Author's Note: American Christmas traditions? I don't know what you're talking about! :D All I know is that I have this weird, slightly insane Christmas fic that I started last year, only to run out of time halfway through and finish it this year instead. And that if you're the kind of person who digs slightly-predictable seasonal silliness, we're in business.

Merry Christmas, Happy (late) Hanukkah, and Copacetic Kwanzaa!


CHRISTMAS COOKIES

Some days, L wanted to fire everyone on his team.

Except Soichiro, who seemed to be the only one whose brain had not disappeared at the onset of December. The collective vanishing of the others' was a mystery beyond even L's powers to unravel.

"No chicks?" Matsuda was asking incredulously. "Why would I want to go to a party if there aren't going to be any chicks?"

Soichiro gave him a black look. "If you're going to be a drama queen about it," he replied crisply, "perhaps you shouldn—"

"I suppose I can make time," Matsuda sighed, shaking his head mournfully. "But only because I'm so fond of your family, Chief."

"And because my mom's cookies are to die for," Light chipped in contentedly.

L wondered if he should count that as a point for his Kira theory. The question was whether it was an unwarranted glimpse of Light Yagami's subconscious… or a result of Light's prominent sugar-high.

L was immune to sugar-highs by now. Or perhaps he was in a constant state of sugar-high, and anything but felt low.

Hmm.

Something occurred to L, something he should have thought of hours, if not days, ago.

"Am I expected to attend this event?" he inquired.

There was a pause.

"Of course you are," Light said to break the silence. "I'm going." He rattled the chain meaningfully.

L swiveled brusquely in his chair, regarding the computer screen again. "I don't believe it is in my best interests to traipse about the suburbs for some capitalistic perversion of a religious festival."

A glance out of the corner of his eye confirmed that Light looked genuinely hurt.

"Come on, Ryuzaki," Matsuda pressed, having apparently changed his mind about the quest for chicks. "It'll be fun. Do you remember what 'fun' is?"

"The first syllable of words like 'functional,'" L muttered, "which this team is not."

Being deliberately contrary was fun; he knew that.

"Think of all the cookies that will go uneaten if you aren't there," Light pointed out.

L turned to consider the boy's sincere expression. It didn't waver under his scrutiny, though that wasn't necessarily proof of innocence.

He thought it over. He imagined that Kira would not make a particularly avid supporter of Christmas parties. Propagating a God that was not himself did not sound like it would top a megalomaniacal sociopath's agenda, and he probably wouldn't be too happy about the red-suited interloper, either.

Besides. There were cookies at stake.

L admired his toes. "Perhaps we can stay a short while," he conceded.

He was probably consigning himself to his doom, but at least his doom would have cookies.

Light stood. "Where's the key?" he asked.

"What key, Light-kun?" L inquired. He knew precisely what key the boy meant, of course, but the query's purpose was twofold: first, it bought time to compose his prospective response; and second, it made Light wrinkle his nose in that wonderful way he did when he was (usually rightfully) annoyed.

"The key to the handcuffs," Light answered, raising an eyebrow to indicate that he was well-aware of L's intentions.

This was why sparring with Light Yagami was so entertaining—it was actually difficult.

"Light-kun wishes to abandon our sole measure of security for the sake of denominational festivities?" L summarized idly.

Light did the nose-wrinkling thing. L wriggled his toes triumphantly.

"Maybe we could replace it with a string of Christmas lights," Light deadpanned brutally. "Or tinsel, if you preferred. Or perhaps a garland; would you like that?"

"We could tie a big red bow in your hair!" Matsuda put in eagerly.

L stared at him until he became very interested in his snowman-patterned tie.

"Normally," Soichiro said slowly, "I would discourage making an exception…"

L waited for the other shoe—oh, God, he'd have to wear shoes, wouldn't he?—to fall.

"…but…"

Damn shoes.

"…knowing my wife…" Soichiro shrugged slowly. "Would you be satisfied if we all made a distinct effort to keep Light under constant surveillance, Ryuzaki?"

L looked at his knees. He had a little bit of frosting smushed into the fabric, but the denim-sugar ratio was probably so much in favor of the former that licking it later would not be profitable.

"Please make Aizawa-san and Mogi-san aware of this arrangement," he said.

It was the season of giving, after all.

Which he thought was very stupid; did that mean he wasn't supposed to give the rest of the time?

This was why L usually avoided holidays as fervently as he did socks and table salt.

There was a wreath on the door and two poinsettias on the step. It wasn't a large house; L had been expecting something less… cozy.

He glanced at Quillish, who smiled and shrugged his shoulders. There was a sprig of holly in his fedora today, which L hadn't noticed when they left.

L stepped cautiously over the threshold, moving into the living room, where Soichiro was embracing a woman with a round, open face and short dark hair. L found himself smiling. He had kept this man from his family too long, and a few hours' delay was not too steep a price to pay for a moment of happiness.

A girl in her mid teens, who looked like her mother but had the mischievous gleam L had seen in Light-kun's eyes, was chasing her brother, ponytail swinging, and attempting to jam a Santa hat onto Light's head. Light's foot caught on one of the legs of the coffee table, and, with a wail of distress, he went sailing into the couch.

That was what he got for wearing shoes.

Sayu skipped over and shoved the hat onto his head, mussing his hair on purpose.

Light made a great show of sitting up, nursing his new bruises, and bemoaning the state of the nation's youth, but then he pulled the hat on more securely and leapt up, helping his mother distribute drinks to the raucous invaders who had taken over her home.

Guests. That was the word.

Light was attempting to blow his bangs out of his face, an effort obstructed by the hat, as he pushed a small red plastic plate of cookies and a glass of what looked like fruit punch at L, who had claimed a place on the couch where he could watch the proceedings with a critical eye.

L sniffed at the red fluid in his glass. "This isn't very traditional," he remarked.

"I thought you didn't like Christmas," Light replied airily, his eyes impossibly bright in the warm yellow glow of the lamp to L's left.

L gazed at him placidly. "I don't like Christmas, Light-kun," he countered. "I just like cookies a great deal."

Light made a scoffing noise and went past Watari—who, judging by the elaborate hand gestures and the invisible map he was drawing on the table with his index finger, was regaling Light's parents with a choice specimen from his infinite supply of travel stories—to answer the door. There were cheers of recognition to usher Aizawa, his wife, and their children into the room, and refreshments were fetched, and Matsuda was fiddling with the sound system, and where had Light gone?

L pressed his hands over his ears, wincing, when Matsuda's fumblings brought some Christmas carol blaring out of the speakers. He tracked down Light, who had accepted a box of red and white ornaments from his mother and was carrying them over to the tree, easing the first out to slide it onto an available branch. L watched the boy's fingers move and selected a cookie to nibble upon.

These were good.

A different Christmas song came on, one with a guitar and a great deal of brass, and Light, an ornament in either hand, made a sound like, "Oh!" and grinned, starting to sashay back and forth about the tree.

"Feliz Navidad," he sang along, the trailing pom-pom on his hat bouncing, "Feliz Navidad… Feliz Navidad… Feliz Navidad, propsero año y felicidad."

Light made a face at Sayu, who was less-than-subtly pointing at him and whispering to the Aizawas' giggling toddler.

"I'm practicing my English," Light informed his sister pointedly.

"You're practicing your Spanish," she corrected.

"Cállate," Light retorted. "That's Spanish for 'Shut up.'" Ignoring the unimpressed look Sayu exchanged with the three-year-old, Light cha-cha-chaed briskly back to the tree, singing again, actually in English this time: "I want to wish you a merry Christmas… I want to wish you a merry Christmas… I want to wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart…"

His accent was tremendous and tremendously endearing.

Delicately, L took another bite of cookie.

He then noticed that Matsuda was digging through a plastic bag he'd left by the door. From it, he retrieved a tangled string of tinsel, a series of small reindeer figurines, and a Santa hat significantly fluffier and more flamboyant than Light's.

L was very concerned as to what he might pull out of this bag next, and he was halfway to his feet to express his desire that the effort to empty it be aborted when Matsuda crowed in triumph.

"Found it!" was the cry.

L did not like this at all.

He liked it even less when Matsuda flung a tiny, red-ribbon-wrapped bouquet of twigs tipped with roundish leaves heedlessly out into the room. That couldn't be anything but—

"Mistletoe!" Matsuda sang.

The of-course-it-was sailed through the air and lodged itself in Aizawa's afro.

Matsuda's face fell a little as Aizawa plucked the article from his hair in two fingers, holding it up for inspection and then turning to Matsuda, looking less than amused.

Matsuda smiled winningly.

Then Aizawa's wife nudged his elbow to push his arm a little higher, threw both arms around his neck, and kissed him very enthusiastically indeed.

There were cheers and catcalls from all corners of the room, and Mogi gave a spine-tinglingly sharp wolf-whistle. Light, who was standing by the arm of L's couch, cupped his hands around his mouth and whooped.

Aizawa was flushed but grinning when Eriko drew back, quite pleased with herself, keeping one of her hands splayed on her husband's lapel.

Aizawa tossed the mistletoe at Soichiro, who laughed and wrapped his arms around his own wife's waist, kissing her amongst emphatic cheers and applause. Before they'd even finished, Matsuda grabbed the fateful plant from the chief's hand, wound up like a professional pitcher, and hurled it towards—

L abandoned his cookie plate and vaulted over the back of the couch, a flash of anti-festive dexterity, only to encounter a warm, soft, Santa-hat-sporting obstruction that uncannily resembled a ducking Light Yagami.

L was going to kill everyone.

At least, that was his plan for after he'd disentangled himself from Light's flailing limbs and fled out the door, never to return.

"Get off—" Light began.

"Let go," L retorted, trying and failing to ninja-roll over Light and out of the predicament, foiled in his attempt by a ribbon that had insinuated itself around his foot.

"Shut up—" Light hissed, as if there was any way in the universe that they could hide.

Sure enough, with unholy speed, Matsuda bounced onto the back of the couch, having snatched up his ungodly prize to dangle it above them with uncharitable glee.

Thus was L witness to the destruction of a thousand sugar-plummy notions of Christmas cheer, all in a single glimpse of Matsuda's Christmassy sadism.

This was precisely why he usually stuck to the cookies.

"Come on!" Matsuda chirped. "Be good sports!"

Everyone in the room promptly started closing in. L sympathized with caged rats, death row inmates, and gladiators facing horrifying odds.

"Only if the sport's evisceration," Light muttered, grasping two fistfuls of L's shirt and heaving him off at last.

"Or drawing and quartering," L put in, curling into a proper sitting position in his new place on the floor. "That's my favorite."

Light looked at him. "That's not a sport."

"Neither is evisceration," L pointed out. "I was under the impression we were creating a running joke based on a logical fallac—"

Leaning forward, Matsuda smacked him on the nose with the mistletoe.

L hoped the couch would tip, which would serve both to send Matsuda and his demonic herb tumbling and to crush Light underneath some furniture, simultaneously eliminating L's most pressing problems.

The strange laundry-spin-cycle feeling in his stomach, which increased in intensity as he glanced at a sprawled and faintly-blushing Light, was not a pressing problem, primarily because it didn't exist. Furthermore, L was not watching Light pout and thinking about how delectable his lips were, and how they might taste of sugar cookies with a tang of punch and a spark of candy-cane peppermint.

The entire room was crowding even closer now, looming like a panel of judges. L instinctively curled a little smaller, eyeing them, shrinking nearer to his sole ally.

Light sat up, narrowly avoiding a collision with L's skull, and tore off his hat, leaving his hair in terrifyingly attractive disarray. His cheeks were very rosy, and his mouth was very red, and his eyes were bright and shining with intoxicating cleverness—with the raw intelligence and the quick-witted calm that made him such a challenge in the first place.

L could never resist a challenge.

"All right," Light said loudly. "Very funny—ha, ha. Now, if you'll excuse us, I think there was a party going o—"

L grabbed the boy's shirtfront and hauled him into a kiss.

It was the softness that struck him first—of Light's mouth, of his skin, of his disheveled hair—and then the warmth. As soon as he'd accustomed, the flavors filtered through: all the things winter ought to taste like and all that he'd predicted, plus tantalizing hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and gingerbread.

Light froze on instinct, but within seconds, his love of competition won out, and he pushed back, returning, reciprocating, and then trying to take control.

L was going to have none of that, and he gave the boy a little shove, splitting them apart, before any serious threat could develop. He considered that a victory.

Light was staring at him, not entirely discontentedly, and L blinked back.

"Needs a little more cookie," he announced.

Matsuda made a sound that could only be called a giggle.

Gathering himself to his feet and slipping through the stunned onlookers to search for his cookie plate, L reflected that he had always known Christmas was the work of the Devil. He just hadn't realized that the Devil was Touta Matsuda.

Significantly later that night—or, if one was speaking technically, extremely early the next morning—L and Light were stationed in front of their computer screens again, combing for useful data. They had endured many hours of awkwardness at the party, followed by approximately forty minutes of silence since arriving here once more. L didn't think that the two of them, stranded in the dark but for the screens' none-too-cheery glow, had exchanged a single word since L's decision that they should get some work done in compensation for the break.

Just after one-thirty, Light swung his swivel chair towards L, the reacquired chain jingling like something out of a questionable carol.

"Okay," Light said, "look."

L was looking.

"I know you're a reclusive, cripplingly brilliant, socially-stunted, slightly maniacal genius with a sugar problem, so you don't probably know much about this stuff—"

L thought the sugar dig was a bit excessive.

"—but did you… enjoy that?"

"'That' is a very unspecific word," L mused. "I enjoyed the cookies. I enjoyed the punch. I suppose, on the whole, the party wasn't too unpleasant, though I find Christmas music somewhat irrita—"

Light buried both hands in L's hair and crushed their lips together again.

Perhaps Light had a point about L's relative inexperience, at least in comparison to Light's increasingly evident mastery of the craft of osculation.

They were both panting a little when Light saw fit to release him—though the boy didn't go far, and a few of his fingers remained tightly curled in L's hair.

"That," Light told him breathlessly. "Did you enjoy that."

"Let's get you a cookie," L suggested.

Light stared at him again. "What the hell for?"

"Because," L answered patiently, rifling through the box of extra sweets that Sachiko had encouraged him to take, "that is the only way I could possibly enjoy that more."

Light paused.

Then he grinned.

L held up a white-frosted snowman cookie, and Light grinned a little wider.

"Merry Christmas, Ryuzaki," he said.

"Feliz Navidad," L replied, scooting his chair forward, "papi chulo."

Light paused. "What does that mean?"

"It means I think you're hot," L said.

Light's mouth fell open, and L set a piece of cookie on the boy's tongue.

"This is shaping up to be a very nice Christmas," he remarked.