Fandom: Death Note
Genre: Dark, angst, genfic
Word Count: 1824
Warnings: Spoilers for the end of the series.
Notes: Shinigami!Light, post-series. Kind of, sort of AU.
He wakes up, his throat clogged sore and thick with blood and vomit, and before he can even open his eyes, he starts choking.
Light, and the way his limbs and bones hang loose, Light, and the mottled gray skin that spiderwebs its way across his long face, beneath his bloated-beach ball eyes, he thinks it’s a miracle that Ryuk can still tell who it is, in this monstrous new dead body.
Standing there in the world of the dead, their feet sunk deep into mud rich with bone meal and animal shit, Ryuk says, “Well, what goes around, comes around.”
Not even a: “I’m sorry for killing you, you know.”
Ryuk, what he definitely won’t say is: “Sorry for ending your life, in the middle of your purification, but we both would’ve been so bored.”
This stinking gray world and its hollow shells of what used to be sinners, this is the last thing the church of Kira needs. This stinking gray world of rot and human wreckage, this, it’s nowhere on the map for the church of Kira’s global spread. No amount of ethical cleansing can make this anything but a consolation prize.
Through the bared-cartilage flares of his nose holes, Light, all he can breathe is the smell of death, the creeping rust and gunpowder of the warehouse he died in, the smells driven into his senses, as familiar as his mother’s perfume. This smell, it’s embedded deep as instinct.
Ryuk, he runs his knuckle against what might be Light’s cheek, and he says, “Smile.” The bend of his long finger deep in the loose skin of Light’s new dead face, he chuckles, and says, “Get used to it, because you’re going to be here for a long, long time.”
The dice rattling off the dry bones of his mouth, clacking hard against his teeth, Light spits them out into the dirt. “Snake eyes,” he croaks. “Damn.”
The other shinigami laugh, their spines curved, their bones rustling against their dead-skin husks. “This is my lucky day!” a Native American gambling god shouts, and he rolls the dice, throws them hard with confidence. Here in what Light guesses is hell, there’s no sky, let alone anyone keeping track of the days. Time and all those other fucking human concepts, they don’t exist here. It’s funny, but it’s beyond easy to stop counting down the minutes to your death once your heart has stopped beating. As soon as your lungs stop contracting, you stop ticking off the minutes with your fingers. As natural as blinking, as soon as your brain starts rotting in your buried dead skull, it’s so easy to stop counting off those forty seconds, even when you’re not waiting for someone else to stop counting.
One death god moves forward to shove the rotting apple into Light’s mouth, and from the cuts in her sides, she spills blood and dirt and what’s left of her rotting organs. The apple turns to dust in the dry cave of Light’s new dead mouth, but, for sure, if his tongue and stomach weren’t just decomposing muscle right now, he would be vomiting.
Other shinigami gamble pages of their death notes. They gamble for trinkets, beads and feathers and scraps of fabric carried over from when they might’ve been filthy sinning human beings. Since Light’s new, the other shinigami, they say they’ll just play dice. Dice, and whoever rolls anything less than a seven, they have to force down one of this world’s apples. Even the fruits, they’ve given up on trying to survive here.
Those other shinigami, they say they’re not playing for keeps, not playing for anything at all.
Light, the apple dust crumbling down his black swollen monster-lips, he coughs. “What’s the purpose of keeping anything in a world like this?”
Here, Light is a god, but not the type of god he wants to be.
Ryuk laughs hard at that. His breath, it smells sickly sweet, like rotting meat. His voice is loud and scratchy and booming against the nothingness. “Hey, I guess you did get your wish! You’re the god of a new world. You never specified what type of world you wanted to be the god of, so you can’t complain about it.”
“Be quiet, Ryuk. Please.”
“You ought to see yourself, Light,” the death god says, and he crushes a withered apple in his curled black fists. His breath still stinking and warm, he says, “You think Misa’d still you love you now?”
Ryuk takes Light to the other side, after what feels like months and months of pleading. The human world, it’s no better than the stinking world of dead sinners, but here, Light’s a god.
Light, his new dead wings beating hard, he drops his death note at a crowded bus stop. Just for fun, he says.
Not even a: “Oh, I’m just trying to carry on my legacy.”
Yeah, Light, what he definitely won’t say is: “This is just Kira’s two-week resurrection. I may be gone, but I can still pull the strings through someone else.”
This son or daughter of god.
Light walks around the human world for days. His body, the way his limbs and bones hang loose, he plucks his way through town like a crane. Without tendons and muscles pulling under the skin, he has to teach himself to walk on solid ground again. He counts step one, step two, for what seems like millions of years, and then someone picks up his death note.
This teenage girl, she bends over, her school uniform skirt slipping up to show the two perfect halves of her ass, and she picks the notebook up with her tiny little hands. “A death notebook? What the hell is this?”
Light, following her home, all he can think about is the cycle beginning again. He doesn’t think about how this is the slowest way of killing someone without actually ending their life, and, for sure, he doesn’t think about that old adage, the one that says misery loves company.
This girl, she’s not scared of him at all.
“I’ve seen weirder things,” the girl insists, and she writes down names by the dozen with a pink stationary pen.
These names, they’re all classmates that have wronged her somehow, called her a name, didn’t give her the answers to a test. This girl, she’s a good maybe-daughter of Kira in that she can hide and she can plan, but she doesn’t write down a single significant name.
“Shouldn’t you write down the names of criminals, too?” He bends over her shoulder, and, beneath his breath, he asks, “Don’t you want to put a heart attack in the chest of every drug lord? Don’t you want to make serial killers slit their wrists, paint walls with their own blood?”
Days later, about the criminals, the girl says, “Why would I want to do that? There are, like, no criminals, these days, because everyone is so scared of getting punished Kira. There would be no one for me to kill, even if I wanted to do something half-assed like that.” She shuts the book and hands it to Light, over her shoulder. “I’m done with this. Get out of here.”
Light, his big clawed mitts shake around the notebook. “W-what? Are you sure?”
“Dammit, of course, I’m sure. Get out of here.”
Calling after him, the girl screams, “I’ve had my fill of being a murderer!”
Counting one step, counting two steps, Light leaves.
A businessman picks up the death note and uses it to kill his family and then himself, despite Light’s warnings, despite the guilt that flashes through his big dilated pupils, and Light stops believing in the existence of idealistic sons and daughters of god.
For sure, there’s no one who could succeed Kira and do a good job. All these failed apostles. All these greedy, self-centered human beings.
Light, he sits on top of the bus station, and waits, again, for someone else to pick up the death note. By now, he’s watched his maybe-successors fight and fuck and fail forever. Maybe it’s been years since the girl picked up his death note, but he’s seen the whole world speed by his with bulging veiny eyes. Maybe it’s been years since he was killed, but people are still worshipping and fearing Kira. The new Jesus Christ, the unknown martyr for the greatest cause in history.
Some days, Ryuk visits him. On his hands and knees beside Light, he says, “If you wanted the job done right, you should’ve done it yourself.” Apple juice running down his chin, he yells over the din of the crowd below them, “That Mikami guy, it doesn’t matter what you say about him carrying out your will, he wasn’t all right, if you know what I mean.”
Ryuk and all these stinking gray worlds, Light drops from the roof and picks up his death note. He says, “I could care less about this extended death-lifespan.” A hundred busy people pass through him, walk around him, and, Light, he yells up, “I’m taking this back.”
“Suit yourself.” Ryuk drops his apple core from the roof. It’s crawling with maggots, this writhing white mass of decay and fruit-flesh, before it even hits the ground.
Ryuk, he says, maybe you should just get over the fact that you’re dead. You’re dead and a monster now, a god of death, and there’s no way you’re ever coming back alive. He says he’s sorry, but, face it, you’re never going to fuck or bleed or do any of those other human things ever again.
Light holds the rotting apple by the stem, a maggot squirming its way up his nail, and Light, he says, “Yes. Maybe you’re right.
He walks to Yellow Box, slowly, counting off the rhythm of his feet on the highway. Cars pass through him, drive around him, and the only thing he can smell is burning rubber, the liquid rot of days-old roadkill.
Inside the warehouse, he curls himself up over the drain, his wings wrapped tight around the frail shell of his cracked ribcage, over that gray thin monster’s skin, his wings’ bird-bones thin and cracked, and he flips through the pages of his death note, counting names, regretting, until his big fluid-filled eyes close.
Ryuk, he swears on what life he used to live that shinigami don’t sleep, but Light, him and his past-life nightmares, he could prove the older death god wrong, over and over.
His head aching and hot against the cement floor, he closes his eyes. Light, his mouth full of blood and spit, he breathes once, twice, and, as natural as blinking, he starts counting off the seconds on his fingers. The ultimate natural anesthesia. That little voice in his head saying, this will go so much faster if you just count backwards from forty…