Chapter Ten: Aspects of Conundrum in L’s mind
He approached her without inhibition. He went passed formalities. When she turned to acknowledge him, he stared with intense longing. She met his hollow eyes with her crimson ones. Words would soon follow but before those there was only a sheer moment of sight. Neither looked away. Both were too scared to ruin the perfection of time that seems to slip away in the very instant that they would break the contact. And they held on as long and as bravely as they could. He stepped closer and placed his hands to touch her face, his bony fingers touching the pale cheeks of the beautiful four hundred year old girl.
"Ai," he spoke with a voice so pained and lost. "I want to remember."
She closed her eyes to absorb his intentions. She let those hands hold her, let them explore the facial features of her own demented emotions. She opened her eyes at last and felt blood inside them, felt that there is a reason to lose this game.
"You live in blissful ignorance now," she said softly. "So why would you want to throw that away?"
"Memories matter," he responded, lowering his hands from her face to her shoulders.
"They would only remind you the life that you have already left," she said with a slight sense of dignity.
"I am curious," he said a little louder. "I want to know."
"My child, please do not be so rash," Ai pulled herself from the touch of his hands and turned away. She broke away first from their perfect contact and he cursed to himself of why she had done that.
"Look around, L." Ai said.
He did. They were in the lake of lull. The wide vast of nothingness and dark waters of the world are all in here. By the side of the shore is her ferryboat. On the either side of the waters there is no end. Everything is nothing in the lull and nothing is everything to the creatures that are imprisoned here. They are souls atoned for their mistakes in the pasts, never pardoned, always starving for freedom.
"I want it back," he was feeling so weak now. "I want to know. I want to remember. I need this, Ai. Please help me."
"Never would you speak of returning to a dead end." Ai warned him. "Never, L."
"But isn't all of this a dead end?" he screamed at the scenery that unfolded itself to them violently. His voice echoed desperately in the silhouettes, a plea that received no response from a listener.
Ai turned back again to face him. She walked back to the spot where their feelings reflected each other's misery. She puts her hands on his sorrowful face and kissed him gently on the forehead. L leaned to meet her lips, lowering his height to suffice hers, placing his hands back on her shoulders, and clutching her, wanting to be owned. Her kiss on the palm of his bare forehead felt so warm with compassion.
"Your name was L Lawliet," she said, brushing another wave of shock in his mind.
L closed his eyes, washing his cold slumber with a fervor flame. He drifted slowly from her reach and as he lay dormant again, he knows she had granted him his wish and saw in front of him the life he had known before; a thin filament that is breaking, tossed in a turbulent rage of fate.
Watashi wa Eru-desu...
My name is L.
* * *
Fingers reached out for another piece. They reach and reach but could not seem to take anything from the platters. Without showing a hint of defeat, the fingers continued to reach more aggressively now as plates got pushed down to the floor and break without care. He tensed when he saw what he did. He stared at the plates grudgingly as though their fall offended him. The broken plates bore food, none of which he was looking for. They were all seafood and meat and he did not care about those. With another try, his fingers reached at the tablecloth, figuring out where they had placed the platters filled with desserts and pastries. He bit his lower lip, jumping a bit to reach out. His height failed him once again but he was not stopping. He could have asked anyway for somebody to help him. He could have asked but manners were not his character. In a world where people care about people, he doesn’t seem to understand that gesture.
“What are you doing there?”
He quickly turned away from the table and hid his hands. He fixed a brooding expression on his dirty face and looked at the girl in front of him.
The girl had a pretty and clean appearance like all of them. He hated her by sight and he tried to step back away from her. When he did, he stepped on the broken plates. He was barefoot. The girl saw this and gasped. He didn’t feel a thing but when he looked down, he was bleeding.
The girl put her arms around him and asked him to sit on the sofa. His eyes widened when her hands brushed against his own skin. He did not like that but he was surprised how warm it was.
“Stay here. I will get something to cover the wound,” she said as she went to another room. He stayed sitting on the sofa, amazed and stunned.
The girl came back holding a piece of cloth soaked inside a basin of water. She knelt down and started wiping the wound underneath his foot. He wanted to kick at her face to make her stop touching him. But he stayed still, gripping instead the cushion that his knuckles turned white. He bit down his lip and started to cry.
“Does it hurt?” she asked.
He shook his head angrily and whimpered. The girl frowned and looked at the boy kindly. His hair was unkempt like a thick dark fur and he was so pale and malnourished. His clothes were dirty and he looks so scared.
With her free hand, she touched his cheek. His eyes literally went so round that his eyeballs would have fallen out. He cried even more. She wondered why. And then he bit her hand. She shrieked and pulled herself away from him.
“What are you doing?” she cried out. “I was just trying to help.”
He pulled his legs up so that his chin rested on his knees. The poor kid was shaking in whatever is frightening him. Underneath that disheveled hair, she saw his eyes peeking at her, still round and afraid.
She sighed. “You don’t like people touching you?”
He nodded at that and hugged himself even more.
She glanced at the broken plates and remarked. “Are you hungry?”
He nodded some more.
She walked towards the table and grabbed a cookie. She faced the boy, smiling. The boy stared at her and his body seemed to relax a little. She walked towards him and sat beside him on the sofa. Then she moved the cookie inches from his face. He looked at it and then looked at her. After much deliberation, he quickly took the cookie with his mouth and started chewing it. She giggled and tried to touch him slowly. She ran her fingers on his hair and he failed to notice it. When he finished eating however, he moved away from her touch again.
The girl smiled and went to the table to take the whole plate of cookies. She went back to sit beside him, placing the cookies on her lap. The boy eyed it eagerly, pleased and hungry. Without warning, he leaned down to eat the cookies in her lap. The girl started stroking his hair again. He didn’t mind anymore for he was busy devouring his food.
“My name is Naomi,” she said to him. “What is yours? Do you have parents?”
He did not pay attention to her. He stretched his small body down the sofa and placed his hands on her knees. He kept eating savagely, burying the tips of his fingers on her skin. The girl smiled at the way his fingers felt against her. They were bony and long and they wriggled excitedly. He chewed and chewed until there were only crumbs left in her lap. He licked them off slowly.
Naomi giggled when she felt like she was being tickled. He was like an adorable little animal. She rubbed her hands against his cheeks, forcing him to look up at her. He did but his eyes absentmindedly met hers. They were dark and empty and Naomi felt like staring at the eyes of a wounded creature.
She was frowning at this and wondered where he lives and who takes care of him. She certainly liked having him around.
“I will call you Francis from now on,” she said with another smile. “Do you like to be called Francis?”
He bit his thumb and took his eyes off her. He crawled away from her. Naomi followed, holding the wet cloth and pressed it on his feet. He no longer pushed her away. He sat there on the floor as she took care of his wounds. He continued sucking on his thumb and his eyelids were closing slowly. He was falling asleep.
After Naomi wrapped the cloth around his wound, she reached out to lock him in an embrace. He didn’t move away. He rested his head on her chest and yawned.
“Sleep now, Francis.” Naomi cooed and rocked him gently. He opened his eyes to look at her. He wondered why she cared about him. He did not and would not want to understand her gesture. And she gave him a name as though she wanted to keep him for herself. He liked that though but still believed that no one is suppose to care about him.
Naomi looked at him and saw that he was still awake.
“Is something wrong?” she asked.
He said nothing but instead reached his fingers to grab her by the collar. When their faces were an inch close to each other, he licked her lips. Naomi turned red but she did not stop him. When he had finished licking her, he sighed, closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
Naomi held him, rocked him like a mother to her child, until the evening slowly went into a sweet repose.
* * *
Vivid memories flashed back at him when he found a photo of her in one of his files. He held it by the tip of his index and thumb fingers. He stared at it for a long time and remembered her so clearly.
“Watari,” he called out.
“What is it, L?” Watari came walking towards L.
L remained his position, still holding the picture of Naomi Misora.
“I am hungry for cookies right now.” L said. “Make me some, please.”
Watari went his way, leaving L daydreaming about Naomi’s taste. He found it appetizing and sweet but like no other sweet he had tasted before. It was in a different sense and L missed the taste so much. He bit his thumb and contemplated, finally understanding the gesture she had offered to him, to show how she cared.
L put down the photo to the floor, memorizing the detail of her face, of her eyes, of those sweet lips. He closed his eyes and sighed heavily. No matter how he would crave for it, he will not taste her again. He will not see her again.
There was no personal grudge despite that Kira did murder her in some way. He still doesn’t buy Naomi committing suicide. Kira must have prompted her into it. He stubbornly believed that even in the last moment, Naomi is just Naomi.
He was not devastated when he heard her demise. But he knew he would no longer get to be with her and felt somehow responsible that he did not loved her enough to keep her.
Loved her? L always liked to touch her and yes, taste her so badly. But he never did touch or taste her after the incident when he was only eight. He often eats a cookie and remembers her. He often looked for the taste that she had in the pastries he gets from Watari.
She was his perfect decent meal. And now she is gone.
Loved her? L thought about that. Is he even capable of such gesture? But L cares about her so that would establish the fact that he now loved her. L tried to patch that theory into more instances in their childhood.
Ah yes, he had loved her. Loved her like he loved sweet things. He smiled at that.
Personal grudge or whatnot, he would pursue Kira and find out how he had hurt sweet Naomi.
L stood up and scratched his head. Everytime he touches himself, everytime he holds any part of his body to himself, he remembered that Naomi was the only one he had allowed touching him.
Nobody else. Nobody now. Nobody again. Nobody ever.
Only sweet Naomi.
Watari came back with a tray of delicious cookies. L beamed and took the tray instantly. He sat down on the sofa; feet on the couch and began devouring the snack.
He savored every crumb. When he had finished, he craved for some more so he sent Watari out again.
Right then he realized that he would go on empty and hungry for the one taste he will never have.
* * *
Naomi watched Francis with earnest affection. He was the most special among them. He completely stands out from the crowd of orphans. They were all scared and lost, those children filling in the space. But Francis is teasing to be adored and Naomi wanted to adore with all heart. She wanted to keep him and nourish the absence his parents had left him with. He had no name but a letter that the orphanage decided to give instead because they don't want to be bothered by names.
They called him L. Naomi felt that it was an ugly name for such a beautiful boy. He was three years younger than her age and she kept visiting the orphanage since she saw him, always stealing another chance she could adore him.
She had begged her parents to take Francis with them to their home but they could not afford another mouth to feed. Naomi did not feel any contempt when her parents could not understand how much she loved the little creature for ever since she realized that she had been sad as an only child, Naomi wanted to have a brother. And Francis was right on time to occupy that.
As for the little boy called L, he was overwhelmed when the older girl had been nothing but warm to him. He was curious of the way she had called him with a name he doesn't respond to but enjoyed it when he was called by it. When she had named him with a proper name and not with a single letter alone, L knew that she had every right to own him and if only he could allow it, he would have already.
"Francis, I brought you a lollipop," she showed the candy in the stick and demonstrated to him how he should eat it. He followed her and was greatly satisfied with the treat only she could provide him. They spent all afternoons together as long as her parents were all right with her visits. Naomi only adored L and no other orphan in the place. She stopped thinking that he is an orphan who belonged to the Wammy's House Orphanage but instead she had now thought and believed that he is indeed her brother.
The adults didn't think it was an abnormal attachment for they were glad that L was becoming social with Naomi around. He started speaking to people when they ask him things and does no longer abhor being talked to. L is also quick-witted for an eight-year old. He notices things that nobody paid attention to. With all the observing and listening he does around the adults, he learned to develop his intellectual faculties pretty well. He was too smart for his age, people would remark, but still he possess the immaturity of a child even for his gifted mind.
A doctor, after checking L into his clinic, remarked, "L is a high-functioning autistic. Truly has an excellent I.Q although like any autistic, he is unable to understand sensations and feelings. He is surprisingly able to communicate in social sense but then again it would require a lot of patience for somebody to reinforce his social skills. He can be outwardly rude but most of the time he is impassive and does not move around that much."
L was listening the whole time to the diagnosis of his doctor. He understood that it was preposterous. He knows he is quite weirder than most kids are but if he is autistic then could that be a bad thing? He started to feel paranoid of his condition.
One day, something mysterious happened.
"Naomi," he would say nothing but her name when she didn’t visit. Everything would remind him about Naomi. So the caretakers would talk to the parents of the girl so they could bring her in to play with L.
In no time Naomi returned.
"What's the matter, Francis?" she asked. "Did I make you angry?"
L looked down at his fingers that wriggle all the time. "You don't want me anymore."
"What?" Naomi was shocked.
"People are talking about it," he said to her. "And so you must know as well that I am autistic. It is repulsive for you, isn't it?"
"But why would you think such a thing?" she tried to touch him but he took a step back.
"I can't be like anything you want." He answered weakly.
"You are exactly what I want!" she felt angry at his behavior. "I will make you forget that kind of stupid thought. Do you want me to buy you ice cream?"
"I don't want ice cream right now."
"Then what do you want?"
"I want to know if you still want me!"
Naomi started to cry. L's eyes went round, wondering what he said to hurt her. He stared in shock at her and felt his whole body trembling.
"Don't think like that, Francis!" she shouted at him, shoving him into a corner. "You make me happy. It doesn't make penny worth difference whatever mental condition you are in. You are my Francis and I want it to stay that way."
She went closer to hug him. He didn't breathe. He was too scared that if he did, she might let go.
"I love you." Naomi said against his hair.
L was not sure how to respond to that. He said nothing to avoid ruining the moment. He felt so breakable with her arms wrapped around him like that. He had never felt something like this. He had never felt so content. She held on like he wanted her to and he knew he would do anything to keep this happening everyday and to keep seeing her and keep her smiling. He wanted Naomi to want him like he wants her.
"I want ice cream now," he said at last.
Naomi giggled and said. "You want a lot of things."
"That's only because I have what I always want," he grinned, biting his thumb and looking at her.
She blushed. "Thank you, Francis."
"No," he said. "Thank you."
She smiled and took his hand, inserting her fingers between the spaces of his own. They swing their hands as they walked as content like children are when they have stumbled upon the experience of being loved unconditionally.
* * *
Wanyuundo was walking for about an hour or so until he spotted the young Miss with their guest at last. They were in the abandoned hills, just standing there in the middle of nowhere. He crept silently as he started his way to approach the two of them. It was a queer sight seeing them in that kind of position. But Wanyuundo knew what the young Miss was doing. He speculated before he interrupted.
“Miss,” he said softly as he was only a yard away from them.
Ai Enma’s lips were still pressed on L’s forehead. Both their eyes were closed. The silence was deafening around them.
Kikuri appeared from behind Wanyuundo, holding a single red flower. She looked at the two figures in front of her with mild inquisitiveness.
“What are they doing?” she asked, completely perplexed.
“The Miss is unlocking Ryuuzaki’s past.” Wanyuundo sighed.
“She can’t do that.” Kikuri objected. “She knows the consequences. Jinmen Gumo won’t be so happy if he finds out.”
“We cannot interrupt them now,” Wanyuundo said firmly. “I thought you said you like Ryuuzaki.”
“I like them both a lot,” Kikuri pouted. “But this will destory Ai-chan again. She is too destroyed to be destroyed over and over. It would cost her.”
“Well, she would willingly pay this price,” Wanyuundo let a smile form in his lips. “Seeing how much she learnd to care about him.”
“She is not allowed to have bias judgments!”
Wanyuundo stared at the tranquil atmosphere between Ai Enma and Ryuuzaki. He wondered what she was showing to him and if somehow Ai felt compelled to show them because it affected her in a way. He had never seen the young Miss use her own power for personal interest. And risking the possibility of being punished again by the spider guardian upon discovery of this single action could only mean that Ryuuzaki’s memories as L are somewhat important to her as well.
“Let’s leave them for awhile,” Wanyuundo took the little girl by the hand.
Kikuri did not protest or say anything but walk away with silence that does not define her. She looked back at the two as she trudged along with the old man. What she saw there was something inescapable and she understood that maybe Ai Enma needed this moment, needed it to make sense of her own dilemma.
* * *
L waited outside the candy store, gazing up at the heavens without blinking. He did not move from where he is, still licking the insides of his mouth as he tasted the last lollipop he had consumed. He enjoyed the aftertaste more than anything. Watari parked the limousine on the opposite street and L asked him to wait for awhile there. He looked at the clouds that start to disappear and the gray dusk approaching fast. The sky left him blank. His eyes though searched it without heed of the voice calling him from afar.
He only came back to his self when a familiar hand touch him by the shoulder. He looked at her face and said nothing.
“Francis?” she giggled. “What’s with the stupid look?”
“How long has it been?” he asked her impassively.
Somehow she knew what he meant, “Seventeen years.”
L looked off, devoid of all emotion as he spoke, “I always waited for your parents to adopt me. I know it was selfish but I just want to be around you. If I don’t get that I thought I will go insane.”
“But even though you were adopted at last that didn’t hinder us from still seeing each other,” she responded, touching his cheek warmly. “Look, Francis, the man who had you was very generous. He left you eveyrthing when he passed away. Look at you now, you can eat all the sweets and pastries you want since you are, by all means, filthy rich.”
She leaner closer to him, “Not to mention a world famous detective.”
She smiled at him but L remained expressionless. He sighed her name, “Naomi.”
She frowned at that, unable to understand why he was being upset about the whole thing. “What is it that’s bothering you, Francis?”
L looked into her eyes and didn’t look away anymore. Naomi did not wait for him to answer that. It’s hard to figure out what goes in his head.
“I’m here to tell you something important,” she said.
“You wouldn’t have called for me otherwise.”
“Francis,” she said with a tight smile, lifting up her hand so he could look at it. L immediately caught the glistening thing attached to her finger.
“I’m engaged,” she announced, watching his expression carefully.
“I assume with that FBI agent you have been talking about with me during our brief meetings.” L answered her, staring at the ring pensively.
“Yes, the very.” Naomi pulled her hand to her chest and smiled. “Ray really loves me, you know, Francis. I want you to be there in my wedding day.”
“I cannot promise that,” L put his hands on the pockets of his jeans. “You know how what I do. It doesn’t give me enough free time for myself. It’s not as though I am declining your invitation, Naomi, it’s just that—“
“You don’t have to make more excuses.” Naomi shook her head. “I know how things have changed. We grew up. It happens.”
“You’re saying it as if I don’t want to be with you anymore.”
“What other reason can be conceived then?”
L’s gaze retained the drowsy look when he answered. “Maybe that’s how you feel about me.”
“I am the one who is asking you to be there in the most important day of my life,” Naomi was getting angry. “You are being ridiculous. You always shut me off when you don’t like something.”
“Have a good life, Naomi.” L turned and walked away.
“Francis!” she called him and grabbed his arm.
L turned and met her gaze, probably the last time he could ever behold those beautiful dark eyes. “You know, that isn’t even my real name.”
Naomi’s face scowled with anguish and contempt. “Does this mean goodbye now? Does this mean you don’t want me in your life anymore?”
And right at that moment he said something utterly stupid.
Naomi let go of his arm and at the same time she did, the snow fell down from the sky. White sprinkles of iciness filled them followed by a momentary hatred that they never thought would cause them a bitter depart. L waited for her to walk away, able to bear the fact that she will be the one doing that instead of him walking away from her. Naomi got the hint, turned away and did what he had in mind.
He had never seen her again, never get to hear the way she would call him by the name he wished was his and feel as if the world, the ugly world he step foot in when he took the professional career as a detective, made sense at last.
She made sense of it, everything, anything and now she was nothing but a memory.
* * *
“They found her body.”
L looked up from his strawberry cake, pausing for a while and then finally stabbed a piece of the cake with his fork. He eyed it before he placed it in his mouth.
“How did she die?” he asked with a cold composure, chewing on the cake bit by bit.
Watari replied. “She drowned herself. She had been dead for at least two weeks now. They brought the body for further investigation. Do you wish to examine it yourself?”
“Just bring me pictures.” L finished the cake and carried on with the next plate.
Watari said nothing. And then he walked towards L. He placed something on top of the table. L glanced at it. It was a small envelope.
“What is that?” he asked his companion and ally.
“I think you should have it.”
L put another slice of cake in his mouth and then finally took the envelope by the tips of his fingers. He shook it slightly and then realized what was inside. He pressed his fingers around the small object before he finally opened the envelope. He dropped the object on the palm of his hand and stared.
“What am I going to do with this?”
“It belongs to her.”
“It’s an engagement ring.” L interjected. “Maybe we should return it back from where her fiancé Ray Penbar bought it.”
“Don’t you want to keep it?”
“It’s not like I will be proposing to anybody,” L handed it back to him.
Watari sighed. “I understand. I just thought you needed something to remember her by. I guess I was mistaken.”
“Not entirely.” L put tapped the fork against his lips, looking at the wall vacantly. “I have everything to remember her by.”
He sliced the cake and stopped, looking at Watari with his concave eyes.
“And that would be your memories of her?” Watari smiled. “I guess that is enough for you then. You can be such a simple person for a genius.”
“Loving someone and losing them are simple things.” L responded, finishing the cake and then going to another one. “It’s no use asking for anything impossible if they are already dead. All you got to do is be thankful that you still remember them every time of your life.”
“And somehow hope you will see them when your time comes.” Watari added.
L gazed at the ceiling. “I like Naomi.”
“Yes, you do.” Watari put the ring inside the envelope. “Would you like another slice of cake after that last one?”
When Watari left, L dropped the fork to the side of the plate, staring at the unfinished cake with concentration. He bit his thumb, feeling, feeling and feeling over and over the fact that he wished he did not feel at all.
“I like Naomi.” L murmured to himself inside the dark room, inside the own cages of his complicated mind.
* * *
“Naomi, please wait for me!
“Hurry up, Francis, you are going to miss it!”
“But why do we have to see it to this exact place?”
Naomi stopped running and spread her arms to acknowledge the scenery around them. She turned to the little boy, her pale cheeks turning pink.
“Because the first fall of snow is always magical.”
“Is there a proof to that?” L bit on his lip.
“You will see it soon,” Naomi held his hand to hers. “Or rather feel it.”
They stood side by side as they glanced up at the sky, waiting with utmost patience. L squinted his eyes and in a matter of time, saw the first set of snowflakes escaping from the clouds. He stared as they multiplied into more. Naomi’s hand tightened against his.
“It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?” she asked him.
“But nothing magical.” L complained, still unconvinced.
Naomi turned to him and kissed him on the lips. L’s eyes widened.
“How about now?” she asked. “Does it seem so magical to you, Francis?”
L could only nod, cheeks flustering that it burned him no matter how the cold snow swept away in him.
“Francis,” Naomi murmured. “I want us to stay together as long as we could.”
“Yes,” L smiled at her. “I don’t see a reason why we won’t.”
Naomi drifted her eyes back to the pile of white sheet in front of them. “And if it did end, Francis, promise me that you will look for me.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Just promise me.”
“Okay,” L frowned, concerned. “I promise.”
The snow kept falling and falling and it doesn’t seem to end. It was as if it would be of perpetual basis. L wondered if what he had with Naomi would be of the same perpetual spirit because right now he doesn’t want to go anywhere else but with her.
* * *
Ai Enma pulled herself away from him as gently as she could manage. She opened her eyes and saw that L remained in the same pose, eyes still closed.
“Wake up, child.” She whispered.
L did not respond to her. Ai Enma understood.
“That is the only memory I could return to you,” she told him. “For I know it is a memory that you would want to keep remembering for the rest of—“
She paused when L opened his eyes at last and said, “I want to see her.”
“That would be—“
“I made a promise. I want to see her now.”
“L, please, think about this—“
“I’m tired of thinking,” L turned away from her and searched the lands, “All I want is to find her.”
“I can’t do that.” Ai Enma answered, feeling a heavy feeling across her chest.
“I know you know where she is, Ai.” L said sternly. “Please take me to her.”
“If I did, I’m not sure you will like what she is going through in this place.”
L turned to her, “What happened to her?”
Ai Enma hesitated and then seeing there could be no alternative, she held out her hand. “If you want to see her that much then all I ask of you is to be brave.”
L nodded, taking her hand.
They walked for eternity but L did not seem to mind. Whatever it takes and how long it would take he doesn’t really care.
“Look over there.” Ai Enma pointed.
L did what she asked. When he looked through the thick dusk that surrounded them he saw a long line of people walking. “What is that?”
“It’s a death march.” Ai Enma answered him.
“Why are they marching?”
“These are the souls that could neither go heaven or hell because they cannot be punished.” She explained. “In my case I have committed a grave sin that is why in exchange I am imprisoned. You, on the other hand, had been marked by a curse but due to the good things that you have done you are pardoned and your case in withdrawn until the guardians decided where to put you.”
“And these souls?”
“They will keep marching for eternity,” she explained. “Nothing is granted to them. They are left to just wander. These are the souls of the ones killed by improper use of the Shinigami power. There are exceptions to the case, of course but it would be too complicated if I explain.”
“Is Naomi marching because her soul was stolen by Kira?” he asked.
“It may seem so.”
L did not move for a long time. Ai Enma just remained looking at the direction he was looking at as well.
“I want to see her.”
“You cannot cross the border,” Ai Enma remarked. “This is as far as you can get to see her.”
L started to walk to the direction of the death march. Ai Enma did not stop him. She stood there, feeling the blood again in her eyes.
When he got closer, he called her name out loud but could not make a face within the crowd. He did not give up. He kept looking and calling for her, each call getting desperate and hurt. Ai Enma could not bear it but she did not leave him.
He pushed through them and saw their eyes poured out from all possible humanity.
Ai Enma started to walk to reach him.
“She’s behind you. Wait until she passes,” she told him. “If you really feel for her intensely, you will recognize her.”
L did what she asked. Several empty people walked pass, their feet thumping lifelessly on the ground. There were so many of them, haunting the place with no purpose, starving, suffering and dying today and maybe forever.
He saw her then. He could not believe it. His throat felt sore and his breathing went fast. His chest throbbed. His eyes watered. The sensation, the feeling left him so vulnerable. He pushed through and stopped when he was in front of her. She did not seem to know that he was there but he looked at his face. The other souls just passed by them.
She said nothing. Her face was blank. She is dead in so many ways than just one.
“Naomi,” he said still, eyes filled with tears that he never got the chance to cry until now. “I kept my promise. I came back.”
Still nothing. Still talking to a nameless entity.
“I know it’s probably too late and pointless.” L spoke with all emotion he could dispense. “But since I am here anyway. Might as well get on with it.”
He pulled her into an embrace that she didn’t resist. But it was nothing. He felt nothing when her body was pressed against him. He felt so unforgivably stupid for doing this. But he kept murmuring her name altogether, remembering the memories that could only be the only thing he could own.
She did nothing but stood there.
L touched her face and it was all so clear. He was right when he said that it’s impossible to want something if it’s already gone in the first place. There could be no right to feel regret for something he wasn’t even brave enough to claim and keep. But he said it anyway though it won’t matter.
“I love you.” L said, wishing she would just call him by the name she fondly addressed him. Maybe then...just maybe.
He let go. When he did, the dead Naomi proceeded with her march, following her companions. He stood there, eyes still downcast, his whole body staying tranquil and almost light.
Ai Enma walked up to him. No words were exchange. And then she said, “Do you want me to extract her memory from you?”
L suddenly chuckled.
“How could you say that?” he asked. “Why would you think I want that?”
“Have you somehow felt like we had the same experience?” he asked her.
“What do you mean?”
“Did you love someone like I did and was not bold enough to admit it?”
Ai Enma looked down and placed her hand on his arm. “You can say that. Come back with me to the lull, L and let us not speak about this.”
“So that’s it.”
“Yes,” Ai Enma nodded. “That’s it.”
They walked away from the death march. He held Ai Enma’s hand weakly. He said nothing or did anything else either than be completely and comfortably numb. When they were almost reaching the lake where Ai Enma’s boat was, L finally looked up at the dark smoldering skies of the lull and wished by some chance that it would snow.