What? A Death Note fic? Yes, my attention span is horrible and I've been reading a lot of L/Light recently. If I had a OTP, this would be it! Not sure where it's going, but I cry whenever I watch L's death scene, so I thought, what if Light wasn't Kira anymore? They could finally have the ending they were supposed to have. But then it turned into a beginning, and this fic was born, so more chapters and a new case to follow... if I don't get distracted by term starting up again tomorrow. Oh, sorry, you wanted to read my fic not listen to me babbling. All right, go on then, and please leave a review.

Light started forwards, eyes wide with horror as the yellow flames began to lick the exterior of Higuchi's car, sneaking through the shattered glass of the window.

"Dad, get him out of there," he shouted, barely registering the sound of his own voice above the shouts, the sirens and the whir of the propellers from the helicopter. "Somebody do something." He was fumbling with his own seatbelt, tearing at his headset, desperate to move where everybody else was standing still, staring dumbstruck at the red sports car which was resembling a fireball more by the second. He felt a cold hand snake around his wrist and turned, wide-eyed, to see Ryuuzaki staring at him intently, shaking his head.

"No, Light-kun," the skinny detective said softly. "It's too dangerous."

"But we'll never know," Light almost howled. "We need him to confess. Ryuuzaki, I thought you of all people would want to know how he's been doing it. If I stay here he's going to d-"

His sentence was cut off by a deafening explosion, and as his head twisted around he saw the frozen police officers being hurled off their feet by the force of the blast. He thought he might be screaming, but the other sounds were so loud and disorienting that he couldn't be sure. All he was sure of was that Higuchi was dead, and the evidence had burned with him. A gentle tugging at his wrist distracted him, and he turned to face Ryuuzaki again, trying to focus on his lips, on the words tumbling from between them and into the thick air of the helicopter cab.

"We have more than enough evidence that Higuchi was Kira. It is disappointing that we could not determine how he killed, but perhaps this is for the best."

"How can you say that Ryuuzaki?" Light demanded. "My father was shot so that we could see how he killed. How can you be satisfied with a case half resolved?"

"Kira is dead," Ryuuzaki said simply. "This is a victory, Light-kun."

Light struggled to control his breathing, to prevent himself from yelling at the too-composed detective. He wasn't thinking rationally, he knew. Was this another test? Would L think he was too eager to see Kira's methods, and deepen his suspicions about Light himself?

But Kira was dead, Light reminded himself. It was over, and L would at least have to concede Light's innocence once the killings stopped. That, at least, was a relief. But somehow he was still bitterly disappointed that Kira's methods would remain a mystery. Somehow, even with this victory, the Task Force had failed. But how to convey this to L? L, of all people, whom he thought would have understood the desire for truth.

Some of his thoughts must have been apparent in his expression, because Ryuuzaki gave his hand, which he was still gripping, a small squeeze.

"It is over, Light-kun," he said gently.

"It is over, isn't it?" Light asked, seeking a measure of reassurance from the intelligent detective. "You don't think Kira will transfer his powers? That it's possible another Kira will emerge?"

"We cannot rule out the possibility," L replied, and Light caught in his eyes the rapidly spinning theories and deductions which were probably the reason Ryuuzaki rarely slept. It may be over, but L would not rest, either, until he was satisfied. Light felt slightly comforted by the thought, although it surprised him somewhat how deeply he relied on L as an ally.

"I'm sorry, Ryuuzaki," came his father's voice from the ground. He looked tired and stressed, but there was a sense of completion about him which Light did not feel. "There was nothing we could do. Higuchi fell unconscious in the crash and the petrol tank must have ignited. The entire car and everything inside is destroyed."

"Thank you, Yagami-san," L replied seriously. "That would seem to be the case."

Souchiro gave a small cough, possibly at the lack of reaction from L. He glanced at Light, whose face was still flushed with emotion.

"If I could suggest, Ryuuzaki, that we retire to headquarters and let the police take care of this? There's nothing else for us to do here," he said tactfully. L favoured him with a long, wide eyed stare which had him shifting slightly even after all their time working together, and nodded slowly.

"Light-kun and I will fly back and meet you there," he decided.

As Souchiro turned to relay the message to the others, Light felt the release of pressure around his hand which told him that L had been holding it tightly the whole time. His father's questioning look took on a new meaning. Stealing a glance at the other man, he saw him rooting with apparent enthrallment in the glove compartment, where he extracted a bag of toffees with reverence. Light turned back to the car wreck, and focused on keeping his breathing even; for some reason, he had a strong urge to sigh.

-

L was crouching in his habitual stance, facing the rest of the Task Force, all of whom were in varying states of jubilation. Light, neither one nor the other, was lingering to one side, the chain slack between him and Ryuuzaki, the symbol of a redundant suspicion. He was not really listening as L debriefed them. He knew the detective well enough to know what he was saying. There was still a chance of a second Kira, but they could do nothing until evidence presented itself, so the Task Force was free to disband unless new evidence came to light. Talking of Light...

"Am I free from suspicion now, Ryuuzaki?" Light asked out loud, interrupting the monologue. Large black pupils homed in on him.

"If Kira's attacks cease, Light-kun is free to leave also. I wish to keep surveillance until I am satisfied Kira is gone forever," L informed him. His expression was inscrutable, but Light got the distinct impression that he and Ryuuzaki were both less than satisfied with the manifold loopholes still riddling the case. For L's part, this meant that Light was still a suspect. For Light's, it meant that he still wanted to work with Ryuuzaki, so he nodded his assent even as the others gave shouts of protest.

"It's fine," he assured his father. "Dad, if you're free to leave, you should go home and see mum and Sayu. They must miss you. L and I will sort things out here, right, Ryuuzaki?"

L nodded, but Matsuda broke in, voice loud with excitement.

"No way, you can't sit here and work when we've found Kira," he cried. "Let's celebrate!"

"Matsuda-san and the others are free to celebrate," L told him monotonously. "I still have many other cases to work on. Thank you all for your help."

It was as clear-a dismissal as L could have mustered, and characteristically devoid of drama and long farewells. With a last few words to Light, Souchiro followed the excitedly babbling Matsuda and their colleagues, and the Task Force was disbanded.

"I am sorry that Light-kun cannot join in the celebrations," L said quietly. Light slumped in a chair next to him and resisted the urge to run his hands through his sleek hair.

"I don't feel much like celebrating," he said honestly. "Although I expect Misa will be down soon; she must have watched it on the news. She'll want to know what happened."

"Ah yes. Misa-san will be worried about Light-kun's well-being." L's voice was as even and unreadable as ever, but Light thought he sensed a faint disapproval.

"If Misa is off the hook as second Kira, she can leave," he hinted.

"I must keep Misa-san under surveillance for a while, too, Light-kun," L reminded him. Light sighed. He thought L would say that, although a part of him had almost wondered if L kept him so close not because he needed to, but because he wanted to.

"Ryuuzaki," he began hesitantly. "Once this case is properly closed, I mean, assuming Kira doesn't re-emerge-"

"I think it unlikely, Light-kun," Ryuuzaki told him. "If I am correct in my theory that Kira transferred his powers to Higuchi, it is likely that with Higuchi's death, that power died with him."

"I hope so," Light agreed fervently. "But Ryuuzaki- what will you do now?"

"Light-kun knows that I have many calls on my time, as the three greatest detectives in the world," responded L, fixing Light with his wide, disconcerting gaze. "I will solve cases as my whims dictate."

"And the Task Force?" Light asked. He knew that L understood what he meant by this. What about me? Are we just going to part ways forever?

"I will debrief the police and make sure that Yagami-san and the others are offered their jobs back," L replied. "As for Light-kun, does he not wish to return to university and his friends, and to pick up his relationship with Misa-san?"

"I guess," Light said reluctantly, trying to keep the bitterness out of his voice. "It's just, what with this case and all, school seems so... pointless. There's no challenge in it. Even the police force will seem mundane after the search for Kira."

"What does Light-kun wish to do, then?" L asked. Light saw the almost imperceptible glimmer of impudence in L's eyes, and fought to keep a scowl off his face. Damn you, Ryuuzaki, you know exactly what I want.

"I don't feel like this case is properly resolved," he said instead, ignoring the slight flush of his cheeks. "We still don't know how Kira kills- killed, I mean, and we don't know how the powers transferred from the first and second Kiras, or even who they were, if we assume they were different people to Higuchi."

"Light-kun has never been so candid in his views before," L remarked idly. "He seems certain that another Kira existed."

"Well, there's no other way to explain it," Light said awkwardly. He knew it put his neck in the noose admitting the likelihood of a different Kira, but even if it had been him, he would rather know instead of guessing.

"I don't remember being Kira," he supplied eventually, the words coming slowly and with some difficulty, since it was tantamount to confession to speak them. "I hate to think I could ever act so monstrously and kill so ruthlessly, but I do believe that Higuchi was not the original Kira and I know, I know, that if I were Kira, if I could transfer my powers to someone else, I would do it to divert suspicion from myself, provided there was a way to reverse the effect. Maybe I was Kira, but it went wrong, and the powers did not return when Higuchi was caught. If I were Kira, I know that I would try to use my power to make the world better, even though it sickens me to think it. With so much power, who wouldn't use it...?"

Light had been so caught up in his own theories that he had practically forgotten about the nail-biting detective crouching a few feet away. He started when Ruuzaki spoke, and cursed himself for speaking so freely.

"Light-kun knows that I suspected him of being Kira," L was saying. "That suspicion is now at 99%." Light's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to protest, but L continued. "My suspicions that Light-kun is Kira at this moment are only 3%, however. If Light-kun was Kira, he would not have had anything to gain by telling me this."

"If I look at the evidence assuming that Misa and I were Kira until some point during our confinement," Light answered, "it makes a lot more sense, although we're lacking a few crucial bits of evidence; how Kira kills, how the powers were transferred, why I can't remember-" he cut off angrily. "I'm not Kira," he said firmly.

"Light-kun," L said softly.

"Ryuuzaki?" Light said, turning to see the dark-haired detective staring at an interesting view of nothing-much over Light's right shoulder.

"Light-kun is very intelligent," L continued. "He realises that he has to be Kira. But if Kira-kun's plan was to retrieve his powers, Kira-kun has failed. Light-kun is Light-kun. I am 87% sure that Kira is gone for good."

"Ryuuzaki-" Light managed.

"I will miss Light-kun's insights," L mused. "I almost wish Light-kun was still Kira so that I could continue working with him."

"I'll miss working with you, too, Ryuuzaki," Light confessed, feeling his cheeks flame and remembering the cool hand which had briefly covered his own.

"Perhaps Light-kun would consider a continued partnership?" Ryuuzaki offered. Light could barely believe his ears. "If the killings do not continue. It would be interesting to work with Light-kun as an equal."

"An equal," Light repeated cautiously. He could feel L watching him for a reaction. He seemed almost... nervous? No, it was impossible. "Are you in earnest?" Light asked.

"I mean what I say, Light-kun," Ryuuzaki replied. Light felt it. It was irrepressible. A smile bright enough to do justice to his name was threatening to break out over his face. For one, two, three seconds he struggled in vain, and then in split his face in two, impossible to deny. For a second Ryuuzaki looked astonished, then his own lips turned upwards in hesitant answer.

Light knew it was completely out of character for him. He knew that it would be awkward. But he couldn't help it. He had not felt this happy for months. No, years. No, ever. He threw himself forwards and hugged the astonished detective, hearing the sound of his own carefree laugh ringing in his ears.

He thought his grin could not get any wider, but as the butterfly-light touch against his shoulder-blades told him that L was hugging him back, somehow, it managed to prove him wrong.