Warning: Spoilers for L's name
The days to come, Raito was to find, were harder that she'd imagined they would be. She left Winchester two days after her rescue, sad to take her leave from the orphans that she had grown attached to in the past weeks. Near kept looking at her, making her uncomfortable but once she was in the limo, she realized how much she would miss the child's penetrating gaze.
L insisted on accompanying her to Heathrow Airport, as expected. He sat in heavy silence beside her, his toes curling on the edge of the soft seat and then he turned his eyes towards the side of her face.
"He hurt you, didn't he?" he asked softly, as though he didn't want Watari, who was driving, to hear. Even though there was a glass screen partitioning the back seats from the front seat, L didn't raise his voice as though he wanted this exchange to be particularly private.
She felt too self-conscious to hold his gaze for long. "It was nothing," she assured her soon-to-be-ex-husband but he kept staring at the fading bruise on her cheek.
"What are you going to tell your folks when they ask about it?" he wondered aloud.
She shrugged easily and gave him a little smile. "I'll just tell them I walked into a wall or something," she answered. "I can't tell them the truth, can I? My father would kill you."
"That's true," L's index finger found its way to his lips. "Though I imagine that your father wanted to kill me since the moment you announced I was your husband."
Despite her uneasiness, Raito laughed, and it was his turn to smile. It was so different from their first arrival here, when they were being vindictive and snippy with each other. She reckoned that just a month or two had passed but it felt like a lifetime; and she felt like a different person.
As soon they had arrived at the airport, L grabbed her bags and insisted on walking her to the terminal. She was half-afraid that the detective would hold her luggage hostage and implore her not to leave (and as much as she hated to admit it, there was a small part of her that actually wanted it). But he behaved himself and followed her like a loyal pet.
"Take care, Yagami-chan," Watari smiled at her warmly, shaking her hand. "It was a pleasure having you here."
His words sounded terribly formal and for an instant, the image of him as their witness in the notary office flashed in her mind's eye. "It was a pleasure being here," she answered, equally formal. "I wish I could've done some sightseeing in London."
"Perhaps you can the next time you come," said Watari with a knowing twinkle in his blue eyes. Raito didn't understand what that was about.
"I'll be back soon, Watari," said L with a straight face. They spent some time in the airport stores, window shopping. Raito wasn't really in the mood for this kind of thing but there was nothing else she could do to distract her mind. L kept walking beside her everywhere she went and some people gave her a funny look as though she were some rich, nasty woman, making this poor man carry her heavy bags.
"Is there anything Raito-kun would like?" asked L when he saw her looking at an expensive designer watch displayed on a store window.
She turned to look at him. "Not really," she shrugged. "Designer products are expensive anyway and they'd be even more expensive in an airport store."
"I can afford it," his lips twitched in smile, gentle humor in his onyx eyes.
She regarded him with shock. "Ryuuzaki, I didn't mean –" she stammered. "I don't really want it and I couldn't possibly –"
"You know, Raito-kun, Chinese merchants would notice that if a customer's pupils grew large when they were looking at something, it meant that customer liked it," L said in his matter-of-fact way. "And I noticed that your eyes became black holes when you were looking at that watch."
At first, Raito-kun was speechless, then she was annoyed and then she was embarrassed. "Ryuuzaki," she attempted to reason with him again, lowering her voice, "I can't ask this from you when we're soon to be –" she stopped herself from saying divorced because it sounded too cold, too harsh.
L, on the other hand, did not seem hurt or unnerved at all (but he'd always been good at hiding his emotions). "Raito-kun worries too much," he observed. "You don't have to think about that now, of all times. We haven't filed yet."
But we will.
"Please allow me to buy this for you," he pointed at the watch, staring at her with those wide eyes. "You can think of it as a going-away present."
She wanted to protest. She wanted to say, Please don't buy me anything to remember you by because I'm trying so hard to get over you. But she watched in silence as he spoke to the salesgirl, handing over his credit card. Raito mused with some humor that if she remained his wife, then she could have all the fancy things she wanted.
But those weren't the things that she cared for.
The salesgirl was about to put the watch in a box when L shook his head. "No," he said, "we won't be needing the box now." When they stepped out of her store, he turned to Raito. "I'd like you to put this on," he looked down at her, holding out the watch. "You'll need it when you're traveling."
She looked at the watch, feeling the heat rise up to her cheeks. She hesitantly took the watch and clasped it quickly around her wrist. The watch was silver with ivy patterns engraved on the border and it looked very lovely.
"Hmm," L nodded his approval. "It looks very elegant on Raito-kun's wrist."
She should've smiled but her facial muscles felt frozen. "Thank you, Ryuuzaki," she mumbled. They walked a little slower this time, her head hanging down a bit because she felt so self-aware. The metal felt cool and foreign against her skin and with a pang, she recalled that she would have to dispose of her wedding ring when she got back home.
As if reading her mind, he questioned, "Do you still have the wedding ring?"
His bluntness took her aback. (Trust L to never handle sensitive issues diplomatically.) "Uh...yes," she answered, glancing at her shoes.
"Did you ever wear it?"
She looked at him briefly. "No," she answered at last. "There...there'd have been too many questions to answer." She paused. "What about you?"
It was a moment before L responded. "Sometimes. When I worked by myself at night, I'd slip on the ring to make myself think that I wasn't alone."
It was needless to say that the confession shocked her and she gaped at him for a few seconds. "Why are you telling me this now?" she demanded irritably.
L was the one to shrug this time. "I thought it would be a good idea to clear everything between us in the last stages," he spoke bitterly.
And how would talking about our wedding rings, when we are going to get divorced, make this any better?
"What sterling logic you have," she said under her breath, looking away. To her astonishment, he smiled suddenly and then, it was gone.
"Would it have made any difference," he inquired, "if I told you this before?"
She felt afraid to hear what he had to say next and so, she held her breath while he waited for her reply.
"I don't know," she mumbled, answering truthfully. "I don't know because you've always been a closed book."
He kept looking at her expectantly. "It doesn't have to be that way, Raito-kun," he said softly. And then he asked, "Do you want me to file?"
He didn't finish the sentence as though he couldn't bear to. She nodded. There was a lump in her throat when their eyes met and she opened her mouth to say something when the airport speaker sounded, breaking the spell.
"All passengers on board for flight 122 London to Tokyo, please head to Gate 5 for boarding. Thank you."
She glanced at the TV screen showing all the flight information and then turned back to the detective, making her decision:
"I have to go now, L."
If this saddened him, he did not show it. He just stilled for a split second before he nodded understandingly. "All right," he said. They walked to the gate and checked in all her baggage. Before she went through the gate, she stopped and looked at him again.
"Thank you for everything, Ryuuzaki," she said awkwardly.
"Of course," said L. "It was no trouble at all. It was a pleasure working with Raito-kun and I hope she and I can still be friends when some considerable amount of time has passed."
It was an odd suggestion. She nodded and forced herself to smile. "Sure."
"Take care, L," she said, holding out her hand to him. It was weird to offer this professional courtesy to a man that you'd been married to for two years but there was no other farewell gesture that came to her mind.
L glanced at her outstretched hand before grasping it firmly. "You, too, Raito."
It was weird to hear him say her name without the honorific. It was even more shocking when she looked down at his hand holding hers, the unmistakable wedding ring on his finger.
She turned pale but quickly recovered. Something in her went numb. "Goodbye," she said, taking a slow step away from him, heading towards the gate.
"Goodbye, Yagami-kun," L nodded again.
She walked towards the terminal, letting the other passengers go in first, keeping her back to L, wondering why she was hesitating so much. When she glanced back, L was still standing there, watching her with his hands in his pockets. Saying nothing, she looked at the gate again, slowly moving along with the other passengers. The next time she turned her head, he was gone.
Raito felt as empty as a teacup when she got up on the plane and took her seat. She forgot that she should be nervous about the journey. She forgot that her heart should leap into her throat when the plane took off. The whole world was silent to her as realization slowly sunk in about all the things she was letting go off with this final journey.
She felt irritated and unimpressed at first; this was the main reason she'd come to England – to clear up the past and start a new life without old burdens. She'd made mistakes and she had learned from them; the experience had left her determined never to make those same mistakes again.
And at the same time, against her will, Raito's heart was breaking, shattering to a thousand glass pieces, the minute shards scattering all over the place while she watched helplessly, unable to stop it. She kept thinking of L, how quiet and grave he'd seemed at the airport. She remembered the two nights that they'd shared, making love until they were both exhausted, a time when it seemed like nothing else mattered, when they forgot that they had to keep a distance between themselves. It felt like years ago, still because so much had happened and she was a different person now.
Different person or not, what remained the same was that she loved L, had always loved him and she had just been in denial all the time because her pride would never allow her to admit such weakness.
She pressed her face flat against the window, took a few deep breaths and started to cry.
The orphans at Wammy's House often asked Watari and Roger what happened to Miss Raito. She was here for such a short time and she left all of a sudden. Where had she gone? The younger children wondered if she didn't like them anymore. Had they done something to make her mad?
L's heart broke when he heard all these inquiries. There was no way to tell such young minds that even though he was the world's best detective (they admired him like anything), he had messed up in his personal life and lost what valued the most.
Raito isn't a what. She's a who.
Further proof that you don't deserve her.
Watari and Roger hadn't said anything to him about Raito. They knew their place, that they should not interfere in his private affairs. Who he married and who he did not want to divorce was entirely his business and why should anyone else care if he was miserable because he couldn't be with the woman he loved?
Right now, he was standing near the full-length window downstairs, shuffling his feet on the bare floor, the sweeping sound oddly comforting. The children were playing tag during recess. It was exam week in Wammy's House and naturally, they were busy studying most of the time, so they wanted to make good use of any recess that they could get.
This was the new habit he'd developed, pathetically. He would stand at this window, instead of brooding in his dark study, and stare out into the horizon as though he nurtured a secret hope that Raito would one day return to his arms. He looked at the children, the workers, thought of his large estate. He would have offered all this to Raito in a heartbeat if she'd agreed to share her life with him. Now, it was quite likely that he would grow old and die alone.
It had been a week and he should've filed for a divorce by now, sent her the papers so that she could sign them and move on with her life, but lethargy dragged him down, not to mention procrastination.
Shouldn't you be headed to court today? his conscience asked him but he ignored it. It would be horrible if he kept Raito hanging for another two years because now that she knew where he lived, he had no doubt that she would show up at his door and castrate him.
A shadow fell beside him and he looked down in surprise to find Near standing beside him, silent, reticent, twirling a lock of white blond hair around his index finger.
"Hello," he said, surprised to find the young boy here, even though he hardly expected the other to be playing outside.
Near made no reply but the fact that he was still here let L know that he'd heard him. L had always felt weird talking to Near because he reminded him so much of himself but it seemed that he was trapped now.
The two geniuses looked outside the window at the same sight, as though they were thinking of the same thing. On some level, they probably were.
Near spoke up then, breaking the silence. "She was more than a friend, wasn't she?"
L didn't bother being surprised. This fifteen-year-old was as smart as he was.
"I could tell from the tension between you two and the way you kept looking at her," Near said, as though his previous proclamation merited an explanation.
The older man sighed. He didn't think that it would've been so obvious. Then again, he'd probably been to busy gazing at Raito to think. Then he looked at the boy and smiled lopsidedly. "You should be concentrating on your studies instead of observing other people, Near," he chided, almost gently.
Near wasn't amused. "Observing others is a part of my studies," he returned. "And judging from how distant you and Miss Raito were at the end of her stay, I would say that she was angry with you because you had done something to hurt her deeply, and it was your turn to be angry because you thought that she just wanted to take revenge."
L couldn't have said it better himself.
When the raven-haired man didn't say anything, Near continued. "And judging from the way you keep staring out of the window, it's only obvious that you long for her to come back and give you a chance to make things right."
L frowned: he didn't like being psychoanalysed. "The amount of thought that you've put into my personal affairs is disturbing," he remarked, earning a sudden, brief smile from Near. L couldn't help smiling back.
"So why don't you go to Japan and talk to her?" asked Near, getting back to business.
L sighed again. "I don't think she'd welcome it," he responded truthfully. "To put it crudely, I screwed up big time."
Near gave a small, knowing smile. "To err is human," he quoted wisely. "In my opinion, you shouldn't give up so easily."
"If I were to show up at her door, she would immediately ask me why she hadn't received the divorce papers yet," said L darkly as he remembered that slap she'd given him. His cheek had stung for hours.
"You're simply giving that excuse because you don't want to put yourself in a compromising position," Near pointed out.
L paused, thinking it over. "You're right," he admitted. "I don't want to put myself in a position that would make me vulnerable."
"But isn't it true that you cannot gain anything unless you give something up?" Near reasoned, deep in thought, finger still twirling a strand of hair. "As the saying goes, no pain, no gain."
"You've been reading too many proverbs," grumbled L, feeling a little silly.
"Every bit if wisdom that one can collect counts in Wammy's House," said Near sagely. He thought for a moment. "It must easier to risk your life and catch dangerous criminals than to wear your heart on your sleeve for someone you love."
"Yes," L admitted sadly. "It is."
"Hmm. Ironic, isn't it?"
"The world's greatest detective afraid to tell the woman he loves how he feels because he has no wish to be humiliated."
"Someday, when you fall in love, Near, you'll understand."
"Perhaps I will. Until then, you should set a good example for me, shouldn't you, L?" The boy smiled again.
L looked at him. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that maybe you should go after her," Near explained with strained patience. "Just like in the romantic movies."
"You want me to fly to Tokyo and win her back?" L sounded incredulous.
Near shrugged. "You might not win her back but at least, you could try."
L pondered over this. Why hadn't he thought of this before? It didn't sound like a bad idea at all.
"I could do that," he mused aloud.
"Good," Near said approvingly. "Now get going. Male bonding creeps me out."
Raito remembered clearly that her father had told her that she was not to go back until she was securely married or properly divorced. She wasn't either of those things at the moment but she had it in good faith that L would come to Japan soon and annul the marriage, or send her the papers from England, as he had hinted.
Thankfully Mr Yagami had not brought up the topic; he hadn't needed to when she told him in her parents' room that the marriage was, without doubt, coming to an end soon. She told them a lot of things about the case, wisely leaving out the parts where she'd slept with her husband and been kidnapped by the psychopathic serial killer.
Her family was happy to see her. They said that Misa had called on time a couple of times when she'd been away and just three days ago, the young model and dropped by with a tall, dark and handsome lawyer to give them a wedding invitation.
The information made Raito smile, despite the sorrow she was carrying her own heart. After her parents retired to sleep and Sayu was downstairs, watching another Ryuuga Hideki film, she went to her own room and dialed Misa's number. She tried a few times but there was no answer. Her friend was probably out shopping for the wedding with her fiancé, Raito just left a message on the answering machine.
"Hey, Misa, this is Raito. I just got back from England and I heard about your news. Congratulations and I'm so happy for you! Call me back when you get this."
Misa didn't call her back. For her, that would've been too distant. Instead, the following morning, the blonde came bouncing on Raito's doorstep, grinning from ear to ear.
"Raito!" she chirped happily. "You're back." She gave the dark-haired girl a tight hug.
Raito laughed. It was nice to have a warm welcome from one's best friend.
"So how was England?" asked Misa as soon as they were seated in the living-room and Mrs Yagami had brought them some pudding and tea. "Did you solve the case? Did you have fun?"
The brunette laughed again. "Well, we did solve the case and there was no time to have fun – we were too busy." She shrugged. "Though I wish I'd had a chance to see London better."
Misa nodded, as though she were expecting some more news from Raito, which the latter pretended not to notice.
"And congratulations about the wedding," she smiled, patting Misa on the hand. "It's about time. You must be shopping a lot."
"Oh, yeah," Misa rolled her eyes dramatically at the ceiling, flopping back against the embroidered cushions. "Being a bride isn't as easy as I thought it'd be! So many invitations to send, presents to buy – and I haven't even chosen my wedding dress yet!"
"Oh?" Raito raised an eyebrow at this. She'd always secretly assumed Misa knew what dress she would wear, who she would invite, where the ceremony would be held, ever since she was thirteen, and Teru had been the last piece of the puzzle.
"How does Mikami feel about this?"
"He's as cool as a cucumber. He's already bought his tuxedo and he doesn't really care about the other formalities and stuff. He said that for all he cared, we could just elope and no one would have to make a big deal out of it."
Ah, trust Teru Mikami, upcoming hotshot prosecutor, to be the pragmatic lover.
"That sounds like something he would say," agreed Raito with a nod.
"Mm-hmm," said Misa. Then she looked at Raito. "So tell me, what happened between you and that L guy?"
Raito pretended not to understand. "What do you mean?" she wondered aloud.
But Misa would not be fooled. Once something got into her head, there was no way of getting it out. "Come on, you know what I'm talking about," she said persuasively. "You and L, you know? Did sparks fly when you were alone? Are you getting back together?"
Raito took a deep breath; this question was very hard for her to answer. "No, he and I are splitting up for good this time. Just like we planned."
Misa's mouth dropped open in shock, irking Raito. Really, what was that girl acting surprised about? She knew that this was going to happen.
"B-but I thought that –" started Misa.
Raito sighed. "It didn't work out. Guess it's not meant to be."
"Oh." Misa's face fell and she was quiet for a few minutes. "I don't really know what to say..."
"Don't worry about," Raito dismissed the matter with a wave of her hand. "I'm fine."
Misa didn't look convinced but thankfully, she didn't press the matter. However, when she looked at Raito's hand, she narrowed her eyes.
"Where did you get that pretty watch?" she pointed at the silver ivy-printed band on the other's wrist.
Raito looked at the watch, keeping her expression calm. "It was just a parting gift from L," she answered, "it's nothing."
"Hmm," said Misa. "Then why are you still wearing it?"
Suffice it to say that Raito must have left her IQ back in England because she couldn't think of any smooth lies to tell her friend. Still, she wondered the same thing. If it was over between her and L and even if he'd given her a parting gift, why should she keep on wearing it? It would simply serve as a constant reminder of her former flame and it had been her decision to end things.
Because deep down inside, she had a feeling that L wanted to patch things up.
Well, it's too late for that! she thought stubbornly. What's done is not; now is not the time to think.
"It's pretty," she said casually to Misa. "And it was very expensive."
This naturally confused Misa because she had never known Raito to be superficial, but she didn't say anything.
Raito wasn't sure what was wrong with her these days but she'd feel lethargic. She'd already gone to university and done her advising for the next term. She had about two more years to go but she felt tired all of a sudden, as though she didn't have the strength to go on.
Sayu came to her room one night to get some help with the holiday math homework. Raito sat at the desk, all prepared to help out, but she kept getting distracted and chewing the end of her pen as though she had developed a sudden oral fixation.
"Nee?" Sayu asked, concerned. "What's wrong? Can't you do the problem?" She was very surprised because she was used to Raito doing sums like lightning where she had to struggle to understand the questions in the first place. Math was not her strong area; she was better at languages.
"What?" said Raito, coming out of her daze. "No way." She scribbled down a few steps of the math problem, solving it. "There you go." She smiled.
"Uh, I don't think that's the correct answer," Sayu frowned at the value her older sister had produced.
Raito frowned back and returned to the notebook. "It's not?" she echoed, feeling very stupid of a sudden.
"No, it's – never meant," Sayu sighed and shook her head. "Is something bothering you?"
Raito wanted to scream. She'd always been so good at masking her emotions, why was her barrier breaking down like this? For two years, she'd kept her marital problems a secret from her family. Now, after that stupid trip to England, which was supposed to simplify things, had made her life only more complicated and she had people asking right and left if she was okay.
"Is that guy isn't it?" Sayu pressed before Raito could respond.
And before Raito could stop herself, she snapped, "Why does everyone have to keep asking me about Ryuuzaki?"
Sayu didn't look cowed; she just rolled her eyes. "Well, it's pretty obvious that you're still thinking about him because you can't do a simple math problem."
"Neither can you!" Raito protested very immaturely.
"That's because I hate math," Sayu replied practically. "And you're really smart. So when you can do a math problem, it means that you have something really serious on your mind and that's the reason you can't concentrate." She paused for dramatic effect. "And it can't be anyone else because you don't date (though I now know why). It's L."
Raito didn't know what to say. She had been pawned by her seventeen-year-old sister and there was nothing she could do about it.
Except maybe throw her out of the room.
"Did you wear the red dress like I told you to?"
There was an unmistakable blush on Raito's face as she gawked at her little sister, L's words from that night ringing in her ears.
Kindly inform your sister that the red dress does indeed work wonders.
"What the hell is the matter with you?" she demanded irritably and Sayu just giggled, quickly gathering her stuff.
"Oh, just admit it, Nee," Sayu said cheekily. "Why don't you tell Ryuuzaki that you want to get back together with him?"
Luckily Sayu already shut the door on her way out when Raito threw a pen at her.
It was a good idea, though, thought Raito when she was in the shower a few days later. It was feasible if she could swallow her pride and tell L that maybe she'd acted too hastily and maybe...they could give their marriage another shot.
But it had been two weeks by now that the most prominent emotion that she was feeling was annoyance. There was again no sign of L, no delivery of divorce papers, which made her wonder if he planned to keep her hanging for another two years.
This time, if he did that, she would not be so forgiving.
Her classes were going to start soon and her education was the most important thing on her mind right now (since her marriage was apparently gone). Her father was telling her that he would buy her a car so that she wouldn't need to commute anymore. It made her smile that her father was somehow trying to make her feel better. Perhaps he had an inkling about how his daughter felt.
"Don't worry so much about the past, Raito," Mr Yagami had told her one evening when she was taking a little walk in the front yard.
She'd looked at him, surprised. "Huh?"
"You'll meet better men."
I hope so, she rolled her eyes as she toweled her hair dry in her bedroom. Maybe she would meet other men but there was fat chance that any of them would be as intelligent and interesting as Ryuuzaki, along with sharing his quirky habits. However, if she couldn't have Ryuuzaki, she needed to move on. Maybe I'll go out with Matsuda when the divorce is final.
I can't believe I just thought that.
And speaking of divorce papers, where were they?
What the heck had happened to L? Had he died or something? Somehow, being left a widow did not feel palatable to Raito. Then again, being divorced at twenty was no better, either. She had been thinking once, on a lonely midnight, about the first time she'd slept with her husband (and the next time). She had taken an emergency pill to prevent a pregnancy because having L's baby when she wanted a divorce was not the smartest thing to do.
She had undoubtedly felt relieved when her period came, but also a little...disappointed? She lay a hand on her stomach, lightly stroking it, surprising herself that she wouldn't mind at all being pregnant with L's child.
Now is not the time to have such wishy-washy thoughts.
Her parents were out grocery shopping and Sayu had gone to a friend's house. Raito was alone, bored and so, she decided to check her e-mail, even though she wasn't expecting any. (L was supposed to send something by post, not online.)
She signed into MSN messenger and was surprised to find a message waiting for her. Curiously, she clicked on it.
It was from L.
Reminiscent of the most recent time she'd received an e-mail from him, Raito clicked on the message.
I've changed my mind. I don't want a divorce.
She stared at it incredulously for a long time; she couldn't believe her eyes. She read the e-mail several times to make sure that she hadn't misunderstood him. And then she hit the reply button and quickly typed: Don't you think you should say that to me in person, L?
She sent it. A minute later, another e-mail showed up in her inbox. It read:
Of course I do. That's why I'm standing outside your front door.
And then, the door bell rang, making her heart jump in her chest.
Raito had never felt more nervous about anything as she rushed down the stairs. She kept thinking about what L had said it the e-mails and it was too good to be true. And a part of her brain almost instantly shut down when she opened the door and found L standing outside with his cellphone in his hand, just like he'd said.
Her heart nearly stopped breathing at the sight of him – she'd thought that she'd never see him again.
They stared at each other for a minute, each taking in the other's appearance. It was like time had stood still and everything was just waiting for one of them to make a move.
And L spoke, breaking the silence. "At least you haven't slapped me this time," he remarked, his black eyes shining with adoring humor.
Raito smiled at him as she reached out and pulled him into a fiery kiss. What a wonderful way to say hello.
L kissed her back, snaking his arms around her waist as she returned his embrace, running her fingers through his ebony hair, all over his face as though she were trying to ascertain that it was him. He kissed her harder to let her know that yes, it was him.
She wasn't sure what happened next. Perhaps she'd been too intoxicated from the feel of his arms around her, his lips on hers as they stumbled up the stairs, reluctant to let go of each other. It was like they were both drowning all this time and they finally had found a lifeboat.
The thump of them falling on her bed brought her back to her senses, making her giddy, but in a good way.
"Ryuuzaki," she whispered, kissing him one more time before pushing him away so that she could tilt her head back and look him in the eye. "L."
He rested his slender fingers against the base of her neck, and then on her cheek. "Raito-kun," he said hoarsely, swallowing. "I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I know I promised I'd send you the papers but...I couldn't do it."
"L –" she started, suddenly embarrassed by his emotional confessions, but he went on.
"I know I've been a real bastard," he said, caressing her hair. "I was such a fool to leave you behind like a coward back then."
"Yes, you were," Raito interjected, laughing.
He chuckled, admiring how she would never fail to point out his mistakes. "You're right to hate me," he admitted. "To be honest, I hate me now. But...if you'd only give me another chance, Raito...and let me make it up to you..."
"Ryuuzaki," she looked up at him with a dazzling smile, hushing him by pressing her finger on his lips. "It's okay. I forgive you." She paused. "Provided that you don't walk out on me again because of your commitment issues."
L chuckled again, warmly as he kissed her finger and claimed her lips again.
They were interrupted again a few minutes later when Mr Yagami came bursting into the room, crying, "Raito, is something the matter? The door was open and I heard voices and..." he trailed off when he saw his son-in-law lying on top of his daughter. "Oh..."
Raito flushed at being caught like this, even though she was very, very happy.. L, on the other hand, was as pale as ever.
"Good afternoon, Yagami-san," he greeted the older man unflinchingly, as though they were taking a promenade in the park.
"Ryuuzaki," Mr Yagami breathed, clearly shocked, "what are you doing here?"
"I am trying to reacquaint myself with your daughter," said L, and Raito bit her lip to keep herself from laughing.
"Dad – " she started to say but then her mother showed up.
"Oh, dear," Mrs Yagami stopped dead in her tracks. "Ryuuzaki?"
"None other, Mrs Yagami," said L normally. "I hope you've been well."
Unable to say anything, Mrs Yagami turned to her daughter for answers.
"I'll explain later, mom," Raito said, hinting for both of them to get out now.
"All right," her mother conceded. Mr Yagami kept staring at them. "Come on, darling," she put a hand on her husband's arm. "I think these two should have some time alone."
Mr Yagami was at first reluctant to leave but a minute later, he yielded. Mrs Yagami was the one to shut the door, conveniently pressing the lock on the door knob – and giving Raito a mischievous wink, which made her blush and laugh at the same time. And then she turned back to Ryuuzaki, drawing him in for another passionate kiss, slowly giving into the most natural desire that she felt for him, and he for her.
Hours later, they lay under the covers, spooning together, watching the sunset outside. It was a beautiful sight, the sky doused in shades of red, blue and purple, sunlight bleeding golden in between. L's arm was draped across Raito's waist possessively and she snuggled into his chest, sighing happily.
"So what made you change your mind?" she wanted to know, her voice slurring from tired satisfaction.
"Oh, you know. My heart." He smiled against her hair. "That and a certain white blond genius."
"Hmm. You know, Sayu recommended that we get back together."
"Did she now?" L was surprised. "Maybe she wouldn't make a bad match for Near..."
At this, Raito burst out laughing. "Ryuuzaki, you can't be serious! Getting those two together would be a disaster."
"Well, I don't know," said L mysteriously. "The last time a Yagami got together with someone from Wammy's House, I heard they hit it off pretty well."
"You're such a dork," she scolded him affectionately, stroking his arm. "So what now?"
"What do you mean?"
"What do we do now? Where do we go from here? That sort of thing."
"Oh." L pondered over the subject. "First, we get new wedding rings. And well, since you're still a student, I guess I'd have to wait for you to finish your studies."
"And then?" she asked.
"And then you come to Winchester with me," he said. "You can be my partner. We'll solve cases and look over Wammy's House together. It'll be our thing."
"I see you've planned everything out," she craned her head back to look at him, mirth dancing in her eyes.
"More or less, yes," he agreed.
"And I don't get a say in this?" she questioned, raising an eyebrow.
"I suppose you get to choose what color curtains we should have in our bedroom." He looked so serious that she started laughing again. He smiled affectionately. "You know I always have to get my own way."
"Oh, it that so?" she mock-challenged him. "Well, I can't say that I always mind it. But you're going to have some competition, mister."
"That's good. Ought to keep our marriage spiced up."
She took a deep breath, basking in the sunshine of happiness. "Ryuuzaki, there's something I have to tell you."
"You're pregnant," he deadpanned.
"I – what? No!" Raito made a face at him. "Although I wouldn't mind it," she added with a brief grin. "But I've always wanted to know something about you...it's something I thought was important."
He regarded her. "What's that?" he asked.
She paused. "Your name," she answered.
He gazed at her for the long moment and just when she thought that he wasn't going to reply, he said softly, "L Lawliet. That's my name."
Raito stared at him, saying the words with her mouth, tasting the foreign-sounded syllables as they echoed in her mind and her ears. "It's pretty," she commented.
L smiled again, kissing her.
For a long time, they didn't speak a word, content only to hold each other. Then Raito said, "It'll be dinner time soon. Mom might want me to help."
"Let's stay here a little longer," suggested L. "It's beautiful."
And yes, it was beautiful. They were finally together, their deepest secrets confided in each other, their darkest moments left behind. At last, they were truly married and eager to start a life together, confident to face whatever challenge that might be thrown next in their path. Neither was afraid because as long as they had each other to trust and depend on, they could overcome any obstacle. They lay in each other's arms, feeling an inner glow that'd been missing for so long, watching the beautiful twilight outside, allowing themselves to forget the world for just a little while longer.
A/N: Woah. And there you have it - the final chapter.
When I was typing out the last part, getting to the end, I felt happy and nervous at the same time. I started this fic for Nano and I got used it, having had it in my life for so long that I find it hard to believe now that it's finally complete! sort of tearing up here It's the first long piece of fiction that I've finished and I feel pretty happy about that.
My thanks goes to everyone for reading and reviewing; it was a pleasure writing this fic and I really you enjoyed reading it :). You can be on the lookout for my next fic, called The Perfect Enemy, which is Raito/girl!L. It's going to be a little angstier than this one ;).
Once again, thank you, everyone. Cheers!