Lol KellerWeller. I think Ryuk is catching up on his writing, since he hasn't done any for a while. He'll get an interesting surprise when he starts paying attention again. xp

Here's the next installment with the story title right at the beginning; enjoy! xp

Eleven: Contact

Now that I was allowing myself to plan for a best-case scenario in which Light Yagami would be permitted to live, I was finding it more difficult than ever to view him as my prisoner. Instead of mechanically monitoring while he relieved himself, I found myself wishing I could look away, wanting to give him some semblance of privacy.

When I glanced at his face, I realized that he seemed much more self-conscious, too... in fact, he seemed to be blushing. I focused my gaze on his chest and left the rest of him in my peripheral vision. It seemed like the best compromise.

He seemed preoccupied as he fastened his pants and let me clean his hands. My sympathy for him continued to drive home how this tiny bit of freedom had become a precious commodity to him, and how so many actions everyone takes for granted would be impossible once I put his restraints back in place. I fastened a cuff on one wrist and then the other, almost involuntarily reaching up to lightly grip his arm for a moment. It was so unlike me, and yet I hadn't given it any thought. I turned away from him quickly.

"I'll be back in a couple of hours," I said, not looking back at him.

"Yeah... Thanks."

I scolded myself for my lapse in control when I went back to my control center. I could make plans, but it would be foolish to change my behavior toward Light. The point in keeping him in a cell like this was to allow as few variables as possible to effect him. I couldn't become a variable, myself.

But acting instinctively like that had somehow seemed to ease the odd longing I had felt before. There was something I was missing. After a few minutes of contemplation, I determined that it had something to do with things like fondness and affection. Those elements that made up friendships and familial relationships. Things I had never indulged in, much.

That's not to say I had no attachments to anyone. I was quite fond of Watari, if fond is even the right word, and I had a sort of mixed admiration and pride for the other students who had been trained at Wammy's House. But Watari had never quite tried to fill the role of a parent for me. He knew too well how ordinary parenting elements could hinder my career, not to mention the way I had always shied away from physical contact, even as a small child. There had been no hugs, minimal hand-holding, and all else only when necessary.

So, why was I resorting to physical contact as a means of communication? Because I suck even more at talking. I smiled ruefully to myself. I could command the attention of an entire country, read a speech, explain an itinerary, engage in repartee with crowned heads... but when it came to conveying personal feelings... well, even overlooking the fact that I had no natural ability for it, I'd had no experience with it. What I felt didn't matter. Only the facts mattered. Getting those across. The only real feelings I indulged in centered on the satisfaction of solving cases. It was what I'd been trained to do, and I felt I did it rather well.

Until now, anyway. But I had already concluded that this would be my last case. Whether Kira killed me or not, it felt like time to pass the reins to someone else. I was only in my twenties, but I could feel it creeping up on me: becoming obsolete. To solve crimes in today's world, the world's greatest detective needed to be an expert of the era. Technology was changing too quickly. In another few years, I wouldn't have the choice of retiring—someone else would make it for me. I wanted to make that choice myself, to let someone else be L. I would fade into the background, and perhaps come back one day to be someone else's Watari.

Semi-retirement. It actually sounded nice. I had to solve this case. Unfortunately, right now that meant waiting.

"You could just let me feed myself."

"Hm." Too many variables, I reminded myself. "No, I don't think so..."

"Come on... if Kira kills someone today, I won't ask to feed myself again."

"That's really not funny."

"I was only half joking."

"Hm," I repeated. I lifted Light's fork to cool his morsel of lasagna by blowing on it.

"Hey, I can blow on my own food."

"I just thought it would be easier..."

"You'll get your germs all over it."

"That's a bit childish, don't you think?"

"Eating nothing but dessert is childish."

It's not childish... I need the sugar to fuel my investigative brain activity... But I didn't feel like getting into that right now. I decided to let him blow on it himself.

Things had been fairly normal and dull for the last day or two. I still hadn't thought of anything more we could do while waiting to determine Light's guilt. Or innocence... if that's possible. I absent-mindedly scooped a runaway strand of cheese off Light's chin and then paused, not sure what to do with it. He was staring at me, and that brought me fully back to earth.

I've done it again, haven't I? Perhaps Light also dislikes physical contact. I need to be more careful. What should I do with this...? It didn't make sense to me to put it back on his plate, so I ended up getting it off my finger with his napkin. As the silence stretched out, I thought maybe I should say something, but I didn't know what. I decided to work on cutting another bite for him.

When I lifted his next bite up, I pretended not to notice the slight blush on his face. He looked annoyed as much as embarrassed. I definitely did it again. Damn. Maybe I should try letting him eat on his own, after all. It might be a variable, but if nothing changed because of it, it could be ruled out, right? Anyway, it would be nice to have a new factor to consider after all the tedium.

"That was very good," Light said when he had finished eating. "Please thank Watari for me."

"I will." I carefully wiped a little tomato sauce from his mouth, not wanting to touch him again by accident and irritate him further.

I waited until I was on my way to say, "I think I might try letting you have your hands free for dinner." I didn't look back to see his reaction.

If I was going to change something, I might as well really shake things up, I decided. So, not only did I allow Light to have his hands free to eat dinner, but I also sat across from him on his cot and ate with him, with a little table between us. I had moved the cart out of the way so the cameras would have a clear view of us.

"Just see that you keep your hands in view the whole time," I instructed.

"Sure," Light answered. "It's just nice to have them in front of me for so long."

I wanted to smile, but I kept my face blank. "If everything goes on just the same, I'll probably keep letting you eat unassisted."

"That would be good. Thanks."

No deaths was a good thing, but not knowing why was eating at all of us. Still, I hoped things would remain the same long enough that I wouldn't have to conclude that Light managed to kill someone during dinner. This thought prompted me to remember the time Light was studying in his room, eating potato chips while he worked. Two criminals' whose names and faces had been broadcast while he worked had died. There was no way he could have had knowledge of them. Unless eating was the key.

This time, I did smile to myself. Kira kills by eating. Whenever he does, and his mind is focused elsewhere, blood goes to his digestive organs and somehow he gastronomically kills his victims without even realizing it...

"What are you smiling about?"

"Oh..." I couldn't look at him. "Just a silly, nonsensical idea."

"You won't tell me?"

"I'm not sure you'd appreciate it, and it won't help anything to tell you, anyway."

He let it go. "When will my family get the postcard?" he asked.

"Tomorrow, if they didn't today."

"Where did you mail it from?"

"Far away, but rush-delivery."

"You really don't want to tell me any details tonight, do you?"

"Better over-cautious than careless."

"Yeah, I guess." He sighed. "I know you can't let him come down here, but would it be ok for my dad to just say something to me? We don't even need to have a conversation. I'll just listen."

I wasn't prepared for that. Light still didn't know that his father was also being detained. I went back to avoiding his gaze. "I don't think so. I'm sorry."

We were silent a little bit before Light said, "I guess... he might not have much to say to me right now, anyway."

I wanted to tell him his father still believed in him, that he had indicated that he would stand by Light whatever the outcome, but I couldn't. I wanted to comfort him somehow, and once again found myself lacking the wherewithal. "It's not that," was all I could find to say.

He was subdued after that, though he somehow still managed to be polite.

He is a remarkable young man, I thought as I prepared to leave the cell. I found myself wanting to say more than "see you later" or goodbye. Something that would help him shake the doldrums. But there wasn't anything that came to mind. I had an impulse to touch his shoulder, but I fought it. I don't know what's gotten into me. He obviously doesn't like touching any more than I do. It's not going to help.

As the days wore on, Light became a little more irritable. As long as we talked about mundane things, he was civil, but if we talked about the case, he always protested his innocence persistently, and sometimes loudly. If anything, my sympathy grew, but I tried not to let it show. At least Kira hadn't killed while Light was eating, so I continued to let him have his hands free. That made me feel a little better, because it caused him less pain, but I knew it was of small comfort to him.

On day fourteen, after being very careful for a couple of days in a row, I forgot myself and put my hand on his shoulder. I knew from the look he gave me that this was not the right thing to do, but it seemed as if it would be just as awkward to pull back as to leave it, so I chose the latter.

After a few seconds of glaring at me in a way that seemed to say, "Really? Really?" he finally looked away with a sigh. "Just go," he said quietly.

I couldn't pinpoint what it was exactly that convinced me, but I believed his reaction to be completely genuine. He wasn't putting on any kind of an act. Even if Light was Kira, he hadn't been in that moment. Maybe he didn't want to be Kira anymore. Maybe he was in denial about it. Or maybe he has forgotten it. I kept coming back to that same idea.

I regained my swivel chair and stared at Light in thought. I knew Mogi and Aizawa were talking about my odd behavior in hushed voices, but I tuned them out. If Light was Kira, but has now forgotten that fact... what course of action should I take? I already knew that executing him would be a problem, even if he were guilty. If he didn't remember his crimes, I was almost certain I wouldn't be able to go through with it. Perhaps if he confessed... if he were proud of it... if he said incriminating and insulting things to the rest of us, then maybe it wouldn't be so hard to do. But this wide-eyed innocence, this stalwart denial of wrongdoing... Perhaps this was how people felt when they had to put down a loyal dog. I smirked to myself.

My musings were turned upside-down the next morning. It seemed that Kira was back in business. The number of criminals he normally killed off in the space of two weeks had all been killed at once. I had gone over the footage of Light from the time when they were killed, but he didn't seem to have done anything out of the ordinary. It was perplexing.

And yet... Killing so many at once is a bit out of the ordinary. Was he on vacation, and now he's making up for lost time? Or is this someone new? Or did Light finally find the chink in our armor? Or did he arrange this all ahead of time? It gave me so many new possibilities to mull over that I was very distracted when Matsuda burst in exclaiming over the news. Otherwise, I might have stopped him from hastily blurting it out to Mr. Yagami.

I knew the others were waiting for me to say that Light was innocent. I thought it was much too soon for that, but I had to admit that whereas I had been very sure of Light's guilt before, now it was much more dubious. "Well... he's in the gray," I offered.

"Did you hear what he just said, Chief?" Matsuda asked excitedly.

"Yeah," Yagami answered. "It's a hell of a lot better than being completely guilty. Thank god."

"I'm sure as grays go, he's a shade closer to being cleared. Let's tell Light!"

I wasn't about to let him spoil the news this time. Without even thinking, I smacked Matsuda's hand away from my controls. "Matsuda!" I said sharply. Then, softening my voice I said, "I mean... Please don't, Mister Matsuda. We shouldn't tell him about this."

"But why not?"

I opened the communication link to Light's cell. "Hello, Light?"

He was sitting on the floor again, head hanging dejectedly. "What is it, Ryuzaki?" he asked quietly.

I hardened my voice. "You've been in here just over two weeks and not a single new criminal has been punished. Now, why make this harder than it has to be? Are you ready to confess?"

He looked up at the camera defiantly. "Don't be ridiculous. I'm telling you, you're wrong. I understand why you feel that way, but even if the evidence does point to me, I swear to you this is a setup! I am not Kira! Zoom in on me if you want. Go ahead—look at my eyes! You tell me: do these look like the eyes of someone who is lying?"

I did. They didn't. But it didn't prove anything. I switched over to Misa's audio.

"Amane, are you ready to tell me who Kira is, or not?"

She lifted her head. "Huh? That again? I wish I knew, but I don't. Because if I did, I'd thank him for punishing the burglar who killed my parents. To me, Kira is a hero."

I looked at Light's eyes again. They were nice eyes. Stay focused. They both sounded genuine. Light looked... innocent. I don't understand what's going on here, I thought, my frustration mounting. Why has Kira begun killing again? Why are Light and Misa acting so oblivious? And why... was I thinking about Light's eyes being "nice"?

Heh. Embrace it, L. ^_^ Hope you enjoyed the chapter; please leave a comment.