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Sail The Wildest Stretch

Chapter Text

The Nightmare

 

Light was dying. He knew it. Felt it in the blood gushing from the wound in his side. Tasted it in the iron fear on his lips. Saw it in the way Ryuk carved out Light’s name in his Death Note. Where did he go wrong? How could God have failed? (And why Matsuda, of all people, to be the one to take him down?)

In his last moments, crying and pleading and writhing for his life, a haloed figure in a white shirt and blue jeans reached out for Light.

Light woke up and screamed. He screamed his voice raw and only stopped when he recognised the voices and hands clawing at him weren’t his pursuers but his classmates. His English classmates who were all looking at him like he’d gone insane. With his splitting headache and awful sense of déjà vu Light could hardly have agreed more.

Grounding himself in simple facts, like his location (school; school, not a warehouse, abandoned, dying), Light steadied his frantic breathing. He forced a smile onto his face, one which said well isn’t this funny, and addressed his classmates and teacher.

“I dozed off. It was just a nightmare,” Light deflected.

The shallow concerns of the people around him dissipated into conspiratorial gossip, and Light knew he’d be hearing about this incident in the future. He’d speculate it would make excellent fodder for Sudou and the other idiots who bullied kids at his school, but Light had scared them off last year.

Through sheer force of will, Light composed himself enough to sit back in his chair like a normal person, and not someone whose heart was still racing a million miles an hour. Not someone who still felt the ghost of a bullet in his flank, the pain of betrayal, the sting of defeat…the weight of the knowledge that he had killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Kira.

Light was Kira, in his dream. A name which had meant so much in the saga of a nightmare, but nothing to him now. A serial killer, that’s what he was. A God, of a world he had single-handedly composed into a symphony of justice in his name.

Kira.

The class went back to discussing poetry, but Light was too busy gently examining the place in his side where the bullet had been (would be?). Matsuda, the cute idiot his father had been partnered with, had shot him. What a weird way for such an elaborate nightmare to end. Light tried to shake off the sinking feeling he had, like it wasn’t some silly dream, like it was something more, but the feeling stayed with him all class. It just wasn’t like him to dream much at all, let alone a seven year marathon of a nightmare in which he became God.

And killed L.

L. The world’s greatest (three!) detectives. Light wondered if that were true; if his sleeping mind had deduced something about L, Eraldo Coil and Denevue, that no-one else ever had before. Regardless, L was an enigma, even in his nightmare. He had known Light was Kira, had chased Light no matter where or how he ran, and when confronted, had been willing to die to stop Kira. And he had, died that is.

Light couldn’t unsee the world’s greatest detective’s lifeless body, limp in Light’s arms. Couldn’t shake the way L had looked at him in his dying moments. The way L had known it was Light that killed him. And Light felt nauseous remembering the exhilaration of victory that had thrilled through him at that time.

What a monster he had become.

The dream had started innocently enough, with a notebook and some good intentions, but it was swiftly spiralled far out of control. Light’s first mistake had been killing the FBI agents. He’d crossed a line there, one that delineated him from a common criminal. He had been redeemable in his own eyes until that time, even if he was feeling ill at the thought of killing anyone, even a criminal. He had definitely crossed a line in L’s eyes. Kira was truly a childish, selfish monster. Actually, Light thought hard about the dream, both willing it to go away and trying desperately to not let the details slip away like sand through his fingers, not until he understood at least. Why he dreamt this nightmare.

Actually, his first mistake had been killing Lind L. Tailor. Then the FBI agents. Then Naomi Misora. (So many mistakes.) Tailor wasn’t innocent but he had represented an innocent man, and the others were certainly innocent. Kira felt justified, as it was for Justice, but Light couldn’t stomach it. It hardly made sense. He could easily have avoided killing any of them, but he’d chosen to relish in their deaths instead.

His second mistake wasn’t even something he could have controlled. Misa Amane. The girl’s obsession with him had been his ultimate undoing. She had been solely responsible for the unravelling of every plan he concocted. She had threatened his life to be his girlfriend. He had been coerced into an (eventually) sexual relationship with an older woman, who would kill him as soon as obsess over him. At times in the dream she had seemed pleasant enough, but Light felt she was the biggest danger he had faced. Far worse than L (whom Light was trying to think around rather than about, because it made his heart and stomach do funny things), and light years worse than L’s successors.

If Light’s dream were real, L’s successors would still be in primary school right now. How quaint.

Light scoffed at himself and forced himself to stop fingering the non-existent bullet hole, forced himself to stop analysing his weird nightmare, and forced himself to look out the window at the sky to clear his head.

As it turned out, it had the opposite effect. Light saw a thin black notebook fall from the sky and land, conveniently, beneath his classroom window. Impossible, he thought.

As soon as the bell let him out, Light scooped up his bag and darted from the room. He had one destination in mind. Light all but shouldered his fellow students out of his way in his haste. He earned himself some annoyed looks, but his aloof reputation saved him any retributions.

Finally, he skidded to a halt in the grass beneath his English classroom window. Grass was a luxury in Tokyo, a luxury at his school. It was a throne for a slim black book which presented it tenderly to Light. Light bent over and picked up the notebook.

Death Note, the spindly white writing on the cover read. Just like in his dream. Just like he had seen.

Was it his future he had dreamt? Had his destiny presented itself to him? Or was it a warning?

Was Light really Kira? A murderer?

A sudden wave of nausea saw Light dash for the nearest garbage bin. He emptied his stomach, but couldn’t empty the screaming pain of contradiction from his mind. Light wasn’t a killer! He could never do those things he’d seen in his nightmare!

It was true this world was rotten. It needed someone strong and brave and pure and willing to sacrifice, to do whatever was necessary, in order to clean it up. Light had been (would be?) the only one who could do it.

…At least, that was what the nightmare version of him had thought.

Light slumped to the ground beside the bin, aware he was making a scene, and for once not giving a damn. His world was pulling apart at the seams and he couldn’t seem to piece it back together.

The Death Note. The cause of all of this. He was still holding it. His fingers locked around its dark spine like it would kill him to let go. Maybe it would kill him to hold on.

No, get a hold of yourself, he thought firmly. He didn’t have any proof the Death Note was real. His nightmare was…unsettling, but it didn’t prove the veracity of a notebook that could kill whoever you wrote into it.

Light paled even more when he realised that he would have to test it. Not only because he was curious, not only because he was so endlessly bored, but because it had happened a certain way the first time around, in his nightmare, and if he wanted to prove the Death Note to be the fake he wanted it to be, he would also have to disprove his nightmare.

He could see clearly the name and face of the man he had first killed with the Note. He would appear on the news later this afternoon, holding children hostage. The man was scum. If Light killed him again (assuming the Death Note and the nightmare were real, which they weren’t) then the world would be no worse off.

It was the only way to be sure. Light could not know who this man was ahead of time, so even his existence and his criminal actions would be proof. But Light wanted to be beyond sure. This was…so unreal.

Light dragged himself up off the ground, brushed the dirt from his uniform, and straightened himself out. He was still a ruffled, imperfect version of his normally perfect self, and this disturbed him almost to the same degree as his nightmare and this Note had. The fact that he could hardly bring himself to care about his appearance – he still managed to, but barely – showed him how shaken he was, if the vomiting hadn’t already done so.

Whatever happened next would change his world forever.

 

Light had walked home in a daze. He hardly registered other humans, his mind a carefully constructed blank. He collapsed on his bed as soon as he returned home, face first into his pillow. He wanted to scream his lungs out, but his throat hurt from doing that earlier in class, so he refrained. What the hell was happening to him?

Light knew he did not have long for his respite (he refused to call it sulking), as Kurō Otoharada would soon be on the news. Hating everything about it, Light crawled out of bed to his desk and flipped on the television to News 6. Far sooner than he ever wanted it to, the news arrived.

“The man who indiscriminately killed and wounded six people yesterday in Shinjuku is still barracked inside this nursery school, with eight hostages, including little children. The metropolitan police have determined the man’s identity. He is Kurō Otoharada, 42 years old and unemployed. Two days ago, Otoharada…”

Light glared at the television, as if it were its fault for telling him the news. It couldn’t be worse. The man was real; a criminal doing exactly what Light had dreamed he would. Either Light had some newfound ESP for criminals or his nightmare was 100% genuine, real, bone fide destiny.

…It was 18:22 on a school night. If Light wrote this man’s name, it would never again be just 18:22 on a school night. His life would cease to be boring. He would be Kira, the God of Justice, and he would meet L, a man he had idolised for years. He didn’t like where his story ended, however, and he didn’t like a lot of the middle. Like killing L. But how to avoid that? If Light killed Otoharada then L would know Light was in Japan. It was both insanely stupid to bring L onto Light’s tail and all Light wanted. Life was boring after he had killed L, in his nightmare. Life was only exciting with him. Light frowned heavily. Guess you’re coming to Japan…

It was 18:23. He wrote Kurō Otoharada into the Death Note and waited for his destiny to catch up to him.

Forty seconds passed. Nothing. Light knew he had a little longer to wait. In an instant, the hostages streamed out of the nursery. They were free. Light had never felt more trapped.

The Death Note was real. His nightmare was real. His life was no longer only his own. He belonged to Kira now, to a destiny that had carved itself out in his mind long before he’d known it was his.

Light struggled to win back control over his emotions. He was crying, he noted distantly, and in two minutes he’d have to put on his game face and go to prep school. He wiped frantically at his eyes, staining his white sleeves. Today can’t be real, he repeated to himself. Things like this just don’t happen.

But it was happening. And if he didn’t get a hold on himself, the situation would slip uncontrollably out of his grasp. Light knew he couldn’t slip this time. He might be Kira, but he wouldn’t follow his path. Light would make his own path; he’d do it right this time.

Light’s mother called upstairs to him, “It’s 6:25 already. You have your prep course today.”

Light flinched. He scrambled up from his desk and ducked his head out his bedroom door. “Uh, yeah. I was just getting ready to go.” He smiled, the action somewhat convincing, but it wasn’t needed because his mother didn’t even notice his drying tears.

Later at the Gamou Prep Academy, Light watched Sudou bully a bespectacled nerd and had an intense feeling of déjà vu. He was sitting down but he felt vertigo, and he had to regulate his breathing for a few minutes. His teacher threw chalk at his head to get him to ‘stop spacing out’ and Light nearly snapped at him. He had no idea what Light was going through right now; it was so much more than the stupid teen angst his peers were experiencing. However, Light swallowed his anger. Things were complicated right now and he didn’t need to make them worse by shattering everyone’s image of him as perfect. Snapping his prep teacher’s neck would probably do that.

Light paid no attention in prep (although it wasn’t as if he paid any more attention normally). He spent the time ruminating on his newfound powers. Not only had he found the Death Note (which Ryuk had dropped out of boredom so it wasn’t exactly like Light was chosen but), he had seen the future. Over six years’ worth of premonitions in one high school class’ worth of daydreams. There had to be something more to that, something that hinted at destiny.

So, the question remained, he had seen the future so he could change it, obviously, but change it how? Was he to turn away from Kira entirely, place down the Death Note and forget this had ever happened? (Not likely.) Was he supposed to be more aggressive in his role as Kira this time, and eliminate all obstacles early in the game thereby preventing anyone from defeating him? (Possible. It seemed like the thing the nightmare version of himself would have wanted.) Or was he here to improve the story? Ensure he was never bored again? Not by destroying his opponents but by converting them.

L.

The only light in Light’s life. He had flashed colour into Light’s dull world. Whenever L came into the room, it was like the sun came out. It sounded stupid and fluffy and…romantic. But Light couldn’t shake his memories of the Detective. He took up far less time in Light’s prophesies than Misa or Takada or, heck, even Matsuda, but Light’s visions of L were the strongest by far. There was something about the spindly, strange man. Perhaps it had been his mind, bright and brilliant and cutting to the heart of Light, tearing off his masks and breaking down his walls. Perhaps it had been his weird, ethereal beauty as he curled in his computer chair or stood in the rain, face tilted up into the downpour.

Perhaps it was simply that Light had never felt the way he did with L before or since.

Surely, Light reasoned, I can convince him to join me. He was always saying how similar to Kira his own philosophies were. As long as I only kill truly evil criminals, L will be able to see my side.

His plan unfurling before him, Light smiled for real for the first time since he’d woken up from his nightmare. Yes, if L was his, then the world would truly be his. L’s successors would never have a reason to come after Light, and so Matsuda would never shoot him, and he would avoid that horrible end.

There was one problem with Light’s new plan. Misa Amane. She would royally fuck up everything when she came along. He could avoid killing her parents’ murderer, therefore maybe avoiding her obsession with him. But Rem would still give her the Death Note and Light couldn’t trust Misa to not become the Second Kira of her own accord anyway. And then she would have no reason not to kill Light immediately. He remembered her threats clearly. Even though she seemed under his control after Rem and L had died, Light knew better than to trust her. She was unstable. Who wouldn’t be after witnessing her parents’ murder and then nearly dying at the hands of a stalker herself? Still, what to do with Misa Amane? Her parents were already dead by now, so Light couldn’t prevent that. He could kill Misa now, ahead of her stalker, and since it would be through the Death Note, not even her Shinigami lovers could save her. But they could potentially find Light and enact revenge. Light would have to make himself known as Kira in order to affect change in the world, and Ryuk would be like a beacon at his side regardless, so it was nearly certain that Gelus or even Rem would kill Light in revenge for Misa. It would only be a matter of time. He couldn’t very well reign as God with L if he had Shinigami after his blood.

He could kill Misa’s stalker ahead of time, but he had no idea of knowing how that would affect the timeline. Maybe Gelus would see fit to come investigate Misa’s miracle himself, maybe even give her his Death Note. He seemed in love with her enough to do so. Maybe even Rem would find a way to do it. She wasn’t in love with Misa yet, although Gelus was, so Light had a short window in which to deal with Misa before the problem was out of his control. It seemed like killing her stalker was the safest bet. Misa would still be alive and therefore a potential problem, but if Gelus never died for her, Rem might never become interested in her, and she certainly wouldn’t have a spare Death Note to give Misa. While Gelus or Rem could sacrifice their own Death Note to give to Misa, Light felt it was unlikely. All things considered, this was his safest bet.

Chapter Text

Going Off-Script

 

The Death Note weighed heavily in Light’s shoulder bag as he walked home from prep school. He witnessed the unwitting cruelty of all kinds of people around him. Callous words and actions, such stupidity, and sometimes even deliberate evil. As he remembered, a bikie gang pulled up alongside a young woman outside a convenience store. She was afraid for her safety, for either the sanctity of her body or her life or both, and the men were revelling in their power over her. Light squared his shoulders and marched by into the convenience store. Takuo Shibuimaru. Light remembered him. Shibutaku, he called himself. Such a silly name. Light pulled the Death Note from his bag and opened it, considering his options. Shibutaku did not deserve death. He was being an asshole, sure, but as far as Light remembered he had never committed a serious crime. Shoplifting was the worst offence on his record, as well as some traffic violations. Light had researched him long after the fact of killing him. He remembered convincing himself the man’s death was justified. But now, looking out at the idiot trying to impress the young woman, he only felt hollow pity. He knew the Death Note worked, so there was no need to test it against this man. This man, with his little life and little existence, had nothing better to do than toot around on his bike and harass innocent women. How pathetic. But not worth the death penalty, surely.

Light put the Death Note away.

“Hey girlie-!” Shibutaku was crooning.

“Darling,” Light cut in, slinging an arm around the young woman’s shoulders. She startled, looking at him with wide eyes. But she didn’t give him away, not yet. Light smiled warmly at her. “You were meant to meet me inside the store remember? Not out here in the cold, silly!” He squeezed his arm around her shoulders comfortingly.

She caught on fast, thankfully. “Oh, o-oh, yes, sorry,” she laughed awkwardly. “I got distracted…” She looked nervously at the bikie gang who were mostly looking some combination of confused and bored at this point.

“Not a worry,” Light beamed, hoping the sheer force of his blinding smiles would win him this battle. He was uncomfortable confronting this situation directly, but he couldn’t well let her suffer in fear, and he couldn’t let Shibutaku escalate this to a point that Light would feel justified in using the Death Note. Light was playing off-script now, testing out the waters of his new reality. “Let’s head inside then, hm?”

“A-ah, yes, yes,” the woman agreed readily. She clung to Light’s side, recognising him as her way out of this mess.

Light turned them and starting walking them back to the relative safety of the convenience store. Shibutaku, who was in shock up until this point, finally spoke up. “Hey you, pretty boy! What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

The woman froze against Light’s side, but Light turned around to face Shibutaku with a disarming smile. “I’m out with my girlfriend.”

Shibutaku frowned heavily. “She’s alone,” he argued.

“Not anymore,” Light explained patiently. “She was just waiting for me. We’re going grocery shopping then she’s going to cook me a special dinner. I just got accepted into the NPA. We’re celebrating.”

He nudged the woman subtly and she startled but turned around and agreed vehemently with Light’s statement. “Oh yes! My Ri-chan got accepted with flying colours! We’re so proud!” Her voice broke at the end, but all in all, a convincing performance. Light would applaud her if he could.

“Ri-chan…” Shibutaku echoed, still lost.

“Yes,” Light agreed and stepped forward, leaving the woman behind him, shielded by his body. He grabbed Shibutaku’s hand from the bike handle and shook it firmly but friendly. “Ritsu Onodera,” he gave the first ‘Ri’ name that came to mind, “pleased to meet you.”

“Takuo Shibuimaru, pleased to meet you,” Shibutaku answered dumbly. “Uh, sorry, bro. Didn’t know she was your lady.”

“Not a worry.” Light offered up another carefree smile. “She’s very pretty. I understand.”

“Yeah, uh, you shouldn’t let her walk around alone, it’s uh dangerous,” Shibutaku advised awkwardly.

Light smiled one last time, and went back to his ‘girlfriend’. They entered the convenience store together and watched as Shibutaku and his gang argued amongst themselves for a few minutes before speeding away. She slumped against the magazine shelf and laughed nervously, covering her mouth with her hands.

Light stood by awkwardly, hands in his pockets, while he waited to make sure she was okay. She straightened up soon enough and offered Light a weak smile. “Thank you,” she said with heart aching sincerity. “You saved me.”

Now Light felt awful. He couldn’t pinpoint why but his stomach had dropped to the ground. “No… problem,” he managed.

“I’m Yuzuko Adani,” she told Light freely, like names had no power, “and thank you, really. I was so scared.”

“I understand,” Light said quietly. “So was I.”

She looked at him softly, like she understood too. Light felt the pressure building in his head, and knew he wasn’t going to last much longer before he collapsed.

“It was nice meeting you…” Yuzuko prompted.

“Yagami,” Light answered, surprised at the truth. “Light Yagami.”

“What a beautiful name,” Yuzuko said softly. “Maybe we’ll meet again, under better circumstances.”

“I’d like that,” Light agreed quietly. “Goodbye, Adani-san.”

“Goodbye, Yagami-san.”

Yuzuko waved at him as she left the store. He watched her walk down the block and cross the road to enter the train station. She was around plenty of other people. She’d probably be okay. But Light was still worried. He couldn’t say why.

 

By the time Light stumbled home, he was a nervous wreck. His hands trembled, his knees were weak, and he’d thrown up for the second time today. He was grateful his mother and sister were already in bed, and his father wasn’t home yet, so Light was able to slink to his room and curl up in the dark cave beneath his sheets. He hid in the cocoon he made for himself, fully clothed down to his shoes, bag (and Death Note) resting on his desk across from him. He peered out from his blanket fort at his bag, sitting so inconspicuously.

Light couldn’t stop shaking.

He had seen everything the nightmare version of himself had done as if it were Light himself who had done it. His psyche was separated from it by the sensation that it was a dream; a vivid 4D nightmare, but unreal nonetheless. It gave him some kind of fortitude, a semblance of a barrier against emotionally dealing with the many thousands of deaths he had caused. That he had decided he would, for the most part, cause again. He was the only one who could save the world, but could he take it? His psychological strength was only so much, and he’d seen in his nightmare the insanity that had overwhelmed his nightmare self after a time. Killing L had been the final nail in the coffin of Light Yagami; nothing but Kira had been left after that. Kira’s life, six years worth of memories, bounced around in Light’s brain, fighting for dominance. Not only did Light have to cope with the fact that he’d taken a human life today (the man had deserved it, but it was still murder), but he had to fight to keep straight what was real and what was nightmare. Who he was and who Kira had been.

Light did not sleep that night.

 

Light skipped breakfast the following morning, hyper aware of the fact it would only come right back up. He walked to school, robot-like, going through the motions of his perfect life. It was mathematics class, near the end of the school day, by the time Light had fortified his will sufficiently so as to pick himself up from his slump. Half his class was surreptitiously napping, but he looked up at the equations on the blackboard with renewed vigour. Something had fallen into place within Light, some acceptance of his new life.

Light breezed through maths like it was going out of style, and even managed a conversation about the weather with his ‘friends’. He managed to eat a late lunch, and there was a skip in his step on his way home. No prep school this afternoon, so he could get straight to the business of fixing the world. He wondered mildly how long it would take L to find him this time. Since he was fairly certain he would manage to recreate his early killing pattern accurately, he expected it would be soon. He could hardly wait!

Light greeted his mother and sister with a genuine smile and a hug. He snagged a bag of potato chips from the kitchen and headed up to his room. He set everything up on his desk, locked his door, and sat down to start writing.

He started with the names and faces he could remember, then switched on the news and the internet and went from there. He made it through 19 names before a sudden wave of nausea took him and he made a frantic grab for his waste bin. Out came his late lunch and his potato chips, and more of his stomach acid and lining than Light was comfortable with. He retched for nearly ten minutes after the fact, hugging the bin to himself as he curled up on the floor. When the convulsions passed, Light clawed his way back onto his chair. It rolled sickeningly beneath him so he stayed only long enough to take the Death Note and a pen back down to the floor with him.

He spent the rest of the night like that, curled on the floor, alternating between writing names and crying, writing names and heaving, writing names and hyperventilating…

It was his second night without sleep.

 

Light spent the next three days in the same pattern. He wrote names whenever he was capable, tried hard not to think about what he was doing, attended school, played the role of perfect son and student, and ate about one day’s worth of food all up. He caught about four hours total of sleep in between restless turning and horrific dreams. These were thankfully nothing like his nightmare, in that they were surreal and obviously conjured by his pained mind as it tried to cope with its additional set of memories and growing gnawing guilt. Light felt one devastating vision of his future was more than enough, thank you.

No-one questioned his declining health. He was in his final year of high school, after all. Intense studying to the detriment of one’s health was hardly uncommon.

By the fifth day of owning the Death Note, day five post-nightmare, Light had successfully killed every major dictator, serial killer, crime lord and vicious criminal he could find. He had hesitated when it came to signing Beyond Birthday into the Note. The initial B in his name still sat unfinished in its line. Originally, Light had killed him on day four of owing the Note. His nightmare self had later figured that this was one of the things that had attracted L to the case. L, for all that Beyond had done to him, must have still cared for the psychopath. This time around, instead of carelessly writing out Beyond’s name as one of many, Light sighed and left his space blank. Beyond was in prison, unlikely to be hurting anyone anytime soon, so Light would wait to ask L what he wanted to do.

Half of the world’s countries were in political turmoil as Light had eliminated their evil leadership. Light spent at least half of his waking hours wondering if L was onto him yet, and the other half convincing himself not to leave L any deliberate hints. Light was impatient, but he was also optimistic. Things are already better this time, he reminded himself at regularly scheduled intervals. He’d saved Yuzuko without spilling anyone’s blood. L had never figured out that Light had killed Shibutaku in his nightmare, but Light hoped he would get the chance to tell L all about his improved decision making soon.

Light’s only other concern (apart from trying to not slowly starve to death; he’d lost 4 kilograms in as many days, and it wasn’t like he had body mass to spare to begin with) was how he would approach his first meeting with Ryuk. He knew the Shinigami had been watching him, knew today would be their meeting. Would he know about Light’s nightmare? How could he?

Light had eventually decided to keep his nightmare to himself. The less the others knew, the more control Light would have.

On the fifth day of walking Kira’s path, Light’s friends dropped him home from school. His mother greeted him at the door, only wanting to see his test scores. Ranked first nationwide, naturally. Light told her he would be studying and slipped up to his room. She offered to get him something, anything he wanted, but Light politely turned her down. His new life, so free of boredom, was all he had ever wanted.

Light set up his television and computer, his usual for Death Note writing, and had just pulled out the Note when, as in his memories, Ryuk’s cackling laughter started up behind him. Light flinched, even though he was prepared, and turned as Ryuk said, “You seem to like it.”

Light let out a gasp of a scream, choked off, but sufficiently convincing. Ryuk looked exactly as he did in Light’s nightmare. Exactly as he did when he killed him. If Light needed any more proof that he had indeed seen the future, this was it.

Light fell to the floor, doing his best to look surprised and a little scared, and not like he’d seen Ryuk a million times before.

“Why’re you so surprised to see me? I’m Ryuk, the Shinigami who dropped that Notebook.” Ryuk loomed over Light, his clownish grin and unlidded eyes, his unnaturally long body and dark feathered shoulders, all the same as Light remembered. “The way you were acting just now, I can tell you know it isn’t just any old notebook… right?”

“A…Shinigami?!” Light gasped. He screwed his eyes shut, then opened them to stare at Ryuk with determination. He stood, murmuring, “A God of Death…I’m not surprised to see you, Ryuk.” Well, that at least was true.

Ryuk was surprised that Light wasn’t surprised.

“In fact,” Light continued, “I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Really,” Ryuk twitched.

“Gee,” Light smirked, “a personal visit from a Shinigami…Very kind of you. Not that I doubted this was a ‘Death God’s Notebook’ but…seeing things with my own eyes like this lets me act with greater certainty.” Again, it was true. Light found it funny how easy it was to pretend like nothing was different this time around. “Plus there’re some things I wanted to ask you…”

Light whipped out the Death Note and, with his own unique dramatic flair, showed Ryuk a pair of his full pages.

“Hee hee, wow this is amazing,” Ryuk grinned as he read the names. “Gotta say, I’m the one who’s surprised. I’ve heard of Death Notes getting down to the human world a few times before…but no one’s ever done this many in just five days.” His wide yellow eyes locked with Light’s. “Most people would be too scared.”

Light was scared, yes, but not in the way Ryuk thought. Still… “I’m ready for anything, Ryuk…I used the notebook, knowing it belonged to a Shinigami…and now the Shinigami’s here…what happens to me now? You take my soul or something?”

“Huh?” Ryuk said. “What’s that? Some fantasy you humans came up with? I’m not going to do anything to you. The moment a Death Note lands in the human world, it belongs to the human world. So it’s yours now.”

“Mine…” Light echoed.

“You don’t want it, give it to another human. When you do, I’ll just have to erase all your Death Note memories. Oh and-” Ryuk, as much of a drama queen as Light, hopped out the window and flew to perch on the powerlines. “Since you’ve used what was my notebook, you’re the only one who can see me. Nobody else can hear me either, of course. The Death Note is the bond between Light the human and Ryuk the Shinigami.”

“The bond…?” Light echoed. “So there really is no price to pay for using the Death Note?”

“Well not exactly…” Ryuk climbed back through Light’s window. “But there is the terror and torment that only humans who’ve used it will experience. And when you die, I’ll be the one writing your name down but, don’t think that any human who’s used the Death Note can go to heaven or to hell. That’s all.”

Ryuk towered over Light. He was intimidating, and Light wasn’t really accustomed to dealing with the Shinigami for real yet, so he had to square himself against his instinctive fear.

“You’ll find out about that after you die,” Ryuk added, leaning in to peer closely at Light while he chuckled.

Light froze at his words. After I die…? That had been how Light’s nightmare had ended. Does that mean…? Is this what happens after a Death Note user dies? Does your life just…reset?

Had everything in Light’s nightmare really already happened once? Did he have his time over again?

“O-okay, one more question,” Light managed through his shock. He wanted desperately to ask Ryuk about his six year long Groundhog Day, but he settled for what his nightmare self had asked. “Why did you choose me?”

“Hunh? Hyuk! Hyuk! Don’t flatter yourself. All I did was drop the notebook, that’s all. You thought I chose you? Cuz you’re so smart or something? It just happened to land somewhere around here… and you just happened to pick it up. That’s why I wrote the instructions in English – it’s the most popular language in your world.”

Light had already heard all of this, but it was nice to have it reaffirmed.

“Then why did you drop it?!” Light cried, letting some of his real desperation into his voice. “Don’t tell me it was by mistake, after you went and wrote all those instructions.”

“Why did I drop it…?” An evil smile curled Ryuk’s already grinning lips. “Because I was bored, that’s why.”

Ryuk explained the boring situation in the Shinigami world. Light listened patiently, feeling more interested the second time around. He wanted to see the Shinigami world for himself one day. It was the cause of all the woes and all the excitement in Light’s life, after all.

“I was bored too,” Light offered Ryuk when he’d finished. Light briefly explained what happened in the last five days, omitting any reference to his nightmare.

At the end, Ryuk simply said, “Okay.”

“I admit,” Light said, now sitting on his desk chair tiredly, “it’s been giving me bad dreams and I’ve hardly slept the last five days. I’ve lost four kilograms. Still I’m on a mission here. So I’ve been writing in the names of the world’s most brutal criminals. All the data I need is in my room. World news 24 hours a day on TV, plus everything on the internet.”

“But you only specified the cause of death for the guy who got hit by a truck, nobody else. How come?”

“Ryōtarō Sakajō was special,” Light deflected, trying to draw attention away from the death of Misa’s stalker. “He was a test, to see if specifying the cause of death worked. Otherwise, if you don’t specify the cause of death, they all die from a heart attack. That’s the best thing about the Death Note, Ryuk.”

Late into his third sleepless night, Light had thrown caution to the wind and inscribed the name of Misa’s stalker into his Death Note. He was dead and couldn’t hurt Misa now. She would hopefully live to a ripe old age somewhere far away from Light. It had felt like nothing special to write Sakajō’s name in between so many other criminals, even if Sakajō was a well-respected man with no criminal past as of present. He died in a traffic accident. Light checked the traffic incident reports in his dad’s NPA connected computer in the days after Sakajō’s death and, sure enough, he’d been flattened by a truck. The photographs had demonstrated the pain with which Sakajō had died, and Light decided it was only fitting since he’d seen fit to inflict Misa upon him in the nightmare timeline.

Having successfully brushed by Sakajō’s death with Ryuk, Light moved onto to explaining the important things. “I’ve already covered the most vicious criminals. So now the level of atrocity is coming down. And every single one of them will die of a heart attack! Even a fool is going to notice that somebody is bumping off the bad guys. I’m going to make the whole world know I’m here… that somebody is passing righteous judgement on them!!” Light couldn’t help himself; he beamed. Even if he didn’t like how Nightmare Kira had handled things, Light was proud of his intentions.

“And then nobody will commit crimes anymore. The world will start to become a better place,” he continued. Kira had originally followed up with some spiel about killing off immoral people, but Light swallowed the words. That was a flaw in the nightmare plan. Light was fixing not only the world’s mistakes, but his own. So Light slipped along to the next part of his speech, “Even the idiot masses will realise they’ll die if they don’t change their ways…I’ll make this a world inhabited only by good people!”

‘People I decide are good’ was how he’d said it in his nightmare. As God, Light would need to exert such decisive control over the world, but this kind of hubris had led to his death in the nightmare. As such, Light was trying to adapt. Altering his inherit control freak personality was killing him a little on the inside, but it was better than making so many bad choices, as he had in the nightmare. Light intended that this time around, he would have L by his side as early as possible to ensure better decision making. L might have an even worse moral compass than Light, but he had such rigid ideals when it came to justice that he’d help Light stay on the straight and narrow of being a good God.

Or something. Light hadn’t really planned that far ahead. He was still waiting to see how L would reveal himself this time. If he went for the Lind L. Tailor strategy, Light would have to get creative to avoid making L think he wanted him dead, while simultaneously killing Tailor to let L know he was in Kanto so they could meet. Once Light made it past that hurdle, he would tackle the uncertain future with all his intelligence and knowledge. Tentative plans would become solid and he would create a new world with L by his side.

Meanwhile, back in the world outside of Light’s mind, Ryuk was saying, “You do something like that, the only one left with a bad personality will be you.”

Light’s sunshine smile only increased in lumens. The only ones left with a bad personality would be him and L. “What are you talking about, Ryuk? I’m a serious, straight A student, a model teenager… and I will reign over a new world.”

Ryuk grinned along with Light, caught up in the fun of it all. I was right, Ryuk thought, humans are fun!!

 

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, at a G8 Summit, a meeting of the International Criminal Police Organisation was being held to address the issue of every evil person in the world dropping dead like flies.

The meeting hall was in a din. “Fifty-two in the last week and that’s just those we know about!” “Every single one from cardiac arrest.” “All of the victims are criminals either being pursued by police or already behind bars.” “We may assume that more wanted criminals, whose whereabouts are unknown, have died as well.” “In which case the death toll will be well over a hundred…”

And further away still, a mysterious figure in a white shirt and jeans sat on a wood panelled floor in front of a computer watching the Interpol meeting. “Hmm…so Interpol’s finally starting to move on this. Well, this is one case where I’m going to need some help from the police.”

Chapter Text

The World In Technicolor

 

Life as Kira was surprisingly normal. At least, that’s what Light had come to think after being Justice personified for a week. He still attended high school and prep school, still made small talk with the small minds around him, and the world spun madly on.

There were, naturally, a few differences. A big (literally big) one was the Ryuk shaped shadow that followed Light everywhere he went. Light had no idea how he’d put up with it in the nightmare. Ryuk followed him like a lost puppy, into the toilet, to school, hanging upside down from the roof while Light did his homework, phasing halfway through solid objects and sometimes people. Light half wanted to yell at the idiot Shinigami, and half wanted to laugh at his antics.

Soon after Ryuk had settled in on the afternoon he’d first come to Light, Light had put aside his Death Note and his homework, and decided to make friends with his new stalker. He’d set up his Nintendo 64 with his television (he had used to play it with Yamamoto all the time, before…) and selected Mario Golf to play. He recalled it was Ryuk’s favourite, and Light would admit he was fond of the game as well.

It hadn’t taken long (Light was on the opening menu) for Ryuk to sidle over to inspect what Light was doing. Light offered the Shinigami a controller which was accepted into monstrous claws. “Ever played a video game before?”

“No,” returned the expected answer.

“Well, this is a Nintendo 64 console and game cartridges go in here, then you take the controller like this…” Light had shown Ryuk how to play (the Shinigami was a surprisingly quick study) and the pair had spent the next hour facing off in simulated golf.

Ryuk had warmed up to Light after that, and even more so when Light passed his mother’s apples onto the burgeoning addict. Light found he didn’t mind Ryuk so much when the Shinigami was sufficiently distracted.

Apart from Ryuk, the next biggest difference in Light’s life was the countdown he’d started in his head until Lind L. Tailor’s grand debut. Light had bounced back and forth between an array of potential plans to tackle the issue. He knew he couldn’t just kill Tailor, not only because that was a dumbass mistake Nightmare Light had made, but because it would put L offside. L had told him in the nightmare that he’d known that if Kira killed Tailor, he would then try to kill L as well, but since he couldn’t it meant Kira had limitations on who he could kill.

Light had reluctantly concluded he would have to do something to Tailor so L would know to look in Kanto for him. So the next obvious thought was to get Tailor to die with detail, leaving L a message of some kind. But Light remembered the trouble he’d had in his nightmare getting prisoners to follow a detailed death plan. If even one thing he instructed Tailor to do was impossible for the man, he would drop dead of a heart attack and Light would be back at square one.

Light’s other option was to leave Tailor, and get a message to L some other way. L had to know to stay in Japan or Light’s future would be pointless. But Light couldn’t make it too obvious. So what to do…?

Light had angsted over this for days now, hyperaware that even the tiniest flaw in planning and execution would result in his losing L, possibly for good. Light knew L was smart enough to suspect him regardless of whether he made any mistakes or not, but the problem was getting himself on L’s radar in the first place.

Light had been killing as often throughout the day as possible. He couldn’t well carry the Note with him to school (what if some idiot got their hands on it and saw Ryuk? Light would be screwed), so he scheduled criminals to die randomly. He still killed slightly more outside of school hours, partly because there was only so much time in a day, but mostly because he needed to attract L’s attention. A police family’s teenage kid was who L had deduced was Kira in the nightmare. Light wanted him to reach the same conclusion, even though it was a dangerous game to draw such attention to himself. However, Light intended to make it a slim enough increase that only L would pay it any mind. The more important profile he needed to draw of himself for L was of someone connected to the police. L wouldn’t personally reveal himself until he had a smaller task force anyway so Light had to whittle down the police around L somehow. Playing to L’s paranoia was the ideal method.

And, all of that was well and good, but first he still had Tailor to deal with.

 

On the fated day, Light’s friends walked him home from school. They didn’t often do so, but they wanted to hear his opinion on Kira. Not that they knew yet to call the one judging criminals Kira, but they would, soon. L would paste it all over the news. Light couldn’t escape the title, even if he was escaping its fate.

Light’s friends bid him farewell at his door. Light went inside, Ryuk trailing along and commenting on how much Light seemed to be enjoying all the gossip. Light greeted his mother as he passed her in the hallway. When Light and Ryuk were safely locked in his room, Light answered the Shinigami.

“I’m not really enjoying this, Ryuk. Because I leave the Death Note at home, and I can’t relax until I see it again.” Light took the aforementioned Note out of its hiding spot – in a hollowed-out edition of World’s Greatest Buildings. Light’s architectural phase was finally paying off. He kept anything he didn’t want his family finding inside the twenty part series.

Light sat at his desk and arranged his normal Death Note Writing Session set up. Once the television was set to the channel ABCN, he passed the time until Tailor’s appearance by showing Ryuk some of the Kira websites that had sprung up in the last few days.

Inevitably, the television turned to static. Then, a flash of colour; a handsome Caucasian man in a suit and tie sat at a desk looking very serious. The plaque in front of him clearly read ‘Lind L. Tailor’.

“We are interrupting the program to being you a live, globally televised broadcast from Interpol, with Japanese voiceover by Yoshio Anderson,” the narrator explained.

Tailor took it from there.

“I am Lind L. Tailor, more commonly known as ‘L’ – the sole person able to mobilise police in every country worldwide. Criminals have been the target of a killing spree which has turned into the biggest serial killing case in history. This monstrous crime must be stopped at all costs. ‘Kira’, as the perpetrator is commonly known, will be caught. I guarantee it.”

Ryuk started chuckling at Light’s predicament. “He says he’s gonna catch you, Light.”

Light, who had been busy staring slack-jawed at the screen, shook himself into action. “No,” he told Ryuk firmly. “I’ll catch him.”

“Hunh?” Ryuk was understandably confused. Light was keeping him in the dark far more this time around.

“Kira,” Tailor continued, in what was an impressively strong voice for a man scheduled to die today. “I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of why you’re doing this.” Light wished L did. He will, Light thought, in time. “But what you are doing…is evil!!”

Light flinched; he couldn’t help it. He’d been doing his best to avoid L interpreting him that way, but it was early days yet, and Light was sure L would finally see his way. Still, it hurt to hear his idol call him evil.

The Death Note lay open before Light. Light looked from it to the television and back again; this was the moment of reckoning. He would either win L or lose him with this next act. So, no pressure.

Light picked up a pen. Ryuk perked up in interest, peering over Light’s shoulder to see what he was writing. He started laughing hard when he realised where Light was going with this.

Tailor continued, “Police worldwide have launched a coordinated investigation…”

The condemned man stood suddenly, papers spilling across the desk in front of him. He spread his arms wide and declared, with more flare than Light had anticipated, “I am not the real L. The real L needs to try harder.” Tailor then clutched at his chest, as his heart exploded inside him, and promptly dropped dead.

All was silent for a moment as the world held its breath. Then someone screamed and people rushed to Tailor’s side, hurriedly checking his vital status. Light already knew what they’d find, and he leant back in his desk chair smugly.

Ryuk was all but rolling on the floor laughing, literally, and Light admitted he was chuckling too, feeling rather pleased with himself. He liked this plan; it made his point, that he was God and not to be trifled with, but was also playful enough that he hoped L would pick up on his good intentions.

Light pictured L’s reaction at the unexpected turn of events; whatever candy he’d been holding between his teeth dropped to the floor in shock as he would spend a minute sulking. (Though Light had no way of knowing it, he wasn’t far off.)

L’s computed-modulated voice came through the television a minute later, a gothic stylised L onscreen. He had taken longer to regroup this time than in the nightmare. Light felt rather proud of that.

“I…don’t believe it,” L said. Light straightened in his chair; every neuron focused on the words. “This was an experiment to test a hunch I had, but I never really thought. Kira…You can actually kill people without direct contact.”

Light was beaming at the television, which probably confused the hell out of Ryuk (not that Light particularly cared). He had known L would understand; he had known but he was still so happy. L was coming to meet him, soon. Light would never be bored again.

“So my hunch was right. I couldn’t believe it until I saw it with my own eyes but you can…” Light was mildly surprised by just how much he was enjoying hearing L’s voice again for the first time. “You’d have to, of course; it didn’t make sense otherwise.”

“Kira, listen to me. The man you just killed, Lind L. Tailor, was a criminal condemned to die on this day. His arrest and conviction were kept secret from the media and went unreported on the internet. You might not have known that. And what you did know, I don’t know how you knew, but you are right. He was not the real L. I am.”

“Of course you are,” Light was smiling beatifically, “if you weren’t, I’d be disappointed.”

“So come on, Kira, kill me!”

Light flinched so hard he fell out of his chair. “What…?!”

“Come on! Go ahead and kill me. I’m still here. What are you waiting for? Can’t do it?” L was taunting him, or rather taunting the kind of person he believed Kira was. Light pouted at the television from his place on the floor.

“That jerk…” he grumbled. Of course L wouldn’t take him killing Tailor lying down. Stupid bastard. Light could only hope L figured out Light wasn’t killing him by choice, not as a matter of ability.

L Lawliet.

Light remembered. It would hardly take more than a couple seconds to end the detective’s life. He could do it whenever he wanted. And yet that was the thing; Light didn’t want to. He never would. The memories of life after L were burnt into his brain. Light would do anything to avoid that ending to his story.

“Or maybe you won’t? No amount of nobility changes the fact that what you’re doing is evil, Kira.”

Light was scowling now. L was pushing the limits of his patience. He knew the detective just didn’t understand yet, but Light didn’t appreciate the insults any more for that knowledge.

“You’ve given me a valuable clue,” L said. Light’s head tilted to the side, considering. What clue could L mean? It wasn’t like he had conclusive proof this time that Light couldn’t kill without a name and a face. In fact, L shouldn’t have the foggiest that that was the case. So what…? Tailor. Of course.

“Fuck,” Light breathed. Tailor’s criminal status was completely top secret. Only those in Interpol with connections to the case and those originally on the case (and L) would know about him. Unless L was willing to believe Kira was able to read Tailor’s mind, it meant Kira was involved in high level police work. Light wanted to scream. If this distracted L from finding Light, he’d- he’d-! Well, Light didn’t know what he’d do, but it was something dramatic.

“Now I’ll give you some information in return,” L continued like he hadn’t just steamrolled all over Light’s flawless plan. “Although it was announced that this was being televised globally, it was actually broadcast only in the Kanto region around Tokyo. The plan was to broadcast live to other areas in turn, but that’s no longer necessary. You are in the Kanto region of Japan, Kira.”

Light sighed in relief. At least L had gotten that right!

Ryuk chuckled, sat where he was on the floor with Light. “Hyuk hyuk. He’s pretty sharp, this L.”

“And although the police have missed this, your first victim was he Shinjuku killer who took eight people hostage in a nursery school.”

In his nightmare, Light had been nearly in inconsolable by this point. Now he was tempted to get up and do a jig, he was so happy.

“His crime when compared to those of the notorious murderers who’ve died of heart attacks was not very serious. Moreover the case was reported only in Japan, nowhere else… That was all the information I needed.”

L could hardly have done better if Light had handwritten him a letter of confession on a Note page and mailed it to him. He was so proud of his future partner in justice.

Find me! Light willed at L through the television.

“I knew, Kira, that you were in Japan! And that your first victim was nothing more than a guinea pig for testing out your powers!” Light would applaud him, if that wouldn’t make Ryuk think he’d totally lost his marbles. “We broadcast first to Kanto because it has the largest regional population in your country. That you were there was just pure luck. I didn’t expect this to work so perfectly according to plan,” Light did scoff at that, because he and L both knew Light had thrown him a curve ball on this one, “but now I may dare say, it may not be so long before I send you to die.” Light wasn’t even offended this time. He knew L was too interested in him to execute him, even if he did somehow catch Light before Light caught him.

“Kira, it would interest me greatly to know how you carry out your murders…but that’s something I can find out after I catch you! I will find you and stop you, if it’s the last thing I do! I am Justice!” L paused momentarily in his monologue. “How’s that for trying harder?” he snarked. “Until we meet again, Kira.”

“Drama queen,” Light teased under his breath.

L signed off and the news resumed its regular broadcast. The topic of discussion was, inevitably, on what had just transpired. Light quickly switched it off, because he had more important things to think about.

Like how Ryuk was staring at him. “Hora, Lighto, how’d you know that guy wasn’t L?”

Light shrugged with a studied nonchalance. “It was obvious. L is the world’s greatest and most mysterious detective. He would never appear on television.”

Ryuk seemed to accept his logic, but then said, “So you’re both trying to find someone you know nothing about…Not their name, face or anything else. And whoever is found first, is dead.” Ryuk seemed inordinately pleased with this.

Light frowned. He hadn’t exactly planned on telling Ryuk he didn’t intend to kill L, but he couldn’t well have the Shinigami going off on his own and doing anything to harm the detective. Not that that was likely but Light didn’t want to take any chances.

“I’ll win, but not by killing him,” Light hedged, purposefully teasing Ryuk’s interest. The Shinigami looked decidedly intrigued. “I’ll win by making him see my way, Ryuk. I am righteous. L’s smart. He’ll come to see that I’m right.”

“How?” Ryuk asked.

“I’ll have to get close to him first,” Light explained slowly. “He’ll know I’m Kira, but he won’t be able to prove it. He’ll want to keep an eye on me and I’ll use that against him. I can be very charming when I want to be, Ryuk.”

Ryuk looked a bit dubious at that thought, like Light couldn’t charm the pants off of any living being.

Light smiled sweetly. “You’ll see. It’ll be fun. L will be mine by the end of this.”

Ryuk grinned.

 

Meanwhile, in the Shinigami world…

“Hey, you seen Ryuk around lately?” one skeletal Shinigami asked another.

“He said he dropped his notebook down in the human world. You think that was for real?”

“If a human picked it up, he’d be stuck there until the human died or the Notebook was done.”

“How troublesome. Not even Ryuk would wanna do that.”

“You never know with that Ryuk though. Plus I heard he had two Notebooks.”

“Huh? Why would he want two?”

Off to the side, a squat Shinigami made half of bone and half of flesh listened in to the conversation. His friend, a tall Shinigami lady of bleached bone with purple hair, sat beside him on the rocky precipice.

“Hey, Gelus, you don’t think…?” the lady asked.

“It makes sense,” the smaller Shinigami rattled. “Someone had to have changed Misa’s lifespan.”

“But why would Ryuk save her?”

“I don’t think it was him, Rem…”

Chapter Text

The Waiting Game

 

In the days following his first confrontation with L, Light was switching between jump-up-and-down-on-the-spot levels of anticipation for L’s next move and mind-numbing boredom while he waited for the game to pick up again. Of course, externally, Light was the same serious student as ever.

On one fine afternoon, Light was busying himself by identifying cloud types while he lounged by his bedroom window on the floor, when he was interrupted from his really very important thoughts by Ryuk.

“I’ve never seen you looking so listless, Light,” the Shinigami hedged while munching on his fifth apple of the afternoon. Light was genuinely stumped as to how, what with his upswing in apple purchases, L never caught him in his nightmare based solely upon that taunting riddle he’d sent him.

The teen played distractedly with a strand of his auburn hair. “I’m just taking a break. I want to see what L does next. Plus, I’m kinda tired.” He leaned back with a yawn. “Take one step out of the house and all you hear about is L and Kira. You can’t avoid it, even if you want to… I guess it might be pretty interesting if I wasn’t Kira.” And if I wasn’t stuck here waiting for L to make a move.

…Guess I’ll have to take the initiative. Thanks, L ‘I’ve never been submissive to anything in my life including traffic lights’ Lawliet.

The door handle of Light’s bedroom door rattled suddenly, startling Light. “Why do you have to lock your door, Light?” Light’s baby sister, Sayu, complained loudly through the timber.

“Hey, Sayu,” Light called back, rolling numbly up off the floor. “What’s up?”

“I need help with my homework,” came the predictable reply.

Light let his sister in. She held up her maths textbook like it was a prize on a game show. “Ta-da! Quadratic functions!”

Light looked at the books dubiously but took them anyway, saying, “Uh-huh.” He would bet his Death Note that Sayu didn’t know how to solve one equation in that book.

Ryuk loomed over the Yagami siblings. “Watch out, Light,” he advised. “If your sister touches the Death Note, she – well, anyone who does – will be able to see me.”

Light had to restrain himself from physically rolling his eyes at his idiot Shinigami. Way ahead of you on that one, Ryuk…

The Death Note was safely tucked away in his architectural encyclopaedias. Sayu knew one of the volumes was hollowed out for what was left of Light’s yaoi stash (he could never quite bring himself to throw it away), but she didn’t think any of the others were hollow, or if she did, Light knew she wouldn’t want to check for fear of getting an eyeful of her brother’s dirty magazines. (The fact she knew about the first hollow book was a long story Light would rather avoid thinking about.) The book mightn’t be the best place for the Death Note in the long term, and Nightmare Light’s dramatic Mad Max style desk drawer was a solid plan, but Light had decided to think up his own hiding place rather than leech off his nightmare’s ideas. After all, his nightmare had gotten a lot of stuff wrong.

So, unconcerned with Ryuk, who had settled down on Light’s bed to watch the Yagami’s study, Light spent the next hour trying to teach Sayu maths. The process was roughly equivalent to trying to teach maths to a herd of sloths. Mello and Near would get along before Sayu willingly completed an equation. As had been the standard since elementary school, Light all but did Sayu’s homework for her, with his little sister watching with glazed eyes. She was a sweetheart, and Light loved her, but she could be dumb as a bag of apples at times. Her talents lay in social relations, not IQ. She had more genuine friends than Light had written names in the Death Note, or so it seemed. He couldn’t keep up.

“Gosh, you’re such a math whiz!” Sayu complimented him with complete sincerity.

Light puffed up a little with pride but managed a sceptical eyebrow raise. He loved his little sister, and flattery would get you everywhere with Light, but he wasn’t falling for her innocent act. “Look, did you really get it?”

“Uh,” Sayu hedged, “well, sort of.”

She was saved by the bell, literally, as the doorbell rang. Light could hear his mother welcoming his father home, and teasing him gently for forgetting his keys yet again.

“That must be dad,” Sayu turned on her improvised chair (Light’s footstool). “He’s home early today.” She hopped up to run and greet him.

Light scolded her on her way out, “Hey, at least solve the last problem by yourself.”

“After dinner okay?” she grinned cheekily at him. Light sighed and rolled his eyes affectionately. He followed her downstairs, closing his door behind him. Ryuk phased through after him, undisturbed by trivial human world things like solid matter.

“Light! Sayu! It’s dinner time! Come downstairs!” Sachiko called to her children.

“Coming!” Sayu chirped, rounding the corner at the bottoms on the stairs. “Hi daddy!”

Sōichirō Yagami was sitting in the entrance, untying his shoes. Light looked down at his father as he greeted him, “Dad, welcome home.”

Sōichirō, who was rarely home, had brought with him a peculiar kind of tension unique to the Yagami family. His great expectations of his children were stifling, and even Sayu’s bubbly personality turned down a notch in his presence. Light had long since learned to be perfect thanks to his father’s influence. As such, Sōichirō never bothered him much anymore.

The family sat down for dinner, cooked by Sachiko, and to any outsider it seemed like the perfect nuclear family. Ryuk hung around behind Light, watching the family’s interactions curiously. Everyone was silent for a time, focusing on eating, until Sōichirō initiated conversation. “How’s school going, Light?”

Light hid his startle. His father never started dinner conversations. He was usually too tired from work.

“Okay,” Light replied calmly, adjusting to the situation quickly. “Same as usual, dad.”

“Yup!” Sayu added. “Top of the class as usual! You can count on Light.”

Sōichirō turned his attention onto Sayu. She pouted as she realised that she shouldn’t have brought school-related attention onto herself. “And what about you, Sayu?”

“Who, me?” she squeaked. “Are you…sure you want to know?” She rubbed the back of her head nervously. “I guess it’s…same as usual for me too.”

“I see,” Sōichirō said as he put down his chopsticks.

Light studied his father’s expression carefully, judging his mood as simply tired. “You seem tired, dad,” Light prompted.

Sōichirō closed his eyes tiredly. “Well…this case is a hard one, to put it mildly. It’s practically a wild goose chase.”

Light kept his composure. He knew his father meant Kira, and Light was almost sorry his father was suffering work-related stress because of his actions. Light wondered if he should dial down the cleansing for a while; his father would have a stress-induced heart attack again if he wasn’t careful.

“But,” Sōichirō continued, “the person in charge of the investigation did say today that judging from the estimated time of death, the killer is probably a student…”

Light swiftly placed some food in his mouth to avoid exclaiming. L had picked up on his clue!

Sachiko frowned at her husband. “I don’t think this is a subject for the dinner table…”

“Why not?” Sōichirō countered. “We’ve had cases before where ideas from Light helped us move the investigation forward.”

Light half wanted to press the subject, maybe hear some of his father’s opinions on the case, but he knew he ought not push his luck this early in the game. Still…

“You’re working on the Kira case, aren’t you dad?”

Sōichirō startled then smiled proudly. “It’s highly confidential,” he said light-heartedly. “But I suppose you know that already, Light. Have you been following the case?”

“Of course.” Light folded his arms across his chest and settled in comfortably. “It’s all everyone ever talks about these days. I’ve been working on a profile of Kira in my spare time.” Light cleared his throat and began, “Kira has killed upwards of 500 people across most countries in the world.” It was a lowball figure that Light knew his father would believe he had been able to calculate. “Kira is likely a young man, in his late teens to early twenties. He’s Japanese, as L established in his televised confrontation with Kira. Speaking of which, although it is not something I’m happy to consider, Kira is probably killing through some kind of telepathy. This would explain how he knew that man on TV wasn’t the real L. Unfortunately, this would make it nearly impossible to catch Kira as there would likely be no concrete evidence. L would need Kira to confess. He’ll have to back Kira into a corner, and that could be dangerous.” Light’s eyes snapped open to stare at his father with concern. “I’m worried about you, dad. L could have been killed in his little stunt on TV, and I don’t want to see the same happen to you.”

Sachiko nodded along. “Yes, dear, your health isn’t as good as it used to be. You should at least come home more often from the case to rest.”

Sōichirō looked backed into a corner himself. “Everyone,” he frowned, “thank you for worrying about me, but please don’t. I’ll be fine. We’ll catch Kira soon.”

Light offered a supportive smile. “I know you will, dad.”

Sōichirō returned his son’s smile with a tired one of his own. “Your profile is excellent, as usual, Light. In fact, after you’re accepted into university, why don’t you come to freelance on the case like you’ve done previously?”

Light could hardly believe his hears or his luck. “Would that really be alright with such a high profile case?”

“Well, to be honest,” Sōichirō said, “we could use the help. If it wasn’t for L, I’m not sure we would know how to go about solving this case.”

“Nonsense,” Light offered the rejoinder. “You’d figure something out, dad. Good old-fashioned police work will solve this case. L is just here to help.”

Sōichirō looked like he’d had his confidence boosted a bit by this statement. If Light knew anything – and he did know a lot of things – he knew how to fluff his father’s feathers.

“Well, I’ll head upstairs to study now,” Light announced, rising from his seat. “Sayu, was that all the help you needed?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Sayu said.

“Was Light helping you do your homework again, Sayu?” Sōichirō asked.

“Gee, Light! Thanks a lot for blabbing!” Sayu complained playfully, shaking her fist at Light’s back. Light smiled fondly as he headed off.

Once they were back in Light’s room, Ryuk asked him, “Your father is chief of the NPA? Is that why you haven’t been worried about the police? Because you have a man on the inside?”

Light shrugged and flopped onto his bed. “Not particularly.” He yawned widely. “L will figure out I’m Kira soon, but he won’t be able to prove it. I have to get close to L to convert him, remember? In order to do that, I have to get involved in the investigation somehow. There’s no guarantee my dad can get me on the team, so dropping just enough hints that I’m Kira to catch L’s interest, but not enough so that he can even begin to prove I’m Kira, is the best way to guarantee L will want to be close to me.” Light looked up at Ryuk with wide eyes. “Don’t you agree Ryuk? It’s more fun this way anyway. Just wait and see what I have in store for L.”

Ryuk chuckled. “What’s that, Light?”

Light sprung off his bed and stretched his arms over his head. He shook out his legs and arms, cracked his neck, and grinned at the Shinigami. He ducked over to his bookshelf and retrieved the Death Note.

 

L knew Kira could control the actions of his victims at least somewhat before their deaths. Tailor’s pronouncement of L needing to ‘try harder’ was sufficient evidence of that. Still, he hadn’t expected the extent of the serial killer’s ability.

Twenty-three criminals had died of a heart attack today, and another twenty-three yesterday. Kira was showing L he could control the time of death, and, more importantly, he definitely had some connection to law enforcement. First his suspicious knowledge of Tailor’s identity, and now, leaked information about Kira potentially being a student from the task force. Kira was either directly involved in the NPA task force’s investigation of Kira or had access to the information in some way. L had immediately brought the FBI in to investigate the 141 people in the NPA connected to the case, and their relations. So while the FBI was conducting their investigation, L could focus on trying to unravel Kira’s powers.

Kira could only kill if he knew someone’s face. He could control the time of death, and, to an extent, his victim’s actions. The cause of death was always a heart attack. His victims were always criminals of the highest calibre. They were all first-degree murderers or violent serial offenders like rapists and arsonists. Kira thought he was just, that he was doing God’s work – no, that he was God. He was young enough to be naive enough to think he could change the world, and old enough to effectively carry out these murders. His early killing pattern suggested a student, but the change in pattern suggested a law enforcement official or someone related to law enforcement.

It was simultaneously a lot more than L had expected when he picked up the case, and far, far too little.

But Kira liked to taunt L. L could use that to his advantage. All of the 46 criminals to die over the last two days had left some kind of message. Sometimes it was written in blood on their cell wall, other times with pen and paper if they had it handy. One creative individual had used the entire vat of mashed potatoes in the jail kitchen to spell out his note. Each message varied heavily in content. Some were mad ramblings, many warned of Kira, and the mashed potatoes chap had gotten creative only to write: イギリスのてんきはよさそうですね. Commenting on the weather in England was both somehow the most ridiculous thing one could employ potatoes to write, and the most sinister. For a moment, L had wondered in horror just how much Kira knew about him. First Tailor and now this. L had chosen to put such fears aside for the time being, aware that if Kira did know so much about him and his past, he was well past the point of no return. Kira could destroy L in more ways than simple death if he knew who L really was. L comforted himself with the fact that Kira couldn’t know his face nor any of the faces of the people he cared about, and so they were all still relatively safe. Or as safe as anyone could be in this dangerous world.

The messages had some significance to them, L was sure. He would use the spare time granted to him by the FBI investigating the task force to figure out what exactly that significance was. The first message read: かんがえ|ると|いずれしけいになるか|てまねきしているあい|つにこ ろされるだけだ。しってい|る。おれはキラのそんざいを|えものにされる。It was a predication that either the hangman’s noose or Kira would kill the prisoner in question. It was written strangely, with sentences cutting out to start on a new line seemingly at random…Unless you read across the top only! “L do you know?” it queried. L gasped quietly. He quickly scanned a few more messages…only for his excitement to drop into disappointment. Apparently limerick style wasn’t the only way to interpret the messages. None of the top lines of the other messages held hidden meaning, and some didn’t even have a distinct top line.

After a few more minutes of forlornly reading Kira’s messages, L could only conclude the killer was messing with him. He had hoped for a more intelligent conversation, if one could call it that.

The last two messages weren’t even hiding anything. Although, they were confusing. The very last posed a hypothetical question for L: ふたりのストーリーはなんなんだろう, What will our story be? It was perhaps a taunt, a threat, or a reference to the life-and-death game L and Kira were playing. The penultimate message was, of all things, a proverb. 灯台下暗し, it read. While the rest of the messages were entirely in hiragana and katakana, this was in kanji. It stood out like a sore thumb. Speaking of, L bit down too hard on the thumb he was worrying at when it occurred to him that this message was the key to reading the whole package. ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees’ it hinted.

If L took the first letter of each message, the trees as it were, and combined them into a forest…

らいねんのことをいえばおにがわらう

いしのうえにもさんねん

とんびにあぶらあげをさらわれる

Each was a Japanese proverb. “‘It is worthless to discuss matters too far in advance’,” L murmured to himself. “‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’. ‘Sometimes you lose something important, and don’t know what to do’.”

It…made a kind of sense, when L thought of it in terms of the story between himself and the killer. Kira was trying to say their battle was undecided, that he was taking action against L…and that he, Kira, had lost something important? Or was it a threat? Would L lose something important? Regardless, Kira was still messing with L, but it at least meant the killer had some level of intelligence. What an elaborate way to hide a message, L mused. It’s almost like he’s trying to one up someone else.

 

Although Light wasn’t exactly fond of his nightmare self’s schemes, he had to admit he hadn’t done an awful job as Kira the first time around. His conviction for making a new world was so strong he was willing to sacrifice anything and everything – innocent lives, his family and loved ones, himself. Light sympathised with his nightmare self because he felt the same conviction. The world was rotting from the inside out. If Light didn’t save it from itself, no-one else would have the strength to do so. But Light had been granted the foresight this time to see how badly he could go wrong. Kira’s path was more of a tightrope than a road. One wrong move, even the slightest wobble, could send it all crashing down.

His nightmare had made such a wobble (although it was more like an earthquake). He had decided to eliminate L, and the blood on Light’s hands from his attempts to do so had only grown and grown until it was an ocean. His family suffered, Misa suffered (although she was there by choice so Light blamed his nightmare self less for that one), the task force had suffered, Rem had suffered, Near and Mello and Matt and Watari had suffered. L had suffered. Most had died. And Light hadn’t even won in the end.

So Light was determined not to go even one wobble off the tightrope of Kira this time. The world would be saved, because Light would save L, not kill him. Light wouldn’t hurt anyone who didn’t deserve it this time.

And so, Light found himself in the same abandoned warehouse as his nightmare self, cradling his Death Note in his arms. Light had spent the night two nights ago carefully writing out the names of 46 criminals to die every hour on the hour yesterday and today. He’d nearly done his head in coming up with 46 messages that anyone could write, so none would be missed out on. Now, Light had the day, a Saturday, to himself. No need to play at being God today. And so he had taken his Note and bid his family goodbye (although not his father, who had gone back to work at the crack of dawn). He walked out to the disused building, knowing it would indeed be empty as his nightmare had told him so. He had found a relatively clean place on the floor to sit, pulled the Note out of his pants (an uncreative but effective hiding place), and curled up with it.

Light had explained to Ryuk on the way over what he was doing with the 46 criminals; the challenge he was presenting to L, and the hint that he could control the time of death. Ryuk had found it highly amusing. Light had smiled along with the Shinigami, but inside he was cringing. He was faced with a difficult fork in the road.

Soon enough, the FBI would come down on Light. He knew that from the nightmare; as well as the fact that his name was on a list of 141 names of NPA personnel and their families with access to the Kira case that would come across L’s lap very soon. He was confident he could outsmart anyone L threw at him, so that wasn’t the problem. Light was even fairly confident these events would occur the same way as they had before. Yet, there was doubt. And Light was not at all comfortable with there being doubt.

The doubt had arisen from the incident with Lind L. Tailor. L had to suspect Kira had some connection to someone involved with Tailor’s case. Light could choose to be optimistic and hope that L had decided Kira was simply telepathic, but Light was feeling decidedly paranoid these days. He didn’t want to take even one chance. So, he had to ensure L came at him through Sōichirō like before. It gave Light some measure of protection, and helped guarantee he would eventually meet L in person. Light also had to ensure L distrusted the NPA task force enough to investigate it, and that the task force found out about it somehow and thus disbanded. Since Light wasn’t about the kill the FBI agents this time, he had to find another, more creative, way to get his point across. He had to frighten them, somehow, but kill them? Never. And Light had to achieve these two things all while not making L turn his attention away from the NPA to the legal forces involved in Tailor’s arrest and conviction.

Light felt a migraine coming on. Understandably. He hugged the Note to his chest in the empty warehouse, Ryuk watching over him curiously. Light had to achieve all of that without letting the Note be discovered, let alone by his family. He refused to set up what was essentially a bomb in his house again, concerned that this time around his family might open it and be hurt, and that also if the Note was burned, Light would lose his memories and any hope of keeping L by his side. The boredom would come back, and Kira’s new world would be lost. It was too risky. Light had to come up with an alternative hiding place.

“I don’t think you came here because you enjoy the ambience,” Ryuk snarked. “What’re you up to, Light?”

“Whoever touches the Death Note can see you right? That’s a problem.” Light’s eyes were cast down. Even Ryuk seemed stumped by the low atmosphere.

“Yeah you can’t exactly pass me off as ‘a friend’.”

“Nope,” Light agreed. “My sister would have a heart attack just from seeing your face.”

Ryuk looked like he was wondering what was wrong with his face.

“What do you plan to do about it?” Ryuk prompted.

Light sighed quietly, letting his limbs go loose. “Very soon, I expect the police will bug my house, Ryuk. That means video and sound recorders everywhere. I won’t be able to use the Note in the house, and we won’t be able to talk.”

“No Mario Golf?” Ryuk asked

“No Mario Golf,” Light confirmed. Ryuk looked devastated.

“It won’t be forever,” Light assured the Shinigami. “But for now, I need to find some place to hide the Note, where I can easily access it. I’ll keep a few pages in my room, but nothing significant. I was wondering if I could keep the Note out here, but it’s a little out of the way. It will do for now, at least.

“By now, L is staring to suspect people involved in the investigation. If he wants to catch Kira, he needs a confession from me, or the Death Note. One or the other.”

“Your dad’s the NPA’s chief of detectives, so you can use him to find out what the cops know,” Ryuk mused. “And that’s the advantage you were talking about if the cops start closing in…”

“Yup,” Light agreed. “I can even hack into my dad’s computer from mine without leaving a trail.” Not that I need to, Light added in his mind. But it never hurts to be doubly sure. “So I can stay right on top of the investigation.”

“But why did you deliberately do something to make L suspect people involved in the investigation?” Ryuk pressed. “Isn’t it a lot worse to have him realise you have a link to the police than to have him think that you’re a student?”

“Very good, Ryuk,” Light said. “So you noticed that was strange. But you don’t have a very good understanding of human beings yet. Remember what I told you? About human beings being foolish, two faced creatures. The answer to your question is…I want to find L and convert him. If all I do is hide who I am, I’m not going to find him, am I?” Ryuk nodded, agreeing that made sense. Light continued, “In human society, there are very few people who truly trust each other. That’s true even within the police... when it comes to the police and L, they don’t trust each other at all. Never have. Who trusts someone who keeps his name and face hidden from you?” Light shrugged dramatically. “Now that L knows I have access to task force information, he’s bound to look for me within the NPA. And when that happens, it’ll just be a matter of time before the cops get really mad. On the face of it, L and the police are working together to catch me.” He chuckled. “Well, I guess they actually are working together… But behind the scenes, L will be spying on the police and the police will be trying to track down L! So L is not going to be found by me. The police will take care of that part for me. I’m positive that the one who’s going to have the police closing in on him first is L, not Kira.”

Ryuk perked up at Light’s little speech and laughed happily. “You’re a weird one, Light. Why go to all this trouble just to convert L?”

“He’s worth it,” Light replied simply. “All good people are, Ryuk. It probably doesn’t mean much to a Shinigami, but for us humans, sticking together is all we have. If the good people band together against the bad, that’s when we will really all win, and make a new world, together.”

Ryuk chuckled at Light’s idealistic attitude. He had witnessed more of human history than Light could conceive, and he knew Light could never change the world. And yet, it was sure fun to watch him struggle against the weight of the world’s apathy.

Light smiled tightly as he stood up. “I’m going to hide the Note here, for the time being. Virtually no-one ever comes out this way, so the chances of someone digging up the Note are slim to none. I’d rather keep it closer to home, but it’s too risky.” Light leafed through the Note until he reached empty pages. He counted out ten sheets and gripped them tightly in one hand, bracing the Note’s spine with the other. He took a deep breath and tore the pages from the book in one fell swoop.

 

It was nearing Christmas time. It was six days since Light had hidden the Note at the warehouse, with such flair of studied insanity that he knew no-one would ever find it. Light had nearly broken a leg getting the Note where it now was, so he could relax knowing it was safe.

On this particular Friday afternoon, Light was walking back from the prep academy with Ryuk when the Shinigami broke their ‘no speaking in public’ rule. “Light, you got a moment?”

The hair on the back of Light’s neck rose. Could this be it…? “I told you, don’t talk to me outside my room...people can’t hear you, Ryuk, but they can hear me.”

“Yeah, I know. But I want to tell you this right now.”

Light kept walking, pretending he wasn’t listening intently to the invisible monster hovering over his shoulder.

“I don’t have anything against you, Light. In a way, I think you’re the best person who could’ve picked up my notebook. That’s because I have to stick around until the notebook’s finished or you’re finished. That is, dead. But…I’m neither on your side nor L’s side in this.”

Light’s gaze swung around to the Shinigami. Was that it? “I knew that, Ryuk.”

“So I’m not going to tell you that what you’re doing is right or wrong. I won’t say a word about that. But I will speak up once in a while as your roommate.” The Shinigami was basically grumbling at this point, obviously unhappy about whatever was going on.

“What’s up, Ryuk?” Light asked casually. “Why’re you telling me all this now? It isn’t like you.”

“What I meant was, what I’m about to tell you isn’t spoken as Kira’s ally, it’s just because it’s bugging me personally,” Ryuk chuckled.

Light was growing tired of talking in circles. “Just get to the point, will you?”

“I’m always hovering behind you so I noticed it right away. It’s really getting on my nerves. These last couple of days…” Ryuk looked ominously over his shoulder. “This guy’s been following every step you take.”

Light narrowly avoided flinching, though he couldn’t stop his eyes from widening in surprise. The FBI already? Light wasn’t sure if jumping for joy would be the appropriate response, but he was near to doing it. L was finally getting closer to him! Only one layer of go-between separated them. Raye Penber. Naomi Misora’s fiancé.

“He doesn’t see me of course but I feel like I’m being watched,” Ryuk continued with a shudder.

Light closed his eyes to keep a hold of his emotions. “Yeah that is a pain in the butt,” he told Ryuk quietly. “I’ll get rid of him for you really soon, Ryuk.”

Light was glad he’d stashed the Note early enough. If Penber had followed him out to the warehouse, Light really would’ve been screwed. Two days. He’s been seeing an ordinary college bound senior, that’s all. Or rather, a super serious college bound senior. Really, how boring for L. Let’s give him something to think about, shall we?

Chapter Text

A Day in the Life of God

 

When Light and Ryuk returned to the relative safety of Light’s bedroom, Light double-checked his door security to ensure the cameras and bugs hadn’t made an early appearance, and then sat down to chat with Ryuk. The Shinigami dropped a few knowledge bombs on Light; how using the Death Note differed between humans and Shinigami, and the Shinigami eye deal. Light acted like this was fascinating new knowledge and not old hat. He politely turned down Ryuk’s eye deal, explaining he needed every minute of life to ensure his utopia’s creation. Then he turned on Ryuk and scolded him for not telling him all this earlier. “You got anything else you ought to tell me in advance, Shinigami Ryuk? I’m not going to be hearing about any more rules or deals later, am I?”

Ryuk assured him that wouldn’t be the case, and seemed impressed that Light stood up to him so easily.

Light joked about wanting Shinigami wings, and Ryuk complimented him, saying he was already a ‘fine Shinigami’.

In his nightmare, following this conversation, Light had arranged the bus-jacking by Kīchiro Osoreda as part of his plan to kill the FBI agents following him. Since Light didn’t feel like doing that this time, he simply whipped out the Death Note pages he was keeping inside his yaoi manga inside his fourth hollowed out architectural encyclopaedia and wrote out the murderer’s name. He died of a heart attack, along with a hundred and twenty other criminals. Light had some catching up to do after the two 23 days after all.

 

Christmas was fast approaching. Light had been the proud owner of the Death Note for nearly four weeks. He had cleansed nearly 2000 monsters from the world. People all around the planet were beginning to worship the name Kira. Light was on the righteous path of justice. He was doing far, far better than his nightmare predicted. Or he remembered. Light wasn’t sure which it was, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Light still didn't know why he'd dreamt what he did, but he knew it was important to heed the warnings he had seen. Even a God could fall, could fail in the grand task that had been laid before them. Light wouldn't make the same mistakes again, even if it meant doing things the hard way; playing the game closer to the chest than ever, even taking a few blows to his pride. He had been prepared to sacrifice his life and the lives of everyone that had ever mattered to him in his nightmare; the absolute least he could do this time was to let go of some of his pride.

Even if it physically pained him to do so.

Raye Penber was finally, finally, on Light's tail. Light knew his name and face, and though he didn't remember the names and faces of the other eleven FBI agents very well, he knew he could easily use Penber to obtain them. Eliminating the FBI agents would be as easy as breathing. There was no need for any bus jackings or Naomi Misora's this time. And yet, Light had promised himself as he wrote Otoharada's name into his Note, that he wouldn't kill an innocent ever again. Not like in his nightmare. Light had to draw himself some strict lines, because if he gave himself any wiggle room, he knew he'd eventually turn that inch into a mile and he'd be right back where he started – or finished, at the prey end of a gun barrel.

Light's resolution was stronger than ever, as he surreptitiously watched Penber watch him. He would convince Penber he was innocent, and he'd do it in such a way that even L would have doubts that what Light was hiding was Kira as their story rolled on.

Just in case L did install cameras in his room, which he admittedly might never do, since he'd done it in response to the deaths of the FBI agents, and they wouldn't be dying this time, Light had taken to spoiling Ryuk while he still had the chance. Not that he really expected to make friends with the aloof Shinigami, but a few rounds of Mario Golf and a bushel or three of apples wouldn't go astray.

Light couldn't talk to Ryuk very much while Penber was following them, so it was a good time to wean the Death God out of the habit of chatting to Light at any old time. Every time Ryuk behaved well, he got an apple. Positivity was Light's new life motto. Positive reinforcement and optimism. You'd be surprised how far you can get with just that.

In fact, to reinforce his attempts at friendship with Ryuk even further, he’d asked the Shinigami what he’d like for Christmas. Neither Light nor Ryuk actually celebrated the holiday, but the gift giving seemed like an innocent enough custom to observe. Plus Light liked teaching Ryuk about the human world. It occasionally encouraged the Shinigami to be more open about his own world.

Ryuk had, naturally, asked him for a Gameboy Advance SP, silver edition, because what else could a god of death want?

Light’s first thought was, That’s so expensive. And then, well I’m not buying that stupid mini television so I have some cash to spare.

Tomorrow was Saturday. Light had a date to keep at Spaceland…and then the Nintendo store.

 

It was nearing the end of the first week Penber had been tailing Light. Light doubted he'd keep following around the boring, strait-laced, serious college bound student for much longer, so it was time to spice things up before he missed his chance. Light had some mixed feelings about his upcoming plan, but no number of butterflies would keep him away from his goal – teasing L.

It'd be like saying, 'Hey I'm hiding something right under your nose and you know it but can't prove it', all the time. Light grinned in anticipation of getting to hold that over L's head. If L ever told anyone that Light’s behaviour was suspicious, they would all only think it was this and that it had nothing to do with Kira.

And so, goal in mind, innocence and mobile phone in hand, Light had called his school friend, Yamamoto, to meet him at the bus stop to go to Spaceland together on Saturday morning. Penber would be spying on them none too subtly as they adventured around the theme park. It presented the perfect opportunity for Light to give himself an airtight alibi for any future mysterious disappearances and for when he inevitably had to lie to L initially about being Kira (couldn’t spoil the game by spilling the beans before he’d converted the detective). L would think Light was hiding this, not Kira. At least, it would help create doubt in the genius’ mind.

Light would exploit even the tiniest shred of doubt in L’s mind. He’d keep him guessing right up until the big reveal.

With that lofty goal in mind, Light smiled warmly as he met Yamamoto as the bus stop.

Yamamoto had been surprised when Light had asked him out to Spaceland for the day, alone. He’d said as much to Light on the phone. And now, after they greeted each other, the first thing out of Yamamoto’s mouth was, “I didn’t think you were going out until after exams.”

He didn’t say it very loudly so Light doubted Penber had heard.

“I’m not,” Light said brightly. He stood purposefully close to Yamamoto, who blushed lightly beneath his glasses. Light turned the charm up to 100. “I’m just spending time with my oldest friend.”

“Y-Yeah,” Yamamoto answered. “Anyway, you heard the latest about Kira? Sakura TV thinks he’s some kind of government experiment gone wrong. And that L’s out to recapture him for them.”

“What?” Light laughed. “Some people think the strangest things.”

“Haha yeah,” Yamamoto said. “It sure is an exciting time to get into law enforcement. Your dad’s probably on the case, right?” Light raised an eyebrow at Yamamoto, silently shutting him up. “What are your thoughts on Kira?” Yamamoto tactfully changed the subject.

The bus pulled up and interrupted the conversation while Light, Yamamoto, Penber and one other civilian boarded. Once they were seated in the good seats towards the back of the bus, Light answered Yamamoto’s question, but carefully since Penber was right behind them.

“I think Kira’s heart is in the right place, but his methods are questionable. Who can operate righteously without a check and balance system?” Light philosophised. “It’ll be good when L catches Kira. The problem is, Kira’s smart. He won’t be easy to catch. That’s why we’ll need good police officers like you.” Light nudged Yamamoto playfully.

His friend grinned lopsidedly. “Don’t you mean detectives like you, Light?”

Light returned the smile, going for an ‘aw shucks’ expression. “I’m not a detective yet.”

“You’re the number one ranked student in the country. You’ll be in charge of the NPA by the time I pass the entrance exam,” Yamamoto said wistfully.

Light leaned into Yamamoto. “Nonsense. You’ll join right alongside me. We could even be partners.”

Behind the pair, Raye Penber was doing his level best to avoid looking at the lovey-dovey display, convinced he was misreading the situation.

It was an uncomfortable thirty-minute bus ride.

 

Raye Penber was a simple man. As a red-blooded American and an FBI Special Agent, he was quite the manly man. He liked to consider himself pretty forward thinking. He was engaged to a powerful and independent female former-FBI agent, after all. Certainly, he had encouraged her to quit her job to raise a family with him, but it wasn’t like he had forced her into anything. Naomi was a 21st century woman and she made her own choices. Raye just helped her go in the right direction. It was in this way, that Raye knew he was a progressive man. He respected women. He respected the law. And he respected family values. Such as how a teenager like Light Yagami wasn’t possibly capable of being the worst serial killer the world had ever known.

Raye hadn’t expected Light to be capable of this either.

Raye had followed the Yagami boy and his friend into Spaceland. Tickets were reasonably priced (which Yamamoto commented on, earning himself a playful nudge from Yagami), and the amusement park had a surprising number of decent rides and quality food. Early in the day, Raye ticked Yagami off as innocent on his list, and started fantasising about bringing Naomi to the park for a date when the investigation was over. He had shadowed Yagami and his friend as they went on rollercoaster’s and various space-themed rides. Raye couldn’t very well get on the cramped rides with the young men every time, and so he often ended up hanging awkwardly by the ride’s exit, trying his damnedest to look like a father waiting for his children to get off the ride, and not a creepy stalker. As the only person in a trenchcoat in the entire park, Raye was finding this a bit hard.

Still, he had a job to do. And it wasn’t like his job was that bad, Raye mused as he snacked on a hot dog (not as good as an American dog, he judged) while following the boys into the space museum.

When the Great Detective L himself had requested the FBI send their top men to help his investigation, Raye had been proud to be one of the 12 selected. He was qualified in both investigative and language skills and he had performed surveillance innumerable times during his early days in narcotics. He was perfect for the job, or so he imagined L had said when presented with his file. Raye would definitely find Kira, if he was among the people he was set to investigate.

The fact that he had to observe the Yagami’s first frustrated him to no end. The likelihood of Kira being in the family of the chief of detectives or the deputy chief’s family was so small, it was ridiculous. Still, they were boxes that had to be checked.

Raye patiently tailed Yagami and his friend for their whole day at Spaceland. They enjoyed the rides like normal teenagers, and laughed at the inaccurate space science on display like nerdy teenagers, and they stood strangely close to each other like…childhood friends! Yes, that had to be it.

The pair finished at Spaceland at around 1500, and departed the amusement on the same bus line as they had come in. They travelled further away from their own stop, however, which perked Raye’s dwindling interest for all of two minutes before their conversation made it apparent that they were simply going further into the city to visit the Nintendo store. Why Raye was stuck watching two geeks act like they were in a sitcom; he had no idea what he’d done to deserve this punishment.

While silently bemoaning his situation (this was nowhere near as exciting as a drug bust or arresting serial killers; Raye was a man of action, after all), Raye absentmindedly noted the Yamamoto boy had taken Yagami’s hand in his own while they were seated closely on the bus. Yagami had looked around as if to check if anyone was watching, then leaned against Yamamoto’s side. Only a little, but Raye noticed, and marked it as another weird occurrence Yagami and his friend. Raye supposed he hadn’t a chance to observe Yagami with any of his friends up close before (spying on the teen at his school was harder than you’d think), so maybe he was just an affectionate boy. Some Japanese rebelled against the socially strict culture by being kawaii and emotional and touchy-feely…Raye had figured it was just the girls, but he supposed it worked for boys too. He was very forward-thinking, yes, to determine that.

Yagami and Yamamoto only let go of each other’s hand when they stood to exit the bus. Raye hopped off after them and tried to be subtle as he followed them up the block and into the Nintendo store. Again finding himself the sore thumb, Raye hung back around the Nintendo 64 display while Yagami made a beeline for the Gameboy Advance SP’s. Yamamoto commented loudly on the exorbitant price but Yagami laughed him off, saying playfully that if Yamamoto wasn’t blowing his weekly allowance on trading cards all the time, he too could have saved enough to buy one. Yamamoto had flushed and mumbled something Raye didn’t quite catch but sounded suspiciously like, “Just cause your Magic deck is perfect doesn’t mean everyone’s is.”

What dorks, Raye thought as Yagami purchased the SP and three games. Hanging out on the weekend to buy video games. Pfft. If Yagami’s Sunday was going to be anything like his Saturday, Raye would just stay in and have a day with his fiancée.

The boys went to a coffee shop after the game store and sat in a booth at the back. Raye sat in the booth that was furthest away but still provided a decent visual of the scene. The closeness he’d observed between the friends at the amusement park, on the bus and in the game-store only grew more apparent as they sat, comfortably sequestered away from the rest of the world. They leaned towards each other across the table. Their hands rested close together on the tabletop, occasionally brushing. They were too far away for Raye to hear their conversation over the bustle of the cafe, but whatever it was, it made Yagami look more relaxed than Raye had seen him all week. Hanging out with his childhood friend seemed to be doing the studious teen a world of good.

They finished their coffee and conversation, and Yamamoto his cake, by 1600 and were back out on the street. The boys decided to walk home, saying it would only take an hour or so and it would be pleasant in the breezy afternoon air. Raye agreed that it was exceptionally nice weather for so late in December, and regretted not being with Naomi on such a day. His shift finished at 1700 so he wasn’t too bothered though. He was nearly free of the Yagami boy and his boring life.

On the way home, Yagami and Yamamoto detoured only a cherry tree lined path, one that would have screamed date material if it were spring. But it wasn’t spring and Raye dismissed the thought. He continued dismissing such thoughts as the boys walked closer and closer together. Their arms bumped with each step and they swayed into each other. Yagami took Yamamoto’s hand this time. Raye felt his brain freeze as he watched Yamamoto stop them, turned Yagami and cup his chin, bringing his mouth to Yagami’s.

It wasn’t more than a moment before Yagami gently pushed Yamamoto away, his face turned down, auburn hair shadowing his expression. “Yamamoto, I… You know we can’t. What happened last time…”

“Light…” Yamamoto leaned in like he wanted another kiss. (Raye shuddered at the thought.) “I wouldn’t… Your dad would never find out, this time. I won’t mess up again.”

But Yagami turned his face away. “It’s impossible. I can’t afford to be with you right now. It would risk everything…everything I’ve been working so hard for. I’d be disowned or worse. Forget getting into the NPA…You too. It would ruin your life too.”

“No, Light, we can keep it a secret,” Yamamoto persisted. “No-one needs to know.”

Yagami’s shoulders hunched in. He looked very vulnerable in that moment. “I don’t want to keep secrets anymore.” He sounded…sad. Raye wondered how he’d failed to see this. “Besides,” Yagami straightened up and put on his game face, “I’m a man. You’re a man. It’s weird, isn’t it?”

Yamamoto shook his head ‘no’ but didn’t debate the point. He seemed to accept Yagami’s choice. He offered his hand to Yagami, a bridge across the chasm that had suddenly yawned between them. Yagami looked at the appendage, considering, and then slowly accepted it. A compromise.

Raye followed the boys home, mind in a fog. He was stumped by what he’d just witnessed. The Yagami boy was gay?! He was hiding it well. Raye hadn’t even had the slightest inkling the boy was hiding anything, let alone something this tremendously shocking.

Yamamoto dropped Yagami at his house, stealing a peck on Yagami’s cheek, before taking off. Raye paid him no mind, more focused on the play of emotions on Yagami’s face.

The boy looked wrecked.

 

When Raye Penber’s report on Light Yagami was emailed to L’s laptop, the Great Detective could hardly believe his eyes. The teen was cleared of all suspicion according to Penber, which was good news for Light Yagami. And yet, Light had indeed been hiding something (not Kira, which disappointed L, because Light fit Kira’s profile perfectly even at a rudimentary glance). Penber had discovered the boy was gay. He had had some romantic past with a friend named Yamamoto, and this had escalated into some sort of conflict with Light’s father. Penber apologised for not having any further details, but stated that since it wasn’t relevant to the Kira Case, it shouldn’t matter. While L would normally concur, there was something about this revelation about Light Yagami that bothered him.

Not only did Light fit Kira’s psychological profile perfectly, he was hiding a life-altering secret with great success from those around him. If you omitted the details of what he was hiding…well, it seemed too good to be true. And, besides, L didn’t expect to stumble onto Kira so early in the game. It was probably good, too, for Chief Yagami that his son was only hiding his interest in men and not his interest in murder.

An unremarkable teenager, the report read. Yes, but one with remarkable intelligence and one hell of a secret, L corrected. Yagami’s son was certainly an interesting personality. But his love life had nothing to do with the Kira case, and so L put it out of his mind.

Chapter Text

Interlude: Love

 

Two Years Earlier

 

It was an awfully muggy day even by Kanto standards, and Light had invited his oldest friend, Yamamoto, up to his room to share some watermelon in front of the fan. The boys were clad in shorts, barefoot; with Light in a t-shirt and Yamamoto in an unbuttoned short-sleeved shirt. They had had plans to meet the rest of their friends at the park to play soccer, but opted out when Light told Yamamoto the weather forecast. Light, at 14, was far more knowledgeable adult things like the news than his friend, even if Yamamoto was already 15. Yamamoto often told him how mature he was, how smart, and Light puffed up with pride a little at every thoughtless compliment.

“Good idea,” Yamamoto complimented Light as they lounged into front of Light’s floor fan. “Coming up here to eat watermelon,” he clarified as he took a large, unflattering chomp of fruit. Juice dribbled down his chin. He smiled at Light, and Light smiled back, watermelon forgotten on its plate on the floor.

Light had already calculated his next move to the nth degree of possible outcomes. Simple statistics told him it was a poor idea. The likelihood that Yamamoto would be receptive was next to none. The possibility that this would end their friendship, one that had survived Light’s every dramatism since they met in their first year of school, was enormous. Light couldn’t even say he was bored enough to justify a human experiment right now, because his father had him working on a difficult serial killer case involving mutilated birds and Picasso-esque interpretations of Christian angels, and that was plenty interesting.

So Light had no excuses nor reasons, but he felt it was the right thing to do. And Light trusted his heart.

He leaned forward, body bridging the heated space between them, and licked the watermelon juice off Yamamoto’s chin. His tongue traced back up the path of the droplet to Yamamoto’s mouth, and before Light knew it, he was kissing his friend.

The kiss was more of a gentle peck than anything, with Light pressing and moving his lips slowly against Yamamoto’s, as if testing the waters before diving in. Yamamoto was never one for caution or tests, and his mouth pressed back firmly against Light’s within seconds of the boy catching onto the fact he was being kissed.

Light gasped quietly at the reciprocation, and Yamamoto took the opportunity to lean forward and assume an assertive position. Light allowed himself to be tipped backwards, mindful of avoiding the messy plate of watermelon (it wouldn’t do to stain his clothes). Yamamoto followed him down to the timber floor, connected to Light the entire journey by the tangle of their lips. They lay in that position for a long time (27 minutes, Light remembered clearly, though of course he hadn’t been counting, because that would be rude). Yamamoto was braced over the top of Light, their bodies lightly touching in various places; knees knocking, chests brushing, mouths connected to mouths and to chins and ears and necks.

They didn’t lose any clothing that day, even though the heat would have justified it, and they didn’t proceed any further. When they parted, Yamamoto was flushed and pleased with himself, but didn’t comment on what had just occurred. Light sat up when the older boy moved off of him, and brushed his clothes straight. He offered Yamamoto a stern look, causing his friend to falter.

“What are we, now?” Light demanded to know.

Yamamoto ummed and ahhed for a time, eyes darting about awkwardly as he refused to meet Light’s intense gaze. He eventually chuckled weakly and scrubbed the back of his head. “I…don’t know. I guess…we’re…boyfriends?”

Light had accepted the answer at face value and redefined how he categorised himself in his head. He had a boyfriend now, which meant a loving relationship, which meant shared responsibilities, and life goals, and doing things together. He and Yamamoto already had most of that, so it wouldn’t be that much of a change. Light mused silently on the fact that this simple change in his relationship with Yamamoto was somehow more interesting than the serial killer case he was working on. Although, that being said, Light figured he had a suspect pegged for the case, while his relationship with Yamamoto was still new, undefined, and had so many possibilities. It was exciting, in a way Light hadn’t experienced before. He liked Yamamoto, and that meant he liked boys, so that was interesting enough as it was, but actually exploring the new aspects of their relationship together was its own kind of intriguing.

Light smiled at Yamamoto serenely and repeated, “Boyfriends.”

 

Summer had sweltered on. Each day was a haze of humidity and hormones. Light spent nearly every waking moment with Yamamoto. They didn’t spend most of that time kissing, as Yamamoto always waited for Light to initiate anything, and Light more often than not forgot he was supposed to be making out endlessly with Yamamoto. He preferred using their time to discuss their summer reading project for Japanese literature class – the Tale of Genji – which Light had finished in a day, and Yamamoto had finished only by begging Light to read it aloud to him. He wasn’t lazy, he insisted, just bad at kanji. To which Light had scoffed disbelievingly.

When Light ran out of things to say about Classical Japanese literature, he moved onto practicing criminal profiling techniques with Yamamoto. One of the main reasons the two got along so famously was their shared interest in solving crimes. (The others being Yamamoto’s tolerable intelligence and his ability to put up with Light being a snob occasionally (or a lot).) Yamamoto dreamed of being a detective one day, and Light encouraged him openly. He often thought how much more pleasant it would be to have Yamamoto as a partner with him than any other detective. The two would pick apart the cold cases to which Light’s father had graciously lent them access, and sometimes they would even manage to solve a case, just from the information in the files. Light’s solve rate (when he was interested in a case) was 100%. Yamamoto’s was 80%, which Light thought was adorable.

Even though Light kept most of their focus on the same topics as they had shared before they upgraded their relationship to ‘boyfriend’ status, he did allow ample time to test out the boundaries of their new situation. He enjoyed kissing Yamamoto. He found it peaceful when they held hands. When they became especially engrossed in exploring each other’s mouths, and Light inevitably ended up on a flat surface (usually his bed or Yamamoto’s or one of their bedroom floors, or, on one memorable occasion, the grass in a park under the stars), with Yamamoto curled around him and above him, he would feel excited. Trapped though he was, as the one receiving sexual attention as opposed to taking the initiative himself, Light found the experience freeing. He liked letting go, trusting Yamamoto to do right by them in this area. His friend had no more expertise than Light himself (so, zero) but Light was prepared to offer Yamamoto some measure of vulnerability. He never fully let go, always calculating something in the back of his mind, but the movement of electrical impulses in his brain died down to a quiet hum instead of a ceaseless roar when Yamamoto held him, and so Light let it happen again and again.

Light sometimes stopped to ask Yamamoto what emotion he was feeling. The older teen would usually stutter his way through an answer, uncomfortable with being asked such direct and personal questions.

Light stopped asking after a while.

 

The novelty had worn off fairly quickly for Light. Yamamoto was…well, he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box. It had been fine when there was a barrier called friendship between them. Light’s expectations had been minimal. The simple fact that Yamamoto seemed to enjoy it when Light acted like his real self was more than enough to keep Light around. No masks. No pretending to be perfect. Light didn’t often make mistakes, but when he was with Yamamoto, he was allowed to if he wanted. Now that all barriers were gone between them, Light’s expectations had soared. He hadn’t meant for them to do so. It just, sort of, happened.

He wanted to engage with Yamamoto on an intellectual level. To be challenged, stimulated, his mind kept active and bright. Light felt dulled, trying to keep himself entertained with conversation about entry level criminology and psychology. He used to love teaching Yamamoto; it made Light feel somewhat superior, worthwhile, important… Now he just cringed every time he saw Yamamoto. He wanted an equal, not a pupil.

To get around this problem of not wanting to talk, Light did his level best to ensure there was no talking involved in their interactions. Yamamoto didn’t seem to mind. He was, after all, a teenage boy. Light understood they were supposed to have voracious sexual appetites. Light himself felt little of that. He supposed it was hard to get it up when you were bored out of your mind. Yet, he still tried. For Yamamoto’s sake. Light treasured the older boy dearly, and didn’t want to sour their relationship with his own trivial wants and needs.

Eventually, they started to misplace items of clothing during their make-out sessions. Light pretended like he had gotten swept up in the moment.

(And, sometimes, though he was reluctant to admit it to himself, he did indeed become swept away by the radiant love Yamamoto showered him with carelessly).

 

School was due to start again in three days. They would be the longest three days of Light’s life. Not that he knew it, going into the fourth last day before school returned.

Like most days in summer, the Thursday was being spent by Light with Yamamoto in a bedroom. Light’s room today, as Yamamoto’s younger brother had commandeered Yamamoto’s room for a group sleepover, video game night extravaganza. Light had been tempted to invite himself along, because damn but did Yamamoto’s little brother have good taste in games, but had refrained because Yamamoto wasn’t big on spending time with his sibling. Light personally didn’t understand that attitude, because he doted on Sayu.

In the end, the duo had wound up in Light’s room, doing what they did best these days. No longer was it cold cases that occupied their minds, but the exploration of each other’s bodies. It had been a whole season of being together. The boys hadn’t advanced to any below the waist groping nor full clothing divestiture, but apart from that next step in sex, they had done everything they could possibly think to do and then some. Light had found he was pretty into it if he made a game of it. He counted blemishes on Yamamoto’s skin, or subtly tickled him until he earned a reaction, or teased him gently, breathlessly, as Yamamoto kissed up and down Light’s bare chest.

It was one such scenario, shirtless and pants-less, down just to underwear, with Light teasing Yamamoto about the small mountain of summer homework he had left to do before school came back. Yamamoto paused momentarily in his ministrations to shoot Light a glare. Light smirked, and then snapped his head back with a gasp when his friend sucked just right on a spot on his neck.

Things were good. Light, despite himself, was happy.

Until the bedroom door opened.

Tomorrow, Light would install a lock on the door. But for today, the only lock in place was the unspoken policy of privacy the family had. Closed door, do not disturb. But it wasn’t like Sayu had ever listened.

“Hey big brother, can you help me with my English homework? I don’t get it; it’s such a stupid language- Oh.” Sayu stopped mid-rant in the doorway, staring wide-eyed at the unmistakeable position her brother was in. Yamamoto flinched and froze, but Light shoved him off. His friend rolled across the bed and Light whipped his discarded shirt over his lap to claim some modesty back.

“Sayu! What are you doing in here?” Light hissed.

“Homework?” She held up the paper as proof. Light looked at it, then at Sayu, and then back again, and started laughing, a tad hysterically.

“Um, Light?” Sayu looked worried. She’d never seen Light break down like that. “It’s okay. I’m not going to tell.” Light couldn’t stop himself, his heart racing, mind, for once, not. “It’s nice that you have a boyfriend,” she tried. “Like a normal teenager.”

That finally shut Light up. Yamamoto took up the conversation with Sayu, “You don’t mind?”

“Not at all,” Sayu grinned. “I didn’t think my brother was capable of liking anyone before this, so this is good.”

“Uh-huh,” Yamamoto drawled. “Would your parents think the same way?”

Light flinched. “What-?!”

“Probably,” Sayu said, noncommittally.

Yamamoto gained a thoughtful expression, so Light punched his shoulder harder than he normally would. “Ow,” Yamamoto complained, rubbing the assaulted area. “What was that for?”

“Don’t even think about it,” Light commanded. “I know you’ve wanted to be honest about our relationship with our families for a while now, but you know how that will go over with my parents. So, Don’t. Even. Think. About. It.” He punctuated each word with a lighter punch.

Yamamoto held his hands up in surrender. “I won’t, I swear.”

Light nodded, appeased. “Now, Sayu, what did you need help with?”

She hopped onto the bed and dropped the English homework on top of Light’s shirt which lay across his lap. He picked up the paper and scrutinised it for all of five seconds. “This…is basic grammar. I thought we’d gone over this last term.”

“We had,” Sayu admitted, rubbing the back of her head sheepishly. “I, well, sort of, maybe… forgot?”

Light rolled his eyes. “Oh my gosh, your brain is like a sieve,” he said fondly. “Let me get dressed and we’ll work on this in the living room, okay?”

“Yay!” Sayu cheered as she hopped off the bed and skipped out of the room.

Yamamoto gave Light a disappointed look. “You’re going to help her?”

“Why not?” Light asked, standing and stretching out the cricks in his back.

“She’s using you,” Yamamoto complained. “You shouldn’t baby her like that.”

Light shot him a glare as he selected fresh clothes to wear. “Not that it’s any of your business what I do with my sister,” Light snapped, “but we happen to love each other. Unlike you and Ken.”

Yamamoto scowled, fists clenched. Light thought it looked adorable, what with his being mostly naked, glasses askew. “Say that again,” he growled.

Light rolled his eyes, less affectionately, because he was starting to get annoyed. “Just, leave it be,” he ordered. “Go home or something if it bothers you that much.”

Yamamoto angrily gathered up his fallen clothing and stuffed his legs back into his pants. “Maybe I will!”

“Maybe you should,” Light returned coldly. Now dressed, he swept from the room.

 

Light hadn’t spoken to Yamamoto since their fight yesterday. He refused to apologise for defending Sayu. Yamamoto would have to come crawling back to him, not the other way around.

Light was lounging around on his bed, reading his collection of Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi for the second time today. He was bored. So when his phone rang, he sat up excitedly and answered. “Hello?”

“Light! Good news,” Yamamoto said brightly, like they had never fought.

“Oh?” Light questioned, mood souring but still curious.

"Yeah, yeah, Light, I told my parents about us, and they were totally fine with it!” Light felt his heart stop. It was an awful feeling. “See? I told you we had nothing to worry about.”

“Yamamoto,” Light said, voice dead. “Do you understand what you’ve done? I know you are upset with me, but this is cruel beyond what the situation called for.”

“What?” Yamamoto was shocked. “I don’t understand, Light, what do you…”

“You’ve ruined me,” Light told him quietly. “Your mum will tell my mum, and she’ll tell my dad. Neither of my parents will be fine with this. You’ll be lucky if I’m even allowed to see you after this.”

“What?” Yamamoto repeated, stunned. “But- I thought-”

“You thought wrong,” Light snarled and hung up.

He sat on his bed, trembling. He did not want to leave his room and face the music. His parents were downstairs, enjoying a rare Friday afternoon off for Sōichirō. Light knew it would lessen the blow if they heard it from him and not Yamamoto’s mother.

He felt like he was going to throw up.

Mustering together all his inner fortitude, Light headed downstairs. He froze in the doorway to the living room as he came into the line of his father’s glare.

“Your mother just got off the phone with Mrs Yamamoto,” Sōichirō said. “Do you care to explain yourself?”

Light took a deep breath. “It was a mistake,” he tried. “A phase.”

Sachiko came over to him and embraced him. “I told you dear, a phase. Boys go through it sometimes. Our Light is still our Light.”

Sōichirō did not look convinced. “Light, you need to stop seeing that Yamamoto boy. You cannot see him unless you are at school or with other friends. If I find out you have shamed our family again…”

Light nodded, eyes downcast. “Yessir. It won’t happen again. I don’t…like boys…like that.”

“Good.” Sōichirō came over and clapped Light on the shoulder. “You’re still my son, Light. Now, about that case I gave you…”

Light smiled hollowly and answered his father’s question. He ate dinner with his family, and explained the situation to his sister later that night in a subdued voice.

In the intervening years, Light would sometimes find himself wondering about what might have been. If he hadn’t allowed that day to escalate into a fight, if he hadn’t allowed Yamamoto to go home upset, seeking comfort and reassurance from his parents… If Light had been smarter, had kept better control of the situation, things might have been different.

It was these thoughts that haunted him, even years later, and brought a hunted look to his eyes after their date at Spaceland, he watched Yamamoto walk away.

Chapter Text

Raye Penber

 

Light hadn’t expected his outing with Yamamoto to turn into quite such a…date, for lack of a better term. Light had unfortunately outsmarted even himself with his plan. He had just wanted to put on a show – but an innocent one – for Penber, so the FBI agent would assume from Light’s closeness with Yamamoto that they were on a date. Nothing beyond hand-holding would be necessary. And, well, Light didn’t enjoy the guilty feeling he had when taking Yamamoto out. He knew his friend would accept any closeness because of their shared past, but he hadn’t wanted to lead him on. Light thought it was wrong to manipulate people’s emotions like that. He had planned out their entire day so they would appear as lovey-dovey as possible without actually crossing any lines with Yamamoto that would give him the wrong idea.

As it turned out, Light had anticipated everything but himself.

To Light’s horror, he had actually begun to enjoy himself while he was with Yamamoto. It reminded the auburn teen of simpler times; those easy days when they were just together – Yamamoto and his adorable dreams of becoming a police officer, and his above average intelligence; Light, basking in the glory of a like mind. (Even if it was a lesser mind. Light had been disappointed countless times when Yamamoto failed to understand something Light was philosophising on about, but despite that, he had loved liked Yamamoto). Things were good for a time. Light had even dared to say he was happy, and a lot less bored than was usual…before Sōichirō had found out about them.

Those days, that summer in between junior high school and high school; those were Light’s halcyon days. When they had come crashing down, Light had genuinely not expected to ever feel anything even close to that level of good again.

Not until his Nightmare. Not until he had been gifted future memories of L.

Light lay awake in bed at night most nights, these days. Being Kira took its toll in his sleepless hours and his haunted dreams. But on the night following his date with Yamamoto, Light didn’t even touch his mattress. He stayed in his desk chair and inscribed the fates of nearly 300 into his Note, a new personal best.

Try as he might to distract himself with the duties of justice, Light couldn’t stop thinking about Yamamoto. Wondering what could have been, if this were a different world. A world where Light had never found the Death Note. A world where Yamamoto’s arms still seemed like the safest haven Light could hope to find. A world where his dad had never discovered…

 

Light had devised a plan. No, a scheme. No, a brilliant masterpiece of strategy! He was tired of waiting for L to make the next move. He had played some little games with the detective, of poems and dates, but now it was time for Light to crack out the big guns. A plan to rival any scheme of his Nightmare self’s. A plan so bold, so insane, L would never see it coming. He’d be blindsided, and Light bubbled with anticipation at the thought of L’s reaction to what he had planned. Light’s strategy was so crazy, it just might work.

Of course, he had his Nightmare to thank for the information necessary to carry out the plan, but the creation and ultimate success of the plan was all Light’s and not his Nightmare’s, he would thank everyone to remember. Although no-one knew he was silently competing with his Nightmare self apart from Light himself, so really he had no-one to brag to fully about the true genius of his plan. Except Ryuk, who knew about everything but the Nightmare. And Ryuk had nearly split a rib cackling over the plan when Light had told him in the sleepless hours near the crack of dawn on Sunday.

Kō Hashimoto was the key to this particular plan. The man was a monster if there ever was one, but he was a smart enough monster, and he’d do nicely for what Light had in mind. Light needed a man with police connections – easy since Hashimoto was actually a police officer – and a man with connections to the underworld – which Hashimoto also had in abundance. There was a good reason Light remembered him from his Nightmare and it stank of drugs, corruption, and Yakuza.

 

Raye Penber boarded the bus behind Kitamura’s daughter as she travelled to school on Monday morning. Light Yagami had spent Sunday in his home, alternately studying in his room and spending time watching dramas with his sister. The boy was so normal as to be completely boring, apart from that one queer blip, and Penber had reported such back to L. L had instructed him to skip over Sayu Yagami, and begin the investigation of the Kitamura’s. So here Penber was, on a bus full of school aged children, trying once again not to be a total creeper. It was harder to not feel like one this time, as Miss Kitamura was younger than the Yagami boy and a girl to boot. But Raye had a job to do and he wouldn’t complain. At least, not to his superiors.

By the end of the first day, the Kitamura family as a whole was turning out to be somehow even more mundane and boring than the Yagami’s had been. Raye couldn’t wait to get onto the more likely Kira candidates – the youthful policemen that he suspected were just ripe to be Kira.

He went home to Naomi that night, and managed not to complain out loud for all of an hour. She nodded understandingly along to his rant and offered him some advice at the end, “Why don’t you pretend like they are Kira, just for fun, and see what happens.” Raye had liked his fiancée’s idea and kissed her atop her hair as thanks.

Day two of Kitamura Watch was far and away more interesting, although not just for Naomi’s suggestion. Raye hopped on the bus with Miss Kitamura again, and imagined the young girl, unicorn bento box and all, was Kira. It was so implausible, it was hilarious. It kept Raye amused for most of the day.

But by the time of the afternoon bus ride back to the Kitamura house, Raye was bored again. The bus ride was as much of a killer as yesterday’s. Raye yawned halfway through and had to fight to keep his eyes from drooping shut. The bus slowed to a stop to let a new lot of passengers on, and at the back of the crowd of junior high students was another man around Raye’s age. If Raye had been paying attention, he might have seen it coming, but as it was, he was as taken aback as all the school children when the man pulled out an Uzi 9mm and held it to the driver’s temple.

“This bus has just been hijacked, ladies and gentlemen!” the well-dressed and well-armed man declared. The driver gasped, and the bus lit up with the screams of terrified children. Apart from Raye, the driver and the hijacker, the next oldest person on the bus was 16.

“Shut up!” the hijacker snapped at the children. He didn’t brandish his gun at them, for which Raye was thankful. He was shocked that something like this actually happened in Japan. The FBI agent leaned forward in his seat, consternation on his face. He couldn’t very well stop the man; he’d give himself away to Kitamura! He could only interfere if the situation became truly dire. Hopefully the hijacker just wanted something simple…

“Hey driver, call the cops already would ya,” the criminal demanded. “It won’t work if you don’t.”

The driver nervously used the buses’ phone to dial the police. At the hijacker’s instruction, he explained the situation. The criminal snatched the phone off of the driver and said smugly into the receiver, “This is Daīchi Adani. I’m telling you that so you know I’m serious when I say that I have a bus load of children that I’m holding hostage until 10,000,000 euros are deposited into this bank account.” Adani rattled off a series of numbers then snipped, “You got that?”

He listened for a moment to the officer on the other end of the line, then growled in response, teeth barred, “No, you idiot, let me speak to your supervisor. Fuck, you’d think people would be trained for this shit,” he griped to the driver, who nodded quickly in agreement. Once Adani had been put onto someone higher ranked than the phone operator he had previously spoken to, he calmly repeated his demands. All the while, the barrel of his Uzi pressed menacingly into the driver’s neck.

Adani listened to the police lieutenant’s answer then sighed, “No, goddammit, can’t any of you fuckers do your jobs right? If you’re going to harp on like that, I’m just going to have to start killing hostages. How’s one every half hour sound, eh?” The gun was finally turned away from the driver to face the crowd of quivering children who began to scream. The policeman on the other end of the line could be heard shouting, “No!” but Adani had already dropped the receiver and advanced down the aisle. He lazily scanned the crowd before his arm darted out and pulled a young boy into the aisle.

Raye nearly leapt out of his skin. If that man is going to hurt a kid…!

Adani peered into the terrified face of the young teen. The boy trembled with fear, the gun pressed into his side. “Not your lucky day, kiddo,” Adani said without remorse. He pulled the gun up to the boy’s head, Raye sprung from his seat at the back, pulling out his own gun – and the boy, in a moment of sheer stupidity or pure genius, rammed his knee with all his might into Adani’s genitals.

The criminal dropped like a sack of rocks, releasing the boy, who scrambled away into the crowd of children willing to hide him. Raye forced his way through the sea of scared youngsters, and grabbed the Uzi from Adani’s slack grip. Adani, noticing his power being stolen, dragged himself up off the ground with a snarl. Raye produced his FBI badge in a flash and declared that Adani was under arrest, his Glock trained on Adani’s chest. Seeing how the tables had turned so suddenly, Adani dismissed Raye and screamed for the driver to let him off the bus. The driver was frozen in panic, so Adani pulled the lever himself and exited the vehicle…

…Right into the path of another bus.

The resulting crunch of bones and splatter of internal organs made a sickening sound that resonated inside the bus. A number of children began to cry in earnest, some of the students cheered, and a few began to submit Raye to a barrage of questions about his identity. In the ensuing chaos, Raye lost track of the Kitamura girl. The police came to take statements and calm the situation. A lot of kids hurried off, unwilling to get stuck talking to the police. Raye, trapped by the sudden reveal of his identity, was stuck explaining to the investigating police who he was, and why the FBI was there.

“So,” Officer Izaka drawled, eyeing the FBI badge Raye had handed him with suspicion, “an FBI agent was on this bus because…”

“The FBI is presently conducting an international investigation here in Japan,” Raye hedged, voice aiming for stern and superior, and landing somewhere around nervous. In his head, he was screaming at himself, Oh fuck, my boss is gonna tear me a new one! L- oh Jesus, L is going to kill me. What if I’ve ruined the Kira investigation?!

Izaka hummed in vague agreement. “How did you know that a top liaison between the Yakuza and the Mafia would be on the bus today?” he pressed.

Raye’s eyes widened. Adani was a mobster?! That…was perfect!

“And for that matter,” Izaka continued bluntly, “why would the FBI be investigating the Yakuza? That’s our jurisdiction you know and-”

“It’s a highly classified matter of national security,” Raye interrupted. “What I can tell you is that the investigation is being led by Interpol’s finest. The FBI is here to assist only.” Izaka looked sceptical to Raye added, “You can speak with my supervisors in the FBI and Interpol, if you want.” Izaka nodded, curiosity peaked. Raye pulled up Watari’s number on his phone and dialled it. “Hello, Watari, yes it’s Penber here…Yes, yes…I’m currently investigating that, yes…No, there is a problem. The local police here became involved in our investigation of the Yakuza and need to understand that the investigation is top secret and so they can’t spread any information about it or include it in their reports… Yes, thank you, I’ll put you onto him.” Raye held the phone out to Izaka. “For you.”

Izaka raised an eyebrow as he took the call. “Hello? This is Officer Izaka of District 20.” Izaka listened to the person on the other end of the line, eyes widening steadily as Watari explained the situation to him in his best no-nonsense voice. When he finished, Izaka nodded obediently, dumbfounded. “Yessir, I’ll- put you back on with Agent Penber and begin closing our investigation into the bus jacking. Thank you for your time.”

Raye wondered what on Earth Watari had told the officer.

Izaka held the phone out for Penber, who took it and raised it to his ear, listening with bemusement as Watari said, “It’s all taken care of, Agent Penber. I trust this won’t happen again?”

It was like being scolded by his father. Penber frowned. “It won’t happen again, sir. This was a freak coincidence. I should get back to the suspect now.”

“Thank you, Agent Penber.” Watari hung up.

Raye put his phone away with an exaggerated sigh. He thanked Izaka and his colleagues for their hard work, then headed off to the Kitamura house, in the hopes he could catch up to their daughter there.

 

When Raye has caught up to Kitamura, she had been safely tucked away at home, crying to her mother over the incident in the bus. Raye sighed with relief at the sight, and went right back to surveillance.

Later that day, when Raye passed his shift over to the next FBI agent, he returned to the hotel he was staying in with Naomi, utterly exhausted. It had been a long, at first boring and then far too exciting and then again boring, day. Naomi welcomed him home warmly, kissing his lips lightly, and Raye brushed by her to slump in the lounge chair.

“What a day,” he complained.

“What happened Raye?” Naomi queried, taking the seat opposite Raye’s. She didn’t comment on the fact that prior to his return, she had been sitting where he now was, with her cup of tea and current book still on his side of the table.

Raye picked up the tea, sniffed it, and sculled it. “Ugh,” he whined, “why do you always have so much sugar in your tea, Naomi? It’s unnatural.”

Naomi smiled serenely, memories playing in her mind. “No reason,” she answered. “So what happened today to make it so awful?”

“Well, you wouldn’t believe it,” Raye expounded, “but some psychotic Yakuza hijacked the bus I was on. He nearly killed a kid, and I had to stop him.”

Naomi sat up straight in her chair, brow creased with worry. “You didn’t reveal your identity, did you?”

“I didn’t have much of a choice,” Raye grumbled. “It was either that or let the boy die.”

Naomi reached across the table and placed her hand on Raye’s arm. “You did the right thing,” she said reassuringly. “Did the suspect see your badge?”

“What? Of course he did, I was arresting him,” Raye said.

Naomi chuckled. “No, the Kira suspect.”

“Oh.” Raye thought hard. “No, I don’t think they saw. A lot of kids did see it, but I doubt any of them are Kira. They were all about 12 or 14 years old. Not old enough to be killers.”

Naomi didn’t argue that point either; she liked that Raye believed in the innocence of children, even if it was a bit naive. “What happened to the Yakuza man?”

“After I took his gun, he panicked and fled the bus,” Raye recounted. “Right into oncoming traffic. It’ll take them a while to clean up that mess.”

Naomi frowned. She stood and turned to look out the window over the nightscape of the city, thoughtful.

“What is it?” Raye pressed, watching her with concern. “You’re not thinking about the case again, are you?”

“Raye,” Naomi’s voice was a mixture of stern former-FBI agent and concerned fiancée. “The Yakuza man died, didn’t he?”

“So?”

Naomi spun around. “It’s too much of a coincidence. What if Kira was on that bus with you? They could have staged the whole thing, seen your identity and killed that man.”

Raye stood as well and clasped Naomi’s shoulders. “What did we talk about? You’re not to get involved with cases anymore. The only reason you’re here is to visit your parents in Japan, and so I can meet them.”

Naomi cast her eyes down. “I know, but, Raye-”

“No buts,” Raye scolded. “Besides, once we have a family, you’ll be too distracted to worry about serial killers.”

Naomi buried her face in Raye’s shoulder and hugged him to avoid confirming his words.

Chapter Text

Naomi Misora

 

“Light! Can you take your father a change of clothes?” Light’s mother stopped him on his way out the door. He smiled at her.

“Sure, mum, I’ll take it on my way to prep,” he replied, ever the dutiful son.

“Thank you!” Sachiko called after him, as Light bundled the clothes in his arms and set off down the street.

Phase One of Light’s Super Mega Ultra Get L’s Attention For Sure This Time Plan 2.0 had gone off without a hitch. The Yakuza liaison, Adani, had always been weirdly fond of Europe in Light’s Nightmare. He had been more than willing to hijack a bus of children and hold them for ransom to escape overseas, when given the right prompting.

Light’s dropped his free hand into his pants pocket, caressing the Note page he’d stashed there. Phase Two of his plan was already in action. Light had had to visit his father’s work last night because Sachiko and Sayu had made him dinner, which Light may or may not have suggested they do, and Light may or may not have volunteered to deliver it. He had to visit again this morning because his dad was oh so forgetful and had left his work bag at home. It mightn’t have helped the rushed Sōichirō that he couldn’t find it anywhere that morning. Regardless, Light had kindly delivered the bag to him. And since Light forgot to take him a change of clothes at that time, he had to return in the afternoon to deliver some to his father. It was sweet really, how much Light was willing to do for his father.

And, if it just so happened that Light was increasing his percentage of likelihood of being at the station at the same time as Misora, well so be it.

He trusted the Misora of his Nightmare to be a sharp woman. She would figure out the clues from the bus jacking and go straight to L with them. Light hoped she would have trouble getting in, but either way, he wanted to be there to meet her on her way through. He had to present himself as innocent to her. Her word would count for something with L. So when Phases Three and Four of Light’s plan went into action, he would be suspected, but would have multiple people testifying his innocence. It was be a maelstrom if confusing contradictions for L. Light couldn’t wait to see what the detective made of it, if he could cut right to the heart of Light regardless of all his tricks and mirrors.

Light arrived at his father’s work as fast as his legs and public transport would allow. He had a solid two hours to kill before prep school, so he figured he’d hang awkwardly in the lobby until the last possible moment. He entered the building and walked up to the reception desk, politely announcing himself and that he had clothes for his father. The receptionist laughed, because it was Light’s third time here in 24 hours.

“What did the chief forget this time?” Yamada, the receptionist, chuckled. (Light finally remembered his name after coming here so frequently. He vaguely remembered the man from last year, when he helped his father solve the insurance money murder case.)

“Change of clothes,” Light smiled in return, sharing the joke. “I sign in here right?” Light signed the guest book.

“I’ll let the chief know you’re on your way up,” the receptionist advised. Light smiled, a little tightly this time, and glanced around the lobby, hoping against hope to catch Misora…

The front doors opened, letting in an icy breeze. A beautiful woman in a black windbreaker and jeans entered, her hair long and loose. She looked around the station, alert but not nervous. Light recognised her immediately.

Naomi Misora had entered the game.

Light immediately turned to the receptionist and asked how his wife was. The receptionist, who had finished letting Chief Yagami know his son was on his way to the task force room, smiled the doe-eyed smile of someone in love and started talking about his wife’s new ikebana club.

Misora walked up to the reception desk and spoke to the other receptionist. “I have information concerning the Kira Case. May I please speak with someone on the task force?”

The receptionist asked for Misora’s name, which she gave as Shoko Maki, and asked her to take a seat and someone from the task force would be out to take her statement shortly. Misora frowned, knowing a police brush off when she saw one. “It’s important. I need to speak to whoever is in charge.”

You want to speak to L, Light realised. His countenance brightened immediately. It was even better than having her speak with his dad! Baby steps, Yagami, Light berated himself.

"My apologies, ma’am, but unless you can tell me what exactly this is about, you will have to speak with the officers in charge of taking statements. The chief investigator cannot come down to take everyone’s statements, you understand.”

“No,” Misora argued. “This is highly confidential information. I can’t tell just anyone.”

So she suspects someone on the task force, Light thought. Good.

“Aren’t you trying to solve the Kira Case too, Light?” Yamada asked Light, drawing his attention away from his sideways study of Misora.

“Sure am,” Light smiled like the cat that had gotten the cream. “If I’m on the right track, I may be able to beat L to it…”

Bait set. Misora looked at Light, eyes wide in surprise. Light pretended like he had only just noticed her standing there, staring.

“Hi,” Light chirped, channelling Sayu (no-one could make friends like Sayu). “I’m sorry but I couldn’t help overhearing you wanted to speak with the Kira task force? My father heads the task force investigating the Kira case. So, if you’d like, I can put you in touch with him.”

“Light! You shouldn’t be telling just anyone that..!” Yamada interrupted.

“It’s not like it’s a secret,” Light replied, with his best innocent, helpful expression.

Misora didn’t say anything in return.

“And, anyhow, I know I can trust this woman,” Light continued. “Her eyes tell me I can.” Misora still kept her silence. “Plus, she’s a very cautious person. The murder of Lind L. Tailor indicated that Kira may have some connection to law enforcement. It’s best to play it safe and speak to as few people as possible.”

The two receptionists were struck speechless. As was Misora, who continued to play mute.

Light produced his mobile phone from his pocket and said, “I’ll call my father for you. He can meet us here, or invite you up to the task force rooms. Of course, you have to trust my father, and me, or this isn’t going to work.” Light laughed brightly.

Ryuk, who had been shadowing Light quietly this whole time, wondering why the hell Light kept going to the police station, cocked his head in confusion. Who was this cheerful guy all of a sudden?

Misora finally made a sound. She bowed to Light and said, “Thank you.”

Light dialled his father’s cell, and privately wondered at the guts it had taken Misora to come here, behind Penber’s back. “Hello, dad? It’s me…Yes, they did buzz me up for the clothes… Yes, there’s no problem… No, dad, wait please. There’s a woman here who has important information regarding the Kira case… No, I can’t send her to the normal officers; she needs to speak to you directly… Yes, I’m sure… No, I know, I’m sorry… Just, please, tell Yamada-san to buzz her up. We’ll keep it short. You should take a break anyway; you know how mum worries… Okay… Thank you. Goodbye.” Light hung up and returned to smiling at Misora. He hoped she wouldn’t notice it was a bit tighter than before, but she was an exceptionally perceptive woman.

Yamada’s phone rang, and he answered it politely. Chief Yagami snapped at him to let the woman up, and hung up. Yamada sighed and held out a visitor’s badge for Misora. She signed her false name into the visitor’s book, and followed Light to the elevator.

Light subtly glanced over his shoulder at Misora as often as possible. Her eyes were downcast, her hair forming a protective wall around her face. She obviously thinks she’s protecting Penber by coming here, Light thought with a touch of melancholy. If she only knew…

The elevator bing-ed as they reached the right floor. “We’re here.” Light announced perfunctorily.

The trio headed into the task force rooms. Light, bright smile on his face as he greeted by name all the officers and detectives he knew. Misora kept her face as hidden as she could, offering a tight smile to the people Light stopped to see. Ryuk floated along behind the humans, bemused.

“Hey, Light,” he called insistently. “Light! Light-o~!”

Light’s shoulders tightened noticeably. “What was that?” he asked, seemingly to the officer who had just asked him how his exams went. The officer repeated the question, while Ryuk continued, “Why are we here, helping the people trying to catch you?”

“Exams can be tricky,” Light told Ryuk and the officer. “You have to think outside the box sometimes, to get to the final answer.”

“…” Ryuk scratched his feathered collar as he thought hard about it. “You’re helping the police to get closer to L… while at the same time, you keep killing as Kira and tormenting that FBI agent.” Ryuk grinned. “How interesting!”

Light tossed the officer a thumbs up in response to the wishes of good luck, but directed it at Ryuk.

The mismatched trio reached Sōichirō’s desk. The chief looked up from his mountain of paperwork and files, face pale from exhaustion. “Dad,” Light scolded. “You haven’t taken a break since I was here earlier, have you.”

Sōichirō managed a tired smile. “Nothing escapes you, Light.” He turned his attention to Misora. “Now, who’s your friend here?”

Light pulled his best ‘oops silly me’ expression out. “Oh dear, I forgot to introduce myself.” He bowed to Misora. “I’m Light Yagami. It’s nice to meet you.”

“…Shoko Maki, nice to meet you,” Misora said after a pause, voice clear and bell-like.

“This is my father, Sōichirō Yagami, chief of homicide,” Light introduced his father. Sōichirō raised a business-like eyebrow. Light shrunk a little where he stood. “Maki says she has something important to tell you.”

“…I think Kira can control a victim’s actions before their death,” Maki announced, straightening with confidence with each syllable.

“Of course,” Light agreed. “It only makes sense.”

Sōichirō rolled his hand for Misora to continue.

“And,” she said, “Kira can kill through other means than a heart attack.”

“So can anyone,” Sōichirō rebuffed.

“She means like through making them a victim of an accident,” Light leapt to Misora’s defence. Her eyes widened at the support. Light acted like he was getting swept up in the revelation, “That would change the dynamics of the case! Any suspicious deaths such as through unexpected illness or accident would be murders Kira wanted to hide. They would be related to him, perhaps even leading to his arrest!”

Light’s enthusiasm was brightening up Misora, but it hadn’t broken through the wall that was Sōichirō Yagami yet.

“What proof do you have?” Sōichirō pressed.

“…” Misora was obviously reluctant to out Penber.

Oh well, Light thought. My turn.

“There was a bus jacking by a top-level Yakuza yesterday,” Light told his father and Misora. Ryuk perked up at the mention of the incident. He’d seen Light writing furiously in the Note early yesterday. Was this what Light had orchestrated?

“The police were reluctant to say, but the media reports made it obvious, that the busjacker was no normal criminal,” Light elaborated. “He held a bus full of children hostage for just over ten minutes, and then leapt into the path of an oncoming bus. He died instantly. It was such a weird scenario that I took notice of it, and looked into it a bit further last night. The bus jacker was probably Daīchi Adani. He was an early potential suspect in the insurance murder from last year, dad, so I still had the files. The bus jacker on the news had looked familiar to me, so I checked it out, and it seems he was Adani. He was rumoured to have ties to the Italian mafia and the Yakuza. That he died in such a manner seemed strange, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. If what Maki says is true, it could mean that Kira knew Adani. He might have been trying to use Adani’s death to his advantage, or maybe Adani had discovered his identity as Kira and Kira silenced him.”

Light slammed his hands on his father’s desk and declared, “This could change everything, dad! This could break the case wide open!”

Sōichirō gently pried his son’s hands off his desk. Light settled back, head turned in embarrassment, cheeks red and breath heavy from his impassioned speech.

Misora was again silent, but this time from genuine shock. This boy believed her?

“It’s certainly suspicious, that bus jacking,” Sōichirō hedged, “but it’s not proof. As far as Kira is concerned, he has only ever killed through cardiac arrest. If you find more evidence, Light, Maki-san, bring it to the task force. Otherwise, we need to focus on catching Kira with what we know.”

“But, dad-” Light protested.

“No, Light,” Sōichirō stopped him. “I’ll tell L about your hypothesis,” he conceded at Light’s puppy-dog eyes, “but don’t expect him to act on it.” He turned to Misora. “Maki-san, thank you for your time, but we don’t need amateur investigators. This case is too dangerous for you to involve yourself. Go home to your family.”

Misora bristled, obviously wanting to shoot down Sōichirō’s assumptions, but she somehow held her tongue. Light silently congratulated her strength of will. She wouldn’t destroy Penber’s career by outing the FBI presence, even though she thought he was in danger.

“Can you please tell L that the woman he worked with in Los Angeles came up with the…hypothesis, as you put it,” Misora requested tightly.

Sōichirō raised an eyebrow but conceded.

Light bid his father farewell, and Misora offered a terse parting statement. Ryuk waved at the chief as the trio started away. Of course, the elder Yagami couldn’t see him, but Light could, and he rolled his eyes at Ryuk, causing the Shinigami to grin wickedly.

“Hey, Lighto,” Ryuk drawled as Light walked Misora out of the building. “That was a nice speech back there. Even I’m starting to believe your innocence.” He chuckled at his own joke.

Light smiled in amusement. “Just you wait and see,” he told Ryuk out loud. Continuing with Misora like he had meant the comment for her, Light added, “They’ll come around.”

“Maybe,” Misora said. “Chief Yagami seems like a logical man.”

Light swallowed a scoff and ended up coughing. “Yes, you could say that. Dad is very good at his job, but he’s a bit stubborn sometimes.” And now for the big guns. “Not like L.”

That caught Misora. “L?” she all but gasped. “You know L?”

More than anyone, Light thought with bitter irony. And L doesn’t even know who I am right now.

“Not personally,” Light admitted, expression sheepish. “My dad talks about him a lot.” It was half a lie. His dad used to talk about the World’s Greatest Detective before the Kira Case. “L sounds like one of the most brilliant people on the planet. If anyone can find Kira, it’s L. He’s the only one stubborn enough, too.”

Misora giggled. Light startled at the actually feminine sound coming from the tough as nails woman. She was smiling, a genuine thing. Light had never seen happiness on her, not now and not in his Nightmare.

He couldn’t help but think it suited her.

“What’s so funny?” Light presser gently, lips curling up with amusement.

“I met L once,” Misora admitted, surprising Light. “He’s a special one.”

You can say that again, Light thought.

“You met L?” Light said, jaw dropping in awe. “He’s basically my hero. I’ve always wanted to work on a case with him. To meet him…That would be unbelievable.”

Misora smiled warmly at Light. Maybe she actually likes me, Light thought suddenly, amazed. Had he accidentally made a friend? It wasn’t like Misora was unintelligent…and he’d probably be seeing more of her anyway, so it wasn’t exactly inconvenient to be friends…

“Maybe I can introduce you sometime,” she said. Then she sighed, “If he ever hears my information, that is.”

“He will,” Light reassured her. They had reached the exit at the front lobby. It was all or nothing now so- “Hey, I know we just met, but I thought your thoughts into the Kira Case were very insightful…If you ever want to talk about the case again, here’s my number.” Light handed Misora a business card. He had a few, from his previous work on homicide cases, which simply read his name and phone number.

“Thank you, Yagami-san,” Misora said, taking the card with a shallow bow. “I might take you up on that.”

“I’m sorry my dad wasn’t more receptive,” Light said.

“Don’t be,” Misora said. “It’s a fairly crazy idea, to think Kira can kill however he wants.”

“It’s not crazy at all,” Light argued softly. “After all, Kira kills with psychic heart attacks. It’s not such a stretch to think he could psychically throw a bus at someone.”

Misora reached out and squeezed Light’s arm gently. “Thank you. It’s nice to know I’m not the only crazy one. Goodbye, Light Yagami.”

“Until next time, Shoko Maki,” Light replied. Misora ducked her head and walked off into the snow.

 

Naomi returned to the hotel room she was sharing with Raye, more than a little disheartened. She would have liked to have pushed her point at the police station, but couldn’t do so without making it obvious why the FBI and, by extension, herself were in Japan. To her surprise, the nice boy who had helped her get in had listened, and then went so far as to support her theory. He had seemed like a smart kid, with a good heart. He’d make a fine detective one day, Naomi was sure.

She hadn’t told Raye her plan beforehand, because she knew he’d talk her out of it, but she had resolved to tell him after the fact. He had dismissed her theory much like Sōichirō Yagami, but now that she wasn’t the only one thinking it, she wanted to try to convince her fiancé again.

She pulled the business card Light had given her out of her pocket and saved the number in her phone while she waited for the elevator to take her to the right floor. It had been serendipitous indeed that Light Yagami had been there at the same time as her. She might never have been able to get word through to L, otherwise. For even if Chief Yagami didn’t believe her theory, she had no doubt that he would pass it on to L. And she knew L would listen.

Feeling a bit lighter hearted, Naomi exited the elevator with a spring in her step. Raye would be angry with her, no doubt, but she was excited to be back to doing what she loved best and no-one was about to bring her down.

“I’m home,” she called when she opened the hotel room door. The apartment was dark, which struck Naomi as odd, but maybe Raye wasn’t feeling well? “Raye?” She switched the lights on, revealing a terrible scene.

There was no sign of Raye Penber, but there were ample signs of a struggle. All the furniture was overturned and the bed was askew. A glass lay shattered on the floor, water pooling. Raye’s gun holster was next to the bedside dresser, having presumably been resting there before the scuffle.

Naomi observed the scene for mere moments before darting to the kitchenette and taking a large knife from the drawer. Now armed, she stealthily made her way to the ensuite bathroom, and swung open the door. The room was undisturbed. Not a moment to waste, she returned to the main area, and checked the walk-in closet and under the bed. All clear.

She slid the knife into her jeans pocket and pulled out her phone. She dialled the police and reported the probable kidnapping calmly, channelling her days under immense pressure at the FBI to narrowly avoid having a breakdown. Once the police said they were on their way, she dialled one more number.

“Light Yagami?”

“Yes?” a sleepy voice replied.

“Kira took my fiancé. I need your help.”

Chapter Text

L

 

Light had hardly slept a wink in days, so by the time he returned home from prep school after dropping his dad’s clothes off at the police station he was bushed. He dropped face-first onto his bed, fully clothed, and groaned.

“What’s wrong, Lighto?” Ryuk teased, sprawling out along the floor. He lay on one side, head propped up on his hand.

Light peered at Ryuk, reluctantly moving his head to do so. “It’s a lot of work, being me,” he stated. “Between writing in the Note every day, school, prep school, and getting L’s attention, I don’t think I’ve stopped thinking at full-tilt in weeks. It’s…great, actually.”

“Oh?” Ryuk chuckled. “You’re a weird human.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Light dragged his guts up off the bed. He grabbed his stash of apples out from desk drawer and tossed Ryuk the entire bag. “Here you go. A thank you for playing along with me.”

Ryuk immediately crunched into an apple. The fruit disappeared in seconds. “Not a worry, Light. You’re pretty fun to be around.” He bit into a second apple.

Light smiled, crooked and fond, at his weird Shinigami. He flopped backwards onto his bed with a yawn. He was just getting comfortable, and debating mildly the pros and cons of getting up to shower, when his phone rang.

Already? Light grumbled nonsensically as he searched about in his jacket pocket for his phone. He found it and answered, already half-asleep.

“Light Yagami?” came an urgent feminine voice.

“Yes?”

“Kira has taken my fiancé. I need your help.”

“What?!” Light shot upright. “When?”

“When I was at the station, I’m not sure,” Naomi informed him hurriedly. “I came back to the apartment and it was a wreck. Someone took him.”

“I understand,” Light replied swiftly, fighting off the last dregs of sleep. “Take a deep breath and think, who would want to harm your fiancé?”

“Kira,” Naomi said instantly.

“No-one else?” Light prompted.

“No.” Naomi took a deep breath and then said, “Can you meet me? What I need to tell you, I can’t over the phone.”

Light raised an eyebrow. “Of course. Where?”

 

Light met Naomi where she had specified; a train station near his father’s work. He had bundled up against the snow and headed out into the storm, disregarding the late hour and the definite possibility that he wouldn’t be getting any sleep, yet again.

“Maki-san!” Light called, spying the woman reclining tensely against the station wall.

Her head snapped up, eyes immediately finding Light’s. Her eyes were red, but dry. She was keeping herself together exceptionally well. The fear she must be feeling… Who knew what Kira might be doing to her fiancé, even at this moment?

Well, Light thought sardonically.

His gaze swept up to Ryuk, who was dozing as he floated along behind Light. He’d instructed Light to wake him up when something interesting was happening, and promptly drifted off. He seemed attached to Light by some invisible tether that dragged him only behind Light, naturally heedless of real-world obstacles. Needless to say, Light was a bit envious of the sleeping Shinigami.

He turned his attention back to Naomi. “Thank you for meeting me,” she said to Light quickly. He reached out for her hands and brought the pair up to his face.

“No gloves,” he commented, rubbing some warmth into her frozen fingers. He released her hands and pried off his own gloves. “Here.” He pressed them into her hands. “We can’t find your fiancé if you freeze to death.”

Naomi tugged on the gloves. “We won’t find him at all, if Kira has him,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“Don’t think so negatively,” Light told her. “Kira hasn’t abducted anyone before, so there is a good chance your fiancé is still alive.”

Naomi nodded, her gaze dropping to her now gloved hands. She sighed, and then stared determinedly at Light. “I haven’t been entirely honest with you, Yagami-san.” Light frowned like he was confused. “My name isn’t Shoko Maki, it’s Naomi Misora. My fiancé, Raye Penber, works for the FBI. He’s here investigating Kira’s connections to the police.” Light’s eyes steadily widened. “The fact that he disappeared now, after that bus-jacking, means it was definitely Kira.”

“Penber was on the bus?” Light deduced. “…You’re right; Kira definitely took him. It’s likely the bus-jacking was staged just to kidnap your fiancé. He must have been getting close to Kira, or one of the other FBI agents was – because I’m sure I can assume there are more agents than just your fiancé here. Someone came close to uncovering Kira. Do you know if anything has happened to any of the other agents?”

“No,” Naomi said. “Regardless, they are investigating the police. I can’t destroy the investigation by letting the NPA know they are being investigated…”

“…” Light glanced away. “I understand. We can go to my father. He’ll understand it was necessary to bring in someone other than the NPA to investigate the NPA.”

“No!” Naomi grabbed Light’s arm. His eyes widened in genuine surprise. Naomi was certainly determined. “We need to go straight to L. He’s the only one who can help.”

Light let out a shaky, breathless laugh. “L?” He ducked his head to hide his expression. Behind the curtain of his hair and the barrier of his jacket collar, Light was grinning from ear to ear. “You want us to break into the NPA, find the computer linked to L, hack it, and talk to the World’s Greatest Detective? Just like that?”

“Just like that,” Naomi confirmed, voice pained and serious.

Light composed himself, and met her with a serious expression of his own. “Let’s do it,” he agreed. “I’ll get you to L.”

 

Light smiled and waved at the receptionists as he held the door of the police station open for Naomi. She slipped inside, acting casual. Light took them to the desk, and chatted to the receptionist. Yamada had gone home, which made it more difficult. But Light had faith in his charms.

“Honda-san,” Light greeted brightly, pulling the name out of the recesses of his memory. “How’s the family? Your son must be in school by now, right?”

Honda beamed. “Sure is. He started last year. He’s having a great time.”

“Good to hear.” Light signed his name in the book, and gestured subtly for Naomi to do the same.

“Here to see Chief Yagami?” Honda queried, eyeing up Naomi. Naomi smiled disarmingly at him.

“Yes,” Light said. “I’m dropping off his toothbrush.” He leaned across the desk in a conspiratorial fashion. “And, to tell you the truth, I’m going out on a date afterwards. I wanted to show Nao-chan the station. You know how chicks love detective stuff…”

Honda eyed Naomi up. He gave Light an impressed look. “Nice,” he whistled lowly.

Light held back the disgusted expression he wanted to wear, and grinned instead. “Thanks. We’ll be out shortly.”

Light looped his arm around Naomi’s waist, who thankfully went along with the ploy. They went through security, standing close together to keep up the ruse. They stepped apart the second the elevator doors closed.

“Sorry about that,” Light said quickly. “I said we were together, so they wouldn’t think anything about you coming in too.”

“I figured,” Naomi said, with a wistful smile. “That’s how Raye and I met.”

Light quirked a brow. “Well, I’m not proposing to you any time soon.”

Naomi laughed out loud, catching herself after a moment as the sober situation caught up to her once more.

They stood together in quiet contemplation as the elevator took them to their destination. Light was grateful that, with the hour so late, most of the task force would have gone home. A few dedicated souls like his father would be ghosting around the office, but Light was confident they could avoid them.

The elevator let them out into the task force rooms, and the pair set off to try to find the computer linked up to L. They walked at a normal pace, trying to act like they were meant to be there. Naomi whispered to Light, “L usually connects through a laptop guarded by Watari. If we find Watari, he’ll remember me and we can connect to L. I doubt he’ll have left the laptop lying around by itself, but that would work too.”

Watari… Light mused. He’d nearly forgotten the elderly man. He would be the perfect way to get through to L.

“Right,” Light confirmed. “We should split up, cover more ground.” Naomi nodded and headed off to explore the right side of the computer filled room. Light headed off to the left, eyes scanning for Watari’s familiar shadowed form.

Light observed his half of the room carefully. The task force main room was thankfully empty. Of the dedicated stragglers that remained, there was only Matsuda (asleep at his desk, face glued to casework) and Light’s own father…somewhere. The fact that his father wasn’t immediately apparent at his own desk was setting off Light’s instincts. On high alert, Light continued to check each desk for the laptop that would finally, after all this time and effort, connect him with L. Or he’d find Watari; the end result would be the same. (But Light figured he would be easier to spot, so concentrate on the laptop.)

As he searched, Light allowed part of his mind to wander, to fantasise about L. Light was so close to him now. So close…and yet he was still so far from his goal. Convincing L that Kira’s was the righteous path, that Light’s Justice was superior, would take mental acrobatics the likes of which his Nightmare self had never dared. But Light was confident in his abilities. He had never failed at anything he had put his mind to doing in his life (Nightmare notwithstanding). He wasn’t about to start now. So he let himself dream. L would make such a nice prince, Light mused; ruling at Kira’s side, an equal, finally. Years of searching for someone to connect with, and here he was. Spindly limbs, tanuki eyes, a bird’s nest for hair, vampirically pale skin, and a mind like a razor, like the deep blue sea, like a nebula. Light could picture L’s form perfectly in his mind’s eye, feel his name tingling in his fingertips. L Lawliet.

It was obscenely late on Wednesday night. Glancing at his watch, Light saw the night had slipped into Thursday. He hadn’t slept hardly a wink since Friday night. He’d taken four painkillers before he left the house to meet Misora. His head still ached. But, thinking of how close he finally was to meeting the man who would bring life into his dull world, Light felt a burst of energy, more than enough to keep him going.

That laptop had to be around here somewhere…

The door to the side hallway swung open and Light dropped to the ground like a puppet with his strings cut. Sliding under the desk in front of him for maximum coverage, Light swore internally. His father had just entered the room. How was Light supposed to find L now?! He silently prayed to the universe to compel his father to go home for once in his life.

He watched from under the desk as his father yawned widely, rubbed his eyes, and toddled off to find the coffee machine. Light breathed a sigh of relief, and waited for his father to leave the room. Once Sōichirō was out of earshot, Light made to scoot forwards and out from under the desk. But before he could move a muscle, a voice asked, “What are you doing under the desk?”

It was the most beautiful sound Light had ever heard. That wonderfully computer modulated voice, that curious tone…

L!

Light ducked his face to hide his grin. He took a deep breath to compose himself…and found he was still smiling like an idiot. Light shrugged internally and scooted out from under the desk. There on the table across from him lay Watari’s laptop. The screen held a white background with a gothic L glowing black in the centre.

Ironic, Light thought fondly as he brushed himself off, that in the end, you would be the one to find me.

“Good evening,” Light said politely, offering his smile to the screen, aware he looked like a goof. He had just crawled out from under a desk after hiding from his father, and was grinning uncontrollably at being caught. L mightn’t know him that well just yet, but he was bound to think Light was a weirdo. (He would get along famously with Ryuk.) “I am Light Yagami. It’s nice to meet you, L.” Light took a deep breath. Game face, Yagami, he told himself. “My father, Sōichirō Yagami, is Chief of Detectives here.”

“I know that,” L told Light smugly. Light barely refrained from rolling his eyes. “Why were you under the desk?”

“Well,” Light drawled, enjoying every moment. “I’m here with a friend of yours. Naomi Misora? You worked with her in LA. Her fiancé was abducted earlier this evening, and it is likely that Kira was behind it. Misora-san believed you were the only one she could trust, and asked me to bring her to you.”

L was silent for a moment. Then, “Where’s Misora-san?”

Light glanced around. Misora had wandered off somewhere or was hiding from Sōichirō, he wasn’t sure. “She’s looking for this laptop in the other half of the task force rooms,” Light replied truthfully. “She’s really worried about her fiancé. Can you help her?”

“Yes,” L replied simply. “If Kira is behind this, he has shown his hand. I will catch him.”

“Good,” Light told L simply. Then, “I’ll find Misora-san.” He had to tear himself away from the laptop, but he managed it, somehow. Light hurriedly strode to the other side of the room, checking the connecting offices for Misora. She was in the second one he checked. “I found L,” Light told her. “He’s waiting for you.”

Misora brightened, like the sun had come out. “Thank you.” She clasped Light’s arm briefly before hurrying him out of the room. Light led her to the laptop. Once she was in range of the camera, he thought he heard L lightly gasp. “Misora-san! I thought you had retired?”

Misora smiled at the laptop. “I have,” she said, “but I’m not here on official business. My fiancé was taken by Kira. You’d have learnt this soon enough yourself, because my fiancé is Raye Penber.”

Light imagined L biting at his thumb, knees tucking up to his chest. “Penber-san was taken by Kira? Did you see Kira?”

“No,” Naomi admitted. “But the apartment was a mess. Someone took Raye. Only Kira has the motive to do so. Who was he following, L? One of them has to be Kira.”

“…” Light knew L was looking at him through the monitor. He did not want to tip Light off to the fact he’d been followed. Light felt a flicker of anger at the lack of trust. He knew logically he hadn’t earned it yet, but it stung nonetheless.

Fighting down a scowl, Light plastered a smile on his face and said, “I’ll go explain the situation to my dad. Now you’re behind us, L, he’ll have to understand.”

Naomi flinched. “No, wait-”

“Why?” Light asked imploringly. “You know we’ll need more than just the three of us to save Penber. We have to bring the NPA in on this. Or at least a few trusted detectives and my father. You can’t possibly think he’s Kira, can you?” Light’s voice rose slightly, defensively, at the end.

“Yagami-kun,” L broke in firmly. “You don’t fully understand the situation.”

“Then tell me!” Light argued. L was not throwing him out! No! Not after everything Light had done to get here-!

“Yagami-kun,” L commanded, “go home. Thank you for your help but you will only be in danger if you stay.”

Light felt like his head was about to explode. “I’ve helped Misora-san this far. I want to help her save her fiancé.”

“Light-san.” Naomi clasped Light’s shoulder. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, but if L says you should go, then you should go.” She smiled at Light like a friend would, grateful, kind, concerned. “You look exhausted. You should rest.”

Light let his poker face slip, revealing a hint of the devastating emotions he was feeling. The anger, the exhaustion, and the frustration. The want to be here. Light knew L would see the play of emotions on his face. He wondered what the detective would interpret from them.

“…I understand,” Light acquiesced. “Good luck, Misora-san, L. Goodnight.” He bowed his head politely and spun on his heel. He strode from the room with his head held high. He refused to show anyone just how much he was hurting from this. He didn’t even want to admit it to himself, though the high quality of the pain made him do so. He preferred to focus on the anger. It was a more productive emotion.

Once safely out of the police station, Ryuk asked him, “So that was L?”

“Yes,” Light said, teeth gritted. “That was L, the bastard. Pushing me out like that-”

Ryuk scratched his head. “I thought he was being nice to you? Isn’t that what you wanted?”

Light scoffed. “Hardly. He wanted me gone, so I wouldn’t find out I had been followed, that I was a Kira suspect. And he didn’t want me telling my father about Penber because he would figure out the FBI is here investigating the NPA. I thought I might force L’s hand, make him keep me there by threatening to bring in my father, and I could have persisted but-” Light took in a shaky breath, trying to calm his nerves. “If I’m belligerent now, I could put L offside forever. I need to show him that I’m a good guy. I have to help save Raye Penber, I-” Light stopped suddenly and Ryuk floated straight through him. “Ugh, gross, Ryuk, watch it.” Ryuk laughed at the horrified look on Light’s face. Light brushed his clothes off compulsively.

“Since L is making this hard, we’ll just have to get creative. Come on, Ryuk,” Light gestured for the Shinigami to follow as they about-faced and walked away from Light’s home. “Let’s go have some fun.”

Chapter Text

Saving Agent Penber

 

L had hardly believed his eyes when he saw a former suspect crawling around under the desks at the Kira task force headquarters. Sure, he was related to someone who worked there (hence his being investigated in the first place), but it didn’t explain why he was under a desk hiding from said relative. L was curious what on Earth Light Yagami thought he was doing. He decided to ask as much. The answer came as an unwelcome surprise.

Kira had abducted one of the FBI agents. It was possible Penber was already dead, and that if he wasn’t, he would likely soon be. Perhaps with the other agents falling alongside him. L immediately wanted to think that Kira was someone Penber had trailed, but that seemed too simple. The list of hundreds would drop to two. The Yagami boy and the Kitamura girl. The suspicious bus-jacking took place while Penber had tailed Kitamura, which would suggest that she was the primary suspect.

Light Yagami had been visiting his father very regularly at the station, which could be taken as his being a caring son or as Kira wanting to keep a close eye on the investigation. Yet he had now brought Naomi to L, when Kira would logically have killed her.

It seemed insane. And it felt…off. L felt he was missing a crucial piece of the puzzle, if not entire sections. What did Kira stand to gain from physically abducting his enemies? Would Kira even need to do it himself, given that he can control the actions of others?

L pulled himself out of his spiral of speculation, aware of the panic and dread in Naomi’s face as she watched Light Yagami leave. She obviously trusted the boy, and she was usually a good judge of character. Regardless, L couldn’t afford to have civilians hanging around – not even incredibly intelligent ones with previous experience working on dangerous and sensitive cases.

“Misora-san,” L called her attention. “I’ll bring Watari up to speed and we’ll bring in the other FBI agents to help.”

“How many?” she asked.

“…11,” L admitted.

“—11!” Naomi glared at the little camera in the laptop. “You can’t catch Kira with the entire NPA behind you! How do you expect to find him on a time limit with only 11 men?”

“Sometimes fewer minds are better,” L hedged, unhappy with the anger and sorrow he saw in Naomi. He hardened his hatred for Kira even further. He was causing Naomi such pain. L wouldn’t say Naomi was his friend – far from it; L didn’t have friends – but he respected her, and was grateful for her help in stopping the monster that still hunted L in his dreams. L wouldn’t let Kira destroy her. Or kill her like so many others. Anything L did to catch Kira was justified by the simple fact that Kira’s actions would always be eviller than his.

So, lying to law enforcement shouldn’t be too hard, right?

“Misora-san,” L said firmly, “I will bring the task force in to assist, but we cannot tell them the truth. Only that you, being a former FBI agent were investigating Kira by yourself, and when you came in here yesterday with information, Kira – who had been watching you – became scared, and kidnapped your fiancé to hold hostage until you gave up your investigation. Penber is here only to meet your family. His profession is irrelevant to finding him.”

Naomi crossed her arms and glared for a moment longer. She then sighed, the tension leaving her body as she deflated slightly. “Alright, L. I trust you. Now let’s find Raye.”

 

Ryuk watched Light walk into the shadiest of stores. He hung around outside, put off by all the images of bound humans he’d seen through the entrance. He wondered what Light was doing in there, at 1am, when they were supposed to be finding that FBI guy. Ryuk scratched his nose absentmindedly, bored already and fantasising about Mario Golf. Maybe they could squeeze in a round when they got home from Light’s weird errand?

Light emerged from the creepy store after ten minutes, the look on his face saying he’d like to write the place into the ground. Ryuk was immediately curious; why go in there if he hated it so much? “What’s in the box?” he asked Light, floating over to poke at the plain cardboard. Light grinned at him and popped open the lid. A pair of night vision binoculars. “What do you need those for?”

“Saving Raye Penber, of course,” Light drawled. “No other shops stay open so late, so I had to get it from there…If I never go in there again, it’ll be too soon. I swear that shop owner’s a criminal if I’ve ever seen one. I’ll look him up after we clean up this Penber mess.”

The pair set off down the street. “Why do you need those if you kidnapped that guy?” Ryuk asked.

“I didn’t personally abduct him,” Light explained. “The Yakuza did it for me. Of course, I couldn’t be too specific in where or when they took him, or I’d risk them all dropping dead of premature heart attacks. Penber is at their hideout. I know all their current hideouts so it’s only a matter of trial and error.”

Ryuk chuckled. “You thought you’d have the police to help with that.”

Light laughed bitterly. “I’d neglected to take into account L being so obstinate. Never again.”

Ryuk let out a loud laugh. “Watching you try to win him over is going to be fun.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Light grumbled. “Laugh it up.” He was glad someone was enjoying themselves at least.

 

The third potential hideout Light checked was also a bust. A couple of homeless people were crashing there. It obviously wasn’t in use by the Yakuza yet. Applying future knowledge to the past was an art form Light hadn’t quite mastered.

Also, he had not expected to have to do all the fieldwork himself. He was wet and cold from sneaking around in the snow. His dress shoes were not appropriate footwear for this scenario (they were now layered with god-knows-what; he’d have to throw them out), and his clothes were starting to get dirtied and torn from crawling around with the refuse of society. Light was feeling at his most snobbish, chin held high, nose occasionally pinched against the stench, and he was decidedly tired and pissed off by the time he made it to the fourth potential hideout.

When Light saw the signs that this was the Yakuza hideout he was looking for – armed guards, electric lights – he was at once pleased and angered. He hunkered down in the dark of the alley across from the warehouse, pulled out his night vision binoculars and got to work scoping out the place. He counted around twenty mobsters, each armed to the teeth. Well, Light hadn’t selected a bunch of girl guides to kidnap Penber, so what else could he have expected? Even so, Light huffed out a sigh, catching Ryuk’s attention. The Shinigami had at first been intrigued by the homeless people they found in the earlier abandoned buildings, but had grown bored swiftly. He observed the scene now with renewed interest.

“What’re you gonna do, Lighto?” Ryuk asked eagerly.

Light stood up, letting the binoculars hang around his neck. “I’m going to save Raye Penber, what does it look like I’m doing?”

Ryuk gestured widely at the sea of criminals guarding Penber. “There are at least a dozen people ready to kill you between here and that guy. You don’t even know for sure where he is.”

Light systematically stretched his limbs. “He’ll be in there,” he said confidently. “And those men can’t hurt me Ryuk. Their names are already written.”

Ryuk laughed out loud. Light would only figure why out later.

 

L had Watari bring the older Yagami to him. He explained the situation as truthfully as he could, leaving out only the parts that would alert Kira to the investigation into the NPA and ruin the NPA’s trust in L. Chief Yagami had, to his credit, woken himself up the moment L began his story, and by the end was blazing out the emergency phone and calling in his most trusted detectives. Matsuda, whom L wasn’t sure was actually a police officer and not just some stray wandered in off the street, was the only detective who had stayed late with Chief Yagami. It was around New Year’s, and most of the officers had wanted time off to spend with their families. L respected their decision but knew Kira would take no break for the holidays.

While Chief Yagami and Matsuda rounded up some help and explained the situation, L accessed the crime scene reports for Naomi and Raye’s hotel room. The mess was typical of an abduction of an able-bodied male in his early thirties. Raye had put up quite the fight. Kira had had difficulty subduing him…

L’s thumb went up to his lip. If Kira had trouble abducting Raye Penber, it stood to reason Kira had chosen not to control Raye’s actions or for some reason could not. This meant Kira could only control someone’s actions immediately before their death. It also meant Kira had wanted to keep Raye alive; perhaps to interrogate him, perhaps to use as ransom against Naomi…

Furthermore, Kira had never made a play like this. To come out into the open, to actually commit a crime in person, was new. Kira might have left some evidence behind, something L would definitely find if it were there.

Dark eyes scanned the crime scene photos for any tidbit of information. L’s mind whirred at a million miles an hour as he tried to logic out Kira’s move. What was the killer thinking…?

Chief Yagami had gathered twelve detectives, not including himself and Matsuda. They called a meeting around L’s laptop to brainstorm the crime, now that they were all brought up to speed.

“Thank you for coming in at such an hour on such short notice,” L told the officers through the laptop speakers. “We have reason to believe Kira has abducted Raye Penber, Naomi Misora-san’s fiancé, and is holding him somewhere, alive. This could be our best chance to catch Kira, so if anyone has any ideas – anything at all – about who Kira is, or where he’s taken Raye Penber or why, please share.” He fell silent, leaving the floor open to the Japanese detectives.

There was some murmuring, and then Matsuda of all people spoke first, “Penber-san is a healthy adult male. I couldn’t kidnap him by myself. Even with his powers, Kira is supposed to be young, right? I doubt Kira could manage to do it. This scene…it seems more like the work of two or three perpetrators.”

“So it’s not Kira then?” One of the other detectives sneered. “Matsuda, you shouldn’t waste everyone’s time like that.”

“Wait,” L commanded, cutting off the tirade. “Matsuda-san has a point. Kira’s profile suggests a young man; too young to be able to take down someone like Penber-san alone. It’s likely Kira had accomplices, perhaps even acolytes.” L paused. “It’s possible that Kira himself was not present at the crime, that he used his accomplices to do it in his stead.”

“So Kira was never there?” One of the detectives said loudly. “What’s the point then? We’ll never find Penber in time to save him if we have to look for Kira’s acolytes.”

Naomi winced. L caught the move and frowned. “Kobayashi-san, there’s a good chance that Kira’s acolytes are not as intelligent as Kira, that they will have left behind some evidence that would lead us to them – and to Kira.”

The detective, thoroughly put down, shrank back into his seat.

“You said Kira targeted this man, Penber, because of Misora-san’s investigation into him,” Aizawa chimed in. “She’s just a civilian, and yet her family was targeted. What about us? A lot of us detectives have families. If Kira is targeting investigators’ families, who’s to say it won’t be our families next?” That kicked off a round of dissatisfied murmurs among the gathered officers.

Breaking through the rabble, Chief Yagami said, “We all knew the risks of investigating Kira. I understand the need to protect your families – I have a family too – and I won’t blame you if you want to leave the investigation. I’ll only ask those people who are willing to do anything to catch this psychopath to stay.”

Aizawa said, “Chief…” somewhat reverently. To the rest of the room, he said, “Everyone, we should stay until we’ve saved Misora-san’s fiancé. After that, we can reconsider where we stand.”

“Yeah!” Matsuda cheered him on. Aizawa shot him a glare. Matsuda wilted a little under its force.

Meanwhile, L was considering the case. Kira can control a person’s actions but only immediately before he kills them. I have no idea why this is, but it is a great help to the investigation. Kira is not all powerful.

Misora-san theorised that Kira can kill through methods other than heart attacks. Although it wouldn’t suit his modus operandi, if it’s true it would greatly expedite the investigation. Any murders Kira wanted to hide from us, he would use methods-other-than-cardiac-arrest to do so. If we can successfully find one of these murders, we will find Kira.

Kira took Raye Penber to either interrogate him for information or to hold as ransom against Misora-san until she divulged what she knew of Kira and/or ceased her investigation. Kira was likely not present at the scene of the abduction, for as Matsuda observed, it would take more than one equally able-bodied man to take down a highly skilled FBI agent’s fiancé. Kira therefore has followers – no, acolytes. People he has brought into his inner circle. I always thought Kira would work alone…perhaps he does not intend to keep his acolytes around for longer than they are useful to him. Regardless, find an acolyte, and we’ll find Kira.

As for Kira himself, the fact that he’s targeting Penber rather than all the FBI agents would indicate he had been followed by Penber. Yet the only people followed were the Yagami’s and the Kitamura’s. Kira’s profile suggests someone young, making Light Yagami and Hana Kitamura the most likely suspects. Yet Penber has cleared Light Yagami and his reports on Hana Kitamura indicate she likely is not Kira either…But if one of them were Kira, Kira had to have spotted Penber spying on them, in order to know of him and kidnap him, and so they could easily have modified their behaviour so as not to be suspicious.

And then Light Yagami brings Naomi Misora – and her damning theories – straight to me, not once but twice in as many days. Either Kira is so confident that he is willing to take risks like that (and stupid enough to think that I won’t notice him inserting himself into the investigation), or Light Yagami is simply the helpful, intelligent young man described to me, someone who also wants to catch Kira. Light Yagami is, to put it one way, far too obviously Kira to actually be Kira. If he were Kira, I would need to reassess my profile of Kira, because Light Yagami’s end game is neither readily apparent nor in sync with what we know of Kira.

Hana Kitamura, on the other hand, makes a sort of sense as Kira. L felt unreasonably saddened at the thought that she was Kira. The game he’d been playing in his head against the mass murderer would cease to be any fun. If she were Kira, she would have noticed Penber following her and panicked. She then abducted him to find out what he knew using her acolytes. As such a young woman, she would expect no-one would suspect her capable of murder, let alone to the degree of Kira’s atrocities. Yet L knew better. He had personally investigated equally as young women who committed similarly appalling crimes.

Both Light Yagami and Hana Kitamura would have to stay on L’s radar as potential Kira’s. There wasn’t enough evidence to exonerate either of them, although their percentage likelihood of being Kira was less than 5% each.

A law enforcement official however…Kira is almost certainly in law enforcement. 89% likelihood. He had known about Lind L. Tailor, which while possibly a lucky guess on Kira’s part, was suspicious. And then information leaked from the task force…And now this. Kira might not have even needed to know about the FBI’s investigation into the NPA; only that Misora-san had brought evidence to the task force that could potentially be Kira’s undoing. He then targeted Penber in order to get to Misora and the rest, as they say, was history.

Whatever the case may be, L knew they had to find Kira’s acolytes, and fast. “Everyone,” he grabbed the attention of the room easily. “Please go over the crime scene in detail. If you find anything that might lead to one of Kira’s acolytes, please pursue it. Chief Yagami, would you please gather your best forensics team and head to Misora-san’s apartment to perform a second sweep.”

Orders received, the other detectives sprang into action. L remained safely behind his computer screen. Naomi looked at him once the others were gone. “You know you can’t leave them in the dark like this. How can they catch Kira when they don’t know why he took Raye?”

L was quiet for a long moment. “Once they know, they won’t trust me to lead the investigation.”

Naomi smiled wistfully. “They hardly trust you as it is, L. Law enforcement isn’t exactly fond of you.”

L tucked his knees up to his chest, curled up on the heated hardwood floor on his hotel room. “That may be true,” L admitted. “But we need each other in order to catch Kira.”

“If you truly believed they would understand that,” Naomi countered. “You’d tell them the truth.”

 

Raye Penber had come home from stalking the Kitamura girl, the same as usual. It had been a long day of watching a teenage girl act like a teenage girl. Raye was tired and looking forward to a nice home-cooked meal from Naomi.

He opened the door to their hotel room, saying, “Honey, I’m home-” But made it no further as he realised the apartment was dark and empty. No Naomi. “Huh.” Raye figured she must have gone out for groceries or some such. He shrugged his suit jacket off and his worries along with it. He took off his gun and holster, and placed them on the bedside table. He lay down on the bed, toeing off his shoes one at a time. Finally feeling the tension from the day leaving him, Raye relaxed into the soft mattress, prepared to wait however long for his fiancée to come home and take care of him.

After a solid twenty minutes of lounging about, there was a knock on the door. Raye sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, confused. Naomi wouldn’t have forgotten her keys. That was Raye’s job.

He eyed his weapon, weighing up his options. He settled for leaving it where it lay, and meandered over to the door. It was either Naomi, the hotel staff, or a surprise visit from Naomi’s family. No-one else knew they were staying in this room – apart from L, of course – so Raye didn’t feel he had anything to worry about.

One surprise gun to the face, an intense struggle, and a long semi-conscious car ride later, Raye found himself strapped to a chair in a disused building, surrounded by Yakuza. Feeling mildly concussed, it took Raye a while to logic out why the monsters had abducted him. One of the cops at the scene of the bus-jacking had to have been dirty. They would have told their Yakuza friends that the FBI, that Raye, was here investigating them, and – spurred into a panic after the sudden death of their colleague – they had taken Raye in an attempt to determine what he knew.

It made perfect sense. (And only took Raye four hours to figure out.)

So, after this revelation, Raye waited for the interrogation to start. But the Yakuza just left him alone, tied to the chair in the room. In fact, they completely left him to his own devices after a time. No-one seemed to want to talk to Raye, let alone interrogate and torture him. Maybe he was wrong about why he was here…?

It was either very late at night or very early in the morning. Raye couldn’t sleep; not as a result of his circumstances, but because of the awful fluorescent lighting. His captors had such bad taste. While thinking of how the Yakuza should be able to afford better hostage holding facilities, Raye nearly missed the familiar head of auburn hair pop up in the window across from him.

Light…Yagami?!

Raye quite literally did not believe his eyes. He watched in disbelief as the Yagami boy signalled for Raye to keep quiet, then observed him stealthily make his way into the room. The door to the room was unlocked but screamed on its hinges. Raye winced; the sentiment echoed by Yagami.

“What are you doing here?” Raye whispered urgently as soon as Yagami was near enough.

“I’m here to save you,” Yagami told him shortly. “Now shut up and stay still.” Raye chose to remain silent and still as Yagami pulled out a pocket knife to cut the zip ties pinning Raye to the chair (he told himself he was not obediently following the orders of a 17-year-old).

Light was down to the zip ties on Raye’s left leg when the other door to the room swung open on heavy hinges. Light froze for an instant, and then glanced over his shoulder at the hulking Yakuza man that had entered. Raye swore and yelled at Light, “Hurry up!” Light quickly cut one of the remaining zip ties, but before he could slice the last two, the Yakuza man was upon him.

“Hey kid,” the criminal rumbled, large fingers digging into Light’s shoulders. “What do you think you’re doing here?”

Chapter Text

The Puppet-Master

 

Light put on his best innocent expression as he turned away from Raye Penber to face the mobster. “I just saw this man tied up in here and wanted to help…”

The Yakuza gorilla frowned, mulling that over slowly. “You made a mistake coming in here, kid-” he started saying, fingers tightening painfully into Light.

Light’s innocent expression dropped. His back was to Raye so he let the full power of his murderous rage show on his face. The gorilla flinched away from him, obviously surprised. “I’m taking him with me,” Light all but growled. “Don’t stand in my way.”

It wasn’t like brandishing a Note page in this guy’s face would help, but oh was Light tempted. He wanted to show this worm just who was in charge around here.

The bulky Yakuza recovered quickly from his fear of Light, obviously telling himself it was irrational to be afraid of an unarmed teen. He yelled for help, and drew his gun on Light.

Light rolled his eyes at the man. “Haruto Suzuki,” he said the man’s name clearly, enunciating each syllable. “You can’t hurt me. I know who you are.”

Haruto freaked out, gun lowering as he tried to figure out how this random kid knew his name. His Yakuza buddies swarmed into the room, responding to his call. Light spread his arms wide, in what he was sure Penber would consider a protective gesture, but in what was actually a display of power. You can’t hurt me, Light was silently taunting the Yakuza. I’m God. What I write, goes.

“Run! Get out of here!” Penber yelled at Light, and he struggled to his feet, one leg still attached to the chair. “I’ll hold them off!”

Light snapped an arm around, blocking Penber. “Don’t be a hero,” he snapped.

“That’s my line,” Raye argued, trying to force his way in front of Light.

“Shut the fuck up,” one of the Yakuza shouted. Light’s gaze flickered from Penber to him, and then he did a double take. There was a face he didn’t know. And it was a very recognisable face; scarred on the right-hand side, with one eye damaged and likely blind.

Light paled considerably. “Now, gentlemen,” he raised his hands placatingly. “I’m sure we can come to some kind of agreement here.”

The unknown man strode forward from the dumbfounded crowd and pointed his gun at Light’s chest. “Get on the ground,” he barked. “Now!”

Penber tried to push Light to the ground, to make him follow orders, but Light refused to go. “What’re you doing?” Penber hissed.

Light looked at the unknown man, considering. “What’s your name?” he asked bluntly.

“Saitō,” the man answered. “What’s it to you?”

“I’m Light Yagami. My father is chief superintendent at the NPA. If you kill me, Saitō, you’ll bring the NPA down on all your heads.”

Saitō seemed to consider that for a moment, then shrugged. “Not if they don’t find your body.” He squeezed the trigger. Light was already throwing himself to the side, but the bullet hit his shoulder. Gritting his teeth against the pain, and clutching at the wound to stem the bleeding, Light ran.

He left Penber behind on the ground and ran. He stumbled a little as he slammed through the back exit into the alleyway but recovered and took off at a pace, knowing the Yakuza wouldn’t be far behind him. Fucking Saitō had thrown a wrench into Light’s perfect plan. Today was just not Light’s day.

He had made it down a half dozen city blocks, with a few twists and turns thrown in for good measure, when he slipped away into a train station and ran into the women’s bathroom. (No-one would look for him in there.) He hid in a stall, and tried to catch his ragged breath. It felt like he’d left his heart and other assorted organs behind at the disused building.

As well as Penber. Talk about a mission failed. Light slammed a fist into his knee and winced against the tremors of pain that sent through him.

“Hora, Lighto, found ya!” Ryuk’s cheerful growl of a voice broke through Light’s pity party. The Shinigami‘s head was phased through the stall wall.

Light growled at Ryuk and threw a roll of toilet paper at his head. It phased through and bounced pitifully off the wall. “I asked you to keep look out!”

Ryuk looked sheepish. “Ah, about that…I might have gotten bored and started playing with a stray cat I found.”

Light’s jaw dropped slightly in disbelief. “A cat?” He dropped his face into his hands.

“Ah, Light?” Ryuk waved a ghostly hand in front of Light’s hidden face. “You okay, buddy?” Light’s hysterical laughter trickled past his fingers. “So we’re still on for Mario Golf then?”

Light dropped his hands and leaned backwards on the closed toilet. “Why not?” he seemingly asked the universe at large. “Everything is making a mockery of my efforts lately. I think it would be nice to sit back with a friend and play video games.”

Friend? Ryuk thought, confused. He was Light’s roommate, not his friend.

Light waved a hand at Ryuk as if to dismiss his concerns. They must have shown on his gnarly face. “Don’t worry, I don’t mean anything by it. I know we have a particular arrangement. I won’t change that. Besides, it’s not like I can be friends with someone who gets distracted by every shiny thing he sees.”

Light stood up and casually walked through Ryuk and out of the stall, leaving the Shinigami wondering if he was just insulted.

 

L was getting frustrated. There were simply no good clues at the scene of Penber’s abduction. There was some passive blood flow from one of his assailants, but it would take at least a few more hours for the DNA results to come back, and then longer to run through the system. They would find the attacker, if he were registered in any DNA system in the world, but by that time it may already be too late for Penber. Kira may even slip away into the night. And so, L was frustrated. Analysing the scene could only give them so much information. Even L couldn’t conjure the names of the criminals who had done this from thin air. And it’s not as if they left a note behind, saying ‘this was me, I did it’. (L’s job would be a lot easier if more people did that.)

Naomi wasn’t getting any further either. She had taken to looking back at the bus-jacking. She was currently reading the police report on the incident, which made no mention of Adani’s connections to organised crime nor Penber’s presence at the scene. It was written much as Watari had instructed Izaka to write it. What Naomi expected to find, L wasn’t sure. (He’d already read and reread the report.)

Meanwhile the NPA officers who had stayed after Aizawa’s little speech were busy canvassing witnesses from the hotel, redoing the forensic work on the scene of the crime, and checking into anyone Naomi had come into contact with since she had entered Japan. They weren’t investigating the people she had spoken to in the NPA, but then again L hadn’t expected them to. They would deny Kira’s connection to them for as long as possible. Unless someone forced the possibility – in fact, the great likelihood (89%) – in their face, the thought would never even cross their minds.

With the NPA detectives out on their various errands, despite the early hour of the morning (it was coming up on 3am), there were very few people left in the task force rooms. Only Watari, Naomi, Matsuda, Mogi, Aizawa, and Ukita were left. Even Chief Yagami was out at the crime scene. L had spent some time keeping the FBI up to date, but had otherwise been busy going back over any evidence related to Kira, in the hopes he would find that one clue that would tell him who Kira is or even where he might be.

Everyone was sufficiently busy that at first no-one noticed Light Yagami stumble into the task force room, bleeding like a stuck pig. His fingers were clasped around his shoulder wound, his white dressed shirt stained an awful red, his stylish winter jacket torn, bloodied and ruined. He looked like he’d been through the trenches and back.

L was the first to notice Light shambling towards them like something out of Night of the Living Dead. “Yagami-kun-!” L gasped. Everyone’s heads snapped up at his urgent tone of voice. “You’re injured!”

“What?!” Naomi was out of her seat and at Light’s side in a flash. She slipped under his uninjured shoulder and caught his weight as he slumped into her. “Light-san! Are you alright? What happened?”

Light mumbled an answer, swaying dangerously as Naomi led him to the nearest chair. She lowered him into in and turned on Matsuda (who was nearest to her, having come over to help), “Go get the first aid kit and some water! Now!” Matsuda nearly snapped her a salute, then ran off to acquire the supplies.

Aizawa, Mogi and Ukita hurried over to check on Light and hear what had happened. Watari picked up L’s laptop and took them both over to where the Yagami boy was slowly bleeding all over the carpet.

“Yagami-kun,” L asked urgently. “What happened?”

Light’s amber eyes, somewhat dulled from the pain and blood loss, found the monitor and its stylised L. L noted mildly that the teen’s intelligence still blazed in his eyes even when suffering thusly.

“L,” Light coughed, dehydrated. “I found Penber.” He rattled off an address on the far side of town. “Yakuza…have him…couldn’t find…Kira…”

Light’s eyes were sliding shut. “Yagami-kun!” L shouted. “Keep him awake!” he ordered the others. Matsuda was just returning with water and a first aid kit. Watari grabbed the glass from him and threw the water on Light. Light flinched awake, glaring weakly at the shadowy figure of Watari.

“Hey…!” he complained tiredly. “Tryin’a sleep here… Tired…”

Naomi looked extremely concerned. “Call an ambulance,” she ordered the room at large, as she took the first aid kit off Matsuda and used the scissors to cut away Light’s sleeve. The wound looked to be from a bullet. The bullet had passed through cleanly but had taken a sizeable cylinder of Light’s shoulder with it.

Naomi quickly applied antiseptics to the wound and began wrapping a bandage tightly around the sluggishly bleeding limb.

“Light,” L used the teen’s given name to grab his attention. The boy’s eyes widened and L could see the effort it was taking him to focus on L, but Light did so anyway. “How did you find Penber?”

“Simple,” Light murmured, eyes closing and a smile gracing his lips. “Adani…mobster…Kira…law enforcement…corruption… hideouts…” His explanation was a lot of barely strung together nouns, but L understood the gist of it. Light had connected the dots between the busjacker and Kira and had pursued his lead on his own, obviously thinking that L would not listen to him after L had thrown him out. It was remarkable how swiftly Light had drawn his – apparently accurate – conclusions. (His thoughts turned barbed as he considered how convenient it was that Light Yagami could find Raye Penber so quickly.)

Not having any time to waste, L tore his mind from the semi-conscious boy and ordered Watari to arrange SWAT teams to take the location Light had told them, and rescue Raye Penber. With Watari on the case, L returned his attention to Light Yagami. He was presently holding Naomi’s hand, eyes half-lidded as he watched Watari and the other detectives springing into action. They were calling in the entire task force for the effort, hour of the morning be damned.

“Light Yagami,” L addressed the teen with a newfound respect. If the kid was Kira, he was doing a fine job of playing the role of an innocent. He would make either an admirable ally or a formidable opponent. “Thank you for your help. I should not have dismissed you so easily.”

Light smiled, wide and proud. L was taken aback. He did not usually engender such responses in people. “Is that…an…apology?” Light teased quietly between coughs.

L smiled behind his thumb, staring intently through the screen at Light. “No,” he replied, tone flat, but meaning playful. Light seemed to understand, because his smile widened, then turned into a yawn.

“I think I’ll…sleep…now…” Light managed around a yawn, tucking himself down into the uncomfortable work chair.

“Wait,” Naomi insisted urgently, squeezing Light’s hand. “Don’t sleep, Light-san. You need to stay awake. The ambulance will be here soon.”

Light moved his free hand listlessly, to pat Naomi’s gently where it clutched his hand. “I’ll…be fine,” he told her quietly. “Doesn’t feel…like…dying.”

While L wondered how Light Yagami could know what dying felt like, Light’s unfocused gaze slid past the laptop to stare at an empty space of air beside it. “Nap first,” he told the air. “Mario…Golf… later.” With that, Light slipped into the dark comforts of unconsciousness.

“Who was he talking to?” Naomi wondered, voicing L’s own question.

“I don’t know,” L replied carefully. Light had lost a considerable amount of blood and had obviously had an exhausting night, so it was possible he had become unhinged from reality for a moment. Still, L was curious who Light thought he saw. Who would be so important to the teen that he would hallucinate them only to talk about a video game?

The case of Light Yagami was only becoming curiouser and curiouser.

Watari had departed the building, to meet up with Chief Yagami and the SWAT team. Aizawa, Mogi and Ukita tagged along. Matsuda had tried to follow, but had been shut down by Aizawa, who insisted he stay at the task force offices and take care of Light and Naomi while they waited for the ambulance. Matsuda had clearly known he was being left behind on purpose, but took it with good cheer. L watched the whole exchange through the camera on the laptop, musing over each detective, wondering if there was even a chance they were Kira.

With Light unconscious, the only intelligent conversation available to L was Naomi. Matsuda took Naomi’s place at Light’s side, holding his hand (drying blood and all) and striking up a one-sided conversation with the boy. He told Light all about his lacklustre love-life and his most recent misfortunes (of which he seemed to have in abundance). While Matsuda talked, L flashed Naomi a message, asking her to take the laptop and go across the room for a private conversation.

Once there, L asked her in English, “What do you think about Light Yagami?”

“Light?” Naomi seemed surprised that this was what L wanted to talk about. “He’s a good kid. I trust him.”

“I gathered that,” L said, amused. “I should have asked: do you think there’s a chance that he’s Kira?”

“What?” Naomi leaned closer to the screen and whispered, “Why?”

“He keeps appearing in the investigation,” L explained. “It’s suspicious that he’s always inserting himself, or making himself known in some capacity.”

“Is it?” Naomi said defensively. “His father’s the chief and he obviously wants to become a detective. The Kira case is only the biggest case he might ever have a chance to work on. It makes sense for him to want to help; not only from a career standpoint, but because he has a strong sense of morals, and wants to do the right thing.”

“That may be,” L argued, “but the fact remains that he just conveniently met you and brought you into the investigation. Furthermore, he found your fiancé tonight before any of us had even thought where to look. I understand his deductions, yet he would obviously require access to police information to find the locations of the Yakuza hideout. Access that he does not have.”

“He has access to cold cases his father gave him. Light told me how he’s helped the police in the past solve numerous cases. The hideout must be in those files. He’s very smart, and that’s how he knew where to find Raye,” Naomi explained. “That’s why he should be on the task force.”

“Or he’s Kira,” L continued to play devil’s advocate. “Not only is he orchestrating these events, but he is hacking his father’s computer to access NPA files, and that’s how he knows these things.”

“Maybe. But how would Light Yagami, a 17-year-old with no record, be connected to the Yakuza? Kira evidently has some relationship with them, to use them in this way,” Naomi poked holes in L’s argument. “And why would Kira let himself be shot like this when he could just kill the Yakuza? Why help us find Raye?”

L was silent for a moment, thumb to his lips, knees tucked up, considering. “You’re right,” he conceded. “None of this makes sense if he’s Kira.” Naomi nodded, as if to say, see, I’m right. “I still don’t like it,” L insisted. “Something doesn’t feel right.”

Naomi gave him a look, Really? “You can’t arrest Light on a hunch. Besides, isn’t it more likely that Kira is someone else here at the NPA? Someone with connections to organised crime; a dirty cop, like Light said.”

“It doesn’t make sense for Kira to be a corrupt member of law enforcement,” L said. “Kira kills criminals. He passes judgement on them.”

“He doesn’t see himself as a criminal, despite committing multiple murders,” Naomi said. “Why should he consider himself a criminal just from working with the Yakuza?”

L nodded, although Naomi couldn’t see it. “You are correct, Ms Misora,” he said. “Kira could still be anyone at the NPA. It was wishful to think something as simple as ‘Light Yagami is Kira’ could solve the case.”

“Well, don’t be downhearted,” Naomi said, switching back to Japanese. “The task force will return soon with Raye, and probably with some arrested Yakuza. We can interrogate them. Maybe one of them knows who Kira is.”

L agreed mildly, thinking to himself that Kira wouldn’t let it progress that far. If he thought the mobsters would give him away, he’d kill them in a heartbeat.

All of a sudden, the lights went off in the building and an alarm sounded. Naomi whipped to her feet, looking around the darkened room. The emergency lights came on, red and flashing. “What-?”

L quickly hacked into the NPA’s security system. The cameras revealed that a crowd of some twenty or so men, dressed to the nines in suits and guns, had taken the lobby, shot the receptionist (who had obviously managed to sound the alarm just before), and were now proceeding up the stairs to the task force offices. The rest of the building was relatively deserted, apart from a couple security guards who were now prowling for the threat, so L quickly called Watari.

“Watari! You need to bring the task force back to the office right now!” L said urgently, the instant Watari picked up the line. “The Yakuza are here!”

“I know; I was about to call,” Watari said grimly. “We just found Penber.”

Dead? L’s heart skipped a beat.

“He’s alive,” Watari clarified swiftly. “We untied and ungagged him. He just told us, ‘It’s a trap’.”

L swore. Damn you, Kira. “Hurry,” he said and hung up.

Watari would bring the NPA back as fast as possible, but it wouldn’t be fast enough. With Light Yagami unconscious, there was only Matsuda and his one firearm, and Naomi with her capoeira, protecting the offices. If this was Kira’s plan all along, to sabotage all their efforts- He wouldn’t succeed. L had the upper hand. He was not physically present at the offices. No matter what, Kira wouldn’t be able to reach him. If he couldn’t stop L, he couldn’t stop the investigation.

That did not make L any less worried for the safety of the three people in the office right now.

“Misora-san, Matsuda-san,” L said in a voice that brokered no debate. “The Yakuza have come here. They’re breaking into this room as I speak. The task force is on their way back, but you need to hold on until then. Whatever the Yakuza ask of you, give it to them. Your co-operation may be the only way out of this alive. Any information you give them will be worthwhile. Don’t worry about the Kira investigation.”

“L!” Matsuda cried. “Why would the Yakuza come here? They don’t need information from the task force!”

“Not unless they’re working with Kira,” Naomi told him. Matsuda quivered for a moment then hardened his resolve. He took his gun off and stashed it underneath Light’s unconscious body to prevent the Yakuza seizing it or shooting him over it.

Not a moment later, the door to the task force office burst open. A dozen Yakuza swarmed in, guns swiftly zeroing in on Naomi and Matsuda. L had remotely turned off the laptop screen, but kept the camera running so he could watch the proceedings.

“Nobody fucking move!” the leader of the Yakuza declared. “You two, on the ground, now!”

Naomi and Matsuda dropped to the floor, palms raised to show they were unarmed.

The head Yakuza gestured for some of his men to go over and secure the pair. Once their hands were zip-tied behind their backs, the head Yakuza nodded his head at Light’s unconscious body. “That’s the one. The boy who broke into our hideout. He dead?”

One of the Yakuza lackeys went to Light and checked his pulse. “He’s alive.” He slapped Light across the face. Light hardly stirred. “Just unconscious.”

“Leave him,” the boss ordered. He strode over to Naomi and Matsuda. Naomi gave him a defiant look, while Matsuda did his best to look equally stern. “Who are you two?” he waved the barrel of his gun in their faces, just so they were clear who he meant.

“Shoko Maki,” Naomi replied without hesitation. “It’s my husband you kidnapped.”

“Oh-ho?” the boss chortled. “How quaint.”

“Touta Matsui,” Matsuda replied, voice steadier than L expected. “Detective, NPA.”

The boss tapped him on the head with his gun. “Hush, wasn’t talking to you.” He looked Naomi up and down, assessing. “Why was your husband investigating us?”

“What?” Naomi frowned, confused. “He wasn’t investigating you.”

Her answer earned her a slap across the face. “Stupid bitch. We know the FBI’s investigating us. And now the NPA too! Don’t you fuckers have anything better to do? Like catching that Kira maniac?”

L sat back in surprise. So the Yakuza weren’t working with Kira? They had abducted Penber and were now storming the NPA because…what? Because Watari had told the police that Penber was on the bus when it was hijacked because he was investigating the Yakuza? No, L realised with dawning horror, leaning in towards the computer.

“Excuse me,” L’s voice came through the laptop as the screen turned back on. The Yakuza spun around in a move that would have earned them a gold medal in synchronised sports. “I believe you’re in the wrong task force office. We are investigating Kira, not you.”

The boss levelled his gun at the talking machine, for all the good it would do him. “Lies. We know you’re investigating us because-”

“Officer Izaka told you,” L finished for him. “I know. He’s obviously an informant for you, yes?” The boss nodded weakly, in a tail spin. “The problem is, Izaka did not know the full story. The FBI is investigating the NPA because Kira works here. The bus-jacking was a freak coincidence. I could not have the NPA learning of the investigation so I ordered that the police be lied to about the FBI’s purpose in Japan. That you found out about the lie is the next freak occurrence. None of us should have ended up in this position.”

The Yakuza lackeys were looking at each other in confusion. Their boss, obviously the brightest bulb in the dim bunch, mulled over L’s words for a minute. “Why should we trust you?”

“Because I am L,” L explained, like it was obvious. “If I give the word, no-one will come after you for this siege.” The boss considered the offer. L added, like an afterthought, “Oh, and because Kira works for the NPA and none of you cut the security footage, so you’ll all probably die of heart attacks soon, if you don’t leave.”

That spurred the Yakuza into action. The lackeys began collectively freaking out, while the boss spent a minute with his mouth opening and closing like a fish on dry land.

L was at once amused and disturbed. To think Kira already struck such fear into the hearts of so many…

“We have to go,” the boss concluded. Then, louder, over the din, “We have to go! Now!” He gestured violently with his gun at the laptop screen. “Keep your word, L! No-one had better come after us or we’ll kill that FBI agent!”

L hummed quietly. “Quite right,” he offered flatly, knowing full well Penber was out of their reach. “Now, run.”

The Yakuza boss shot the letter on the laptop screen, causing broken computer parts to fly in all directions. Naomi and Matsuda, directly beneath the shattering plastic and glass, both ducked in cover.

The Yakuza hurried to exit the building, nearly tripping each other in their haste to make it down the stairs. L watched through the security cameras, and wondered if Kira was watching too.

The boss gathered all his cronies in the lobby, and when everyone was accounted for, they rushed out the exit. Forty seconds after their feet hit the pavement, the Yakuza clutched at their chests in unison, twisting in pain, writhing as they hit the ground.

L jumped to his feet, shocked. When he had threatened the Yakuza with Kira, he hadn’t actually meant for it to happen.

Only one Yakuza remained standing amongst his fallen comrades. He dropped to his knees beside the boss Yakuza and shook him weakly, calling out to him. The man was on the younger side, with an impressive scar on the right side of his face.

L dialled Watari, and instructed him to arrest the man fitting the scarred Yakuza’s description. Watari told him they were nearly back at the NPA, and L thanked him numbly before hanging up. It was one thing to chase Kira, to follow in his bloodless trail, and another thing entirely to see Kira’s power in action on such a large scale. And to know that Kira was here, watching.

In a matter of minutes, the full force of the NPA descended upon the scarred man. He surrendered without a fight. Even through the poor image quality of the security cameras and the dim light of the streetlights, L could make out the tears on the man’s face. L felt a pang of sympathy for the man and his dead friends. Whatever the Yakuza had done to anger Kira, they hadn’t deserved this.

The ambulance arrived during the arrest, the workers obviously confused by the mountain of dead bodies littering the pavement. They had been called for one youth with a gunshot wound, not a score of dead people. L called Watari, and through him, directed the ambulance workers into the building, past the horror on the footpath. L had been working on restoring the power to the NPA building, and successfully turned off the security system so as to let the ambulance workers take the elevator up to the task force office. They quickly went to Naomi and Matsuda, with one of the ambulance workers cutting them free of the zip-ties while the other went to Light and checked his vitals.

“L,” Naomi asked the room at large. L buzzed himself through to the ambulance dispatch, and sweet-talked his way onto the radio of the ambulance workers’.

“Misora-san,” his voice crackled through. “The Yakuza are dead.”

“Kira!” Matsuda gasped, rubbing at his wrists.

“Both of you, please stay here while Light Yagami is taken to the hospital. I need you to explain what happened to the NPA…while I arrange the collection of the bodies.”

Naomi looked like she wanted to resist, to go with Light, but then her expression cleared and she asked the crucial question, “Raye?”

“He’s alive,” L confirmed for her. “He’s here, with the task force.”

“Thank God,” Naomi breathed a sigh of relief. Then she put on a stern voice, “L, we have to tell the NPA the truth now. Kira is obviously here. It’s too dangerous for the task force to continue as it is.”

“Hey, yeah,” Matsuda interrupted. “You were investigating us, L? Why didn’t you tell us Kira was here? We could have been killed at any time!”

“…” The radio crackled. L had no good answer to that, at least none that Matsuda would want to hear. “Matsuda-san, I won’t stop you from telling the others that I was investigating the NPA with the FBI. It’s true. It was necessary.”

Matsuda sniffled, obviously feeling betrayed. L signed off from the ambulance radio.

Chief Yagami and the task force members returned to the office, Raye Penber in tow. Naomi rushed to Raye and wrapped him in a hug. He oofed at the force with which she impacted him, then smiled softly as he hugged her back. Watari entered a few minutes later, with a new laptop for L to connect through.

The ambulance workers gathered Light’s limp form onto a gurney and hustled him out of the offices. L watched him go, curiosity peaking. There was something about Light Yagami. Something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Like the truth about the boy was on the tip of his tongue, but truthfully the only thing there was L’s own thumbnail. But, no matter. L had the feeling he would be seeing more of the teen. He would have plenty of time to figure out what it was later.

L noted that Chief Yagami stayed at the office, and didn’t even suggest he ought to go to the hospital with his son. A dedicated detective? Or something more sinister? L put it aside as something that would require further research.

Matsuda and Naomi explained to the task force what had happened while they were gone. The task force members were at first concerned, then increasingly angered by the tale. At the end, Chief Yagami cried out, “The FBI’s probing members of our task force under orders from L?!” To the laptop and its gothic L, he asked, “Is that the truth?”

“Yes,” L answered. There was no point in defending his position. The task force members would either see the merits of L’s secrecy by themselves, or they wouldn’t be able to see it at all.

“L…I knew we couldn’t trust him,” Ide growled to Aizawa.

“All of us could be murdered by Kira,” Chief Yagami addressed the crowd of task force agents. Everyone had been called in for the rescue attempt. “The deaths of the Yakuza tell us that Kira is here in the NPA, like L suspected. Any of us could know Kira, and not know that we do. He could kill any of us at any time, if we get too close to catching him. Think about your own lives, and about your families and your friends. If you want out of this investigation, you’re free to leave. Quitting the task force will not lead to demotion. I’ve already spoken to the deputy director-general about this. Only those who are ready and willing to sacrifice everything and fight, who are truly committed to stopping this psychopath, are asked to remain. You all have until tomorrow to decide. At the 9am briefing on Friday, I’ll find out who those people are.”

Yagami stood. “You’re all free for the day. There’s nothing you can do here, while we wait for the bodies to be cleared and for the forensics team to return the reports to us. Take the day to consider, spend it with your families.”

“Matsuda-san, Misora-san, Penber-san,” L said as the task force members began to slowly trickle out of the office. “I need you to stay. I have some questions for you.”

“L,” Chief Yagami said, weary. “I’ll bring the other people who were in the building to you for questioning.” He stood to go do just that.

L was surprised that he had been so easily forgiven. “Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. Watari will take care of that. You should go to the hospital to be with your son.”

Chief Yagami looked like he was about to resist – L prepared himself to be equally stubborn – but Naomi beat him to the punch. “Yagami-san,” she placed a gentle hand on Sōichirō’s arm. “I’m worried about Light-san. He was injured trying to save my fiancé. I have to stay here and help the investigation… I need you to make sure Light-san is alright. Please.”

Sōichirō softened, the tension in his face falling away. “You’re right, Misora-san. Stay with your fiancé. Take care of him.”

“I’m never letting him out of my sight again,” Naomi said, only half joking.

“Hey-!” Raye protested, from under his shock blanket.

 

When Light came to, it was to the smell of antiseptics, and the sight of hospital linoleum floors. His head felt like a truck had run it over and then backed up to finish the job. He groaned and his mouth felt like it was full of cotton. His shoulder burned when he tried to move.

“Big brother!” Sayu glomped onto Light. He gasped at the sudden weight and presence. “You’re awake!”

Light smiled, a little twisted with pain, at where his sister was attached to his waist. She was sobbing and chattering about – something, he couldn’t quite make it out – into his side. He patted her back with his good arm awkwardly but fondly.

He looked up and saw his mother smiling in relief in a hospital chair. His father was beside her in his own chair. Even Ryuk was lounging around beside the bed.

Even though he was in pain, even though his plan hadn’t been perfect, even though he was tired and worried he had made that one little slip that would see him in the executioner’s chair – even though he was a killer now, and the fate of the world rested on his young shoulders – even despite all that, Light lit up at the sight of his family here with him.

Only one piece was missing.

And Light knew where to find it.

Chapter Text

The Curtain Rises

 

Whilst Light was laid up in a hospital bed with nothing to do while he waited for the doctor to clear him to leave, he spent his time thinking back over the last few days. Looking for any mistake, any error. One little slip was all it would take to put him in L’s power, rather than put L in his.

Light knew what he had to do as Kira. That much was self-evident. Kill all the bad people in the world, swiftly and without mercy. Hurt someone else and pay the price. That was law in Kira’s world.

But as Light Yagami? Light wasn’t quite as sure what he had to do. He had no Nightmare blueprint guiding him. All he had was his brain and – dare he say it? – his heart to win L over. Light had never lost in his life, not in anything that mattered. He didn’t think he could stand it if he lost now, when everything was on the line. Because it all came down to L. If he’d only say yes to Kira’s justice, if he’d only say yes to Light – whether he would was anybody’s guess.

When it came to L, Light was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand, lay victory for Light; he’d win L, he’d win the world, and everything would be okay. On the other hand, he’d die in agony in an electric chair or by needle (or worse); because Light knew he couldn’t kill L this time around. He wouldn’t kill anyone innocent. (As much as one could call what L was capable of doing to people ‘innocent’.) Light would have victory as Kira, with his family and L by his side, and not a drop of innocent blood on his hands – or he would destroy himself trying to get there.

At least, that’s what Light promised himself. He wasn’t sure what he’d do if he found himself backed into a corner. In his Nightmare, he’d become rather…feral, by the end. When backed into that final corner by Near, Light had lost what little sanity he had left.

Light knew it wasn’t exactly ‘sane’ to consider himself a god, which he did, but with the power of life and death that he held in his hands, what else was he but a god? And so he might be a little mad – all the best people were. L certainly was.

L. Light’s plan to catch him was more than a little elaborate. He had a number of factors to keep in mind at all times. Certain goals that he had to reach that were not always compatible with each other. Not cooperative at least; but Light would make them fit.

First, he had to keep L suspicious of him as Kira. If L lost interest in Light or cleared him entirely, L would have no reason to be near Light. Light needed him nearby – needed him suspicious – in order to convert him.

Second, Light couldn’t make it obvious he was Kira. If he did, it would be light’s out, excuse the bad pun. So, keep L suspicious, but never leave anything concrete behind.

Third, L would only meet Light in person if he thought he had no other options; if he thought it was a calculated risk that he needed to take in order to further the Kira investigation. In order to achieve this – and this was the trickiest part – Light had to get rid of the hundreds of law enforcement officials willing to help L. He had to scare off the FBI and Interpol, and thin out the NPA’s task force. But all of this had to be compatible with his morals as Kira and as Light Yagami – in other words, he couldn’t simply kill the people standing between himself and L. It would be morally reprehensible (not to mention completely ruin any chance he had with L) to do so. Thus, Light was stuck trying to scare off law enforcement.

Kira couldn’t attack them directly – all Kira could do was cause heart attacks after all – but that didn’t mean he couldn’t get others to attack them.

Light had taken time to find the solution. He had been mulling it over since he’d had the Nightmare. The perfect mixture of plausible deniability for Light Yagami and suspicious activity for Kira. He was going back over the cases he legally had access to as Light Yagami when he saw Daīchi Adani and everything clicked.

In his Nightmare, it had been towards the end of his time as Kira (towards the end of his life) when he had tracked down and eliminated the Adani crime family. A mixture of Yakuza and old-world mafia, the Adani’s had slipped under Kira’s radar for years. Dealing in drugs, sex trafficking, and a whole slew of other criminal activities, they were among the worst of the worst. They kept word of themselves off the street through corrupt cops like Kō Hashimoto. Unfortunately for them, Hashimoto had wanted onto L’s team, and he’d slipped. Light/L/Kira had found them and killed them all.

In this time, the Adani’s were still awful, still criminal. Hashimoto was still corrupt. They had been at it for years by the time Light found the Death Note. Light had the perfect alibi in the Adani’s. He had Daīchi Adani’s file from a past case; they had their fingers in the police; if one of their own died in a bus-jacking that conveniently featured an FBI agent, it would stand to reason they would be upset and want to know why. Why was the FBI investigating them? Just abduct the agent to find out. The NPA busts in and ruins their night? They’d demand answers from the agents and reveal they had nothing to do with Kira.

It was a bit dramatic, even for Light’s tastes, but it was within reason of what the Yakuza could and would do. He had taken the rest of Sunday night to write out his elaborate plans for each Adani Yakuza. They each read something like: Kidnap FBI agent living in Hotel 23; take him to your hideout; keep him there until you learn of the NPA’s involvement; no-one is injured during any of this; upon disengaging from the NPA, dies of a heart attack in 40 seconds.

A few of the Adani’s had modified entries; only three were needed for the abduction, and so on, but otherwise those were the bones of Light’s plan. He was originally going to send the NPA after the Yakuza, but then L had thrown a wrench solidly into that part of the plan. Light had improvised and gone after the Yakuza himself. Once there, he’d figured he’d have to trigger the next phase of the Death Note somehow – by revealing himself to the Yakuza as related to the NPA, of course. Attempting to rescue Penber was the best way to make it look natural, otherwise Light would have been stuck with wandering into Yakuza HQ off the street and randomly announcing, ‘Freeze, I’m from the NPA’.

There were enough Yakuza for Light to make failing at saving Penber look natural as well. How could anyone expect a scrawny 17-year-old bookworm to defeat a gang? Even then, yet another wrench was thrown into Light’s plan. He was starting to think the universe was out to get him. Saitō, the inconvenient freak occurrence. Light had thought he’d gotten all the mobsters in his Nightmare. He wasn’t sure now if his Nightmare self had failed to find Saitō or if Saitō had been so long dead at that point that his name and face had simply never come up. Light would probably never know. But Saitō had not been under the influence of the Note, and he had been free to act every part the criminal that he was. He shot Light! He dared to shoot god!

Light wanted to write his name down as soon as he was cleared to go home. But, he gritted his teeth; he hadn’t been updated on the situation at the NPA offices yet by his father. He’d been told the bare minimum, presumably what his father was cleared to tell him, which wasn’t much. He knew Kira had killed the Yakuza. He had to assume Saitō had escaped that fate. He could hope he’d bitten it at the end of an NPA gun but felt with the way his luck had been going lately, that was unlikely. Saitō could already be dead or worse, under arrest. He couldn’t very well kill Saitō now after he woke up in hospital, when all the other Yakuza died while he was unconscious. Being unconscious while the Yakuza died helped to lift suspicion from Light – which he’d heaped upon himself in full by going after Penber alone – but Light would ruin everything if he killed Saitō now. He may as well get the man to write ‘Light Yagami is Kira’. Light also didn’t know his full name, so there was that. He couldn’t kill Saitō yet, no matter how much he wanted to.

Light could only hope Saitō hadn’t done anything too bad. He could have injured someone while the Yakuza sieged the NPA. He could have resisted arrest and hurt someone then. Hell, he might even now be telling L all about Light’s little speech at their hideout. It…wasn’t Light’s finest moment. As tired and as angry as he had been at the time, he had phrased things a little bit more Kira-like than he’d meant to. Now, he could only hope that he was still on the fine line of very-suspicious-but-not-suspicious-enough with L.

Light had hoped that simply the Yakuza believing he was from the NPA would trigger their heart-attacks when he left. He hadn’t expected them to follow him to NPA headquarters and attack. Thankfully, he’d ensured they could not do any real damage. Except for the unpredictable Saitō, of course. They had died as written but there were too many loose ends resulting from his improvised plan. Light was uncomfortable with loose ends.

Looking down at his Shinigami where he was snoozing on the linoleum floor of Light’s hospital room, Light thought to himself, I’m going to kill him when we get home. Ryuk had known that Light had missed Saitō when writing down the Yakuza’s names. That’s why he laughed. Instead of warning Light, he had laughed.

Light wanted to glare at the Shinigami but sighed instead. He knew Ryuk was only in this for his own amusement. Seeing Light face down a glaring mistake like that was amusing. Distracted by a stray cat, my ass, Light cogitated. You just wanted to watch me squirm.

Ryuk snorted and rolled over in his sleep. Light rolled his eyes and settled back in his uncomfortable hospital bed. He crossed his arms and definitely did not sulk while he waited for his mother to return from talking to his doctor. Sayu had gone home earlier in the day to get things ready for Light (which Light took to mean she didn’t want to miss the Hideki Ryuga Special Show she had been telling him about for weeks, and so was likely at one of her friend’s houses watching the concert). His father had left to attend the Friday briefing at the NPA.

It was Friday afternoon now. Light was bored. Mildly in pain from the gaping bullet wound in his shoulder and numb from pain killers, but bored. He had criminals lined up to die for weeks in advance, but he hadn’t done anything as Kira for over 24 hours and it was starting to get to him. It was like an itch he couldn’t scratch; it was everywhere, in the corners of his mind and under his skin. Soon, he assured himself. Very soon.

It was 1562 seconds before his mother returned with his doctor. (Not that Light was counting.) “Can I leave now?” Light didn’t mean to ask quite so eagerly.

His mother chuckled. “Yes, dear. Doctor Takada says you can come home now.”

Light smiled so strongly at that, he was afraid he’d pull a muscle. He swung his legs off the bed, making sure to kick straight through Ryuk’s skull on the way (causing the Shinigami to awaken with an aborted snort). His hospital gown fluttered around his bare legs and he quickly pinned it down to regain some dignity.

“Not so fast,” Doctor Takada announced. “You have to promise me you’ll rest, young man. We can’t have you running off to fight anymore criminals now.”

Light plastered a polite smile on his face. “No, of course not,” he said without showing an ounce of how badly he wanted out of this situation. He was not fond of hospitals, nor doctors, and especially not people who thought they could order him around. Was the crime of treating him like a child evil enough to be Note-worthy…?

“I’m writing you a prescription for some very strong painkillers,” the doctor told Light, oblivious to the red glare behind Light’s amber eyes. “Now, they have some side effects…”

“Like what?” Light asked, surprised out of his murderous fantasies.

“Like nausea and drowsiness, and they may cloud your mental faculties for a time, so I wouldn’t take them before any exams,” Takada joked. “But otherwise they are quite fine.”

“Do I have to take them?” Light asked obstinately.

“Light!” Sachiko scolded her son.

He put on a repentant look.

“Only if you don’t want to be in excruciating pain,” Doctor Takada told Light sternly.

Light frowned briefly, and then returned to being the smiling, perfect son he knew he needed to be. “Of course, Doctor. I’m sorry for being short; I’m in quite a bit of pain…”

“Oh Light…” Sachiko looked like she was about to cry. Light cursed silently and put on his game face.

“I’ll take some of that medicine now, please,” he told the doctor.

Sachiko came over to Light to fuss over him. She brushed his hair into place, and flattened the shoulders of his hospital gown, and Light grumbled good-naturedly the whole while. A nurse appeared soon enough with Light’s medicine and a plastic cup of water. Light hesitated only fractionally before downing the two pills. He hated to think what this would do to his intelligence. His mind was the only thing he really had, after all.

On the bright side, the pain was gone in a matter of minutes. He reported as much to the doctor, who made a note of it, and released Light from the hospital. His mother signed the release forms while Light took the change of clothes his mother had brought him to the bathroom. His limbs were stiff, which made it difficult to put on his usual attire of casual-formal clothes (so many uncooperative buttons), and after far too long struggling against fate, Light caved and put on the sensible sweater and khakis his mother had brought as the alternate option. He stared at himself for a moment in the bathroom mirror, struck with a sense of déjà vu.

He reminded himself of…himself. Not Kira. Not the carefully cultivated likeness of his Nightmare self he had been meticulously recreating, but just…himself. Light Yagami. The Light he had seen in the mirror while investigating Yotsuba, the Light that had reflected back at him in the glass of a helicopter, the Light that had despised Kira…

Light shook his head, shaking off the thought the way a dog might shake off water.

 

A day earlier, a laptop featuring a white screen and a stylised ‘L’ sat before Raye Penber on a desk. He was locked inside an interrogation room at the NPA, for a debriefing on what happened to him over the last 24 hours.

“Raye Penber,” L’s modulated voice buzzed through. “How are you?”

“Fine,” Raye answered, a little intimidated. He was worried about the repercussions for his career being kidnapped by Yakuza would have.

“You aren’t injured?” L prompted. “Physically or psychologically?”

“No,” Penber answered confidently.

“So the Yakuza did nothing to interrogate or harm you?”

“No…?” Penber answered slowly.

“I see.” L was silent for a long minute. “Please describe the events of the night in sequence, and in as much detail as you are able.”

Penber nodded. “I came home at around 8pm. The apartment was empty and I did not know where Naomi was. After around half an hour, there was a knock at the door. I answered it and was hit over the head by a Yakuza. He was around my height with a shaven head, Japanese in appearance, in a dark suit and tie. He had two others with him, but I did not get a good look at them. There was a struggle, the first man took hold of my gun, and I was knocked unconscious.

“I came to in the same building you found me in. I was there for hours, and the Yakuza left me alone. I was tied to a chair with cable ties around my arms and legs. After a number of hours of captivity, Light Yagami broke into the room and attempted to free me from the restraints. He successfully cut through all but two when he was interrupted by the Yakuza. They had finally come back, perhaps to interrogate me or perhaps because they had spotted Yagami. In either case, the man that came in was very large set, and muscular. He was around 6’5”. He had short dark hair, and was also wearing a dark suit. He threatened Yagami with a gun but Yagami was not intimidated by him. Yagami recognised the man and called him by name – Haruto Suzuki – as a power play. It might have worked but the rest of the Yakuza came into the room. Yagami stood in front of me protectively. I told him to run but he refused.

“One of the other Yakuza stepped forward and threatened Yagami with a gun. Yagami immediately backed down and attempted negotiations. The Yakuza had a noticeable scar on the right side of his face. He ordered Yagami and myself to the ground. I complied but Yagami would not. Yagami asked the man his name. He replied ‘Saitō’. Yagami introduced himself as Chief Yagami of the NPA’s son and threatened Saitō with action from the NPA. Saitō was unperturbed and shot Yagami. Yagami fled the scene.”

“Light Yagami asked for Saitō’s name?” L quickly confirmed.

“Yes,” Raye said. “He probably wanted to know so he could speak with Saitō on a name-basis, establishing trust so the Yakuza would have less reason to kill him.”

“…Probably,” L agreed. “Thank you for your time, Penber-san. You may go home with Misora-san now.”

 

The scarred Yakuza sat numbly at the interrogation desk. He was handcuffed to the steel, locked in the room, with only a blank laptop sitting just out of reach to keep him company. Saitō wasn’t the biggest or toughest of the Adani family. Hell, he wasn’t even an Adani. He, one could put it, married into the family. He was a nobody with a big mouth and a bigger attitude. But all of that had been silenced in a heartbeat as his life was stolen by Kira.

Certainly, Saitō lived on, but he felt hollow. What was there to live for when everyone he knew and cared about was dead? Had died around him in a unified and desperate last gasp of air? He couldn’t think of anything beyond revenge.

As the laptop screen lit up and revealed a dark, stylised ‘L’, it occurred to Saitō that if he couldn’t live with his family, he could die for them. His normally hot temper had turned cold as death. And revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold.

“Tarou Saitō,” L began. “I am L. You may have heard about me from your friends, the Adani crime family.”

“I have heard of you,” Saitō growled lowly. “You’re supposed to be catching that motherfucker who killed my family. Who couldn’t have killed my family if you’d just done your fucking job already.”

“Language,” L tutted. Then, with affected sympathy, “I understand your pain, Saitō-san. Kira has taken a lot from many people, myself included.”

“Oh yeah?” Saitō challenged. “Like what?”

“A loved one,” L spun the convenient lie. “Someone you wouldn’t know.”

“How convenient,” Saitō spat.

“No need to be so belligerent,” L said gently. “We’re on the same side in this, Saitō-san. We both want to catch Kira.”

“He deserves to die for what he did to my family,” Saitō hissed and slammed his cuffed fists against the table. “What’re you gonna do about it, huh? They’re dead! And everyone knows you can’t catch Kira!”

“I can,” L stated firmly. “And will.”

Saitō hmphed and made to cross his arms (he didn’t get very far).

“Saitō-san, was there anything unusual about last night?”

Saitō raised a sceptical half-eyebrow. “You mean other than everyone I know dying?”

“Yes.”

“Well when you put it like that,” Saitō mumbled sardonically. Then, louder, “That dumbass kid asked me my fucking name instead of getting on the ground. Fucking idiot.”

The laptop hummed quietly for a long while. Saitō started tapping his foot impatiently. Eventually the detective spoke up again, “Why do you think Kira let you live?”

Saitō frowned. “I dunno. That creep motherfucker probably didn’t get a good look at my face or some shit.”

“Or he didn’t know your name,” L told him. Saitō cocked his head to the side.

“He needs a name to kill?”

“Yes,” L answered truthfully.

“Why the fuck are you telling me this?”

“Because we want the same thing, Saitō-san. Even if you don’t believe me.”

“…” Saitō leant as far back in his seat as he was able. His face tilted up to the ceiling, giving L a good look at the garish scar that continued down from his eye to his neck. “Masamune-sensei stopped this from becoming fatal, y’know. I used to live a pretty fucked up life before he took me in.” He huffed out a laugh. “Got a new name to go with my new face.” He gestured sharply at the scarring.

“The name you gave us is an alias,” L concluded.

“Hells yeah it is,” Saitō growled, “and I ain’t fucking telling you my real name so don’t ask.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” L said, with a hint of amusement. “I ran the numbers last night, Saitō-san. Most of the men who died last night had no criminal record and were not known to law enforcement. They were, by your own testament, members of the Yakuza and therefore likely guilty of some crime, but they weren’t on the police radar. Kira had no way of knowing your names and faces… unless he knows you personally.”

“What?!” Saitō gasped.

“Kira is someone who knows the Adani crime family. That is an important clue. Saitō-san,” L paused for dramatic tension, “if you can help me follow this clue, I will see you released on probation for the kidnap of Raye Penber and the armed assault on the NPA offices. You will, essentially, be free. Do you take the deal?”

“Fuck you,” Saitō spat. “You want me to sell out my friends. I’m no rat.”

“One of your ‘friends’ just killed your family,” L said, low and menacing. “Think about it, Saitō-san. Kira isn’t your friend.”

Saitō frowned but didn’t say anything further.

L held back a sigh. “Enjoy your stay in prison, Saitō-san. You’ll be there a long time.”

The laptop went blank.

 

Clarity had come in one sweet moment – he asked for his name – and percentages skyrocketed from 5 to 99.5. L had never felt surer of anything in his life (except perhaps that jam donuts were the devils’ work). It was what came after this moment of clarity that was causing him grief.

Doubt had crept in almost immediately. Opportunity? Tick. Means? Tick. (Sort of; L was working on it.) But motive? Did Kira need one other than chaos? …Yes, and Light Yagami had no reason to throw a Yakuza gang about in the manner he did. Not only that, but he had no reasonable way of knowing all their names in time to kill them. Most of them should be alive, not just Saitō. Kira, for all his powers, was not omniscient. He could not know these men’s names from thin air. He had to know them personally or have spent a long time vetting them. He would have left a trail, a connection to them, something L could follow, chase like a dog after a car.

And yet – something didn’t sit right about Light Yagami. He asked strange Kira-like questions, he was suspiciously reappearing in the investigation every time L thought he was rid of him, and he was, by all reports, quite intelligent. Could he be Kira? Yes. L didn’t claim to understand his thought process if he were Kira, but the possibility was there. Unlikely, and yet so likely.

He would lower his percentage probability of Light being Kira. Seven percent chance. Still a far wider margin than any other suspect, but hardly damning.

It was…uncomfortable to be doubting one’s deductive instincts after so many years of success. But, that was just one more surprise brought about by Light Yagami.

L rather thought he was going to enjoy investigating Light Yagami.

Chapter Text

The Task Force

 

L’s interviews with Raye Penber and Tarou Saitō were informative, easy and reasonably pleasant. The same could not be said for his interview with the FBI director in charge of the agents sent to Japan.

“I have Washington breathing down my neck, and I expect a call from the head of the NPA, to demand my blood, any minute now,” he complained loudly. “I have to pull my men out now, L, before this turns into an international incident. And before one of them gets killed rather than just kidnapped.”

“Penber wasn’t injured,” L argued. “He wasn’t even interrogated.”

“But he was abducted, by men likely controlled and killed by Kira,” was the rejoinder. “I’d like to help you, L, really I would, but unlike you, I have people to answer to. They aren’t even unanimously of the opinion that Kira is evil. After all, he didn’t kill anyone in the FBI or NPA, even though he had the chance to. Only that receptionist was shot.”

“Hayao Honda. He’ll live,” L confirmed dully. “Is there nothing you can do?”

“My hands are tied, L,” the director said firmly. “Kira might have killed more Americans than any other nationality, but ever since you pointed him out as living in Japan, the killings have been concentrated in the Kanto Region. My government wants no more part in this, and even you’re not powerful enough to fight them and win.”

“…Thank you for your help,” L said in lieu of anything better to say.

The director laughed shortly, humourlessly. “I hope we can work together on a different case. Goodbye.”

L stared at the phone, the monotone sound of the dead line ringing in its earpiece. He gingerly placed the phone on the hardwood floor beside his laptop and strode over to the bay window. The cityscape was beautiful at night. It was Friday morning. L observed the star Betelgeuse twinkling dimly in the light polluted sky. He wondered mildly when he’d last eaten…and grew concerned when he deduced it had been sometime Wednesday.

Having acknowledged the pangs of hunger, they became very apparent and demanding very swiftly. L called Watari, his savour in sugar-dusted armour.

 

Sōichirō had not expected many officers to return to the Kira Headquarters on Friday morning. He hoped that maybe a dozen or so would be brave enough to fight for justice, but feared that he would walk into an empty room. He checked the time on his watch before opening the door. 0900. Time to face the music.

“Glad to have you back, chief.” Matsuda stood to greet his partner.

The office was very empty. Of the numerous officers that had been assigned to the task force, only five remained. Aizawa, Ukita, Mogi, Ide and Matsuda. Somehow, Sōichirō had never doubted that Matsuda would be there.

“Just five…” he said aloud, shaken. “No…I should say as many as five of you are willing to lay your lives on the line.” He walked to his desk at the front of the room. “With myself, that’s six of us… How are we going to do this with just six people…?”

Matsuda was like a sun in otherwise dead space. “There’s L, which makes it seven. Add Watari and we have eight, chief.”

From the laptop situated in front of Watari, L’s computer-modified voice added, “I have great faith in those of you who are brave and committed enough to remain.”

Ide gave Aizawa a look. Clearly the man was not brave enough to voice his doubts by himself. “L said he has great faith in us, but,” Aizawa said on Ide’s behalf, “we don’t have faith in L! We can’t trust him! He’ll continue to turn this into an internal investigation, when he has no proof that Kira is in the NPA.”

L was silent, waiting for the men to have their say.

“We’ve decided to risk our lives to get Kira, L,” Ide stated, somewhat awkwardly. “You ought to know what that means. We’re totally exposed.”

“But you just order us around without ever showing your face,” Aizawa added.

“We’ll go after Kira, L, but we can’t work with you,” Ukita joined their side.

“It’s not just us. The public doesn’t trust you either. People are turning against you,” they argued. “What do you expect?! If people say it’s L’s fault the NPA was attacked, who can deny it?”

Sōichirō clasped his hands in front of his face thoughtfully. “It’s true that a number of criminal psychologists have suggested that L is Kira. In other words, they’re saying that L has a split personality… The FBI was brought in by L to investigate the NPA. The FBI are pulling out due to the dangers posed to their agents. The deaths of the Yakuza prove that Kira was either orchestrating the entire event or that he was in the NPA that night, watching everything that happened. L was in a position to do either of those things…”

“That’s not all! If you consider everything that’s happened so far as being orchestrated by L, it all suddenly makes sense. The fact that he’s never shown himself to anyone, and that’s he’s a genius who can solve any crime, only makes that theory more convincing,” Ukita, Aizawa and Ide purported.

Sōichirō frowned, a statue of seriousness. Suddenly, he stood. “L… If you want to work with us and help us catch Kira, how about coming here to the task force in person?”

“Yeah,” Ide stood too, Aizawa and Ukita frowning at L’s laptop seriously. “If you show yourself to us and promise to be part of the team, we’ll trust you. We’ll cooperate with you.”

The laptop announced, “As I said earlier, I have great faith in you. Watari…” Watari looked at the screen, and then turned it around for everyone to see. L had written them a message.

Please keep what is about to happen a secret among the eight of us.

The detectives were surprised and confused.

I would like to meet the six of you who have my trust as soon as possible. Do not speak of our meeting, or having met me, or what we will be doing, to anyone who is not in the room now. That includes anybody in the NPA, your families, and your friends. Please leave the NPA building to discuss whether you can swear to the above, and whether you can trust me. Only those who agree to work with me in this investigation shall return to the room, and I will send my further conditions for our meeting to this computer.

 

To say the task force members had been surprised to meet him would be an understatement. L had been a little amused by their reactions to his unorthodox appearances and behavioural quirks. Chief Yagami had nearly burst a vein when he drew on the tabletop in permanent marker. L had interviewed each of the five men who had decided to trust him (Hideki Ide had opted out, not that L was surprised) and concluded within seconds of talking with them that they weren’t Kira. If they were, he’d find one of his shoes and eat it (L was reasonably sure Watari had a stash of his shoes somewhere).

Thus, L was left with a team of five brave men to try to catch the worst serial killer the world had ever known. The FBI, Interpol and even most of the NPA has abandoned L to fight the battle for the soul of the world alone. But not these men.

I’m not so alone, L thought now, looking around at the NPA detectives that were brave enough to not only go up against Kira, but against their own organisation. They were prepared to follow L down what would be a very dangerous path. L still wasn’t convinced that Kira wouldn’t kill them when they backed him into a corner. But that was a concern for future L, for now he had to actually find Kira first.

 

Perhaps most surprisingly (or least surprisingly; L felt in hindsight he really should have seen this one coming), he received an angry call from Naomi Misora later that Friday morning. L had finished interviewing each of the five NPA detectives that had decided to trust him, swiftly concluding that none of them were Kira.

They were discussing strategy in L’s hotel room, theories on who Kira could be being flung about like so much cotton candy, when L’s phone rang. He answered and Watari informed him that, “A rather irate Ms Misora is on the line for you.”

L’s brows raised in bemusement. “Put her through.”

While the NPA officers grumbled about the unfairness of L having a phone when they weren’t allowed to, L said good morning to Naomi.

“L!” she exclaimed immediately. “Raye said the FBI is pulling out of the Kira investigation! Is that true?”

“Yes.” L wondered why she didn’t believe her fiancé. “The NPA has mostly resigned as well.”

“…” Naomi let out a low half-growl. “Kira will get away with it at this rate!”

L’s toes curled. “Kira won’t get away with anything. I have some very dedicated officers helping me.”

“That’s not enough!” Naomi scowled so fiercely L could swear he felt its fire through the receiver. “Raye wants to go home to America. I’m staying here to finish the job!”

“You are?” L asked in amazement. “Misora-san, I could never ask you to give up your life like that-”

“L,” Naomi said firmly. “Kira abducted my fiancé. He killed all those men right on the NPA’s doorstep. I want to know why. I’ll find him by myself if I have to, but I’d rather work with you.”

“…Please let Penber-san know that I will pay for you both to stay in Japan for the duration of the investigation,” L offered. He observed the NPA detectives straightening at the mention of money. L was wealthy enough to afford to fast track the building of his own investigation headquarters. He could certainly afford to hire a few loyal detectives, should it come down to it. For the time being, the NPA was paying their wages.

“You’d do that for us?” Naomi said. “Thank you, L. I’ll let him know. He might…change his mind about staying here to help the investigation. He wants to bring Kira to justice as much as I do, but we’re trying to start a family and he doesn’t want to risk his job…”

L grimaced at the thought of more interpersonal communication, but offered, “I’ll speak to his supervisors at the FBI on his behalf.”

“L…” Naomi sounded amazed. L’s toes clenched in discomfort. “Thank you. Where can I meet the other detectives to join the investigation?”

“I’ll have Watari collect you,” L decided. “I look forward to working with you, Misora-san.”

 

“You want Light Yagami on the investigation team?”

In hindsight, L really, really should have seen that one coming. He’d kick himself if he wasn’t frozen in his seat in horror.

“Are you out of your minds?” he asked the team with false calm.

Sōichirō blustered and started turning beet red, while Naomi crossed her arms stubbornly. The other detectives looked between them and L awkwardly, like they were watching a tennis match.

“L, you aren’t suggesting that my son is Kira?” Sōichirō spluttered.

“Yes-” L managed before Naomi cut in.

“He was with me when those men died- I’d know if he killed them!”

“Yes but-”

“Light has never even been grounded!” Sōichirō was gesticulating vehemently on each syllable. “He’s my son! I’d know if he was a murderer!”

“I don’t doubt that but-”

“Light-san brought me into the investigation! Why would he do that if he were Kira? We’ve been over this already, L!”

“I know but you see-”

“You have no proof that my son is Kira!”

“Light-san was injured trying to save my fiancé. Why would Kira not just kill the Yakuza if he wasn’t on their side? Which he wasn’t because they all died later!”

“That may be but-”

“Didn’t we agree Kira is in law enforcement?” Matsuda asked Aizawa behind his hand. It did little to shield him from the stares of Sōichirō, Naomi and L, which all turned on him like spotlights. Matsuda shrank and waved his hands dismissively. “It-it’s nothing, really, I, um…”

“Yagami-san, Misora-san,” L said, now that the tidal wave of their tirades has been broken by Matsuda. “My interviews with Raye Penber and Tarou Saitō indicated that Light Yagami did some strange things that night. It’s possible that he is Kira, but-” L held up his hands, with seven fingers up. “There’s only a seven percent chance that he’s Kira. There is a 83 percent chance Kira is connected to law enforcement, an 8 percent chance that Kira is someone Raye Penber followed before the Yakuza abducted him, a one percent chance Kira is in the Adani crime family and not connected to law enforcement, and a one percent chance we are looking in the wrong place.” (L neglected to mention that, in total, that brought Light’s chance of being Kira up to 98%.)

Sōichirō breathed a sigh of relief. “Well why didn’t you say so in the first place.” He laughed aloud. “There’s no way my son is Kira, but we should investigate it anyway, if only to close that lead so we can focus on better ones.”

L blinked slowly. “I attempted to tell you and Misora-san that earlier, but you were busy defending Light Yagami. He has gotten under everyone’s skin awfully well.”

Naomi gave L a look that said she knew what he was doing and it wasn’t going to work. “Light-san has done nothing but help the investigation. He’s very bright. He’s solved cases for the NPA in the past. Kira’s actions have even wounded him. He has every right to join the investigation. I think we’d be negligent to dismiss his help.”

The other detectives nodded along in agreement. “I’ve worked with Yagami-kun before,” Matsuda said. “He solved this difficult murder case in about twenty minutes. We’d been at it for two months!”

Aizawa nodded seriously. “I think it’s a good idea to have Light Yagami join the investigation, but only if we’re sure he’s not Kira.”

“It would compromise the investigation, otherwise,” Ukita added.

Mogi nodded in his stoic manner.

L looked at the faces around him, each serious in their desire to have Light join the Kira investigation. If L was being honest with himself, he’d say it wasn’t the worst idea in the world (…and that he was curious to know more about this Light Yagami). So, he sighed and slumped dramatically in his chair, knees still tucked up. “Okay, you win. I’ll ask Light Yagami to join the investigation – after I’ve vetted him as Kira or not.”

“Good,” Sōichirō said. “How are we going to do that?”

“We could bring him in for questioning,” Matsuda suggested.

“If he’s Kira, he’d know who we are, and kill us,” Ukita argued.

“We could hide our faces, like L did,” Matsuda countered.

“He still knows who we are, idiot.” Aizawa rolled his eyes. “If he thinks the NPA is into him, what’s to stop him killing us all?”

Matsuda frowned, and ran a tired hand through his dishevelled hair. He hadn’t taken the day off yesterday, like Chief Yagami suggested, instead staying in to work the case. He had stubble on his face, bags under his eyes, and was still in Wednesday’s clothes. No-one could ever say Matsuda wasn’t a hard worker.

“I suggest we perform surveillance on the Yagami and Kitamura households,” L said into the thoughtful silence.

“WHAT?!” Sōichirō leapt from his chair, knocking the coffee table and spilling L’s sugar stack.

“It’s the only way to be sure,” L said innocently.

“It’s illegal!” Sōichirō’s face was one of disbelief. “You said the suspicion on my son wasn’t that strong! It can’t possibly justify this!”

L leant forward to start compulsively straightening up his sugar cubes. “If Yagami-san would rather his son not join the investigation…”

Sōichirō let out a heavy breath and dropped back into his seat on the lounge. “If we’re doing this, we need to do it completely.”

“What-?” Matsuda sprang to his feet. “Chief, you can’t be serious!”

“Yeah,” Aizawa said, “what about your wife and daughter?”

“Yagami-san and I will be the only ones to watch the Yagami family,” L proposed. “Misora-san can watch the Kitamura’s, while everyone else can start the internal investigation.”

There was some grumbling and chatter as everyone talked the plan over. L let them take their time, occupying himself with dropping sugar cube after cube into his tea until it was more akin to sugar with tea than tea with sugar.

“Okay,” Sōichirō addressed L on everyone’s behalf after a time. “We’ll agree to this plan.”

“But,” Naomi held up a finger, “on one condition.”

“What’s that?” L asked.

“Start simple,” Naomi said. “One camera per room. If we see anything suspicious, we can increase the number of cameras.” L looked like he wanted to protest so she added, “Light-san is on his way home from the hospital. We don’t have time to install many cameras, and likely won’t for a number of days. So it’s not much of a compromise.”

L sipped his sugar thoughtfully. “Okay, one weekend with those conditions. As soon as Light Yagami is well enough to leave the house, we install as many as I deem necessary.”

 

Light felt like he was floating as he walked back into his home, Sachiko and Ryuk at his side. The pain killers were messing with his head; everything seemed like it was playing in slow motion. He’d normally have every scenario figured out long before he got there; almost hear what someone was going to say before they said it. It wasn’t that hard to guess what was going on in people’s heads. But now? Light could hardly figure out what was going on in his own head. Pain be damned, he wasn’t taking any more of those pills.

Sayu launched herself at him when she saw he was home. “Light! How are you? How’s your shoulder?” She prodded at it, which Light distantly registered as something that was supposed to be painful.

“I’m fine,” Light answered, smiling numbly. “How’s Hideki?”

Sayu blushed and punched his arm lightly. “Meanie!” She averted her eyes for a moment. “He’s fine too.”

Light chuckled and looped his good arm around his sister’s shoulders, steering her to the lounge where they collapsed to watch the Hideki Ryuga Special.

Hours passed, Sachiko made her family Light’s favourite for dinner, and Sōichirō never came home. Light gave up waiting for his dad at 10pm, and hustled his sleepy sister off to bed. It was a Friday night sure, but Light was exhausted, so he planned to spend maybe an hour writing in the Death Note and then, finally, blissful sleep awaited… (Lying unconscious in hospital just didn’t live up to its reputation.)

Light bid Sayu goodnight and meandered over to his room, stifling a yawn as he went. He looked down at the slip of paper in his door and frowned. His mother had been the last in his room, getting a change of clothes for him, so why was the paper back in the door? Light couldn’t use his door handle and pencil lead tests to double check, but he had a sinking suspicion that someone else had been in his room… Someone who had noticed the tiny piece of paper on the floor and correctly deduced its purpose in the door.

Okay. No writing in the Note tonight. He couldn’t even ask Ryuk to start checking, because if he did and the place was bugged, he was screwed. Light opened his bedroom door reluctantly and found Ryuk napping on his bed. Light was glad for the brief respite while he tried to figure out what to do. He had been ordered bed rest, and so was virtually under house arrest. How to get outside alone for long enough to explain the situation to Ryuk? If the cameras were anything like in the Nightmare, Light wouldn’t have the privacy to scratch his nose, let alone write Ryuk an explanation. …And Ryuk wanted to eat apples and play Mario Golf. Light was royally boned.

Light sneakily gathered up his night clothes while trying not to look like he was stealthily avoiding waking anyone, then headed off for a well-earned bath. A long soak to clear his head. (The meds were not helping him think around the problem.)

Light scrubbed himself down, happy to be rid of the anaesthetic stink of hospitals. The bath was hot, perhaps a little on the side of too much so, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He very nearly fell asleep while in the tub. His nose dipped beneath the surface eventually and startled him awake. He rubbed at his tired eyes and knew he needed a slow weekend.

He would have liked to stay in and murder criminals, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

Light decided his bed was the nicest thing he’d ever experienced when he flopped down beside Ryuk. The Shinigami was invisible but corporeal, and took up most of the bed space. Light slinked in beside him, aware he couldn’t well kick an invisible someone off his bed in front of a potential viewership of the World’s Greatest Detective. (That would be a red flag if there ever were one.)

 

L watched Light Yagami lay himself down to sleep. The teen twisted himself into an odd position on his bed, obviously finding it comfortable, and promptly dropped off to sleep. L wondered just how little rest he had been getting before the Yakuza incident, because blood loss and gunshot wound or no, L didn’t think it was normal for people to rest this much. …Well, maybe not normal for L. Light Yagami seemed like a very normal boy.

Apart from the genius level IQ, fearless attempt to rescue Raye Penber, and the possibility – however slight (or slightly massive, L couldn’t decide) – that he was a mass murderer.

L knew he was pushing the faith of the NPA and so he had neglected to mention to them that he’d already enacted his plan to spy on Light Yagami and Hana Kitamura before he told them. With minimal time, he had ordered one camera and bug per room. He wanted to go all out, dozens of cameras in their rooms and more in their houses, to make doubly sure they weren’t Kira. Especially Light Yagami, since not only Naomi, now also his father wanted him on the task force. L would be the biggest fool in the universe to let the killer investigate himself, so he wanted to be certain. He could not afford to let Kira gain the upper hand again. He had had the element of surprise working for him when he orchestrated the Yakuza Incident, but now L was prepared for any further tricks. L was convinced Kira had orchestrated the Incident, because it was far too coincidental and convenient to be anything but the work of Kira. The FBI and NPA agreed with him for once, which was actually to his detriment. Most refused to work against Kira now, feeling that the Incident was a warning. Sort of a ‘you mess with me a little and I’ll throw the Yakuza at you; you won’t like it if you mess with me any further’.

So while L had the NPA focus in on the internal investigation – looking for law enforcement officials with ties to the Adani family – he had Naomi join him on the Light Yagami / Hana Kitamura watch. She had volunteered to continue with the investigation, despite Raye’s vehement protests, and who was L to reject her? Still, he almost wished he’d put her on the internal investigation as well, because the minute he told her his plan to illegally spy on the two teenagers, he was subject to a disapproving scowl the likes of which he’d only ever seen on Watari when he decided to try to make his own sweets. Naomi had talked him down to one camera and bug per room, which was an unhappy compromise on both their parts.

L had intently watched Light Yagami watch TV dramas for most of the night, take a long soak, and fall asleep. All in all, his behaviour didn’t scream Kira, but then maybe he was having an off night. After all, no newly broadcast criminals had died since Light Yagami was shot (not including the Yakuza).

Hana Kitamura, on the other hand, watched the news, frowned at a news piece on a serial killer, and talked on the phone with a friend for over an hour. L had Naomi on Kitamura Watch, while he manned Yagami Watch. Naomi had tagged out with Watari once Hana had gone to sleep, citing she needed to go home and mend bridges with Raye before he returned to America in a huff.

L didn’t tag out with anyone. He could afford to miss sleep for a few days to watch Light Yagami.

Chapter Text

Brunch

 

Saturday was difficult. Light tried to sneak out of the house four times, and was stopped each time by his concerned mother. Sachiko hovered like a hawk. Even when Light thought he had slipped her, she reappeared like a bad penny. He gave up trying to get out by lunch time, and came up with a Plan B.

If he couldn’t escape, explain the situation to Ryuk, and write some new criminals in the Death Note, he’d need to find some way to at least get some new criminals down or else L would peg him as Kira right away. If he was watching. Light sincerely hoped he was, otherwise he was making a fool of himself for no good reason.

Light sat at his desk for a few minutes, staring blankly at his open calculus textbook, trying to think outside the box. He couldn’t even go out for long enough to buy himself that funky little TV and bag of potato chips his Nightmare self had used… His Nightmare! That was it!

Light had kept aside reserves of future criminals he remembered from his Nightmare for a rainy day like this one. He couldn’t squander them all in one day and kill his usual amount as Kira, but he could kill a dozen or so and at least indicate that he wasn’t Kira. Kira was just taking it easy over New Year’s. That would be all L could conclude.

Now how to write them down without being observed…?

Light’s gaze was drawn to his bookcase and its hollowed out architectural encyclopaedias. He had Death Note pages, what was left of his yaoi collection, and straight porn stashed away there. He knew he’d have to crack out the semi-naked lady magazines sooner or later to explain away the paper in his door (and to reassure Sōichirō if he was watching), and so he’d have to avoid pulling out his yaoi (also because of his father, because if Sōichirō knew he’d kept some? He wouldn’t need to worry about L sending him to the electric chair; he’d be dead long before that). That left, what? Just blatantly writing out criminals’ names in front of L and hoping he didn’t put it together?

Light’s forehead connected with his desk with a dull thud. His everything hurt too much for this right now. But being Kira was a responsibility he couldn’t shirk. And the challenge of beating L at his own game was quite thrilling in its own right.

Light’s brain wanted a break. It was screaming at him to rest for a day. But Light wouldn’t be caught on his laurels. He had the names, faces and paper he needed. The murder weapon was sitting innocuously on his desk. He picked it up, twirling the pen in his fingers for a long minute. Truly, the pen was mightier than the sword. More efficient too.

Suddenly it struck him. The perfect alibi was hiding in his bookcase the entire time.

 

L watched Light Yagami like a hawk. The teen seemed normal. He looked normal (well, handsome-normal), presumably smelled normal and tasted normal (L hadn’t had the fortune to check yet) so therefore he must be normal. Regardless of the aforementioned evidence, there was something about Light Yagami. Something not normal.

Why ask for Saitō’s name, Kira? L queried the image of Light seated at his desk. You obviously intended for there to be no witnesses to your crimes that night. You would have killed Saitō given the chance. So, how did you know everyone’s name but his? Did you hack the NPA’s criminal database…? Not all of the dead men were on it. Did you have dealings with the Adani crime family personally…? You’re a normal, straight A student. Nothing criminally organised about you.

Why leave Penber alive? Why leave Naomi and Matsuda alive? Why be present yourself that night? When you can easily manipulate things from a safe distance? Why allow yourself to be shot?

Why are you trying to mess with my head? How do you even know how to do so…?

Light suddenly stood and went to his bookcase. L leaned towards the monitor, intrigued by the momentum. Light took an architectural encyclopaedia off the shelf, and turned it around to reveal a small collection of what appeared to be manga hidden inside. L’s eyes widened as he watched Light take a few sheets of note paper out from beside the manga. He placed the encyclopaedia back on the shelf and returned to his desk. Quite calmly, he selected a pen and began to write. Due to the one camera to which L had limited himself, he couldn’t make out the content of the writing. But Light Yagami was writing vigorously. He wrote for well over an hour before putting down his pen. He returned the paper to the hollow encyclopaedia and settled down on his bed with the television turned on to the news.

Criminals flashed before Light’s eyes, but the teen seemed to hardly be paying attention. In fact, he nodded off after only twenty or so minutes of true crime stories. Some Kira this kid was. L rolled his eyes, but the writing nagged at his mind. What was so important for Light to write like that when he was obviously tired and convalescing…?

Only one way to find out! L buzzed Watari and asked him to watch Light Yagami while he went to speak with Naomi and Sōichirō.

 

It took some convincing, but Naomi eventually heard L out.

“Okay, okay.” She held her hands up in a ‘please no more’ gesture after L’s forty-minute tirade finally cracked her resolve. “If I agree to putting as many cameras as you like in Light-san’s house tomorrow, you have to promise that you will only observe him for a week before you make your decision. Light-san is either Kira or he’ll join the task force and help us catch Kira.” She held out her hand.

L looked between his own hand and Naomi’s, sighed, grit his teeth against the thought of germs, and shook her hand firmly. It was a promise handshake after all; L wasn’t going to skimp on it.

“I swear to abide by your terms, Misora-sama,” L teased.

Naomi squeezed his hand harder than necessary. “Come on, L, I have to get back to watching Kitamura.”

L leant around Naomi to view the computer screen that broadcast Hana Kitamura’s bedroom. The young woman was writing in a journal so hot pink it should be a criminal offence. “I can’t arrest her for that,” L pointed a crooked finger at the diary. “But I want to.”

Naomi huffed as she flopped gracefully but heavily into the computer chair. “Tell me about it. Now I know why Raye was telling me he was so bored.”

 

L hadn’t expected the news that he thought Sōichirō Yagami’s only son might be Kira to go down well with the superintendent, but he wasn’t prepared for the strength of the reaction when he brought it up for the second time in as many days.

The conversation went something like:

“We’ve been following up on NPA officers with ties to the Adani family, and have been cultivating a list of suspects,” Matsuda reported to L at the Saturday afternoon briefing. He laid out the lists of the table. L picked the top sheet up by the corner of the page and peered at the details.

“One of these men might be Kira,” L told the gathered detectives and former FBI agent. “Good work, everyone.” The detectives began congratulating each other and chatting about the case. L added casually, “By the way, Yagami-san, I think your son killed as Kira earlier today.”

Sōichirō had been taking an inconvenient sip of tea and did an immediate spit take. “WHAT?!” he roared, rounding on L. L, who was curled up in the love seat, straightened a little under the intimidating glare and the force of the pulsating vein in Sōichirō’s forehead. “How can you say that?!”

L’s thumb crawled up to his lip. “Well, Light-kun asked for Tarou Saitō’s name during his aborted rescue attempt. He didn’t know Tarou Saitō’s name, and Tarou Saitō was the only criminal to survive Kira’s slaughter that night. Convenient, don’t you think?”

Sōichirō slammed his open hands into the arm rests on either side of L, getting right up into the detective’s face. “My son is not a killer! And that doesn’t prove he killed anyone today!”

“Kira did kill twenty-one people today,” Matsuda reported grimly.

“That doesn’t prove Light did it,” Ukita retorted.

“That may be,” L stared Sōichirō down, unblinking. “Although, Light Yagami did watch crime reports and write down something today.” Admittedly in the reverse of that order, but that hardly seemed relevant.

Sōichirō deflated like a balloon and flopped back into the lounge. “You can’t possibly think Kira kills through writing?” He rubbed his temples like he had a headache coming on.

“Why ever not?” L asked himself aloud.

“Are you alright, Chief?” Matsuda asked Sōichirō in concern. Sōichirō waved him off. Matsuda then turned on L. Spreading his arms plaintively, he asked, “Surely Yagami-kun would show some sign of killing while he did it.”

“Let’s says Kira kills just by imagining it,” Naomi added. “You’d imagine someone’s expression would change when killing.”

“That would be normal,” L agreed mildly. “Even so, Yagami-san, can you arrange for your family to be out of the house for, say, an hour tomorrow?”

“…” Sōichirō rubbed his temples tiredly. “I’ll do it.”

 

The new cameras and bugs were installed in the Yagami house on Sunday morning. It took some angling on L’s behalf to convince Chief Yagami to take a night and day off and go home to be with his family, but he managed it…by promising he’d take a night off himself (it was laughable to think L didn’t have his toes crossed at that moment; he spent the night watching Light Yagami sleep, while going over all information on Kira again).

L would supervise the installation of the surveillance equipment from a distance, while Sōichirō took his family out of the house under some pretence. Brunch, L had suggested. He was very fond of brunch; who wasn’t? It was the perfect distraction.

L had watched through the camera, Naomi and the NPA detectives at his side (sans Mogi who was their presence at the actual NPA building, and Sōichirō who was at home for once), as Light Yagami awoke on Sunday morning. The teen stretched slowly, lazy like he didn’t have places to be and people to kill. L’s thumb tucked up to his mouth as Light reached his arms above his head, pyjama shirt riding up, and winced as his action pulled on his bullet hole. He put a hand over it like it could numb the pain, and said aloud, “Just have to wait it out a bit,” while looking off into the mid distance. (Or, L wondered, at something only he could see, like the night of the Yakuza attack.)

Light gathered a casual outfit of khakis and a smart sweater out of his closest, and laid it out on his bed. He started to get undressed. Matsuda dropped his gaze, embarrassed. Aizawa hit him in the arm. Ukita rolled his eyes. Naomi politely averted her eyes. L stared.

Light dressed quickly, perfunctorily, and hurried downstairs. “Good morning, mum,” he greeted Sachiko Yagami as she made breakfast in the kitchen. Light strolled by her and grabbed the orange juice out of the refrigerator. He poured himself a glass and drank deeply; head tilted back, throat working.

L stared at the screen, transfixed. Light Yagami was still acting so normal. L couldn’t wait to install all the (hundreds of) cameras so he could discover if Light had any hidden quirks, secrets, anything that indicated he was or wasn’t Kira.

…Come to think of it, he does have a secret, L remembered belatedly. His gaze zeroed in on Sōichirō as he entered the kitchen behind Light. A secret, L knew, that I have no right to disclose to the task force. It’s hardly relevant to the case…Although it does prove Light can keep a big secret from his family.

“Good morning,” Sōichirō said with false brightness. He sweated beneath his collar and looked awkward in his own kitchen. L’s fingers clenched around his knees. If Sōichirō gave them away-

“Dad!” Light barely saved himself from doing a spit take as he spun around to see his father. He looked stunned. “You’re home!”

Sōichirō’s smile was taunt. “Yes. My boss gave us the day off.”

“Oh.” Light quickly hid his surprise. L caught the look and frowned. Like Light Yagami knew him well enough to know L giving anyone time off was unusual… “It’s good that you're home. I have some questions for you.”

Straight to the point, L observed. Eager, Kira?

“How’s Misora-san’s fiancé?” Light asked urgently. “No-one at the NPA would tell me anything when I called and you weren’t picking up your phone, so I don’t know-”

“He’s fine,” Sōichirō cut in, looking at Light in disbelief. “You were concerned about him?”

“Of course I am!” Light gesticulated emphatically with his injured arm then winced visibly. “I mean,” he slowed, hair dropping before his eyes as he dipped his head in a show of embarrassment. “I consider Misora-san a friend, and besides that, who wouldn’t want to know the fate of the man they were shot trying to save?”

It was a nice little speech, all things considered. L hummed quietly; thumb slipping further into his mouth.

“What happened after- after I lost consciousness?” Light hesitated infinitesimally over the mention of his weakness.

Sōichirō crossed his arms. He went with the story they had all agreed to earlier. “The Yakuza that abducted Penber attacked the NPA, as you know from the news reports. You also heard they died of heart attacks after leaving the building.” Light nodded, attentive. “What you wouldn’t have heard is that one Yakuza survived the attack. We’re not sure why Kira didn’t kill him.”

Light frowned thoughtfully and leaned back against the fridge. “Maybe Kira couldn’t kill him?”

“Maybe,” Sōichirō hedged. “He’s been arrested for the assault on the NPA, as well as shooting you and Hayao Honda.”

Light straightened like an electric shock had run through him. “Honda? The receptionist? He was shot?”

Sōichirō nodded. “In the chest. The bullet pierced a lung. He nearly died. He’s still in hospital.”

Light collapsed back against the welcome solidarity of the fridge.

Is that guilt? L wondered, leaning forward like he could get a better look at the twisted expression on Light Yagami’s face.

“Kira has to be stopped,” the young man declared suddenly, voice hard. “He won’t be responsible for hurting innocent people like that anymore.”

Odd turn of phrase, L noted.

“Of course, son.” Sōichirō clasped Light’s shoulder, and Sachiko hustled over to give her son a hug. “But there’s nothing you can do right now. You have to focus on your entrance exams. They start in less than a fortnight.”

Light let out an aborted laugh. He quickly slipped out from his parents’ grasp, wearing a smile and holding open arms. Acting.

“I know, I ought to use my time convalescing to study some more,” he waved his good arm in the directions of his bedroom. “If you’ll excuse me…”

Sōichirō finally seemed to remember his mission as he hurried to stop Light from shutting himself away in his room. “I was thinking, it would do us good to all spend some time together as a family. Maybe…brunch?” It sounded weak.

“He’s not very good at lying to his family,” Naomi observed quietly.

“No, he’s not,” L agreed.

Light Yagami seemed to agree as well, because he looked at his father in puzzlement for a moment – then the expression cleared like clouds passing across the sun. He was the happy son once more. “Brunch sounds wonderful.” Light directed his disarming charms at his mother. “Did you have something to do with this, mum? I don’t believe dad came up with it on his own.”

L wondered if this was yet another jab at him by Kira (or if he was just getting to be as paranoid as Wammy always said he’d become).

“No, dear,” Sachiko giggled. “This was all your father’s idea. He thought it would be nice to spend the day as a family, since he mightn’t have a lot of time off once he goes back to the case.”

Light nodded, like the explanation made complete sense.

The Yagami’s left shortly after to attend brunch. L supervised the installation of surveillance equipment and the careful ransacking of Light’s bookcase, his own brunch, strawberry shortcake, in hand.

 

When his father suggested that the family all go out for brunch (of all things), Light couldn’t help but wonder what the hell L was playing at. He’d already installed surveillance so what could he want Light out of the house for so badly…?

The note paper, Light realised suddenly. L couldn’t see what I was writing so he wants to check it out.

Suddenly feeling a lot cheerier, Light happily went along with his family’s bruncheon plans.

 

“It’s what?” L asked sharply, after Watari finished reading him what Light had spent so long writing.

“I believe the term is ‘fanfiction’,” Watari reported, amused. He was on the scene at the Yagami house to supervise the agents L had sent to install the surveillance equipment. “He wrote at the top that ‘all credit for characters goes to Nakamura-sensei’.”

L fisted his jeans tightly. “Are you certain there’s nothing else in the architectural encyclopaedia?”

The sound of rustling papers came over the line. “This encyclopaedia contains four volumes of Junjou Romantica, as well as twelve loose sheets of paper with fanfiction written on them. Light Yagami has very neat handwriting,” Watari observed.

L grumbled something about how Watari never said he had neat handwriting.

“That’s because you don’t,” Watari told L brightly. “Shall I check the other encyclopaedias?”

“…Good idea,” L admitted, definitely not sulking. It seemed everyone was on Light Yagami’s side.

Watari pulled out the other volumes of the encyclopaedias. He calmly reported their contents, which were contradictory in nature. One volume held a collection of rather bland heterosexual pornography. Another held a bundle of plain notepaper. Yet another held more volumes of yaoi manga, this time Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi. Nothing screamed ‘Kira’, however.

L, definitely doing anything other than sulking, picked at his strawberry shortcake glumly. “Thank you, Watari. Have the others finished installing the cameras and bugs?”

Watari checked in with the agents. “Yes, L.”

“Good,” L said. “Please put the encyclopaedias back the way you found them, conduct a final sweep of Light Yagami’s room, then return to headquarters.”

Watari gave an affirmative and went about his business.

Naomi sat next to L, frowning as she watched Watari shuffle through Light’s possessions on the new cameras as they each came online. “You really think Light-san is Kira,” she said to L, more a statement than a question.

L looked sideways at his comrade. “Yes and no. He makes sense as Kira, yet his actions are illogical in the light of his being Kira.”

“What about Hana Kitamura?” Naomi pressed. “Raye was only taken after he started investigating her.”

“That’s why we will conduct an equal level of surveillance on the Kitamura house,” L said, toes gripping the edge of his computer chair. Watari was going through Light’s desk drawers now. “And we will continue to investigate the NPA. It’s possible that someone in the NPA caught wind of the FBI investigation through Izaka, and staged the Yakuza attack to discover why the FBI were here in Japan.”

“It’s more likely than Light Yagami being Kira,” Naomi agreed. She tucked some loose hair behind her ear as she leaned forward to peer at Light’s room more closely. “Why is Watari wearing gloves? It’s not like Light-san will be dusting for prints.”

L shrugged. “If Light Yagami is Kira, he might use Watari’s prints to find his identity and kill him. I’d rather not take the risk.”

“You’re the boss,” Naomi acquiesced. “How do you know Light-san isn’t doing something as Kira right now, while he’s out with his family?”

“I trust Yagami-san to watch his son for an hour,” L said. “You told me I needed to trust these men.”

Naomi nodded. “Yeah, I did. But that trust should extend to Light-san too.”

“Only if he shows me he isn’t Kira.”

Naomi rolled her eyes fondly.

 

Brunch wasn’t as bad as Light feared it would be. They went to his favourite cafe, so he could get his favourite coffee. He appreciated the tasty caffeine boost, especially because it was surprisingly tiring to go out with a bullet wound healing in your shoulder.

His sister ate enough sweets to give L a run for his money. His parents had sensible meals, having actually missed breakfast in favour of brunch.

Ryuk watched Sayu eat her apple crumble with the saddest puppy dog eyes Light had ever seen on a Shinigami. The god’s body had contorted over the duration of Saturday in his apple withdrawals until he more closely resembled a pretzel than anything else.

Light hoped he could break away from his family for long enough to feed Ryuk, because he was going to go insane if he had to listen to one more day of whining about apples.

His salvation came in the unexpected form of his former lover friend as he walked in the front door of the cafe.

“Yamamoto-kun!” Sayu chirped, face dusted in sugar. “What are you doing here?”

Sōichirō’s mood went from happily talking to his wife to thunderstorm in point zero-one seconds.

Light valiantly attempted to will a black hole into existence to swallow him up, as Yamamoto approached their table.

“Good morning, Mr and Mrs Yagami, Sayu-chan.” Sayu stuck her tongue out at Yamamoto’s honorific for her. “Light.”

Light nodded a hello, feeling the coffee broil in his stomach. What does he think he’s doing here…?!

“Yamamoto.” Sōichirō’s scowl could fell an army. “I thought I made it clear that you weren’t to see my son alone.”

“He’s not alone, dear,” Sachiko tutted, patting her husband’s arm lightly. “He’s with his family.”

Sōichirō glared daggers at Yamamoto as the teen boldly took a seat next to Light. “Hey, Light,” he said, more softly this time.

Light swallowed against the lump in his throat. “Hi.”

The pair stared at each other for a long, unbroken moment. Sōichirō cleared his throat pointedly.

“I got a girlfriend,” Yamamoto blurted suddenly.

“What?” Light was stunned.

“I met her after, um,” Yamamoto glanced at Sōichirō, “after I went to Spaceland that one day.”

“Oh,” Light said.

“She’s really nice,” Yamamoto insisted. “And smart. You’d like her.”

“Right,” Light said. The silence dragged out uncomfortably.

“Congratulations,” Sayu broke in belatedly.

“Thanks,” Yamamoto said.

“It’s good news,” Sachiko commented. “Right, dear?” She nudged her husband. The vein in his forehead twitched but he nodded.

“She’s very lucky,” Light offered after a long moment, mustering his best smile. “Who is she?” Light took a sip of his coffee to stifle his nerves.

“Misa Amane.”

Light choked on his coffee.

Chapter Text

Crossing Paths

 

Light hadn’t needed to wonder what a heart attack felt like. He’d experienced it first (second?) hand in his Nightmare. But the tightening and pain in his chest when he heard Misa Amane’s name? It was close enough that for a horrible moment he wondered if Ryuk had written his name again.

It had to be some other Misa Amane. The universe couldn’t possibly be this cruel. He’d been shot this week already, dammit, what else would he have to endure?

He eventually coughed down his coffee and croaked out, “The model?”

Yamamoto nodded, watching Light curiously. “Yeah. You’ve heard of her?”

Light nodded slowly, taking deep calming breaths and repeating to himself that this would all make sense – somehow. Somehow this would work out. Misa couldn’t possibly be the Second Kira again. Light had changed enough in her life to ensure that… He hoped.

Fuck.

“Misa Amane?” Sayu squealed. “She’s such a cutie! How’d you meet her?” She leaned into Yamamoto’s face eagerly.

He recoiled at the invasion of personal space. Gently pushing Sayu back into her own seat, he answered, “It was the funniest thing. I was walking home on Saturday from…Um.” He glanced at Light; who raised a brow questioningly. He continued, “…Nothing in particular, when we literally bumped into each other. Her bag spilled on the ground and I helped her pick up her things, we got to talking, now we’re dating.”

“How serendipitous,” Light commented blandly.

“So you’re in a serious relationship?” Sōichirō began bluntly. “You’re not that sort of person anymore?”

Yamamoto grimaced visibly, but repressed any comment he wanted to make. Instead, he answered, “No sir.”

“Good,” Sōichirō said firmly. “That’s good.”

“You and Light can be friends again,” Sayu deduced simply. Her parents gave her a look, to which she responded with a shrug and a look that said, what? what did I do?

Light reassessed Yamamoto quickly. He looked… well, he looked happy, to put it simply. Light sighed then offered Yamamoto his first genuine smile of the day. “I’m happy for you.”

Yamamoto startled quietly, then smiled wryly, “Really?”

Light nodded, and that was the end of that conversation. Yamamoto departed shortly afterwards, declining Sachiko’s invitation to stay for a cup of coffee. He cited needing to meet Misa later that day.

Light wished him a good day; the sentiment only half a lie.

While Sōichirō went to pay for the bill, Light took the opportunity to ask his mother, “Can I duck down to the convenience store, mum? I need barbecue chips for my convalescence.”

Sachiko giggled while Sayu pulled a face of disgust. “Of course, dear,” she agreed. “Just don’t take too long. You need your bed rest.”

Light stood calmly from his seat and agreed to be home within the hour. He managed to walk calmly from the café, dodging his father on the way out. Once he hit the pavement, he picked up the pace. If his father saw him, he had no doubt he wouldn’t get away alone.

Ryuk hopped along behind Light, barely keeping up on his one un-twisted leg. “Hey Light, wait up!” he called when Light got too far ahead.

Light slowed down a little but kept a brisk pace. The pair made it to the convenience store in no time, and Light purchased a couple bags of BBQ chips along with a discount bag of apples. He casually bought the items, and hurried as naturally as he could out of the store. The park wasn’t too far away, but Light opted to head into a back alley instead.

“Is anyone here?” he asked Ryuk, trying to make the comment sound like something he might say to himself in case anyone was listening. Ryuk, having caught on when he saw Light buy the apples, quickly flew around the perimeter to check.

“We’re alone,” he told Light urgently. “Now can I have an apple?”

Light pulled one of the bag and held it out to Ryuk. The Shinigami gobbled up the fruit and nearly Light’s hand along with it. Light chuckled as Ryuk stretched out the severe kinks in his spindly body.

“I know you said there would be a Mario Golf drought, but I didn’t realise how bad the apple famine would be,” Ryuk mused as he took another apple to eat by himself. Through a mouthful of apple, he asked, “You can’t even sneak me one? You tryin’a kill me?”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Light answered, tentatively rubbing at his sore shoulder. “L installed cameras and bugs in my house, like I told you he would. Now, I need you to check where they are.”

“Why would I do that?” Ryuk commented dismissively, holding out his hand for a third apple.

Light withdrew the apple he’d been about to give over. “Because if you don’t, I won’t know where I can feed you apples. We can’t always sneak away like this so you might have to go without for a long time.” With that, he tossed Ryuk the apple.

The Shinigami crunched into the ripe fruit. “Okay, a camera hunt; sounds fun!”

 

L’s thumb was nudging the roof of his mouth as he intently watched Light Yagami through the myriad of camera angles he was now permitted to use. The teen had returned from the café later than his family, apparently having detoured to a convenience store to purchase potato crisps. Light had been cheerful when he’d returned home. If he knew he was being watched, he was either an excellent actor or completely unperturbed by the prospect. It was true that, not knowing how Kira was committing his crimes, L might have a difficult time spotting Light as Kira; but one would think the teen would show some sign of emotional shift while killing.

Regardless, Light went up to his room, popped open a bag of BBQ crisps and casually crunched on one while he went to retrieve something from his bookcase. This time, it wasn’t his fanfiction or his hidden manga, but a pornographic magazine whose target audience was heterosexual men. Light flopped dramatically onto his bed and began to flip through the licentious material. He continued to casually snack on chips while perusing the magazine, a look of what L could only describe as utter boredom on his face.

Sōichirō Yagami had returned to the task force headquarters after L informed him that the surveillance equipment had been installed. He was presently seated between the world’s greatest detective and the world’s greatest retired FBI agent. L glanced at the father when he said, tone confused, “I had no idea my son did things like this…”

“Light Yagami is a perfectly healthy teenage boy,” L posed. “This is normal thing to do.”

“I suppose…” Sōichirō did not look convinced. In fact, he looked more confused than L had ever seen him. Did the man know his son’s inclinations did not run towards the content he was reading? Light Yagami was perfectly entitled to be interested in any gender he so pleased, but somehow L found himself agreeing with Sōichirō’s confusion. Something about Light Yagami reading pornography seemed forced.

L expressed his thought aloud. “Your son looks rather bored.”

Sōichirō twitched. “I suppose he does.”

“The timing of this seems rather forced.”

“I suppose it is.”

“Your son hasn’t dated anyone in years, correct?”

“As far as I am aware.”

“Have you read the report on the materials found in your son’s room?”

Sōichirō looked sideways at the hunched detective. “…No.”

L scratched an itch on his foot with his other toes. He measured his next words carefully; “Nothing of interest was found.”

Sōichirō breathes out in relief. “Then why continue the surveillance?”

“I’d like to continue it for at least a week,” L said, reaching for his tea. “Just to be sure.”

Sōichirō was silent as he turned back to watching his son. Light turned a page to a centrefold featuring a buxom young Japanese woman. The teen tilted his head, then closed his eyes for a long moment.

L sipped his tea and pulled a face. He placed the cup back onto the table and proceeded to drop another half dozen sugar cubes into what was already more sugar than tea. He stirred the beverage slowly, methodically, eyes never really straying from the image of Light.

Light abruptly closed the magazine and slipped off his bed. He gathered up his empty chip bag and crumpled it up. He deftly tossed it in the waste bin on his way to his bookcase. He slipped the magazine away in its architectural encyclopaedia. (L took a moment to wonder if the teen had ever actually read the books he had mutilated.)

The teen returned to his bed to sit and extract his phone from his pocket. His long fingers were quick as they flew across the keypad. He was texting someone. Immediately after reading porn for half an hour. L sipped his tea-sugar.

“Who do you think he’s texting?” Naomi asked, speaking up for the first time since the cameras had come online.

L tilted his head around behind Sōichirō to get a better look at Naomi. “Who do you think?”

After a minute of thought, she guessed, “A date.”

Sōichirō shook his head slowly.

Light’s phone dinged as he received a reply to his message. L zoomed in on the phone’s screen.

Want to meet? Light had asked.

I’m out with my girlfriend, was the reply.

Bring her along, Light returned.

The reply was quick, eager; Meet at the park 4pm.

Light confirmed that he’d be there and flipped his phone shut. He stared at his hands, clasped in his lap around his phone, for a long moment then shook off whatever thought had been holding him and stood. He changed his outfit from casual khakis and a sweater to slacks and a button up. Both were black as night. L had to admit the young man looked rather dashing in the ensemble. It gave him an air of power and dangerousness. L was intrigued who he was meeting with and why the need to dress this way for said meeting.

“We need to follow Light-san to the meeting,” Naomi said, somewhat reluctantly. “I’ll do it.”

Sōichirō looked at her gratefully, obviously aware that, apart from Matsuda, she was the most on his side of proclaiming Light’s innocence.

L hugged his knees to himself, dark eyes bright. “That is a good idea, Misora-san. Please take care.”

Naomi stood and straightened her leather jacket. She wore a determined expression as she left to stalk Light Yagami.

 

It was a sunny day, appropriate for a Sunday. The air was clear, crisp and cold. Snowfall was light the previous night and the skies were clear. It was a picturesque, perfect sort of day.

Misa Amane mused over the weather as she sat on a bench in a park in Tokyo, swinging her black lace-stocking clad legs back and forth serenely. It was a perfect day to meet her destiny. A fateful kind of weather.

“You don’t think he’ll be much longer, do you?” Misa asked the squat Shinigami hovering anxiously behind the bench.

“No, no, he’ll be back soon,” Gelus wheezed, wringing his bony hands.

A tall, equally pale and bony Shinigami nudged Gelus. “Hey, we know Light Yagami won’t hurt Misa. He already saved her once.”

“We still don’t know how,” Gelus argued. “Or why.”

“It’s because he’s my destiny,” Misa told them dreamily. “He saved my life and brought you two to me. You’re my best friends, you know? It’s pretty special to have Kira himself looking out for you.”

Gelus and Rem exchanged looks of concern. “He could be evil,” Rem warned. 

“He could want to use you,” Gelus rattled.

“I wouldn’t let him,” Misa sung. “Besides, I have you two to protect me. What are you so worried about?”

At that moment, Yamamoto rounded the turn in the path through the park and came into view. “Yama-kun!” Misa sing-songed, hopping to her feet and waving brightly at the approaching teen.

“Hey, Misa,” he greeted, tucking his hands into his pockets as he neared Misa. She latched onto his arm and swung back and forth impatiently.

“What happened?” she demanded. “How did it go?”

“Success!” Yamamoto shot her a thumbs up. “Light was real surprised. He definitely didn’t expect to hear we’re dating.”

Misa giggled and slapped Yamamoto’s arm as she pulled away. “But he’ll want to meet me now, right?”

“Probably,” Yamamoto hedged. His dark eyes trailed up to the intimidating skeleton monsters hovering menacingly behind Misa. “You’re sure Light is Kira?”

“Of course, silly!” Misa chirped. She waved an arm at the Shinigami she called her friends. (Yamamoto thought she was strange enough in her fashion sense; her friend sense was way weirder.) “Gelus and Rem told me everything!”

“I know, I know,” Yamamoto groaned. “Light killed someone who was going to kill you, saving your life. Your – ah, friends here tracked him down, saw that I’m Light’s best friend, and thought it was safer to talk to me than him. You know, cause he’s Kira.”

 

Yamamoto had hardly believed his eyes (or any of his senses really) that night on the way home from dropping off Light after their date at Spaceland. He’d been walking along, innocently minding his own business, daydreaming about how Light had come crawling back to him, when all of a sudden he’d walked into a pretty young woman. She cried out as her handbag hit the footpath, its contents spilling everywhere.

“Oh, crap, sorry!” Yamamoto had apologised, dropping to his knees immediately to help gather her things. “I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going…” He’d picked up a smattering of notebooks, including a pair of slim black ones. When he looked up in the process of handing these books to the woman, he saw a tall living skeleton standing behind her. Yamamoto had screamed like a small child, and fell backwards in shock. He made to scramble to his feet and run, but the cute girl with the blonde pigtails latched her hands around his ankles and prevented it. “Don’t go,” she ordered. “We’ve only just met. I’m Misa-Misa! I’m looking for Kira. I understand you know him well?”

“What?” Yamamoto said breathlessly, glancing between the spooky skeleton and the cute woman. “No, I- Who the hell are you? Can you see that thing?!” He waved his hand violently in the skeleton’s direction.

“Of course,” Misa had replied brightly. “That’s my Shinigami.”

“What?” Yamamoto was struggling to form coherent thought past the living terror consuming his vision.

“Never mind that,” Misa insisted. “You’re friends with Kira! I want you to help me meet him.”

“What?” Yamamoto said again. He dragged his gaze from the Shinigami back to the girl. “Who? Light? Kira? You’re insane.”

That hit a nerve. The girl’s eyes narrowed dangerously and her painted nails dug into his skin. “I’m not,” she refuted flatly. Then, like nothing had ever happened, she was back to smiling angelically at him. “So Kira’s name is Light? That’s such a fitting name for the one bringing light to the world!”

“What?” Yamamoto said wildly. “No, shut up. Light’s not Kira. Why are we talking about this? Aren’t you worried about that monster?” He gestured emphatically at said demon.

“Sasaki Yamamoto,” the monster said, low and terrifying. “Shut up. Listen to Misa. That boy is Kira. He saved Misa’s life. We need you to find out why.”

“…” Yamamoto looked down at his clenched fists. “No-one calls me that,” he muttered.

“What?” the skeleton growled.

“That,” Yamamoto answered, dumbstruck. “My full name. …Sasaki. I hate that name. Everyone just calls me Yamamoto instead.”

“Yama-kun.” Misa released his ankles only to half-crawl up his body. “Please help us.” Misa blinked big puppy-dog eyes at him.

Yamamoto listened to her pleading and mused that were he into chicks, she would be exactly his type. “…Light Yagami is really Kira?” he asked slowly. Misa nodded. “Huh.”

It made sense, in a way. More sense than talking to a literal God of Death anyway.

“I’m glad you’ve seen reason, Yamamoto-kun,” a new voice chimed in. Startled, Yamamoto whipped around to see a squat skeleton standing behind him, effectively cutting off any escape.

“That’s Gelus,” Misa introduced. “And you’ve already met Rem.” She waved at the tall monster.

“Hello,” the Shinigami Rem said in its monotonous voice.

All attention swiftly returned to Yamamoto. He remained silent under the scrutiny as he thought over these new revelations. If Light really is Kira, he thought, then if I want to be with him, I need to support Kira… He recalled his earlier conversation that day with Light. He had said that Kira was in the right but needed help… Stupid, stupid! Yamamoto berated himself. Light was asking for my help!

“You want to help Kira?” Yamamoto asked the gathered crowd of lunatics. Misa nodded enthusiastically while the Shinigami shrugged. “How? Why?”

“He saved my life,” Misa told Yamamoto. “He brought my two best friends to me.” She smiled at the Shinigami, confirming for Yamamoto that he was dealing with a very strange if not unstable girl. “And I have two Death Notes, so I can be of great help to Kira.”

“Okay,” Yamamoto accepted slowly. “And you want me to help you talk to Light?” Misa nodded quickly. “…I’ll do it,” Yamamoto told the gathered Shinigami and their human. “If Light is Kira, I want to help him.” He looked at Misa, considering. “But first…What’s a Death Note?”

Chapter Text

Misa Amane

 

Although the matter was hardly settled in Yamamoto’s mind, he went along with the crazy blonde. In the week that followed, she showed him how to use the Death Note. How to exact Justice the way Kira did. The way Light did.

Yamamoto had wanted to go to Light, tell him it was okay, he knew and wanted to help, but Misa had insisted on secrecy. (Yamamoto figured out quickly it was Gelus that was the cautious one. The ragged Shinigami would do anything to protect Misa.) Yamamoto had taken one of the Death Notes home (along with the Shinigami Rem, who watched everything Yamamoto did like a hawk, obviously not trusting him; which was fine, he didn’t fully trust these loons either) after Misa told him how it worked, and stared and stared at it, unwilling to write a name. Who would he kill? Would Light even approve? Was Light really Kira? Just because some demons said so, didn’t make it the case.

It wasn’t until Thursday morning and the mass murder of an entire Yakuza gang that Yamamoto really believed Light was Kira. He knew Light was there that night – Sayu had graciously let him know that Light had been shot…by the very men he then killed. Kira could be someone else there that night, Yamamoto admitted, but it was too coincidental for Light to be there, after all Misa and her monsters had revealed…

Yamamoto picked up his Death Note later that day and went to the hospital to see Light. The teen was unconscious and not receiving visitors. Yamamoto clenched a fist around the Death Note, crumpling the pages. He’d left without a fight, knowing he couldn’t kick up a fuss with the chief of detectives at Kira’s side. Instead, he went to the park, where he’d used to go on dates with Light. He had sat in the grass, Death Note clutched in his hands. He pulled a pen from his pocket and he wrote the name of the first criminal he and Light had put away together. The man had murdered three wives in succession over a number of years. He had been hard to find solid evidence against, but Yamamoto and Light (well, mostly Light) had managed to do so. If Light really was Kira, this murder notebook was as real as Misa’s, and the last few days hadn’t all been some hyper-realistic fever dream, the death of this man would be the perfect way to get Light’s attention. It was almost romantic, as far as murders went. Sentimental, even.

Yamamoto laid back on the grass and watched the clouds float by, oblivious to the struggles of the world below them.

 

On the following Sunday, Yamamoto tailed the Yagami’s to a cafe and made his move. Light had been horrified to hear Misa’s name. Yamamoto was a little surprised at the strength of the reaction. He still had no idea why Light went out of his way to save the mellifluous model.

Yamamoto, having laid the bait, would wait for Light to ask to meet Misa. If he didn’t within a few days, Yamamoto would step up and arrange the meeting. That was the basic plan he and Misa had discussed. Kira needed to know they were on his side, that they would do what he asked. Yamamoto needed Light to know that he would be Kira’s perfect partner; that Light would no longer have to carry the burden of saving the world alone. Yamamoto could help bear the weight.

Yamamoto met Misa in the park after his talk with Light, feeling hopeful at the prospect of truly getting into Light’s head for once. Misa insisted once again that Light was Kira, and Yamamoto believed her. (Didn’t mean he wouldn’t be belligerent about it.) So it was time to think out the next phase of their plan in detail.

“So when we meet with Light,” Yamamoto prefaced with the blonde, “we’re going to be straightforward and tell him we’re the new Kira’s.”

“Yup!” Misa beamed. “Then he’ll love us for sure.”

“Not if we haven’t done anything to prove we’re on his side and that we’re useful,” Yamamoto grumbled, crossing his arms thoughtfully. “Killing that detective who is after him would do the trick. But how do we get his name…?”

“I can agree to the Shinigami Eyes,” Misa said immediately. “Then we’d only have to get a glimpse of the guy!”

Yamamoto rolled his eyes. “Idiot, you’d give up half your lifespan for that? Leave it until we really need it.”

Misa pouted and crossed her arms as well.

“If only these stupid notebooks could understand intent,” Yamamoto grouched. “Rather than being so strict in the name and face rule.”

“They’re not stupid!” Misa stuck her tongue out at Yamamoto. “They’re instruments of Kira! Instruments of god!”

Yamamoto looked to the sky like he was asking god to give him strength. “You’ve hardly used either of them; how do you even know how they work?”

“I trust my Shinigami,” Misa pouted. “Don’t you?”

“…” Yamamoto glanced at the tall skeleton and its one yellow eyed glare, and at the squat one that rattled at him. “…Of course I trust you and these Shinigami. Your story is too crazy to be made up. And I can see these Shinigami so that’s proof… But that’s not why I’m helping you.”

“Oh?” Misa cocked her head to the side, her blond ponytails swishing.

“I want to support Light!” Yamamoto declared, punching his fist into his open palm. “If Light is Kira, then I’ll support Kira. It’s as simple as that.”

“Hmph.” Misa huffed cutely. “Simpleton.” Yamamoto glared at her. “Kira needs dedicated followers. I want to help him achieve his dream of a crime-free world. If I have to get close to Light Yagami to do so, then so be it.”

Yamamoto and Misa re-crossed their arms and glared at each other.

Gelus looked frantically between the humans, trying to figure out how to diffuse the situation. Rem sighed and physically lifted Yamamoto, turning him around so he no longer faced Misa. The teen flailed and shoved the Shinigami away the instant he was back on solid ground.

“You’re both fighting over a boy that has no interest in you,” Rem announced bluntly. “Light Yagami hasn’t asked either of you to help him with his suicidal mission to fix this broken world. Why help him? You owe him nothing.”

“I owe him my life,” Misa replied, putting her hands on her hips stubbornly. “And I believe in Kira.” She looked at Yamamoto like she dared him to do better.

“I love him,” Yamamoto said simply.

Gelus sighed dreamily, ever the hopeless romantic.

Rem rolled her one visible eye grimly. I’m babysitting a bunch of idiots…

“So what now?” Yamamoto asked, eyeing Rem like he was worried she would attempt to move him again.

“Well,” Misa hummed, tapping her painted lips with a well-manicured nail. “We need to show Kira we’re on his side. If we want Light Yagami to love us, we need to show him that we support him and can be of use.”

“That’s what I said,” Yamamoto complained. “You haven’t come up with any ideas how to do that.”

“Umm…” Misa shifted her weight sheepishly.

Yamamoto deflated with a long sigh. “You have no idea, do you?”

Misa giggled nervously. “Not especially, no…”

The teen scrubbed a hand through his hair. “Maybe we shouldn’t outrightly tell Light we’re Kira. He could easily deny that he’s Kira and reject us if he thinks we’re not serious. So we’ll keep up the dating act for now. We need to spend time with Light; figure out what he wants as Kira; and then give it to him, whatever it is.” He clapped his hands tie their decisively. “Easy, right?”

“Right!” Misa saluted cutely.

 

The park was crowded, filled with the bustle of people out in the sunny, relatively warm afternoon. Light’s hands were stuffed in his pants pockets, the fingers of his left hand tight around a slip of Note paper. He did not want to use it, but he wanted to be prepared for anything.

He rounded the bend in the dirt path and came across a scene he’d have rather not seen. Yamamoto sat on a park bench; Misa Amane curled against his side. She was wearing her usual gothic attire, all black lace and leather. Yamamoto wore a dark jumper and jeans. They looked like a normal, cute, young couple.

Light held his chin high, aware he looked as intimidating as possible, and strode confidently over to the pair.

“Light!” Yamamoto glowed as he approached. “You came.” He smiled softly. Light felt a pang of something – regret? – in his heart, but quickly squished that down.

“Of course,” he drawled, putting on a serene smile. He forced his gaze onto Misa, locking forces with her ice blue eyes. “And you must be Misa Amane.” He bowed politely, but shallowly. “Light Yagami. Pleased to meet you.”

Misa unlatched from Yamamoto and latched onto Light. She held his right hand in both of hers tenderly and smiled up at him disarmingly. Light was not at all disarmed, naturally, but he gave her points for trying.

“Pleased to meet you, Yagami-kun! I’m so happy you’ve heard of me! Yama-kun has told me all about you,” she gushed.

Light continued to smile pleasantly (although internally he was giving Yamamoto an icy glare). “Has he now? All good things I hope.” He laughed melodically. Yamamoto grimaced at the recognisable jab but stood his ground.

From his casually reclined position on the park bench, Yamamoto gestured for Light to take a seat next to him. Light extracted his arm from Misa’s surprisingly strong grasp and sat next to Yamamoto, crossing his long legs regally. Misa bounced into her spot on the other side of Yamamoto, but leaned so far into the teen she may as well have sat next to Light.

Ryuk snickered at Light from his position across the park up in a tree. Light had promised him a dozen apples and a new Game-Boy game if he behaved himself and stayed well away from the meeting; out of sight of any other Shinigami that might be present.

Light was not at all happy with this new and unexpected situation. He thought he had eliminated Misa Amane from the equation altogether, but here she was, haunting him still. He couldn’t escape her, couldn’t go around her, so he’d have to work through it; go through her to reach his prize. He had to keep her in the dark about Kira, had to keep her away from L… All while getting Yamamoto away from her. The last thing Light wanted was to get his old flame killed by getting him mixed up with the mentally unstable model.

So sitting beside Misa and Yamamoto on the park bench was hard, but Light had done harder. (Especially in his Nightmare…) He wasn’t sure what to say though, to start. If he blew his cover by accidentally saying something that only another Note owner would know- well, he’d know where he stood with Misa, but he’d also be at a serious disadvantage. Somehow he had to convey his intent as Kira to act as a lone wolf, while also making it vague enough to not confirm that he is Kira, thereby making it worthwhile to threaten his life with the Note so Misa can get her way.

Of course, if she had the Shinigami eyes again, that would all be a moot point. She could just see Ryuk, so he had to keep Ryuk away. Giving him a goal – look out – with a reward – apples – was the only way around that.

Light felt reasonably confident in his plan and his ability to pull this off. But he wasn’t one hundred percent certain. Not after the disaster the Yakuza plan had devolved into. And that made him very uncomfortable. He was having flashbacks to that one Yakuza he’d failed to write down…

But never mind. He had a job to do. A world to save. A detective to win. Misa couldn’t get in his way again. He wouldn’t let her ruin his perfect world.

“So, Yamamoto, Misa,” Light began politely, voice pitched to be high and pleasant and unassuming. “How did you two meet?”

Misa and Yamamoto exchanged a brief but significant look. Light’s Death Note senses were tingling. No way, he prayed to the gods he didn’t believe in, no way did Misa show Yamamoto the Death Note. Not straight away like that… But Misa was always reckless. Light had hoped that between Gelus and Rem, she would be kept in check. Perhaps though, that is why they were choosing to come at him through Yamamoto, rather than confronting him directly. They might suspect he was Kira, but they weren’t sure of his motives in saving Misa. They couldn’t know about his Nightmare.

“We…bumped into each other,” Yamamoto answered at length, scratching the back of his head.

“Oh?” Light prompted when nothing else was forthcoming.

“Um, yeah!” Misa chirped in, still attempting to manoeuvre her way closer to Light. (It was sending chills up Light’s spine. And not good ones, like L did.) “Yama-chan and I were walking along, not paying any mind to our surroundings, and BAM!” She clapped her hands together hand, right in front of Yamamoto’s face, causing the teen the flinch back hard. Light blinked slowly, unimpressed. “We literally bumped into each other!” She giggled. “Teehee! Isn’t that just the cutest?” Light could hear the love heart emoji at the end of her sentence.

He wondered again in mild awe how his Nightmare self had managed not to kill this bubble-headed psychopath.

“Yes, it is,” Light agreed, in a tone that said he really did not. He placed an intentionally possessive hand on Yamamoto’s shoulder. He squeezed, hard. “This one’s always been a sucker for romcoms.”

Misa’s wide blue eyes switched their intense stare back to Yamamoto, to Light’s relief, for the moment. “Really?” she squealed. “Honey! Why didn’t you tell me? I’m going to be in a romcom CM soon!” She whacked Yamamoto’s other shoulder playfully, but Yamamoto still winced. Light felt for him and his impending bruises. He hadn’t done anything to deserve being trapped between Kira and the-possible-second-Kira. (Talk about a rock and a hard place.)

“That’s so interesting,” Light gushed, slipping into a fake persona with practiced ease. He knew Yamamoto would know its falseness and only hoped he wouldn’t be called out on it. “Is that why you’re in Tokyo? You don’t live here, right?”

“I do now,” Misa confirmed. Light’s faint hope that this was all some awful coincidence dimmed further. “There’s a lot of work to do here in Tokyo,” she said and actually winked at Light.

If she knew he was Kira and was trying to convey that by winking at him… Light shuddered at the thought. Misa was the worst person that could ever be Kira.

 

Naomi Misora watched Light Yagami talking with Sasaki Yamamoto and Misa Amane through binoculars from inside a bush across the field from them. The long-range microphone picked up most of their conversation, which was innocuous. Disappointingly so, as L kept loudly telling her through her ear-piece. Well, she would just have to stay here and wait out the conversation, to see if Light did say anything incriminating. Although she heavily doubted he would, because even if he were somehow Kira, what reason could he possibly have for talking about that with his best friend and a stranger?

Above Naomi, high in a tree, Ryuk the Shinigami looked down on the former FBI agent in great amusement. Light had told him very specifically not to interfere. So if the agent overheard anything important, well, that was hardly Ryuk’s fault, now, was it? Besides, the sight of Gelus and Rem hovering around the park bench was enough to convince Ryuk to stay in the tree even if he had been inclined to help Light.

Ryuk hated talking to other Shinigami. There was a good reason he was here on Earth and not in the Shinigami Realm.

Shinigami were boring.

But if anyone could make them interesting, it would be Light Yagami.

Chapter Text

Hiding In Pain Sight

 

The conversation between Light Yagami and his friends was dragging on so long even L had to admit he was growing bored. Light had Amane rambling on about her acting and singing career. The teen was nodding along and making appropriate listening noises, but L had to sincerely doubt Light was really listening. Even the girl’s boyfriend was dozing off on the bench.

“Misora-san.” L patched himself through to Naomi’s ear-piece. There was a slight delay and then a tired voice confirmed her presence. “You have Yagami-kun’s phone number, correct?” She confirmed it, sounding suspicious of what L wanted. “Please message him with the information that we are considering him for the Task Force.”

Naomi hissed, “What!” so loudly into the microphone pinned to her jacket that L leaned away from his computer and rubbed his sore eardrums.

“It will be good to observe Yagami-kun’s reaction when he believes he is unwatched,” L stated.

“He’s with friends,” Naomi whispered. “He can hardly brag to them about Kira infiltrating the Task Force.”

“Perhaps,” L hedged. “But Yagami-kun is quite intelligent. He may suspect we have him under surveillance. He believes he snuck away to attend this meeting. This is the best chance we have for a genuine reaction. Please send the message.”

Naomi made an unhappy sound but complied. Moments later, Light’s phone pinged to let him now he had a new message in his inbox. The teen didn’t pause Amane in her monologue about lace but did give her an apologetic smile as he pulled his phone out of his jacket pocket. He checked the message, face impassive. He spent three minutes re-reading the content before calmly texting a reply to Naomi. He placed the phone back in his pocket with equal care.

L didn’t hear Naomi receive her message as her phone was silenced, but he had all Task Force member’s phones linked to his computer so he saw the message on his laptop.

Thank you for considering me. I’m honoured you think I can be of help to the investigation. I am busy convalescing and have university entrance exams soon. So I will have to take you up on your offer later, if I’m still needed at that time.

Polite, humble, and eager to help while also not appearing too eager to join the Task Force. The response was perfectly innocent. Too perfect, L decided. Like everything about Light Yagami. For that was indeed the root of L’s suspicions. Light was too good at not-being-Kira. Which made it more likely he was Kira.

L’s attention was pulled back to the live-feed as Light interrupted Amane. “Amane-san,” he broke in. He sounded excited. “I’m sorry to interrupt but…I just got invited to join an NPA task force!” he gushed, a huge grin breaking out on his youthful face. It showed far too many teeth for L’s comfort.

“What?” Yamamoto startled awake from his nap. “That’s great news, Light!” He frowned. “But surely you can’t mean to accept until the exams are over?”

“I,” Light began and then hesitated. L didn’t think a man as confident as Light Yagami could hesitate. “Well, no. Of course not. I can’t throw my education away in favour of one investigation.” He sounded reluctant, like he really was considering ‘throwing his education away’.

“What investigation?” Amane chirped, curious. She was leaning into Light’s space again, much to Light’s visibly suppressed discomfort.

“You wouldn’t have heard of it,” Light dismissed easily.

But Misa Amane was not easily dismissed. “Is it the Kira investigation?” she pressed, leaning in even further.

Light let a frown curl his lips and furrow his brows. “No,” he said and didn’t sound believable at all even from L’s distance. L knew the boy could lie with the best of them; his own parents thought he was straight, after all. So this failure of a lie here was orchestrated to be that way. But why? Did Light suspect he was being watched and was attempting to communicate in code? If so, were these two acolytes of Kira?

Yamamoto abruptly punched Light in the shoulder. “It is Kira!” he declared sharply. Light looked guilty as charged. “You’re amazing, Light. How’d you manage that?”

Light was rubbing his shoulder slowly. L realised belatedly that was his wounded shoulder that had just been struck and yet the boy had hardly reacted. What was his threshold for pain?

“It’s important to find Kira,” Light prefaced. “My goal is to help the world. And the only way to do that is to support L.”

Yamamoto and Amane exchanged a look. They appeared surprised, worried, and the look was loaded with hidden meaning. L’s suspicions heightened that they were somehow connected to Kira. They looked concerned at the idea of Kira being caught. Normal civilians were unlikely to react like that.

L’s thumb hit his lips. He suspected he would be replaying this scene often in the days to come.

“…You think L will catch Kira?” Yamamoto asked at length.

Light nodded pleasantly, seeming pleased by the prospect.

What are you doing, Kira? L wondered.

“Of course he will,” Light said. “Kira and L are very similar.”

L blinked at that. It was a thought he had often had himself.

“They are?” Amane squeaked, sounding taken aback. “But L is trying to destroy Kira.” She wasn’t even trying to hide her admiration for the mass murderer. If she was an acolyte, she wasn’t a very bright one, L decided.

Light shook his head. “I don’t think it’s so dramatic as all of that,” he said. “L will arrest Kira when he finds him, certainly, which means Kira’s final judgement may not be death. And, besides, Kira hasn’t killed any non-criminals as far as anyone can tell. So, there’s no reason for L to use lethal force on Kira.”

It all sounded perfectly reasonable. A series of logical deductions coupled with what appeared to be a strong distaste for capital punishment. Very not-Kira. And, yet, at the same time, it felt too deliberate. Like a coded message to which L did not have the key.

Well played, Kira, L thought eagerly.

Amane didn’t look happy with Light’s statement. She pouted at him. “Light-kun,” she keened. “Aren’t you worried about how dangerous it would be to join L’s…investigation?”

Light gave her a sympathetic look. “I’m glad you care about me so, Misa-san,” Light said gently. His smile could have charmed the pants off a monk. “But I’ll be okay. It’s safer working with L, then working to catch Kira alone.”

Yamamoto, who had been watching the volley of the conversation until this point, looked to Light excitedly. “So, you’re saying teamwork is best?”

Light’s head tilted to the side and his smile took on a challenging edge. “You want to join the investigation too, Yamamoto?”

Yamamoto nodded. “Maybe I do.”

Light clapped a hand on Yamamoto’s shoulder in a friendly gesture. “You’re not ready,” he said bluntly. His tone was sympathetic but his words cutting.

Yamamoto was obviously taken aback. He frowned at Light and defended himself, “I can help. Light, you know I can.”

Light’s hand clenched around Yamamoto’s shoulder. “I know,” Light agreed gently. “But I don’t want you – or Misa-san – in any danger. You can help me by staying out of this.”

Amane made a frustrated sound that was half-whine half-huff. “Yama-kun is a great investigator,” she argued. “And I’m pretty smart myself! You can’t stop us from trying to help.”

A cloud passed overhead and, in the shadow, for that short moment, L swore he saw Light Yagami’s eyes flash a dark, murderous red.

“Misa-san.” Light’s voice was stern. “I appreciate your desire to help. Both of you.” He addressed the pair in tandem. “But you have to understand that now is not a good time. I’m not on the Task Force yet. When I am, and if I need your help, I will ask you then.”

“But-” Amane protested.

“I will ask you when the time is right,” Light said flatly. It was the furthest from the happy-go-lucky teen L had ever seen Light be. “If you try to help with the Kira investigation now, before there is anything useful for you to do, you will just cause problems.”

“Light…” Yamamoto looked repentant. “We didn’t mean to cause you trouble.”

Light continued to give the pair his firm look for another moment, but he let his face relax into an easy smile. “I know,” he said forgivingly. “I’m grateful to you both for wanting to support me in my career, but I want you both to have your own lives and be happy. Free of Kira.” Yamamoto and Amane exchanged a tense look. “Okay?” Light sought confirmation.

“Okay, Light,” Yamamoto agreed. He reached over and squeezed Light’s hand.

Amane looked like Light had shoved a lemon down her throat, but her expression cleared faster than even Light’s and she gave a sparkling smile to Light. “We’ll continue to support you, Light-kun,” she announced. “But we won’t get in your way.”

If Light’s smile was a little tight around the edges, most people would chalk it up to his exhaustion after the last few days. L thought better; he could see the disdain Light held for Amane. The two had supposedly never met before – what could have brought on this one-sided animosity?

 

Light finished his conversation with Yamamoto and Amane soon after, making his excuses as he stood to leave. The couple looked reluctant to let Light leave, but their protests that he should stay longer fell on deaf ears.

L ordered Naomi Misora to follow Light Yagami from a safe distance. She did, narrowly missing the half-eaten apple that fell from above where she had been hiding. She was careful and far more subtle than her fiancé at surveillance, and L watched Light walk through the button-camera attached to Naomi’s jacket. The teen went straight home, snuck back in through his window, and L watched through the concealed cameras in Light’s room as the boy collapsed heavily onto his bed.

“What a day…” Light groaned and rolled over, burying his face into his pillow. He moaned, low and long, into said pillow. L couldn’t help but feel he was putting on a show, especially when Light mumbled into his pillow, “I can’t believe Yamamoto’s dating again right after we…” He sighed and sat up. This was followed by a stretch too sensuous to be an accident. Light yawned widely then began to change into his night-clothes.

By the time Naomi had returned to the hotel room from which L was operating, Light Yagami was fast asleep and snoring lightly in his bed. His mother had peeked in to check on him a while after he’d returned, smiled at her son’s sleeping form, and tiptoed away.

“Light Yagami is definitely Kira,” L announced to Naomi as soon as she stepped into the room.

He heard her groan and twisted his neck around so he could see her over his shoulder. “Not this again, L,” she complained. “I just watched him talk about inane teenage things with his friend and his friend’s new girlfriend for two hours. They barely even mentioned Kira and when they did it was only because you prompted it. And then Light-san said he wanted to help you stop Kira. Where the hell in all of that did you get that Light-san is Kira?” She said all of this as she walked towards L. He was curled up on the heated floor, with plates of sweets around him and his computer.

L hummed thoughtfully and offered Naomi a plate of pancakes. She gave them a raised eyebrow but took the plate and sat beside L on the floor. “I don’t understand why you’re so fixated on Light-san,” Naomi said. “He’s done nothing but help us. If he’s Kira… Why would Kira want to help us?”

L’s toes uncurled and re-curled slowly. “Kira wants to join the Task Force investigating him,” L explained his deductions confidently. “He wants to get close to me.”

Naomi looked surprised. “Why? Surely there are easier ways to kill you.”

“Probably,” L conceded. “But none available to Kira. Kira wants to present a good image to the world; that of a righteous god of justice who only punishes the evil. But like you discovered, Misora-san, Kira can kill through methods-other-than-a-heart-attack. Any unrighteous murders he wants to commit will be easily hidden through this trick. But Kira still needs a name and a face to kill. However it is he is committing these crimes, those two conditions are certain. He has neither my name nor my face. Those are pieces of information he can only hope to receive by joining the Task Force. If he does not discover my name and face, he knows I will continue to hunt him until either he is dead or I am.”

Naomi shook her head slowly. “That makes sense,” she agreed. “But I don’t see how this relates to Light Yagami.”

“Is it not curious,” L proposed, “that when most of Japan’s finest are fleeing from the Kira investigation, Light Yagami is eager to join?”

“He wants a career in law enforcement,” Naomi countered. “This case could be the start of a great career for him.”

“Or it could get him killed,” L disputed. “A smart, young man like Light Yagami surely has the sense to see the self-preservation in not joining this Task Force.”

“You’re not that old or dumb yourself, L,” Naomi returned. “And you’re here.”

L’s grin showed far too many teeth as he replied, “I have it on good authority that I’m crazy. That’s why I’m here. But Light Yagami is not crazy. No, he is quite sane. So why does he want to be here?”

Naomi huffed. “We’re talking in circles, L. Look,” she hedged, “you promised that after a week of surveillance, you would let Light-san join the Task Force. If you have a good reason for him not to, we will listen to you. But if you just think he is Kira because he wants to help – and because you have no better leads at the moment – that is not a good enough reason to stop Light-san from joining the Task Force. We need all the help we can get. Light-san could be the difference between catching Kira and losing this war.”

L gnawed on his thumb for a long moment of contemplation. He knew the Task Force thought him paranoid; he even thought he was acting paranoid at times. But when it came to Light Yagami, something was tinging his finely-honed detective instincts. If he was inclined to be paranoid, he might even suspect Kira was trying to make him paranoid on purpose. Tempt him with insubstantial tiny morsels of clues, offered like bread crumbs to a starving man. Trick L into putting all those still willing to help him off-side as he relentlessly pursued not only his only good lead, but the one person he would be satisfied with being Kira.

If Kira were Light Yagami, he was playing a dangerous game trying to get close to the investigation – perhaps even to L himself. He was willing to risk his own life to set up plausible deniability, alibis, and infiltrate the investigation. He spoke plainly of his interest in the case, and never faltered in praising Kira’s abilities even as he cautioned their danger.

If Kira were Light Yagami, he was hiding in plain sight.

It was a challenge. One that said ‘catch me if you can’. And L wasn’t one to back down from challenges.

So, L would hide in plain sight too.

Finally, he said, “Light Yagami said he would not join the Task Force until after the university entrance exams.” He smiled, dull black eyes brightening a little. “If Light Yagami does not prove himself to be Kira within the fortnight, I will go to the entrance exam and personally ask Light Yagami to join the Task Force.”

 

Light Yagami did indeed make it through the rest of the fortnight without revealing himself as Kira. Kira’s rate of murders had slowed after the slaughter of the Adani crime family, but newly announced criminals were still dying. Light Yagami rarely watched the news unless the news mentioned Kira. He had no conceivable way of knowing who these new criminals were, and yet they died. That alone should prove Light was not Kira but the blatant lack of evidence was only a bigger red flag in L’s eyes.

Light had taken to compiling a list of Kira’s victims by name, which he kept on his desk beside his textbooks. It was a surprisingly accurate list, which only missed a few names here and there that had been kept secret from the public. Names only Kira and the Task Force would have. Names Light Yagami apparently, conveniently, did not have.

Light also continued to write his fanfiction in his spare time. The youth seemed to find it cathartic after a long study session or intense Kira research. He wrote pages upon pages of transformative work. Those pages were made of thick, good quality, lined paper, and for as fast as Light tended to write, he put care into every stroke of every kanji. Sometimes his pen lingered on a kanji for long enough for the ink to bleed into the page, but the ink never came out the other side, trapped within the thick paper. L watched Light write with his nose practically in his computer screen, utterly convinced there was something important here.

Kira’s message to L had involved a kanji-based clue. Light Yagami obviously knew a lot about writing. Another coincidence, in a long series of coincidences, that proved nothing and yet were so suggestive. L knew his Task Force thought him mad for obsessing over Light Yagami the way he was. It was hard to convince the team that he didn’t sleep much anyway and if he watched the Yagami boy through all hours of the night while simultaneously working through Kira’s daily kill list, that was only to be expected too.

L read everything Light wrote through his cameras. He mostly wrote in Japanese, but occasionally wrote or translated a piece into English. The stories ranged from sentimental through to erotic and were usually short snippets from the imagined lives of Light’s favourite yaoi characters as they interacted with Light’s original characters. L tracked the kanji Light lingered on and compiled them into a separate document, but they were a series of nonsense. Sometimes L could read the names of dead criminals into the compilation, but he knew the Task Force would chalk it up to his paranoia and obsession. It was proof to L, but meant nothing to the rest of the world.

And L needed proof. He could easily have Light Yagami assassinated at any time, and if the Kira killings stopped, that would retroactively prove L right. And he was sure he was right. But that, apart from being abhorrent in and of itself, felt like cheating. L needed to know if Light was Kira, needed to win this battle the right way. Because even if the killings stopped when Light died, it would always be possible that Kira was still alive and had just taken Light’s death as an opportunity to scapegoat the boy and escape.

(If L found Light increasingly fascinating the longer he watched him, and wanted to understand what went on in that boy’s head, that had nothing to do with it.)

But Light Yagami had made it through his fortnight of surveillance. The surveillance equipment was to be uninstalled while the teen was out taking his university entrance exams.

L watched Light prepare for the exams on the morning of, aware this was the last time he would be watching Light Yagami from afar. If Light was Kira, and he met L, the temptation of finding out L’s name so he could kill him would be enough to draw Kira into making a mistake. And if Light wasn’t Kira, L would gain a great asset in catching Kira by Light’s joining the Task Force. It was a risk, but a calculated one, and one L felt he would have to take in order to stand a chance at winning this game he was playing with Kira.

Light gathered his bag, pocketed his phone, kissed his mother goodbye and toed on his shoes at the door. He closed the front door behind him and set off for his university entrance exam.

L stood from his crouch and largely copied Light’s actions, save the exception of the shoes, which not even Watari could get him to wear.

Chapter Text

Cold Feet I

 

It was a power-play and Light knew it. But he couldn’t be angry. No, if he were gritting his teeth, it was to try to bury a smile. Because there, in front of him, feet tucked up onto his chair, sat L, the World’s Greatest Detective.

Light had grown worried since his little stint with the Yakuza that he had somehow thrown off the timeline entirely and L wouldn’t come to meet him. It was a nagging doubt, made all the worse by the sudden appearance of Misa Amane and her apparent coercion of his old flame friend. Light had derailed the future rather spectacularly, or so he thought.

But he needn’t have worried about this, because in this at least, as in all things, L was a constant.

The detective was doing his level best to blend in, Light was sure, but he really just attracted a lot of attention. He wore his standard faire of blue jeans and a white shirt, with no shoes or socks. His hair was a bird’s nest of tangled black spikes and curls. His grey eyes were rimmed by dark circles, made even starker by the pallor of his skin. His spine was fairly hunched, curled over as he was from the discomfort that he felt at being around so many people. Light clearly recalled the disgust his Nightmare self had felt when he first saw L, not knowing at the time who he was. And, objectively, Light could see his point. L did not cut a striking figure, or even a dignified one. He was weird, lonely, tired but, above all, driven, and that showed.

He was not that dissimilar to Light. Light just did a better job at presenting a respectable mask.

Light found himself stealing glances at L all throughout the exam. He considered it a stroke of luck that in this timeline, L had opted to sit in front of Light rather than behind him. Light could deduce this was likely due to the fact that L was less interested in observing Light fill out an easy exam, and more interested in tempting Kira’s interest. If that were his intention, he was succeeding spectacularly. L had picked up his pen at one point, twirling the writing utensil around his spindly fingers for a while. Light had hardly been able to tear his gaze away, the image of L using those dextrous fingers wrapped around that pen, writing in Light’s Death Note, too powerful to dismiss.

He was lucky he finished his exam paper on time.

 

Light was being torn up inside over whether to approach L himself or simply hope the man approached him. It seemed likely he would – why else would he have come to the exam? It wasn’t like he needed another university qualification – but Light worried that he was just scoping things out today, and would leave their proper meeting for later. Light…didn’t think he could take getting this close only to have his chance to be with L ripped from his side. But if he approached the scrawny detective without prompting, even in a casually friendly manner, L would suspect that Light knew who he was. And that could throw a big wrench into the works. There were few people on the planet with the first name ‘L’. If Light approached L, acting even remotely like he knew who he was, L could develop the theory that Kira could somehow see people’s names floating above their heads…Which was a power Light would never take, if he could at all avoid it, but with Misa potentially in the game, Light couldn’t take that risk.

He needed an excuse – and a good one at that – to approach L. Even if the exercise was largely pointless, and fairly risky, because L had revealed himself and would surely approach Light eventually; but eventually just wasn’t good enough. Light had waited nearly five years to see the detective again. He wasn’t about to wait any longer.

Plus, it felt good to go on the offensive. He’d hated it any time he’d been on the backfoot in his Nightmare. So far, he’d largely managed to avoid that feeling. (See? There were benefits to being a better Kira.)

So, Light watched L like a hawk as the hall began to clear. He hadn’t paid the man any attention the first time around, but now he couldn’t take his eyes off of him. He watched L stretch some kinks out of his back after sitting in the stiff, timber chair for so long. The detective was actually reasonably tall and long-limbed under all his hunching. (Light knew this from personal experience, of course, but it was nice to confirm that every bit of this L was the same as his L.) He was skinny, but not unhealthily so thanks in large part to Watari running interference on L’s behalf. Light’s eyes tracked the sliver of pale British skin he could see when L’s shirt rode up as he stretched his arms overhead.

L dropped his arms to his sides and spun around to look straight at Light in a smooth, calculated move that caught Light mid-stare. Light forced his face to contort into an awkward grin; the kind that one gives when caught staring by a random stranger. L’s face didn’t reveal his thoughts on Light’s acting, and Light quickly averted his gaze – not because he was embarrassed, despite his heating cheeks, no, because it was the expected thing to do when one is caught staring by a random stranger. The kind of random stranger who you didn’t spend every night dreaming about, sure, but Light could improvise.

He eventually sensed L’s gaze leave him, as the detective was swept into the crowd leaving the auditorium. Light quickly gathered his things and hastened to follow. He could just make out L’s mop of dark hair in the crowd and he tagged along a few with a few bodies separating them. Aware that after being caught staring, he was in a rather damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t position now with L, Light decided he would do as he liked and go talk to L. L would likely chalk both his silence or his approach up as signs that he is Kira, so it hardly mattered in the scheme of things.

Light caught up to L as the man stared sullenly at the scruffy joggers he was supposed to wear outside. His nose was wrinkled in distaste. Light remembered clearly how little he liked things on his feet.

He stepped up to L’s side, casually friendly smile in place, and thought, To hells with it.

Light’s first words to L in person were, “Aren’t your feet cold?”

L’s big, dark eyes turned to look Light dead in the face. If he was surprised by Light’s approach, he didn’t let it show. “Sorry?” he queried.

Light gave a slightly nervous laugh – affected, of course. “Your feet,” he repeated, tone bright but with an underlay of gentle seeking. “You’re not wearing shoes. You weren’t the whole test. Aren’t they cold?”

L was giving him an indecipherable look, but if Light had to guess its meaning, he’d speculate L thought him to be a rather bizarre specimen under a microscope. Light was kind of flattered.

“My feet are fine,” L said dismissively. His long fingers clenched tighter around the heels of his shoes. “Thank you,” he added like an afterthought.

Light’s smile took on a sheepish edge. “I’m sorry to bother you,” he apologised humbly. “I just…I know you caught me staring. I…wanted to explain myself.”

L continued to stare, almost unblinking. It would have been unnerving if directed at anyone other than Light. Light was too busy internally squealing in delight at finally having L’s full attention to be unnerved.

“You were staring at my feet?” the detective asked superfluously. They both knew Light hadn’t been looking at L’s feet.

“…Not only,” Light admitted, going for his best-approximation-of-honesty policy. “You’re very different to everyone else here.”

“Is that a problem?” L pressed without hesitation. Again, designed to unnerve, to get a reaction.

Light was struggling to keep his grin toned down to acceptable levels. “Not at all,” he said, a lot more breathlessly than intended. He almost reacted to himself; unnerved finally by himself. He hadn’t expected meeting L to be so…exhilarating.

L reacted to Light’s tone as well, just one slightly longer blink at the unexpected turn Light was apparently taking this encounter.

Well, in for a penny… Light took a steadying breath and flirted with the world’s greatest detective.

“I like different,” Light continued. He let his tone settle from breathless with excitement into flirtatious. It was not a tone he had ever had cause to use with frequency, but he could do it. It was just his usual charm set to its maximum level with a sprinkling of sexual undertones. He’d watched his Nightmare self do it often enough. “My name is Light Yagami. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

L looked down at Light’s outstretched hand a bit like it might bite him but bravely shook Light’s hand. “Ryuzaki,” he offered in return.

Light let the full power of his grin show. He hoped L would take it as joy at their meeting, and miss the added amusement Light felt that L was using the same pseudonym as in the Nightmare. “Ryuzaki-san,” he repeated, rolling the name around on his tongue like he was savouring the taste. He wondered vaguely if he was making L uncomfortable, but he knew virtually nothing could do that to the detective. If anything, he was probably wondering what the hell Light thought he was up to, flirting with L like this.

“Would you like to get lunch with me?” Light offered, making sure to layer his tone just right so as to imply lunch mightn’t be the only thing they would be eating.

L shook his shoes pointedly. “It’s cold out,” he said by way of refusal.

Light knew it wouldn’t be very Japanese of him to insist, but he was Kira, he was above things like cultural norms. “The café I have in mind is only a short walk, and it’s quite warm inside.”

L didn’t look convinced. “Thank you, Yagami-san,” he said with finality. “But I am expecting a ride soon and have no time for lunch.”

Light went in for the kill. “Not even tea and cake?” L’s Achilles heel.

One half of L’s mouth twitched, like he was burying a smile. “That’s hardly lunch,” he protested, but was that a hint of returned flirtation? His tone was certainly welcoming, inviting further discussion rather than shutting the conversation down.

Plus, Light knew almost better than anyone, just what L considered lunch foods.

“We’re adults,” Light said, seemingly nonsensically. “So, we can make adult decisions like having dessert before lunch.” His smile was conspiratorial, and L returned it after a nanosecond of hesitation. L was obviously considering the benefits of pursuing this line of investigation. He could potentially get very close to a suspect if he followed through with where this conversation was taking them. But, if Light were the kind of Kira L thought him to be, L would also rightfully think this to be a reckless and dangerous pursuit.

L was lucky Light was a very different Kira than he thought.

“How about dessert for lunch?” L asked, and Light knew he’d won.

 

Seeing L with shoes on was always a treat. He spent the entire time looking like he’d just stepped in something gross. Light was trying not to smile, really he was, but he was as besotted with L and all his quirks as he remembered himself to be.

It was a brisk day, even though it was sunny, so it lent haste to their feet as the two men walked from the examination hall to Light’s suggested café. Light kept his hands in his pants pockets – not so that he could be nearer the slip of Death Note he kept in his wallet but so he wouldn’t give into temptation and touch L far more than was appropriate. He kind of wanted to handcuff them together, so the detective couldn’t leave him again.

…Light acknowledged that wasn’t a very appropriate thought to have, and that was why his hands were fisted inside his pockets.

He knew L recognised that he was tense. Whether that tension was the result of Kira’s nerves at meeting L or Light Yagami’s nerves at picking up a man, L shouldn’t be able to say. It was right, Light thought. This was where he had wanted L’s mind to be, when this day finally came. Uncertain just what secrets Light was hiding, what Light’s sometimes odd behaviour was truly indicative of, or what to do about it.

Light was banking on the fact that L wasn’t the sort of petty where he would sabotage his own investigation just to stab at Light by telling Light’s father about Light’s continued interest in the male form. He knew that if L thought telling Sōichirō would help the Kira investigation, he wouldn’t hesitate to do it, but Light didn’t intend for things to get to that point.

But it would all depend on how Light played these next few minutes. Would L believe Light had just coincidentally found him attractive enough to approach? Would he suspect that Light knew who he was prior to their meeting? He can’t possibly think that with any logic behind it, Light reassured himself. L isn’t the sort to believe in magic books that can kill people or in time-travel or visions of the future. L’s healthy scepticism of everything and everyone would help keep him off Light’s trail for a while. Hopefully, L would be surprised when Light finally did reveal all his secrets to him. That would make the moment all the sweeter when it came; Light always got a kick out of surprising such an unshakeable man.

Light stole another glance at L out of the corner of his eye and saw the detective was staring blatantly at Light, not even trying to be subtle about it. Light turned his face fully, offering L a tentative smile and a nervous chuckle. “Something on my face?’ he joked.

L gave him one of the fake smiles he used when playing at being someone else. Admittedly the Ryuzaki persona wasn’t that far from how L normally was, but Light wasn’t supposed to know that.

“Yagami-kun looks very handsome in the sunlight,” L said in his monotone way. Light nearly tripped over his own Kira-damned feet and half-choked on his breath. When he recovered enough to stare at L in pure shock, he could see L’s satisfied smirk in the detective’s grey eyes. “Your hair is a nice colour. Is it dyed?”

Light knew for a fact that L already knew the answer to that, but he indulged the nosy man anyway. “N-no,” he managed around his lingering shock at how blatantly L was flirting with him. L tended to approach situations with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face, so Light didn’t know why he was surprised, but he just…hadn’t expected L to play this particular game with him, not if the detective really did suspect him of being Kira.

Light thought delightedly that there was still so much for him to learn about L. This was why he was never bored with L around.

“My biological father was from overseas,” Light explained, regaining his confidence. “My mother married a Japanese man after he passed away, and we’ve lived here with him ever since.”

L nodded like this was interesting news to him. “I am also only half-Japanese,” L confessed. Light blinked away further surprise, managing to keep himself composed and smiling this time. He only knew that about L because of his extensive research into the man after his death. L had never been so open about himself in Light’s Nightmare.

Light let himself drift a little closer to L as they walked. “Your Japanese is great,” Light complimented, and then immediately fished for more information. “Did you grow up in Japan?”

“A little,” L said. Light wondered how true that was. He still knew so little about L’s mysterious past. “I mostly grew up in England.”

Again with the open honesty.

Light was starting to think L knew that Light knew who he was. And after Kira’s message about the English weather, L probably suspected that Kira knew at least a little about L’s past. Telling Light this information was probably designed to test the waters and see if Light slipped up and let on that he knew the World’s Greatest Detective better than he had any right to.

Light could play this game. “Really?” he asked in perfect American-accented English. “That’s so cool. I’ve never been to England. What’s it like there?”

If L was playing a convincing stranger, he would have reacted to Light’s mastery of English. It wasn’t exactly a common skill among Japanese. But L didn’t compliment Light or pretend at all. Instead, he challenged Kira, in a way that were Light innocent, wouldn’t be a challenge at all.

“The weather is pretty shit, actually,” L said and he sounded more British than tea at a cricket match.

Light’s jaw bounced off his leather shoes. He’d never heard L speak with a British accent before. This was surprisingly…hot.

Light was starting to think he was in over his head.

“Oh,” he heard himself say over the rushing in his ears. “Is that why you moved to Japan?”

“Actually,” L continued in that thrice-damned accent, “I’m here looking for someone.”

“A relative?”

“Not as such. I’m looking for someone important,” L said, and the double-meaning was clearer than the sunny sky. “Someone I mean to keep for a long time.”

Even though Light was sure the ‘behind bars’ was implicit in that statement, he couldn’t help but hear it in the context of their – date?

He was going on a date with L Lawliet.

Ryuk was right. He had lost his mind.

Light obviously looked at least a little bit as overwhelmed as he felt because L took pity on him, and bumped arms with Light, effectively knocking the younger man out of his reverie. “Let’s start with lunch,” he suggested.

Light nodded wordlessly.

They reached their destination soon after and took a window seat. The café was warm and cosy without being stifling, and the service was quick from Light’s experience (albeit Nightmare-based.) It was posh enough that a waitress came to take their order. Light knew his teeth would ache but he ordered the sweetest thing he could stomach from the menu – a black mocha coffee and slice of tiramisu cake – and watched in fond amusement as L asked for, “One of everything, please.”

The waitress stumbled away confused after confirming L did indeed mean the entire menu. Light allowed himself a light chuckle as she walked away. L’s dark eyes were upon him like a hawk’s at the sound. “You disapprove?” he asked, switching back to English now that he wasn’t speaking to the waitress.

“Not at all,” Light hurried to assure him. “I was just thinking its impressive how you keep your figure when you consume so many sweets. You must teach me your secrets.” Another light-hearted remark with a deeper meaning. It was their primary mode of communication in the Nightmare, the other L’s and the other Kira’s, and Light found it fun. But he did look forward to the day when there would be no more need for this secret communication outside of just fun.

L’s cheeks stained red at the compliment. “Only if you teach me yours,” he returned. He didn’t sound overly affected by the flirting, but his face stayed hot. Light knew he wasn’t the best at controlling his capillary responses so this, more than anything else, confirmed that L was affected by their meeting too.

Light threw caution to the wind and reached across the table for L’s hand. They were seated across from each other at a little round table. L was seated in the cushy café chair with his knees tucked up to his chest and his shoes on the floor. Light was still dressed in a full suit from the exam. They looked as different as birds and bats. But they were irrevocably entwined by fate, and as their hands touched, Light felt the red string tighten around their wrists.

“I think there’s a lot we can show each other, Ryuzaki,” Light said, voice a lot lower than he’d aimed for.

L, for his part, looked like he might need ambulance assistance if his blood didn’t return to his body. His cheeks were blazing. “Light…” he said, breathlessly. Light didn’t even care if it was an act anymore. He’d take what he could get from L; whatever the detective was willing to give…

Light leaned across the table, his body following his hand’s trajectory. His face neared L’s until their breath mingled. Light could feel the tempo of L’s breathing pick up. They met eyes and Light could tell L was utterly taken aback by the direction Light had taken them in – but he was willing to follow through if it meant it would help the investigation.

Something about that irked Light, and he pulled back slightly. “I…” he began, not really sure what he was about to say. He didn’t want to admit to getting cold feet about his relationship with L, but what could he say? ‘I’m sorry I jumped the gun on our relationship’? Or ‘You don’t know anything about me but I know you better than you know yourself’? Or ‘I’ve wanted you forever’? That last one terrified the hell out of Light, and he watched L begin to frown as he took in Light’s impression of a deer in the headlights.

They were both saved from needing to come up with a safe response by the timely return of their waitress.

The waitress coughed awkwardly as she placed Light’s order – along with the first part of L’s – on their table. “I- I’m sorry to interrupt, sirs,” she stuttered. She snapped the metal serving tray to her chest as soon as it was clear of plates, bowed, and then about-faced and ran.

Meanwhile, Light had sat back in his seat and was trying not to panic. He hadn’t felt this freaked out since he’d woken up from the damned Nightmare that started all of this. Until this point, he hadn’t realised just how deeply – and in what direction – his feelings for L ran. His obsession with the detective was starting to make more sense to him now.

He could count that as another thing he had figured out that his Nightmare self hadn’t.

He met L’s gaze across the table. Those dark eyes were rounded and didn’t drop from Light even as the detective shovelled an entire cupcake into his mouth. Another challenge, Light thought. He knows I’m a stickler for propriety and should be disgusted with his slovenly behaviour. Problem is, L, he thought with a mental smirk, I know you and I know you’re just doing this to get to me, so it won’t work.

Light offered L a wide smile, making sure to lower his head just enough so that he gazed slightly up at the detective as he took a sip of hot mocha. Far too sweet for Light’s tastes, even when only sweetened with dark chocolate. Light caught himself absently fantasizing about whether L’s mouth would taste as sweet as the things he ate- and cut that thought off mercilessly.

“You said you were getting a lift?” Light prompted. He lowered his mug to the table and wrapped both hands around it, ostensibly to warm them but really to just give him something to do with them that didn’t involve groping L.

L replied around a mouthful of cake, “Yes. Are you that eager to be rid of me?”

“Never,” Light said, perhaps a tad too honestly. “I only ask because I want to know if you’re free after lunch.”

L seemed to have recovered some confidence in the situation now that he was being pumped full of sugar. “I am not,” he said simply.

Light felt his expression fall before he could catch it. He did not want L to leave. Not after this. He would get him back again, no matter what, but he’d rather not let go in the first place. “I’m sorry,” Light said, feeling like his mouth was full of cotton and his tongue was too big and wouldn’t move right. “I didn’t mean to-”

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” L cut him off gently. Light was surprised by the detective’s tone more than anything. “But,” L switched seamlessly back into Japanese (Light would later wonder if L was being kind, in his own way; giving Light a little piece of their friendship untainted by Kira by leaving any discussion of Kira out of their English conversations), “I’m afraid I haven’t been fully honest with you, Light Yagami.”

Light already ramrod straight back straightened a little further. “Oh?” he said tightly, the kind of reaction one would expect when hearing something like that.

“Yes,” L said slowly. He pointed at Light with a forkful of cake. “You are Light Yagami.  Your father, Sōichirō Yagami, works with me on the Japanese Task Force investigating the Kira case. I’m here to offer you a job, working with us to catch Kira. What do you say? Are you in?”

Light crossed his arms, letting a serious expression onto his face. “Before I answer that,” he hedged, “tell me who you are, that you work with my father on the Kira case?”

“I,” L paused for dramatic effect, “am L.”

With that, the L took his cake, and ate it.

Chapter Text

Cold Feet II

 

When L had thought about meeting Light Yagami, he had planned for every eventuality. It couldn’t hurt to be prepared for anything when it came to dealing with a man suspected of being the world’s most prolific serial killer. But of all the possibilities L had predicted – from Light attempting to strangle him with his bare hands to Light somehow actually being an utter moron – L had not put any serious thought into the idea that Light Yagami might try to engage him in a more intimate relationship.

The boy was a protractor pretending to be a ruler. L was almost as unattractive as they come. It was a recipe that should have brewed distance, but Light Yagami had opened his smart little mouth and flirted with L.

L thought at first that he must be so out of practice interacting with people in person that he was imagining it – and then wondered why he would be imagining that with Light Yagami; the young man was quite conventionally attractive, but he was also probably killing in more than just the looks department – but it became swiftly undeniable that Light Yagami was trying to get him to go on a date with him.

The thought had crossed L’s mind, as most thoughts did, that this was a possibility but it had seemed a ridiculously improbably one. Light Yagami’s attraction to him may have made more sense if the teen knew who L was – idolisation could go a long way to smoothing over physical flaws – but there was no way Light could know, unless Kira could literally see people’s names floating above their heads or something equally ludicrous.

As things stood, Light Yagami’s one known romantic relationship was with Sasaki Yamamoto, a boy who was conventionally attractive. He was young, spry, fit, with smooth tanned skin and straight hair. L, on the other hand, was none of the above. Well, he was fit enough, but he wasn’t fit, and he supposed his hair could be coaxed out of its bird’s nest, but the point stood. L was the opposite of everything Light Yagami should find attractive, according to everything L knew about the boy.

So, it was interesting that Light was interested in him. Perhaps he thought L would be a quick liaison that would expect little follow-up considering his weirdness? He had just completed his entrance exams and would likely wish to celebrate. And celebrate in a way that wouldn’t alert his father, which a serious relationship inevitably would.

It made sense. L was more comfortable now that he had a good idea of what Light Yagami might be trying to do – the teen was either trying to hook-up with L, or was Kira and had somehow instantly figured out who L was. This situation was dangerous in multiple senses, but L could not very well back down with his prime suspect smirking in his face. To show weakness at this juncture with a Kira suspect would be foolhardy indeed.

Thus, L resumed control of the situation and went along on Light’s proposed date.

They strolled across campus towards the café the suspect had recommended. L considered the possibility that Kira might be trying to get him alone to abduct him. Yet Kira had used proxies when arranging the abduction of Raye Penber. It was unlikely Kira would act in person as that would risk exposure. Unless Kira thought that this would be his only opportunity to get at L? Kira was an opportunist.

L resolutely ignored his feet, uncomfortably pinched as they were in his shoes, and studied Light Yagami. Seeing the boy without the shield of a screen between them was interesting. There was a lot more information L could deduce from his suspect this way. Such as the slight play of emotion on Yagami’s face as he struggled to keep his lips from quirking up into a smile. It was subtle enough, just a simple, rare twitch of the zygomaticus muscles, that video would be unlikely to capture it.

Why are you smiling, Kira? L pondered as they moved through the cold sunlight. Surely, if you know who I am, then you must have figured out why I am here. And if you know that, you will know how risky it would be to kill me now that the Task Force knows you have seen my face. You are no fool, Kira, so why engage me here? I cannot accept the coincidence that my prime suspect has taken a spontaneous interest in me without knowing who I am. What are you thinking, Kira? That you can kill me now and escape the consequences? That I will lead you to the Task Force so you can kill us all?

The suspect’s hands were clenched into tight fists in his pants’ pockets. He was clearly suppressing a strong emotion – murderous intent? Unclear.

Assuming Light Yagami was innocent, his behaviour during the exam and since could be explained by gay panic as the kids were calling it these days. Assuming his suspect’s attraction towards him was genuine, Light Yagami may have been distracted by L during the exam and thus red-faced from embarrassment, not anger. He may at this very moment be attempting to get L alone for reasons that had nothing to do with murder and everything to do with other acts that were perfectly legal in most countries, if not perfectly innocent.

L acknowledged he was thinking around the problem of Light Yagami wanting to do things with L’s body, but the detective had his priorities, and sleeping with young Japanese men was not high on his to-do list. He steadfastly refused to examine the possibility that he may want to raise its priority on the list. He would not be compromised, emotionally or otherwise, by any suspect for any investigation, let alone one as important as the Kira investigation.

L let his analytical gaze linger on his suspect, a silent challenge. Light Yagami’s reaction to what could easily be interpreted as an exploratory look for either sexual or investigative purposes would be telling. If he were innocent, he may act embarrassed or intrigued. If he were not, if he reacted defensively or with suspicion, anger, well-placed words…

Light Yagami met his gaze, warm hazel eyes bright. He offered a tentative smile and a nervous chuckle. “Something on my face?” he asked, tone pleasant.

L returned a calculated smile. Time to test how far Light Yagami would let this go. “Yagami-kun looks very handsome in the sunlight.” It wasn’t untrue. But his suspect reacted rather like L had just told him he likes to dance the mamba naked in the rain. Light Yagami tripped over his own feet, gagged on his own breath, and generally looked like L had slapped him. The teen was usually extremely well-put together, with everything he did carefully controlled. While this act may be just that – an act – the overreaction might be genuine. L hadn’t been exactly receptive to his suspect’s advances. Suddenly turning the flirtation up to an 11 would likely be a shock.

L decided he needed to continue in the same vein of conversation to further test Light Yagami’s reactions. Their date would be an interrogation of sorts, a test to see how L’s suspicions of Light Yagami stood up in front of the real thing.

“Your hair is a nice colour. Is it dyed?” L already knew the answer. How honest would Light Yagami be?

The suspect replied, “N-no. My biological father was from overseas. My mother married a Japanese man after he passed away, and we’ve lived here with him ever since.”

Very honest, apparently.

L decided that attempting to relate to the younger man would be conducive for the interrogation. Building a rapport was a crucial step in any interrogation. “I am also only half-Japanese,” L offered. It was the truth. But not a truth that could hurt him. It was nothing Kira could use to track down L’s true identity.

His suspect drifted a little closer to his, swaying into L’s body. If his hands hadn’t been resolutely hidden in his pockets, L was sure Light Yagami would be touching him. “Your Japanese is great. Did you grow up in Japan?” An innocent inquiry or fishing for information?

“A little,” L replied honestly. He could lie with the best of them, but he wasn’t great at lying when people could see his face. He was out of practice. So the closer to the truth he could get, the better his half-truths would hold up over time. “I mostly grew up in England.”

Upon hearing that, Light Yagami switched to English. He was obviously showing off, like the human-peacock he was. “Really? That’s so cool. I’ve never been the England. What’s it like there?”

L decided to throw his suspect a curve ball, something only he and Kira would know the significance of… “The weather is pretty shit, actually,” L commented casually.

Light Yagami’s jaw actually dropped open at that. For a moment, L thought triumphantly, Got you, Kira! But then a burning blush crawled its way up Light Yagami’s neck and through his cheeks and ears. The boy was practically glowing like a heat lamp. Unless Kira was that talented an actor, which was a possibility L couldn’t discard, this more than anything suggested Light Yagami may be innocent.

It seemed ironic that Light Yagami’s less than innocent thoughts about L were proving his innocence better than his attempts to save Raye Penber or help the Task Force catch Kira had ever done.

“Oh,” Light Yagami said breathlessly. “Is that why you moved to Japan?”

Light Yagami’s likelihood-of-being-Kira percentage fluctuated more than an electronic oscillator but it was now settling around a 0.4% probability. Not impossible, but increasingly unlikely. L would not throw out his former prime suspect, not unless he had Kira, but it looked like Naomi Misora was right.

Light Yagami was not Kira.

Well, probably.

L decided to continue the conversation as it had been progressing. He would wait until the moment presented itself and then explain who is was to Light Yagami and offer him his place in the Task Force. If Light reacted in a non-Kira like way to that, L would let him join the Task Force.

L found himself actually enjoying talking with Light Yagami as their date progressed. He flirted back with the younger man shamelessly. He might only use the skill for investigations but he wasn’t hopeless at it. Things were going swimmingly, and L had to admit he was enjoying speaking English with his suspect, until Light leaned across the table for a kiss.

L’s brain went into overdrive as it tried to compute all the pros, cons and implications that actually touching Light Yagami in any kind of sexual way would result in. If he was compromised by a suspect who eventually turned out to be Kira, the investigation could be considered invalid one day down the line in court, and everyone who was putting their lives on the line to catch Kira would have risked everything for nothing. A definite con. But if Light wasn’t Kira, it wouldn’t matter. And if he was Kira, L could potentially trick his way into Kira’s inner circle through a romantic connection. A potential big pro. He would have to recuse himself from a great deal of the investigation and keep the whole thing well-above-board, but as long as the Japanese Task Force continued to work with him, it would be possible.

(And, if an atomically small part of L was starting to wonder about wanting Light Yagami – it was small enough to be easily ignored, along with L’s others wants other than sugar and mental-stimulation.)

In the end, L didn’t get to decide whether to go ahead and seal the kiss or not, because they were interrupted by the return of their waitress. With the distance the distraction afforded him, L could see how close he had come to making a mistake. Getting compromised by Light Yagami, be he Kira or not, would be a detriment to the Kira investigation no matter which way L spun it. L could not afford to be distracted by his own emotions. And if Light Yagami were to be helpful to the investigation, he couldn’t afford to be distracted either. L quietly resolved to never let that happen. Perhaps, one day, when Kira was arrested and if he turned out to not be Light Yagami, and on that day Light still found him attractive for whatever unknown reason, then maybe L would do something.

But that was for the future, and L liked to live in the present as much as possible.

L decided it was time to reveal his true identity as L, partly to forestall any further emotional developments. Not only was he intending to do that sooner or later to gauge Light’s reaction as a potential Kira, it would be sufficient to derail their date and ensure Light didn’t try to kiss him again.

“I,” L hesitated a fraction of a millisecond. No, he was sure that, even at 0.4%, he could handle Light Yagami, “am L.” Before he could say anything smug to that about how Light hadn’t figured it out before L told him, L filled his mouth with cake to prevent speech.

“L.” Light Yagami’s voice was devoid of tone. Was he so angry he could hardly speak? L’s Kira-senses tingled.

“The World’s Greatest Detective,” Light said through gritted teeth. “You expect me to believe that.” He punctuated that with a laugh.

L put on an exasperated expression. “No. I wouldn’t even consider you for the task force if you were fool enough to believe the word of a stranger without proof. So,” he grinned his wide, frog-like grin, “I brought proof.”

Like he was responding to an invisible bell, Wammy appeared at their table out of thin air. He was dressed as Watari and had been listening to their conversation this whole time. In a secure room halfway across Tokyo, Naomi Misora was also listening in and watching through a tiny camera on L’s shirt collar, just in case things did go horribly pear-shaped.

Light’s skin nearly jumped off his bones with Wammy’s sudden appearance. He did cut an intimidating presence in his Watari get-up, and he did have a Houdini-like knack for appearing in places unannounced. He had been an inventor and a rich-man before L’s time, but L was still secretly convinced he’d also been a ninja. Wammy was ever elusive about it but L would find the evidence one day.

“Who are you?” Light asked, letting his voice sound urgent and his face look worried. “I’m not about to get kidnapped, am I?” He let out a laugh that trailed off awkwardly as the pair of Brits stared him down. Light crossed his arms, the gesture defensive but L was left uncertain if it was manufactured. Light did look nervous at Wammy’s presence. Was it a combination of nerves at being caught on a date with a man and having that man turn out to be L? L knew Light Yagami was a… fan. He’d gone through the boy’s room and his computer files, and read his fanfictions. Some had been about L. Light Yagami admired L; he probably wouldn’t be happy to realise he’d accidentally been chatting L up.

L tried to explain gently, but he knew he came off as arrogant. “This is Watari. You may have heard of him?”

Light appeared to swallow an initial response, possibly a biting one since he was on the backfoot and would be looking to recover face. Then he admitted, “My father may have mentioned him.”

L snorted into his sugar-tea. “Doubtful,” he said dismissively. Light’s hand clenched into a fist over his knee. He possibly thought it was tucked safely out of sight but L could study the increased muscular tension in Light’s arm and deduce the teen’s irritation. L tried again for a friendlier response, “Chief Yagami would never compromise the investigators.”

“No,” Light agreed, “but my father would tell me about his work before Kira, and I was always interested in L, and so he told me about Watari; L’s shadow.”

To Wammy, who was wrapped up in a trench-coat and hat with deep shadows concealing most of the gentle, old man underneath, Light gave a nod. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Watari,” he said. “My name is Light Yagami. But then, you probably already knew that.” He said that last bit with a wry smile.

Wammy inclined his head in acknowledgement. He then produced a briefcase from the depths of his coat. He placed it atop the table and keyed it open. There were stacks of neatly organised files inside, labelled for the Kira investigation. Light eyed them with unabashed fascination. It was entirely in character for him to be interested and would, in fact, be more damning for him to act like he wasn’t interested in everything L had on Kira.

Light reached over and picked up the top file. He paged it open to see an index of all of Kira’s known victims, listed by location of death. Light looked up from the list, frowning gently. “I have to hope you are who you say you are if you have this information,” he said.

L twirled his dessert fork, only his dark eyes betraying his interest. “Who else would have such information?”

“Kira,” Light said without hesitation.

That merited a blink. “Oh?” L taunted. “You mustn’t really think I am Kira or else you would surely be running, screaming, from the café.”

Light’s frown deepened, and he crossed his arms defensively. “I nearly kissed you not five minutes ago,” Light said quietly. “I have to believe I’m not dumb enough to nearly kiss Kira.” He curled his upper lip in disgust at the idea.

L was amused. This was his former prime suspect for Kira curling his lip at the killer. “Would it be so bad, Light Yagami? You’ve expressed your sympathies towards Kira in the past.”

Light glared at the detective. “I’m allowed to hold the opinion that more needs to be done about justice in our world without supporting Kira. I do not agree with the man’s modus operandi. How can he be so sure the people he kills are guilty?”

Kira couldn’t, which L thought was rather the point. Kira was killing more people per day than most countries with capital punishment. And countries had resources to conduct investigations and juries to determine guilt a sentencing. Kira had none of those luxuries. Perhaps, if Kira did turn out to be a member of the Japanese NPA or even a lesser department of law enforcement, he could claim to be assured of the guilt of a few, but never of the many.

Light Yagami pointing out the flaws in Kira’s operations was either damning or redeeming, depending on your point of view. An hour ago, L would have easily let it be damning. Ten minutes ago, L might have agreed with Naomi Misora that it was redeeming. Now, with Light Yagami looking righteously angry about Kira, L wasn’t so sure.

Damn Light Yagami and his vacillating Kira percentage.

L suspected he would not be getting any more revelations out of Light Yagami today. He would be wise to quit while ahead, get Light Yagami onboard with the investigation, and maintain a close watch until further notice.

L smirked. “So, Light-kun is saying that he can agree with something someone says without agreeing to everything they say.”

The young man looked lost in thought for a couple of seconds. L didn’t let himself frown at that. Light gave himself what appeared to be a mental shake, then nodded his head. He then looked back at the list in his hands. Light smiled, the motion a little tight around the edges, but his eyes were blazing with determination and resolve when he raised them to meet L’s.

“I believe you are who you say you are,” Light said. “L.” The way he said L’s name was peculiar – almost like a prayer. “I’ll help you catch Kira. Just tell me what you need me to do.”

L’s frog-smirk widened. “You need to come with me to meet the Task Force assigned to catch Kira. We have a secret headquarters.”

Light Yagami blinked, then laughed. It was a genuine laugh, from what L could tell; a warm, bell-like sound of amusement. “Okay, Double-Oh-Seven. Let me get the bill and we can go.”

L waved his dessert fork dismissively. “Watari has already taken care of it.” Wammy took that as his cue to head out to the limousine, which he had unsubtly parked nearby at L’s instruction. If Light Yagami were Kira, he would be angered by any show of superiority, even in wealth, from L. If he were not, it may just encourage the younger man’s affections. While L wouldn’t be reciprocating those any time soon, they would be a useful avenue of manipulation should L need it. Rapport and all that.

L unfurled from his seat, reluctantly toeing back into his shoes. Light gave his feet a sympathetic look. “Come, Light-kun.” Light abandoned his meal, barely touched as it was, and followed L out of the café. He hesitated only when they reached L’s limousine. Wammy was holding the door open for them, and L slid through to the far side, shedding his shoes as he went. He looked back and saw Light dithering by the door. L could tell from his body language, if not his tightly-controlled expression, that the teen was reluctant to get in a car with a stranger – or perhaps just reluctant to get in a car with L.

L did not have the time nor the patient to mollycoddle Light Yagami through what could turn out to be a long investigation. Either the boy would find the same courage and reckless streak that had led him to attempt to rescue Raye Penber single-handedly, or he would back out of the investigation and return to simply being an intriguing anomaly among L’s Kira suspects.

L found he felt he’d rather like Light to be brave. He leaned back across the dark leather seating, peering up into Light’s well-proportioned face, shadowed as it was by the light and his worries. In English, L asked his suspect/date/colleague, “Not getting cold feet, are we, Light-kun?”

Predictably, Light Yagami snapped the laser-focus of his brilliant brain onto L. Yet the young man chose to grin wickedly, choosing to share in on L’s joke, rather than spit in the detective’s face like he probably should.

“Never,” he said and sat beside L.

Chapter Text

Joining Forces

 

Naomi Misora had a hard time keeping a straight face when L brought Light Yagami up to the Headquarters to officially meet the Task Force. She was not getting paid nearly enough to have to listen to L flirt and flirt badly at that to not find the humour in it. Like L was actually interested in the young man. He’d been insisting the boy was Kira right until today!

“Good afternoon, Light-san,” Naomi said pleasantly. Light Yagami finally broke his gaze from the back of L’s head to blink at Naomi in surprise. Then his expression cleared like a cloudy sky bursting into a sunlit smile.

“Misora-san!” Light beamed at her. “I’m glad to see you’re well! How’s Agent Penber?”

Naomi could tell him a few things about how her wayward, sulking fiancé was. She settled for the obvious, “He’s fine, Light-san. Thanks to you. You were hurt worse than Raye. How’s your shoulder?”

Light rolled the aforementioned shoulder with a wince. “It’s getting better,” he hedged dismissively. Naomi’s brows knit together slightly. Light appeared to be in pain. It had not been that long since the incident, only a couple of weeks really, so the wound would not have healed fully. And it was the sort of wound that would likely cause Light trouble on and off again for the rest of his life. But none of that explained why he was in pain.

He mustn’t be taking painkillers, Naomi realised, more horrified than awed. Because of his test today?

L was looking between the two of them like it was an interesting tennis match. Naomi resisted the urge to throw her pen at the detective. Regardless of what he said aloud, she suspected that he still suspected Light of being Kira. How he could think that after he’d saved her fiancé, she would never understand.

Before the silence could stretch into awkwardness, Matsuda – bless his simple delights – sprang on Light. He shook his hand enthusiastically, saying, “Welcome to the Task Force, Light! It will be such a help to have you here, you have no idea-”

“Thanks, Matsuda-san,” Light replied, amusement playing around his smile. His hand was still being pumped up and down by the young detective. Naomi was relieved Matsuda had gone for Light’s good arm. “But I’m nothing special. I’m just here to help if I can.”

L made a noise of disbelief poorly disguised by a cough. Light shot him a glare. Naomi’s eyebrow rocketed up to her hairline.

“Nonsense, Light!” Sōichirō purported, striding across the room to clasp his son’s shoulder – the bad one this time, like the man had forgotten where his own son was shot. Judging by the lack of expression Light showed at what must obviously hurt, Naomi concluded it was less a matter of parental neglect and more a case of Light being too talented an actor. He hid many things, she had discovered from reading L’s reports on the boy, none the least of which was his homosexuality. He also hid the extent of his insomnia and now the pain in his shoulder.

Naomi wondered how alone Light must feel, to spend his life lying like that. But just because he hid things, that didn’t automatically make him Kira. Not that L would believe that.

“You’ve helped plenty on earlier cases, and we can always use a fresh perspective,” Sōichirō continued proudly. Light’s lips twitched, slightly hesitantly, up into a pleased smile. Proud to be praised, but humble as well.

“It wasn’t just me,” he protested. “I can’t work alone. No-one can.”

“That’s why we have this Task Force,” Sōichirō agreed. “Now, let me introduce you around.”

Light was already obviously somewhat familiar with the members of the Task Force. Having worked with the NPA before and with Sōichirō as his father, it made sense. Aizawa and Mogi were greeted normally by Light, who bowed and said he looked forward to working with them. Ukita warranted a slight pause, some widening of the eyes, but Light’s quick dip into his bow and powerful, “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!” covered that up neatly. Naomi wondered if there was some history there, but filed it away as explainable.

 

Meeting the Task Force was a lot more pleasant this time around. For one thing, there was no imminent Misa-shaped threat posed to bump off dozens of innocents in a bid to kill L and please Kira. Light had made her promise she wouldn’t get involved until he asked her to. He had no guarantee she would actually keep her word – or, sadly, if she had even understood what he’d been implying so heavily at her he may as well as taped the words to a frying pan and hit her in the head with it – but Light hoped that between his own reluctant supervision of the model (thankfully as a friend this time, not a boyfriend; he’d gladly thrown Yamamoto on that particular sword) and Yamamoto’s regular presence in the blonde’s life, Misa would keep control of herself. At least for a while. Light needed some time to calculate the extent of the changes he had made to the timeline, and plan for all contingencies.

But, right now, he was shaking Matsuda’s hand and trying not to feel too guilty over the relieved-proud smile his father was directing at him from across the room. Introductions were swift but friendly. Light nearly did a double-take upon seeing Ukita. He hadn’t forgotten, not really, but he’d accepted the man as an unfortunate casualty by Misa’s hand for half a decade – seeing him alive, heart beating, was a trip. He’d been obsessing over L so much, Light had all but forgotten the many other people he would encounter who were no longer long-since-passed.

Light was given the grand tour of the main investigation rooms by Ukita and Aizawa. Sōichirō and Naomi stayed behind, obviously intent on discussing something with L judging by their body language. They probably wanted to talk about Light. Light was glad he had both his father and Naomi Misora in his corner – they didn’t think him capable of being Kira, and while Light was kind of insulted by that, he knew they meant it in the nicest way.

Mogi excused himself, saying he needed to go be their presence at the actual NPA just in case. Matsuda didn’t seem to know which group he was supposed to go with, so he started making coffee for everyone. Light sort of wanted to invite Matsuda along for the tour, but he wasn’t supposed to know how out-of-place the young detective felt in the Task Force. Light had barely been part of the Task Force for five minutes; even his powers of deductive reasoning couldn’t explain away that leap of logic. Still, Light felt he owed Matsuda one for putting down the rabid madman that had unravelled Light’s mind in his Nightmare. He would be sure to make the older man feel useful.

 

Wammy had permission to unveil himself before Light Yagami, but he was waiting for the perfect moment. The boy was polite, controlled and unflappable. People like him could do with a good feather-ruffling, Wammy thought. He left his prodigy to deal with Chief Yagami and Ms Misora. They were gearing up to congratulate L on ‘seeing reason’ about Light Yagami. Wammy may not be as intelligent a man as his son-in-all-but-legal-terms, but he had a good head on his shoulders and he could tell that Light Yagami was not an honest man. Wammy wouldn’t put it past the boy to be using his sexuality as a shield, a diversion, to distract from and protect his real secrets. L had a gut feeling that Light Yagami was their man – Kira. If L thought so, Wammy was inclined to agree. But the elderly man did disagree with his young detective prodigy on one point: he didn’t think Light Yagami wanted L dead.

L argued that it was the only logical conclusion, that Kira had to know L would stop at nothing to arrest the vigilante and so would in turn stop at nothing to stop L. Wammy would be inclined to agree if he had not been privy to Light Yagami’s private thoughts and private moments. They had observed the boy for a fortnight and in that time the most malicious Wammy had seen the teenager act was towards a mosquito. His free time, what little of it there was, was spent on intellectual pursuits. And when he was not researching Kira or some other area of academics that had captured his interest, he was writing fiction. Sappy, tooth-rotting, sweet and fluffy fiction that spoke to an idealist, a dreamer, an optimist – not a seeker of vengeance nor a man prone to wanton violence. It could all be an elaborate ruse or cover but that would require the Yagami boy’s fore-knowledge of their surveillance. If Kira was truly that powerful, Wammy sincerely doubted they stood a chance against him. He chose to believe that Light could not and did not know and that his private actions were a sincere reflection of his true self.

But being a good person did not preclude one from being a vicious serial killer. People had multiple sides, after all.

The only thing Wammy could count out was Light’s inclination to kill L. If anything, he suspected the boy was trying to appeal to L; to prove himself to the World’s Greatest Detective, perhaps even befriend him…or get close to him in other ways. Listening to L talk at full-pace and seeing Light Yagami be able to keep up – to be honest, Wammy kind of, to borrow parlance from Light’s works, ‘shipped it’. But there could be any number of reasons for this – Light Yagami was a proven L fanboy, for one. If he were Kira, which for L’s sake Wammy rather hoped he wasn’t, then it stood to reason that Kira would want to keep his friends close, and his enemies closer. Perhaps Kira even thought to sway the detective to his side or influence the investigation – but Light Yagami seemed like a smart boy; surely, he would swiftly realise that L was unbendable.

Wammy had no concrete evidence that Light Yagami did not want L Lawliet dead. It was just a feeling. But, like he trusted his son’s feelings, he trusted his own. L trusted them too, but was also hyperaware of the dangers of their current case. He couldn’t take the risk that Wammy was wrong about Light Yagami – and Wammy wouldn’t want him to, in any case.

He would like it if L stopped trying to antagonise their ‘former’ prime suspect, though. It would be hard to keep Light from hitting L if he did choose to react violently to any one of the many insulting things L said about him.

It had started from the moment they met, but had really picked up in the last hour or so since Aizawa and Ukita had finished giving Light the tour. The Task Force had gathered over cups of coffee prepared by Matsuda – who had blushed to his roots when Light complimented him on the well-preparedness of the black coffee in the sincerest voice; Light appeared to genuinely appreciate the bitter caffeine boost – and had set about catching Light up on the investigation. While the others seemed content to present their findings and conclusions to Light, L kept cutting them off. He presented raw evidence to the Yagami boy and asked Light for his take on it. To the others, it likely seemed like a test confirming Light’s skills as an investigator. To Wammy, and likely to Naomi, the two who knew L better, it was clearly a test of Light’s potential to be Kira. What would the teenager’s answers be? The sort of answers Kira would give? The sort of answers an innocent of normal intelligence would give? Or cuttingly accurate answers that saw through the oceans of evidence and picked out the pearl of truth?

Of course, since this was Light Yagami – the highest scoring student in the country who had also solved a dozen unsolvable cases before this one – they were talking about, it was the latter.

“These are the messages Kira sent using prisoners over a period of two days,” L explained, dumping the case file full of photographs of said messages – unordered – into Light’s lap. The teenager valiantly let little more than an eye twitch of annoyance escape at the rude gesture, or the following implied insult to his intelligence. “Surely Light-kun can figure out what Kira was trying to tell us.”

Light breathed through his mouth once, got a determined set around his eyes, and started shifting through the messages. There were the 46 real messages, with an additional four fake messages added by L, rounding up the total to 50. It would normally take someone a long time just to read through the pile of messages, but Light scanned through them with the skimming power of a graduating high school student. L had dismissed the others to return to their work while Light worked through the problem. Naomi looked reluctant to leave Light to L’s tender ways – giving the young man a reassuring squeeze on his good shoulder before she left to resume surveillance of Hana Kitamura. For all that L had promised they would let Light Yagami off the hook for Kira, he had made no such promises about the Deputy Director’s girl.

“Why is Light looking at the messages? We already know the answers-” Matsuda was asking Sōichirō in a stage-whisper – which was really just Matsuda being his usual too-loud self.

Sōichirō Yagami gave his junior a pedagogical look. “Ryuzaki is testing Light’s deductive abilities. It doesn’t matter if we know the answers; if Light can’t figure them out for himself, he has no place in this investigation.” Harsh words, but the way the father said them betrayed his faith that his son could do it. Wammy wouldn’t disagree with him; Light would do it, but whether that was because he logicked his way through the puzzle or because he knew the answers before ever seeing those pictures was the real question.

“Oh,” Matsuda said wondrously. “Light can do it!” He cheered.

Light glanced up from the notes he was taking on the messages to smile at Matsuda. “Thank you, Matsuda-san,” he said politely.

Matsuda looked sheepish at being caught and Chief Yagami swiftly dragged his pupil off to get back to work on the case.

Wammy was seated innocuously, still in costume, in the corner of the room; a silent observer. L had asked him to keep an eye on Light Yagami – just in case. And, just in case, Wammy had a rifle tucked discreetly beneath his trench-coat. He sincerely doubted he would need to use it – and he didn’t want to have to use it on a seventeen-year-old anyway – but he wouldn’t let L be hurt by Kira. Or by Light Yagami.

After a short time, Light tapped his pen against his notes and laughed. It was a startled, amused kind of laugh. L looked up from his architectural project – the Leaning Tower of Sugar Cubes – to see why Light was laughing. The Japanese teen explained, a little breathless with wry amusement, “It’s a simple code, once you know what to look for. The proverb in kanji is the key. If you follow the hint and take the first letter of each message, you can arrange them into three more proverbs. It’s not perfect-” A frown pinched Light’s face as the boy was unpleased with his work being imperfect. “-There are as many as seven messages that don’t fit the pattern, but if those messages were at the start or end of the series, that could explain it.”

“What does it spell?” L asked innocently, thumb nudging his lip.

Light read aloud the three proverbs:

“らいねんのことをいえばおにがわらう.

“いしのうえにもさんねん.

“とんびにあぶらあげをさらわれる.”

Then he paused, let out a disbelieving laugh and added, “Are you sure these are real?”

L’s head cocked to one side, his hair flopping adorably with the action. Wammy reflected fondly that he never could get the boy to maintain his personal appearance. “Why does Light-kun ask that?”

“Because,” Light looked like he didn’t know whether it was funny or distressing, but he finished giving his report, “if you apply the rule of taking the first letter to these proverbs, you can make one new one: Light. My name.” He frowned at L. “This isn’t some bad joke, is it? Like fazing the new guy?”

L’s expression was unreadable as he said, “The kanji proverb talks of a lighthouse and how it is darker at its base. How things can be hard to see when you are to close to the Light.”

Light’s expression fell into a scowl. Defiant. “You think it’s a warning. About me.”

L said nothing.

“Kira can’t know who I am,” Light insisted. “I only just joined the investigation today!”

Still, L let the boy continue unimpeded.

“Or it’s just a coincidence,” Light said, visibly calming himself down. “Why would Kira give you my name?”

“Why, indeed,” L pushed.

Wammy could see Light struggling not to be pushed over the edge into anger. He held himself together admirably. His voice was a tight as he said, “Exactly. There’s no order to these messages. Kira could have meant for the coding to end at the three proverbs, or meant とらい rather than らいと. ‘Torai’ means a visitor from abroad – possibly a reference to you, L – or to try. Kira’s first words to you were that you needed to try harder, after all.”

“All excellent explanations, Light-kun,” L said, and Wammy could see the other shoe before it fell, “but there is an order to those messages. They clearly spell your name.”

“An order…?” Light processed that for a second. “You lied to me. This wasn’t a test of my skills – this was a test to see whether or not I’m Kira.”

L said nothing.

“You think I’m Kira?” Light looked bewildered, then understanding came over his face. “I even fit my own profile of Kira. Why didn’t I think of this before…?” Then further understanding seemed to come to Light because his expression grew angry. He sprang to his feet, pointing an accusing finger at L. “You showed your face to someone you think is Kira! Are you crazy?”

“If Light-kun is not Kira, I have nothing to fear,” L said challengingly. “Unless Light-kun has something to tell me? Should I be afraid?”

“No!” Light squeaked, a swift denial. “I would never hurt you! I want to work with you, not against you.” That seemed painfully honest. Wammy hadn’t thought the boy to be such a fan that the idea of being placed against L would hurt him.

L studied Light’s expression – open, pleading, angry but protective – and seemed to come to a conclusion. “Light-kun,” he said slowly, “I must apologise for my bad joke.”

“You- What?” Light was stumped, his accusatory finger drooping.

“My bad joke,” L explained, staring at Light. “I did not think you were Kira when I met you.”

“…oh.” Light deflated the rest of the way back into the couch. He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “I’m sorry I snapped at you, L. I was just worried about your safety. The world needs you – this task force needs you – I- you can’t just go around showing your face to every Kira suspect.”

Wammy couldn’t believe he was already agreeing with Light Yagami. L had said the boy was very agreeable but Wammy hadn’t believed-

“I don’t,” L said. “Besides, if you were Kira, you would have noticed that four of the messages were fake. But I guess you’re not smart enough to see that.”

Light twitched like he wanted very much to spring across the coffee table and strangle L, but he kept himself to a pleasant tone and a forced smile. “I did say up to seven of the messages were irrelevant.”

“But not fake,” L pointed out. “So, a point to me.”

Light was probably flinging insults at the detective internally, Wammy decided. He certainly looked like he was.

 

Light was going to kill L. Not literally, he hurried to clarify to himself. Just figuratively. In my imagination. Multiple times. He’d barely known L half a day and the detective had already burrowed his way under Light’s skin, taking up residence where the memory of him used to live. And then he had proceeded to poke, prod and otherwise stab at all of Light’s weak points systematically, looking for some sign that was he Kira. Like hell Light would give him the satisfaction.

It took all of Light’s not-inconsiderable willpower to restrain from wrestling L to the ground and torturing him with childhood torments – noogies and wet-willies came to mind – but he did it. He also refrained from verbally eviscerating the detective, though that was a near thing. It wouldn’t work, as he knew from Nightmarish experience, and it would just strain relationships within the Task Force. Light settled with tearing L apart – verbally and physically – in his head. It helped his smile be a little more genuine, to think that L had no idea he was really dealing with Kira.

Light had made sure to bring up the final teasing bit of information he’d sent to L in those messages – his own name. It was a bold move, to be sure, but Light was going full Fatal Attraction on this. Kira wouldn’t just give L his own name, so it should help to erase suspicions from Light. At the same time, to someone with L’s instincts, intelligence and paranoia, it would be a clear message to look closer at Light Yagami. Light trusted L to have seen it himself earlier, and judging by the detective’s lack of surprise, he had – but it never hurt to strut his stuff and show L his intelligence in fully decoding Kira’s message. He had no way of telling the fake messages apart from the real messages without having been the one who sent the messages – and L knew that. He was just using them as an excuse to poke the bear that was Kira; except Kira was no bear, not this time. He was Light Yagami. More a elephant than anything – gentle, powerful, unforgetting – okay, maybe he was taking his metaphor too far, but the point stood.

Light wouldn’t hurt L. Not a single punch or harsh word, not unless the detective had earned it. And taking fair investigatory stabs at a Kira suspect was not deserving of retribution. That didn’t mean that Light didn’t feel the desire to strike back at L, to give as good as he got, but Light could control himself, and his feelings and actions.

Well, I mean, I haven’t jumped his bones yet, Light thought with some amusement. I have perfect self-control. Kira would not have been able to resist – he would have taken what he wanted, like he always did. But that’s why that was a Nightmare and this is reality – I’m not a monster. I’m not that Kira. And I never will be.

And why would I want to be? Light’s gaze caught on the exposed collarbone at the neck of L’s shirt. His shirt had slipped along his shoulder a little as he was hurling accusations at Light. He found himself desiring to run his fingers along the bone, test its strength, write along the skin just what L was and what he could be. Kira never got to have L. But I will.

 

Light maintained his impeccable self-control all throughout the ‘revelation’ that L had conducted illegal surveillance on his house – “Fair enough,” Light had said, making sure to sound reluctant. “Kira had given him my name, after all. And Raye Penber was abducted shortly after following me. I would have spied on me too.” – and the way L kept dancing around the fact of Light’s less-than-perfect-straightness. If Sōichirō wasn’t right there, Light was sure L wouldn’t be holding back in the sarcasm-laden implications that Light was hiding Kira at the end of a rainbow like some demented leprechaun with a pot of gold. Light was grateful for his restraint, even though L was likely only holding back now because he thought he could use the information at a later date. The last thing Light needed to deal with right now was his father attempting to guilt him into being straight, on top of graduating, transitioning into university, and joining the Task Force, all while continuing his double-life as Kira.

Light was fully briefed on where the investigation generally was by the stroke of 8 p.m. He’d come to the conclusion that the investigation was in something of a tailspin – L was too focused on Light and hadn’t spent much, if any, time properly investigating other leads, while the others were chasing down one wild goose after another. Light hadn’t let himself pause as he skimmed the list of police officers they were investigating – Ko Hashimoto was on the list, but not flagged in any way – but he’d let himself pause when he heard they were still performing surveillance on Hana Kitamura. It had never occurred to him that they would keep investigating the young girl. It seemed patently obvious that she couldn’t be Kira. But then, Light supposed, stranger things have happened. Like prophetic visions about one’s future.

All things said, it seemed they would actually need his help. He would lead the investigation towards Hashimoto, and his plans would be back on track, regardless of Saito’s inconvenient existence. He was profiled as Tarou Saito and recorded as being in gaol awaiting trial. Light knew his name hadn’t been released to the press and to kill him now would lay the blame squarely at Light’s feet – but the temptation was there. He viscerally wanted the man to pay for his crimes and it would help to get him out of the potential witness pool to Light’s activities as Kira. Light couldn’t believe he was actually considering killing the man now to get it over and done with. Yet, here he was, considering it. It was probably because the man had shot him. Light would rather he pay Kira’s justice than face the courts, but he knew, logically, that he had little choice in the matter. He would have to take the witness stand against Saito to have him receive the harshest sentence possible – as would Honda, the poor receptionist who had nearly died at Saito’s hands – but that might actually help Light’s cause in proving he wasn’t Kira (to everyone but L).

Yet, when Light stood to leave – he did have school and cram school tomorrow after all, and he needed to sleep at least four hours between writing more in the Death Note and then – L stood too and physically blocked his exit. “L,” Light began, exasperated with the man after dealing with his accusations all afternoon, and rather wishing they could go back to that moment in the café before he’d officially known who L was.

“Ryuzaki,” L corrected him.

Light blinked, then remembered that, yes, he was supposed to be calling L that. “Ryuzaki,” he corrected course, trying not to be irritated any further, “I appreciate your desire to walk me home, but I assure you, I can manage just fine on my own.” It was the closest to a barb Light had let himself fling, but he had to admit he was feeling a little stung by the 180 L seemed to have taken in his approach to Light. He knew the detective was only making sure of Light’s intentions/innocence, but he wanted them to be close, closer even than they were when investigating the Yotsuba Group in his Nightmare… L seemed to want to push him away. Not cruelly, not yet, but he wasn’t letting his guard down. Not like he had in that brief dream-like moment when Light had reached for him across the table in the café-

Light realised he’d been subconsciously swaying into L’s personal space and stiffened. His father was right there across the room, for Justice’s sake! Just because Light was tired and stressed and excited and – Kira-damn it – attracted to L, didn’t mean he could disregard his years of caution.

“Light-kun does not need an escort,” L said simply, “because Light-kun is not going home.”

Light froze for a second, horrified, thinking that L meant to lock him away in a basement prison for six months to prove he was Kira with no notice – which would surely prove he was, in fact, Kira – before he realised that L couldn’t possibly mean that. He had yet had no reason to be pushed to violate someone’s human rights on such a basic level.

“What do you mean, Ryuzaki?” Light decided just to ask. It was pointless sometimes trying to guess where L was going with things.

“We’re working,” L said, like that explained things.

“Yes,” Light agreed. “But I have school tomorrow and I need sleep. I can’t help you catch Kira if I fail out of school, become homeless and starve to death.”

That got L to smile. “Light-kun is so dramatic. I wouldn’t let you starve.”

Light chuckled and clapped L on the shoulder. “Thanks, Ryuzaki, but let’s see how I do for myself first.”

Light stepped around L, hand turning on his shoulder, and was almost surprised when L let him. It caused him to hesitate for a second and L took advantage of that. Standing side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, L said to Light in English, quietly, “I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable, but I had to be sure. Can we…maybe…try again, tomorrow?”

Light cast L a sidelong curious look, then realised what the detective meant. “The café?” Light said, pitched so only L could hear him. “But we’re colleagues now.”

L’s dark grey eyes were powerful as storms as they met Light’s. “I trust we can work professionally together, regardless of anything else.”

Are you referring to us…or Kira?

It didn’t matter, Light decided as he tried to read L’s thoughts through his eyes. Light had no guarantees in this life, no promises of a third chance. If he lost L, he lost everything. He wasn’t prone to fear. He wasn’t afraid of pushing L too fast or too far. L could take anything he could dish out. He was half convinced the detective had loved him despite knowing he was Kira, despite knowing he would die soon at Light’s hand, in the Nightmare. As crazy as it sounded, Light thought it was possible. Now that he could acknowledge the depths of his own feelings for L, he was hopeful they could be returned.

Optimistic, Light let a soft smile grace his face. “I’ll come by tomorrow after cram school. We can get dinner before we work.” L returned his smile, something a little hesitant or disbelieving about it.

Light let his fingers brush tenderly along L’s shirt sleeve as he stepped away. “Goodnight, Ryuzaki.”

“Goodnight, Light-kun.”

Light bid his father and the rest of the Task Force goodnight and headed out the door. He didn’t dare look back to see what expression was on L’s face. He almost felt bad for how terribly he must be confusing L.

Almost.

Chapter Text

Sleeping with Ghosts

 

L had expected Naomi to be… less than pleased with his new approach to investigating Light Yagami. She’d been first-hand witness to L and Light’s sort-of-date and the only thing that stayed her tongue while Light was being introduced to the workings of the Task Force was her knowledge of Light’s desire to keep his sexuality a secret. As soon as Soichiro Yagami had been forced to admit he ought to go home too, following his son hours after the teenager left, Naomi materialised before L’s computer like some kind of banshee.

She was certainly screaming at him enough to be one.

“L Ryuzaki Watari,” she started with what L could only call a ‘mum tone’. Was she practicing?

“That’s not my name,” L mumbled unhelpfully. He seated on the lounge with his knees tucked up to his chest and his laptop balanced precariously upon that hill. His eyes were too close to the screen to be healthy but, hell, he was rich, he’d laser his eyes back into peak condition if he had to. (Sitting more than an inch away from the screen would negatively impact his deductive abilities so it was out of the question.) Naomi had her hands on her hips and a truly fearsome look of disapproval on her face as she stood before L. L experimented raising the laptop a bit to see if it helped to block out his view of her. It didn’t help. It just made her more pissed.

“Don’t start with me,” she lectured. L expected finger wagging any second now. “You’re seriously going to sit there and pretend like you aren’t trying to sleep with an underage boy whom you’ve been insisting is Kira for the past month?!”

L frowned. “I’m not pretending. I’m not trying to sleep with Light Yagami.”

“Of course you’re not,” Naomi rolled her eyes so hard they nearly rolled clear out of her skull. “Then what, exactly, was all that earlier at the cafe? In case you forgot, L, I was watching the whole thing live. I couldn’t pretend you and Light were platonically chatting if I tried.”

“Have you?” L said distractingly.

Naomi narrowed her eyes at him. “Have I what?”

“Tried,” L clarified. He closed his laptop and set it aside. If Naomi was going to roundhouse kick him, he’d rather not have his laptop suffer the consequences. “Have you tried pretending Light-kun’s feelings for me are platonic?” Naomi looked gobsmacked. “I have,” L wasn’t pouting, he wasn’t, “and it’s not working. Surely I am mistaken, but I am rarely wrong.”

“So your ego says Light is in love with you,” Naomi pressed.

L blinked owlishly at her. “Is he?”

Naomi growled, “What does it matter what Light Yagami feels for you? You’re the adult here, L, take responsibility. You flirted as hard as Light – hell, harder even. What do you have to say in your defence?”

“It seems unlikely Kira would be in love with L,” L explained. He saw the kick coming but didn’t dodge. He caught Naomi’s boot a hair’s breadth before it would have connected with his chest. She wasn’t trying to hurt him (or else he would be hurt) but L wasn’t in the mood to go flying over the backs of any furniture just now.

“Wait,” Naomi said, casually like her foot wasn’t trying to press into L’s larynx, “do you mean that because Light is Kira he can’t be in love with you, or that because Light is in love with you he can’t be Kira?”

“It seems a little early to be calling it love,” L hedged. He twisted his hands and upper torso in a synchronised move designed to throw Naomi off balance. She barely stumbled and had recovered by the time L could spring his own snapping kick attack on her. She expertly side-stepped the move and caught his leg, lowering her centre of gravity as she flipped him over and onto the ground, pinning him.

“L,” she said exasperatedly. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Tell me you’re joking, L.”

L didn’t have anything to say to that, partly because his pride was a little hurt at the easy defeat. He had been practicing Naomi’s signature fighting style of capoeira for years now and she was still better at it than him. How annoying.

Naomi huffed out something between a sigh and a laugh. “Well, at least I know you’re not dumb enough to actually do anything with Light.”

L pouted like Naomi had offended him by even suggesting he was unintelligent. “Of course not. Light knows I’m L. He no longer wants that kind of a relationship with me.” Naomi stepped off the detective and offered him a hand to help him up. He accepted and she tugged him to his bare feet.

“You really think Light isn’t Kira?” Naomi asked with something like hope in her eyes.

L didn’t really want to lie but how to explain his inexplicable feeling that the more innocent and perfect Light seemed, the more Kira-like he appeared? And yet when the teen was blushing and parrying all of L’s verbal spars, he seemed less like the profile L had built up for the serial killer and more like a lonely young man far too bright for the life he led.

Was it possible Light Yagami was Kira? Yes. The teenager had no solid alibis, at least until they knew for certain how Kira killed. Was it likely? Light did fit the profile and L had the same vaguely nauseous feeling around Light that he had once had around Beyond Birthday, many years before the man had ever turned to serial murder. L hadn’t thought Beyond capable – hadn’t wanted to – and look where that had got them all. Three unnecessarily gruesome, twisted, painful deaths. B had lost his will to remain sane after A’s suicide. It had been the trigger that was his undoing. L wondered grimly if Light Yagami didn’t have a trigger buried in his past somewhere, something that had awoken Kira.

Yes, Light Yagami could be and likely was Kira. That, or Kira was a fourteen-year-old girl. Still, Naomi had formed a friendship with Light Yagami. It wouldn’t do to blind her to the very real possibility Light would kill her one day. But she had figured out that B had been pretending to be L around her during the L.A. BB Murder Case; she would figure out if Light was lying to her too. L had to have faith in Naomi’s skills.

Aware he’d been silent for perhaps one thoughtful moment too long, L finally said, “Yes. Light Yagami is not Kira.”

Naomi didn’t look like she believed him. That was okay. L wouldn’t have believed himself either.

 

Ryuk was practically vibrating with excitement as he and Light returned home from the Task Force HQ. They were catching the train, which was still relatively populated so Light wouldn’t appreciate Ryuk talking to him, but Ryuk had waited for hours already; he couldn’t take it anymore!

The Shinigami burst out into laughter and poked insistently at Light’s shoulder. “Light-o, you did it! You got L right where you want him! He’s practically hanging off your every word!” He dissolved into more guffaws.

His human gave him a sidelong look, a smug smile forming on his lips. Despite it being extremely impolite and un-Japanese of him, Light tugged out his phone and pretended to place a call. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself, Ryuk,” he told the Shinigami. “It will only get more interesting from here.”

“Oh?” Ryuk was intrigued. Light always managed to come up with something new to surprise him.

Light nodded. “Ryuzaki has his suspicions about me, but it’s nothing he can prove. Oh that won’t stop him from trying, but to do that, he has to get evidence – which he can only get if he gets closer to me. He tried tricking me into admitting something today but failed spectacularly. He won’t give up but it seems he’s realised he’ll have to try a different tact. I…presented him with an alternative.”

Ryuk grinned with humour. “You mean that date? I was wondering if you’d lost your mind!”

Light glared at him. “I know; you barely shut up the whole drive to the HQ.” Ryuk tried to look innocent. Light wasn’t having it. “I’d cut you off from apples to show you how annoying it is to have your one request ignored, but I barely get to spend any time with you as is.” He sighed.

Ryuk wouldn’t ever admit it, but he missed their gaming sessions too.

“You’ll make L yours soon and then you can get him to take down the cameras,” Ryuk suggested.

Light gave him that look that said Ryuk was being deliberately slow again. “He said he already has – not that I believe him. If you check when we get home, and there are no more cameras or bugs, we can play a round of Mario Party. What do you say?”

Ryuk grinned and gave Light an over-the-top thumbs up.

 

Light supposed he should be grateful that Misa had come to him rather than simply starting to slaughter anyone who opposed Kira like she had the first time. He found it hard to feel anything even approaching gratitude that she was back in his life, however. It wasn’t that she was an inherently bad person, it was just that she made Light’s life intolerably bad.

Like she was doing right now, sitting on his bed in his bedroom in his house where his mother and sister lived. Yamamoto was sitting in Light’s desk chair, a Death Note on Light’s desk in plain sight.

Light had had a long day, between his university entrance exam, meeting L in person, and joining the Task Force designed to catch him. He wanted to write in his Death Note/write his fanfiction (dependant on the state of the surveillance), maybe play a game with Ryuk, and get some thrice-damned sleep – not deal with these two nutjobs!

But Light forced a smile onto his face, hopefully covering up his instinctive grimace at seeing Misa on a bed, and asked politely, “Yamamoto, Misa-san, what are you doing here so late?”

“Study date,” Misa chirped happily.

“Uh-huh.” Light crossed his arms and levelled what had, in his Nightmare, been an effective quailing stare at the model. “You don’t go to university. And Yamamoto finished his exams today. You need a better cover story.”

“Oh,” Misa said with a careless smile. “Oopsie?”

Light had to remind himself that she was not only innocent in this timeline, she likely had two Shinigami protecting her, and so he really shouldn’t kill her. Yamamoto, on the other hand…

Light turned his glare on his oldest friend. “You really couldn’t stay away?”

Yamamoto glared back at Light, unquailed. Light was losing his touch.

“You disappeared after the entrance exam. We were worried.”

Light blinked once in surprise, then remembered that of course Yamamoto would notice if he skipped out on their post-exam fast-food party. It was a two-person event and an old tradition of theirs – one they hadn’t had since Light’s dad had broken them up. But Yamamoto had been texting Light non-stop since their meeting in the park two weeks ago and had suggested they resume the tradition. Light hadn’t exactly agreed to go, but he hadn’t outright disagreed either. He mostly wanted to avoid Misa, who was bound to turn up if he went anywhere with Yamamoto. He should have realised that Yamamoto would assume Light would come – Light always used to do what Yamamoto wanted, back when they were together and even before that when they were just friends.

Now they were de facto partners in crime – that Death Note on Light’s desk proved definitively that his suspicions were correct; Misa and Yamamoto had access to at least one Death Note, they knew he was Kira and they wanted to join him. All that double-speak in the park hadn’t been for nothing after all.

Light might actually strangle them with his bare hands though, if there was still any surveillance on his house. If L saw something with DEATH NOTE printed boldly on the face, the game was up. Light may as well murder the two idiots on camera since he’d be getting the death penalty regardless.

All he could do was stall until Ryuk came back to report if the surveillance had been removed, and pray to a God he didn’t believe in for small mercies.

“Sorry,” Light apologised to Yamamoto. He gave the teen his best apologetic look. “I got caught up – had an impromptu job interview.”

Yamamoto visibly computed that for a second before guessing at Light’s implied meaning. Light could see when he realised that he meant with the Kira Task Force. “How did it go?”

“Great,” Light said, still blocking the doorway. If Ryuk told him there were still cameras in his room, he would lock the door behind him, head over to the Death Note, and teach Yamamoto and Misa a lesson in patience. A long, slow death would do the trick nicely. “My new boss thinks I’m a real good guy.” Perhaps not Light’s subtlest line, but he was either on candid camera or there was no surveillance so either way he didn’t really have to give a shit.

“That’s great news!” Misa gushed. She crawled across the bedspread to get a little closer to Light. The way she moved, on all fours, in her corset and frilly skirt, meant Light was getting quite the show of her blessings and if he’d been a straighter man, he might have cared. “So you got the job?” She sat back on her haunches. Her blonde ponytails bounced in a manner someone who knew her less than Light might call sweet.

“Yes,” Light answered. “I started today. That’s where I was all afternoon. I’m sorry I didn’t text you, Yamamoto.”

Yamamoto gave him a salacious grin. “I’m sure I can find some way to forgive you.”

Light would never surrender decorum to hurl his messenger bag at Yamamoto but Justice did he want to. “Thank you,” he said instead.

Finally, Ryuk floated through a wall to report to Light. “Good news, Light-o! I couldn’t find any more of those little metal things-” He froze mid-wall and mid-sentence, staring bug-eyed with horror at something only he could see. Light tracked the direction of his gaze to the empty space in the middle of Light’s room where Light had to assume one or two more Shinigami existed beyond his scope of view. While it was obvious neither Yamamoto or Misa could see Ryuk, their Shinigami could and were evidently reacting to Ryuk’s appearance, judging from the way Misa and Yamamoto were suddenly paying attention to the same empty space as Ryuk.

Light sighed internally. He could probably bump both Rem and Gelus off through entrapping them into saving Misa – but he really, really didn’t want to go down that path again. He wasn’t even sure who he could get them to kill to save Misa that wasn’t an innocent. Hopefully, since Misa seemed to be holding onto her sanity this time, he wouldn’t have to deal with any of that.

“Wait!” Ryuk suddenly burst out. “Don’t tell-” He was cut off, likely by the other Shinigami, and shot Light a guilty look.

Oh great, Light thought sardonically. Now they’re telling those two idiots about Ryuk. Fantastic. I’m having just the best day.

At least Ryuk said there were no more cameras or bugs. Although it wasn’t ideal to rely on the word of such an unreliable Shinigami, Light didn’t have much choice. Especially not with two potential massive pains in the ass seated before him and another two hidden from view.

“It’s okay, Ryuk,” Light told his Shinigami. He stepped into his room and closed his bedroom door. He locked it so his mother or Sayu couldn’t burst in unexpectedly. But the room wasn’t soundproof so they would have to keep the conversation to a reasonable volume. Which was a nice excuse for Light to act completely unaffected when he first sees Rem and Gelus. It would add to his aloof, powerful Godly factor.

Misa perked up at that. “That’s the name of your Shinigami?”

So much for subtly, Light thought longingly. “Yes. And yours is…?”

“Gelus,” Misa answered. Light did not visibly react to that, maintaining his cool expression. There was one Death Note and therefore potentially just the one Shinigami. No Rem would be a big relief.

But since when was Light that lucky?

“And Yama-chan’s is Rem,” Misa finished.

That confirmed Light was in the worst-case scenario. Two Death Notes, two Shinigami’s, and one of them belonging to Yamamoto. He was starting to think he should have stayed in bed this morning.

Settling himself in for the long haul mentally, Light greeted the ‘empty’ room. “It’s nice to meet you, Gelus and Rem. My name is Light Yagami…but you already knew that. It would be nice to be able to see you, if you don’t mind terribly?” He held out his hand for the Death Note.

Yamamoto immediately made to pick up the Death Note to give to Light then froze stiff as, Light can only assume, one of the Shinigami told him to stop. Misa blew a raspberry, possibly at the same Shinigami, and hopped off the bed. She scooped up the Death Note and skipped over to Light. “Here you are,” she chirped and plopped the unassuming black book into Light’s waiting palm.

Immediately Light was greeted to the sight of Rem towering over Yamamoto. She looked worried; not nearly as worried as she had been in his Nightmare before he got her to commit suicide, but worried enough. Light wondered why. He was not nearly as scary in this life.

Well, he didn’t think he was. Was he scarier than Kira? He dismissed the thought as now was not the time to think about that.

Light made sure his eyes widened enough to convey awe at seeing a new Shinigami, but not so wide he looked fearful. His fingers curled around the spine of the Death Note – Yamamoto’s Death Note, and good Justice wasn’t that a mind-fuck – and he offered Misa a tight smile. “Thank you, Misa-san. Is this Gelus?” He deliberately asked after the incorrect Death God.

“No, silly,” Misa grinned at Light. “That’s Rem. She’s awesome.” Light blinked. He recognised that starry-eyed look – from how Misa used to look at Nightmare-Kira. She’s in love with a Shinigami?? …Is it because she doesn’t have me to obsess over? Misa knew from the start who Kira was and that Kira was very much not interested in her particular set of assets, so while she obviously still supported him, she wasn’t convincing herself that an unhealthy obsession with him was love. Light wondered, a little nauseous yet awed at the thought, whether Misa was in love with only Rem, and how that worked, and if Gelus knew and was jealous. A thought only made funnier by the fact that Gelus and jealous were pronounced the same.

“Oh.” Light sounded as surprised as he was, though everyone in the room would take it for a different reason than it was. They thought he was shocked at seeing a Shinigami – he was shocked at the idea of what someone with Misa’s determination about love could do to one. “Nice to meet you, Rem,” he said, somewhat weakly.

“Light Yagami,” Rem growled, in the same deep, bone-chilling voice he remembered her having. “I can’t say the same.”

Light pretended to look hurt by that. “You don’t agree with what I’m doing?”

“No,” she said bluntly. “You are a naïve fool to think you can change this broken, rotting world.”

Light felt the urge to snap back that the Shinigami world was hardly a paradise – and where the hell did that come from? He knew nothing of the Shinigami world, no more than what Ryuk had told him. Light knew they didn’t have apples, and that they had a king, and…that was about it.

“I’m an optimist,” Light retorted. “If no-one tries to change the world, the world will never change.”

Rem’s one yellow eye looked vaguely impressed by Light’s statement. He’d forgotten she was a reasonable Shinigami when she wasn’t going psycho trying to protect the suicidal lemming that was Misa Amane.

“Where’s Gelus?” Light asked after a moment. Yamamoto pointed a tentative finger at some empty space near Light’s bed, his eyes flickering repeatedly back to Rem to check whether the Shinigami disapproved of what he was doing. She must be threatening him, Light concluded with wry amusement.

“Oh, silly me!” Misa bonked herself in the head. Light wanted to tell her not to – she needed those brain cells. “I forgot my Notebook!” She proceeded to produce her Death Note from – somewhere. Apparently her corset had layers. Huh. Light was actually, kind of, a little bit, impressed.

“Misa, wait-” Rem tried to still the girl, a hand even extending like she could physically stop her. But, safely out of reach, Misa handed Light the second Death Note like it was nothing.

“What?” she pouted over her shoulder at Rem. “He’s Kira. I trust him.”

Light was staring at the two Death Notes in his hand, hyperaware that neither Rem nor Gelus should have a single other Death Note between them. There was nothing and no-one that could stop him if he wrote down Misa Amane and Sasaki Yamamoto in a Death Note. He would automatically take possession of the Death Note’s as he was holding them, thereby tying Rem and Gelus to him. They would hate him, and likely conspire to kill him, but there was little they could do apart from try to convince Ryuk to kill Light. And Light was confident he could keep Ryuk onside. He could eliminate his only weaknesses in one fell swoop – there wouldn’t be a single remaining obstacle in his way. He could take his time in converting L to Kira-ism. He could be careful without worrying about outside interference. All that was 8 kanji away-

Light’s blood-red gaze swept up from the Death Notes only to falter and fade to brown as it settled upon the small, squat form of Gelus. He was half-bone and half-green-skin, stitched together like a doll. His expression was oddly gentle for what Light had come to expect from a Shinigami. He was looking at Misa with such sad fondness-

All Light could picture was L’s face, turned up in the rain to hide his tears.

Any thoughts of pre-emptively killing Misa or Yamamoto fled his mind, leaving Light feeling hollow. He could chalk the ease and speed of the murderous fantasy up to exhaustion – but he knew he was lying to himself. He’d been tireder before without thinking such things. His gaze fell back to the Death Notes in his hands, and it occurred to him for the first time to wonder if they affected him more than he cared to admit. The rush of power that had flooded his intellect as he thought of what he could do to the world with three Death Notes was overwhelming. If he didn’t have six years of experience dealing with the things, he was sure he would never have noticed.

“Gelus,” Light said in a voice strained with the sudden 180 his emotions had taken. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

The small Shinigami stitched mouth turned up at the ends. “Likewise, Kira,” he rattled. “You won’t hurt Misa, will you?”

Light sucked in a breath, feeling a lot a bit gutted by the long, emotional day. “I won’t,” he promised.

“Thank you,” Gelus said. “I wouldn’t want to hurt you. I like you.”

Light was officially too weirded out and just done with this day. First, he nearly kisses L and now a Shinigami was confessing to him? “Thank you, but I can’t return your feelings,” Light said on auto-pilot, the phrase well-trained in him from years of turning down high school girls.

That sent everyone in the room into peals of laughter. Light glanced around, irked, then realised belatedly that he’d misinterpreted Gelus’ remark. Light flushed with embarrassment and anger, and pressed the Death Notes into Misa’s chest with a little more force than necessary as he stormed by and threw himself onto his bed. He sat there with folded arms and a haughty look on his face until the three Shinigami and two humans had calmed down.

 

Light was tired of these motherfucking Shinigami in his motherfucking bedroom. And that went double for his two ex’s (though one of them didn’t know she was an ex). They had invaded his space and were all playing Mario Party without him. Yamamoto was also sitting out, opting to lean against the side of Light’s bed nearest Light’s legs. It was a little too intimate for Light’s tastes – and felt a little uncomfortably like he was cheating on L; not that he and Yamamoto were doing anything, and besides he wasn’t even dating L in the first place! – but every time he moved away, Yamamoto soon found an excuse to follow. Light had given up after the first half hour. He collapsed back onto his bed and stared at his ceiling in despair.

Misa, Gelus, Rem and Ryuk were having a ball. After they’d stopped laughing at Light’s expense – and Light had stopped repeating to himself like a broken record that it was only fools who killed their followers for little mistakes or slights – Light had retrieved his tiny slip of Death note from his wallet and pressed it into Misa’s and Yamamoto’s hands so they could see Ryuk. It was too dangerous to keep a piece of the Death Note on his person like that, now that L was in the picture for real, so Light would have to burn it to ash as soon as possible. He’d already spent the afternoon fending off L’s attempts at pickpocketing, successful in warding him off only thanks to months of remembered practice.

Now, most of Light’s adopted strays were playing video games. He supposed there were worse ways to butter them up. Rem, despite complaining bitterly about getting dragged into playing in the first place by Misa, was winning by lightyears and actually seemed to be enjoying the game despite herself. Gelus and Ryuk were having a fair go for second place, and Light wasn’t actually sure Misa knew how to play, she was doing so poorly. But she was having fun, teasing her Shinigami and his as they played.

Light wasn’t sure when his life had become this, but he feared there was no escaping it now. The four of them weren’t loud per se, but they were irritating when all Light wanted to do was sleep. Yamamoto was dozing away at his feet, head lolling and glasses slowly sliding off of his nose, but Light couldn’t sleep with this many of his potential murderers in the same room as him. He debated about writing in the Death Note to efficiently pass the time, but dismissed the idea as it was likely to only encourage Misa.

 

It was 2 in the morning by the time Misa and the Shinigami had tired themselves out enough to feel sleepy. Light had gotten out of bed hours earlier when Yamamoto had attempted to initiate cuddling, so it was a simple matter to lift his tired bones from his desk chair and manoeuvre their slumping forms onto his mattress. Yamamoto was summarily buried beneath a pile of bodies. Light couldn’t feel much sympathy as his friend had brought them here and they were his thrice-damned responsibility.

Light had to be up in less than four hours for school anyway, so he resigned himself to a sleepless night. He knelt down by his bookcase and tugged out his hollow architectural encyclopedias. He made a little neat pile of all of his papers then put the encyclopedias back on the shelves. He took the papers to his desk and absently read a few of them, noting the names he’d already written and editing his mental list of who he had left in his backlog to kill.

The papers he held were normal papers – to anyone who didn’t know better. Were his family to touch them, they wouldn’t be able to see Ryuk. This was because Light had used his wells of patience to glue together two identical pieces of notebook paper over and around a sheet of paper from the Death Note. He didn’t have many of them, had only been preparing them sparingly in case he desperately needed them, but he’d had enough to see him through L’s surveillance. He would write fanfiction on note paper of the same kind as the ones hiding the Death Note pages, and occasionally incorporate a page containing the Death Note into the tale. When such a page was used, he would hold his fountain pen to the paper for the extra milliseconds needed to soak the ink through the normal paper and onto the Death Note paper below. This would let him write the names he needed. Since the Death Note wasn’t a stickler for formatting, he could take advantage of the kanji in Japanese names – and even Chinese names – to incorporate them in words that weren’t names but would, in short succession in the sentence, contain all the characters in the right order for the name. This method took time and was mind-bogglingly pernicketous but it worked to introduce new criminals into Kira’s kills. Light had a 23 day list slowly ticking away the whole month of January, but he’d been running out of time. He had been planning a way to get out to the abandoned warehouse where his Death Note was stashed to update it if L didn’t stop watching him – it would look suspicious as hell, but Light figured he could cover it up by picking up some guy and going to a love hotel. Not that he wanted to, but he’d established his sexuality as his cover, and he hadn’t wanted to try to pretend with Yamamoto because he knew it would give the teenager the wrong idea. But one of the good things to come out of yesterday’s rollercoaster of situational twists and turns was L’s removal of the surveillance. That gave Light the freedom to resume writing in his room without the ruse of the fanfiction.

But now that he was looking over his stories, he found he’d grown inordinately fond of them over the past fortnight. It had been nice to stretch his creativity and imagination without the immediate threat of imminent death and horrific failure hovering over him like a guillotine. He’d written a number of styles of stories, with a variety of characters. It was all so queer it was making rainbows look dull and RuPaul look straight in comparison. Light was rather proud of it, if he was being honest. L wouldn’t care and would read it all regardless of what Light wrote, but most of Light’s content would be enough to make the predominately straight people investigating him uncomfortable enough that they wouldn’t think to or want to look for names of victims buried in the writing.

Light would be surprised if L hadn’t already dug through the works and pulled out the names. Light had made sure to include the names of criminals he had no intent of dealing justice to – at least not for a long time – with the same pattern and variety, as well as quite a number of made up names, just to cloud the evidence somewhat. It had been harder in his English works to include the names of criminals because Western names were typically derived from out-dated spellings of words, sometimes out of use by thousands of years, but he’d managed.

Light thought it might be nice to try his hand at writing without the pressure to work, but in the same moment he worried that it was the pressure he had been enjoying. It was mentally stimulating, a difficult task that required his full concentration, but he didn’t want that to be the reason he enjoyed it.

…He might be partially using his writing as a metaphor for L, but his point stood.

Well, only one way to find out, Light told himself and picked up a pen. He shuffled through to a blank sheet of normal paper, took a deep breath, and set his pen to paper.

Chapter Text

What The Dawn Brings With It

 

Light was delighted to conclude, as the first rays of sunlight warmed his face, that, yes, he did indeed enjoy writing for the sake of writing. It was frivolous, undeniably so especially when he really ought to have spent his night cleansing the world – but… it was…nice. It helped settle in him the worry that he might only be attracted to the challenge of L and not the man himself. Reassured of his actual, rather terrifyingly deep as he was discovering, feelings for L, Light felt calmer than he had since he’d awoken from his Nightmare. He felt sure that, where Kira’s hate had failed, Light’s love would succeed. He did not hate the scum of humanity; he loved the good in it. He did not hate every waking moment of his existence; he had things he loved to do, purpose. He did not hate L and everything he refused to acknowledge the detective made him feel; he loved L for being the smart, strange man that he was. He loved him for how he’d never quite given up on Light Yagami even when faced with Kira’s hate. He loved him for how he was willing to take a chance on Light in the here and now – and how he looked at Light and saw him for all his flaws and found him all the more interesting for them. Light didn’t have to be perfect for L. He’d never had that before, he reflected quietly, eyes trained on the rising sun. His parents expected nothing less than perfection, as did his teachers. Yamamoto had expected Light to be perfect for him. In his Nightmare, he’d watched as he’d lived his life to its bitter end and never escaped the need to be perfect.

Now, with all the free life experience under his belt, Light was wise enough to admit to himself that, while he didn’t want to stop being perfect, per se, he did want to be able to be himself sometimes, with no expectations; to just…be Light. He had faith that L would want that for him too. He had in the Nightmare, and while that was likely because he’d rather have had Light Yagami back instead of Kira, it was the thought that counted.

 

Light had to leave for school at the crack of dawn, as did Yamamoto. So that meant Light woke his squatters up, with more than a little vindictive glee, after they’d had only four hours of sleep. Which was what Light would have liked, but the steadily darkening bags under his eyes demonstrated how little Light got what he liked.

“Rise and shine,” the self-proclaimed God of Justice declared loudly, and summarily upturned a bag of apples over the sleeping pile of bodies. Ryuk didn’t even wake up; he just started sleep-eating the fruit. But his long flailing limbs got the job done nicely, as Misa, Rem, Gelus and Yamamoto were forced from the bed.

Light smirked down at them as they collectively groaned. “Glad to see you’re all up,” he snipped. “Breakfast is downstairs in 10 minutes. I expect all visible beings to attend. Invisible beings can stay up here and will be brought breakfast in bed.”

Misa pouted fiercely, the effect somewhat ruined by her sleep-smeared make-up and mussed hair. “No fair, Light! Why don’t I get breakfast in bed? Don’t you love me?” She blinked her big blue eyes at Light, like that would help her cause.

Light snorted a laugh out through his nose. “No,” he shot her down. “Now get downstairs and be on your best behaviour for my family.” Misa and Yamamoto had started to rise from the floor but paused at Light’s icy tone. “One word about Kira from either of you, and it won’t just be sleep that you’re missing.”

Yamamoto laughed at the threat, clearly not believing Light. He scooped his glasses up from the floor – they had escaped being crushed by invisible limbs through some miracle – and placed them on his nose as he walked by Light. “Good morning to you too, Light,” Yamamoto said and ducked his head in swiftly to peck a kiss on Light’s cheek before Light could react. Yamamoto continued on his way to do his morning ablutions like nothing had happened, but Light’s face was turning red.

Misa cocked her head to the side as she studied Light, still half-asleep and all the more lucid for it. “Are you angry or embarrassed?” she asked curiously.

Light glared at her. “You might want to wash your face before you go downstairs and ruin my sister’s image of you.” Kira turned on his heel and stalked out the door,

Misa poked at her own cheek and looked at Rem and Gelus, both of whom had watched the whole exchange with amusement. “What’s wrong with my face?”

 

Sayu Yagami was used to being the least impressive child. Her grades were average to below average and she held no illusions about ever catching up to her brother in academic achievements. But what she lacked in that arena, she more than made up for with experience and skill in other areas. They weren’t things her parents appreciated – they had decided long ago that she was adorable and that’s what they would praise her for – but her big brother had always noticed and complimented her.

Sayu’s talents lay in people. She made friends as easy as breathing, and she could usually judge people accurately just from a first impression. She had helped many a friend through the highs and lows of relationships, and she was always kind and tactful about it.

When Light had broken up with his one and only romantic relationship – Yamamoto – Sayu had been the only person he would even come close to talking about it with. He never said much, beyond explaining why he thought their parents hadn’t approved, and Sayu had been too young at the time to articulate much to him about her feeling that their mum and dad were more worried about the narcissistic, controlling aspects of Yamamoto than his gender, but in the time since, she was sure Light would have figured that out for himself. He wasn’t open about being gay, but then few teenagers would be, and Sayu was ready with an arsenal of rainbow-themed apparel to support her brother when he did feel ready to come out.

But Light had had his ex and that ex’s girlfriend over in his room with the door locked for a whole night. She wasn’t going to let him get away with it without excessive teasing, that was just a sibling rule.

“Good morning, big brother!” Sayu directed a shit-eating grin at Light as he stomped into the dining room. He froze mid-step like he’d just realised his mistake and was regretting everything in his life that had led him to this point. The scowl he’d been wearing transformed instantly into worry.

“Sayu-” he tried to pre-empt her.

“Did you have a good time last night?” Sayu steam-rolled over him. To emphasize her point, she wagged her eyebrows at him. Light went pale.

“Sayu,” he tried to say.

“It was so nice of Yamamoto-kun and Misa-chan to come over and share some time with you,” Sayu continued primly. “Normally they say three’s a crowd, but I think there are three-seater bicycles for a reason-”

“Sayu!” Light squeaked. His face was swiftly turning red. He buried it in his hands and groaned into his palms, “That’s just- No. Just no.”

Sayu laughed at her brother’s embarrassment. She patted the chair beside her invitingly. “Sorry,” she said unrepentantly. “I made you some granola. I thought you’d be tired after last night and could do with the energy.”

Light turned his eyes ceiling-ward and asked long-sufferingly, “Why? Why me?”

Just then, their mother entered the room, a tray of pancakes into her hands. She looked between her children, eyes sparkling. “Did I miss something?”

“No,” Light and Sayu answered in sync. They shot each other a look that said they weren’t finished, but Sayu’s big brother sat down beside her and she nudged him gently with her shoulder to show she meant nothing by it. The way Light smiled at her, fond and exasperated, let her know he understood.

Great. That meant her plan to get Matsuda in on teasing Light with her was a-go.

 

L was fuming. He’d taken the surveillance on Light Yagami down and within one night – one night! – the boy had already had a ‘sleep over’ with his one friend and that friend’s girlfriend. L had this information second-hand from Matsuda since he apparently talked with Light’s sister Sayu on social media and she was, quote, ‘never going to let Light live it down’. L would never live it down! Light Yagami had leapt on the opportunity L gave him to hold court with his disciples and now Kira would have conspired to make even more sinister plans against L!

…or Light Yagami was simply celebrating his newfound freedom by inviting his close friends over for fun. Or celebrating the end of his biggest university entrance exam. The teen was taking exams for multiple universities, though L didn’t see why since it was obvious Light would get into his first choice, To-Oh. At any rate, it seemed exceedingly likely this was not a cunning move by Kira to undermine the trust L was placing in Light Yagami.

Or it was, and L would likely not live to regret it.

L sighed and popped a chocolate-covered strawberry into his mouth. He couldn’t reconcile the disparate information he had about Light Yagami. The teen continued to be a mystery. L wasn’t truly frustrated by this fact. He was just…unused to it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been faced with a mystery that took longer than a week, at most, to solve. Maybe when he’d still been in nappies?

Light Yagami and Kira were two of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the world. They were right up there with the Zodiac killer and the Highway of Tears in Canada. And those cases were either too old or had too many separate perpetrators to solve satisfactorily. Plus L was working on them in his spare time. Light and Kira, on the other hand, were an immediate problem. The Kira case had an expiration date. Not from any statutory limitations on his crimes, but instead from the soul of humanity. Every day, more and more people turned to Kira’s way of thinking. Mercy was swiftly becoming a thing of the past. People who believed themselves in the right were equally as capable of cruel things as those who knew they weren’t. In fact, they were often more-so. One did not have to look past witch-hunts to see the depths of human capability to believe in guilty until proven innocent.

L recalled a case in England where an old lady, bitter and disliked by the townsfolk as she was, was accused of being a witch and summarily burned. There was no proof that she was a witch, just hearsay from the very people who hated her. But since it was the whole town that had in it for her, they were an echo chamber that provided their own justifications for her death at their hands.

It would end up this way in Kira’s world. L had no doubt about that. Kira was not building the philosophical foundations needed to change the world for the better. He was either unaware that he needed to do so, incapable of doing so, or thought he could simply coerce the world into improving. If L was correct that Kira was Light Yagami, it seemed likely his reasoning was all three.

This was why L could not let himself think of Light as anything other than a suspect. He must maintain a professional distance, remain objective, and be able to stop Kira from dragging human philosophical progress back five hundred years.

Which was apparently easier said than done. L couldn’t recall the last time he had such an intriguing puzzle as Light Yagami and Kira, and he likewise couldn’t recall the last time someone had made him feel like Light Yagami made him feel. He’d spent half a day with Light and had found him as attractive as sugar. The teenager could keep up with L. He wasn’t tripped up by anything L said or tried to trick him into saying. He’d naturally been offended by some of the things L had said or implied about him, but he’d yet to react vengefully over it.

L kind of wanted to see him trip, break, be less than perfect. It made him want to spend more time with Light, curious to see what the young man would do.

All of that reasoning paled in comparison to the simple fact that while L had cleared Light Yagami as far as the Task Force were concerned, he would be continuing his investigation of Light solo. L would have to spend more time with Light Yagami, regardless of whether L sort of felt like fleeing into the mountains and becoming a full-time hermit to avoid thinking about the attraction intrigue he felt towards Light.

Light would be coming to the HQ after school, for what neither he nor L was calling a date but was obviously a date. L could admit at least that to himself. He was going on a date with a man who, in all likelihood, wanted him dead.

Well, at least life would be less boring with Light Yagami around.

 

Light had carted Misa and her Shinigami off to the train station on his way to school. Getting Rem and Gelus fed had been a process – apparently they’d never tried pancakes before, and had sworn fealty to his mother after tasting them – and getting Misa to leave the house was a whole other level of teeth-pulling, but Light had managed to clear them out and make it to school on time. Barely. But let it never be said that Light Yagami couldn’t manage his time well.

Yamamoto had hung off his side like a limpet the whole time, making Light question why he continued to put up with him – although that may be the lack of sleep talking. Light badly wanted a nap.

Sayu had been excited to talk with Misa, claiming the model to be one of her favourite up-and-coming idols, and had tried to make small talk with Yamamoto, who ignored her much as he would his own younger sibling. Light hadn’t appreciated the teasing, but he’d appreciated Sayu doing her best to make the two feel at home. Light was too tired and too grumpy with Misa and Yamamoto to put in the effort he knew he needed to in order to maintain their affections and keep them doing what he wanted, so if Sayu could pick up some of the slack, he really appreciated it.

He’d missed his father that morning – apparently Sōichirō had left almost as soon as he’d come – but otherwise, it had been a nice morning. School was less pleasant; Light was tired enough that he spent the whole day zoned out, fantasizing about what he might say and do with L when he saw him later, which okay, that was pleasant, but his teachers picking on him for answers the whole day wasn’t. And Yamamoto following him around even more than he had the last two weeks wasn’t. Cram school wasn’t much better, but at least it was over fast. Light had told his mother and sister that he would be going to help dad at work that night, so they shouldn’t expect him home for dinner. And while that was true from a certain point of view, Light had carefully neglected to mention he was going out for dinner with his new boss/the detective who was trying to put him away for life.

Light shuddered at the teasing he’d receive if he mentioned he was dating L to Sayu.

I’m dating L. What a weird thought. Huh.

Cram school had had the benefit of helping Light shake Yamamoto, so he could make his way freely to the Task Force HQ. He’d had plenty of time to daydream about his date with L. Where they would go, what they would eat – Light had settled on a dog café he knew Sayu liked. He’d been there once with her in his Nightmare and it had been fun. Well, as much fun as the Nightmare-version of himself ever had after he’d killed L. It had taken place a couple years in the future from now, but a quick google on his phone showed the café had been open this far back. They had their menu online and it was much the same as it would be. He knew L would love the little Bichon Frise styled cupcakes. Okay, so maybe Light was planning on buttering L up with buttermilk cupcakes, but it was his least devious plan featuring L to date, so he cut himself some slack.

Light had been entered into the HQ building’s security yesterday, so he made it up to the main investigation room with no trouble. Which was probably a good thing because he was swaying on his feet lightly from sleep deprivation.

“Light!” Matsuda called excitedly when he spotted the teen. He bounded over to Light like some human-sized rabbit. “You look tired! Here, have a triangle pie!” He shoved a triangular shaped apple pie into Light’s unsuspecting hands.

Light blinked down at the pastry for a second, thrown. “Thank you, Matsuda-san?”

“No worries, Light,” Matsuda said brightly. “I’d say I’ve got your back, but you’ve already got that covered. Your front too.”

That was possibly the least subtle thing Matsuda could have said without shouting from the rooftops about Light’s alleged ménage-à-trois. Light felt existential horror settle over him as he realised that between Sayu and Matsuda, there would be no escape. “Sayu told you, didn’t she,” Light stated.

Matsuda tried to look innocent. Light resolved to help him work on his innocent face. He’d never be able to go undercover like this.

“No,” Matsuda denied. Then he realised that confirmed he knew what Light was talking about and was therefore an inadvertent confession and tried to backtrack. “I mean, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Light. Could you please be more specific?”

Light gave Matsuda a ‘come on, really?’ look. “Yamamoto and Misa are just my friends,” Light said tiredly. He had a feeling he’d be saying that sentence a lot.

Especially since L materialised out of the ether behind Light. Who was this guy, Batman?

“What are you talking about, Light-kun, Matsuda-san?” L asked. Light’s bones attempted to jump out of his skin. He whipped around and glared at L.

“Don’t do that, Ryuzaki! You’ll give someone a heart attack!”

L grinned at Light as Light realised what he’d said and slammed a hand over his own mouth. “You know what,” Light grumbled into his hand. “I’m going home.”

L stopped Light with a gentle hand pressed against Light’s chest. Light looked down at L, the detective a little shorter than him due to his hunching. “Light-kun shouldn’t leave just because Matsuda-san’s stupidity might be catching.”

“Hey!” Matsuda protested.

L ignored him. He was staring at Light in his supposed-to-be-unnerving way. “We found a new lead on Kira,” L offered temptingly.

Light’s tired brain sluggishly began running the numbers over what new information L could have found on him in the last 24 hours.

“Oh?” he said. “That’s good news, Ryuzaki. What did you find?”

The look of mischief on L’s face clued Light in a millisecond before it happened just what kind of ‘new lead’ he meant.

L produced an A4 picture of Light, half-asleep at his own breakfast table, Yamamoto and Misa sharing a quick kiss just behind him. Their bodies framed his neatly, giving the illusion that he was a part of their little session. Yamamoto’s hand on his shoulder wasn’t helping matters either. It was obvious Sayu had snapped a shot with her phone’s camera when Light was at his most vulnerable. The traitor. Light didn’t even remember this happening; he’d been so bleary-eyed at the time. Oh he was going to figuratively kill his little sister when he got his hands on her!

Matsuda and L both fell into laughter at the horrified expression on Light’s face. They’d planned this together! Light would have been proud if he wasn’t so mad. “That’s- You-” Light sputtered angrily. “That proves nothing!” he settled on defending himself with. “It’s circumstantial at best, slanderous at worst, and you’re both awful people.”

That just caused the pair to laugh harder. Light couldn’t really maintain his anger – it was kind of funny – and his eyes sparkled with amusement despite his best attempts to maintain a scowl. He couldn’t outright tell L how proud he was that the man was treating Matsuda in a friendly manner – well, friendly by L’s standards, he’d still called him an idiot to his face – but he’d work it in sometime. Matsuda was a hard worker, loyal, very much a Hufflepuff, and brave too. All of that was typically overshadowed by the fact he was working with people who all had a good fifty IQ points on him, but Light had learned the hard way that intelligence wasn’t always a blessing and it didn’t necessarily make you smart.

“Okay, okay,” Naomi Misora said, coming to Light’s rescue. He shot her a grateful look. “You’ve had your fun. Now leave Light-san alone.”

“Thank you, Misora-san,” Light said appreciatively. “You have no idea what crazy ideas have gotten into these two’s heads.”

Naomi nodded sagely. “I’m sure you know all about what things can get into two heads at once, Light-san.”

Light’s jaw cracked against his shoes. “Misora-san!” he yelped, betrayed.

She gave him an unrepentant grin.

“I’m surrounded by traitors,” Light muttered, crossing his arms sullenly. He made sure to let it play as the joke it was. “I don’t know why I put up with any of you.”

“Because Light-kun loves us,” L suggested cheekily.

Light stole a glance at L, his playful, dopey grin and big, grey eyes, and thought, You have no idea, but said, “I don’t know if that’s true anymore after this act.”

“But, Light,” Matsuda chimed in, “you’re so good at loving multiple people, why stop now?”

L elbowed Matsuda in his side. “You ruined the joke, Matsuda-san. Now Light-kun knows what we’re talking about.”

“Like I didn’t know the entire time,” Light grumbled under his breath but just loud enough for L to hear.

Now the trio had finishing shaving years off of Light’s life through embarrassment, Matsuda limped dramatically away, probably to whine light-heartedly to Aizawa or Light’s father about how mean L was; Naomi clapped L on the shoulder and gave him a look Light could only liken to the sort of look Sōichirō might give to the first date Sayu brings home, before she told Light she’d see him later and returned to her work. Watari was nowhere to be seen, so Light deduced he was likely on Hana Watch for the time being.

That left Light and L. L stepped into Light’s personal space. “You didn’t deny you are Kira,” he said to Light.

Light met L’s searching gaze and asked simply, “Do I need to?”

Light wasn’t sure where exactly L stood in terms of suspicion on him. Did he still have a Kira percentage? L hadn’t said Light was cleared of suspicion; he just hadn’t denied it when Sōichirō had stated it. Light suddenly felt certain that L, at least, still considered him possibly Kira, even if he had the rest of the Task Force fooled. He wasn’t sure where he stood with Naomi Misora. He hadn’t known the woman for long, but he knew she was sharp as a whip, and that could prove to be a dangerous wild card. He’d have to keep a careful eye on her opinion of him.

For now, he had a much more familiar but equally formidable mind to deal with.

Would L lie and say Light was in the clear and he was just continuing his bad joke? Would he challenge Light and force him to deny he was Kira?

“Let’s get dinner,” L said, in English, effectively changing the subject.

Light searched his expression for a moment, trying to figure out what L was thinking. Maybe he hoped he could trick Light into defending himself unnecessarily which would be an indication of guilt? Well, that wasn’t happening.

“Right,” Light agreed pleasantly in English. “I have this great café in mind you’re going to die for.”

They left the building and met Watari in the underground garage. Light wondered distantly who was having ‘fun’ watching Hana Kitamura be exactly what she appeared to be. Watari was still dressed in his mysterious garb, which kind of hurt Light’s feelings a bit – he already knew Wammy’s name and face, it wasn’t like he needed to hide; not that Wammy knew that – but Light smiled at him and thanked him for giving them a lift. He gave Watari the address and they were off.

On a date. Their first date? Did yesterday count? Did today even count if they didn’t openly acknowledge this as something more than a friendly outing? Come to think of it, just like L was neither confirming nor denying his suspicions about Light Yagami’s secret identity as Kira, neither was he confirming or denying Light’s romantic advances. Did L actually want him? Was Light crazy for thinking he could? He was Kira and L was L.

The two mortal enemies were sitting side-by-side despite there being ample space in the limousine. They were nearly touching, just enough space between them for their hands to rest near one another’s on the plush seat. L’s feet were up on the seat, his knees tucked loosely up to his chest. He was nibbling on the thumbnail of his far hand and looked lost in thought, but also relaxed. If he did think Light was Kira, he wasn’t showing it.

Light didn’t dare take the detective’s hand – he was brave but not that foolish, thank you. He wouldn’t put his heart on the line, not like that, not so easily when L hadn’t given any indication that this thing between them was real. But it seemed he was thinking about wanting to hold L’s hand hard enough that L picked up on it, because the man slipped his pale fingers between Light’s.

A tiny breath of air punched out of Light’s chest, his heart switching into third gear, and his eyes felt tight – with tiredness, he told himself. Nothing more. He was just tired.

And holding L’s hand.

Light relaxed into the upholstery as a sappy smile worked its way onto his lips.

 

L didn’t know what to do, which was a rare feeling for the detective. Light Yagami continued to bring out new things in him, it seemed. For his prime Kira suspect had sat beside him in the limousine, let L hold his hand, and promptly fallen asleep. Light’s head had lolled onto L’s shoulder in the intervening minutes and the teen’s mouth was open slightly, his breath wisping in and out in a gentle snore. L had not expected Light ‘Dignity’ Yagami to fall asleep on him. It indicated two things. First, that the teenager must be exhausted. And second, that, for some unimaginable reason, he trusted L.

L couldn’t say he trusted Light in return. The fact that Light even trusted him was baffling. Putting aside the fact that Light knew L had suspected him of being Kira enough to illegally put 24 hour surveillance on him, which in itself implied L had likely seen Light in some…compromising moments, Light had barely known L for one day. L was a stranger to Light, while L knew more about Light Yagami than the young man could ever know. Why should Light trust any of that? Surely his admiration for the world-famous detective was not enough to have him drop his guard so swiftly and so thoroughly. For all Light knew, L was going to kidnap him and do unspeakable things to him.

L wouldn’t, but that was beside the point.

Light continued to doze peacefully on L’s shoulder, a tiny patch of drool starting to form on the white fabric. L’s heart did a perfect backwards somersault – 10 out of 10 from a panel of judges – as he watched Light’s nose scrunch up adorably. The teen sneezed, hard enough to whip his head back off of L and wake him up.

A pity, L decided. He was rather getting to like Light like that.

Light pulled a face at himself and rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand. He yawned and smiled sleepily at L.

…If this man was Kira, he was doing a damn good job pretending otherwise.

“L,” Light practically purred midway through a second yawn. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?” He was speaking his native Japanese.

L answered in kind. “Nothing for you to worry about, Light-kun. Go back to sleep.”

Light nodded weakly and curled back into L’s side.

L’s expression was half-awe, half-horror as he pressed the intercom button to speak with Wammy in the driver’s seat. “Watari, Light-kun fell asleep.”

There was a static crackle then L’s father-figure replied in his natural, kind, elderly voice, “I’ll take us on the scenic route, then.”

“Thank you, Watari,” L said. He settled in to watch Light’s sleeping face for any sign that the young man was the world’s most prolific serial killer.

 

Light came to slowly to the low murmur of voices. His subconscious mind recognised them as belonging to L and Watari and he concluded he must have dozed off in the investigation room. His nose itched so he raised his left hand to scratch it – only to miss the jangling weight of a handcuff around his wrist. Confused, Light pushed himself upright on the sofa – car seat? – he had been sleeping on. He quickly took stock of his surroundings – L’s limousine – and remembered he wasn’t under house arrest, chained to L and accused of being Kira.

He was Kira. Just not that Kira. …Or that Light Yagami.

That Light Yagami would never have survived the indignity of waking up to find he’d been using L’s shoulder as a pillow. This Light Yagami would have to make do with suffering some indignity.

“Good morning, Light-kun,” L smirked at him. The bastard. “Sleep well?”

Light could play that game. “Yes,” he offered the detective with a satisfied smirk of his own. “Thank you.”

“While I don’t imagine my shoulder to be particularly comfortable,” L said slowly, “you are welcome.”

Light turned his face away, suddenly finding the velvet carpet riveting.

“I’m sorry I fell asleep on you and ruined our d- dinner,” Light apologised to the floor. He wouldn’t say ‘date’, not until L did.

Light caught the reflection of L in the car window that betrayed the detective’s aborted move to touch Light. “You have nothing to be sorry for, Light Yagami,” L said, in English, his accent somehow making the words sound more sincere than they would have in his usual monotone approach to Japanese.

“Still.” Light made himself face L. He wasn’t the bravest person but he was no coward. They could have this talk in whatever language L wanted. “This wasn’t very good of me.”

L didn’t take the bait. “We’ll arrive at the café in seventeen minutes. You were only asleep for about an hour,” he reported.

“Oh.” Light breathed deeply once, in and out. He could do this.

Light reached for L’s hand, trying to will the movement to look normal and unaffected. It didn’t work, his nerves betraying him in a fine tremble of the limb, but L didn’t take advantage and use Light’s weakness to stab at Kira. L let Light place his hand in his and curled his long, pale fingers around Light’s so he couldn’t pull away. L moved in one fluid motion so that he was directly in front of Light, face tilted up into Light’s. For one thrilling, heart-stopping second, Light was sure L was going to kiss him – but then L booped him on the nose with one finger entirely nonsensically and Light was reminded who exactly he was dealing with.

“What is it?” Light asked, eyes crossing to get a better view of the finger hovering uncomfortably near his face.

“Let’s go eat sweets and play with dogs,” L replied.

Light was going to get emotional whiplash from all these subject changes.

“Okay, Ryuzaki,” Light agreed. L smiled his gaping, deliberately disconcerting smile and sat back in his seat. He looked down at his sneakers like they were gateways into hell.

Light sighed affectionately and slid down to his knees on the limousine floor. L looked surprised, saying, “Light-kun-” before Light hushed him.

“Don’t say anything, Ryuzaki, you’ll just make this uncomfortable,” Light instructed. He picked up the first of L’s shoes in one hand and held out the other in a silent bid for L to extend his leg. L’s legs tucked in closer to him if anything, and Light raised a challenging eyebrow at L.

L frowned at Light. “I don’t need you to put my shoes on for me.”

Light gave him a quelling look. “I’m not going to tie your laces for you, just give me your foot.”

“No,” L said stubbornly.

“Yes,” Light countered nonsensically, since that was apparently L’s theme of the night. “Give me your foot. I know you don’t like shoes.”

L, very slowly, with deliberate reluctance, let Light take his foot in hand. While Light set L’s foot to rest against his knee – he was kneeling like he was going to propose, which was wildly inappropriate for a first date – and set about gently manoeuvring the shoe onto L’s foot, L watched him. He was clearly looking for an answer to some unasked question, and when he couldn’t deduce it, he asked aloud, “How does Light-kun know I don’t like things on my feet?”

Light’s fingers hesitated fractionally in their work. “I didn’t say that,” Light clarified, not meeting L’s eyes. “And anyone can tell you don’t like shoes.” He did meet L’s eyes then, the hazel honest.

Light could tell L accepted that answer as logical but didn’t believe him anyway. Light put L’s other shoe on in silence. Once L’s shoes were on, Light met L’s gaze again, which had stared, unwavering, the whole time. “Ryuzaki?” Light asked uncertainly. “Are you okay?”

L’s grey eyes were troubled but his voice was steady as he answered, “I was just wondering why Light-kun was interested in someone like me.”

That statement plunged them headfirst into a conversation Light knew they were not ready for. But if he didn’t give L some honesty here and now, it was likely they wouldn’t last to the point where L was ready to accept the whole truth.

Light was still holding loosely onto one of L’s shoe-clad feet as he answered, “That’s a difficult question for a first date.” Light conceded the fight over admitting this was a date. L had as good as admitted this was something more than platonic; Light could admit to something too.

“I know,” L said. “That’s why I asked.”

Because it’s hard? Light mused. And if I run from something this hard, I don’t stand a chance with you. Okay, then.

“You interested me from the first moment I saw you,” Light confessed. “You weren’t like anyone else. I wanted to get to know you. And then you turned out to be who you are. That didn’t scare me. I was happy to know more about you. But in knowing more about you, I found out I knew less than I thought I did. That just makes me want to stay by your side longer, so I can continue to know you better.”

It was an honest answer without an iota of information L didn’t already know. That would have to do for now. Light hoped L would let that be enough for now.

L yanked his foot out of Light’s grip suddenly, and Light’s heart sunk. But before he could backtrack, he felt two hands on the sides of his head, tilting his face up, and saw L’s moving closer. This time Light held no expectations or predictions. L caught him entirely off-guard and by surprise.

L Lawliet kissed Light Yagami, once, tender and awkward, and said, “Me too.”

Chapter Text

Interlude: Kira

 

A long time ago, in a reality far, far away…

 

Kira had won. Against all the odds, against L of all people, he had won. God looked down upon his New World and rejoiced for soon there would be no more evil. The sacrifices he had made would not be in vain. He was victorious.

Yet his victory rung hollow.

He was bored.

Again.

Kira had defeated his mightiest foe and now there was nothing to do but clean up the streets. A long, arduous, easy task.

Kira had never had so much free time in his life.

 

Kira had sacrificed many upon the altar of the New World. Aside from the hordes of monsters, there were a few sacrifices that Kira chose not to dwell upon. Light Yagami was the first of those. L was the last.

Kira had sacrificed and sacrificed and now, he was alone.

Perhaps not as alone as he would like, however. There had been no point in killing Misa Amane after Rem’s death. Kira had kept her around as a memento of, if not a better time, than at least a more enjoyable one.

Misa had all but given up on Kira ever truly returning her feelings years ago. That didn’t stop her from pretending. Misa liked to pretend that things were better than they were. That she had achieved her goals and realised her dreams. In reality, she was a washed-up drunk and a trophy bride.

Kira did not pity her. He sympathised. It was sad to think how alike they were in their silent miseries. Kira had ostensibly achieved his goals and realised his dreams. The crime rate was down more than seventy percent across the globe. Seven billion people bowed before Kira’s rule. He liked to pretend that this was victory.

In reality, he was a lonely, embittered, self-made psychopath who had lived a double – then triple then quadruple then so many he’d lost track – life for so long he barely recalled who he was or why he had wanted the things he wanted.

In reality, he was bored. And, maybe, a little sad.

What time he had that wasn’t spent at the Kira Task Force Headquarters where he was busy failing to catch himself for going on three years now, was usually spent writing in the Death Note or moping around his apartment with Misa. Moping and killing were their shared hobbies.

So, when Sayu called Light up out of the blue one day to ask if she could see Light, Kira had no reason to say no. Yet, he did, at first, say no. Kira was aware of the misery and hardship that befell those around him. His father’s health was in rapid decline. Aizawa was in the middle of a messy divorce. Ide was in anger management therapy. Matsuda had still been unable to find a girlfriend. And Mogi was – well, Kira honestly didn’t know what Mogi did outside work. The man was a mystery.

But they were miserable, each and every one of them, and they had only ever touched a Death Note, not used it. Misa’s ghost-like existence was proof enough of the extent of the damage a Death Note could do. Kira was distantly aware he’d given up on himself. All he cared about was fixing the world. As long as he had that, he would cling to sanity with every last shred of his will. But he was aware he wasn’t quite all there anymore. He didn’t want Sayu to see him like that. Or potentially be exposed to the cursed existence of those who had touched a Death Note.

(Kira chose not to acknowledge the very real probability that the Death Note was nothing more than a weapon, and all the misery stemmed from him.)

So, just in case, he’d maintained a distance from his mother and his beloved sister. He missed Sayu. Looking back, he could see now that she had long been his only true friend. The one person in his corner. He’d sacrificed that along with Light Yagami. It did not do to dwell on the dream of getting it back.

However, when Sayu Yagami was determined about something, she would see it through. And, for whatever reason, now she had graduated high school, she wanted to see her big brother. And she wasn’t about to take ‘no’ for an answer.

Kira had Misa fielding Sayu’s increasingly insistent calls at home and Matsuda acting as a chatty firewall for the office. He’d turned Sayu down five times within a fortnight before he realised that she wasn’t about to stop calling. And his willpower when it came to saying no to his sister was negligible at best. He wouldn’t last long if he had to keep listening to her say how much she wanted to see him again. Sayu even turned up in person to the HQ and Kira had had to all but throw Matsuda at her and flee out the back door.

This went on for months.

Eventually, Kira came back to Misa’s apartment late one night, his polished-to-a-shine shoes scuffing despondently along the floor, to the sight of Sayu camping outside his front door. He’d asked Misa not to let her in if she turned up. He hadn’t expected Sayu to sit there for – How long had she been there?? He hadn’t come home in three days.

“Sayu,” he said, voice coloured with surprise (an emotion he wasn’t used to feeling anymore). “How long have you been there?”

He’d barely seen his sister in four years. And in that time she had grown from an adorkable tweenager into a beautiful young woman whose scowl apparently hadn’t changed a bit.

“Light!” she shouted, climbing to her feet. She nearly tripped over her bag in her haste to get to Kira. She latched onto his hand, her grip vicelike. “Where have you been? I’ve been trying to call you!”

The truth – that he was avoiding her like the plague – would only hurt her feelings. Wanting her to be happy was the main reason Kira had kept her at arms’ length. He had no choice but to lie. (But really, when did he ever tell the truth?)

“Sorry, Sayu,” he said with a sheepish smile. “I’ve been really busy.”

“For four years?” she cried, actual tears forming in her eyes.

Oh, hell.

“…Yes?” Kira internally cringed at himself.

Sayu’s lower lip jutted out far enough to catch rainwater. When she pouted, she pouted hard. “Light.” She sounded so damn sad, dammit all. “Don’t lie to me. Why don’t you talk to me anymore?”

Kira sighed and turned his hand so he was holding his sister’s in return. He squeezed her hand gently. “I have to catch Kira,” he said, letting some of his bone-weariness seep through in his tone. Enough to sound real, enough to garner sympathy. An old trick. “He killed- He killed Ryuzaki. You know that.”

A tear escaped Sayu’s eye and raced down her cheek. “Dad told us. Light, dad told us. You never came home long enough to.”

Kira had to avert his gaze, the unfamiliar burn of guilt not unlike heartburn. “I know,” he said. “I’m sorry. But, Sayu, Ryuzaki meant a lot to me. I can’t rest until L has defeated Kira.”

(Which was true in more ways than Kira at that time could imagine.)

Sayu looked at Kira with understanding dawning on her face. Kira decided then and there he did not want to know what she had understood about him and Ryuzaki. Another tear fell, and then another. And suddenly Sayu was crying – for him?

“Oh, Light!” she sobbed and threw her arms around her brother in a hug.

Kira wrapped his arms around her in return and pressed his face in her hair. “I’m sorry, Sayu. Please don’t cry. It’s okay, really.”

She only sobbed harder.

 

When Sayu finally finished ruining Kira’s suit, Kira brought his sister into the apartment. Misa looked up from her wine glass long enough to be surprised, then she shrugged and returned to drowning her sorrows. Sayu caught sight of Misa and her face twisted up like she wanted to cry again. “Misa?” she greeted gently. “I’m Sayu. We talked on the phone, remember?”

Misa made a vague noise and swirled her glass agreeably.

Sayu glanced at Kira, who wasn’t about to stop Sayu if she wanted to talk to Misa – Justice knew he didn’t want to. Then Sayu strode over to Misa’s side, eyeing up the empty wine bottles littering the kitchen floor. She placed a kind hand upon Misa’s bare shoulder – the former model was clad only in a nightdress – and helped steer Misa to her feet. “Come on,” Sayu said softly. “Let’s get you to bed, okay?”

Misa pulled a face like she didn’t want to. “I’m not sleepy,” she hiccupped. “I want to stay up and see my Light.”

Sayu, to her credit, did not look like she pitied Misa, unlike nearly everyone else who saw the woman in her home. “I know you do,” she agreed gently. “If you go to bed, Light will be along to see you soon, okay?”

Misa’s bloodshot blue eyes scanned Sayu’s for veracity. “Oh-kay,” she slurred.

Sayu glanced back across the room at her brother, who pulled his best helpless expression. She frowned a little but leant Misa’s weight more onto herself and helped walk the former actress towards the general area one would assume the bedroom to be in. Kira tagged along, keeping his distance. It was a rare day when Misa didn’t zero in on his presence. It only ever happened when she was extremely drunk. Normally he was happy to take advantage of that rare opportunity. Anytime he could spend without Misa was time well spent, in his opinion. Having her around just encouraged him to mope. He never touched a drop of alcohol when Misa was around. He feared what may happen were he to be anything less than sober in her presence.

Misa made it to her bed safely, thanks to Sayu. The blonde was dozing lightly before her head even really hit the pillows. Sayu tucked her in and turned a glare on Kira. She pushed him backwards out of the room, her hands pressed against his chest. She closed the door behind her and hissed at Kira, voice quiet so as not to wake Misa, “What’s wrong with her? She’s not like how I remember her at all!”

How was Kira supposed to explain that? ‘I made her give up her memories, endure physical and mental torture, surrender half her lifespan, lose the one being that actually cared about her, and live in a largely sexless and entirely loveless relationship – but it was all for a good cause, so don’t worry’?

Kira settled for shaking his head slowly and looking sad. “Things change, Sayu.”

And there she was with that understanding look on her face again. “But you don’t, do you?” she said quietly, not really a question. “You don’t love her. You can’t.”

A quiet expression settled over Kira’s face, something like resignation. “She’s my girlfriend, Sayu. Of course, I love her.”

Sayu frowned. “I told you not to lie to me. I know I’m not as smart as you. I can’t ever know how much or why you lie. But I do know some things. And I know you’re lying to me right now.”

Kira displayed an innocent expression. “I’m not lying, Sayu. Misa is important to me.”

“Maybe,” Sayu allowed, “but she’s not the reason you’ve dedicated your life to stopping Kira.”

That…hit a lot closer to the truth than Kira was comfortable with.

He changed the subject. “She’s been unhappy with her work as a model and actress for a long time now,” Kira explained. “She drinks when she’s unhappy. I’ve tried helping her, but I only make things worse.” None of that was strictly a lie. It did leave out the primary reason for Misa’s drinking – her loveless existence – which Sayu had picked up on, but it definitely didn’t help with her alcohol abuse problem.

Sayu heard the sincerity in Kira’s words and accepted it. She gave her brother a sympathetic hug. “Smarts can’t solve everything,” she said wisely. “Maybe Misa just needs to know you’re there for her, and then she’ll feel better.”

Kira sighed internally. “It’s a little more complicated than that,” he argued quietly. He pried his sister off of him and held her shoulders so he could look her squarely in the eyes. “You can’t tell anyone this, okay?” he demanded.

She nodded, eyes wide at his serious tone.

“Misa,” Kira began, making sure his voice was adequately tight with emotions – and he added a choked pause for good measure. “Misa told me she would- she would kill herself if I ever left her.”

“What?” Sayu gasped. “Light! That’s horrible!”

Kira let his face fall into misery. “I did this to her, Sayu,” he explained. “It’s my responsibility.”

“Light,” Sayu was crying again, dammit, “someone else’s life isn’t your responsibility. She can’t threaten you like that!”

You have no idea the things she’s threatened me into, Kira thought painfully.

“It’s okay, Sayu,” he said instead, “really. Misa needs me right now. I won’t leave her.”

Sayu was shaking her head now. “No, Light, don’t you see you’re just harming her by stringing her along like this?”

“She wants me to love her,” Kira said. “I owe her that. So, I will love her. I do love her.”

Sayu bit her lower lip hard, the way she did when she wanted to say something that she knew she ought not to say. Kira had a good guess what she wanted to talk about, and as hard as this conversation was on his psyche, he knew he wouldn’t survive that conversation.

“End of story,” he finished telling Sayu. He released her shoulders and compulsively straightened the front of his suit jacket. “Now, what did you come over to talk to me about?”

Sayu blinked tearily at the change of topic. She rubbed her eyes hard, took a few deep breaths, and let her brother have the space he was silently requesting. She’d always had his back.

Kira’s eyes stung so he turned away and led them back to the living area. Neither of them looked at the kitchen and its evidence of Misa’s misery. They sat beside each other on the couch. Sayu had gathered herself by then and so she said, “I just wanted to see my brother, and let him know I was entering university next week, and maybe he’d like to come to my entrance ceremony?”

Suddenly Kira felt like a massive douche. He’d been ducking Sayu for months, knowing all the while he couldn’t avoid her forever, and now that she’d cornered him all she wanted was to share a happy moment of her life with him.

So Kira went to the disused attic of his mind and dusted his oldest mask out of storage. He slid on the persona of Light Yagami, and smiled at his sister. “Of course, I’ll come, Sayu. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

 

The Second L took his first official day off in three years to attend his sister’s university entrance ceremony. He sat beside his parents in the seats and applauded louder than the crowd for his baby sister. She smiled at him from the stage, and for one moment, everything was okay.

 

Nothing stayed okay for long in Kira’s world. Of course, things could have taken far worse a turn than Sayu insisting her brother go with her to her favourite café to properly celebrate. They had sweets and dogs, which were possibly Kira’s two least favourite things in the world now that Ryuzaki was gone and most of the world’s criminals were dead or in hiding. Kira had cringed internally at the very notion of attending such an establishment, but Sayu’s damned puppy dog eyes guilted him into agreeing to go.

Now that he was here, he couldn’t say he hated it exactly.

There were a half dozen Dalmatian pups wiggling their tiny bodies all over Sayu, who was giggling as they did their best to give her puppy kisses. Kira was sitting on the bench, which was the cleanest part of the play area, trying not to look like his nose was pinched and his lips pursed at the general uncleanliness of the café. Animals and food in the one building, what loon came up with that idea?

“Light, Light,” Sayu called him over, “you gotta come pat these dogs. They’re so cute.”

“Maybe in a minute,” Kira called back, long-sufferingly. “This is the worst,” he muttered to himself. He heard a sympathetic whuff from beside him on the floor and looked down to see an old, overweight English bulldog next to his feet. The dog looked up at him and gave its raspy old woof again. “You think so too?” The dog whuffed again. Kira sighed. “I’m talking to a dog. Great.”

Thankfully, the bulldog waddled away after that. Unfortunately, when it waddled back it brought with it an entourage of puppies and Kira’s sister.

That was how the God of the New World ended up in a selfie with an armful of puppies, an acquiescent smile on his face, and his sister beside him with a lapful of bulldog, her fingers in a peace sign.

 

Two years later, after Kira was finally at rest, and the Third L was victorious, Near found a photograph of Light and Sayu Yagami while tossing Kira’s apartment. The white-haired youth stared at the image of Light with his sister and thought of how Kira had not stopped the unravelling of his identity by killing Sayu Yagami when he’d had the chance. He stared and wondered if the tentative smile on the self-proclaimed God’s face was real. He wondered if there had once been a young man of Near’s age, a young man who believed he could determine what was right and wrong with the world and do some good to change it. He wondered if there had been a first victim of Kira’s, before Kurou Otoharada. He wondered if there had ever been a man under the monster.

Near posted the photograph to Sayu Yagami and wondered if Light Yagami had lived to see the monster he had become, would he have tried to do some good to change it?

Chapter Text

Elephants

 

There was an overweight English bulldog in L’s lap. It was only the second being to fall asleep on him that night. He was starting to sense a pattern. The dog’s name, as he’d been informed, was Loki, and he was predominately white with motley patches of brown. His face was squishy, his jowls floppy, and he had an impressive underbite. He was also an incredibly pushy dog who knew what he wanted and how to get it.

L could respect that.

He was less fond of the dog’s ability to slobber, but, again, only the second being to drool on him today.

“Ryuzaki, are you sure you’re okay like that?” Light Yagami asked him kindly. He gave the floor a dubious look but sat down beside L regardless.

L was being forced to sit cross-legged for once. It wasn’t his thinking pose but then, he didn’t really need to think at maximum velocity right now. He’d outright refused to put on the slippers provided by the café – one wasn’t supposed to bring their outdoor shoes into the dog’s area – so he was barefoot. Light had sat close enough to him, in full seiza mind you, that his knee was virtually touching L’s foot. L flexed his toes so he was touching Light, and said, “I’m quite comfortable, thank you, Light-kun.”

Light smiled a little tentatively. The two of them had been speaking English the whole time they were in the café, and L was certain the owner thought they were tourists. But he was determined to get to know Light Yagami as a person – to better understand his psychology as a suspect, of course, what other reason could there be? – which meant English. It was a tactic designed to make Light feel special, which would feed into his ego and make him more likely to slip up… but L had to admit that it was nice just to speak his birth-tongue for a little while. Which meant he kept neglecting to talk about Kira. It seemed unfavourable to let the killer’s presence taint this, as it was doing to most things. L knew Light would figure out that L was avoiding talking about the serial killing elephant in the room eventually, and he wondered what he would think of it. If he asked, L would simply say they were off work right now, and they could go back to Japanese and Kira and the Task Force later.

The truth was that L really just wanted this time with Light to himself. He wanted to believe the kind and perceptive young man was not Kira. That maybe it had all really been a series of awful coincidences and Kira was someone else all along. While L would feel bad for wasting so much time on Light when Kira was elsewhere, it wasn’t like he was fully neglecting to look into other leads. And he had the Task Force checking into alternate avenues of investigation. Naomi was even busy watching and researching Hana Kitamura. It wasn’t like L was certain no-one else could be Kira; he just thought Kira was probably Light. Even if he didn’t want him to be.

How could one man go from slaughtering thousands without blinking to gentle acceptance of L’s many and varied flaws? It boggled the mind.

“You’ll have to put him down if you want to eat,” Light was saying.

L looked down at Loki, who was snoring loudly in his sleep. “I think he is quite comfortable too.”

Light’s smile grew a little stronger. “It would be a shame to move him.”

“Indeed.” L studied Light’s hazel eyes, noting the worry there. They weren’t talking about their kiss. Add that to the list of things they weren’t talking about and it was surprising they had anything to say to each other. “Is Light-kun hungry?”

“No-” Light’s stomach immediately contradicted him and he flushed scarlet. “Okay, maybe a little,” he admitted.

L scratched Loki’s ears absently. “You haven’t been eating or sleeping well,” he observed.

Light pulled a face. “That’s the life of a normal, hard-working high school senior,” he replied.

While that was true, L didn’t believe Light would let a simple thing like revision of academic work he’d probably known for a decade affect his health. “Do normal, hard-working high school seniors often carry on torrid love affairs?”

Light punched him in the arm, careful not to hit very hard or jostle the bulldog. L gave an exaggerated, “Ow,” in reply.

“Shut up,” Light said without heat. “You and Matsuda and Naomi can all go fuck yourselves.”

“But then we’d be the ones carrying on the torrid love affair,” L returned impishly.

Light’s amused grin lit up the room for a moment but fading with a sigh. “They’re basically stalking me, you know? I had to switch trains on my way to cram school just to lose Yamamoto.” He said it like it was a joke, even trying for a smile at the end, but it was poor acting compared to Light’s usual fare.

“Does Light-kun want me to arrest them?” L half-joked as well.

Light actually seem to consider it for a nanosecond before laughing tiredly. “Thanks, but I’ll be alright. They are, neither of them, that bright.”

“Light-kun certainly does have a high opinion of himself,” L teased.

Light rolled his pretty eyes. “Ha ha,” he said dryly. “You’re hilarious.”

“And you’re ridiculous,” L said softly. He noted he was leaning into Light’s space and Light into his, looking into each other’s eyes as they moved their faces closer together-

Loki snorted in his sleep and rolled over in L’s lap, kicking the detective in the jaw as he went.

Light blinked at L’s stunned expression for a second before he giggled, then he gave into the feeling and dissolved into full-bellied laughter until he had tears in his eyes and couldn’t catch his breath. L observed him, his only thought that Light Yagami should laugh more. He almost never laughed during the two weeks I was watching him. …He looks beautiful when he laughs.

Passing a silent apology to Loki, L shifted his weight around until he could lean on one hand and reach Light. He pressed his lips against Light’s, intent on tasting Light’s laughter – it seemed infectious. Maybe L would laugh too?

It was no use. When L pulled back, he didn’t feel like laughing and Light wasn’t laughing anymore either. His eyes still sparkled with slowly fading mirth but his mouth was slack with surprise. “L-” he started to say breathlessly, then seemed to remember they were in public and covered his slip with a neat, “-ephant.”

Elephant?

L zipped back into his previous position and lifted the now-begrudgingly-awake bulldog between himself and Light. He hefted the dog under its front legs and held it belly first towards Light.

“…That’s not an elephant,” Light said slowly.

L made a vague noise of disagreement.

“I don’t think he likes you insulting his weight like that,” Light said, evidently trying to lighten the mood. Loki whuffed as if in agreement and wiggled his butt unhappily in the air. He was indeed getting heavy so L reluctantly lowered the dog back into his lap. Loki gave him the evil eye as he shoved L’s legs around until he was comfortable enough to go back to sleep.

Surprisingly, Light Yagami wasn’t giving him the evil eye too. L had figured that maybe he could forgive one stolen kiss, but two? Light’s expression was clouded with some troubled emotion, but without context, L could only guess at what it might be.

“Loki-kun loves me,” L defended.

Light’s expression softened, not really becoming less troubled, just-

He’s not the only one, is he, Light Yagami?

L didn’t know what to do with that revelation.

 

Light wasn’t sure what he’d done to get L to kiss him twice within an hour. He wasn’t even really putting the moves on L. He knew plenty of moves – he had some great moves – a great deal of the most effective ones being from his Nightmare, which perhaps contributed to his reluctance to use them. It was too close to emotional manipulation, which Light hated. But Light was strong enough to admit that he was also maybe a little reluctant to put the moves on L because not only was L a man, he was a man who worked with Light’s father, they were in public and L was, well, L.

But despite all of Light’s worries – that Sōichirō would find out about this outing and construe it as a date thereby ending Light’s chance to work with L; that L would somehow deduce Light was Kira from the way he buttoned his shirt or the way he sneezed; that L would be anything but careful with the heart Light hadn’t accepted he wanted to give L – he smiled at the sight of L Lawliet with a lapful of bulldog.

“I think I will keep him,” L declared.

Light was surprised for a second but then he grinned wickedly. “You think they’ll just let you take a dog?”

“Why, of course,” L said smugly. “I’m L-” he paused for the briefest instant, “-ated to say I have more than enough savings to buy Loki-kun. He will be invaluable to the investigation.”

Light wasn’t sure if that was a jab at his poor ‘elephant’ cover-up or L was just in a punny mood. As a distraction from his tumultuous thoughts, Light finally reached over and placed a hand on Loki’s head. He didn’t really pat the dog. “No offense, but I can’t see how.” Loki snuffled sleepily and lifted his head to nuzzle at Light’s hand. Light was horrified for half a second then felt a wave of inexplicable affection for the simple, trusting animal. He complied with Loki’s demands and scritched the dog around the ears. Light met L’s eyes as the detective raised an imperious brow. “Okay,” Light conceded. “He’s kinda cute.”

L raised his other brow expectantly. Light smirked at him. “Don’t be jealous – he’s not as cute as you.”

That was a blatant lie and flattery if L had ever heard it, but the detective’s face flushed despite it.

“You’re a terrible flirt, Light-kun,” L complained.

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Light paraphrased the old adage.

Light could almost see the thought Not if you’re Kira flash through L’s mind like there was a neon sign above his head revealing his thoughts. Suddenly switching to Japanese, L said rather pointedly, “Kira loves flattery.”

Light tried not to visibly stiffen at the abrupt change of subject and mood. Accepting L’s random desire to talk in Japanese now, Light said, “Doesn’t everyone?”

“Those with God complexes enjoy it more,” L insisted.

“That’s true,” Light agreed, because it was. He didn’t mind the implied insult; he had any God complexes well under control this time. “You think you can catch Kira because he has a praise kink?”

L’s wide grey eyes bore into Light. The detective suddenly rolled Loki into Light’s lap. The bulldog barely blinked at the change, simply flexing his paws and yawning. Light had the breath knocked out of him by the unexpected weight. L tucked his knees up to his chest to better analyse Light (not that Light was meant to know what L was doing yet – it was hard to remember they’d only known each other officially for a day). “Light-kun’s skin is very clear and his nails are neat.”

Light blinked at the random compliments, immediately putting two and two together and getting that L was still a massive nozzle wherever and whenever you went. Light pulled his best unimpressed face at L. “Wow, Ryuzaki,” Light said in a vague robot impression. “I am so turned on right now. I would have you in your limousine… and then we will murder criminals together,” Light finished sharply.

L simply slipped his thumb into his mouth and continued to stare. “Is that a sincere offer?”

“No, you dolt,” Light said exasperatedly. He reached over and thumped L on the leg once. “I thought you’d cleared me as Kira.”

“The Task Force is no longer investigating you,” L deflected, the silent But I still am ringing loud and clear.

Light was secretly pleased that L still suspected him. He needed to keep the detective’s interest balanced on the fine line of is-he-isn’t-he but having the Task Force (and especially Naomi) breathing down his neck would make Light’s life even more complicated than it had already become. And while Light didn’t want L to give up on the idea that he was Kira for multiple reasons – Light actually being Kira, for one; how poorly L would take it to have been duped into dropping his suspicions; how Light wanted L to want to be on Kira’s side and Light’s side so he would be happy when Light told him he was Kira – he did actually need L to at least listen to the other Task Force members when they eventually would bring up alternate suspects. And Light still needed to review all his plans and contingencies in light of all the new complications that had arisen in the last two weeks. For that, he needed time…and probably some sleep. Hearing that L still suspected him of being Kira, but not so much that he would involve the Task Force, was the news Light subconsciously needed to relax. Instantly, the exhaustion rushed in and floored Light like a freight train.

Light yawned, the action involuntary and entirely inappropriate for their current conversation. L seemed fascinated by Light’s apparent disregard towards his status as a Kira suspect.

“Light-kun believes Kira to be a student,” L began.

Light shook his head and fought off a second yawn. “What? No. I think Kira is a young man with ties to law enforcement.”

“You disregard the student theory?”

“There is no significant variation in the victimology or modus operandi to suggest Kira is a student.”

Well, there was maybe a sliver, but nothing anyone but L would regard as valid evidence. Light had made sure of that.

L smiled his gaping frog-smile at Light. “Oh? Do continue, Light-kun. I would love to hear your profile of Kira.”

Light arched one perfect brow at L. “I have my Kira profile in my bag. I was going to give it to the Task Force tonight.”

“Yes, yes,” L dismissed. “In the limousine. I already read that.”

“…You went through my stuff while I was asleep.”

“Of course,” L said, then he paused and asked thoughtfully, “Why? Was I not supposed to?”

Light shook his head, ostensibly in disbelief but truly he was just amused. It’s a good thing I removed the piece of the Death Note from my wallet. “Somehow, I don’t think it matters much to you what you’re supposed to do, Ryuzaki. I think you’ll just do whatever you want.”

L looked amused. “Even if it’s illegal?”

Light gave him a look. “Are you going to arrest yourself?”

“Not likely, no,” L agreed.

“Well, no-one else is going to,” Light pointed out. “If you did something illegal, you’d be the only one who could hold you accountable.”

L apparently didn’t want to talk about the hypocrisy of him being above the law, so he said, “Kira is likely in his early to mid-twenties; ambitious and successful; a loner who keeps odd hours. He is connected to law enforcement, though unlikely to be highly ranked. He has Japanese heritage, but has potentially spent a significant amount of time outside Japan.”

Light was appropriately amazed. “You memorised my report?”

L shrugged. “It’s an intelligent report. Kira has a special connection to Japan because his murders are concentrated here. Yet he commits his murders on a global scale, thus his grasp of at least the English language must be proficient. That does not mean he’s ever spent much time outside of Japan. Kira could be a hard-working student of English.”

“So what you’re saying is that I’m Kira,” Light surmised.

“And you are saying that I’m Kira,” L added.

The two looked at each other for a long, unbroken moment, perfectly aware that they were setting themselves up for failure.

“This can only end in heartbreak,” Light said softly, pulling L out of his reverie. “That’s what you’re thinking, right?”

“Light-kun cannot know what I am thinking,” L said defensively.

No, but I was chained to you for months so I have a pretty good idea probably wasn’t the smartest retort. Light went with, “It’s what I would be thinking if I were you. You’re who you are and you think I am someone dangerous. I would be hesitant to start a… relationship… too.”

L’s hand dropped from his mouth. He tucked both his hands into his lap, hidden behind the curve of his knees. “You act very mature for your age, Light Yagami.”

You have no idea.

“Thank you?” Light replied.

“It’s not a compliment,” L corrected. “You are too young for me.”

“You’re-” -only seven years older than me- “not that much older than me.”

L frowned. “You are seventeen. That is too young regardless of how old I am.”

“I’ll be 18 in a month,” Light argued. “You’re hardly cradle-robbing.”

“Says the jailbait,” L lobbed back. “I can’t be with you, Light-kun.”

Light felt a burning fury rise in him the likes of which he hadn’t felt outside of his Nightmare. He struggled to breathe around the fire in his lungs. “I’m getting some mixed signals from you,” he said like the calm before a storm. “You kissed me, remember? Twice.”

L stared at Light unblinkingly. He was never one to back down from a challenge. “They meant nothing.”

Light continued to feel strangely calm over the whole thing even as he was internally flipping tables and razing cities to the ground. “If they meant nothing, how does anything else we do have meaning?”

L finally blinked, surprised. Light would have felt proud in any other circumstances. “You want to have meaningless sex with me.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Light would take L in any way the detective would offer – but he certainly wasn’t about to settle for meaningless.

The only thing that prevented Light from punching L squarely in his stupid jaw was the heavy, sleeping weight of the dog in Light’s lap. Light wondered distantly if L hadn’t planned for that.

“I want-” Light started angrily, then he cut himself off with a frustrated exhalation. “I want to work with you. That is more important than- than sleeping with you.” Light forced his fists to unclench. “I wanted you from the moment I saw you, Ryuzaki. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work civilly together. I am more than capable of controlling myself.”

L had apparently noticed Light’s bubbling rage because he smirked. The bastard. “I can see that,” he said. “Since you are so good at controlling yourself, you can wait. Right, Light-kun?”

Light grit his teeth. “Of course,” he agreed. “Patience is a virtue.”

Light could practically see his Kira percentage ticking up. Good, he thought viciously.

“Then Light-kun will patiently wait until Kira is brought to justice,” L said decisively. “At that time, we can resume discussion over the nature of our relationship. Until then, we are work colleagues.”

Light tried to see through L’s emotionless, wide, grey eyes to what he was feeling underneath his mask, but for all his almost-experience with L, Light had no idea what the World’s Greatest Detective was thinking. All of this – their relationship, the dates, the kissing – was new and Light was finding he genuinely could not predict how L would react. He thought L was perhaps being obstinate about starting something with Light because he suspected Light was Kira – Light could accept that. But this whole thing about Light being too young? In Light’s mind, if not on paper, he was 23 years old. Even on paper he was old enough to give consent! Admittedly, he wouldn’t be legally an adult until he was 20, because Japan was Japan, and the average age of consent in the country was 18 (it was just 17 in the Tokyo prefecture), but still! Yet again, he supposed that L meeting him as detective-and-suspect when he was of the age of the majority that was the average for the world was very different from L meeting him as a potential lover when he was still in high school. It was strange for Light to think about, but he supposed L really wasn’t that inclined to break laws. In Japan, no-one over the age of 20 was legally allowed to be with anyone under 20 without parental consent of the minor. That law even applied if one party was 20 and the other was 19. And, of course, the minor had to be above the age of consent to start. Japan had some of the highest age of consent laws and age of majority laws on the planet. While Light might argue to himself that he was old himself, he knew that his perspective was biased. And, hell, Kira had struck down five criminals just in the last week for the sort of thing he was asking L to do.

Am I a hypocrite? Light wondered, but no. His reasoning for killing those criminals was sound. Their victims hadn’t been of legal age nor were they giving enthusiastic consent. His situation with L was different.

But L was right. If Light couldn’t keep it in his pants until they were legally in the clear, Light wasn’t the sort of person L would want to keep around; someone driven by passions with no mind for logic stood no chance with the detective. But that didn’t mean Light wanted them to go back to being nothing. ‘Work colleagues’ sounded dreadfully dull after the excitement of these last two days with L. So, if they couldn’t be together, not yet, then maybe at least they could still be…

“Friends?” Light asked, letting his hope bleed through in his expression and voice.

L’s gaze cut like a laser but whatever he saw, he took as Light being genuine. “Friends,” he agreed at length. Then, a museful expression crossing his face, the detective added, “You know, that makes Light-kun my first friend.”

Light felt vaguely nauseous at the statement. The déjà vu was real and the notion that, no matter what reality they were in, he would always be L’s first was both heady and depressing.

To distract from the very real possibility Light would blurt out something stupid if left alone with his feelings for too long, Light nodded at the dozing bulldog and said, “Wouldn’t that make Loki here your first friend?”

L considered the dog and Light for a moment then smiled. The expression seemed more at ease then it had ten minutes ago, so Light was relieved. Switching back to English now, L said, “I suppose it does. In that case, I really must take Loki-kun home with me.”

Light was starting to suspect L was refusing to talk about anything Kira-related in English, which made him wonder how genuine L’s worries about Light’s age were. Perhaps it was a concern, but Light potentially – and actually – being Kira was an equal or bigger concern. So, in English, Light tried to lighten the mood further with another joke, “Oh so you’ll take him home. What am I, chopped liver?”

Light carefully and surreptitiously watched L’s expression throughout the joke. At first, L looked a little guilty but then when he realised Light wasn’t seriously upset with him anymore, he relaxed. All of this Light could tell from the minute muscular twitches around L’s eyes and mouth. I can tell all of that, Light thought, melancholic, yet I can’t even begin to guess what he’s feeling towards me. Some use all of that study into human psychology is.

“If you were chopped liver, I think you would be Loki-kun’s favourite,” L joshed back.

Light’s stomach took that opportunity to make its demands known again. Light blushed. “Sorry, Loki,” he said to the dog, feeling a little silly because it wasn’t like the dumb animal could understand him. He hefted up the old timer off his lap and placed him onto the floor. Loki cracked open one eye and glared at Light. Light held up his hands, palms forward, the picture of innocence. “Blame Ryuzaki. He knows I don’t like animals.”

“No, I don’t,” L said, sounding curious.

Light’s spine stiffened imperceptibly as he was standing. “Oh?” he said nonchalantly when really inside he was screaming Dammit! He’d managed to get through an entire conversation about feelings without putting his foot in his mouth and not two seconds later, he’d slipped up and acted like he was in his Nightmare! Here and now, L did not know him from Adam. He quickly deflected by saying, “I thought it would have been obvious. What with your deductive skills and all, I’d be surprised if you don’t know my underwear size.”

L was shuffling over to Loki’s side to give the dog a belly-rub. “It’s 88cm or 35 inches,” L said distractedly.

Light’s jaw actually dropped for a second before hinged it back into place. “Why am I surprised?” he asked the universe at large.

Eyes as wide and as grey as the ocean met his, sparkling with mirth like sunlight upon the waves. “Because Light-kun is sleepy, hungry, and stupid if he thinks I didn’t go through his underwear drawer looking for murder weapons.”

Light nodded along. “Uh-huh. I’m starting to see why we shouldn’t date now,” he teased.

L’s hand stilled on Loki’s belly. The dog eyed him up before deciding L was acceptably busy. “Light-kun continues to be unbothered by my rifling through his life.”

“I know you have your reasons, Ryuzaki,” Light said softly, aware this was somehow important to the detective. “I’ll get us something to eat. See you out there?” L nodded, so Light left. But he kept an ear out for the detective, just in case, so he heard L whisper to Loki.

“I’m not going to survive him, am I.”

Loki whuffed in agreement.

Chapter Text

Honey is to Ants as Light is to…

 

How did my life come to this? Light wondered, bemused, as he filled Loki’s bowl with nutritionally-balanced, grain-free, senior dog biscuits. Liver flavoured because Light was no monster. He’d give L’s dog the best damned dog biscuits in the world. Loki bumped into Light’s leg on his way to his dinner, which was about all the thanks Light was going to get for keeping the dumb mutt alive. “You’re welcome,” he grumbled at the ungrateful hound. Speaking of… Light turned to L, who was sitting in his computer chair in his usual pose, carefully constructing a tiny house out of waffles instead of (visibly) working the Kira case (Light knew he’d still be working on it in his mind but if his hands were free he could damn well feed his own dog). “Why did you even get this dog?” Light complained. “I’m the one keeping it alive.”

Dark grey eyes lifted to meet Light’s, attempting to look as innocent as possible. “I feed him,” L defended.

Light snorted and crossed his arms. “Not enough.”

L skewered a square of waffle with a toothpick and used it as the door for his waffle house. “He’s just tricking you into overfeeding him,” L explained.

“It would take more than a dog to trick me,” Light huffed. “Anyway, that still doesn’t explain why I’m  the one doing it.”

L blinked at him innocently, not even looking as he poured maple syrup down the waffle house’s chimney. “Everyone else here is busy doing important detective work, Light-kun.”

If steam could have physically left Light’s ears, he would have looked like a kettle. “Ryuzaki…” he growled.

“Does Light-kun want the investigation to stall so Kira has a better chance of winning?” L taunted. “Not that he will.”

Light took a deep breath and tried to reach for that elusive calm. “No,” he said testily. “But I’ve been ‘working’ here for nearly two weeks, and in that time, the most you’ve let me do is shred paper, and feed and walk Loki!”

L upturned his cup of overly-sweetened tea into the waffle house’s chimney. The resulting steam made the illusion of the tiny house complete. “Light-kun is the unpaid intern. That is what unpaid interns do.”

Light started counting backwards from one-thousand in prime numbers. “I could be making better use of my time-”

“Killing criminals,” L finished.

“No,” Light scowled, “helping the investigation. You brought me on for a reason.”

“Yes,” L agreed. “To take care of Loki-kun.”

“I’m not a dogsitter!” Light snapped. He looked down at Loki, who had easily finished all his biscuits and was sniffing around his bowl to check he hadn’t missed any. In total contradiction to what Light had just said, he then said, “Come on, Loki, we’re going for a walk.” Loki’s stub of a tail wagged excitedly at that. Light glared at L, daring him to say something. “If that’s alright with you, master?”

L shrugged magnanimously. “You are free to do what you want, unpaid intern.”

Light bent and hefted the fat bulldog into his arms. Loki attempted to go for a face-lick, which Lightly deftly dodged. “Thank you, oh wise and magnificent Ryuzaki. Truly, your generosity knows no bounds.” Light gave an exaggerated bow then turned to walk away.

“Don’t get murdered out there, Light-kun,” L called to Light’s back.

“I won’t,” Light called back lightly.

“Don’t murder anyone out there, Light-kun,” L added.

“I won’t,” Light returned without falter.

 

It had been eleven days since L and Light had their first date and their break-up. L had had little choice in the matter. Once he realised that Light’s feelings for him may be genuine, and not just a ruse executed by Kira, L could not in good conscience take advantage of the younger man to further the investigation. If Light Yagami were innocent and he risked it all on a relationship with L, L would eventually break his heart and it would have been for nought. If he were Kira, L shouldn’t compromise the investigation by getting involved with Light Yagami. He’d known that from the start but he had been willing to take the risk to his life and the integrity of the investigation if that meant putting a stop to Kira. But it was the revelation that Light Yagami seemed to love him that had put the final nail in the coffin of that plan.

L had never been loved before. Not in the way Light was implying he could.

L wasn’t sure he wanted to pursue a relationship with someone who may want to kill him in his sleep. If Light were Kira, how could L be certain if any of his feelings were real? If Light were Kira and those feelings were real, would L want to return those feelings anyway? Would it even be right?

L was wise enough to recognise and acknowledge his own feelings, and the truth was that Light Yagami scared him. L could easily lose control of any situation where Light was involved.

L didn’t even know Light, not really, not as an actual person. L hadn’t known Light long enough to read him well.

When Light was tired, he did tend to reveal more. He seemed to feel L and he were close, despite their having known each other for so little time. It was possible that Light Yagami was something of a hopeless romantic under his cold and exact exterior. Regardless, the teen was able to accurately deduce any number of things about L with minimal study. Such as L’s distaste for things touching his feet. Certainly his hatred of footwear was readily apparent to even a layman, but the way Light had tenderly asked for and handled his feet, making sure every touch was efficiently minimal, spoke to the fact that Light had picked up on it being more than a simple fashion choice. Later on in their date, Light had assumed L would be able to similarly deduce facts about Light, such as Light’s apparent dislike of animals. L could have guessed it – psychopaths generally were not fond of animals – but he would not have done so with the information available to him. Light had been the one to suggest an animal café, for one thing, and for another, in the time since, he had begrudgingly yet diligently taken care of Loki. L honestly bought Loki half so he could observe Light’s behaviour around animals. There were indications in Light’s life of psychopathy – he was organised and meticulous, had few if any close friends, and lied with ease – yet there was nothing in his history or present behaviour which indicated the kind of sadism, rage or dark desire that turned psychopaths into serial killers. Was Light a gentle, well-adjusted psychopath and extremely intelligent man who had channelled his excess thinking power into tasks such as cleanliness? Or was he so good an actor that no-one, not even L, could see the black hole inside him until it was too late? In either case, Light was certainly a bright and perceptive young man. It was what made him so terrifying.

L was as equally terrified by Light as he was intrigued. Were this not the Kira case, and possibly the single most important criminal case in history, Light would still be an interesting psychological specimen. But it was the Kira case and every instinct L had honed over nearly two decades of detective work was telling him that he had found Kira, he just had to prove it. And that, my dear Watson, is key. L could not prove Light Yagami was Kira. If anything, the evidence tended towards the contrary. It remained a mystery. L had already been on the Kira case longer than any other active case and he hated to say it but he could not yet know for certain any answers.

L was trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. He needed time to think it over before taking a leap in either direction. Light had been kind enough to agree to give L his time to think, even if L had given him the excuse about his age. Light was, technically, a minor. In fact, in the eyes of Japanese law at least in some prefectures, it was illegal for L to even hold his hand. While seventeen was the legal age of consent in Tokyo, there were complications arising from the fact that the age one legally becomes an adult in Japan is twenty and anyone under the age of twenty cannot enter into any sort of contract without parental permission nor could they have relations with anyone 20 years old or older. L would not legally be able to do much of anything with Light until another two years and one month had passed. Japan possessed one of the highest age of consent laws on the planet. Japan also had various ages of consent relating to specific sexual acts. It was all rather complicated, but could simply be boiled down to ‘no canoodling with anyone under twenty unless you are also under 20 or have permission’. L rather doubted Light cared greatly about the legality of entering into a relationship with L – he likely didn’t exactly care about the legality of murder, after all – but L would rather not be arrested and hauled off to gaol for five years on a technicality should Light be attempting to make L commit a crime Light could take him to court over. While the global average age of consent was sixteen, and in Tokyo it was seventeen, and in most countries Light would legally be an adult in one month, Light Yagami was Japanese and Japanese law applied to their relationship while they were on Japanese soil. Light was a minor for another two years and L, simply, was not. L had asked Light to wait until after Kira was caught to resume discussion about their relationship, yet unless the Kira case took another two years to solve, Light had to know L would simply ask him to wait again.

Of course, for all of Light’s great intelligence, he may have neglected to fully think through the complicated web of legalise surrounding consent in Japan. It may not have even occurred to him to look; after all, the law was really only ever applied to situations where one party was over twenty and the other was not. All of Light’s present romantic experience appeared to be contained to a summer fling with Sasaki Yamamoto and the occasional White Day gift. L wondered if he ought to tell Light in precise detail the many, many reasons why it was a poor idea for them to attempt to pursue anything more than a professional relationship. Light was currently acting like he was fine with them taking a step back and slowing down their relationship, but if Light were Kira and bedding L was some part of an elaborate plan, Light wouldn’t wait forever. He certainly wouldn’t wait two years and one month. (A horrifying thought occurred to L that if Light were Kira and he was somehow insistent on having L, Kira might keep the investigation dragging its feet for two years and one month, just so L would no longer have a legal leg to stand on in his excuses to Light Yagami.)

Something winged L over the back of his head. He spun his chair around, preparing to face an unknown assailant, only to see Naomi Misora smirking at him. He rubbed his head as he quickly scanned the area for what had hit him, since Naomi’s hands were empty – and saw a pen lying innocuously on the floor. “You threw a pen at me,” L grumped, slightly awed.

Naomi rolled her eyes at L, arms crossing sternly. In English, she said, “You called Light ‘Kira’ three times in as many minutes then stared at his ass as he left until you zoned out. You deserve to be hit with more than a pen.”

L rubbed his head indignantly, despite the fact that it didn’t hurt. He too replied in English, “I wasn’t staring at his anything. I was thinking.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Naomi said. “Look, you can’t just keep treating Light like this.”

“Like what?” L asked with studied innocence.

Naomi narrowed her eyes at him. L felt pinned by the laser focus. “Like he’s something Loki dragged in off the street. You asked him to be here and then treat him like he’s worthless. This had all better be some stupid test of yours to see if he’s Kira, because I swear you weren’t such a jackass back in L.A.-”

“It is,” L interrupted, before Naomi could really get rolling on her rant, “a test. I wanted to see how he would react to being granted minimal access to the investigation and no significant role.”

Naomi frowned at L. “That’s a stupid test.”

“So you said.”

“Anyone would be pissed if they were treated like that.”

“Not everyone would stick around.”

“Is that what you were thinking so hard about? Why Light is sticking around?”

L paused. “…I don’t know why he is still here.”

“Maybe it’s because he wants to help catch Kira?” Naomi suggested wryly.

“He could do that more efficiently from the comfort of his own home, as he has told me repeatedly just this week.”

“Only because you won’t let him do anything here except shred paper.”

“I let him label the case folders with Matsuda yesterday.”

“…You definitely deserve more than a pen. Wait a sec; I’ll go get my dumbbells.”

“Naomi, wait.”

Naomi paused mid-turn. She looked back at L over her shoulder.

“I need your advice,” L admitted. He watched the former FBI agent’s face soften as she registered that L was genuinely troubled by something. “Can we talk?”

“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” she couldn’t help but tease.

That earned her a quirk of L’s lips. “Somewhere private,” he clarified.

L watched Naomi glance around the main office space. Sōichirō was buried up to his glasses in case files; Matsuda was on break from helping Naomi write up the final report on Hana Kitamura; Mogi was diligently compiling today’s Kira kills; Ukita and Aizawa were home with their families. Unbeknownst to Naomi, Watari was monitoring the tiny camera L had put in Loki’s collar to spy on Light Yagami as he walked the dog. None of them were paying any attention to their conversation. Even if they were, they would be hard-pressed to understand it as none of them were particularly fluent in English. Still, what L needed to say would be better done away from inquisitive ears and prying eyes. And certainly it would be better to be out of view of the Task Force should Naomi decide to actually throw something heavier than a pen at L.

Naomi inclined her head to show she agreed and L uncurled himself from his chair. Hunching over comfortably, L led Naomi to a spare room. He locked the door for good measure which earned him a raised eyebrow. L didn’t really want to have this conversation any more than Naomi probably wanted to hear it, but L needed an outsider perspective and Naomi was the closest to objective he was going to get. He’d speak with Wammy about it later, when they had time, but L suspected his old caretaker would probably lean into telling L to follow his heart over his instincts; which, in L’s opinion, missed the point about L’s heart being an unreliable piece of garbage, whereas his instincts were finely honed instruments of justice.

Naomi took a seat at the table – they were in an interrogation room – but L remained standing. He really thought he’d need the mobility to dodge the inevitable attack on his person. “So what’s this about, L?” Naomi inquired, still in English.

L stared at his own bare toes, curling and uncurling them, for a long moment, before he met Naomi’s eyes and said, “I think Light Yagami is in love with me.”

Naomi half-quirked a smile, obviously thinking L was making one of his bad jokes. It took a second for that to sink in but then she gaped at him. “Holy fuck. You’re serious, aren’t you.”

“Unfortunately.”

Naomi couldn’t seem to get past her initial shock. “L, he’s just a kid,” she protested.

L huffed out a frustrated breath. “You think I don’t know that? Why do you think I turned him down?”

Naomi blinked rapidly, taking in that information. “Okay, okay, wait, hold up,” she said. “When did this happen? I thought it was over when you told him who you were.”

“…If anything, I think that made him more interested,” L confessed. Naomi looked impatient so he added, “Remember the dog café?”

Naomi didn’t have to think hard to remember that. The Task Force had been surprised, to say the least, when L brought back a dog. “That was a date,” she realised sharply.

“Exactly,” L confirmed. “It was Light’s idea. He said he thought I’d like the dog-themed cakes.”

Naomi shook her head slowly. “Why did you go along with it?” Then she seemed to answer her own question because she stiffened and shot him a glare. “It had better not be because you still thought he was Kira.”

“It was,” L admitted.

“Jesus, L!” Naomi snapped.

L didn’t have much to say in his own defence. He still thought Light Yagami was probably Kira. “I know.” He did know how it sounded; it sounded exactly like it was. He could at least clarify that he hadn’t done anything untoward to Light. “I didn’t intend for anything to happen-”

“You didn’t!” Naomi gasped.

L bit at his thumbnail for something to do that wasn’t this conversation. While it was necessary for him to get Naomi’s perspective, that didn’t mean he wanted to endure actually talking about it. “Not what you’re thinking, no. We just kissed. Twice.”

Naomi looked horrified.

“It was just a light peck on the lips,” L clarified. “Nothing untoward.”

Naomi’s harsh expression did not fall. “You do know it’s illegal to even hold hands with a minor in some parts of Japan.”

“I am aware, yes.”

“…You looked it up.”

“I needed to be well informed.”

“So you could decide whether to sleep with a 17 year old or not.”

When she put it like that, it sounded pretty damn bad. L felt hard-pressed to explain that, as he’d gone his whole life without sex, he was never in any rush to jump into anything with Light Yagami. He’d just felt it wise to see what Kira wanted…right up until Light said such ambrosial things to him, then L had realised viscerally what it would mean if he was going to honeytrap an innocent young man who actually cared for him. L might be a heartless bastard, but he wasn’t that heartless.

“I was never going to let things progress,” L explained. “I merely hoped to ascertain Light’s intentions were he Kira, to better understand how to advance the investigation.”

Naomi crossed her arms and sat back in her chair. “You were thinking of a honeytrap.”

“I agree it’s not the most tasteful solution,” L said. “But I was certain of Light Yagami’s guilt, and he presented the vulnerability.”

“What stopped you?” Naomi asked.

“He…” L’s hands fisted in his pockets unhappily. “…may be innocent.”

Naomi studied him with laser-intensity. “You’re serious?” L nodded. “You mean you’re finally giving up on Light being Kira?”

“I cannot,” L rebuked, “in good conscious, ignore the possibility that Light Yagami is Kira, but I must not act as if he is guilty until proven innocent. Then I would be no better than Kira.”

Naomi frowned. “Okay, L, but are you sure that you aren’t interested in Light at all?”

L could lie, which would rather defeat the point of having this conversation, but he also didn’t want to admit that Light had enchanted him in every way. “It does not matter,” he deflected. “My personal feelings will not interfere with this investigation.”

“That’s not why I’m asking and you know it,” Naomi said stubbornly. “I think you’re a good man, L, and I don’t want to watch you get hurt over something that can’t ever be. I don’t want to see Light get hurt either.”

“I don’t want to cause Light Yagami unnecessary pain either,” L confessed.

“But you also don’t want to give up on him,” Naomi concluded. “You’d be willing to wait two years?”

“Our relationship would primarily be long distance, regardless,” L said, revealing he’d put more thought into this subject than he cared to admit.

Naomi smiled a little at that. “Good. I was worried you were going to make him leave Japan and his family and his life just to be with you.”

L didn’t really come across as such a heartless bastard, did he? “No,” he said firmly. “That would be a terrible ultimatum. I would not ask him to be trapped with me.”

“But if he is Kira, then thinking about all of this is pointless,” Naomi said. “That’s what you’re thinking, right?”

“Yes,” L said, relieved they were getting to the point.

Naomi adopted her thinking face; eyes closed so she could visualise the problem in her mind. “Did he actually tell you he’s in love with you?” she asked.

“Not in so many words, no.” Naomi quirked an expectant eyebrow without opening her eyes. L fidgeted, curling and uncurling his toes. “He told me he wanted to stay by my side; that he wanted to get to know me.”

Naomi cracked an eye at L. Both her eyes opened wide as she read his expression. “Do you want him to love you?”

How to answer that? “One day, maybe,” L settled on saying.

Naomi looked sad for L. He felt a rush of indignity and embarrassment down his spine. He knew he was a strange, sad little man who lived a solitary life, but he didn’t want, like or appreciate pity.

“I don’t hold any expectations,” L said firmly. “I’m only telling you this because I’m thrown by how Light’s behaviour towards me has made me hopeful for something I would not normally ever consider.”

L was perfectly aware that Light had approached him at the entrance exam for, at best, a string of one-night stands. Light would never enter a proper relationship with someone while he was still denying who he was. That Light had maintained an interest in L despite the revelation of L’s identity, his surveillance and suspicion of Light as Kira, and L’s position working closely with Light’s father, had given L some hope that Light’s feelings for L might be genuine. And then Light had gone and been nice to L with no apparent ulterior motive and L did not have the first clue what to do with that. He knew he wanted Light to do it again but he also did not like the idea of wanting something immaterial like that.

“L, what, exactly, do you want?” Naomi pressed.

How was L supposed to answer when he didn’t even know?

L stared at his pale, long, spindly toes and wondered just what it was about Light Yagami that had buried the boy so deep under L’s skin. It was almost like the teen was doing it on purpose, which was partly what scared the pants off of L.

“I want to close the Kira case,” L said, “and I want Light Yagami to not be a criminal that I have to take down. But that is the problem. I fear that if I get close to Light Yagami, I will lose my objectivity. And then Kira may win.”

“That’s why you’re telling me all this,” Naomi concluded. “You want me to tell you what to do.”

L had no qualms asking for help when he thought it useful. Right now, Naomi’s help was more than useful, it was necessary if L was to get any perspective on what he should do. “Please. I could use some advice.”

Naomi was studying L closely now, probably searching his face for some sign that he was being dishonest. L could see her working over the problem in her mind. He hoped she would see some avenue of approach he hadn’t, but failing that, she could at least tell him what was the lesser of all the evils. Her eyes sparked as she realised something. “You’ve been treating Light poorly because you want to distance him. You’re trying to spare his feelings, and yours.”

L suppressed a small smile. “That would be awfully dull and sentimental of me.”

Naomi looked smug. “You’re not fooling me, L. Unlike most people, I know you have a heart.”

L sobered. “One that is likely to stop because of Light Yagami.”

“Only if he’s Kira,” Naomi qualified. “If he is Kira – if – do you really think you could get him to confess, out of love for you?”

“No,” L admitted. “Kira is too smart and too driven for that.”

“People in love act irrationally,” Naomi proposed. “It’s what you’re worried about for yourself. It’s why you aren’t open to the possibility of anything with Light. Do you truly think you can’t just be friends with Light?”

“I could,” L said, “but I am concerned how if I encourage a closer bond with Light, and he is both Kira and attracted to me, he will likely act very irrationally when he finds out I cannot return the feelings of a serial killer.”

“Look,” Naomi said. “You should just try talking to Light. Surely, he can see reason. Even if he is Kira. He’s smart. He’ll know not to push you.”

“Or he’ll take it as a challenge.”

“I don’t think he’d be that bold. He’s barely got a pinkie toe out of the closet, if that.”

“Yet he boldly asked me, a random stranger, out, likely assuming I was his age and could be a random notch on his bedpost.”

Naomi frowned. “Have you spoken to Watari about this?”

“Not yet.”

“Worried what he’ll say?”

“Worried he’ll encourage me,” L corrected.

“He wouldn’t encourage you to break the law.”

“He would not allow me to become an accomplice of Kira’s, no,” L stated, “but he would believe me to be strong enough to survive Light Yagami should it turn out that he is a serial killer.”

Naomi grimaced; she knew they weren’t just talking about L’s physical survival, but about him psychologically and emotionally being able to take giving his heart to a serial murderer. “I see why you came to me first. Watari’s a good guy but he’s anything but unbiased when it comes to you.” L couldn’t deny that. Wammy loved him as a son, and wouldn’t hesitate to kill or die for L, but he did have an unfortunate tendency to believe L invincible.

“Back to the problem at hand,” Naomi said, closing her eyes thoughtfully. “As things are currently, you cannot be with Light in any kind of sexual or romantic capacity due to both his age and the possibility he is Kira.”

“Agreed.”

“That does not prohibit you and Light from being friends,” Naomi said. “If you are honest with yourself about your expectations, I’m sure you will be able to keep a handle on your own emotions. Light trusts you. I trust you. You’ll do the right thing.”

Well, L supposed he was glad one person in the room had faith in him. He didn’t particularly wish to expose himself to the risks of even a friendship with Light Yagami, sensing that the younger man could easily manoeuvre L’s heart into a position more vulnerable than L was comfortable with, but it was not only the most logical step to take for the Kira case, it was also the right thing to do by the potentially-existent innocent Light Yagami who had only wanted to help. Still, L wasn’t about to let Naomi labour under the false impression that L was a good man who always did the right thing.

“How can you trust that I won’t do anything to Light?” L asked, purposely playing devil’s advocate. “You all believed me when I said Light was taking me out to show me around town. You even witnessed my first encounter with Light and yet you believed me. I could be telling you all this while fully intending to honeytrap Kira.”

Naomi tugged the watch from her wrist and flicked it at L in one smooth motion. L bent backwards to dodge the projectile then re-straightened his spine. “You’re an idiot,” Naomi snapped. “You’re in here pouring your heart out to me and you want me to be worried you’re going to take advantage of Light?”

“You were at first,” L pointed out.

“You wouldn’t be telling me any of this if you were going to do something,” Naomi explained. “By telling me, you’ve guaranteed you can’t do anything to Light without consequence.” She narrowed her sharp eyes at him. “You didn’t need my advice at all. You just wanted someone to hold you accountable.”

“I did want your advice,” L defended lightly, not really denying anything Naomi said, because it was true. Light had mentioned to L that he was above the law, and though it was true, L realised it didn’t have to be; at least, not where his relationship with Light Yagami was concerned. Naomi would kill L herself if he in any way took advantage of Light, and similarly, now that she was briefed on the very real possibility Light was only acting interested in L as some ploy of Kira’s, if he were Kira and L was compromised by him, L would have both Wammy and Naomi to stop him before he helped Kira destroy the world.

L rather doubted he’d let Kira get him to that point, by the trouble with a honeytrap was that it could go both ways. And it seemed likely that L and Light would be playing a sexually-charged-yet-platonic edition of a honeytrap down the line were Light truly Kira. It could not hurt to have fail-safes in place.

Besides, L really did just want some friendly, mostly unbiased, advice on whether what he was feeling was entirely insane.

Naomi looked like she didn’t believe him, but she clearly thought of something new, so she asked, “Did Light ask you to keep your date with him a secret?”

“Not in so many words, no,” L said. “I think he hoped I would understand. I know he would never have come out to me if he didn’t accidentally do so before I revealed my identity. Yet he has been quite calm about it ever since. I don’t think he’s ashamed to like men. I think he just doesn’t want to disappoint his family.”

“So he was relieved you called it off,” Naomi suggested. “That way he could put off letting his family know for even longer.”

“Perhaps,” L said. He finally shuffled forward to sit in the chair adjacent to Naomi. He tucked his knees up to his chest, toes curling around the edge of the seat to help centre himself. “Naomi, I haven’t felt this kind of potential with someone in a long time. It’s not something I easily want to give up.”

Naomi wasn’t a very tactile person so she didn’t do anything like lay a comforting hand on L, but her expression conveyed the same meaning. “I understand,” she said softly. Then, more firmly, “In that case, the first thing you should do is start treating Light decently.”

“You are right,” L acknowledged.

“I often am,” Naomi agreed. Then, quietly, “Are you going to be alright, L?”

L simply breathed for a moment, then he offered Naomi one of his wide, frog smiles. “Thank you for listening, Naomi. I know what I’m going to do now. I’ll be fine.”

L had a feeling that might prove easier said than done, but he was nothing if not up for a challenge.

Chapter Text

Walking the Dog

 

“Walk the dog, Light! Shred the paper, Light! Should I get a maid’s uniform and mop the floors too while I’m at it?” Light muttered angrily as he gently manoeuvred Loki’s legs through his walking harness. “Oh, Loki, you’re the only one who understands me.”

Loki gave him a look like he was off his rocker, and Light sighed.

“Come on, let’s just take you for your stupid walk,” he said. Loki’s butt wagged in agreement.

Naturally, half way around the first city block, Loki had decided he’d had rather enough walking, thank you, and promptly sat down on the sidewalk and started cleaning a paw. Light tugged the lead in frustration, but not too hard, and so it wasn’t enough to move the stubborn beast.

“I hate my life,” Light grumbled. He looked up at the night sky in existential despair – he could be doing literally anything else right now and it would be more purposeful than this – but found no comfort in the stars as the sky was clouded and grey. “I swear,” he told that sky, “if you rain on me, so help me-”

Sometimes Light wondered if there was an actual god or gods he was pissing off, because with all the comedic timing of a Dreamworks film, the heavens opened up and flooded down upon him. Light was soaked in an instant, and subsequently freezing. He huffed a large breath that blew some of the drenched hair off his forehead and out of his eyes.

He looked down at Loki, expecting that the rain at least would get the old dog to move, and had to bite back a swear when he saw that Ryuk had made himself tangible enough to shield the canine from the worst of the rain.

Ryuk! Light sent the Shinigami his best subtle glare. The god of death had taken an unreasonable shine to the dog. The two of them couldn’t reasonably interact – Loki couldn’t even see Ryuk for one, and Light just knew L was watching, probably from something ridiculously Bond-esque as a camera in Loki’s collar (which Light had checked; it couldn’t be removed without a five-digit code), so for those reasons and more, Loki and Ryuk could not be acquainted. That, to Light’s exasperation, did not stop Ryuk from trying.

 

Light had offered to take Loki for a walk that first day as a gesture of friendship, to show L he could still care about the detective even if they weren’t going to be together. L hadn’t seemed to care outwardly, but Light had noticed him staring and concluded the detective was checking to see how Light acted around animals. Certainly, Light wasn’t fond of animals, but he wasn’t about to treat them cruelly. L would be waiting forever if he was looking for traditional signs that Light was a serial killer.

Thanks for the lack of surveillance at his house, Light had been leaving Ryuk locked in his bedroom (well, the Shinigami could leave but no-one could enter), with a stack of video games and apples. Ryuk had been curious what Light was doing at HQ, but was even more interested after Light had spent the night of his first real day on the job whinging about it. The next day, Light had brought Ryuk to the office. The Shinigami had observed the Task Force curiously, commenting on how few people there were trying to catch Kira. Light had really done a good job scaring them off. Light had checked if L had any work for him, then taken Loki for his walk before it was so late at night, Light was likely to get jumped by some random criminal. He hadn’t noticed at first the way Loki stared unblinkingly, reminiscent of his master, at the empty space that actually contained one apple-addicted Shinigami. But as they’d strolled at Loki’s slow waddle of a pace around the local city blocks, Light had eventually noticed that the dog kept staring at the space where Ryuk floated. Aware that L was likely watching him from a likely a myriad of cameras, including CCTV and the one L probably thought Light hadn’t noticed in Loki’s collar, Light was unable to ask Ryuk outright then and there if dogs could see Shinigami. Light had never encountered this problem in his Nightmare, seeing as he’d never willingly spent much time near one. He’d waited until he’d finished walking Loki, shredding the files L wanted him to, and gone home for the night before he had asked Ryuk, “Can animals see you?”

Ryuk’s face was anything but expressive but he did look confused, and interested. “Not as far as I know. Never spent so much time around one before.”

“Huh,” Light had said thoughtfully.

The next day, Light asked Ryuk to do whatever crazy actions he wanted in front of Loki, provided he did not affect any physical objects that might alert the Task Force to his presence. No matter what Ryuk did, including pulling off a menacing face Light was trying his best to forget ever seeing, the old dog did not react much beyond staring in Ryuk’s general direction. L had watched Loki with fascination, still early into ownership of the dog and curious if this was normal for him. Light, at least, had derived some amusement from the idea that L was watching Ryuk without even realising it.

Light eventually declared he would go buy the Task Force some coffees and take Loki for his walk.

Although it was a risk, Light had to know. So he left Loki tied up outside the café and inconspicuously asked Ryuk to try patting Loki. He needed to be able to judge the risk factor of keeping Loki around. As much as he would find it distasteful to dispose of the dog, he would if he had to. In his opinion, animals did not fall under the same category as humans. They should not be cruelly treated, but if they had to die, that judgement could be made by humans and doled out in the least painful way possible.

Ryuk had been itching to try patting Loki. As he’d said to Light, he found the human habit of keeping other species around as pets interesting.

Ryuk reached out one clawed hand to Loki, which Light knew from experience was the chill room temperature of rigor mortis, and the old dog did not even blink an eye. He continued to stare in Ryuk’s direction – through Ryuk. Light deduced the dog could sense Ryuk’s presence but not actually see him visually in the second before Ryuk’s hand made contact. Loki yelped in surprise as Ryuk’s hand touched his head. The dog whipped his head out of the way, bearing a snaggle-toothed snarl in Ryuk’s general direction. Ryuk pulled his hand back, looking hurt, but Light just rolled his eyes, one-part fond and three-parts exasperated.

Ryuk tried again, and this time Loki was more prepared. The old dog seemed to take it in stride as Ryuk’s dragged his hand down the dog’s back. Loki’s hackles were raised and he was obviously curious what in the hell was touching him, but it wasn’t hurting him so he seemed willingly to go along with it for now.

“I’m touching the dog, Light,” Ryuk said excitedly.

Light gave him an indulgent smile, then a look that said ‘knock it off’.

The three of them had continued on in this pattern, right under L’s watchful nose. Because cameras couldn’t pick up on Ryuk’s presence, he could pat Loki whenever he wanted. Light had banned him from doing so in the office, where someone was bound to notice Loki’s weird behaviour, but on the walks, Ryuk had Loki all to himself. Light simply tolerated both of their presences, and unfortunately had to clean up after Loki since Ryuk couldn’t.

Light wondered if he should get Ryuk his own dog, then immediately decided against it, because it was enough work taking care of L’s dog. He didn’t need to pretend to love another stinky eating-and-pooping machine.

If he wanted to do that, he’d have kids.

 

The walks were, in Light’s opinion, a waste of time. The only thing they were good for was contemplation. They had given Light plentiful time to ponder his next moves. While the long-term goal of creating a New World with L at his side (in whatever capacity Light could have him) was still the Plan, he had numerous obstacles to conquer in the meantime.

Light had gotten used to thinking of himself as an adult. He’d been smarter than most adults before he’d even hit his teens, but at least before his Nightmare, he’d been aware of his place as a youth. Post Nightmare, Light had a bonus six years of experience under his belt. This experience added nothing to his physical age and certainly did not count in the eyes of the law. Were Light inclined to do so, he could not even buy alcohol anymore. Not legally at least. He had known, logically, that he was too young for L. But that hadn’t stopped him from putting it aside in the moment, reasoning that he was mature enough to choose what he could and couldn’t do with the detective. But, of course, L knew the letter of the law – he was the letter of the Law – and he wasn’t about to let them progress. It frustrated Light because he’d come so close to putting a claim on L the detective couldn’t refute – but being with L in that way hadn’t been a part of Light’s original plan for the detective. Light could go back to Plan A. Plan Z aka Operation Acquire a Boyfriend (Who is a Detective) could be benched for the time being. Light only had to wait two years and then L would have no excuses.

Of course, that did not account for the possibility that L had never been attracted to Light in the first place and that it had all been an act designed to catch Kira. And only when L had decided not to potentially do such a morally reprehensible thing as seduce an innocent teenage Light Yagami, had the detective stopped. Furthermore, two years was a long time. Light wasn’t sure he could keep L interested in Kira and yet unable to arrest Light for two whole years. L was smart. He’d figure out a way to get Light eventually. Putting off converting L to Kira’s way of thinking just so Light could have L as a lover was so unbelievably trite that Light wasn’t even going to consider it any longer.

Light’s plan to get L on Kira’s side was back in action. He would befriend the detective, talk openly and honestly with him about Kira’s philosophies, and convince him of Kira’s righteousness, before finally revealing that he, Light Yagami, had been Kira all along, as L had suspected. At that point, L would logically choose Light Yagami over the law. It was possible the stubborn bastard would still try to arrest Light at that time, so Light would have to be prepared for that.

But before he could do that, Light had to deal with how L was not letting Light assist with the investigation. While Light knew it was the smart move to not let one’s suspect investigate themselves, he couldn’t very well steer the investigation if L didn’t give him a chance! …Okay, he could see why L wasn’t letting him do anything. But, still. So far, the best Light had been able to do, was use Matsuda as a proxy. He’d feed the young detective ideas while they shared the occasional filing task – Light knew Matsuda was there to keep an eye on Light, even if Matsuda didn’t know that was what he was there for – and hope Matsuda would bring up the ideas with the rest of the Task Force. It was slow and uncertain work. So, Light had to develop some way to convince L to let him join the team properly.

Because Light’s second problem stemmed from the yakuza. While his stunt with the Adani’s was largely a success, Light had failed to account for Saito and now had a witness to his crimes who had reason to testify against Light. Sure, Raye Penber had been there, but the man was a half-wit and owed Light his life; he wouldn’t dare testify against Light in court or even just to L. Furthermore, as long as Saito lived, it would not make sense for Ko Hashimoto as Kira to have killed all the Adani’s save Saito. Yet Light was one of the few people who knew Saito was in custody. There was no way for Light to guarantee that Hashimoto could have had access to Saito’s case and therefore know to kill him specifically.  So Light couldn’t killed Saito, not yet, no matter how much he wanted to. He would have to keep an eye out for an opportunity where he could do it and pin it on Hashimoto.

Certainly, Light had no great need to frame Hashimoto – yet. He fully anticipated needing a patsy somewhere down the line. L would need an excuse to close the Kira case, else risk his reputation as the World Greatest Detective. Light needed L to have that pull so L could substantiate the guilt of criminals before Light/Kira killed them. Besides, making an example out of Hashimoto as a Kira-copycat would send a message to the world that only Kira could pass judgement.

Plus, in the meantime, it was constructive to keep the Task Force’s attention elsewhere other than Light. Especially Naomi Misora. She was smart enough to nearly get him in his Nightmare, and while he’d done a good job by befriending her in this life, there was no way she wouldn’t turn against him if she found out he was Kira.

Light had to keep their interest elsewhere… Hence Ko Hashimoto. Poor bastard had just recently lost his major source of income and soon stood to lose a lot more. His freedom at least, and perhaps his life. Light somehow couldn’t bring himself to feel sorry for a man who let the Adani’s do whatever they wanted. Although the only crimes Hashimoto was technically guilty of were taking bribes, obstruction of justice and tax fraud, Light held no qualms about pining all the violence and murder of the recently deceased Adani’s squarely on Hashimoto’s shoulders.

Light’s other major problem was in the form of his ex and that ex’s new beau (who was also kind of his ex?) – Misa Amane. She brought with her two Death Notes, each connected respectively to one of the Shinigami Rem and Gelus. Whether there were more Death Notes in play, held by the Shinigami, Light had no way of knowing. If he asked outright, it would seem like he was trying to gauge whether he could get away with killing Misa. He would have to keep an ear out for an opportunity to ask. At least this time, Misa seemed to have retained the great part of her sanity. She had yet to commit any significant murders with the Death Note. Light suspected she had killed with it, but who and how remained to be seen.

What she had done was drag Yamamoto into the mix. The boy had been Light’s friend for years. He was a nerd who wanted to be a detective and make the world a better place, like Light. He also liked Light. The extent of which Light suspected may have been inflamed by Light’s taking him to Spaceland for a friendly outing…that had turned a little too friendly. None of which would have caused an issue if a) Light hadn’t subsequently realised he was romantically interested in L and b) Misa hadn’t given Yamamoto a Death Note and dragged him into everything. Light didn’t think Yamamoto would actively go against him or deliberately do anything to harm Light or Kira, but he was worried about the teen’s inability to keep his mouth shut when he felt righteous about something. He’d outed Light to their parents after all. Light felt justified in having a few trust issues.

While Light wouldn’t want to emotionally manipulate Yamamoto, or Misa if it came to it, in order to control their actions, anyway, he certainly couldn’t now. His damned heart, which had apparently decided that now of all times was a good time to defrost, rebelled at the idea of pretending to love either of them. He knew he would if he absolutely had to, but he wouldn’t take that easy road until there were no other viable options. He wasn’t going to use the L-word in regards to L (which, now Light thought about it, seemed ironic), but he had to admit to himself that he liked the detective a bit more than he’d ever been willing to accept in his Nightmare. This gave rise to numerous problems of its own, making Light’s List of Problems include: how Light was neither in a financial nor emotional position to come out to his parents who would, at best, be disappointed, and, at worst, disown him; how Light’s goal to win L over to Kira’s side hadn’t changed and had always been high stakes, but now Light was playing poker with his own heart and it felt like it had higher stakes than ever; how, counting his fledgling relationship with L, Light was now living a quintuple life (apparently a simple double life had been far too boring); and how Light, for all his bluster and rush, wasn’t sure he was ready to be in a serious relationship, yet he wouldn’t want anything less than serious with L.

With that, Light abruptly pulled himself out of his thoughts, registering Ryuk’s hulking form bent over as he floated alongside Loki, rubbing the dog’s ears. They continued to walk at a leisurely pace, or rather at Loki’s pace, despite the rain. Light was already soaked to the bone so there was nothing to do about it. Plus, Light was pretty sure he saw a snail pass them earlier.

Light felt his whole life was moving at a snail’s pace. He didn’t have to like the way L had been treating him, even if he did understand it. Light could and would fix it, but those were long-term goals. Right now, Light had more pressing concerns.

Like how Loki had relieved himself on the sidewalk. And it wasn’t a number one.

Light was rarely jealous of his Nightmare self. The man had lived a difficult life as a result of his poor choices. But, whatever kind of monster that Kira may have been, at least he’d never had to lay hold of canine bowel movements.

“I hate you,” Light informed the bulldog as he used a plastic bag to pick up Loki’s leavings. Loki snuffled at him happily then returned to sniffing the concrete. Light pulled a face as he put the filled plastic bag into the pouch he’d purchased specifically designed for this purpose. Then, putting on a bit of a show for the camera Light just knew L had installed on Loki’s collar, he grumbled, “I bet Kira never has to deal with shit like this.”

 

It was, perhaps, unkind of Light to use his followers like this but he was desperate. If he had to clean up after Loki one more time, the mutt was going to have a serendipitous rendezvous with the undercarriage of a semi-trailer.

It was the end of January when this brilliant idea occurred to Light – why not kill two birds with one stone, and invite the two nuisances along for his other daily nuisance, the walks?

Yamamoto and Misa were like clingy shadows. He swiftly found the only way to keep them off his back – including, once, literally, because Misa thought Kira might give her a piggyback, which Light had been swift to shut down – was to actually pay a little bit of special attention to Yamamoto at school, and to meet the pair every other day to hang out for at least an hour.

Light was busy spending time managing his relationships with Yamamoto and Misa, spending more time trying to convince L to let him actually do something for the investigation, studying for his high school final exams, and trying to convince not one, not two, but three Shinigami to like him enough not to kill him at the drop of a hat. And, of course, Light was busy writing in the Death Note. He had a steady stream of criminals dying every day, putting his weekly kill count back into the thousands. He admitted it would be easier if he asked either Yamamoto and/or Misa to help, which they kept unsubtly offering to do, but he refused. It wasn’t strictly out of a sense of pride either; it was simply illogical to involve those two anymore than necessary. If it ever got to the point that Light had to do something dramatic like incarcerate himself (again), he could call on them at that time. To do so any sooner would be a fool’s errand.

Yet, there was nothing to stop him from asking for their help in preventing Light from strangling L’s dog, so that was how Light Yagami, future god of the new world, ended up once again semi-willingly spending time with Misa Amane. Yamamoto had outright refused to come a second time, after Light had politely asked him to take hold of Loki’s leavings the first time, but Misa was happy to come along. Having her along for the walks meant Light was taking Loki almost halfway across town to meet her for the walks – he wasn’t dumb enough to think inviting Yamamoto or Misa anywhere near the Task Force HQ was a good thing – but it was worth it. Misa didn’t care if Loki was a grumpy, stinky, poopy old dog. She pinched his cheeks and cooed at him until the dog was sending Light looks for help. Light had shrugged, grinning maliciously, as Loki ‘suffered’ at Misa’s hand.

Honestly, between Ryuk and Misa, that dog was going to be spoiled into an early grave.

Light wasn’t going to argue.

 

Light found taking Loki for walks everyday had its benefits. He was keeping fit, it gave him plenty of thinking time, and it placated both Ryuk and Misa. Loki was actually kind of maybe a little bit useful. Not that Light would let the dog know that. He’d take good care of L’s mutt, but he wouldn’t like the damn thing. That was Ryuk’s department.

But as much as Light didn’t like Loki, it seemed that L had decided to like Light equally as much. Which translated to very little at all. Nearly a month into working for L and the most exciting thing that Light had been allowed to do was grammar-check Matsuda’s monthly report to the NPA. L wasn’t giving him quite the same level of cold shoulder – he was being what passed as civil for L Lawliet – but that still left Light feeling bereft. They’d been off to such a perfect start, but Light had tried to rush them to the finish line, effectively destroying the middle as he saw it as a waste of time. After all, he felt he already knew L reasonably well; they’d spent lots of time together…in his Nightmare. That was Light’s mistake. He’d tried to treat his L like he would that L. He wasn’t about to make that same mistake again. The middle was as important as the finish line.

So, being that Light supposedly barely knew L from Adam and being that Light was at best an unpaid intern, Light tried to think how he would have reacted to L’s cold treatment of him without the dubious benefit of his Nightmare memories. Light would have given him the cold shoulder right back. Tit-for-tat. He did not owe L anything, and he was at a hectic and important transitional time in his life. So, it would make sense for Light to ask for a break from the investigation. A holiday, if you will.

Light had a plan. He’d had ample time to devise one thanks to L. It wasn’t as risky as getting rid of his memories and chaining himself to L for months on end, but it was a high-risk high-reward stratagem. He would make L need his help. Although, first, he’d give L one last chance. Valentine’s Day was fast approaching and Light always received more sweet gifts than he could poke a stick at. It was the perfect excuse to extend an olive branch to L. And if L refused? Well- Light smirked.

L had given him plenty of time to plan out his most perfectly pioneering play yet.

Chapter Text

Friday The Thirteenth

 

Wammy was many things. A genius, an inventor, a patron of orphans, a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker, but what he was not, was perfect. He was a patient man but he did not have infinite patience. Eventually, after weeks and weeks, he was sick to death of the tension between his semi-adopted son and his son’s love interest. And it wasn’t the fun kind of tension either! L had been convinced from the moment Light Yagami came back into the NPA offices, bleeding like a stuck pig, that the teenager was Kira. And it showed. L had reluctantly let his colleagues coerce him into letting Light join the investigation, but for all intents and purposes, the boy may as well be staying home. Light was not allowed to contribute, but more than that, L continuously made accusations that the boy was Kira. He knew L had spoken with Naomi about Light, and L had dialled back his accusations and bad attitude after that, but he wasn’t showing even an ounce of the interest he first had in the boy upon meeting him in person.

And that just wouldn’t fly.

One of the main reasons that Wammy indulged every last whim of L’s was because he wanted his pseudo-son to be happy. Until now, he’d thought that meant solving as many impossible cases as possible. But now, after seeing Light’s influence on L’s mood, Wammy could only conclude, from both L’s schoolboy excitement at going to a dog café with Light and his subsequent grumpiness at not letting himself get close to Light, that L could find happiness in something other than his work. Even if Light were Kira, Wammy had faith that L would make it work.

But first, the hurdle that was even getting Light and L to talk again, beyond small talk and sighs.

Wammy wanted to be sure of Light Yagami’s intentions towards L before he started telling the boy how to win L back. So he didn’t mind watching Light take Loki on increasingly lengthy walks. It gave him ample opportunity to study the teen. His process was helped along by the arrival of Light’s friend, Misa Amane, as her presence meant Light talked more often. He did sometimes talk to Loki when it was just the two of them, but always seemed to end up calling himself mad for talking to a dog. Certainly, it wasn’t the most thrilling work Wammy could be doing, but it gave him time to fiddle with his newest inventions while he watched the Yagami boy with one eye.

 

It was a Friday afternoon, nearly four weeks into watching Light Yagami struggle around the stubborn, persistent roadblock of L’s obstinance, when Wammy decided it was time to approach the teen. Wammy’s mind had been made up by a scene he had witnessed that afternoon.

Light had returned from his daily dog walk, fed Loki, and resignedly sat beside Matsuda to help the detective enter data on all the police officers the Task Force had so far cleared of being Kira. It was a familiar scene; the Yagami boy stuck doing menial work around the office. L had run out of things for Light to shred, mostly after Light had called L out for printing documents to read for one second and then throw onto the shredding pile, so now Light was essentially Matsuda’s P.A. Wammy could tell the teen was unhappy, but even after weeks of this treatment, he hadn’t done anything vengeful about it. He wasn’t rolling over and taking it up the tailpipe – certainly he had no qualms letting L know his thoughts on the situation – but he was still doing what was asked of him.

No, it wasn’t any of that which swayed Wammy. He’d been subtly hinting at L for weeks to spend more time with Light Yagami, to no avail. If anything, L stayed further away from Light. They worked in the same office but they may as well have been in Australia and England for how distant they were. Light did try to talk to L – about the case, even just small talk – but rarely earned more than a monosyllabic or snarky answer. He did not give up, however, as he was apparently something of an optimist. So, that Friday, Light approached L after work, quite late into the night, and said, “Ryuzaki, may I ask you something?”

L made a vague affirmative noise and kept typing. At the foot of L’s computer chair, Loki sleepily rolled over and began kicking the air as he would if he was being scratched in a good spot. Light was momentarily distracted by the dog and moved to be a little further away from the canine.

“I’ve been here nearly a month,” Light prefaced. “I know you’re not comfortable with letting me work some of the harder aspects of the case-” Dark grey eyes swivelled to give the teenager a disappointed look. “-and I know you don’t want me beating this dead horse with you-”

“I would rather Light-kun doesn’t use trite metaphors,” L muttered provokingly.

Light ignored him and nobly barrelled on, “But I have been doing some investigating on my own time, and I would like to give you my findings.”

L blinked, but otherwise kept his expression blank. Wammy, from his position in his shadowy corner, suppressed a laugh at his son’s face. This was his I’m-interested-but-refuse-to-admit-it face.

“You’ve given the Task Force this weekend off to spend with their families, correct?” Light continued. He didn’t wait for L to reply, instead saying, “Perhaps tomorrow, I could come by the office and give you my report. That way, you can determine whether you want the information to be passed to the Task Force or not.”

Light waited with surprising patience as L dallied in his deliberations of what should be a simple answer. Eventually, after L had gnawed on his thumb for a time, he nodded. Light’s smile was blinding. “Thank you, Ryuzaki.” He turned to walk away from L, who retuned to his computer but had yet to resume typing, and for an instant, only because he’d been so diligently watching the teenager, Wammy saw Light’s expression fall and turn… sad.

That did it. Wammy could not stand both L and Light making themselves miserable over each other. He didn’t often like to meddle, but when he did, he considered himself the master of it.

 

As Light was leaving that night, Wammy caught up with him at the exit. The teen was typing swiftly on his phone, having just received it back from the lockbox the Task Force members all had to use (except L…and Wammy).

Wammy approached Light, wearing his most genial expression. Light noticed his approach, judging by the way he stiffened and deliberately kept looking at his phone. “Don’t think you can talk me out of seeing you on Saturday, Ryuzaki,” Light began heatedly, snapping amber eyes up only to see Watari. He faltered. “Watari?” he asked, somewhat hesitantly. “Is everything okay? Did I forget something?” He patted his jacket and pants pockets like he could ever forget something, meticulous as he was.

Wammy figured he may as well cut to the chase. “Are you Kira?”

Light’s eyes narrowed even as his mouth gaped in surprise. “Not you too!” He pouted, crossing his arms defensively. “I am not even going to dignify that with a response.”

Wammy had thought as much. L had mentioned to him that Light Yagami rarely, if ever, directly denied being Kira. It was like he thought such accusations were below him. “Do you intend Ryuzaki any harm?” Wammy asked instead.

“No,” came the immediate reply. Honesty? “If I did, I would have punched him in his stupid face already. Excuse the language, but he’s being a dick. And I don’t mean how he’s a private detective,” Light quipped.

“Ryuzaki is interested in you,” Wammy offered.

Light looked tired. “I know. I know, okay? He is interested in me as his prime suspect, even though I’m not Kira and he should really focus elsewhere before Kira disappears or-” Light cut himself off, studying the expression on Wammy’s face. “What’s so funny?” he asked. Because Wammy did, indeed, look amused. “And don’t say me,” Light warned.

Wammy took a page out of L’s book and switched to English, knowing Light would understand, and said, “Oh, but it is you. I get the feeling that it’s always you, Mr. Yagami.”

Light looked wary. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked in English, at least trusting Wammy enough to play along. Or perhaps, just curious enough.

He really did remind Wammy of a more socially-adept version of his son sometimes.

“It means, Mr. Yagami,” Wammy drawled, “that you have captured Ryuzaki’s interest, which is not an easy thing to do, believe me. I think you should not be so quick to give up on him.”

Light looked like he was trying very hard not to look at Wammy like he was an idiot, but politeness aside, Wammy still caught the expression. “Thank you, Mr. Watari, but I haven’t given up on him. I can understand why you would think I have. He thinks I’m Kira. That would be a…red flag for anybody. I just wish he understood that I’d never do anything to hurt him.”

And Wammy believed him. He believed that, in this moment at least, Light Yagami meant what he said. The sincerity in his voice, surely, could not be faked. Light Yagami would not harm L – Kira might, but Wammy believed that if Kira tried, he’d be in for a nasty surprise. L was tougher than Kira thought. Telling him to ‘try harder’. Hmph.

“Perhaps,” Wammy suggested casually, “on Saturday, you might benefit from joining us at 10 a.m. I have heard you are something of a tennis prodigy, Mr. Yagami. Perhaps you might indulge Ryuzaki in a game.”

He watched Light blink once, processing the language. Amber eyes widened as Light scanned Wammy’s face for any sign of deceit. “Are you setting us up on a date?”

“Heavens, no,” Wammy said, entirely unconvincingly. “Why would I? There is nothing special about this Saturday that might prompt such a reaction.”

Light was not fooled, naturally, knowing as well as anyone that this Saturday was Valentine’s Day. Light appeared to be considering Wammy’s offer. “How can I trust that this isn’t some elaborate entrapment scheme Ryuzaki has devised?”

Wammy chortled. “He would hardly stoop to such a thing as entrapment.”

“True,” Light allowed. “Okay, say I trust you, what then?”

“You will come to work on Saturday as planned,” Wammy directed. “I will persuade Ryuzaki to attend tennis with you.”

Wammy expected Light to rankle at taking direction, but Light inclined his head thoughtfully. “I wouldn’t have believed Ryuzaki capable of being persuaded in anything,” Light said, meeting Wammy’s eyes. Wammy was briefly put off-foot by the sheer determination and will in that stare. He rather felt that if Light Yagami wanted something to happen, it would happen. One way, or another. “Thank you for wanting to help me, Mr. Watari. I can honestly say I am pleasantly surprised. Can you keep a secret for me, Mr. Watari?”

“Of course, my boy,” Wammy said in an avuncular manner.

Light smiled sheepishly. “I… have a present for Ryuzaki, for Valentine’s. I know Valentine’s is different overseas and I wanted to show Ryuzaki that I still… care for him, even if he’d rather I do not.”

Wammy was surprised that Light had thought to do such a thing. He wondered what Light had gotten for his son. “That is very thoughtful of you, Mr. Yagami. I am sure Ryuzaki will appreciate the gesture.”

Light’s smile stayed in place, his eyes hopeful yet sad. “Ryuzaki will soon see that we are on the same side.”

Wammy silently wondered if the boy had admitted to himself that he was weighed down by such sorrow. It seemed unlikely, with the sort of pride Wammy had grown accustomed to seeing from the teen. He was a perceptive young man, who had picked up on L’s loneliness, but perhaps not his own. Light was depressed, in the way many genii are, yet he persevered and found purpose in life regardless. Much as L had once done. In an ideal world, Wammy still thought Light would be the sort of man he would choose for L.

“Goodnight, Mr. Yagami,” he bid.

Light shouldered his bag and bowed gratefully to Wammy. “Goodnight, Mr. Watari. Thank you for believing in me.”

Light walked out into the cold night. Wammy waited until he was gone, taking the moment to think about what Light might mean for L.

If Light were innocent, there would be no problems. Wammy would ensure L gave the relationship a fair chance, and he was certain it had the potential to last. Both boys were quick as whips, with similar interests yet differing world views. This would give them both enough in common to relate upon with enough differences to keep things interesting. Neither would stand being bored, Wammy suspected. They both kept busy even when logic said they should take a moment to relax. That drive could be dangerous, but Wammy had hope that they might be able to keep one another in check.

Furthermore, even if Light were not innocent, Wammy did not think it would be an unsolvable problem. Kira had yet to kill anyone that could not be rationalised away as deserving of capital punishment.  If Kira could stop killing, there would be no reason that he could not work with L. L had a number of reformed criminals in his employ, after all. Kira would be no different. Certainly, L would make Kira clean up the mess he was making of the world, but again that was no obstacle.

If Kira meant L any harm, it would be a different story. But Wammy had spent enough time around people with murderous intent to be confident he could pick up on it, and he had never gotten so much as a whiff of it directed at L from Light Yagami.

So, it was a no-brainer. L wanted Light; Light wanted L. Kira or not, there was nothing that should keep them apart.

Settled in his decision, Wammy returned to the main investigation room. He would wait until tomorrow to tell L that he was playing tennis with Light. L needed to be relaxed enough to sleep tonight, or he would be so irritable tomorrow, he would certainly not agree to go. So, Wammy gave his son camomile tea sweetened to the point of tasting just of sugar, waited until all the other Task Force members had gone home, and put his son to bed.

The bed L had chosen was king size, far too big for his tiny frame. He curled up in the centre of the mattress like a pill bug. Wammy tucked the sheets up over L, who blinked sleepily up at him from beneath his messy, dark fringe. “Quilish,” L said quietly, in their native tongue, “what were you talking to Light about?”

Wammy didn’t react overtly, knowing that would give the game away, if it was not already given. “If you did not listen to the audio,” he chided gently, “you do not want to know.”

L yawned but accepted that. Wammy weighed up the probability that L had already listened and put it at about 98% certain. At least it would make convincing L to go tomorrow a fair deal easier.

Wammy felt a nudging at his legs and looked down to see Loki pawing his demands to be let up on the bed. Smiling indulgently, Wammy hefted the weighty hound onto the bed. Loki waddled over to L’s side and collapsed heavily against the detective. The breath was knocked from L but he simply wrapped an arm around Loki and pulled him close to snuggle.

“Goodnight, L,” Wammy said affectionately, looking warmly down at his all-but-son and his far-too-intelligent dog.

“Goodnight,” L murmured into Loki’s fur, followed by quiet snoring as his breathing swiftly levelled out.

Wammy gave into the urge, sitting on the bed and reaching over to stroke L’s bird’s nest hair. It needed a trim, Wammy noted, and L needed a wash. He’d been working the case overtime and double-time, trying to clear Light Yagami’s name. L probably thought no-one knew what he was doing, but Wammy had spent the last twenty years of his life watching over L. He knew his son better than he thought.

“I love you, L,” Wammy told his sleeping son. “I’ll make sure you’re happy, just like I promised.”

If L’s head pressed closer into Wammy’s hand, being the only sign that maybe L was not so unconscious as thought, well, that was between L and his father.