Title: Third Time Is a Charm
Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Death Note
Word count: 2170
Warning: Canon turning into AU; L's POV
Summary: It seems L always has to limit Light's freedom; twice it didn't help, maybe the third tme it's going to work?
THIRD TIME IS A CHARM
He's a liar, he's a murderer, he's an enemy. He is Kira. But now, in the quietness of the night, his lips don't lie. His eyes don't lie. He is on the floor at his bunk, lying on his side, hands cuffed behind his back, and by the movement of his shoulders I can see that he turns and turns his wrists in the cuffs, non-stop, likely unaware of it. His face is still - only his eyelashes rise and fall, steadily and frequently, in synch with the flashing of digits that indicate seconds on the electronic clock. Light's breath is barely audible but my equipment is tuned so precisely that I clearly hear even this faint sound - the only one in the total silence.
It is a rare peaceful moment, with everyone else in their rooms, sleeping. Watari is sleeping - he sleeps as little as I do, due to his age - but now he's gone to bed as well. The police team is sleeping - recently at least one of them always insisted on keeping watch with me, sitting in front of the monitors - but the unchanging situation has tired them out. Or maybe it's too hard for them to watch it, becomes harder with every day. Yagami-san is sleeping - it's a disturbed, unquiet sleep, and in the electric light his haggard face seems a face of a dead man. I wonder how long it can still go on until he really becomes a dead man… and if I can take the responsibility for it. Amane Misa is sleeping, and in sleep her lips are curved down as if she's about to cry but her eyes are hidden under a blindfold.
Yagami Light is not sleeping. Just like me. His eyelashes go up and down, regularly like a heartbeat - and he looks right in front of him - nowhere - and his breath is quiet breaking from his half-parted, dry lips.
"Can't you sleep, Light-kun?"
My voice sounds unexpectedly and very clearly in silence but Light doesn't flinch - as if he were ready I would talk to him. Or maybe he is always ready - never forgets that I'm watching him.
"Is it night now?"
"Three forty-nine a.m."
"Ah. My biological clock must have got messed up." Someone else would've said it with reproach but Light-kun's control is too good for that. He doesn't look at the camera, his stare is still focused on something invisible in front of him. "You aren't sleeping either, are you?"
"I don't sleep much," I say. "Too much coffee. And sugar."
As if proving it I lick a lollipop, and it comes out too loudly, with a smacking sound. Even I feel a bit uncomfortable. The corner of Light's mouth twists a little in a smile.
"What flavor is it?"
"Hm? Cream and strawberry, my favorite one," I say. "And what's your favorite?"
It seems he muses for a few rises of eyelashes.
"Cola," he says at last. "With a chewing gum inside."
"I would've sent you one with your food," I say, "but you won't be able to eat it all the same."
His cuffs are a work of a master, they don't cripple hands and don't stop circulation of the blood but they do cause some inconveniences. Again this pale shadow of a smile flickers on his face.
"It's okay," he says, "I'll wait till I'm free."
And I can't help, I has to say it - thought it'll probably ruin the mood in a moment.
"You might have to wait for a long time."
Light lowers his eyelashes in confirmation.
"I know. I'm ready to wait as long as necessary - till I manage to dispel your suspicions. Whatever time it takes. Weeks. Months. Years."
But I can't wait for so long, Kira… Light.
Today is the thirty-ninth day of his confinement.
* * *
He lied, he killed people, he was Kira. He's deadly dangerous. I never forget that - even though sometimes, when we're sitting in front of the computers, so close that I feel the warmth of his elbow and his face has that focused expression that strangely suits him - I feel like forgetting it. But I know that with the same focused stare Light-kun probably sent people to death - even though now he's lost this ability. And if I'm not extremely careful, it can happen again. That is why I don't trust him - and I don't trust Misa, no matter how innocent she looks when treating me to coffee and cookies and asking in her little girl's voice if I'm ever going to let her stay alone with her Light.
But when he lies on the bed next to mine and the clock on the bedside-table blinks from 3:59 to 4:00 - it is especially hard to remember that. I look at him; Light-kun finally got used to sleep under my stare, at least I'm sure he isn't pretending now. His eyeballs under the closed eyelids move from side to side and the focused expression on his face becomes almost painful - as if even in his sleep he thinks of the way to catch Kira. And in sleep, unconsciously, he rubs his wrist under the cuff of the chain that attaches him to me.
When awake, he carefully pretends that he doesn't notice this chain - that he's accepted its necessity and considers it a small price for the possibility to prove his innocence. The chain doesn't prevent him from doing his work - which is enough; because it is the most important thing for both of us. Think. Seek. Find and stop Kira, a merciless murderer who takes himself for a god.
But in sleep Light's body stops pretending. He turns and pulls the chain - so hard that despite its length I have to move my hand; but I do it quietly.
Should I keep you on this chain for all your life, Light-kun? For you to remain as you are now: smart, determined, serious, passionate, enthusiastic - honest. I'm ready to do that. I would have done that if I knew it could help: I would've chained you, locked you in a room - for you to stay as you are. For you not to lie. For you not to become Kira.
* * *
His lips are bitten bloodily and his tousled hair falls over his face in long strands. There are dark circles under his eyes. He hasn't slept again, I think. He sits on the floor at the sofa, slightly rocking from side to side, hugging his knees - and his hearing has become so sensitive that he reacts immediately to the slightest click of the microphone. He tosses his head up, with a wild look in his eyes.
"What? What do you want to say? Let me go! You're crazy, L, you don't understand what you're doing! I swear I'm not Kira!"
I know that.
It's true. He isn't Kira any more. But he was Kira when, according to his plan, Rem wrote the name of my Watari in her note. He was Kira when Rem tried to kill me, already started writing my name - and if she had time to do it…
If she'd had time to do it, I would've been dead. And Kira would have kept conquering the world.
He was Kira during those days after Watari's death when I put together all the pieces of the puzzle - days that I spent expecting every second for my heart to stop beating. He was Kira at the moment when I pushed my knee at his chest and pressed the gun to his head: he looked me in the eye and his voice vibrated with sincerity: "It's a horrible mistake, L, I'm not Kira!" And I said to him: "Discard it. It's your only chance to live. Or I'll shoot you right here." It was when something in his eyes changed - and knowing that he lost, he let me see his real face - Kira's face - ruthless, calculating and hateful.
Then he said: "I discard it," and Kira was gone. And my gun was pointed at the face of Light-kun.
I shouldn't have done that. I should have done what I always did in such cases: gather all the evidence and then give the criminal away to the authorities for them to punish him as he deserved. And Kira surely deserved death penalty, I still think so.
But I couldn't do it; I don't know when I understood that. I couldn't let Light stop existing. I couldn't let it all disappear: his mind, sharp like a razor, his determination that can take down any wall, his courage that borders on impudence… his patience that equals to nothing in this world. My most dangerous enemy. My only friend. I couldn't relinquish him.
And that is why he's here, in a locked room on the upper floor of a building that isn't connected to me in any way - already for almost ten months. That is why he remembers nothing about being Kira. That is why he edges to madness and every time I come up to the monitor to look at him, I see how his gaze becomes slightly more unhinged and his hands clasp on his upper arms more desperately, as if he needs to hold himself to make sure he exists.
"You've finally snapped, L, you're crazy! While you're keeping me here, Kira is killing, isn't he?"
He is. I haven't won yet. I don't know how many notes there are in the world but as long as there is one, it appears there always will be someone who would want to be Kira. And murders continue.
But at least now I know he doesn't have anything to do with it.
He guesses the answer in my silence.
"You need me! I helped in your investigation before, I can help again."
I won't make the same mistake. He is able to think for too many moves in advance - more than I am. I can't allow him to find the way to the note again.
"Why don't you kill me then? If you don't need me?"
I should have done it, maybe. Or I shouldn't stop him if he wants to do what Misa did - who committed suicide when realizing that she accidentally betrayed her Light. And now I slowly kill his parents who go mad in despair, not knowing where their son is. Sometimes I wonder if it would be more merciful to tell them the truth about Kira - and kill them quickly with it.
"I need you, Light."
I need your intellect, your partnership, your insight, your ability to risk and win. I need to feel your shoulder next to me when we sit in front of the computers and to watch your fingers fly over the keyboard. Humor me but I sometimes imagine how it can be: we're solving another case, together, and I again can see that focused expression that makes your face so beautiful.
I can't let the mind like yours go waste. The world needs it. And I need you. I want you to work with me.
But how many years will it take for Light to become my willing partner - even knowing that he will never leave this room? At times I think that I'm ready to wait as long as necessary. But at times I feel that it will never happen, that Light will break before that, he is already on the verge - and his death or madness will be my fault. He wasn't broken when he stayed in confinement before, he endured it when we were chained together for months - but then he had hope that it would end one day.
Now this hope is what I cannot give him.
He covers his head with his arms and presses his face to his knees - as if he doesn't want to hear my voice, doesn't want to see the red light of the camera. He wants to be alone. He will never be alone here. He sits like that, without moving, for a very long time, and I watch him. Perhaps he's finally fallen asleep.
The tray with his food stays on the floor, untouched again, near to his bare narrow feet.
Perhaps, I think, one day he'll wake up - and I will be sitting on the floor next to him, pressing my cheek to his knee. And he will be warm and hard - just like I imagined him to be - imagined but never felt. I'm not sure, maybe this moment will be the moment of my death - or the first step to it, because Kira is able to construct multi-path combinations that take into account everything, even my wish to touch him. But I've accepted this possibility - just like before I accepted the possibility that I would die if I provoked Kira.
I'm willing to risk - because there is something I want, and it is you, Light. I'll come to you.