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A Tithe to Hell

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O I was born of mortal flesh
as human as you be
until from my horse one day I fell
and the fairy queen caught me
pleasant is the fairy land
but an eerie tale to tell
at the end of seven years
they must pay a tithe to hell

 

 

 

 

(Higuchi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


When the sheaf of paper slides between his fingers, all Light knows for a moment is a rush of memory – an onslaught of power and triumph too-long suppressed. Knowledge rises within him, swift and forceful - knowledge of his own genius, his instincts, his mastery over himself. It wells up inside of him, and for a moment he is sure it overflows, pouring like light from his eyes, the crown of his head, his fingertips. But no. When he looks over at L, for the first time since regaining his full awareness - at L, bold and afraid, a white streak of doubt against the skyline (his skyline, his cityscape, his planet) – all he sees is concern and surprise.

L is watching him, eyes wide, lips twisted in worry, but in the chaos of the moment Light has betrayed nothing. He turns away to hide his smile, and feels a last shudder of resistance as the part of him who has lived in innocence for the past few months tries to make itself felt in the middle of his swell of delight – the naïve, unenlightened horror of a schoolboy who knew nothing.

But he is no boy. He is Kira. He is God. He is Light.

Nothing can stand against such might – not L, and certainly not the weakest parts of Light himself.

The terror on Higuchi’s face is familiar, heady. Light drinks in the look of death from which he has been parted for too long – the contortions of pain, the bulging eyes that remind him of L’s, the garbled choking sounds, the clawing at the throat for breath. So foolish, these humans who fight death until the very last second instead of admitting their defeat and dying with dignity. They deserve to die, disgraced, in their stupidity.

He stores it up for later, all that raw hysteria, to relish in a moment when he is alone. He stores L’s stricken look away too, and can barely contain himself. The weeks without the Death Note have given him time to imprint L’s face on his mind – he can see it, the gaze of friendship, the eyes that are by now too comfortable watching him, too warm, even as they widen in suspicion.

Now, locking out the part of him that gained L’s trust to begin with, he joins the image with the shock and horror on L’s face in the present moment – and he knows.

He knows how L will look when he dies.

It is too powerful a vision to put away for later: he needs it, he wants it right now - he needs to watch L’s face paling, pupils dilating, the flash of recognition when he knows who has administered his defeat at last – and God, Light needs to have it now, he needs to be alone with it, to savor it, if only in his imagination.

But there are people present, and he forces his mind steady, wills the flush to fade from his cheeks. He is Yagami Light now, and he is appalled by the death in front of him. Only appalled.

Later, though.

Later.

At the very least, he thinks, smirking before he turns back to respond to L’s tremulous concern, he will have excellent dreams tonight.

 

 

 

(Day 1)

 

 

 

L refuses to let Light go.

Despite all the evidence clearing him and Misa, despite all the protests from his father, Matsuda, and the others, when the time actually comes to remove the handcuffs, L balks.

Light’s brilliant plan, thought through at every step of the journey, hinges on all his knowledge of L. Light knows what L has to do if he is faced with hard evidence acquitting him. L is too logical to do anything else.

But L refuses to remove the handcuffs.

“I know there is a second Death Note,” he says, chewing the edge of his thumbnail ragged, “Which means that until we have established the location and owner of the second notebook, I can’t confirm the reaper’s assertion that the rules for one Death Note apply to the others.”

Light clenches his fist reflexively, then forces it back open. He can’t tell if L noticed. L himself is concentrating on the Death Note, underlining with a narrow index finger the back page of rules.

“We know there have been three Kiras in existence,” he says. “A fourth Kira – or one of the first three – still remains. We don’t know the number of Death Notes in existence, but we do know that Kiras can exist simultaneously. All of this means that the chance of variation and error in my predictions has now risen exponentially per number of notebooks. I can no longer afford to err until I have all facts at my disposal unless the error is on the side of caution.” He glances briefly down at the handcuffs, then back up at Light. “I’m sorry,” he says.

Light has to squeeze his eyes so tightly to keep his rage from showing on his face that he gives himself a headache. When he finally dares to open them and glare across the room at L, he is dizzy, and his fingernails are digging into his palms inside his clenched fists.

“So what you’re saying,” he says bitterly, “is that even now, when we’ve caught Kira and proven that neither I nor Misa could have used the Death Note, you’re not willing to trust me?”

L’s eyes narrow a fraction, and for a flash of a moment Light has the sensation of being seen right through. Some hidden memory makes him stifle a shiver of protest. L is his friend - he should trust him for that reason alone. But -

No. He is Kira, and he is going to kill the man across from him. He’s going to be there when he dies. There is no room inside him anymore for Yagami Light, for his memories of that other, weaker self. He refuses to remember.

He glowers at L.

“So far the proof we have applies only to this particular notebook,” L says. “I have no choice but to continue to consider the possibility that at some point you or Misa, or both of you, came into possession of another notebook.”

Uncertainty wars with sympathy on L’s face as he looks at Light, and Light is so furious that he snaps, “I thought you were committed to justice – if so, then you wouldn’t continue to hold a man custody after he’s been proven to be innocent!” He doesn’t know whether he feels a deeper sense of disgust or betrayal: for a man as deeply logical as L to throw logic out the window when faced with the clear evidence Light has so neatly provided for him is as insulting to Light’s intelligence as it is to his estimation of L’s.

If he has to factor a new understanding of L’s profound stupidity into his calculations from here on out, Light thinks, he may never be able to regain his freedom.

There is a storm of protest from everyone. In another mood, Light might be touched by his father’s concern for him, but all he can really focus on is controlling his rage – suppressing the urge to take L’s face between his hands and crush. But L continues as if the outburst had never taken place.

“When I asked you to imagine yourself as the first Kira, Raito-kun, you told me that if you were separated from the Death Note it would be by your own choice.” L looks him over contemplatively, and Light stills his expression into one that hopefully appears far less lethal than he feels.

“Yes,” he says roughly. “Of course I would think that way if I were pretending to imagine myself as Kira. But - ”

“—The fact that you and Misa met in Aoyama coincides with Misa’s statement that she exchanged notebooks with a friend. This provides logical support for the two of you being the first and second Kiras simultaneously, while verifying your identities using the reapers the second Kira spoke of – Rem and the reaper who is most likely currently with the second notebook.”

“But Rem has already confirmed that the rules for each of the notebooks are the same,” Matsuda interjects. “They’d both be dead by now if they were each Kira.”

“Rem,” says L quietly. He speaks patiently, but it seems to Light as though he is carefully gathering motivation with every word. “You can’t tell certain truths about the Death Notes to anyone except the owners, is that correct?”

“Yes,” Rem replies.

“Then there’s no reason to assume that you can’t lie, either,” he says. “Thank you.”

Light feels the blood draining out of his face.

“Raito-kun,” L says. “You and Misa-san were primary suspects before the appearance of the third Kira, yes?”

“Yes,” says Light.

“Yet the overwhelming evidence in your favor was always the inability to determine how Kira killed or where and when Kira determined the method of killing. Deaths continued after you were imprisoned, so only two rational conclusions could be reached: either neither of you were Kira, or Kira possessed a way of killing without needing to be near the murder weapon, which we now know is the Death Note.”

Light freezes. If L is determined to distrust the Death Note rules, then he will surely come to the conclusion that either the Death Notes or the rules themselves can be manipulated. If he extends that logic to the idea that the reapers can be manipulated too, then he will win.

L will win. It will all be over – just like that.

“But neither Misa nor I have ever seen the Death Note before,” he replies, calm as ever.

“As you have stated. But isn’t it interesting that the rule about being out of contact with the note for over thirteen days is exactly the evidence we need to clear both you and Misa-san?”

At this Light’s father breaks in heatedly. “You can’t disregard evidence just because it doesn’t support your theory!”

“Not at all, Yagami-san,” says L, eyes widening as he looks back and forth from father to son. “All the rules thus far except for the final two rules written in the book match up with the hypothesis that your son is the first Kira and Misa the second. The final rule clears you of the ability to use the Death Note when it is out of your hands.”

“What do you mean?” Light can’t quite keep the shrill sound out of his voice. He knows everyone else in the room thinks his freak-out is due to facing an obsessive detective who won’t acknowledge obvious facts. Because everyone else is playing along, unlike L.

He locks his jaw and compresses his emotion as much as he can. Ryuuzaki needs to die. Light needs him to die, and soon.

“In the security tapes from the train,” L continues, sitting up straighter and straighter in his chair, “the day Raye Penbar was killed, he had to have been in contact with Kira in order for the first Kira, who could not kill with just a face, to obtain the names of the other eleven FBI agents. But no notebook was ever found on him, and no notebook appeared in the security cameras. He was riding the train as the others died. The first Kira had to have gotten the names from Penbar.”

Light bites the inside of his lip and focuses on the wonderful needling sensation of pain there to distract himself from the dawning understanding in L’s saucer-plate eyes.

“What if Penbar never delivered the names to Kira?” L says. He points with a crooked finger at the Death Note. “What if Kira delivered the Death Note to Penbar?”

Everyone stares at him.

“Not all of it – but just a page.”

Light forces himself to speak. “Right,” he says. “If the rule about defacing the Death Note is false, then Kira could have presented Penbar with a page of the note that he’d removed, and ordered him to simply write down the names.”

L fixes him with his stare. “If this theory is correct, Raito-kun,” he says solemnly, “Then it explains the method for the murder of Raye Penbar and the other twelve. And it also means that the final rule of the Death Note, which states that the Death Note cannot be defaced in any way, is false.”

“That doesn’t explain why the rule was falsified to begin with, however,” Light responds carefully. “And if the rule is true, no attempt can be made to test it, because every one of us in here will die.”

“Exactly,” L agrees. “It is a foolproof rule, and the logic is irrefutable.”

Finally, Light almost snaps.

“Which means whoever falsified it needed to protect the Death Note itself at any cost,” L continues.

Light comes perilously close to sending L a glare murderous enough to give him away on the spot. Instead he settles for glancing at Misa, who is studying L as if what he is saying is interesting – as if she’s on his side. Girls are useless, he thinks. He needs to get her to dig up the Death Note. That’s how this is supposed to go – except that his plan depends on his knowledge of L…

He has to play along. Give nothing away.

“The destruction of the Death Note could mean that the owner of the Death Note suffers somehow as well,” says L. “If that’s the case, then the owner would take pains to ensure its survival.” He chews his finger. “I think it equally likely, however, that the rule serves to obscure the modus operandi for the first Kira, who murdered Raye Penbar. In all probability the penultimate rule, as well, was written by someone attempting to provide an alibi for the two Kiras under suspicion during the time they were without the two Death Notes.”

Slowly, Light nods. His heart is racing. If he doesn’t get out of these handcuffs, Misa doesn’t dig up the Death Note. She won’t be able to make the trade for the eyes - she won’t be threatened at all. If Rem doesn’t think Misa’s life is threatened Light will have no power over her actions – no way to manipulate her, or even Misa.

No way at all.

“This, unfortunately, means that I cannot justifiably release you or Misa-san at this time.”

Fuck.

“I apologize, Raito-kun.”

He says Light’s name like he actually is sorry.

He has no idea what he ought to be sorriest for.

“But all this is conjecture,” says Matsuda tiredly. “Based on whether or not you believe the reaper – er, Rem – is telling the truth.”

“As to that,” L says. “My calculations are roughly at 90% that the rules are false.”

And he rips a page out of the Death Note.

Light actually screams in rage, but he is drowned out by the horrified outbursts all around him.

“Everyone,” says L when the alarm has subsided. “I apologize.”

“I thought you were erring on the side of caution!” Light hisses.

“Oh.” L blinks. “There must naturally sometimes be exceptions.”

No one speaks. No one even breathes.

More importantly, no one dies.

 

 

 

(Day 2)

 

 

 

Light, Light’s father, and Matsuda all protest that L still can’t know whether the rules apply only to completely defacing a Death Note or just ripping parts of it out. Rem plays dumb, and in the end, despite Light’s bitter and heartfelt protestations that L has just risked all of their lives to pursue his lunatic obsession with Light and Misa, in the end, they can’t prove that L isn’t right.

A thirteen-day test is devised, using yet another prisoner scheduled for execution. The prisoner writes in the note to set the thirteen-day rule in motion. Then they wait.

Light is asked to remain in handcuffs.

They are installed as usual in the same bedroom, stale and whitewashed and full of computers and surveillance equipment, their two beds on the far side of the room, making a ridiculously domestic contrast to the spy movie setup.

The first night neither of them sleep – L because he is constantly peering over at Light, Light because he is too angry. At some point, very late in the night, when Light’s eyes are thick-lidded and he is just about to drift off, L murmurs into the darkness, “But at least Raito-kun is a known variable, and known better than he thinks.”

“When I get out of here, Ryuuzaki,” Light mumbles into his pillow, “I’m going to kill you.”

“Goodnight, Kira-kun,” L replies.

Light pulls the covers over his head and tries to plot himself to sleep.

 

 

 

Tensions are high. Light is restless and humiliated. He knows logically that he has been here before, that he has spent three months in this inexhaustible confinement by L’s side, but the experience of it is new to him: is he – is Kira, the Lord of the New World – to be shut up and leashed like some dog? Confined and made a prisoner all at the whim of a deranged detective who can’t even be stopped by those closest to him? Light had thought he hated L before; now he can barely look at him for all the rage he must bury each time their eyes meet. He wants L’s death so badly the emotions roll over each other in his stomach, constricting his throat and making it difficult for him to do anything at first but fight and argue and seethe. He is Kira, and he will not be shut up in some kennel.

Except that he is Kira, and L will have him for the next twelve days at least.

After that…

L invades his personal space at every moment, raking over Light with his eyes, peering into his face and making casual observations about his behavior, as if he has Light on a lab table and will whip out the scalpel at any moment.

It’s all Light can do not to punch his face in, and, in fact, when L remarks calmly that something about Light is different, he does.

He knocks L over the coffee table. L responds with a kick that lands against his kneecap and sends Light sprawling across the floor. He lunges for L, but once he has his hands on L’s shoulders he realizes L has the upper hand after all: enraged, vulnerable, at the breaking point – there is no telling what shows on Light’s face at the moment.

L doesn’t resist or fight the pressure of Light’s hands against his neck. He looks up at him sadly, his eyes wary and wide, unreadable emotion ghosting across his pale face as Light’s father and Matsuda drag Light up.

“Raito-kun,” L says. That’s all, and Light wonders where all the uncertainty in his voice has come from.

“Could’ve used a bit of that yesterday,” he snaps bitterly, and doesn’t bother explaining.

There are eleven more days of this, he thinks. He needs a plan.

The second night L sits at his desk, shrouded in the glow of the computer monitor. He is writing a long email to someone, possibly Watari, but Light is too pissed at him to give him the satisfaction of evincing any curiosity. Better, he thinks, to show no more investment in L’s obsession with him than he already has.

L writes slowly, cautiously – even with his eyes closed Light can see him, chewing his thumb and typing with his two index fingers, one painstaking letter at a time.

That’s right, Ryuuzaki, he thinks. Take care.

 

 

 

(Day 3)

 

 

 

The next morning L is cheerful. He blithely wakes Light by tapping his fingers against the desk as he works, then proceeds to ignore Light’s murderous (and not at all confessional, under the circumstances) expression.

“Oh, you’re awake,” he says. “I was hoping you would wake up soon. I was hungry.”

“You could just take the handcuffs off, you know,” Light says with a deliberate yawn. “It’s not like I’m going to take off before I’ve had my morning coffee.”

“But Raito-kun takes his coffee black,” L says somberly. “Who knows what that could lead to.”

Then he smiles at Light and drags him out of bed and into the kitchen. Light wakes up by grudgingly helping L make tea and putting the coffee on for the other team members. He cooks an omelet while L leans over his shoulder, staring warily at the frying egg as if the protein might escape the pan and invade his digestive system. Light shoves him away halfheartedly a few times, but it doesn’t really work, and finally he just settles for bumping his shoulder against L’s chest whenever he reaches into the cabinet.

He serves his omelet and offers to make L one despite knowing what the answer will be. L responds politely, but he sounds as if Light is the unfortunate one to have to make out with such a breakfast instead of tea and a box of powdered donuts.

Light wonders what it would be like if they actually were friends. He doesn’t think L has any real affection for him, but they have been handcuffed together for a long time. You learn a lot about someone that way, and just because he can’t remember anything about Ryuuzaki during that time doesn’t mean the knowledge isn’t buried some place accessible. On the surface, he thinks, they look quite cozy, sitting down to breakfast like any other two people – friends, co-workers, roommates. For all that their relationship is founded on mutual distrust, he thinks, wincing as L graciously passes him a disgustingly glazed donut, L’s interest in him is real.

He stares at L drumming the table with one hand and licking the sugar off the fingertips of the other.

Under any remotely normal circumstances, would they have been friends?

L peers at his teacup and then stirs the milk and sugar in with his pinky. Light rolls his eyes and gets him a spoon. They would never have met apart from this case, and besides, Light has never really had friends. Friends serve no purpose unless you’re weak enough to need people around all the time, and neither of them are weak.

“Yagami Light is sulking less this morning,” L says, disrupting his thoughts. “Does that mean Raito-kun has accepted his confinement?”

“I’ve done it before,” Light shrugs.

“You were willingly engaged in the pursuit of Kira and the fight for your innocence,” L says. “But I’ve ruined that for you, haven’t I?”

Light’s gaze snaps to L’s, and he wonders if L has ever fully thought through the wisdom of taunting Kira.

He savors the image of L’s face in death, the vision of how finally defeating him will feel. Then he stretches and leans back in his chair with a guarded smile.

“You’ve only made it easier for me to hold this over your head when we’re out of this, L,” he says. “We’ll catch Kira together. You can make it up to me then.”

L doesn’t answer right away. He looks down at his rapidly dwindling collection of donuts. “When we’re out of this, I will make it up to you,” he agrees. “If I can.”

Light raises his eyebrows. “That sounds like defeat talking,” he says. “Not Ryuuzaki.”

“Perhaps it is,” L says. “Kira may or may not be able to kill me until he discovers my name.” He reaches over, dunks a donut into Light’s cup of coffee, and then stares a little sadly at the whorls of powder floating on the surface. “But I think… there is more than one way for him to defeat me.”

Light stares at L. The eastern light is pouring in through the windows of the breakfast alcove, haloing around L’s hair for no reason, as if he needs to play the martyr more than he already is.

"What do you mean?" Light asks.

L looks up at him. “When you were released from solitary confinement,” he says through a mouthful of donut, “I told you that I thought… that maybe I had wanted… "

He doesn’t continue, but Light, all at once, remembers – the moment, the fight, the way L’s eyes had widened, the way he’d just stood there passively letting Light beat him up, right up til the moment when he struck back.

He can’t remember anything else. He won’t.

“You said you wanted me to be Kira,” he says, scowling. “You just couldn’t stand not being right. You still can’t.”

“No,” L says. “It wasn’t only that. But I don’t know why a far more likely motivation for wanting to keep you under surveillance didn’t occur to me.”

“Which is…?”

L blinks at him. “Raito-kun is good company,” he says.

Light rolls his eyes and steals his coffee away from L’s next dunk. He takes it to the couch, moving far enough away from L that the chain between them scrapes against the concrete floor of the lounge. The sound grates against nerves that feel as though they have been frayed for days.

“L,” he says after a moment. “You’re the only person on earth who could tell me I’m Kira and make it sound like a compliment, then tell me I’m your friend and make it sound like a reason for locking me up and throwing away the key.”

L looks up. “Raito-kun thinks being thought of as Kira is a compliment?”

He sips his coffee, ignoring the powdered sugar on the rim of the cup. “I never said that,” he says, “Even if I think your suspicion of me is a compliment to my intelligence, it’s disgusting to my honor as a human being.”

L just looks at him and sips his tea, and Light holds on to the image of his dead face, using it to quell his rising annoyance.

“But L,” he continues, “you have no reason to keep me here right now. Absolutely none. Some part of you must know that. It’s not like the L I know to be so irrational about Kira, especially not where one of his friends is concerned.”

The chain jingles again.

He feels L's hands come to rest on his shoulders, cold fingertips barely brushing against his collarbone, the ridge of the handcuff lying against the side of his neck. Light doesn't look up, but he is sure L can hear his breath catch.

"Raito-kun," says Ryuzuki, softly. "There is nothing rational about my response to you." He lets his hands stay splayed across Light's shoulders. "We both know that."

After a moment, Light responds: “Yes.”

And so, he thinks, does Kira.

 

 

 

(Day 4)

 

 

 

The pieces slide into place in the morning while L is sliding on his shirt after showering, and Light, delicately holding his cuffed hand in front of his eyes, catches a glimpse of L's flat hipbone beneath the drab white cotton.

He remembers. He remembers. Yearning for the thin body before him swells inside of him all at once – his fingers on the flat blade of L’s stomach, the hitch in L’s breath –

Immediately he clamps down on the emotion. He is horrified, exhilarated. He thinks: of course at the same time he thinks: I can use this.

L doesn't know about this – he can’t know. His glances haven't changed their shape since he got the Death Note back. Besides, an L who knew would be an L who had reacted – an L who would already be at Light’s command.

He thinks about Misa, about what one kiss had done. She was nothing like L, nothing as strong and as difficult to manipulate… but still.

Light had never factored anything like this into his plans for L.

The only thing he knows for certain is that his kinder, gentler self would never have acted out those fantasies. He tries to access that part of himself, but there are too many things at stake – too many memories he can’t touch. Among them is the vague idea he has that while without his memory of the Death Note he had been chaste in all ways: he knows that he had tried to suppress whatever feelings he had for L.

Ironically, the memory of trying not to want only draws into sharper relief all the memories of what he’d been trying not to want.

He tries not to remember what it was like to want L – he tries to focus only on what he can use.

He tries not to note the sharp angles of L’s wrists, the way his hair splays over his forehead and the back of his neck; the way his voice drops automatically when he says Light’s name, as if just the name alone is a secret, a revelation he doesn’t quite trust.

He tries not to remember what it was like to want L as they trade places and L holds a hand to his eyes while Light changes; as L sloshes coffee all over his sleeve and pours Light’s cup too full despite Light’s protests; as they trade mind games over breakfast of cake, cake, and, for at least one of them, more cake.

The handcuffs - too obvious, L, he thinks. Too easy to just -

And then the knowledge, the wanting, overpower him for a moment.

He has the Death Note. If he had L's name, if he only had L's name, there is nothing - nothing - he could not make L do.

The ideas come in waves, so strong he has to clench his fist tight around his coffee cup as he tries not to stare at the outline of L in his chair, a mess of jutting angles and protruding lines and knees and elbows and awkwardness.

He could make his own body, his own muscles twisting and burning around him, the last thing L feels before he dies.

He could make L beg for it – make him fall at his feet, surrender to him so hard he begs for his own death.

He could make L sleep.

The coffee burns its way down his throat. He closes his eyes.

"Are you all right, Yagami-kun?" L asks.

"I was just thinking," says Light smoothly, "about absolute power." He sips his coffee. "And how it corrupts."

"Fifty per cent," says L without breaking his gaze, and Light smiles.

"I know," he says, and looks back.

 

 

 

(Day 5)

 

 

 

The fifth day, L brings the Death Note into their room.

He leaves it lying, open to a blank page, on the desk he shares with Light.

Light has all but given up attempting to convince L to remove the handcuffs. The more he reasons, the wider L's eyes grow, until every exasperated protestation of innocence starts to sound like a verbal confession. Light is trapped. Every day the handcuffs stay on is one more day no one dies. One day weaker his hold over Misa grows, and with it his ability to trust Rem.

One day closer to endgame.

And there it is, right in front of him.

L sits down cross-legged on the bed, chain stretched between them. Light looks away from him and tries to focus on the computer screen instead of the notebook beside him.

Then L starts watching the news.

He never blinks, never looks away from the screen, yet Light can feel his scrutiny like needle pricks all down the back of his neck. The rage twists inside of him until the point where he must either rip the Death Note or L to pieces with his bare hands.

He stands up and joins L on L's bed. He hopes L can sense the danger he is in, hopes he can feel Kira's hatred stinging his skin. L ignores him, though, until Light reaches over and flicks the tv off with the remote. L keeps staring intently at the blank flat-screen as if he can continue to infer the images there.

"Why bring that thing in here? More mental torture?" Light says lightly, but through gritted teeth.

L swings his head around and gazes at him. "Is it terribly hard for you to resist?" he says solemnly. "Knowing you have the ability to write down my name but not the knowledge of what to write?"

Light thinks he might be trembling with anger. We are friends, he thinks in a desperate attempt to force control, I can make him trust me. He has to.

He lets out a short, weak laugh. "Kira isn't as weak as you imagine me to be. You're wasting your time."

"Wrong, Raito-kun," says L. "Kira is far weaker than you realize." He looks back at the empty tv set. "And this is quite relaxing - the waiting game."

"Stalemate, you mean," Light retorts bitterly.

"No," L responds. "Kira is in check."

Light leans close. "And where does that put me?"

L turns to him. Light sees the flat spaces in his eyes and the tiniest hairline smile threatening to disrupt his passive expression.

"At eighty-five per cent," L answers softly.

Something twists in Light's stomach that has nothing to do with anger, everything to do with possibility. He wonders, right before he kisses L - right before L kisses back as if this is the inevitable next step, right before he tugs L down against him and feels L's spiderleg fingers curl around his shoulders - how it will feel, not just to kill, but to destroy.

There are eight days left before Light loses his alibi.

Light will make copious use of them all.

 

 

 

(Day 6)

 

 

 

Ryuuzaki kisses like a fish, cold, staring eyes and all. Light shoves down his annoyance – just more reason to hate L, after all – and focuses on playing the part of affectionate boyfriend. With Misa that part was easy - he just had to take her places and buy her things and pose whenever anyone was looking.

He can’t buy L things or go anywhere with him and even though people are always looking, Light poses around L so much, L wouldn’t notice a difference anyway.

He studies the shape of L’s hands throughout the day - watches him tentatively pecking things out on keyboards, chewing voraciously on the ends of pencils or his thumbnail, whichever he comes across first. By mid-afternoon he thinks he can make himself voluntarily touch one without it seeming unnatural. L seems content to offer his mouth for kissing but not much else by way of romance. Well and good - it’s not like Light wants to do this - but he needs to step up the pace. He can’t afford to waste any time.

He shifts his chair half a foot closer to L’s in the stakeout room, rests his palm on the back of L’s office chair. L cocks his head in Light’s direction and then shifts in his chair so that his hair brushes the back of Light’s fingertips. Light knows he must have done it on purpose. Anger and pent-up lust shoot through Light – the echo of his fingers almost brushing the nape of L’s neck is almost more annoying than an actual touch would be.

He grabs the chair and swivels it around. “Are you going to look at that all day?” he snaps.

“I was planning to break for lunch,” L says, studying him. “Did you want to break early? I think there is still some lemon cake in the back.”

Light barely holds back the eyeroll and kisses L on the mouth. L freezes all over, like he has the last time, and the time before, and the time before. It gives Light a twisted sort of satisfaction to know that L’s completely out of his element here, but he can’t resist leaning in and tilting L’s chin up to teach him how it’s done. He gradually gets L to part his lips and respond, but it’s torturous work, and Light is starting to wonder why he even bothers when they break apart.

L is still wide-eyed, staring, and utterly composed.

“Why bother, Raito-kun?” he asks. “It’s unlike you to expect to absolve yourself of all suspicion with a method like this.”

Light clenches his fists, then deliberately lets go. “Normally, L,” he mutters, “people do these things because they want to.” He shoots L a look.

“I can stop,” he says. “If you want.”

L draws his knees up into the chair and hugs them, averting his eyes. Light wonders distantly how anyone so tall and unarranged can fit into such a compact space.

“Kissing Raito-kun is a serious conflict of interest,” he says. He looks up sharply at Light. “While you are under suspicion, I should remove myself from the Kira case.”

Light snorts. “Since the only person who believes I’m Kira is you, L,” he says caustically, “That would solve several problems at once.”

“Yes,” L agrees thoughtfully.

Light has to laugh. He moves closer to L, and finds it’s easier than he thought it would be to take L’s hand, to lace their fingers together.

“Deep down, you don’t believe I’m Kira either,” he says. “If you did, you couldn’t do this.”

He leans in and kisses L again.

He pulls back, expecting L to at least look interested.

“Raito-kun overestimates my idealism, I think,” says L with curiosity.

Light indulges in a brutal, grotesque, and completely internal act of violence.

“Deep down,” he says, forcing a smile, “I know you know I’m not Kira. If I didn’t believe that, L, then I couldn’t do this.”

He leans in and presses his mouth against L’s hair, then slowly moves his way over L’s temple.

L goes rigid at the first touch, as usual, but when Light reaches the shell of his ear he flinches away and laughs awkwardly. It’s a strange, surprising sound.

“Tickles,” he says by way of explanation. His voice is warm, though, and he doesn’t discourage Light from leaning in again.

This time it’s not torturous at all.

 

 

 

(Day 7)

 

 

 

L watches him sleep.

Light has a feeling that L has always watched him sleep, but the difference is that now, when they are sharing the same bed, it’s harder to mask the jolt of surprise every time he turns around to find L peering at him from upside down like a giant bat, wide eyes fixed on his.

It’s easier to counter, though; easier for Light to grip L's wrist by the end of his handcuff chain where he has propped his chin to stare at him, and tug it gently out from under him so that L falls forward.

He is so thin that his ribs feel like dull slivers of glass when he connects with Light's chest.

Light could kill him so easily. He could use his weight to hold L down while he smothered him. He could use the handcuff chain to cut off his oxygen supply when L tried to throw him off.

He suspects L's eyes wouldn't go any wider in death than they are now, fixed on him like searchlights in the dark of their solitary room.

He laughs dryly at the image; L's expression of solemn curiosity as he stares at Light doesn't change, but Light has the uncanny sensation of feeling like he’s just given himself away, that L knows everything that he’s seeing in his mind.

Light is used to the suspicion that L knows everything that’s going on in his head. He had thought this was a trait they had in common. Lately, when L's fingertips are tracing his spine after they've finished fucking, he's not so sure.

The knowledge irritates him into flipping L over, pinning him down. If L's not going to let either of them fucking sleep tonight, then he can at least make it worth Light's while to stay awake. And that's what he's doing anyway, isn't it? Making it worth Light's while to stay among them, a willing captive. They have seven days until Light returns to being officially under suspicion again, and even then L will never have enough proof to convict him. He knows that. They both do.

You crazy obsessed lunatic, Light thinks, and he lets out a smirk that has perhaps a bit too much self-awareness in it. L's expression stills, and he stretches out beneath Light like a sacrifice.

L never kisses Light like other people - his kisses are sloppy and unpolished and a bit like the rubbery wet taste of cold coffee. There is nothing picture-perfect about them. But each one of them is a victory Light has not yet gotten over savoring.

Each one of them carries him deeper into L's mind.

L's body is so frail and pliable Light can mold it to him any way he wants. L never murmurs a word, just follows Light as though he is perfectly content for Light to carve him up howsoever he chooses.

It shouldn't be good - not when L just lies there, still and unprotesting, and not when Light doesn't even like sex to begin with.

But it is good. And in the end, L is always the one who drives Light over the edge.

Perhaps because the look on L's face in orgasm isn't too different from the look that comes right before the death rattle, the look of terror as the owner of that face realizes they're dying. Perhaps because the need to push him there drives Light into a frenzy long before L.

Perhaps because L never stops studying him, and Light wants him to break before he comes - because it's L who is surrendering here, not Light, and it's L who needs to understand that he's not the one controlling this.

So tonight, when L reaches up to curve his fingertips over Light's jaw, to trace it almost experimentally, Light decides that he's not going to let L retain his illusion of control any longer.

L kisses him and he kisses back, slowly, working his tongue into L's mouth until he can taste L's soft gasps of pleasure before he hears them. L's erection is as sharp as the rest of him, and it feels just as good to have pinned beneath him, totally his to control. L's fingernails dig into his shoulders; his tree-frog legs wind around Light until his heels are digging into the back of Light's thighs as they push against each other. L demands more without ever saying a word, or abandoning his fixed, fascinated study of Light's face.

When he can sense L's heartbeat speeding up along with his own, Light pulls away - just enough for L to register his expression.

"Who are you looking for?" he asks in a whisper, tracing a finger over L's lips. He kisses L's forehead.

"Is it me you want fucking you? ...Or is it Kira?"

He kisses L's mouth.

And then he smiles.

L comes so hard that he is utterly in pieces, and Light has to fuck him twice just to put him back together.

He was wrong about those eyes, he thinks with satisfaction afterwards. They could widen even further.

 

 

 

(Day 8)

 

 

 

They can’t keep their hands off each other.

The other detectives have gone from being mildly horrified to trying desperately to pretend it’s not happening in front of them – except for Matsuda, who clearly thinks this is the best thing that has ever happened to their investigation. He coughs politely when L idly strokes Light’s wrist with one hand and eats sugar with the other, and ushers everyone out of the room ‘so Yagami-kun and Ryuuzaki can have some time to brainstorm.’

At one point L comments that if the prisoner goes unpunished after the thirteen- day mark, then Raito-kun has the best chance of being the original Kira of all their remaining suspects. Matsuda blanches.

“But surely you don’t still think Yagami-kun is –” he trails off.

L blinks at him.

Light is overcome with the urge to wrap his fingers around L’s wrist, so he does.

Matsuda coughs politely. “Well,” he observes, carefully avoiding looking down at their joined hands. “At least no one can question your objectivity.”

(Light does anyway.)

It gets to be a problem, especially when Misa walks in on the two of them flush up against each other in the stakeout room, L pinning Light to the wall and Light with one hand down L’s trousers and the other one stroking the back of his neck.

She doesn’t look shocked or even surprised by the time they’ve sprung apart (but not too far, and not guiltily, and L’s hand is still caught in the tangles of Light’s hair).

“He’s Kira,” she tells L, rolling her eyes at Light’s ashen face. Then she walks out, her boot heels clacking Light’s personalized stiletto death march on the concrete floor.

“Your girlfriend thinks I’m fucking Kira,” L says, kissing him again and pushing his fingers back through Light’s hair.

Light is momentarily distracted enough to stop thinking about dying.

He spends the rest of the day expecting to die anyway, expecting Rem to either kill him or tell Misa where to find the other Death Note so she can personally have the pleasure. He snaps at everyone.

L is amused.

“I wonder what it feels like to die, Raito-kun? Do you ever think about it?” he asks over dinner. Light nearly strangles him before he realizes that L is joking.

He stabs his food and refuses to answer. L says gently, “You miss her.”

Light looks up, surprised by the sincerity in L’s voice.

“As the second Kira, she must have been excellent security for you,” L continues.

When his glare doesn’t faze L, Light has no choice but to fuck him on top of the table, L’s body taut and long and stretched out below him, fingers gripping the table like claws. His skin is paler than ever - the stress of sleeping with a serial killer has to show somewhere - and his skin turns blotchy red where Light touches him. Sweat runs down his back in a sheer, thin line. His hair sticks to his neck.

L is stunning in odd moments. How stunning he would be if Light could only -

He is Kira, he should be free to do with L what he pleases. The knowledge that L is the only thing stopping this fills him with equal parts rage and arousal as he fucks him, and when he finally comes, L’s sigh only makes him angrier.

“Why do you want me to be Kira so badly?” he breathes against the base of L’s neck. L’s legs are drawn up beneath the table, his body taut against Light’s, and Light is sure that he dreams of L’s death, of the vivid fear painted across his face in contrast to the unsettled arousal there now.

L looks away, a flicker of hesitation crossing his face. He reaches down, but Light knocks his fingers away and flips him over onto his back. L stares up at him curiously, and Light tries to ignore his rising impatience as he moves between L’s thighs.

L’s breath comes out a sharp stutter, but then he answers and Light knows he has been thinking about the question since long before Light asked it. He parts his lips around L’s cock and smiles, and L settles his fingers in Light’s hair.

“I want you to be Kira,” L says, his voice a high, faint whisper, “because there can’t be two of you.”

Light looks up at him.

L’s fingers are digging into the table cloth.

“There can’t be… anyone else…”

And Light remembers - has an image of L’s eyes lingering too long on his, of his arms on the back of L’s chair as they studied the death lists – standing too close, leaning over too far. Feeling courses through him, and, unsure whether it is remembered or brand-new, he murmurs, “Ryuuzaki,” around L’s orgasm, in the same instance that L’s body jerks, and he cries out:

“Kira.”

L’s eyes squeeze shut.

Light’s snap open.

 

 

 

(Day 9)

 

 

 

Light moves in for the kill, for the little death.

He drags his fingers over L’s waist in hallways. He curves around him where they shower and licks the shell of his ear. He has all but permanently shortened the chain between them during meetings, meals, morgue inspections. His body knows L’s now. He knows how to make L’s breath quicken in public, just by changing his tone of voice, or the angle of his smile.

He teases. L lets him.

He’s blowing L against the wall, L pressed against it, his body thrusting up into Light’s mouth in awkward, jerky movements. This is Light’s favorite lately: L’s back flat, his whole body spread for him, breath coming in short, sharp shudders as Light sucks him off. Light can control him this way, hands cradling L’s ass while bony fingers clutch at strands of his hair. He can feel L trembling all over when he moves – he’s gotten extremely good at it, sucking cock – but L still won’t come on command. After a while he pulls Light up in order to taste himself on Light’s mouth, but Light, sure of himself now, pulls away.

“Kira wouldn’t kiss you like this,” he says, holding L’s gaze. L is the only person who’s ever sized him up like this, in the middle of sex. Light had tugged him into their bedroom earlier, cutting short their meeting with the other investigators and declaring that the kettle-black circles under L’s eyes had gotten worse. You need to rest, Ryuzaki, he had claimed, oh so sincerely. Then he’d clawed fingers up L’s waist, tearing off his sweater before the door had fully shut, and they’d ended up here, clothes scattered on the floor and L’s bones poking into him all over, L staring at him mistrustfully.

“Kira would be a convincing lover,” L says in response, his voice a bit ragged. “He would have to be in order to accomplish gaining the trust of so many in order to-“

“Shut up,” Light says.

L shuts up.

His chest is pale and smooth to the touch.

“Can’t you,” Light says, dragging his fingernails over L’s skin, “ever take your mind off him?”

L just stares at him.

Light pushes him against the bed and kisses him. He can feel the percentages spiraling upwards, unspoken on L’s tongue as he pushes back. He lifts L’s chin up and wraps L’s frail limbs around him – he is still hard, and L has never complained before when he has been rough.

L’s whole body contorts when Light moves inside of him, his fingers curving pinpricks into Light’s shoulders. Light pushes his hips up and L tightens his legs around Light’s waist. They have been fucking for days but Light hasn’t gotten tired of it yet. L’s body is too pliant, too easy to mold around his own, body too warm beneath all that stillness.

“I want you to concentrate on me,” he hisses.

"You mean," responds L, his voice hoarse but surprisingly controlled, "on the serial killer who is fucking me? I will try."

“No, you asshole,” snaps Light, digging his fingernails into L’s sides as he fucks him, and he wants to remind L that he’s Light, it’s Light who’s fucking him and L should at least try to act like he believes it – and then L arches upward and pulls Light down against him, curving into him on a deep sigh, his toes curling into Light’s spine, and all he has room for is god and a memory of L smiling at him, their fingers not-quite touching across the desk, before he thinks No and shoves the memory down where it is buried beneath Kira, and desire, and L’s heart throbbing against his chest.

 

 

 

(Day 10)

 

 

 

L’s body is the most deceptive thing Light has ever seen. For all Light knows L’s joints could be held together using elastic and scotch tape. He would honestly not be surprised. His shoulder blades are a bony ridge across a narrow canyon of pale muscle, his spine a knotted arch like the boughs of pine trees or the hulls of wrecked ships. Sometimes when Light touches L late at night he runs his hand over L’s back, counting the notches one by one, feeling L’s pulse skittering just below his fingertips.

When L moves, his bones seem to ripple beneath the pale surface of his skin, a taunt and a temptation to dive beneath and drown.

He comes up behind Light and tucks his head into the crook of Light’s shoulder. He has a sugar pot in one hand and a spoon in the other. “The meeting will start soon,” Light says, encircling his wrist just below the handcuff. He imagines, idly, breaking it and pulling the handcuff off over those long fingers.

“Maybe today Kira will make a mistake,” L says. “We could catch him and go back to bed.”

He doesn’t sound tired at all.

“Ryuuzaki.” Light turns his head. Even though L is an inch taller he is crouched over so that he seems small, his body pressed against Light’s, fitting against it like some awkward fledgling huddled against the side of a nest. “If anyone could catch Kira just by getting lucky, I’d bet on you.”

“Raito-kun,” L responds evenly, “I’ve already gotten lucky.”

He slips his fingers around Light’s waist and Light thinks Fuck. Fuck. as his breath hitches. He has four days until the prisoner’s execution. It is a grey, rainy morning and he hasn’t been outside in almost two weeks. He wants to fuck L until he hears his bones snap.

L brushes his lips against Light’s collarbone. They are warm and dry, and before L he can’t remember the last time anyone touched him this way, and Light suddenly has to squeeze his eyes shut because this is nothing like the cold suspicion he has gotten used to – that is what he wants, not this, not this calculated, teasing affection –

Except he did want it, he’d wanted it and he knows suddenly in a rush of feeling just how much he’d wanted it – before he remembered Kira – what it felt like to want L to look at him the way L looks at him now –

He clenches his fists against the invasion of emotion, against the abrupt lack of control he feels, and turns to kiss L properly before he can remember any further. L’s mouth opens and he leans into Light as if he is completely at ease.

Why won’t you trust me, Ryuuzaki, why can’t you believe in me? - and Light shudders and drags L into bed where he can focus on the dips between his ribs, the flares along his sternum; the delicacy of his hipbones and his slender erection; the hollows in his knees and his ankles; where he can dream about breaking each and every one.

They’re fifteen minutes late to the meeting L called.

No one asks why.

 

 

 

(Day 11)

 

 

 

He wakes up with L perched over him, squatting on the balls of his feet on the mattress like an overgrown toad, with his hands in front of him. He is leaning over Light and studying his face. Light squints the sleep out of his eyes and wonders if L actually can be realistically compared to anything that doesn’t live in the jungle.

He thinks not, and laughs.

“You were snoring,” L explains.

Light pulls his head down and kisses him. L crouches forward and his knees bump Light’s thighs and he looks so absurd that Light laughs again.

“I didn’t make a confession in my sleep, did I?”

L keeps kissing him. “Not yet,” he says, in between. “But I could let you sleep more.”

Light rolls over and pulls L down out of that ridiculous position. L stretches out on top of him, his mouth slow and warm against Light’s. Light is vaguely annoyed that L hasn’t gotten any better at kissing, and also vaguely annoyed that he enjoys L kissing him more than he did ten days ago anyway.

L’s hair is still damp from sex and sweat. Strands of it are plastered to his forehead. They stick to his fingers when he ruffles L’s hair. L’s thighs are sticky too where he is straddling Light’s stomach.

L breaks the kiss and looks at him. His eyes are full of a sadness that stops Light’s heartbeat for a moment.

“There are only two days left,” L says, and Light’s throat is suddenly dry.

“Before the Death Note kills the prisoner,” he says, though it sounds like bad acting even to his own ears. “Before Misa and I can be released as suspects.”

L’s expression doesn’t change. “Perhaps,” he says. “Among other things.”

Light stares at him, trying to read his thoughts. “Ryuuzaki…” he says, and tries to put all the emotion he can manage into that one word.

L just looks down at him, a cold, penetrating glance, as if he knows and has known all along – as if he sees right through Light and always has.

Something cold and hard settles tight in the bottom of Light’s stomach, and for the first time he doubts his ability to pull this off.

He reaches up and takes L’s face in his hands. He places his thumbs over the smooth dark hollows below L’s eyes, fingernails just scraping L’s eyelashes. Some days he thinks about gouging them out, but now he only registers how soft and warm the skin there is.

And he doesn’t feel anything, anything at all.

L’s eyes are still dark and he is still gazing calmly down at Light with the same immovable expression, and for a moment Light is trapped in that gaze and he suddenly hopes with a fierce, desperate hope that L will just shut up and let the two of them stay here like this for as long as they can, without –

“Plea bargain,” L says softly.

Light pushes him off, just as knows L knew he would, and he doesn’t try to fight down the swell of resentment and anger in his voice. “Fuck you,” he snarls.

L sits back on his haunches and looks miserable, and Light desperately wants to wrap his fingers around his throat.

“How can you even – after all of this, Ryuuzaki, how can you think that I – that I’m - “

He breaks off and glares at L. It is late, he is tired of this, and he is tired of jumping through every hoop that L has set in front of him.

“You said you took it as a compliment,” L says. His voice is low and collected, his eyes dark – but he is trembling all over, and he has curled into himself like a lemur wrapping its tail around a tree.

“That was before,” Light says roughly.

“And do you really think anything has changed?” L retorts, his eyes flashing with the anger that has always sent a flash of hostile, predatory arousal through Light. It has the same effect now, and he sits up and yanks L forward by the handcuff chain, jerking him off balance and onto the mattress.

Light flips him over onto his back and slinks against him.

“I think everything has,” he says, and means it. He kisses L deeply, feeling L’s mouth open beneath his and relishing the control until L suddenly and abruptly pushes him away.

“After tomorrow,” says L, almost wryly, “even more will change.”

“Shut up,” Light hisses.

L begins, “But I – “

And then Light kisses L in earnest, kisses him to get him to stop talking, to keep him from speaking and thinking and doing anything at all except letting Light fuck him.

L shuts up. His arms wind around Light’s back and his fingers splay in Light’s hair. His breath hitches when Light lowers his mouth to L’s throat, and Light thinks about how close they are to the finish – how close he is to winning - and bares his teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Intermission)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


He grew into her arms two,

An adder or a snake;

She held him fast, let him not go;

He was her earthly maick.

He grew into her arms two

Like iron in hot fire;

She held him fast, let him not go;

He was her heart's desire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Day 12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day before the prisoner’s execution, Light wakes up with L wrapped around him, his forehead pressed against the back of Light’s neck. Light actually doesn’t know if L is awake for a moment. He has wrapped his fingers around Light’s wrist while Light slept. It’s almost sweet.

Light risks a smile. An L who’s in love with him is as good as an L who’s already dead.

“Oh, you’re awake,” says L cheerily from behind him, oblivious to Light’s start of surprise. He never, ever sounds sleepy. “Good morning, Raito-kun.”

They shower without talking, Light muzzily washing the soap from L’s back and the sleep from his own eyes while L stands beneath the showerhead, staring up at the water cascading down from it and not actually doing anything else until Light is finished. He has done this every day since they started showering together, like a ritual of some sort, though it’s probably just L being a freak. Apart from washing his back L seems content not to touch him, which is fine with Light except that after last night he’d expect a little more eagerness. Maybe L doesn’t want what normal people want when they’re in love.

He reaches around L to turn off the shower head and L drops the soap. It slips out of his fingers, his mouth an O of surprise, and he bends to pick it up using only his two index fingers. It doesn’t work very well. Light watches him make the attempt until it’s officially a ridiculous one, even for L. It helps that L’s ass, pale and deceptively muscular from all that tennis and all that squatting, is poking up in the air in a ludicrously pointed way, and Light feels himself harden even as he’s muttering, “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” and bending down beside L. L turns his head and smiles by way of thanks, and Light drags him up and presses him against the tile, hands on his ass cheeks. L hums in pleasure and lets Light drag his mouth up and down L’s spine.

“That’s very nice, Raito-kun,” he says after a moment while Light’s fingers are following the curvature of his body down and around to cup his balls and his cock. “But we have a meeting scheduled in fifteen minutes.”

Light breaks away. “I didn’t know about any meeting,” he snaps, a bit embarrassed at how indignant he sounds.

“It’s a surprise!” L says, turning around and beaming. “I called it early this morning while you were asleep.”

“Why not just wait and meet at nine, why an hour early?”

“I couldn’t wait,” says L, and his voice shifts into something indefinable.

They gather in the stakeout room at eight o’clock. L has set up donuts and coffee, and sends them around, looking vaguely mystified that anyone would pass up glazed sugar. Light watches, still aroused and irritated because of it, and wonders what would happen to L if he were deprived of sweet things and had to eat, say, cabbage and fish.

L hands him the donut box. “Take one, Raito-kun,” he says, licking sugar off his thumb.

Light glares at him. I passed up a pop star for this, he thinks, and takes one out of the box.

“Everyone,” L says, after they’ve all had a chance to grumble and complain about the earliness of the hour. “I called you here early today because – “ he stops, looks around the room dramatically, and then smiles. “I thought we should have a vacation.”

They stare at him. “A vacation?” says Light. “Now?”

Amid the chorus of agreement, L spreads his hands. “We won’t know anything until tomorrow. It seems silly to keep you all here, waiting.”

“But now is the time to be more on the alert than ever!” says Light’s father.

“Yes,” says Mogi. “You’ve had us here every day up until the final moments and now you want us to just take off?”

“Go do karaoke,” says L with a grin. “Be with your family! Go visit the Great Buddha - play tennis!”

Light’s father casts Light a sidewise glance that might actually mean your boyfriend is acting like a lunatic again, can’t you do something?

Light’s stomach tightens awkwardly, and he protests, “Ryuuzaki. If the Death Note rule were to take effect today, then Kira might strike at any moment!”

“No,” L snaps, and his tone shifts again into that indefinable note it held earlier. “If Kira is aware of the fact that we are testing the rules of the Death Note, then he is either deprived of the ability to use the other Death Note to kill the prisoner to protect their alibi, or he is waiting, just as we are, for the Death Note rules to take effect.”

He glances at Light, who looks suitably indignant.

“Either way, at this point we are all in a holding pattern. There is nothing we can do until after the thirteen days are up. After tomorrow the rules will change, and we may have more work to do than ever.”

He helps himself to another donut. “So go have fun!” he says.

They gape at him until Mogi says, “Well, if we’re just going to stand around all day staring at each other, I’m going to go play golf.”

“By all means,” says L. “Light and I will stay here and notify you all of any new developments.”

And just like that, the two of them are alone.

Light, with what he feels is great consideration, lets L finish his second donut before he drags him close. His adrenaline is high, and he is 100% certain that after today he will have won. L will never hurt anyone that he loves, and he might, given enough steady encouragement, tell Light his name. Light, for a brief moment, ponders torturing it out of him, but the stakes are too high to jeopardize the tenuous trust L is developing in him. Not only that, but he can’t trust that L won’t give him a fake name.

He considers and discards all these thoughts by the time he has gotten L’s shirt off and tangled his fingers in L’s hair, still slightly damp from the shower, tousled and unbrushed. “You’re in a hurry,” L remarks casually. “Why? We have all day.”

Light bites the side of his neck, just enough to make him gasp. “I just got tired of waiting,” he says, and his voice is so breathless he almost believes it.

L turns to face him. “So did I,” he says, and his voice catches in a way that twists the center of Light’s gut and spreads heat and desire through him until he crushes his mouth against L’s.

L, when he kisses back, isn’t sloppy or messy or anything except demanding, as if he has been holding back all this time, a thought that sends a surge of anger and arousal through Light. L clutches onto the collar of his shirt and tugs the buttons open one by one, kissing his way down Light’s chest as Light pushes him back towards their private rooms. They stumble into the bedroom, L unceremoniously pulling away long enough to lock the door and lower the blinds.

“Nobody’s here,” Light says, raking his hand over L’s chest. “Why’d you – “

“Just in case someone drops by,” L says. “The surveillance monitors are off as well.”

Light’s breath hitches. He manages, “Fuck – Ryuuzaki” – staggered and turned on and triumphant all at once. He pins L against the wall and drops his shirt on the floor before leaning in again, firm muscles sliding against firm muscles. L stretches his head back and gasps, a throaty contagion of desire, and Light wants him to make more noises like that – he wants and he wants and he wants.

He covers L’s throat with his mouth, relishing all that paper-thin skin exposed to him, L arching his neck like he just can’t wait to be taken over. Light can taste his pulse points between the hollows of his collarbone, and he can’t wait either. L’s hands settle in his hair - he tugs him closer while Light tugs at the drawstring of L’s pants. He can be generous, he thinks. He has already finished the seduction, so he can enjoy this – make it good. He sucks L’s Adam’s apple and indulges in the image of L suppliant and guilty, L apologizing to him - for ever suspecting him, for ever doubting him, for ever doubting in this. He shudders and grinds his hips forward against L’s. “Ryuuzaki - L,” he says. It comes out like a gasp of need, and it sounds so convincing it turns him on even more.

L sighs and unhurriedly reaches down to undo Light’s belt and his pants. His face is flushed through, not remotely pale, and his eyes are slitted nearly shut with arousal. Light wants to see him close them all the way, as he has seen only once – wants him to give in completely to this, to him. And he will. Oh, he will.

He already has.

“Raito,” says L softly, not so much a whisper as a sigh around his name, an unhurried murmur as he pulls Light’s head up for a kiss. Light closes his eyes – and no, there’s definitely nothing inexperienced about L now. L pushes his jeans down over his hips and tugs him in until they are pressed against each other, until even their knees are touching and it’s so hot that Light nearly comes just from the contact, just from having L pinned against him and his mouth so warm and open and his hands in Light’s hair, completely, completely his to control.

“There’s just one thing,” L murmurs, ‘that I don’t understand – “ he thrusts smoothly against Light and speaks in-between kisses – “and that’s Naomi Misora.”

“What are you talking about,” Light mumbles, dragging L’s mouth back to his own. L makes a noise in the back of his throat, practically an invitation to kiss him deep and hard, and Light does.

“I can easily see,” L continues at last, not pulling away, “how you managed to manipulate Raye Penbar into” – he kisses him again, his body still sliding against Light’s – “telling you his real name but – “ hands clutching Light’s shoulders, his mouth persistent and warm – “I don’t understand how you managed to find and kill Naomi Misora before she came to me.”

Light’s stomach clenches. “What?”

But L has already curled his fingers around Light’s shoulders and is trailing his mouth over Light’s forehead as if he’s said nothing at all.

“Stop it, Ryuuzaki,” Light says roughly. He reaches out to shove L away, but L leans in and keeps kissing him while he talks, and Light suddenly can’t move, can’t breathe.

“I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t come to me,” says L, reaching one finger up to stroke the place where Light’s hair parts over his eyes, and then following it up with his mouth, long and languid kisses pressed against Light’s forehead while Light stares.

“I was her friend – she should have known she could trust me, and in fact I would have been the first person she sought after the death of her husband. Then I realized that the most logical answer was that Kira prevented her from coming to me before she could reveal her information. She wouldn’t have gone to the police until she had convincing evidence. “

He kisses Light again, and Light kisses back unthinkingly, too stunned to do anything else.

“I can see how you managed to win her trust, Raito-“ he says this and actually smiles, and Light realizes belatedly that L is no longer gripping his shoulders but stroking his wrist with one forefinger. Instead of pulling away, he lets L kiss him again, as if L’s voice alone is enough to keep him trapped there, motionless. “But I can’t figure out how you learned who she was.”

“Shut up, Ryuuzaki,” Light whispers against L’s lips.

“When you killed Raye Penbar, you were on the train,” L whispers. “You had him write down the names of the other twelve agents on a sheet that you had torn out of the Death Note, but you had to have used his family, probably Naomi herself, as leverage.”

His fingers slide down Light’s waist and stroke his erection, his own sliding slick and hot against it.

The intimacy of the contact finally jolts Light into motion, and he breaks away. “Shut up!” he screams. “Shut up, Ryuuzaki, before I – “

L’s head jerks up.

“Before you kill me?” he says, and his eyes snap open, wide and calm.

The absolute certainty on his face sends a wave of fury and lust through Light, and he grabs L’s shoulders before he knows what he is doing and slams him against the wall and kisses him as deep and as hard as he can.

L moans and wraps his arms around Light, his cock jutting against Light’s hip. “Tell me how,” he says, his voice shot through with pure arousal.

Light snarls a Fuck you in response that just makes L shudder when Light kisses him again, even harder. He is pressed so close to L that L’s hipbones are digging painfully into his own, his thumb grazing the tip of Light’s cock as they thrust against each other.

Light’s rage fills him and he crushes his fingers into L’s spine, sure he’s hurting him, and equally sure that when L hisses, it’s in arousal, not pain. ”Fuck you, L,” he snarls again.

“Yes,” says L, his voice ragged. “Did you kill her in person, or did you have him write her name on the Death Note?”

Light draws his fist back and punches L in the face as hard as he can. His knuckles smash into L’s jaw and the pain whites out his world a moment.

When he opens his eyes, L is crouched a bit lower, gingerly covering the instant bruise over his cheekbone with his palm, but his eyes are still alert and his attention is all on Light.

“You are the only original member of Raye Penbar’s watch list who fits the profile for the first Kira,” he says calmly.

Light seizes him by his shoulders and drags him up. “What the fuck is wrong with you!” he seethes. “You’ve been fucking around with me all this week - is that what this is about?”

He kisses L on the mouth, hard. L responds and Light realizes he is harder than ever. He pulls away, infuriated, but L moves too, and kisses him again. Light’s breath catches in his throat and he shoves L back against the wall.

“You were the only one of the remaining suspects who had the means not only to kill Raye Penbar but to research the number of agents in Japan,” L says, his voice going lower and lower. He’s still aroused, and Light wants to kill him more than he’s ever wanted to kill anyone. He shoves L against the wall again and screams at him to shut up. L’s head collides with a dull snap against the plaster, but it’s still not enough. He should have control over this by now – he will have it if he has to fuck L into the ground to get it.

Light bends his mouth to kiss L’s shoulder blades desperate to make him moan, gasp, do anything except keep talking.

L does moan, and gasp. He threads his fingers in Light’s hair and pushes his head down to the arc of his chest and the fine points of his nipples. Light draws one into his mouth reflexively, one hand massaging the other, and L is incoherent enough for a moment to send a brief rush of satisfaction through Light – until L rasps, “If you hadn’t known the exact number of agents, Penbar would have – “

Light sinks his teeth into the skin just above L’s nipple, purely enraged. L sucks in a breath but doesn’t stop.

“—he would have given you false information and you would never have known until it was too late –“

“Shut up,” Light says, flicking his tongue over the bruising skin, mouthing it desperately. “Fuck, fuck, Ryuuzaki, shut up--“

“He could have given you one less the number of agents. But you already knew. You are the only suspect who exactly fits the profile of a rebellious, bored teenager with extremely sociopathic—“

Light grips his waist with a scream of rage. L’s mouth is hot and open and Light doesn’t care how hard he his pressing L into the wall, doesn’t care that he can’t stop kissing him, that L is kissing him back with tiny, throaty moans and grinding against him, doesn’t care that he’s grinding back.

He grips L by the waist and kisses him harder – he doesn’t stop, doesn’t let L break away, not for air, not for speaking, not for anything, because he has to make L shut up shut up shut up, has to make him take this, make him do nothing but submit, submit to Light’s mouth and hands and cock until he understands that he is Light’s prisoner, not the reverse.

L leans against him and kisses back until they are legs tangled between legs and arms brushing against arms, and he’s never had L this way, not like this, overeager and eyes closed and body flushed all over. Light lifts him up roughly and settles him over his waist, L’s legs wrapping around him obediently. Light pulls his head down for another kiss, relishing the way L clings to him, the way his mouth is open and the way he knows just what to do for once, too far gone to resent him for hiding, too far gone to care. Sweat is forming against L’s collarbone, and he sucks in his breath and shudders when Light presses his mouth against it. Light presses L against the wall and lets it support him as they kiss, shivering when L moans into his mouth. He runs his hand through L’s hair, trailing his thumb over the back of L’s neck, accepting the unspoken apology and picturing the many more to come before the night is through.

“Not to mention,” L murmurs against his lips, “the only one with an intelligence level high enough to have convincingly covered your tracks for this long.”

Light stiffens and pulls back, staring.

L smiles. “Also the only one charismatic enough to win over the trust of so many people in so short a time,” he says.

He kisses Light on the nose.

Light pulls away and steps back. L lands abruptly on his feet but doesn’t seem fazed in the least. Light just keeps staring.

“The timeline of your dating Misa Amane coincides perfectly with the second Kira’s invitation to meet the first,” L says. “And her journal entry about meeting a friend and exchanging notes in Aoyama supports the theory that your first meeting occurred when you traveled there.”

Light clenches his fists. He feels dizzy and his head is throbbing.

“Shut up,” he says. “Shut up, you know I didn’t meet anyone that day –“

“No, but you were identified.” L steps forward and winds an arm around his waist. He slides around Light and stands behind him, pressed close and straightening to his full height for once – Light can feel his voice just above his ear.

“There are no coincidences,” he says. “The suspect most likely to be the first Kira begins dating the suspect most likely to be the second, just after the second suspect referenced Aoyama and a notebook in a private journal.”

He kisses the shell of Light’s ear, then the side of his throat. Light can feel himself shaking. He can’t make himself stop.

“Your first date was most likely initiated by Misa Amane in order to exchange information and establish your identities.”

“Your logic – it doesn’t hold out, if I were Kira, I could have just killed her – “

Light’s voice is shaking just like the rest of him.

“You could have,” L says. “But you needed her as an alibi and possibly a set-up if you were to come under suspicion yourself. Also, you were gratified by her worship of Kira.” He runs his thumb over the back of Light’s neck, and down his spine. “You are very easily flattered,” he says, and kisses the nape of Light’s neck. “Just like Kira.”

“Shut up,” says Light, his fists clenching. “Shut up, shut up - “

“When you both fell under suspicion at once you needed to bury the evidence, which you had to have done before going under full interrogation.”

“Shut up, shut – shut up, just shut up shut up -“

“Had the third Kira been able to live long enough he doubtless would have been able to identify either you or Misa as the original source of his power and the original suppliers of the Death Note.”

“Ryuuzaki, I’m not joking, I’m not joking, I mean it, stop it, shut up, stop it right now – “

L traps Light’s hands in his own and kisses his way down Light’s spine. Light stands there, shivering.

“Did you seduce Higuchi into trusting you as well, Raito?” L murmurs, lips pressed against his back. “As you have everyone else?”

 

 

Light freezes.

L is mocking him. No – L is mocking God.

The rush of blood to Light’s head overcomes him, a pure white noise of rage and pain and helpless frustration and L and the desire to kill, blotting out everything he knows.

 

 

A moment later, everything is gone but the desire.

If L wants Kira so badly, then fine.

Light will show him just how badly he wants it.

 

 

He turns around.

L’s eyes stay trained on his.

“Is that what you think?” Light says, watching him. “I’m seducing you?”

Their handcuffed hands are still joined. With the other, Light cups his hand over L’s jawline, over the bruise from his punch. He notes in a detached way how thin L’s cheekbones are.

“I think you know better,” he says.

He kisses L, taking his time. L kisses back, willing as ever, and Light whispers against his mouth.

“You keep me close to you.”

“Yes,” L murmurs, reaching up and stroking his neck.

“You can’t bear to let me go,” Light continues.

L doesn’t respond except to draw in a long breath. Light slips his mouth over L’s neck and speaks into the damp hollows of his throat.

“You want to keep me prisoner here,” he says. L’s fingers tighten in his grasp.

Light flicks his tongue over the sheen of sweat along L’s Adam’s apple, and L’s breath hitches.

“You think it’s because you want me to be your prisoner,” Light continues softly. “But really” – he trails his fingers down L’s stomach and winds his arms around L’s waist. “You want to be mine.”

L looks at him, eyes wide, and Light can see his own eyes reflected in them.

“You want to belong to me,” Light says.

L stops moving, stops breathing.

“You think I’ve been using you,” Light says.

He kisses L on the mouth. L is stiff in his arms, unmoving, but he leans into the kiss.

“You want to be used.” He tightens his embrace. “Don’t you?”

L, still unmoving, parts his lips against Light’s and breathes in shakily.

“You belong to me,” he says against L’s lips.

He can feel L, trembling but completely motionless.

Light leans in and kisses him. L tenses all over.

“Are you afraid?”

L shudders, and closes his eyes. “Yes,” he whispers.

Light smoothes L’s hair back from his eyes. “You came to me like this.”

“Yes.”

Light strokes his cheek. “Afraid I’ll use you?”

L’s breath hitches. “Yes,” he says.

“Hurt you?”

“Yes.”

“I’m going to,” says Light gently.

L flinches. He shudders when Light kisses his lips, shudders even as he kisses back, his mouth moving carefully, controlled, against Light’s.

Light slides his hands down over L’s back.

“I’m going to do everything to you,” he says. “Everything you want.”

L clenches his hands against Light’s shoulders and turns his head involuntarily. Light pulls him closer, close enough he can feel L trembling all over.

“Do you know,” he says, “what it’s like to end someone’s life?”

He runs his thumb over the side of L’s closed eyelid and down his cheek.

“To look into their eyes as they experience the realization that they’re about to die?”

He speaks against L’s skin, his breath stirring the hair at L’s temple. L slumps forward, resting his weight against Light. Light supports him, arousal stirring deep inside him. He rewards L’s submissiveness with a kiss and a quick swipe of his fingertips along the underside of L’s cock. L sighs and presses closer, automatically rolling his hips.

Their foreheads touch.

“All life,” he says, stroking L gently with each breath, “all joy… all fear – love – hate – pain – darkness – light – everything a human soul can contain – it all passes through them in the same instant.”

He pauses to kiss L, mouth open and slow.

“Their eyes fill with terror – “

Kiss.

“Their pupils dilate.”

Kiss.

“They gasp for air – not because they can’t breathe – not yet – but because they believe it’s the last breath they’ll ever take.”

L opens his eyes. They are dark and clouded over with lust and horror. Desire gathers in the pit of Light’s stomach, and he takes L’s face in his hands, his thumb brushing the thin corner of L’s lower lip.

“Do you know,” he says, “how many times I’ve dreamt of you? How beautiful you’ll look when I kill you?”

L’s erection jerks against his thigh. Light closes his hand around it. His mouth is suddenly dry. He squeezes L’s cock and L gasps, more a plea than anything else, and Light thinks Yes over and over again and reaches for L, wanting to kiss him, wanting to drown.

L arches his back for him, lets Light kiss his exposed throat and his trembling shoulders, working his way down his chest until his need for more outweighs the need to taste L’s skin. He straightens, pushes L back, kisses him as he goes; L submits, falling back when Light directs him, emitting tiny gasps and noises of pleasure with every touch, every kiss. His face is flushed, his eyes half-slits of lust. Light half pushes, half thrusts against him as he maneuvers L onto the bed.

They fall against the mattress and L’s arms are around him, and the wave of triumph surging through Light is stronger than anything he has ever felt.

L’s fingers come up to tangle in Light’s hair, and Light thinks yes, I’ve won, I’ve won you, and kisses him again and again, so lightheaded he thinks he could come from the sensation of victory alone. He takes L’s face in both his hands and feels L trembling, his eyes. “I am Kira,” he says. “I am the first and the last.”

“Yes,” says L, and the tone of his voice, relieved and exultant and petrified and turned-on, rockets through Light in a wave of arousal. “Yes.” He snakes his hand down over Light’s cock, but Light intercepts him and pushes his hands back above his head, keeping them pinned down to the mattress.

“You killed Higuchi with a strip of paper you tore from the Death Note.” L’s voice is hoarse, his gaze fastened to Light’s.

Light kisses him, lingering on the corner of his mouth and the faint trace of stubble below his chin. “I was standing right next to you,” he says. L’s breath hitches and his hips jerk forward. He looks so stricken and turned on at once that Light chuckles. He presses his lips to the underside of L’s jaw. “Do you want to know how?”

“Yes,” L breathes, “everything. I want to know everything.”

Light kisses him immediately, cupping L’s face between his hands. L shivers and arches up, trying to move his hands, so Light takes them in his own and holds them, his fingers linked with L’s. The dizzy rush of pleasure overcomes him and he closes his eyes, losing himself in L’s mouth, the edges of his hip bones jutting against his thighs, his soft, heady cries of arousal, the despair and need in his voice. He thinks, You, you were the only one standing in my way, there was no one else, and now I have you, and has to stifle his moan against L’s lips.

“Do you want to know,” he says, releasing L’s hands in order to slide his own across L’s chest, basking in the heat of his skin and the planes of the body beneath him, “how Naomi Misora looked when I told her I was Kira? Right before I sent her off to die?”

L’s breath hitches – he stiffens, then relaxes with a shiver. Light shifts down his stomach and dips his tongue inside his navel, tasting sweat and semen and the aftertaste that can only belong to L – because it is sweet.

His cock stiffens further and he spreads L’s legs apart, wanting to feel the wetness and warmth of his thighs around his erection. L moans and parts his legs, and Light’s cock jerks again. He slides it between L’s legs, rubbing it against L’s balls and the base of his cock, in-between the juncture of his hip and inner thigh. L’s lips part and he squeezes his eyes shut. Light wants to see him come totally undone, unkempt hair flying, wide eyes clenched, languid limbs completely helpless, desperate to touch him and be touched. The thought makes him gasp, and he moves willingly when L draws him up to be kissed.

“She was beautiful,” he says when he finally breaks the kiss. “Her eyes were black with fear.” L shudders and tries to move, but Light has pinned his hands again. He thinks, beg me, show me how stunning you are when you surrender, and kisses him again. L wraps his legs around Light’s back, trapping his cock between his stomach and his hot, sticky erection, and Light bites his lip to suppress the moan.

“You love to watch me, don’t you,” he says, running his lips over L’s cheek. “You love watching me sit in judgment.” L turns away, his hands clenching. Light kisses L’s temple and rocks against him steadily.

“It horrifies you,” he says.

“Yes,” says L, his voice a tense whisper.

Another kiss. “But you love it.” He turns L’s face back to his and kisses his eyelashes until they flutter open. L’s eyes are wide and sad and scared, and his cock against Light’s is harder than ever.

Light studies him, fascinated. “You love it,” he says, stroking L’s cheek with his forefinger, “when I escape.” A kiss. “It allows you to remain near me.”

“Yes,” says L, “yes -“ and his voice is warm and liquid with arousal and fear.

Light pulls back, feeling power radiating from his fingertips, trailing sparks along the places where he touches L.

“Say my name,” Light whispers.

He kisses L, slowly, working his tongue against the hot cavern of L’s mouth until L is pliant. L leans into him, kisses back and sighs softly into his mouth. When they break apart Light cups L’s chin in his hand.

“Say it,” he orders.

L curves into his arms and tilts his head, exposing his long neck. Light dips his head and kisses his throat, slowly, savoring the submission, his breath hitching when L reaches up and twists fingers in his hair.

“Kira,” L whispers, twisting his eyes shut.

“Wrong,” Light answers.

He kisses a slow arc over L’s chest, moving down to mouth the trail of fine dark hair below his navel. “Tell me,” he murmurs. “I want to hear it on your lips.”

L shivers and tangles his fingers in Light’s hair. He doesn’t answer, and Light presses his fingernails into the warm flesh of L’s thighs.

“You are Kira,” says L, his voice unsteady. “The first Kira, and the last.”

Light shifts down and strokes L gently with the tip of his thumb. He leans forward and mouths the head, stroking the smooth rim with his tongue. L gasps and his cock shudders gently in Light’s hand.

“No,” Light says smoothly, his voice dropping as he cups L’s balls in his palm and massages the soft underside with his thumb. He kisses the inside of Light’s thigh. He follows the kiss with a slow, soft bite, and L shivers again. He strokes the back of Light’s head, neither encouragingly nor in protest, but he is fully hard now, and he moans when Light slides his hand up the long curve of his erection.

Tell me,” he orders, and sucks L’s head into his mouth completely before releasing it. “Tell me to who whom you belong.”

L emits a half-sigh, half-gasp, and his breath comes in hitches. Light strokes the inner flesh of his thighs, and waits as L’s breathing grows more and more erratic. He leans in and kisses the back of L’s knee, the skin there smooth and soft and pale. At the barest touch L writhes and bucks up, his hands clenching Light’s shoulders.

“Kami,” he gasps. “Kami, I – Kami – I belong to you.”

Light smiles.

L’s hips are arching, his fingernails digging into Light’s shoulders. “I belong to you,” he says again, his voice heady with shame and arousal. His body is flushed with sweat and semen still coats his thighs. His eyes are squinted shut, his hands balled into fists.

He’s never been more impossible to resist.

“Kami.” L’s eyes are open again and he is shaking, his voice a dry rasp of air and need. “Tell me I am yours. Kami.”

Light responds, abandoning L’s cock to slide up his chest and examine his face, the wanton arousal and need and guilt and horror written all over it. “You are,” he says, his lips at the corner of L’s mouth, L’s fingers gripping his forearms. “You’re mine in life as you are in death.”

“Yes,” L breathes.

Light stretches out over L’s long body, burrowing close. “Do you want more?” he whispers. Yes, please, yes.

“Yes,” L says, the plea in his voice and his eyes.

“I want to fuck you,” Light murmurs against his skin, closing his eyes to focus on the sheen of sweat and desire pooling in the hollows of L’s throat. “I’ll give you whatever you need.”

“Yes – yes, I need – “

“I want to slice you open,” says Light, half a command, half please let me.

“Do it,” L whispers. “Punish me, take me – own me.”

He rocks forward, L lifts his hips, and without needing further encouragement Light swings L’s legs up and over his shoulders and enters him, brutally, loving the way L’s eyes squint shut and then fly open in arousal and pain. L cries out, once, then again – the pleasure is instant and Light doesn’t wait, can’t wait to start fucking him, the penetration even deeper when he re-enters. L arches his back and hisses when Light raises his hips. “Please,” he shudders. “Kami. Please, Kami.”

“You need me to fuck you until you bleed,” says Light, rotating his hips and burying himself as far inside L’s body as he can. “Say it.”

L doesn’t hesitate. “I need it,” he says, his hands balling into fists. “I need you to bleed me, fuck me, Kami – Kami…”

Light pins L’s arms to the bed and fucks him, hard and fast until he can hear L’s moans of pain with every thrust. L cringes and cries out and his eyes are shut so tightly Light imagines them bursting inside the sockets, imagines his blood spilling out on the bedsheets, and he has to kiss L to distract himself, to keep from coming so soon.

“Tell me,” he says against L’s mouth as L’s wrenches his fingers in his hair. “Tell me how you’ll die for me.”

L arches up so quickly then his whole body rises off the bed. “Tell me,” Light says, spreading L’s legs apart even further, “how you’ll worship me.”

“I want to die inside you,” says L, digging his heels into Light’s back, “In your arms, you looking down at me, my bones under your hands, my blood inside you… Kami...”

“Yes,” Light says, running his hand over the back of L’s calf. “Yes, I’m here, tell me – “

“I want you to kill me, I want you to cut me open,” L says, and his cock jerks against his stomach. He moans. “Kill me,” he says. “Kill me, make me bleed, make me yours - Kami - ” and the need in his voice pulls an answering moan from Light.

“I will,” says Light, thrusting harder, feeling his body tense and ready and trying vainly to push it back, hold it off – “I want to – I—“

“Tell me - ” L says, nearly sobbing, “I need you, let me, tell me to do – anything -”

And Light comes, from the look on L’s face, the feeling of his cock engulfed by all that need and hot sweat and tightness, and L - Light jerks forward and cries out and fucks L blindly, coming deep inside L, between his parted thighs, and L moans and spreads for him and empties come and sweat all over his stomach, his muscles squeezing Light’s cock. It’s so fucking good and Light’s chest seizes up along with his body and he can’t breathe and his eyes fly open and he stares into L’s eyes and comes, and comes, and thinks L, you belong to me, you’re mine, L, you’re mine forever, alive dead always, and it’s the best thing he can remember feeling, power and triumph and victory hissing through his veins.

He’s still climaxing when he pulls out and lowers L’s legs and thrusts against L’s stomach, mixes his come with L’s, needing something more, anything. He grabs L’s hair with one hand and kisses him deeply, L sobbing and still thrusting up against him wildly, hands snaking down to his ass to clutch and pull him closer. “You’ll do anything,” he gasps against L’s lips.

“Anything,” L gasps, and Light thinks tell me your name, your name like a mantra.

He opens his mouth to speak and his chest tightens even further, and he kisses L harder, reaching to touch and claim and slide his hands over L’s ass and down the backs of his thighs, over the body he has come to know so well in the last ten days. “Tell me,” L says, his voice low and sated, a warm, throaty purr of submission, “how you want me to worship you - Kami.”

And Light suddenly knows exactly what he wants, feels the spark in his eyes and all over. L is watching him intensely, no space left between their bodies, and Light has gotten used to the claustrophobia of L with his legs wrapped around the back of Light’s thighs – to his messy hair tangling with Light’s when they sleep.

Light shifts suddenly, moves away from the settled comfort of L’s chest, even sticky with come as it is, and reaches below the mattress frame.

“You didn’t think I knew,” he murmurs, as he comes up with the knife that L has not-so-well hidden there, the blade glinting silver in his palm. It is small and whetted and perfect for a defense. Light has thought about using it in bed every night when L’s fingertips find their way to Light’s hipbone, curling around it when he thinks Light is asleep.

L draws in a ragged breath, and is reaching out for the knife, his eyelids fluttering. “Yes,” he says. ”Yes, Kami,” and Light nearly comes again from the way his voice is equal parts reverence and horror.

He bends and drags his lips over L’s stomach, placing the knife gently in his palm. “Carve my name here,” he whispers. “A symbol of your devotion to God.”

L gasps and shudders and nods, his hand splaying over Light’s back and coming to rest against his shoulders. With the other, he takes the knife. His hand hovers just above his navel where the sweat and the blade glisten against his pale skin.

“Confess,” says Light, burying his nose in the fine hair trailing over L’s abdomen. “Confess and repent your sins against me.”

L reaches down, cups Light’s face in his hand, and tilts his head back against the pillows, exposing his long, beautiful throat. “Will you take my sin away?” he murmurs, closing his eyes.

“I will,” Light responds, turning his head and pressing his lips against the underside of L’s thin wrist. “If you earn forgiveness.” He moves back up to kiss the smooth column of L’s neck. With his right hand he cover’s L’s left, wrapping it around the fingers that hold the knife.

L ‘s fingers against his cheek are warm and faint, like beams of sunlight over his skin. L pulls him in for a slow kiss. “Forgive me,” he says when their lips part. Light gazes down into his eyes – they are black and bottomless, wells of sorrow and sadness and lust and fear and surrender. His hair is drenched with sweat, plastered to his neck and the pillow, submissive to the laws of gravity for once. Light leans down and kisses his temple.

“What do you want me to forgive?” he says, guiding the point of the knife to the center of L’s flat stomach.

L shivers, his skin flinching prettily beneath the flat of the blade. He strokes Light’s cheek with his palm. “Hypocrisy,” he says, his eyes fastened to Light’s. “The sin of being happy.”

“Happy…” Light echoes, and he thinks, before he can help himself, does he mean he is…

“When Kira would take a new victim after a period of rest,” L says, his voice dropping to a whisper, “I would feel horror, and disappointment, but I would also be happy…”

He dips his head and kisses Light’s chin.

“…because if Kira killed, if he remained free… I would have a chance to find you…” L’s voice trails off and he shivers once more, before Light kisses him chastely on the lips.

“Do you repent?” he says.

L’s eyes stay pinned to his. “Yes, Kami,” he whispers.

“I forgive you,” Light says. L’s hand moves beneath his around the knife in the same moment, and he hisses as a tiny sliver of red forms along the upper right side of his stomach. The first stroke.

Light leans down and stares at it, the line of crimson decorating all that expanse of pale skin like an ink blot on paper. The blade has sunk into his skin, hard enough to cut, but not deep enough to scar.

Light wants him to scar.

“Again,” he says, his voice going thick as desire for the body below him surges through him. L’s eyes are wide with fear but he places the knife over the same tiny imprint of blood and sears his skin with it – this time his whole body jerks and Light lifts the knife with him, lifts it all the way to his lips and tastes the tang of cold steel and burning copper and salt.

L watches, transfixed, as Light tongues the metal edge of the knife – Light hears a tiny murmur of arousal, and it takes him a second to understand that it was L and not himself. “Confess,” he says again, when he can bring himself to speak. He wants to lower his mouth to L’s belly and suck the blood straight from his body, he wants to devour him, drink him, feast on him –

- but he makes himself wait.

L’s hand trembles where it holds the blade, but he forces it steady. Light trails his fingers over the back of L’s hand, soothing and encouraging at once. “Forgive me,” L murmurs.

“You were proud,” Light says, lowering the knife back down to L’s chest. He lays a string of kisses over L’s breastbone, down to where the inkstain spreads slowly against his skin.

“I’m sorry,” L breathes, arching into the teasing press of the knife.

“Show me your repentance,” Light orders, and with a repressed gasp slowly L sinks the knife into his flesh.

Light guides his hand across his sternum, watching the tiny serration and separation of skin, the blood pooling at the edges, then down below the first cut, down along his stomach where his skin is softest, where his muscles contract and his flesh gives way in a stream of red.

Light is hard again. L’s pupils are dilated – his other hand lies stiffly at his side, his body is clenched – fists, toes, abdomen tensed beneath Light. His stomach flows open, bright, warm, sticky.

“Confess,” Light says, too eager to place the third stroke to wipe the edge of the knife. He notes distantly that L’s breathing has gone shallow at the same time he feels L’s body forcibly attempt to relax. He strokes his hand over L’s hip.

“I fought you,” L says, his breath ragged. “I kept you from your path, I – I kept myself from following you.”

Light leans down, places another kiss on his lips, then against his cheek. “You’ve always followed me,” he says, because it’s nothing but the truth. Something warm and calming washes over him them, something deep in his chest, a comfort that turns mildly unsettling when L gazes up at him.

“And I forgive you,” Light says, and the second symbol streaks across L’s breastbone, above his navel – one, two, three, four strokes, the edge of the knife smearing his chest as it stretches and tears the skin – L wincing, holding his breath, but staying still beneath the slow slice of the blade. Something about his rigidity, the muscles flinching and holding steady with every slow stroke, tears something loose deep inside of Light’s chest, and he gives into the urge to bend low and sweep his tongue over the mess of blood and come on L’s stomach.

L moans and threads his fingers through Light’s hair, so tightly Light gasps against his liquid skin. “Fuck. Fuck.”

“Raito,” L whispers. “Raito – “ and Light doesn’t bother to correct his form of address this time, just slides his stomach against L’s, deliberately pressing down against the wounds, slipping against blood, feeling it coat his stomach, his mouth desperate, grateful against L’s own.

L gasps, his breath cut short whenever Light slides against him and the wounds smart. Light bites the corners of his lips, bites his lower lip, thin and liquid and pulpy in his mouth, stinging slightly of blood, and kisses him once more before he can no longer control the desire for more.

He lowers himself once more and trails his tongue over the lines in L’s stomach, down, across, down, across, down, down, and over – over the kanji for his truest name, the name of the god of the New World, feeling his heart quicken and pulse in his fingertips as they run over L’s skin. He closes his eyes and pictures fucking L like this, later when the tissue is scarred and smooth beneath his hands, when the evidence of his triumph is sewn into L’s chest like a badge.

God, he thinks. How beautiful you’ll be, when you’ve completely given into this.

L is gasping, fully hard now, and the knife lies limp in his hand. Light snakes his tongue down below L’s navel and over his abdomen to mouth his erection, salty and bitter, mixed with the cold hard taste of blood on his tongue. He deliberately swirls his tongue over L’s head, watching blood and pre-come mingle together at the tip, then strokes it roughly over the swollen vein. Light suddenly feels dizzy with desire and victory and the urge to fuck him all over again; instead he fists L’s cock and nudges his way back up to drink from L’s stomach, every gasp and shudder from L reverberating through his fingers where they stroke him, and against his lips where they kiss his belly.

Yes, he thinks blindly, yes, over and over again, until L climaxes, shuddering and gasping his name – and Light places the final stroke down the center of L’s chest as he comes, one deep slice over his navel as he leans in to drink the coppery rich taste of benediction and forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day is a blur of sex and blood and skin and victory. He teaches L submission, to be taken, to fill himself up with need for Light and then let it spill over until he begs for Light’s mouth and hands and body. They bathe L’s wounds in the shower, the two of them grimy with sweat and come and blood, and Light fucks him against the wall, then carries him back out and fucks him in bed, fucks him over and over again, while L pleads and begs and Light tells him stories, murmurs against his ear, stories of death past and death to come, and L comes shuddering his name and pouring his secrets into Light’s mouth.

They fuck until the sheets are clammy and sticky and the room is a disheveled mess of clothes and bedspread and stains in odd places. They fuck until they physically can’t anymore, and then L pulls Light’s hand to his chest and draws it down over the path of the knife against his skin, still flinching but calm beneath Light’s fingertips. Light lays his palm over L’s abdomen. He kisses L’s neck, open-mouthed, and imagines his cock inside L’s body, imagines it fitting inside him and filling him, and even though he is exhausted he still feels an answering flicker of arousal from deep inside of him. He wonders why only L does this to him. He wonders if, once L is dead, the need to have him like this will be over. He wonders if L has the same need.

L goes slowly round the room picking up sheets and starting the wash. Light follows because the chain demands it, even though what he really wants to do is lie down and sleep and then wake up and fuck L. He pictures opening the wounds, wonders if they will have healed enough. L’s skin is still sore, still raw and pink from the serrated edge of the knife. They clean the room languidly, sore and sated but within arm’s length of each other at all times, which the handcuffs have really nothing to do with.

L calls him Kami. Light kisses him each time.

The sun is setting when they finally move back into bed, and Light sleeps the sleep of the gods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Night)

 

 

 

It’s late when he wakes. The sheets are cool and the bedroom is eerily silent. The first thing he notes in the darkness is L’s shallow breathing, which is barely noticeable at all unless you are Light, and have learned to detect the sounds of L’s faint movements even in your sleep.

He turns over, for once not caught off guard by L’s open eyes in the darkness.

“I was waiting for you to wake up, Raito-kun,” L says softly.

Distantly, his muscles still stiff from exhaustion, Light thinks that L’s low murmur is more intense than ever. He runs his hand over L’s thigh.

“You’re different when you sleep, Raito-kun,” L says. He settles on top of Light and stretches out against him. His wounds must be hurting him but L doesn’t react. His weight is warm and solid and comfortable.

“What do you mean?” Light asks.

“When you sleep,” L says, “you hide nothing at all.”

He kisses Light, and Light realizes abruptly that this is the first time L has ever started it, any of it. He stretches out beneath L, watching him to see what he will do next and fighting off the immediate urge to flip him over and do whatever he wants. L should let him do whatever he wants by now. L should trust him.

“When you sleep -” L says. “Do you know you smile in your sleep, Raito-kun?”

His hair is rumpled from sleep and sex. The kanji on his chest catches the moonlight, the wounds gleaming faintly in the darkness. His body is eerie, a ghostly canvas where the shadow of a god has painted its signature. Light smiles up at him, draws his mouth down, kisses him. L lets him, then pulls away.

“When you sleep,” L says, “you smile your true smile.”

Something catches in Light’s throat. He has already given everything away. What could he have forgotten? Could he be missing something? Could L be warning him that he’s still in danger, that the game is still on and he’s just lost? Now, after all of what has come before? Would L really think he could imply such a thing, and continue to live? But –

L reaches down and takes Light’s face in his hands. “Yagami Light,” he says. “Do you know what you are?”

Light blinks. “Haven’t you told me?” he says, holding L’s gaze. “Haven’t you told me over and over again today? I am Kira, the first and the last. I am God.”

“No,” says L calmly. “All those things are what you are to me.”

Light squirms uncomfortably and tries to shift L off to one side, but L, who has never once lain against Light this way, proves completely impossible to gracefully maneuver. He hooks his heels underneath Light’s calves and balances there, perched atop Light’s stomach.

“Ryuuzaki,” Light tries.

“Shh, Raito-kun,” L says. “I wish we had more time.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

L reaches up and smoothes Light’s hair back from his forehead. It feels good, and Light would close his eyes at the touch but for the steady glow of L’s own eyes pouring over him - a gaze he can see and read even in the darkness.

“The others will be back from their vacation in the morning,” L says. “Do you know how you look when you get upset, Raito-kun?” He strokes Light’s hair. “Your eyes turn dark and hollow, as if someone has taken all the life out of them and left only the emotion, without any other traces of the humanity that goes with it.”

He kisses the nape of Light’s neck, then lingers there for a moment.

“I wonder if you’ve ever felt a real feeling in your life,” he says.

For a long moment, everything stops.

Then L’s voice, smooth and undemanding. “What do you feel now?”

Light says, after a moment, “I don’t know.”

L huddles against him, his elbows bumping Light’s ribs. “I feel afraid,” he murmurs against Light’s chest. “And grateful.”

Light runs his hand over L’s back, soothing circles down his spine, though he hardly understands why. “Grateful,” he says. “Why?”

“To be here with you,” L says softly, almost wonderingly. “Somehow, I…. I don’t know, but it’s a good thing, no matter what, to make a choice that allows you to care for someone. Even if that choice will cause you pain in the end.”

Light tries to laugh. It comes out a dry chuckle, a one-off that doesn’t convince him of anything except that it would be better to move, to flip L over and make him stop talking.

“You’ve made the right choice, Ryuuzaki,” he says. “You chose to worship me, follow me—“

“No,” L says. “I wonder if you’ve ever realized the truth, Yagami Light. Raito-kun. “ He lowers his lips to Light’s nipple and flicks his tongue against it. Light shivers. L has touched him before, but never like this, never so freely, so casually. It is arousing. It is unsettling.

“You aren’t a god,” L says. “You aren’t a psychopath.” He bites the tip of Light’s nipple gently, almost playfully, and Light gasps and goes rigid. “You aren’t,” says L, ignoring the tension in the body below him, “even a very convincing sociopath.”

“What are you saying, Ryuuzaki,” Light says harshly. “You think this was all some joke to impress you?”

“Shh,” L says, no, orders, and Light shuts up and stares up at him. I could strangle you right now, he thinks.

“You’re a genius,” L says. A kiss to his breastbone. “You’re extremely attractive, and you like to look good because you know it helps you to influence people.” A kiss to his other nipple, and below. “You eat pork buns with both hands and you hate sushi. “ A kiss to his rib cage, and Light sighs despite himself and feels his body relaxing somewhat. “Psychology annoys you and so does your sister.” A kiss to the side of his navel. “But you help her with her homework anyway.”

“What are you getting at with all this?” Light asks irritably, unable to resist a shiver as L circles his tongue over the inside of Light’s navel.

“Hush, Raito-kun,” L murmurs in response, hovering over his thighs like a giant dragonfly, limbs askew at awkward angles against the mattress. He looks down uncertainly at Light as though he can’t decide where to go next.

Light could flip him over and take charge. He doesn’t.

“Before you found the Death Note, you were probably,” L says, scooting off him and perching beside his shoulder now, reaching a hand out to touch it with his index finger, “the most bored person alive.” Two fingers now, and he doesn’t move, just presses his fingers against Light’s bicep to feel the muscles and the veins beneath his skin. For some reason this is more unnerving than anything else he has done.

“Everything bored you,” L says, peering down at him. “Sex, school, sports, current events. Sex still bores you, unless there’s challenge, or unless you have complete control.”

“L, this isn’t – “

“You want to make your father proud of you but the fact that he already is means nothing to you,” Light says. “You love your family but you’re not sure why. You’re easily annoyed by people, because people are so rarely logical.” He drops a kiss to Light’s hair and settles against him. “Logical people entice you, but only until you think you have beaten them. Then they bore you like everyone else.”

He stretches out behind Light and slips his arms around waist. When he speaks again it’s into Light’s hair, and Light can feel him pressing against Light’s back, feel their bodies connecting all the way down from his arms to the pads of his feet.

“When you’re very angry,” L murmurs, “You go completely still. All the emotion goes out of your face and your body and everything freezes.”

Wrapped completely in his arms, Light tries not to tense.

“You become a blank,” L says. “But to me, you are more open and expressive then than at any other time.”

Light doesn’t move, doesn’t blink, doesn’t think.

“Apart from sex, that is.” L snuggles in closer. “You’re incredibly open during sex, Raito-kun. I don’t think you are aware how much. You think sex is a chore, but you enjoy it more than you admit.”

Light all but snorts, and the act of stifling his reaction does not go unnoticed. L shifts slightly on the bed behind him.

“Your focus is always control. You love oral sex because it creates the illusion of a caring, concerned lover, a lover who is willing to give and be generous, someone who thinks of their partner before themselves.”

“Ryuuzaki – “

“When really,” L continues, his voice a velvet murmur against Light’s ear, “you love controlling your partner’s reactions that entirely. Nothing else requires them to submit to you so completely, deliver themselves so fully into your hands. Nothing else allows you to stay so completely in control of your own responses. It arouses you. It’s a deception. That arouses you too.”

“This is crazy, L,” Light responds tightly.

L hugs him, squeezes his arms around Light for a moment. Light exhales. The movement feels strange, as if he’d briefly forgotten how.

“But you love to be touched, Raito-kun. You just don’t realize it.”

L runs his hand over Light’s arm, down his forearm and the back of his wrist, and then over his ribs. He slides his hand over Light’s hip, and Light suddenly recalls waking up to the feeling of L’s hand resting just there below his waist, holding him without holding him.

“You usually flinch when I touch you this way,” L says. “Your whole body seizes up, as it’s trying to do now, and when I move – here – “ he drags his fingertips up the side of Light’s ribcage, moving from his hip up above his waist, and Light’s skin is suddenly tingling and alert and alive beneath L’s hand – “you try to pull away.”

“You’re wrong,” says L, his voice shifting higher than normal. “I don’t – “

“You do,” says L. “Your body reacts to this, this touch. You can’t control it. So you fight it.”

He leans down and kisses the flare of Light’s hip, warm and open-mouthed.

Light jerks away and sits up. “Stop it,” he says. “This is ridiculous, Ryuuzaki, if there’s some point you want to prove just – “

L leans forward, takes Light’s chin in his hand, and kisses him.

Before he knows exactly how, Light is being maneuvered back to the bed. L’s arms are winding around him and his body is pressing against Light’s, warm and firm and unrelenting. L kisses him, still holding Light’s chin in his hand, and with his other he caresses Light’s stomach, tracing patterns and brushing every soft space with his fingertips, feeling out the texture of his bones and joints and muscles like a topographer canvassing a landscape. Light squirms, tries to shift away, but L holds him in place, and only kisses him deeper, slower, the taste of sugar forever on his tongue, and Light slowly responds before he knows what is happening. He doesn’t realize the moan he hears is his own until it collides with L’s own, and he finds to his complete amazement that he has wound his arms around Ryuuzaki’s waist, and somehow he is kissing L with his mouth open and his eyes closed, and somehow he is pulling L closer, drawn by the ragged warmth of L’s heartbeat against his chest.

“Ryuuzaki,” he murmurs into the kiss, not really knowing what he intends to do or say following. “This is…”

His mind blanks and all he can focus on is the warmth of L against him, L’s mouth on his.

“….nice,” he ends at last.

L still hasn’t opened his eyes. “Raito-kun is very charming when he wants to be,” he murmurs softly. “It’s one of many things about him that I – “

Abruptly his eyes fly open as if he’s said too much.

Light stares at him.

L stares back.

And then, slowly, his expression shifts, and his eyes fill with more unblanketed emotion than Light has ever seen in them.

“Raito,” he says after a moment. His voice has the same effect on Light’s skin where their bodies touch that his fingertips had moments ago. Light lifts his hand and traces the edge of L’s face, angular and smooth and sticky at odd places, from sugar, perhaps, or too much sweat. His eyes are so dark and bright at the same time, and his eyelashes are longer than Light has ever realized before, so long they flutter almost to the edge of the gaunt hollows beneath his eyes.

Light traces one deep circle with his thumb, holding L’s gaze while he brushes the pads of his fingers over the dark gray skin, and down over the corners of his thin lips. L wears his feelings in his eyes and his voice and his hands and his mouth. He is trembling now beneath Light’s fingertips, but not with fear.

L says he wonders if Light has ever felt a real feeling in his life.

Light reaches for L and clenches his eyes shut and they kiss, and kiss, and it’s not like earlier today because Light can’t think and won’t think, and it’s not like kissing Misa when he has to fake being into her whenever she gets too restless, and it’s not like kissing L from before when L would never give in, because now L is eager and pushing him back against the mattress, and his fingers are pressed against the underside of Light’s cheek, just above where his pulse throbs in his neck, and Light wonders if he does that because he needs to feel Light’s heartbeat, and the thought makes something tight erupt in his chest, and he pulls L down inside of him and feels L tighten his arms around Light’s waist, holding on until there is nothing but air and warmth and their mouths twisting together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Day 13)

 

 

 

When Light opens his eyes in the morning the first thing he feels is warmth, over and around him and inside him. His first instinct is to sink further down into the blankets and pillows, so he does. The movement causes him to take note of L’s arms slung around his waist, his leg tossed casually over Light’s thigh. He has gotten so used to L invading his space he didn’t even register the closeness at first.

When L doesn’t immediately scoot closer, Light shifts cautiously and rolls over.

L is sleeping.

Slowly, so as not to wake him, Light props his head on his hand and watches.

L barely makes a sound at all. Light can see the rise and fall of his chest below the blankets, but unlike his shallow breathing when he watches Light at night, he barely stirs. His arm is still tucked around Light’s waist. His other one is slipped beneath his head under the pillow.

With his eyes shut Light can barely make out the circles underneath, L’s long lashes obscuring the patches of gray. His face is completely relaxed and his hair spread at odd angles across his face and the pillow. He looks about ten years old. Light smiles at this and reaches over to where a piece of L’s hair is sticking straight into the air. He twists it between his fingers. It’s soft but scratchy, full of tangles. There is no trace of worry or fear or concentration or anything written across L’s features. They are totally blank; he’s never seen anyone look so calm.

In the back of Light’s mind he is vaguely aware that it is early morning, that the city is stirring outside, and that today might be his last day of freedom. He leans closer to L, close enough so L’s breath finally tickles his skin, and traces L’s cheek with his hand.

A piercing, half-remembered emotion jolts him when his fingers touch L’s skin. He remembers the two of them, side by side, pouring over the computer’s list of suspects, reaching for the mouse at the same time – the accidental touch of L’s hand on his, the first time he’d ever noticed how warm L’s hands were.

The first time he’d ever wanted to touch back.

The memory washes over him and he pulls back abruptly, afraid. L’s skin is pale, almost whiter than the bed sheets, and the wounds over his stomach are a raw pink contrast in the bright morning light. Light sits up and focuses on the uneven sigils on that fair skin and not the body on which they are carved. He is Kira. He is God. He is going to win. He is going to –

L’s eyes flicker open and he catches Light staring at his chest.

Light bends down and kisses him on the mouth.

L responds immediately with a soft sigh and pulls him down against him – or tries to; his breath hitches involuntarily when Light brushes his chest.

Light gingerly avoids touching his body and scoots up, cupping L’s face in his hands. L skates his hand over Light’s back, his fingers long slivers of heat against Light’s skin. His mouth is open and giving, and Light wants to pull away, should pull away –

Instead he blocks out all thought, tilts L’s chin back for better access to his mouth, and moves his hand through L’s luxuriously messy hair. L squirms a little at the touch, and he touches the side of Light’s face, then the shell of his ear, with his index finger, his eyes wide and almost crossed as he looks at Light. It’s a stupid way to kiss, Light thinks, and something flashes through him – a vision of L standing two inches away from him and staring at him just like this –

 

 

“You are a tremendous asset to the team, Raito-kun,” with a mild tap to Light’s forehead with his scrawny crooked finger – “You do not get emotionally involved in the workings of the case, but use your head instead” –

Light flinches away from the touch, from L’s asteroid eyes. How easy it would be to get emotionally involved, in more than just clearing his own good name, in more than just working alongside his father and L, in more than being L’s best friend - how easy it would be to cross those two inches and just -

 

 

He breaks the kiss.

He sits back but L comes with him, leaning up awkwardly in an attempt to recapture his mouth without actually doing so. He winds up wincing again when he moves to sit up, and freezes instead, looking up at Light.

It takes Light a moment to realize that this isn’t a remembered feeling, but a new one.

“Lean back,” he says. “You’ll re-open the cuts.”

L’s eyes go even wider, something which always surprises Light when it happens, and he chews on his bottom lip. Light just shakes his head and pushes him gently down into the pillows.

Of course, keeping L in bed all day, for the second day in a row, is hardly a viable option for either of them.

But fuck it, he thinks, kissing L again. A god can afford to press his luck.

He is just getting used to this, to the drowsy comfort of his hands in L’s hair and on his skin, L touching him at odd moments and making soft sounds of pleasure into his mouth, when L pulls back this time.

L looks up at him, smiles a strange sort of smile, and kisses him on the nose.

Then, his voice and his eyes darkening in the space of a moment, he sits up fully, no longer wincing, and speaks.

“Kira.”

Light stares at him. He is about to open his mouth to say something, anything - L didn’t really think Light meant any of that stuff from yesterday, surely, it was all a bit of roleplay, he can’t prove anything, he –

L reaches forward and slips his hand over Light’s wrist. Light flinches at the touch, still in shock, but L ignores it and focuses on the handcuff.

A moment later it slides off Light’s arm for the first time in months, and Light sees the key glinting in L’s hand.

L looks at him for a moment, a long, sad moment while Light tries and fails to catch his breath, to make sense of what is happening.

Then he says, with a bright smile, “My name is L Lawliet.”

And just like that, he hops out of bed, gestures erratically at the desk, upon which the Death Note is lying wide open, and ambles out of the room, dragging the handcuff chain behind him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Judgment)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light stares at L until he shuts the door. Then, blindly, he moves for the security monitors – the cameras outside the rooms are turned off, but not the ones on the inside surveying the meeting rooms.

Light watches L, his heart pounding in his ears. L wanders through the stakeout room into the kitchen.

He comes back with a piece of cake.

Light watches him flick on the control monitor and contact Watari. A kind of helplessness overtakes Light – a spiraling mix of rage and despair. He doesn’t move for the note, just watches.

“Watari,” says L, neither explaining nor bringing attention to the fact that Light is no longer handcuffed and by his side. “Just reporting in.”

Watari’s voice crackles faintly, briefly over the connection, but Light can only make out L’s soft reply. “Everything is fine, yes.” He adds after a moment, “Thank you, Watari.”

Then he signs off and goes and sits on the couch and eats cake.

Light stares and stares and hates him and feels like laughing and throwing up all at once. So this is it, then? So L meant all the breathless words about sacrifice last night? Has he delivered himself into Light’s hands (just as planned) not through changing loyalty but through an offer of death?

If so it is the most utter, complete victory of all. Light studies him for a moment, watching him calmly licking icing from his fingers. L Lawliet, he thinks. I told you I would defeat you.

He turns off the monitors and goes to the desk where the Death Note lies, conveniently open to the first blank page, pen lying on top. He sits down, unable to resist running his fingers over the smooth grain of the paper. It’s been exactly 162 days since he’s written anyone’s name in the notebook directly. Thirteen days since he’s killed anyone. He traces the page, feeling his ownership of the note like a physical thing, excitement pulsing through him as he remembers what it feels like, this much power at his fingertips. It has been too long, he thinks. The wait makes this triumph all the sweeter, this capture of the most dangerous game of all.

Light sits for a moment, feeling all the power of God roiling in his veins, overwhelmed with possibility, enthralled by the sheer number of ways he could make L die – could have him completely at Light’s mercy, could make him kill, make him slave for Kira, make him beg for death, for Light to let him kill –

Panic shoots through him, a bolt of quick, constricting fear, and just as swiftly Light remembers the anxiety: taut, curdling his stomach as if it is new.

 

 

The third Kira kills the entire board of directors of a newspaper in Osaka which had dared to publish an editorial decrying his actions. One of them is Matsuda’s childhood friend, and Light’s dad rubs soothing circles on his back while Matsuda cries.

Light and L watch them on the monitors in their rooms. L sighs and drags his hands through his hair, one of the first signs of overt tiredness and frustration Light has ever seen him show.

“You’ve gone through so much trouble to make sure everyone involved with the case has a failsafe option, a way to retreat if they want to protect themselves and their families,” Light says. “Aren’t you going to take the same precautions with your own life?”

L does not respond right away. Instead he fills a teacup two-thirds of the way full with powdered sugar, then pours in the tea.

“No,” he says at last. Light watches him pour the tea over the sugar, shivering as the kettle lets out a shrill whistle of steam.

“Why?” he asks, wondering what would happen if he sat down next to L and ran his palm in smooth circles over the back of L’s body – would L react in any way, or would he say something noncommittal and polite? Would he let Light keep his hand there, between his shoulder blades? Would he arch into the touch or just stay hunched forward like always?

“Kira already knows my identity,” says L. “He knows me as his enemy – the hunter. The only thing keeping me from death at any moment is the fact that he cannot discover my name.”

“And that’s it, then?” Light says dryly, irritation stealing over him, as if L’s a millionaire with no alarm system. He knows better, though, than to underestimate anything L does. Every move is calculated, even if, on the surface, it seems reckless and endangering. If he were Kira, then –

Well. If he were Kira, he’d certainly never underestimate L.

L turns and regards him, his eyes wide and guileless, but still careful as they look him over. As if he is thinking the same thing, studying him to see if he is asking the question as Yagami Light, the brilliant and somewhat righteously outraged detective, or Yagami Light, potential psychopath and repressed serial killer.

He holds back the sigh of frustration and wonders if L will ever trust him the way he deserves. He wonders, as he has so often, if L’s words about friendship are all just part of the trap, part of the experiment – if the respect is real or a lure for Kira.

Light’s aggravation overwhelms him for a moment. If he ever finds out that none of this is real, L will learn a few things about how dangerous it is to toy with Yagami Light.

But L’s hair is sticking out all over his head and there’s a considerable smear of pink icing on the corner of his mouth, and his lips are pursed in an ‘o’ of curiosity, and the feeling vanishes as soon as it has come.

“I am prepared to do whatever is necessary,” L replies. “With someone like Kira, to be successful you have to be willing to take every step that he takes – no matter where it might lead.”

“And if it leads to your death?” Light asks softly. He reaches over and swipes his thumb over the corner of L’s mouth, registering L’s shock and coming away with a dollop of frosting on his thumbnail.

L stares at him for a long moment, and Light feels helpless in a way that has nothing to do with Kira.

“Please do not worry, Yagami-kun,” L says at last, his tone gentle in response to whatever is showing on Light’s face. “You know that Kira’s capture supercedes the importance of the fate of any one of us.”

“Do I?” Light answers, and his eyes hold L’s until L finally turns away without answering and stares down at his saucer of cake. His face has gone pinkish. Light ponders what would happen if he spoke again – if he pressed the issue or leaned in or –

Would the percentages go down or up, then, he wonders.

He doesn’t speak again. Instead he focuses all his rage at Kira, wherever he is. He will find Kira, and he will make him pay for threatening Light, for threatening Light’s family, and especially for endangering L.

L, the most brilliant individual he has ever met, with the craziest, most indefinable quirks, the most mesmerizing habits; L, who never speaks in riddles and never opens himself up to anyone, unless it’s to share with you a rare moment of honesty that leaves you feeling warm all over. L, whose mind matched with Light’s own feels like telepathic butterfly-kissing.

That someone could want to destroy that - to cut L down purely because he is in the way, to take this kind of challenge, this kind of mind, out of the world and out of Light’s life…

It’s not an option. For the first time since the investigation began, Light allows fear to sweep over him: fear that he could lose L – a sweet ache that he has something to lose.

He will not rest until Kira is caught, and L is safe.

 

 

The open page crinkles under his fingers. Light stares at it, reining in his thoughts.

So if he… if he kills L now then he would have to create a reason for L to have taken off the … the handcuffs first. And it’s not like he could just make L’s body disappear, all that pale skin and his eyes and Watari is probably watching right now, Light saw the video. L wanted him to see it.

L, that bastard –what had L really been thinking last night? Light had thought it was real, the sacrifice and the way he’d – but no. He knows now that L had been prepared to die. Had that been his plan all along? To offer himself to Kira as bait?

He’d already done that last night, hadn’t he? Hadn’t Kira already taken it?

Fuck, Light thinks. Fuck. Fuck.

 

 

“Fuck it,” Light groans into the pillow. “Ryuuzaki, staying up with you every night while you obsess over Kira is pushing the limits of ‘cooperating fully,’ don’t you think?”

L doesn’t look up from the computer monitor. The glare against the dark makes his face look even more hollowed out and pale than usual – Light’s personal ghoul. “Raito-kun wants to catch Kira as much as I do,” he says, a statement rather than a question.

“Yeah, well.” Light turns his face into the pillow and stifles an irritable yawn. “Raito-kun also wants to sleep.” He tugs on the chain, hard enough to make L turn and regard him languidly.

L’s sweatshirt swallows him whole, and when he pulls it down over his bony knees he resembles nothing in the dim lighting so much as a giant pop-eyed marshmallow. He leans forward in the desk chair.

“I’m sorry for keeping you awake,” he says. He sounds a bit awkward, a little guilty, though he doesn’t look it, and Light isn’t sure whether to believe him or not. “Kira is out there somewhere. The discovery of even one overlooked detail, one missed pattern, may be enough to save lives.”

“Even Kira has to sleep sometime, L,” says Light as gently as he can. He wonders what L would do if he just pulled on the chain, pulled L right to him.

“Raito-kun wants me to give up for now and let him sleep,” L says. He sounds like he’s considering it, like Light has made some sort of irrational request, and for a moment Light wonders if he’s actually calculating the percentages. Was that a confession, Raito-kun? Is Kira, at this very moment, sleepy?

A brutal, resentful image of L and the chain and what Light would like to do with it flashes through his mind all at once. He shoves it out of the way, and does give the chain one more tug, just to see what L will do.

L doesn’t resist the tug, and stares at his arm as Light drags it off his knee and pulls the rest of him with it, testing him a link at a time.

“We’ll make a better team,” Light says, “If I’m alert and well-rested in the morning.” He doesn’t add that if L ever actually slept too they might be even better.

L goes with the chain and halts abruptly next to the bed, peering over Light. “Raito-kun is logical.”

“Good.” Light closes his eyes.

“But of course if Raito-kun is Kira, then it could all be an attempt to distract me from closing in on a crucial detail.”

Light’s eyes fly open again, and he is about to let L have it, no, really - but L is looking down at him and smiling in amusement.

“Are you teasing, Ryuuzaki?” Light sits up. “I didn’t think you had it in you to joke about Kira.”

He tugs the final link of the chain, and L’s knees bend until he is perched beside Light on the bed, still watching him with his tiny smile. “If Raito-kun is Kira,” he says softly, “joking will be a necessary coping mechanism.”

 

 

He has to clear his head. Right. Disappear. He chews on the end of the pen L has conveniently laid out for him. He just needs to make L disappear.

 

 

If Raito-kun is Kira…

“I’m not Kira,” Light says tiredly.

“Because you’re not a murdering sociopath,” says L with a smile, “or because you don’t wish to give me the satisfaction of being right?”

“I don’t think you’re a game,” Light says.

“I don’t believe you,” L says sadly.

 

 

Sadness, why had he been sad even back then? Hadn’t he always –

This is stupid, this is exactly what L wants Light to do. God, Light hates him. He hates him, he needs to disappear soon, no, right now.

Easy enough to make it happen. But would L simply disappearing be enough to clear Light’s name? L would certainly leave instructions with Watari beforehand… no, Watari has instructions already, Light saw L speak to him.

Light knows L – he will have already given Watari specific orders to watch him closely for illogical or inexplicable behavior over the next few days. Whatever he does must be enough to convince everyone else, and Watari most of all…

If Light could create a fake Death Note, replace the one in L’s possession, and write L’s name in the real Death Note, then he could command L to take the real Death Note with him on his “trip” without anyone, including Watari, being the wiser.

Now, with the cameras off, he could do it – he could command L to make a copy of the note himself, in secret. Even if anyone found out what he was doing, L could feed them some line about wanting a fake Death Note on hand just in case. It would be something he would do, a trap to catch the killer.

He could send L on a trip to meet “Kira”, far away, arrange a call to come in from outside – he could have Misa stage a call once they are free of suspicion, today, yes – once he orders L to stage the execution of the prisoner as if it is a heart attack. It must be done today, if ever.

He picks up the pen and clicks the top restlessly, the urge to write, to make everything spin out beneath the drying ink just as he wills it, warring with the need for caution. He could send L far away and then make L mail the note back to him in secret, addressed to him anonymously from a postal drop, right before taking his own life.

It would be a bookend on a chapter of Light’s career. A fittingly complex bookend, and a suicide, at that. To match his friend Naomi Misora.

Naomi Misora… Light clicks the pen top again and presses the body of it flat against the page. Last night he had told L how he’d killed her, the way her eyes had widened with horror, and L had moaned and shivered and begged for more, for details.

Had he been faking? Light’s fingernails, digging into the arch of L’s spine, his whole body taut and tense beneath Light, his voice shaking –

- Light shakes himself free of the memory. Today, it has to be done today, now or never. It is the last day and L has delivered himself into Light’s hands. Has he done it because he’s finally recognized that Light’s way is the best way? That Light is the most capable, no, the only person who can control this kind of power and use it responsibly? Has he done it because he’s in love with Light? Because he wants to die?

The long flat stretch of L’s belly, the glide of Light’s fingers slowly through the slick spread of come and blood over his stomach, the way L can’t stop shivering – the way he keeps his eyes shut like he can’t bear to open them, and Light thinks no, look at me, don’t stop -

Had he wanted it at all? Does he –

Light pulls his thoughts away again. He’s running out of time. The more he deliberates the greater the chance L could be sending for backup to arrest Light on the spot. Fuck. Fuck. Of course he’s probably sent for the police and Interpol and every other agency on the planet, and Light’s Dad, fuck, fuck, of course he has, Light saw him talking to Watari. While Light is taking his sweet time trying to kill L off L has set him up perfectly – no escape, if the police arrive and L is dead, they’ll know Light did it, if the police arrive and L is still alive, he’ll be able to point them right to Light, confession handy. Hell, they won’t even need a confession, they’ll take L’s word for it. They trust him. Fuck, he can just show them his chest, the sculpture of flesh and blood they’d created together the night before and -

No, no, L wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t do it, not after last night – if he were going to do it he could have done it at any time, he didn’t even need to go through the pretense of sex – but the sex had been good, hadn’t it? It had, better than Light had ever expected. Better than sex had ever been, because it wasn’t sex, it was war, it was battle and it had tasted like blood, like victory –

He remembers L’s eyes on him, steady and unafraid, after everything. Afterwards, when he couldn’t make L shut up, couldn’t seem to stop touching him. Was that the man he’d had in his bed every night for ten days or was it someone else altogether, that creature with L’s voice and lips and hands who had -

 

 

“Raito-kun.”

Light starts. “Yeah?”

“You are looking at me.” L sits down his tray of cookies and closes the laptop before giving Light his wide-eyed attention. “Why? Of what do you suspect me?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” Light says sarcastically.

L blinks at Light in a way that would be patronizing in anyone else –in L it just looks fixated, and possibly sleep-deprived.

“I could just be watching you work,” Light says. “Not everything has to mean something, Ryuuzaki.”

“That is generally an accurate observation, yes. But you and I are not like most people, Raito-kun.”

Light is smug.

“I did not mean that as an automatic compliment,” L says a bit gloomily, taking a cookie and eyeing it as if it offers solace. “We are both exceptionally bright. We both are prone to excessive fixation on a single object or goal. Would you not agree?”

“Sure.”

“At this point we are both obsessively focused on finding the identity of Kira. Since we are so alike, I am assuming you are thinking about the case at all times. Should I not?”

Light tries not to scowl. “Only during the times I’m not handcuffed to you and by your side at every waking moment.”

“Ah.” L actually smiles. “There is that too.”

“Oh, drop it, Ryuuzaki,” Light snaps. “I think you enjoy it.”

“Naturally, I do,” L says, dunking his cookie into his glass of milk. “It allows me to gauge your behavior and thoroughly examine your potential as a suspect.”

“I’m not Kira,” Light says by rote, “and I meant beyond that. You like having me under your power.”

“Oh,” says L, pausing his cookie in mid-dunk. “Yes.”

Light stares at him.

L gives him a sharp glance and proceeds with the cookie-dipping. “It is, of course, mutually beneficial.”

“What?”

“Raito-kun is extremely used to getting his own way. Aren’t you?”

Light glares. L dips another cookie.

“You don’t often meet with anyone who can not only challenge you intellectually, but also stand in the way of your getting what you want. A part of you likes this.” He jangles the chain absently; the stifling, murderous anger flashes through Light, as it has routinely ever since he accepted the handcuffs.

L adds, “You tell yourself you hate it. But it’s just another part of the challenge. And we both love the challenge.”

Light forces the rage past, buries it someplace deep. He leans forward and rests his hand on his chin, on the coffee table next to the plate of cookies.

“And what is it you think I want, Ryuuzaki?” he asks calmly.

L picks up a cookie and then holds it up between them. It’s a sugar cookie with M&M’s. L stares at it.

“And don’t talk about my murderous intent to take over the universe,” Light adds, irritated. “What do you see yourself standing in the way of?” He ponders taking L’s cookies away until he gives him a straight answer. He ponders tasting the crumbs on the ends of L’s bony fingertips.

"Then what would you have me say, Raito-kun?" L licks the crumbs away on his own, and Light irrationally hates him even more for that. Then L's voice drops to something that in anyone else could be called a purr. "Where would you like me to stand?"

Light snatches his hand away, handcuff clanking angrily against the coffee table, so it won’t look too much like he was going for one of L’s cookies. He hates cookies. “Preferably for justice, not on top of it, for starters,” he grumbles – and that does it. L’s eyes snap to his own, suddenly clear and penetrating.

“Is that what you are?” asks L coldly. There is nothing feline at all in his voice now.

“You are justice, Raito-kun?”

“Don’t you think the same thing, L?” Light snaps back, tired of the game. “You talk about how Kira’s justice is warped, but all you care about is being the one to bring down Kira yourself. You’re not in it for justice, you’re in it for the game.”

“If I only wanted to catch Kira myself,” L says, looking patient but wary of the prize sitting across from him, “why would I have asked you to join the investigation?”

Because you’re insane and you think I’m a murdering nutcase. “Because you suspect me,” Light says. “Because it lets you keep me close.”

“That is true.” L bites a fingernail. “But also because you are a brilliant, strategic thinker, and an asset to this investigation in many ways that I cannot be.”

Light waits for the other shoe to drop.

“Even if you are not Kira,” L says, “you think in ways that Kira thinks, in ways I can rationalize but not understand.”

Light is on his feet before he realizes it. “I’m not Kira,” he hisses.

L studies his fingernail. “If Raito-kun says so,” he answers, with such studied indifference that it rips away the last layer of Light’s self-control.

He grabs L with two hands by his dingy shirt collar and hauls him to his feet, the better to wring his filthy, scrawny, infuriating neck until his eyes bulge and he gasps for breath and he understands exactly just who he’s dealing with, the lunatic psychopath, Light has to stop him, Light has to –

L blinks.

“Raito-kun,” he says. “This is not a convincing argument in your favor.”

Light catches his breath and steps back, releasing L with a jerk. L slumps back down in his seat, rubbing his neck thoughtfully.

“I’m not – I don’t think like him,” Light says, sitting back down as well. His insides feel cold, slimy, like he’s just drunk motor oil. “Do you know what it feels like, that someone thinks you have the mind of a serial killer?”

“I don’t mean that as an insult,” L says calmly. “If I could think as you do, it would be easier for me to catch the criminal, and resorting to tactics such as keeping you employed next to me at all times would be unnecessary.”

“How can you not mean it as an insult?” Light snarls. “It’s Kira. Is there anything about him you like?”

L gives him a long look, then leans forward and breaks a cookie in half.

“Perhaps that is a question you should ask yourself, Raito-kun,” he says. “Since it bothers you that much.”

He holds the other half of the cookie out to Light.

 

 

Light’s hands are shaking. He can’t make them stop. What had L meant, if it bothered him that much? It’s one of many things about him that I –

His hands won’t stop shaking. He clenches his fist open and shut. He can’t write L’s name down in the Death Note if he can’t hold the pen.

Had L known? Even then had he known without a shred of doubt that Light was the one he wanted? Had he put off doing anything about it because of this? He closes his eyes, tries to remember – flashes of memory surface, L doing stupid everyday things like brushing his teeth, passing Light the sugar for his tea in the morning, the way he –

He has to stop this, he can’t keep obsessing. Who the fuck cares if L had known then or not? Light could have strangled him then, Light could do it now, he could just walk into the next room and wring L’s neck. Does L care? No. Why doesn’t L care? Why doesn’t he mind that he’s been handcuffed to the most prolific serial killer the world has ever known for the last six weeks? Why doesn’t he do something? Look at him, sitting there with his cake and his nonchalance and his careless fake goodbyes to Watari.

Watari, L probably has all kinds of precautions set in place to trap Kira no matter what Light’s next move is. But if that were the case why all the preamble, why go to the trouble of seduction and - what was that last night, all that crap about watching him sleep and Light not letting anyone touch him and control and-

resorting to tactics such as keeping you employed next to me at all times would be unnecessary.

Raito-kun is good company.

–is that it? L’s in love with him? If that’s so, then it should be the victory, the triumph he has been planning for two weeks. It feels like nothing, though, nothing at all. That’s not how it should feel when you’re about to kill the man you’ve been fucking, when you - write his name down, his name, L Lawliet, write it down, write it down now before -

His hands around L’s throat, his stomach turning to acid inside of him at the sound of L’s voice. Is there anything about him you like? Perhaps that is a question you should ask yourself. Was that a confession, Raito-kun? calculating the percentages – L will learn a few things about how dangerous it is to toy with Yagami Light… with his eyes shut he looks about ten years old – Light’s hands around his neck – I wonder if you’ve ever felt a real feeling in your life.

shut up shut up shut up this isn’t me letting go, letting -

 

 

“What would you do if I were Kira?”

 

 

They are standing on the balcony of L’s hotel headquarters at night. Everyone else has gone home and Light is staring out over the high-rise swimming-pool rooftops of downtown Tokyo, backlit in neon and generators. He really wants to know this time, and he doesn’t want L to start in on any of his crap about what the question implies about the likelihood of his actually being Kira.

He wonders if L has forgiven him for the crack the other day about his lack of commitment to real justice. Or for his hands around L’s throat. At the time L had seemed far more hurt by his refusal to take the cookie, but with L, who knows.

L is at the other end of the balcony, perched halfway over the side of it with his feet and his knees hooked onto the wall as if he really is a tree frog. His arms and his head have disappeared over the ledge. All Light can see from that angle are the backs of his knees and the bony ridge of his spine. Anywhere else Light’s not looking. Not now, not ever.

Really.

L says something that’s muffled against the concrete ledge and the wind. The handcuff chain jingles. Light rolls his eyes and finally joins him on the opposite end of the balcony. He’s not asking the damn question twice. It’s been a long day already. They had tracked down what they thought was a real lead, a reclusive dockworker in Akihabara who’d been distributing flyers for some online site devoted to Kira worship. L had brought him in for an interview, but Light had known – both of them had known – from the moment the kid walked through the door, scraggly and scared and not at all like the vigilante cyberspace had made him out to be. No way was this guy Kira.

Turned out the Tokyo police had received a fake tip from the kid’s cousin in Osaka. L’s face had fallen as if he’d just had his candy stolen. Light can’t understand it, the way L goes after Kira like he was a carousel ring. He’s pretty sure he doesn’t want to.

He feels a little bad for L anyway. And himself. He’s tired, he’s grumpy, and now L is swinging against the cement balcony ledge like monkey bars.

Light sighs. “I’m not scraping you up when you fall.”

“Naturally,” L replies, voice suddenly perfectly audible (does he do it on purpose?). “You’d keep me from falling to save your own life.”

He jangles the chain. Light hates him.

“I couldn’t just be trying to save yours?” he says.

L swings up, back into his crazy upright position, an unsteady crouch/lurch. Can’t really call it standing.

L looks at him and takes a step closer. His eyes are gaunt, but clear, never red-rimmed or tired – just hollow.

“I think Raito-kun does not know what his deepest motivations are,” he says softly.

“But you do?”

L turns, looks out across the city with a long, solemn stare. “No,” he says. “If I did, I might be able to help Raito-kun.”

“To do what?” Light almost snaps. Instead he forces his voice soft to match L’s. “To save me from my murderous instincts?”

“To be happy,” L answers.

Light goes cold all over. L isn’t looking at him. He just keeps looking out over the cityscape, a little rigid. Light wonders if anything ever scares him, really. He says he’s scared of Kira, but if he were, would he risk chaining himself to his favorite suspect?

“How can you say that?” Light bites out, bitterness turning his voice flat. “You keep me trapped here like some animal in a freak show, just – “

“Stop,” L says sharply. He doesn’t look back at Light, but for once he sounds upset.

It’s enough. Light shuts up.

“I have to do what I think is best for the investigation. Any decision I make could impact hundreds of lives, even thousands.” He digs his fingernails into the side of the ledge. “No. Any decision I make will impact every human being.”

Light scoffs. “That’s ridiculous, what does that have to do with me being – “

“Kira is more than a murderer,” L says. His voice is low, quiet. “Kira tries to rewrite the concept of justice upon the world. Every moment he succeeds is a moment humanity forgets how to believe in mercy – in forgiveness. Every moment Kira prevails brings all societies on earth closer to anarchy. Kira is more than a serial killer. He is attempting to change the world.”

He looks down at his hands. “If he is not prevented, then he will.”

Light shudders.

L looks at him, finally.

“You are the person closest to me,” he says sadly. “Did you really think I would put you through this purely for my own pleasure?”

“Ryuuzaki.”

“Torture, confinement, deprivation? Do you think I - that any man could enjoy inflicting those things upon another human being, much less…”

He doesn’t finish. Light reaches over, wanting to make him stop, wanting to make him keep going. He puts his hand over L’s and notes that they are trembling.

L doesn’t pull away, but he flinches and looks at Light’s hand over his as if it has personally betrayed him. “I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of justice,” he says, a note of brittle defiance entering his voice. “I never worry about the welfare of criminals, Raito-kun. Can you imagine how it feels to know that perhaps I have done far more than worry about the most dangerous and disreputable criminal in history?”

“I’m not,” Light begins –

and suddenly the uselessness of it hits him.

L’s eyes hold certainty, have held certainty for months. He can’t fight it. He can’t do anything but surrender to it – to this ghastly image L has of him and has always had of him.

The thought of what L sees when he looks at Yagami Light makes him come perilously close to vomiting over the side of the building.

He has to swallow against the tightness in his throat, the rising nausea. L is looking at him now, awkwardly, a sidewise glance where he grips the ledge. The air is cold and the wind is lifting L’s hair in flyaway angles from his face. It doesn’t help that he looks almost beautiful like this, pale and awkward and clearly afraid of what he has said.

“Raito-kun,” he says after a moment – small and shy. It is so out of place. Light turns to him and takes L’s face between his hands.

He has wanted to do this from the beginning– the cold lines of L’s pointed jawline, his deceptively round face fitting inside of Light’s hands. His fingertips brush L’s temples. L doesn’t look surprised. Or afraid. He looks as if this is what he expected. Light doesn’t know whether that should make him angry or not. He can’t think about it when he has L’s pulse below his fingers. L’s eyelashes centimeters from his touch, his eyes wide and open and staring.

“What would it take to get you to trust me?”

Light runs his thumb over the ridge of L’s cheekbone. “Just tell me,” he whispers. “Anything, what would it take? I hate this, Ryuuzaki.”

L’s breath catches, and Light’s stomach rolls over from queasiness and expectation and nerves and something else again. “I… also…” L manages. “…Raito-kun may not accept the only answer I can give.”

“Just tell me.” He tries to make it sound like something soothing instead of something desperate.

“I need," L whispers, and his eyes close, for the first time ever. "I need Raito-kun to show me what he really is."

“I’ve tried,” Light says. “You won’t believe that this is real, Ryuuzaki.”

L’s eyes are still closed. He reaches up, perhaps to push Light away. Instead he freezes, palm hovering fractions away from Light’s.

“I have also tried, Raito,” he whispers. “I cannot.”

Light tilts his head forward. He can feel L’s breath, warm and unsteady, ghosting across his face. “You can,” he murmurs. “Please.”

L’s lips are thin and drawn back – cold and resisting, Light thinks, but his mouth will be warm and pliant.

“Just trust me,” Light says. He starts to tilt L’s chin up. “L.”

L’s eyes snap open.

He jerks back and bumps awkwardly into the ledge. The chain between them clatters against the concrete. L’s gaze is suddenly harsh and alert.

“You are either lying to me now,” he says coldly, “or you are lying to yourself.” He untangles the chain and backs up, bringing it to full length between them. “I can believe in one version or the other, but while the lie exists, I cannot trust it.”

“Then what?” Light snaps. “Which would you rather see, L? The Yagami Light you don’t have to despise, or Kira?”

L studies him. “If you were being completely honest with both of us, Yagami-kun,” he says after a moment, “you wouldn’t have to ask.”

The chain is just long enough to hide his expression in shadow as he turns away.

 

 

Light stands up slowly, noting vaguely the blood rushing to his face.

L has played him like a fool.

The memory stings him – the coldness, the surety in L’s voice, the way his fingertips had tingled against L’s cheekbones, L’s hair caught by the wind – as if it happened yesterday. The knowledge of what L saw in him then, even when he was without the Death Note, burns through him. L, he thinks. L, you bastard. You living unholy bastard.

L who wouldn’t give him what he wanted, just because of what he had seen in Light, what he’d thought he’d seen, the thing that kept Yagami Light from having what he wanted, from having who he wanted – Yagami Light, the monster, the prime suspect – was he so obvious, had he always been so fucking obvious that a clueless freak like L with his hair and his eyes and his boggling stare and his fucking cookies could see the truth at a glance?

And he’d never deviated from it – L had wanted it all along, L had known all along, the fucking bastard had set him up, let him believe in his seduction, his one hope to be rescued from the trap of the thirteen days. Seduce L, watch him fall, and win him over, and – L had just sat back and let him walk right into it knowing he didn’t remember the first rejection. Knowing he was Kira, knowing exactly what Kira wanted - having the advantage and never letting Light know it…

He tries to steady his breathing but it doesn’t work – his face is getting redder with rage and panic every moment, he can feel it, and L, fucking L, probably saw that coming too – fucking fucking fucking Ryuuzaki, he’d let Light fuck him and touch him and –

And he’d seen Light, he’d tricked Light into showing him Kira, into showing him and he’d wanted it and Light had allowed himself to believe the lie, that he could inscribe himself on L’s skin and his mind and his –

Fuck,” he hisses. His voice sounds hoarse, barely-there. He is God: is he to go down like this, because of L, because of L’s lies and his fake assurances and his mouth and his hands and his –

- but it had been real, it had been real, L hadn’t placed his trust in him until he’d placed his trust in L –

- yet what good did it do? Light was Kira, Light himself, the thing he despised, the thing he’d spent months trying to erase from L’s vision, the thing he’d wanted to wipe out of L’s mind until all he saw was him, Yagami Light, not his obsession with Kira, but it was all the same, what kind of – who was it L had seen to begin with? Who was it L loved? Had he ever just been Raito to L?

L. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck he has to kill L, L has to die. But –

He starts to hyperventilate.

L. L. Kill L, how can he he has to, how can he – There can’t be two of you how had he known why hadn’t he said anything they could have had more than thirteen days they could have had all the days and L had looked at him like he was god, he is God, I am Kira, I am Kami, I am his fingers soaked in L’s blood, L looking up at him, he wants it, he wants to sacrifice himself to me, I am God, I must accept my follower’s sacrifice. I am God I am -

You’d keep me from falling to save your own life.

But he hadn’t kept L from falling, L had wanted to fall.

He feels dizzy from the rush of blood to the head and veers for the bathroom. He needs to sit down, he needs to go kill L right now - and L, L, that fucking murderer, risking the life of some faceless prisoner when he knew, he knew all along, he knew and he kissed –

Kira, how could he want Kira, how could Light be Kira, how could Light do – how could L let him, how could L touch… his hand, the way his voice went low, the way he’d bled - to save your own life is that what L is trying to do? L can’t die, Light can’t – Light has to – die, the thousands of people – Light’s father, if he knew, his sister, the look in L’s eyes, L Lawliet I have to -

His inside twists, he has two seconds before everything upheaves, he is Kira, he is Kira, he is God, I am God and I will bathe the world in my blood until it surrenders, starting with L, always L, always that face with no name and the eyes and the haunting - he lurches forward, bracing his hands on the sides of the toilet – just in time – he is Kira - slice my insides open – he wishes they were L’s, blood on his fingertips and he is God, I am God and L must die

Light can’t stand up. He leans heavily against the toilet, knees protesting the hard tiles of the bathroom floor.

I can’t be Kira.

The world needs him.

Why did I - ?

To become the God of the new world.

To become the god of the new world L must –

But L is my -

“Raito-kun.”

Light goes rigid. His heart is in his ears, he can barely see, barely hear. He feels a hand on his shoulder, then another on his arm.

Light is lifted firmly, steadily, to his feet.

He looks down. L is grasping his elbow. He tries to think, to put words together. L’s hand is on his elbow.

“There’s an extra slice of cake,” L says.

Light turns, stares at him.

L isn’t afraid of him. Maybe he never was.

Light’s throat contracts and he lunges for L, hands clawing at his neck, his chest, his fucking scarred chest, throwing him back against the wall. L’s head collides with the tile, a solid crack, but his eyes are still open, still open and watching Light, and he’s not fighting back, not kicking or defending, just looking, eyes wide, eyes open.

Light’s rage leaves his throat like an exit wound, sound after sound he never knew he could make pouring over L’s stupid defenseless ragdoll body, and he is screaming a litany of incoherent accusations against L’s skin and why isn’t he doing anything, why the fuck isn’t he, fuck him fuck him fuck him, he thinks, but all that comes out are bursts of sound and pain and he can’t stop slamming L’s back against the wall, over and over again, until finally L lets out an audible gasp and Light thinks don’t hurt him and for that he needs L to die right now, die painfully, die forever.

His hands tighten around L’s throat and keep tightening. L’s eyes squeeze shut and his head connects with the tile – still he doesn’t resist and Light wants to make him, Light needs him to – fight, do something, anything – they aren’t like this, they aren’t supposed to stop struggling, stop needing each other to fight -

L’s face is beginning to change; he is starting to choke. Light can feel his muscles contracting beneath his fingertips – at least they are fighting, even if the rest of him isn’t.

Light presses down upon L’s carotid vein, watches it start to turn purple. Is this the end?

Was this how he felt with the others, the others he killed and left faceless and terrorized – is this power? He’s going to throw up again, L is going to die and Light is going to throw up and then it will all be okay, except L is going to die and Light is going to kill him because Light is Kira and –

L’s knees give way. His eyes are run through with blood but he is trying to keep them open, trying to keep his eyes on Light’s face.

Light thinks, this isn’t how it is supposed to go. I can’t kill him this way.

He is supposed to use the Note. Less messy. Less danger. Less L – L being dead.

L is dead, he thinks. I killed him.

He lets go, steps back.

L crumples to the floor and for a moment Light thinks he is actually dead.

Then he rolls over and coughs and Light’s knees give way after him.

For a thousand long moments all he can do is watch as L coughs, watch and stare at the bruises purpling on his collarbone and the back of his neck.

He is Kira. He just tried to kill L. L left him alone with a death note and he is Kira and he wants to kill L.

L rolls over and slowly sits up, leaning back against the bathroom tiles.

He looks up at Light.

Wanted, Light thinks helplessly, and he slumps against L’s shoulder and leans against his chest.

L goes rigid. Light closes his eyes. L’s heart is beating crazily, he can feel it in the veins pulsing skittishly near where he rests his forehead. L’s heart, and his eyes and his hands – and Light isn’t a god, of anything or anyone. Light is just a stupid kid with a notebook that can kill people and he nearly killed L’s mushroom hair and his spiderleg fingers and his pointed stares and his thin lips and his stupid kisses and Light isn’t god because gods don’t feel like this, gods don’t feel at all, and maybe that’s because no one ever handcuffed god to a maniac with pop-eyes and bad teeth and Light can’t let L die, because in the end Light isn’t strong enough. He’s killed thousands of people but he can’t do this.

He wants the Death Note. He wants L.

Slowly L raises his arm. He encircles L’s wrist with his fingers, where the handcuff was, around the mark it has rubbed into his skin after days, weeks, nights. The message is clear.

Light shudders.

If he ever gets another chance, he –

His voice is hoarse when he tries to speak, as if it had been L’s fingers around his own throat.

“Don’t let me go, L,” he rasps into L’s sweater.

And then he shudders again and clings to Ryuuzaki.

It’s over. He’s going to die.

He registers L’s shock vaguely through his own. After a moment, L replies. His voice ragged and feeble but it somehow still manages to be full of feeling – even after all that, after everything.

“I was not about to, Raito-kun.” He runs his thumb almost soothingly against the inner ring of Light’s wrist. Light almost jerks his arm away.

He settles for muttering between clenched teeth: “Do you always grope people when they’ve just tried to kill you?”

L draws him closer against his shoulder, rubs a light circle over Light’s back before resting his hand at the drop of his waist.

“I would expect Raito-kun to know the answer to that by now,” he whispers.

Light chances a look at the bruises forming all along L’s neck. Good, he lets himself think – but even that makes him feel sick and queasy all over. He recoils from L’s touch – tries to step back, but this time it’s L’s hand, wrapped around his arm, that won’t let him.

“Cut the bullshit,” Light seethes – suddenly he feels claustrophobic, too close to L, too close to everything in this room, to everything on this floor - and especially too close to that notebook. “You’ve got the upper hand, so what happens now? Are you going to kill me yourself or just watch me die?”

His hands are sweaty and he feels very close to throwing up again. Maybe that’s all this ever was to him – the ultimate joke at Light’s expense, because it’s easy, isn’t it, to whisper pretty words and carve them into your chest and speak of worship and he isn’t afraid and Light needs him to fear him, to fear this, because Light isn’t going to be fucking terrified all by himself right now, he’s not going to give Ryuuzaki the goddamned satistfaction –

But it’s not L, he thinks, not L who created all this – it’s not even him, not Light himself - if anyone is to blame, it’s Ryuk, Ryuk who gave him the ability to kill with impunity and didn’t warn him that the might of Interpol would be sent after him and that the might of Interpol was a pocky stick in a sweatshirt who would do things like handcuff him and torture him and insist on touching him in weird places and he’s suddenly sweating all over because this is it, no way out, ignoring L, killing L, punching L in the face, none of those work anymore and he has no time left. If Rem is nearby, maybe he can convince her to write his name down in the book when L isn’t looking - at least then he would have plausible deniability for his family and L would be deprived of any tangible proof he had that their son was a mass murderer, and at least that might –

- but L doesn’t want him to die, L can’t want him to die, Light had his hands wrapped around - and Light saved him, didn’t he, couldn’t he have just – but no, he’s not Kira, he’s not Kira, except he is and he wants to go on squeezing and he is so tired of this and L and himself and he’s going to die, he’s motherfucking going to die -

A choked sound escapes him. L has been staring at him, still collecting his breath. Now he brushes his fingers through Light’s hair. They are cool and his hair is soaked with sweat, and L rakes his hand through thick strands of it and Light catches a breath and flinches away.

“It seems,” L says softly, “that in spite of everything, Raito-kun cannot kill me.”

Light tenses, forcing himself to focus on L’s eyes, on the harsh murmur of his voice – if he thinks about what L is saying he will go crazy, he will go mad and it will end, it will all be over. He clenches his fingers around L’s thin cotton shirt. His nails rake L’s equally thin, bony shoulders, but L doesn’t flinch.

“Fuck you,” he says, his voice ragged. “You dick me around and I’ll kill you, I swear to god. Just stop it, L.”

“We've stopped already,” L says. He rubs his throat and slowly rolls over, testing his balance, wincing in pain.

A tremor of remorse shoots through Light, and the bottomless well of guilt below it is so close to overwhelming him that he shuts his eyes and hisses, “Just tell me what you’re going to do with me.”

L stands up slowly. Then he looks down at Light and offers a hand to help him up.

“If you don’t want your cake,” he says, “I was thinking of making tiramisu.”

“Just tell me,” Light nearly yells.

“Raito-kun has already said everything that needs to be said,” L responds smoothly. “Raito-kun worries too much.”

“You mean you’re not going to do anything?” Light shrieks, propelling himself away from L and backing to the opposite wall of the bathroom, because if strangulation and death threats have failed to work, maybe putting some space between them for once will. “I swear if you try and say you’re not going to do anything I’ll write your fucking name down in the book right now.”

“That would be unwise, Raito-kun,” L says, chewing his thumbnail unconcernedly. “You have no reason to do that, and besides, you would never get away with it. If I deviate even slightly from a pre-determined schedule today, Watari will know about it, I will be removed from my position because my judgment has been compromised, and you will be arrested.”

Light stares at him.

“At the moment I am safer than ever,” L says. He sounds fascinated. “I am the only thing keeping you alive.”

Fuck you,” Light snarls, and reels out of the bathroom, sore and angry. He takes a few steps before residual nausea halts him, and he leans against the wall. L pokes his head around the door.

“Plus, I think it is now well-established that Raito-kun would miss me,” he says.

Light steadies himself, hands flat against the wall. L is looking at him, creepy and curious, his hands curling like vines around the doorjamb.

“You’re going to tell me what you’re going to do with me,” Light says, in as commanding a voice as he can muster.

“Raito-kun should remain calm,” L says, unaffected. “It would also be helpful for him to help me clean everything up before the others come back.”

“The others,” Light snaps, “And you’re going to tell them… what, exactly? About the identity of Kira?”

“Nothing,” says L. “The thirteen days aren’t up.”

Light screams and marches into the lounge.

L follows him to the door and then stands, peering out from behind it. Light sits down on the couch with a huff.

“I realize you’re upset, Raito-kun,” he says. “But try to understand anything out of the ordinary either of us does today will arouse suspicion. I will of course have to put you back in handcuffs before –“

“I knew it,” Light screams. “You fucking bastard.” Rage, towering, helpless rage overwhelms him, and he searches blindly for something to smash L’s face in with, something to mutilate him, destroy him, cause him to know a fraction of the pain and fear Light has dealt with the last week -

His hand finds the remaining slice of cake on the coffee table, and he hurls the plate through the air towards the bedroom door with all his strength. L starts and slips behind it just as the cake makes impact with a terrible shattering of porcelein.

He emerges a moment later, strands of whipped cream decorating his face and his hair.

“Don’t misunderstand,” he says. “How will I explain my rationale for letting you out of the handcuffs before the time has fully elapsed?”

Light stares at the door and L and the swathes of pineapple juice staining the wood varnish. “Maybe you could tell them, oh, I don’t know, that I’m Kira??” he says shrilly.

L halts, one hand paused on the doorknob, or more correctly on the glob of cake adorning the doorknob.

“Why on earth would I want to do that?” he says. “They’d almost certainly want to put you back in the handcuffs.”

Light stares at him for so long L’s expression changes from confusion to concern.

Then he unthinkingly dips a long finger in the goo sliding down the door, emerges with a strawberry, and slips it into his mouth.

Light lets out a scream of rage and makes a lunge for L, grabbing his scalp in one hand and the remnants of the cake in the other.

Here,” he screams. “I hope you fucking choke on it.”

L’s mouth is already open in surprise, which makes it conveniently easy to jam it full of cake. He buckles, and Light thinks he has him until a moment later, when a giant helping of raspberry velvet mix collides with his forehead. He gargles in rage and goes for L’s waist, but L is limber, and apparently being coated in chocolate makes him more slippery.

Light makes a grab for his ankle. He yanks, hard, and L goes down.

A split-second later, Light joins him.

He lands in a sticky coating of whipped cream and frosting. He wonders vaguely just how many goddamn toppings can one cake can need, and also thinks that it’s a good thing the floor isn’t carpeted, before L flips him over and looms above him, a filling-smeared spectre, and rubs a cherry against his nose with great ceremony.

And then it’s more than Light can take, and he is laughing, laughing and laughing hysterically, and he still feels sick, but his sides hurt, and L looks more like a giant marshmallow than ever, and he’s going to die and he can’t kill L and L’s going to kill him and he’s going to die, and he’s singlehandedly slaughtered nearly eight thousand people, and he can’t stop laughing, and holy shit is his dad going to be pissed when he finds out, and then L leans down and presses their mouths together, and Light grabs on and holds on to him until he can’t breathe, and can’t force himself to come up for air.

“What I am trying to say,” L says at last, his fingers gently smoothing away dollops of chocolate from Light’s forehead, “is that you shouldn’t worry.”

“And why exactly,” Light says – he tries to sneer, but he’s too fucking exhausted to put much effort into it – “is that?”

“Let’s get cleaned up,” L says brightly, “and we can talk.”

He gets erratically to his feet and takes Light’s hand, and Light, still staring, lets himself be pulled up, and led back to the bathroom, stepping over broken ceramic and cake.

They clean up in stiff, exhausted silence – L takes a bit longer as he tends to eat more than he cleans – and then he patiently takes Light’s hand again.

Light lets himself be led from the bedroom to the lounge. L pushes him down on the couch and settles himself next to him.

“There are two ways this can go,” he says calmly. He runs his fingertips over Light’s palm slowly, and Light leans back against the couch. His shoulders ache as if they have been in knots for months. He isn’t sure they haven’t been.

When he speaks, L’s voice is quiet. Light wouldn’t call it soothing, but it’s enough just to let L keep talking. He sinks his head back against the leather and closes his eyes.

“I have made arrangements with the prison director and the medical examiner to proceed with the execution in secret,” L says. “A staged death will then occur. Prison security will inform us that the prisoner was stricken by a heart attack this afternoon. You will be immediately released and cleared of suspicion on my authority.”

“But – “

“Hush, Raito-kun.” L gives his hand a squeeze, probably more to keep him quiet than to reassure him, but Light shuts up and lets L link their fingers together.

“While we are investigating the details of the latest death, Watari will pass along information about the whereabouts of the fourth Kira containing evidence that they are located in an undisclosed country in the West.

“I will inform the investigative team that I am ceasing operations in Japan. Because of the dangerous aspects of this mission, no one will be allowed to accompany me. You, however, will insist on being permitted to come with me as a permanent part of the investigative team. I will accept your offer. Because of the need for haste, we will have to leave Japan in the morning. You will have tonight and tonight only to say goodbye to your family.”

Involuntarily Light clenches L’s hand. L says nothing. Light opens his eyes and stares coolly back at him.

“So that’s it,” he says. “That’s the plan, I’m to be taken prisoner on pretense to spare my family and delivered to Interpol in secret?”

“You have not been listening, Raito-kun,” L says. He sighs, and involuntarily tightens his grasp around Light’s fingers. As if it’s he who needs Light’s reassurance, and not the inverse.

“You aren’t turning me over to Interpol,” Light says slowly.

L turns and looks at him.

For a long, long time, neither of them say anything.

When L finally speaks he is businesslike, but he still hasn’t released Light’s hand.

“Tomorrow morning, the two of us will board a plane headed for an undisclosed location. Watari will meet us there. You will be placed in my permanent custody, where you will remain. The Kira case will be ongoing for some months until we can successfully resolve it to the satisfaction of Interpol and world governments. You will assist me in laying the groundwork for the resolution of the case. You will also assist me in solving any new cases I take on during the interim, and after. I will be completely responsible for you at all times, and you will not be allowed out of doors unless I am with you.”

He pauses. “There will not, however, be any need for handcuffs.”

Something odd and heavy settles in Light’s stomach. “Permanent house arrest,” he says. “With you.”

L rests his chin on his knee.

“The other option is that you refuse, and one of us ends up dead,” he says solemnly. “But let’s not dwell on that right now.”

Light shuts his eyes against the immediate assault of rage and helplessness welling up inside of him. He is sure L can sense it, the sudden urge to claw free of L’s grasp, to go for the notebook and take it all back, he can still reclaim it, his power, his freedom – all he needs is the book. Fuck L, Fuck Watari, fuck L’s ridiculous plan – like Kira could ever be detained, held prisoner like some petty thief –

Bitter laughter bubbles up from somewhere. He chokes down on it. Thirteen days and he’s sick of himself already. He wonders how L must feel.

He chances a glance over – but L doesn’t look angry, or bitter. Certainly not sick of him. He will never understand L, he thinks – not in a lifetime, or life without parole.

“I’ll do it,” he hears himself say. “Let’s do it, let’s get it over with.”

He turns the hand L is holding over in L’s palm, exposing his wrist.

L sighs, then, a deep, heavy sigh. For a moment Light is surprised it’s coming from L and not himself. He returns Light to the handcuffs without another word, but before he fastens the familiar cold metal around Light’s wrist, and then his own, he hesitates.

“Thank you,” he says. “Raito.” He curves his fingers against Light’s cheek.

Only then, at the touch of L’s fingertips against his skin, does Light register that what shows on L’s face is not triumph, but relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Interlude)

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the plane, Light sleeps.

L never lets go of his hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Day 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

It feels like 4 am when they land, but the sun is out, the air is stifling and the clouds are about to pour rain in torrents. Light hates rain.

It’s probably around mid-morning, and after he sleeps some more on the long drive to their final destination, the rain bursts over them and Light gives up attempting to track their whereabouts. Leave it to L to pick the only fifty miles of good road on earth with utterly no road signs and no hint of a native language.

Watari produces two giant umbrellas from nowhere and hands Light a giant yellow poncho. When he steps out of the car, he thinks they might be in West Africa. Or the Caribbean, or possibly Indonesia or coastal Europe, maybe Portugal – maybe even the southern United States. Watari grabs their bags and trundles them inside the house. Light follows numbly after L, who navigates the muddy ground with his bare feet and steps inside without bothering to wipe them on the entrance mat.

Light’s feet hurt. His legs hurt. His wrists are sore even though he hasn’t been handcuffed in days. He’s hungry and bored and his life is over.

L’s home is nothing like what he expected – open plan, more properly a bungalow than anything; long tall windows open onto a landscape Light can’t properly make out because of all the rain, and the surveillance cameras and media equipment seem to have been relegated to the basement. On the surface it could be any other rich man’s house – except that most rich men don’t leave a trail of mud and candy wrappers through their foyer.

L tugs him by the hand down a long corridor to a massive and well-lit bedroom. Watari is already there, groomed and tidy as if he hasn’t just gotten off an inter-continental flight. Light notes their suitcases, side by side against the wall next to one of the closets. He wonders if he and L will share, or if he’ll get a room of his own. He wonders what Watari thinks of this sordid little arrangement. He wonders if he’ll ever get to breathe in a space not inhabited by L.

Watari nods to them both. “Shall I make sorbets?”

L turns to Light. “Would you like one?”

Light manages a head shake. It seems much too warm a climate to properly chill frozen desserts. He thinks about saying so, but he hasn’t said much since the plane took off, and L has barely spoken to him. He wonders dimly if this is how it will be from now on – two people living in the same house, maneuvering side by side but growing into complete strangers. He wonders when he’ll see another human face besides L’s or Watari’s. He wonders what kind of a life he can possibly have here, and feels a sharp twinge of regret – the second Death Note, buried where he left it… All he would have to do would be to escape, return to Tokyo…

He shakes his head again to clear it. “No,” he says. “I’m fine.”

“No, thank you, Watari,” L says. “I don’t think we need anything at present.”

Watari nods and closes the door quietly behind him.

Light watches L. He wants to ask him if he’ll get his own room. He wants to ask him what the maintenance fee is for keeping your boyfriend out of the executioner’s chair. He wants to ask him if there’s anything in the pantry that doesn’t have glucose as its main ingredient.

L looks back to him, but Light doesn’t do any of those things. He takes in L’s gaze. In the end, hasn’t it always been just about the two of them?

L steps forward, comes to him, and stoops a little, leaning his forehead against the center of Light’s chest.

“Kami,” he says reverently.

His voice sends shivers up Light’s spine, tremors of power and delight and anticipation he hasn’t felt since the last time he touched it.

Slowly, automatically, he lifts his hand and sweeps it gently through L’s hair. They haven’t stood together like this in days – they’ve barely talked. He thought –

L closes his eyes at the touch, and the look on his face drags the words out of Light before he realizes it.

“Do you need me?” he whispers.

L’s eyelids flutter. Light wants to kiss them. “Yes.”

“Desire me?”

“Always,” says L, a shudder lacing his voice.

Light kisses his forehead.

“Worship me?”

“Yes, Kami,” L breathes, and Light relents and takes him in his arms.

He kisses L and L’s mouth opens beneath his, fingers curling around his neck. It’s bright and hungry and tastes like sugar, and fatigue slips away from Light completely, and he can feel quiet vibrations against his mouth, noises of pleasure slipping from L as they kiss. Light finds the bed by instinct, pressing L back against it, sinking back onto the covers. The rain is padding in soft sheer waves against the windows. The air is suddenly fresh and alive, L’s tongue lapping his like rainwater, cool and sweet. He runs his hand over L’s chest and thinks: really, as prisons go.

L’s breath hitches and his fingers clench against Light’s sides, and Light catches a smile before it shows too widely on his face.

Instead he pulls back and glares.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” he says, sitting up and pulling L with him. “I’m a serial killer. You’re not even arresting me. You’re kissing a murderer and you don’t even care - you’re violating your own commitment to justice, your own principles and morals, and for what?”

L chews his thumb.

“This is exactly why I thought I needed to take justice into my own hands,” Light snaps. “Ordinary people – even you – are too weak to mete justice out the way they should. I should be punished. I shouldn’t be… ”

Rewarded, he thinks. I shouldn’t be here. With you.

L crosses his legs and pulls Light’s hand into his lap.

“As brilliant as you are, Raito-kun,” he says, “What Kira never realized is that justice, without mercy, can never be justice.”

“What?”

L traces his thumb over his lower lip. “Justice dealt by one individual standing alone is not true justice, Raito-kun. True justice is tempered with forgiveness – with compassion. Our understanding of those things come from a greater source than a single will, no matter how brilliant – “ he smiles affectionately – “can ever impart.”

He kisses Light softly on the lips. “The quality of mercy is not strained,” he murmurs. Light slips his fingers behind L’s head and draws him closer. “It droppeth,” L continues as Light kisses him, ”as the gentle rain from heaven.” He rests his forehead against Light’s.

Light runs his fingers through the tangles of L’s messy, rain-damp hair. “You’re taking the law into your own hands,” he murmurs against L’s cheek. “Mercy doesn’t come from you, any more than justice came from Kira. We’re just opposite sides of the same coin.”

“I never said we weren’t,” L says, tugging Light back down to the bedcovers. Light uncurls him, presses him flat against the bed like a leaf, and drops kisses over his long, warm throat.

“You’re insane,” Light mutters against his skin.

“I think, Raito-kun,” L murmurs, arching against him and stretching out for more, “my brand of insanity is infinitely preferable to yours.”

Light draws back. L is basking beneath him, relaxed and content. The look in L’s eyes makes him feel warm all over.

He leans forward and kisses L on the forehead.

“Are you suggesting that you what you’re doing, letting me get away with murder, isn’t wrong?”

L’s eyes narrow. “Not wrong,” he says smoothly.

Then he matches Light’s smirk with one of his own - a dark, predatory smile that spreads heat through Light’s veins – and flips Light onto his back in one fluid twist of his hips.

“Merely hypocritical,” he finishes.

He settles between Light’s legs and fits against him, pinning Light flat against the mattress and reaching out to toy with strands of Light’s hair.

Light rolls his eyes. “That’s a really twisted way to say you just didn’t want to stop sleeping with me.” He arches up and makes his point.

L’s breath hitches. He answers, a little unevenly, “I’ll repent when you will.”

“Make me,” Light says.

And he kisses L, so the game can begin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finis.