He can only take so much sometimes of that stare—there is not really one connection between them, but two: the length of a six-foot chain casting linked shadows and Ryuuzaki's wide-eyed, inescapable suspicion. He can never avoid it. Even if he could walk freely here, he'd still feel the pull of it. Even as the evidence points away from him, he knows with an absolute certainty that Ryuuz—L believes he is Kira. It isn't wariness—he has rarely seen Ryuuzaki express such an emotion—nor even an accusation. It's…knowledge. Iknowwhatyouare but he doesn't, so…Light is more disturbed by this than he needed to be. Forget it. He does not need Ryuuzaki's trust.

--Maybe he wants it, but he does not need anything.

"Sometimes I think you want me to be Kira," grumbles Light, flipping through the latest statistics. What is he, paranoid?

"Nonsense, Light-kun."

"Hm?"

Ryuuzaki glances up, his reply muffled through his éclair. "I said—" He finishes chewing with a pause-- "nonsense. Of course I do not want you to be Kira." –and goes back to eating.

"You certainly act like it sometimes."

Nothing shifts in his eyes. Nothing. "How so?"

"Well, you certainly seem pleased at any comment you can make implying that I'm Kira. You won't give it up. I know you want to find Kira—so do I!—but I'm not Kira, so there's no reason to keep connecting facts that lead to that, is there?"

Ryuuzaki sips his tea, still watching Light with that unnerving neutrality. "I make what connections are apparent to me. You do the same. It is not out of the ordinary."

"But it's so obvious you don't trust me."

"Yes." Pause. "You do not trust me, either."

"But—" That's wrong, Light wants to say, but wonders. Does he trust Ryuuzaki? The detective is always driving towards some point that ends with Kira apprehended, and will not give up on this idea of Light being Kira—indirectly, he is seeking to get Light arrested and killed. But...Ryuuzaki. Crouching, strange, baffling Ryuuzaki, with eight sugar cubes in half a cup of tea, who never sleeps, who never stands up straight but moves like a demon on the tennis court, who holds reports upside down…he is…Light trusts Ryuuzaki. It's L that he does not trust. Does that make sense?

He feels like he is on the verge of discovering something key, something—somehow relevant but then it's gone, lost amidst a thousand other trains of thought, and he curses himself for forgetting it.

"I do trust you," he says at last. He…does…and even if he doesn't, he feels as if he should say so, though he is not sure why. "I know without a doubt that you are on the side of justice, and are working toward it honestly as you see fit, and I respect you for that. You know this. I consider you my friend, Ryuuzaki." –and—he's said this before—he's certain, but, but he can't…quite...remember.

Ryuuzaki raises an eyebrow. "I thank you, Light-kun. I have told you before, if you were Kira, I would be in turmoil. You are the first friend that I have ever had."

…Had Ryuuzaki said that? "But you—you believe me to be Kira—"

"I suspect it."

"How—how can you see anyone as your friend, who you suspect to be Kira?!"

"It is quite simple."

"How?" It does not make sense--!

"Why did I speak to you back then, Light-kun?"

"Because you were investigating me as a Kira suspect," says Light, sounding exasperated, "we both know that—"

"Why else? What did the others think?"

"Because we—you're talking about the entrance exam?"

Ryuuzaki nods. "Somewhat."

"What does that have to do with anything?" Light is definitely annoyed.

"No one matched us then."

"Yeah," he grins a little despite himself and feels rather stupid—that hardly matters! such a—but it did, that'd been a big accomplishment. "we certainly rose above the others. Geniuses, they called us. What a thing to say. What is your point?"

"You are perhaps one of the only people I have met that…thinks like I do, that…" L smiles slightly, inexplicably. "That understands thoroughly what is I am saying, do you see? That is why I—wish to be your friend, or one reason why. What, hm…draws me to Yagami-kun. As a person."

--"And I think the same of you, Ryuuzaki." …He's flattered, to be honest, though he knew it.

"When we first discussed the Kira case, I confirmed that then." It is summer, and hot as all hell, but heat never touches that cool voice. "Light-kun is a person who has similarities with me."

"But what—"

"Anyone who I consider a close friend, like you, Light-kun," says Ryuuzaki slowly, "I must also suspect as Kira…"

What? "That's absolutely ridiculous. Why in God's name would you ever—"

"I am two steps away from Kira, Light-kun."

L is pointing his teaspoon like it is a weapon, looking directly at Light, intense and not intense at all and somehow focused, yet still speaking in that calm and conversational tone as if he is saying nothing that no one does not already know. "I do not share his ideals, and I do not believe he will ever succeed, yet I am closer to Kira than any person is." –he wants me to understand this, doesn't he…? "And because of this, I understand Kira."

"You…"

"I am going to catch Kira." Light has no way of describing L's certainty, save that it mirrors his own. "That is why."

"Of course," says Light automatically, but is still looking at L as if he's gone mad. ….well, the other man is mad, there is no doubt, but not like that. "Still, I do not think—"

"On the contrary, Light-kun," says L, dropping another sugar cube into his tea, "you think a great deal."

---

He supposes he does, at that.

He thinks back two days later to that conversation and glances over at L's eyes—reviews what he does not know about L, and what he does.

L is unlike Light. L is a liar.

Of course he wants me to be Kira, Light thinks, suppressing something a little stronger than annoyance.

The point still stands.

When there just so happens to be no one else in the room, and L is sketching out some illegible notes on loose-leaf paper and Light has finished looking through some from the day before (he's the only one who can read them aside from Ryuuzaki; the man had atrocious handwriting), he wonders if he will ever grow to like Ryuuzaki. Admiration, respect—they are not really the same thing as that simplicity. He wonders if anyone actually does. Ryuuzaki's brilliant, but he certainly isn't very likeable.

He wonders if this is ever going to end.

When it does, he thinks, with an inward and smug smile, he will see that I am not Kira. He'll be wrong.

The prospect's definitely appealing.

There is no one listening but ever-present L, but Light finds he doesn't need to say anything.

Of course he wants me to be Kira.

…Kira was the only criminal thus far to give L a run for his money, so to speak. Light decided to take it as a compliment.