A/N: The double scene break is a "time skip." It's hard to express that when time doesn't exist, but you'll get the idea.
Raito raised an eyebrow, cocking his head somewhat. "Why do you look like a kicked puppy?"
L blinked. He had been lost in thought, wondering if telling him the truth would actually have an affect. But the detective wasn't putting his usual effort into it, not even bothering with percentages. He figured he may as well just say it and let Raito decide what he wants to do with the revelation.
"There is a significant piece of information Ryuuku told me that I've withheld from you," L stated in a deadpan voice, trying to distance himself from the situation.
"If you persist in condemning souls, you will cease to exist as Yagami Raito."
The younger man gave him an odd look and chuckled. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Your shape will transform into that of a Shinigami. Ryuuk will return to the 'afterlife' and take you down the hole with him. This was the Shinigami King's decision."
Raito merely stared at him impassively before snorting and crossing his arms. "What a ridiculous thing to say. Why would I be punished?"
"You are upsetting the balance. Or, at least, that is my assumption."
He looked up in thought. Then he smirked, like he had made up his mind. "I'll fool the King by slowing down in pace. I'll send only one or two at a time, those who had committed the worst crimes out of each batch."
L's eyes widened, though it was barely noticeable. He wiped all emotion off his features, not wanting his rival to know how much that disappointed him. And we were getting along nicely for a short while, the sable-haired man thought as he felt a twinge of despondency. But L knew he couldn't stop him forever. If Raito wanted such a fate, then so be it. He couldn't be bothered anymore . . . right?
Wait, what was he thinking? He only wanted to keep Raito around so that he wouldn't be bored. L briefly wondered when his state of mind went towards that of "compassion." He nearly twitched at the thought.
Sighing, L said, "Fine. Do what you must. I'll simply watch."
Raito's brow furrowed. "You're telling me that you won't interfere? It's very unlike you to give up."
L looked straight at him, his gaze unfaltering. Instead of making a comment, he stared into Raito's auburn eyes as if he were trying to burn holes through his pupils. He wasn't necessarily "giving up." The detective still wanted to know what Kira's methods were. He merely didn't feel like doing something so fruitless as convincing him to change, especially at this point.
The younger man gave him a curt nod, appearing to have understood, and sat down with his legs crossed.
"Wouldn't it be easier to be near the hole?" L asked as he sauntered over.
"I'm doing this to find the hole," he responded with his eyes closed, his voice low and controlled.
"Oh, I see."
While he waited, his thoughts drifted back to his relationship with Raito. Perhaps some twisted version of friendship had formed between them? That didn't exactly make sense to him, but he couldn't think of another way to describe it. L knew something was there. His hatred for Yagami Raito had died down substantially since awaking in the void, but his hatred for Kira would always remain intact.
The two were entirely separate entities in L's mind. The Death Note created Kira, forcing the Yagami boy's darkest thoughts and beliefs to surface and be put to use. That one line still stuck out to him. During the time that Raito had lost his memories, he said he would not "trample on people's good will." Or rather, he said that was what he hated the most. L found this to be completely ironic, now knowing that Raito was indeed Kira. Yet, it made him wonder if that was a pure belief he had, that he wasn't just trying to make himself look like the model citizen. If so, then the Death Note undoubtedly transformed Raito's mind into something wicked. But L was once again brought back to the idea that the Death Note didn't necessarily corrupt a person and instead accentuated that person's "dark side."
It's part of being human, having a "dark side." Nearly everyone, at some point in their lives, has thought about how the world would be a better place if a certain person ceased to exist. Many people enjoy, are maybe even fascinated by, television shows or books that deal with the macabre. Some even fantasize about doing horrific things to others. Though, most people keep their "dark side" buried deep within themselves. In Raito's case, his was brought out under the guise of creating a world without suffering. It was an ugly side of him that should have stayed in its place for the sake of himself and those around him.
The movement of fabric ripped L from his thoughts, and he looked over at Raito, seeing that he had stood.
"You found it?"
He nodded and strode away.
The detective followed several feet behind and kept quiet. Would it really work? Could Raito fool the King? L wondered how he would react if Raito failed and was taken down the hole. He supposed he would be gloomy for a short while, but then he would find something else to occupy his "time." Or was he only kidding himself?
Once they reached the hole, Raito sat in the same manner as before and let his eyelids drop.
"Now what are you doing?" L was sick of waiting around for something to happen.
The auburn-haired man cracked an eye open, clearly annoyed, and said, "Gathering souls. Do not interrupt me."
L hunched over more, feigning dejection. "What am I supposed to do in the meantime?"
All he received was one of Raito's usual death glares.
He sighed then plopped himself down. He decided to watch the younger man for a bit. Raito's expression was so relaxed that it appeared as if he were sleeping, and every now and then, his eyebrows would twitch. L bit his thumb as he watched in slight interest. It really does look like he's asleep, he thought with amusement. Though, he looks more peaceful now than any time I saw him sleeping in the living world. He had nightmares often. I wonder if maybe some part of him remembered he was Kira, and it plagued his mind while he was unaware. I should ask him about that sometime.
"Done," Raito muttered.
L perked up slightly. "Really? That was fast."
"I rushed it."
"How high do you have to count up to?"
"1000. And as you already figured out, if I get interrupted, I have to start all over again."
Raito got to his feet and said, "Don't mock me."
"Of course not," he replied sardonically.
L remained seated and watched the whole process unfold. Raito rushed through the people, as well. It seemed he just wanted to see if it could be done, tricking the King and staying Kira.
Finally, he had picked the person who would go through. Just after the man had taken the plunge, L stood and asked, "What had he done?"
"Raped and killed 24 women."
"Quite horrific," he stated simply.
Raito glowered at him. "Are you making light of murder and rape?"
"No, I would never do that. But you aren't exactly someone who has the right to look down on murderers."
Raito ignored him and looked back to the hole. He waited a moment then smirked.
"You look pleased."
"Well, I succeeded. I'll wait a little while before gathering again so as not to arouse suspicion." He looked at the detective and chuckled. "What's wrong? Are you disappointed?"
"If only you could let go of your lust for power," he said quietly, staring back at him. "If only you could return to the person you were before the Death Note came into play, this wouldn't have happened."
His smirk grew wider, enjoyment dancing in his eyes. "What are you talking about, L?"
"Me," Ryuuk spoke up behind him.
Raito jumped and spun around. "W-what? I only sent one person!"
"The King told me to check and see if you were nearby the next time someone came through." He flashed a toothy grin. "Y'know, just in case."
"N-no . . . " Raito mumbled in shock as he took a few steps back.
"It's your fault, Raito. You made the decision to continue being Kira," he said bluntly as he went to grab his arm.
Raito quickly walked backwards to get out of his reach and bumped into L. He whipped his head around, terror evident on his face.
The sable-haired man frowned. He didn't like seeing his rival this way. Looking over at Ryuuk, he asked, "Yagami-kun can't have another chance?"
"Not up to me."
Raito, eyes wide and full of trepidation, started pleading for another chance. "I swear I'll never do it again! Please believe me, Ryuuk!"
"I just said it's not up to me." He cocked his head. "You're being pathetic like last time."
He shook his head fervently, his auburn locks flying, and squeezed his eyes shut. "I don't care! I just don't want that kind of fate!"
"You should've thought about that beforehand."
Falling to his knees, he yelled in an anguished voice, "I swear I won't!"
Just before Ryuuk grabbed onto his arm, L spoke up. "Is there any way he can be spared?"
Surprised, Ryuuk asked, "Why does it matter to you?"
He paused. In that moment, he finally came to terms with how he felt. He hated admitting it, but he saw no other choice before him.
"He's my friend."
Raito's eyes snapped open. What did he just say? He cautiously looked up at the strangely human Shinigami before him. Ryuuk appeared to be thinking. Then Raito started to turn his head to look at L, but he stopped himself.
This can't be happening . . .
"You just wanna make fun of him for this," Ryuuk finally concluded.
"That is merely part of the reason," L responded calmly.
The Shinigami scratched his chin, then said, "I'll be right back."
Raito stared at the spot where Ryuuk had stood, his jaw loose. He might actually get a second chance? Was it possible? But, wait . . . L was the cause. If L hadn't said anything, Ryuuk would have dragged him away. Why was his obnoxious rival trying to save him?
He finally looked at L. The detective had his eyes trained ahead, no expression on his face. Same as always. Raito could very rarely figure out what L was truly thinking, but he was quite sure L had lied. He couldn't actually think of him as his friend.
"I was telling the truth," the older man said abruptly. "And if you do get a second chance, you'll forever be in my debt."
Before Raito could say anything, Ryuuk reappeared.
"I managed to convince him. But, in return, you must lose a part of yourself."
He was beyond relieved. Although he didn't want to lose any of his memories, it was better than becoming a Shinigami. Anything was better than that.
"So what'll it be?" Ryuuk asked heedlessly. "An eye? A leg?"
Raito knitted his brows together and stood up clumsily. "I need to give up a body part?"
He nodded. "But it can't be anything small, like a finger. It has to be something you'll miss."
The auburn-haired man didn't have to think too hard about it. He lifted his right arm and stared at his hand. That hand, armed only with a pen, had killed thousands. If he gave it up, it would be like giving up on being Kira. What did he really need both hands for anyway? . . . And why did he need to be Kira anymore?
His body felt lighter in that instant.
After taking a deep breath, Raito stared the Shinigami directly in the eye and said, "Take my right hand." Then he extended his arm towards him.
Ryuuk placed his own hand over Raito's, and it slowly dissolved. Raito winced, but he was grateful it was just his hand and not his whole body.
"Just remember, if you do it again, you won't get another chance."
"Well, see ya." And he was gone.
Both were silent. L watched Raito as if nothing else mattered to him. Well, in that moment, nothing else did matter to him. He couldn't see his face, but he could tell that the younger man was staring at where his hand used to be.
"Have you finally given up on being Kira?"
"I don't have a choice now," he answered quietly. Then he turned around and looked at L with a mix of doubt and fatigue.
"What is it?"
"I can't believe that you . . . saved me. I would feel humiliated right now, but I was already being pathetic." He glanced down at the end of his right forearm and shoved it into his pocket, letting out a cynical laugh. "I'm a complete joke."
"All you have to do is say 'thank you,' Raito-kun."
He blinked. "Why did you switch to the old way of calling me?"
"I've reneged on our deal," he replied frankly as he began walking away.
"Wait, L. Does this mean we're parting ways?"
His eyes rolled upwards, noting the hopeful tone in Raito's voice. "For now. I want to do some real exploring, talking to people about history and such."
"I'll be glad to be rid of your presence." Then he added, "I'm long overdue for self-reflection, anyway."
L stopped and looked behind him at Raito. "Have you honestly changed?"
"Well, I'm still 'twisted.'"
L grinned slightly, then continued walking.
"What was that smile for?"
He didn't respond, but his grin widened.
I'm glad I intervened.
L couldn't remember a time when he was so relaxed. He was actually having fun. It was so foreign to him, but he had slowly gotten used to it. Now he greatly enjoyed the moments he had with Mello and Matt, and when Watari joined them, it almost felt as though they were a family. L couldn't have asked for anything better.
"Hey, y'know how Near was always playing with that duck puzzle when we were kids? Well, I managed to get Linda to distract him so that I could snatch a piece." Mello stopped to laugh, then continued with, "The look on his face was priceless! He was looking for that piece as if his life depended on it!"
"Didn't he eventually go into your room and start looking for it?" Matt asked.
Mello frowned slightly and flicked his bangs away from his eyes. "Yeah, he suspected I took it."
L looked upwards in thought. The story sounded familiar to him. "Did this happen when I was there?"
"I think. I can't remember. But, anyway, he never found it," he said haughtily. "Near had to throw the puzzle out since it could never be completed again."
"Ah, I believe we were visiting at the time," Watari spoke up. "I remember hearing from Roger that Mello was complaining to him about stolen chocolate. If memory serves, it all started with a puzzle piece."
Mello crossed his arms in a huff. "The little bastard could be so immature sometimes. He wanted to get revenge."
"But you were immature for taking his puzzle piece," L pointed out.
"He didn't have to take a whole box!"
Matt chuckled, and the blonde whacked him on the side of his head.
"I remember the first time we met," L said as he bit down on his thumb.
Mello looked away abruptly.
"You were about eight, which was apparently old enough to exalt me." He grinned. "You were so shy and barely said a word. But when I asked you what you liked, you became very animated. You were just as obsessed with chocolate as I was with sweets. Then you couldn't stop talking and started asking me all sorts of questions. You were rather endearing, now that I think about it."
The blonde started getting flustered. He tried to come up with excuses, practically stuttering his way through them, which made L chuckle. The detective patted him on the head jokingly, but Mello swatted his hand away, his face beginning to turn a light shade of pink.
Then L caught something moving in the corner of his eye. Ignoring Matt's laughter at the embarrassed Mello, he curiously turned towards the moving object in the distance and was shocked to see a certain auburn-haired man. It had felt like years since he last saw him.
"Raito-kun!" he called out.
The orphans froze.
Raito stopped and looked around until he spotted the group. It was hard to tell because of the distance, but it seemed as though he stood up straighter. Either that was simply because of habit when around other people, or he was startled by their presence, like a deer caught in the headlights.
The detective waved him over, much to Mello's protest, but Raito didn't budge.
"I shall be going then," Watari said, bowing slightly.
L nodded to him.
Mello let out a frustrated sigh and combed a gloved hand through his hair. "May as well," he muttered. "Hey! Quit being such a pansy-ass and get over here!"
It was obvious to L that Raito was glaring at them, even though it was hard to see. He was so used to being subjected to those glares, that he could feel them. But instead of accepting the invitation, Raito continued walking.
Grinning slightly, he told the orphans to stay put, and he strolled over to the auburn-haired man. "What's wrong?" he asked amiably.
Raito gave him a bizarre look and stopped. "You're being rather friendly. It's uncharacteristic of you."
L placed his hands into his pockets and replied, "I'm still myself, but death has made me feel . . . 'free' I suppose is the best way to express it. I had eventually lost the reason to be suspicious of people and such."
"Is this how you were as a child, then?"
"No." He nodded in the direction of Mello and Matt. "Come join us."
Raito looked at the older man dully. "I don't think that's a good idea."
"Don't worry. I explained what happened to them a while back, so they should be fine. Of course," he said as he looked upwards, "I left out the part where you were acting pitiful." I want to save the mocking for myself.
"Why should I?"
L's eyes locked with his. "Should you what?"
The somewhat playful expression on his face dissipated and became wooden. "Let it go," he replied quietly. "It's better to have companions."
Raito's eyes widened, and he slowly backed away. "You're really starting to frighten me."
The sable-haired man laughed, abruptly dropping his deadpan appearance. "I thought you feared nothing. Anyway," he said as he walked around Raito and pushed him forward by his shoulders, "just talk. I'm curious to see how much you've changed."
"Who says I've changed? And stop pushing me!" He brought his arms up to get L's hands off of him and quickly put the end of his right arm back into his pant pocket. "Fine, I'll go. I'm curious as well."
"You. I've never seen you . . . happy. I find it disturbing."
L walked beside him. "To be honest, I also did at first, but I've gotten over it."
Once they reached the orphans, Raito glanced at them, then looked off to the side.
"So Kira returns," Mello greeted, scowling.
"I'm not Kira anymore."
"It looks like you were telling the truth," Matt said to L.
"Why would I lie about that?"
The redhead shrugged.
Mello stared at Raito's arm that was resting in his pocket and a mischievous expression made its way onto his features. "Hey, I wonder what it looks like," he said while pointing.
Without hesitation, he answered, "No."
Smirking, Mello quickly went to punch the man's face, but it was blocked.
"Playing dirty as always, I see," Raito commented dryly. "I'm accustomed to using my left hand now, even as a reflex."
"You can't just let him look?" Matt asked, a hint of sourness lining his voice. "You gouged his eye out, after all."
"Exactly," Mello said with a nod.
Raito turned to the redhead with faint recognition. "You're Matt, right?"
"Yeah. I'm surprised you remember."
He ignored the remark. "Is that your real name? I'm guessing that all of you have aliases."
"It's Mail Jeevas." -1-
"Haven't heard that name in a while," the blonde mumbled.
Raito raised an eyebrow, giving that "you've got to be kidding me" look. "What kind of name is that?" He glanced at the older man. "Though, it's not any worse than 'L Lawliet.'"
He frowned and said, "I already told you I didn't name myself that."
"What nationality are you, anyway?"
The detective brought an index finger to his mouth and rolled his eyes upwards. "I'm not sure, but I know I'm part English . . . maybe part Japanese."
"What makes you think you're part Japanese?" Mello asked.
"Just a feeling."
"Why do you go by your fake names?" Raito inquired, getting back on track. "L uses his real name."
"Well, his name is more of a title," Mello stated. "He's the first 'L.' We were training to become the next 'L.' You get it, pansy-ass?"
"Yes," he answered harshly, the corner of his mouth twitching slightly.
"And we go by our aliases now because it's what we're used to. I can't remember the last time someone referred to me as 'Mihael.'"
"Only those close to use know our real names," Matt piped up. He jerked his thumb towards the blonde. "He was the only one who knew my real name until now."
"And, hey, you have no right to say our names are weird," Mello said, getting in his face. "What kind of name is 'Raito' for a Japanese person?"
"I actually asked my mother about that when I was younger. Apparently, they wanted me to stand out."
L blinked. "You can't make fun of my name anymore."
"At least I know why I was named that," Raito stated with irritation.
Mello snickered, turned to L, and said, "What'd his parents do? Pick up an English language dictionary and randomly chose a word?"
"Well, his name uses the kanji for 'moon,' so at least they tried to make it Japanese," he reasoned.
"Why not use the kanji for 'light'? Now his name makes even less sense."
"What's wrong with being different?" Matt asked.
Raito was seething, and L tried not to chuckle. While he thought it was humorous, he was surprised that the auburn-haired man hadn't exploded already or at least have said something in his defense. Perhaps he was picking his battles.
Actually, he was shocked Raito was speaking at all. He was answering questions and being tolerable, which led L to believe that the man had changed quite a bit, regardless if he'd admit it or not.
"You know," the blonde mused, "I never thought we'd be having such a pointless conversation with Kira."
Raito's eye twitched. "I already said I'm not Kira anymore," he stated with barely suppressed frustration.
"Yeah, yeah. You knew what I meant."
Matt said lazily, "Maybe you weren't a terrible guy before becoming Kira."
"I believe the same thing," the detective spoke up.
Raito shrugged, giving the impression that he was somewhat uncomfortable with the current topic.
Well, that worked anyway. L was curious about what happened with Misa. "Have you spoken with Amane-san lately? I saw her after the incident and told her that you might not be as cruel."
"Well, I still find her completely irritating, so I told her to leave me the hell alone."
The sable-haired man looked to the ground contemplatively. "I wonder if she'll yell at me about how wrong I was the next time we meet."
"It's not like I'm a whole new person. The only difference is that I've abandoned my mission."
L thought that was reasonably close to being a whole new person when it came to Raito, but he kept that to himself. He was just relieved to know that he didn't have to worry about Raito being a threat anymore. Now his "rival" was simply a good source of entertainment. Well, maybe later on they could have intellectual conversations, but he knew Raito was far from that presently. They would have to take things step by step.
The auburn-haired man was wandering the void, letting his legs take control. It was difficult to get away from those three chatty orphans. Well, to be fair, Matt didn't really bother him all that much. But Mello irritated him to no end with his attitude problem, and L was the very definition of "infuriating." The only part of the detective he could appreciate was his mind.
He thought about the statement that saved him. Friend? L saw him as a friend? It had been tormenting him ever since. Raito couldn't bring it up in the presence of Matt and Mello, but he'd jump at the chance if he could catch the detective alone. He actually felt haunted by that simple utterance. How could the man he had killed think of him as a friend? He should hate him! He shouldn't be able to endure being near him! He had been Kira, the "serial killer" right beside him from almost the start of the investigation! Who would want to be a "murder's" friend, anyway?
"How is it coming along, Kira?"
Raito stopped. He didn't consider himself to be Kira anymore, but he still responded to the name. Turning around, he was met with the smiling face of the elderly man who put him in his current position.
Suddenly, the man's smile vanished and rage was etched into his features. "How could you?" he bellowed. "The plan was flawless!"
"Why are you so angry?" he asked calmly.
He let out a ragged sigh and put a hand to his forehead. "I was a defect. I had jumped into the hole soon after my death to escape the boredom of the 'afterlife,' but I never lost my memories when I became a Shinigami. I was looked at as a nuisance in their world, since I asked too many questions. I was too curious, but that curiosity led me to knowing the secret of the hole."
So that was how you knew about gathering the souls, Raito thought.
"And that was the final straw. After I learned the secret, the King sent me back here. He would have killed me, but Shinigami can only die one way. I never found that out."
Falling in love.
"I became bitter towards the King. At least I had something to do there. Here," he said dramatically, holding his arms up, "there is nothing . . . absolutely nothing." His arms fell, and he glared at Raito. "Why did you stop?" he hissed.
It all made sense to him now, but the man's vexation didn't faze him at all. He simply answered, "A friend helped me." There was no other way he could put it, even though he didn't look at L as one.
"What? A 'friend'? There's no need for such things here!"
Raito went silent. That was something he had been thinking. Suddenly, he saw himself in the elderly man, controlled by an emotion that was held onto for far too long. It forced Raito to take a hard look at the kind of person he was. He stopped being Kira, and he "softened" up a bit, but he still hadn't released a certain part of himself.
He didn't need to think of L as his sworn enemy. His hatred towards Near would probably never fade away, but that made him wonder how L's hatred towards him seemed to be nonexistent. L truly was the better person, and he didn't like admitting that. Though, had L forgiven him? He must have if he called him a friend. But L lied constantly. Who's to stay he hadn't lied that time? Raito thought about all the things L had told him that he knew were lies, and not once did L state that it was the "truth" in an attempt to erase any doubt.
So L really thought of him as a friend? Raito's view of him hadn't changed, or had it? No, he thought, shaking his head slightly. L is not someone I consider to be a companion. But . . . how would I know what one is? I've never had one. Then again, neither has he, and yet he said I was his friend.
"Say something, Kira!"
He snapped back to reality. Right . . . "I don't agree." He looked upwards and closed his eyes. "I feel a small sense of relief, knowing that I have a friend, someone who actually cared enough to save my existence." His eyelids slowly lifted, revealing a vibrancy set deep in his russet orbs. "I don't feel so tired now, like the weight of being Kira had vanished as soon as I made up my mind. I never realized how much of myself had been consumed. If I could go back to who I used to be, I would." His head lowered so that he looked directly at the elderly man, and he stated frankly, "I no longer saw the point to being 'Kira.' Realistically, there was no way I could purge all evil. My 'life' would be so repetitive that I probably would have went insane."
"I don't care about any of that!" the old man shouted, his face red. "Get back at the King! That's all I want! I want him to regret sending me back here!"
Raito ignored him and walked away, thinking to himself that that could have been him screaming his head off.
Alright, so I don't hate L as much. I can deal with that. And seeing him every now and then is fine, I guess. Che, I can't believe how much I'm focusing on this subject. This isn't like me at all. He looked downwards, completely wrapped up in his thoughts, and let his shoulders sag. I'm going against everything that I am, but I suppose most people wouldn't consider that to be a terrible thing, especially that idiot.
"Ah, you were thinking about me, weren't you?"
He halted and looked off to the side. There was L, sitting with his knees drawn to his chest and that quirky grin on his face. Raito rolled his eyes. He forgot that he shouldn't be walking when thinking about the detective.
L patted the spot next to him.
The younger man sighed, knowing that L would only bug him if he didn't. He sat a few feet away and said, "So where are your protégés? Off annoying the hell out of whomever they run into, I bet."
"I'd tell you to be nicer, but they actually went to find Roger—he ran the orphanage—to pester him, so you're partially right."
They grew quiet, but the silence wasn't uncomfortable. The air between them was oddly peaceful, so much so that the auburn-haired man almost forgot who he sitting next to.
"This feels strange," Raito commented.
"The way we're acting around each other. It's not natural."
"This is how it would have been if you weren't Kira."
"Although, after catching Kira, we wouldn't have kept in contact. You were too much of a recluse, and I wanted to work for the police force."
L didn't respond, apparently thinking. Then he nodded and said, "That is true, but I would have wanted to meet up with you every so often . . . for some cake in that place we went to during our college days."
"I'm surprised you remember that café."
"Raito-kun, I never would have thought it would end up this way, but I'm glad. I finally got to see the real you."
"That sounds rather sappy."
"Yes, I know. I apologize for that." He closed his eyes and rested his chin between his knees. "I feel like I can relax now."
Then it hit him. Now was his chance to ask the burning question. The protégés weren't in sight, and L was actually letting his guard down.
Raito slowly turned to look at the detective and asked carefully, "About calling me your friend, what did you mean by that?"
L's eyes remained closed, and he spoke in a tone that said he knew Raito was going to ask that. "Back then I had considered you a peculiar friend, meaning that I enjoyed your company for the sole fact that it kept me free from tedium. I also admired your intelligence, since you are my only equal. I have never been able to say that about anyone else in my entire life. And as for what exactly I consider you now, you are a valued friend. I am glad that I saved you, and I feel that we can start over and do things properly, granted that you allow it." He opened his eyes and lifted his head to look at the younger man beside him. "Does that answer your question, Raito-kun?"
Words failed him. He definitely wasn't expecting all of that. The genius didn't know how to react to something as simple as being called a true friend. Well, to both of them, that wasn't a simple issue. Neither had someone to call a friend while they were alive, and that was because neither cared enough to have one. Friends weren't necessary. So the asocial detective saying that Raito was his friend, a valued one at that, made very little sense.
Though, Raito didn't believe that he was lying. L wouldn't have said so much if he was playing another one of his mind games. So he took the older man seriously and tried to come up with a response, but all that came to mind was "oh, I see" or "I never would have guessed." Both made him sound a little dim.
"I managed to make Raito-kun speechless," L stated with amusement.
He frowned. "You enjoy making a fool out of me, don't you?"
"Well, yes. And I believe that is justified, considered you had me killed."
"I killed you," Raito corrected.
The sable-haired man held an index finger in the air and said in a mocking tone, "The Shinigami wrote my name down, thus ending my life."
"Will you knock it off? Yes, technically, Rem killed you. But it was because of my manipulating that she did so."
"Anyway," L said dismissively, "I didn't expect you to reply. I was merely teasing you, Raito-kun. You need to lighten up every once and a while."
Raito inhaled, about to retort, but he decided not to. He wasn't used to L being, dare he say it, playful. The man was just trying to get him all riled up, and he saw no reason to comply.
"I understand that you are uncomfortable with the fact. I was, too, in the beginning. But it's just the way things are. You can't always help how you feel for someone." Then he looked up, slightly confused. "Well, that's what I was told."
Raito dulled his eyes. The detective really wasn't good at phrasing anything that had to do with social behavior or emotions. "You do realize that you're making it seem as if you're in love with me, right?"
L blinked. "I assure you that I am not."
"I know that," he said with mild aggravation. "I'm just making you aware of how you sound."
One corner of L's mouth turned upwards, and it was the closest thing to a natural smile that Raito had seen on the older man. It startled him, but he made sure not to show it. To distract himself, he changed the subject.
"Hey, what did you mean by we can start over?"
"What do you think that means?"
He let out an exasperated sigh. "Don't answer my question with a question."
"But it wasn't an intelligent question," he replied frankly. "Are you trying to fill up the silence?"
Raito slapped his palm onto the ground and shouted, "You're calling me an idiot?"
He felt like punching him, especially when he saw that usual quirky grin on his face. The bastard's using me as entertainment again.
"Oh, come now, Raito-kun." He reached over and patted him on the shoulder. "Don't give me that look. Cheer up."
He grabbed L's wrist and flung it away from him. "That's what you say when someone's sad, moron."
"Ah, really? I didn't think it was restricted to that emotion." He put an index to his mouth and looked upwards thoughtfully. "I still have more to learn, it seems. I wonder how many phrases are in existence that have direct connections to human emotions. Perhaps these phrases have accompanying gestures. Studying the human mind did not really help in the area of knowing what is the appropriate action to take when dealing with people."
Raito stared at him as if he had grown an extra bulging eye. He forgot how much L could babble. "One of the things you still need to learn is when to shut up."
"It's called thinking. You don't have to say everything out loud."
He cocked his head. "Do you believe that I voice all of my thoughts?"
"Not all of them, but a decent amount."
L hesitated before saying, "Perhaps I talk more now than when I was alive."
Crossing his arms, Raito adopted a bored expression and said, "You always talked too much."
"Well, that's just how I am, Raito-kun."
He didn't bother with a response. Instead, he proceeded to dissect everything L had said to him. Raito refused to examine his own feelings on the matter, for he dreaded what he would find. But then a thought came to him. L was fearless enough to look into his mind and even admit how he felt, something that was very out of character for him. If L could do it, why couldn't he? Was he that afraid?
"What are you frowning about, Raito-kun?"
"Nothing," he snapped.
Yagami Raito was not afraid of himself. That was utterly ridiculous.
"You appear very tense."
He hated L. There was no way he thought of him as a "friend." Just the very sight of him brought back annoying or infuriating memories.
"Now you look a cross between irate and petrified."
Raito instantly grabbed L by the collar, but the older man didn't react, meaning that he was purposely trying to get on Raito's nerves. He narrowed his eyes and briefly thought what he should scream in L's face. Instead, he bit back every scorching jibe and obscenity that came to mind and slowly released him.
At this, L appeared mildly shocked.
Raito settled back into his sitting position and stared ahead. What was the point in getting so angry at him, especially when that was what he wanted? It was far more satisfying going against what L expected.
So now he was brought back to the forbidden topic, his feelings for L. He inwardly cringed. Dear god, why am I even considering this? I hate him. It's as simple as that. Then again, the experts say that emotions are never so clear cut. Hell, what do they know? This isn't exactly a normal situation, anyway.
The auburn-haired man glanced at the source of his frustration and was surprised to see him relaxed, his eyes closed as if sleeping. Well, he never saw L sleep, but he imagined that was what he looked like whenever he had.
Raito was tempted to sigh. The tension between them was practically nonexistent. It was obvious that he was the only one who still had feelings of contempt for the other, and it just wasn't the same. Now they were merely intellectual equals with nothing to do. He was back at the beginning with ultimate boredom. Although, he supposed that they would still have pointless arguments. Their values definitely weren't the same, so they were bound to go for each other's throats every so often. That didn't sound too bad.
"I was enjoying the silence," Raito replied indignantly.
L opened his eyes, but he looked down at his knees rather than at the younger man. "Were you really?"
"I figured that you are in a state of inner turmoil, trying to sort out your emotions."
"Don't you think I've already done that?" he scoffed. "I've been wandering around with nothing else better to do."
"Yes, but you have received new information since then."
He could feel his muscles tensing against his will.
"So I thought maybe you would like to get your mind off of such matters."
"Why do you care?" he barked.
L tore his gaze away from his knees and looked at him. "I'm being polite."
After giving a short laugh, Raito asked roughly, "Since when are you polite? You never gave a damn about adhering to social norms. You just did things your way, not caring if you offended anyone in the process. And I don't count the way you talked. Using that polite form of speech was obviously a charade." -2-
"My, Raito-kun. You think so little of me," he replied with feigned hurt. "Perhaps it could be that I have changed slightly in that way."
"While in the presence of those two idiots? Very unlikely."
"Watari is a gentleman, wouldn't you say?" L reasoned. "I don't go to Matt or Mello for assistance in those areas."
"You can't change that much."
"I can change little by little as long as I have faith in myself."
Raito had to roll his eyes at that. "Knock it off. I prefer you the way you were while we were alive. Although I always hated you, I liked the fact that your oddball ways challenged me."
"I see. But didn't you expect me to act against what was considered normal? I would think that after a certain point you would be bored, being able to predict my every move."
"You still caught me off guard once in a while. I'll admit that."
The detective nodded. "Likewise."
There was a brief pause before Raito spoke up. "I still hate you."
"I figured as much."
His brows furrowed slightly. L didn't seem bothered by that fact at all. If he considered Raito such an important friend, wouldn't he be at least alittle hurt?
"I never expected you to gravitate towards fondness, and I don't mind that in the least. It keeps things interesting."
"Both of us," he replied simply.
Raito gave him a funny look. Though, why should he be surprised? This was L, after all.
"But who knows. Eternity could make you change. It has already done its work on me."
The auburn-haired man shrugged and turned away, letting another comfortable silence fall between them. He didn't really care anymore. If he did change, so be it. He was more in control of what happened around him than when he was alive, since he could just leave the area and do whatever he wanted. Though, he had less control over his emotions. He supposed death was responsible for that. It bothered him, but he would learn to deal with it. Raito could adapt to any situation, and he took pride in that.
Eventually, the silence was broken by two visitors. Mello and Matt walked over to the pair, one laughing boisterously and the other merely smiling. Raito inwardly groaned at the intrusion and thought about leaving, but curiosity got the best of him. He had yet to see L truly interact with the orphans.
Mello knelt in front of the detective, resting one arm on his knee, and said with much enthusiasm, "Guess what we did to Roger."
"I'm sure it was something unmerited."
"Hey, you didn't like him either."
"Yes, but that doesn't mean he deserved whatever cruel thing you did to him."
Matt plopped down next to his companion. "It wasn't cruel. We just reminded him of the time we caught him bawling his eyes out while watching some romance drama."
L shook his head, smiling. "The poor man."
Mello got off his knee and leaned back, putting his arms behind him for support. "Hey, it's not our fault he hates kids." A smirk tugged at his lips. "I have some good memories of driving the old man nuts."
"You got me into trouble too much," the redhead stated.
Looking at him dully, he said, "You didn't have to follow me around, idiot."
He sighed. "But it would've been boring."
"Then you should be thanking me," he remarked smugly.
"You two have an odd relationship," Raito said abruptly, making the blonde jump.
"Holy shit! When did you get here?"
L cocked his head slightly. "He's been here the whole time."
Mello turned to his apathetic friend and asked if he had noticed Raito.
"Yeah, but he looked pretty unthreatening, so I kept my mouth shut," he answered, resting his chin in the palm of his hand. "I thought you were just ignoring him."
While the two bantered and L watched them with a barely noticeable grin, Raito thought to himself that it wasn't so terrible. It could be worse. I could be a Shinigami with a miserable existence. If eternity does its work on me as well, I guess I'll become what I would have been if not for the Death Note. Curiosity has me on that one.
"Oh, yeah! That missing hand of yours!"
Mello then proceeded to nag Raito about it, which prompted the auburn-haired man to shout at him about how immature he was being and to continuously kick him away. Mello tried to get Matt involved, but he said he'd rather watch. L just laughed as Raito attempted to stand while fending off the blonde and simultaneously trying to hide the end of his right arm from view.
Then L's thoughts wandered to that of the Death Note. He occasionally thought about that horrible weapon, wondering if it could corrupt anyone. Granted, those ideas of dark justice had probably always been somewhere in Raito's mind, so that didn't mean anyone who would pick up the Note would use it or that they would use it continuously. When Raito asked him what he'd do with it, he had answered truthfully, but he had a dark sense of justice as well. It wasn't necessarily corrupt, but it was certainly unorthodox.
Perhaps he would have turned into Kira. It was something he would never know unless he was in the situation, but maybe he would have gone along the same lines as Raito.
L shuddered at the thought and turned back to watching Mello harass the ex-killer. He needed to take his mind off of it.
There's no need to think of the "what if"s. After everything that happened in the living world and in this void, true justice prevailed. That is all that matters.
1- His first name is pronounced like the word "mile."
2- There are different forms of speech in Japanese, and L used one of the polite forms when he spoke. (He used casual speech when thinking to himself.) There really isn't an English equivalent to it. We use tone and a few words, like "please" or "may I," but that's nothing like what the Japanese do.
I hope I kept L and Raito in character. They're so hard to write sometimes. Hmm, so there is rest after death. Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it. L will forever annoy Raito, and with the two orphans, there'll never be a dull moment. So it's considered peaceful to everyone but Raito. Ahaha! (He deserves it.) Anyway, I'm very sad that it's over. I would love to write more, but the plot has ended. It'd be rather pointless to just write about them meeting other people. So even though this is a relatively short fic, I hope you enjoyed it.
A final thanks to all my wonderful reviewers. You guys are the best! -gives out cookies- Much love to you all!