Part 10

Edited and Reposted as of 10.18.09

"I know him."

It has been well over two years since Light has been living in normal society. In that time, L has gradually been working him up to a level in which Light is able to solve crimes alongside L. L thinks that it might not have been Light's first choice for a career—hell, he knows that it wouldn't be Light's first choice. But it is what L has, and what Light will accept.

And the regular work helps; truly it does. Wammy thinks so too, which helps L's confidence when nothing seems to be working at all. But having a schedule firmly in place—and work that challenges both their minds, keeps them focused on things that are not themselves—keeps Light's mind from turning away from him.

Now, L glances back at Light, who is leaning over his shoulder, examining the list of criminals he is scrolling through. L blinks, registering his earlier comment. "You know whom?" he asks.

Light leans in closer, and L forgets their conversation for a split second as he allows himself to inhale deeply Light's scent. It is of soft soap and warm skin, and L still has found nothing he likes better, not even his sweets. Light does not notice, and instead points with one scarred finger. "Him," he says, singling out a picture.

Frowning, L spins around in his chair. "No, you don't," he corrects. The revelation—false or not—jars him. Light cannot know him; he is doing this to piss L off, or perhaps he is confused himself.

"Yes I do," Light argues irritably, leaning away. He keeps his eyes on the picture.

"Who does Light-kun think he knows?" L asks, quirking an eyebrow in challenge.

Light stares at L for a moment (a relief, L admits, because he does not like the look Light is giving the static image on the computer), but then he looks back at the computer screen, where a pale-faced man grins in his mug shot.

"B," Light says, the single syllable making L flinch. "Backup. Rue Ryuuzaki."

L stares at Light for a long moment before his frown deepens, and he spins back around to face the computer. He is scowling, struggling with echoes of the past, echoes of past failures, when he speaks next. "Of course you do," he murmurs, keeping his voice monotone only with great effort. "Why wouldn't you? Why should I expect the world to make sense anymore? At this point, it's not even naïvety on my part—it's pure stupidity."

Light stares at the back of L's head, startled at his reaction. "I didn't want to meet him," he finally says, a bit defensively. "I didn't want to. But he was there—in the asylum. Before I was put in solitary, we met."

Ratio remembers this quite well—because he thought it must be a hallucination. Within the first month of his stay at the asylum, when he had still been foolish enough to believe he could escape.

He had been wandering the outside yard during exercise time, looking for possible weaknesses. And then he had stopped. Because there, 100 yards away, was L. Just standing there. Staring up at the fence with a scowl Light had certain never seen.

Cautiously, Light had moved forward. And as he got closer, 50 yards way, 30, then 10, he had slowed and finally stopped. And who he thought was L from a distance had turned. Light had known, as he saw the red eyes flash, that there was no way this was L.

"There were a great number of inmates," L snaps, still not turning around. Light stands where he is, awkwardly. "Why did Light-kun choose to make friends with this one?"

"We weren't friends," Light says, and his voice is scathing. The tone makes L glance over at him; it has been a long time since Light has sounded so frustrated with him. But then, he is being especially obnoxious. "We weren't friends," he repeats. "And you are acting like a child, L. The only reason I even noticed him was because he looks exactly like you."

"Not exactly," L bites out, turning in his chair again to face Light, who looks as though he'd like to take a step back.

"No, not exactly," Light agrees, his face still darkened by his scowl. "But from a distance—very similar. He noticed me staring."

The other man stared back at him. And for a moment, neither spoke or moved. Then, L's double had grinned, and Light couldn't fathom how he had thought that this man looked like L.

"Yagami Tsuki," he had said.

Light had stared. "N-No," he'd managed after a moment.

"No?" the other man asked, cocking his head to the side in a gesture similar to—but not exactly like—one of L's. "Who are you then?"

"Light." He'd been just startled enough into truth.

"I see." The other man's grin widened. "Why are you staring?"

Light had hesitated then, gaining back some of his sense before he answered. "Who are you?"he finally asked.

"Of course he did," L murmurs. "It never escaped B's notice when he had another's attention."

"He guessed that I was Kira," Light says.

"I'm B," L's doppleganger had told him gleefully, advancing on him slowly with an expression of a child

Light had taken a step back. He already had a headache from the shock therapy he'd had an hour ago, and he couldn't really think through it. "What are you?" he'd asked.

"I could ask you the same question," B had said. His eyes were above Light's head. "No lifespan . . ."

"Shinigami eyes," Light had said, realizing suddenly. He had been about to say more when B had interrupted.

"Shinigami?" B quoted, eyes growing rounder. Then, after another moment of thought, he breathed, "Kira," and began laughing.

Light had been so startled he hadn't even bothered denying it. If this strange creature knew about Shinigami and, presumably, Death Notes, was there a way to use that? To use him?

"Did you think I was L?" B asked after he'd regained his breath, and Light was thrown for another loop. He had flinched at hearing the name, and he certainly didn't answer. "You did," B said, laughing. "That's wonderful," he continued. His laughter subsided into dark chuckling as he looked Light over carefully. "Absolutely wonderful."

"I'm not surprised," L says. He has no desire to continue this conversation, no desire to tell Light more about B than he already knows.

"He told me about Wammy's," Light adds, and his lips twitch into a smile as L goes very still.

"Light-kun has a talent for rooting out my secrets, no matter how much I wish they could stay buried."

"It says here that B's escaped," Light says conversationally, slipping into the chair next to L, choosing to ignore L's previous comment.

L turns back around to face the screen as well. "And so it does," he says, a bit too nonchalantly for Light's tastes. It isn't like L to be like this about a criminal. "It is not the first time."

"Why not execute him?" Light asks.

L gives him a level look. "Death is too good for someone like B," he says, no repentance in his voice. "It gives me more peace of mind to think of him rotting in an asylum."

"Cruel." Light isn't judging, only testing.

"I can afford to be cruel when it comes to B. He is a truly insane, truly malicious little creature."

Light's eyes roam over B's picture, and L doesn't like the calculating, smooth expression on Light's face. "I bet I know where he is," Light says.

L stares, almost afraid to ask. But eventually, he does. "How?"

Light smiles. "He told me."

A/N: Finished! *brushes hands briskly together* Well, then, I know that that epilogue was brief, and the REAL ending was last chapter BUT. Never fear, I have the first chapter of the sequel ready and raring to go! Go on--let me know how much you adored this story, and how horrible I am for not updating sooner, and how you'll die if I don't post the sequel. I'm ready for you! XD