Title: Etiquette
Rating: PG-13
Pairings/Characters: Light, L.
Notes: This is a story about Japanese manners. Please forgive me if I've gotten some wrong. This is based on what I was taught before going there, and what I was expected to adhere to—but for all I know that was atypical. Also, this takes place during the Yotsuba arc, so Light doesn't know he's Kira. It was written for week #5 of dncontest, a community on LJ, and the prompt was 'culture clash'. Enjoy!
Word Count: 1,271

Light has never been the type to neurotically emphasize manners. He won't deny that they're crucialif one wishes to get along in society, and he won't deny that he prefers it when people act with decency and decorum. But it's not like he's going to fly off the handle over small infractions. When, for example, his sister used to pour her own drinks at breakfast, he would note the problem but say nothing. It didn't matter, and it wasn't worth getting worked up about. He liked Sayu, and he didn't want to hurt her feelings.

Now however, his patience is wearing thin. He's been chained to Ryuzaki for several weeks, and his utter lack of regard for even the most basic of manners is grating Light's nerves. Not to mention his failure at personal hygiene—there's only so long a person can go without showering before they start to smell so bad that spending time with them qualifies as torture. He's getting used to the stench, but not to Ryuzaki's lack of respect for certain rules. He wouldn't care if he weren't handcuffed to the man 24/7, assaulted every day by the ever-increasing percentage report. And though he's (almost) sure that Ryuzaki won't come to an incorrect conclusion, it's a noose around his neck all the same. He still hasn't gotten over being confined, either. Over all, Light is not in the most joyous of moods, so every little thing that Ryuzaki does sets him off.

Today, they are forced out of the building due to, of all things, a power failure. Light would have thought such things impossible in Ryuzaki's high-tech building, but apparently it's subject to the same failures as anything else. Ryuzaki is shedding what appears to be gallons of sweat—it's summer and broiling, and evidentially the shut-in doesn't handle the heat too well. His face is as red as the Japanese flag, and he has rolled up his sleeves and pantlegs. He also appears to be wearing flip flops for some inexplicable reason—he's never worn those anywhere before, let alone outside, in public!

"Let's go buy some crepes," Ryuzaki says, panting like a dog in this heat. As if he isn't sweating hard enough to render than unnecessary. "There's a stand over there, and I doubt I can hold out until we find someplace to buy ice cream. Crepes in this country come with ice cream, correct?"

"Sometimes," Light says. "They come with other things too, so you'll have to be specific. But I'd really rather not—it's in a crowded area, and I'd like as few people as possible to see the handcuffs. They'll think we're deviants."

Ryuzaki scoffs, says he doesn't care what people think, and it's not like anyone is going to recognize them. "The sun must be frying your brain," Light snaps. "We're in Harajuku. I don't know why we're in Harajuku, we really didn't need to go so far from headquarters, but we are. As such, there are going to be people I know here. Not necessarily friends, but people who will look at me and say oh, that's Yagami! Look, he's handcuffed to a homeless person!"

"You're irritable today," Ryuzaki states, and Light assents to this, apologizes for his own rudeness. He's being a hypocrite, and he's being a jerk, but it really isn't a good idea to be out with these handcuffs on. Not when people could recognize them. "Look, we can hide them," he says. "If it means that much to you, we can feed the chain down the leg of my pants. No one will see it that way, we'll just have to walk close."

This is, of course, unacceptable. This will pull Light's hand towards places he is definitely less than comfortable with, and he doesn't know if this is worse or better than walking around on a chain-link wrist-leash. He sighs, says it doesn't matter even though it really, really does. Doesn't this compromise their security somehow? He can't think in this heat, or past his humiliation. "Let's just go," he mutters. "Did you remember to bring money?"

Ryuzaki shoves a hand down a frayed and filthy pocket, and comes up with ¥1000. Enough for two crepes, because one is never enough for a glutton like him. He stands awkwardly at the stand near the menus, as if he expects to be served without bothering to join the long line. The cashier is nodding off with heat and exhaustion, and so she does not realize that he's skipped ahead. Maybe she doesn't care, but either way within minutes Ryuzaki is dripping sweat on two precariously held crepes. Strawberry and chocolate, and the ice cream is melting down his wrists. It's understandable in the blazing sun, but it's disgusting.

Instead of heading for the enclave with the steps and the vending machines, the area designed for eating, Ryuzaki heads out to the city streets. It shouldn't matter, but it makes Light want to yank Ryuzaki's arm from its socket. He pulls him by the handcuff chain, and tells him in a low growl that he doesn't know about where Ryuzaki comes from, but in Japan it is considered rude to eat while you're walking. And Ryuzaki simply shrugs him off, says "we have to be getting back to headquarters. The power should be back on now, and I am in dire need of air conditioning. I feel faint."

"You'll get ice cream all over the sidewalk!" Light yells, fists forming despite his efforts. A painful lump has formed in his throat. He doesn't care about the sidewalk, and he doesn't care if Ryuzaki makes a fool of himself, and he's standing there shaking with no idea why he's so upset by this. "It's…it's not okay for you to just waltz into Tokyo and wreck things, okay? I bet you're just going to drop the wrapper on the ground when you're done too, right?" Never mind the fact that there's no evidence for this, never mind the fact that L generally keeps his area clean if not himself. It doesn't matter. Ryuzaki is shaking his head, saying he has no intention of doing that, and it still doesn't matter because Ryuzaki is ruining everything. "You have no respect for this culture," he snaps. "You think you can just come here and do whatever you want to whoever you want, well you can't, okay? You just can't…"

"This clearly has nothing to do with me not adhering to minor points of Japanese etiquette," Ryuzaki says, plucking a banana slice from one of the crepes. "We'll be going back to headquarters now. Perhaps you can explain your distress on the way."

He can't. Despite his usual eloquence, Light doesn't have the words to say that Ryuzaki has caused him pain. He can't tell him that when he watches him stride freely down the sidewalk despite the rules, it reminds him of being chained up in a filthy underground cell, unable to walk, or even stand. He can't tell him that his blatant disregard for social standards feels just like his blatant disregard for the toll this case was taking on him. He can't say tell him that he's exhausted from working on this case with little sleep, that he's terrified that he will be inexplicably found guilty, and that his arms still ache from being chained behind his back. He can't tell Ryuzaki anything. All he can do is walk towards the train station, lips pursed and brow knitted. Ignoring Ryuzaki's every failure. Waiting to get back to headquarters where he can drown himself in mindless work.