The last 106 days might have been hell on earth but at this moment, Light thought that he had never felt better.
Given his drug-induced stupor, it was the only coherent thought of which he was capable anymore. Morpheus was dragging him under and the voices whispering from the doorway were growing nonsensical, dulled by the Ambien into meaningless noises.
"… want us to pull guard tonight?" That had to be Matsuda, always both eager and unsure.
"No." His father's voice was pitched low so as not to carry. The sedative made Light's hearing weirdly sharp even as his mind struggled to shut down. "Watari said the cameras were sufficient."
"Are you staying?"
"For a while. Where did they take L?"
He was curious enough to try to overhear what they were saying, but his eyelids were glued shut and it was too much effort to open them.
"To a surgeon who can keep quiet. Watari's handling everything since L won't…"
Now the sound of his own heartbeat was drowning out the words. When the voices degenerated into the warbling of birds, he stopped paying attention to them.
PLAY FROM BEGINNING
Light didn't know what had possessed him to volunteer for observation and solitary confinement. Since L had suspected him of being Kira from the beginning, perhaps he had convinced Light as well. Why else would Light let himself be locked up, and why would L confine him under such a flimsy pretense?
The imprisonment was doing nothing to stop Kira, but it was frustrating Light beyond all reason. Trapped in a cell without the use of his hands or legs, he had dedicated entire days to counting and naming every square in the false ceiling. He had calculated the ages of everyone he knew down to the day. He had written out the entire periodic table with his toes and scribed the poems he had once been asked to recite.
Far from distracting him, the pointless activities strung between equally pointless dialogues with L had only made Light wonder when he became so dependent on the detective. Some days he had wanted to rage at L, who he knew was always watching; then others he had stared into the camera's red eye, willing L with every fiber of his being to please, please talk to him.
Without any distractions, hehad started to wonder if he was born malformed, his feet fused together and no hands to speak of for all the good they did him. Did he even know how to walk anymore? Would he still know how to write and eat with utensils when he was released?
… If he was ever released.
Light had known he was losing his mind at that point.
He had contemplated dying in here, alone with only his increasingly despairing thoughts for company. So much for his bright future, so much for pursuing Kira and making him pay for his crimes.
The day he woke in the infirmary rather than his cell was one of the best days of his life. Even with the unbearable ache in his shoulders and knees, he could have danced for joy. It was all over; L must have found evidence to convict the real Kira or he wouldn't release Light.
Three days later, there was sky over his head and fresh air in his lungs. The new handcuffs he was wearing didn't matter; L could do whatever he wanted to transport Light as long as he was free! Soichiro was there to drive him back home, and Light had never been so glad to see him. Even Misa's presence in the back of the car didn't diminish his enthusiasm.
Then his own father threatened to kill him.
Light stared, stupidly, positive he had misheard. But no, there was a gun, his father was pointing a gun at his head and saying something about committing suicide. Light might have laughed in mixed terror and disbelief; he might have pleaded with Soichiro not to shoot. He only heard screams, maybe even his own, when the gun fired.
When Light opened his eyes, half-blind with tears and the red blotches choking his vision, only one thought surfaced.
Oh god, oh godohgod I'm still breathing, I must be alive. I'm still breathing…
There was no sudden surge of relief. There were no cheers that he was alive or protests over what Soichiro had just done. Dimly he heard voices, but he couldn't understand anything; his ears were ringing.
L's dry voice filled the car, reciting something about the results of this "test" and waking Light out of his reverie. Light wondered how L could talk about evidence and tapes when Light was drenched in sweat with a still-smoking brass casing beside him. L had probably been eating caramels and applauding Light's stellar performance while Light begged for his life.
L was sick.
Even after all that, when L offered him the opportunity to work with him, Light put on a wobbly smile and said something inane about catching Kira. He had to; he was too numb to contemplate what had just happened and just latched onto the promise of justice, of freedom.
As long as he could go home and sleep in his own bed without any cameras watching him, it would be worth it. He could eat with his hands instead of drinking soup and nutritional shakes through a straw. He could pick up his classes again if his professors gave him work to make up for his absence. He could finally get his life back in order.
He just had to get through the tremors he could feel coming on, the aftereffects of sheer panic still slamming through his veins. He had to focus on the future and forget this, forget what his father had said whether he was acting or not.
It wasn't real. The sunlight through the windows and the feel of the car moving were real, tangible things, and a few weeks from now he would be laughing over his time in confinement.
He even believed this tripe…
For an hour.
Light openly stared at L, his mind not on his work at all as L ate his dessert with a practiced delicacy. Light's eyes followed the shining fork as it skillfully avoided the crust and only picked up the cheese and blackberry sauce.
"What is Light-kun thinking?"
L's voice made Light glance up to his face without bothering to hide the fact that he had been staring. L was studying him now, looking like a child with his fork still half in his mouth.
"Does he want a piece?" L pushed the plate toward him slightly when Light didn't respond right away.
"No thanks, Ryuzaki." And by the way, I hope you fucking choke.
"I was just wondering if the rest of us could break for lunch too?" Light continued aloud.
"Of course." L turned back to his computer as the detectives behind them heaved a collective sigh and started tidying their piles of papers.
When L made no move to get up and only looked more focused, Light rubbed at the indentations on his wrist underneath the handcuff. Moving the chain made L turn his head just enough to eyeball him.
"Could we go to the kitchen for just a minute? I need to make something and I could use another cup of coffee." Light tried to make the request as undemanding as possible.
"Could Light-kun have Watari make it or let his father pick something up? I'm very busy right now."
"Dad?" Light said instead, taking out his wallet. The food stipend that he was getting from L was better than being forced to eat dessert all day long, but he would give it all back for the freedom to eat out just once.
"Did you want anything in particular?" Soichiro stopped beside him and waved away Light's money. This was a routine they were both very familiar with, and the look on his father's face showed that he at least understood what this was doing to Light.
"Something hot with chicken or beef. Thanks." Light smiled even if they both knew it was false.
That's all he had been doing for the last 53 days: faking enthusiasm at every lead they found in this case even when it led nowhere, feigning amusement when L said something awkward at Light's expense, and pretending that he didn't want to brain L on his keyboard on a near-daily basis.
Solitary confinement didn't seem all that bad anymore when he compared it to being chained to another human being, especially L.
He hated the inside of the headquarters more than he had ever hated the cell.
It had seemed nice at first, such a spacious facility with new computers and a huge display rather than the laptops they had previously scattered around hotel rooms. The main room with its vaulting ceiling and twin staircases, the pristine kitchen, and the sumptuous living quarters all belonged to them.
It should have been wonderful.
In reality, the dim lights didn't keep Light from blundering, half-asleep, into the furniture while being dragged to the kitchen. The beds would be more pleasant if he could sleep while L's hawk eyes picked him apart. Light used his blankets to make a barrier between himself and L's gaze despite the fact that L kept the temperature too high to be comfortable. The spacious bathrooms were wasted when L was brushing his teeth an elbow-length away, and Light had, at most, five minutes to himself before L made known his impatience.
Light's thoughts and actions were never his own anymore. Even had he and L been family or best friends or madly in love, this much time in L's company would have made him despise the detective. As it was, they weren't even friends.
Every little sin of L's needled him further. L's coffee was too strong and Light didn't like adding milk. The syrup-drenched concoctions L ate for breakfast made him nauseous when Light could barely focus on his computer. His wrist was bruised from L pulling him around like a dog, and the black eyes he had given L in retaliation didn't number nearly enough.
The fights were all that made this worthwhile after the mental fencing became irritating rather than stimulating. The adrenaline singing though his veins the last time he had split L's lip had been well worth the bloody nose he received in return. He never had given L a reason for his laughter the morning after while he replayed that scene over and over in his head.
The fantasies of violence were just that, fantasies to distract himself with so he didn't lay a finger on L with the intent to really hurt him. After all, if he did that, he would surely be locked up for being Kira. All of L's catty remarks about him displaying Kira-like tendencies would somehow be proven true and he'd be imprisoned, never mind that L had no concrete evidence.
It all came down to avoiding more captivity. At this point, Light couldn't imagine real freedom anymore. Maybe it hadn't ever existed.
Waking up was like clawing his way out of pillows or clouds. Bubbles, even. Unable to get a grip on wakefulness, Light lay there a long time before his surroundings coalesced out of the dreamy fog. Two thoughts came sharply into focus, burning away the final vestiges of sleep.
This wasn't L's room, and his face was on fire.
He lurched upward, his muscles weighted with lead before a third alarming change registered.
His arms were strapped down.
"Ryuzaki!" He tried to scream, filled with unbelieving fury for this kind of stunt. His voice emerged a screechy rasp through his cracked lips and he couldn't get his mouth open due to bandages wrapped his head. Pain blossomed along his jaw and he fell back, stunned at the intensity of it.
The door opened a moment later and of all people, Watari entered with a syringe in hand. Light cringed away, only now seeing the catheter leading out of his arm to an IV drip beside the bed.
"What the hell is going on?" He hissed before the agony cut him off. A sudden sense of wrongness made him probe at his teeth with his tongue.
The sharp edges of broken enamel cut like razors, tainting his mouth with his own blood. Two teeth on the right side were missing altogether and at least one more was partially broken off. Horror kept him from noticing Watari until it was too late; the old man had already pushed whatever drugs were in the syringe into his IV.
"Don't try to open your mouth." Watari said, setting the needle aside. "Your jaw was probably broken." The tight set of his mouth betrayed either anger or frustration.
"What happened?" Light asked, feeling his eyelids grow suddenly heavy as the pinpricks of fire dulled. "What are… you…"
"It's alright, son." His father materialized out of nowhere, half-obscured by the black fog encroaching on his vision. "The restraints are to keep you from hurting yourself and the medicine is just for the pain. Calm down."
"But…" Something else was wrong, and he tried to raise his wrist, the one scarred from being abused by the handcuffs yet now curiously free. "Where's Ryuzaki?"
"Just relax, Light." Soichiro's voice was the last thing he heard as the painkillers bore him under again.
That was how long he'd been in captivity before. It was also the number of days he'd spent physically attached to another human being. Not just any human but L, the world's greatest and the world's most incredibly insensitive, inconsiderate detective.
He'd been deprived of sleep, forced to operate on someone else's schedule, eat someone else's food, and have his every move and facial expression analyzed by someone incapable of empathy. It simply never occurred to L that he was making Light miserable when Light was doing everything he could to cooperate.
His sacrifices were numerous. He had dropped out of a full scholarship to Todai University and indefinitely suspended his career plans. He hadn't seen his mother and sister for months. He never left the headquarters because L was too paranoid to show the world his face. Light's every action was benefiting someone else and L still made demands.
Right now he was exhausted and unsteady on his feet; he needed to go to back to bed now or he wasn't going to be able to make it through the next day. Instead of sleeping, he was leaning against the counter, wearing his pajamas and patiently waiting for L to decide what he wanted from the kitchen. He was convinced by now that L was just torturing him.
Watching L in profile from the other side of the refrigerator door, it struck Light that he had never hated another person this much in his entire life. He hadn't known he was capable of hate.
He looked down at his crossed arms. If only L would take the handcuffs off, he could go to sleep. He'd happily sleep in the same room as L if only he could go free. He had waited for L to find evidence that he was Kira, waited for L to release him from the cell, and now he was waiting for L to let him off the chain.
Light had waited long enough.
He reached blindly behind him, feeling the sleek wooden handles that he had known were there, part of the standard kitchen setup even if they had never used them.
L made an irritated noise when Light pretended to back away, pulling L's thumb out of his teeth and his arm above the top of the door.
"Light-kun, you—" L broke off abruptly when Light stepped parallel to L's arm and slammed the blade down as hard as he could.
He was obscenely grateful that it turned out to be the chef's knife. The bread knife would have shattered. As it was, he missed the cuff and only got L's arm, but one was as good as another. The force of the blow had apparently broken L's elbow as well.
L made an inhuman shriek and jerked away, but Light had the element of surprise, the weight advantage, and a very solid grip on the chain in anticipation of L's actions.
In that half-second of cool clarity, Light thought that it might not be fair to use a weapon when they had previously only used fists or feet, but this was so much more efficient. Why hadn't he done it before?
L kicked the door toward Light, trying to trap him against the counter while he lunged for the knife. Light twisted sharply before L could grab him, using one of L's own moves against him. Normally this arm lock would only pin L as it had pinned Light before, but the joint shattered audibly when Light bent it backwards around his torso.
Light was so surprised when L screamed and collapsed that he almost dropped the hand and the knife. He fell to his knees above L's head, slammed the hand against the tile, and hacked frantically, his breathing turning to growls of effort. His fingers were covered in gore and kept slipping on the flesh rapidly becoming shredded meat.
A meat cleaver would be so much faster, cutting through bone in one swipe.
L opened his eyes and sucked in air, waking up when Light changed tactics and tried to remove L's thumb and pinky. Light didn't need to pay attention to him; there was only the handcuff, only freedom. The noise that came from L when the knife finally splintered bone was animalistic, unreasoning but it was background noise, not a distraction.
"I just have to get this cuff off, that's all." He said to reassure L as well as remind himself when he dropped the warped knife.
When L fell suddenly silent, Light spared his upside-down face a glance while he tried to tug the cuff off L's wrist. L's teeth were bared, his eyes blazing with naked hate, and Light had one millisecond to react to the kick aimed at his face.
L's heel crunched through his teeth and the blade of L's foot tore Light's mouth wide open down one side. Dazed and blinded, he didn't even feel his head crack against the floor. He could only lie there while his frantic breathing turned the blood filling his mouth into foam.
He gagged but before he could drown, he rolled onto his side and found himself retching shattered teeth all over the floor as well. The bloodied shards pinging on the tile made him dry heave, wrenching his already-strained neck and making him see stars. As the adrenaline bled out of him, it was all he could do to hold himself upright.
Through bleary, tear-filled eyes, he could see that L was curled into a ball, cradling his mutilated arm against his chest. He was trying to pull his phone out of the opposite pocket but had to keep biting back screams. Light couldn't move, stunned into inaction as L pressed a single button on the side of the phone, likely a distress call. L dropped it and sobbed loudly, the noise agonized as he curled tighter on himself.
It was that sound that finally broke through Light's rage-intoxicated stupor. He blinked and really saw the blood everywhere and the gobbets of flesh and severed fingers lying between them. His head started buzzing and he nearly threw up with the sudden nausea.
What have I done?
L's misshapen forearm and hand looked like it was covered in fat black slugs underneath all the gore, but those were the chunks Light had carved out with his frantic chops. The arm was ruined.
Light's eyes followed the chain away from L, counting the once-shining links that were dull with the beginning of rust as well as flecks of blood. He sat down shakily and unthinkingly pulled the chain toward his face, trying to feel out the damage done to his mouth.
L seized and spewed what had to be obscenities before grabbing the chain and yanking Light's hand from him. His eyes were full of murder, angrier than Light had thought possible.
"Do that again and I'll break more than your face, Kira."
That undid him.
Light chuckled through his teeth as Watari burst in and unlocked the handcuffs. When L told Watari that Light wasn't a threat anymore, he only laughed harder, feeling giddy at the excessive oxygen. His father's concerned voice a few minutes later was indecipherable through the roaring in his ears, but he could still see L, shaking with his face pressed into the floor.
He might have been giggling still when he blacked out in Matsuda's arms, so glad to be able to sleep that he didn't care where he was anymore.
Matsuda, Aizawa, and Soichiro had taken to eating lunch in his room. No one seemed to know how to react to the surreal circumstances without L to direct them, so they feigned casualness and carried on with the investigation. To Light, it was already an improvement over how things used to be.
He was on bed rest for the time being, basically under house arrest while still in the building. He finally had his own room, fresh and clean and never-been-used. It was paradise even with the cameras that he knew were there.
He also knew he was taking more than just painkillers since he was always sleepy and calm, but he didn't care enough to figure out which tablets might be trazodone and which were Vicodin or Percocet. He had the freedom to sleep and there wasn't another person attached to him; that was all that mattered. The neck brace, broken jaw, and eleven stitches holding his gaping cheek together were secondary.
It surprised them all when L appeared in the open doorway. No one spoke or moved for long moments.
"Hi," Light finally said through his teeth, deliberately casual.
L looked tense, which meant that he was incredibly angry even if nothing else showed on his face. His right arm was in a sling, covered with plaster from his shoulder to below his elbow, but the forearm swathed in bandages was half as long as it should be. Light wished he could smile but it would only break the stitches; L was right-handed.
Far from feeling guilt or remorse, Light thought that L deserved it.
"Get out." L told the team without looking at them. Matsuda and Aizawa practically fled out the door but his father lingered.
"Ryuzaki, what—" Soichiro started before L just looked at him.
"Light is in no danger. Please leave. Now."
Seeing his father so easily cowed by L was not a sight Light was prepared for. It was humbling to him to see Soichiro look defeated as he left.
L pushed the door shut rather than slamming it; he never had been one for theatrics. He crossed the room and sat on the bed beside Light, facing him and looking completely at ease.
That annoyed Light. L should have at least been humbled at losing his hand to someone he had terribly underestimated. Then L smiled, and Light felt his blood run cold even before L reached out and touched the side of Light's face, fingers hovering just above the stitches. He refused to move and let L see fear, so he kept his breathing steady.
"You think you've won." L stated blandly.
No pet names and no cutesy third-person; L was furious behind that passive mask. If Light wasn't trying to hide his emotions as well without the medication making him sloppy, he might smile and playact like they used to. It was when he looked into L's eyes that he knew why L wasn't toying with him.
L's gaze was unfocused, his eyes dull rather than razor-sharp. He had to be drugged to the teeth to let himself be that far gone. Light was surprised he had been able to walk here without help.
"I have won." Light said, annoyed at the necessity of keeping his teeth together.
"Did you plan all this?" L trailed his fingers down Light's cheek as he spoke, avoiding the stitches but still making Light's insides writhe like a nest of snakes. His jaw was badly swollen and even L's ghost touches were hurting him. This was not how they used to fight and he didn't like it, although he supposed he might be to blame for having changed the rules. However, showing no reaction to what L was doing would be a slap in his face.
"I don't know what you mean." Light stared at L's overly shadowed eyes, amused at how dazed L looked yet how in control he still was. L was more than a worthwhile enemy for him.
L was not his friend, but he was no enemy. Kira was the enemy.
Backtracking, Light tried to stay focused on the conversation. He had just taken a small handful of pills with his liquid lunch and they were starting to make him drowsy.
"Don't play dumb. Neither of us has the patience for it right now." L actually frowned, his eyes growing colder in contrast to his gentle caress of the hollow at the base of Light's throat. Light finally reached up and brushed his hand away. It was making him sick to have L touch him and do nothing in response.
"You mean the part about you not being able to convict me of anything?" Light answered, trying to keep the haughty tone out of his voice.
"That would be it." L was smiling again, eyes hooded.
L's own obsession with secrecy was his downfall. He wouldn't reveal his identity to the police just to have Light convicted of assault, nor would he smear his own name by revealing the circumstances under which Light attacked him. He couldn't incriminate Light without doing the same to himself if his numerous unconventional interrogation tactics were revealed, especially when there was no evidence to justify them.
"Why do you care?" Light lay back against his pillows, feigning disinterest in L's nearness. The shadow of irritation flickered across L's features; whatever he was using was fraying his stringent self-control.
"I wondered how much was premeditated, but now I'd rather find out later." L shifted his weight, planted his hand on Light's chest, and leaned over Light to whisper in the ear opposite him. "You're mine now, Yagami Light."
"I don't care for this new hobby of yours nor your claims to my person." Light said, trying to slow his heartbeat to maintain his façade of sangfroid. It was difficult not to react to the hot breath on his ear and L's fingers resting half-inside his nightshirt. He hadn't been mentally prepared for this kind of assault, but he should have known L too would fight dirty.
L leaned back just enough so he could look into Light's eyes, brushing Light's face with his hair in the process, and his gaze fell to Light's lips. Light couldn't stop the shiver this time. L was probably staring at the stitches, and he felt ill to think that L's foot had done that. It made him want to rinse his mouth with bleach.
"You talk prettily when you're cornered." L said softly, but then his expression sobered and he was not so much lecherous as frightening with this proximity.
"I'm done playing. You took something of mine, and I will take the same from you." He slid his hand across Light's chest as he spoke, down Light's right arm and stroking just below his elbow. "You will accompany me wherever I go, whatever I do. This hand is mine and the only way you will buy your freedom is by giving it to me."
Light stared in disbelief. Threats? L had never resorted to threats to win an argument. Then again, L had never used sex as a weapon either. Even the way he talked had changed; he was almost a different person under the goofy pretense he kept up in front of the team.
No, this was a different person. Just as he had pulled his punches to keep Light from seeing what he was capable of, he had hidden this persona until it was necessary to use. Unfortunately, seeing it and knowing what it was didn't make him any less susceptible.
"You've already taken enough from me," Light seethed.
"You mean your pretty face? That was one of your best weapons."
You have ruined my life! Light wanted to shout, but he held his tongue. That sounded juvenile even if it was the truth.
"My indentured servitude hasn't satisfied you? You want the rest of my life too?"
L tilted his head, brushing Light's temple with his lips as he spoke. "Kira owes the world more than his life. I'm just collecting on that debt."
"You have no evidence." And that didn't matter to L in the slightest. L knew Light realized that with the look he was giving him. "You don't expect my father not to—"
"Your father did not stop me from imprisoning you. Your father pointed a gun at you at my request. He will not stop or even question me, nor will any government." L petted Light's hair as if he was a child before returning to Light's arm. "Have you realized your powerlessness yet?"
"You call yourself 'Justice'?" Light sneered, sending pain rocketing through his face with the motion. L was no more "justice" than Light was Santa Claus. He only used the law as an excuse when it suited him and he had the gall to take the high road with Light?
"And you think you're a god. Which of us is more delusional?" L squeezed Light's arm as he spoke.
Light had to be bruising by now, but with effort he said and did nothing. It was the best way to infuriate L at this point. Without moving his head, Light glanced down at his arm dismissively, as if he hadn't noticed L's white-knuckled grip before raising his eyebrows and meeting L's gaze.
"You don't think you've won?"
"I've been playing these games since before you could talk, Light-chan. How does your victory taste?"
L released his arm and sat back before Light could do more than contemplate punching him for that.
"We will re-evaluate your living conditions when I have less morphine in me. You won't be my hands willingly and I don't want to lose the other in a few years." L stood slowly, unbalanced from the drugs and missing appendage. "Consider your demands so we can discuss them later."
Light stared at him, wishing he could burn a hole in L's chest. He couldn't even look angry, forced to maintain a non-expression to keep from ruining his face further.
"You piece of sh—"
"Language, Light-kun." L's amused voice came over his shoulder as he opened the door. "Sleep well."
L stepped out and closed the door behind him. Only then did Light let a half-smile form on his face.
No matter how many battles L won in the future or how badly he soured Light's victory, the fact that L had changed the playing field confirmed his defeat.
Light might have planned that attack from start to finish, as befitted his meticulous nature. However, it went completely against the prior behaviors that L had surely catalogued in agonizing detail, and L was never wrong so that was impossible. It could have been a crime of passion that turned out splendidly in Light's favor, which L would also dismiss. He didn't believe in fate or coincidence, being a man of science and logic.
L never would know which it was, either. He was in a position to doubt himself, a position to wonder why he couldn't pin Light down.
That made him afraid of Light.
A/N - This is the companion story to "The Numbers Game." One basic plot, two ways of telling it. This one was written second since it is apparently impossible for me to use less than five million words, but I wanted all the gory details. Again, recipe for insanity deserves much credit for putting up with this story again and again while betareading it.
I have a poll for this story. Humor me if you have 5 seconds, please.
I have another story written the same way - one long version, one short version with different details in each. Depending on how this goes over, I might post both of those as well. Maybe then I'll get back to my other stories. Heh.