Nana: Yesterday I received a PM and a review asking me to please update already
Nana: Yesterday I received a PM and a review asking me to please update already. I'd been working on this chapter, but not diligently. Once I got those two comments, it reminded me that people are actually interested in reading Kids, and that I should get my ass in gear and finish up the next chapter. So here's what I came up with. I hope you like it!
Chapter Twenty-One – Brownies
He does not speak right away. His attempts to transform this into a game of logic have failed, and L finds himself flailing in unfamiliar territory. How can he presume to understand what a marriage is like, how can he claim to know why Sachiko did what she did? He hardly understands his own motives, how can he possibly understand hers? He damns his own arrogance, takes a deep breath and says, "Chief Yagami, you do not take your family seriously. You consistently put your job before them. I understand that. If I had a family, I would most likely commit the same sins. Our work is fascinating, exciting, all-consuming, it's…" He trails off, stares nervously at the ground. Wishes for a roach to crawl by, or a crumb to fall from his clothes to the floor. Distraction of any kind, really. "That's not what I meant to say."
He doesn't know what to say, though. He's like a child here, aping understanding. There's no one that makes him feel as stupid as Sachiko does, and for that he doesn't know if he loves her or hates her. Whatever he says will be ridiculous, offensive. The great detective has jumped ship, and all that's left is an incompetent husk of human being. L clears his throat, shifts his weight from foot to foot. Contemplates running away, contemplates killing them all. He could do those things, but instead he does his best to keep talking.
"As I said, I understand that your job is important to you. I won't pretend that I would do things differently. But it is because of my dedication to my job that I never married or had children." At that, Light says something snarky about how he thought it was his lack of appeal to the opposite sex that made that decision. L ignores him. He knows that Light would not stoop to such petty insults if he weren't speaking to home-wrecking scum like L. He continues, says, "your family is important, too. They need you, and they can't replace you. The police force can. Your absence has been keenly felt by your wife, and her understanding of your absence doesn't make you any less gone. Her children are growing up, and they make it plain that they have no use for her—" Light cuts him off then, his fingers curling into tightly clenched fists. But he speaks to his mother, not L.
"You know that's not true," he says. "Sayu and I are growing up, yes. You could say that I've already grown. But that doesn't mean that you're useless to us, or that we don't love you! You're our mother, how could we ever stop loving you?" He stops, takes a deep and ragged breath. L stands immobile, battling the twinges of loss and envy that always arise when he hears the word mother. "Mom," Light says, "you're not useless. But I want to be of use to you now, because you've done so much for me. That's why I've been working so hard, and why Dad is. We want to make the world a better place for you and Sayu. And Dad is making money to support you. It's all for you, and you think it's okay for you to go and do this? We love you Mom, Dad loves you, even after what you've…" He glances desperately at his father, eyes wide and free hand jammed deep in his pocket. "You do, right Dad?"
As L expected, Yagami doesn't respond right away. It must be hard to decide if you still love the woman who betrayed you, and it must be even harder to decide what to tell your son about it. After a moment, Yagami nods, and Light looks so happy that L thinks it must be fake. Does it really matter that much if your father loves your mother? L's father killed himself because he loved L's mother too much to go on without her. Obviously, he hadn't loved L with nearly that strength.
He looks to Sachiko (because she did love L, if only briefly) to see how she's faring. Her teeth are clenched and her eyebrows knitted, and L doesn't know if this is rage or an attempt to keep from crying. She speaks, choked, and L knows then that she's holding back tears. "Light," she says, "sweetheart, I know you love me. I know that both of you have always been doing your best, but you need to understand, especially if you're ever going to get married and start your own family, that working hard is not the same as being there. Both are appreciated, but one can't replace the other. Sometimes, dear, when people are alone for too long, they…well, they find themselves in need of other connections." She shudders then, and L has to fight the urge to wrap his arms around her. He knows, though, that if it were acceptable for him to do so, he probably wouldn't. He shifts in his seat, stares down at his too-long toenails. Wonders who will speak and if he really needs to be here any longer.
The Yagami men keep silent, and Sachiko turns to L. There is no malice in her eyes, surprising him. "Ryuzaki," she murmurs, walking over to place a hand on his. This causes Yagami to stiffen with rage, and L is not surprised by this at all. Sachiko continues. Her voice as soft and warm as fresh brownies. He cringes inside, knowing he shouldn't associate anything good with this woman. He will lose her, any moment now he's going to tell her it's over for good. His insides twist in protest, and she says, "Ryuzaki, thank you."
He blinks in confusion. "For what?" he says stupidly, hating this situation that's making him stupid. His reasoning capacity has dropped by at least 40 since meeting this woman, and that's when he's sitting feet planted beneath him. Properly.
"For understanding," she says, kneading his knuckles, touching him more than she needs to or should. "I didn't think you knew why I wanted to be with you. I suppose it makes sense that you would. You're a detective, you were probably trained to look at motives. Still, I appreciate it. And you only got one thing wrong!"
He can't help it, his head snaps up and he asks, "what did I get wrong?!" Almost yell it. He hates getting things wrong, hates it all the more when he can't be expected to get them right. He cannot carve a social life out of bombastic claims of being the greatest detective of all time. Nothing logical works here, and he hates it. He wants to pack up his things and fly back to England, hole up in the orphanage for a few months. Or stay here and finish the Kira case himself. Get away from these people, get back to work, god he's practically trembling with fear. It's not visible, though. At least he hopes it's not.
L contemplates snatching his hand away from Sachiko, but she smiles at him. So he doesn't. She says, "Ryuzaki, you are charming," and he thinks she's a better liar than he could ever be.
Immediately upon saying that, Sachiko regrets it. First of all, it's making her husband (all infidelity aside, they are married, and she does care how he feels and what he thinks of her) furious. He's grinding his teeth so hard she thinks he'll crack them. She wonders briefly if his dental insurance will cover fixing a cracked tooth, and then shakes the thought from her head. It's not important, now. They've been talking about too many things that aren't important. It matters that Ryuzaki understands her, that he was able to explain her motives to her husband. That maybe Soichiro will understand now too. It matters, yes, but not as much as the fate of her son. Ryuzaki thinks that Light is Kira. That's what she came here for. She lets go of the detective's hand.
"Ryuzaki," she says, repeating his name for the third time. Trying to make him as human as possible; she knows he is. Knows he would never do anything truly terrible to her son. Because he's a good person, deep down, just awkward and difficult to deal with. She stares straight into his unblinking eyes. "We know why I wanted to be with you, and that's great, but I'm not the only person involved here. I mean, I'm no prize. I'm a dowdy old housewife whose IQ doesn't come close to matching yours. Aside from my being an excellent cook, there's no reason for you to be wasting your time on me. And I'd like to think that the world's greatest detective isn't so easily won over. So, Ryuzaki, why me? Is it because I'm Kira's mother?"
He flinches, eyes wide with horror. As if he's been punched in the face. It's all she can do not comfort him, and she hates herself for it. In all likelihood, he did use her. He's certainly put her son through hell. She shouldn't care how he feels. That wounded expression is probably an act, anyway. Same with the trembling hands and nervous glances back at the old man in the doorway. "I…" he mumbles, thumbnail jammed in his mouth like a child. "What do you…you knew that…well, I suppose your husband must have told you. I believe that that's how he's interpreted things. I could be mistaken, of course, but it would be a sensible thing to…" He trails off, losing track of what he means to say. Sachiko tries not to look at him.
"What did you do to my son?" she says haltingly, clutching Light's hand and pretending not to notice how it stiffens under her grip. Ryuzaki stares at her for a long time, and finally replies that he only did his job. As if that explains anything. As if that makes it alright somehow. "Light," she says, "what happened to you while you were here? Was it just interrogation, what did Ryuzaki do?"
Light heaves a sigh, stares nervously at his father, maybe hoping that Soichiro will tell him what to do. Soichiro doesn't notice his son's plaintive looks, either that or he just doesn't care. Perhaps realizing that he isn't about to get any guidance, Light speaks. "I'm sorry," he says, staring so hard at his shoes that his eyes are almost crossed. "I didn't want you to find out about this…I didn't want you to worry. But it wasn't too bad…I spent a lot of time in lock-up, but I volunteered for that. I don't know why I did that, it was a mistake on my part. And lately we've been handcuffed together, so that Ryuzaki can keep an eye on me. But it's not too bad—we're working hard to catch Kira, we've got several leads besides me, and once we do find Kira I'll be able to clear my name. Please Mom, don't worry too much."
"How can you possibly expect me not to worry?!" she snaps. As soon as she speaks she covers her mouth with her hand, hating herself for being cruel and impatient. She isn't like this, she's a kind, sweet woman who loves her family, who would do anything for her family, who would never ever snap at her son, or cheat on her husband. Maybe Soichiro was right when he said she wasn't the woman he thought she was. Maybe she has changed. "I'm sorry," she says, stroking Light's wrist, pushing the hairs the wrong way. "It's just that you went through such an awful ordeal, and I didn't even know about it, and I…I'm your mother, Light. I should have been able to help, and you…you must feel so betrayed, knowing what I was doing with your accuser. I didn't know, Light, I would never have…I shouldn't have anyway. Ryuzaki, why do you suspect my son?" She turns to him, and he's standing taller now, toes gripping the ground and elbows sticking out at odd angles.
He takes a deep breath and says, "that's classified information. I can't go around revealing the finer details of the case to those who aren't involved. It's unprofessional. Besides, it's nothing against you or your son. I'm doing the best I can with the evidence I have, and if indeed he is not Kira, he is in no danger. Light would be here regardless of my accusations—whether it's to save himself or to track down Kira, he does want to participate in this case."
That stings. It shouldn't, because Sachiko doesn't want Ryuzaki to trust her anymore, and besides, it's not as if Soichiro tells her every detail of every case. He tells her things he shouldn't sometimes, but he can be quite tight-lipped when he makes up his mind to be. But this means everything to her, this concerns her baby. None of that matters to Ryuzaki, though. Sachiko has no idea what does. "Look," Ryuzaki says, ripping a nail with his teeth. "This is pointless. This has nothing to do with you. I'm dreadfully sorry that your son is a suspect, but I cannot simply drop my suspicions because you don't want me to have them. I need evidence. And we need to decide what we're going to do now. I assume that you no longer wish to see me?"
"I never said that," Sachiko insists, ignoring all the times she told herself just that. It would certainly make her life easier not to see him again—she wouldn't have to change much of anything. But she doubts that she and Soichiro can ever go back to the way that they were. She doubts, too, that Ryuzaki will be any better. He's told her as much, and proven it. "I…I don't know, Ryuzaki, what do you want?"
"I want you to marry me!" he blurts, gnawing his lip and staring pointedly at the ground as soon as he does. Eyes widen all around the room, and Ryuzaki starts shaking his head, saying, "no, no I didn't mean that. I'm sorry, I'm terrible at this. I'm not asking you to leave your husband. That would be ridiculous." He stops then, pushes the bit of torn fingernail around in his mouth. This is mildly disgusting, and Sachiko has to stop herself from correcting him. The desire to do so makes this easier, though. Why should she feel anything but scorn for a man with such disgusting habits? (Never mind the fact that Soichiro is wiping his nose on his sleeve as she thinks this.)
"Please continue," she urges, turning away from Light, away from her husband. Grabbing Ryuzaki's arm and focusing solely on him. She knows she won't get anything out of him otherwise, and she can always make it up to her family later. She gets the feeling that she won't be able to make anything up to Ryuzaki.
He continues, says "I love you" so fast that it sounds like a cough. Ryuzaki is blushing furiously, seeming to want nothing more than to flee the room. He looks like a small boy struggling with a first crush, and Sachiko doesn't know what to say to him. She ought to lie and say she never loved him, that this was all a mistake and that she's going to go home now. Ryuzaki says it again, and Sachiko wrings her hands, smiles blandly.
He's been swinging between confident and not this whole time. When Sachiko smiles, the pendulum swings back to confident, or at least falsely so. Not enough to think she loves him. Not enough to do much but sulk and speak his mind. His face twitches and his fingers flex, and he says, "You know what, I'm done with this. You won't return my feelings. Like you said, you did it to escape your failing marriage. I'm not charming. You couldn't possibly want me. Besides, I think your son is Kira, and there's no way in hell I'll change my mind for you. We are not people, Mrs. Yagami, we are positions. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to mine."
With that, he charges out of the room, dragging a bewildered and protesting Light behind him.
L would give anything to be alone right now. Light's presence is an insult, an abomination. He wants to give in to the storm inside him, curl up in bed and sob uncontrollably, gorge himself on brownies and ice cream until he pukes. A pathetic, feminine system of mourning, yes. He's not sure if he could really cry that much. His eyes feel weighted with cement. But no matter the method, there is mourning to do. The human being who once struggled to free himself from the detective prison is now dead; L has slaughtered him. He is not capable of living a full and happy life, all L can do is solve cases. And Sachiko left him with an inability to deal with that.
Because Light is here, he cannot react. He cannot say a single word, because if he does Light will only berate him. He does not want to hear anything more about what a pathetic excuse for a person he is. If he cannot mourn his failed attempts at being human, he wants to do his job. And he will. He will prove once and for all that Light is Kira, that the world's greatest detective was right all along. And he won't give a damn what Sachiko has to say about it.
Later, after Light has fallen into a restless sleep, Watari steps soundlessly into the room and places a hand on L's shoulder. Sets down a plate of brownies, cookies, and cake, more sugar than even L can possibly consume. L keeps telling himself that he isn't going to cry, because Light does not sleep deeply, because he isn't a pathetic, miserable crybaby. He's got to toughen up, now. He doesn't cry, but the lump in his throat makes it almost impossible to swallow anything Watari brought him. And his eyes stay moist and swollen all night long.
Nana: Well, writing this certainly made me want to give everyone gigantic hugs. I don't know about you guys. Anyway I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I won't promise that the next one will appear in a more timely fashion, because I may well break that promise, but I can honestly say that I will try. Leave a review on your way out, and much love to you all!