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Fade [1] by xLion'sRoarx is a completed Death Note For Want of a Nail Fan Fic.

Summary: When a mysterious notebook falls from the sky, bearing the story of a world in which Kira reigns supreme, L is forced into a desperate struggle to change both his fate and the fate of the world. But his attempts are complicated when he discovers that he only holds half of the story — and that the other half resides with the living paradox that is Light Yagami. The resulting chaos finds two geniuses from different worlds thrown together, racing to change the future.


The story in the notebook is the canon!Death Note plot, with the actual names replaced with letters as placeholders. L gets a Death Note along with the first half of the story — which ends in his death. Light gets his Death Note and the second half, which ends in his death. The effects this has on everyone involved are far-reaching.


  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Light. His half of the story shows how far Kira has fallen and ends in his death, so he resolves not to end up like Kira no matter what, sticking only to criminals who have already been given the death penalty or have committed crimes that deserve the death penalty. He also outright abhors the idea of killing innocent people and refuses to be complicit in any of it. He even refrains from telling L that Near would be the one to kill him in the story, despite partially resenting that fact, as Near has yet to do anything truly heinous.
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    • Beyond Birthday, who desires to stop L and save Light from his corrupting influence. Downplayed example though, as outside of his affection for Light and showing slight shame for his hypocrisy, Beyond is still, ultimately, a selfish, unrepentant murderer.
  • Adaptational Villainy: L. He becomes obsessed with preventing his death, to the point that he seems to be completely unaware to how similar to Kira that he's becoming. This is because L views himself as justice, and thus if he were to die, then (in his mind) criminal activity would either ramp up in a big way, more innocent people would die, and/or Kira would take over the world. Thus, he justifies every death, be it that of a criminal or that of an innocent, as For The Greater Good.
  • All for Nothing: Light sacrifices half of his lifespan for the Shinigami eyes to save his family for their kidnappers. But the kidnappers already had their names written in the Death Note so Light can't do anything to stop them. Even when the kidnappers die, L murders Light's mother and Sayu.
    • L and Light's crusade for justice as Kira amounts to nothing. L dies a monster, fully realizing that he's far worse than the criminals he fought. Light loses everything: his pride, his family, his friends, his health and L. Light drives Beyond, the only person alive who still cares for him away for being responsible his family's kidnappings and deaths. And Light forgets everything once he gives up the Death Note.
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  • Anger Born of Worry: Subverted. After L learns that Light took the Shinigami Eye deal to save his family even though he promised he wouldn't, he snaps at him — not because he's particularly mad that Light signed half his lifespan away, but because Light disobeyed him.
  • Anti-Villain: Light. Between L's Villain Protagonist and Beyond's Nominal Hero, Light is easily one of the most sympathetic characters in the story. He was blackmailed into becoming Kira, and even after he embraced the role, he struggles over the morality of his actions and desire to not end up like story!Kira. If not for his dependency on L and Ryuk's threat hanging over his head, he would've probably already given up the Death Note for all the trouble it's given him.
  • Battle of Wits: The first part of the story is this, between L and Light. After L and Light hook up and become Kira together, it turns into a Mêlée à Trois between L and Light, Near, Mello, and Matt, and Beyond. Then, after L kills Light's family and nearly kills Light himself, it's L vs everyone else.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis:
    • L despises Kira and is willing to do anything to prevent his death at Kira's hands. This eventually leads to L essentially becoming Kira himself. L spends half the story in denial of this, and his acceptance of it is the moment the reader realizes that he can't be saved.
    • When Ryuzaki tells Light what L's plans are for Kira, Light is disgusted. Light despises the idea of being kept as a pet and being subservient to L sounds like a nightmare to him. His crush/obsession with L and the emotional torture of being L's captive turn Light into that.
  • Blackmail: Ryuk threatens Light into helping him find L's Death Note and thus the other half of the story. Since, unlike canon, Light was (initially) forced into the role of Kira, it allowed him to retain most of his morality, sanity, and rationale.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Light may have lost everything, but he restarts his life by going to To-Oh and makes a genuine friend in Mikami.
  • Broken Pedestal: Near, Mello, and Matt were already willing to oppose their mentor when they realized he was Kira, but it isn't until he kills Light's family and chokes out Light himself do they realize how far he's fallen. This is only compounded when the barely-survived Light wakes up and spills everything to them. Near in particular tells Beyond that he considers his dream to become like L dashed — he will never become like that monster, and will be all the better for it.
  • The Chew Toy:
    • Kiyomi Takada. Her only crime is being the only one of Light's school "friends" that he tolerates and seems to have any fondness for. Which is enough for both L and Beyond to kidnap her in their respective schemes to manipulate Light. Eventually, she dies for it.
    • Light. Considering how much misfortune he goes through, one has to wonder if it's the universe's way of getting back at him for what he did in canon. It outright borders on Cosmic Plaything considering the amount of misery that follows him.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Much like in canon, L has little scruples about using this method to obtain a confession.
  • Consummate Liar: L. He promises Light that he wouldn't kill Misa, only to kill her and have the prison keep it quiet so Light never finds out.
  • The Corruptible: Both L and Light are this. However, unlike in canon, Light manages to hold out and ends up killing only criminals who are charged with the death penalty or have committed crimes that would get them the death penalty. L, however, does not hold out (in fact, he barely lasts longer than canon!Light), already writing the names of several criminals from his personal files into the notebook before Light even comes onto the scene.
  • The Corrupter: L knows Light can easily be corrupted and resolves to teach him to use the death the "right" way. However, by the time the subject finally comes up L has already corrupted himself so much that he would only serve as this to Light instead of The Mentor.
  • Cutting the Knot: Lampshaded. Beyond tells Light a long story as an analogy, but isn't able to finish as Light has long since gotten the message and tells him that the story was unnecessary. After all, Light might be emotionally compromised, but that doesn't make him dumb.
  • Death Faked for You: L fakes Kiyomi's death to get a confession from Light. While Light is horrified, it ultimately doesn't take. He has more success with Misa, using Light in Kiyomi's place.
  • Destructive Romance:
    • It becomes very clear that L and Light's relationship is unhealthy and won't end happily, as L is completely obsessed with Light while Light is utterly dependent on L. This is taken to its logical extreme when Beyond manipulates L into killing the rest of Light's loved ones to "protect" him from future pain. The author further goes on to explain in their notes that the relationship between L and Light is not "love" — the readers can interpret it that way, but it wouldn't be one the author would agree with.
    • Light and Beyond have shades of this as well — the only difference are that they aren't in a relationship and that Beyond is perfectly aware of what kind of man he is.
  • Drunk with Power:
    • L barely lasts a week before he goes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
    • Light takes every precaution he can to subvert this as much as possible, and has mostly succeeded.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Near and Mello appear early on, both wanting to solve the Kira case before L so they can go out and take on real cases for once.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Light loves his family dearly and admits that when it comes down to it, he wouldn't be able to choose between them and L. Granted, Light can barely be called "evil" in this story.
    • The only person in the world L truly cherishes is Light.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The lengths L goes to stop Kira and prevent his death horrify even Light. Seeing as Light is significantly less evil in this fic (counting more as an Anti-Villain if anything), this should not be surprising. When L starts calling for Near's blood after the latter calls them out, all but admitting that he knows who is responsible, Light immediately tries to calm him down and convince him to find a way that doesn't end in Near, Mello, and Matt's deaths.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Near and co. are absolutely disgusted when L kills Light's family and then chokes out Light himself when the latter was rightly angry at him and tried to turn on him for it.
  • Eviler Than Thou: L to...well, pretty much every other Kira, including canon!Light. With the latter, most of the innocents he killed were people standing in his way. He also greatly disapproved of Mikami killing lazy people (even if it was mainly for pragmatic reasons). L is not just willing to kill people in his way, he's willing to kill random people off the street to achieve his ends, for no other reason than expedience. If he isn't worse than canon!Light already, he's pretty close.
  • For Great Justice: L's go-to justification.
  • For Want of a Nail: The very premise of the fic. Here are specific instances:
    • Thanks to learning from his half of the story and not getting Drunk with Power, Light is able to see through L's Lind L. Tailor trick. This forces L to kill Tailor himself after the broadcast is over just so he would have a reason to investigate the Kanto region and find Light. In fact, Light's half of the story scared him so much that Light resolved to act as unlike Kira as he possibly could. As a result, he avoids many of L's attempts to get evidence on him — just like canon, if L wasn't so certain he was Kira he probably would've given up and moved on to someone else. Eventually, L resorts to planting evidence just so he could detain Light.
    • Because L prevented Sakura TV from airing Misa's tapes and Light himself is significantly more empathetic, Light bears no ill will towards her when they capture her in Aoyama. In fact, he is sympathetic towards her, viewing her as misguided, and begs L to spare her life. L promises to do so and then kills her anyway without telling Light, which becomes a problem when Beyond finds out the truth and tells Near.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: L plants fake evidence in Light's room to have a pretext to detain him. Ironically, L himself is also guilty of the same crimes (if not worse), so it's a guilty party framing another guilty party.
  • "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Despite being the Second Kira and L's accomplice, Light is spared execution and jail as Beyond bargains his assistance with Near's investigation in exchange for Light's freedom. Near keeps his end of the bargain for several reasons: Light's assistance was pivotal in L's final defeat, Light was very much L's victim, and his injuries mean that Light might not live to see the next decade. Knowing all this, even Near recognizes that punishing Light any further would just be pointless and cruel.
  • He Who Fights Monsters:
    • L might actually be worse than canon!Light. The innocent people canon!Light killed were mainly people trying to stop him. L not only kills those in his way, he's also willing to use and kill random people off the street to further his plans.
    • Beyond Birthday is willing to let L kill Light's innocent loved ones to stop L and get Light away from him. It isn't a pure example since doing this is partially motivated by a selfish desire. Nonetheless, it becomes clear that Beyond is only A Lighter Shade of Black from L — something he is perfectly aware and shows shame for.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After L kills his family and the task force, Light finally realizes what kind of monster he has become and tries to end their toxic relationship. L does not take it well and subsequently tries to kill him in return. This causes Light to switch sides and spill everything to Near and co.
  • Hero Antagonist:
    • Beyond Birthday, though he's an Anti-Hero at best, and a Nominal Hero at worst. He's less concerned with all the people dying and more concerned with Light.
    • Near, Mello, and Matt, once they realize what their mentor is doing, quickly position themselves against him and Light. The difference between them and Beyond is that there is no personal stake in it for them (besides the fact that their mentor is Kira) — they know that what L and Light are doing is wrong and against the law and wish to stop them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rem is manipulated into killing a criminal who she thought was a threat to Misa. Ends up being a Senseless Sacrifice, seeing how not only the criminal couldn't hurt Misa, but also, without Rem there to protect her, she ended up dying shortly afterwards.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Refreshingly subverted with Soichiro Yagami. While he does try to convince Light that pursuing a relationship with L isn't good for him, he does so simply because he sees the signs of abuse and Light's Stockholm Syndrome, not out of sheer homophobia. The latter is often the case in Death Note fanfiction.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: When Near, Mello, Matt and Beyond have L cornered, L tell them all that he always hated them, hated the idea of having successors and wished he killed them all when he had the chance.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: After kidnapping Light's friends and family for his plan to drive a wedge between Light and L, Beyond admits to himself that he really isn't any different from the latter, and expresses the slightest bit of shame for it.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite L (and Light's, but mainly L's) attempts to avert specific events in the story, they either end up happening anyway or similar events take their place with different people involved.
    • The most definitive example is L and Light's attempts to prevent the rise of canon!Kira. While Light succeeds in making sure he never becomes that Kira, their attempts fail because another, arguably worse Kira rises in his place — L himself. In the final confrontation, Light specifically points this out while trying to convince L to give up and turn himself in.
    • Since L never made his suspicion of Light known to the task force until he detained him, and because he prevented Misa's tapes from being aired, saving Ukita's life, the task force has no reason to trust him or his methods. And since L is L, L's attempt to prevent Light from turning the task force against him by isolating Light during his detainment is rendered moot, because L manages that all on his own.
    • A Yagami still suffers severe health problems due to stress. Instead of Soichiro suffering a non-fatal heart attack, Light undergoes a panic attack, triggered by a (unknown to him and L) staged hostage situation involving his family, perpetrated by Beyond and co.
    • Inevitably, Near, Mello, and Matt end up opposing Kira. Instead of it just being Light, however, it's Light and L. And after L kills Light's family, it's really just L.
    • Soichirou Yagami, Kiyomi Takada, Rem, and Misa Amane (who committed suicide in canon post-series) still die. However, along with them is the rest of the Yagami family sans Light and the Kira Task Force.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The logic L uses to justify his actions becomes more convoluted, bordering on asinine, as the story goes on, to the point that any reasonably sane and intelligent person can poke holes through it. Let alone geniuses like Light and Beyond.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Light attempts to slit his throat with a mirror shard after watching L kill his family. Watari intervenes and sedates Light before he could succeed.
  • It's All About Me: Much like canon!Light's, L's Fatal Flaw. He has become absorbed with the idea that he is justice and reacts to any threat against him, justified or not, as a crime.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Misa Amane.
    • Kiyomi Takada and the entire Yagami family sans Light.
    • The Kira Task Force.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: After L's death, Light gives up the Death Note for good so he could move on with his life.
  • The Lost Lenore: A is implied to be this for Beyond. L specifically chose to try and wipe A from his memory to avoid this, but judging by how easily he attached to Light (who is similar to A), it didn't take, at least subconsciously.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Light's affection for L has made him blind to the fact that their relationship has all the textbook signs of being unhealthy and potentially abusive. It's only after L kills his family that Light finally wises up and sees L for who and what he truly is.
  • Love Triangle: There is one developing between L and Beyond with Light in the middle. The story hints that there was also one between L, Beyond, and A until A died. Considering how A is allegedly very similar to Light, this should not be surprising.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • L. Light is manipulative as well, but (ironically) he hates manipulating people and isn't a bastard about it.
    • Beyond is arguably the most manipulative person in the story. He manipulates Near, Mello, and Matt into staging a hostage situation involving all of Light's loved ones, knowing that L will most likely kill them all, just so he can drive Light away from him and into Beyond's arms.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Light, in his attempts to subvert becoming Kira. He is very uncomfortable with the fact that L has no such restraints. When L tries to use an innocent person in their plan to kill Rem, Light refuses to go with it. They compromise with a minor criminal, and even then Light is not particularly happy about it.
  • Nominal Hero: Beyond Birthday. Beyond is an unrepentant murderer, and the only reason why he bothers to help Near and Mello and oppose L is because he hates the latter and is developing a crush on Light. Case in point: he deliberately suggests endangering Light's friends and family so Light will beg L to reveal himself as Kira. Near and Mello are reluctant to put innocent people in danger but are convinced the plan will work, but Beyond knows L is not that selfless — his real goal is to drive a wedge between Light and L so the former will leave the latter for Beyond. Even if it means manipulating L into killing all of Light's loved ones.
  • Not So Different:
    • L and canon!Light, as the story goes on. At one point, after he and story!Light have partnered up, he starts talking about "the creation of a new world". Then L shouts "I am Kira!" much to Light's horror, cementing the fact.
    • L and Beyond, at least in regards to Light. Beyond isn't afraid to manipulate and put others in danger in order to drive a wedge between L and Light so he can have Light for himself, and believes that as long as Light is with him, he'll be able to keep him on the "righteous" path. While L obviously did far worse things to get Light by his side and his sense of "right" is warped, it wasn't all that different from what Beyond is planning to do. Beyond even acknowledges this after he sedates and kidnaps several of Light's loved ones for his plan to get Light to turn on L.
  • Only Friend: Kiyomi Takada is the only person that Light gives a damn about outside of his family. Which is lampshaded by Beyond who makes his lackeys ditch the rest of Light's friends while he personally abducts Takada.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Played With. In canon, L had to play against Light while still learning the rules. However, in this story he knows both the rules and some foreknowledge, putting Light and him on even keel. The inital conflict ends in a deadlock with neither one winning, resulting in them finally giving in to the UST and deciding to partner up instead. No, the real Outside-Context Problem is Beyond, who has devoted the last fifteen years of his life to taking down L, and has stolen Light's Death Note to help achieve that end.
  • Psychotic Love Triangle: L and Beyond are both Serial Killers that are obsessive and possessive of Light Yagami, who was forced to get involved with them. Light barely escapes the mess with his life, L is executed and Beyond disappears from Light's life for good.
  • Police Are Useless: The only use L has for the police are as sacrificial pawns and (in the case of the Task Force) smokescreen. Partly justified by the existence of the story — since L already knows who he is looking for and their method of killing (which was the one thing canon!L didn't know/hypothesize due to the Death Note's supernatural origin), there is no need for a Task Force. The only reason L bothered forming one was because he needed to stick to the script as much as possible so his foreknowledge wouldn't be rendered ineffectual.
  • The Promise: The reason why L hasn't killed Beyond yet is due to a promise he made to him after A's death.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Though Beyond implies that L wasn't all that good to begin with.
  • Railroading: L speculates that the more he changes things, the more things change in turn to make sure the story plays out the way it's supposed to. Perhaps the most prevalent example, one that L refuses to acknowledge, is that the universe is correcting his attempts to prevent Light from becoming the Kira in the story by turning L into Kira instead. When he finally does admit that he's Kira, any reader holding out for his redemption is forced to accept that there is only one path left for him to take.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Part of why Beyond is so intent on saving Light from L is due to his similarities with the long-deceased A. After L and Beyond's past is revealed, it seems Light was this to L as well.
  • Revealing Cover Up: L kills Misa to tie up loose ends despite promising Light that he wouldn't, and bribes the prison so the truth won't come out. Beyond instantly figures out something fishy is going on, and goes to investigate — what he finds is enough to further Near's suspicions of L.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Light is fascinated by the Death Note's power and ability to make himself into a god at first. Then he reads the Death Note's prediction of Light's future, madness, decline and death which makes Light to never go off the deep end and maintain his moral code no matter what.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:
    • In his attempts to stop Light becoming the canon!Kira, L becomes this story's real Kira.
    • L deliberately keeps Light away from the Task Force so Light can't turn them against him. He needn't have bothered, as L manages do that on his own.
  • Selective Obliviousness: It's all but confirmed that Near knows L is Kira. However, he doesn't want to believe it, so he ignores Beyond pushing him to accept the truth and focuses on Light instead. Eventually, however, the evidence starts piling up and he can't ignore it anymore.
  • Slash Fic: L/Light. May or may not be slowly morphing into Beyond/Light.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: L. It starts off small with killing criminals who deserved it, but then he starts planting evidence, killing innocent people for expedience, and then killing Light's family, at which point he is indistinguishable from canon!Light, if not worse. When Light is confessing everything to Beyond and Near, he admits that he believed he could've stopped L from jumping off the slope and it was only after L killed his family that realized that was impossible, and likely had been since the very beginning. Both Beyond and Near speculate that L himself had no idea how much he had slipped — by the time he would have had any self-awareness of what was happening, he was already too far gone to care.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Thanks to the existence of the story, L has no need to bring in the FBI and thus both Naomi Misora and Raye Penber never get involved with the Kira Investigation.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Light notes that, while in captivity for being a Kira suspect, that his situation with L reeks of this. It's taken hold more than he can care to admit.
  • Swapped Roles: Thanks to changed circumstances
  • Tautological Templar: Again, L. Since L is Justice, every action that he takes to save his life is protecting Justice.
  • They Were Holding You Back: L deliberately has the Anti-Kira taskforce and Light's family killed so Light has no outside connections that L can be threatened with.
  • Tragic Villain: Light, who is (ironically) the most sympathetic character in the story. See Trauma Conga Line below.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Poor, poor Light. First he's blackmailed into becoming Kira. Then he's framed and held captive by L and was forced to watch as L (supposedly) killed one of his innocent friends because he refused to confess to being Kira. Then, since L was the only person he had any contact with for weeks, he develops Stockholm Syndrome and blindly enters a relationship that has the potential to become abusive and sour real quick, with the signs already showing. Then there's Beyond, who is doing his damn hardest to shake Light's faith in L and succeeding, confusing the poor boy even more. And if all that weren't enough, he moves to Wammy's House with L and meets Near, who he quickly figures out to be his killer in the story. Light is even more conflicted, as while he resents Near for killing him, he understands why the story ended that way and refuses to tell L about it, as Near has yet to do anything deserving of death. By this point he qualifies as The Woobie, and by the looks of it things are not getting better for him anytime soon. After watching L kill his family, the question is no longer whether Light can be saved (arguably being the most heroic of the three main characters, easily the most pitiable and sympathetic) — it's whether or not he would want to be.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension:
    • The first half of the story is plagued by this between L and Light. When L becomes aware of it, he wonders where it came from since there was no hint of it in his half of the story — aside from the anime's rain scene that was heavily laced with canon's Foe Romance Subtext.
    • There is also some between Light and Beyond. While that relationship has its own darkness to it, it would no doubt be much healthier than the one between Light and L.
  • Villain Protagonist: L. Light is an Anti-Villain if anything else.
  • We Used to Be Friends: L Lawliet and Beyond Birthday. What destroyed their friendship was A's death, which they blame each other for.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Light quickly figures out that Near was his killer in the story, and deduces that he might also know that both he and L are Kira. In spite of all that, he refuses to kill Near or tell L, and begs L not to either when Near confronts them via broadcast, as all he is doing is opposing them — he has yet to commit any actual crimes. This shows that this Light still has morals, integrity, and above all else, humanity. It's no wonder why Beyond is so intent on saving him.
  • Yandere:
    • L, for Light. His dreams indicate as much. Beyond plans on using these tendencies to split them up by directing L's attention at Light's friends and family. While it is a dick move on his part, it can easily be argued that L was going to reach that point on his own eventually — Beyond just sped it up so he could have Light for himself.
    • Beyond knows this because Light isn't the first person to invoke these feelings within L. L acted similarly with A, which was a problem because A was sociable and kind. The only other person L could tolerate spending meaningful time with A besides himself was Beyond, and even that tolerance eventually ran out. His jealousy over A's many friendships eventually led to A's death and Beyond and L's estrangement.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: It's implied that, no matter how hard people tried to prevent it, a Kira would've risen. If it hadn't been L or Light, someone else would've found the Death Note and fallen to the temptation in their place.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: What helps start L's descent into villainy is the revelation that he will die soon. It's implied that all his attempts to prevent that fate will be all for naught, but not for the reasons he thinks.

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