DOA

BY : hnm
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 1214
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note or the characters, they belong to Tsgumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. I do not make money from writing this, it is for entertainment purposes only.


A/N: This is it, the end, finally. For those of you reading Gloria Victis, I haven't forgotten about it and I promise an update very soon. Thanks for reading!


IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

“Light-kun? Why did you tell me you loved me if you didn’t mean it?” Light spun around at the sound of that voice. The one he hadn’t heard in five years but had longed for each and every day. When he saw the detective, his heart stopped, he momentarily thought that maybe someone had written his name in the Death Note. That he was in heaven or hell or wherever he was meant to go. “No, Light-kun, you are still very much alive. Though, regrettably, I am not. Now, I believe I asked you a question. Not answering would be quite rude and besides, I think you kind of owe me, don’t you…Kira?”

“I don’t owe you anything,” the god of the new world growled but the part of Light Yagami that was still human was welling up with tears.

“Ah. I see…Such a pity Light-kun. You had such potential; it’s a shame that you had to throw it all away. Well, never mind. Let’s try this question instead. Have you missed me?” Watari appeared, seemingly out of thin air, carrying a tray of tea and L smiled. “Thank you so much Mr. Wammy…Would you care for some tea, Light-kun?”

“What reason would I have had to miss you? I achieved my goal, got you out of my way. You meant nothing to me L. You still mean nothing so why don’t you go back to whatever hole you crawled out of…” L sighed, shook his head sadly.

“Really, Light-kun. You think its that easy? You may have rid yourself of me, taken my title, held the entire world hostage while you played god for years right under everyone’s noses but you didn’t take one tiny detail into consideration.”

“Oh yeah, and what’s that?” L took a sip of his tea, gestured to the other side of the room.

“Them. My successors. Near, Mello, and Matt. I may not have been able to bring you to justice but they have. There’s no getting around it now, no talking your way out. You might as well just come quietly, keep your dignity and save us all a lot of trouble.”

"Them?" Light howled with laughter, throwing his head back, eyes flashing crimson. "Those babies? They're what I'm supposed to worry about?" He gestured towards Near, sitting on the floor, eyes wide with fascination. Then to Matt, who was distractedly playing a video game and rolling his eyes, though the outline of the gun in his pocket was clearly visible. Finally, Kira's finger pointed at Mello, shaking, as the blonde held his weapon loosely at his side. He was just waiting for an opportunity, an excuse, to shoot this bastard. "Just what are they going to do to me, huh? Near clearly doesn't even want to be here. Neither does his redheaded friend. And Mello," Light's voice shook a little, part anger, part fear, the bane of his existence staring him down, the one who’d given him the most trouble, waiting for the insult to come. "That violent little fuck up. A school for geniuses the likes of you spit out this useless trash? None of them are capable of even comprehending my dream, let alone attempting to tear down the foundation I have made. They're nothing."

Mello's gun was aimed for Kira's chest, his finger already squeezing down on the trigger. Useless, he'd said. "Go ahead, keep talking Yagami. I'm begging you. Let's see how righteous you are when you're full of holes."

"Mello." The blond turned to his mentor, the man he hadn't even seen a photograph of in six years, the man who looked exactly as he had when he left Japan, licking sugar off the spoon from his tea. He glared at the younger boy, a look that even alive would have made the teen bow his head in shame, as he was now. "Mello, Kira and I are having a conversation. It is very rude to interrupt. Please keep calm, it will be your turn to speak soon."

"Fuck that. Didn't you hear what he said about us? You expect me not to defend myself? You - wait, are you talking to me?" Mello lowered his gun, staring at the older man as if he'd just seen him, as if he hadn't been watching the exchange for several minutes before interrupting. "Did you just...speak...to me?"

L rolled his eyes, though his trademark smirk remained on his face. He was amused by the blonde's shock at realizing that the ghost could not only be seen by him, but was able to converse with him. "Well of course I did. You can see me, can't you? I can speak to Light Yagami, what makes you think I cannot speak to you? Really, Mello was always such a bright boy, so clever, even more so than Near in fact." The blond looked to his lover, expecting the younger boy to be insulted by this admission, to be angry with him instead of their mentor. He only smirked, waving at L with the finger puppets that represented the three successors. The raven-haired detective smiled, waving back with a spoon dangling from him lips.

"I...I thought I was hallucinating. Fuck. Just, fuck. Are you really there?" This could not be happening, L was dead. He'd left them all six years ago and now there was his ghost, acting as if all this time and trouble hadn't passed, like it was just another case they were working on together.

"How do you know you aren't hallucinating?" L turned, gesturing to the rest of the group. The Japanese police were all stunned silent, had been since the man materialized before them, began the heated argument with Light. They were so surprised to see the dead detective that Light's guilt almost didn't seem important. "How do all of you know it, for sure? I could be a figment of your imagination. You've all been under so much stress, would it really surprise you if this wasn't some form of mass hysteria? Has there been any strange beverages served at this little get together? You see, this is why I always stick to tea. No one ever spikes the tea." Watari shot the detective a warning glance while he poured another cup, taking one of his own without sugar. He carefully blew at the steaming beverage, taking an experimental sip.

Kira had had enough of this. They were mocking him, his vision. This was the first day of his new world, and here was a ghost from a past he desperately wished to forget. Here was L again, standing in his way. Here was the man that had almost caused his plans to come to a screeching halt, preying on him, molesting god himself. Even as he thought it, a voice came from his own mind, a voice that he had not heard in six years. As soon as his memories had returned, Kira had killed the man called Light Yagami, had sent him to his grave along with his lover. The bastard had fought too, with all the hope of an innocent child, raging against the monster in him, struggling, kicking and screaming. But Light Yagami had never been in a fight in his entire life, and Kira knew just how to twist the knife, drive it deeper, reminding him that he had killed L, L who was perfect and loved him. "Shut up!" Kira held his hands to his ears, and this silenced the detective, who was still addressing the NPA and SPK, but it could not silence the boy called Light Yagami, who only wanted to run to L and beg for protection from himself. "Shut up!"

"What's the matter Kira? You look distraught. Are you feeling well?" Kira screamed, dropping to his knees, arms over his head to shield himself from the attack within. No. He would not let L defeat him this way. He was doing this. Light Yagami was dead, he'd been too naive to see the good they could do, and he'd been punished for it. He was just like all the rest, he just couldn't understand. "Stop this, whatever you're doing, stop. It won't work. You're not real. He's not real. This is all just some sick joke. Some futile last effort to destroy me. I'm God. You can't fight god and win."

"No, you can't. You can't fight god, so you join. Even though you're not really sure it's the right thing to do, but you join him because it's better than death, better than nothing at all. And then his promises sound so pretty, his eyes seem so sincere when he hands you the world on the platter, when he touches you and promises that you can lead the world to a better place. You were so gentle, Light, so loving. You made me feel so special." A woman's voice, coming from seemingly nowhere, then everywhere, reverberating off the walls, echoing and loud as the one still calling out in his head.

Takada was a mess. The woman came from out of the shadows, wrapped in a sheet, her body covered with bleeding sores and burns. Her flesh was peeling off in places, blackened. She stood in front of him, resting a hand on his cheek. She pressed her lips to his, and when she stepped back, Light could taste burned flesh, rotten and sticking to his mouth. He spit, but a piece had made its way into his mouth, and he'd swallowed before he could help it. She was laughing at him as she stepped back to join the other ghosts that had begun to fill the warehouse.

"No, you're dead. You're dead, bitch." The woman smiled, watching the man that had actually convinced her that he might really be a god, falling from his lofty perch, his sanity slipping away right before their eyes. Never before had such a mighty being fallen so far. He was completely undone as he raged. She'd watched him first scream at his lover, a little jealous even now, because maybe the great L had been the sole reason that Light didn't love her. Maybe he had still been in Yagami's mind when they made love, maybe it was him he was imagining as he whispered promises that sounded too good to be true, but had to be, because he was so handsome and intelligent, and his ideals were so beautiful. "You're not here. The likes of you would never have made it to heaven. Maybe him but not you."

"It turns out, Light, that I wasn't as lowly as you thought. I couldn't believe it either, but I guess that my doubt was enough to redeem me. I guess the fact that you twisted every word you ever spoke to me, that you tricked me into believing you were more than the pathetic child you are was enough to save me." L smiled sadly, waiting for the woman to continue. As much as he disliked anyone that had willingly followed Kira, as much as he didn't condone her excuses, he did feel sorry for her. Light's pretty face was treacherous; his righteous words were so easy to believe. She had loved him, maybe as much as L had. She’d had him, but never wholly, because his ghost had always been there, reminding Light that he could never have what he really wanted because he had killed it. "Tell me, when we fucked, did you taste him on my lips? Was it his arms you felt around you? Was it his ass in your mind?"

"Fuck you! Just shut up and leave me alone! I never loved you. I never cared about either of you. You can all go back and rot in hell for all I care!"

Takada smiled sadly. The words hurt even though she had already known it was the truth. She could have gone on forever about how much she hated this man now, how he had ruined her bright future, taken her life before her time. How she could have found another love, could have been happy with a normal life. But hers was not even the worst of it. Maybe L had not even suffered as much as the woman that was now creeping out of the shadows.

"As much as I hate you, Light Yagami, I have to thank you." Naomi Misora approached, dressed exactly as the day he had last seen her. Her body had never been found, and her ghost did not look all that different. The only change was the raw red skin around her neck, the rope burns and the slight tilt of her head made by broken bones. At first her speech was raspy, broken up by the crushed windpipe. But it only faltered for a few seconds, and she recovered, cracking her neck and righting the head on her shoulders. She'd been so meek and polite when they last spoke, so soft-spoken like the good little housewife Raye Penber had been looking for. Then her voice was rising in pitch, more confident as she came to stand before him. "You took him away from me. Do you know what it's like, having to give up your entire career for a chance at a normal life, to give up the one thing that makes you feel special? Do you have any idea how hard I fought to just be an equal among a room full of men with half my experience? I spent my entire life fighting for respect, and I gave it all up in a second when I decided that I'd rather have Raye that any of it."

Kira scoffed at the admission. He'd actually had some respect for the girl when he first met her. That had been exactly why he had been forced to kill her. She was just so smart. She was just too close to catching him. He had felt nothing when killing someone who wasn't actually a criminal, someone who just stood in his way. Anyway, he had done her a favor, just as she said. He'd reunited her with her lover, had given back what he'd stolen. But he was still surprised to find out that they weren't rotting in a fiery pit for trying to destroy his perfect world.

Raye came to stand behind Naomi, the first time he had ever been supportive of her career. He saw now that all his complaints about her quitting had been foolish, that her mind was greater than his had ever been. She was better at police work, deserved to be in his place. He should have stepped back and let her continue, then maybe they would both be alive.

"What are you whining about, Misora? Huh? I gave him back to you." Why couldn't they all see that god had a plan for everyone, that each life either fit in his world or needed to be thrown from it?

"You're such a fool. Our second chance gave us both the opportunity to reevaluate our lives, to see the mistakes we both made. It does not mean that I am grateful for you stealing my life away, or his. We weren't much older than you Yagami, we were going to be married, have children. That was taken from us, but it will be rectified soon enough."

Light dismissed the comment with a wave of his hand. "You're all dead. You're just visions of rotting corpses. Your words can't do anything to me. You can't set me on fire, or hang me, or give me a heart attack." He pointed to each of them in turn, reminding them of their last moments. They all smiled as he raged, coming to stand together, to make way for the final guest. "You can't touch me, so you can't hurt me. Your words don't mean shit to me."

Soichiro Yagami came dressed not as he had died, in the SWAT gear or the hospital gown, but as he had been on every other day that his son could remember. His suit was carefully pressed, his tie knotted tightly at his throat. Unlike all the others, there was not a scratch on him; there was no sign that he was dead. The rest looked as expected, though admittedly, L had always looked like a corpse, a pretty one, but still.

Soichiro was full of color, a slight tan over his wrinkled features. His hair was combed back, that streak of gray making him look distinguished, respectable. The head of the Kira investigation, the leader of the Japanese police, and most importantly, a kind and caring father. A man that had encouraged Light in every step he made, that was proud of both him and his slacker younger sister. This man had worked himself to the bone and still managed to make time to help the teenager with homework, to take the family on vacations even when it was obvious that he ought to be spending what little time he had off resting and recuperating. He was the perfect husband, the perfect father. His work and life, his sacrifice, had saved thousands of others.

Light had taken that from the world, and the part in him that wasn't Kira, was still human, felt his heart breaking all over again. Kira tried to push up to the surface, but for once the young man that had died if not when L did, but when his father took his last breath, was winning. Light Yagami shed a tear, turning his face from the crowd of ghosts only to meet those of the task force. They all looked on in equal parts horror and respect, and their grief could be felt on Light's skin, like bugs crawling all over him, eating him up. He brushed at his arms, wiped his hands on his jacket. He was guilty of killing this man, and he could feel the stain of the murder, could almost see it.

"I was so proud of you, Light. I never wanted you to follow in my footsteps; I wanted you to be happy. But you worked so hard, son, and I was so proud. Even when you replaced me with Ryuzaki, even when you seemed to look up to him more than me, I was proud. And when he died, my heart broke for you. I saw the way you missed your idol, and had long been suspicious over what was going on between you. I can't say I approved of it at first, but never had I seen someone more distraught over a death than you were, and I felt it with you. Even on my deathbed, I felt sorry for only you, because I was leaving you alone with the burden of defeating Kira. I should have tried to hold on longer, I thought. But-" Soichiro's voice shook, and he held turned away from his son.

The head of the taskforce had not been in any pain, as he died, at least not in the physical sense. He was so full of the drugs they pumped in to keep him comfortable, and so ready to face death knowing that he was dying for a good cause, had done the right thing by not killing the child Mello. He'd seen his son's angry tears, seen the disappointment, the vengeful spirit that possessed him. Light wanted his father's murderers to die, but he would not do that. The blond boy had reminded him so much of his own son, was even younger than him, and he just could not do it. Mello would find his place, or suffer at the hands of god. Soichiro would not be the one to make that decision.

In hindsight he should have known, but it was already too late. A parent can not see the evil in their child, especially not one like Light, who was so pure, who always knew what was the right thing to do, always pushed ahead even when there was no hope. But of course Light had not given up when his mentor died, and Soichiro had discovered why only moments after his death. The Yagami teen had kept pushing ahead in the investigation not to avenge the fallen, or to save the world, but because as the second L, he was in the perfect position to continue his work as Kira. His son was the devil, was evil incarnate, and had killed his own father because he stood in the way.

Mello had been feeling the guilt over taking Soichiro's life, had been punishing himself and begging god to forgive him still. He could not look at the man now. He dropped to his knees, crossing himself. He said a short prayer before he finally tried to meet the older man's eyes. "Yagami-san, I am so sorry. I made the worst mistake that day. It is no excuse, but I believed that if you were not Kira himself, than you were working alongside him. I never meant for that to happen." Mello ran his hand down the scarred side of his face. "I hope you can take a small comfort in the fact that I was destroyed that day as well. I was punished for my sins, and I still regret the decisions I made."

Soichiro nodded, smiled at the boy. He walked to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. The child looked years younger than his age, so innocent even with the gun still in his hand. He pulled the boy into a hug, and Mello shivered. It wasn't that he feared the ghost, but that he did not believe he was worthy of receiving comfort from a man that he had murdered to save his own life.

Light ran to his father, grabbing for his sleeve to pull him away. His hand passed through him, and he grabbed for it again. His hand passed through again, chilled at the cool air that seemed to surround his father. "Don't touch him! Don't talk to him! You have no right. You killed him! You killed my father."

Every gun in the room pointed at Light, and still he did not back down, threatening the blond twenty-year-old. "Drop your weapons! That is an order. This is between Light and myself." Light stared at his father in shock, made to grab for him again, missing, then lunging for Mello. "Light Yagami!" Soichiro's son froze in his place. "You have no right to attack him. You have no right to accuse him. It is you that killed your own father. It is you that put that demon book in my hands, planned not only for physical death, but the death of my very soul."

The human who uses this note can neither go to Heaven nor Hell…

Light was already damned, had been as soon as he took that first experimental life. But that had been fine with him. It had been ok if he was forced to spend the rest of eternity in Mu for the chance to change the world, make it a better place. His father shared his goals, though he was going about it the wrong way. He wanted the world to be a better place, but the fool would not write Mello's name down. Light had only been giving him the chance to help build the world, had given him a gift when he allowed him to use the notebook. The plan had gone so perfectly, right down to the final moments. And then Soichiro had died before he could be convinced.

"You didn't understand! He wasn't just some innocent kid! He did kill you! He pressed that button, not me!" There was the sound of metal tapping against a porcelain tea cup, calling attention back to the detective that had been watching the exchange in curious silence, more fascinated now with human behavior than he had ever been.

"This has always been a problem for Light Yagami. Perhaps that is why Kira was so easily able to infect him. Light has never understood cause and effect very well. Even as such an intelligent young man, that concept escapes him." L would not be able to say that he didn't take pleasure in strolling towards Light, shoving him until he fell to the ground. "Now, it is obvious that I pushed Light, that I caused him to fall. Yes?" Light stood, lunging at him, but he fell right through the detective, landing on his face on the hard concrete. "Thank you Light, that was a fine example. We might argue over which of us is to blame for the scrapes on your lovely face. You attacked me, and I dodged it. Therefore, you fell. Is it your fault for attacking me? Or is it mine, for dodging, which resulted in the accident." Light lunged again, and this time Kira felt himself resurfacing underneath the rage. "You are a slow learner these days, aren't you? Let's skip this childish lesson then. Morally speaking, it was wrong for Mello to destroy that building, and he has been duly punished for it. But it was Kira who put him in the position, it was Kira who placed Soichiro Yagami in that building, knowing it could, and almost definitely would result in his death. Therefore, it is Light Yagami's fault that Soichiro died."

"No! I would never have done that! I am not a murderer! I am god. I celebrate good, and I punish evil. I don't take lives without a reason. He's dead because he doubted god, and was punished for it. You're dead because you stood in god's way. I feel no guilt for it." L stepped back, taking Soichiro with him. He was so disappointed in the young man, who still refused to see his evil ways even now.

Mello's hands were shaking, he'd dropped his gun as he watched the exchange. He'd been clutching at his rosary, mouthing the words of another prayer, asking god to forgive him, asking god to save who he could. Near had taken his other hand, squeezing gently, offering what comfort he could. It was enough, and their fingers laced together, each silently telling the other that they were going to be alright.

"Denial is a terrible thing. It eats away at the very core of a being, and eventually a lie can be said until it is believed by it's creator, until there is no doubt in the mind that it is absolute truth." Kira glared at the albino. How dare he mock god, suggest that he didn't have total control over his own thoughts and feelings? "Light Yagami does feel guilt, for each and every name he wrote in the notebook. I know what that guilt is like, how much it hurts. I have made the same mistakes, though it has not yet cost a life. At least, not to my knowledge. I know how easy it is to lie to oneself, to force oneself to believe that lie because it is better than letting go of pride, of just admitting that you were wrong. I only wish that I had seen it sooner. It is too late for Light Yagami, and I pity him for it. I still have a chance to redeem myself. I still have a chance to apologize, to make it right. Things will never be the same, but my life will be better now that I have realized how foolish I was. It takes a great man to know when he is wrong."

The perfect Near had made a mistake? How interesting. He had not made one mistake in the case thus far, had kept Kira nervous at every step of the way, had him shaking every time that symbol popped up, mocking him. He'd called him L, all while taunting him, telling him that he knew that he was indeed the man they were all searching for. What could have L's prodigy done?

Mello gripped his lover's hand tighter, jerked his arm in an attempt to shut him up. This wouldn't be good. Admitting a weakness such as this in front of Kira. Near brought that hand to his lips, freaking kissed it right before Yagami's eyes. Mello wanted to be angry, but it felt so nice so receive such a normal display of affection.

Light grinned, then broke out into that maniacal laugh. This was too good to be true. Near had a lover? He'd noticed them holding hands, but had assumed that it was a brotherly gesture, since the two had been raised at Wammy's orphanage. But no, this was even better. L's heirs were fucking each other. How perfect.

"Mistakes. Yes, I see it now. I wondered what caused the rift between you. I heard only that you were rivals, that poor Mello always came in second place to Near. But it seems that it is more than that causing him to work against you, to plot to beat me first. You could have just worked together, then maybe you would have killed me when you had the chance. Then maybe Mihael Keehl might have a few more minutes to live." Light turned, unlocking the mechanism on his wristwatch. He pulled a pen out of his jacket pocket, began scribbling the letters to Mello's true name. "Too little too late Near."

"He's got a piece of the death note!" One of the task force members screamed, and all their guns pointed at him. Light was scribbling the last letters of the name, watching each of their reactions in turn. The ghosts sat calmly by, not interfering. L must miss his children terribly, if he was so willing to stand by and watch one of their deaths.

The shot rang out before the last two letters were written, the bullet piercing his hand. Light screamed, fell to his knees, holding his hand. "Who the fuck do you think you are?" He turned to the task force, but none of them had fired. Then he looked to the heirs, and Near was holding Mello's gun as the older boy watched, calmer than he'd ever seen him. The pen had skittered across the room, and Light ran a finger through his blood, holding it poised over a piece of the notepaper. "You don't look scared, Mello. It's going to hurt, maybe not as much as that explosion, maybe more. Imagine your young, healthy heart failing on you as your lover holds you when you take your last breath. Doesn't that frighten you?"

"Not at all. I have been prepared to die ever since I took this case, and I am no more afraid now than I was then." Again he touched his scar, watching Near look at him with no less love and desire than ever. "Anyway, you don't know his name. That's all I care about. If I die, it's to keep him alive. He'll kill you for us all."

"If that's the way you want it." It was difficult to make the letters, and his hand hurt so terribly. Ryuk stood beside him, laughing. What the hell was so funny about all this? He was winning, Ryuk should be happy. He was about to see the most interesting change in the human world in thousands of years. Once these brats were gone he could finish his work and rest on his throne.

Light's hand shook, but he was almost done. Then another shot rang out, again from Near's place on the floor, this time hitting him in the other shoulder, rendering his arm useless. He fell onto his back, writhing in agony. Nothing had ever hurt more. No pain was worse than this defeat.

"Take it from him, you idiots! What are you waiting for!" The task force and the SPK all rushed to Light, but their approach was halted by a wall of familiar ghosts, Soichiro and L standing at the front.

"Takada! Dad! Get out of the way!" They faced him, their eyes coolly staring at the wounded young man. "Misa! Mikami, where are you? Help me! They're going to kill me."

Outside they heard the sound of a man shrieking, high pitched and child-like. Mikami was trying desperately to reach his lord, but there were hundreds of people in his way, materializing out of nowhere, then walking straight through the walls of the warehouse, coming towards Light. Some of them looked exactly as they had alive, others had blood dripping from wounds in their wrists, others still were missing entire limbs, or their bodies were crushed in various ways. Light recognized the thief and murderer he'd killed on the bus so long ago, his skull crushed by the oncoming car, his whole body mangled beyond belief. He dragged himself forward, a knife glinting in his hand.

"Shh, Light-kun. They cannot hurt you. They are only here to watch." Light stared up in horror as they just kept approaching, the rest of the living watching, not helping. L tried to pull Light to him, but Kira was struggling. He was not going to die like this, was not going to go out the same way L had. He was better than that. He tried to drag himself to his knees, falling several times before he finally managed to crawl to Ryuk.

"Kill them! Write their names down! Don't let me die like this. Do you want it all over this way? How boring would that be? Please! Please don't let me die!" Ryuk laughed, kicked him away when he reached for the shinigami's leg. He grabbed again, but Ryuk moved back, taking out his death note, pen poised.

"You're pathetic Light. Take it like a man." He scribbled a name down, and Light dropped to the ground, thanking the shinigami for finally aiding him. Then the notebook turned, and he saw the characters of his own name.

"No! No!" Someone was counting forty seconds as Kira stared helplessly up at his end. Light Yagami was dragging their body towards L again, while Kira cried in defeat. "Oh, god L. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. It wasn't me. It was him. I swear I didn't want to do it." L pulled the younger boy's head into his lap, petting his hair and counting out the last seconds.

"Do not worry my love, it does not hurt that badly. When it is all over, you will find your peace." Was Kira imagining it? Was L crying for one of them? Damn him. Damn L. Damn all those people who refused to follow him.

Kira's eyes closed, his breath rasping one final time to mutter something, but no one could hear it over the sound of hundreds of footsteps trailing back the way they had come. As Light's eyes closed, as L smiled and still pet his hair, many of them disappeared. All that was left were L and Watari. The older man glanced at his watch, then back to his charge. It would just be a few more seconds. He could clearly remember how it felt, and had thought better than to scold his child for lying. It had hurt like hell, his heart pounding against his chest before it finally gave up. Of course, given the fact that Light had deceived his child, hurt him more than anyone ever could as well as ended both of their lives needlessly – split personality or not - the little bastard kind of deserved it.

Light's body was limp, and Ryuk was flying away, waving goodbye and giving his regards to everyone. He looked to the body of Light, shaking his head in disappointment. He'd been so boring lately, not his usual self at all. Humans were so strange, so caught up with this love business. That had been Kira's problem, even he was mourning the loss of his rival, his challenge. But that was all over now. All that was left was for the body to be taken away. Humans left such a mess.

Something was stirring in the body, pulling out of it. Light broke free from his prison, leaving the shell of Kira behind. He rolled over, scared at first when he noticed that he couldn't take a breath, couldn't feel his heart beating in his chest. And oh god the body, the bloody mess of holes.

But there was something wonderful waiting for him, someone he’d never imagined he’d see again. L waited patiently, slowing making his way to his feet as Light shuffled towards him. Then L was wrapping those skinny limbs around him, pulling him into an embrace. He kissed him.

"L?" The detective kissed him again, pulling him tighter. He could feel L's cool skin on his own, could feel his lips brushing against his neck as he kissed there next before he spoke.

"It is all over Light-kun. I didn't believe it was the time to explain before, but you are free from Kira. He is dead, and only you remain. You still have the choice to follow him if you wish, but I'd rather like it if you choose me this time. I believe there are no rules against us making love where we are headed, if that helps with your decision." Light reached out to stroke the detective's cheek, to run his hands through his hair. It was deceptively soft. He looked so pretty even in death. The older man was by no means what most would consider ‘traditionally attractive’ but Light thought he was breath taking.

"I'd already chosen you. He killed me for it." L nodded, returning the attention by brushing some stray strands of auburn hair back in place. Light hated to have his appearance mussed up.

"He's gone now my love. It is only you and I left." The detective turned, smiling at his caretaker. "And Watari. I must admit he is not very fond of you, or our relationship, but he wishes for me to be happy. I think if you ask him very politely he will make us a cup of tea, and we can discuss this in detail. Then of course there will be time to catch up on the love making we have missed all these years. I’ve missed you terribly."

The task force watched the old Light return, innocence back in his eyes that they hadn't realized was ever gone. Thinking back, each man felt like he should have seen it. The signs of slow madness were mistaken for depression over the boy losing his mentor and father, how he treated his girlfriend, dismissive, violent, even cheating on her, had been excused over stress. Most of them had suspected that something was a little strange about the way L and Light interacted, and now that the final pieces had been put together even that seemed so obvious.

There had already been a call made to take the body of Light Yagami away, and the police officers were preparing to take the news to his remaining family. They couldn't explain all this, it would break both of the girl's hearts to know what he had been, that there had been a monster inhabiting the body of someone whom they had loved. Light was so young, and many would mourn his passing, would be told that he had died in the fight against Kira, that he had stood beside L and helped him win. Many would mourn his passing, but the task force was happy to see him go. It was what he'd been waiting for all along, to be with the detective again.

Light's death would be seen as a blessing, but there were still those who could not watch the tearful, sweet reunion and not feel angry, bitter, like they had lost even with such a victory. L's children could not forgive him for leaving, the years they'd spent chasing after his killer, to finally find out that he'd almost willingly gone. If he hadn't gotten to close to the murderer, he wouldn't have died.

"I refuse to believe that /he/ of all people would get a pass to..." Mello spoke, his words faltering as he tried to come up with a name for it. He'd read the death note rules, had seen two real live shinigamis, and still held onto his faith. Surely god would not allow a murderer to go to heaven. But that meant that if L was taking him away, than his mentor had not been good enough to earn the right either. He just couldn't bear the news, but he had to know.

Light hung his head, still clinging to the detective though the man was gently untangling their limbs. He kissed the brown-eyed man's forehead, noting a few more lines in his face than when they had last been together. The detective smiled, his young lover had grown up and they were now the same age, the gap between them that would have been there even without Kira was gone.

Watari sighed heavily when the Japanese man tried to follow the dark haired detective. He placed a hand on Light's shoulder, shaking his head, giving him the same look that had made many a Wammy's student stop dead in their tracks. "They had him before you did, son. It is his duty to explain, and no words from you could ever be enough. You...ahem, Kira, took something from three little children that will never be replaced." Light nodded, then watched from a distance as L went to his successors' sides.

"L...this has got to be some cruel joke. Tell me, please tell me you haven't gone..." Mello let the end of the sentence hang in the musty air of the warehouse, watching his mentor smile at him, then Near, then Matt, before gesturing that the three come closer. He pulled them all into a hug, as usual surprising the three with how tall he was, how long his skeletal limbs were that held them close.

"No, Mihael, I have not. There are not many answers I can give you, other than to say that the place I will soon leave for is, ah, the best word for it that any of you will understand is heaven, though I do not believe it resembles anything close to what you all may have imagined. I can say there is no pain, and even as I watched you all struggle and was alone without my lover, I promise that I have been happy as these six years have passed." The children were released from the hug, though they all hovered close, lost in their own thoughts, trying to comprehend what had been stated so matter of factly. Leave it to the great L to describe heaven like it was a nice little bakeshop down the road and not...well, heaven. The place you go when you die.

"I fucking told you. Didn't I fucking tell you that I saw him? Nobody believed me, of course, but that's you lot pwned." L smirked as the excited redhead pointed a finger at several people in turn, then removed his goggles to wipe tears from his eyes. "Heh, remember the last time I shed tears in front of you, L?"

"Yes, Mail, I most certainly do. No one had ever before or since hacked my systems, and you were eleven, if I remember correctly. Still such talent, in all of you. I am so proud." The redhead hugged the detective once more before taking a step back, pushing Mello and Near closer. The albino tried to hug his blond lover, but Mello pushed him away, shielding angry tears from his lover and his mentor. "Mihael, you break my heart as always. Please do not shed any more tears for me. I beg you, do not hate me for the choices I have made. Near, have you lost respect for me as well?"

"I only do not understand. I have no right to judge you for your desires. I believe I would have still loved Mello if he had been persuaded by the influence of the shinigami notebook." The albino studied the Kira puppet, then L, making the two face each other.

"Yes, I have always felt the same way, Nate. They do not seem to match, do they?" Mello read between the lines, taking Near's hand in his own and staring at the contrast of ghostly pale and tanned. Not only in appearances, but in everything else they were different, yet they'd made it work. There'd been times when he hated the younger man so much it made him physically ill, and other times when he hated himself because he couldn't possibly deserve someone as oddly perfect. "At least at first glance. However, looking beyond the obvious differences," L glanced down at his casual ensemble, then behind him to Light in his tailored suit and high polished shoes, carefully combed hair. "You can see clearly just how even a match it is. I will not argue for his redemption, that decision is beyond all of us. I can only say that you do not know Light Yagami, the real Light - not the demon that took over his being. Just as none of us know Mihael or Nate the way Mello and Near do."

"I don't know if I can accept that." Mello whispered, letting L pull him into another hug and this time when the detective loosened his hold the blond did not step back. "Was all this for nothing, then? Did I waste twenty years of my life just to let the man that gave me reason to keep going turn around and leave his children for a fucking monster?"

"I wish I could explain, show you the person he was before he picked up that cursed notebook. The day he held it in his hands, the first time he used it, Kira began to take over and Light Yagami died. It is still not enough, I know, but believe me Mello I never meant for any of you to suffer. I would give him up even, or my place beyond this world, so that you did not have to endure what you did. Trust me when I say that I am so proud of you for all you survived. That I would not have asked you to do it any differently, and that my respect for you is greater than ever. I will accept if you have come to hate me, but I ask that you change your opinions of yourself and your actions. It was all justified, every act understood and forgiven by something greater than any of you or even myself can fully comprehend."

Mello's blue eyes widened, his mouth fell open and even Near seemed a little surprised at what had just been implied. This should be the blonde's question; he was the one who still held onto faith in something greater than them all but the eldest of the three successors was struck speechless. "Has L just implied that he has access to the...judgments of..." L held up a hand to the confused albino, winking at each of his children then turning towards their elder caretaker.

"Let me just say that Watari's cake and tea has been known to bring even the most unlikely of creatures together for an afternoon or two. Oh, don't look so shocked, Mihael. You once said that his German chocolate cake was too good for mortal consumption, even referred to him as god more than once when waiting by the oven for one of his delicious confections. Don't you remember?" L smirked again, looking to Watari for confirmation. The old man smiled and nodded.

"Please, L, for once in your life don't be kidding around. I...I'm forgiven?" Near smirked, taking the blonde's hand, making a mental note to say 'I told you so' later. Now was not the time though, because he could sense that this little meeting would be over soon.

"Of course, little angel Mihael." Mello clung to both his lover's hand and the rosary around his neck, tears still sliding down his face but this time they were ones of relief, of happiness and it was hard not to choke on the feeling because it was just too good to be true.

"Watari keeps looking at his watch, you're leaving us soon aren't you?" This time the detective frowned; blue-gray eyes softening and glistening with unshed tears. He nodded once, taking all three boys into a hug again, kissing their foreheads.

"I am, yes. I wish for us to have more time together, but you three have lives to live, and I have some rearranging to do myself. Do not be sad, I am able to make appearances if I so choose, and there will soon be some...changes that I would very much like to be close by to witness and congratulate."

"Oh, like what?" Matt asked, always the first to find the short cut, the cheat, to hear how the movie ended before he paid the ticket fee. L only shook a scolding finger at them, his smile widening.

"I do not wish to spoil the surprises, but you each will know. I love you all so much, Watari and I are both so proud." They each took a turn to hug the detective once more on their own, then watched him walk back to Light and Watari, leave the warehouse and though they waited only seconds before going outside to see where the three had gone there were no signs of them.

********************************************************

The ride back was eerily quiet, Matt's car driven by Hal because he was still not to be trusted behind the wheel. It left the three successors to the L title alone, gave them time to talk about what they'd just seen and heard but none had spoken once since the brief discussion about who would sit where and was there any problem with having pizza delivered to the SPK headquarters when they got in.

The blond woman in the driver's seat had tried to get her employer and his friends to chat about the safe topics, like the weather, or jokingly asking what everyone's career plans were now. She received three rather blank stares before deciding to shut up and concentrate on a tune stuck in her head. Matt's I pod was hooked up and there was no way in hell she was turning that stuff on if there was a choice.

"Alright then, I've had just about enough. I've been moping for a good twenty minutes and I think I'm quite finished. How about you lot, hmm?" Near glared at the hyper redhead's sudden outburst, but Mello reached out and ruffled the unruly brightly colored hair.

"For once, I think you're right Matty." Both Matt and Near raised eyebrows, and even Hal politely coughed in her hand to cover her shock. It seemed that the blond had taken the short visit with his fallen mentor harder than anyone, and had looked about ready to rage or cry for the duration of the ride.

"Mello, you feeling alright mate?" The hacker placed the back of his hand against his friend's forehead, checking for signs of a fever. He was not attempting to be humorous.

"Mmhmm." The blond lay down, stretching his legs over the redhead's lap and resting his head against the albino's knee. "All my favorite things are right here."

*****************************************************

Mello felt like the proverbial weight had been lifted off his shoulders, like all his problems had finally been solved in the space of a few minutes. L had been dead for six years, hadn't seen them in even longer than that but somehow had known just how to make everything all right again just as usual. Now if only he could solve just one more problem.

It took the blond another hour after arriving at headquarters to get Near upstairs, get him and Matt to stop bickering about god knows what. So the whole world wasn't exactly all sunshine and roses, but then again Mello had never really been into that crap. Some parts just had to be flawed, because that was what made them all the more endearing, beautiful, and just what had happened to him to make Mello so...perky?

Matt and Near might never really get along, because both were disgustingly protective of the eldest of the three successors. That was a problem that could be easily dealt with, given enough time and patience. Then there was the matter of Mello's constant reminder of the past, the scar, the impaired vision and hearing, but at this very moment his boyfriend (now just how old are you, he scolded himself) was working around that beautifully.

The blond closed his eyes and mentally checked off all the other bullshit that had been nagging at him for more than six years now, realizing just how much had been solved in one day. Of course there was the issue of his and Near's relationship. Would it continue to work? Would they survive if it didn't? Mello still had a hard time trusting the albino when he said all those romantic things that the blond had been begging for as a young teen, but right now with the younger man's hand in his own and a quiet voice saying all those lovely things as they lay curled up in the bed, it was a hell of a lot easier to believe.

Mello sighed, stretched, looking for a more comfortable position but Near refused to let him move even an inch. "Near, what the fuck?" The albino ignored the question, rolling on top of the older boy, getting a knee between Mello's legs, nudging them far enough apart to lay between them, then settling his head on the blonde's chest. "Staying for the winter, eh?"

"It would have been helpful if Mello had taken his clothes off first, but, yes, I believe I could remain here for quite some time." There was yet another problem on the older boy's list. Near had been downright silly since they'd locked the bedroom door, playfully tapping Mello on the ass, grabbing him for a kiss only to prod a rather ticklish spot over his ribs.

"I might be able to arrange that, if you would be so kind as to get the hell off of me." The blond squirmed under the younger man, whose smile widened, anticipating the sight of his pretty lover stripping while he watched. The albino rolled over onto his back, gesturing that it was all right for the older boy to get up now. "Gee, thanks for your permission."

"There's no need to thank me, it was a purely selfish gesture." Mello rolled his eyes, taking longer than necessary to remove his belt, put his gun away. He walked around the room with the vest unzipped, frowning at some faded reddish marks over his nipples where Near had gotten carried away and bit him. Not that he'd minded, really. "Mello is purposely drawing this out." Near whined.

"I don't see you jumping up to take yours off." The blond crossed his arms over his chest, tapped a bare foot on the floor. He couldn't help but laugh when Near yanked the pajama bottoms off, then tore at the buttons of his top. Though again he was taken aback by how much older the albino looked nude, how despite his stature and the white unruly curls on his head, and all Mello wanted to do was get closer, touch and kiss every inch of the pale boy he'd missed so much. Yeah, this was going to work after all, the blond assured himself. When apart, he could almost convince himself that he didn't need the younger man, that he was irritating, and rude, and not worth the trouble. But now, with Near confidently striding towards him and sliding the vest off Mello's shoulders, kissing the bare flesh while he worked at the laces of his pants, who was he kidding?

The older boy let himself be led back to their bed, sitting on the edge while Near leaned down and peeled the leather off his legs. He was kissing up each thigh, soft white hair tickling the blonde until he was made to forget everything when a warm, wet mouth wrapped around his erection. Near was a very generous lover, surprisingly enough considering how spoiled he'd always been. Mello had to push him away, scooting back on the bed to lie down as the younger boy tackled him. He was rolled over, instinctually bringing his hips up in invitation. Near sat back, admiring his lover and finally taking the time to notice something he had the first night but didn't dare mention.

"This part is my favorite part of Mello." The blond snorted a laugh, about to tease how he knew that Near only wanted his ass, but then a finger was tracing the lines of his tattoo, something he'd had so long he'd almost forgotten about. "Mello, I want to show you something." Again the blond laughed, but rolled over, spreading his legs and reaching for his lover's hands. Instead Near turned around, smoothing some of his hair away from the back of his neck, and just barely visible at the base of it there was a tiny puzzle piece permanently etched into the pale skin, the letter ‘M’ in the center.

The blond sat up quickly, rubbing at the spot as if he couldn't believe it was real. He just couldn't imagine Near doing something like this, marking himself, especially in a tribute to Mello. "Oh, god Near I love you. Thank you." Mello kissed the spot, licked it, playing with the curls at the nape of Near's neck until the younger boy turned and pressed their lips together.

"I have changed my mind about a few things lately. I have decided that my previous opinions regarding the sexual aspect of our relationship were incorrect. I feel much more than physical stimulation when we are in bed together. There is no other term to describe it but making love. I wish to make love to you. Now." Years ago Mello might have been offended at the demand, but it was just the way Near spoke, and...had he really said that?

The blond had time to think about it, to really let it sink in that this relationship meant just as much to Near as it did to him, because the albino was busy rummaging through the drawers of the nightstand and cursing loudly. Mello just watched, noticing the albino growing more and more frustrated as he searched, then finally grinning when he found the bottle of lube and (very) quickly made it back to the bed.

"Ah, baby you took so long I'm not sure I'm even in the mood any more." Near cast his eyes downward, the proof of the lie obvious between Mello's legs. "Alright, you caught me. But hurry the fuck up." The blond winked, then licked his lips while the younger man upended the bottle into his hand.

He was much gentler than last time, carefully pushing a single finger into the blonde's ass, working it in and out until Mello was bucking his hips and spreading his legs further. A second finger and Mello was tugging at his hair, biting his lip to keep from crying out but Near kissed him, and when their tongues met a third pale digit was added, all three keeping a constant pressure against the prostate now, held there even when the older boy writhed under the touch. It was too much, it felt so good it hurt and he was clawing at his thigh and belly, trying to pull back but there was no where to go. The constant pressure remained, Near still kissing him until he whimpered into the albino's mouth. "Is Mello alright? Is he ready?"

"Uh huh. Goddamn it, Near fuck me." The fingers were drawn back out, then in again, spread apart and stretching him.

"I most certainly will not. If that is how Mello wishes to describe it then he most certainly is not ready." The digits were removed, more lubricant poured into Near's hand. He spread the oily substance on his dick, eyes rolling back from the sensation and the sight of his lover with his knees bent and legs spread, thighs and stomach flushed, hair mussed but looking like a halo around his head. "If Mello wants to get fucked, he can do it himself."

The blond reached for the albino, but the younger boy moved out of the way and grabbed a pillow to place under the older man's lower back. "I'm fucking going to if you don't hurry up and..." Near raised an eyebrow, still jerking himself off as he watched lust filled blue eyes try to focus. "Please make love to me?"

Near crawled between Mello's legs, pushing his thighs farther apart, running his hands under them and then cupping his ass, tilting those thin hips further up as he positioned himself between them. Mello reached to grasp the albino's dick, guiding the tip inside and then placing his palms on the younger man's back, sighing contentedly when the younger boy pushed forward, rocked back, careful not to go too fast or to hard not because he was afraid it would hurt his lover but because he knew it would drive him insane, drag out more of those pretty noises he was making. "You are so pretty." Near whispered, kissing along the edge of a scarred cheek, then nuzzling the smooth one on the other side.

Mello believed him then, allowing the albino to run his hands over his scarred arm and shoulder, kissing them while he continued to slowly rock his hips. The blond wrapped a leg around the albino's waist, pulling him closer until Near was buried inside him and they both had to close their eyes and be still for a moment. "Oh, god, Near, I fucking love you. You're amazing." The albino smirked, untangling the blonde's leg and placing an hand on the small of his back, whimpering when he rocked his hips back and Mello raised his to keep from losing the contact.

"Doesn't Mello trust me to please him?" The younger man teased, fingers digging into the hollow of a hip to keep Mello from moving again. The blond nodded. "Then be still and let me." Mello nodded again, his mouth falling open when the albino thrust repeatedly against his prostate, precise as always in everything he did. "My love is...difficult..." Near said after several minutes of slowly drawing in and out of the tight warmth, loving the reactions of Mello's curled toes and lip biting and cute breathy moans, but wondering how much longer he would last each time he pushed in and felt muscles contract around his erection, making each thrust more difficult.

"If...you...wouldn't...go so fucking slow...ah!" Near took the hint, grabbing the cheeks of Mello's ass and putting more force into the movements of his pelvis, feeling a shiver go through the blond and then himself until the older boy's eyes widened and the albino felt clear fluids sticking to their stomachs.

"Will Mello let me...mmm..." The blond had wrapped his arms around the younger man's neck and kissed him, silently giving his assent as Near finished inside him. "I was going to say..."

"Yes, I know. I'm not going anywhere. You have me and I'm never leaving again." Mello rubbed the spot where the tiny puzzle piece was tattooed on the back of his lover's neck, and Near's hand instinctively went to the matching one that Mello hid just below the waistband of his pants for only him to see.

Later that week, the blond sitting in Near's lap in a computer chair while they studied up on a new case, playing with the curls at the base of his neck, Matt would come up behind the youngest of the three and laugh, cigarette almost falling out of his mouth when he noticed the tiny mark. Somehow, through the powers that be or just knowing each other too damn well, the tattoos had been etched perfectly so that if they were to be removed and placed together, they would interlock perfectly. Mello had worried that the albino would want to know just how Matt had seen the tattoo, but the younger boy only pulled him back into his lap, hand possessively going for the smooth skin exposed between pants and vest. He kissed him and thanked him again and again, and their friend rolled his eyes and mumbled something about needing fresh air before he became ill.

On the opposite end of the room, the couple swore they could see a slouching figure with his hands in his pockets, smiling with wide dark eyes. If only he'd been there, if only he'd known, he would have asked how it took his children so long to see that the two pieces missing from the puzzle were right there all along. It was too late for an I told you so, however, and anyway it had all worked out. L waved, then held out both hands to another two familiar apparitions as he disappeared around the corner.


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