To see what Noel-chan looks like after Misa's makeover, visit the link on my author page! ^_^
True to her word, Misa got started. First, she did my hair, which honestly felt plain weird to me. I hadn't had someone actually do my hair since I was eleven, and that was my mom, who wanted me to look somewhat attractive in our family photo. I mean sure, I went in to get my hair trimmed on a semi-regular basis, but not actually styled. And the most I ever did myself was stick it in a braid so I wouldn't have to mess with it.
After brushing, gelling, and scrunching, my hair was completed, and she started on my make-up. I have absolutely no idea what happened after that, because she had to remove my glasses. All I can tell you is that when she finally finished, my face felt like it had more layers than an onion.
"There!" She proclaimed, sounding proud. She held up what I guessed was a mirror, "Done! And just as sexy as Misa-Misa told you you'd be!"
Blearily, I reached for my glasses. I got my hand slapped away.
"No, no, Shortcake-chan!" Misa gasped, "You'll completely ruin your look!"
"But, Misa-chan, I can't see," I sighed.
Reluctantly, she hovered my glasses in front of my eyes, careful not to actually touch the glasses to my face. I blinked.
My hair draped down over my shoulders in cascading, silky waves. My lips, glossy with a soft pink hue, somehow looked fuller than normal. My eyelashes were dark with mascara, and shaded with pale orchid eye shadow. The color choices and careful application made my blue-green eyes really stand out.
Altogether, I looked nice. Not devastatingly gorgeous, like Misa seemed to think, but definitely an improvement over my normal appearance. I actually looked…well, pretty.
Then my glasses were whisked away, and my world became a splotchy mess once more.
"Alright, NOW we have to go show the others~!" The girl sang out, yanking me out of the chair, and tugging me, stumbling, towards the door of my apartment. I barely had time to grab the box of Strawberry Daifuku cakes off the table. "Ryuuzaki-kun will want to take you as soon as…awww, Shortcake-chan, you're blushing! Heehee! You're still a virgin, aren't you? Well, looking like that, you won't be for long~!"
That particular comment made protest futile, as it made me so incredibly mortified, I couldn't choke out anything until well after that. And by then, I had already been steered into the elevator and down towards the monitor room.
I saw two figures in the hall, which I realized must be some of the investigation team. I all but dug my heels into the ground, trying desperately to escape before any one saw me in that monstrosity of an outfit. But, looking back, that was kind of pointless. Even if I had escaped, I would have most likely run into the wall, not the elevator.
As it happened, I didn't get a chance.
Because at that moment, probably because of Misa's fit of happy giggles, they saw me. I only know this because I heard an audible gasp.
My only consolation at that point was the fact I couldn't actually see their faces. Because if I had been able to see their no-doubt looks of horror, I would have keeled over dead right then and there.
"Sorry, guys!" The blond called, pushing me past them, "You can stare at her later! Ryuuzaki-kun's up first!"
Misa must have not been paying attention where she was shoving me – at all – because the next thing I knew, I'd slammed my foot into the wall. Hard.
I cried out in pain. Well, what do you know. My voice was working again.
"Oops!" she yelped, kindly letting go of me so I could double over to clutch my injured foot, wobbling precariously on my uninjured one. "Wow, Shortcake-chan…you really can't see without your glasses, can you…?"
Oh good, that truth had finally sunk in, had it? At the expense of my foot, but, hey, better late than never.
My eyes threatened to well up with tears (Did I mention I hit that wall hard?), but I quickly forced them back down. I knew exactly what happened to your face when you cry with lots of eye makeup on. It magically transforms you into the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The pain finally subsided enough for me to sputter out, "M-Misa-chan…please give me back my g-glasses…"
To which she did. When I put them on, I saw that she was, for once, looking downright sheepish. And on the verge of tears herself.
"I'm soooooo sorry! I'm really, really sorry! You don't hate me, right?"
I forced a smile. Which was hard, because my foot still hurt. A lot.
"No, no…of course not Misa-chan…it was just an accident…" I assured wheezily.
Instantaneously, her face reverted to a beaming angelic smile.
She grabbed my hand and began pulling me down the hall again, acting as if nothing had happened.
I am fairly certain Misa Amane holds the record for quickest mood-swings ever. That girl is like a bipolar hamster surfing on a tidal wave of energy drink.
Grinning in a fashion that reminded me of Ryoko, the girl continued her quick pace, forcing me to half-stumble, half-hobble behind her, trying to keep a grip on the box. We were already at the door to the Monitor Room when it fully dawned on me.
L was about to see me.
The most gorgeous man on the planet. The man whose respect and affection meant everything in the world to me. The man that I loved.
And he was about to see me.
In. That. Damn. Dress.
"M-Misa-chan!" I managed shrilly, "I can't let him see me like this!"
The blond supermodel merely laughed, like me being consumed by sheer panic was the cutest thing she'd seen in her life.
You know what? L is completely right. Misa MUST be Kira.
No normal person is that sadistic.
"MISA-MISA PROUDLY PRESENTS, THE NEW AND IMPROVED SHORTCAKE-CHAN!" She announced loudly, thrusting me forward.
The majority of the Investigation Team was there, minus Chief Yagami and Mogi, who I then understood I'd just passed in the hallway. The team recently had a break in the Kira case, and they'd actually been able to work. Even Light was there. Yes, he'd finally been freed from the dreaded handcuffs, something that both he and L had silently celebrated. He was talking with Matsuda, no doubt about the misadventures of the psycho blond who had just thrown me to the metaphorical wolves. They all looked up.
My entire body went stiff as a board.
Sinking into utter humiliation, I vaguely wondered if Kira would kill me if I asked nice enough. Of course, judging from the frantic pace of my pulse, I wouldn't even need his help.
After what seemed an eternity of silence, Matsuda spoke up.
I blinked in shock.
"R-Really…?" I darn near whispered.
"Y-Yeah…" Light added, "You look beautiful. Misa-chan did a good job."
Misa swelled up in pride, like she'd never received such a wonderful compliment.
Matsuda turned around enthusiastically to the rest of the Investigation Team.
"Doesn't she look great?"
The rest of the team murmured their agreement, though most, being married men, were either polite enough or felt guilty enough not to stare. Matsuda, however, wasn't.
"I mean, your hair…and…and your eyes! I never noticed what a beautiful color they were! And your dress! Wow!" He gushed, sounding as over-excited as usual.
Every compliment made my cheeks turn a shade darker. I wasn't used to the attention. I mean, come on. I didn't look that different. Did I?
"T-Thank you," I mumbled, my eyes falling to the ground, my fingers anxiously twirling a stray lock of hair, "I…I don't think the dress…r-really suites me, though…"
I had hoped that would convey the message to all the guys. The message being I didn't wear this willingly.
Like the good detectives they were, they got my drift. They probably suspected it the moment I got in the room. And the fact that I was embarrassed about being forced to wear that ridiculous dress made them all the more embarrassed to be seeing me in it. So, basically, we were all downright uncomfortable, aside from Misa.
"No, it does! You look great! Like a girl right out of the magazines! I mean, wow! I barely recognized y–"
An unlikely savior came in the form of Aizawa, who stomped forward, slapping a hand firmly on Matsuda's shoulder. His cheeks were slightly red, but I'm pretty sure it was due more to frustration because of Matsuda than it was embarrassment due to me.
"That's enough!" He barked, "Geeze, you idiot! Can't you tell you're making her uncomfortable?"
Matsuda looked back, and, seeing Aizawa was completely correct, blushed, and rubbed his head guiltily.
"I – er – s-sorry…just got a little carried away…"
"We noticed," another member mumbled, which made Matsuda look even more ashamed. I felt bad for him. He'd only been trying to be nice, after all. It wasn't his fault he had a tendency to ramble.
"Thank you, Matsuda-san," I said, giving him a small smile, "I appreciate it. That was…really kind of you."
He blinked, and smiled back. Between his cheerful, outgoing nature, and his eagerness, he kind of reminded me of a puppy. I wouldn't dare tell him that, though.
"No problem, Shortcake-chan. You really do look great…"
"SHE KNOWS!" Aizawa all but exploded, steering the hapless young man back towards a monitor.
It was then that I looked back towards L.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't secretly hoping he'd have a reaction similar to Matsuda's. I was expecting him to have some kind of reaction, albeit much more subtle. A few words, or a nod, or maybe even a smile.
But he didn't.
Instead, I saw that he had already gone right back to typing on his computer.
My shoulders drooped a little. Misa seemed to take his lack of excitement personally, because she marched over to him, pulling me along behind her.
"Ryuuzaki-kun!" She said, her voice sickeningly sweet, with a noticeably threatening edge, "Don't you have anything to say to Shortcake-chan~?"
L finished typing, and spun his chair ever so slightly to face us. His face was blank. Not a curl of the lips, or a glimmer of approval in his eyes, or a trace of any emotion at all.
That all changed, however, when he saw the box I was holding.
Then his adorable small smile crept over his face, and his obsidian eyes sparkled.
"Ahhh…for me?" he said, a note of happiness in his voice. He took the box without bothering for an answer. "Thank you."
I just stood there.
Because I had completely humiliated myself in front of everyone by wearing that revealing, laced-up nightmare from hell, all in the secret hope I might see a gleam of SOMETHING in his eyes, and he'd just given that something I craved to a box of rice-flour cakes.
In short? I had lost to a pastry.
Misa was not happy about this either. She pursed her lips, putting her hands on her hips in a way that evidently spelled death, because both Light and Matsuda flinched noticeably.
"Don't you have anything else you want to say to her~?" She asked, in her honey-and-poison coated voice.
L didn't even turn to face us again. He delicately raised a Strawberry Daifuku cake, moving his head beneath it to bite into its underside.
"Not particularly," he mumbled through a mouthful of pastry.
Misa's eyebrow twitched. Her face screwed up into a seething glare so potent it could kill small mammals. She was so upset, in fact, she couldn't even form words; she just stared at him, lips moving soundlessly in indignant rage.
My crush didn't notice; he was too busy starring at the monitor as he polished off the cakes.
Crestfallen, I turned around, trying my very hardest to hide my obvious hurt. One plus to having my hair down; it made a darn good veil to hide behind.
I quickly and quietly headed for the door. Most of the task force members must have assumed it was a desperate bid to escape from Misa while I had the chance, and moved out of my way, ushering me towards freedom.
Soon, the only one left was Light. The brown-haired Adonis must have thought L's aloofness was blatantly rude, because he sent a glare at the hunchback, gave me an apologetic smile, and stepped aside, before he resumed his work.
I murmured an excuse, and left to go change out of that damn dress. That, and potentially cry my eyes out.
Okay, so I didn't cry my eyes out. Trust me, I felt like it. I mean, c'mon, can you blame me? I'd been polished and painted into the prettiest version of myself I possibly could be, and not only had the love of my life not seemed to even notice, but he'd shown more attraction to a box of baked goods.
My own forte had come back to bite me in the ass.
Who has that happen to them? Honestly?
Oh, right. Me.
Life was a sadistic ol' bitty, to be sure.
Two and a half hours later found me in my kitchen. I was clothed once more in my own comfortable clothes and my pink apron. I had left my hair down and my makeup on, though. It wasn't really on purpose; I was just so consumed with thinking of other things, I hadn't noticed.
I was in the process of whipping up an extra large batch of my favorite dessert of all time: brownies, so dark and fudgy and filled with chocolaty decadence that your arteries could clog just looking at them. Topped with my special raspberry-cream cheese frosting, they were probably banned in several countries. I idly hoped that Japan was not one of them.
"Good evening," a voice said.
I yipped in surprise, dropping my wisk right into the batter. Whirling around, I saw that the great ninja-wizard Watari had walked through my walls and was now standing beside me. Of course, I can only guess, since I didn't see him do it and all. Maybe he just used ninjutsu.
"W-Watari-san!" I choked, putting my newly-freed hand to my heart. "I…I-I didn't hear you come in…"
"Ah, I'm sorry, Shortcake-chan. Next time I'll do better in announcing my presence. May I assist?"
I forced a smile and nodded.
"Um, sure, if you'd like."
He smiled warmly at me, and rolled up his sleeves. I took the opportunity to fish my whisk out of the batter and rinse off the handle. When I had turned around, Watari had already filled the other side of the sink with soapy water, and was washing my measuring cups.
"Chocolate cake?" He asked pleasantly, eyeing the bowl I was holding.
"Close," I replied, "They're brownies."
We worked in silence. I felt guilty not saying anything, but honestly, I really wasn't in the mood to talk. I just wanted to get my chocolate treats done as soon as possible, scarf down eight or so, sneak the rest into the industrial kitchen downstairs, and turn in early.
After a while, Watari spoke up, his voice thoughtful.
"Blueberry scones," he repeated, stirring the raspberry juice in my saucepan, "They're a vice of mine. Whenever I'm having a difficult time, I tend to eat more than I should. I once ate an entire batch in a single day."
He chuckled at the memory, shaking his head. The older gentleman turned to me, his face painted with a soft smile.
"I assume brownies are your comfort food?"
I paused, but quickly resumed whisking, hoping he hadn't noticed.
How stupid of me. If there was one thing I knew about ninja-wizards, it was that they had scary good observational skills.
I had more chance of being abducted by a race of alien Elvis-es.
"I know what happened earlier," he continued gently, "All the trouble you went to, just to impress him."
This time, I froze completely.
"I-It…it was Misa-chan's idea," I mumbled, "I didn't want to…"
"Regardless, I'm sure your feelings were hurt no less."
I really didn't know what to say to that. Truth has a knack for smacking you speechless. I slowly began to whisk again.
Watari continued to gaze at me, his eyes soft.
" L has…difficulty…with things of that sort. He is a genius, but…"
"…because of the life he has had, his social skills are severely underdeveloped. He often struggles with things that come naturally to others, Chief Yagami's son in particular."
My mind flickered back to the night after my crush's fight with Light, his words replaying in my head.
"He is, in effect, everything I am not…"
I frowned. L was already aware of his less-than-stellar people skills. I mean, even if he was not a genius, and had the IQ of a squirrel, with how often the others pointed it out, he'd still know.
I, of course, had momentarily forgotten ninja-wizards are telepathic. Watari reminded me not a second later by saying,
"The others' criticism does not help, it is true. L does not understand how to deal with people face to face, and, as a result, he can come off as somewhat cold, as you saw today."
He dried the last dirty dish, his voice quieting to a murmur.
"It is difficult for him to understand the difference between being a letter on a screen and being a man."
A lump formed in my throat. I eventually forced it back down, pouring the batter into the prepared pans.
"…I-I know, Watari-san," I replied quietly, "And…and I can't even imagine what it must be like for him, but…b-but sometimes…"
"…you are not a bother," Watari interrupted, which, of course, was exactly what my concern was, "Though he has trouble showing it, L is very fond of you, Shortcake-chan. The fact he confides in you things he tells no other is proof of that. You are perhaps the only true friend he has."
The older gentleman smiled.
"Don't give up on him. Just give him a little more time."
I smiled. And it wasn't forced. Leave it to a ninja-wizard to tell me exactly what I needed to hear.
"Okay. I will, Watari-san."
Looking back, I should've noticed the gleam in his eyes before I turned towards the oven. That way, I could've prepared for what he said next.
"Good. Because patient, devoted young ladies are in short supply, particularly ones with your culinary talents. L will be lucky to have you as his bride."
I nearly dropped my brownies right then and there.
Gasping, sputtering, and blushing like mad, I shoved the pans into the oven and whirled around to see he had vanished, with only a far off chuckle as evidence he'd even been there in the first place.
It was midnight before I'd put the finishing touches on my brownies. I'd scrapped my plan of binging, and had only saved myself one, before I carted the lot of them down to the industrial kitchen on the first floor. Which, as it happened, was good, because the only thing left of L's sweet supply was the empty box of strawberry Daifuku cakes.
I had barely stepped over the threshold of the kitchen when I froze.
There was L, starring at the empty counter, as if in the hope that the magical desert fairy would pop out and whip up a cake. He was concentrating so hard, in fact, he probably wouldn't have even noticed my presence, had he not smelled the brownies.
Yes, he smelled the brownies. L has a pretty fantastic sense of smell when it comes to sweets. I couldn't even count the number of times he showed up just as I was pulling a tray of cookies out of the oven. I'm pretty sure he could track down a stray cupcake anywhere in the building.
But, yeah. Anyways.
L turned around and saw me, before his eyes trailed downwards to the platter of sweets I was holding. A spark of excitement flickered in his dark eyes. He wandered over eagerly.
"Brownies," he murmured softly, an adorable little smile creeping over his face, "Frosted brownies…"
I couldn't help but smile a little. Leave it to L to be excited I'd found a way to pump more sugar into a desert.
"Thank you, Noel-chan. I think I shall have some of these now…"
My crush carefully slipped the platter out of my hands, and began a happy trudge towards the door. However, he paused, as if remembering something. He looked back, gazing out at me from under his thick raven hair.
"Would you…care to join me?" He said slowly, as if he was speaking a foreign language.
I blinked, just barely managing to suppress a surprised Really? on the tip of my tongue. I couldn't ever remember him ever asking me to join him. Ever.
"…um, yes! I-I'd love to!" I replied hastily.
L's eyes widened, looking just as surprised as I was. He simply stared at me a few seconds. I got the distinct impression that he had no idea what he was supposed to do after that.
In an effort to break the awkward silence, I spoke up again.
"I'll…I'll get the plates and silverware, and, um…would you like some milk too?"
He blinked, and his gaze strayed up to the ceiling.
"Yes, I think I would," he replied thoughtfully, "With chocolate syrup, please."
With that, he plodded off down the hall. I scrambled to get the eating utensils and milk, and, balancing everything precariously, followed slowly after him.
I was darn near giddy, I have to admit. Surprised, even a bit shocked, but giddy nonetheless. Until, of course, I started thinking about it.
The fact was, L never was one to socialize, at least when he didn't have to. And the more I thought of it, the more out of character it seemed. And the way he'd asked me had seemed…well, almost robotic, as if it wasn't his idea at all…
And then it hit me.
I shut my eyes.
Of course it had been the match-making ninja-wizard's idea! I'd just gotten done talking with him about that sort of thing! He'd probably gone right down to L and told him he'd hurt my feelings and…oh boy. What the heck else had he told him?
No. No, surely he wouldn't have said anything about me loving L…would he? No! He wouldn't do that to me! Unless he thought I needed a 'push'…
Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap.
By the time I wobbled my way into the monitor room, I was darn near sweating bullets. My shy instincts told me to run for the hills, before he could accidentally crush my heart into pieces. But I stayed firmly rooted in place, clinging to my scrap of backbone in a death grip. I was overreacting, and even if sharing a desert with me was Watari's idea, I was gonna make the most of it.
So I nervously sat down in a swivel chair beside L's own, divvying up the goods I'd brought, and slipped a plate of two brownies and a glass of extra-chocolatey milk in front of him.
L rewarded me with another of his heart-melting little smiles, and began eating the brownie with a fork and a knife. Not wanting to seem like a barbarian, I used a fork and knife as well.
We ate in silence, L, for the most part, looking up at his many monitors, and me staring sheepishly at the floor, trying to enjoy his company without freaking out. Which proved to be rather difficult.
I'd started thinking that maybe L wouldn't say anything, in which case I didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed, when finally, L spoke up.
"Watari informed me I made a slight discrepancy earlier."
My mouth went dry. I took a gulp of milk to remedy that.
It didn't help much.
He continued, his voice his usual mater-of-fact monotone.
"It seems the correct response in that situation would've been to tell you that you looked beautiful. However, since all the others had informed you of this, I felt that would have been redundant. It was not because I did not find you attractive."
L stared into my eyes, and my breath threatened to vacate my lungs.
"Furthermore, you have always been attractive, and makeup, hairstyle, and attire affect that minimally."
I just gaped at him.
Did L just say…that he thought I was…?
"…y-you think I'm pretty?" I finally choked out, my cheeks flushed red.
"Yes," he replied, helping himself to another brownie. He took a bite, chewing, "As does the rest of the task force, as you heard today."
He swallowed and frowned, an unfamiliar emotion touching his dark eyes.
"May I ask you a favor, Noel-chan?"
Somehow, through my stupor, I nodded.
"I'd prefer it if you did not spend entire days with Misa. Your time is far too valuable, and I do not like having to share you."