A/N: It's late, Ryuk's great, and I've got to go. More to follow …


"So you've finally found me out, Detective. I guess it's as much as one can expect from the police force, huh?" The thug leered at him, gun in hand and the dead girl's hair in the other. The cop raised his own gun.

"I'm taking you in, Lawett. You've killed your last innocent girl. Now put your hands in the air and set down that gun."

"What, you're gonna shoot me if I don't?" The thug cocked his gun and leveled it. "You think you can shoot me before I can shoot you?"

"I think that I have backup on the way and you won't be able to escape in time," the detective gestured, looking him in the eye. "Face it. There's no dramatic escape from this one. Your career's over. Do you really need to add firing at a police officer to your crimes?"

"Sure I do," Lawett snarled, pulling the trigger in peppering the other side of the alley in bright, blazing, BANG! BANG! gunfire. The dashing detective, of course, ducked, letting the bullets tear violent chunks in the brick of the alleyway.

He roared into his radio, "Calling in for backup! Perp is armed, firing, and dangerous!"

"Roger that!"

"You won't take me alive!" the murderer roared, before emptying the rest of the clip into his head and slumping to the ground with blood flooding out of his head and a maniacal smile.

The detective stared at him. "No!" he rushed over. "Crazy son of a bitch," he muttered. "I guess they won't be needing my testimony for trial …" He looked over at the dead, bloodied body of the girl tossed beside him, like a rag doll with a broken glass head. "And no one will be joining you … all in a day's work." He got to his feet and got on the radio again, bowing his head as the credits started to flash. Raine began falling as the alterna-sadness theme song started.

Matt groaned, jabbing his finger down on the remote while sprawled against the comforter in a desperate attempt to change the channel. "Please, Mello. Enough with the old-fart cop shows. I can't take another fake shootout death …" Tears were streaming down his face in laughter, most likely, seeing as he didn't seem to be too concerned about the bloody-haired girl or any other in the barrage of murders. He nearly spewed out red goo as he kept speaking. "God, it's so lame …"

Mello shook his head, frowning, leaning forward on the same bed. He'd made sure to call the position next to Matt first, like at Wammy's. He was trying to study the crime patterns in this mythical version of New York City. "I'm watching it, okay? I need to keep up my facial-reading and crime-prediction skills for L."

"Seventy-percent of ordinary consumers would be able to do so, based on the show's trends and the average of marketing value, not to mention their plethora and profusion of not-so-subtle hints leading to the location of the murderer …" Near intoned dully, spiraling a paper plane across the room so it hit the door knob in the fulcrum place to make it swing open as the result of a complex algorithm right in front of L, who he'd obviously known had been coming somehow. Matt smacked his forehead, rolling over. Oh, duh … the fricking phone had rung …

The roll, somehow, was enough to hit the remote and make it finally change the channel. To a television drama. "No, no, don't – " some frantic woman sobbed in Japanese, black silk evening gown dropping to her knees. "No, Tehono, no – "

Matt hurriedly swung the controller back up and made the screen fizzle black. He tossed it down on the bed in disgust and bounced on the edge of the bed. "Hey, L. What're you doing here?"

"Going to take you out to dinner, Matt, and I should not have to warn you not to call me L. If I had not already corrected the hotel surveillance system we might have been in trouble, as I am sure our friend Mr. Yagami will be watching us most closely during the duration of our stay." L slouched into the room, bending down to scoop up the paper plane on the ground from where Near had thrown it and gently readjust the bent nose. He was talking in English, luckily, so no one would be readily able to understand them in the hallway and Matt didn't have to practice the Japanese he had learned pretty much solely from dramas and movies with subtitles about giant monsters wrecking cities. His first word in Japanese had been 'Gojira' rather than 'Konichiwa,' after all.

Mello swung his legs over the edge of the bed and jutted his chin out sullenly. "Gonna leave me and Near he all alone, then? Make us order room service you're paying for?"

L quirked an eyebrow. "I was planning to take yourself and Near out, too, actually, though if you would like to stay here I might have to object for security reasons. I am sure you also know that it is Near and I, of course, seeing as you so often profess to having an excellent grasp of English."

"I'm never gonna say Near comes first," Mello snarled, jumping up and looking every inch the prince of bats, if bats were blonde and bit people to suck out their vital juices. "Where are you taking us out to eat, then? Some Japanese place? Do we have to, like, sit on the floor or something?"

"When in Rome," L said, eyes mirthful. "Or, in this case, Japan."

"Can I bring my toys?" Near asked, twisting another plane around his head and pointing it at Mello.

Matt jumped to his feet overenthusiastically. "C'mon, Near, Mells! Ahem, Mikey-boy, Nate. Let's go get some steak!"

Being a peacemaker was hard work. He was pretty much all that stood between his two friends, themselves, and L … no wonder he had to take to pounding out the insides of stupid little Goombas to deal with stress. And they looked almost like squashed, misshapen, chocolate-dumped Mello faces with legs, too, which was an added plus. And Near looked just like the little black-eyed clouds that guy with the flag rode on in Mario Kart …

L patted his head approvingly. "Do not worry, boys, there will be something palatable for each of you, as well as myself. The place we are going has an excellent dessert menu."


Raito escorted his parents in to the restaurant, taking his mother's coat and handing it to the staff as his father shrugged out of his own. He'd been making extra-polite and exta-nervous chatter with them from their house to the whole walk there, thankful that Sayu, at least, genuinely had something to say to him that didn't involve his career or anything about the mysterious L or the people he'd gone on his unexpected weekend vacation with. Of course, she was busy wondering whether or not her straight-as-as-a-porcupine wax dummy prick of a work-a-holic genius brother had finally gone around the bend like she'd always expected, but, well, she had always thought that. Even his mother was concerned sometimes. It was from his father he'd just never expected it …

"Of course my brother takes us somewhere fancy," Sayu muttered, draping her coat over his head and looking at the restaurant. "I don't think he even knows what a burger is, much less French fries. Only traditional Japanese food for him." She paused, hands in the pockets of her cute little dress. "Oh well. He's paying, after all, and I heard this place has great desserts."

Raito felt a bead of sweat slide down his back at the thought of sweets, which reminded him inescapably of Ryuzaki and thusly of the three genius children from hell and then of L, which was never a good train of thought to go on near his commanding officer, his perceptive little sister, and his parents. Soichiro cleared his throat loudly as they sat down, his father and mother across from him. "Well, Raito, it's nice to get a chance to see you outside of work. I'm sure your mother and sister are happy to finally see how you're holding up on your own since your birthday." He gave him a significant look.

Raito felt his cheeks heating up. He was a little devoted to his work, true, and Sachiko asked questions about uncomfortable things like his health and his love life and his free time that he didn't want to answer … what was he supposed to do? Take up painting while people were dying and being hurt and landing in little manilla files on his desk, with hardly anyone else to do the job? Personally, he envied L. He could pick and choose his cases. For Raito, every case was another victim that couldn't be ignored and still be brought to justice. He wondered how L couldn't feel that way, if L could help them. He wondered what L did in his free time. He wondered what L looked like. He wondered whether he ate while he was at the computer, like it had sounded yet. He wondered if L used coffee as a crutch to be weaned off sleep like he did.

But lately, his late-night wonderings about L had been twinned with Ryuzaki … Ryuzaki. Taboo subject with his parents around. Definite taboo. Sayu smacked him on the shoulder from where she was sitting next to him. "Earth to my brother. Earth to my brother. Did you want something to drink, O Distracted One?"

"Oh." Raito shook his head, coming abruptly back to his current awkward situation. He turned to the waitress and flashed her an unsteady smile. "Yes, please. Some tea, if you have it." He'd love to have a drink to steady his nerves, but he was a terrible drunk … and he didn't his parents to see him come on to his father or the table. Tea had caffeine, right? Right … it would look strange to order coffee to drink with dinner, anyway, no matter how much he needed to be alert right now …

"That's great. Thanks. I'll have those right out for you in a second, and you can tell me if you want any appetizers," the waitress said, glancing at Raito sideways and fluttering her lashes. Sometimes he felt like he stayed up so late at work and did all those things to himself just to be less attractive so they'd all stop stalking him, but nothing worked. He was still attractive and they still wanted to loosen him up, and he still felt like bait. Bait that, as a member of the National Police Force, could not stoop to assault or arrest unless he wanted everyone to laugh at him when he hauled them in or got hauled in himself by a detaining officer.

Soichiro cleared his throat. "So, Raito," he said. "Tell us about what you've been doing lately, other than detective work."

Well, that wasn't putting him on the spot at all … !?!?!?! Raito took a deep breath and tried not to panic. Charming, he reminded himself. He'd always been charming, able to tell anyone what they wanted to hear to get what he wanted. Except for his parents, that used to be the truth, and now that he didn't know where he was going or have successes to tell them about his goals …

"Well," he managed weakly, looking past them to a dark-haired couple conversing in hushed tones and leaning towards each other, "not much, really. I went on a few dates, but there was no one really … right. I found a good book at the bookstore the other day, and I'm halfway done with it, but work mostly keeps me busy. I'm fine. How are you doing in your freshman year of college, Sayu? Getting good grades?" His parents had always focused most of the attention on Sayu. Get them distracted, get himself distracted, take out his number one willful enemy, his sister, and put her in the line of fire …

Sayu pouted, glaring at him. "Just fine. They would be better if someone could ever find the time to help me with my homework like he used to …"

"Maybe Mom and Dad should get you a tutor, then," Raito said, teasing, relieved she'd taken the bait. Adopting a serious tone, he said, "You know, some sort of geek you'd never dream of associating with, who has plenty of free time and extra hours to spend teaching math to inattentive prettier girls …"

"Kind of like you, huh?" Sayu grumped. "Except you don't have free time, either. Or friends. Or a fulfilling relationship. Or a sense of humor." Raito glowered at her, revealing a bit more of how little a sense of humor he had. "What?" she protested. "You got the brains and half of the looks, and I got everything else. Including the common sense and social life."

"Spare me," he groaned, once again reduced to bickering with his sister while his parents made small talk among themselves, the normal pattern for a dinner at the Yagami household. The waitress came and collected their orders and menus without incident, though with a wink at him that made Sayu snort and say "Another worthless conquest to my brother's doll-like good looks," which of course started another round of affectionate squabbling. The food came back and she stole a bite of chicken off of his plate. In return, he nabbed a swirling bite of noodles. Hey, they were gaining variety and saving money.

His phone rang, causing him to glance down – oh, shit, he'd forgotten to silence it or turn it off or just leave it at home, dammit, what if it was Ryuzaki – why had he even given that fool his number – oh, yeah, for "emergencies" – please don't be a come-on call – he glanced down at the number and breathed a sigh of relief, followed by renewed panic. It was the station. What could they have to tell him on his night off?

Across the table, Soichiro's phone started ringing, too. They stood up from the table simultaneously, and Raito turned around at Sayu's indignant shriek and flipped the phone open, knowing full well that while he was taking the call his food would be eaten, stolen, and defamed as reparation.

"Hello? Raito Yagami speaking. Is there a problem?" he asked.

"Raito, thank God you have your phone on," someone said breathlessly into the phone, immediately identifying the speaker as Matsuda, which made him automatically grimace. Was there really even an emergency, then? "L wants you and the Chief back at the station, pronto." Apparently so. If L – wait, L?!?!?! – was calling for him – "There's been a nasty murder case, completely free of evidence, and L wants you two on the case. Sorry to interrupt your night out, but he thinks it's important. Watari's even here, waiting at the station."

"I'll be there as soon as I can," Raito said, closing his eyes as he snapped the phone shut. Murder cases and L. Two of the things he had been trying to forget were calling him away. All he needed now was for Ryuzaki to pop creepily out of a corner and Nate and Michael and Matt to be kidnapped …

Luckily, as he made his excuses and hurried out to the car, nothing like that happened. Yet.