Author's Note: Well, this is it. And what a batshit-crazy ride it has been, my friends.
I was going to write a full-out sequel, but then I realized that that would be virtually impossible and would probably result in more agony than success. So instead, at Eltea's brilliant suggestion, since there's no way I could get this incarnation of the universe out of my head after all this, I aim to write smaller, partly-connected mysteries—the further adventures, in bite-sized pieces. None of this sixty-thousand words madness. XD
So… yeah! I hope you had as much fun as I did, and thanks very much for humoring me this long. ;) Thank you all: the hardcore fans, the lurkers, the people I've pissed off with snarky review replies, the people I've befriended with them—all of you. Everybody who was here and did this with me; everyone who was a part of it. :)
Also… I raided the Wammy's Stock for this chapter. They belong to Alien ABC's, too, 'cause we share them. :D (Uhh, check out her fics, by the way, because they're absolutely amazing, and I don't say that lightly.)
Light's grip tightened. He considered the panorama offered by his vantage point atop the hill, casting his gaze over the patches of arid brown and verdant green that battled for possession of the rolling landscape, and peered suspiciously at the distant structures. Slowly and cautiously he moved forward, boots crunching on the dry ground, scouring the scene. It was far too quiet for comfort, and he hefted his gun, trying to take assurance in its bulk, turning in an uncertain half-circle to scan his surroundings one more time. He drew in a breath. Maybe it was safe after a—
Blood sprayed, and then he was watching his body crumpling, the better to sprawl in the dirt.
A helpful update appeared in the bottom corner of his screen: Quikslvr sniped you, it explained obligingly.
"Damn it!" Light cried. Disgusted, he tossed the controller to the floor and raked both hands through his hair. "This game is impossible."
Quicksilver shrugged absently, her thumbs darting over buttons and little joysticks, every bit as fluid as the source of her moniker. "Maybe you just suck."
"Maybe I just don't play six hours a day like you do," he shot back, with rather better aim and accuracy than those of his on-screen incarnation.
Quicksilver made a face without looking away from her section of the screen. They'd staged a coup of the playroom for their Halo tournament, which entailed hijacking the big television on the leftward wall, dragging in as many mismatched cushions and beanbag chairs as they could find, and spreading out a truly inspiring smorgasbord of snack food.
"Six hours a day would cut into my raiding time on WoW," she informed him stiffly. "It's three and a half, tops."
Light muttered a little and watched the last few seconds run down on the timer. The round was over, and he'd gotten his ass handed to him on a silver platter, garnished with a hell of a lot of trash talk.
As Matt had explained before they'd begun, there were going to be three rounds in total—the first pitting L, Light, Near, and Quicksilver, a slim girl with short dark hair who was wearing a massive tee-shirt and cut-off jean shorts, against each other in a free-for-all. The second round would do the same for Matt, Mello, Alex of the Rubik's Cube, and Cal and his stuffed tiger mascot, and the third round was for Kat, Fiona, Fiona's second-in-command June, and Laurel, a small girl with her black hair in a bowl-cut who sported tremendous coke-bottle glasses and an extremely solemn expression. The four individuals with the highest body counts would advance to the finals, where they would duke it out for… well, Matt hadn't specified, but that wasn't the point.
Linda had bowed out of the competition, but she was sitting by the table, which was overflowing with food, and doodling Master Chiefs in her sketchbook. As the scores came up on the screen (and as Light groaned; even Near had made short work of him), she jotted them down so that no one could lie about them later.
…Light had to admit that he might have been tempted otherwise.
L released his controller from an unsurprisingly odd grip—he'd set it on his knees and manipulated the buttons from the top, rather than holding the base like everyone else—that hadn't stopped him from beating Light by a reasonable margin. He tilted his head. "Well," he decided. "That was enlightening." He glanced at Near, who had proved to be extremely bloodthirsty despite his ostensible innocence. "Do you play often, Near-kun?"
Near shrugged, setting his controller aside. "Only when Matt's bored and Mello's busy," he answered. "But video games function very much like remote control cars, except of course that they're considerably more sophisticated."
"Snack break," Matt announced. "Don't touch the cheesecake, or L will snipe you faster than you can say 'Keep that shit in the game.'"
"Come now, Matt-kun," L remarked, unfolding to his bandaged feet and moving towards the table, "it wouldn't take that long."
Light followed, slipping his arms around L's waist from behind once cheesecake had been acquired, since that particular advent indicated that all was well with the world. He set his chin on L's shoulder, their hair mingling, and made sure to lick L's fingers somewhat suggestively when his dashing detective fed him a strawberry.
L didn't seem to have any objections.
Mello was crunching his way through a chocolate bar, which Light found slightly remarkable, given that milk chocolate didn't usually crunch, per se. Then again, it probably required some serious magical skills to fit into the pants that Mello was wearing, and who knew how far those talents might extend?
Onomatopoeias aside, Mello seemed to be sizing up his competition, eyeing his prospective opponents mistrustfully.
Light wasn't sure which fearsome combatant was more intimidating—the boy whose fingers were whirling about the Cube to finish it in record time, or the one brushing cookie crumbs out of his tiger's fur.
Apparently Near was thinking along the same lines.
"Worried, Mello?" he asked innocently, twisting a finger in his hair.
Mello scowled. "Worried that my thumbs'll get tired from all the ownage I'm going to have to inflict," he responded.
"Yes," Near mused. "That would explain why your finger is twitching where the trigger button would be."
Light stared. "Is he always like this?" he inquired dazedly.
Matt grinned. "Usually worse," he noted. "He must still be convalescing if Mello's got a fighting chance."
"And here I was," Light sighed, "thinking that he was a nice, sweet, slightly clingy kid in white…"
L smiled. "That, Light-kun," he replied, "wouldn't be very Extraordinary."
Light smiled back mischievously. "You've got an extraordinary smear of chocolate on your mouth," he declared.
L raised a hand, but Light caught it.
"Allow me," he offered.
So maybe it was a little bit of a cliché to kiss nonexistent food off of him. Clichés were only overused in the first place because people liked them so much.
L drew back, slightly startled, at the first squeal.
Fiona was wielding her cell-phone camera, and others were moving to follow suit.
"Don't stop!" she pleaded.
L looked so disconcerted that Light couldn't help but start stroking his hair.
"I would rather not be documented, Fiona-chan," L told her gently.
"I'm not going to distribute them!" Fiona protested. "They're for my personal use only!"
"Her personal shrine," Linda remarked dryly.
Near looked pointedly over her shoulder, and she clutched her sketchbook to her chest, blushing slightly.
"Shut up," she said.
"I haven't said anything," Near replied blithely, toying with his hair.
"Really!" Fiona persisted, sticking out her bottom lip. "It won't hurt anybody."
L shifted uncertainly. "I…"
Light set a finger under his chin. "Your lack of creativity, L," he commented, "is disheartening."
Half a dozen cell-phone cameras made shutter noises as L smiled and drew him in again.
Light grinned as they separated and glanced at the assembled company. "Will that be all, paparazzi?" he inquired.
"Yes, it will," Matt decided, waving them all back, "because we're starting Round Two. Where's my fragmentation grenade fodder?"
Predictably, Matt made mincemeat of the competition, though Mello strove valiantly to keep up. When he was done embarrassing everyone, Matt called another snack break, and they all drifted back to the table. Light discovered the wonders of mini-donuts and realized that his life would be forever changed.
"Whoa!" Matt exclaimed through a cookie. "Mello! We made a bet, remember—?"
Mello blinked. "Did we?"
Matt nodded enthusiastically. "Five pounds towards chocolate, or five pounds towards video games." He turned to Near. "Were there any sketchy black vans at any point during your traumatic experience?"
Finger twisting in his hair, Near pondered the question a moment.
"No," he answered at last. "Though there was a very nice black Mercedes."
Matt looked triumphantly to Mello.
Stunningly, Mello kept his cool. He even smirked a little, arms folded across his chest. "Okay, Matty-Boy," he conceded. "Come with me a sec, and I'll get you your five pounds towards video games." Interested, Matt followed him from the room.
A few more minutes passed in consumption of baked goods before Kat glanced out the window and gasped.
"Guys!" she cried. "Guys, look! They really are making out in the bushes this time!"
The screams were temporarily deafening, and then the room was practically empty.
"Good God," Light said blankly.
Kat turned from the window. Then she noticed the abandoned X-Box.
"Ooh," she remarked.
Contentedly she sat down at her controller and sent her pink-armored man strolling merrily around the arena, systematically killing her three absent competitors' characters repeatedly.
Light stared. "You little cheat," he said, grinning despite himself.
"You say 'cheat,'" she replied, "I say 'opportunist.'"
"Quite the investment you've all got in this whole Matt and Mello drama," Light observed to L. "Even Laurel went."
Amusement flitted across L's features and settled there. "Laurel," he explained, "enjoys making movies."
Kat paused in the unmitigated carnage to glance at the only other female who remained in the room. "Oh, Linda," she prompted, "have you still got a copy of the Matt-Mello Makeout Betting Pool?"
"Of course," Linda replied, flipping through her sketchbook. "I keep it on the back cover."
A slow, small, utterly evil smile spread over Near's features.
"What are you so happy about?" Light asked bewilderedly.
Near blinked at him guilelessly, one finger rising to twirl itself in his hair. "Nothing," he said, a twitch of his lips betraying him. "Suffice to say… I believe I may be about to come into a great deal of money."