A/N: Set during the time when Raito is investigating the case with L, and has lost all memory of being Kira.
Rum and Pandas
Raito nearly jumped at the words, having been so intent at hacking into Yotsuba's newest records and finding the appropriate passwords. He couldn't help throwing a frustrated glare at the boy who sat across him, pulling at his lower lip and staring up at the large screens before them. He had hardly moved at all in the past hour – thinking about stuff, Raito knew, but he hadn't come up with anything and time was running out and now he was just going to eat?
"Honestly, you've been chewing on random things the whole day, and you still want to gorge?"
Tension drew across the air, the other occupants of the room suddenly aware of how easily the two could get into an argument on the case – especially since Raito and L had been at each other's throats quite often in the past week, feet and fists flying. The thing about the boys was their genius, of course, but one couldn't disregard their expertise at tennis or (as proven by their numerous bruises) fist-fighting, civil as they usually were. Matsuda shifted the papers in his hand without purpose, saying cheerfully, "Come on, Raito, thinking takes a lot of work, doesn't it?"
"Yes, it does, and that's why we're going off for a little snack." Before Raito could answer properly, L had risen from his seat.
The chain between them clanking heavily, he had no choice but to follow, although he growled out "Couldn't you have had Watari send it up? I almost had the code already, you know!" as they crossed the hallway to the elevator.
"I want to eat in the café," the detective said simply. And that was the end of it, even as Raito gave a long sigh. The investigation was…engaging, and it was for the good of everyone, but they weren't getting any closer to finding Kira.
It didn't help that sometimes there was this little voice that scraped at Raito's consciousness, a tiny whispering threat, the merest inconceivable possibility that Raito and Kira did think alike: that there were useless, evil people in the world that needed to be taken out, and there was a job to be done that had nothing to do with mercy and everything to do with justice. But justice meant not killing ruthlessly, either. It wasn't fair. He would never do that.
He wasn't Kira, he was…
…thinking too much.
The elevator took them to the ground floor and Raito rubbed at his wrist wearily, aware of the chain that symbolized L's mistrust. No matter how much he helped with the investigation, no matter how close they neared to finding Kira – L still looked at him as the best suspect. It was annoying, and very often the untidy genius would try to catch him off guard and squeeze out some confession, but he hadn't been successful yet, and Raito was just going to have to prove him wrong.
The metal doors slid open as L started poking at the camera near the button heads (out of pure fun, Raito presumed). L gave a lopsided grin as they stepped out and headed for the café, where all of his pastries and tea came from. It had clear windows and was appropriately furnished in keeping with the cover of the investigation site as a hotel, but it was suspiciously empty. Bare feet padding against the carpeted floor, the detective sat on one of the couches by the wall and hitched his feet up almost reflexively. He pushed a button on the wall and said, "Watari, a slice of rum cake and tea and lots of sugar cubes in the pot, and some of those panda biscuits, please. I'm at the café." Without pausing to draw a breath, he added, "Oh, another cup of tea too, for Raito-kun. Thanks."
"I'll have it brought there right away." The intercom buzzed off.
"Is there one of those in every seat?" Raito asked warily, for lack of anything else to ask.
"Yes, there is."
"Does Watari make all your snacks himself, then?"
The dark rings under his eyes seemed more prominent as he cocked his head and asked,
"Do you think he could?"
Raito frowned, irritated at the stupidity of his own question. "No, of course not."
L stared at him without shame. A strange smile was playing on his lips. "Raito-kun, I'm not trying to interrogate you. We're just having tea, that's all. I could order some cake for you, too."
Raito sighed and reclined in his seat, restless and uncomfortable despite the softness of the couch. "That won't be necessary." The chain between them was stretched over the polished wood table, the metal light enough not to be a terrible burden, but heavy enough to remind them it was still there. The cuffs, thankfully, were loose, so that their wrists weren't red or raw, but it was still a pretty hefty inconvenience.
"The case is going well, I think. We've only got to check on Misa's acting one more time," L was fingering the metal links that led up to his cuff, looking up nonchalantly at nowhere. "I wonder who Kira could be, if he is indeed among the eight at Yotsuba. Still, we've seen their names, and faces, and all other relevant information…you were able to successfully hack into the company records a number of times, and without much difficulty." He lifted his fingers from the chain and started absentmindedly feeling around the folds in the curtain next to his seat, gripping them between his thumb and pointer finger in the unusual way he held things. He returned his gaze to his companion. "You wouldn't be so careless if you were in Kira's shoes, right?"
If this wasn't an interrogation, Raito didn't know what it was.
"You wouldn't, either."
Raito saw L's toes curl and clutch at the couch fabric, and the two of them were silent for a while. The door opened and Watari came in, carrying a tray with L's order arranged neatly, in sharp contrast to the boy's own table manners. He set it in front of his…master? -partner, gave a tip of the head as he received a careless "Thanks," and left just as briskly. Immediately the unruly detective set about stacking sugar lumps on the side of his tea dish, a rapt concentration in his wide eyes.
"I thought you were hungry. Why don't you stop playing around and eat?" Raito couldn't contain his irritation anymore. He very nearly stood up in anger.
"I'm waiting for my tea to cool." He opened the packet of panda biscuits carefully and spilled its contents onto the table, arranging the pieces in pairs. "Odd-numbered." He took the only one without a partner and delicately crunched it between his teeth, not bothering to wipe the crumbs that spilled down his cheek. Raito shook his head, distraught. If he was going to keep randomly arranging his food, they wouldn't be finished here anytime soon. Still, he took the cup that L offered him and sipped graciously, wondering if he could set some kind of better example, or a sense of urgency at least. People could be dying at the hands of the all-powerful murderer right then, and the only one capable of capturing Kira would be L, the greatest detective in the world…who sat before him pouring a spoonful of tea over the stacked sugar cubes and watching them melt.
No, wait, that was wrong.
L wasn't the only one who could do it.
Raito could do it, too.
"Do you have any friends?" The question was abrupt, and unlikely.
For some reason Raito had the initial instinct to be as innocent and careful as possible, then he realized the idea was ludicrous, because he was innocent and was always careful, anyway. Damn case, getting into his head. He wasn't Kira. There was no way he could be. He set his cup down and smiled politely. "I had a lot of them back at the University, if that's what you mean."
"Real friends?" He prompted.
Raito could feel his aggravation heightening. L was brilliant - often their line of thinking was very similar. He also admired him for the work he'd done, and was proud of the fact that he had really seen the face of who could well be the smartest person in the world. But his mind, amidst all the strange things it had been working through recently, would sometimes hiss L is a hindrance, everything would be much easier without him, and he's the only thing stopping us, without him, you could be…
He would shut his mind up before it went any further. It scared him when he thought like that. He liked L. Of course he did. That was why he quelled his annoyance best as he could and answered as honestly as possible, despite the randomness of the question.
"Acquaintances, really, but enough for society to call friends, I believe. That really isn't important to me since I'm quite comfortable on my own."
L was plopping more sugar cubes into his tea. "Three," he counted aloud, before offering a response.
"That doesn't sound like friends at all, actually. I guess you're right, though….in this sort of society…well, anyway I already knew that because we were previously investigating you." He fingered another cube, as if unsure whether to drop it in or not. "What I find interesting is, since you were indeed popular and able to win the respect of many people, you could very easily manipulate them and use them to hide your cover as Kira. Especially with girls – three different dates in a week alone. Not including Misa." He decided to add the cube and dropped it into his cup, humming. "Four."
This was going back to the point of L believing he was the only one who could be Kira.
That ridiculous point.
"I'm not Kira. I'm not that kind of person," Raito intoned tiredly, aware that it wouldn't work anyway.
"That's what you think." L had eaten through five pairs of pandas, and there were only six bits left. He hadn't touched his rum cake.
"That's what I know."
He paused, unwilling to debate further. L went from studying his companion to studying his meal, his eyes wide, very nearly bulging, the layers of dark around them deepening. Raito noticed this, and, in an effort to change the topic, asked, "How much sleep do you get on average?" The crunching of biscuits stopped. L looked at him as if he had just confessed his identity as Kira. His mind instantly went, 'have I blown my cover?', yet he knew how it would react and ignored it, wondering instead if he had said the wrong thing. L put a thumb to his lips, what appeared like a laugh shaking his shoulders.
"No one's ever asked me that before."
"Is that strange?"
"No, I guess not. Why, do I look awfully tired?"
He sipped his tea, then added in what was probably meant to be a serious tone, "Thank you. I am tired, and I was starting to wonder if anyone else thought I was."
He polished off the rest of the panda biscuits and dredged up his tea. The bottom of the cup was sticky with melted sugar, as was the rest of the plate. L ran his finger across the shiny porcelain and stuck it into his mouth. Raito noticed that he had avoided answering the question, despite it not being anything related to his name and face, or even the case.
He suspects me as Kira that much…?
"What can I do to prove that I'm not Kira, L?"
Although he tried to control it, his voice was bordering on desperation.
"Nothing." The detective's voice was light, but contained a sense of finality.
So that was it. There was nothing he could do.
Because you ARE Kira youareyouare…
…NO I'M NOT, he thought angrily. He wasn't Kira. He wasn't.
L must have seen his disappointed face, because he wrapped his arms around his huddled legs and looked elsewhere, as if he had suddenly realized it was rude to stare. His voice was indifferent as he said, "I'm not saying that you are Kira. Only that if you aren't, there isn't much you can do to show me." He stuck out his bottom lip in a comical manner even as Raito felt his insides sinking. How could he think that? Killing off a massive amount of people, acting like a god…he would never do that.
"Still, it's my problem. Everyone else thinks you're innocent, and with the evidence obtained so far, I'm supposed to agree. I simply can't shake off the notion that you were Kira, and somehow you've forgotten everything." He suddenly grabbed the slice of rum cake and chewed it lazily. "Well, who knows? What's important now is catching the present Kira, I guess."
"Yeah." He wasn't going to over-think this. It wasn't important enough. It wasn't possible.
L was pretending to be fascinated with the design on the tablecloth.
"I don't want you to be Kira, if that's what you think."
Raito struggled with himself for an excuse – no, not an excuse, why would he need an excuse? – an answer. He tried to keep the sarcasm out of his voice as he gave a light laugh. "With the hints you're dropping, it really seems otherwise."
"You think?" He had stopped trying to look away and went back to staring full-blast, stuffing the rest of the cake into his mouth. "I distinctly remember telling you before that if you were Kira, I would be in turmoil."
Something about this was making Raito shifty, uneasy. "I don't remember that." L tipped his head, which had been cocked to the left, to the other side. The movement was strange, jerky and pronounced. But then, Raito reminded himself, most of his actions were. L licked the excess cake off his fingers and heaved out what sounded like a sigh.
"Oh, that's too bad. You said something at that time that really warmed my heart."
Before Raito could ask what, the detective had added instantaneously,
"I'm done. See, that didn't take too long now, did it?"
Then he stood and moved, and the chain forced Raito to follow him without resisting. As they went through the café doorway and started down the hall, he decided to forget the half hour they had just wasted, and instead concentrate on the fact that they were done now and could go back to work, thankfully. He was curious about L's previous statement, indeed, but it probably wasn't important, and he wasn't going to bring up his supposed identity as Kira again for no good reason.
Luckily enough, L took the liberty of offering an explanation as they entered the elevator.
"You see, Raito-kun, if you were Kira, I'd never have tea with you again, and…"
He placed a hand over the camera near the button heads, as if he believed it was the only one there.
"…I've only just realized that having tea by myself is rather sad."
A/N: Reference for how I came up with this story: Chapter 21, tea after tennis match; Chapter 31 pages 13 and 14 (L: Aye, Raito-kun shouldn't be Kira, but if he were, I would be in turmoil...because Raito-kun is the first friend I ever had!) -- I made Raito forget this in the story because at that time, he was still acting as Kira; and Chapter 57, page 6, the panda biscuits. :D It's a shame their friendship couldn't have lasted longer.