"Light-kun didn't have a pleasant encounter with Mello," L says quietly as he dabs at a scratch on Light's cheek with gauze.

Light says nothing. His eyes dart to the corner of the room, where they remain fixed on nothing in particular, but L can see his lips tightening in pain at the feel of ethanol against the cut.

"I'm sorry," L says, "I'm almost finished."

Almost automatically, Light presents his wrists to L, turning them supine that L may place the binds in place, and L Locks them together with a quiet word of thanks.

He gazes at Light from under his thick, dark hair, at the slender neck and long eyelashes, and then reaches for a vial which he unscrews with one quick motion. He dabs the cotton end of a sterile swab into the liquid and then reaches for Light's face.

Light allows it, but his eyes dart toward L immediately, and his silence is telling enough.

He knows.

Let's see how long until you talk, L thinks, screwing the cap back on the vial and inserting it back into the kit.

Light allows him to place a small bandage over the cut, and he knows that the scratch isn't very bad at all and that it isn't bleeding anymore, but that he placed it there to keep the solution from leaking out.

Just what are you trying to do, L?

"You must be bored, Light-kun," L says as he leads the younger boy back into the bedroom and sits down at the desk, "I'm sorry. But you understand why we can't have you speaking with anyone on the outside just yet."

Light nods.

"Is Light-Kun hungry?"

"No, thank you."

"You should eat something. You've become very thin."

"Okay."

L asks Watari to bring them sandwiches for lunch, and, because he knows L's eyes are on him, Light begins eating very slowly, and L joins him on the bed.

"Do you like it? It's salmon."

"Yeah."

"Here," L says quietly and reaches for his pocket. He pulls out the keys to the cuffs and motions for Light to present his hands to him. He then unlocks the cuff from one hand, allowing the second to dangle from Light's wrist.

"Is that better?"

Light nods.

"Thank you."

L reaches with his thumb and brushes a smudge of cream cheese away from Light's lip.

"I wish this were over too," he says quietly, "so that we could eat lunch like this without worrying."

Light says nothing as he watches L withdraw his hand and then put his thumb to his lips and lick at it.

Does Light remember anything new? Is there any kind of change? Either way, he says nothing and reveals nothing, and L begins to wonder whether Light's frame of mind has reverted back from duality to—

To Kira?

It's heartbreaking.

L watches Light take another bite of his sandwich and stare off into some fixed point on the wall as he chews, and then he puts his sandwich down and stares at the younger boy.

Light notices this as well and turns to look at L, silent and unmoving.

Very slowly, L puts his sandwich down on the tray and turns toward Light, and then thin, white fingers reach toward him and brush the hair away from his neck, and, very gently, L kisses the skin behind his ear.

Light's eyelashes flutter and while he remains silent, L can feel the muscles go rigid under his skin and he can hear the very soft intake of breath, and he lowers Light backward onto the mattress and reaches delicately for the buttons on his shirt.

"Ryuzaki…" Light says very quietly and his hands slide across the bony shoulders and on to L's back, the heavy metal cuff trailing after.

"Here," L says and moves backward, finally unlocking and removing the cuffs, and then he leans down to place them on the floor beside the bed and returns to Light. The younger boy watches as L finishes unbuttoning his shirt and then draws the folds away from his chest.

It's covered with little scratch marks from the night before, and L leans down to kiss the marks, but still Light says nothing.

"Does it hurt?" L asks, and Light replies,

"Yes…"

But he doesn't ask him to stop, and he actually presses L to him ever so gently, and L understands that this is something Light actually wants.

He gazes up at Light from his chest and asks whether hewould like him to go on, and Light nods, his eyes glistening with strange desperation.

It really has been a very long time for them.

"Okay," L replies, and they both understand that it is up to Light to tell him when it becomes too much.

Out in the office, Mello's long fingers close around the glass vial, and he lifts it up to eye level.

"L's gonna know that you're messing with that,"

comes Near's quiet voice, and Mello is somehow glad that he doesn't have the gun on him, because he doesn't know if he could hold back from using it right then.

He ignores Near and continues inspecting the vial; the liquid inside isn't really a solution but rather some kind of mixture of water and something else, and Mello thinks he knows what. He unscrews the cap and watches as stray liquid drips from the cover and into the glass, and, like the annoying little brat he is, Near lowers his eyelids and says something about how Mello should really put it down.

"Yeah?" Mello replies, and then stares at the cap for a few moments before, quite deliberately, he takes the thing to his lips. Staring directly at Near, he reaches out with his tongue and runs it slowly against the underside of the cap and then licks his lips.

"You fool. You don't even know what's in there."

"Oh, I think I know, all right," comes the reply, and, smiling wickedly, he closes the vial again.

To be continued...