Shinjuku is still barracked inside this nursery school, with eight hostages, including little children. The metropolitan police have determined the man’s identity. He is Kurō Otoharada, 42 years old and unemployed. Two days ago, Otoharada…”
Light glared at the television, as if it were its fault for telling him the news. It couldn’t be worse. The man was real; a criminal doing exactly what Light had dreamed he would. Either Light had some newfound ESP for criminals or his nightmare was 100% genuine, real, bone fide destiny.
…It was 18:22 on a school night. If Light wrote this man’s name, it would never again be just 18:22 on a school night. His life would cease to be boring. He would be Kira, a God of Justice, and he would meet L, a man he had idolised for years. He didn’t like where his story ended, however, and he didn’t like a lot of the middle. Like killing L. But how to avoid that? If Light killed Otoharada then L would know Light was in Japan. It was both insanely stupid to bring L onto Light’s tail and all Light wanted. Life was boring after he had killed L, in his nightmare. Life was only exciting with him. Light frowned heavily. Guess you’re coming to Japan…
It was 18:23. He wrote Kurō Otoharada into the Death Note and waited for his destiny to catch up to him.
Forty seconds passed. Nothing. Light knew he had a little longer to wait. In an instant, the hostages streamed out of the nursery. They were free. Light had never felt more trapped.
The Death Note was real. His nightmare was real. His life was no longer only his own. He belonged to Kira now, to a destiny that had carved itself out in his mind long before he’d known it was his.
Light struggled to win back control over his emotions. He was crying, he noted distantly, and in two minutes he’d have to put on his game face and go to prep school. He wiped frantically at his eyes, staining his white sleeves. Today can’t be real, he repeated to himself. Things like this just don’t happen.
But it was happening. And if he didn’t get a hold on himself, the situation would slip uncontrollably out of his grasp. Light knew he couldn’t slip this time. He might be Kira, but he wouldn’t follow his path. Light would make his own path; he’d do it right this time.
Light’s mother called upstairs to him, “It’s 6:25 already. You have your prep course today.”
Light flinched. He scrambled up from his desk and ducked his head out his bedroom door. “Uh, yeah. I was just getting ready to go.” He smiled, the action somewhat convincing, but it wasn’t needed because his mother didn’t even notice his drying tears.
Later at the Gamou Prep Academy, Light watched Sudou bully a bespectacled nerd and had an intense feeling of déjà vu. He was sitting down but he felt vertigo, and he had to regulate his breathing for a few minutes. His teacher threw chalk at his head to get him to ‘stop spacing out’ and Light nearly snapped at him. He had no idea what Light was going through right now; it was so much more than the stupid teen angst his peers were experiencing. However, Light swallowed his anger. Things were complicated right now and he didn’t need to make them worse by shattering everyone’s image of him as perfect. Snapping his prep teacher’s neck would probably do that.
Light paid no attention in prep (although it wasn’t as if he paid any more attention normally). He spent the time ruminating on his newfound powers. Not only had he found the Death Note (which Ryuk had dropped out of boredom so it wasn’t exactly like Light was chosen but), he had seen the future. Over six years worth of premonitions in one high school class’ worth of daydreams. There had to be something more to that, something that hinted at destiny.
So, the question remained, he had seen the future so he could change it, obviously, but change it how? Was he to turn away from Kira entirely, place down the Death Note and forget this had ever happened? (Not likely.) Was he supposed to be more aggressive in his role as Kira this time, and eliminate all obstacles early in the game thereby preventing anyone from defeating him? (Possible. It seemed like the thing the nightmare version of himself would have wanted.) Or was he here to improve the story? Ensure he was never bored again? Not by destroying his opponents but by converting them.
The only light in Light’s life. He had flashed colour into Light’s dull world. Whenever L came into the room, it was like the sun came out. It sounded stupid and fluffy and…romantic. But Light couldn’t shake his memories of the Detective. He took up far less time in Light’s prophesies than Misa or Takada or, heck, even Matsuda, but Light’s visions of L were the strongest by far. There was something about the spindly, strange man. Perhaps it had been his mind, bright and brilliant and cutting to the heart of Light, tearing off his masks and breaking down his walls. Perhaps it had been his weird, ethereal beauty as he curled in his computer chair or stood in the rain, face tilted up into the downpour.
Perhaps it was simply that Light had never felt the way he did with L before or since.
Surely, Light reasoned, I can convince him to join me. He was always saying how similar to Kira his own philosophies were. As long as I only kill truly evil criminals, L will be able to see my side.
His plan unfurling before him, Light smiled for real for the first time since he’d woken up from his nightmare. Yes, if L was his, then the world would truly be his. L’s successors would never have a reason to come after Light, and so Matsuda would never shoot him, and he would avoid that horrible end.
There was one problem with Light’s new plan. Misa Amane. She would royally fuck up everything when she came along. He could avoid killing her parents’ murderer, therefore maybe avoiding her obsession with him. But Rem would still give her the Death Note and Light couldn’t trust Misa to not become the Second Kira of her own accord anyway. And then she would have no reason not to kill Light immediately. He remembered her threats clearly. Even though she seemed under his control after Rem and L had died, Light knew better than to trust her. She was unstable. Who wouldn’t be after witnessing her parents’ murder and then nearly dying at the hands of a stalker herself? Still, what to do with Misa Amane? Her parents were already dead by now, so Light couldn’t prevent that. He could kill Misa now, ahead of her stalker, and since it would be through the Death Note, not even her Shinigami lovers could save her. But they could potentially find Light and enact revenge. Light would have to make himself known as Kira in order to affect change in the world, and Ryuk would be like a beacon at his side regardless, so it was nearly certain that Gelus or even Rem would kill Light in revenge for Misa. It would only be a matter of time. He couldn’t very well reign as God with L if he had Shinigami after his blood.
He could kill Misa’s stalker ahead of time, but he had no idea of knowing how that would affect the timeline. Maybe Gelus would see fit to come investigate Misa’s miracle himself, maybe even give her his Death Note. He seemed in love with her enough to do so. Maybe even Rem would find a way to do it. She wasn’t in love with Misa yet, although Gelus was, so Light had a short window in which to deal with Misa before the problem was out of his control. It seemed like killing her stalker was the safest bet. Misa would still be alive and therefore a potential problem, but if Gelus never died for her, Rem might never become interested in her, and she certainly wouldn’t have a spare Death Note to give Misa. While Gelus or Rem could sacrifice their own Death Note to give to Misa, Light felt it was unlikely. All things considered, this was his safest bet.