Light looked up at the shinigami, from his huddle. "You said you'd write my name down, at the end. That you'd kill me. You said that was one of the rules."
"I did," acknowledged Ryuk. "Why do you bring it up now?"
There was something awful, Light decided, about the way he hovered. It was the wings, perhaps, the way they came and went. Or the sound of them. As one hand wrapped around his knees, it brushed his face, and came away dry. "I - I—" I don't want to die - do I? Do I? It's not my fault, if he kills me. "When will that be? When will you finish it?"
When will you make it stop? He hated himself for asking that question, and yet he couldn't not ask, sunk past hopelessness as he was, so deep down that he could see the stars shine by day.
He'd never thought of himself as weak - not that he'd ever thought of himself as particularly strong, either. He'd just known he could cope with whatever life would throw at him, with the same effortless grace as ever. But that had been before the - the them, he whispered to himself, because even in the privacy of his own mind he wasn't yet ready to speak the word siafu, and call up all the imagery it was laden with.
The shinigami just shrugged, in a flutter of wings, turning a lazy somersault. "It depends," he drawled, matter-of-fact. "Maybe when you're about to die anyway, I'll step in and make it quick. Or maybe one day I'll just get bored, and go home. Though you'd have to be pretty boring for that." Rotating back to his upright position, he squinted down at Light, with what passed for surprise from that clownish mask. "Do you want me to kill you?"
"No!" retorted Light, surprised by the sudden vehemence of his own will to live. "Of course not–!"
He broke off. Boring. Carrots, and - what sticks were there to use on the shinigami, with the apples gone?
He missed apples. And carrots, for that matter, and so many other things...
"I've got my own book, after all," he murmured, hesitant as Eve in the garden. One hand crept back to caress it, the hidden little book in its hidden little bag. "I could do it myself. That would be - fun, wouldn't it? For you?"
"You don't have to worry that they'll get you, at least," Ryuk pointed out. "I'd have thought you'd be grateful."
Light pulled himself tighter into his ball, hiding his face. The posture made sense; it conserved warmth, and kept his stomach from gnawing at him so much. Plus, it muffled his voice. His autopilot still wanted to live, and that had felt strange, but the idea of his name on the paper - that had felt like a promise. This is not forever. It lasts as long as I say it does, and no longer.
"Yeah," he mumbled, doing a better job of sounding emotionless than might be expected. "Thanks, Ryuk. I guess."