A Balm for Social Failure

(Chapter 39: Tea for Two, and a Side of Existentialism)
Light x L

L begins to suspect something is missing from his life. He believes the key to be in social interaction - his weak point. At the appearance of the enigma named Light Yagami, he is challenged to rise to the occasion.

Disclaimer: see ch. 1 for full disclaimer

A/N: It has been expressed by some of you dear readers that this fic contains the most dysfunctional relationship you've yet to seen in fanfiction... I'm flattered. Also, I feel bad if I am traumatizing anyone. (Unfortunately, relationships really can become this convoluted and painful. If you never live to see it, and partake of the more normal variety, consider yourself lucky.)


On another note, I have seen much worse portrayed in fanfiction than this lil' ole thing and I was traumatized. I can think of several off the top of my head which included the following: torture, rape (the kind where the other person REALLY .want.), vore, and (criiiinge) cannibalism.

The trauma fic:

The last was the worst, and once again it was a fic in which I found myself trapped, horror-stricken, as the author had provided NO warnings whatsoever. Oh yes, and it had necrophilia. Twice. Sam x Frodo which really ended up being something like.... Sam x Dead!Frodo (Gollum killed him via snacky rape. Yes, he was gnawing on him, only Frodo inexplicably maintained a hardon through this. (Don't ask me. I didn't write it.)) So Sam awakens in his little hobbit sleeping bag next to Frodo's hobbit sleeping bag (they are traveling somewhere I guess) and he has the natural reaction of: "OMG noooooooes, Mr. Frodo is deeaaaad!" which was quickly followed by: "I never got to porn him, oooooh my tragic secret love will never be realized!" and then the not-so-normal line of thought dear Sam comes to which was: GOTTA HIT IT WHILE HE'S STILL WARM!

Needless to say, me being something of a masochist as well as being too shocked to do more than scroll down the page, I keep reading. With horror. But not knowing what happens seemed worse somehow.

So now the fic is Sam x Dead!Frodo x Gollum Because wouldn't you know, Gollum is watching - from a tree or something - licking his chops and thinking both "OOOh hawt!" and rather like a lol-cat: "Teh snackz iz makin' meh a sandwich!" He is looking forward to eating both of them, but in particular is fantasizing about snack-raping Sam just as he did Frodo.

...let us have a moment of silence for the warping of any brains out there.

Ok, now let me end in saying that the strangest thing of all is that this was a talented author. Their skill with prose was obvious, which made it all the worse because it was also keeping me reading something that was liquefying my brain. In hindsight, it is impressive that they could write something with such impact that I'd remember it so many years later. I'd like to get the chance to talk to them someday, but alas I could never find that fic again to even try.

So in closing, Light is not a cannibal so quit yer whining!

LOL. Anyway, on to the reason you are here! ;D

Chapter 39:

"Ryuuzaki," Light said softly, shaking the detective awake gently. It was almost comical to be doing such a thing - to have to rouse a chronic insomniac - but L was as surely asleep as when Light had left him earlier. "Ryuuzaki."

L's eyes blinked open slowly, focusing on Light with a lethargically bleary gaze which trickled over him, snagging all sorts of tiny details as it surveyed him head to toe.

"You're awake," L said, stating the obvious.

"Yes, it appears that I am," Light said helpfully, amusement hiding within the words.

"Showered... dresssed..." L finished his thought, seeming perturbed at the length of time he'd been unconscious. "Where have you been?"

Light smiled. "Nowhere of consequence." He picked the remote up off of the bedside table and turned the t.v. on, flicking through the channels until he came to the one that had decent news. He felt L staring at him and marked the lack of strength in that gaze with yet more amusement.

A sleep-addled L... Light was torn between wanting to coddle him and wanting to torment him a little.

"It's best if you're up," Light said, nodding at the news station which would likely activate L's reluctant brain even if he were in a coma. "You still have three cases to solve by the end of the week... if you want to meet your deadlines, that is."

L gave him a baleful look.

Suspiciously, he also appeared to be contemplating the unthinkable - rolling over and going back to sleep.

After a moment's deliberation and the flicking of his attention the the t.v., L did just that, rolling the blanket over his shoulder with finality.


L curled the sheets around himself protectively, baffled at his own desire to keep sleeping.

He was also feeling mildly irked at the slave master that was towering behind him, who had obviously been awake for some time. They weren't just his cases. Well, they were, but in name only - Light had been doing half the work since they'd come here. But Light had also insisted they take on even some of the less interesting ones for the sake of building up some capital.

Not that L disagreed... it was just strange to think of things that way after so long. For years, he never had to think about money or seeing to his own needs. Watari handled it all. He was even spoiled enough to be able to take on only what cases fueled his curiosity, and to dwell in his mind more than the real world at any given time.

Light had given him a crash-course in life since the day L had first laid eyes upon him, and L alternated between resenting him for it and being grudgingly thankful. If anything, Light had certainly made his life complicated. And that would likely not change.

"Work calls to you, Ryuuzaki," Light intoned softly in his ear. "You cannot resiiiiist..."

L rolled his eyes in aggravation behind his closed lids. He must be enjoying this rare opportunity to pester me in such a way.

It was a good thing he normally was not at the mercy of feeling tired while in the presence of a certain sadistic brunet. L still wanted to know what Light had been up to all this time, but he was too sluggish to pursue it.

This sort of lack of motivation would be alarming... if he had the energy to back the emotion up properly.

"I have coffee," Light whispered secretively, his playfully cajoling voice doing one of those things where L could feel it to his toes.

"With appropriate amounts of sugar?" L asked reluctantly. Coffee would be nice. And it did not seem as if Light was going to leave him be. Perhaps he should buck up and rouse himself despite his lack of will to do so. Regular people did it every day. And some not-so-regular people, he amended as he reminded himself that Light was attending high school until recently.

"Of course," Light responded from a respectable distance, amusement liberally coloring his voice.

It was suspicious, so L rolled over in order to assess the brunet more thoroughly.

What he found upon completing the action was not the amber gaze he had been expecting. L couldn't see past the giant slice of chocolate velvet cake which was currently obstructing his vision. He could smell the coffee as well, and noted that it was held out to him as a companion to the plate of chocolate decadence.

"Cake?" L asked, fingers twitching for the small, silver fork that lay on the white ceramic plate.

"You didn't think I would wake you without good reason, did you?" Light said indulgently.

"You've been known to put questionable importance on some things."

"As you do with sweets." Light pushed the tall, disposable cup of the cafe's delicious coffee into L's hand.

L took a sip, somehow knowing that Light would have let enough time to pass that it would not burn his tongue. He had it in him to be ridiculously thoughtful at times, incongruous though it would seem. He took another sip, not quite able to place the precise flavor of the coffee, though it was excellent and was laden with fresh cream.

"Cake as promised," Light said, holding the plate out to L now that he was sitting upright. Light himself was sitting on one of the chairs he must've dragged in from the kitchen table.

"I thought you were going to feed it to me," L said archly, making no move for the plate.

It was difficult not to, though - he would easily want to tackle that cake with nothing but his hands to hold up chunks of it, or even nothing but his mouth to pull the moist, dark, tantalizingly iced confection from the plate. It would be an abominable mess, but oh would it be good. The ultimate in gluttony, trumped only by the vision of an entire cake to replace the hefty slice before him.

"I admit that my mind was on other things when I offered that," Light trailed.

"Do you take it back then?"

Hooded golden eyes flicked up from L's lips to his eyes. "I'm willing to oblige you."

L felt something of a thrill chase through him. "I'm waiting," he said pompously, curious to see what Light would do, and held his mouth partly open, just to be a touch obnoxious.

Light cut the tip of the cake from the rest with mechanical precision using the side of the fork. His face was a mask of nonchalance as he held out the morsel and L wondered if he had succeeded in annoying him after all. It would serve him right for earlier, L thought smugly.

The caffeine from the coffee, thankfully, was already beginning to tingle in L's brain, encouraging a connection of synapses and the streamlining of other functions such that L was able to fully savor the glory of the moist chocolateyness the moment it touched his tongue.

Dear god. It was a toss up as to which was more euphoric - this or sex.

"With that look on your face, it's almost as if I'm watching you cheat on me, Ryuuzaki."

"You can't have infidelity via inanimate objects or consumables," L said blandly, hoping at the same time that Light wasn't going to spirit the cake away from him.

"Actually, you can," Light disagreed, feeding L another bite and watching it slide into L's mouth.

"Unimportant at the moment..." Since when had the cafe had this chocolate cake? It truly made the others he'd had pale in comparison.

"It seems pertinent to me," the brunet said simply, his eyes having an odd sort of focused look as he continued to provide L with a luxuriant mouthful of cake as soon as L finished the previous one. "I can vouch for exactly when and where you make those sorts of faces..." his voice lingered upon the words, "and I can guarantee that it isn't in polite company."

L felt his cheeks begin to flush and took a long sip of coffee to dissuade the next bit of cake and Light's eyes watching him savor it. So that's what that look was that he'd noticed in the brunet's eyes... that fixated look that made Light look like his attention was being drawn in nearly against his will. The way they seemed to quietly devour what they saw...

It was one of many looks that in other situations had had L's stomach fluttering like flap jacks.

It seemed safer when a bawdy, indecent gaze like that was not leveled at him directly. L could overcome it, though not be unaware of it, when it remained diffused upon anywhere but his eyes. Cake had distracted him from noticing it at first while it quietly grew in intensity.

"You've done enough - I can finish on my own." L reached for the plate, wanting to dispel the odd ritual they'd become engaged in. Continuing like this, he'd likely end up abandoning the cake.

"Where's the fun in that?" Light asked, keeping the plate out of reach. He readied another bite for L, delicately balancing the cake upon the fork and holding it out. "Open wide," he commanded softly, striking L with the full weight of his heavy gaze.

The fork slid between L's lips before he could quash the reaction that licked at his lower belly. His eyes closed as the chocolate melted gently on his tongue and Light leaned in to brush a kiss against his lips.

He had a wild, but not unfounded fear that Light was going to turn his love of sweets into another avenue for sexual pursuits. Cake=sex was not an equation he thought he would ever be ready for.

Oh, but just as he swallowed, Light's mouth was propositioning his, teasing his lips until they parted and he could get inside. A hand slid possessively up the back of L's neck, winding in his mussed hair.

The shining image of cake was slipping away from him. Coffee was growing cold in his hand. Light was making forget about both, though L stubbornly tried to cling to either.

From now on, he would know to be suspicious when Light offered to feed him anything. The brunet's sex drive was a thing to be feared indeed.


"I didn't expect to meet up with Watari so soon," L groused later on.

"It can't be put off forever," Light said reasonably. "I tried to lessen the blow with excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine, but at this point, you are on your own."

"You plied me with more than that, if you'll remember," L grumbled, feeling utterly exhausted and not altogether displeased.

"And once again, you did not resist nearly enough to bother complaining now."

"Maybe we should invest in a car," L said to change the subject, not caring to dwell on that particular piece of trivia. "I'm not sure I like this walking business."

"It's probably the only exercise you'll get in this place..." Light paused. "Well... not the only exercise," he amended lewdly, earning himself a smack.

"Stop being obscene, I'm trying to think."

The thing of it was, Light very well might be correct in that assessment. L wasn't sure how he should feel about that, so he dismissed it for the time being.

"Left, two rights and another left," Light offered placidly.

"Besides that." L waved off the directions they would be following, which Light had decided to commit to memory. He'd given the chore of navigation over to the brunet yet ended up memorizing them himself out of habit. He neglected mentioning this to his companion.

"Do you think it is really a good idea for you to come?" L wondered aloud. "I don't know that Watari believes you to be innocent in this, and he seems to disapprove of you wholeheartedly - even after you lost your memory."

"He has to get used to me again, and he needs to acknowledge that I am no longer the threat I once was."

"So he needs to see that while you are pain in the ass, you are not nearly as big of one as you could be?"

"I'd lay wager that you're the one who feels the brunt of that."

L tossed a glare at him. "Would you stop with the innuendos?"

"Then stop leaving yourself wide open." Light said in an imperious tone. "Also, you can't expect me not to respond while you're being offhandedly insulting."

"It was sarcasm."

"Yes," Light agreed dogmatically. "You were also being sarcastic."

L scoffed at him and shrugged, going back to his musings with a little more focus now that their bickering had eased his nerves a bit. He wasn't entirely sure of anything where Watari was concerned...

L had begun the journey back to England, bringing Light with him, shortly before they'd moved on Wammy's House. It had been exceptionally nerve-wracking to even contemplate taking Light through airports teeming with people, security guards, and opportunity for the brunet to do something unexpected.

In the end, Light suggested they travel to a remote airstrip outside of Narita and commission a smaller flight. L was sure he only did so to tease him with the fact that they didn't have such a luxury. They needed an international flight and they needed to be inconspicuous. Light was very much on the edge of his cuttingly dark personality then, and his eyes more often than not held mocking laughter. He was getting quite a kick out of the whole secretive process.

Watari flew into England separately and arrived only a day after them, though he took a straight route rather than the plane-hopping they did. He'd received the news shortly after they touched down in Italy that Wammy's had burned to the ground. Messages had flooded L's phone as soon as he turned it back on after the flight. Colleagues, Associates, and Watari himself, all full of disbelief or condolences at the loss of his 'home' and base of operation.

Truth be told, it all made L feel quite sick. Until they reached their hotel room, even he would not be privy to the full outcome of the events he'd set in motion, nor the casualties. Ironically, this worked in his favor. Acting was not even necessary as he spoke to those concerned parties and pried for details with an anguished heart.

But... his conversation with Watari was a stressful affair. He'd wanted so badly to not have it be necessary to keep the man in the dark. The misleading and the lying was another dreadful weight upon his shoulders after the task he had just seen to completion.

'L, you know I have to ask this...' Watari had said stiffly. 'But did you take your eyes off of him at any time? Any time at all?'

'No, I have kept him under constant surveillance.' Pause. 'Watari, he could not have done this as he is now, even if the Death Note we confiscated were right in front of him.'

'I'm not so sure...'

Poor Watari who knew nothing of the second note, nor L's trade for the Shinigami eyes which allowed him to know at all times whether Light was clean of Kira's presence...

'He is no longer the same person. You verified this with your own eyes.' L refrained from saying that Light had no reason to attack Wammy's House. Doing so would only encourage Watari to look into who might really have a motive...

L shook his head and quickened his pace upon the Inner London sidewalk, Light an ever-present shadow at his side.


The hotel lobby was posh and rather dim for midday. Watari's white hair, uncovered by his standard hat, stood out well enough that L spotted him within seconds of entering the lobby. They had chosen this location as a compromise. Watari's room would have been more private, but L was feeling paranoid enough that he would rather talk in the open, in a more neutral environment. Likewise, L's possibly temporary residence would afford the same circumstances from Watari's point of view. However, it was L's avoidance in disclosing the location of the place that truly brought them to this place.

Though nothing concrete had happened between himself and his mentor, it was obvious that the trust they once shared was now off the table. Neither of them mentioned it, but the reality sat in the room with them like a sorely unwanted guest.

L took tea at Watari's bidding - served from the cafe that overlooked the lobby's plush burgundy furniture and thick, woven carpets - but nothing more. His stomach was quite twisted in knots, though his excuse for absconding was that he had been working quite intensely and had already reached capacity in the last few hours.

Watari, a.k.a. Quillish Wammy, looked him over with a practiced eye. "You look thinner to me."

"I admit that I have not been eating properly the last few weeks."

Watari, founder of Wammy's House, a now deceased institution that could only tout burn injuries and missing students in its list of recent accomplishments, frowned. His eyes fell upon Light who returned his gaze inoffensively, but boldly. "Yagami seems not to have had any such problems."

Of course not. If Light considered anything to be his temple, it would be his own body, second only to his mind. L brought his teacup to his lips, giving himself a moment to think of a diplomatic response, not bothering to glance at Light as he would only be confirming Light's unwaveringly flawless appearance.

"He is far more concerned with nutrition than I am and has no personal concern with what has happened." L could feel Light's bristling under the surface of his calm facade, taking issue with Watari's insinuation. He hoped that Light would continue to give him the lead as they had agreed upon earlier.

"I suppose it would go against his nature to ensure that you did not waste away in the meantime."

L tensed, wondering how much provocation the brunet was willing to keep silent through. "Watari..."

"Watari-san," Light interjected in a coldly polite voice. "Would you mind enlightening me on the way in which you became familiar with my 'nature', as you so flatteringly put it? Surely you are aware that if Ryuuzaki decides to do, or not do a thing, it is nearly impossible to sway him from that course? How is his refusal to eat any reflection upon my efforts?"

The two locked eyes, and while their faces bore expressions that were pleasant enough, the mood felt viscous and unsavory.

"This is getting off-topic," L said flatly. "You had something specific you wanted to discuss, Watari?"

The white-haired British man heaved a formal sigh and wrested his attention back to L. "Partially, I wanted to see if you were alive, since you have only been communicating electronically since the first time we spoke." He didn't need to glance at Light to make the accusation stick to him. "I also wanted to bring up the matter of an email I came across."


"I was not aware that Matt had contacted you regarding the state of the Institution prior to its destruction."

This information took L by surprise. Had Matt sent copies to Watari himself after the way things went? L was certain that that was the only the older man would have gained access to them, as his security was very tight indeed. "He did."

"And you have nothing to add?" White eyebrows lifted, and there was a stirring of discontent in the eyes below them. "No reason why you saw fit to neglect mentioning it to me?"

"It was a personal correspondence." L realized his arms were crossed. He unfolded them and reached over to add more sugar cubes to his tea to mask the motion. He couldn't afford to seem on the defensive or ill-at-ease.

"About the Instutution I founded?"

L decided upon bored obstinance, once a card he played with such ease. "Watari, that is not something that would entitle you to intrude, regardless." He stirred the sugar into the tea with one of the hotel's courtesy chocolate-covered spoons, the picture of nonchalance.

Watari sat back again, the fight going out of him as he was subjected to the normalcy of L's actions. He sighed, watching the chocolate melt into the tea with a defeated but worried look crinkling his face. "L... it doesn't look right. How did Matt expect you to change what was going on? And the state that Mello has been in - I wish you'd see fit to tell me when the welfare of my students was at stake."

L stared at him for a long moment. "And what would you have done, Watari? Roger was your friend. Even if you doubted the truth of what Matt was relaying to me, there are other things about the man that you have refused to address over the years. I saw no use in bringing this up as nothing would have changed."

"It seems too coincidental."

Did Matt send that last email through as well? L wondered. The one that was so incriminating? 'You said you would save him...' L had to assume not, because if Matt had, there would be a noose around his neck and nothing he said or did would keep it from tightening.

"I agree that it does," L said. "However, Matt's last email to me seemed desperate, as if something were going to happen at any time." His next-to-last email, that is. "I thought it more likely that Mello would try something along these lines than Roger... How did he sound the last time you spoke with him?"

"Paranoid," Watari admitted. "Particularly regarding Mello."

"Enough to lose his mind and set fire to the school? Do the investigators have it wrong to have named him the prime suspect?"

"I'm not sure. Roger seemed... almost afraid of the students. If he was really the one who set the place on fire before disappearing, I think he might have killed some of them at the same time."

"It could be that he tried." L chewed on his thumb distractedly. "However, Mello and Matt are among those missing. It is equally likely, given what Matt has told us, that Mello set the fire. It is not an outlandish assumption, considering the incidents of arson that have been springing up, which I believe to be him."

"If Mello is as unstable as we think, there should have been fatalities by now."

"Not necessarily. If Matt is indeed with him, as I suspect, he would be keeping Mello in check."

"Were they that close?"

L frowned. "I think Matt will do his best to keep Mello out of the kind of trouble that will get him taken away... but the fires have gotten increasingly worse. It may be more than he can handle. I would like to find them as soon as possible and keep anyone else from linking them to the damages. If it happens soon, perhaps we can prevent the injuries or deaths that become more likely with each passing incident." L looked at Watari very carefully. "Do I have your approval in this, or do you wish to tell the authorities what we suspect?"

Watari hung his head. "I feel responsible for all of this..." He rubbed his hand over his face. "I'd like to keep it quiet and bring Mello back so I can evaluate him myself... but I don't wish to allow him the freedom to vent himself unchecked and have that upon me as well..."

"How long are you willing to wait?" L prompted, leaning forward.

"How long do you think it will take?" Watari asked.

L looked at Light to get his opinion, and to further impress upon Watari that they were functioning as a unit. He would have to come to terms with the fact that the brunet could not be excluded.

"Within 5 months, perhaps," Light offered solemnly. "It will depend on a number of factors, but if Mello decides to be difficult, I don't think that is an overestimation."

"Agreed," L said. "Is that an acceptable frame of time for you, Watari?"

"No, but I don't like any of the alternatives any better. However, if any of his actions result in death or extreme injury, I may have to reevaluate this decision."

"Of course," L nodded.

"In the meantime," Watari sighed, looking more tired than L had ever seen him, "I will work on locating Roger."

"What do you plan on doing about the school and the students?"

"With Roger gone, I'll be reassuming my old duties. I'd hoped that it wouldn't come to this... that in time the place could run itself and I could rest assured that it would continue even after my death..."

"It was a noble thought," L said quietly. "But I don't know that your vision would have been upheld in the future."

"I've considered letting it all go and having it die with me. Many times."

"Is that what you want?"

"L... when this is over..." Watari trailed off and looked at him with a gaze that was painful to return. Trust and mistrust warred there as the older man struggled with a decision. "When you have brought Mello and Matt back, and we have located the rest of the students...I would like to discuss this again. It may be that the ideal that Wammy's House was founded upon will be laid to rest. However... if the time for that does not seem right, I may try to start again."

"What are you saying? Create something new?" L shook his head. "And how will you avoid the very same thing happening?"

"I think that I got ahead of myself and the ideas I had were too grandiose," Watari said. "If Wammy's is ever reborn, I would like to keep it small and out of the hands of outsiders..."

L stared at the man, feeling without a doubt where this could be headed. "You'd entrust it to the students?"

Watari nodded. "And not just any student... I would like you to succeed me and in turn, choose your successor."

L put his teacup down on its saucer with a wavering hand. "This is all hypothetical at this point," L felt the need to say. The lacquered wood table reflected their drawn faces. What a daunting mountain of trust this embodied. How excruciatingly unfounded it was.

"For now, perhaps."

So that was what the older man had been deciding upon: Trust. He'd been weighing his previous experience with L versus his current feeling of distrust and deciding which to follow. Oh, if he ever discovered what I have done... and unknowingly, he is entrusting my with the future incarnation of his dream - the very same dream that I reduced to cinders. "I cannot accept this, Watari."

"I trust in you."

Don't trust me. Such ill-fated belief as this felt like cold blades in his gut. "That's not what I--"

"L. You have the ability to do this and are more capable than anyone else I could ever envision for such a task."

L's shoulders knotted. How could he dissuade Watari from this? It wasn't right. Rather, everything was right, logical, and sound except for the deception he carried. He had tainted himself with the Death Note and that could never be erased. He hadn't been good enough to avoid its use and he could still feel the unworldly weight of the ordinary pen with which he scrawled the details of Roger's end and the destruction of Wammy's. He could still envision the dull glow of the lamp that had illuminated the pages of the notebook and the terrible, abominable act of his moving hand. He could not in good conscience acquiesce to such a request. He could not accept such an offer or the culpability that came on its heels. "And what if I do not want the responsibility?"

"I'll give you time to think it over. 5 months."

L closed his eyes in an attempt to shut everything out. He could feel the frown marking his face. "And Light?" Was his mentor keeping that factor in mind? Surely after all this time, he would have realized...

Watari said nothing for a long moment.

So long, that L thought he wasn't going to respond.

"Do you plan on staying involved with him forever?"

L's eyes opened slowly, studying the uselessly ornate patterns in the carpet. Asking me that even now... ((After I have already risked everything I am...)) "I believe our business has concluded," he said after a moment, rising to his feet. Speaking of him as if he were not sitting less than 5 feet away... "I will remain in touch." His eyes swept to Light, collecting him with his gaze. The brunet rose gracefully from his chair, a practiced look of indifference on his face, to stand beside him.

L spared one last look at his mentor, and felt a little lost at the disapproval which met him....no, them. How did Watari trust him so fully in some areas, yet not at all on others like this...? Did he expect that Light was going to vanish into thin air, or betray him, so that the brunet would not be a player in this new plan that was being concocted?

"A lot can change in 5 months," Watari said.

"Indeed. Conversely, there are things that might never change, despite how one might wish for it." Maybe he was foolish for believing that Light would remain a constant in his life from now on, but he was inclined to treat that as the reality until proven otherwise.


They made the trek back to the flat, Light keeping somewhat behind L in a gesture of respect for his thoughts. L had withdrawn deeply into the recesses of his mind, a perpetual frown on his face since leaving Watari's presence. Light wondered which part of the conversation was bothering him most, but he knew that he should not ask. L would tell him if he were inclined, and if not, he was entitled to keep it to himself.

5 months, though. A lot really could happen in that time. It struck Light as somewhat uplifting, for some reason, and he was rather intrigued at the idea of running an institution such as Wammy's House. Watari seemed as if he were intent on excluding him from the offer, but the old man would soon discover that to be impossible. L probably was the best choice for a position such as that... and also appeared to be one of the first children accepted into the institution, therefore having a long history with it. Watari would likely cave in on his stance to keep Light out, simply so he could secure L.

Light smiled to himself.

If he knew L, the oppressive silence the dark-haired detective was maintaining was largely due to his guilt at being offered a position overseeing the new version of a school that he was personally responsible for destroying. It was amusing and rather short-sighted of him to view things that way. Instead, he should see it as an opportunity that he had forged with his own two hands.

The way things were turning out, L had been successful in his goal to disband the school and obliterate the force controlling it, and could help build a new one that would be free of such influences, not to mention freeing the both of them from the axe those people had been holding over their heads.

Light stretched, enjoying the slight crispness to the air and the faint warmth of the sun that peeked out of the thick cloud cover every now and then. He was quite pleased with the Camden area of London, which was where they were currently residing. He wouldn't mind staying here a while. They were close to everything they needed and even close to some things they didn't. He suspected L preferred the area also because it was a short trip to the British Library, one of the largest libraries in the United Kingdom. Sure, the internet was a wealth of information, but actual books could be useful, too. That the place also housed a cafe and bakery made it a shoe-in for holding L's continued interest and patronage.


Later that evening, L sat at the rickety aluminum table in their flat, forlornly eating an apple he had no interest in, ignoring the Shinigami who was avidly watching him eat it.

It had only been a little over a month since he'd mistakenly spoken ill of apples to the death god.

Crunch crunch.


He was really starting to develop an active dislike for them now.

'Apples are for the weak.' Why, even in a fit of irritation, he had felt it worthwhile to utter words that would undermine the most useful distraction technique he had for the black Shinigami was beyond him. Not five minutes later, he'd had to eat those words and try convince Ryuuk that he was lying.

'Ryuuk, would you like an apple?' L tried to divert the death god from an unfortunate train of thought.

'You said they were for the weak.'

'It was bad of me to lie like that,' L had been forced to say. 'I actually love apples very much.'

'How come I've never seen you eat one?' Ryuuk asked suspiciously. 'Maybe I'd believe you if I saw you eat them all the time.'

Crunch crunch crunch.

L felt irritated. Well, if he hadn't been going on about liking Light and myself and spouting insane things like death gods becoming human....

(That was still a tactical blunder you made. Way to plan ahead.) the voice in the back of his mind mocked him.

"You don't look like you are enjoying that very much," Ryuuk observed, sitting in the chair across from L. His large, hulking form filled the small alcove that housed their humble table and he looked ridiculous and a bit ominous in the cramped, somewhat dingy surroundings. His taloned claws rested on the aqua colored surface, looking grossly out of place.

"I had a rough day," L said blandly, annoyed at the thing's attentive presence.

"It wasn't all bad," Light commented from the very same chair the Shinigami was occupying. L hated Ryuuk's habit of doing things like that. From where he sat, Light's face was emerging from Ryuuk's ribcage. Certainly it was an improvement to the death god's appearance, but it looked freaky.

"Why don't you let him touch the Death Note already?" Ryuuk complained. "Being invisible and stuff is annoying. He always assumes you are talking to him."

"That's not true," L said and took another unenthusiastic bite of apple. Maybe if I covered them in chocolate...?

"I admit that meeting with Watari was less than pleasant..." Light was saying.

"See?" Ryuuk huffed, leaning his beastly head on the palm of his clawed hand. Light was now obscured. "What a self-centered human."


"Yes, Light?"

Crunch crunch ugh.

"You're talking to Ryuuk again, aren't you?" Light's voice sounded nonchalant but a little peeved.

"See?" L said to Ryuuk. "I told you."

"Ryuuzaki..." Light growled. He really hated it when he thought he was being ignored.

L sighed, knowing Light would want to know what they were talking about. He always did once he realized that the death god was present. It's why L was working further on the skill of ambiguously phrased responses that could apply to two conversations at once. Recaps weren't always pleasant. "Ryuuk was calling you a self-centered human." L certainly wasn't going to add the rest - it would only give more fuel to Light's insistent request to be allowed to see the Shinigami.

If L had been able to see Light's face, he could imagine the outraged expression that would currently be occupying it. Only for a second, mind you. Then Light would hide it and be looking for a way to retaliate.

"And why would he say that?" Light said with faux concern covering the sharpness of his words.

"Don't get him mad at me!" the Shinigami howled. "L, you deplorable human!"

L shrugged. "Don't ask me."

Ryuuk wailed, flapping his wings which spread through the ceiling, and L had to wince as the sound bounced off of the closely spaced walls.

"Ryuuzaki," Light said blandly, "I believe your translations leave something to be desired."

"Mmn," L said.

"He's right!" the Shinigami bellowed. "You always leave things out!"

"Ryuuk's sitting in your lap," L added mildly, looking towards where Light's face should be. "I thought you might not want to know."

L ducked as a flurry of black and the wild jangle of buckles spun angrily over his head and through the ceiling, signaling Ryuuk's escape. Did death gods get embarrassed? Light had jumped up out of his seat and was glaring at L, but the look on his face was rather priceless.

"We can get another chair tomorrow?" L offered, raising his hands up in mock surrender.

Light made as if to choke him, wrapping his long, slender fingers around L's throat. L saw it as a great excuse to abandon his apple.

"Is he gone?" Light asked pointedly.

L swept the room with his eyes. There was no sign of Ryuuk. "Yep."

"Good," Light growled and kissed L like he was going to punish him - pouring his annoyance at being caught off-guard into it.

L wondered distractedly how Light would take it if he ever realized that Ryuuk had been known to watch them in bed. It was probably best if he never found out.



(So read the notes, it's all the more you get)

A/N 1: I sort of have a fic brewing in my head that would be seme L and sweet (cough) Light.

Ok, I jest. By sweet (and I use the term with all manner of laughing my ass off), I mean to say that Light would be more like how he was in the beginning of the manga where he was generally nicer and more sane. I also have the questionable urge to write a spoof fic................. *crickets chirp* ..................... but we shall see. For now I will finish PITCH so I will not have any outstanding DN fics, and take 4 of my 7 exams (nooooooes) which will make for a hellish month and then see if I am still alive.

A/N 2: [Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, generally held that the focus of philosophical thought should be to deal with the conditions of existence of the individual person and his or her emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts. The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, posthumously regarded as the father of existentialism, maintained that the individual solely has the responsibilities of giving one's own life meaning and living that life passionately and sincerely, in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom.] --Wikipedia


A/N 3: Because I know I will be asked.............

Let me just say now that I have no plans for a sequel or a followup. I realize that some of you might be disappointed by the lack of detail regarding the events at Wammy's House, which I can understand, but believe me when I say that that would have tacked on another 10 chapters AND it would have read a bit differently than the rest of aBfSF due to it being plot-based whereas aBfSF is (for the most part) character-driven. I felt that would have killed the pace of the fic. Consider it a creative edit.

If anything, it would have made for a good side story if told from Mello and Matt's p.o.v. but since I don't really have burning inclinations to write them into glorious yaoiness... well, you can see the likelihood of ME crafting that story is roughly... nil. Probably. (Maybe one of you would feel the urge to write something on that? If so, have at it! :D)


A/N 4: L's balm for social failure...

Contrary to popular belief, it was not Light, rather it was sweets, candy, etc. that soothed L's failure at dealing with people. If you go back through, you'll see L reach for all manner of treats when the going gets rough.