DEATH NOTE (isn't mine)
Title: Methods of Interrogation
Rating: PG-13 for "techniques of persuasion"
Genre: Horror, Suspense
Summary: There's a fine line between interrogation and torture. A battle of minds on an uneven playing field.
Notes: Set during chapter 35 of the manga. The second half of this is slightly AU: it requires that Light not give up his Death Note after a week in confinement.
Light found that with both hands chained behind his back no position was comfortable for long. Sleeping became a complex mental exercise.
He lay on his stomach, knees ground into the cot, bare feet sticking out past the edge, toes reaching for the floor. He turned his head to one side, focused on the perfect blankness of the "far" wall--actually not very far away at all. Pros: no weight to either arm, less pressure on his joints. Cons: A passive position and difficult to get out of. He felt exposed. The arch of his back put pressure on his lungs and spine.
He twisted onto his side, pulled his legs forward until they bent in front him, hunched his back as much as he could. Cons: He was putting pressure on stretched-out shoulder muscles; they'd begin to spasm soon. He disliked the asymmetry he felt upon waking, one side more sore than the other. Pro: this was how he usually slept. Normality was essential to both his image and internal condition.
He tried to turn onto his back, found it impossible. He resolved not to change positions more often than necessary; it would be stupid to give L such an obvious advantage, not when they both knew the handcuffs weren't necessary. Light was confined to a small padded room with no windows and a single, barred door, nothing in the room but a low cot, toilet, and himself, nothing on the cot but a thin mattress - barely more than two strips of cloth and a paper layer of foam. How could he leave? Where would he go, with a floor full of police above him and a camera trained on him at all times? More importantly, why would he want to? He had so much to prove by staying.
He'd almost managed to fall asleep when the air crackled. There wasn't a pattern to this, although it happened often enough that Light was able to contain his irritation with practiced ease. Sometimes L let him sleep; the rest of the time they played annoying mind games.
"Light, are you ready to confess?" The voice came from everywhere and nowhere, surround sound: the speakers were probably embedded in the walls. Light responded with silence.
"Light, the Kira killings still haven't resumed."
Of course they haven't. And if they had, would you tell me?
L sat in an upscale hotel room and yes, he was biting his thumb, and yes, he was hunched in a chair with his legs drawn forward and toes gripping the edge of the seat. They clenched and unclenched, rhythmically. The chair was small and he'd carefully positioned his knees to either side of the large computer screen in front of him - it wouldn't do to block his view of Light. The room was dark, the only light the steady glow of the screen. Even the curtains had been drawn, although the rush of traffic from the street below was still audible. L found it was easier to concentrate on the screen with ambient light eliminated. In a well-lit room he blinked 8, 9 times a minute; in a darkened room he hardly needed to blink at all.
L bit down harder. The images on the screen never altered - Light, curled on his side on a meter-wide cot, hair falling forward to obscure his eyes, breathing evenly as if in sleep; Amane, strapped into a standing position; Yagami, seated on a folding chair with his head between his hands. L knew he was dividing his attention between them unevenly, but Light was, as always, the most important. Catch first Kira and the rest will fall into place.
He was uncertain as to how long this could continue. Ideally he'd have at least a month to work a confession out of Light. Sleep deprivation, physical discomfort, psychological manipulation, irregular meal times: all of these would help convince Light to talk. The trick would be not to push so far that the idea of Kira was planted in Light's mind regardless of his innocence, because a confession obtained that way wouldn't prove anything beyond his own ability to extract confessions. Although since Light was definitely Kira, perhaps it would be easiest…
No good. Aside from the ethical considerations, he was being watched. Chief Yagami would want to review the tapes. Moreover, he was curious as to how Light had done it, and he'd never find out if Light was executed without a true confession.
The instant he'd decided, he felt better. Was it relief? Or happiness? How could one tell? Practice, he supposed.
Is this what it feels like when logic and emotion coincide?
Interrogation Transcript, 1/11/04 (eighth day of confinement):
L: How are you doing, Light?
Light: Badly, as I'm sure you can see.
Light: I'm always tired.
L: Inspector Mogi is interrogating Amane right now. Would you like to listen?
Light: I thought you said Misa was none of my business. 
L: The situation has changed. Are you interested?
Light: [brief pause, 5 seconds] 
Light: Let her go. If I'm Kira she has nothing to do with this.
L: Do you care what happens to her?
Light: Of course. She's innocent.
L: Not "she's my girl"?
Light: Justice comes first. You of all people should understand that.
L: [brief pause, 10 seconds] 
L: I don't believe you. There are no innocents.
Light: What do you mean?
L: To Kira and second Kira there are no innocents.
Light: [brief pause, 5 seconds]
Light: What about me? Even if I'm Kira, I'm innocent of it.
L: I don't believe that either. Why don't you confess?
L:You are Kira and you know that you are Kira.
[long pause, 30 seconds]
L: I also know that you are Kira.
 I believe that Light believes this is the sixth day of confinement. I have ordered his meals delivered at irregular intervals.
 Light continues show a slight hesitation when referring to Amane by her given name. There is a ninety-nine percent chance that his affection for her is an act covering for her involvement as second Kira.
 This may indicate Light's uncertainty as to how much Amane has already given away. Overall, however, he shows an unnatural belief in her. Light is not a romantic; it is strange that his faith is so constant. I am not sure what this means.
 Well met, Yagami Light.
They'd placed him in another room, in another building. Light had been blindfolded and his hearing muffled during the move, but he could guess that the new room was within a few miles of the old one. Since he hadn't known where the old room was this knowledge was useless.
His new room wasn't padded like the old one, nor did it have bars on one side. Instead it was white, a perfectly white cube. There was only one door. The cameras weren't visible, but Ryuk had told him there were more than half a dozen embedded in the plaster, enough to observe him from nearly every possible angle. Ryuk was looking really bad these days; apple withdrawal had bent him into a pretzel twice over.
He kept his eyes squinted against the light reflected from the walls and ceiling and thought about snow glare. A man forced to wander outdoors in winter could go blind, slowly burning out his retinas against the brilliant white of reflected sunlight. Caught in the snow, you're faced with an impossible situation: either you travel during the day and lose your vision, or travel at night and die from exposure and the cold.
This room was sort of like that. It was white, anyway. Bright.
He could remember reading a story about snow glare, a long time ago. A Chinese soldier was heading home to Chang-An and had to cross the Gobi desert. It was winter and snow covered the sand, everything flat as glass. Cold air bit his cheeks and nose, snow crunched loud as gunshots under his feet, sunlight shone down distantly and without mercy. The landscape was tranquil and alien and very, very bright.
He walked as quietly as he could, unwilling to disturb the silence, and shot the occasional surreptitious look behind him. He wondered if he was truly alone. Light realized three things: that he was that soldier, that he never truly alone, and that he was hallucinating. He attributed it to lack of sleep; it had been several days since he'd last had a good night's rest and hallucinations could start as early as 50 hours into the sleep-deprivation cycle. He wondered if he would lose his mind and whether he would ever get it back.
How far is L going to take this? he wondered, and felt the sharp bite of cold through his bare feet as he stumbled in the snow. How far should I?
L had realized he didn't have to be careful: he was dealing with Yagami Light, who had an iron constitution. Their exchanges over the loudspeaker were perfectly lucid, even when it was clear Light was hallucinating. Since nothing could phase him, everything he said under confinement would be either a deliberate lie or the truth - in other words, the lies Light told would only ever be the ones he wanted to tell. L couldn't influence him, and therefore didn't have to hold back with him.
It was an exhilarating feeling. Also a regretful one - he'd miss him after he was executed. He thumbed the switch for the speakers in Light's room. "Light, are you there? What do you see?"
"Four white walls, Ryuzaki. Am I supposed to be seeing something else?"
"Actually, yes. You should be delusional by now."
Light laughed and laughed, and then abruptly stopped laughing. It was possible he'd been frightened by his own reaction. "In that case, I'm in the desert."
L squinted slightly, an imperceptible amount really, at the television monitor directly in front of him. The set-up was much better here; he had an entire bank of screens dedicated to Light, who was sitting with his head bent over his knees, his face to the floor and expression hidden by uncharacteristically long hair. It was a pity they hadn't thought to install cameras in the floor. "Is that so? The desert? According to my data your body temperature should be much lower than normal." Medical fact, insomnia lowers body temperature. "If this keeps up for much longer, you may die." Which was a bluff, of course. Still...
Perhaps I'm going too far?
Matsuda's Diary Case Files, 7/11/04:
When I came into the new building the other day (damned inconvenient, the security features take hours to go through), Ryzaki was watching a movie. It was really funny to see him like that, because I didn't think Ryuzaki watched movies at all, let alone ones in French. At least it was probably French? All slurry and nasal, like. The subtitles I'm pretty sure were English (no accents over the letters) but Ryuzaki didn't seem to need them. Could he be from France? I always thought he was Japanese. It was a black and white movie, probably pretty old.
So I asked him what the movie was for. And he said it was because he was out of practice. So I asked him what he meant by that, and he said it had been a long time since he'd interrogated anyone. So then I asked him what he meant by that, and he said the movie was the same one the CIA (that's in America, you know) used to use to train their operatives for interrogations. It was a really frightening movie, people screaming and crying and trying to throw themselves out of windows and stuff. Makes you feel really bad for them.
What else happened today? The other investigators and I decided to meet tomorrow to discuss Ryuzaki's methods. Aizawa thinks he's going too far and that we ought to appeal to the chief, and I think… I agree with him? I mean, Ryuzaki is really smart and everything, but he seems a little out of it lately. The Kira murders started up again last Friday, which means Light can't be doing them. It might be time to take him out of confinement.
Light had decided he was tired of white. That was why there wasn't a single cloud in the sky, just blue forever like drowning. The grass beneath him was soft and accommodating, if slightly lumpy and uncomfortable - there was only so much he could do with his poor excuse for a mattress, after all. There were no walls here, just grass in gently swelling waves and an endlessly blue sky.
It should probably have smelled like something, but Light was a city boy and couldn't quite remember the smell of grass. The only sounds were from the wind: no insects or small animals. If he had to hallucinate, he might as well make it as pleasant a hallucination as possible.
"Light, are you awake?" L said from beside him, reaching down to pluck at a blade of grass. He held it delicately between two fingers, examined it with a curious solemnity, his face twisted almost upside-down. His eyes wandered from the grass to Light, seemingly in no hurry.
"What is it?" L asked.
"Grass, obviously," Light said. "We're in the middle of a field."
"Ah. I am there as well?"
"Of course. I'm under observation - you're always with me, even when you really aren't." That hadn't come out right. Light shrugged internally. It made sense to him: better to imagine L with him than to forget he was being watched. He grasped for his other personality, the one that didn't have anything to hide. "I got tired of being alone all the time," he said. "You're good company."
It was almost true: Ryuk was a terrible conversationalist, especially now that they couldn't talk. Ha ha, how clever. Light watched the sky, blankly, felt the familiar rage and resentment simmering just under his skin, wished he could lie back for minute. "How much longer do I have to stay here?" he asked, almost idly. His left eye began to twitch.
"Only until the killings start again," L said. "Or until you confess. If it makes you feel better, we let your father out of confinement yesterday. He was in the cell next to yours." L gestured vaguely to the left. There was nothing but grass and empty space there, but if Light squinted he could just barely see the wall. He had trouble focusing on it - it was too close, swimming in his vision like an optical illusion.
"You didn't tell me he was confined," Light said, with a deceptive mildness. "I trust it was his own decision?"
"Yes," L conceded. "Involuntary incarceration without material evidence is beyond the scope of this investigation."
"But not beyond you," Light observed, shifting his weight to ease the strain on his neck. He continued to stare into the sky.
"I work within the Law," L said, with such dead-pan precision that Light was sure he meant something else entirely.
Light thought he heard something - turned his head to catch it - a high whine, almost a pure tone. Perhaps there were insects here after all. L was gone, only Ryuk was here with him now, and suddenly Light couldn't concentrate anymore. The field faded out. It was nice there, Light thought, but I'm tired.
Should I have shown more concern for my father? Was L fooled? What would I have done, before? Light felt he was at the breaking point but somwhow couldn't find the energy to care.
L watched as Light's eyes slowly regained focus. This was almost it, he thought: almost the point where Light would lose track of more than his external reality. Only a day or so longer and he wouldn't be able to keep his story straight, would open his mouth to say something to someone invisible and this time he actually would. L felt both elation and regret but focused on the elation as being more conducive to the investigation.
He stabbed his fork triumphantly into the strawberry shortcake cradled between his knees. It had been a difficult investigation, but he was the greatest detective in the world and had only once lost a case. The key was, as always, in the details. For example: Light never closed his eyes anymore, only squinted or stared. At best he kept them half-lidded. This showed how accustomed he'd become to his environment, because every time he closed his eyes L dropped the temperature in the room, or broadcast above-audible but still irritating sonics, or began a conversation with him. Light had no time to himself, not even while L himself was asleep; he and Watari took shifts.
The cake was a little dry. L swished it around in his mouth experimentally, but it was just as dry when he swallowed again. He'd have to tell Matsuda to buy a better brand next time. He absently swung his fork back and forth between his middle finger and thumb, like a pendulum. Behind him the latch on the door disengaged with an audible click; that would probably be Matsuda. He twisted in his seat.
It was not only Matsuda, but Aizawa, Chief Yagami and Mogi as well, practically the entire team. They shuffled in single file with a collective air of guilty determination and L had a sudden, terrible premonition of mutiny. He was so close…this would be the worst possible time.
"Is there something wrong?" he asked. He made sure to lean while taking another bite of cake, obscuring as best he could the monitors showing Light's condition. He doubted the elder Yagami would appreciate it.
Matsuda started, "Well, Ryuzaki, you see, we were talking, and…"
"The death of criminals has resumed," Aizawa put in, bluntly. "Kira has already made up for his two weeks lapse and has been proceeding apace for the last week and a half."
"Yes, I know," L said. He took another bite of cake. "We've already discussed this: while it greatly reduces the likelihood of Light's having been Kira, it does not eliminate the possibility."
"That's not the point, Ryuzaki," Yagami said. "The point is that Aizawa has recently brought to my attention the appalling way you have been treating my son. Under the prior circumstances I might have allowed it, but as things stand I refuse to stand by while my son is tortured, despite compelling evidence that he is not Kira."
"It's not really up to you, though," L said, distantly. "This is my investigation, not yours." He took another bite, was surprised to find that he had run out of cake, glanced sidelong at the other investigators.
That had thrown Matsuda - his expression was almost comical, eyes wide and head swiveling from Yagami to L and back again - but Yagami mearly gave a tight-lipped smile. "That might be so," he allowed, "but I can certainly interfere in it. I can, and I will."
He and L stared at each other. Aizawa broke the impasse. "We aren't asking you to release Yagami, Ryuzaki," he said. "We're only asking that you adjust your methods. Loosen up a little, let him sleep every once and a while."
"And Misa!" Matsuda put in. "Take off the restraints; they've been on long enough."
It was bad timing, but he couldn't afford to alienate these men. "Agreed," L said. "I will relax the interrogation a little." He watched the sets of their shoulders relax. Mogi in particular had been extremely tense. He hated to think of how close he'd come to a full-out confrontation.
Easing up just a little shouldn't make much difference… right?
It was, ironically enough, a very small thing that did it. Light had grown accustomed awkward mealtimes. With both hands tied behind him, he had no choice but to eat without them, tearing at his food - usually bread with some kind of vegetable sauce, occasionally rough strips of meat - with his teeth, like an animal. It was incredibly undignified and he hated and resented it, but at some point had stopped minding.
But today, today… he'd been given some sort of gruel. He'd been allowed almost two full days of sleep and, for the first time in a long time, was thinking perfectly clearly. He could, for example, clearly envision the picture he would make, kneeling in his small white cell with his legs slightly apart, bent over his food. His face in his food, long hair falling forward disgustingly close to it. He'd have to carefully brace his feet for balance or else risk falling in himself. He could clearly envision his father and the others, L watching him as he did this.
It was suddenly too much. So he did what he should have done weeks ago, what he undoubtedly would have done if he'd been thinking clearly enough.
He cleared his throat. "All the claims that I had to my ridiculous pride…I forfeit them." Through the sudden fog he thought he could see a dark figure uncurl itself from the hopeless knot it had made on the floor, had made since, since…
He blinked. What am I doing here?