"You like the red ones, don't you?" L asked, as he noticed Raito was only picking out the raspberry winegums when he offered his packet of reserve candy.
They were currently seated out on the veranda steps. Raito was waiting for dinner, and L's sole intent for the evening lay in ruining it for him, or, depending on the point of view being taken, showing him the finer points of English candy.
Ever since Raito had come down that one time for dinner, L had noticed he seldom missed out on one of Roger's home cooked meals. But Raito was weird when it came to these domestic situations. Well, not so weird… It was normal for him to sit around a table and eat dinner with others. Until the Kira case had interrupted his home life, for the past seventeen years he had done just that.
When he had resumed this ritual, L had believed compulsion was the main driving force behind Raito's need to carve out a place among the noisier table of Wammy House. But after weeks of watching him closely in this setting, L had come to realize, with a sinking feeling in his chest, that Raito was possibly using this scenario as a means of comfort.
L did not want to think that Raito was lonely or that he missed his family. In the truest sense of the word Raito was a loner. He separated himself from others both consciously and subconsciously. He could socialize with his peers, but never on any fundamental level. Even he and Misa, who had forcibly intruded themselves into Raito's life, who had wreaked havoc on Raito's psyche and had laid claim to large portions of his daily thought, were not welcomed within the inner sanctum of Raito's heart. It was a place that enshrined no actual person, but only sustained a large reflecting pool where Raito occasionally glimpsed through the ripples and bubbles a reflection. The image was never accurate, but always distorted and magnified by ego and self.
Raito was comfortable being alone. L could understand this feeling because his own years of solitude had never truly been sad ones. He'd been content to go through his life without companionship. His work was his passion. He hadn't even thought of love. But once he had met Raito, he had realized how simply amazing it was to have someone to talk to, someone who could understand him and make him feel so many different things.
For all intents and purposes, Raito was his soul-mate. L had never believed in the idea—one person fated for another seemed impossible probability-wise, but he could not explain their strange perfectness for each other any other way. And he had tried.
He simply could not go back to the way he was before he had met Raito. It was sad. That part of his life was closed off to him forever, and no matter what he did, he could never get it back. But Raito was also stuck in the same predicament; he could not go back to his simple life in Japan, more than that he could not go back to the family he had left there.
L did not inquire after Raito's feelings in the matter because, admittedly, he was too scared to hear the verdict. If he asked and Raito confided in him that he did indeed miss his family, then L would feel very sorry for him, and he did not want to show weakness towards Raito when it came to the details of his confinement.
In the end, it was best to not dwell on these depressing thoughts when their time together on this planet was so very short.
Looking for a solid distraction--candy usually did the trick--L shook out a bunch of the wine-gums from the packet and separated out the red ones in his palm. Then while his other half looked on curiously, he uncurled one of Raito's hands and gently, though a tad awkwardly, placed a fistful of candy in his palm. When he was done he silently closed it and returned it to its rightful owner.
"I like the pear ones, too," Raito said when he noticed L only gave him the bitter-tasting raspberry ones.
"Yes, but I like the pear ones," L said. "Those belong to me, but you can have the clear ones as they are confused and do not know what they are supposed to taste like. Here." L handed him one of the confused clear ones.
Raito turned the rejected candy over in his fingers, frowned, and then flicked it back at L. It pegged the detective in the forehead and landed in one of the folds of his white t-shirt, where he picked it up and tossed it into his mouth.
"If you keep throwing candy at me like this, I will think you have a crush on me."
Raito rolled his eyes. He reached a hand out for L's packet of candy and the detective moved it out of his reach on some candy-hoarding instinct.
They stared at each other.
"No," L said when Raito made another grab for the bag. He stretched his arm out in the other direction as far as it would go, chucking a little when Raito stretched his hand out too and failed to reach. L brought his arm a little closer, then snatched it away just as quickly when Raito made another swipe for the bag. L repeated this motion several times, because there was just something so special about watching Raito fail—over and over and over again.
"This is stupid," Raito said, feigning disinterest, even turning his head in the other direction; then when L brought the cherished candy a little closer, teasingly, Raito practically swooped down on him, colliding into his shoulder in his rush to reach over his legs and tipping them both over on their sides. But even through the flurry of movement, Raito's fingers had yet to graze the packet even once. L's pale and skinny arm lay mockingly out of his reach.
"You have a problem when it comes to the word 'no.'"
"It's not that I have a problem with it," Raito said, pulling up against L, "It's just that I'm not used to hearing it as a response." He summarily plucked the candy up and away from L and rose from his sprawl, all superior and smug-like. There was nothing in his movements to suggest there had even been a sprawl.
L sat up after Raito. "The only reason you want the pear ones is because I want the pear ones."
"So," Raito said bluntly, popping a few in his mouth. As mature and refined as Yagami Raito was, there was also this terribly immature and spoiled aspect to his personality that made L sometimes stop and stare. It shouldn't surprise him at this point, but it still sometimes made him do a double take.
"You are a paradoxical and frustrating creature. Give me back my candy."
"Wait," Raito said as he poured out all the winegums from the packet into his palm and began to pick out the ones he wanted. L could not help but frown as he watched the brunette engaged in this highly inconsiderate behavior, especially when he returned all the rejected winegums to the packet and then handed it back to him like that was totally okay.
"What?" Raito said when he noticed how L was staring him down.
"Do you not realize what you just did?"
"Don't pout because I took all the pear ones," Raito said, and then had the gall to unload a few more of the winegums on him that were also not Raito-approved, dropping them into his hand with a distasteful look and commentary about how some fruits didn't need to be made into candy.
"You have desecrated my preserve/reserve candy. It took you less than one minute."
"Aren't they already desecrated? You're supposed to take them out off the plastic and store them in tin-containers for a couple of weeks before you can eat these things. If they don't age a little they taste funny."
L gave Raito another hard look. "Yes, I know, but then I weighed the option of eating them now with the option of eating them three weeks from now, and I have to say I prefer eating them now."
"You should have waited," Raito said before infuriatingly taking the bag from him and putting the winegums in his hand back. "They left an awful taste in my mouth."
"Then why did you eat them?"
Raito shrugged and began to scratch his forearm. "Did you talk to Watari yet?"
"I do not understand how we arrived on this topic when we were not finished with the one before it."
"Are you cranky because I ate your candy?" Raito asked flatly. Then L noticed Raito's line of sight strangely trailing off behind him, and he would have inquired after it had Raito not suddenly reached out his hand and ran his fingers through the back of his head.
"I think you need a hair-cut."
"Your bed-head is getting worse."
Haltingly, L reached a hand towards the back of his head, smoothing down the ends. "Yes, well…please shut up." He batted Raito's hand away when he tried to run it through his hair for a second time. "You are being exceptionally annoying today, stealing my candy and then giving me unwanted advice about my hair."
"You're annoying every day. I'm giving you the day off," Raito said, and L would have pushed him off the stairs and face first into the grass if he did not want to be called childish on top of annoying. Eh, he would do it anyway. L lifted his foot to commence the dethroning of one Raito Yagami off the veranda steps. However, he had to stop when Raito turned his body towards him, slumping oddly against the post at his back.
"I'm being serious. Did you to talk to him or not?" Raito asked, rubbing at his upper arm and then his shoulder. It was oddly distracting when one considered Raito's mannerisms; he was certainly not prone to fidgeting. L's eyes left off from the motions of Raito's hands.
"Acquiring a relatively well-known case for you when your alias is unknown will be difficult. You should have been prepared for it to take some time."
Raito narrowed his eyes at him. "You haven't even said anything to him, have you?" It was true. He'd been avoiding telling Watari about their deal because it made him seem like… Well, he didn't come off as very in control of the situation, was all he cared to mention.
"I will tell him when I feel like it," L said, taking up a defiant tone, "And you will be patient and wait."
"You're really great at giving out orders."
"And you are very bad at following them," L replied. Life would be easier if Raito did the things he told him to do. It came off as a bit controlling on his part, but L was used to being in control of everything around him; he was used to giving out orders and having them followed. He was used to people listening to him and not answering back. And while he enjoyed Raito's smart mouth to a degree, and it excited him on multiple inappropriate levels to be bossed around by that smart mouth, he was still the type of man who enjoyed control and exercising that control.
Control was an important aspect of the relationship for both of them. He might seem to have moved on from those domineering and childish sentiments, even maturing in his love for Raito; what mattered was not who had the upper-hand in the relationship, but the feelings they should be sharing with each other. On a higher level of consciousness, where he could see the truth of the matter, L acknowledged those as goals he wanted to work towards. He wanted them to have an equal relationship. But in the more practical side of L's brain, where he drew information from and used to navigate his day-to-day life with Raito, his habits (bad habits, he supposed) still had more sway over his reasoning than any ideals he might strive towards. And his habit was control. He did not care to be bossed around by anyone.
"I am not up for arguing today, so please do shut up. I am tired of you getting your way and then complaining about it. If you must complain about it, then fine, but do not complain about it to me, and loudly, with different hand gestures and such."
"I complain because it's the only way you'll do what I ask. I think it has something to do with the level of my voice. If I speak loudly enough, it actually reaches your ears through the thicket covering it." Raito made a hand gesture that suggested the thicket was L's hair, then went back to scratching his shoulder.
"You really wish for me to get this hair-cut, don't you," L said. At this point he was half-participating in the conversation, as his attention was being directed elsewhere.
"I really wish for you to listen to me," Raito said, rubbing his arm with a bit more force.
L stopped and stared. "Why do you keep doing that?"
"Hmm," Raito turned to look at him. From the direction of L's gaze he realized L was referring to his hand. "I don't know…" he said slowly, a bit of apprehension creeping into his voice, as if he were starting to realize it should mean something. He touched a hand to his throat, swallowing with obvious effort, and his expression turned sour.
"Raito…" L said, worried now. He watched as Raito turned his head to the right, then the left. The candy packet, abandoned between them, was apparently what he'd been searching for, because he snatched it up from the floor, and then did something strange; he was checking the back of the contents label.
Raito placed his hands in his lap. A look of confusion and panic flickered across his face before only the confusion remained and a bit of shock. He turned to look at L.
"I'm… allergic to Tartrazine."
L stared back as if he hadn't heard him right. "Yellow food dye? But there is none in the--" L thought back on the green wine-gums that Raito had been eating unawares a while ago. Secondary food additives were sometimes made by mixing primary colors, in this case blue and yellow, with a greater concentration of yellow to simulate that particular pear color. L felt like putting his head in his hands. "Why was this not in your health records?"
Raito was too busy scratching his shoulder to give him a proper answer, and annoyed at being kept out of the loop, L reached over one-handed and jerked Raito's shirt open at the neck.
Across Raito's chest there were the beginnings of a rash. L's other hand latched onto the top of Raito's sleeve, yanking one side down at the shoulder. L inspected the skin with a worried expression.
"I think I should bring you to the hospital now."
That sour face had come back, the one Raito had worn when he'd figured out it was an allergic reaction, but instead of his hand going to his throat, his hand fixed itself over his mouth.
"I'm think I'm going to be sick."
L grew alert despite himself. "What?"
Raito was already up and running inside the house before L could even get another word in, the screen door banging behind him. L stood up to go after him, but in his hurry he stepped on one of the long, tattered cuffs of his jeans, slipped a little, and ended up hitting his knee hard into one of the stairs.
L resisted the urge to use an explicative or two, since the one he had in mind would be unfair to his birth mother, whoever the lady might have been, and stood up. He hobbled over to the screen door, throwing it closed behind him as loudly as Raito had. He ran into Roger almost immediately after entering the house, his former caretaker muttering about banging doors and how he would like to bang some childrens' heads together if they kept this racket up.
"Your phone--give it to me," L said without providing any explanation. When he held it out to L, the detective snatched it from him and scrolled through his phone-book to find the orphanage's private doctor.
"I see Mr. Wammy has still not bothered to explain to you when to use the words 'please' and 'thank you.'" L tossed the phone back to his former caretaker after he was done memorizing the number.
"He has also neglected to teach me about romance and what to do when someone you care for tells you they wish to vomit, but I still manage," L said, running off towards the stairs and then taking them two at a time.
Roger stared after the young man and had to wonder why it was that the things that came out of L's mouth never made even a shillings worth of sense to him. It had to be a generational thing.
"Raito-kun, please let me in," L said, and tapped on the bathroom door with his finger. He could hear Raito dry-heaving in an attempt to throw up the allergen, and his tapping finger turned into rapping knuckles against the wood-grain. "Raito-kun," he called again, this time with a sigh and an unfamiliar imploring tone of voice that he did not even know he could use, much less possessed in the first place. He waited for a moment, listened to the sounds of Raito coughing, then dry-heaving, then coughing some more, before he banged on the door with his fist.
"It would greatly upset me if you died while I was still locked out here."
Something thudded against the door, rattling the frame, and L assumed Raito was now throwing things…which could be considered a good sign; it meant he was not that sick if he still had the energy to get annoyed.
"May I come in? You are not well and should not be expected to be alone. I can call the orphanage's doctor and have her take a look at you, give you something for your reaction."
L heard something like 'go away;' he had only picked up on it because of the echo in the bathroom.
The detective thought about what should be done in this situation. He wondered if he was the right person to handle the sick, considering he had no experience in caring for anyone in this capacity. Should he call Misa-san for help? Maybe she would know what to do. "Do you want me to call Misa-san?" L asked, feeling that offering a wider selection of alternatives might appease Raito. "She is a nurse, after all."
"She dressed up as a nurse. It's not the same damn thing," Raito said, still remarkably finding the time to argue with him even while he was trying to throw up. But that was just a testament to how much Raito liked to argue with him…or possibly how annoying he found L to be at this exact moment. L took a second to process that info before he knocked loudly on the door again.
"I dressed up as a paramedic, but that does not mean I did not know what I was doing."
On the other side of the door, L heard Raito make a sound of pure frustration, which to anyone who had never heard Raito's version of it before, would have seemed like a growl and a whimper. It was a strange sound that always excited him for some reason.
"You are being unreasonable by keeping me out here," L said, and pressed his foot against the door, testing its give by the creaking sounds it made. He was sure there was a paper-clip lying around somewhere that would allow him to open the door without any problem, but it was a relatively old door and L did not feel like going through the hassle.
Drawing his foot back, he slammed it into the meeting place between the door and wall with a measured kick and the door creaked open, L walking through it with a polite excuse me and closing it the best he could behind him.
Raito was kneeling in front of the toilet bowl when he came in, one of his hands braced against the seat, the other held against his chest. There was a sheen of sweat covering his forehead, and when he looked back at L he looked utterly miserable.
L gave him a sympathetic look. His natural response to Raito was never to feel sorry for him, mainly because Raito was a bastard and to feel sorry for that type of person was not conducive to making them any less of a bastard. But not right now. Right now Raito needed someone to help him. He was weak and ergo very vulnerable, and L liked the idea of Raito weak, because he was always such a strong person.
He might ask L to do things for him, for example he had asked him to give him a detective alias of his very own, but there was always this implicit command within any of Raito's so-called requests. Raito was way too prideful to ever ask for something without thoroughly mind-fucking with him first. He'd rather trick people into giving him what he wanted rather than just…ask for it nicely. Having the upper-hand when he asked for favors was what he did best.
Weak and ergo vulnerable Raito was not something he was particularly celebrating, but he could see the benefits. And they looked suspiciously like a bar of soap. No, that was just what Raito had picked up to throw at him to get out—L ducked the deadly albeit sweet-smelling missile and it hit the door with a thud.
"You have some serious anger issues," L said as he picked up the dented soap. Maybe he had spoken too soon when he'd labeled Raito as weak and vulnerable. Maybe weak, but still very pissed-off.
"Just leave me alone. I can throw-up by myself."
"Yes, but it is not as fun for me," L said, and met the glare with a goofy smile. He knew he was making Raito angrier, but it wasn't like Raito could fight back now. And if he did try, L would have fun with that too.
"Do you want me to hold your hair back for you?"
That earned him something fierce in the glare department. If looks could kill…or more accurately, if looks could still kill…
"I'm really not in the mood," Raito said and sat back on the rug, holding his head in his hands. L dropped to his knees as well and put his hand on Raito's lower back, done with messing around.
"Do you want me to call the doctor?" he asked, rubbing circles in the small of Raito's back.
"No, I just need some time to get over this. Let me sleep it off."
L's hand stopped. "You…wish to sleep it off? But it is an allergic reaction. You should be given medicine."
"It's not life-threatening—it's skin irritation and nausea. It's nothing that time can't fix. Plus, I really don't feel like seeing a children's doctor."
"I can call someone else," L offered.
"I don't feel like seeing a doctor period," Raito added, and then as if that would be the final word on that, he stood up from the floor, albeit a bit unsteadily, and dragged himself into the other room. L turned his head in time to see Raito fall across his mattress, without concern as to where he ended up. He curled onto his side, pillowing his head on his arm, and closed his eyes in a commendable attempt at sleep.
"Raito-kun…" After watching Raito for a few minutes, eyes closed and head pillowed on his arm in a 'I'm sleeping right now and there's nothing you can say to make me stop' position, L gave up any argument that he might have and began to climb into bed with him. He'd gotten as far as putting a knee down on the mattress and one bracing hand down next to Raito's head before one of those amber eyes opened. Through the slit L could see Raito observing him coolly.
"What're you doing?"
"I am trying to lie down next to you, but it is hard to do so with the way you have positioned yourself."
"No," Raito said, as if that should be enough to dissuade him from taking this course.
"No, what?" L asked, and stood up from the mattress. He gave Raito's prone body an assessing look before he hooked an elbow under one of Raito's arms and a hand around his waist, and then dragged him to the head of the bed in one fast pull. Raito did not even get the chance to squawk his indignation, but he did cuff him in the shoulder rather hard afterwards. L kicked him in the shin and all was forgiven.
"What kind of psycho hits someone who's sick?" Raito muttered as he tried to get comfortable after being moved.
L shrugged since he was not a psycho and therefore this question didn't apply to him. "Move over." Raito gave him an annoyed look as he fixed his pillow to his liking. L did not wait for Raito to make himself too comfortable and climbed into bed with him. There was a brief but fitful struggle when L eased closer and Raito realized what he was doing. However, it ended when L shoved Raito back down to the mattress, and the brunette, not up for anymore physical activity than that, stayed there, watching him. L eased onto Raito, an eye towards not startling him and starting the conflict back over again. He wrapped an arm around Raito's back, rested his chin on his chest, and then closed his eyes for a restful second.
"You make a very nice pillow," L said, breaking his own silence. "I am glad you gained back your normal weight; I do not think it would be as comfortable if you were bony and not filled out in the right places."
"Then you must know how I feel with you lying on top of me, painfully skinny and full of sharp bones," Raito said with a patient sigh. He tried to roll over, but L pressed down on him, stopping his movements.
"I am not that thin, but I know my body does not have as much cushion as yours, my well-fed angel cake."
"Don't call me that ever again."
L raised his head from Raito's chest. "Do you feel better now?"
"Does this look better to you?" Raito said, trying to push him off. L knew how much Raito liked his personal space. If he intruded into L's personal space the brunette never batted an eyelash over it, but if Raito's own personal space was threatened in any way, he usually became very annoyed very fast. It was another one of Raito's double-standards that made L want to kick him.
"It does not matter," L said, and rested his head back down with a contented sigh. That got Raito trying to shove him off again, but L quieted that by holding his wrists down. There was another brief struggle, followed by a strangely comfortable silence, before L raised his head and asked: "Why did this not show up in your medical records?"
"Mmm." Raito was staring up at the ceiling with an unfocused gaze. One of his hands rested on the small of L's back. He did not look entirely put out by the situation.
"Raito-kun," L called again, determined to not let the other sleep.
"I don't know," Raito snapped, suddenly very awake, which was why L supposed he'd snapped. He paused for a moment, appearing to give serious contemplation to L's question. "I guess the hospital made an error when they sent my records over to the new one; we moved when I was three and Sayu was born to the house we live in now."
"From Tochigi prefecture," L said, as he had read Raito's files from front to back. At some point he had felt he knew Raito even better than he himself did, but that had been a false sense of knowing, he realized now. Files missed things, as he was being shown here. Raito had read up on him as well, from the case-files he had provided. They had both done their research, but it still had not prepared them for each other.
"Dad had solved a number of high-profile cases and the commissioner had thought his talents would be needed elsewhere, so he was relocated to the Tokyo division. I stopped having reactions after we moved, so everyone assumed I'd grown out of it."
"Children grow out of some allergies," L agreed.
"But, I wonder why it came back?"
The answer came to L before he could even prepare himself for it.
Before L had come to the orphanage he had recuperated at a hotel in Russia. For the first few weeks Raito had been put on an IV drip. The prolonged bouts of starvation had left his body weak and unable to hold down his food. It was painful to watch, even from afar.
Raito had lost more weight than anyone his height should ever lose, and it had decimated his immune system. The wounds on his back quickly became infected, and he slipped in and out of fevers for many nights. His body had gone through drastic changes, and so things that he could have fought off very easily once became a problem for him in his weakened state. Even past issues with his health were now cropping up. And Raito was still recuperating. The infection had not let his wounds heal naturally. He still sometimes bled through his bandages. However, he never showed L his wounds, so the detective did not know their exact state and what would become of them. And Raito was perfectly content to leave him in the dark.
L rested a hand on Raito's lower back, far away from his bandages. "Your immune system fell apart during your incarceration and…" L felt ill-equipped to continue on. There was really no way to prettify his explanation when it all simply boiled down to 'the torture screwed you up.' But he did not need to continue, for Raito had guessed the gist of it from his pause.
L was waiting for Raito to push him away; he would not fight him on it this time. The part of his brain that was not preoccupied with solving cases and being the best thought he deserved it. He would not take any of his decisions back from that time because it was his job, and he had been doing his job, and getting the coordinates of that Death Note were more important than whatever problems he and Raito had with each other. But he also would not kid himself, his torturing Raito also had a lot to do with the fact that he didn't want to lose. He didn't want Raito to win.
He had tortured him out of spite, because Raito had hurt him so very badly and he had wanted to hurt him back. Justice had gone to the wayside. At that point he simply wanted Raito to feel how much pain and misery he had brought into his life—a life that before that had been rather painless and uneventful.
He'd thought it was so bloody unfair. He'd found the one person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, and yet they did not want to spend even a second in the same room with him. It frustrated him, and he'd become a little unstable during his months in Russia.
But he loved Raito, make no mistake, even when he hated him he loved him so very much, and despite all that he had tortured him.
There was no excuse he could make, or no words he could say to make it better. He would have to live with that for the rest of his life. He would have to live with Raito's hatred for him.
He'd been something of an intolerable ass these past months at Wammy. For some reason he expected Raito to recognize his feelings for him, expected him to even respond to them, even in small measures, give him some type of encouragement because he…deserved it. And when Raito had not, when he had done the exact opposite, when they'd had that awful fight over those three little words, it made him angry and confused and hurt all over again.
The fact that he wasn't being given a chance by Raito annoyed him. A part of him still felt he deserved one. As if it was his to have. Like he'd hurt enough and bled enough that he could rightly claim it. It was like solving a case that he'd practically killed himself over and not receiving the appropriate compensation.
He didn't really take Raito's feelings into consideration.
Raito had every reason to doubt the genuineness of his words; he'd been able to torture him after all. If that was not a good enough reason to doubt someone, then L did not know what was. None of his confessions mattered to Raito, and why should they, if L took a moment and thought about it rationally. Raito had made it clear; he did not love him. There was no way around that. L could not argue his side and somehow change Raito's mind. It would be the same as all those months of going in and out of Raito's cell, arguing with him about right and wrong, about justice, about why his actions were evil and L's were not.
Just as they could not see eye to eye on justice, they could not on love. And the only thing L could do was love Raito and be there for him. And that was it. If Raito pushed him away now, then that was his choice—a choice that L would not like—but he would respect.
He would leave now, but be back later. Raito would probably forget he'd been angry and try to make up with him over sex. And the only thing L could do was be there for him.
"I should have expected that would be the case," Raito said, surprisingly casual about it. His hand remained unmoving on L's back, while his other hand lifted out of sight and rested on the back of his head. Like he'd done out on the veranda, L felt fingers brush through his hair once, then twice, before they stopped and started back over again.
"How absolutely stupid." L wanted to note the tired humor in Raito's voice, but he was thoroughly distracted by the way Raito was combing his fingers through his hair, the motion not unlike the shushing of an unruly child who asked too many questions. L blinked his eyes open, feeling them close despite themselves. He'd made himself so comfortable on top of Raito that it was difficult to fight off any approaching cat-naps.
"What is stupid?" L asked, in an effort to stay awake.
"You," Raito said, deflecting his question without any serious intent. "Your personality. Your randomness in conversation topics. Your hair." Raito turned his head towards his bedside table and reached out for one of the books lined in the small shelf area under the table. "I'm going to read now. Go to sleep." Raito rested the book at the base of L's neck, propping it up against the prominent knob of bone there, as if that were its intended purpose and he was only being practical by making use of it.
It had come to L's attention that Raito had been a much more romantic person when he'd been trying to kill him. Now he couldn't care less about things such as mood or sex appeal. But the fact that Raito didn't bother with masks in his presence was certainly progress. It didn't feel like progress though.
L glanced up at Raito through his bangs, which had grown out considerably since last year and were now of a more shaggy quality. "Why must I sleep when you are wide-awake and reading?"
"Because you'll annoy me less that way," Raito replied.
L rested his head back down, feeling Raito's chest rise and fall with every breath he took. On occasion, one of Raito's hands, when they were not turning a page, would find its way into his hair. It made everything that much more soothing, so L felt he could not be blamed, when two minutes later, he'd fallen fast asleep.
L woke up an hour later with a cramp in his injured leg. He rolled off Raito, who had rolled the other way, and then shuffled off to the bathroom with a yawn.
Passing by the mirror, L caught a glimpse of his reflection and came to a stop. He fingered one of the overgrown ends of his hair and could not help but come to the conclusion that he was in dire need of that hair-cut Raito had been championing earlier. Well, it wasn't like he didn't know how to do this for himself.
Pulling open several of the bathroom drawers, L eventually came across a pair of scissors. He set them on the counter and then pulled off his shirt, tossing it over the shower bar. Then with the curtness of a business deal, he collected his hair into a messy ponytail, picked up the scissors, and lopped off the ponytail in one go. Because this was Raito's bathroom, he didn't want to leave a mess behind, or not an obvious one anyway, so he kicked the hair under the nearest rug. Raito would clean that up for him when he found it.
L was dusting the back of his neck when his cell-phone rang. He thought about not answering and making Raito wait that much longer for his alias, but then he was feeling generous all of the sudden. His mood had improved considerably since that nap.
"You have good news for me," L said, as he picked up.
"It was easy to secure the Benelli case for Deneuve. But the client for Coil refused our estimate, so I waited two weeks and was contacted today with an offer to revive negotiations. They wish to apologize for their hasty dismissal with a gift."
"And what would a gift from the esteemed Ataullah family go for these days?"
"Five million riyal. I accepted, but they are easy to blackmail in these circumstances, and it would not be completely unexpected from their side since they know who they are dealing with. We could request additional compensation for our services. However, I would prefer if the young sir handled the negotiations. It would give him time to acclimate himself to his new role."
"The young sir," L said, mocking Watari's title for Raito, "will most definitely bitch-slap me back to France if I ask him to blackmail a client. Why do you wish for my unhappiness in this way?"
"Shall I assume you have not explained all his duties as Coil?"
"You know as well as I do that he knows them. That is not the problem: it is his 'conscious.' He feels it is wrong to negotiate the way we do, and I am tired of arguing with him about it. For now, you will take over negotiations for Coil." L paused, getting ready to get to the heart of the matter. "There is also something else that I need you to take care of for me. I feel it would be in the best interest of everyone, would require less hassle for me and so forth, if Raito-kun were to be given an alias of his own."
There was a long pause on the other end. L discerned from that long pause that Watari's bullshit detector had sounded the alarms for a level fiver. An example of a level fiver would be when he had told Watari he was only sleeping with Raito to solve the case. Why would he have any interest in…icky criminals, he had reasoned. Raito's combination of brains and beauty were just…yuck.
"You wish to give him an alias of his own?" Watari's question was reduced to background noise as other noises from the bedroom started to come to his attention. Footsteps approached the bathroom, and L moved to push the door close with his foot. He returned to his conversation, and was only able to get in one word, before Raito barged in. However, the brunette's trip to the sink was arrested mid-way when his eyes finally lighted upon L.
"What the hell did you…" Raito walked around to his left. "L, what did you do to your hair?"
"Can you hold on for a moment?" L covered the receiver. "Yes, Raito-kun, what is it?"
"Your…" Raito made a helpless motion towards what he supposed would be his head.
"I thought you wanted me to get a hair-cut. I agree that it was becoming unmanageable."
"Yes, but…" Raito walked over to his right, "Did you close your eyes and then decide to cut it?"
"No…they were quite open." L reaffirmed his grip on the receiver of his cell. "What do you mean by that? This is how I always cut my hair."
"No wonder," Raito said in awe, circling around to his left again, like he was some strange animal that needed to be dissected and examined. He picked up the scissors from the counter, hopefully lacking the intentions to seriously dissect him, and then grabbed a towel from the bottom cupboard. "Come here."
"I am on the phone right now."
"Hang up. Tell Watari you… I don't even know how you did this." Raito narrowed his eyes at L's head. "Did you…just grab the back and—" the brunette made a cutting motion.
L ignored Raito and walked past him so could continue his conversation.
"I am back. As I was saying before, he is not at all suited for Coil and Deneuve, and to have him take over their personas would be a disaster waiting to happen." L turned in Raito's direction in time to see him spread the towel on the ground. "They are simple and materialistic, and he is complicated and motivated by strange things that I do not want to ever wrap my head around." Raito rested a chair down on the towel and L turned his back to him. "He will not want to conform to the profiles on Deneuve and Coil, and will take liberties with their behavior in money matters, especially for Coil. Clients will notice this."
"He appears more professional than you are suggesting."
"You do not have to deal with on him a daily basis, so of course he appears more professional to you."
"I can hear you," Raito said, as he grabbed L by the shoulder. He pulled him back to sit in the chair.
"I do not care," L replied, forgetting for one moment that Watari was still on the line.
"Is the young sir there with you right now?"
"He was, but ah, too bad, you just missed him."
Watari actually sighed on the other end. "Let me talk to him."
L tried to turn his head in Raito's direction to mouth 'go away,' but the brunette snapped his head right back to face front, an aggravated sound in tow. "This is going to look even worse if you don't stop moving around, and I'm being serious here. I'm not going near you if you have bad hair." Clipping noises began to fill the silence as L kept his head very still and at the same time tried to give the phone to Raito.
"He wishes to speak with you."
The snipping noises stopped. Hair was collecting in one spot on the towel. It was only snippets, but it was starting to form a small pile. L wondered if he should be worried.
"He wants to talk to me?" Raito gave the cell a wary look, and then took it from him. While Raito was distracted, L thought it was a good idea to escape before the rest of his winter-coat was on the floor. But Raito appeared to have anticipated his plans because he grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back into the chair. Holding the phone in place with his shoulder, Raito continued to cut his hair.
"Good evening to you as well. Fine, thank you. Yes. I can't say there's anything I lack for, but I appreciate your asking."
L rolled his eyes as Raito went on in this manner for another minute. Raito was Japanese proper and Watari English proper, and so he should not have been surprised that pleasantries tended to drag on.
"No, she's fine," Raito continued, and walked around to his front. "I'll tell her you asked." Raito rested a knee between L's legs, bending over slightly so he was more level with him, and then started to snip away at the hair in the front. "Hmm. Yes…well…" L's ears perked up as he heard the hesitance in Raito's voice. He tried to pull the brunette into his lap, but Raito batted his hand away. "He…takes very good care of us, and I'm not sure how to answer when you put it like that." L really had to know what those two were talking about now. He pulled at Raito's waist, and the brunette, too preoccupied with what was being said on the other end, did not fight him this time.
"It was his own decision." To make himself more comfortable, Raito rearranged himself in his lap sideways and wrapped an arm around his neck. "I made some suggestions. We had many discussions about it."
"If by discussions you mean we yelled at each other for two straight hours then yes, we had many discussions." Raito glared at him, but his attention quickly returned to the phone.
"Again I'm not sure what you mean by that, sir.
"We get along just fine, but you understand how he can get sometimes." Raito nodded. "Mm. It's like talking to a brick wall."
"Give me the phone, Raito-kun," L said as he refused to be insulted when he was sitting right there.
Raito raised a hand, signaling that he was far from done. "I'm sorry and this may sound rude, but I don't think that is any of your business. I will take your words into consideration, but this is solely between me and L. He is…good to me, and I will try to live up to the expectations he has for me as a business partner."
The expression on Raito's face caught L off guard. It wasn't that it was much of an expression, but it was the eyes when he said it; the corners softened a bit, so the ennui that made the pupils regularly unfocused, or the irritation that made them sharper than a knife, had not disappeared, but had been mixed up with another expression, a gentler one. The abundance of love and hate that Yagami Raito carried around in his chest—all the warped love that had compelled him to create a new world, all the hate that had compelled him forward with equal force, seemed to settle for that one brief moment, like a churning liquid that needed to stop or else spill from its container and exist formless forever more.
He stood up from L, switching the phone to his other ear and returned to making pleasantries with Watari, as if to apologize for his previous terseness, all the while cutting L's hair; it was as if nothing had ever changed between them.
"What did he say?" L asked when Raito hung up.
"You should be able to guess," Raito replied. "He came right out and asked me if I was sleeping with you. Unfortunately, I'm starting to see where you got your bluntness."
"I wonder why he thinks we are sleeping together," L said pensively. "I thought I was being very sly about it. Do you suppose I was not sly enough?"
"I don't think it's that," Raito said, walking around to his front. "He thinks we're sleeping together because he simply doesn't trust me. He thinks I'm manipulating you," Raito said and chuckled, "like I'm the bad guy in all this. I understand that he's looking out for your best interests, but you're not the one being manipulated in this scenario."
"Did he say anything else?" L asked, as sometimes it was best to ignore the strange and wonderful things that came out of Raito's mouth.
"He told me to behave myself," Raito said.
"He lectured you?" L could not help but smile. "How embarrassing for you, and how bold of Watari in thinking you would actually listen to a word anyone has to say."
"Oh no," Raito conceded, "I'll listen to what he says. I'll behave myself, whatever that means."
The smile on L's face wobbled. "W-what do you mean you will listen to him? I tell you to behave all the time and you tell me to go straight to hell."
"You don't walk around with a briefcase full of chloroform and a detachable sniper rifle. Plus, he asked nicely."
L stared at Raito grumpily.
"Do you want to know what else he said?" Raito asked, suddenly in a better mood.
"He said he should have everything worked out by December. And that he feels you should start back in January. Did you two agree on that beforehand?"
L nodded. About a year and a half had passed since the public had heard anything of Kira, and when next January came around it would be a year since the task-force had heard any news of Kira. It was L's intention to have the public forget the Kira case or at least have it become a dim memory before he started to work on a new case, not that the public would ever again be privy to any investigation he worked on in the future. And hopefully there would never be such a crisis that he would have to reveal his presence to them.
"So, we're leaving here in January?" Raito asked.
"On January the first," L specified. "We should at least start the year off right this time," and the moment those words left his mouth, L had regretted them. He was not completely unaware of the fact that he could be insensitive as a block of concrete sometimes. It was one of the reasons why he had not been able to make friends when he was growing up. Between his gift for lying and his completely unapologetic way of speaking his mind, he was always offending someone. His problem was that he either lied too much or he was too truthful, and many of peers had found that kind of behavior unsettling. He'd never thought to change that aspect of himself. He would have liked friends, but it was not so important to him that he would have ever sacrificed a part of himself for it. But staring at Raito now as his thoughtless words sank in, as he saw the shiver of emotion that he so frequently denied Raito because of his past, it made him want to change. It really made him want to.
"Ah…" L lowered his eyes.
"You don't need to be troubled about it," Raito said. When L raised his head Raito was looking at him openly, without hostility or even the slightest animosity. He'd have hated it if Raito was forcing himself to be polite to him, but it wasn't forced politeness that was staring back at him. It was, oddly enough, a resigned acceptance. Raito expected him to put his foot in his mouth sometimes and he yelled at him a lot for it, but this time, this time—
"It's fine. You've said much worse. Though it would be nice if you wore that remorseful expression every time you did. I'd probably have sex with you more," he added, wiping the scissors on his jeans. He walked off to return the scissors to their drawer and L was left with the feeling that he had honestly been forgiven and that Raito was making fun of him.
"I shouldn't be so quick to forgive you, but I've always suspected you might be a little, you know, so it's not really your fault, even though I still think it is and that you know better."
Was it just L or could that be any more vague or make any less sense?
He gave the window across from him a confused look. If Raito were in his line of sight and not in the bathroom then he would have given him that look. "What are you talking about?"
"Huh?" Raito said from the bathroom. "I thought you knew. Plus, it's not like it's a secret. Everyone on the task-force thought you were that way too, and then there's here. I heard…well it's not important. It doesn't matter if you're a little autistic, that still doesn't explain your awful personality."
L turned towards the bathroom with a wide-eyed look, which considering how wide his eyes already were, he thought it considerably conveyed his amazement. "Autistic? You think I am autistic. I am not—and who did you say you heard this from?"
Raito shrugged. He had his back to him, so L could not see his face. "Does it matter? Your IQ is ridiculous."
"But I am not autistic," L repeated, and then, frowning, "at least I am not allergic to food coloring, particularly that one. Did you know that children who are allergic to Tartrazine possibly suffer from a compulsive disorder?"
L heard the faucet turn on. "I don't have an obsessive-compulsive disorder, you know that." Raito switched off the faucet and dried his hands in L's shirt, which was conveniently still hanging over the shower bar. He looked into the other room. "L?"
"Yes, my slightly obsessive-compulsive buttercup."
Raito tried his best to ignore L's pet-name for him, as they were only getting stranger, and if he did not ignore him now it would only encourage him in the future. "Are you allergic to anything?" Raito asked.
L nodded with a serious look on his face. "Yes, stupid people—why do you think I was always sending Matsuda out of the room. He is bad for my skin."
Raito chuckled. "Yeah, Matsuda was stupid." It was possibly the only thing they had ever really agreed upon—Matsuda's idiocy. Raito smiled, eyes lowering.
"Why is there a pile of familiar black hair under the bathroom rug?"
L remained silent as he had not expected Raito to find it that quickly. Though looking on the bright side of things, it was as good a sign as any that Raito would make a fine detective.
A/n: Sorry for unnecessarily long wait, but writing these chapters have become very difficult for me. I think a lot of people who write have this problem, where they have all these things they want to cram into one chapter and yet it's hard to put it all together without it seeming like a big old mess. You have to find the right balance, and I don't think I accomplished that here, so I've been very unhappy about this chapter and I didn't want to post it. Ah, let's see, I'd also like to mention that there will be two or three more chapters before I finish this story. I'll definitely try to get it out faster than this one, so I should be finished by this year. Oh, and this chapter has been betaed by my friend Lewd Concubine. All bow to Lewd Concubine.