So, chapter four! It's taking so much effort not to just rush into anything, something I've seriously never had a problem with before.
Also, review people. It's excellent motivation. Please?
Disclaimer: don't own anything you recognize.
It's an awkward place to have this discussion, but since the Kira investigation began, Light's been having a hard time getting his dad to pay attention despite him also being an active member of the case. And it's because of this that the two of them end up in a currently deserted hallway not to far away from their off-the-books headquarters.
Bluntly, he tells him, "I want to go off the sleeping pills."
For a moment, his dad just looks at him in surprise. "I'm not sure that's a good idea," he says finally and Light has to bite his cheek to stop himself from interrupting. Normally he doesn't have this much trouble but he can tell that his involvement in the case is harder on his parents than it is on him. "You still get nightmares."
"Exactly," he says, hating that he has to use this as a reason. "They haven't really been helping me for the past year and I was thinking of just trying melatonin or something. The pills are making it hard for me to wake up."
"What brought this on?"
He brushes his hair from his face, trying to keep calm because he's been getting worse at that lately. "I haven't had to concentrate on anything in a while," he answers. "School's easy and when I work on cases I normally take myself off of that for a day or -"
"It's only the sleeping pills," he says quickly, but the disapproval face doesn't go away. "I'll talk to my psychiatrist first, but I just don't think I need them anymore."
He's given The Look, the one patented by parents who are wary of their children's choices and he hasn't gotten one of these since he was a kid. "If he says you don't need it, then I have no argument. If he says that you do, I want you to promise to keep taking them."
A while ago, the psychiatrist told him that if he didn't think his medication was working, then they could figure something out. So, logically, if he said he wanted off, then he'd be taken off. "Okay," he agrees because a negotiation is the best he's going to get.
With a quiet sigh, his dad claps his shoulder and leads him away, off towards the investigation room. He's tired from waking up from his worst nightmare in a while while still under the effects of the pills. L shoots him a look as he flops in front of a computer screen, which is surprising because he's generally too focused on the task at hand. Three weeks have passed and though Light doesn't want to admit it, solving the case will be bitter sweet. The two don't talk much but when they do, he can talk on his level of thinking that no one understands and for the first time ever, he automatically trusts someone. But stopping a serial killer is more important he knows it and, again, it's not like they talk much anyway.
As the night draws closer to an end, though, he always wishes that they did. Sure, his dad has the final say on the grounds of parental superiority, but he's found that L's pretty apt at swaying opinion. His medication isn't here and he acknowledges that for the most part his sanity would be gone without it, he wants some backup. Everyone else - including Matsuda, even - has pulled at least one late shift and yes he's a seventeen-year-old student and yes he's not quite right in the head, but it still makes him feel as if he isn't putting in his full effort. And it's conceited and arrogant to think (and three years ago taught him that there's nothing to be arrogant about because at night he still feels hands and sees nothing) but he really is leagues ahead of everyone.
Everyone but L.
It takes Light a minute or so to realize L is blatantly staring him and when he finally does glance over, he almost falls out of his seat. Those wide black eyes, he discovers, can be even more disconcerting than he already thought.
"What?" he says, genuinely confused. Sure, he disappeared for a bit, but the detective has the social skills of a misbehaved rabbit, so odds are that he hadn't noticed anything.
And naturally Light is wrong because even geniuses, on occasion, are incorrect. "Something happened to distract you," says the man, straightforward and toneless.
Light glances over at his dad who's scolding Matsuda over something again. This is the closest they'd come to a real argument for the first time ever. He's always been a good kid, so there's never been reason for real disagreement before. Looking back at his computer screen, he answers, "Nothing. I just have a headache."
"Perhaps you should go home."
He feels his hand twitch. "I'm fine," he says. "It'll go away soon."
Though L nods, Light can tell he doesn't believe him. Even he admits that it's a pretty transparent lie and that doesn't happen often. Since he's always been conscious of both his family and his teachers worrying about him, it's a skill he's had to practice a lot. Smile when he's stressed, tell the psychiatrist what he wants to hear.
At least he finally got himself out of therapy.
Nine's always been his curfew because he's admittedly terrified of being alone at night to the point that he doesn't go to cram school more than once a week, and it's never really bothered him until this case. And, specially, at moments like this. Moments like now, at eight fifty-six on a Tuesday night.
"Light," L says suddenly, causing him to look over from what he's doing. "I found something you should take a look at."
The lighting in the hotel room is dim and his eyes hurt. "What is it?" he asks, standing and moving so he's looking over the man's shoulder. He smells like strawberry shortbread, which isn't surprising. The screen shows the records of the first twenty-nine criminals.
"I was reviewing the files on the trails," L explains, "and all of them tried to plead insanity in court but were denied. The last four aren't Japanese."
Getting a lot of this information involved exploiting loopholes despite it being police-run, and trial case films were among the hardest things to acquire. "How long does the pattern continue?" he asks and hears his dad before he sees him. The clock reads 9:06.
"You two just found something new, didn't you?" he says, the exhaustion in his voice making Light feel instantly guilty. Again, he thinks that his involvement in this case might be harder on his parents than it is on him.
"Yes, Yagami-san," L answers for him.
His dad pinches the bridge of his nose and lets out another sigh before saying, "You can stay until at least eleven, Raito," and it takes a lot of self-control for Light not to smile. "Just this once."
"Thank you," he says, and means it. "I'll keep an eye on the time."
"Just get as much work done as you can."
His dad wanders off, back to where he was originally, and everything about this case is etched into each step. Light feels bad, but maybe his parents are finally starting to realize he can deal with a lot more than they think he can.
L picks up right where they left off and says, "It becomes more sporadic after the first twenty-nine."
"Does he ever kill any criminals in an asylum?"
"No. We need to run another filter, Light."
He slips back in front of his computer, editing the original search to anyone involved in psychology, leaving the teachers separate. "Do you think the first few were pity kills?" he asks, printing the list so he can delete it.
"It's certainly a possibility," L answers, doing something can't see. He's biting his thumb nail again. "I believe we need to revise Kira's profile."
"Yeah," he says, and looks over at his dad and the others ago. "Shouldn't we tell them?"
L follows his gaze. Both he and Light were serious about solving this case, but neither looked as somber as the task force. "Later," the detective answers, causing him to wonder if he's the only one actually told anything around here. "I think the two of us can begin while they stay busy, Light."
Before he can stop himself, he asks, "Why do you call me Light?" L looks over at him, nonverbally questioning him and he somewhat misses being allowed to do that. "I mean - everyone calls me Raito, and you use an honorific for everybody else."
Those eyes really do have the capability to be the creepiest things ever. There's no way he blinks the same number of times that a normal human being has to. "Does that bother you, Raito-kun?"
"Nevermind," he says, shaking his head. It doesn't sound right when the man says it for some reason. "No, I don't mind it. I was just wondering is all."
He goes back to biting his thumb nail and focuses on the sheet of names and occupations. "When I think of you, you're Light, not Raito," L answers simply.
Normally he's better at thinking of something to say, but he's coming up with nothing. There are many implications there; most notably, that the detective has thought of him at some point between three years ago and now. He isn't entirely sure how he feels about this because he doesn't want to be thought of that blood soaked kid who'd barely weighed ninety pounds and had -
They spend the next two hours writing up separate profiles to fit their new filters and finally told the task force. The rest are given the job of making up a fake, legitimate-sounding one to be posted on the computer for the hacker to find. Lull Kira into a false sense of security is the desired effect. Hopefully the killer will get careless, though no one's entirely sure it will work. Whether it's intelligence or luck or divine intervention, there have been no slip ups they can discover so far.
Around ten forty-five everyone leaves and Light, since he and his dad made an agreement, makes no argument.
By now, Light can normally deal with the rain. He's been alone during storms, has gotten caught in them outside and it still freaks him out but he has that fear controlled. He recognizes it as silly and stupid and pointless, so he contains it. That is, of course, until he's caught unaware and has a sheet of water pouring from the doorway pour right on top of him.
Like an idiot, he screams and jumps back inside, spitting out the water that had gotten in his mouth. He sees his dad wave the rest of the task force to leave as he follows Light, who's starting to hyperventilate. His vision is going in and out like he's about to faint but he feels the rough cloth of the blindfold around his eyes. Someone touches his shoulder and he shrinks away before he can see again and he finds that it's just his dad, standing there with his arm stretched out.
Tentatively, he asks, "Can you see me right now?" and Light nods, shaking horribly. His dad is rummaging through his pockets. "Fuck, I left the lorazepam in the car."
He can feel (the water filling his lungs, the struggle to breathe and) the panic attack coming on and he's been going on a pretty good streak these past eight months. He tries to speak, but nothing comes out. "Raito, we need to go to the car. It's not far away."
He shakes his head and hugs himself, instinctively closing in on himself. Talking is a sign that he isn't having an episode and he struggles until he manages to get out, "I can't."
"I'm trying really, really hard just to be here right now," he says and then silence swallows his voice. It's suffocating (and comfortable, wrapped around him as a bubble of protection) and whatever his dad says next he doesn't quite catch.
Suddenly it's too loud but he's too afraid to move and cover his ears but he's aware enough of the present to know that it's his dad whose arms are around him, trying to sync their breathing. He feels lightheaded and dizzy and doesn't notice that he's stopped breathing entirely. Whatever his dad is saying is completely lost on him but he knows it's directed towards someone else.
Then he falls back into reality and hears Watari's voice say, "It's not supposed to stop until three in the morning if you would like him to stay here for the night. You're to be coming back tomorrow in the morning anyway."
Slowly, he begins to get the air back into his lungs but it's hard. This wasn't quite an episode, but something close. His dad is shaking, which means he's scaring more than just himself. "Will that be all right?"
"Perfectly so, Yagami-san. Ryuzaki and myself will keep him awake until you return with his medication."
His dad reluctantly lets go of him and he almost falls over, legs muscles momentarily forgetting how to work. Watari catches him by the arm and really is a testament to how far he's come that he doesn't freak out. His half-flashback is already fading but he can't stop shaking and he feels dazed. Again, his dad says something that he doesn't hear and the old man leads him towards the elevator. For a moment he wonders how he and L knew what was going on before he remembers that surveillance cameras are everywhere.
Watari goes with him in the elevator, even though it would be easier for him to stay downstairs and Light's mind isn't working well enough to formulate a thank you. His mind isn't working to the point that he doesn't feel the inevitable embarrassment and the panic has been numbed over with the normal aftermath apathy.
He goes out again for a moment and when his vision comes back, he's standing in the hotel room with Watari gone and he and L alone. The detective is standing up, hovering like he's worried without actually looking concerned. Some of the shaking has gone down, but hasn't disappeared entirely.
"You should sit down," L tells him and he still can't speak, so he nods, dazed, and lets the man plop him down on the couch. From in here he can't hear the rain and the ability to breathe is steadily coming back to him. "Can you see me?"
This is the standard question his family asks, and Light has to wonder if it's coincidence or something his dad told him. Again, he nods because speaking takes too much effort. The accent he heard three years ago is creeping back into L's voice.
It must be at least ten minutes before he can finally muster up the ability of form words and sentences and L must be getting annoyed by this point. "Sorry," he says, and he's not used to apologizing to anyone who isn't his family and they tell him repeatedly not to apologize for something that isn't his fault (even though it is because he's seventeen and he should be over this). "Rain - well, I don't do well with it."
"Would working on the case help you take your mind off it?" L asks and he's nearly calmed down now. Eight months. All it took was a rainstorm and eight months of progress disappeared. "Light?"
He looks up at the detective who's standing over him and now the embarrassment hits. All he wants to do is curl up in a ball and become invisible. Or go home, but he knows himself well enough that even though his mind is perfectly aware that the feeling is illogical, he's still going to panic the moment he goes out in the rain. Maybe if he got some lorazepam in him but it's a good thing his dad hadn't left him by himself while he went to the car to get the medication. Being alone would've just made it worse.
Before he can actually answer, L grabs his arm and half drags him over to the computers, where he's made to sit again. His head feels fuzzy and he can't concentrate on anything. But the silence is threatening him and he needs to do something about it, so he and L begin to work on where they left off. L's talking to him, which takes more words than the detective usually says, and he's hearing without really listening. His mind's all glazed over (and there's water in his lungs because he can't hold his breath forever) and he can't concentrate, which hasn't happened in eight months. Dad's going to kill him.
Eventually Watari comes back with the medication. Alone. This should bother Light but doesn't because he wants to be by himself right now. And since he can't be by himself and he definitely can't go outside until this clears up, he feels better sticking it out here without seeing the disappointed looks of his family members. He's slipping away again, but has enough left to take the lorazepam held out to him.
It takes a good fifteen minutes, but when he finally snaps out of it, it's sudden. He blinks, looks around and finds L staring at something in a book, crouching in his normal position, and Watari off somewhere he can't see. From in here, he can't hear the rain.
He repeats, "Sorry about this," causing L to look up. There's a headache forming. "That...hasn't happened in a while."
"You have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," says the man and the hint of the accent is gone again. "It's understandable."
Having a psychiatrist or family say that he has PTSD is one thing, but hearing the world's greatest detective call him crazy is another matter all together. "Yeah," he says, the word coming out as little more than a mumble. "My dad might pull me from the case for this."
"I hope not."
"Because you're my first friend, Light."
L, by this point, is looking away again and Light's eyes widen in surprise. Friend? He's actually thought of as a friend? And, to top it off, a first friend? He isn't entirely sure how to react. "You too," he says, because it's true, and goes back to working. And before the two of them shut up altogether, he adds, "Thank you."
In his peripheral vision, he sees L's lips tilt up into a small, closed-mouth smile.
At seven in the morning, Light walks out of the bathroom, toweling off his hair with the phone pressed between his ear and shoulder. He shoots L a smile that makes it look like nothing happened the night before and teenagers really do confuse him. Actually, people in general do.
"I'm fine, Dad," the boy is saying. "Seriously. School's four blocks from here and I'll just skip cram - Right, okay. I'll stop by before I go home."
He hangs up, slipping his phone back into the pocket of the uniform pants he was wearing yesterday. This morning he looks more normal than he had the night before, more put together. As recluse, L has never actually witnessed anyone having an episode before and he wonders what it was like when Light first came back. Last night seemed bad enough to him, but Yagami treated it as if he'd seen much worse. The brunette asks, "Where do I put the towel?"
"Put it on the chair," he answers and the boy follows orders. Either he or Watari will deal with it later. "You are not coming back later?"
As Light pulls on his jacket, he says, "I want to, but I have a psychiatry appointment. Doubt yesterday will help my case, but I can hope."
After working for so long with a partner, it will feel strange to do so alone. The rest of the task force will be there, of course, but their intellect even collectively is dull in comparison. "When do you leave for school?" he asks.
"About half an hour," Light says. "It's actually closer to here than it is my house."
"If we ever stretch late into the night, you're welcome to stay here," he tells the boy before wondering where that came from in the first place. He's L. He doesn't need anyone but Watari and himself. But here he is anyway, inviting a seventeen-year-old to stay in his makeshift living quarter. His own change is unnerving. "Also, if you would like coffee, there's some in the kitchen."
Light disappears but comes back a moment later with an apple and a mug of coffee. "Do you ever sleep?" he says, taking a seat next to him and he normally doesn't put up with this sort of proximity.
"On occasion." Unlike his friend, he doesn't suffer from nightmares; he just doesn't like being counterproductive. "Do you sleep without medication?"
His reply is a shrug which means nothing at all. "Haven't tried," he explains. "When I was a kid I had trouble sleeping, though."
To L, he still is a kid though maybe that's unfair. Seven years isn't a terribly big difference, after all. He bites his thumb and checks the time. The sunlight streams in through the now-open curtains, the window still splattered with water. The storm had been a bad one and it's probably a good thing that Light hadn't left. Fleetingly, he thinks back to Little Port Arthur and that puddle he walked through the size of a pond. Of course, the teenager has no recollection of this but he does.
Eventually, Light puts his mug in the sink and throws out the rest of his apple before saying goodbye.
I'm sorry this is so short and...rushed. I'm working on different stories for my friends' Christmas presents. Review please! It'll get better, I swear.