Here Lies Justice
Chapter I: Strategy
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"Would you care for a cherry, Light-kun?"
The ebony-haired detective dangled the aforementioned treat in front of Light's face, stem held delicately between the thumb and forefinger of his pale, spidery hand.
Light frowned, casting a sideways glance at L. He disliked Maraschino cherries and he knew L knew that, seeing as L had offered the same snack a few days ago and received the same response. A miniscule detail, such as Light's dislike of cherries, would be carefully filed in the constantly calculating machine hidden beneath those charcoal tangles, tucked away into L's perpetual thought process, which was always sprinting along at several miles a minute.
Light's own carefully calculating mind was also whirring along, wondering whether this was one of L's twisted "I-think-you-are-Kira-and-this-insignificant-detail-most-definitely-raises-the-odds-of-that-likelihood-by-three-percent" tests. So this was what it came down to; he had to be wary of something as simple as the crimson cherry gazing steadily back at him, innocently reflecting the light in such a way that made it look almost appetizing.
This was one of the things Light hated most about the detective perched precariously at the edge of his chair in his usual style, gazing up at the monitors on the wall. Light constantly found himself under L's microscope—linked by chains, watched by cameras, scrutinized by those large, bottomless pools of black gazing out from sleep-deprived lids, constantly being backed into a corner, forced to overthink his responses to the simplest of questions—"If I say this, will he jump on it, turn it against me, and accuse me yet again of being Kira?"
Yes, those chains, binding them together and rattling obnoxiously every time one of them made a move, a constant reminder of what seemed to Light like enslavement. L's cherry offering ignored, Light raised his left arm, gazing steadily at the silver handcuff binding his wrist. He opened his mouth to speak, but L beat him to it, sensing Light's discomfort.
"A precaution, Light-kun, as I have said before," L remarked, in response to Light's unvoiced opinion of the silver links of metal connecting their wrists. Gripping the stalk delicately, as if it contained some deadly disease, L lowered it to his mouth, detaching the cherry with his teeth. "I'm not doing this because I want to."
It was the same thing the older man had said the day he had bound their wrists with the cold metal—I'm not doing this because I want to.
Light lowered his wrist, causing the chains to clink mockingly. His eyes flicked to L, who had begun to devour a large slice of strawberry shortcake, keeping his eyes on the screens before him at all times. Light's eyes narrowed in mild disgust as he caught a glimpse of gleaming red strawberry glaze smeared from the corner of L's mouth to his chin. The detective flattened his thumb against the smudge, rubbing it away and easing his thumb into his mouth, delicately nibbling on his nail.
Light despised being confined to twenty-four hours a day of this—a grown man who acted in so many ways like a spoiled child, constantly devouring everything within reach, ordering Watari around like a slave, demanding that Light admit he was Kira…
L had a talent for reading Light's emotions, and sensed Light's irritation. He fiddled with his fork, grasping it precariously by its edge, slowly rotating it between his thumb and index finger.
"Light-kun." L dropped his fork down onto the ceramic plate, where it landed with a clatter. "Do you hate me?"
The question caught Light off-guard; why would L feel inclined to ask such a thing? Furthermore, why would he even care? Sure, L wore Light's patience to the paper-thin breaking point and was a constant irritation, but surely Light didn't outright hate L. They were partners in the Kira case, equally devoted to their cause. And, in truth, he and L were equivalently matched in intelligence, following the same kind of thought processes, both accompanied by the childish resentment of losing. L was the first person Light could closely and almost completely relate to, Light realized, gazing at himself, reflected flawlessly in L's dark eyes, mirroring his own brown ones, which, in turn, mirrored L's…
Light wondered if L really considered them "friends," or whether it was an attempt to catch Light off-guard, trapping him into letting something irrelevant slip—something L could twist and use against him.
But he wasn't Kira, and he wondered just how long it would take to convince L of his innocence. Light's memories of ever being Kira had been relinquished completely, and he was utterly convinced that L was wrong in his suspicions.
At this point Light seemed to realize that he was completely over thinking L's simple question….again.
"No," Light finally replied, eyes scanning lazily over the names and faces of recent Kira victims displayed on the computer screen.
L's expression did not change as he turned back to his cake.
"You do not hate me," the detective said flatly, unable to keep all the skepticism out of his voice. He turned to face Light, fixing those eerily dark eyes on him. Light could see a silent accusation in the unnerving, oversized pupils.
But L said nothing more than the first simple statement, returning to his cake, picking at it with his fork.
"We just don't get along that well, you know?" Light added hastily, aware of how doubtful L seemed to sound.
L said nothing, picking up a dime-sized piece of hard candy and carefully peeling away the foil wrapping. He sucked on the candy thoughtfully, glazed eyes staring at the array of computer screens overhead. Neatly folding the silvery wrapping into small squares, he bit down with a tooth-shattering crunch.
When he had swallowed the remainder of his candy, L daintily picked up another, holding it in his usual fashion, as if it were contaminated. He extended his arm to the right, silently offering the candy to Light, not once taking his glassy eyes off the monitor.
Light dismissed it with a shake of his head, and L withdrew his arm as he began to carefully unwrap the vessel of sugar with his fingertips.
Silence drooped lazily between them, settling over the two of them like a thick blanket. The only sound was the occasional tap of the keyboard as L typed painstakingly slowly, using only the index finger of his right hand. The lethargic clicking of the one-finger typing was accompanied by the occasional clink of the hard candy against his teeth.
"I have a date with Misa today," Light announced, tearing a hole straight through the intricate patchwork of the silence that had been weaving between them.
"Yes." L daintily stripped another sweet of its shiny foil wrapping. "I believe I was there when the two of you arranged it."
"Obviously." Light held up his handcuff-clad hand, gleaming chains jingling annoyingly in agreement.
L feigned obliviousness to Light's irritation.
"She should be coming here in…" Light frowned at the clock positioned in the bottom right corner of L's monitor. "…around an hour or so."
L noted Light's lack of enthusiasm, recalling a conversation they had once had.
"Are you serious about Amane?"
"No…as I said, it's all one-sided."
L slid the empty cake plate aside and reached two pale fingers into a box of pocky. His dark eyes mirrored the information on the computer screen as he slowly scrolled down, eyes flicking from right to left then back to right again as he quickly cleared line after line. How frustrating it was, he thought as he twirled the pocky in his mouth, gripping the end of the stick between thumb and forefinger. There had been no progress related to proving Light guilty of being Kira, and L's childish hate of losing was melding irritation and determination into a dangerous combination. This was his suspect, the boy chained to his wrist, and L refused to believe he had been incorrect in his suspicion of Yagami Light. Aside from his deductions, counter-deductions, theories, counter-theories, suspicions, guesswork—he still required more hard evidence to prove that the man he was chained to was, indeed, guilty. L knew Light was an excellent actor, and had to keep an eye on him at all times, monitoring him in his tiny field of peripheral vision as the two sat side-by-side in front of their computers.
And so the cogs in L's genius mind were meshing, and he was weighing options, pondering Light's moves and counter-moves and counter-counter-moves, all the while manipulating the pocky with his mouth, weaving his tongue around it, sliding his teeth along the chocolate coating, meticulously pulling it out so that the partially-melted chocolate made a thin line along his bottom lip, slowly running his tongue along it—such a talented tongue, a tongue that was capable of tying cherry stems into knots…
Light dragged his eyes away from what he insisted to himself to be merely L's distasteful eating habits. And he did find it quite disgusting—L always seemed to have something in his mouth…
Light, wrenching his eyes away from the detective's mouth, flicked his gaze up to meet L's eyes.
"You were staring at me, Light-kun," L clarified. "Is there something that you want?"
The detective grasped the box between two pale, slender fingers, holding it out to Light. "Pocky?"
Light opened his mouth to speak, but L beat him to it again, interrupting the younger man's thought process.
L lifted a bony finger, indicating one of the security monitors above. One of the displays showed the main entrance to the building, where the hyperactive blond was standing, accompanied by Matsuda. Misa had spotted the security camera inspecting her, waving excitedly at it. No sound came from the monitors, but, sitting in the main investigation room and staring fixedly at the screen, Light saw her lipstick-coated mouth form his name.
Maybe Misa had just come early; it had seemed like the shortest hour of Light's life.
On cue, Light rose to his feet, breathing an exasperated little sigh through his teeth as he braced himself for the inevitable headache that would follow Misa's constant bouts of incessant chatting. He managed to get about three steps towards the door before the chain voiced its disagreement and jerked him to a violent halt. Wincing at the inevitable red ring of pain around his wrist, Light spun on his heel.
L was still perching on the edge of his chair, bare feet peering out from the rumpled denim of his jeans. His dark eyes were mirrors, reflecting two very pissed off looking Lights in their black depths.
"I haven't finished my pocky, Light-kun."
Light was tempted to tell L where to shove his pocky, but an aggressive statement like that would just heighten L's suspicion of him.
"Can't you just take your food with you?" Light asked exasperatedly, rubbing his aching wrist.
"Where are you and Misa-san going?" L still didn't rise from his perch. "Does it require the use of shoes?"
L stared forlornly at his bare feet, wriggling his toes in defiance to the concept of shoes—such dreadful prisons.
"We're leaving the building, if that's what you mean. If you want to go outside with no shoes on, be my guest." Light gave a halfhearted tug on his end of the chain. "Now can we go? You know how impatient Misa is."
L's thumb flew to his mouth, seeking its usual place clamped between his lips as he finally rose, shuffling along to Light.
Egged on by his paranoia, Light glanced at the plain white T-shirt clad detective slouched beside him for a fleeting moment. He knew the calculating look in L's eyes, the fidgety habit of nibbling his thumbnail, and confirmed that L was in the process of hypothesizing or figuring something out. Perhaps he was peeling apart something insignificant Light had said, removing layer after layer, pursuing his feral hunger for Justice, hoping to find Kira lurking beneath the suspect clamped to his wrist.
In any case, L's dark-eyed stare was unnerving. Light tore his eyes away from it as he headed to the door, knowing he really had nothing to fear—he knew he wasn't Kira.
So what damage could L possibly do?
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"Liiiiight!" Upon seeing the chain-linked men descend the stairs to the main lobby, Misa flung herself into Light's arms, causing the chains to rattle loudly in protest. Her smile melted into a cold frown as she glared at L over Light's shoulder, sticking out her bottom lip indignantly. "Pervert."
L silently directed a pale finger at himself, eyes widening innocently.
"Yes, you!" Misa pouted. "You're staring!"
"We have gone through this before," L replied calmly, raising his wrist to point out the obvious—that he and Light were bound together. "I'm not doing this because I want to. I am merely observing."
He turned to acknowledge Matsuda, who had been patiently standing a few feet away the whole time.
"Since Misa-san will be under my surveillance from this point until the end of her date with Light-kun, you can…" L inspected him lazily, struggling to think of something useful Matsuda could do in his absence. "…take the rest of the day off."
"I appreciate the offer," Matsuda replied enthusiastically, "But—"
"You want to be useful. Is that right?" L stared blankly into Matsuda's bright, determined eyes.
L sighed, dismissing Matsuda with a wave of his hand. "As you know, there haven't been any leads lately, but you're welcome to help the rest of the team."
In other words: Go away please, Matsuda.
Waving his goodbyes, Matsuda rounded the corner, on his way to the main investigation room.
"So where do you wanna go, Light?" Misa sang out, clinging to Light's arm like a leech—a leech with a dangerously low neckline, clad in the tiniest black miniskirt L had ever seen in all his twenty-five years on the face of the earth. The gleaming silver crucifixes hanging around her neck clinked together as she leaned up towards Light expectantly. Before he could volunteer any suggestions, Misa asked, "Wanna go to the movies?"
"Sure," Light replied, trying his best to seem interested—and succeeding magnificently. He had always been a brilliant actor.
"As I said, it's all one sided."
L nibbled the skin at the base of his thumbnail, mulling things over as he rummaged in his pocket, removing his cell phone, holding it delicately between his index finger and thumb as if he expected it to bite him.
"Watari, please drive Light-kun, Misa-san, and myself to the movies. And…" L cast a fleeting glance in Light's direction, "bring my shoes."
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L's only consolation was the enormous plastic tub of jelly beans wedged in the space between his chest and his bent-double legs. He was crouched in his usual position, staring up at the enormous movie screen, looking extremely unimpressed.
The movie was terribly boring.
A sideways glance confirmed that Light wasn't enjoying it any more than L was. Misa, however, looked completely entranced, wide-eyed in rapt attention, lips parted slightly as the events of the intolerable romantic comedy unfolded before her.
L, who had never been one for watching movies anyway, especially detested romantic comedies.
As did Light.
So as L crammed another fistful of jelly beans into his mouth, he let his mind wander, submerging himself deep in thought.
He continued where he left off, arranging the pros and cons of a particular plan into neat little columns on either side of his brain. The detective had been doing so all day, arguing endlessly with himself.
Ever-unconventional as he was, L still chewed his lip doubtfully, wondering whether such a plan would work. Light was always the one pulling the strings, never the one to be manipulated. Plus, questions of whether engaging in such actions would be "morally right" plagued the detective's mind in addition to the heavy odds that such a plan could not be successfully pulled off.
But hell, he was L. He could do anything, and if it had a success rate of over 0, it was definitely worth a shot.
And so L fitted his puzzle together quite nicely, ignoring the holes in the final work. Awareness of several missing pieces constantly haunted the edges of L's thinking process. The simple outline: drug Light up enough to get him to admit to being Kira. Of course it could go wrong, something as risky as lulling Light into a low-awareness zone through lack of sleep and then drugging him up somehow; slipping something into a beverage, perhaps. If all worked out correctly, L would make a successful trip to his "medicine" cabinet, which was conveniently located in the kitchen, to get his hands on what he needed. Keeping Light up late to diminish his observation skills was a key factor in order to slip the drug into Light's drink undetected. If it successfully took effect and further dulled all Light's sense of reason, caution, and awareness, the ebony-haired detective hoped to somehow urge a confession out of him.
L grasped a crimson jelly bean delicately between two fingers. He would see to it that Kira, the boy chained to his wrist, would be proven guilty. L would have his victory; he would have his Justice. L was never wrong in his accusation of suspects; Yagami Light was definitely Kira. L would go to any lengths to close this case, to have his victory and his Justice and prove himself right, because he so hated losing, especially to someone as low as a crazy mass-murderer with a god complex.
Yes, he would have his Justice, no matter how unconventional the method—L would load the dice and play this little game, play Light right into the palm of his hand, and then crush him mercilessly, forever silencing the cold-blooded murderer they had both sworn to catch.
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A/N: Disclaimer time! I don't own Death Note.
Thanks for reading!