Title: Bakery Boys
By: Dr. Kim-chan
Author's Note: I know, I know, bakery-related fics are nothing new in "Death Note", but this is more of an experiment with an idea I got from one of my reviewers, TheRecorder, while I was writing "Some Things Are Beyond Near". It was a comment I made in the story about the combination of three smells: Matt's cigarettes, Mello's chocolate, and L's overall sugar/strawberry/whipped cream combination, and she said "Bakery Boys". And I thought, "Hmm" (and also wondered for a brief while if Near has a particular scent)…and here we are!
Also, this will be my first time trying out an AU, though it's not a very strict AU. (Well, actually, I think I did an AU before, but that was a long time ago, when I was obsessed with Digimon). This is just Death Note…minus the actual Death Note, plus a bakery, odd character interactions and madness. Also, there'll be a bit of a theme; a baked good or sweet will ALWAYS be integrated into each chapter, and those sweets will give hints as to the personality/plot of the chapter. Good luck making the correlations! Mainly a collection of stand-alone-yet-related tales, there'll be humor, there'll be fluff, there'll be drama…but mostly there'll be baked goods.
First off, thanks for the inspiration for this story, TheRecorder. This is for you, and all those who loved baked goods and our favorite detective and his lovable protégés.
When the morning came…when alarm clocks rang at around seven PM, and the rising sun towered over the city skyline and glared into everyone's windows, it meant different things to different people, particularly the four inhabitants of a second-floor apartment in a small corner of Tokyo.
To L, the morning was merely the extension of a day that had already begun precisely at midnight.
A self-confessed insomniac, he was already aware of the time that passed when the world plunged into the darkness of the night. A scant two or three hours of rest, and an endless supply of sugar would do the rest. At six AM he was up, dressed, and ready, stumbling downstairs to the first floor, where he owned a small bakery called L's.
No one knew what that single letter meant, not even their long-time customers, and it nearly drove some first-time customers mad, but it was hardly ever about the name. It was about the taste, and L's certainly delivered on that. The quality of the goods implied something about the owner: how he'd wanted to own a bakery for so long despite excelling in college in virtually every subject. He wasn't even much of an entrepreneur, let alone someone who made people comfortable, but he loved being in control of himself, and with the patronage of his "guardian", he got his wish a few years ago when he obtained the bakery.
Besides, college was years behind him, and so was trying to fit into society. L could be kind, but he could also be blunt, acerbic, an invader of personal space and enigmatic—often all at the same time. And as with him, nearly every kind of sweet could be found at L's, even those that didn't exist anywhere else. L prided himself on experimentation, almost always getting a good result every time, even if the commodity only had one or two die hard fans.
And like the origin of the bakery's name, his past was a great secret, some of it even to himself.
But none of those dark thoughts crossed his mind now. Crouched precariously on a stool behind the counter, he took stock of what needed to be replaced and reorganized in the glass displays (once in a while sneaking a doughnut to go along with the mug of dangerously saccharine coffee he made in the back room). His ears perked up behind an ever-frizzy mat of black hair, he waited for his two coworkers to wake up and face the morning with him.
Though, with these two, it was hardly ever a routine morning.
To Mello, mornings were absolute hell.
Cursing under his breath, he rolled over and glared at the alarm clock buried underneath wrinkled foil wrappers, misbehaving strands of blond hair further adding to his irritation.
In his first show of overt force for the day, he punched the button, silencing the alarm once and for all, but it still didn't make him feel any better. Just because it was now quiet didn't mean he was free to sleep in. He knew L was expecting him downstairs, on time, ready (or at least pretending to be ready) to perform cleaning duties. He also knew what would happen if he didn't—L would go in his room, climb up on the bed, loom over him, and stare him down for hours on end until Mello woke up to large black eyes boring down on him.
When Mello first came to the bakery, this creeped the hell out of him, and as much as he respected the older man, he never wanted a repeat of that incident again. Certainly L didn't want a repeat of the incident again; one broken nose was one too many.
He hated waking up so early, but if that was a sacrifice to pay to keep this new life and leave behind his old one, he was all too willing to slam his fist into an alarm clock.
Mello threw the covers off of him, revealing black boxers and a bare chest, and stormed over to his closet. Once he threw open the doors, a little of the emotion most would call "cheeriness" returned to the blond's face.
It was true that L's got its reputation by its goods, but its workers had bizarre tastes in fashion. When Mello started working here, rumors began popping up all over the neighborhood. Did L's become a "host café"? They could tolerate L wearing the exact same thing every day (baggy jeans and a thin white sweatshirt), but a man who prided himself on leather, boots, and all things black was destined to turn heads, especially in a bakery, and especially if you had to wear a hairnet and a bandana most of the time (Mello's policy on hairnets: If he had to be forced to wear one, heads would roll).
It didn't take long to select his wardrobe for the day; the year was turning to a cool autumn, so a bit of restrictive clothing would be more tolerable.
Leather pants? Check.
Leather vest? Check.
Fingerless leather gloves? Check.
Ass-kicking boots? Check.
Rosary? Check and double check.
Fighting back another yawn, Mello grabbed an unwrapped bar of chocolate and noisily clomped out of his bedroom and downstairs.
Well, he would've, if something else hadn't caught his eye first.
To Matt, the morning was the end rather than the beginning.
Console at his side, controller laying haphazardly at the edge of the bed, empty cans of soda cluttering the floor, his body lay sprawled across the bed, a strong testament to yet another sleepless night leveling up already-powerful characters, testing cheat codes, exploring new worlds, and killing evolutionary rejects. He was even wearing the same clothes from last night.
The only thing Matt loved more than working at the bakery—and testing his luck by teasing Mello—were his video games. It had been a long-ingrained habit, long before Matt came to L's with four different consoles, not including his handhelds: a Nintendo DS, PSP, Game Boy Advanced, and a relic even Mello though he'd never see again, a Game Boy Color.
As with most days after a couple of years ago, Mello clearly remembered that day. Matt was hired/taken in shortly after Mello, and at first Mello truly believed they would end up killing each other, probably with the stainless steel mixer in the kitchen. As it turned out, the two had more in common than they thought. Matt, too, had a past he wanted to forget. Matt, too, had a certain degree of disdain for conventions. Mello's leather was a bit extreme, but furry vests, striped shirts, and a propensity towards wearing goggles without standing anywhere near a pool was completely out-of-place in a quaint bakery.
Also, Matt was very laid back and relatively reclusive, which puzzled Mello considering that he spent most of his time venting pixilated rage at aliens. His was a nature that fit being L's assistant in the kitchen. Mello, on the other hand, prided himself on being the face of the bakery…along with L, of course. L effortlessly split his time between both areas.
But what was probably the greatest paradox was that while Mello regularly cursed the sun to an early grave beyond the other horizon, Matt had more trouble getting up due to the all-nighters he pulled. Dare Mello even think…even L got more sleep than Matt did sometimes. L! He was amazed Matt wasn't developing dark pouches under his eyes.
Maybe that was why he wore the goggles.
Shaking the somewhat deep contemplation out of his mind, Mello strolled into his room, using what little compassion he had to not step on cables, aluminum cans, the occasional laptop (whatever the hell Matt did before to make that kind of money, he had three of them), and a gaggle of controllers. Even then, he was making a hell of a lot of noise, yet Matt was just that passed out not to wake up. Slowly he tiptoed up to Matt's side, with every bit of grace he had.
Lifting up a gloved hand, Mello delivered a well-placed smack to the redhead's…well, head.
It all happened in an instant; awkwardly long limbs flailed, controllers jumped off the bed, green eyes snapped open.
"Mel! What the—?" he protested.
"Gotta go down and open the bakery, dumbass."
Matt stared at him blearily, as if he'd said all that in Romanian, rubbing his eyes adorably like a sleepy child—which he pretty much was, despite the fact that he and Mello were only about a year apart.
"What time izzit?" Matt asked.
"What time do we usually get up to open the bakery?" Mello asked caustically.
"Um…"—at this point Matt was sitting up, more or less aware of the world—"...seven, right?"
"Bingo. Now freshen up; you look like one of those zombies in that one game you played last week."
At the mention of a video game reference, Matt perked up immediately, and he gave Mello one of his goofy grins, similar to the one he got when he unwrapped a new game he waited weeks for.
"Aw, Silent Hill: Homecoming!" Matt's grin shrunk a little and he shook his head. "Not as good as the originals, but when is skulking through a dark town filled with murderous humanoid beasts not awesome? And they're not zombies, Mel, they're a cult bent on preserving their disturbing little secrets."
Mello waved his hands. "Whatever."
The leather-garbed young man turned and left the room, leaving Matt to rub his eyes some more and flop back down onto the bed.
L had given it an 87% chance, and the odds worked in his favor: Mello did indeed come down first.
"Mornin', L," Mello muttered. He dove under the counter briefly, coming back up with a bucket, a rag, and a bottle of disinfectant and heading for the sink.
"Good morning, Mello," L replied tonelessly, holding up receipts in front of his face with nothing but his thumbs and index fingers. "I expect Matt will be a little late coming down this morning. I saw him playing Halo 4 last night with quite a bit of intensity."
"Don't worry. I woke him up a few minutes ago."
L set down the receipts and shot Mello a wary glance. He knew all too well what Mello's idea of a wake-up call was; he only hoped Matt didn't have a concussion afterward.
Deciding to leave the matter alone, L went over the rest of the receipts in record time before carefully stacking them up and carrying them to the back room.
Mello growled as the fury of his wet rag moved from the main counter top to the glass displays. He just wiped these after closing time yesterday; how did they get more fingerprints on them?
Eyeing the doughnut section, his eyebrow raised.
"L, we had five strawberry crumb doughnuts up here yesterday. They're all gone now."
Mello sighed. He knew L was playing innocent.
"You ate the rest of the doughnuts, didn't you?"
"Not all of them," L said with a bit of indignity in his voice. "We still have plenty of caramel crème, the glazed, plain, chocolate, lemon-frosted…though we are running low on the jam-filled ones—"
"I'm surprised we even sell anything!" Mello grumbled, throwing his rag into the bucket with a 'plop'. "You keep eating half the inventory before we open!"
"I'm insulted, Mello; your assumptions are rather rash. We have more doughnuts here in the back."
"How many more?"
"You really must stop being so dramatic. Four should be more than adequate. They're not our top seller, anyway. And if it so happens that the demand rises today, Matt and I can always make some more," L said, coming out with the tray carrying the four precious remaining doughnuts…
…Wait. Make that three.
Seeing this shameless act of gluttony, in sheer exasperation, Mello knocked his head against the glass, cursing again when he saw the large mark he left on the recently cleaned surface. Adding insult to injury, Matt came down just in time to see this act of sabotage and snorted loudly.
"Make sure you get it extra clean, Mel!" Matt joked, snatching his apron from the rack. Mello growled and flicked droplets of dirty water at him, which only provided Matt with more ammo when he pointed out that now, on top of the forehead mark, Mello had to wipe up all the water he spilled.
Lazily, L flipped the two remaining switches as Mello abandoned his rags to chase Matt into the kitchen. As the dining area and the glass displays under the counter brightened, he inwardly shook his head as he flipped the sign hanging on the door from "Closed" to "Open".
Mornings may have meant different things to different people, but in the grand scheme of things, it was merely routine at L's.