A/N: Hello, all, and welcome to the second one/two shot that I've put on here. This was one of the oneshots that was promised a while back along with Sugar High L, and so, if this is well received, the third one that was promised may be written if I have time between AoSI: R and any new projects that I have planned between now and that time – in fact, if this is well received, there may be a sequel, which I'm planning to be a lot darker and altogether more horrific.
This fiction is dedicated to the lovely Immortal Strawberries, because she won a small competition that was featured in the first version of AoSI (Art of Subconscious Illusion). She is to first read it with the rest of you, but the idea for this was hers, and from what she's heard of it so far, she is very excited to read the results. I just hope that the rest of you are.
So, when you have finished, please just drop in a review and tell me what you think, and any constructional criticism is welcome. So are flames, to cook toast and apple jam, but seriously, this is just a cute story about love and loss and if you have your own theories on this then please don't instantly assume yours is right and that Immortal Strawberries and I are wrong. For example, if you are an LxMisa shipper and you think this is wrong, then what are you even doing here in the first place? This contains Shonen-Ai, people (albeit a small amount)!
Beyond the Promise of Strawberries
Pi, pi, pi, pi…
At the turning of the hour, the alarm clock was beeping, breaking the intolerable silence that had hung in the air like a bad smell, the beeps taking the form of the metaphorical Oust Spray®. The shuffling of bed quilts was heard, as the being laying in them reached over to check the time, and switch off the beeps – too true is the fact that too much Oust can stink.
(A/N: Has anyone heard of Oust Spray®? It's apparently guaranteed to get rid of smells and not cover them up, but it's not that great. I know I can get it, where I am but I'm not sure if it's available outside of the UK. If you do live outside of the UK, and you either have heard of Oust Spray® or can buy it, could you enlighten me? Thank you!)
His hand reached over through the darkness, and came to an obstacle. Unable to overcome it, the hand's owner sighed, lifted himself onto his bottom, and, with a hand onto the hill, reached for the alarm clock, only to find his hand in something wet…
And, as suddenly as the scream come from his mouth, a disembodied clap sounded twice, the room abruptly alight with eye-scarring brightness, shutting up the screams. Black hair perpetually messy, and black eyes irritated, the man that was once a hill stared into the sore eyes of the being: Thanks to feeling what was mistaken for blood, he was paralysed with fear to the point where he couldn't even cover his eyes.
L huffed, and pushed Light from his stock-still position, throwing him to the bed. Angry, Light punched L in the stomach, leaving a double-cream knuckle print there. Of course, L being stronger than he looks, ignored the punch, licked the cream off with his fingers, and returned to his sleeping position, (a 'stomach position', except for the fact that he was curled up, and resting on the fronts of his lower legs, his body taking the form of the hiragana 'tsu') still eying Light cruelly, like a cat.
(A/N: For a visual reference, look in the live-action movie Death note: The Last Name. I think it's in there.)
"It's 2 am, Light-kun. Far too early for your tortured screams. The other night, you woke me at 1am for the same reason. Perhaps he is having nightmares of him being Kira, or does he have another reason." At that, Light didn't answer, but scowled angrily back. "So?" asked L, determined to get an explanation, "What do you have to say for yourself?"
At this, Light sat up with a face like thunder. "Nothing," he replied, "except 'please don't take your strawberries and cream to eat in bed'."
"Oh, and what would you have against them?" Sitting up into his characteristic crouch, L picked up the half-empty (or half-full, it depends how you think of it. I'm a little bit pessimistic today, so it's empty for now) bowl and clutched it to him. "Besides," he continued, "only Kira could possibly go out of his way to hate strawberries: They are sacred in that they have given so much and asked for so little in return, so why would you hate them?"
"Oh, no reason…"
After a full 24 hours awake, and subsisting on nothing but coffee, it had finally been decided – at Light's urging of course – to settle down to the sleeping quarters, where much needed sleep could be caught up on. However, as usual, not everyone agreed with this decision: L, who himself could last five to six whole days without proper REM sleep, was having none of it, and had decided that, if he must go to bed, he wasn't going alone – and by that, he wasn't referring to Light.
Watching by the door to the sleeping quarters, Light watched as L walked from the fridge towards him, something 'cleverly' hidden behind his back. Suspicious, Light stopped the detective, and took the unidentified object from his folded arms: It was a bowl of strawberries and cream, and still having vivid memories of the night before, he took the bowl, put it back into the fridge, and gave L a victorious smirk: There was no way that L was going to win against the great genius Light, despite the fact that L was the world's greatest detective, and Light himself was an investigator/student in all but professional formality (i.e. He was the only one there officially without a job, and until he got back to school and graduated, catching Kira could only count as a hobby).
Five time again L tried to sneak the bowl past Light, and five times he had failed. It was only after the sixth time that Light, deciding that he was too tired and self-important for these shenanigans, gave up and let the raven-haired man have his ridiculous way. It therefore came to be known that the bowl of strawberries was a symbol of all that is silly and impractical, and they were something that Light could seriously do without.
Of course, there was the fact that, even when Light could get to bed, he never got enough sleep anyways: For some strange reason – dammit if Light himself knew where to begin solving that case – he was always plagued with horrific nightmares, the sort that featured blood on your hands and walking corpses, along with the low drones of 'Why? Why did you do it?' and the cold feeling creeping up his spine that told him that either something is going to happen to him, or he was in trouble for something he'd done already.
So, it wasn't surprising that when he woke up half-asleep, the nightmares still flitting through his vision, a thick wet substance on his hands, and a person lying slumped beside him like a dead body or a horse's head, he always had a blood-curdling scream to go with it…
But it wasn't like Light was going to admit it himself, so he kept his mouth shut on that subject, and hid it with another.
"Besides," said Light, "You promised that you wouldn't bring them to bed last night, like you promised you'd let us go to bed early."
"Really? Did I promise that?"
"Yes, you did, and from my calculations, that's the 36th promise you've broken."
"What? Surely no-"
Sighing, Light let it go: He knew that L would deny it, and that – even though he'd barely broached the subject – it just wasn't worth pursuing the matter. After a minute of thought, he decided that he'd have to get offensive a different way, and hit him where it would hurt.
"Say, Ryuzaki?" Light asked, scraping an odd strand of hair out of his eyes, "Why do you eat sweet things all the time, and why do you sit like an overgrown mutant frog?"
"Oh, Light-kun is very eloquent tonight? Is there a subject that he's desperately trying to hide?"
"No!" Light said in mock horror, his voice teeming with sarcasm, "Of course not! You've already taken my freedom," he jangled the chain to make his point, "my sleep, and possibly my sanity too, but that's it!"
Taking a strawberry between his fingers, he put it too his mouth and chewed on the pointed end in contemplation, dark eyes rolled to look out of the top corners, as though avoiding Light's expectant gaze seemed to help his think better.
"Fine then, Light, I'll tell you, but I'm afraid that you'll be dissatisfied with the answer I give."
He paused for effect, eating the rest of the strawberry with an exaggerated slurping sound, and licking the juice from his fingertips, like it was the essence of all that is holy and could not be wasted. Finished with his moment of pleasure, he cleared his throat and began:
"Do you know, Light-kun, of the story of Matsuda-san's first love?" There was a tone of mystery in his voice, as though he was Scheherazade telling the legends of the Arabian Nights.
"Yes, I have. Many times, and mainly from Dad."
"Fine," L said, no longer using the mystic's voice, "but I'll tell it again…"
"It is the spring of 1991, and Touta Matsuda is in Junior High school, at the start of the 8th grade. It may or may not surprise you to know that, even as a lad, Matsuda-san – at this time known as Touta-kun – was quite clumsy, and altogether not that bright.
However, he was as persistent as he was dim-witted, and when he set his sights on something, he never let go. The commencing of the 8th Grade was, for Touta-kun, the marking of a turn around in his life: The year when he would finally not be so clumsy or dim-witted, and maybe even get himself a girlfriend…
Well, he was finding the 'not so thick and clumsy' part tricky, but no matter: For more than half of the last year, he'd had a massive crush on the most popular girl in his class, a girl that we can only refer to as 'Tsukiko'. Now, another one of his big goals was, funnily enough, to become braver and more courageous, and what better way to confront and complete that goal than by asking out the girl he loved?
And so, after a month of passing notes in class, and sending love letter that could never seem to reach the intended receiver, Touta-kun decided that enough was enough, and that he'd just have to ask her out himself.
'Oh, Tsukiko-san', he'd said to her, 'you're so beautiful, and kind too! Will you be my girlfriend?" Of course, Touta-kun had gone the wrong way about his confession, and was, no doubt shot down.
'I'm sorry,' Tsukiko had said to him, smiling, 'but I don't date idiots.' She was still smiling when Touta-kun ran away crying, shouting after him, 'And I don't date cry-babies either!' Oh how Tsukiko and her friends had laughed about it afterwards!
But Matsuda didn't laugh! Oh no, he cried all the way home, and when his mother asked him what was wrong, he ran up to his room in a tantrum, slammed the door behind him, and yelled to her, "Leave me alone! I will never love another girl ever again!"
"And yet," said L, dropping his Mystic Meg/Scheherazade voice, "Even as we speak, he is fantasizing over Misa-san's newest line of clothing, and has even been lusting over her for goodness only knows – or cares – how long: he has broken a promise, however silly it may seem."
Light just yawned in response, emphasizing the fact that he had indeed heard the story more times than he cared to admit. "So?" He asked, yawning again, "What was that meant to prove?"
"No'hiiinnn'…" L said, in fake nonchalance, "It is merely a plot device with the purpose of supporting the answer I am about to give you…of course, that was Strawberries-san and Takada-san's idea…"
"Wait, 'Takada' as in Kiyomi?"
"No, 'Takada' as in the demon who controls us and loves coming up with plot devices that either make no sense or are only there to please him…or her…never mind, the world isn't meant to know of a creature more dangerous than Kira or 'Shinigami'…"
Light had never heard of a creature more dangerous than Kira or Shinigami, and by the sounds of things, he didn't want to either.
"If you're not too tired Light-kun, I could answer your question…"
Of course, Light was too tired – who wouldn't be after the scare he'd been given – but he nodded instead, just to humour the insomniac detective.
"Fine…" and once again, he was Scheherazade, telling another tale, "This one is a true story that takes place 15 years ago, in the fantastical place of Engla-"
"You do realise that this isn't a Shoujo manga?"
"Yes I do, Light-kun, and do you realise that you should shut up?!" Light sighed, remembering the lack of sweets in the detective's vicinity, and let him continue. The detective cleared his throat once again.
"As I was saying, it is set in England, in the beautiful village of Winchester…"
It was 1989, and a 10 year old L sat in his opulent private studying room with Wammy, seated normally in a grand armchair, facing the desk of the orphanage's founder, and the founder himself. Holding the files of an old case in his fingertips, the boy studied the papers' contents hard, like his life depended on it (which, of course, it could one day).
"So?" asked the grey-haired man (his hair had not yet turned completely white, and at this point was just streaking grey), "any thoughts?"
The black-haired boy thought for a moment, his brows furrowed, "Um…" he began, his voice high, having not yet become the familiar low monotone, "the man is murdering them because he has a deep-seated grudge against prostitutes?"
Wammy sighed at the answer, shook his head, and attempted an encouraging smile, "No, L, that's not quite right. Perhaps you need to look over the medical file again?"
"That's what I'm looking at now, and at the moment, it doesn't make sense…" he paused, turning a sheet of paper to a different angle, "right now, my brain isn't letting me function, like it wants me to fail!"
"Or," Wammy said, using a tactful voice, "maybe it has something to do with that fact that you've spent just over 72 hours without sleep or rest?"
"But I won't give in! The longer I can stay awake, the more cases I can solve! Every minute must be used efficiently!" As he said this, faint lines could be seen beneath his eyes, like bags. They were a bruise-y purple, like that of a college student, but Wammy knew that, with time and enough determination, they would soon become like the eyes of a panda. Although Wammy had promised that he would support the budding detective no matter what he chose, he couldn't help feeling concerned for the boy over his obsession with sleep deprivation, and the effects that it would have years later, when it would eventually catch up with him and affect his mental performance, as it had with Wammy only ten years ago.
As the clock struck a new hour, marking the 73rd hour since L first woke up; Wammy felt the need to stand in and nudge the boy closer towards a bed. "Just a thought," he began delicately, "but why don't you stop for a little while, perhaps have some free time? The first murder case of Rome wasn't solved in a day, you know." Wammy smiled a little at this: That play on the Old Rome Saying was pretty well known and understood between him and L, and saying it was just enough to make L smile.
The boy sighed, scratching his raven-coloured head, "Okay, Wammy, I will I suppose – but don't expect me to venture further than my own suite." He gave a cheeky smile to this, almost bordering on sticking his tongue out, and Wammy gave a wan smile back. Once L learnt the true reality of the world outside, and his back became bent with the weight of upholding justice, and the bitter taste of human sin filled his mouth, he surely would never think to give that beautiful smile again – the boy would certainly not see the use of it, when all around him would fail to respond to his efforts.
"Fine, I will alert the others to stay off your corridor, as always." And with that, L got off the chair, put the case files gently back onto the desk, and ran out of the room, the tap of his sneakers on the hardwood flooring echoing back to where Wammy sat.
Now on a break, L ran out of the study room and made off down the closed off corridor to his bedroom: This corridor, known to the residents of Wammy's House as the 'Lost Wing', or even the 'Last Wing, this was the one place, save for the live-in professors' suites, that the children were not allowed to trespass upon. The Lost Wing contained every room and every thing considered important to the detective, including the detective himself, and the only time that he stepped out of this closed off area was when he left the Wammy's House, and when he came back. Only at those times could the children possibly hope to take a glance at the boy they were all to follow and to emulate, and whose footsteps they were allowed to tread in only.
And so, it was a huge deal when, on the way to his room, L bumped into another person, no, a child, causing them both to tumble back to the floor. As L slowly got up off the dog shelf, and dusted his white shirt and blue pants off, and took a look at the fellow child who had bumped into him so gracelessly, he blushed, and let his back shift out of its slump, and into a shocked posture.
For, standing in front of him, with the most beautiful lavender dress, was a girl. An eight year old one, he'd guess (only two years younger than himself), but a girl nonetheless, with short and neat black hair, which had natural purple streaks in the fringe, and big, silvery blue eyes. L had never seen something so beautiful, and as his whole face turned from ivory white to red, he felt the irrational desire to push her down again, just to hide his fancy.
"Why hello," she said, almost whispering sweetly, "I'm Koan. Isn't this the Lost Wing?" she smiled saccharinely, the sweetness colouring her tone. "What are you doing here?"
"O-o-oh?" stammered L, trying to get a hold of himself, "Sh-sh-shouldn't I be asking you that? Y-you should be in class!"
"Shouldn't you be in class?"
"I-I'm on a break!"
"I didn't think you were allowed to spend break here."
"W-well why are you spending break here?" At this, she just blinked for what seemed to be the first time since he met her, leaned forward, and gave him a sweet peck on the cheek.
"I like you." She said, using her whispering voice again. "Will you be my boyfriend?"
The request was out of the blue, and L, being the unsocial creature that he is, just couldn't believe what was going on, his tired brain struggling to process the new information that was whizzing through his sensory nerves and brain cells. Gentle lips against skin, a pretty face, a request for being her boyfriend?
He couldn't believe his luck, for one thing. He was only 10 years old, and having just stepped out of a relatively safe hiding place for reasons other than work, and bagged himself a girlfriend within seconds of doing so…well, he must not be as repulsive as he first thought himself to be.
For another, there seemed to be no sense: L was 10 after all, and this girl was only presumably 8 years old, and L himself had not been thinking about even considering dating for another 8 years, whether he turned out to be attracted to males or females. Besides, he'd been told many times that the nature of his job meant that interpersonal relationships would be incredibly difficult to have unless he was willing to risk his life or his partner was willing to let go of their own life and join him instead as an anonymous person like him, while their deaths were faked for good measure.
But, despite all the reasons circling his head telling him exactly why he should refuse her and run away before her long term facial memory kicked in, he stayed, and said yes.
For the next few days, L was happily in love. Instead of attending his studies with Wammy, he mooned after Koan and spent as much time with her as he could even in the presence of the other children, using the pseudonym 'Left' when they asked for his name. They were so inseparable, that they shared their own Sudoku book, when previously L would never even let Wammy suggest numbers from behind him.
However, time with her was never plain-sailing. Little did he know she was actually a very adept prank puller: Whenever he went to sit down on a chair, she would have always put drawing pins on it first, so that he was always left with a very painful experience afterwards. Too blinded by young love, however, he blamed it on the resident bully, Auto, and learnt to crouch in his seat, so that the pins couldn't touch him.
Another of her favourite pranks, was to steal the humidifier, go into L's room (which she had been allowed access into ever since they became a couple), and turn it on full blast at his sock drawer, so that the socks either became so dry that they shrivelled and creased, or so damp and wet that wearing them would be a breach of at least five health and safety regulations. And so L couldn't wear them, for fear of Koan and her Humidifier.
But, lines were so easily crossed, and involving Winston was definitely crossing one.
Now, Winston was the Old English Bearded Collie at the Wammy's House, whose job was to act as a Therapy dog for the children. Many children had come to the House through the loss of their parents, usually through traumatic means, and most of them were still affected by this, being forced to stay awake every night by their nightmares. Winston's job was to calm them down, and to show them that things could be okay from now on, no matter the past.
However, with Koan's instruction, Winston was trained to do the most awful thing possible for a dog to do: To eat twice as much food, and then leave his…well…droppings in the 'Great Master's' shoes, which, as anyone at the Wammy House knew, translated simply as L.
It's a fact that L had never quite got over that – even his therapist could agree, and he didn't believe a lot of things. It had taken the detectives years to be able to coax his feet into a pair of sneakers, and even then he wouldn't wear any other pair, preferring to keep them where dogs couldn't reach, for fear of the dreaded squelch.
It had now been five days since the beginning of L and Koan's relationship, and things were getting rockier still: Koan seemed to disappear for half an hour at a time, rather than spend the whole time with him as before – not enough time to do something serious, but enough to be suspicious. However, the young L didn't suspect her of anything, making the mistake that, sure enough, he'd never make again: He'd trusted her, trusted that she wouldn't do anything bad to him, despite the lousy track record.
"Koan! Where are you?!" L yelled on the afternoon of the fifth day. He'd not seen her for more than 45 minutes, and having searched both the Lost wing, and the Ruvie Wing (where Koan's room could be found), L was starting to worry. Finished upstairs, he made his way down to the first floor rooms, walking into the den, still calling out her name.
"Koan!" he said, this time in a loud whisper, "Are you in here?" He slowly opened the closed door, peering his head around silently, "Koan! Ko-" He had to stop mid-sentence because, at that moment, L's eyes met with the most horrific scene imaginable…
Oh don't worry: Koan was there, and she certainly wasn't dead or anything – nothing PG rated. No, the reason why her presence was so horrible was the company she was keeping. She was sat on the floor with a Sudoku book, and accompanied by none other than the bully Auto, and his current crony Faded.
"Koan…" L whispered as she looked up to see him, a small triumphant smirk on her face, "Isn't that…our Sudoku book?"
"Oh, sorry Left…" she whispered back, standing up with her hands on her new friend's shoulders, "I thought it was for sharing. Auto, Faded and I have already finished the hardest puzzle: Auto is quite the puzzler." Koan began to ruffle the blond boy's hair, L's eyes became even wider, full of horror.
"No…Not the King Solomon puzzle!"
"Yes, the King Solomon puzzle."
"Yeah," crowed Auto, "don't'cha get it? She don't like you no more! Go back to Lost Wing!"
"Heh heh, yeah!" joined in Faded, "Go back!"
L was on the verge of tears now, but determined not to lose face in front of the others. He was the great Detective L, right, and if there was one thing he knew, it was that Great Detectives never cried!
"Sorry," Koan muttered, "But you're just not interesting anymore…" still smiling, she net down, and gave Auto the most passionate kiss on the cheek she could, "Bye, bye, Left."
That did it. Feeling the tears spilling over, L covered his face and ran out of the room, not stopping his sprint of frustration and sadness until he was safely back in the Lost Wing. He would've carried on running into his room, but he was intercepted by Wammy – a polite way of saying he'd run and bumped into the old man, pushing him to the ground with enough force to break a hip bone.
"L? Are you alright?" Wammy asked, perpetually concerned only for his charge. Sitting up, he put a hand on the boy's shoulder, with heaved with the power of his sobs.
"I-I-I'm never leaving the L-L-Lost Wing again!" he declared, his voice shaking as he sniffed and cried.
"Well," Wammy replied, "at least you've come to some sense."
"A-a-a-and…" he whispered, muttering the next part of the sentence so quietly, that Wammy couldn't hear it for the life of him.
"Hmm? What is it?"
L lifted up his head, to show tears streaming down his once straight face, "I-I'll never love another girl again!" and with that, L stood up and ran into his room, crying louder than ever, and slamming the door shut on the way in. Wammy sighed at the predicament: There'd be no living with him now, that was for sure.
"And ever since that day, many things happened to the young L: In his mourning state, he began to perpetually eat sweets to sooth his broken heart, only to find that, with all the sugar, he could stay awake for five to six days at a time. Thanks to the pins on the chair, he could only crouch, yet, due to the trauma of previous incidents, the position gave him new powers of concentration, raising his deductive ability by 40 per cent. He constantly slouched too, but that really had nothing to do with that girl. She had also taught him an important lesson: That to function well in his role as the Detective, a subjective stance would be detrimental to all involved, and that anonymity was the only way to get out alive and largely unscathed.
"That girl had made him much of what he is today, and without her, he probably would've failed a long time ago…" On that note, L finished his story, his panda eyes closed, while Light could only look back, head cocked in interest, trying to analyse his next move.
"So?" asked Light finally, "Are you trying to say that you've always broken promises, and that, in effect, you are no different than the rest of us mortals?"
"Believing one-self to be a mortal, and part of 'the rest of us'… Well done, Light-kun: My suspicions have dropped 3 per cent." After that, it took a further few seconds that that wasn't the answer Light was looking for. "Oh…I see then…no, that wasn't the point of the story, I can assure you."
"But you're still a liar and a cheat, right?" Light asked, a playful smirk on his face.
"Do you wish to talk, or shall we speak with fists and settle?" L returned, parrying his words.
"But of course." Suddenly, they were at each other's throats again, wrestling together on the bed – but there wasn't any malice to it: The blows were softer, and didn't leave marks, and they laughed to. It was as though they were…never mind, surely something as trivial as a flashback wasn't going to settle the eternal battle of wits that were pitted against each other by the heavens.
Finally, the movement stopped, and Light lay defeated, pinned down by the Detective sitting astride him, held down by his wrists, these held above his head. "You see, dear Light-kun," he whispered, lowering his head to Light's, "I may have broken many promises, said many lies and cheated many people with no intent on changing my ways…But I can tell you honestly, that the one promise I made to Watari – that Matsuda himself broke on numerous occasions – I have no intention of breaking, and every intention of keeping."
He lowered his head lower still, until his lips connected with Light's, massaging them with his own in a gentle kiss. Light didn't even have time to protest – not that he tried to, at any rate. Slowly, L broke the contact, and lifted his head, keeping the younger man's wrists pinned to the bed.
"Listen well, Light-kun: A girl my have shaped my body for the foreseeable future, and Watari may have shaped my mind, but you will always be the one to shape my soul…"
Light couldn't help but look into L's dark orbs, the sensation of the kiss still tingling on his lips: He'd never thought he'd think this but, for all of the time that Light and L had known each other, this was the only time when he'd seen complete honestly and sincerity in those eyes, coupled with an unfamiliar openness that Light had never imagined L would wish for.
But he was wishing for it, and Light was willing to reciprocate. That's all he was willing to say on the subject, and nothing more.
A/N: So, any thoughts? If you do have any, don't hesitate to leave a pretty review (okay, so it doesn't have to be pretty, but leave one any), and if you have any questions, then I will reply and send answers. If you send a minimum of 10 reviews, then I will promise you a sequel – although, that will probably have to wait until I have gotten at least half way through AoSI: R because it will be more plot driven, and although the LightxL pairing will continue, the themes will be a lot darker, and – with luck – will contain some mild horror and suspense, considering the guest star (and no, the guest is not an OC – I think we've had enough of OCs for now).
Although the genre for this is romance/hurt/comfort, the next one will probably be suspense, horror and the like, so to be among the first to find out when it's put on, you'll probably be best in subscribing to me, but that's up to you. As long as you at least like this fic, then I'm happy, and if this makes you want to have a look at my other things, then all the better.
So thank you for reading, and please R&R. Thanks again for the support of my regulars, they keep me going.