Light knuckles his eyes as he trudges into the bedroom. By the time he looks up, Misa has noticed him and struck her best Seductive Pose accordingly, the length of her lithe body stretched across the bed. She grins meaningfully and raises her eyebrows.

Light's too tired to do anything but shake his head before he drops into the desk chair and spreads ostensibly important documents over the desktop like a fan of cards. He needs something to stare at. He needs to seem busy while he sorts, files, and dismisses the weary, wearying thoughts that bat fragile wings against the inside of his skull, petitioning for their freedom.

He has no right to be exhausted. The work wasn't bad today, not at all—and that's the problem. Because today L—creepy, risible, ridiculous L—stumbled on a lead, something about a rash of murders in Connecticut in the nineteen-hundreds, with dozens dying due to "sudden cardiac failures" that medical professionals couldn't explain. Because one local doctor in particular, fascinated by the inexplicable phenomenon, had purportedly taken detailed notes on the patterns in the deaths, and all that is left to do is to scrounge up his diary from the archives. L will have done that. L will be sifting through that diary now, eagerly comparing observations, poring over pages of cramped writing to see if perhaps, perhaps, perhaps a Connecticut man's little black notebook was destroyed without its owner's being destroyed as well…

And L was so excited that he leapt up and threw his arms around Light, hugging him tightly for a moment in pure delight—ha, ha, ha—before releasing him and returning to that stupid crab-like position on the chair, eyes still glowing with muted triumph.

Light picks up a pen and then sets it down. He tries a pencil, to the same result. The stapler draws his attention next, and he finds himself possessed by the irrational urge to press the pad of his thumb to the underside of the hammer and slam his other fist down on the handle. Thumbprint stigmata.

He really shouldn't think about thumbs.

He tears his gaze away from the stapler and refocuses on his copy paper companions. Their blankness yawns before him, the white space between the lines sprawling. He reads the accusations there, and he chews uncertainly on his lip.

All too clearly, he sees fingertips flirt with lips that are not his; sees a deft pink tongue catch mischievous biscotti crumbs before they fall; sees wide gray eyes underscored with a darkness that speaks of an exhaustion every bit as emotional as physical, sees those eyes brightening eagerly; sees the flash of white shirt and white skin and black hair that blurs towards him as he stands there stupidly, not knowing what or why—

The papers make a schwiff sound as he shoves them all into a stack. He taps their edges on the table to align them more cleanly, and then he sets them down and goes over to the bed.

Misa has selected a different Seductive Pose—her second- or third-best, perhaps. Her chin rests on her folded arms, and she watches him through her eyelashes, smiling enigmatically.

Glossy lips part as she starts to say something, but he preempts her.

"Misa—?" and tentative open arms is all it takes. She snuggles against his chest, small and warm, all smooth skin and silk.

He holds her to him, because his arms feel empty. Because he swears he can almost smell cheesecake. Because he is thinking of sugar cubes and teacups and slender fingers that never quite stop moving, and because her warmth is almost as comforting as the one it replaces, and because she fits against him almost as well.

'Almost' is a strong word. But Misa Amane is better than nothing.

And she lets him hold her, and she holds him back, and she doesn't ask. She doesn't say anything. In some ways, Misa is a lot smarter than most people give her credit for.

But she doesn't cling to him with an almost frightening intensity for one mad, mad eon-moment, and she doesn't change everything.

Light swallows. "Misa?" he murmurs.

"Mmm?" she prompts absently.

Light Yagami takes a deep breath, and then he does the bravest thing he's ever done in his life.

"Where's Rem?" he asks softly. "I need to talk to her."