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25 July 2009 @ 11:18 pm
The Soapbox Sophistry -- Chapter 1 [Light & L]  
Title: The Soapbox Sophistry (Chapter 1. Genesis 19:4-5)
Pairing: Light & L
Fandom: Death Note
Genre: Drama, Suspense, Mystery, Psychological
Rating: PG-13
Summary: When great gods are enraged, the mortals don't suffer, only the lesser gods do. [steampunk AU]

A/N: For keelain. I hope you like it! :D


The Soapbox Sophistry

devolution of a civilization began with its prostitutes…

I. Genesis 19:4-5

Cold and bitter, freezing London nights and ice-chilling London mornings. Streets covered with hard-packed snow, footprints scattered arbitrarily from road to road. Hunger was rampant, hunger was a constant reminder of better days and wistful thinking.

London: 5th December, 1888 (and this was fact). Another body found, slit and mutilated (breasts severed neatly in fantastic verisimilitude of Saint Agatha of Sicily). From her mastectomized gruesomeness, by candle-lit gloominess, they jotted down notes, whispered darkly among themselves, and discerned—

“Couldn’t have been older than thirteen.”

“Whores come young these days,” and cheap.

“Third one this fucking month, Jesus Christ.”

– and God would smite them down: “brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven”

(this they chortled and giggled in hoarse chokes)

– because God was pissed

“Take care of this, I’m taking a—oh hell, what happened now?”

“Chief, Lieutenant, there’s another one outside. The coroner—”

“I don’t give a damn about some bloody coroner! Just get me, hello? Yes, central London.”

“Telegram, sir.”

“One moment.”

“It’s urgent, sir.”

Another one? Fuck, can’t they just leave us alone?”

“Lieutenant, that’s hardly appropriate. I think you should examine this one personally…it’s different from all the others.”

“Now, this is sure to be interesting,” bite your tongue and soak it in sarcasm—the foundations of misery-making.

One whore, two whores, no difference, but a thousand and one later (slight exaggeration, Lieutenant) he was starting to get annoyed.

“Send her in,” he chiefly summed it up.


Soichiro Y. completed his morning duties easily (was a circumspect, resourceful man). He inspected the dust-hewn accumulation of rusted bones and coppery, brassy flesh (called a neo-slavedom) and awakened his family.

The doting wife kissed him on the cheek, reserved, and turned away to prepare breakfast. Son still asleep, daughter just surfacing from young, blushing, sonorous shores. Soichiro sighed and almost wished it truly were perfect and simple and nothing so extraordinary like this.

They ate breakfast in silence, obedient and calm. The others waited for his instructions (a tight-knit, stereotypical nuclear family—that was all the craze these days). Soichiro understood. He played the role of father, patriarch, patricidal madman well.

(and they will never suspect)

“Patrimony…what a crisis this town has turned to.”

“I’m sorry, dear, did you say something?”

(the wife saw a knife, stifled under strife, and her life ended so soon)

“Nothing, just reading the papers.”

“Of course,” out loud—again, “Eat your eggs before they get cold.”

Soichiro flipped the page, riveted by the nothing-news prattling out amputations and lacerations like they were cheery tidbits from Friday afternoon high tea.

“It’s nearly time to leave for service,” said the filial son.

And that jolted Soichiro awake, more effective than any prick-laced kisses from the wife.


Lord John the Surnameless droned forever and a day more.

He talked his venerating worshipers (oh, the blasphemy!) to death and corrupted their virginal convictions with visions of hell and burning crosses.

“The witches!”

– what witches?

“They will appear in the middle of deep, dark night and devour your children whole! These are the demons in your hearts. They are the bubonic plagues of restless spirits!”

those witches

Oh God, Soichiro resisted the urge to roll his eyes (cleared his throat instead and adjusted his cuffs). His wife glared at him murderously, as if challenging him to start a riot. He half entertained the notion.

And there was his daughter sitting quietly, bible spread open dutifully, and lips murmuring along to the preacher’s vehement tirades against the cardinal sins. Soichiro smiled proudly, at least there’s one honest believer in the family.

(Two seats away, Young Master Light of the House of Y. decided to cause a commotion—conflagration perhaps, my lord?—and save their teary-weary souls.)


Sachiko was a good wife and an excellent mother. She was dedicated, persistent, and piously superstitious and worried over every minute detail. (Ran a strict ship with an iron-fastened fist.) And so, she knew immediately that her husband was harboring an oppressive woe the second he crossed the threshold.

“Something wrong, dear?”

(gathered his coat and brought him hot tea and sugar)

“Nothing to fret over, love, all I need is a good rest.”

“It’s the killings, isn’t it?”

“That’s not for a lady to know.”

“But I do know. Why can’t you just tell me, Soichiro?”

He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was far too old for these petty affections and affectations.

“Another one was discovered—uncovered—today. Had to…thaw her out.”

“Oh, Soichiro! How terrible.”

“And that’s not half of it.”

“Oh, stop, stop it right now. I will not have that kind of talk in this house.”

“But you said—”

Tap-tap, a wolf knocked at the door. Soichiro sighed heavily and walked to greet the intruder (arms crossed, scowl forming along grooved-in lines).


“Sir, I’m sorry to trouble you at home, but we need you immediately. Something has happened.”

“Something always happens.”


The lamps flickered around them, hesitant yet devilishly curious. Soichiro plunged his nose into the handkerchief doused in rosewater and smelling salts. Years of experienced rescued the vestiges of a history of dignified posture and response: he nearly doubled over from the malodor.

Loss of tact and equanimity—

Poignant poetry starts with pungency, digging straight to the core, gutted.

– it was a fine quote he remembered from a classmate back in university

(but that was so long ago, and he had no time for reminiscing dead poets and their requiems)

“Chief, this is unusual, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes,” he walked around thrice, studying every nail, every hair follicle (smothered in grease), “Gentlemen, what do you notice?”

“Umm, her entire torso is missing, sir.”

“Exactly. And the contusions along her neck are a new pattern. Looks like Jack got himself a new copycat.”

His lieutenant paused, scribbled down on a blank cream paper. “If I were so crude, I’d say this is our crème-de-la-crème.”

“No one appreciates your sense of humor.”

“Chief, I’m just trying to brighten the circumstance.”

“And how so? Enlighten us, please.”

Soichiro left it at that, felt the onslaught of a migraine’s and its bombardment of aching shells.


He returned late, sun just rising, and gently tucked in the covers for his two children before sinking down into bed.

Beside him, Sachiko tossed and turned—agitated—in sleep, hand brushed against his shoulder (ascertaining he was still alive). And Soichiro thought of how lovely a painting they must have made, just wonderfully picturesque and pastoral, like they were newlywed.

“Is everything fine now?”

“Yes,” he lied and twisted a smile into place, “Everything is fine now. Go back to sleep.”

(Down the hall, Light stirred, kicked off the sheets, and felt around for a thin black-cloth book.)


And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

“And you were afraid that tiny fellow would ruin everything.”

“Shut up, Ryuk.”

And God saw that the light was good.

In silence and rectitude, Light gorged himself on his secret work.


I'm a lot'a trees.: near is weirdkeelain on July 26th, 2009 06:48 am (UTC)
the groveling
you hit all the subject matters that I wanted to see

the shallow bits
why is Soichiro a "patricidal madman"?
I probably missed your intentions.

hi thar
yeah, not very good at commenting on fic. Usually I just say something like "that was very interesting, I'll be waiting for the next update".
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on July 26th, 2009 06:52 am (UTC)
He's not; it's a heavily disguised (I is not teh clever, sowee) foreshadowing to Light later on. :D

Sarah Willimnoops Williams: pheasantink_tree on July 26th, 2009 06:48 am (UTC)
Steampunk AU, you say? I say the world is a beautiful place, & thank you for writing this, & I want to read the rest of it.
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on July 26th, 2009 06:53 am (UTC)
Thanks! :) I thought it would be pretty interesting with Death Note.
ʏoᴜʀ sᴛλʀ ɪs so ʂʜaʀρ [] sǝʃoɥ pǝƃƃɐɾ ǝɯ sǝʌɐǝʃ ʇı: DN // [light] after a day of mass murdernardaviel on July 26th, 2009 08:12 am (UTC)
I don't usually do steampunk, but I think I'm going to have to make an exception. Fantastic opening chapter, can't wait to read the rest. =D
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on July 26th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)
Thank you! :) I didn't know what steampunk really was before trying to write this fic. So it's a pretty weird experiment on my part. Heh.
transient_words: Mugentransient_words on July 28th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
I'd really like to drop you something insightful here, but fail at commenting. Yes, me and coherency just don't work out XD. Anyhow, I love the unusual writing style you've got going here and the setting you've chosen is really, really interesting.

I hope you write more, even if I'm sad that I might not catch the update (leaving for a two-week trip).
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on July 28th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. :D And yes, this is a continuing fic (I just need to bugger my muse).