Disclaimer- I don't own it, but I DO own a 2 L (TWO WHOLE LITERS!) of Diet Coke, and right now I think they're making me about as happy. Oh, yes and the obligatory mention of men rubbing their genitals on other men. We all happy? Excellent. On to the fic.

"We have a problem." Light said, settling down next to L on the 'headquarters' couch as L surfed through news websites laptop on his with a practiced clicking finger.

"Well then, we should notify Houston." L muttered, biting his thumb distractedly as he speed read through another article extolling the benefits of the murdering psychopath that may or may not be a group of his former beneficiaries. It was an excellent way to start the morning.

"I'm sorry?" Light looked politely confused, which L had recently taken to mean that he was really feeling politely disdainful with a soupçon of irritation.

"If we have a problem, I'm sure Houston would love to hear about it. It's what they do over there you know." Light's brow wrinkled and he glanced at Matt, who was now laughing into a half-eaten muffin that he'd brought back in a large basket from his past two nights spent with one of his lovers.

"He's talking about the quote, or actually misquote, 'Houston, we have a problem'. You know. Apollo 13. Tom Hanks. Kevin Bacon. Moons and shit." Light continued to look baffled and Matt shrugged, clearly giving up on the whole conversation.

"Have some coffee, Light." L said, leaning forward to push the fresh pot he'd made only minutes before in a fit of domesticity. Wammy's continued retreat into his room was pushing L to new heights and skills- among them coffee making and cake ordering.

"Thanks." Light said, rolling his eyes and taking a cup. "Now as I was saying, we have a problem. Who are we going to get to present the Death Note to the international community if I'm dead? I honestly forgot I was supposed to be doing that, I got so caught up in L telling me to 'expunge my existence from the known world'."

The clock on the wall kept time with chiding ticks as each of the men pondered the question. L hadn't even considered that he had wanted Light to present the notebook since their arrival in England, and now he was wondering if that was even a viable measure of thought. Of course, taking away whoever the owner of the other Death Note's divine power of illusion was a tempting thought. Instead of looking like a celestial presence, L could humanize his opponent to the world and stop articles like the ones he'd been flicking through. It had been his initial plan, a virtual fire to smoke out the bastard.


The Death Note was scary enough as is. Odds are, even if they chose to go public with it, the story wouldn't' be believed by many and L had no desire to enact a live demonstration.

"Under the current circumstances, I think it's best if we abandoned our plan to reveal the Death Note. If at the conclusion of this case you still desire for your Nobel, then we may reconsider." Light looked appropriately put out and L inwardly docked himself about ten friendship points for 'poor showing in furthering of Nobel prize winning ambitions'.

"Well, it's not like I could collect on it anyways. I'm dead. Speaking of magical killer school supplies, L may I see the Death Note?" L nodded and pulled it out from his laptop case, tossing it over to Light who caught it easily and began running his fingers over it. That was a comforting sight. The man had slowly been growing more and more comfortable with the Death Note, even referring to it by its proper title since two days ago. L was glad to see it, able to move on from his fear of Light backing away from the investigation out of some misplaced fear in his own darker desires. After all, if there was one man on the Earth that L would trust not to malevolently use the Death note, it was Light Yagami.

"I'm going to take this and go play twenty questions with Ryuk. Is that okay?" L nodded and Matt leaned awkwardly out of his chair to hand him a muffin as he walked out. Light paused to pull off the top before throwing the bottom at L with a bit more force than was necessarily friendly. Someone was obviously pissy over their lost Nobel.

"Thanks. I'll have you know bottoms are my favorite!" L called out after the other man, who paused right outside the doorway. L waited for him to take the bait, but the doctor started moving again and L felt put out that such a beautiful innuendo had gone to waste.

"We have such grown up conversations." Matt said, biting into another muffin. L nodded in agreement.

Mello slunk into the hallway wondering if living in England meant he got to have Seasonal Affective Disorder year round as the weather never changed. He was just not feeling up to code these days. It might have genuinely been the weather, or maybe it was Light's recent moodiness, or perhaps even the fact that every time he laid down to sleep he dreamt of white curls and haunting eyes- but whatever the cause, Mello was sick of the symptoms. His shoulder still ached much too fiercely for him to be dealing with any sort of emotional drama, much less the high-handed variety of it that was served up alongside the porridge at Wammy's.

He continued to slink, enjoying the tea at his pity party when Near came out of the swinging kitchen door, mouth wrapped around a piece of bacon. He blinked up at Mello and then held out the other piece wrapped in a paper towel in his hand.

Mello took it tentatively.

They hadn't talked in since Near's public breakdown of his faked death and Mello's consequent reluctant acceptance. There had been brushes in the hallway, avoided glances as Mello hid behind Light at shared meals eaten in the makeshift headquarters, but no actual verbal exchange. It was a testament to their long history that they could go so long without speaking while living under the same wooden beams and shingles and have it seem perfectly normal, if not a bit dysfunctional.

"I made chocolate crepes." Mello bit his lip and his stomach growled and tried to leap up his throat to better ingest the amazing cocoa smell that was wafting out of the kitchen and tickling against his nose. There was a pause and they both shuffled around, avoiding matching eyes.

"…Go on, make us a plate then." Near smiled, small but obviously relieved that no matter the case, Mello's chocolate proclivity could not be beat and would forever remain the back door into the VIP section of his good graces.

They sat and ate and Mello almost purred with contentment at the thin crepes that had just the right amount of cocoa and strawberry and cream cheese stuffing. Near watched, having made himself a smaller plate with actual proper breakfast food on it alongside the crepes, but Mello had no such needs since he just stole his eggs and sausage from Near. It was bittersweet and familiar and Mello recalled that all of his fondest memories with Near were of the two of them much like this, settled around a table eating food that either a kind hearted Near or Wammy had prepared for L and Mello in light of their absolutely compelling lack of household skills.

"Damn good." Mello said after a while and he received a small snort.

"Not much to do in Alaska but cook, fish, and watch lots of Discovery TV- so you get really good at all of them. Also, I think I genuinely believe in alien abductions now, I must have watched at least fifty specials on them." Mello grinned and leaned forward to gently brush powdered sugar away from the corner of Near's mouth.

"So if I arrange for you to be jumped by some guys in some wickedly awesome makeup and creepy futuristic jumpsuits to stick things up your ass, you'll just roll with the aliens thing?" Near let out a small laugh, low and breathy the way he always did- as though unwilling to admit he was actually laughing, but physically needed to anyway. His laugh had always given Mello an odd sense of pride because he was the only person he'd ever heard cause it. Near's laugh was for Mello, and Mello had always liked that.

"I think even if genuine aliens came down, I would still give you the credit for their remarkable providence in choosing me." Mello laughed at that and Near smirked slightly and Mello caught himself wondering why they had never happened. They fit too well together, even after years apart, the way he and Matt did only it wasn't exactly friendship between them, was it? Near's glances were not platonic and the warning going off in the back of Mello's head that seemed to be taking on the form of a well-toned Japanese judoka cum super scientist were certainly not there because he was feeling only the warmth of friendship and crepes in his stomach.

He could have fallen so easily for Near.

He still could.

Light's voice in the hallway caught them both off guard, but they quickly realized that the annoyed and slightly waspish tone wasn't directed at them and the almost flirting that was happening.

"Fucking piece of shit Shinigami, if I wanted you to opine on my decisions I would fucking ask-" Light paused in the doorway with Ryuk at his shoulder and stared at the scene before himself blankly. Mello thought he registered a slight ripple of a sneer at their chocolate breakfast- the man was absolutely rigid on when and when not sweets should be eaten- but his face was smooth and pristine when he met Mello's eyes.

"Love, you are going to get so fat eating that. And then you're not going to fit on our bed." It was a beautifully crafted statement that flawlessly merged possessiveness with a slight insult to Near and Mello arched an eyebrow at it. It wasn't particularly like Light to get snippy, but perhaps he was suffering from the weather as well. It would make sense, the other man was used to humid temperatures and bright city lights. The countryside special- a mixture of fog rolling against tall grasses alongside a heaping serving of permanent chill must be unpleasant to adjust to.

"My abs are still impeccable, I'll have you know. I'm used to eating much worse under L's employ." Light had to concede the point with a slight shrug and he leaned in to peck Mello on the cheek while Near glanced away and began to nonchalantly twirl a rogue lock of hair on his finger. Mello breathed in deeply the smell of Light, a heady brew of apples, coffee and paper that never failed to enchant. "You smell good." He murmured, turning and kissing Light on the lips.

"And you are perpetually horny. Where are the extra apples? Mr. Twitches is getting bitchy." Ryuk laughed at that and even Mello snorted while Near adopted the patient look of the lone sane man in an asylum. They were nicknaming the God of Death then?

"They're stashed away in the fruit bin, bottom of the second refrigerator." Light rubbed his fingers slowly down Mello's back before moving and Mello shivered slightly under them.

"Here, eat." Light said, tossing the bright fruit he'd pulled from the intimidating depths of their industrial fridge at Ryuk and Mello quirked his head at the picture the two made. Ever since Ryuk had shown up in England after a mysterious disappearance that so far none of them were privy to details of, the pair had become attached at the hip despite Ryuk's insistence that he was L's Shinigami. Mello supposed it was only natural, the Shinigami had been haunting Light for six months prior to L's arrival and Light was very pretty to look on for hours at a time. Still…

He didn't like Death following his boyfriend around like a puppy.

"Hey babe, when you're done feeding the Shinigami, do you want to go for a ride? I need to get out of the house before L finds me and makes me do more spreadsheets." Light glanced up from making faces at Ryuk, looking surprised.

"Sure. But you're not driving. And we're only going for half an hour. We are in the middle of a very serious investigation. Even if it's stalled we need to maintain our focus-" Mello held up a hand.

"I get it. Half an hour. Just through the countryside. You drive, I suck you off. We're all happy."

Light looked stumped while Near moved to leave the room. Mello glanced at him out the corner of his eye and tried not to feel guilty, but…Light was his lover. And he didn't want that to end yet, no matter how yummy or chocolaty the crepes on the other side may be.

"Well in that case, make it an hour."

Light handled Matt's '56 Chevy easily, and they leisurely drove through miles of backwards country roads with colorful leaves falling down around them as the morning skies warmed up enough to let a few strategic rays of sunshine float down the gauzy clouds.

Light parked on a strategic side road that left them enveloped in trees and each other and Mello pulled him into a hot kiss, enjoying their simple rapport of touches and lips.

"Backseat?" Light asked as he gently kissed below Mello's ear. Mello nodded and they rearranged with a few laughs and mutual looks of horror at the fact they, as grown men, were moving around so they could lay down in the backseat of their friend's car and make out.

"I feel like a naughty teenager." Light whispered into Mello's ear as Mello lay down on top of him and they began kissing again.

"Is it the skipping work, the necking, the car, or the fact that I'm about to mess you up so that badly that you'll have to change pants before you'll agree to be seen in public?" Light pretended to contemplate his options and Mello kissed him on the nose.

"I'm going to go with the pants, but side note- won't Matt be just a tad upset that we're fucking in his car?"

They met eyes and Mello arched an eyebrow.

"Do we care?" Light laughed, and then Mello laughed, and then there were no more words.

L gave a flat look as Mello and Light slipped in to headquarters as lunch was being served, both looking rosy cheeked and far too happy. Young love was sickening thing to be witness to if you weren't partaking.

"Watson, Mello- nice of you to finally get your lazy asses around to joining us." Light had the common decency to feign looking chastised, Mello just flipped him off.

"Honestly L, it's not like either of us are much help though." Light said, unwrapping himself from Mello's hands and moving towards L's side. "I do science, not investigation. I'm really not sure how to help you track down whoever's using the Death Note and no matter how many ways I recreate the apple- pie, cake, or martini- Ryuk won't tell me anything. And Mello's…" They both looked over to where Mello was now struggling to open up a can of Coke one handedly.

"An immeasurable idiot?" L asked in low tones and Light snorted.

"I was going to say a bit laid up at the moment. Are you feeling alright? You've been a bit down ever since we hit England." L considered the thought. It could be due to the fact that in Japan, after Mello and Matt had made themselves scarce, Light had been all his. And it had been wonderful. L missed it terribly. Or it could be that ever since arriving in England, L had not only lost any alone time with the man that was rapidly consuming any spare thoughts, but had been slapped in the face by the case time and time again.

"Anyways, whether I'm feeling down or not has nothing to do with the fact that you're going to have put aside your prissy preference for science, rolls those well-pressed sleeves up and work on the case. I just don't have the resources for you not to be." Light nodded sympathetically.

"Well, before Mello jumped me for…a late breakfast, I did get to do some work with Ryuk. I'm thinking I might be able to convince him to reveal a bit about the current owner." Light glanced at the rest of the team, Mello who was now lounging over Matt's shoulder as he typed and pointing things out with his good hand, and Near- now consumed with a large map that was slowly being pinned with color coordinated tacks to mark where the death toll was highest.

"He went to see him. That's why he was gone." L gently tugged at Light's sleeve and Light followed him obediently out into the hallway where they slid into an empty classroom.

"Ryuk was able to track down the other Death Note owner?" Light nodded, looking a bit perturbed.

"Apparently he was able to sense the other Shinigami, I'm wondering if there isn't some connection via the plane that they operate on. Theoretically, I might be able to create some sort of equation that might lead us to being able to trace the other Shinigami down. Either way though, he's not talking." L nodded thoughtfully and Light smiled at him.

"We're going to bust the son of a bitch, L. I know I didn't know him at all, but I'm not taking Roger's death or the threat against you lying down. I don't let my friends suffer." L smiled and glanced up at Light.

"Of course not, Dr. I trust you above all things to be reliable. You might be flighty and love struck, but you're still reliable." Light chuckled.

"You are horrible at compliments, do you know that?" L wrinkled his nose and Light made that face that he always did, the one he quirked his mouth to the side and managed to look thoughtful, silly, and absolutely kissable all at the same time.

"Screw off Watson." Light looked affronted and began to dialogue about feelings in the workplace when Near poked his head in.

"L? We have a situation."

Light stretched out against cool sheets while Ryuk did handstands in the corner of Mello's room in a bid for apples. Or a Shinigami interpretive dance, Light wasn't sure he wanted to know which- it was more amusing to his tired mind to pretend Ryuk was summoning rain from the Great Beyond. It had been a hell of a couple of days. Beyond Birthday's surprise escape from prison had L pissing himself in a corner over the growing amount of evidence that his underlings were rising up against him. After all- how else would the insane doppelganger have escaped, but with the help of ex- Wammy's? And the writings left in the blood of the slaughtered guards that had made for sensationalist pickings on the evening BBC newsreel all made it seem as though the boogey man had been let out to come after L with a vengeance only obsession could breed when met with true hatred. The whole scenario had L pulling away from his various field agents left and right and slowly pulling himself into a tiny, confined hole of Near, Matt, Mello and of course the good doctor that was so reliable.

It was making Light's job too easy, actually.

He sighed and wriggled deeper into the sheets, the smell of Mello meeting his deep breaths into the pillows.

"He looks like A, that boy you're having sex with." Light flopped his head back onto Mello's pillow.

"I've noticed, funnily enough." Ryuk gave him that look, the one where his grin shrunk a bit and he hooded his eyes so that he didn't quite look like the caricature of immortality and eternal power that he was.

"No need to get so defensive, Light. It's not like I'm going to tell A you're shacking up with someone who looks like him. Even if it might be interesting to watch his reaction." Light sat up and glared at Ryuk.

"First of all, I'm not sleeping with Mello because he looks like A, so stop implying such. If you hadn't noticed, I didn't have my memories of A when I met Mello. Second of all, you're not going to tell A anything because you're not to visit him again. You're my Shinigami, or rather L's, and you're going to have to start to act like it." Ryuk chuckled and loomed in close to Light.

"Don't worry, I'll play by the rules." That was a dangerous promise if there ever was one and Light frowned and buried himself in the covers, wondering why he'd ever gotten involved in this stupid game from the start.

"Anyways Ryuk, you were wondering about the page I took from the Death Note two mornings ago. Here it is." Light pulled the folded up sheet he had carefully separated with a stolen Biology classroom scalpel and passed it over to the Shinigami. 'Beyond Birthday' was scrawled in the top, over a long list of instructions and names of guards that ran the entire page- turning the translucent sheet almost completely black.

"Impressive. I haven't even seen A use the Death Note quite this extensively. I don't think it's ever been done actually. Looks like L's going to have a hell of a two weeks." Light shrugged, taking the sheet back and carefully re-hiding it amongst his clothing. It was an obvious place, yes, but it was also the last place anyone wishing to maintain their hands would touch- even Mello didn't go near Light's designated drawers.

"That's my job, isn't it? Distract L? Keep him busy while A tries to take over the world?" The Shinigami feigned thoughtfulness.

"I think you're forgetting a part. A wanted you to kill him." Light shrugged.

"A can deal with it. He isn't exactly living up to his end of the deal either." Ryuk hawed and Light rolled over, wondering where Mello was. It was late and L had dismissed them all over an hour ago. Light had expected him to be in bed by now, preferably keeping Light warm.

"I'm going to bed now, Ryuk. You might as well go keep L company." The Shinigami gave Light a last menacing chuckle, and disappeared through the wall.

L sat and typed quickly, shutting down operation after operation. Agents were sent out of whatever they were doing and back into hiding as he pulled out of every non- Death Note related case he had currently running. Near had been right, there were ex-Wammy's involved. The worst part was, he didn't have so much as a litmus test to decide which ones might be behind the noose that was slowly tightening around his neck.

He had no way to tell, no where to look, not such much as a whisper of who was fucking so magnificently with him. It was annoying beyond belief for a man that was so used to seeing more than anyone else could, to now be so blind to the machinations of his own trained agents.

Ryuk spilled into the room from the walls, chuckling to himself. The creature did that a lot.

"Been with Light again?" L asked, glancing up at him.

"Maybe. He's pretty, I told you that." Yes, yes the creature certainly had. If L didn't already have Mello to be properly jealous of, he'd start to go after Ryuk.

"L?" Near stood at the doorway, the only member of his team who was still awake and working. Light had actually settled in these past few days since Beyond's escape and Roger's funeral and had actually become a huge help despite his rookie investigator status, but he was useless without sleep. Mello had begun to get some of his own swagger back as he slowly regained use of his arm, but he was L's personal field agent, the absolute best at going in and shooting people under L's name and had no place at this stage in the game. He was also a wonderfully proficient profiler, which was the real reason L kept him on such a tight retainer, but they had no one to profile yet so the blond had wandered off with a bottle of wine and ill intentions towards his boyfriend's sleeping form about an hour ago. Matt would actually be useful at the moment, but he'd begged off for an hour of 'alone time' with his computer to cyber chat up on of his girlfriends in Texas. L had let him, and warned him not to come back unless he'd showered. Matt had high fived him, L had winced at the hand to hand contact given the context, and the brunet had left.

"Yes Near?' Near moved in and watched L work from a crouch for a few moments before sitting cross legged down on the floor in front of him.

Near was staring down at L's feet and l watched him, not wanting to disturb what puzzle pieces might be falling into place as they both sat in silence.

"I found a few suspicious heart attack deaths around two years ago that occurred in Stockholm during the Nobel Prize ceremony. They were all physicists and I remembered reading about it in the newspaper this morning over breakfast, so I went looking. Two out of the three that died had no family history or physical predisposition to heart attacks, and they all occurred at weird time frames. Not to mention the three were members of the team that…" Near trailed off and L's mind whirled. He remembered the deaths from the news, there had been questions about foul play or even the heart attacks being related to the LHC work the men were being awarded for.

"They were all on the team that beat out Dr. Yagami's research on quantum mechanical phenomena at the edges of black holes as they related to multiple universe theory." Near nodded.

"It would be six months after that then, that they person arrested for Death Note usage in Japan actually gained his own Death Note, yes?" Near nodded again and L felt him stomach clench up.

"Let's keep this to ourselves for the moment. There's no need to draw any unnecessary conclusions. Nevertheless, good work."

Too good of work, if it was true.

Author's Note- Short update, I know, but at least it's an update. Tale is acting weird these days and being all uncooperative while Russia and Cop are just being dolls and are so easy to write. I dunno, I dunno. I love some of the scenes in this chapter, but then growl at others. It's a weird game because I know what's happening, but y'all aren't meant to just yet. So I'm like, can I say that? Is it okay to say that? What will they think? Will they know? DO THEY KNOW? And then I get all panicked.

Oh well, I still like the man love. Obviously some relationships are winding up and others are winding down. It's coming you guys, and I'm so happy for it. Also, Near is also being a bit of a pain in my ass, just because I'm so used to writing him when he's not under L's thumb. It's a weird transition.

Of course, this chapter is dedicated to halfpromise, who got me through this update by making my laffffff until my sides hurt while I was writing it.

Lastly, it's only Wednesday! (For 6 more minutes!), so hopefully I can update a bit more before my vacation time is up. Fair warning though, I have updated all of my fics this week and therefore feel no guilt whatsoever if I leave all of you hanging for the next two weeks. Sorry dolls, school and life are hard. But I wouldn't actually do that because I love to write.

Cheers! Enjoy St. Patty's tomorrow! I, for one, will be on the open road so let's hope I don't dieeeeeeeeeeeeeee in a drunken car accident. ...Actually, thanks self, for just putting that thought into my head. Oh my.

So yes, you better review now lest I be dead by Friday. Love y'all!