'Til the Clock Strikes Twelve
Light awoke with a start at the sudden noise.
"Dammit," he murmured, reaching blindly for his cell-phone, when a hand suddenly rested gently on his and a low chuckle reached his ears.
"I'm afraid that's mine," L murmured before apparently bringing the phone to his ear and answering the call.
Happy that he wasn't required to have an intelligent conversation with anyone after all, and doubly happy that L had decided to leave his hand where it lay, stroking his skin slowly with his thumb, Light leaned back into his pillow and drew the covers up to his chin. He closed his eyes for a moment and allowed his mind a few more minutes of rest before consciousness started to sneak back on him and it became clear that he wouldn't be able to fall asleep again. It had been dark while his eyes had been open, so it was still night... And L was up anyway, but well, big surprise there.
"Yes, he is. You woke him up," the detective was saying at the moment. Ah, so it was someone he knew – or rather, someone who knew of their relationship because they suspected that Light was present – and not a faceless police chief from this or that different time zone. That narrowed it down significantly because in addition to the residents of Wammy's House, only Light's family and the Task Force had been let in on the secret, and it had taken months before they had been comfortable with telling even them.
"Is it really wise of you to call me?" L was asking now. "I am a detective, you know. No, I'm not investigating you at the moment, but... you never know when I'm struck by the whim, do you? I could be tracking your call right now."
Okay, that narrowed it down to Beyond Birthday. Feeling the final remnants of sleep slip from him, Light pulled himself up and leaned against L's back, resting his chin on the man's shoulder to be able to hear the other end of the conversation.
"... you're not, are you?" the man was saying at the moment, all smug and amused.
"Well, no," L replied, "because Light-kun is adamant that I try this vacation thing because it's New Year's Eve, which means I'm not allowed to work. I have been up all night trying to entertain myself while he insists on engaging in excessive sleep because apparently it's all very important to him."
And Beyond had nothing on the smug-and-amused grin that spread on Light's face at that.
Or on the butterflies that decided to throw a party in his stomach, because L was doing things just because they were important to Light.
Light supposed it said something about how much he'd changed that he considered it a far greater victory than gaining control over all the world as Kira would have ever been.
"L, you're getting disgustingly cute. I'm going to have to start some mayhem to keep you from getting all soft and sappy."
"Throwing temper-tantrums for attention always was your thing," L was quick to quip back.
"Hey, now." Beyond faked a sniffle. "There's no need to be unkind. I merely called to wish you a happy new year."
"The year won't change for another nine hours, Beyond."
"I know, I know the clock. You taught me. It's just that by midnight I'll already be in hiding, and then I'll be worrying about you tracking my calls. I offered to take Mello with me, actually, train him personally, since you have refused."
And holy crap, that was a scary idea – those two could form a terrorist organization on their own, and if they had Matt as their tech support...
L didn't seem worried, however. "Indeed? And what happened?"
Beyond sighed as though absolutely devastated. "Nothing. Mello had already started packing, but Matty-boy suddenly discovered his spine and took this really stubborn expression and told Mello that he wasn't going anywhere. Mello pouted and screamed and sulked and stomped around, but in the end, he just unpacked and told me no."
L smirked, and Light suddenly realized that his smug-and-amused totally paled next to L's. "Please take notice of my utter lack of surprise," the detective said, because Beyond couldn't (probably, Light thought and glanced at the window nervously) possibly see the smirk.
"Lack of surprise noted. Glad to have these conversations with you, L, just us grown-ups."
"The pleasure of behaving like a grown-up for you is all mine."
"Quite the contrary, I enjoy this just as –"
Light rolled his eyes. "Hey, night-creatures. The light of your days trying to catch some shut eye here."
L's eyes flitted to him, and in the dark Light saw a small smile curl the detective's lips upwards. "Of course. Beyond, I'm afraid that we must continue our grown-up conversation some other time. Light-kun is worried he will not shine quite as bright tomorrow without his regular twelve hours of sleep."
"I do not sleep twelve hours a night –"
"You're spoiling him rotten, but then again, I suppose he's already so rotten that it can't get worse. Wish him a happy new year for me, okay? And tell him to keep looking over his shoulder..."
Light froze in the middle of glancing at the window and yes, over his shoulder, yet again. L chuckled. "I will. Happy new year, Beyond."
Nine hours later, they were out in the streets with what seemed millions of other people, and L was feeling a whole lot less confident. Light had insisted that they wear kimonos, and when Light got insistent, there was very little L could do about it.
"There they are!" a familiar voice squealed from afar. L found that he was no longer entirely sure whether to cringe or smile at the idea that the owner of that shrill voice had spotted them and was going to join their company soon.
Light seemed to have opted for smiling, so the detective conjured a hesitant smile to greet the approaching couple as well. Misa was dazzling in her black and purple kimono, with her hair up in a lazy bun that was designed to look like it had been done in three seconds instead of the actual three hours, and the tall, young man she was dragging along looked – to L's secret delight – like he would have preferred to wear something other than his black and white kimono. So he wasn't alone in his discomfort, after all. (To his slight dismay, the man still managed to look entirely too handsome, despite his obvious dislike of the attire.)
"Light-kun!" Misa exclaimed, leaving her boyfriend's hand to throw her arms around her ex. "I'm so happy you made it!" L blinked when the girl turned from the younger man, still amazed that she was now able to unglue herself from Light so quickly, and when the blonde's eyes turned to him, he found himself dreading that she would greet him with a 'Hentai-san!'
"Ryu-kun!" she squealed instead, lunging to wrap her arms around him as well. "You look gorgeous!"
L's mind, which had been in the midst of preparations of a witty retort, drew a blank. So did his face, which apparently amused Light to no end. Misa's boyfriend chuckled at his expression as well.
"Hide-kuuuun~" she chanted, dashing back to the other man's side again, pulling and pushing him closer to the detectives. "I want you to meet two special someones! This is Light Yagami -"
"I've heard quite a lot about you," Ryuga grinned as he reached out to shake Light's hand, then halted in the middle of the movement, and bowed instead. "Sorry, too much time abroad..."
Light looked down at his own hand, which had been half-raised as well. "The feeling is mutual, on both parts. Though I have heard more about you from my sister than Misa."
Misa giggled evilly. L opened his mouth to say, 'up by 0,3 percent' but caught himself in time. "And Hide-kun, this one here is Light's friend from To-oh, Ryuzaki. But his real name is, and this is the good part..."
"Misa -" Light frowned, and L held his breath.
"- Hideki Ryuga as well!" the blonde exclaimed, throwing her arms up in the air. "Isn't that cool? It must be fate or something, that I met this guy with a name like that when I was trying to have a relationship with Light, even though I knew it was doomed!"
She doesn't remember. L's heart was pounding way too loudly, but the realization that Misa truly had no memories of her time as Kira – including seeing his real name at some point – helped him to calm down a little. Fate or something, indeed.
"Really?" Ryuga's eyebrows hid under his carefully arranged bangs. "I've never met anyone with the exact same name before!"
I haven't either, L mused, forming a little smile at the younger man. "Well, with all your well-earned fame it seems to me that the name should be reserved exclusively to you," he replied smoothly. Perhaps he had no actual social skills, but he was a master at pretending he did. "Which is why I go by Ryuzaki... People always looked so disappointed when I introduced myself."
Ryuga smiled back at him. "I can't see why anyone would be disappointed by you," he said, and L had a strange feeling that the man probably meant it too, in a friendly way with no ulterior motives. It was odd. Did people like that exist? Other than Matsuda, that is.
Light shifted next to him, a mixture of what looked a little like pride and a little like jealousy in his amber eyes. "It's good to see that you're taking care of Misa now," he changed the topic smoothly. "I'm so glad that she's found someone who's truly worth her."
The patented Hideki Ryuga Smile was aimed at Light, this time. "Thank you! Though I consider myself the lucky one here. I'm certainly not complaining, but I can't help but wonder what on Earth possessed you to let this jewel go." He reached out and wrapped an arm gently around Misa's shoulders, bringing her close to his chest.
Misa blinked, looking up at him with wide eyes, before breaking into a brilliant smile. She didn't say anything, much to L's surprise – it seemed that the girl was too happy to get a word out of her mouth, and then again, her shining eyes said more than her words ever could have.
For the first time since they had met, L realized that at some point, he had started to genuinely like that girl. Seeing her so happy sent a strange, warm wave through his chest, and he found the feeling most curious.
Funny. It seemed that after all, it was Misa Amane and not Light Yagami that was his very first friend, since he couldn't exactly call Light a friend.
Light laughed suddenly, that warm, gentle laugh from before and in between Kira, the laugh that made L smile despite himself and his heart skip a beat. "Well, you see - it appears that we were, in the end, a bit too much alike," he said, grinning and imitating Ryuga's gesture by slowly snaking his arm around L and pulling him flush against his side. "We were more into a Hideki Ryuga than each other."
Ryuga's expression was priceless, Misa had the nerve to snigger, and L's face was decidedly warmer than before.
"Oh," the pop star murmured, looking at the arm resting possessively around L's waist, blushing a little and then offering a slightly hesitant smile to show that he was more taken aback than disgusted. "You two... make a very cool couple."
L had a sneaky feeling that he had been about to call them a cute couple.
"Likewise," Light returned with the utmost grace.
L finally recovered from the shock of coming out of the closet he had only just crawled into, and turned to shoot an irritated look at his...
Suspect, friend, nemesis, chain-mate and a bunch of other options were scratched over one after another, and finally he had no choice but to settle on lover. An equal.
The irritation had apparently melted away somewhere between his eyes and Light's, because the brunet just grinned at him, so it hardly mattered, anyway.
"Light-kun's puns are still awful," he muttered, looking at the space next to the younger man's chin rather than in those golden eyes.
"As you just mentioned, I'm still named Light," the younger man replied blithely, "and because of that, I'm afraid, I will forever remain cursed in that area."
L looked up suddenly, a wry little smile curling the corners of his lips. "Oh, but you do know that there is only one way to truly break an evil curse, do you not?"
The clock struck twelve, the spell was broken, carriages turned back into pumpkins, princesses into detectives and knights into murderers, but it didn't have to be a fairytale to have a happy ending, and as a deafening, blinding field of fiery flowers exploded to fill the sky, the detective kissed the murderer to tell him that yes, in time the princess had indeed learned to love the knight -
… and that no, there was no way he would ever say it out loud.
A/N: Writing this story and now editing it has been a magnificent, cathartic journey for me, and I wish you can derive some enjoyment from it as well. (Despite the cultural fudge-up of this epilogue: I mixed some elements of the Japanese Summer Festival with my personal experiences of both Western and Japanese New Year's celebrations. Sorry!) I wrote it through some of my worst experiences so far, working through them with humor and fluff, and finished it at the threshold of the happiness that has characterized my life since then.
As before, and ever after, I thank you, my readers, from the bottom of my heart. Each and every one of you is wonderful.