A.N.: This was written in honor of L's birthday — he'll be turning twenty-nine on October 31. It's set on L's birthday in 2004, three days after Higuchi was killed, and five days before L's death (so saaad :( ). I hope that this fic does L justice, but I'm not really sure how it turned out, so I would love it if you'd review and tell me. Anyway... Happy birthday, L!

It is a strange thing, L reflects, to be sad on one's birthday.

He doesn't know much when it comes to traditions of any kind, but he is aware that birthdays are meant to be a happy time. A time to rejoice with family and friends, to celebrate the day you entered this world.

L has no family or friends to rejoice with, and sometimes he wonders if his entering the world is truly something to celebrate.

This early in the morning, the main room of task force headquarters is empty—it's only four minutes past five. L brings his knees even closer against his chest and hunches forward, wrapping his arms around them. Halloween has brought with it the first real chill of autumn, and even inside the building, he can tell—the heat hasn't been turned on yet, and it's cold.

He closes his eyes briefly and opens them again. He's felt tired lately, an unusual sensation for him. Many things have felt unusual since the night when Higuchi—Kira—was killed, and since Light was released from his surveillance. L had gotten used to his company, and isn't sure now whether or not he misses it. Part of him enjoys the solitude, but another part feels lonely. He wants to be alone and aches for companionship at the same time.

That's what the past few days have been like for him. He can't seem to figure out what he's feeling, but he knows that he is feeling something, something so big that fills his whole chest and hurts his heart. Sadness is there, and longing, too, but he isn't sure what makes him sad or what he longs for.

And now he is twenty-five years old, and the feeling is stronger than ever. He wonders if perhaps it's because this is only a reminder that his conception was a mistake, his birth an inconvenience, and that he wasn't wanted from the very beginning.

If you aren't wanted, then why would anyone be happy on the day you were born?

L has never felt as if love were something that he needed, but he feels sad all the same. He isn't sure why.

At five-seventeen, he hears someone walk down the hallway and enter the room. He doesn't bother to turn and see who it is, because he already knows. Only one other person is awake this early.

A hand rests on his shoulder. "Happy birthday, L," says Watari.

"Thank you," L murmurs. He wonders if Watari counts as a family member or a friend, and decides that he isn't exactly either one. They care for each other, though, and L is glad to have that, at least.

"We're getting close, you know," says Watari.

L doesn't have to ask what he means—he knows that Watari is referring to solving the Kira case.

"I suppose," L replies softly. He can tell the words are meant to cheer him up, and he isn't sure whether Watari believes them or not. He wishes now that he were alone again.

"You'll get it." Watari's voice sounds encouraging. "You always do."

"Thank you," says L again. He twists around in his chair and offers a small smile.

"You're welcome," and Watari gives L's shoulder a light, friendly squeeze, then turns and leaves.

"Wait," L says, suddenly wanting him to come back, but by then, Watari is down the hallway and can no longer hear him.

L considers whether he really is close to solving the Kira case. He knows that killing Higuchi and taking the notebook were important steps, but the fact that there is still more to do makes him feel weary. Although he officially cleared Light of suspicion, he can't help suspecting him still. He feels sure that Light is Kira, or used to be Kira, or is involved with Kira. This makes him sad, although he doesn't know why.

He wonders what Light does on his birthdays. Light, L knows, is loved and wanted, and many people are glad that he was born. His parents, his sister, Amane—Amane's love for Light is something that has always fascinated L. Light seems so casual about it, and although he said just the other day that he had developed feelings for her in return, L doesn't really believe him. He supposes that Light is so used to being loved that it no longer affects him.

L can't even imagine someone loving him as purely and completely as Amane loves Light. He understands that such a thing will never happen. He is resigned to it.

It must be nice, though, he thinks, to be loved like that.

He can't help being pleased that he was born on Halloween. It makes him happy that, even though no one will celebrate the day for him, at least his birthday will never be forgotten.

"Happy birthday to me," he sings softly. "Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday, dear L…happy birthday to me."

No one else is going to sing "Happy Birthday" to him, so he figures that he might as well do it. Watari is the only other person who even knows when L's birthday is, and he never does any more than quietly acknowledge it. L isn't sure if he prefers that or not.

He considers going back to work. As usual, he has stayed at his computer desk all night, getting an hour or two of sleep here and there, but around four-fifty or so, he became lost in his thoughts and hasn't done anything productive since.

He stares at the screen saver. It's called Starfield or something like that, and is black with a pattern of moving white dots that make it appear as if you're flying through space. Usually, L find it calming, but this morning something about it makes him feel even more tired than before. He nudges the mouse, and it vanishes, to be replaced by a picture of the front hall from the security camera.

L suddenly wants to turn on the camera in the room that Light is still staying in. It's not that he thinks Light would be doing something that would link him to Kira—L would simply like to see him, for no reason that he can think of. It's almost as if he misses him.

He remembers nights spent in Light's room when they were chained together. L would sit at the desk with his laptop, Light asleep in the bed just several feet away. Sometimes, L couldn't help glancing over at him. Light looked different when he was asleep—smoother, softer. Sweeter, almost. Even more beautiful than usual—because even L, who is usually not interested in such things, sees that Light is beautiful.

But Light has changed. In just those few days since Higuchi was captured, he has become almost a different person. It is too subtle a change for anyone except L to notice, and even he can't quite put his finger on what it is—but something about Light suggests that perhaps he isn't as innocent as he used to be. The beauty is still there, but it's sharper, less pure. L doesn't like it.

Thinking of Light, and this recent change in him, makes L feel weary. He's already had four and a half hours of sleep throughout the night—more than he usually needs—but he closes his eyes anyway. Usually he hates to sleep, because it wastes time that could be spent doing more productive things, but in the last several days, it has almost felt like a relief.

Sleep never truly comes, though, and L remains partially awake, partially aware. It's easy, then, to open his eyes again when he hears footsteps in the hallway outside the room. He moves the mouse to get rid of the screensaver again, and sees from the clock on the computer that it's five minutes past six.

He doesn't bother to turn around when he hears the person enter the room and come up behind him. He's sure that it's Watari.

But it's Light's voice that says, "Good morning, Ryuzaki."

"Good morning, Light-kun," L replies calmly, turning around in his chair to look at him. He is surprised, but doesn't show it. "What are you doing here so early?"

"This is when we always started work," Light says. "I wasn't sure if you still expected me at the same time, now that I'm no longer chained to you."

L wonders if Light really thought this, or if he thought showing an eagerness to work on the case would make him seem less suspicious—or if, perhaps, he truly was eager to work on the case. The last is unlikely, but L can't help wishing it were true.

"You are simply a regular member of the task force now, Light-kun. You are free to come when the others do, and leave when they do."

Instead of exclaiming that he will come in at whatever time is necessary to catch Kira, as L expected, Light hesitates. Perhaps he can sense that L's mood has been rather off. "Do you want me to leave?"

"No," says L, and realizes as he says it that he's actually glad Light is here. Perhaps he did miss having him around after all. "Please stay, Light-kun. If you don't mind."

"Of course not," and now Light delivers the line that L has been waiting for. "I want to work on the case as much as possible—there's nothing I want more right now than for Kira to be captured."

L just nods. He briefly considers the percentage of that being a lie, but then stops, realizing that he's tired of the whole thing.

Light looks around. "Wow, it's dark in here. Is it okay if I turn the light on?"

"Bright light decreases my reasoning ability," L informs him. Whenever he's alone, and he doesn't need it to see, he works with the light off—it helps him think. "However, you may turn on the lamp, if you like."

Light reaches over and flips the switch on the desk lamp, lighting up the immediate area. He pulls a chair over next to L and sits down.

"Watari told me that today is your birthday," he says suddenly.

L looks at him, startled, and wonders why Watari would have done such a thing. It's not as if L's birthday is a secret, but there's really no reason for anyone to know.

Light reaches into his pocket, pulling out a small package and setting it on the table in front of L. It's wrapped in dark blue paper, and has a white ribbon tied around it in a neat bow. "This is for you. Happy birthday."

"Thank you, Light-kun," L says, thinking, This is what Kira would do. It's the first birthday present he's ever received, though, and he can't help feeling almost happy. He wonders if Watari expected Light to do something like this, and told him because he thought it might cheer L up.

L slides the ribbon off and tears the paper open carefully. Inside is a large bar of milk chocolate, the nice kind, with strawberry filling.

"This is my favorite kind of chocolate," L can't help saying, because he's so surprised that Light happened to find it for him. He hasn't seen it in a store anywhere in Japan.

"Yes, you mentioned that once." Light smiles at him, a remarkably beautiful smile. "I hoped you'd like it."

L opens the wrapper, breaking off and eating a piece of chocolate. It's delicious, and he can't help thinking, Light gave this to me. He gave it to me because he thought I would like it. This, of all things, make him suddenly, desperately hope that Light isn't Kira.

"Would you like some?" he asks Light, remembering to be polite.

Light shakes his head and smiles again. "No, thank you. It's your birthday present. You know, it was almost impossible to get that for you—we were chained together at the time, so I had to look for it in online stores, and I could only do that when you were looking the other direction. It was hard to find, too."

"Thank you, Light-kun," L says again, surprised and even touched that Light would put so much effort into getting him a birthday present. It makes him feel almost warm inside.

"By the way, Ryuzaki," Light says, "how old are you now?"

"Twenty-five," L replies.

Light starts to say something, then pauses, frowning. "You know," he says after a moment, "I was about to say you seem older than that, because twenty-five seems young to be the world's greatest detective. But then I realized you really seem younger—I'm not sure why."

It occurs to L then how different he is from other twenty-five-year-olds. By this age, many are engaged or even married; he is a virgin who hasn't even had his first kiss. He wonders if he ever will, and doubts it. Wanting such a thing has never really occurred to him.

"I suppose so," he agrees. "Just as you seem older than eighteen."

L has always thought that Light seems older than his peers—older even than some adults. While they were chained together, Light had almost seemed younger than he was before, but now he seems older again. L can't quite put his finger on why this is, and he doesn't like it.

Light laughs. "I suppose that puts us at about the same age, huh, Ryuzaki?"

L nods and shivers. He'd managed to forget the chilliness of the building, but it seems to return again, worse than before. He huddles over even more in his chair, pressing his chin into his knees.

Light looks concerned. "Ryuzaki, are you all right?"

"I am fine, Light-kun," L replies. It's not very comfortable, but he can still work, and that's what matters.

"You look cold," and Light removes his suit jacket, leans forward, and drapes it arounds L's shoulders. When he looks at L, his gaze is kind and almost tender. "Is that better?"

"Yes," L murmurs. "Thank you, Light-kun."

This is what Kira would do, he thinks, but as he pulls the jacket around his shoulders, he feels a certain warmth inside, and he wonders if Kira truly would do something like that.

"You need to wear warmer clothes." Light's voice is firm, but his eyes are still soft. "We can't have you getting sick, Ryuzaki."

"I suppose," L says softly.

His eyes meet Light's, and for a moment, they just look at each other. The gentleness on Light's face makes him even more beautiful. His eyes are such a lovely, warm shade of brown, and his eyelashes are longer than those of anyone L has ever seen. In the soft glow of the lamp, Light's skin looks almost golden, and so soft that L feels a sudden urge to reach over and touch his cheek.

His lips look soft, too. L suddenly longs to do something that he has never before even thought about, and he isn't sure what the social protocol is for such a matter, so he decides to simply ask.

"Light-kun," he says, "would it be all right if I kissed you?"

Light's eyes widen, and he just stares at L, looking stunned. "What?" he says, sounding as if he thinks he must have heard wrong.

L leans forward, knowing that he's probably doing something wrong but unable to help it. He isn't sure whether he should aim for Light's cheek or his lips, so he ends up kissing him above the jaw, just brushing the corner of his mouth. L's lips only stay there for a second, barely even touching Light, before he pulls back, knowing he made a mistake.

"I apologize, Light-kun," he murmurs, lowering his eyes. "I should not have done such a thing, and I will never—"

But he's cut off by Light suddenly pressing his lips against L's. Light is cupping L's chin in his hands and kissing him, hard, and for a moment L is so confused that he doesn't react.

His heartbeat picks up then, though, and a feeling of warmth spreads though him. He realizes that he likes this, likes it a lot, and he hesitantly kisses Light back. Light's hands slide down, and suddenly he's hugging L around the neck while L's arms wrap around his waist. They hold each other close, and the feeling that L has had for days grows stronger, and loses some of its sadness.He doesn't know what it is or why he feels this way, but for right now, it doesn't matter. L wishes they could stay like this, with no distrust or wariness between them, and nothing but that warm, wonderful feeling that makes L want to hold Light closer and never let him go.

They pull apart eventually, though, and look at each other. Light's face has changed so subtly that L barely notices, but there's an almost calculating look in his eyes that's impossible to ignore. L feels cold suddenly, a chill that not even Light's jacket will help.

"Ryuzaki…" Light's voice sounds convincingly dazed. "What was that?"

L looks down and doesn't answer, closing his eyes briefly and opening them again. He's tired. Light reaches over and gently tilts his face up, but instead of pulling his hand away again, leaves it against L's cheek for another moment. It feels so nice that it makes L ache inside, because he understands suddenly what he feels for Light, and he understands too that Light will never be his.

"I don't know why I did that," Light is saying, sounding truly bewildered. "It just…somehow…happened. You kissed me and then…I just…why did you do that?"

"What was that, Light-kun?" L's words come out slowly, almost sadly.

Light drops his gaze shyly, his cheeks flushing. "I just want to know…why you did that. Does it mean that…well, that you…"

"I did it because I am in love with Light-kun," L says, trying to be matter-of-fact about it, although his voice quavers slightly.

Light's blushing even more now, and he doesn't say anything, just steals a glance at L and then looks down again. L swallows and tries not to feel hopeful. He knows there would be no point.

He can't help asking, though. "And does Light-kun…feel the same way, perhaps?"

"I…I think…" Light hesitates, and then his words come out in a rush. "I've never felt this way before about anyone, Ryuzaki, but I think I love you, too."

This time, L can clearly hear the lie. No, he thinks, no, Kira, that isn't what I was asking you. I know already that you do not love me. I was asking about Light-kun—the innocent, beautiful one, the one who got me a birthday present because he wanted me to be happy. He is the one I love, and the one who, perhaps, used to love me.

L knows, though, that saying this won't do any good. Light would simply deny it, insist that he isn't Kira, that he truly does love L. And L is just too tired right now, tired of this whole thing, to hear that. He gives a little sigh.

Light leans forward and kisses him again, but instead of responding, L simply sits still and waits for him to stop. He supposes it feels nice, but he doesn't let himself think about that. Light pulls away after only a few moments.

"Ryuzaki?" he says, looking confused and a little anxious.

"The Kira case is our top priority right now." L's voice is emotionless and almost cold. "We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted."

Light hesitates, then says, "This isn't going to change anything, then?"

L closes his eyes and shakes his head. "Not a thing," he whispers, because he doesn't want to think about what it could change—he doesn't want to think about kissing Light, touching him, holding him close.

"Well, I suppose…that makes sense." Light nods, and his voice becomes brisk and businesslike. "Yes. After all, we need to catch Kira. We can't let anything get in the way of that. Maybe after Kira is caught…" He trails off.

After Kira is caught, L thinks, you will be dead.

"But until then," Light continues after a moment, "it makes sense to put this on hold. You're absolutely right about that, Ryuzaki."

There is a pause, as if they're both waiting for the other to say something. L looks off to the side. He wishes Light would leave. Being around him makes L feel sad, and he doesn't like that.

"Well," Light says suddenly, and gets to his feet. He hesitates for a moment, as if he isn't sure what he intended to do, before adding, "It's almost seven. The others are going to be here soon. I'd better go make coffee."

L gives a short nod. "All right."

"Maybe I should run to that bakery that's right around the corner," Light continues. "You know, pick up a birthday cake. We could have a little party—"

"No, thank you," L murmurs. He's too tired right now for such a thing.

"Are you sure? I mean, it's your birthday and everything."

L shakes his head. "I'm sure."

"Well…okay, then." Light hesitates, then rests his hand gently on Light's shoulder.

"You'd better go make coffee," L says, because his heart is beginning to flutter.

Light snatches his hand away as if he's been burned. "Right. Okay," he says, and heads quickly off toward the kitchen.

L gazes after him until he's left the room, then looks down at the desk and sighs. His throat feels tight, and he is suddenly so lonely that his heart hurts. He misses Light-kun.

His eyes land on the chocolate bar, his first birthday present, and the crumpled wrapping paper and ribbon lying next to it. He decides he'd better throw them away—he doesn't want to deal with the whole task force knowing that it's his birthday—and stands up, Light's jacket sliding off his shoulders as he does. Perhaps because he's been sitting for so long, he stumbles, and has to grab the desk for support. He's never felt that clumsy before.

L picks up the paper and ribbon, and crosses the room to the small trash can by the door. He tosses the wrapping paper in without a second thought, but hesitates, smoothing the ribbon out in his hands. He thinks of Light-kun, who remembered his favorite kind of chocolate, went to the trouble of ordering it secretly, somehow managed to wrap it when L wasn't around—Light-kun, who held this same white ribbon in his hands, tying it neatly around the present, trying to make it look nice for L. Trying to make L happy.

L shoves the ribbon into the pocket of his jeans, then turns and walks back to his chair. It's a relief, somehow, to sit down again and pull his knees up against his body. He still feels cold, so he wraps Light's jacket around his shoulders again.

He ends up keeping the ribbon. He isn't sure why.