Going to Marrakesh
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Not mine.

AN: Yes, it's another one of those 'make things better!' fics. But since it's me, it's slow-moving, rambling, and rather strange.

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Part One: The Devil's Dance Floor
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It starts with a name, drawn in and laughing, and continues with a death and the glaring starkness of an elaborately calligraphed letter on a blazingly white screen, and for the first time, he feels something other than smug superiority and endless, endless boredom. It's always been too easy, and now that it's not, he doesn't know how to handle it.

Light Yagami pulls on his hair and grits his teeth for the first time since the age of five, and spends the rest of that night in a quietly stewing rage that leaves him irritable and impatient the next day, even though he knows he needs to be calm. That calm is such a stretch to find is an unpleasant and unfamiliar sensation, and when he catches a glimpse of the newspapers screeching out L's challenge, he forces himself to buy one and see how the world is taking the news. And then he laughs and wonders why he bothered, because they're all idiots, but at least his supporters are still loyal, at least some people recognize that a new god is being born.

Sheep, he thinks and does not say, stupid worthless fools but I'll save them all and they'll learn, they'll learn, they'll learn someday.

Sixty-four. He takes it like the compliment and accusation that it is, and doesn't even blink at the price he pays, although his heart beats triphammer-time for the first moment or two of golden, shining risk. Knife-edge dancing is something new, but thrilling, and his breath freezes in his chest when the truth is a weapon leveled at his throat. He stumbles a little, recovers his steps, and tries to center, but it's hard with him so close and so dangerous, so different from what he'd expected that he's disgusted at his own disconcertion.

I hate you and I'll kill you and when I will I'll laugh but for now, for now, for now let's play.

He holds the Death Note in his hands and laughs and screams and rages and relishes the sound of his own heartbeat pounding in his ears. Pen twirling in his fingertips, he smiles across the tennis court and the tea-table and learns how to dance with a partner, knife-smiles hidden behind long bangs and the whisper of friendship that's a complete lie for them both. Under the watchful eye of his father and the investigation team, he plays the perfect role: helpful companion, attentive friend, innocent of innocents, and even though he's always careful not to give himself away, he can tell that L is laughing at his show.

"Ryuuga," he says softly, and tilts his head and smiles in greeting and fades softly away from his groupies, all polite apology and calmness, and L's answering smile is a lie matching his own. "Want to study together tonight?"

"Of course, Yagami-kun," comes the soft answer, and later over tea and cakes they parry and toss around theories and completely ignore the looming project due in the history of criminal justice that they're supposed to be working on together. Even though it makes him feel itchy and irritated just to look at him, makes him feel like attacking him with a hairbrush and an iron, he finds himself looking beyond the eccentricity and piles of creamer and stacked sugar and wondering how much of this is real and how much is just another veil for whatever truth is lying behind his eyes.

When L leaves him with a sly smile and a "Goodnight, Kira," whispered in a language not his own, he knows it would be bad form to slam his head into the door, but the temptation is almost too much to resist, and the one time he nearly let it slip, L intercepted him so quickly it felt like a slap in the face and left his wrist stinging for an hour afterwards.

Even his shinigami thinks he's crazy these days, and he throws his head back and laughs, because this is a game and the only other person who knows it is L himself, should-be pawn and would-be conqueror, but he thinks of a fresh corpse slumped over on national television and has to wonder if just maybe... but no, and that's almost a shame, because if they weren't at each other's throats they'd be beautiful together, a study in contrasts and echoes painted in human form.

They'd brushed skin and hair more than once, and even if he weren't seventeen years old and more intrigued with another human being than he'd ever been before, the thought of an affair would have been sweet, all the sweeter for the danger implied. But watching L makes him sick inside, all of that potential wasted on his own twisted sense of justice, and even though the Note is the best thing that's ever happened to him, even though that's the only reason L even gave him a second glance, he wants to beat him into shape, make him into a proper adversary and force him to drop the mockery that drips in every wide-eyed smile and the endless crunch of sugar cubes, toppling from their pile to scatter on crumb-laden china and plop into rapidly-cooling tea.

He's never felt strongly enough to hate someone before, and the feeling is exhilarating and a little addictive, and the only thing that will ever be able to top the thrill of the fight will be the bliss of victory.

In his dreams, L dies in his arms, and he laughs and laughs and laughs and kisses his closed eyelids and thinks I win I win I win I won and you lost and I won and wakes up in the morning, gleeful and laughing enough to make Ryuk laugh too, and maybe, just maybe he's going a little bit crazy with the joy of it all.

Misa tumbles into his life in a haze of frustration and a tangle of black lace, but she's attentive and obedient and pretty enough to make a good excuse of things, and he's almost incoherent with rage when she's snapped up right under his nose by a thieving bastard who makes a mockery of the word justice.

He steps into custody with a plot and a plan and an act pasted on, and murmurs "Kinky" when L fastens his hands behind his back - because they're friends, and because he laughed and said it would be weird if one of the team members did it, and that he trusted L to do the right thing, and maybe it's just a chance to relish this closeness because he might be forced into letting it slip away - and L chuckles, low and warm and close enough that it ruffles the hair on the back of his neck, and he's going to be so fucking bored from now on unless L makes a habit of talking to him, and should he steal a kiss to ensure it? No, best not - Misa, after all, could not be ignored, for all that she'd been caught up and bound and still managed to play her role. She's a good pawn, and L is a good player, and so he closes his eyes and walks into the cell without complaint and a small, resigned smile for the cameras and his father and the team, and for L who sees right through it.

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