Sometimes, Light still sees the ghost of L dance past him. It's only ever in the corner of his eyes while he's working on the computer or talking with his sister or even just walking around Tokyo, but then, he's there. Suddenly. Unexpectedly, with his piercing dark eyes, and unruly black hair almost brushing his shoulders, just standing and watching. None of the malice associated with the ghosts that supposedly haunt murderers, just a frank curiousity.
But Light tended to ignore his image a lot; after all, he's got enough supernatural followers, what with Ryuk's constant demands to be entertained or to have apples. He doesn't need L as well. One is more than enough. It was bad enough being chained to the man, he doesn't need him following him after he'd dead, as well.
Though, he's a little flattered. The two greatest minds the world currently possessed, linked by some inexplicable force, so much so that one followed the other after death?…well, it was a wonderful mix between infuriation and wistful wanting that Light experienced. He'd never truly experienced true love. He loved his sister and his parents and he appreciated his friends and gullibility of the police task force, but he'd never loved. The closest he'd gotten was the annoying sibling-esque relationship and teasing game he'd played with L, and well, that had been too twisted, and too filled with hate to have ever worked out.
It makes him laugh though, about how twisted he is. That the closest he's gotten to the emotion that even the most stupid of people have managed to experience, is that thrill of the cat and mouse chase he'd had with L. What a twisted life indeed. Then, he'd made that sacrifice, hadn't he? His life, his soul, his health, his wealth; all to make the world a better place. He'd decided that the moment he'd started his reign as Kira.
Still, it didn't make seeing L in the mirror on the morning of All Hallow's Eve any less terrifying.
Light hadn't screamed, of course, but he'd merely collapsed to the ground with a thud. It was probably for the best that Misa hadn't been around, gone as she was for her Halloween photo shoot and signing with fans, or she would have been more than confused. Ryuk was there, of course, ever the spectator, but Light only had enough patience to deal with one supernatural stalker at a time, so ignored the relatively less harmful one, in favour for the phantasm of L in his mirror.
"What do you want?" Light asked, his hands shaking as he staggered back to his feet.
L merely threw him a look and pointed towards his throat.
Light rolled his eyes. "Typical, you aren't even useful. Can't you write it in the mirror's fog or something?"
L threw him a gimlet stare that very clearly read that Light was an idiot. Light frowned angrily at the mirror; that was his trademark look! He threw L that look every single time he'd eaten food weirdly on jumped out of bed at three in the morning because he'd had a new idea. L was not just allowed to retrain it back at Light; Light wasn't on l's level of kookiness yet!
"Fine then, you aren't corporeal. Forgive me for not knowing the comprehensive restrictions that bind ghosts." Light said his sarcasm biting. "How can you communicate with me then? Or are you just going to stare at me all day?"
L merely looked at him and Light rolled his eyes and started buttoning his shirt. "Ttch, you're a figment of my imagination, of course you can't talk."
"He's no figment. I can see him too." Ryuk helpfully added, from where he was reclining on Light's bed. Light whirled around.
"What." Light demanded.
"He's right there. In the mirror. Being creepy." Ryuk explained, a smug smirk playing on the shinigami's lips.
"And you didn't mention this before, because?" Light demanded.
"Because it was funny watching you talk to him?" At Light's glare, the shinigami shrugged. "I do everything in my power to be entertained, you know that."
Light tutted impatiently and strode into the kitchen. His shirt was half unbuttoned and his hair wasn't combed, but he couldn't deal with either of the spectral beings for any longer without any coffee. The moment Light poured out the milk, it tipped itself over onto the table. Light stared at it with apprehension.
"L?" he asks, feeling more than a little nervous. That was not natural and not caused by Ryuk.
The milk was now congealing to form a word. "Dachau." Light reads and his heart chills. How the heck did L know? Even his parents hadn't known! Only ever Sayu, and L had never seen her and she wouldn't tell random strangers things like this.
"How…?" he asks, as he stares at the table in shock. There is no answer. Light wasn't sure whether he was expecting one or not. He grabs a paper towel and started to mop up the milk.
He was 15 when he'd first visited Germany with his parents. They'd started out in Dusseldorf, then travelled to Hamburg and Berlin, then down south towards Frankfurt and Stuttgart. They'd been in Germany for five weeks, much to Light's delight and he'd enjoyed every second of it.
His father spoke very little German and his mother was only slightly better. Light had ended up being the communicator for the trip, much to Sayu's annoyance. Because of this, he'd barely gotten any sort of free time, between translating the pamphlets or signs or people that weren't in English or Japanese. But, when they'd been in the south of Germany, his parents had requested a day off and Light had been left to his own devices with Sayu.
They'd made a deal; if Sayu and Light went shopping in the evening, she would consent to coming along on Light's curiousity trip. They'd been studying the Second World War in school and how Japan had been on the wrong side, and they'd mostly focused on the Asian element of World War 2, but the teacher had mentioned the atrocities that had happened in German concentration camps and it had piqued Light's interest.
He'd wanted to see Auschwitz, but Dachau was the only famous camp in Germany. So they'd made a trip out to Dachau, in a bus full of other tourists. Sayu, for once, had been pretty silent after Light had told her where they were going and why.
"Do you have to do this to become a police officer?" she'd asked, as they'd disembarked the bus.
"It's not a matter of duty; it's a matter of seeing history, so we remember to never repeat it." Light had whispered to her. There was a tour guide, he knew, but he hadn't wanted to experience that. He'd always preferred to do things himself. Sayu had wanted to come with him, even if it meant missing out on more information.
They'd walked through the Jourhouse and seen the little, bitter, symbol on the gate, "Work will make you free."
"Don't underestimate the power of words," Light had told Sayu as they walked through there, "Because the people who came in from outside were told these words, they saw what they wanted to see. They didn't see a brutal labour camp; they saw a place where those 'filthy Jews' could do something productive towards society. And if the minorities saw what the Nazis were really intending…well, they couldn't do anything about it."
"How could they do that?" Sayu had asked, looking horrified and contemplative as they'd come unto the main memorial. She traced the names of the people who'd died for their cruelty on the cold stone wall and there'd been tears in her eyes. "How could they just kill this many people without a regret? How could you ever justify that?"
Light paused. "It's somewhat complex."
"I want to know." Sayu said, her eyes brimming with tears.
"Fine. But you'd better listen carefully. There are many reasons they did it. First things first; everybody hated Jews back then. The whole world did, especially the western world, because of the religion. Christianity had taken over from Judaism, but since Judaism was older, it was still a threat to Christianity, therefore, people ostracized them. Also, they were foreigners, escaped peoples from the middle-east, which meant that most Jews were shopkeepers or craftsmen; some of the only portable jobs and livelihoods really. They provided the community with things and usually ended up being rich and successful. Poorer Germans, who couldn't get a job in the Great Depression Era envied them and hated them even for more having the money to keep surviving. To make themselves feel better, they said that Jews were cheating; Jews were lying; Jews were conspiring with the devil, if good, honest, Christian Germans couldn't get jobs, but the darkies could."
It was difficult for Light to place himself in those shoes, but now he'd started, he couldn't stop.
"Then Hitler came along and he appealed to the country's hidden racist, purist tendencies. National spirit and pride and restoration; we can make the world a better place, a place free of filth, of criminals, of devil-worshippers. You have to take into account that racism was still rampant here; having darker skin and darker hair was similar to being black. One drop of blood that wasn't white made you less than the white people. Even Asians were treated with the condescension you'd treat really young children with. So they followed, because his words were coated in honey and people liked his ideals, ideas. They wanted that new world, that world where they could get a job, where Germans would rule the whole world. Every human seeks power and respect; it's part of our nature. People would most likely do it, even today, if the truth was sufficiently hidden, if their consciences were sufficiently placated and soothed, to make them think they were doing the right thing. The whole world would follow a madman if he were convincing enough."
"That's really scary. You think it could even happen today?" asked Sayu. She'd stopped crying, but her eyes clearly showed that she had been.
"I'm convinced of it. The Nazi soldiers felt no guilt over burning and killing Jews and other minorities like gypsies, homosexuals and disabled people, because they saw them as nothing better than animals, half-human. And, even if they saw the human aspect of it; they were only following orders. They had a family to feed as well, and that was how they justified their actions. They said that they could do nothing, unless they wanted to futilely die. Personally, I think, even if they'd been able to see how the prisoners were human; they would still treat them with the same amount of cruelty." Light explained, as they took a few pictures of the memorial.
"Why?" Sayu asked.
"There's been a study into human nature and about cruelty and power. People in Stanford University, California conducted a week long experiment. It was a simulation of a prison. 24 perfectly normal college students gave up their time to help a Dr. Zimbardo. 12 became prison guards and 12 became prisoners. Despite being completely innocent, as the experiment progressed, the prisoners were treated with more and more contempt and abuse from the guards. Merely being in that position of power caused everyone to forget that the prisoners were innocent, even the doctor in charge of the experiment himself for a while. Later, the people involved said there were three types of guards; the relatively good, those who tried to avoid punishing the prisoners as much as possible, the tough but fair, who kept to the rules but still punished when they saw fit and then the sadistic. I don't need to go into detail of what the sadistic guards did to the prisoners, but it wasn't good. The good guards later said that they felt helpless to stop the violence. Even if they thought it was wrong, they didn't feel like they could intervene. That's human nature. Unless someone with higher authority steps in, our dark, sadistic streak that desires power will show through."
Sayu was silent for a few moments as they walked around. "How can you stand to know all of this?" she whispered, clinging to his arm.
"We mustn't forget, so that we will never repeat it." Light said calmly.
"We would never repeat something like this now!" Sayu exclaimed.
"Wouldn't we? Isn't there a race of people that are persecuted, even today?" asked Light, crossing his arms.
"You mean the gaijin?" asked Sayu and Light shook his head.
"Well, no, I didn't mean that, but that'll do as an example. What's your impression of an American?"
"Lazy, fat people who stick their noses into everybody's business." Sayu answered without even pausing to think.
"Right." Light said, a smirk quirking at his lips, "Well, do you know what Americans think Japanese people are like?"
"No…" she said, looking a little confused.
"In American culture, Japanese people are insanely polite, always bow at everything, even walls, they know everything and are better with machinery than people. They're weird and walk around in anime costumes or kimonos all day long, men and women alike, and we apparently speak in the internet idea of what Japanese sounds like." Light said. "Is every Japanese person like that?"
"Of course not!" Sayu said, looking very angry. "How could you even suggest that?"
"How could you even suggest that every American is always fat lazy and nosy then?" Light countered. Sayu stared at him for a few moments before deflating.
"Right as per usual, Light. Gold star." Her voice is dull and monotone, and she looks like she's about to cry. "Am I as bad as Hitler now?"
"Of course you aren't, Sayu! Everyone has these thoughts, simply because of the way that media and our stereotypes portray other countries. We can't help that, but what we mustn't do is believe the stereotype and let the stereotypes expand. Let's continue with the Americans. What if 'nosy' and 'lazy' expands to' waste of space' and 'can't mind their own business'? Then from there, to 'serve no purpose in the world' and 'threat to national security'? It's the same thing that happened with the Jews. It just expands and spirals out of control until the whole world's problems is laid on the heads of one race. We need someone to blame. It's our nature, we can't help it, but it's wrong. We shouldn't blame others, yet we continue to do so." Light finished with a tone that was touching hysteria. She had to understand so she wouldn't repeat it.
Sayu was quiet for a while as they walk around the crematorium, looking at the room where the poor, poor prisoners here, died.
"I understand, Light, I really do." She'd said, finally. "I don't like it, but I understand. This is why you want to be a police officer."
Light could only nod; his ability to speak exhausted, after the explanation to his sister.
"I'm…I'm scared." She admitted. "I'm scared that the possibility for this violence is still there. I'm scared by the idea that there could be another Hitler. I'm not strong like you or Dad. I couldn't dedicate myself to a job where I would place myself up against someone like that, or even worse, under the service of someone like that. I…wouldn't be able to sleep at night, constantly worrying, pondering. I'd fall apart, I wouldn't be able to cope with it all, the murder, the hate, the violence, the bitterness of it all. I…just couldn't be as strong as you. I'm so sorry."
Light shrugged. "Not everyone can be strong, Sayu. And, sometimes, it is better to be happy and ignorant, than broken and knowledgeable."
"Hmm. Is that some sort of code for 'Don't tell Mum and Dad that we came here', Onii-chan?" asked Sayu, her cheerful demanour returning easily. He could see that her smile was more brittle and her eyes were still haunted as they passed through the last memorial.
But Light complied with the change of topic. "You know me too well, sister!"
She'd never discussed the topic again and she'd never even hinted about their trip to Dachau to anyone, not even to Light himself. The photos on the camera were completely erased; the only remnants of them were the undeveloped film that was still coiled up in Light's underwear drawer.
"I don't understand what's so important about Dachau, L." Light says to the spectre who's staring at him from the microwave window, before grabbing his coat and shoes to get coffee from Starbucks on the way to the police station.
"You really are deluded now that you've set into being Kira, aren't you, Light-kun?" said L's sharp monotone voice as Light got up from where he was lying on the floor.
"Bad enough that you haunt my daytime, but now you're haunting my sleep as well?" asked Light looking at L. "And what are you on about? I'm not deluded!"
"Aren't you?" asked L. "I don't understand what's so important about Dachau, L."
"Well, I don't see your obscure connection to that place. I don't see how that makes me deluded." Light said, rolling his eyes. "I don't know, in a past life you went there and died? You were a prison guard there?"
L rolled his eyes. "No Light-kun, I have no connection to the place. It's your connection to the place that I'm talking about." At Light's blank stare, L laughed darkly. "You really can't see the parallels, can you?"
Light sighed and created a chair to sit down on. "You can't honestly be comparing Kira and Hitler, can you? I'm not the ruler of a country and I have no aspirations towards war. Kira wants peace."
"Kira wants the world wiped of what he sees as filth. Hitler wanted the world wiped free of what he saw as filth. Kira wants a new world full of all the good people. The Nazi party wanted a world filled with all the good, righteous Aryans. They were thinking that '</i>we can make the world a better place, a place free of filth, of criminals, of devil-worshippers</i>', right? Isn't that exactly the ideals behind Kira's logic?" L challenged and Light smirked.
"You know, by quoting my exact words back at me, when you shouldn't even know that I went to the place, you're affirming yourself as a figment of my imagination even more." Light said and L shrugged.
"I don't care whether you see me as the dead ghost or the figment of a guilty imagination, as long as you stop justifying and start thinking!" L shouted and Light lifted an eyebrow. He'd never thought that the man would lose his temper. He'd never once seen it happen. Perhaps this wasn't a figment of his imagination. After all, Light wouldn't ever imagine L exploding like that.
"Thinking about what? How what I am doing is wrong? What I am doing is evil? That is the public, politically correct response. Yet, on the anonymous internet, several thousands of people acknowledge that Kira's actions are correct. I undertook this task to make the world a better place, even if it means that I lose everything that was part of myself." Light said calmly, tapping his fingers against his thighs.
"Don't make yourself out to be a martyr. You wanted to be the 'god of a new world'. The whole world will follow a madman if he is convincing enough. All your own words. Why can't you see what path you're following?" L asked, his face contorted into lines, disgust etched into his features.
Light sighs. L's strangely transparent in death, lacking the masks he'd had in place when he was alive. This challenge is weak and pointless. Light's disappointed. L could have been such a great opponent, but in the end, he is weak.
"God means nothing more than a moral leader with supernatural powers. Does that not describe what I currently am? I have no aspirations to burn books or start wars or ban knowledge, not like the Nazi party. Kira wants utopia." Light said easily, spreading his hands outwards and smiling, like he did when he was dealing with the taskforce or with Misa.
"A utopia brought about by death; purging of the 'filth' that make this world a bad place. Tell me, Light-kun, after you've killed every single murderer and rapist, what will you do then? What will you target next? Petty robbery? Vandalism? Adultery? Laziness? You can never create a world free of crime! It doesn't work that way! And even if you do, it is by the strategic removal of personality, freedom and opinion. It is by creating a fragile world that is controlled and monitored on all ends, that can be broken or toppled over by one tiny push, one tiny rebellion. It is a truly impossible task and one that will never be achieved by being kind. You will become a dictator of the worst kind."
"Such a pessimist, aren't you L? Normal people, good people who've never done anything wrong populate this world far more than criminals. Once the criminals are gone—"
"Others will rise up to fill the void. And you get rid of so many of those innocents every day, Light-kun. The police officers who chase you, the news reporters who oppose you, those on the internet who keep their names and faces out in the open? They have done no wrong. They have done nothing but protest your twisted logic and they are dead. Tell me, how can you call yourself righteous after that? What utopia is created by suppression of opinions?" L interrupted.
"I don't call myself righteous. I am not kind, I am not nice. I am this world's god. When has God ever been kind or nice? I judge those who are criminals and those who are not, and those who oppose me shall see my wrath!" Light shouted at L, standing up from his chair. It had started out as petty but now L was making some points…lies, all of it, lies!
L just shook his head and stared at him. "You will never change. Your path is set. You cannot see what you have become and so another brilliant mind is lost. He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. I will wait for you Light-kun, at the end."
"You're a filthy charlatan, </i>L Lawliet</i>! How many lives have you gambled away in the name of your twisted justice, in the cases that you only every undertook because they were entertaining?! Yet you call me evil! At least I do not masquerade as being righteous! I am doing the right thing! How can you call me Hitler?!" Light screeched. L merely shook his head and mouthed something at Light which he couldn't see as the world faded to black.
Light awoke with a start and felt his breathing increase pace, until it sounded like he'd just run a mile. Misa was next to him, holding his arm and murmuring soothing words, rubbing circles into his back. Normally, he'd shake her off, but the image of L was too clear and Light could do nothing but shake and breathe and circle his fingers around the knotted scar tissue where a handcuff had once been.
Dead. Gone. L Lawliet was dead. He'd traced out the name in Rem's notebook and he'd seen the body and attended the funeral. He wasn't coming back. He wasn't coming back. Light wasn't sure whether to be relieved or disappointed.
"Light? Was…what did you see?" she asked finally, her green eyes widened as she looked at him, a deep concern filling her eyes.
Light shook his head. "Just a nightmare. Don't worry about it. Go back to sleep." Light staggered out of their shared bed and walked into the bathroom and locked it firmly. Ryuk followed him through the wall, of course, but Light could hardly stop that.
Light glanced at the mirror, as he ran the water in the sink. It was 3 in the morning on the 1st of November and the phantasm of L was gone.
"Ryuk?" he asked. "Can you see him still?"
The shinigami shook his head, a low chuckle in his throat. Light didn't have the energy to glare at him.
He wasn't Hitler. He wasn't…he just wasn't. He was Kira, he was a god. The whole world worshipped his every action!
...But they didn't. The Kira investigation team still existed; there were still internet people who disclaimed his name in utter secrecy. He mightn't be burning books or forcing people to inform on each other, but people's opinions were being suppressed. The criminals that he killed, he'd researched and checked whether what they'd done was right or wrong, but sometimes people took their own actions against those they perceived as criminals and Misa and Higuchi's killings were never done with as much care or attention to detail as Light's were.
Light splashed his face with water weakly as stared at his reflection. He still looked as handsome as ever, but gaunter. His cheeks were starting to sink and his clothes were a little too large because he was getting steadily thinner. His hair was lustrous, but just a bit too long and just a bit too limp. He barely slept anymore; and that was all L's fault. (Or was it the Note's…?) He wasn't up to the bags under his eyes that L had, but he was getting there.
His conscience was suffering. He'd won against L, and he'd won this whole world to be his, but…L had been right. It was an impossible task. He wasn't able to wipe out human nature. Even with the threat of Kira hanging over their heads, people still committed crime and still died every day, because they couldn't stop themselves. He couldn't understand it. Some genius he was.
He clutched the sink a little as his knees fell close to giving way. He could see what he'd become. Crazed, set in his path, and in a path that led only towards disaster. He wondered whether Mugabe, Hitler and Louis XVI had seen the path that they were walking and whether they could see how it would end as clearly as he could. He wondered whether they had seen what they were doing to the world and whether they regretted it as much as Light was.
But, Light couldn't stop now. He was walking the path of fanatic and once you started, you couldn't stop until you reached the bitter end. He was walking the path of a god, of the dedicated, of the leader, of the murderer and he couldn't stop. He would fall eventually, as every dictator did, as every villain, every antagonist eventually did. Because while it was human nature to want to follow rules and follow orders, after a while, they would want freedom again, and he would fall, and his utopia would crumble around him.
Hypocrite, the ghost of L whispered in his mind and Light could only stare at his own reflection and wonder when his end was coming.