Hyuga Mio Faneda: Alright; as requested, one chapter ;)
PianoCatRulez: Thanks XD There had to be one last L chapter in there before the end ;)
crazycatlady227: Yep, you were right :P
vhs: No worries ;) I always reply to my reviewers :)
AiyanaMiyuki: Well...you'll find out for sure in this chapter XD
"Excuse me," Matsuda said politely, "but may I please see your alien registration card?"
Roger drew in a long, deep breath, held it for a while, then let it out very slowly.
"You know perfectly well that I don't have one," he answered in a rather strained tone.
"Nevertheless, I would still like to see it."
"Mr. Matsuda, how many times must we go through this charade? I've been coming here every day for the last three weeks. You know exactly who I am and you know my legal status in this country."
Matsuda kept his face completely neutral. "I'm sorry, Roger, I've never seen you before in my life. You must be confusing me with someone else. Now please show me your alien registration card."
"I told you, I don't have one."
"According to Japanese law, foreign residents must carry their alien registration card upon their person at all times when out and about. If you do not possess one, then I am required by law to place you under arrest until such time as your embassy can be contacted."
Roger sighed. "No, you're not, for the simple reason that I am not a resident, I have British citizenship and therefore am allowed to remain in Japan for up to ninety days without a visa or registration card." He folded his arms. "Mr. Matsuda, all I want to do is see that L is still here and none of you have absconded with him while my back was turned, so can we skip straight to the part where I show you my passport and embarkation card and you call it in to double-check? Then I can just put my head through that door behind you and be on my way."
Matsuda drew himself up.
"If you are threatening self-harm, it is my duty as a detective to restrain you until psychiatric evaluation can be carried out," he said in the same efficient monotone.
Roger stared at him. "I'm not threatening self-harm! What are you talking about?"
"Did you or did you not say just now that you wanted to ram your head through a closed door?"
"Can we please get on with this? Here." Roger held out his passport for inspection.
"This is a UK passport, is it?" Matsuda asked.
"Yes. You can see that."
"I see nothing of the kind. Passports issued from the UK are red and gold, not black and silver. This really is a very clumsy forgery. I'm going to have to ask you to come with me."
"It's inside an old style passport wallet." Roger's calm control slipped half a notch and he added, "Even you should be able to work that much out."
Matsuda examined the passport wallet closely, pulled the passport out of it and made a very obvious show of checking and double-checking it.
"Is this you in this photograph?" he asked.
"You know damn well it's me!"
"It doesn't look much like you. I'm afraid I'll have to check with the NPA office. If you could just step outside the building with me while I telephone them—"
"I see." Matsuda loaded the words with as much meaning as he could. "Obstructing a member of the police in the pursuit of his duty is a serious crime in Japan, foreigner or not."
Roger grabbed his passport back. "For goodness' sake! You know who I am, you can see in my passport that I'm allowed to remain in this country until the end of September and this is nothing more than blatant harassment!"
Matsuda schooled his features into that politely neutral expression perfected by all police and dreaded by anyone who has to deal with them.
"I'm sorry to hear that you find my conduct unsatisfactory. Should you wish to lodge a formal complaint against me, you are perfectly free to contact my superior."
Roger tucked his passport into his pocket again. "Might that be the same superior who, to use a popular expression which I personally despise, hates my guts?"
"He is a very fair-minded man." This much was true; however much Soichiro disliked Roger, Matsuda knew his boss well enough to know that he wouldn't let personal feelings get in the way of a genuine problem.
"Mr. Matsuda, can't we get on with this? Only I do have to leave the country in a little under three months, you know. It always ends up the same; you will eventually agree to let me look at Ryuzaki, and I'll be on my way. Don't you have anything better to do than play these stupid games with me?"
"I can assure you, Roger, that my job is not stupid." The ice in Matsuda's voice wasn't entirely feigned this time.
"No, but I'm beginning to suspect that you are."
Matsuda's eyes narrowed.
"I see," he said again. "In that case, you leave me no option."
He turned and opened the door to L's room a crack. "Aizawa? Will you take over here? It seems this foreigner is a little lost."
Behind him, he heard Roger breathe heavily once or twice, but the old man didn't say anything. Managing to wrestle his face out of its anticipatory expression to something more befitting an NPA detective, Matsuda turned back to Roger and indicated Aizawa, who had slipped out of L's room to join them.
"My colleague here will be happy to deal with any queries you have. Please excuse me; I have urgent business of my own to attend to."
"Don't forget the sugar this time," Aizawa muttered, his voice too low for Roger to overhear.
Matsuda didn't bother dignifying this with an answer; instead he opened the door just enough to squeeze inside it as Aizawa stepped forward to face Roger, his face politely blank.
"Good morning. Before I let you in, there are one or two things we just need to get sorted out for security reasons. Please show me your alien registration card."
Closing the door behind him, Matsuda glanced at his watch and made a quick note of the time, then sat down by L's bed. As soon as he'd figured out that Soichiro would be spending a lot of time there, he'd brought in a small coffee maker and tried to keep some light snacks around the place, ostensibly for the deputy director's benefit, in reality for the benefit of whoever was on L-duty at the time. He reached out and set it going, added two helpings of sugar to Aizawa's cup as requested, then leaned back, glanced at his watch again and waited.
A few minutes ticked by, then the door opened and Roger looked in without speaking, saw L and closed the door again. Matsuda checked his watch for the third time and made another quick note, then poured out two cups of coffee.
Half a minute later, Aizawa came in and sat down on the other side of the nightstand. For a moment both men were silent, then Aizawa said casually, "So...how long?"
Checking the notes he'd made, Matsuda answered, "Four minutes nineteen seconds. How about me?"
Aizawa's face twisted in irritation. "Seven minutes thirty five seconds."
"Oh good. That's three hundred yen you owe me."
"Yeah, yeah. Don't rub it in." Aizawa pulled out his wallet, counted out a one hundred yen coin and twenty ten yen ones and handed them over. "Where'd you get the self-harming line from?"
Matsuda shrugged. "These things just come naturally to me. I was going to do the immigrant thing, but Takahashi-san beat me to it. I wish I'd been here for that one." Putting on a heavy accent, he said, "Excuse please. Am new of Japan. No English. Little Japanese."
Aizawa chuckled. "Yeah. Though I'm not sure how he managed to hold Roger off for fifteen minutes with that ploy."
"Me neither. Like I say, I'd try that trick myself, but I don't think Roger's dumb enough to believe there could be two people like that in the NPA and besides, he knows me too well. And on that subject, why do I always have to be the first person to deal with him?"
The other man gave him a smile like a shark's. "Because of our bet, of course. Five thousand yen to whichever one of us exasperates him to the point of losing his temper and shouting. Unfortunately for me, you have a rather hefty natural advantage and several years of experience when it comes to exasperating people to that extent, so letting you work on him when he's fresh and me work on him after you've just worn him down evens the playing field a little."
"Do you make everything about money, Aizawa?"
"Only the boring things, and sitting in the same room as a comatose person for hours on end is pretty damn boring, not to mention just a little bit creepy. Beats me why Roger's so determined to have the job. It's not like Ryuzaki'll be going anywhere in a hurry if he does wake up, so there's no way Roger could miss anything."
"He should thank us," Matsuda commented. "After all, we go to a lot of trouble to entertain him by thinking up new and original reasons why he can't come in. It's probably the highlight of his day. I mean, what else does he do when he's not trying to have a look at Ryuzaki?"
Aizawa considered this. "You know, I've no idea. I think he probably just sits in his hotel room waiting until it's time to try again."
"Exactly. It's such a waste. He could be enjoying a unique Japanese experience, like getting fleeced at a tourist trap, or being crushed in a subway carriage during the rush hour, or stuffing himself with sushi."
"I don't think getting fleeced at a tourist trap is an experience that's unique to Japan," Aizawa remarked, sipping at his coffee. "Every country has its leeches."
"True," Matsuda agreed. "Speaking of leeches, what happened to Ueda?"
The other man turned a startled look on him. "What, you don't know?"
"No." Matsuda took an enormous gulp of coffee. "I know I've been reinstated but Yagami-bucho set me to guard Ryuzaki. I've not heard much of anything since that night in the hotel and nobody's seen fit to tell me."
"Oh, I see. Well, he's still in custody, although technically he's not supposed to be. So far he hasn't signed any confession, so it's very difficult to charge him." Aizawa heaved a sigh. "I thought we were getting somewhere in that first interview, only it had to be postponed to a slightly later date and I'm not sure what happened in the other ones, since Yagami-bucho refused to let me in on them."
Matsuda glanced at him, frowning.
"Why?" he asked. Aizawa was always present at interviews, to the point where he no longer waited for Soichiro to call his name before getting his things together.
"...No idea," Aizawa answered, although he didn't quite meet the younger man's gaze.
"Did you at least find out why they were committing those murders?"
"Yeah." The other detective bit the word off at the end. "Some kind of sick human sacrifices to Kira. They wanted him back, so they thought they would do something to force his hand."
Matsuda was silent. At last he said, "That must have been hard for Yagami-bucho. How did he take it?"
Aizawa shrugged. "How does he take everything? He's nothing if not professional. That said, I think I saved him from doing something very stupid."
"You mean you punched Ueda before Yagami-bucho could," Matsuda said shrewdly.
"Something like that," Aizawa admitted. "Sachiko-san was their final target, which is why she's now a virtual prisoner in her own home. They may have dressed it up to look like a cult, but it was only the Yagami family they wanted to kill. Ryuzaki was right about the pentagram in the sense of knowing where the killers would strike next, but the pentagram itself was a red herring. There was no religious motivation at all." He was quiet for a while and then said, "In a way, I wish that there had been. At least then those other poor girls would have died for a more impressive reason than to throw us off the scent."
Matsuda nodded gloomily, brooding over his coffee. Finally, for want of something better to do, he picked up a small box on the nightstand and offered it to Aizawa.
"Want a gyoza?"
Aizawa studied the little parcels. "Depends. What kind are they?"
"Strawberry jelly and cream cheese. I made them for Ryuzaki, but it doesn't look like he'll be able to eat them, so we may as well."
"Interesting combination." Aizawa took one, hesitated, then shrugged and bit into it. He chewed speculatively for a few moments, then shrugged. "It works though."
"Yeah. We used to have it a lot when I was a kid."
Aizawa glanced at Matsuda, eyebrows raised. "Using the cheese from your own cows, I suppose."
"Not everyone who lives in the country is a farmer, Aizawa!" Matsuda retorted. "But we did make our own jelly."
"Yeah? My mom used to do that as well."
Matsuda stared at him, visibly surprised.
"Not everyone who lives in the big city is incapable of baking," Aizawa answered, taking another gyoza. "But these are really good. You know, you're going to make somebody a great wife one day."
Matsuda laughed bitterly. "Well, I don't seem to have made a very good husband!"
There was a long silence.
"That was stupid of me, Matsuda," Aizawa said very quietly at the end of it. "I'm sorry."
"It's alright." The younger man stared into thin air for several moments.
"I'd ask how things were going, except my apartment's only two doors down from yours and I can hear it for myself."
Matsuda shrugged, lips tight. "Yeah. Well."
"You cover for me a while? Now Roger's gone there's not much danger, and if I don't get a cigarette soon I'll go crazy."
It was a convincing argument delivered in an equally convincing tone of voice, right up until you took into account the little fact that Aizawa didn't smoke and this was an excuse to take a quick walk outside and break up the monotony. Matsuda wondered if it was worth reminding him of this small but rather vital piece of information, then he dismissed the idea. The last three weeks had taken their toll and he was just too tired to argue.
"Yeah, sure," he said instead. "Go ahead."
"Thanks. Back in ten minutes."
Aizawa rose to his feet and headed out, taking care to shut the door after him. Silence descended.
"Well, I guess it's just you and me again, Ryuzaki," Matsuda remarked, fishing another gyoza out of the tin.
The answer was so quiet that it slid into Matsuda's head before he registered it, and when his brain finally caught up with his ears, it promptly went into shock at what it had just heard.
"Did you...?" Matsuda began, then stopped. Not quite daring to believe it, he swiveled around very slowly and looked over at the bed.
L's head was turned to the side, his eyes open and focused on Matsuda. There was no expression on his face, but that was alright; Matsuda thought he probably looked stunned enough for both of them.
"Ryuzaki? You're awake?"
L didn't answer, but he didn't close his eyes either. Matsuda wondered how hard it was for the young man to talk.
Never mind that now. There's something you have to do.
Yes. Yes, of course.
Heedless of any rules to the contrary, Matsuda pulled out his phone, switched it on and dialed Soichiro's extension.
"Yagami-bucho?" Matsuda's throat constricted and he stared at the figure in the bed, heart thudding painfully fast. "It's Matsuda."
Some of his emotion must have shown in his voice, because Soichiro was quiet for several seconds.
"Well?" he said at last.
Matsuda swallowed several times, never taking his eyes off L, then said hoarsely, "Yagami-bucho...I think you'd better get down here right away. He's awake."
AN: Well, it's almost one year to the day since this story began. It's changed a lot along the way from the original plan, and now it's finally finished XD It's strange to think this is the last time I'll update it (not counting my tendency to go back and tweak the odd chapter here and there). I know I left it on something of a cliffhanger, but at least L got to wake up XD I really wanted to write his and Soichiro's reunion but couldn't make it work in this story, so it'll be the first chapter of the sequel instead.
Anyway, all that aside, I hope you all enjoyed this story and a HUGE thank you to those who not only favorited and followed, but also reviewed regularly :) I really hope I'll see you all again in the sequel. And to those of you who favorited it but haven't had time to leave a review yet, this is your last chance =P
This story continues in As The World Falls Down, the first chapter of which has now been uploaded to this site. Hope to see you there!