Author's Note: Chapter 58 spoilers. One-sided L/Misa, Light/Misa.
They wanted to know why I did what I did
Well, sir, I guess there's just a meanness in this world… –"Nebraska," Bruce Springsteen
She sees the way he looks at her, finger in his mouth, chewing, chewing. He points that ridiculous grin in her direction and she flinches, because she knows, she knows what it means and it sickens her.
She tries to smudge his name. Calls him a pervert, claims loudly to half the hotel, Light's father included, that L desires Light.
It's such a lie, but L never protests, never denies, and that makes it worse. L lets it go. He only keeps up the stares as she heaps kisses on Light's cheeks and tries to pretend him away. Which is fine, Misa thinks angrily, only it's not fine.
Misa doesn't know why she feels a little remorse for the lie—L's the biggest liar of all. L sits and watches and makes his assumptions from behind locked doors. L refuses to hear Light's logic, Misa's spirited begging. L sees precisely what he wants to see, and he wants to see her, her—
(executed? God, please no)
He reminds her of the stalker.
Not the police who arrested her. The first stalker, the real one. The one that pled with her to love him, be with him.
The one she turned down, the one that reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife, and oh, he was going to cut Misa's pretty neck now, he was going to make the make-up run with her blood.
Only something made him stop. Misa doesn't know what, but something did make him run and it saved her life.
Probably it was the police driving by, making him nervous. L's devoted police. Misa snorts into her cereal at the thought that L's justice might have saved her that night.
L reminds her of him, anyway, though the only weapon he holds is his mind, and that is deadlier than any knife. L's single-handedly ruined whatever's left of her modeling career. L's locked her up in his five-star hotel so all she can do is watch the world from the windows. And L might say that he doesn't suspect her now (though he hasn't, won't), but Misa knows that would be lying. Misa knows that he'd tie her back up out of pure perversity.
He's playing games with her. Toying with her. Doesn't matter what she says, doesn't matter what Light says, darling that he is. L's long since reached all his conclusions. If he can't prove who Kira is, he'll take it out on his suspects, and simply proceed to make Misa's life hell.
L says good morning to her at breakfast and Misa, thoroughly engaged in an unromantic kiss with Light, pretends she doesn't hear.
The runways have worn out Misa's grin, making it as fake and pointless as an eighty-year-old's blush application: thick coats over the wrinkled cheeks, horrible rosy red. Misa's running out of things to supplement the smile.
"Misa's only got two tubes of lipstick left, and barely any lip liner... and the hotel toothpaste is so cheap. Misa would rather brush with baking soda. Misa's parents spent all that money years ago to get her smile to be just perfect—there's got to be some way to—"
L suggests cake.
"Cake?" Misa stares, incredulous. "Cake ruins teeth! It gets you fat and—"
She stops, hoping Light will continue for her, but he doesn't.
"In my experience, cake tends to improve people's smiles." L licks his fingers and pushes a platter of it toward her, wide eyes straight on her, playfully. "Makes them quite a bit more genuine."
"Misa doesn't know what you're talking about." She shoves the plate away, wrinkling her nose, and it clatters to the other side of the table. "She wouldn't eat it even if she liked it. Cake makes her break out."
"No one here will mind if you break out, Misa."
"Light would! Wouldn't you, Light?"
Light takes another swallow of coffee and shakes his head traitorously. L shrugs as if to prove his point, and his movement makes the chain glint for a second from the florescent lights. Misa glares back.
(bet he wishes Misa would have some cake)
(eat it all up)
"Doesn't matter. Misa's not going to take a single piece."
"That's fine," L replies, and starts to eat it himself. He doesn't wipe his mouth—doesn't wait until he's swallowed to talk, and Misa sees the cake in his mouth as he speaks. "Would you like some, Light?"
Light must find the spectacle disgusting, too. He shakes his head and says he'll be fine with a little more coffee. L tears into the cake alone.
Misa finishes her cereal with a bad taste in her mouth and skips out of the room, craving the day L's eyes would shut and jaw would close forever.
Misa's wardrobe has taken a much more modest turn since confinement
(because he's watching)
except for tonight. Tonight she has things to do, a score to settle.
(Misa will watch him now, Misa will watch him)
She puts on knee-high black boots, plaid skirt, halter top. Entirely inappropriate, but then, the hotel's temperature is controlled.
(watch him squirm)
She saunters straight into the open door of his hotel room at three in the morning.
He's awake, hunched on the bed over his laptop, typing furiously, while Light sleeps on the other side.
(God why doesn't L sleep)
And she's glad, wickedly glad that he is.
L is not taken off guard. He turns around slightly but doesn't even blink at her appearance, not the boots, not the skirt—not the—
"Hello. It's quite late, Misa. Don't you think?"
"But you're up."
One of his bony hands strays from the keyboard to take a sugar cube from off the bed and stick it in his mouth.
L ordinarily arranges the cubes in tall stacks, like towers of Babel, trying to reach the heavens but stopped by gravity and L's voracious appetite. L has apparently been bored tonight. This one is much more complex than his usual structures, bigger, too. It's a castle. Misa could almost admire it, if she hadn't known whose perverse hands had built it.
The sugar castle is right beside Light, who still looks like a god, dashing and magnificent, even in his sleep. Misa feels a rush of pride—despite all his attempts, L hasn't been able to take him away from her, Light is still hers, after all. She sits on the bed and reaches to stroke his soft hair, delicately, pointedly looking away from L.
She wonders if she should start to coo over him, wonders L will do then. After a moment's hesitation she begins, all dar-ling, Light, you're such a darling. But L doesn't respond and it's infuriating.
"You know, L," she says, conversationally switching tactics, as she traces the fine curves of Light's face, "Misa's getting to like you better. Maybe you don't think so, but she is."
"I appreciate that."
"Misa thought you would." Pause. "Misa had a dream about you anyway. That's why she came up here."
L acts as though all his attention is focused on the computer. Only his free hand going back to the sugar castle betrays him—the deft fingers fidget a second and two cubes fall into his hand instead of one. Misa forces the glee from her voice.
(Misa has him)
"Yeah. We were trying to win a prize out of a claw machine. Or Misa was. You were just there with her. There weren't really any good prizes, but Misa was playing it anyway and L, you—were just watching."
(you always watch, damn it, you always watch)
(always watch me)
She corrects herself mentally, pushing a strand of blonde hair out of her eyes.
"There's more." Misa peels the covers back on Light, just for a second. He mumbles in his sleep and she returns them hastily. "You told Misa to quit playing. Said the machine was rigged with an electromagnet and Misa was wasting her money. Misa asked why you were wasting your time watching her do it, then."
"Is that all?"
Misa suddenly shoves the sugar cubes and the castle falls to pieces on the floor.
Somehow he turns around from the computer for that much. His greasy hair, stringy and wild, looks worse from the front than it does from the back, if possible. Misa has spent enough hours in front of stylists and cameras to know that a haircut would work no miracles on L, and it fills her with satisfaction.
Misa could be mistaken, but she thinks she sees a hurt look pass on his chalky face as he surveys the remains of his white castle.
"There wasn't any need to do that."
Misa's pout is pasted on her face.
He doesn't make a move to try to clean it up (he couldn't—aha, Misa has him, Misa's trapped him in his own game—can't clean with one hand chained, can you, L? great brilliant wretched horrid L!). Instead, he turns back around and continues to work.
"Are you… are you mad at Misa now?" Half an octave higher than normal, enough to make him mad if he isn't already.
"Room service can send me another box of sugar cubes."
Damn you, Misa thinks.
She seizes the first thought that comes to mind, inane and petty as it is.
"What if room service is slow?" she challenges. "Would you eat them off the floor then?"
The traitorous key-clicking slows for a moment. Misa puts her focus back on Light, sleeping so soundly, so perfectly. There's really no comparison between the two, Misa thinks. Anyway, Misa's done what she meant to. Misa's stood there like an unrepentant sinner to a priest, with her knife disguised as a crucifix, and hurt him (just a little, just a little but that's enough, isn't it? for all he's done?).
(yes, that's enough)
"Go back to bed, Misa."
"You would! You're disgusting! That's just so—"
But it isn't doing any good. L doesn't give a damn what name she calls him, as long as she's there, stuck in this little game of locking models up in hotels like prisoners. Of chaining himself to her boyfriend just to make her furious. Oh, this game must be such marvelous fun to L that perhaps this is why Kira still hasn't been caught.
His back is still turned toward her; the computer screen's piling up with text and images. Her images. Light's images.
L still suspects.
"Shouting like that will wake up Light." He turns around, eyes suddenly on her, gaping black holes, and his tone is almost paternal. Misa flinches involuntarily. "You wouldn't want that, would you? Please go to bed."
He thinks she's a child. But not so much of a child that he can't decide whether or not to lust over her, those measurements and magazine spreads. No, never so much as that. Her stomach does angry flips at the thought—he's just been playing Misa—playing me
She leaves, but stomps on his sugar cubes on the way out until they are ground to a powder beneath her boots.
Months later she pulls the boots out of her hotel closet and prays the grains of sugar are gone.
Misa wears them to the funeral, along with her most revealing black dress that displays her red garters when she walks. Light looks at her oddly for that, and she thinks she sees Matsuda flush for a moment before looking down.
She makes a fine show of being prostrate with grief. Oh, L, h-he was so wonderful, so kind—Misa didn't understand, Misa didn't know just how good he was, Misa saw only the bad and... and s-she's ashamed, and smothers her face in Light's chest to keep from spoiling the performance with a wide grin.
Misa stands with Light at the grave marker for more than twenty minutes after the policemen are gone.
"Acting is fun," she gushes, and her white knight nods his approval. "And L deserved it, anyway."
The lie is supposed to come out flippantly. Instead it's heavy on her tongue, weighed down with a thick, syrupy clog of rotted sweetness.
Misa tilts her head up to look at Light, feast her eyes on the sculpted perfection, the Savior come down to grace her with his presence. The Savior bound to Death, bound to Satan, the Savior trapped.
(tempted, tempted, but look who won in the end?)
(see, you're gone and Misa's kept on playing!)
Last night was rainy and today the world seems covered in sticky mud, enough to make her boots sink slightly in the ground as she wanders a little, inspects his grave marker from all angles.
(but it's our victory, Light—you see, there's not even a mark left where the chain was on your wrist—just like there's not a grain of sugar still on these boots—)
(the earth ate him up and left nothing at all)
She forces herself not to think that despite it all her boots are still filthy with mud.
"Light?" Big smile, camera smile, and he looks up. "Misa thinks she'd like to talk to L alone for a minute. Talk at him, anyway. Misa never got to talk at him while he was alive. Because he always had something to say. And now he doesn't." Obviously he doesn't. She dabs at her dry eyes with a handkerchief and laughs. "But only if Light thinks that it's okay."
She doesn't expect him to agree. She thinks he'll shake his head and they'll stay there together for another half an hour, staring at the marker and admiring the victory.
"Go ahead. I'll wait on you."
Misa giggles, hugs him close, though suddenly her Savior's touch does not feel so sacred.
"Thank you, Light!" and she watches him carefully until he's out of sight, before she crouches down on the ground to face L's grave alone.
The wooden marker is completely blank. L has died the same wicked enigma he was probably born as, hidden in the ground, buried by the weight of his failures, and that should be enough.
But it's not. Misa hesitates before leaning over the grave, bites her wavering lip.
(L, if you'd gotten what you wanted, if you'd gotten to play your game forever—L, tell Misa please, what would you have said and done when we were gone?)
She grins suddenly in perverse imitation.
"Misa supposes it's goodnight, L," and she takes off her boots and wipes them on the marker, until finally, finally, they're clean.