Read this bit please. Pretty please? Just this once? (attempts puppy eyes)

Wild-filly: If you liked the "proper" ending of Mind Games, I suggest you don't take this too seriously, but hey, that's your choice. This fic is purely for amusement value. You asked for it, and you've got it! This bonus is dedicated to everyone who requested it!

Rating is upped, naturally, so consider yourselves warned… but will you listen? I sincerely doubt it. In fact, you're probably quietly celebrating and making sure that no one's going to lean over your shoulder at the wrong moment. Been there, done that… anyway…on with the show… All 20 000 plus words of it (dies).

Disclaimer: wild-filly does not own, profess to own, or ever will own Death Note, its characters, plotlines or anything else related whatsoever. She uses them entirely for her own amusement and the promotion of this wonderful series, and not for profit. She is quite broke. Literally and metaphorically (thank you, my beloved horsey).

Lemon of a slashy nature - you have been warned.


Chronicles of the Deceased:

Walking on Thin Ice


It's hard to argue when

you won't stop making sense

But my tongue still misbehaves and it

keeps digging my own grave with my

Hands open, and my eyes open

I just keep hoping

That your heart opens

Why would I sabotage

the best thing that I have

Well, it makes it easier to know

exactly what I want with my...

Hands open and my eyes open

I just keep hoping

that your heart opens

It's not as easy as willing it all to be right

Gotta be more than hoping it's right

I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it

Collapse into me, tired with joy.

It could safely be said that Raito had never experienced any kind of feeling quite like this before. It was a most peculiar sensation. For some unfathomable reason, his contempt for humanity had been pushed slightly to one side. Had he been even a shadow of his former self, he might have been concerned that he needed to seek some mental help, or perhaps just watch a bad soap opera in order to reinstate his disgust with the world. For now though, he was simply resigned to enjoy being…well, happy. Or as close as one so paranoid could ever be.

So naturally there was something annoying him.

Raito glanced up from where he was sprawled in the cushioned depths of a squashy red sofa, staring at the ornate plaster of the ceiling, dark eyes lazily trawling the expanse above. The thick white slab had been carved into twining swirls and leaves, traced wildly in elegant flourishes across the expanse of flat surface. It looked European: Victorian English? Did this place come from L's memories, or was it merely a concoction of his mind? He had wondered a bit when confronted with the building in which they were now located. It was a veritable mansion, made from old grey and red brick and more than a little intimidating. The cavernous hallways were flanked by dozens of elaborately furnished rooms, rich with tapestries, silk hangings and heavy wooden furniture. It was like a treasure trove of ancient artefacts. A massive clock tower dominated the campus, intoning the hour with a deafening clang. Not that time was so significant any more. Mind you, technically neither was air, but there was still plenty of that around too.

"Where did this place come from?"

Twisting his head around to watch the spidery detective, who was currently flicking his way industriously through a dense novel, plucked from the towering bookshelves that surrounded this particular room. L had been perched in an armchair like that for the better part of the day, apparently mesmerised by this particular book. It would appear that death had removed his need to occasionally correct his spine and prevent it from snapping in half with sheer frustration. At the sound of Raito's voice, he glanced up, wide-eyed.

"What do you mean by that, Raito-kun?" the detective asked mildly, flicking another page over and staring intently at a diagram there. "I'm not precisely certain of the mechanics behind the afterlife, as you should have realised. Whatever caused this place to materialise is most likely quite beyond human comprehension. Or at least will take me a couple of weeks to puzzle out fully."

Raito rolled his eyes, still sagged back on the generous couch. He felt too lazy to sit up and give a decent argument. How very uncharacteristic. "That's not my question. Where did you see a place like this? Is it a fabrication of your own mind, or based on an actual place you've been?"

"The second one." L's attention was still riveted to the pages of his heavy hardback, eyes skating across the crumpled pages at a hypnotic rate.

"Care to expand on that?" chipped Raito sarcastically. Good grief… he's as private as ever, even in death. This was going to be a damnably long eternity at this rate.

L sighed, shutting his book with a solid snap and placing it gently onto the floor beside his chair. Settling himself back into his comfortable perch, he affixed the other youth with a critical stare. His eyes appeared to constrain a modicum of annoyance at the interruption. "If you insist." The tone in his voice was one of reproach, and for a moment Raito felt guilty, but it was swiftly replaced with righteous irritation at the former detective's reluctance.

"What's wrong with telling me?" A sting of defensiveness riled Raito before he could stop it. "You're hiding something?"

"Nothing," admitted L, he glanced away for a moment and then returned his attention to the expectant young man before him.

"This place, or rather, the shell of it, is more or less how I remember the orphanage where I grew up. Wammy's House. I've made a few alterations to suit my own tests, but the exterior and general fixtures are the same." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "I'm not actually too sure why it became this place when I first… died. Possibly a reflection on one of the more prominent memories I have. As I became more at home with it, I decided to bring in a few extra things that interested me back when I was alive. I've always had an eye for…well, most things actually. I've brought in plenty of different artefacts that caught my attention."

"I see. That explains the horde of impressionist paintings at least. Does this still count as theft, or have you retired from the justice system?"

A faint smile flitted across L's face in response. "You've mistaken me for caring about that kind of monotony any more. I've got more important things to think of now."

"Going to start up a detective agency in the afterlife?" suggested Raito, mostly in jest. He paused to consider the pensive expression that seeped over L's features. Oh gods, he was actually thinking about it! Will this dratted investigation never end?

"That was a mild consideration of mine, yes. There are a couple of historical mysteries that fascinated me as a youth. I daresay if I put my mind to it I could connect up my afterlife to those of other people and finally put those mysteries to rest. For my mind at least." It was impossible to tell whether or not the detective was being serious, and at this point in time, Raito didn't want to press his luck with getting an answer. It would probably involve far much more effort and irritation than he needed for one day.

Shaking his head, Raito realised that he was smiling despite himself. "You haven't changed a bit, you know, L? Not in all those years we were separated. I'm glad."

Ponderous black eyes bored into Raito's own pupils. There was something of curiosity in those eyes. Wonderment perhaps. "You've changed, Raito-kun. Quite a lot even in the last few hours."

Shuffling in his seat so that he now sat upright, only partially crippled by the thick red plush of the sofa, Raito observed his former rival appraisingly. "How do you mean that?" Why do I have a feeling that this is going to backfire horribly?

"You've relaxed," answered L simply. One thin eyebrow arched over his exposed eye, which even then was barely visible through the spiky curtain of black hair. "That is something I haven't seen you do in the entire time that I've known you. You are lying on a couch, in a strange building, not even entirely certain of its origins, nor why you were brought here." There was something accusing in that stare, profoundly contradictory with the faint intonation of approval that accompanied his words. Raito found himself momentarily wishing that he could just grab the detective, shake him by the shoulders and demand that he pick one emotion and stick to it.

And then it came. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were losing that paranoia of yours, Raito-kun."

You must be joking! Raito grinned slightly, folding his arms about his chest appraisingly. Well, if he's going to misread me like that, then I might as well have a little fun. "Do you want me to be paranoid, L? Would you like for things to go back to how they were earlier, back when you thought I was a murderer? Personally I'm enjoying not walking on eggshells." He blinked, eyes narrowing experimentally. "Are you saying that I can't trust you?" Intriguing.

"No." The detective's voice was lower, eyes trailing to watch the floor, as if he were suddenly too ashamed to meet Raito's eyes. Raito blinked, rapidly reassessing the situation. What is he thinking? L's voice was a quiet rasp; barely audible to Raito's hearing, even though he was only a handful of steps away. He found himself grasping the edges of the seat cushion tightly, leaning in ever so slightly to listen more intently.

"I like to see you happy, Raito-kun. I'm just not used to it."

Raito couldn't help it. He stared at the former detective in frank surprise, but was still sufficiently controlled to mentally reprimand himself for the momentary suggestion that he should let his jaw drop. Stupid instincts. "L?"

Ebony pupils flashed up, startled by Raito's interjection and now as dully reflective as if nothing had happened. But it was too late for the detective to hide the evidence of inner turmoil. That subtle glance in which L held Raito's eyes, if only for a moment before slipping behind his blank mask.

I could really get to hate that look.

What should he say? Raito hesitated, feeling a small spike of nervous adrenalin infect his system unbidden, and had to suppress the urge to roll his eyes at his own body's pathetic nature. How irritating. He needed to say something to make L feel better, or at least get rid of a potentially awkward silence. Damn it! Why were they both such idiots around each other? It made not a sodding bit of sense!

"I'm happy here, L. Happier than I've ever been, and that's a fact." He admitted, speaking slowly, choosing his words with exquisite care. "I still can't quite believe that you were willing to give me a second chance. It'll take me a while to get used to that fact. Frankly, I've never been more in debt to a person than I am now." The admission slipped past his lips, revealing a nagging thought that had been budding in his mind for the last few hours. "That annoys me slightly."

"Debt, Raito-kun?" L spoke archly, surveying Raito with mild amusement. "Don't think of it in that way. Call it a much-needed lesson in humility. In fact, this is your punishment: eternity as a captive, forced to repent for what you've done through not irritating me. Some cake would be nice right about now."

Gods damn you, Ryuuzaki! Raito glowered, levelling a poisonous glare on the nonchalant youth and kept his mouth shut, not trusting himself not to burst a minor blood vessel. He contented himself by instead concocting new and exciting ways to kill the clinically dead.

To his slight surprise, L's countenance seemed to lighten, rather than become suspicious at Raito's sudden hostility. A faint smile tugged across the pallid skin of the detective's face. "That's much better, Raito-kun." He picked absently at the stiff paisley-patterned fabric of his chair, seemingly lost in thought for a moment before rallying himself once again, eyes critical. "Back on topic, why did you want to talk about this building? Do you have an issue with it?" The glow of pleasure in L's eyes was smoothly replaced with an analytical gaze, but the sight remained fixed in Raito's mind. I'm not the only one that's changed. That was a positive sighting of humanity in there, L Lawliet. You'd better watch yourself. You'll be admitting that you make mistakes before you know it.

All the same, Raito was uncertain what to say next. If L had thought of this place first when he had been killed, then it was probably home to at least a few good memories. Probably wouldn't be a great idea to complain about the tastelessness of the décor. "I don't really have an opinion of it. A house is a house, nothing more. I'm just curious though: how long were you at the orphanage for?" he asked hesitantly. "I don't mind if you don't want to talk about it, of course." Is he going to open up to me even that much? Just because he's dead doesn't mean that he's any less private.

L stared at him blankly, true thoughts as camouflaged as ever behind that porcelain mask. At least some things never change. He pursed his lips, and Raito could just see a flash of white as one of his front teeth bit into pale flesh. Momentarily distracted by this most…fascinating sight… he didn't even notice that L had started to speak.

"…fair portion of my life, that much I can say." He smiled distantly, black bangs brushing into his eyes, complementing the dark rings that shadowed his pupils. Raito fought the urge to march over there and push the offending strands out of the detective's way, but figured that he should probably keep his hands to himself. For now at least. L's concept of personal space was a very important one to him, so it wouldn't be wise for Raito to intrude thoughtlessly. Just because they were both dead didn't mean that they hadn't lost their little idiosyncrasies. Just the art of breathing.

"If you don't mind me asking, did you like it here? I mean, you obviously thought about it first when you died, so it couldn't have been that bad…" Raito trailed off generously, leaving his former rival plenty of opportunity to withdraw. He had never been given such a chance to learn more about L, and he was definitely not the kind of person to refuse new knowledge. All the same, he would have to tread very carefully. Hesitating was damnably annoying though. So unlike him…

L stared at him unfathomably. "Does it matter, Raito-kun?"

"Well… no, not really. I just wanted to…" How should I explain it? Maybe the truth was the best thing to use at this time. Raito fiddled with the starched cuffs of his new shirt, unwilling to look the detective in the eye. Time to exploit one of my best skills: getting information out of people through emotional cues. He cleared his throat.

"I want to know more about you, L. We spent months handcuffed together, and you never let your guard down enough to tell me about your life before the investigation. You still know almost everything about me, and I virtually nothing of you. And besides, apart from that, you fascinate me. I want to know as much about you as you'll tell me." His mouth felt numb and awkward, as if he were speaking in a dream. Raito was surprised at himself. Hang on, wasn't that the truth? He never felt awkward when prying details out of people by playing a role, so why would he have started now? All of a sudden he felt inexplicably vulnerable.

For crying out loud, we're both dead, and I'm more or less forgiven for being a murderous son of a bitch, so what is my problem? Why should I feel strange about telling him the truth?

Maybe because it was the one thing that he had been avoiding the most throughout his life. Other than Misa, that is.

Misa. Damn. That was a matter he would have to deal with. His conscience was jabbing away at his brain with a poker in a highly aggravating fashion on that one.


Oops. Caught drifting off again.Raito's attention snapped back to the spindly detective before him, blinking and rubbing at his face as if trying to dislodge an eyelash from his eye. Let that be his excuse. L's own gaze hadn't wavered, but there was a profoundly confused air about him now. Those wide eyes were marred with conflict – conflict that he hadn't even bothered to hide. Raito stared with fascination, vaguely noticing that he was holding his breath.

"You're fascinated by me? Even now?" L seemed to be holding back a chuckle: something that flooded Raito with shock. "I told you my name, didn't I? You know that I am L Lawliet, and that I worked as a detective for most of my life. You have deduced from my choice of words and actions that I have never been a social butterfly, and my education has always been of more interest to me than my practice of what is socially acceptable." Dark rimmed eyes levelled on Raito's own. "There is not much more to tell."

Is that a challenge? Raito snorted, crossing his legs theatrically and leaning back, eyes frank on his former rival's. "I don't believe that. You can't seriously expect me to believe that there's nothing more to you than your job." Mentally he paused to consider the assertion, but skilfully maintained the representation of perfect confidence. Thinking one thing and doing another was still second nature. Nice that Kira had left him with one useful skill to his name.

Is L truly defined by his job? One of the things that both L and Kira had shared in common was the belief that both were justice. Did L still believe that? Perhaps being a detective had been more than a career to L. Perhaps it had been his raison d'être, and part of the reason he had brought Raito here was to help maintain this reason. Help to make L feel as though he were still a detective, and therefore still had a place in the world.

That was a little depressing. Not to mention irritating. Time for a new tact. "When did you decide to become a detective?" Work seemed to be a safe topic.

Raito watched critically as L closed his eyes briefly, and then lowered his gaze to his own pale hands, clasped on the tops of his knees as always. Heavy chunks of black hair now completely obscured his face from Raito's direct view. Damn it all! Now Raito could only guess at what expression had flitted to Lawliet's stark eyes at his question. A brief panic raged through Raito's head. Did I touch a nerve? Good lord, he's not even talking to me! This conversation required rescuing.

"It wasn't your choice?" Raito surmised tentatively. "Did the people at the orphanage force you into it?" Is that why you remain silent? Something other than frantic backtracking was now colliding with the sides of his head. Something akin to…anger? Anger at something done in the past that was irreparable and beyond anyone's control to change? Since when had Raito ever indulged in such uselessness?

Once again, other than Misa.

L expelled a rush of breath and slowly lifted his head, one spidery hand hesitantly pushing his bangs out of the way, fingertips delicate even across his own skin. Raito found himself staring at those fingers, momentarily mesmerised. He fixed Raito with an expression of frank discomfort, and…defiance?

"No. I made the decision myself. On the contrary, many of the tutors that frequented the orphanage tried to turn my attention to other tasks. Medicine. Law. Into the more controversial government offices. They weren't happy with my focus on being a detective. Something about it being a waste of my talents. It's just as well that I ignored them."

He stopped, gaze now calculating as he took in Raito's reaction. Raito steeled himself, not giving anything away even though thoughts were spiralling around his head, jumping to their own myriad of conclusions. It looked for all the world that L was testing him. Seeing just how much Raito could deduce for himself. Well, if there was one thing that Raito was good at, it was mind games like these. Any kind of mind game, but especially the kind that the two had played in the early years of the Kira case.

Okay, not even Raito's ego could swallow that one.

"Something happened to you before you came to the orphanage. Something to do with crime. Your parents…" Raito weighted the words carefully. "Your parents were… murdered? That is why you fixate on being 'justice': because their killer was never caught?" Then he frowned, memory invoking a new realisation in him. "You told me that they didn't want you when I asked you about your parents. You said that you were abandoned at birth." There was nothing accusing in his tone. After all, Raito of all people could hardly complain about being lied to. Not that he couldn't feel a little bitter about it.

L's head was cocked to one side now, eyes narrowing. "Good," he murmured. "I knew you'd catch on eventually. But you're wrong about their killer never being caught." His stare took on its careful blankness once again. "I found the culprit just after I turned six years old. I guess the lack of birthday presents made me bitter enough to put the work into it." He began to chew quietly on his thumbnail, lost in thought.

Raito had no response to that. He stared expectantly, waiting for the skinny youth to continue. Inside though, he was seething. Six goddamn years old? This guy isn't real! L rolled his eyes skywards and obliged. "I was not present at my parents' death. They were usually in another country on business. This time it was a rather important business trip." He slid one eye back at Raito. "My parents were… how should I say it… rather gifted in handling confidential matters." L stopped, wide eyes fixed on Raito with the same expectant look that a teacher gives a child about to recite their multiplication tables.

"Double agents. So that's why the orphanage was interested in making you get into a government job." Raito filled in promptly. How very… appropriate. What other background could have fitted L's nature more perfectly? Paranoia was practically bred into him!

"Yes. Close enough. I never found out precisely what they did, or even who they worked for. It never interested me enough." L brushed the answer away, eyes still glazed as if he were reciting a story from memory. A story that he had learned a long time ago on rote and now had to recall. "After they died I was sent to a relatively intolerable orphanage, and then I was brought to Wammy's Institute. Someone my parents had worked with told Watari about me, and he rather forcibly convinced my new carers that my 'talents' were being wasted with them. Watari took me from that place and brought me here." He gestured about the cavernous room, fingers spread and as pale and fragile as glass. "The teachers and staff were probably as fascinated with me as you are. They catered to my every educational interest, steering me towards the study of the law and justice systems. I only took to the detective side of things though. For all their initial disappointment at my stubbornness, it didn't last long. Now Wammy's Institute is dedicated to finding orphans who might rival or replace me in skill." There was no arrogance in his voice, just flat fact. Impenetrably dark eyes were locked on Raito's own, questioning.

He broke off, and Raito realised that he was staring. Checking himself hurriedly, the genius cleared his throat, fiddling with the collar of his shirt. "So you did like it here." What a pitiful summary to a highly irregular story. But all the same, I did learn some potentially useful things from that talk.

"More or less," mused L, lifting the other hand to his mouth and settling to chew on a different thumbnail. "It was more tolerable than any other place I have been. Not that it didn't need a few touches here and there."

Raito shook his head. "Did you have any friends here? Have you brought them here as well?" He scrutinised L's face for any shade of a clue that might flit there before being quickly suppressed. "Are you able to have more than one other person in your afterlife?"

L eyeballed him sternly. "Have you paid no attention to what I have said? You're the first friend I've ever had. I told you that a long time ago. There was no one here that interested me. Only Watari was willing to stay near me. He catered to my every whim, even when the other tutors were exasperated by my outstripping them in their own subjects."

"But they were kind to you?" pressed Raito. He couldn't help but feel a little jump in his chest at L's words though. For some reason, the thought of him having other friends made him…itch. Made him feel irritable under the skin, as if something were physically afflicting him. Jealousy? Since when had a mortal condition ever affected Yagami Raito? Other than death, that is. How very peculiar.

"In their own way," conceded the former world-class detective grudgingly. "Though not to any spectacular extent. Watari was the only one who I considered trustworthy enough to work with me on a permanent basis." He glanced away, attention suddenly entirely fixed on the door to the fire lit chamber.

Raito follow his gaze, and his own eyes widened with shock as he saw the handle twist and the door slowly swing open.

L's gaze flickered back to Raito, and the ghost of a smile touched his lips as he witnessed the younger man's surprise at this new intrusion. "I was quite sincere when I said 'permanent' basis, Raito-kun."

Raito didn't answer. He was too busy being treated to the most poisonous stare he had ever had the privilege of being afforded.

Carrying a delicate silver tea service, the elderly Quillish Wammy, better known as Watari, entered the library at a stately walk and moved to his young employer's side. At his offer, L graciously accepted a large hunk of strawberry cake and steaming cup of tea, already richly laden with sugar cubes. Raito could only watch in increasing mortification. The older gentleman was now pointedly ignoring Raito, which was almost as bad as the glare that he had just given.

"Would you like something Raito-kun? It would appear that Watari didn't think to bring you anything." L shot a sideways glance at his stoic assistant, a shadow of a grin tugging at his features. That bastard. He's enjoying this!

"Ah… no thank you. It's okay." He watched Watari carefully. There was absolutely nothing in the old man's manner to suggest that he was going to suddenly leap at Raito's throat, as he was certainly entitled to do. However, that wasn't a guarantee that it wouldn't happen the instant L's back was turned. The venerable butler stared darkly back at Raito, nodding once in recognition to L's comment and then moving silently towards the door.

Raito faltered, rising out of his chair. This has to be nipped in the bud as early as possible. He couldn't operate if he knew that someone was out to get him. "L, I'll be back in a minute. I just need to talk to Watari about something."

L waved one hand at him dismissively, already leaning down to retrieve his abandoned book. "Do whatever you want." He plunged a couple of fingers into the pages and miraculously arrived at the page he had been reading earlier, settling back on his heels to read peacefully. At those words, Raito jerked to his feet and padded nimbly across the room. Hauling the heavy door open, he slunk into the hallway, eyeing the premises carefully. If there was an ambush waiting for him, he had only the small consolation that it wouldn't kill him.

Which way did the old fossil go? Raito glanced each way down the scarlet-painted corridor. Watari appeared to have vanished from view, with no trace as to which direction he had gone. Wracking his brains, Raito scanned his memory for any information that L had imparted which may be useful. The kitchens are down on the ground floor, at the back of the mansion. That seemed the most likely spot. Swiftly orientating himself, Raito took off down the nearest flight of stairs, padding through the deep wool carpet. Bright oil paintings swam along the walls in a colourful blur. He dimly recognised a couple of the works as priceless antiques. He would have to return later to examine them. Later when he wasn't in fear for the space between his shoulder blades being stabbed.

No sooner had he reached the foot of the winding staircase than he heard the telltale rattle of a tea service. Raito looked up just in time to see the elderly man bearing down on top of him, clutching, or rather, clutching at the tea tray as it fell from his withered hands. The scalding contents of the silver teapot emptied themselves over Raito's shoulder, forcing a guttural shriek of pain from his belly as the silverware came crashing down the stairs all about him.

"My apologies," came the stiff response of the unusually clumsy butler. "The tray slipped in my hands." The elderly man stooped to collect the spilt teapot and plates, still pointedly ignoring Raito as he dabbed gingerly at his burnt shoulder.

Forcing the pain back from the forefront of his thoughts and the temptation to kick the old bugger over where he stood, Raito swallowed his pride and looked up at the old man. "Watari. I'm the one who's sorry. I deserved more than the burn I just received." Not that he believed that. But of course, Raito was still the master of telling people what they wanted to hear.

At those words, Watari straightened, still not facing the tea-soaked youth. The teapot shook in his hand even as he lowered it back onto the service. Raito took this in a predatorily fashion, and continued to spin his story. "I cannot excuse what I did, other than say that I am ashamed of myself. I fell prey to my own demons, and destroyed what I had no right to destroy. I'm truly sorry for what my own weakness caused." I'm getting a little too used to the taste of humble pie. This had better be the last time I have to apologise to someone for this. The thought pushed past Raito, almost making him grit his teeth with annoyance, but his brain wasn't foolish enough to let it take hold. No point in making an apology if it were going to come out botched and insincere. He'd just have to repeat it later. No point in having a second battering lined up for his ego.

Watari drew a rattling breath, fiddling fastidiously with a spoon. "I do not hold you accountable for the actions of Kira, Yagami-kun. However, I will certainly hold you accountable for anything that happens to my employer."

Raito was stunned. "What do you mean?" He knew exactly what Watari meant. He just couldn't believe that he had said it.

"I mean, as you very well know, Yagami Raito," the same poisonous glare given to him earlier was being given an encore, "that if you do anything to hurt Lawliet now, I will not only ensure that you are thrown out back into oblivion, but that you're glad to be there." His facial expression was thunderous, and for a brief moment Raito considered being afraid. That teapot looked rather heavy. Gut pride was all that held him rigidly in place, not to mention the not inconsiderable risk of him slipping on the sodden stairs and falling the rest of the way down them.

"Then I can assure you that you will not have to worry about that." Raito stared determinedly back at the angered man. "I have no intentions of hurting L. I am grateful to him. I don't deserve the second chance he's given me."

"I agree," came the curt answer. Raito closed his eyes in self-restraint.

"I know that there's no way I can ever apologise sufficiently for what I did to you, Watari. And I know that you will never fully trust me, no matter what happens. But I don't want to have to fight with you. The knowledge that you and I are conspiring against each other around him will only upset L. I don't want that to happen." Actually, the little bastard looked as if he found it amusing, but this excuse might just be pathetic enough to work. Raito pasted the most heartfelt, persuasive expression that he could muster onto his face and watched for Watari's response.

A tremor of relaxing muscles flickered across the elderly man's wizened face, and Raito knew that he had won a small victory. All the same, there was one more question that he had to ask. Even if it was one that he knew the answer to.

"Watari, can you tell me why L decided to bring me here?" He continued playing the hangdog look, hoping that it might yield fruit. "I don't deserve his forgiveness, so why would he extend it?"

This was an important question. How much did Watari already know? Of course Raito knew that he was here for L's personal interest, but Watari didn't necessarily suspect that.

The stare he received in return was not nearly as severe as those that he had already had to fend off. He was getting positively good as this avoidance of looks that could kill. A flicker of doubt crossed the older man's features, and Raito drank it in with triumph.

"I…I do not know what Lawliet's logic is in this situation. He has his reasons, and those are sufficient for anyone." He nodded as if trying to convince himself, hoisting his mask of grim self-assurance back to his face.

Ha! He doesn't know anything! Wait… This could spell certain disaster later when he does find out. Raito tried not to look as if he were zoning out in order to contemplate the potential of a massive argument, and smiled impassively at the old man. His shoulder was beginning to sting in a most annoying fashion, but there was no way that he was going to admit that fact now. After all, it would just give Watari a better target in future, should the aforementioned death match over his 'seduction' of Lawliet come to pass.

Why oh why did death have to be as aggravating as life?

Clearing his throat, Watari did not drop the stern look on his face, but he did afford Raito a small nod before he clumped off, disappearing around a bend away from the stairs and into the bowels of the mansion. Raito permitted himself a small grin of triumph before plodding his way up the stairs and slipping back into the chamber where he had left the detective reading peaceably.

"Raito-kun, what happened to your shirt?"

Oh bugger. He'd forgotten about that.

"Small accident with the tea tray," he answered lightly, dabbing at the sodden, but thankfully cooler fabric. "Watari 'slipped' on the stairs."

"How unlike him," noted L coolly. He unfolded himself from the plushy armchair and stalked over to Raito, hunched over and hands in his pockets. Raito stiffened awkwardly as the older youth drew level with him and suddenly prodded his tender shoulder.


"Interesting. I hadn't actually tested whether or not pain could happen in the afterlife yet. Thank you." He slouched away, leaving Raito to grimace at the newly awakened throbbing in his scorched limb.

"Could I trouble you for a clean shirt?" asked Raito sarcastically. That complete git! "And maybe some antiseptic cream to make it stop hurting?"

L turned, a thoroughly bored expression writ across his face. "Where did you think I was going, Raito-kun?"

Well, actually to the kitchens for more strawberry cake had been my first suspicion, but now I'm not so sure. "Oh, alright." He cursed himself mentally as he trailed after L out of the room and down the stone corridor. Obviously dying had taken its toll on his intellect. Perhaps he had lost a few brain cells in the process. It was the only way to explain why he kept making a fool of himself in this despicable fashion.

Or was L the reason?

"Are you listening to me, Raito-kun?"

"Sorry. I must have spaced out for a moment." His brain took another kicking from his pride and Raito hastily refocused on the spidery detective sloping away in front of him.

L grunted at him in acknowledgement, stark features registering a mild amusement rather than annoyance. "I asked you if Watari had been hostile. A mild burn and unexpected clumsiness generally does make one suspicious of such events."

Raito shrugged amiably. "Other than emptying a hot teapot down my shoulder and threatening severe bodily harm and eternal damnation if I upset you, he was really very civil. Why do you ask?"

"Ah." The former detective looked as if he were suppressing a snigger, thick black bangs twitching slightly. "I guessed that he would do that. Although I didn't see the teapot entering into the equation. My first suspicion was that he'd use a cleaning utensil."

"I emphatically thank you for the forewarning," Raito glared at the nonchalant Lawliet. "And why haven't you told him anything?"

"What?" Now it was L's turn to look surprised. He halted at the creamy plane of a door, presumably to a bedroom, hand frozen on the lock.

"You heard me. Watari doesn't know anything about… well…us."

"Us?" L's face was as blank as ever.

Raito sighed, massaging his temples vigorously. "L, didn't it occur to you that Watari might find it rather odd if we started acting more friendly to each other?"

The detective regarded him carefully. "I fail to see this 'friendly' behaviour as having started if our current discussion is anything to go by. When it starts, I'll be sure to notify him." Dark eyes were calculating, locked on Raito's own, measuring his next words.

"Well obviously we aren't going to always be this hostile," Raito shook his head in exasperation. "I'm not always going to be covered with tea! L, you can't expect Watari just to take this… relationship" he hissed the word through his teeth, cheeks colouring in the process, "…as something normal. Face it. Even if we were both still alive it would be viewed as unusual. The fact that I'm the one who killed you just makes it even weirder… He's not going to accept this with an easy smile on his face!" He felt as if the words had been squeezed through his chest with the assistance of a vice. L still regarded him quietly, eyes devoid of expression as he privately translated and interpreted Raito's words.

"Did you not think, Raito-kun, that I have considered our situation extensively already?" L's response was weighty and slow, delivered at a reluctant pace as though he were speaking to a very young child or very slow adult.

"Of course you've thought about this, but you have yet to tell me why you've chosen this answer!" Raito glared at the other man, completely ignoring the pain in his burned shoulder, which was even now rising to a distressing climax. "I fail to see the logic in your current choice, L, so I'm asking you to give me a hint." He tried to push away the pain in his arm, but knew that his move was too late. L's eyes widened with alarm as Raito gritted his teeth, eyes widening just a fraction as a new stinging wave washed over him, forcing him to clamp one hand over the shoulder to deaden it, and then suppress a hollow shriek when it only made it worse. Idiot!

"Inside, now." L seized the cuff of Raito's ruined sleeve with one hand and thrust the waiting door open with the other, tugging the unresisting youth into this new chamber. It vaguely occurred to the former sociopath that he should be insulted by this manhandling, not to mention exceptionally surprised at its actual happening. However, he was less concerned by that and rather more interested in this sudden outbreak of importance of his immediate health.

"Sit." Raito moved numbly, too startled by L's sudden adoption of an authoritative air to think to do otherwise. He shuffled over to a richly blanketed four-poster bed and perched gingerly on the edge, mumbling a curse as he sank into the feathery depths. Good gods, it's like quicksand. Was this where L slept now, as and when he needed to? That thought bit him snidely. You saw how little he slept when he was alive, now that he's dead do you suppose that he's taken up the habit now? Maybe the bed's like quicksand to make sure that he stays in it long enough to sleep. Come to think of it, was Raito himself even tired? The answer rose slowly to him. Yes. Yes, he could still feel fatigue in his core. Apparently habits such as pain and sleep were still accompanying him like so much unmanageable and highly unnecessary baggage.

L reappeared from a side door, a flash of glowing white tiles catching Raito's eye before he snapped it shut, suggesting it was a bathroom. In one hand he clutched a damp cloth, and the other a small first-aid kit. All at once Raito was hit by the most offensive sense of déjà vu.

"I don't think it's that important, L," muttered Raito, shoving an obnoxiously soft pillow out of his way. "I'm dead. I doubt a little burn is going to slow me down much." He reached for the kit, but L ignored him.

"Probably not," conceded L, rounding the other youth and setting the first-aid kit onto the bed behind him and flipping open the lid. "That is not, however, a fact that I know for certain. I would rather not test it out." He bent speculatively over the injured appendage, staring intently at the ruined shirt.

"No?" Raito bit his lip as one of L's probing fingers stuck his shoulder. "You surprise me. Something unknown that you don't wish to discover?"

"Hm." L grunted, cool fingers now working to tease Raito's collar open, pulling the fabric away to expose his reddened shoulder. "Not necessarily."

Raito flinched but let him do it. Should he feel annoyed at L's invasion, or maintain his current mood of complete shock at the detective had even initiated it? "What do you mean by that?" A shiver passed over his body as he felt L's tugs at his clothing. Control yourself!

L flipped a handful of black hair out of his eyes, poring over Raito's shoulder. He glanced up at the question, charcoal pupils unreadable. "I mean that I will discover the answer to that question in due time. However, I will not consent to using you as the guinea pig." With that he slapped the sodden cold cloth onto the burn with all of the delicacy of a school canteen lady ladling slops, forcing a muffled shriek of pain and outrage from the other youth. Combined sensations of pain, indignation and wonderment at the detective's quiet words all swam around the former homicidal maniac's skull, forming a confused slurry and stripping him of any ability to form a coherent response to L's statement.

As the aforementioned blinding pain died away a little, Raito reached over and caught the detective's hand, smeared with antiseptic and poised above his shoulder, just about to work the paste into the shiny red burn.

"Thank you," he murmured, eyes rising to catch those of his former rival. "Thanks for doing this." Embarrassed, he released the detective's hand. L did not retreat as he had expected him to. Instead his hand remained hovering where it had been before Raito grabbed it, fingers splayed, twitching as if trying to decide whether he would pull away or come forwards.

"You don't need to thank me for that, Raito," admonished L softly. "It wouldn't be right to use you as an experiment for my own theory. I have at least learned that from my time as a detective." Even if it did take you a few tries, thought Raito mulishly.

Lawliet shook his head, as though trying to clear a stray and unpleasant thought from his mind. His hand lowered carefully onto the reddened surface of Raito's skin, and cooling cream began to sink into the sensitive flesh, almost releasing a groan of relief from the suddenly somewhat thankful patient. L's fingers skimmed so lightly over Raito's scorched skin that he hardly even felt the feathery touches. Cool balm and the gentle tracing of the detective's fingers worked in a powerful symphony. The sensation sent shivers down his spine and brought a hot flush to his cheeks, as well as slightly less discreet tightening elsewhere on his person. L was obviously awkward, trying desperately not to hurt the other youth. All that wasn't present in his face and words was embodied in the exquisite care of his fingers.

Hastily, Raito fought to distract himself. "L, could I ask you to do something? Something quite important to me?" The words were more of a mumble, courtesy of his combined relief and inexplicable stupor, but they still managed to form a question.

L stared at him curiously, hand still carefully massaging antiseptic into Raito's aching shoulder with more caution than skill, apparently completely unaware of the daze that he had brought over the youth's mind. "What would that be?" There was a guarded look to his eyes. Had L already guessed what Raito would ask next?

"It's just that… I wronged not only you and Watari, but a lot of other people as well. I feel as though I should… do something about that." Raito sighed, partially with relief and partially with regret as L withdrew his hand, wiping off the excess cream with the cold cloth. Thankfully the heated blush that stained his cheeks was starting to cool, though not without some difficulty. Pleasant, but highly unsubtle shivers still kept skittering down his spine.

Unrolling a wad of sticking plaster, L stared without seeing at the white length. "You want me to bring Misa here."

Raito blinked. "Why…?"

The detective turned a bored stare to him. "Amane Misa used the Death Note extensively, on your orders I believe. That means that it is highly likely that she too is unable to form an afterlife and is resigned to floating in oblivion." He quirked an eyebrow at the sullen Raito. "Could it be that you feel guilty about leaving her to such a fate, and want me to do something about it?"

"Actually I was thinking about my parents." But Raito's head was engaged in another delightful guilt trip. MisaShe did so much for my cause, and all I did to repay her was… Those thoughts wouldn't come. He wouldn't let them. "But you're right about Misa." He shot a glance at L, curiosity welling up inside him. "Would you really bring her here? Just because I asked you to?" What the hell did I do to offend you this time!

L rolled his eyes, carefully laying the strips of bandage on Raito's shoulder and smoothing them flat. "I don't know. Regardless of my mental abilities, I doubt that I could convince myself to see Misa's company for the rest of eternity as my idea of paradise."

Raito bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from laughing. "She's not that bad, L. She does shut up every so often." Usually when she sleeps, but even that's not a given.

"Oh really?" L fixed him with a critical stare. "And how do you think she'll react to discover that her 'beloved Kira' has moved on?"

Oh. Damn.

Raito could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks for a spectacular encore, face darkening to a violent scarlet. "Well, she'll just have to cope with it, won't she? " He snapped. "Accepting the fact that I'm finally with the person I wanted has got to be easier on her than spending the rest of time floating in nothingness." But then again, this was Misa he was talking about. Gods damn it! Why can't these things ever be simple?

"Are you sure?" mused L aloud. He sat down heavily on the bed next to Raito, behind his shoulder so that his face remained hidden from view as he peeled off the backing paper and began to gingerly secure the plasters. The delicate touches of his fingers brought a new wave of ecstasy over the otherwise severely irritated Raito. "Yagami Raito was Amane Misa's light. He was her reason for living. Do you think that she will accept rejection from you with any grace at all?"

Damn you and your logic, L Lawliet. "She won't have any other choice," replied Raito firmly, quashing the rising thoughts of multiple spats and tantrums in the near future. "If she can't accept it, then she'll have to decide whether she wants to remain here, in her own quarters, or back out in oblivion. She'll make the right choice and be happier for it."

"You'd let her go back there without even the fantasy of your affections to comfort her?" L's reply came swiftly. "That's harsh even for your standards, Raito-kun." There was no bitterness in his voice though; only clinical observation. That was one thing that separated L from all of the other people Raito had ever known: his incomparable ability to dissect real life as if it were a mere legal problem.

Although, based on the way he had successfully just gummed Raito's shoulder so tightly in one position that he wasn't convinced that he could walk normally, let alone retain normal blood flow, that was the full extent of L's skills. Ah well. Full mobility had been nice while it had lasted.

"She won't go back there," he replied quietly. "I know Misa too well. Even if she throws a fit at my decision not to be with her, she still won't want to leave me. That's just the kind of person she is."

"Indeed?" Raito turned to face the former detective just in time to see L quirk an eyebrow at him. "You have the ability to make people stay with you regardless of how you treat them." There was something approaching a smirk on the spidery youth's face. Raito felt himself colouring, though not with embarrassment this time. What am I, a chameleon? I haven't changed colour so many times in my life, let alone one day!

"You mean that?" he grinned slightly. "My word, Lawliet, that's got to be the first time you've ever complimented me directly. Shall I mark this down as a point in history, worthy of its own anniversary?"

L blinked owlishly back at him, fiddling absentmindedly with the lid of the first aid kit. He bit his lip as if he didn't know how to react to Raito's response, but there was no concealing the flicker of pleasure that danced across his eyes. Immune to sarcasm now? Raito hesitated. Something in his hindbrain was nagging at him. What is wrong with this picture?

"I have a proposition for you, Raito-kun." L's voice startled him out of his brief reverie, wondering at his own thoughts. Blinking, he refocused on the spidery figure before him, swivelling around on the bed in order to look at the detective more closely. L cocked his head in response, stare levelled with Raito's own. It suddenly occurred, in great detail, just how close they were sitting. Breath hitched in Raito's throat, but he forced himself to pay attention. To things other than his body, damn it!

"Here is my offer. I will bring Amane Misa here, and I will create her own chambers, and I can bring her parents here. They could live in a separate home to ourselves. Is this truly what you want?"

Raito could hardly breathe. Not that he really needed to. "That… that would be brilliant! Misa'd be happy with that, not to mention it would keep her out of my hair. And it'd definitely be better than leaving her out in nothingness."

"Actually it was my hair that I was worried about," mused L aloud. He smiled in a vague sort of way. "I doubt that Amane-san would react well to learn that she had been replaced by… well…me." There was a distant look to his eyes, as though he were playing out the scenario in his head, and by the flicker of distaste that followed, it was not a good one.

"I'd owe you another one, L," admitted Raito, surveying the detective appraisingly. "You'll be taking care of my apology to Misa. So far I've only managed to apologise to Watari and you, and even those are going to be long-term projects." He frowned, "I still don't understand fully why Watari is here. Doesn't he have his own afterlife?"

"Of course he does," replied L magnanimously. "He comes and goes as he wishes."

"Then my father could…" Raito trailed off and L stared back, expression giving nothing away.

"Yes. But only if he wishes to." L's voice was quieter, eyes becoming blanker. It was as if he were withdrawing into himself to give the other youth some privacy to handle that idea. "He knows everything now. It's his decision whether or not he speaks to you. That is something that I cannot help you with. Misa, yes. She has no control over her own soul. Yagami-san however, has full control. As do your mother and sister, from as and when they too are deceased."

Raito nodded, eyes lowering. So that was how it was going to be. Now that his father was dead, he knew the truth about the identity of Kira. Had he visited L and been told everything, or had he figured it out himself? It was impossible to tell, and either way, Raito couldn't do anything about it. "I guess I'll just have to hope that one day he comes to see you and that he'll listen to me." He tugged a hopeful expression onto his face, but didn't even try to put any heart into it. I really screwed that one up. I should probably add my place in their family to Kira's list of victims.

"Yes." Again with the stunted answers. This was obviously not a subject that L wanted to pursue.

"Come on." Raito glanced up, startled. L was rising from the bed. The detective shot him an appraising glance. "Get yourself a clean shirt. There're plenty in the wardrobe. Meet me on the grounds after that. I want to…show you something." There was a shy flicker in his eyes, as if he were trying desperately to suppress an emotion. As if he were embarrassed about something. With that, the lithe older man slipped from the room, bare feet padding noiselessly away down the hall.

Raito stared after him for a brief moment, curiosity finally interrupted by his pride jabbing at his brain with a pitchfork, demanding that it stop making a fool of them both and do something. Shaking himself mentally and physically, Raito rose and ambled over to the antique rosewood wardrobe on the other side of the room. Seizing the brass handle, he hauled open the heavy door and swiftly took in the contents of the musty furniture. A row of soft, newly laundered shirts met his vision. L's shirts. That thought itched the back of his skull, and he quashed it irritably as he reached carelessly for the first hanger that caught his eye.

It's a stupid shirt. Who else was I going to get a shirt from? I'd rather have one of his than Watari's. Raito shuddered involuntarily. Watari would probably line the inside of all of his shirts with poison if he suspected that the former mass-murderer might borrow one. The uselessness of that act wouldn't deter him: there'd be too much sadistic pleasure to gain from the discomfort Raito would feel upon recognising the not-so-subtle attempt to kill the clinically dead.

Hang on. Did that thought make any sense? He must be going out of his mind. Again.

Shrugging out of his tea-splattered shirt, Raito tugged on L's replacement, wondering slightly at the soft cotton. Had L ever worn this one? He caught himself raising the collar, twisting his head lower to sniff appraisingly at the fabric. What the hell am I doing? I'm not a dog! I can't tell what L smells like!

Well, actually cinnamon, spicy musk and artificial strawberry (that bloody stupid, candy-scented shampoo the detective insisted on using, as if living off dessert wasn't bad enough, he had to wash in the dratted stuff as well) sprang to mind. But that was besides the point. It was perfectly normal to know what one's arch-rival smelt like. Also perfectly normal to still be standing there, shirt bunched up to his face, inhaling that faint scent as if it were something priceless, or actually glued to his cheek.

Raito checked himself hurriedly, buttoning the rest of the shirt without further ado. He wondered precisely what L wanted with the gardens. Did he have some kind of picnic planned? Some other hopelessly cringe-worthy expression of affection? Those were the only reasons Raito could fathom from the detective's unusual behaviour.

Let's face it, he chided himself, striding swiftly over to the door and letting himself out into the yawning hallway. L's not accustomed to anything involving human interaction. I have to expect him to do something completely clichéd and yet still praise him for his thoughtfulness, if not his creativity. The winding stairway loomed before him, and he loped down the thickly carpeted steps with an easy grace, sidestepping the splashes of split tea, still ominously lingering there. What is he planning exactly? I know that he is feeling conflicted. And he's not the only one, Raito admitted to his internal audience. He doesn't know precisely how to act around me now. I need to be careful. I can't push things on him too quickly. The thought struck Raito in the chest like a spear. If I hurt him now, I've blown it. For good.

Massive double doors finally came to his vision, honey oak glowing warmly, bathed in heavy orange light. Sunset already. Oh good gods. He had better not have made a beach somewhere nearby. That would be too painful for words. There's inexperience, and there's just damn stupid! Raito threw his weight against the heavy surface, shoving with all of his might until the door ground open, grating against marble tiles with an evil hiss. He flinched at the unpleasant sound. It's worse than fingernails on a chalkboard! What kind of a sadistic cretin includes that in their idea of paradise? Raito's amusement outweighed his annoyance though as he trooped out into the garden. The scent of new grass and some kind of plant that he couldn't name engulfed his senses in a gentle aroma. Lush grass, up to his knee in height, impeded his process across the lawn as he began to wander, scanning the area for a clue as to where the detective had disappeared.

And finally he spied him. L's spindly figure was hunched, as always, and staring off into the distance, as if fascinated by something across a neighbouring field. It was like an extra from a book of English countryside photographs. Raito had never seen anything like it, and due to his current fixation on the detective, still hadn't.

"What are you doing?" He called out as he laboured his way through the sea of grass towards the errant detective. He was nearing a small copse of trees, throwing stark shadows over the amber-washed turf, soaked in the rays of the setting sun. It was a powerful sight, and it struck Raito once again just how incredible the detective's mind truly was. Even after years of being bound behind a desk, watching the world through a television screen and avoiding all contact with the outside world, L still retained a childlike sense of natural beauty.

It was another side to the detective that Raito had never witnessed before. Not since all those years ago L began to talk about the rain in a manner that he had not heard the detective use. A more…dare he even say it…romantic side. A side that appreciated the intensity of the living world, the natural environment, and its ability to alter human perceptions of reality.

And what could Raito think in response to this fantastical creation of the detective's imagination? Bloody grass? How annoying? Where's the cliché hiding? Good gods I'm pitiful!

L rolled one eye back to where the other youth was struggling to make his way over to him, wading through the thick undergrowth. Was that amusement glittering in his pupil? Damn him! Raito gritted his teeth and with a feeling of triumph finally managed to join him under the shade of the trees, standing awkwardly at L's side.

"You didn't answer me, Lawliet." Raito chided softly, gaze moving to follow that of L's. A dwelling on the other side of the field? Interesting.

"I figured you could work the answer out for yourself." L's tone was mocking, as ever. "After all, one does not maintain an IQ score such as yours with a complete lack of brain cells."

Ouch Raito glared back at the other youth, who was successfully keeping an entirely straight face. "Was that remark entirely called for, L?" A snide streak arose within him, and he embraced it wholeheartedly. "I would have thought that even one with your people skills would have realised that one should not insult people before asking them to see their point of view. It's not the wisest course of action in general."

"Touché," replied L glibly, still staring off into the distance. Mind, since his eyes were usually glazed and staring, it was hard to tell if this was significant or not. Raito rubbed his shoulder awkwardly, and then cursed himself for showing his discomfort, as well as for rubbing the wrong shoulder and forcing a minor wave of pain to crash onto his skull. What foolishness is this? He's just standing there, and so am I! Why in the name of all things holy should I feel uncomfortable?

Oh yeah. Hang on. The whole hormone thing. It was easy to let the fact that he was a human being slip his mind on occasion.

Shyly he slid a sideways glance at the stoic detective. He really was something else to behold. Not conventionally good looking, but definitely striking. The angle of the burning tangerine sun on his pallid features seemed to give him an unusually radiant glow, dark bangs feathering over his impenetrable eyes and guarded expression. The pout of his lip gave it a shell pink tinge, barely noticeable over his usual pallor. Raito knew that he was staring, and also that if caught he would be resigned to admitting that he was being an idiot, but quite frankly, at the moment he didn't care.

"Raito, if you're going to stare at me, could you at least do it more subtly?"

"What if I don't want to?" The petulant retort slipped past Raito's foolish lips before he could stop it. Damn it! Idiotic and childish! How bad can my luck get!

However, L seemed surprised by that answer as well. He blinked as though in shock and turned his attention away from the apparently fascinating inanimate spread of grass to stare at the former Kira suspect with curiosity. "What do you mean by that, Raito?" He asked the question guardedly, as if not sure what to expect in return, bony arms folding about his stomach in an unconscious display of unease.

Raito rolled his eyes internally at L's display of suspicion. What? Does he think that I'm going to suddenly attack? Suddenly spring upon him and knock him to the ground and rip his clo-. Oh. Ah. I see now. Whatever wretched chemical had just flooded his brain during his examination of the detective's…admittedly pleasing form had obviously flushed out most of his mental reserves. Good grief.

"I mean I quite enjoy staring at you, L. If you want me to do something else, then I'm quite open to suggestions." He answered mildly enough, but his eyes were locked on L's, watching for any sign of weakness. Any sign that the detective was thinking something…potentially interesting. Raito's brain seemed to have given up the ghost. He had no idea where he was going with this display of confidence that he certainly did not possess, but the main point was that it was going somewhere. How would L react?

L snorted softly, turning back to his viewpoint of the oh-so-fascinating plant-life. "I daresay you could find a floor to clean if you put your mind to it. Based on the amount of dirt it contains, that seems to be all it's good for right now."

Ok, that did it.

With a barely suppressed snarl, Raito whirled around and in front of the startled detective. Planting one hand on each of the spindly shoulders, he pushed L backwards with such force that he was pinned against the nearest tree. L stared wordlessly back at him, eyes impossibly wide and breath suddenly released with a gasp.

"Speechless for once?" snickered Raito aloud. "And no, I decline your offer for me to do your cleaning to entertain myself. I'm not a maid, or a butler." Images of French maid costumes suddenly made their highly unwelcome way into his head, and he bit back a laugh. L seemed to catch his train of thought however. Well, it was either that or he had just realised exactly how compromising his position was at the moment. A faint blush was beginning to spread across his achingly pale cheeks, and Raito was momentarily fascinated by it.

"Was this what you had in mind all along, Raito?" Midnight eyes did not betray the mental conflict going on behind them. L's face was almost emotionless, save only for the traitorous blush that had stained his perfect mask. "Were you just biding your time to do this to me?" He lifted one hand to brush away some flakes of bark from his shirt with every expression of disdain. "Hardly very smooth. Not at all your style." There was a definite challenge in his eye, head raised to glare down his former rival.

"My style?" L was so close to him now that he hardly dared to breathe. His body was pushed up against L's, warmth seeping from the skinny, taut frame into his own, holding him prisoner against the ever-so-convenient oak tree. Why had he been complaining about nature earlier? It was now displaying a new and highly appreciative second side. "And how would you define my style?" He could feel his eyelids lowering, knew that his gaze was beginning to take on a new heat, but he couldn't stop it. Didn't want to stop it. For once something was right in his life. Or death. One of the two.

Whether L could see the change being wrought in the former mass murderer was unknown. The detective was a picture of demure pensiveness as he regarded Raito quietly. It was as if he had completely bypassed the fact that he was currently flattened against a tree, and held there by a very obviously hormonal and slightly irritated Yagami Raito.

As ever, the world's three greatest detectives were thinking with unfair clarity in the tensest of situations.

"Your 'style', according to my near religious profiling of you and your mannerisms since you were a suspect, Yagami Raito, is quite far from this. Your actions towards your girlfriends in high school were far more passive. You initiated very little, and moved very little. Your words betrayed your intentions, rather than your physical body language. You 'style' is one of intelligent conversations, thoughtful compliments and small physical gestures. The same was also obvious when you were around Misa, although-" L paused thoughtfully there. "-that was probably more to do with the fact that you had very little interest in her." His eyes flicked up and fixed on Raito's own, questioning.

Raito could feel something primitive burning in his hindbrain, but he quashed it long enough to make a coherent answer. "Ah, but L, surely you deserve more than my usual process? I never held anything beyond a minor interest in those girls, and perhaps a vague sexual curiosity."

It was funny to watch the tremor pass over L's face at the 's-word'. So naïve…or was he? "Not only that, but you force my hand. Conventional methods of courting just don't seem to work on you, mostly because before I can put them into effect you successfully put me into a blind rage or throw my train of thought off-balance and I lose sense of self, or any awareness of what I should be doing. You're the only person who can do that to me." The admission probably shocked himself as much as the detective, and Raito found himself lowering his head and closing his eyes in embarrassment, though his firm grip on L's bony shoulders never slackened.

L's voice was gentle when it intruded on Raito's befuddled senses. "I understand more clearly now, Raito. Your sentiments confuse me, but I'm beginning to see."

Slowly, Raito looked up again, scrutinising L's face. There was a kind of passivity in it now. Some kind of benign power that drew a wave of emotion from the back of Raito's skull and threw him into a new wash of powerlessness. L's hands were loosened now and moved to stroke his sides in spidery touches that were as fleeting as they were faint, but sent little jolts of electricity through his spine, all the way to his hindbrain. Raito knew that he was losing control of himself, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Didn't want to stop it. Was enjoying basking in the numb warmth. L's eyes now held a hint of interest. Was he observing the change as well? What was he thinking?

Well, there's only one sure-fire way to find out, isn't there?

Other than a detailed questionnaire of course. Raito thought that this next tactic might be a little less dull and involve a lot less paper.

"This was not what I had in mind when I first met you, L." Raito's breath hitched, warm adrenalin surging over him in a delicious haze. It felt as though he were drunk, befuddled with his own daring. It was with a possessed hand that he reached out and caressed the startled detective's cheek, fingertips tracing the proud jaw line. He drank in the sight and sensation with relish, cool fingers sinking into soft skin. Dark pupils flashed onto his, lit with surprise and curiosity. "Raito…?"

"Don't speak, just for a moment," he hissed. Air rasped in his lungs and he pushed forwards, pressing himself suddenly more closely against the spindly figure, chest to chest, hands gripping the detective's shoulders in a tighter clasp. L's shadowed eyes widened once in shock as Raito closed the gap between their bodies, legs tangled, and then lowered into a heady gaze that made a shiver escape from the back of Raito's skull, shuddering all the way to the base of his spine and electrifying every muscle it passed. Was that an agreement? A conceding of defeat? A challenge? Raito couldn't tell. Hell, he couldn't even remember where they were. His brain was too busy listing pieces of information that it usually didn't get away with showing during any time other than in the privacy of a dark bedroom and thick walls.

L then seemed to hesitate, stiffening and suddenly unresponsive beneath Raito's hands. For a brief moment of despair, Raito wondered if he would be thrust backwards and away. Had he pushed too hard, too soon? But as quickly as the moment came, it was banished as the detective suddenly leant upwards and into the nervous youth's mouth. Soft lips pressed earnestly against Raito's own, stealing the breath from his lungs.

Raito's heart fluttered once with surprise, and then he relaxed into the kiss. The detective's mouth was soft and timid on his own, as if he weren't entirely sure of himself, lips dry yet promising. Raito swallowed his fear and let the warmth of L's uncertain gesture fill his befuddled mind. Gently, Raito guided L into the sensation, returning the kiss with the same consideration, the same quiet passion. The subtle heat, the soft musky fragrance of L engulfed him, and his eyes drifted shut. Lost in the sensation.

He broke away for a moment to watch the former world-class detective more closely. Those sleep-deprived eyelids were drawn closed over wide eyes, but they flickered open as Raito withdrew, curious. Answering their silent question, Raito slowly dipped back to the detective's pliant mouth, catching his lips with relish and exquisite care. The taste of sweet tea and something involving strawberry filled Raito's eager mouth. The scent of L was all around him, the pressure of his spindly, heated body and the tickle of his long black hair. Deepening the kiss, Raito's tongue flicked delicately, tracing the shape of L's plaint mouth. L seemed to be enjoying the process now, hands moving up to rest on Raito's collarbone and pushing himself forwards with a small moan, unconsciously merging even more closely with the other young man. With that slight concession in mind, Raito cautiously opened his mouth and traced the edge of that soft lip with his upper teeth, achingly gentle and patient. Waited for a cue. Any sign that he could continue.

Hesitantly, L opened his mouth in response, replying in kind to Raito's bodily signal. Taking this sign with both relief and numb delight, Raito deepened the kiss, cautiously entering the detective's mouth and letting his tongue caress the spindly youth internally. The two clashed experimentally, and tongues entwining. He felt L become slightly rigid in his arms, startled by the sensation, and he hurriedly withdrew, only to feel the detective suddenly respond in kind, his own tongue shifting to entwine with Raito's own, running along the edges of his teeth. Raito froze this time, letting L do as he wished to fulfil his curiosity with a dim sense of courtesy.

How typical of L to rise to a challenge and try to go one up on him.

Raito simply stood there, buried in the scent, taste and closeness of L Lawliet. He could feel the detective's short black bangs brushing the sides of his face, just enough to irritate him mildly, eyes partially open only enough to watch the reactions of the other youth with lazy pleasure. L was matching him kiss for kiss, move for move. The two were working in a seamless team, movements slow and powerful. It was both effortless and intoxicating. He had never enjoyed the taste of sweets before, but he was looking to permanently change his opinion on this matter. The soft strokes of L's tongue, the gentle embrace of his tentative lips coupled marvellously with the warmth of his inner fire. This brilliant mind, this incredible, infuriating, utterly unbelievable person is responding to me! He's enjoying this!

"Raito…" L's voice broke the haze of his thoughts, the detective's interruption moaned into the other youth's mouth rather than breaking the kiss to issue it. Raito roused from his giddy thoughts and opened his eyes fully, withdrawing his mouth only to remain bent over the pale young man, lips brushing one frail cheek. His own light brown fringe was spilling into L's hair, tangling the two even more hopelessly than they already were. He found himself taking a distinct pleasure in that fact for some reason.

"Yes, L?" He replied, voice playful. He felt incredible. L's eyes were heady with more emotion than he had ever seen the stoic youth display in his lifetime. The two must have looked bloody stupid, he supposed vaguely, standing there like too dopey love-struck teenagers, covered in bark and entangled in each other's limbs. How humiliating. It was just as well that Watari wasn't poking around, otherwise he might just find arsenic in his tea. Provided he still existed long enough to have tea, of course.

"This is not what I had in mind either," L's toneless voice held a thrum of vigour that Raito had never heard before. "For out here I mean. I meant to show you the grounds. You will be living here after all." He hadn't moved, still forehead to forehead with his greatest rival and showing no signs of discomfort. Raito could hear the hitch in the detective's breathing, could feel the elevation of his heart rate through his bony chest cavity. Warmth seeped from one to the other, as though they were no longer two different people. Raito was certain that his own heart rate matched that of the detective, inhaling and exhaling in perfect unison. Beyond that eve, the two had never been so close to anyone on this kind of level before.

"I'm willing to skip that for the double entendre," replied Raito, a wicked grin curving across his face even as the detective coloured. So I can still surprise him after all…

"Quite, I'm sure," muttered L, turning away slightly as if embarrassed by his own flush of heat. "Well, in that case I think we should get our tasks for the day over and done with before we partake in such…frivolousness."

Raito's head was now filled with what felt like candy floss, and was just as aggravatingly sweet and bad for one's continued health. "You mean you want to take this further? You're not playing around?" There was a note to his own voice that annoyed him greatly, as if he were a child being offered a trip to Disneyland. How demeaning… and yet it wasn't as if he could stop it either.

L shot him a withering look. "How would you like to interpret what I said, Raito? It's your choice."

"Then I'm going with the first thing that sprang into my mind," replied the former homicidal maniac promptly. At L's questioning glance, he moved back to the detective's lips, head lowering slowly and taking them in a lingering embrace, all the while watching the detective for a reaction. L's eyes fluttered shut despite himself, and Raito felt a glow of pleasure. He pulled back a little, and affixed L with a scrutinising stare. "So, what were these tasks that you wanted to complete?"

L glared at him defiantly, delicately detaching himself from Raito's clutches and walking a couple of steps away, Raito following in hot pursuit. "Over there. Look."

Obediently, Raito turned his attention to where L was waving with one placid hand in the vague direction of eastwards from the mansion. There, almost too far away to be seen clearly, was another house at the opposite end of the expanse of field. From what Raito could tell, which admittedly wasn't much from this angle, it was only slightly smaller than L's recreated Wammy's House. The same unremarkable dwelling he'd noticed earlier, no less. He turned to L with a question in his eyes. "Did you…?"

"Yes," answered L lazily. "I made this house for Misa and her family. They should be there right now."

Raito blinked in surprise. "That's the house you were talking about earlier? When did you have the time to make it? Doesn't it take huge amounts of mental concentration to…" He trailed off as L glared at him poisonously. Oh. Stupid question really. "I see. I just thought that you would have done it later is all."

L stared at him with mild amusement writ within his stark black eyes. "Would you rather have had a few more Misa-free hours?"

"Actually, yes," muttered Raito, lifting one hand to scratch the back of his head in exasperation. "She's not going to like this whole idea of me not being with her anymore. Even if I tell her I don't love her she won't care. She's proven that much to me over the years. And you must know about her reaction to Takada when she moved to try and 'take me away from her'…" He stopped as once again L's stare became too patronising to bear. "Would you stop looking at me like that?!"

"No," replied L blandly. 'If you're going to ramble, then I'm going to look at you with the contempt you deserve. Now come on. The sooner you get Misa over and done with, the better." With that, he began to slouch his way across the field, up to his waist in long green shoots. After a couple of strides, he turned slightly to observe that Raito wasn't following. "Do you want me to reinstate the handcuffs?"

Pushing aside the exceptionally non-PG thoughts that rose in the light of that statement, Raito hastily decided that it would be better for all involved if he just took L's advice and went along. After all, there was only so long that he would delay the inevitable wasn't there?

"I just fail to understand why you're so keen to go and see her. Wouldn't it be better to let her and her parents reunite and settle in together?" A thought then struck him as he shuffled grudgingly through the long grass and after L. "Can her parents alter their afterlives as well?"

"I daresay so, yes," replied L, still trudging stoically onwards. "Although with my experimentation on Watari's grasp of the afterlife, my own ability to control it is somewhat higher than average."

"Could they not bring Misa into their world themselves?" Raito drew level with L, walking side by side with him. He fought the urge to touch him on the shoulder, dismissing it as too familiar. And what I did earlier wasn't? No. Not now. Not in front of Misa. Just yet anyway.

"They probably don't know how," answered L, as they slowly drew up towards the smaller mansion. "It took a considerably large amount of effort to bring you here. Users of the Death Note aren't supposed to go to heaven or hell, remember. Misa's parents would probably be met with a lot more of a challenge than I did."

Shaking his head slightly in response to L's bland, yet poignant statement, Raito took in the surroundings with interest. The place was sizeable, and also surprisingly tasteful. While the orphanage had leant more heavily towards Gothic architecture, this was more like a modern take on the GothicHe wondered dimly what Misa's parents thought of this: going from a small house in Japan to this multi-storey palace, that is. He couldn't hope to wonder what they would think about their daughter's former and very unenthusiastic lover.

As they stopped in front of the main entrance, heavy door thickly painted with glossy white paint, Raito briefly considered walking away. Sadly, it was not to be.


There came an unearthly shriek from behind the door, and as if she had been drawn there by magnetic force, the tiny form of Misa Amane came hurtling into the open and smacked right into Raito's chest. A gasp of pain and forcibly exhaled breath escaped the former megalomaniac's mouth, gritting his teeth with chagrin.

"Oh Raito-kun! Misa wondered if you were okay! Misa thought you were stuck in that awful place, just drifting around alone…" The young woman's voice was thick with her sobs, choked with relief as she buried her face into his upper abdomen. Her hands clenched into his shirt, twisting into the fabric and desperately holding onto her former lover as if he would vanish were her grip to slacken. Raito pivoted slightly to affix L with an accusing look. The detective was watching Misa with a curious expression, one that seemed to at once convey pity for the relieved girl, and yet also a vague air of discontent.

"Amane-san. It is good to see you again." Before Raito could attempt to pry Misa's form away from his own, L had beaten him to it. Stepping forwards and gingerly seizing the woman by the forearms as if she might electrocute him, forcing her to step backwards, L continued in a detached voice. "But if you insist on clinging to Raito-kun like that, you will break a rib." His eyes were peculiarly dull, but the note in his voice contained just a hint of a threat.

Whose rib? Who would do the breaking? Was L being possessive? For a moment Raito forgot about his awkwardness around Misa and suppressed a chuckle. He stopped abruptly as he realised that Misa was still staring at him.

"Raito-kun, I've missed you so!" Misa's honey coloured eyes were watery with adoration. Raito could feel a little part of his conscience wailing in the back of his head. How could he tell her the truth?

By remembering that he was a heartless bastard: that was how.

"Well, Misa, you see-" Raito hesitated, uncertain of what to say. "Technically neither of us should have met up again, because we used the Death Note. Technically we shouldn't even be in the afterlife…" He was completely off topic, and Misa was nodding like a doll. A line of sweat had broken out across his brow. How on earth had he managed to do this last time? Stringing along Takada as well as Misa had been a piece of cake when he was Kira! This is just ridiculous. "It's all thanks to L here that we're…well… here." Farewell, oh eloquence. You've been reduced to a drivelling idiot, all because of some spoilt little princess and a spider-human hybrid.

Maybe an eternity of nothing would be preferable to this nonsense.

At those words, Misa stopped her vague struggles to escape from L's restraining grasp and turned to stare incredulously at the detective. L gazed flatly back at her. "Misa is here because of Ryuuzaki?"

"Yes." Was that a bit of petulance in there, L? Although the detective's face was as carefully unreadable as ever, Raito was certain that he was fighting some kind of mental war over how annoying Misa's presence truly was to him.

"Ryuuzaki brought Misa and Raito-kun here to be together? So we can be one family? Ryuuzaki would really do this wonderful thing for Misa and Raito?" The little woman's voice was rising to an increasingly more painful pitch, eyes shining with delight. Raito bit his tongue to stop from laughing, and then crying out in anger as Misa seized L by the shoulders and kissed him soundly on both cheeks. "Thank you, Ryuuzaki! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" L just stared in horror back at her, shrugging out of her clutches and stepping backwards hurriedly.

It was hard to tell who was more uncomfortable now. The youth who was about to break up with her, or the one who had just been sexually assaulted. Either way, it was not a happy little gathering. Although Misa's bubbling happiness was more than making up for the complete lack of the other two combined.

Misa spun on her heel, leaping away from the flabbergasted detective, who was even now flushing an intense scarlet and looking as if he might cry. In a nanosecond she was draped around Raito's shoulders, purring with delight in his ear. Raito closed his eyes and sighed internally. I guess I'll just have to tell her. After all, I do play the villain in a most excellent fashion.

"Misa, I'm afraid you've made a mistake." Raito reached back behind his head and gently detached the coil of Misa's arms from around his throat. That situation could potentially get a little dangerous. Spinning around, he stared the blonde woman squarely in the eyes. She blinked at him, face bright with confusion and adoration combined. "What mistake, Raito-kun?"

He sighed for real this time, looking briefly at the ground as he steeled himself. "Misa, Ryuuzaki didn't bring you here to be with me. He brought you here because I asked him to. Because I felt guilty about sentencing you to a life out there, and that's all."

Obviously not a good way to start a break-up speech. Misa's eyes shone with pure love, delight radiating from every pore as she lurched forwards, trying to catch Raito's face in her hands. Oh no you don't! Raito snatched her hands out of the air and pulled them back down again, eyes hardening. "Stop that!"

"But Raito-kun was worried about Misa!" She was positively glowing with adoration for her hero. "Misa knew what she was getting into when she used the Death Note, even before she met Raito-kun, but Raito still saved Misa! Raito really does love me!"

"No one deserves to drift in eternal nothingness," reasoned Raito. "You've made a mistake Misa, how often do I have to tell you?"

"What are you saying, Raito-kun?" She stared at him in confused silence, wide eyes telling him to go on. Raito drew a ragged breath, and decided it would be better to get it over and done with in one movement.

"I'm not in love with you, Misa. I never was. I'm in love with L. You know, Ryuuzaki. He only brought you here because I asked him to. Because I didn't want you to suffer out there. But perhaps that might have been kinder than forcing you to accept the truth."

There was no comprehension in Misa's eyes. No sudden cry of hurt or disbelief. She simply stood there, transfixed by Raito. He couldn't tell if she had even heard him. It was as if she had blanked out the words entirely, convinced that the confession hadn't, or literally couldn't happen.

"Why are you saying such strange things, Raito-kun? Misa doesn't mind if Raito doesn't love her, because Misa can make him love her eventually. Why would Raito bring Misa here if Raito didn't love her?"

"Because I didn't want to leave you out there," hissed Raito through gritted teeth, "I just told you that!"

"Out where?" Misa seemed to be truly confused now. "Misa was with her parents. In her parents' world. They forgave Misa, but they wouldn't forgive Raito-kun, so I couldn't make them bring you to me. Then suddenly I was here, and so was Raito-kun!"

With a sense of increasing horror, Raito turned very slowly to look at the nonchalant detective.

You. Utter. Bastard!

"L told me that your parents probably wouldn't be able to bring you to their afterlife, so I asked him to rescue you…he…he orchestrated this entire meeting." A very nasty feeling had just finished trailing down the length of Raito's spine and stopped, leaving an exceptionally bad taste in his mouth. Raito couldn't suppress the annoyance burning inside him any longer. He spun around fully, startling a squeal out of Misa and one slight eyebrow twitch from the stoic detective. He stalked over to L and grabbed him by the shoulders forcefully, jaw clenched. "You told me she was trapped in oblivion!" He snapped, glowering over the completely motionless youth.

"I told you that I assumed she was trapped," replied L blandly, watching the steaming genius with a perfectly calm expression. "There was a relatively high chance that her parents had retrieved her soul however, but still, I was under the impression that you didn't want to take that chance?"

"If you weren't dead, I'd kill you!" blurted out Raito, fists clenched and teeth grinding, looming over the perfectly unaffected Lawliet. "You've made me face Misa just for your own sick pleasure?"

L returned the fiery stare mildly, black bangs framing his pale face in an aggravatingly lovely fashion. "My own sick pleasure, Raito-kun? This was entirely your idea. I was merely being a generous host and allowing you to do as you wished. Would you have wanted to leave Misa out there, based on the mere fact that the statistics were in her favour that she had been found?"

"Yes!" Raito's explosion forced another yelp from Misa, who was now clutching her hands to her ears protectively. "If you had told me, I would have left her where she was!"

"How can you say that in front of Misa, Raito-kun?" Raito's tirade was halted by the plaintive wail behind him. Closing his eyes, the former homicidal maniac attempted to rein in his returning urges. Let's get this situation under control. Tell Misa the truth, and then have L send her back. Then proceed to exact revenge on said traitorous little sod…

Turning on his heel, gravel spraying up from the perfectly manicured garden path, Raito locked eyes with the mournful young woman. "I told you Misa," he said gently. "I don't love you. I'm with L now, as much as he doesn't deserve it." He shot a dirty look back at Lawliet, who rolled his eyes skywards and proceeded to ignore him. Damn you, L!

"I don't believe you!" Misa's shriek surprised Raito. The model threw her hands in the air and then planted them on her hips, glaring up at the taller man with unexpected venom. "It's Takada, isn't it? She's got her claws into you and she's making you pretend to be gay so that she doesn't have to face me! Takada! Get your conniving face out here!"

Raito had never seen Misa so het-up over anything before. She was practically spitting with rage, bleached hair fighting free of its pigtails as she spun around, shouting for her former rival-in-love to show her ugly face, as well as other increasingly-ill-named parts. Sneaking a glance back at the detective, Raito was mildly infuriated to notice the fascinated expression on his face. What is this, some kind of reality television show for him to enjoy? "Let's screw up Raito's sort-of life as much as we can in one hour?" I don't believe this guy! Misa was on the verge of stalking off and staging a full-scale investigation of her mansion when Raito finally snapped. This idiocy has to stop here and now! My temper can't take any more shaking.

"Stop that right now! I'm not lying to you Misa! I was even less interested in Takada than I was in you." He muttered the latter sentence under his breath, but Misa obviously hadn't even tuned in for the first, so the sentiment was lost. She was still on her rampage, shrieking for the unfortunate Takada.

"What are you going to do, Raito-kun?" queried L demurely, looking for all the world like a spectator who'd just witnessed a racing-car accident. All he was missing was a can of soft drink and some greasy popcorn. "Things could get messy if Misa starts burning my property in order to find this former fling of yours." For one so apparently concerned however, L was doing a wonderful impersonation of not giving a damn.

"Takada wasn't a fling of mine," retorted Raito irritably. This is going to the dogs faster than if the Kira case were led by Matsuda! I need to think of something fast. Something that'll permanently convince her…

"What are you staring at me for, Raito-kun?" L's voice held a dim note of concern as Raito levelled his attention squarely on the infuriating source of all of his problems. Did he think that Raito was going to punch him for staging this whole charade? Tempting though that option was, it wouldn't achieve the right effect. Raito just smiled and shook his head dismissively. He turned slowly to face his former, yet still aggravating rival, and placed one hand on both of his shoulders in a considerably more gentle fashion than he had moments earlier.

"You got me into this mess, so you're going to help me out of it." Raito smirked at his own words. Revenge was going to be even sweeter than usual.

L's wide eyes stretched impossibly further at that. Raito slid one eye back to look for Misa. He didn't have to wait long to catch her attention.

"Raito-kun! What are you doing? Where's Takada?" Misa hurried over to her enforced boyfriend's side, tugging at his elbow. Her honey-brown eyes were hard with determination. "Misa doesn't mind that Raito has lied, Misa still loves Raito!"

"But I haven't been lying, Misa." Raito repeated it for what felt like the millionth time, frowning at her slightly. "You want proof?" She gave no response, just staring at him wordlessly as Raito's attention returned to the spidery detective pinned beneath his hands.

He saw comprehension dawning in L's eyes just a fraction too late for future preservation of the detective's dignity.

Raito's hands shifted swiftly from their position on the detective's shoulders to restrain him about the hip, fingers slotting neatly on either side of the jutting bone and trailing luxuriously down L's slight rump. He tugged forwards, and the detective was thrown unwillingly off-balance, landing with a thud against Raito's chest and right where he wanted him. Grinning with just a hint of malevolence, Raito leant down and kissed the detective forcefully. Held firmly in place by Raito's unrelenting grip, L could only glare back at the former mass-murderer with fury as Raito's tongue gently forced his mouth open. His tongue locked with L's resistant, yet slowly more pliant counterpart, gently exploring the detective's warm mouth. Even in the awkwardness that was the whole situation, not to mention the pure annoyance radiating from the detective, Raito still couldn't believe how much he enjoyed the taste of the lithe detective. So subtly sweet and yet conveying all of the twisted traits of L himself. The heat of his mouth, the softness of his skin and that delightful taste that was L were intoxicating.

He could almost pretend that he couldn't hear Misa's shriek of horror.

"Raito-kun! What are you doing? Why are you doing that to Ryuuzaki? Stop it!"

Misa's voice was shrill in the background, dragging Raito out of his stupor and back into some semblance of reality. Reluctantly he withdrew his lips from L's own, taking the time to observe L's eyes to flutter open and affix him with a haughty stare. Hm. Perhaps the detective hadn't taken so kindly to being used as a demonstration model. Or had he? Raito could have sworn that he had been enjoying himself…or had that just been him? Either way, it didn't really matter. Misa's impending explosion however, now that could potentially be important.

"Answer me, Raito-kun!" There was a note of despair in the model's voice. "Why are you doing this? Answer Misa!" No wonder she was upset. Raito had never kissed her like that. Hell, he'd never kissed anyone like that. And it was probably just as well. It felt like he'd pulled a muscle gods-know where.

Raito tore his attention away from L's disgruntled, yet grudgingly flustered features in order to regard Misa carefully. Now came the big one. "I want you to move on from me, Misa. I can't be with you, and I don't want to be with you either. Find someone else. Someone who loves you back. It's a big afterlife."

"But Misa…Misa doesn't want anyone else!" Tears glistened at the corners of the young woman's eyes, smudging her mascara into snaking black streaks. "How can you do this to me?"

"I didn't want to, but I have. This is just the way I am, and there's nothing that can be done to change it." This is all your fault L! Don't think I'm going to forgive you in a hurry. "If it's any consolation Misa, I do care about you in a way, just not the way that you see me in." Some kind of inner benevolent side to Raito's personality was making its inexplicable debut. What kind of madness is this? "This is just the way I am," he repeated, closing his eyes in a parody of prayer as he begged inwardly. Gods, just let her take this answer and leave!

Misa dabbed delicately at her watery eyes, seeming to steel herself. "Raito is gay? Why would Raito-kun say that Misa could be his girlfriend then?"

Raito rolled his eyes. Not this one again! "Think about it, Misa. You are the one who made me your boyfriend, not the other way around. Why else would I be so awkward around you and not want to go out on dates? Doesn't it make sense?" Actually there was a different truth to explain that, but Misa doesn't really need to hear it now.

Much to his surprise, Misa appeared to be nodding, something dawning in her tear-stained eyes. "Did Misa come closer than Takada?" She asked fiercely, as if trying to reassure herself.

Raito could allow her that concession. "Yes. Takada was nothing to me at all. You are the only one I felt guilty about for using the Death Note. I manipulated you horribly, Misa, and I feel terrible about it." More or less at least. Mostly he felt terrible that she was actually anywhere near him.

At that, Misa's face took on a slight radiance. "So there is hope for Misa and Raito after all!"

No! "I just told you that I'm with Ryuuzaki, Misa! There is no hope!"

Misa bit thoughtfully on one crimson-painted lip. "But that might not last…this might just be a phase for Raito-kun. Misa knows that Raito-kun felt a little bad about killing Ryuuzaki, Misa could tell. Raito-kun was so distant after Ryuuzaki died. But maybe Raito-kun will get over his guilt and come back to his senses." There was a slow smile spreading over her face, and Raito could see his eternity suddenly stretching out further and further. Her eyes lit up like fireworks. "Misa will wait for Raito-kun! Misa can prove her love and devotion again!" She looked like a puppy with a new toy, and Raito looked as though he had just swallowed poison. L on the other hand looked as though he were trying not to actually choke with laughter.

"Ryuuzaki?" L flinched reflexively at Misa's use of his old name, turning to stare wide-eyed at her in apprehension. Heavily rimmed blinked cautiously, as if reluctant to let his guard down even in time it took to blink. "Amane-san?"

Misa glared at him, conveying in that one look all of her hurt and a kind of numb despair and hatred that cannot be described in words alone. L accepted that stare without rebuke, and Raito could only watch in silence at the exchange between the two. L's perfect mask of blank passivity remained perfectly in tact even as Misa's accusing gaze of betrayal tried to invoke a reaction. A bead of sweat trickled down Raito's forehead, and he felt his muscles twitch inadvertently. Was one of them about to do something stupid, even for their own, already very high standards?

And then Misa nodded, eyebrows knit tightly on her brow. She bit one thickly lipsticked lip nervously, eyes wide with pleading. "Ryuuzaki, please take care of Raito-kun for me. He needs to be looked after."

And Raito-kun nearly fell over then and there.

Amazed, Raito could only stare in disbelief as L nodded slowly, eyes locked on those of the sombre young woman. The two seemed to be exchanging a threat of some sorts, and Raito wasn't entirely convinced of precisely what it was, or if he truly wanted to know.

Misa nodded to herself in affirmation. She stared mournfully at Raito, but said, "I want to go home now. Send me back Ryuuzaki. My parents will be wondering about me. Don't worry, I'll be back soon! They can send me whenever I ask them to."

Someone out there really hates me.

With that, she turned and gave Raito one last look filled with longing, softened by a cheeky wink. Hesitantly, Raito detached himself from L and walked over to her, not entirely sure of what he was doing. He felt like a man walking in a dream as he opened his arms to the young woman and enfolded her in the first true embrace he had ever given her. Why did he do it? Perhaps because he had to convey that this was a goodbye. Either way, his subconscious was acting quite without orders or permission from his dignity and was in the process of being fired.

Pale, slender limbs shook in his grasp. She smelt floral, clean and newly washed, petite frame fitting easily into his arms, but there was none of L's boniness and height there. He could not look her in the eyes and see an equal: could only look down and see one who wanted what she simply could not have and pity her. Pity? His conscience registered that thought for a moment and then threw it out along with tolerance for L's latest prank.

Gently, so as not to reveal his mental council's decision that this had been a monumentally bad idea, Raito let go, and when he pulled back, he found her face swimming with tears once again. Oh crap, I hope she's not considering staying! What is she thinking? Does she know that it was a goodbye-hug and not a you-stand-a-chance-hug? Why the hell did I do that anyway? I hate hugging people! And why am I still talking to myself? Misa had dashed those tears away with a mesh-gloved hand, but Raito noted with no small amount of despair that there was a glint of resolve hiding in those red-rimmed pupils.

"I haven't given up on you, Raito-kun! When you get sick of Ryuuzaki, Misa still wants you. Remember!" At that, she turned and walked away back into the mansion from which she had come. Raito watched her leave, and could not think of anything more that he wanted to say to her, other than pleas leave and never come back. Goodbye, Amane Misa. For now. Is it possible to install locks on an afterlife?

As the great door swung shut with a deafening clatter, Raito turned to regard his former rival. There was something entirely unreadable on the detective's face. His thumb was pinched between his front teeth pensively.

"What are you thinking?" Raito asked, suddenly feeling weary of the world. "Did I behave according to your predictions? You led me into this trap just to see how I would react?" He massaged his forehead irritably. Why must the afterlife be so awkward?

"Yes," admitted L without a trace of regret in his voice. "I wanted to see how you interacted with Amane-san. Just to confirm a couple of theories that I had."

Raito stopped. He stared incredulously at the scruffy detective, unable to believe his ears. "You thought that I might actually care about her? That I might choose her over you? I don't believe you! Have you listened to anything that I've said?"

"Of course I have," replied L in a bored monotone. He scratched absentmindedly at his unruly locks, only serving to muss them even further. Blinking he surveyed Raito coolly. "I only wished to gather more evidence to back up your story. Not to mention remove that trace of guilt you still bore. Misa is accounted for. Takada is accounted for. Raye Penbar is also fine, and so is Mikami Teru. I confirmed that all of the users of the Death Note whom you are responsible for are not reduced to living in oblivion. They have all been claimed by some relative or another."

Raito's hands bunched into fists of their own accord. "Then why not tell me that?"

L cocked his head to one side. "I'm disappointed in you, Raito-kun. Do I have to explain everything to you? I thought you might have at least figured it out."

"Of course not! I asked you what you thought on the matter and you lied to my face!" The other youth bristled. "Why do I get the feeling that even if I ask you for the truth you're never going to give it to me?" Raito's voice was lowering, and he felt himself giving way to a dull rage. "You're still playing with my head, Lawliet, and I do not appreciate it in the slightest."

L watched impassively as Raito stalked slowly towards him, appearing to loom over the spidery young man despite the lack of difference in their heights. There was a dangerous glint to the former sociopath's eye.

"You've lied to me, manipulated me to achieve your own twisted means, Lawliet," he hissed through gritted teeth. Both hands clamped down heavily on top of L's elbows, pinning them to his sides as he leant over and into the detective's face. "Give me one good reason. One good reason why I shouldn't completely lose it right now." His breath was so close that it wafted L's fringe, sending the charcoal strands drifting into the other man's eyes. L returned his stare with a deadpan counterpart, immobile. His lips pursed slightly as if vaguely irritated, but otherwise unconcerned. Raito was seething, could practically taste his own rage bubbling in his throat. How dare he be so calm! Stare back at him like he was nothing!

"That's not the Raito I knew," admonished the detective, voice quiet and powerful. "The Raito I knew was more independent than that. He thought more about what he did." His eyes were accusing, staring balefully up into Raito's own. "What happened to you?"

So that's what this is all about!

The anger recoiled into the pit of his stomach, where it stewed vigorously into a new brand of exasperation. With a sigh Raito slackened his grip into something that actually permitted blood flow to the rest of the detective's arms. "L, I'm still the same person. I'm just not used to having to clean up after my own mistakes. I haven't made that many in my lifetime, but of recent I seem to have royally screwed up everything important. I'm not good at making amends and actually meaning it."

He stepped back reluctantly, almost apologetically, raking a hand through his neatly cropped hair. Turning back he stared at L desperately. "Did you think that I had really changed? For the worse? I assure you, I'm as paranoid as ever. I'm just a bit out of my comfort zone. I've never made such mistakes like this. I've never had someone who I actually felt for. I'm screwing up even worse than before!"

A silence befell them both, punctuated only by the simulated breeze of L's afterlife. Raito could feel his heart hammering in his chest so erratically he was almost foolishly certain that the other youth could hear it.

"Indeed you are. And I should hope that you're not used to this kind of thing," murmured L finally, gnawing experimentally on his thumbnail. Ponderous dark eyes locked onto Raito's face. "And no, I would like to think that you haven't changed. It would be most disagreeable to think that you might begin to bore me."

"I'd never do that," admonished Raito. "What else do you want me to do? Disown my family? Visit every single person I killed and beg for their forgiveness? Meet your parents and ask for their permission to go out with their son? What else do you want from me, Lawliet?" The last part burst from his chest, forcibly extracted as it were a canker gnawing at his consciousness. Raito stared desperately at L, wondering, uncertain of his answer.

"Nothing else. I don't want you to go through anything else for me, Raito-kun. I believe you now." L spoke quietly, gravel scrunching as he stepped sinuously forwards. Raito stood stock still as the detective straightened, at last at eye level with him, pallid face serious. He watched in detached incredulousness as one thin, spidery hand reached out, shaking slightly, fingers spread. The smooth pads of the detective's hand came to rest it Raito's cheek, achingly gentle, tracing a ginger line down his jawbone and cupping his jaw. There was no doubt, no shadow of deceit in those heady eyes. "You've proven yourself to me, and that was no mean feat."

"What now?" Raito could barely trust himself to speak; mustering up what little strength he had remaining only to mumble those two words.

"Now," L's eyes were heady, light with a warmth that Raito had only beheld in brief glimpses, mere flashes into the internal workings of the detective. "Now I can safely say that we are thinking on the same wavelength."

And with that, his other hand rose to cradle Raito's face, encircling his head and pulling it closer to his own. A moment's pause, and Raito inhaled L's sweet, musky exhalation before he was slowly pulled into a heated kiss. Cloying tongue pressed beseechingly at Raito's startled lips, and he balked for only a second, before sinking with relief into the detective's tender attentions. Head cradled in Lawliet's hands, Raito surrendered what little control he still held, arms moving on their own to surround the detective in a powerful grip. He held L in his arms, engulfed in his scent, warmth and ministrations. Hands were caressing his face with such care that he almost wanted to shriek with frustration at how little he deserved this pleasure. His own hands locked together roughly, clutching the lithe frame of the detective closer still, as if he may disappear should he let go for a moment. He could feel every bone, every surge of L's pounding heart. Shivers shot up and down his spine in an intoxicating electrical surge, and he could feel himself growing hard, and L's own body responding in kind. A distant flicker of embarrassment was quashed in his head. I don't care any more. I love him. Even after all the ridiculous things he's put me through, and I him.

L's kisses grew hungrier, teeth clicking as he broke for air, only to return with increased vigour. Raito found himself being overtaken, pushed lower so that he was the one under attack, powerless under the relentless onslaught of the detective's affections. Tongue flicked and traced his skin luxuriously, lapping up the beads of sweat that Raito hadn't even noticed had broken out there. He shuddered at the sensation, biting back a heady moan that threatened to burst from his tightening chest. His hands were moving, ruffling through the detective's hair, slipping under his shirt, stroking the blissfully smooth flesh that they found there. The fabric annoyed him. Why was it still there? He explored the planes of L's slender chest blind, fingers probing in fascination. Startling warm skin, smooth to the touch, and apparently ticklish. Twitching, flinching at Raito's amused fingertips, L released a huff of pleasure at the sensation, and Raito redoubled his efforts, breaking their kiss to drop his lips to the detective's throat, nipping lightly at the exposed muscles. He could feel the shivers convulsing through L's body, felt his heat increasing.

He then realised that they were moving: he moving backwards and L stepping easily forwards, steering him. He didn't notice that they were slipping through the same door, still open, through which Misa had both come and left. Didn't even notice where they were, still intoxicated by the taste and heat of the lithe detective, lost in his own embrace. L's fingers were burning a trail down Raito's stomach, adding a tickle to the increasingly desperate itch that was eating away beneath his skin.

A not-so-convenient pillar then clipped Raito on his bad shoulder, forcing him to stagger, feet slipping slightly with a hiss of pain. L's hands were under his arms in an instant, the detective throwing his weight under that of the other youth to support him, eyes flashing with the first true concern that Raito had ever clearly seen in them. Fragile limbs that looked as though they might snap under strain were trembling, but not with the effort to hold Raito's meagre weight.

"Raito-kun…" L's voice was breathless, face heated and breath hitching. Only his eyes were flickering and faltering as he strove to resume his standard demure expression. It was in vain though. It seemed to be failing with each passing second, and Raito had never been happier to see it go. A faint red mark was already rising where Raito had sucked on his neck only moments earlier, glossy with saliva and sweat combined.

"I'm fine," he murmured, pulling L closer again. Petulant with desire, he took those pliant lips so fiercely he knew that both their lips would bruise, wanting nothing more than to be closer to the detective. Utterly gone was that recalcitrant feeling. All he wanted was the detective's heat, his touch and his breath, moving over him in an intoxicating haze. Mine. Entirely mine. Drunk on the senses of the other's body. Salty sweat trickled from the detective's brow, and Raito broke off to lick it delicately from L's pallid skin, making the detective shudder violently in the process.

"Raito-kun, I want-" L hesitated, breath coming in subtle gasps as he thrust his nose under the panting youth's chin, nuzzling at his neck. Fingers pried at the sweaty collar. Whose collar? It was L's shirt, but Raito was wearing it? What belonged to whom? Raito could only mumble incomprehensively in response, mouth too busy tasting the salty flavour of L's skin. His fingers combing luxuriously through L's wild hair, curling around the feathery tresses. A rumbling purr issued deep in the back of the genius's throat, apparently enjoying the sensation of his scalp being so lovingly massaged. Raito smiled, pressing his lips against the other's forehead. The cool tip of L's nose sent shivers down his spine, and a clenching in his groin. Heightened senses trembled at the touch of the air about his exposed neck, and then jolted as finely serrated teeth lightly trailed about his jugular, before fixing down and sucking hard.

Raito bit back a moan. "L… Lawliet, please…" Please what? He didn't even know how to articulate it. His mouth sank down, face burying itself into L's tangle of black locks as the detective hummed against his throat and shifted to bite gently onto the other side of his tingling neck. Raito couldn't suppress it any longer: he moaned throatily and his hands shifted of their own accord, trailing down to L's waist and tugging him closer, fingers slipping under the waistband of his jeans. Relentlessly L continued his assault on the genius's sensitive muscles, licking and biting teasingly, trailing further and further down his neck until he was almost at his chest. His nerves were firing in exquisite torture, knees trembling and threatening to give out at any moment. Where the hell did he learn to do that? The dim haze of Raito's thoughts was then pushed aside as heated adrenalin filled him, and he pulled back roughly, hands shifting to pull L upright again and seize the detective's mouth with his own, kissing him passionately.

L responded in kind, cool hands moving to settle on Raito's waist, fingers resting comfortably on his hipbones. His shirt hadn't stopped at the collar, and Raito realised that more than half of the buttons had been undone. Did he care? No, not as such. In fact, he had little use for them any more. With a decisive jerk, he pulled the rest of the shirt from his form. L stopped for a moment, pausing to stare questioningly at his partner, and then let his gaze trail more appreciatively down the smooth expanse of exposed skin.

Raito grinned lazily in response. He's adorable when he's uncertain. "What did you want, L?"

A small smile quirked about the detective's lightly flushed face. "You of all people should be able to figure it out, Raito. You have the brains." And he straightened, looking Raito firmly in the eyes as he kissed him again, staring almost insolently back at the youth as warm lips closed about Raito's own, tongue probing and stroking at the barricade it was met with, begging for entrance. He fought the urge to close his eyes, to give the detective that added power over him. A losing battle, but one that he was not going to surrender. The gentle, incessant strokes of the detective's tongue, questing almost delicately in his mouth couldn't be ignored for much longer. A new variety of sweat broke out across Raito's body, regrettably completely obvious now that he was without the addition shelter of his borrowed shirt. L's eyes narrowed in triumph. Damn you!

"Have you figured it out? Excellent work, Raito-kun. Now let's see what we can do." Good lords! Who'd have thought have Ryuuzaki could be so…dodgy! His mind is more twisted than even I first thought! Before Raito could sarcastically add this observation to the already heated atmosphere, a gasp was forced from his chest as L lowered his head to suck tantalisingly at one exposed nipple, fingers deftly massaging the other. He played experimentally at Raito's chest, licking and stroking with far more skill than he ought to have had. Raito thought he'd collapse then and there.

This…this is madness! Raito's brain screamed at him in a chorus of different voices. That felt wonderful, but this was still completely insane! Maybe insanity's not such a bad thing after all.

L's ministrations reduced Raito's knees to something approaching jelly. He could feel himself swaying, but didn't want to fall. We can't do this here, in the middle of an entrance hall! But choice didn't seem to be in Raito's possession right now, along with basic control over his own body. His muscles were contorting, nerves on fire as L ran his tongue in a careful, almost naively curious way across Raito's chest, exploring every exposed inch of the other youth's trembling flesh. He broke for air, flashing Raito a frustratingly innocent stare and then dipped down again, this time to fasten his teeth onto the heated plane of Raito's neck again and bit, sucking hard as his fingers strummed the sociopath's nipples.

That did it. Knees giving up the ghost, Raito sank to the marble tiling of the entranceway, dragging L down with him. Off-balance, Raito's delightfully drunken mind still noticed the opening, and pushed gently, forcing L to land beside him. In a flash, Raito's brain leapt into action, screaming at his distant limbs so that they cunningly reordered themselves. The next moment he was straddling the detective forcefully, pinned at the waist between the icy kiss of the marble flooring and Raito's burning frame. Now who has the upper hand? He can't do that to me from that angle, but now I'm at liberty for all kinds of things.

And what a delicious sense of power this was. Forget world domination, this had far more perks.

L stared up defiantly at him, apparently unconcerned about being pressed flush against the chilly tiles and trapped by the other youth, who was grinning a decidedly manipulative grin. Now that Raito thought of it, the floor seemed to have grown softer. Had L changed the surroundings? They were still in the middle of a marble-floored entrance hall, but the floor seemed to have taken on the consistency of a mattress. Well that was convenient, if a tad weird. Ah well. It was L's afterlife, and it would hardly allow him to be uncomfortable. This could actually prove very useful…

"What are you planning this time, Raito?" asked L softly. His cheeks were pale crimson from their exertion, chest rising and falling with the effort of matching the other youth, but he was able to stare critically back at his former rival. "You seem to have me at a disadvantage."

Raito smirked, leaning down until his nose was millimetres away from L's own. "You won't feel that way in a minute." And then he closed his lips over the detective's own, engulfing his senses with the taste and smell of the spindly genius once again. Fingers travelled lower, moving to L's waistband. He felt the other man hold his breath, and then release it in a low hiss as Raito swallowed his nervousness and moved to grasp the other's tightened member. He had never felt so awkward in his life. This was officially the most stressful moment in his death to date. Numbly he worked at the detective, forcing a whimper from his throat, and he leaned in to kiss those parted lips. L's eyes were slightly glazed in wonder, staring without seeing at Raito. That expression of ecstasy only increased the pressure of Raito's own groin. Wait for a moment. Just wait it out.

A gasp broke through the pallid male's lips, unable to be suppressed. Raito smirked and quickened his rhythm, deftly stroking the trembling detective into a frenzy. L was whimpering quietly now, and Raito silenced him with his mouth, closing his eyes to drink in the situation. L's flesh seemed to be burning through the flimsy fabric of his shirt, sticky with sweat. His jeans had come unbuttoned, and Raito couldn't even remember loosening them, but that was probably for the best. Raito could feel his own member painfully solid, grinding against the other man as he continued to tirelessly caress L's need. His own gasps mingled with those of the trembling detective, sweat beading and dripping from his forehead to splatter on L's flushed cheeks. Raito opened his eyes and blearily dipped his head to lick those drops away, roughly moving to take the detective's mouth again, tongue lingering over L's own.

The detective's whimpers were then cut off and replaced by a husky moan that made the hairs on the back of Raito's neck stand on end and a shiver shoot down his spine. L climaxed, body bracing in rapture, muscles set and pitching Raito upwards. He shifted quickly, one hand reaching out to brace against the spongy floor, the other still grimly stroking L to fruition. Those wondrously dark eyes were wider still, glazed with the ecstasy of release. His pale mouth had fallen open, back arched like a cat and breath heaving as those he had been running. Raito stared wordlessly at his former rival, panting slightly as he watched L slowly regain his sense of self. His own erection was almost excruciating, aggravated by the display of L's own release, but he was too fascinated by the sight below him to assess his own need. Too enamoured of the sight that was before him. L was beautiful. Something that he'd never thought of the detective as being. Where he was lying now, so prone and vulnerable, completely surprised at his own body and yet still caught in the throws of the rapture of release, Raito could not think of anything more perfect. Sweaty, dishevelled and gasping for air, and L Lawliet was the most perfectly incredible being that Yagami Raito had ever had the pleasure to behold. In so many ways.

Slowly the focus returned to L's eyes, breathing slowing enough to look Raito in the eye. Eyelids fluttered closed, lips pursed as he observed the staring youth above him. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but Raito stole what words might have come by leaning down and kissing him gently. He drew back, and could not imagine what L was seeing in his eyes just then. Either way, whatever the detective had been about to say had effectively been quashed.

Now there was just the issue of the agonising burning of his own body to attend to.

Aware of the other youth's plight, L fixed Raito with a frank stare, and changed his tact. "Raito, what do you want me to do?"

It was at this point that Yagami Raito reached a small problem.

It is perfectly true to say that Raito is considered, and quite rightly so, a genius. A genius is a person who shows extraordinary talent in a certain area, or indeed several areas of intellectual life, or other field of life that can indeed be measured in this sense. Yagami Raito was highly intelligent, extremely well-read and capable of forming in-depth plans.

He was not, however, well versed in the art of making love to another man. Something which, up until now, had not featured largely in his life at all.

Raito couldn't help it. He stuttered and froze, groin painfully tight, but brain even more persuasive in the argument. What do I say? I can't…I don't know! Oh come on, Raito! It's a relatively simple operation, so just tell him! His brain was screaming at him with two different voices, and his body was simply not helping matters. His skin was crawling, itching and tingling, begging for release. L's breathing was becoming easier, eyes more alert and glowing with the radiance of one who has just experienced a great release. He wanted to feel like that too, didn't he? Then why the hell didn't he just say it?

Raito wasn't sure what it was, whether L had witnessed the struggle in Raito's poorly controlled features and took pity on him, or felt obliged to repay the favour, or something entirely different, but the detective took the question from him. "Relax, Raito-kun. I want to do this. I'm not sure what to do, but we're both geniuses. We'll figure it out." Raito couldn't help it. He leant down and kissed L then and there, kissing him with all of the enthusiasm that one recently saved from certain humiliation could muster. L returned the gesture luxuriously, tongue rolling and twisting with uncannily expert grace. He then tugged backwards, hands pulling at Raito's trousers. Before he knew it, Raito was exposed, and utterly vulnerable. L's shirt too was gone, and what remained of his jeans. The two were stark naked in the middle of some strange hallway, and things were only about to get weirder for them both. How utterly bizarre.

The sight of L's entire frame, all unearthly pale and jutting bones, skin drawn tight over wiry muscle, was enough to make Raito push aside his embarrassment. He looked the other man boldly in the eye as he gazed over his own body. I'm not ashamed. Why should I be? He reached out, cupping Lawliet's chin in his hand and drew him into a passionate kiss, shivering as L's hands ghosted along his exposed spine, tickling in-between each of his vertebrae and skirting down his sides. He could feel himself tightening all over, heat increasing once again in his groin. L was nothing but smoothness and warmth, kissing and playing at Raito's mouth with the kind of obscene naivety that only he could manage. But his hands were shifting lower, moving to seize a decidedly not innocent part of the other's body. Raito gasped audibly at the touch, responding instantly. L's gaze flickered to him, eyes narrowing with interest. He withdrew his mouth only to form two words.

"Trust me."

Why? To do what? The questions were shucked right out of Raito's brain as L began to palm his member, and his brain was too flooded with the exquisite rush of relief to manage any but the most basic functions, and even breathing was having some issues getting through. The detective's cool fingers and hot mouth on Raito's own worked in perfect harmony, but L was shifting, pushing both of them upwards. In his haze of hot nerves and the delightfully drawn out release of his tension, Raito dimly noticed that he was being pushed backwards until he was seated on the floor, L moving to settle in his lap. The contact of the detective's groin and incessant fingers only served to stimulate Raito further, forcing a moan from his chest until L silenced him with his mouth. Raito's half-opened eyes vaguely registered that the detective was watching him with an almost pensive look on his face. If he weren't so…whatever he was, he would have considered being offended. How dare he be so coherant at a time like this!

The thoughts were again jolted out of his head as L started moving again, lifting his lips lightly. And then Raito froze. He could feel himself on L. What the hell was he doing! He almost contemplated stopping him, but the detective wasn't slowing. Fingers stilled only to steady Raito's length, guiding it into the intense heat of his core. Raito's eyes shot entirely open, staring at L in blissful disbelief. A sharp hiss of pain rushed out of the detective's chest, and he was biting his lip in an effort to ignore it, eyes rolling upwards to fix pointedly on the ceiling. Raito was wordless, shocked beyond words. Limp hands moved belatedly to L's sides, supporting some of his birdlike weight and holding him aloft as the detective slowly settled himself, wincing all the while. Fool! Why didn't he wait? He wasn't ready! Shocked into almost passably coherent thought, Raito's brain was now berating him mercilessly for this selfishness. L's hurting like hell right now, and you did nothing to help him!

That was not going to happen again any time soon. Raito was sure of that much.

Biting his lip so deeply that a drop of blood welled to the surface, L finally looked at Raito, pupils clouded with unfamiliar pain. Raito shook his head and kissed him desparately, licking away the little blood there. He shifted his hands to cradle L's shoulder blades, earnestly working to make this easer on him. Supporting his weight seemed the least he could do. All the same, the burning in his groin was almost inescapable, reaching a fiery peak, but he had to control it. Had to wait until L was alright. Helpless, Raito could only hold the detective's shivering frame steady and close, murmuring things under his breath that seemed to make no sense whatsoever, but just felt right at the time. L's eyes were fixed on his, dark and trusting, fluffy black bangs spilling over them. Raito's lips never stopped moving, mumbling what he hoped were soothing, reassuring words, kissing whatever inch of L's sweat-chilled skin came closest.

As the minutes trickled past, L seemed to be relaxing, shifting on Raito's length and sending a spike of fire through his body. Raito groaned, and L leant forwards, as if testing the grounds. Narrow hips swayed, and Raito moved with him obediently, mind overturned by the rush of pleasure that accompanied. He longed to beg L to move faster, sit him more deeply, but refused to let himself stoop that low. It felt as if all the blood in his veins had been replaced by oil, now burning up and igniting with every slight movement L ventured. Please, let him get accustomed to the sensation soon! I can't take this much longer!

To the eternal relief of Raito's tormented brain, L seemed to relent, rocking against his shuddering frame in a smooth motion that dragged what little remained of his self-control away. Lost to the oblivion of L's responsiveness, Raito closed his eyes and surrendered. His body was beyond his control, inhaling shallowly as the detective quickened the pace, sending his nerves into a new spiral. He could feel himself letting go, could feel his pain tightening to something beyond manageable. L's body was almost flush against his own, the detective now the one to be speaking, distantly mumbling in his ear. Raito strained to hear, but lost the battle utterly as his own body suddenly wrenched, release overpowering him completely. The pain was gone, spectacularly gone, all of the fire suddenly doused in ice and replaced by a wonderful bliss. Raito rocked backwards, momentum lost, but L continued to push him, dragging that incredible sensation on for second after clawing, fantastic second. He had lost all sense of who he was, where he was, and why those questions ever mattered. Eyes rolled back in his skull, and slowly he began to come down, euphoria slipping away and leave only a buzz clouding his skull. His limbs were shaking, skin cold with sweat. He felt L withdraw, rising up only to return to where he was seated, closer than before.

L's nose was pushed under his chin, the two men chest to chest, soaked in a cocktail of one another's being. Raito's gasps mingled with L's own, though they were both starting to steady, to return to normal. Muscles spasming, Raito slowly recalled where they were just long enough to reposition his arms, wrapping them protectively around L's shaking, spindly form. Thick black hair tickled his chest and face, and he buried one cheek in it absentmindedly, stroking the detective's sweat-slicked back in a lazy rhythm. L did nothing, seemingly content just to sit there, exhausted in the cradle of Raito's arms, legs drawn up to his chest. I…I could sit like this forever. I can't believe that just happened! How utterly and wonderfully bizarre! L's only response to Raito's embrace was to huddle his legs more closely together, pulling himself entirely into the folds of the sociopath's limbs. They sat there in perfect silence, punctuated only by the sound of their raspy exhaled breaths. There was no need for anything more. Only for that proximity, the comfort of their own warmth and what it promised.

It was some time before either of them returned enough to normal in order to speak. It was more time still for them both to realise that lying behind them, in a comatose fashion, was the highly startled and emotionally scarred form of one fainted Quillish Wammy, who had foolishly gone looking for his charge.


wild-filly: Have never written a full-on lemon before, so this was a new thing for me. Hope it read okay. My apologies for taking so long to put this bonus out – I've been tearing my hair out trying to get this to stay in character. I also wanted to give Misa a decent ending: she's actually a fun character, and I wanted a less dismal ending for her as well as L and Raito. Heh. I'm still addicted to L's manipulative personality. He's even more twisted than Raito, and I love him for it.

Please review! I love hearing from you all!