Whoa, it's been forever since I've written something for Death Note! But it's L's birthday and I wanted to show that I've not totally forgotten about the show.

To anyone that's read my story Laments of a Lawliet, this sort of picks up from there. The ages of the "kids" though are a year older, with Mello now 6, Matt now 5, Near is 4 and Beyond is 17. I do make references to the longer story this is based from and for full context, I have a previous short chapter at the end of my Death Note: Another Note; The A.D. Williams Files story (the summary tells you it's the very last one so you don't have to read the entire thing) that is also Laments-related.

I tried to make the references about those stories as transparent as possible in this story so new-comers can read this by itself but if you really want to be in on the jokes, I'd recommend taking a look at those stories. Either way, I hope you enjoy!

And One to Grow On

What seemed like it was going to be another normal day at headquarters was quickly washed away when Light came downstairs to find L sitting in a chair…with a party hat on his head. In his hand was a tiny dessert fork and he was scooping out a piece of cake from a large chunk on a saucer before him.

"Good morning, Light-kun," the detective said, without actually looking over to the boy.

"Er, what's the special occasion, Ryuzaki?" Light asked.

"Why, I make twenty-six today," L told him in a basic tone. "Although I must be honest. I'm not too happy about that."

"Yeah, well, eating your birthday cake isn't exactly helping to dispel that," Light chuckled.

"Mm, true. But this is actually just a leftover cake from last night. Watari has been hounding me for the longest as to what flavor would I prefer so he can make a special one. Then on top of that…he actually wants to throw me a full party." L paused in a bite and frowned. "He's invited my pupils."

Light froze. He'd met Mello, Matt and Near before and while all of them presented some degree of an issue, it was the fourth student, Beyond Birthday, that had been absolute hell. Everyone at the compound disliked Beyond and that wasn't an exaggeration. Light could live with the fact if the boy only gave off a bad vibe, but no, he actually was a terror to be around. Why on earth would Watari invite him?

Just then, a beep went off on the largest of the computers in front of them and a camera flicked on to show who was standing outside. A huge dark eye filled the lens trying to stare unblinkingly for as long as possible. Then from behind them, a voice said, "B, that's creepy. Stop it." The eye pulled back to reveal none other than the teenage terror himself, Beyond Birthday.

The boy grinned into the camera. "Open up, L. We're just dying to wish you a happy birthday," he said.

"Aw, fuck no," a new voice inside the compound said. Light turned to see the others of the task force, but it was Ide who'd spoken. "Thought we were done with those little bastards when they fled for America after their last visit here?"

"No, they eventually returned to Winchester," L told him. "I had to call upon the police force of every major city in America…and then, in the entire world. Eventually they were so entrapped that they had no other choice."

"Okay, fine, I can deal with the kids. But Beyond? Are you serious?" Ide gave a huff of disgust, then finally realized that L was wearing a party hat. "And I damn sure am not participating in your stupid party or whatever." He stormed off, muttering more obscenities under his breath.

The rest of the members looked around. Who was going to be the one to allow admittance for the children outside? "I'm out," Matsuda said. "I'll never forgive Beyond for what he did to my toothbrush. He stole it from me! And actually used it! Ew!"

"Hey, at least you didn't have to try to teach him how to drive," Light said. "But Watari invited them and he's going to be highly upset with us if we keep them out there. C'mon guys, it's just one day." Light strode over to the keyboard for the computer and input a code. Another loud beep went off and the front doors clicked open for the visitors.

"One day is all it takes," Soichiro said, thinking about just how close he'd come to killing Beyond during his last visit. This was all too soon, only a year later. There would never be enough time to ever forgive that child of everything he'd put them through.

At the door, Matt was the first to stride in. "Matt Jeevas has entered the building folks!" he said brightly. "Must say, feels nice to be back."

"Hey, I was supposed to come in first!" Mello yelled at him. He reached out, grabbed the boy's shoulder, and pulled him back so that he was first in line. "What's up, guys? How've you been hangin'?" It wasn't usual for Mello to be so…mellow. This had to be a front.

Near had grown up a bit since they'd last seen him and instead of demanding to be carried all the time, he actually walked now. It was more of a shuffle though, since he didn't like to wear shoes and his balance was thrown off by sucking on a thumb while simultaneously twirling his hair. "Good morning, gentlemen," he said in a very adult-like voice for only being four. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance again."

The rest gave him a wary stare, but then their eyes went back to the entrance. Last to come in was B himself. The teenager paused in the doorway and surveyed the room. A dark smirk lit his face as he realized that these men were still scared of him. The room reeked of fear.

Without saying a word, he quietly strolled in behind the children and to any outsider, the action seemed normal. But the others knew that the boy was probably thinking up what his next folly was going to be. Without realizing it, the task force took a small step back.

Another door on the side opened and in came Watari. "Ah, you're all here. Good. Er…where's Ide?" Everyone pointed to the ceiling to indicate that he'd gone back upstairs. Watari's eyes flashed. "Well, tell him to get his bottom back down here! I didn't plan this event for people to skip out if they felt like it!"

Aizawa froze at the back of the group, halting his progress of tiptoeing away. With a disgruntled sigh, he ambled back in with the others. Today was not going to be good.

The first thing they were made to do was to hold a three legged race outside. There were a total of eleven people, so L decided not to participate. Instead, he sat down on the one sparse piece of grass that was outside the building and watched them.

As Soichiro stood there with a cord tied around his leg, he had a sinking sensation that one might compare with dying a little inside. Tied to him stood Mogi, who gave a sheepish shrug.

Ide was getting twitchy and was eager to get this done and over with. Matsuda too was eager, but for other reasons. This was fun! Nothing wrong with a harmless three-legged race.

Although he did look with pity to the next pair. Beyond and Light. B had singled Light out right from the beginning, walking up to him and throwing an arm around his shoulders. "Hey buddy! Remember me? Boy, long time since we last saw each other, eh?"

"And I would've loved to have kept it that way too," Light muttered to him.

"Nah, you'd miss me too much!" The other teenager laughed. "You and I will form a pair for this. Don't worry, I won't hurt you. Relax! I'm a changed man."

"Beyond, there isn't any rehabilitation for you," Light sneered. "You're corrupted through and through so don't give me this nice-guy bullshit."

Beyond mocked hurt. "Aw, Raito, try to have a little faith in me, why don'tcha?" Here he reached down and tied the rope around their legs, giving him a friendly smile as well. Which, there were no real friendly smiles from Beyond.

Aizawa acted like he needed to use the restroom and this time successfully snuck away from the action. This left Near without a partner who gratefully sat down beside his mentor on the patch of grass that he'd had to weed by hand last summer.

Matt and Mello were again a duo and they were the only fully willing pair of the group. "Let's make these grown-ups eat our dust," Mello told him. Matt nodded with enthusiasm and they readied themselves.

"On your mark!" Watari cried from the sidelines. "Get set! Go!" He blew a whistle and they were off.

The instant they began shuffling, Beyond pushed Soichiro and Mogi down. "That's cheating!" They yelled at him.

"Gotta go hard or go home!" Beyond laughed.

"That only applies if you actually did some work!" Soichiro said, but Beyond was too far ahead now to hear him.

Ahead of Light and Beyond was Ide and Matsuda. Between the desire to have this done and the driving force of natural hyperactivity, they were in the lead. "Hey, I think we actually have this, Ide!" the younger man yelled happily.

"Shut the hell up and keep running. If that freak catches up to us, we're dead, probably literally."

Matsuda couldn't argue with that. He took a moment to peek behind him and screamed. Beyond and Light were closing in fast. "Run, Ide, run!" They tried to shuffle faster, but then Matsuda tripped.

"Fuck! Matsuda, get up! Hurry!" Ide tried to pull the man back to his feet but with one of his legs tied to him, he too fell down.

Light and Beyond were right next to the speedy children. Beyond flashed them a simple grin and said, "Bye!" before tripping them up.

"You play really dirty, B," Light frowned.

"Go hard or go home!" he repeated happily.

"You're knocking down little kids, man! There's just no pride in that, whatsoever!"

Beyond blinked for a moment, then stared at him, still continuing to hobble forward. "If you don't like me, then do something about it," he challenged.

Damnit, here it was. There unfortunately wasn't anything Light could do. Especially with no way to escape at this point. "Look, let's just finish this race, alright? But try to play fair."

It was way too late for that since there were only two teams left on the field. Matsuda and Ide had managed to scramble back to their feet and were so close to the finish line. Almost there…

Beyond threw something from his pocket and it struck his target. A ninja blade to the back of Ide's leg.

"You fucker!" the man screamed as he collapsed again, making Matsuda land hard beside him.

"BEYOND! Are you trying to mutilate him?" Light shrieked.

"Go hard or—"

"NO! There's no call for that! You're frickin' sick!" Light tried to untie the rope around them, but Beyond swatted his hands away, then dragged his face close to his.

"Light, something you should know. I like to win. In fact, I love to win. And when I don't win things, I become a very un-fun person to be around. Now tell me, Yagami, do you want to be around me when I'm seriously unhappy?"

Light gulped. "Ah, no…no, I don't."

"Good boy," the other said, then suddenly gave his face a long, languid lick and shoved him away.

"Gross! What was that about?"

"All villains have an evil lick. You just felt mine. Oh, and you seriously need to wash your face."

Shuddering in disgust, Light finally helped him to cross the finish line. "Very good, boys!" Watari cheered seemingly ignoring the very unfair race that just occurred. "Now, on to the next game!"

For two more painful hours, the task force was dragged through one childish game to the other, from pin the tail on the donkey (Mello pinned his to Near and called him an ass) to hitting a piñata (Beyond wasted no time in swinging at everything but the piñata, thus losing his right to play the game). One of the last events of the day was the unwrapping of presents and the others were thrilled to finally have a much less active chore to do.

Since the party was on such short notice, no one had gotten anything for L. Watari presented the one gift he'd bought. "I think you could really use this."

It was a coupon to a bakery known mainly for their sweets. The pass would give him a year's worth of free treats. "Watari…this is…perfect!" L whipped out his cell phone right there and placed a large order for the old man to pick up later.

"I actually have something for you too," Mello spoke up. He was often very disrespectful to L, but in the end, he did care for the man. He handed him a large bar of chocolate. "I got that from France when we were running away from you across the world," he said. "It's not even fully in stores yet so not even I've tried it."

L unwrapped it and took a bite. His chewing slowed down. "Oh. My. God."

Mello grew alarmed. "Er, if you hate it, hey, give it back! I'll eat it!"

"No. This is the best chocolate ever!" L gushed. He unwrapped the rest and began chewing on it furiously.

"Could be kind and give me a piece, you greedy bastard," the blonde muttered to himself.

Next to present a gift was Matt. He handed over some sort of computer chip and said, "This device allows you to hack any terminal of any sort and any camera. Newest stuff, I saw it at a technology convention here in Japan last year."

L took the chip, looked it over for a minute, then handed it to Watari. "Thank you Matt, your gift is most appreciated." He held the candy bar in both hands as he began to lick all over it. "Mello, seriously, this candy is really what chocolate should be about."

Mello actually made an audible whining sound as he began to salivate over watching him.

Next to give L a present was Near. "I don't have much of anything," the boy said. "So…I'll give something I made." He handed over a square shaped object wrapped in a cloth. L pulled it away to reveal a photo taken from their last visit to Japan. In it, Near sat in L's lap, sucking his thumb. Mello was childishly pulling on Matt's hair, trying to take his spot of being in the center. Matt with one hand was pushing the boy away while with the other, he continued to play a portable game. Watari stood next to L, having set the camera to go off after a short time so that he could be in the shot too. To the side and nearly out of the picture was Beyond, hunched over with a jam-covered finger to his mouth. To anyone that didn't know his love for that treat, they might think it was blood.

This picture was framed by simplistic wood decorated with macaroni noodles and sea shells and at the top in a kiddie scrawl it read "My Family".

L felt a strange pang in his heart that this indeed was the closest to a family that Near had. That any of them had for that matter. In a slightly shaky voice he told him, "Thank you, Near. I shall truly treasure this."

Near gave him a very rare small smile and knelt back down to play with a toy.

The very last thing they were to do now was to present the birthday cake. Watari wheeled it in, a huge white structure that was only one layer tall (a thick one layer though). In the center was the customary L in the popular black font. Of course Water had done it himself, since anywhere else would question his motive for using the detective's insignia.

All around it were a total of 26 candles and to emphasize this, a 2 and 6 were placed in the center next to each other.

"Alright, let's sing happy birthday to Ryuzaki and then you're free to go," Watari said.

The entire task force perked up, thrilled that all they had to do was sing this ancient, traditional song and they were free, baby, free!

"All of the birthday song," Watari clarified.

"How many verses are there?" Matsuda asked.

"Let's see…happy birthday…how old are you…may the good lord bless you…and then back to happy birthday," Watari counted off. "So four."

"When the hell did the song get that long?" Ide shouted, his leg still throbbing from his injury. "No, we give the man a quick first round and call it a day. Besides, his age is on the damn cake so we don't need to ask that and I seriously doubt that he even believes there is a god! And I'll kick out the teeth of anyone who says anything about Kira!"

The others shrank back from his fury.

"Ide, we would do the same for your birthday," Watari said quietly.

"I don't want any of you to come to my birthday!" He said. "Hell, in fact, I'm not saying anything when it comes."

"Next week, Thursday," L suddenly said.

"How…how did you know?"

"Are you really going to ask the greatest detective in the world that?" L countered, licking off his fingers from the last of the chocolate. "Now, no more fussing. As Watari said, quicker you do the song, the quicker you're free to leave."

They all sighed and nodded, then took a collective breath. Just as they were about to sing the first words, Beyond burst out:

Happy birthday to you!

Happy birthday to you!

Enjoy it while you're still alive

Since it's your last one too!

The room fell quiet with a horrific silence. L met his eyes and the teenager gave a mischievous grin. L knew he was right. Those Shinigami eyes were always right.

"Beyond? Go wait somewhere else," Watari told him. "We'll send for you later."

"Sure thing, old man," he shrugged and trudged upstairs, continuing to beam down his grin until he was out of sight.

"You guys should castrate him," Mello spoke up finally. "I bet he'd calm down then."

"He's not some animal in heat, Mello," Near scoffed.

"Nah, but I bet he'd be pretty pissed if we did that though," the blonde snickered.

"I actually second that notion," Matt said.

The rest of the group finally got through all four chorus of the song, took a slice of cake, and quickly dispersed.

"Thieving ingrates," Watari mumbled as he plucked the candles out.

"Watari, when are the children leaving?" L asked the man as he ate. While the outside was vanilla, the inside of the cake was filled with cookies n' crème ice cream.

"Well Ryuzaki, I know you said that they were allowed to visit for a week, so I figured this could kick it off."

Though he spoke quietly, every fork of the task force dropped. Aizawa even went so far as to dropping his entire plate. Then…

"WHAT!" they screamed at him.

"These are our top runner-ups to succeed L," Watari explained calmly as though nothing was wrong with this picture. "It's only natural that they should be beside their master for some of their training."

"Aw come on, we know that Beyond is never going to make it!" Matsuda whined. "He's pure evil!"

"Why thank you!" the boy suddenly said, leaning over a railing. He blew a sarcastic kiss to the man who stepped aside and dodged it.

"Maybe so," the old man conceded, "But as L himself once said, the others will need practice and where else is better than on your own classmates? It's all a benefit no matter how terrible it seems."

The others weren't trying to hear that and moved on to a separate room to barricade themselves against the little menace.

"Ah, it's great to be back!" Beyond smiled, fully coming back downstairs.

"Who said you were allowed back down?" Mello asked him.

"Shh, don't you worry about that," B said, not even close to answering the question.

The four children gathered around L and entertained him for the rest of the day with highlights about journeying around the world last year instead of returning to England after their last visit. L quietly listened, in awe of his young students, but feeling closer to them than that.

Maybe more like a father.

Kinda feels good to post a DN story after so long. Usually my muse dies everytime I try to nowadays. Anywho, questions, comments, concerns, leave 'em below!