AN- I love this chapter. For a few reasons. First, I think I might really be over the block. Truly, this time. Going seven years without writing felt like seven years without a limb. Without my voice.

Thank you everyone for your kind words, and I'm so pleased that so many of you are joining me again to continue this story. I read all of your remarks from the last few years, from the sad, to the dismissive, to the angry, and honestly, I'm just as surprised as you are to find myself here again, with these characters.

"If there's a book in you, it will come out. Not when you expect it, never when you want it, but if it's there, it will come out."- Peggy Webb.

In other good news, my husband is reading up on this story, and there's a good chance that he will beta it for me going forward. Until then, this remains raw, so forgive me if you find something I didn't catch. My mind moves faster than my fingers these days.

Step Lightly,


Light awoke with a slow breath in the dark. Tangled in the blankets and sheets, there was nothing to see, or hear, just a warm suffusion of sleep without the context of time. It wasn't his bed, and he was not wearing clothes, but it didn't seem worth bothering with when he was so unspeakably comfortable. L's hand came to rest on the bone of his hip, and Light remembered that hours ago, they'd come here together. L had told him to rest now, and he couldn't keep himself awake any longer, turning back into his pillow and slipping away.


The grey light suffusing the room was too heavy to be dawn. Morning, perhaps, shadowed by the persistent rain on the window. Light woke up looking for something to silence, his phone or alarm, but there was already quiet. Every bone in his body felt fluid, senses clouded by sleep as he rolled over and discovered himself alone in the bed. The door to the suite's main room was cracked and intermittent typing filtered to him through the quiet. He squinted at it, a hand drifting to the sheet tangled around his hips curiously, but yes, he was still nude, evidence that the night before was much more than a fevered dream. The wind muttered outside the building, but that seemed to be the only opinion in the room…Light couldn't think. Didn't want to really, basking in the emptiness and the complete lack of agenda that it accompanied. He couldn't remember the last time he'd woken up on his own like this. He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept so well.

Awakening alone was easier than dealing with the reality of it all just yet. L had likely given him this space on purpose, and Light intended to make the most of it, sorting through the clutter in his head. He sat up against headboard and pillows, staring at himself and the trail of clothes across the room. L's pants were tossed over the foot of the bed, so he'd changed while Light slept. He imagined the detective standing there, looking at him while he buttoned a clean set of jeans and shrugged into one of his oversized t-shirts. Light wondered what had gone through his mind then, if he was half as staggered as Light was at the sudden acceptance of their tension. Of their affection. Light's eyes closed, head resting back against the wood as he rubbed his eyes briefly. He'd challenged L to show him, and the detective had done so in spectacular fashion. Seven years, he'd said. Light reviewed their relationship objectively for a moment, looking for the trails of light that highlighted where this collision had almost happened previously. Each occasion had an undertone of pressure, something that made him pause and shake his head, no. Not then. And not there. And again-

He could do that forever, he realized. The complex nature of their work and their minds dictated that common sense couldn't rule their emotions, or they'd never be allowed to have them. There would never be an opportune time, only opportunities. Hell, he'd supposedly gone to the hotel with the intention of distancing them again, reminding L that they'd agreed they couldn't…be, this. This was too much, encompassed too much of their respective persons.

But thinking of the heat in the man's eyes made him shiver. Thinking of the tennis match where L had reached out and touched him, shaking his resolve to be in control, and later, in the limo, when the detective reminded him that he was not the only one who wanted—

Only opportunities. Only seven years of tension and quiet desire. Light didn't consider it time wasted if it meant moving forward with the absolute resolve that this would work. He wanted it to. Knowing that, knowing that L had let him sleep, and there were fresh clothes here for him, the foresight…the detective had made it plain that his future was indeterminably bound with Light's now. Travel, and then a life. A life they would build with the same patience and thorough restraint that they'd shown all long. But the travel…The travel meant this. Travel meant closing his binding affairs in Japan and putting himself at L's disposal. In return, he was promised rewarding work and a guaranteed future.

And mornings like this.

He got up and showered, lingering under the hot water and trying to decide if this warranted conversation. They'd been hedging it for a long time, circling and wary of the intensity it promised, but the morning after had come and they were both still alive. How much further could they take this? How much of himself was he willing to give away? Why did he instinctively look at it that way?

Years now, he and L had existed inside their lives and each other's without demanding change. L's invitation was just that, an invitation. And Light doubted that a refusal on his part would have been the end of it, even if he'd been so inclined. Light hadn't been looking for this. Light had never sought companionship outside of L because he knew that he didn't need it. Without question, he knew that it would never measure up to what was already waiting. He'd never considered his subconscious decision to be single and more or less celibate after college, writing it off as the cost of his career. Light had never been without admirers, but he'd begun dismissing them out of hand well before his adulthood, and saw no reason to change his method after meeting L. It genuinely hadn't occurred to him that L might be the reason. When he was younger, Light had completely ignored the possibility of this relationship growing into something more profound. He remembered telling himself he was crazy after the fight in his kitchen floor, but perspective had blurred lines for him. This was more than sexual, this was the singular relationship of his life. L was the only person in the world that saw every facet of what he was, and if he found aspects of Light arousing, so be it.

He was comfortable with this, he thought as he turned the water off and shook the excess out of his hair. L had called this a game a few times, but everything about it mattered. He'd seen the pained look in his eyes when he pulled back after Light's more cutting remarks, and the deathly seriousness with which he tested the boundaries Light presented to him. There was no opportunity to back away because the approach had been so gradual, coaxing Light to hand like a stray cat. He felt…valued. He felt wanted. It was wonderful.

He met his own eyes in the mirror as he dried his hair, studying his features and looking for something different. Some softer cast that would betray his sudden importance to a man that mattered…nothing presented itself, however. Nothing except a small bruise in the hollow of his throat, just aside from where the knot of his tie would rest. He thought that was enough. That was mark enough; that was a decision. L had chosen him, and Light would allow it, unless he found a reason not to. What did that leave him to do, however?

Choose L, he supposed. Settle his lease and cancel his utilities. Possibly get Takimura fired and try to explain to the team that he wouldn't be taking his place. None of that sounded particularly challenging. There was only good work to do, and L to do it for. That part would be easy. And after last night, he was sure the rest of it would be as well.

Dried and dressed, he toed the bedroom door open as he closed his watch strap with one hand. They were alone for now, a cursory glance revealed, and L sat with this back to him, watching video feeds on the largest monitor of his desk. It appeared to be the security and cell footage from the prison and station where the criminals died. Light didn't greet him as he turned to glance over his shoulder, turning instead for the carafe of coffee waiting in the kitchenette. He poured himself a cup and a second with the appropriate amount of sugar, asking over his shoulder, "I hope you found something I haven't, there. What time is it?"

"A quarter to noon." L replied lightly. Light winced, turning to cross the room with his caffeine. It was fresh; L had likely started it while he was in the shower. The detective had an odd expression on his face as Light handed it off.


"This is surreal." L muttered around his thumb, accepting his cup with the tips of his fingers. "You just walked out of my bedroom, still dressing, made my coffee, and asked how my case is going."

"…It sounds rather domestic when you say it like that."

"As I said, surreal."

"I suppose we'll get used to it." Light replied easily, relishing the way L's hand paused over the keyboard at the sentiment. "Which begs the question—"

"Several, actually." L cut him off, turning to face him as Light pulled a chair from the conference table to sit next to him at the edge of the desk. "When can you break your lease?"

"Today, I'm sure. I would need to go and pack a few things from the apartment, but there honestly isn't much there. My office will be more problematic."

"I'll handle that. Any further opportunity to emasculate Takimura before he retires appeals to me. I will be in touch with his superiors shortly." L sipped his coffee, bringing up Light's work email on the second monitor. "Apparently, the NPA has already scheduled a press conference tomorrow afternoon to publicly exonerate you and the lawyer. You've been asked to do the follow-up, and announce Coil's acceptance of the case."

Teru had been cc'd on the email, Light noted with a grimace. Of course the golden boy was going to make the speech; Light could practically feel the man's death glare on the back of his head already. L's referral to him as 'the lawyer' made him wonder if maybe, perhaps, there was some truth to the accusations the attorney had levied at him in their confinement. He remembered walking into Teru's office and the glimmer of respect he'd found and subsequently ignored, wondered if that had been an opportunity to build an ally in a department they were about to decimate. He cleared his throat, pointing at the man's name and muttering quietly, "He's good."

"Hm?" L glanced at him and turned his attention back to the email. "Oh. Yes. You know him?"

"He hates me. But he's good." Light did not quite shrug, leaning back in his chair. "If I weren't introducing Coil, I'd give him the podium. I'm not really interested in making the speech, anyway."

L considered it, nibbling his thumb. "If you feel he deserves recognition, we can work him in somewhere."

"It's just a thought." Light hedged, sighing as he leaned back in his chair. "I'm leaving a gaping hole in the NPA, and he's going to be left to deal with the aftermath as well as having his name associated with this insane quintuple murder. I have the impression that he's been working very hard to be noticed."

"…and hates you because you do not have to work." L filled in, nodding slightly. "I'll figure something out."

"I don't know what to tell Matsuda."

"Tell him in person. That will be enough. I would like to follow up with him anyway. Do you remember when we put the team together; he was conducting a private investigation?"

Light frowned, annoyed he hadn't made the connection sooner. "Misa Amane's manager, when we pulled them back over the cliff. An apparent heart attack with no family history of them, or of drug abuse."

"It has been on my mind. Not enough to look into, but Matsuda has done the leg work. It can't hurt to ask him about it."

"That was what, three years ago? She said something to me as I was pulling her out of the car, but I don't remember. It'll come back to me eventually." Light glanced at the detective's profile, thinking. This felt alarmingly natural. He took a drink of his coffee, considering his options. He'd never actually discussed the unspoken job offer with the detective. Most of their shared cases involved Light clearing suspects instead of finding the guilty party, something he considered just as important given the global and political nature of the work L did.

"You wish to ask me something."

Caught staring, Light stalled, sipping at his coffee. "You meant it….that I would never want for work. I've gotten the distinct impression over the years that this was your plan all along."

"The intimacy wasn't." L muttered, typing a response to the NPA's PR department. "I knew shortly after I met you that I couldn't afford to ignore your innate talent. Now that you have a skillset to accompany it, I would be foolish to leave you in a minor justice department. You could accomplish so much more with my resources."

"What did you have in mind, exactly?"

"For now, I plan to phase the physical elements of Watari's job away. If you're not opposed to taking those things over, I will keep him working in a communications capacity while you become better acquainted with my role, and the various personas. In three years or so, I expect him to retire completely." L paused, a fond smile on his face. "He will be 82. ….Once you're familiar with the extent of my financial capabilities and legal influence, I will, at Watari's discretion, allow you to take on more of his job, including my scheduling, fixing, and correspondence."

Light gave him a sidelong glance, and L's smiled curled a bit at the edges. "Don't worry, Light, I will not ask you to make tea unless you want to drink tea. The butler aspect of Watari's persona was developed a long time ago, when I was a lot younger. He did it because he enjoyed it, not because I paid him to."

"Good." Light set his coffee down, rereading the email from Takimura.

"Is this the part where we attempt to discuss the change in our dynamic?"

Light breathed in, and then out, considering the question before replying, "I think that will interfere with the work day. I will, if you'd like, but not while you're working."

"Light, you slept through the workday." L stated matter-of-factly, sending his email and shutting the system down with a quick series of keystrokes. The screens blacked out, and the detective stretched, swiveling his chair to regard the younger man quietly. One foot eased to the floor, his elbow resting on the other. "I have had a pattern of pushing my luck and then abandoning you to the aftermath. Last night, you offered me something I wanted very badly, and I want to be clear that I refuse to leave its future at the mercy of your mind."

"I'm not—" Light sighed, because he supposed he deserved that, and worse, he heard the real question underneath the detective's words and hoped he could put it to rest without murdering what remained of his dignity. "I'm not sure what that means. I was…genuine. Last night. I meant what I said, that whatever this works for me. I've never allowed someone else into my headspace, and yet, with you, it's become second nature. Enough so that I don't feel the presence of other people, and have no desire to. You're… my singular exception."

L nodded, resting his chin on his arm as he regarded him quietly. "And the physical?"

"I…do not recall complaining." Light gave him a half-smile, relaxing against his chair and gesturing for the detective to continue.

"I don't either." L's head tilted, something warm and familiar in the set of his features. "You're going to discover that you're an incredibly sexual individual."

"Is that your theory?" Light chuckled again, looking away, but there was nothing else in the room to distract him. He tried to keep the edge in his voice, but his mind was already back there, in the bedroom, waiting to seal his downfall.

The detective's tone suggested he was as well. "It is. Because I am. And as long as I've been waiting, I'm sure proving my theory to you will not take long."

Light's coffee cup was suddenly a very intriguing piece of porcelain. He brushed a hand over his face, banishing the hint of color that threatened his composure, because Light was a fucking adult, and he did not blush—"I've been wondering about that. You talk about this grand game we've been playing, but I don't recall becoming aware of our…flirtation until that day in my kitchen."

L's other foot slid to the floor, a gesture Light associated with…this. His racing heart and the promise of distraction. It seemed to be indicative of his guard falling, and the conversation turning to more personal matters. The detective didn't move any closer, but his presence seemed to expand, putting him immediately within reach or perhaps demonstrating that he'd been there all along. Wasn't that the point? He spoke quietly, head propped on his fingertips. "I ignored it myself for years. It seemed inappropriate to push the subject when I could tell it was not yet reciprocated. The tennis match changed that…illuminated to me that you were aware of the situation, but did not recognize the source of my frustration. I wrote it off as your pride getting in the way. And inexperience. From what I know of you, you've only dated women in the past."

"Yes." Light nodded, glancing up at the detective and then back at his desk, unsure of how to frame his question. "It had never crossed my mind to do otherwise. Genuinely, I had never considered it."

"I trusted that when I made my interest known, you would make a decision. I think our years of—"

"L, can we go back to the part where I'm unspeakably attractive, and not oblivious?"

L's smirk could burn water. "If you'd like."

"The mechanics of a physical relationship with a man alarm me, I confess." Light told his cup intently. "I require the flattery to keep from dwelling on the parts that make me nervous. And it would gall me to be considered the woman in this arrangement."

L practically sneered, "Why on earth would that belittle you? Or an actual woman, for that matter? No, you can't…put us in that context, it cannot be so black and white. What was I supposed to do, buy you flowers? Presents? There is no lesser role here. I have an unparalleled amount of respect for you, and if that ever changes, our relationship will be over, never mind the sex."

"It just…feels weak." Light hedged, carefully looking at the detective, and then very pointedly not doing that, anymore. The detective's bemused expression made him want to punch the man. "That was a poor analogy. I'm not good at this."

"Trust that if I had ever once in our time together considered you weak, we would not be having this conversation." The detective considered him for a long moment before sighing quietly. "I will, as ever, continue this at your pace. It will allow you to explore it in a manner that does not challenge your sense of control. However, you should really stop equating control with power. You will become aware of how…much, I want, Light. How often it crosses my mind, how often it will begin to cross yours. And I am demanding in nature, so you should know that baiting me as you did last night will have consequences."

It was Light's turn to smirk, thinking back to how easily that had come to him, and how smooth the transition from distant to intimate became in the wake of his offer. He was coming to terms with his desire for the detective to lead their encounters… that had thus far proved thrilling. There was still a degree of his own mental stigma to overcome, however, and yes, exploration of his sexual character was bound to follow. Teasing had been fun, though. Basking in his physical attraction could prove wholly addictive in the long term. And they were suddenly considering longer terms, weren't they? Fine.

"That- Expression…for instance." L broke into his thoughts without apology, a slight lift to his eyebrow. "Is troublesome. I have never mauled anyone before in my life, and the first time you looked at me like that on the tennis court, I had to forcibly remove myself from the scenario before I complicated matters. And then, like the antithesis of my self-control, you had the nerve to lie down. And laugh at me."

"I did, didn't i?" Light chuckled, finishing his cup and standing. His belt was still on the bedroom floor somewhere, his wallet and phone on the bathroom counter. There seemed to be nothing in the apartment but cake, however, and he wanted to eat a meal that involved legitimate plate ware after two weeks of take out. "You are my singular exception, and I am the antithesis of your control. I am also starving. I'll drive if you have them bring my car from the garage."

"….It is not your car."


How many times had he been here? Valedictorian, Tennis Nationals, Freshman Address, Senior Address, Valedictorian with Honors….Academy with Exceptional Service, Ranks One, Two and Three, Exceptional Service a second time…Detective, Special Investigations Division Ribbon Cutting, National Heroes Banquet….

Light wondered quietly if this was the last time his name would ever appear alongside his face in a public broadcast. Stepping up to the podium, he did not clear his throat or touch his suit. Down the steps of the NPA Headquarters, various news outlets sprawled, Reporters making their opening remarks on the conference. They had opted for the outdoor venue to minimize the opportunity for questions, something that Light himself was alarming adept at dodging. His television appearances had been described as the warmest brick wall a reporter could encounter, something he attributed to his training and a lifetime of aloof tendencies. The screen in front of him displayed his speech, and a cursory sweep of it was all that he needed to begin.

"Thank you all for coming. A year ago, I stood here to announce the capture of Nakki Jutsuiko, a man with suspected ties to an international human trafficking ring. Today, I will concisely announce that he was one of the five inmates that died under suspicious circumstances as reported earlier this month. At this time, the causes of death have been ruled heart attacks. The NPA cannot conclusively decree these deaths murders without further investigation. Senior Prosecuting Attorney Mikami Teru and I worked closely together to put these men away, and now that we have been cleared of any implication in this matter, we would like to formally announce our joint resignation from the NPA pending an apology from our superior officers, and their submission to a disciplinary panel. We have the full support of our respective departments in this matter. Extreme measures were taken to clear myself and S.P.A. Mikami. We were illegally held against our will while the NPA searched our homes and offices. As two officers of outstanding record, these allegations of our involvement were completely unfounded, and a waste of the resources at the disposal of Director Takimura. He is expected to resign within the week, and has agreed to sit before a panel to review his handling of the case thus far. "

The screen in the podium blinked, and Light glanced down, watching words appear on the screen.

Mikami might faint.

He steeled his expression, continuing without so much as a blink. "Should the Head of Prosecution Department also agree to step down, Mikami has agreed to return to take his place."

He's really going to faint.

"If Soukari Tomoe is allowed to retain his position, Mikami Teru has been nominated to graduate to the Library Committee of the International Court of Justice, under the United Nations." There was an excited murmur from the crowd, a slight shift of the cameras to his left, where Teru was suddenly rigid. At a loss, he opted to bow to the crowd, and a smattering of applause answered him. Light did smile then, continuing, "I myself have been tasked with the second chartering of the United Nation's Independent Investigations Commission, and will be leaving Japan to perform my duties. In this time of transition, my father, Yagami Soichiro, has agreed to act as Director and public liaison regarding the case until Takimura's resignation is finalized. Following the chain of command with myself removed, Mogi Kanzo will assume the position when my father retires in two years."

Would you like to fire the Prime Minister while you're up there?

Light's smile did not quite fall so low as to smirk, but it came close. He allowed his father and Mogi to complete their bows before muscling forward, ignoring the chatter of the crowd below him. "Further, the NPA has enlisted the aid of the global freelance Detective Eraldo Coil, and Special Investigator Touta Matsuda has been named the Lead officer on the case."

Someone in the crowd distinctly said 'Amane', seconds before a woman cheered alone from the back of the crowd. Light faltered slightly at the reaction, but the brunette continued to jump and wave without reverence, and he heard Matsuda chuckle. " After a short recess, Detective Coil will take the podium."

Light stepped to the side and bowed shortly. He looked for Mikami as he turned towards the building again, but the attorney seemed to have fled. His brow furrowed slightly, refusing to admit that he'd expected some form of gratitude for moving the mountains it took to guarantee the man that position. He was more or less going to be in charge of sorting through the global standard of legal references, maintaining the penultimate library of law and court procedure. Unless he decided to stay here, at home, and run his small department the way it ought to be run. Perhaps it had been unfair of him to contrive the offer without consulting the man, but he didn't really feel he owed him an apology for doing so. It was the opportunity to live up to Light's standard in his own field…or not, if he was too shy to pursue it, he would still be years ahead of where he'd been before he met Light Yagami. Light rather enjoyed feeling powerful.

An alarmingly blond man touched his elbow and extended his hand. Light gave up his search to greet him, and was met with the single most arresting set of blue eyes he'd ever encountered. They seemed to glow in the afternoon sun, and Light blinked hard, twice, to convince himself there were not contacts.

"I'm Eraldo Coil."

"I know…" Light muttered, withdrawing his hand as soon as possible, because he'd been briefed, but the man's profile did not do him justice. Aiber, the world's greatest conman, smiled and Light interrupted him fluidly, "—I'm Watari."

The immediate look of concern on the man's face made him feel as though he'd just delivered bad news, and he amended quickly. "Retired. His knees."

"Ah." The man frowned, cutting his eyes at Light reprovingly. "You volunteer too much."

"And you're supposed to be German." Light pointed out the man's slip, turning to watch him descend the stairs to the podium and distracted by the crowd again. The fact that he'd been chosen to make these announcement lent credence to his boasts, and what small aspects he'd fabricated, he knew the NPA would cave to with L's weight backing them. That was what he represented now. His vanity mourned the idea that he would fade away there, in his home country. His entire life spent chasing some ideological construct of a better world, starting there, where he was born, where his influence was most prominent. He'd grown beyond it now, as he'd always hoped to, but in that moment, he took his last look at their proud expressions and sampled their expectation and gratitude knowing they would never again admire him as he was. As though on cue, his phone vibrated in his pocket, and he checked the message.

I am waiting for you in the garage.

L was waiting. No, L was waiting for him. There was a distinction there, one that he felt in his gut. Light smiled, and as Matsuda and his father flanked Aiber at the microphone, he turned to the glass doors and went to look for him.