Sayu, if nothing else, is a promise keeper. He’s able to dry himself off after a Thursday night shower with a towel smelling of fresh lilac softener, perhaps a touch too much, but the attempt is in all the right mind. Just as refreshed as Cheeseburger behaves after his newly acquired daily walks, Light is refreshed after his hot shower and clean towel, refreshed in his just washed sheets as he wakes the next morning to rise. Ironed socks work their argyle up his ankles. He slips his shoes on, tucks his arms into his overcoat, and snags his keys just as he’s swinging from the front door. Refreshed.
Faultless timing to feel so reborn, too; it’s best to start on high ground if a day is to knock the wind from the lungs.
“It’s the third day in a row I’ve tried to get him out of bed,” the woman explains, slender and short beneath a bob cut of black. Fridays in the hospital are busied enough as the hours grow later and later into the weekend, so at the very least, she’s caught him early, just a minute post setting his belongings in his office and moving toward a peek at today’s schedule. “He won’t respond to a thing I say. I’d think he was dead if the EKG weren’t still beeping.”
At the receptionist desk, Nori hides her humor behind a stack of folders.
“I’ll take care of it,” Light sighs out, nodding to the physical therapist as she shakes herself away to carry on a next task. Light taps his fingers to the desktop ledge once, then takes off with a snarl toward the direction of room 211.
“What seems to be the problem today?” He enters with a flourish of business. Standing over L’s bed, he confirms the therapist’s description of a cadaver facing the opposite wall on the bed’s midst, shoulders flaring every few seconds just to assure he’s breathing. Despite it, Light reaches to grasp one ankle protruding from the sheet bottom, shaking lightly, niggling. “Not feeling well, or just not feeling like following doctor’s orders anymore?”
Several more shakes, and Light concedes to leave it alone. His throat clears on itself. “If you go do PT, you don’t have to be hooked up to anything. No machines, no monitors. How’s that sound? Maybe I’ll even ask Maebara to bring you outside in the courtyard.”
Strictly, L stays facing the wall, unmoving, unrelenting. Light grits his teeth together.
“Hey,” comes more forcefully. Without answer again, he takes to a dip of the hand down again, dragging one finger along the bottom of his foot. L instantly jerks his leg away from the touch.
Light smirks over him. “See, you’re already doing it.” The praise is followed by a tickle upon the opposite foot, which right as well pulls itself away; another on the opposite, and Light’s just too far off the edge of preoccupied to make the connection between the increased height of the beeping blips from the corner machinery and the foot that lurches up and collides with his chest.
A hollow oof knocks him a step backward. Wincing, he rubs the sore spot above his sternum, and in vexation does his hiss return, “Bastard.” He shakes himself away from amateurism. “Fine, if you’re going to act this way, I’ll tell Maebara to cancel your sessions, and I’ll come in and give you personal Yagami-brand fitness training.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to know what fitness is,” L mumbles against his pillowcase, and Light speaks over him as his pen digs into the page below it, “Sunday morning…nine AM...L’s first PT session.”
A final underlining flamboyance, and the pen clicks, and Light smiles upward at the most deliriously pestilential patient to ever meet his sight.
Saturday, the weekend stranger loses without claiming a single point, offers again to buy lunch for the pair of them at the cafe a mile south from there. Saturday, Light isn’t certain what the man’s getting at, but he takes a shot regardless and tells him no, he’s got to get back to his girlfriend soon. Saturday, he repents for the lie when the caller ID across his phone reads Amane and she invites herself over for drinks four hours from midnight.
Sunday, he’s only vaguely hungover, and nine AM comes far too soon.
“Ah, you’re dressed up today,” Light comments, because he’d expected mopey moody bratty L to still be buried under his covers with all lights out, but instead is greeted by the pleasant sight of L in a long sleeved white tee and department store jeans, sitting at the edge of his bed unattached from all the medical equipment, waiting. Polite. Like an elementary schooler sitting to have his picture taken, but only once he’s told there’ll be a trip for ice cream contingent upon good behavior.
“Yes,” the good boy says. “I had Watari bring me some clothing yesterday. I wouldn’t want to be seen outside with my testicles showing.”
The headache puckers the top left of Light’s skull. Nevermind. “So you remembered what I said, then? You seem ready for me today.”
“Yes,” sighs L another time, chewing the pink of his bottom lip as he speaks. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to get this over with.”
“By all means.” Light’s at his side before the first step can be taken. Their ease works through the elevator, where L squints and blinks enough times to adjust himself before careening toward the far left back exitway. The courtyard awaits their steps, paved by soft concrete between squares of grass and tulip buds fighting the coming cold. It’s warm still, today, a given as to why a handful of others strew along the benches and grassland, most visitors with their family and treats in hand. A little girl bounces up and along the bench where an elderly woman sits, laughing behind her glasses at the sweet babbles the girl has to offer. Another selection just off the coast of them sit spread out along a white blanket over the grass, three ice cream cones for three hands and the inability to discern just who exactly is sick.
“Let’s just do some walking today,” Light says, picking up from the short refrain he’d stopped for to allow L’s breath be caught by the doorway. Stable, he casts a look ahead of him, and as if to agree, steps forth with no more a word.
This time of year, the flowerbeds are less so tended to. As they pass a row of roses, bright beaming red as the emblem of their hospital, Light notices the staggering lack of petals on several, bereft to walk by them without lending a hand. The mulch around them sticks strongly its smell into the air. For what he could be doing now, therein, blood pressure and heartbeats and whatever else he’s dedicated his life to, he doesn’t find this so poor a morn.
“I need to,” pipes from beside him, a pace behind, perhaps, and L swallows, “take a break.”
Light is set to accept, to nod him over to the nearest empty bench seat, but what halts him into silence is the clutch of two hands clinging suddenly to his arm, as if he were leading a prom queen out into the purple sibylline night. Right. Go on.
Once acquainted with the bench, Light waits, on-call, as L catches his short breaths until they string together evenly. L sits back against the bench, fingers insistent upon the wooden bottom lip of the seat.
“It’ll get easier the more you do it,” Light tells him, taking a glance for his watch. Ten minutes past the starting point. He supposes it’s a good amount to ask of him for today.
“What’s the likelihood of this killing me before the arrhythmia does?” mumbles out.
Scoffing battles back. “Zero. You’re the laziest person I’ve ever met.”
“How unfair,” L says, tipping his eyes opened again if only to look his way. “I was a tennis champion at one time in my life.”
Surprise is not enough to keep Light’s crave at bay; “Was?” he smirks. “I still am. I play every weekend. I haven’t lost a match in years.”
“Yes, well,” says L, “it’s rather hard to play tennis when you’re bedridden and on the brink of heart failure.”
“...I’m sorry.” Light sets his eyes upon the little girl again, in her sundress and hooded jacket, dancing around in all the world’s excitement for the older woman to clap onward to. He smiles for everyone’s worth. “Look at the brightside. You’re out of bed right now, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.”
Beside him, L’s focus is turned long away somewhere, but he hums some flavor of agreement.
“It is nice out here,” says his tired voice. “Reminds me of the courtyard at To-Oh.”
“I thought you never went there?” Light perks his head. L nods his once.
“I didn’t attend classes, but Watari did force me on a tour every new semester in hopes to convince me to go. He’d never insist I do anything I don’t want to, but he always had hope for me to get out in the world and form a relationship or two.” When L lifts his legs, one at a time, to press his lap against his chest, Light makes no fuss about it. Dreamy in the slurred tone, L goes on, “I always remembered the courtyard there. Every time I would get particularly sick when I was younger, and I couldn’t do much, I’d always wished I had something like that. I like the sunlight.”
Their gazes don’t meet. For all either know, they could be sat alone out there, speaking aloud the unearthed muck of their consciences, fallen on no one but themselves. But there’s two of them there on the bench, and Light moves forward to act accordingly. “I know what you mean. I spent a lot of time studying outside there. And even now- there’s a park right beside my house. I spend a lot of my free time there.”
“You wouldn’t expect a person like that to go into a field of work that keeps them inside all day.” L glances to him, rests his head to his knees to just watch him.
Light smiles. Just a bit. “Yeah, I guess not. But I was always interested in the medical field. Just the idea of healing people, I guess. It’s just like my father, he keeps the innocent safe by arresting criminals. I keep people safe by...screening for atrial septal defects.”
If Light were any less sane, he wouldn’t believe the breath of a laugh he hears from L’s muffled mouth.
“It’s a viable comparison,” he says. “Perhaps you and I aren’t so different.”
“Maybe not,” Light smiles, though cannot help poking his nose higher. “I think if I were in the hospital, though, I’d care about more than just coffee.”
“What would you care about?” strikes him back nearly before he’s finished. Light blinks to the blank expression on the other’s face, his straight mouth and wide eyes, a detriment.
“Well...I’d care about my health, mostly,” he answers, the straight laced businessman. “And I’d care about my family. My father’s been hospitalized a few times, and my mother is always a wreck the whole time. And...I think I’d care about my dog, too, even if that sounds silly.”
“You have a dog?”
Briskly, Light nods. “Yes, I’m just fostering him for my dad. He’s a retired police dog.” A while stretches between them, because Light knows what else to say, but something in him cares too wholly for pride. “...His name is- ...Daichi.”
A sidelong glance shows L’s eyes have narrowed again, though in scrutiny do they squint, as if calculating in his mind from the narrowed leer to the chewed upon thumbnail.
“We should get you back to your room,” Light decides. A breeze cools what deception of warmth had shrouded them. He’s on his feet as the punctuation, offering a hand downward. “Think you can do it?”
“No,” L says, and throws a wrist to his forehead. “I need a dashing young prince to carry me back.”
“Alright, smartass.” But he’s smirking, waiting as L unfolds himself to stand and prance forward.
The world outside vanishes with one sweep of the door. It isn’t so horrific a fate as one could face, though Light wouldn’t rather a life without color. He’s content. He counts each night the favors done for him by destiny, and every morning he’s grateful to wake. That’s his glory.
By the time L lets him leave, he’s stuffed inside the crowded hall of his brain to have Misa do an extra night check, and all the same to savor the scent of every mulch.