NOTE: This chapter is incomplete. As, more than likely, is the story. This has been sitting around on my hard drive for months, no lie, and if I ever finish it, it'll be after I get my shit sorted out. I'm going to miss it in the meantime, but, you know. Life.

Thank you guys for staying with me til now. You are badass. Peace.

- Zeph




Look now how mortals are blaming the gods, for they say that evils come from us, but in fact they themselves have woes beyond their share because of their own follies.

- Homer

Chapter 10



If it'd been chilly in L.A., it was colder than the Drow ice tundra in Tokyo. Matt grumbled viciously to himself every time his muscles succumbed to a shiver. You just didn't develop the proper immunity to cold when you lived in California. Omit was mummifying her shoulders in a scarf that was really more built for fashion than freezing; Mello had to be positively suffering in his outfit, but he gave no quarter.

All of this was summarily forgotten at this particular moment, however, craning their necks toward the ice-gray sky in dumbfounded silence.

"… shit," said Matt, and his partners nodded in agreement.

The building at which the limo dropped them off was… hardly fit to be called a building. A great fortress of steel, towering above the surrounding structures and making the skyscrapers of downtown Tokyo look like Lego palaces. Near hadn't exactly warned them; he'd vaguely referred to their new place as a "hideout", making them think of another rathole apartment. Bacteria couldn't hide out in there.

Mello made a tch sound, striding forward with his arms crossed. "Ridiculous. This is just like that little ass."

"Yeah," said Matt vaguely, though he inwardly disagreed. This wasn't like Near at all. It was more like…

After a few more minutes of standing around feeling stupid, they eventually had to figure out how to get in the damn thing. The front door and lobby was easy enough; they'd each been given a key card on the jet. Past that, however, every other door had fingerprint, retinal and voice identification. Mello would have had to strip down entirely to get past the metal detectors, so instead he darted through the doors when they opened for Matt, which set off alarms every time. They ignored them, and eventually they stopped.

It was on the sixteenth floor that they found Near, alone, hunched on the floor in front of a monolith computer console, playing with a model train.

"Where's our shit?" Was the first thing out of Mello's mouth, and Matt had to bite on a grin.

Near's eyes flickered at them, muted disinterest falsifying whatever irritation he felt. "I've had your things delivered to your rooms. All the floors above this one are the living quarters." Mello drew a breath for a new demand, but Near beat him to it. "Your vehicles will arrive tomorrow evening, by boat."

Omit's eyes were wide and she'd fallen silent, gazing around at the hi-tech surroundings and looking as if she felt wholly out of place. It made sense; Whammy's kids were used to quite a number of things that normal people never saw; a place like this really was right up Near's alley, even if he preferred to keep a little more of a low profile. She was the outsider, and it was more apparent now than it had been before.

"Where'd you get this place?" Matt asked presently, loitering by the staircase that led to the upper levels and twitching. He needed a damn cigarette. "You didn't have it built, did you?"

Near's eyes slid back to his toys. The light from the monitors on the wall shimmered of his white pajamas and stained them blue, making him look like an electric ghost hunched there on the floor. He was silent for several moments.

"… it was a gift," was his eventual reply, flicking a switch that made the little train hum along on its electric tracks, rattling quietly. Matt raised an eyebrow at his back, but kept his mouth shut. There was a lingering silence.

That wasn't like Near either, now that he thought of it. Now that they'd all arrived, he'd figured Near would pin them all straight to business. They were here for a reason, after all.

Omit suddenly shook herself from her trance, shooting a smile in Matt's direction and stepping toward the stairs. "I'm gonna go check out the upstairs. Place this bloody buggering big ought to have some sweet accommodations."

"Wait up," Matt ambled after her, seizing on the chance to go find someplace to smoke. He locked eyes with Mello briefly, silently inviting him along and away from Near and all his weirdnesses. The blonde gave a barely visible shake of the head, eyes flicking toward the impressive computer terminal with a barely-muted zeal. Straight to work, then. Well, there was no stopping him. Matt took the stairs at a canter, rummaging around through his pockets for his cigarettes.

The place really was impressive. All the doors in the living quarters were open, leading into some expansive and attractive rooms, but the hallway itself was as dark and metallic as downstairs had been. It was hospitable, but the entire building had an overwhelming coldness to it. He didn't figure it would go away, either, with just the four of them in this mausoleum.

Omit kept striding in front of him and clattering up stairs, determinedly making her way to the roof Matt had to take a step back when she hauled open the whitewash steel door; the chill here was absolutely unfair. Omit stepped out into it though, lighting up a cigarette and tossing him her lighter out of habit. It'd been a long damn flight. Two gigantic air conditioning motors whirled on the other side of the roof.

There was a frosty mist in the air and some hesitant slush from the snow the night before, but the view was a pretty awesome one. It was about seven in the morning, but the city had been awake for hours; even from this height, they could smell the gasoline and food smells of Japan's capital. It was just as dirty as L.A., if not more so, a visible layer of smog intermingled with the frost. Matt would have thought that to be reversed, but maybe he'd just been too long in L.A.

He inhaled, charmed by the feeling of smoke crackling in his lungs. He didn't get people who tried so hard to quit smoking. He felt like it was some rebellious, twisted way of taking hold of his destiny. He'd much rather die of lung cancer than by bullet. "O," he said conversationally, leaning up against the rail and feeling the icy chill sink through his clothes, "it's a little chilly out here."

She gave him a wry glower, sighing out disease. "Noted, M. But we're probably going to have to get used to it."

"Bleh." He tugged the fabric of his sweatshirt over his mouth and exhaled, circulating damp heat into his chest and throat. Omit's bare elbows were crossed over the guardrail, and he eyed her speculatively. "You okay?"

She gazed out at the city for a few moments. "I don't know. Maybe." A soft breath from her cancer stick expelled itself as a ghost into the air. "I'm not sure what the hell we're doing here."

"Other than freezing our collective asses off," Matt griped. "I guess we're gonna save the world."

Omit scoffed, her boots shifting on the gravel. "World's already saved."

"Unsave it, then?"

"Hah." She looked up toward the sky, hazel eyes grim and thoughtful. "Saving the world… will that make us the anti-Kira? Does the world even want to be saved?"

Messiah, the world called the man with the murder book, praising him for his merciful thinning of their numbers. Kira was the world's savior. "Probably not," he said quietly, balancing his own cigarette between his teeth and shoving his hands into his pockets. "But we've still got to try."

Omit absorbed that in silence for a while, releasing a long sigh. "Unwelcome heroes," she mused, and then shrugged. "I guess I'm really wondering what I'm doing here. I'm still a little shocked that N invited me along with this little troupe."

He tilted his head at her. "You are part of the team. Is that what you're worried about?" It made sense, and he'd sort of thought that she'd probably feel that way. She wasn't one of L's, after all. "Is Near being an ass? M and me can beat him up if you want."

"Pfft. He could take you, easy," she quipped. Below them, traffic-jam confusion and car horns floated on the wind like the city's own wraith. "But if you do beat him up, make sure you ask him what he's up to. I get the distinct feeling that he's only keeping me around for some weird Near entertainment purposes."

"Omit," Matt said seriously. "You are not that entertaining."

"Maybe for you, but what about for a brain-alien?"

That was a mental image that was never going away, and it made him laugh. "Good point." A flick of his head sent his burned-down cigarette flying down into twenty-three stories of space, and Omit watched it fall. "But all Jedi mind-tricks aside, I really wouldn't sell yourself short, O. You're important here."

"Near doesn't think that way," she said darkly. "I don't have anything to offer him. I can hack, but you're better. I'm good with weapons, but Mello's better… I guess I can con, but Near can do that for himself."

"Why do you care so much about what Near thinks?" said Matt, genuinely bewildered. "He's not your boss. He's definitely not mine or Mello's. We've all got the same goal—we all want to stop Kira. Yeah, Near's just using us, but we're using him back."

Omit shrugged again, kicking at the rail absently. The skin on her arms was ridged with cold, but she seemed to have blocked it out. "Maybe that's part of it. The truth is, if I hadn't met you guys then I probably wouldn't be against Kira. The world doesn't mean enough to me to care whether or not he rules it."

"Now you sound like Mello," Matt replied with a grin. "but don't think of it like that. He figures screw the world. But, you know… just think about whatever it is you do care about. That's what we're saving."

There was a faint shine of humor in her kohl-coated eyes as they slid sideways to look at him. "Yeah? What is it that Mello cares about, then?"

"Hell if I know." He huffed with cold, hunching over a little on the rail. "Revenge, maybe. For L."

"Not for his… face?"

"Maybe." It was true that the blonde gunner's anger had really only boiled over when that fucker had blown half his face off—and while there was no proof that that had been the work of Kira directly, it was definitely a result of one of his demented followers, and that was good enough for Mello. "For a lot of things, I guess. Kira's taken a lot from him, in one way or another."

Omit looked contemplative as she watched his face. "He's got you, though," she said quietly, thoughtfully. Matt smiled.

"I'm not L."

She arched an eyebrow in curiosity. "Well, that's got to hurt."

"Nah. It's just…" he waved a hand in a vague dismissive gesture. "It's how Mello works."

"Hm." She looked back over the city, looking less pensive. "I guess you'd know. Still, you'd think he'd wake up some morning and notice you for a change." Matt blinked at her dumbly. She smirked at him. "I always kind of figured you two had something going on, but I never knew what. Now I do."

He blanched, feeling his face heat a little against the wind. "Crap. Am I really that readable?"

"Uh… yeah, Matt, you are." Omit threw him a grin, prodding him mildly in the arm with one crimson nail. "You follow the guy around like the freakin' paparazzi. It's pretty cute in a totally weird and pathetic kind of way."

"Thanks. You're a doll."

"Anytime." She arched her shoulders, more than happy to switch from her own insecurities to his. "Why don't you just ask him?"

He shrugged, pulling out another cigarette. "Ask him what? If he'll be my cuddle-bunny?" He lit the stick aflame before the fire was blown out hard by the wind. "Have you met Mello?"

"Of course. And I know he's just as lonely as anybody else. Maybe he wouldn't object to being somebody's…" she pressed her fingers to her lips to silence the giggles, "I'm sorry, would you say that again? I can't do it."

He glowered, but there was a dry grin in his eyes. "Don't hold your breath. He just doesn't operate that way. Mello's all about putting away Kira, and he doesn't think about other stuff unless he has to."

Omit pinned him with a stare. "Have you met Mello? You make him sound so emotionless when you know it couldn't be further from the truth. You make him sound like Near." She reached over and took the cigarette from between his fingers, taking a drag off it as her eyes lingered on his face. "He cares for you, Matt."

"That's the problem," Matt griped quietly. "His emotions are like hurricanes. Yeah, he cares, but only to the degree that it gets him what he wants. Which is how it should be," he continued as she drew a breath to interrupt. "We're teammates. Anything more… complicated would screw up the team. We've got too much to worry about already."

She shook her head in disbelief. "That's… stupid. God, I don't get you people. Caring about somebody is not a weakness."

"It can be," Matt said, "if it distracts you from doing something like, say, stopping the world's most powerful murderer. If Mello and me got involved, there'd always be that risk. I wouldn't know that I could do my job if it meant he got hurt, or… something. Hard choices like that."

Omit glared at him, all humor gone. "A little late for that, isn't it, Matt? Could you let him get hurt now?"

He shut up for a moment, eyes drifting along the dirty Tokyo skyline. He didn't like to think about this shit. It was too easy to ignore that any one of them could die, at any moment, with no warning at all. That was the kind of power that they were trying to take on, just the four of them. And while they were all prepared to die if it meant the end of Kira…

"It doesn't matter," he said finally, tossing his second cigarette to the gravel and stepping on it, straightening against the rail. "Destroying Kira is priority. We can't lose sight of that."

She shook her head again but said nothing, following him back across the roof to the steel door. The sun was warming the air a little now. Matt smiled faintly, casting one last glance at the sky. "If we did, we'd be letting L down. And then Mello really would kill me."

"He'd better," Omit said sullenly, dark mood slipping comfortably into place as she kicked the door shut. "I imagine he'd do it a lot more pleasantly than the Death Note."






It was weird how his vision could pulse colors when he was fairly certain his eyes weren't even open—red to black, faint flashes of electric green. It kept like a metronome to the pounding in his skull.

"Fuck," Drake heard himself cough, spitting a sour string of saliva to the floor. He was laying face down, cheek pressed painfully into hard icy concrete. It took several seconds for the thought of opening his eyes to occur to him.

When it did, he sat up swiftly, causing another wave of nausea to roll over him. "Fuck," he repeated, eloquently, grinding his knuckles into his skull. And then he said it again, because there was simply no other word to describe his state of displeasure. "Fuck."

Focus. Focus. What was going on?

He'd been caught, that's freakin' what. Drake had never been caught, not since he'd first started taking reconnaissance jobs on his own. Spotted, once or twice, but certainly never snuck up upon and knocked out. Christ. There went the rest of his career. He'd be flipping burgers and filling gas tanks by the time this got out. Hell.

Although, he thought grimly, peeling his eyes open and squinting around, one had to be alive to flip burgers. Which was swiftly not looking like a permanent characteristic of his.

It was dark, and it took his eyes several painful contractions to adjust to the low lighting. The resilient blur made him wonder if he had a concussion, but he didn't dwell on it; wasn't much to be done about it in any case.

He was sprawled in a dark niche of a room, back propped on the icy metal edge of what looked like a thick, explosive-resistant door. The only light came from a dimming yellow bulb in the middle of the room, so close to dying that it seemed to cast more shadow than light. Lined along both lengths of the walls were thick television screens mounted on the concrete, installed so that no cords or equipment were outside the wall. They gave it the look of a security maintenance room, but so many screens, all uniform and reflecting the same yellow glimmer from the bulb, was creepy on a new level.

He'd been stripped of his equipment—not surprising. He sighed and hoisted himself to his knees, using the door for support. He ached terribly, with what felt like a great walloping bruise on the back of his neck where the SOB had tasered him. That had been dirty, and he hoped he lived to get the bastards back if nothing else. His mind kept working, cracking the occasional snide comment, trying to keep him from panic. It worked, mostly, and he gave a grim chuckle as he took a shaky step into the shadows, forearm braced on the steel door to support him.

"Not very hospitable, Kira." He was vaguely reminded of a quote by Oscar Wilde declaring that if this was how the Queen kept her prisoners, then she had no business having any. His head spun viciously when he moved, a thousand little aches flaring to life in his body. But, he thought cheerily, it couldn't hurt any more than dying. He doubted he was dead, as he was most certainly going to hell, and everybody knew that hell didn't have TV.

The room he was in was narrow but longer than he'd originally estimated. In its center was a single metal desk, directly under the light bulb. When he felt steady enough to leave the wall, he made his way haltingly over to it, pulling open the first of three drawers on one side. Then he blinked, reaching up to take hold of the light bulb and angle it into the drawer to ensure that he was seeing what he thought he was—the thing was full of knives. From a simple hunting blade to some exotic fillet-cleaver thing, even a jewel-studded ornamental dagger.

No damn way. Why would Kira lock him up only to supply him with weapons? Drake'd had at least three different types of knives on him when he'd been caught, surely his captor could tell that he knew his way around a blade.

Well, whatever. Despite the distinct creepy feeling that was gnawing on his mind, he selected a few of the sharpest knives and hooked them into the empty holsters still strapped to his waist, trying hard not to think about the fact that several of them looked as if they had dried blood in their grooves. Escape first, freak out later. That sounded like a good plan.

As he shut the first drawer and reached for the second one he froze, listening. There was a tiny sound, barely perceptible, but amplified slightly by the echo against the hard concrete walls. A metal clink reverberated once and then retreated into silence, and Drake instinctively dropped onto the balls of his feat in a defense stance as he whirled silently around.

A pair of glassy gray eyes looked unblinkingly back at him. There was a… person… seated on a rolling chair a few feet behind him, half of the gaunt face obscured by impossibly thin, pale knees. They were curled up like a child, head tilted curiously as the lifeless gaze watched him.

But what arrested his attention most strongly was the pair of iron manacles clamped onto bruised wrists, a short length of chain bolting the person to a bar in the floor. Their arms and legs were crisscrossed with thick, ugly scars.

"Oh, shit," Drake breathed without thinking. There was no response, although the wide eyes blinked once. Fuck fuck fuck.

Drake backed up so that his legs were to the desk, hands slipping from the knives where they had shot to out of habit, and willed his heart to stop jackhammering. Some distant, childish (and definitely unprofessional) part of his mind ran through horror scenarios, like Kira had locked him in here with a psycho and he was gonna get slicked up Texas Chainsaw style. But there was the matter of the chains—they looked secure, and, while spooky, they did help him panic a little less. Besides, if Kira wanted him dead, he could do it with his brain without the added dramatics.

On top of that, the guy—now that he looked, it was apparent that the person was male—looked strung out. He was emaciated and terribly pale, and Drake recognized the blank look in his eyes as the effects of something expensive and damaging. PCP, maybe. How long had he been chained up here? Jesus…

"Hey there," he said, brilliantly, swallowing. The shallow stare was unnerving. If the guy was on drugs, there was no telling how dangerous he could be, chains be damned. He'd seen people flip cars with their bare hands jacked up on that shit. "I'm Arlo Dracien. I'm a CIA agent. I'm going to see if I can get you out of here, okay?"

Even as he said it, he felt a hollow dread drop into his stomach. The CIA bit was of course a lie, he used that one pretty frequently. But… why in the hell had he just told a junkie his real name? Christ, he hadn't actually said it aloud in the better part of ten years. He was panicking, that was it. Get a grip, D, he internally snapped at himself. That kind of slip could easily get him killed. He was not going to die down here.

But the man in the chair still said nothing, although the curious tilt of his head increased a few degrees. A drop of sweat slithered down Drake's back. He kept talking, half to steady himself. "I'm just gonna take a look around, okay? Don't worry. We're gonna get this under control."

Something in the words seem to flip a switch, and the pale body was instantly alive. Drake jumped a little as the thin arms unfolded themselves and the face lifted, emitting a guttural laugh. It was quite possibly the creepiest thing Drake had ever heard.

"You don't seem to know where you are, Agent Dracien." The voice was low and crackling, hoarse from disuse. Dear god. This guy had really been chained up down here for months… years? Drake fisted his hands, slick with sweat. He didn't sound confused or delusional, though.

"I know enough," he said evenly. He didn't want to antagonize the guy. "And I'm not staying long. Kira can be arrested for this. You—"

But he was cut off with a sudden howl of laughter, so sharp and sudden that his hand flew back to the blades at his waist. The man's small shoulders jerked rapidly as he tossed his head back and cackled—definitely drugs, then.

"Kira can be— yes," he hissed as the laughter died as quickly as it came. "I'm sure you will succeed in arresting Kira, Arlo Dracien, and the best of luck to you indeed."

Hearing his own name, something that had to be so guarded, spoken by a stranger made Drake feel weak. He inhaled carefully, keeping his voice low and even. "Why don't you tell me your name? How long have you been a prisoner here?"

Eyes like that, so unfocused and yet so rigid, wide but devoid of the frightened darting that he was used to seeing in people with substance in their veins… they were unsettling. They gazed at him critically, almost condescendingly, for a long moment, during which Drake noticed just how extensive the scars on his body were. There were harsh bruises all along his face and shoulders, and the cuts themselves looked like they had been deep. Drake's stomach rolled in on itself when he realized, sickeningly, that he had a pretty good idea of whose blood was dried onto the knives in the desk.

This guy had been tortured. Fucking hell, he was not ready for this.

As of now, the man's arms crossed more comfortably over his knees as the energy ebbed from his voice without notice, also typical of those on drugs. "I have been here, according to the screens, for eight years and four months," he said easily, sounding almost conversational now. "A little more now, I suppose. They've been off for a while."

"Fuck," Drake said shakily. "I mean. Okay. Fuck." He sat down on the metal desk, hard, making it scoot noisily on the concrete and rattle under his weight. He'd changed his mind—maybe this was hell.

The chains clinked faintly as the man smirked dryly at him, taking amusement from Drake's shock. "But I wouldn't worry about that," he continued quietly, almost at a murmur, eyes softening a little as they lingered on him. "I don't think you'll be here quite as long. It's probably already written down…"

"What do you mean? What's written down?" He had to be calm. Had to be, or there was no way he was getting out of this in one piece. He fished around for something else to say, because talking made him feel like he had a clue. "Can you tell me your name?"

His captive colleague emitted another dark chuckle. "Ah, but if it were so easy," he muttered.

"Okay. Fine." He was getting annoyed, but there was no way he was going to win that fight. "That's fine. Can you at least tell me why you're here? What do you know about Kira?"

There was a long moment of silence. "Those are almost," said the man, still smiling his languid smirk, "three different facets of the same question. But you seem confused, Agent Dracien, so I will try to answer them. I am L."

Drake waited patiently, but nothing more was forthcoming. What in the hell did that mean? He was pretty sure by now the guy was totally nuts on top of being high as a damn NFL blimp. "Is that supposed to mean something?"

"L" only shook his head, grin growing marginally wider. "Not at all," he said pleasantly. "I know quite a great deal about Kira. That, arguably, is why I am here."

"What… waitasec…" Drake's eyes narrowed as he tried to remember. "L? Like that guy on TV back before Kira went public?" Come to think of it, he'd actually heard M refer to L at one point during a Kira inquiry. Detectives with single-letter pseudonyms were either the hip way to investigate, or there was some sort of organization that employed the both of him. He'd been pretty young when Kira had first shown up, but he remembered now the little media stir that L had caused back then. "That L's is dead, isn't he?"

"Yes," L replied without missing a beat. "He is. Sorry for the confusion."

Drake eyed him carefully, totally at a loss. If this was the same "L", he was obviously in a pretty bad way mentally. If he'd been… screwed with… too badly, then he wasn't going to be any help in getting them out of here. But he might have some useful information. Drake decided to take that strain of thought and run with it, sitting back more comfortably on the desk and crossing his arms.

"I didn't know much about L," he explained. "I was only about fourteen at the time. The whole Kira thing was weird, and spooky. But you still hear about him sometime. There's this independent agent that my organization works with sometime, goes by the handle of M. You think that might just be an L copycat?"

L was silent, but his mirror gray eyes suddenly sharpened. That was interesting. Whether or not this was really the same "L", he evidently thought he was.


Drake nodded, counting his heartbeats. "I've never met him. Not sure anybody has. Operates by phone, so far as I can tell." He tried not to fidget, remembering that junkies were easier to work with if they subconsciously accepted that somebody else was in control. Keeping his nerves from showing in his face would have to take up some of his focus. "Definitely anti-Kira, as well."

L's eyes lay wide and unblinking, and Drake could see the questions in his distant gaze. All he said, though, was "Of course..." and clinked the chains in order to curl more tightly in his seat, pressing the fingers of one hand thoughtfully to his lips. Drake noticed a subtle twitch, starting in the bony shoulder and causing the muscles in the pale neck to jump. His stomach twisted again, in sympathy rather than disgust.

"How much do you know about what… er, what's been going on?"

"As much as has been on the news," said L, indicating the screens with the arch of one skeletal finger. "Enough, I think. The world seems to have become a good deal less interesting."

Drake rubbed his eyes, feeling the beginning drums of a headache setting in. "The news will always lie," he said dully. "Kira's not as accepted as the media likes to pretend he is. I—we've been working to put him down for a long time."

"Do you think he can be stopped, really?" L tilted his head, causing his choppy bangs to fall into his eyes. "Ask yourself this, agent Dracien; what if the world needs Kira? Perhaps it's true that subservience is freedom. Fear of death is a motivator like none other."

A moment passed, during which Drake tried to figure out exactly what this guy thought he was saying. You did not sit in the basement of a dictator's mansion, sliced up all to hell, and talk about how great he was. "I think that's shit," he said firmly. "I'm not exactly humanity's biggest fan, but Kira hasn't just put a leash on axe murderers, he's clamped down on everybody. The stock market can't move one way or another because everybody's afraid to spend their money. He doesn't rule people, all he does is… is take away their choice. Their freedom to make decisions, and take chances, and live."

The fingers on L's mouth drummed softly. He didn't blink. "Do you believe in God, agent Dracien?"

"No." He was, though, getting a little pissed off. "But if there is any kind of higher force out there, Kira is not his right hand. Or any part of him. Period."

"I see." And that was it, although the glassy black gaze slid elsewhere, gazing mutely at nothing.

Drake shut his eyes, and listened to the increasing roar of his own blood in his ears. He stood up to drag his attention elsewhere, and very nearly fell right back on his ass as his legs outright refused to cooperate and a shock of pain tore up his spine. Fuck, his mind hissed. The hell? Maybe he'd been a little more beat up than he'd thought. Maybe Kira's goons had drugged him, too.

Or maybe he was just exhausted, and being tazed and locked in a basement for Christknows how long had sucked a little strength. Just maybe.

He blew a sigh out through his teeth, fingers drumming on the side of the desk. Hell, even the tiny lockpick hidden in his right glove had been removed, they'd been so thorough. The thought of faceless hands prodding his own unconscious body, stealing his tools and then replacing the clothes that had hidden them—it truly made him sick, a furious tightening in his throat to accent the already nerve-wracked undulations of his stomach. He was getting out of here, he decided, collecting his money whether he'd earned it or not, and retiring to someplace ridiculously sunny. Florida would suit him.

"Listen," he said after a few moments of picturing himself on a beach with three or four fantastically-proportioned women lounging on a towel. "I'm gonna look around. There's probably another way out of here, or they wouldn't have you chained down. You, ah… sit tight." Like the guy could disappear by the time he'd got back, leaving him alone with the spooky lights and the oily smell of old sweat. L looked at him briefly, and gave an unhelpful shrug.

The basement was, for the most part, the same long stretch of rock, but he noticed a cut-away wall that created a smaller back room. Behind it, waist-thick pipes lined the far wall and connected to a water tank, and a rusty tap jutted from the concrete into a tiny metal bathtub. There was a small steel toilet in the corner. Drake had done his time in a cell, back in the U.S. during his teenage years, and this was as effective a prison as any. He kicked at the pipes halfheartedly.

The drain in the center of the floor was about basketball-sized, and he wondered if he could pry the metal grate off and squeeze through it. He imagined sliding through the pipes, black and wet and claustrophobic. He'd had to sewer-dive before, during one of his more unpleasant heists, and all drains had to eventually lead to a water line. But he didn't have his tools, or any idea of the layout of the lines; Kira was, he'd learned today, both more secure and more psychotic than originally projected. Maybe he'd try it, but not until he was desperate. And not until the headache went away.

There was the matter of L, too; he wouldn't make it through an escape. Drugged and starved, not to mention naked, the rust in the pipes would tear his skin apart. Drake could leave him, try his luck with getting the authorities involved in this mess.

He thumped a fist on the wall in tired frustration. This would take a while.