A/n: This story takes place after Raito gets his memories back, but for the mere sake of fun L leaves the handcuffs on for a bit longer. I understand the AU element, but bear with me. So readers will be dealing with a fully cognizant Raito, who wants L very much dead, while he's handcuffed to him. Enjoy.

--The Human Error--

This was the final stage of his plan.

Raito had come out of his ordeal innocent, and yet L had not released him from the bonds that forcibly tied them together. He knew it was because the detective had such a stubborn streak when it came to his theories, and even if there were a buildup of evidence that said otherwise, he was not letting him go.

When it came down to it, L trusted his instincts, and it aggravated Raito to no end since this particular stubborn trait of his kept him in the spotlight as main suspect. Whatever he did it was never good enough. L had a one track-mind when it came to him, like no one else was good enough to be considered Kira, which should have been gratifying, but plainly put, was extremely annoying.

It was incredibly aggravating to be so close to your goals, and yet have them still out of reach, where even the tiniest nudge in L's favor might completely upset the power balance of this case. It was during these times that he had to be most careful.

But Rem, who he had once thought as capable (more capable than Ryuuk anyway) was acting very strange, which was completely upsetting his plans!

After L's interrogation -- which he remembered was somewhat of a disaster on her part -- she continued to remain outside the building. He supposed Rem had sensed the hazards in the detective's questions, and as she did not want harm to come to Misa, or more suspicion, she chose to avoid the situation all together, even if she was now bound to him via ownership.

She was supposed to kill L for him, but since he had not been able to tell Misa to resume judgment the last time he saw her -- L's constant presence was so bothersome! – the blond was completely safe. The motivation for Rem to use the deathnote on L was no longer there, which in turn forced Raito to wait for another opportunity.

Spitefully watching the shinigami behind tinted glass as she circumvented the building like a bleached vulture, Raito was suddenly jolted back to the present by the jingle of metal.

"I've never seen anything like it," he heard L say beside him, his face only two inches away from the glass, those humongous eyes glued to the soaring death god. "It's almost like flipping on the discovery channel."

Raito had the urge to snort, but he suppressed it into a smile. "I hope it comes back into the building. If we're lucky, it might even feel sociable after an hour of flying around."

He did not know what had triggered L, but he soon felt the pressure of those eyes bearing down on him. Raito, not the type to ever back down, met that stare head on, and even offered one of the many disarming smiles in his arsenal. "We should return to the others. I don't think we should be taking breaks at a time like this, Ryuuzaki."

L was still staring at him, but he soon turned away as if he'd lost interest. "It's not a course of taking breaks, Yagami-kun," he said, and abruptly walked over to the couch, Raito unwillingly tugged along.

Sitting in that peculiar fashion he had, L pressed his thumb pensively to his bottom lip. He again turned that gut-wrenching stare on Raito. "It would be wise to test the deathnote," he posed; thumb moving absently over his mouth, but eyes not betraying the focus he had pinned him with.

"But Ryuuzaki," Raito said, with false shock, "that would be just as bad as Kira. Murder is murder any way you put it." The firmness in his voice made L's eyes widen in something akin to amusement. Raito hated that condescending look. It was a gaze that plainly said, 'Oh, Raito-kun is putting on quite a show.'

"Even with the headway we could get into this investigation, you are still opposed to testing it out?"

No. He wasn't going to fall into something as stupid as L's wordplay. Even if L was suggesting that he was opposed to the idea because he was Kira, the detective was still grasping at straws.

"I'm still opposed. It's not right, Ryuuzaki. There's a moral obligation that we have to uphold as the investigators behind this case. You should know that," Raito chastised, with a tone that could put his mother to shame any day of the week.

"Yes...I guess you're right." L fixed the floor with a lesser version of his stare. He looked almost cross-eyed for a second as his eyes rolled over the carpet, like impossibly black marbles pitched across a smooth surface. L dropped his head back against the sofa's cushions and rolled his neck to the side without a hint of stopping.

"I was sure Raito-kun would agree with me," he said, a feigned sigh in his voice. He did not offer more on his thoughts, but Raito knew there was no need to get bent out of shape. L was just feeling depressed over the case and taking it out on him.

"What's wrong?" he asked, concerned voice taking on the tone of someone put through the L-ringer on a daily basis. Occasionally he needed to display his own frustration for not solving this case -- even if it did do his heart some good to see the detective's momentary surrender. "Don't tell me you're getting depressed again. You shouldn't just give up like that, Ryuuzaki. Have some heart." He sat down on the couch's arm and placed a hand over the detective's shoulder.

L's head lulled away as he gazed at him with more focus than the comforting hand on his shoulder called for. Raito smiled, showing no signs of being bothered. Although, it did put some tension in his chest; L's gaze didn't just gloss over when he looked at you, but pierced right through. It took some time getting used to, but Raito was no pushover when it came to psychological warfare. He was more than capable of holding his own.

But the way L was gazing at the hand on his shoulder made him rethink the gesture. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to --"

The feel of thick hair, as L lulled his head in his direction, caused Raito to stop what he was about to say. He heard the detective sigh and then watched him tilt away again. "It's good to have a friend like Yagami-kun. You always cheer me up," he answered in that completely oblivious way that you knew was fake because he could never be oblivious.

Raito gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder, removed his hand and felt himself internally slump at the reminder that L liked to play his own games too. Now this had never escaped his attention, but it still rubbed him the wrong way to have someone messing with him so blatantly, and yet so casually, that it couldn't be easily discerned from the detective's normal mode of conversation.

He was always toying with him, always saying and doing things that went against each other. The night-of-the-living-dead bastard was very convincing, especially when he had said not too long ago that he thought they were "friends."


'Hmm, excuse me while I go vomit.' It was what had been turning around in his brain at the time. For such a "touching" statement to be thrown his way, he could only deem it as a gambit. L was trying to trap him. He was good at manipulating people, but so was Raito.

Raito was very good at manipulating people. Why look at the splendid job he did of grooming Misa into a one-man cult following. It was pure perfection the way he handled her, and it would be pure perfection the way he handled L. Even if he had to use the same methods he used on Misa to corral L into a corner.

Misa looked up to him as some sort of god. It had been winningly easy to sway her opinion in his favor, but L would be complicated, as he had his own set views that would not allow simple brainwashing like it did with Misa, or anyone else for that matter.

Nothing simple would do for L. But L did share something in common with Misa that he could thoroughly take advantage of.

He was interested in him.

Misa was interested in him for the understandable reason that she thought he was perfect boyfriend material, and L's reasons went along the line of fascination for an opponent and a potential suspect.

Misa was love starved for him so she would do anything, while L had an interest within himself that would practically do anything to find out who Raito Yagami really was.

Out of these two paralleling emotions, one was romantic and the other might be purely intellectual curiosity. But there was always a deeper emotion behind extreme feelings as these, and from that, Raito planned to exploit the strange mix of a relationship he had with L.

To do that, he would have to work with an aspect of L's personality that made it easy to undermine. There was weakness somewhere within the world's greatest detective. Now that weakness might be harder to spot because L hid it so well, but it existed.

His current methods had been to change L's opinion of him by being friendly, but there was only so much he could do with politeness. He supposed he wasn't being "friendly" enough. He had to offer something stronger to throw him off, and the only thing that came to mind after friendship was…

Love, the eternal human pitfall.

L's suspicion might be at the forefront of anything he did in concerns to him, but there still existed overlaying doubt as to whether Raito Yagami was Kira. L was human after all, and despite his amazing insight that seemed clairvoyant at times, he didn't have all the answers.

Doubt would exist in his heart, the human error existed within all people (well except him), and however L distanced himself, he still needed the support of those around him. At times L did turn to him for support. Sometimes it was as superficial as skin, never anything solid, only a nudge. But L had been a bit more trusting during the Yotsuba case. Raito was confident that his oblivious persona at the time had confused L and made his innocence seem more tangible.

Therefore, this was the best time to strike -- when his innocent-laden eyes and emotional actions were still fresh in L's mind. Now would be the best possible time to put a different kind of pressure on the detective, a more humanizing one that would make him even more ambivalent.

It would buy him time to rethink his strategies for sure, as L would be too focused on trying to analyze his behavior. The detective believed that he was Kira. Therefore, to crack open this case, L undoubtedly held the belief that if he figured out the type of person Yagami Raito was, then this case would be practically solved.

It was only a matter of time before L's profound curiosity got the better of him, and when that time finally came, Raito would be sure to be there so he could watch him fall.