DEATH NOTE (isn't mine)
Title: Good vs. Evil
Genre: Character study
Characters: L, Matsuda
Summary: Matsuda glanced over at L, hunched over his laptop as always, and wondered how he did it: how did he stay awake and how did he maintain the scrunched posture of a domestic abuse victim?
It was only after cracking his head on the makeshift desk for the fourth time in as many minutes that Matsuda thought to check his watch. Already half past two and still three whole stacks of criminal reports to go through; it looked to be another long night. He glanced over at L, hunched over his laptop as always, and wondered how he did it: how did he stay awake and how did he maintain the scrunched posture of a domestic abuse victim?
“I’m heading out for coffee,” Matsuda said into the silence. The hotel’s rich upholstery swallowed his words, spoken quietly for a quiet room. It must cost a fortune to rent a soundproof room so good you couldn’t even hear the traffic outside. “I’ll be back in ten minutes. Ok, Ryuzaki?”
There was no answer and Matsuda noticed, for the first time, that the detective’s customary clacking, the quick drumming of nimble fingers across a keyboard, was absent. L’s back was to him, and while he looked alert enough – the same as he always did – appearances could be deceiving. This was especially true of L, Matsuda had learned.
“Ryuzaki? Are you awake? Ryuzaki?”
Still no answer. Matsuda shrugged to himself, gathered his coat and wallet, and prepared to leave the room. It was actually reassuring when L showed these little weaknesses, as they were the only things that really made him human. It might only have been the way he kept comparing himself to Kira, but Matsuda often thought there was something unnerving about the way L’s mind worked. It was too logical, maybe, or else too intuitive. In any case he thought in ways most people didn’t.
Matsuda was halfway out the door before L stopped him.
“Don’t leave the room. Your face could be caught on the surveillance cameras.”
“Oh,” said Matsuda. “I forgot. Sorry.”
L turned to look at him, his spine stretching oddly. “It’s fine,” he said. “I’ll make sure the cameras are off when you go, but it’s too much work to turn them off and then on again. If you are having trouble concentrating, you can always order coffee from room service. Just tell them to leave it by the door.”
“Uh, sure. Thank you,” Matsuda said. “It’s a good thing you weren’t really asleep, huh?” He laughed, nervously. He berated himself for his mistake - although, in his own defense, it had been a long night.
“I was asleep,” L said, startling him. “I was dreaming. But I woke up when you called me.”
“Ah. If you don’t mind me asking… what were you dreaming about?”
“Something pointless,” L said. “It has to do with my juvenile mind.”
Matsuda was beginning to realize that his time with L would most likely be spent in a perpetual state of astonishment. Still, it never hurt to try. He cleared his throat. “You keep saying that. You keep saying you’ve got the same way of thinking as Kira. And, um, excuse me if this is out of line, but I’ve never understood what you meant.”
L blinked. “Didn’t I explain? It’s because even though it is common knowledge that the world is a really complicated place, Kira and I both have a stupidly simple way of viewing it. We divide it into good and evil. Everyone who agrees with us is ‘good’ and everyone who disagrees is ‘evil’.”
“What?” Matsuda said. “Are you sure? Kira does do that, but… when have you ever…?” He’d never actually considered that Kira might think simplistically. Kira's schemes were always so devious. How could anyone instigate such complicated plans from as simple a premise? It didn’t make sense, was completely counterintuitive.
“I do it all the time,” L said. “My methods might be complex, but my motivation is fairly straightforward. Didn’t I tell you the first time we met? I’m Justice. Justice will prevail.” He turned back to his computer without waiting for Matsuda’s reaction.
“Ah,” said Matsuda. He couldn’t think of anything to say to that. Because while it was true that he remembered L saying something similar, and while he trusted L completely and even agreed with him somewhat, it was unsettling.
He couldn’t tell his boss it was weird to work under someone who openly confessed a likeness to Kira, the mass murderer they were desperately trying to capture, could he? And he certainly couldn’t admit that no matter how it was explained, he still didn’t understand the kind of duality that allowed L possess a juvenile mind and, at the same time, the sophistication to understand that he possessed a juvenile mind.
He needed coffee. Leave the genius-work to the geniuses; he’d settle for a half-working brain and a smaller pile of reports. He picked up the phone and hunted around for the piece of laminated plastic that would tell him the number for room service. He was surprised, again, when L handed it to him.
“Get me the strawberry shortcake, would you?” he asked.
He stood atop a large bluff, his footing firm despite gale-force winds. He looked out over the black, still surface of Tokyo Bay (a logical impossibility as the same wind buffeting him should also have disturbed the surface of the water. In that same remote corner of his mind, he noted that there were no cliffs surrounding the Bay).
A conglomerate of cities glittered below him, the myriad lights of the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area distinctly dividing dark land from darker sea. The moon was full but shone only on him, its single beam illuminating his muscular form. His cape rippled in the wind as he stood proudly surveying his new domain.
‘I shall be victorious,’ L’s dream self thought. ‘These people have entrusted themselves to me, and I shall never betray that trust. I shall protect the righteous and banish the wicked. I shall prevail, even over the vile and nefarious evildoer Kira.’
He struck a pose as a particularly dramatic gust of wind swept his hair forward and caused his cape to billow madly around him. ‘I am L. I am Justice.’
Matsuda woke him just as he was leaping from the cliff, arms outstretched.