He didn't use to dream much, or better said, he rarely remembered what he dreamt. It was a result of a well-organized life that didn't leave much room for unorganized thoughts, he presumed, or perhaps it was just that he always woke up early, and REM cycles are more likely to happen in the late morning. He used to like sleep because it was necessary for high functioning, another item on his daily schedule that was vital for a clear mind.
He once tried to set his alarm to Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene, part two- always the same, and he always woke up earlier without getting the chance to hear it. Pity. He'd quit it after a few weeks. Now, his alarm was set on L- a rapid tap at the keyboard or some gothic song that still awoke Light, in spite of the low volume. He used to be a heavy sleeper, all in his benefit. These days, he sometimes even woke up when L exhaled louder than usual or simply opened the window. Sleep wasn't how it used to be, a set in stone activity that always took place from eleven pm to seven am, dreamless and dun. Now it was flexible. It was alive. Sometimes he woke up at seven, sometimes at ten in the morning, sometimes he would wake up just when L was getting ready to get his hour of sleep. It was unstable, and it often left him in a half-haze of tiredness for the rest of the morning, but then again, nothing in his new rhythm of life was what he would call normal.
It was mostly the dreams that made the difference, though.
He dreamt a lot, and there was nothing comforting about it. Dreams would usually come in the morning just before he woke up, leaving him with their aftertaste for the entire morning. He dreamt of prison cells- sometimes he was looking from the outside, contorted faces staring back at him from behind the bars, eyes full of spite and something else that he couldn't define and that was more disturbing than the overt hate. Other times he was the prisoner, a reminisce of his period of confinement, but his dreams were always worse than reality had been. He would scratch at the walls of his brain, trying to grasp something, anything that would guarantee him some kind of freedom, as abstract as it would be. He would spiral down with endless visions of blood on his hands, a blood that he knew he hadn't spilled. Sometimes, he woke up just before the limit point, awareness saving him from splattering his mind on the humid walls of the dream cell.
It didn't make any sense.
Other times he would dream of simple geometrical shapes, squares arranged in intricate, colourful patterns, moving as he stood passively, a strange sense of contentment taking hold of him, as if he was faced with nothing but perfection. Gradually, the squares would develop into buildings, streets, objects, human faces, their corners smoothing until they would find the proper form, eroding into the world he knew, falling into place as if everything was a game and reality was the only right answer. The colours would still be absurdly bright, and Light would stand somewhere high, a building, perhaps, or a platform above the decayed, glorious city, looking down at the world as if it were his own creation, letting the violent colours scratch at his retina with a strange sense of fulfillment. He would feel overwhelmed with beauty and grandeur, his mind and the world merging to form a kaleidoscope whole in which he immersed, complete and silent in the middle of the violent noise that surrounded him.
These dreams unfazed him the most. The were full of a feeling that he couldn't put his finger on. He felt as if he was everything and nothing in the same time, shaping the world as it shaped him all the same. Sometimes he woke up surprised to face the dull colours of the room that seemed trite even when the morning light cascaded through the window, almost eerie, almost pleasant, but too meaningless to tell him anything that he didn't already know.
It was one of these mornings now, and L was looking at him wide-eyed, curious, with the same expression that he had when examining new case files. Or sweets. Light couldn't tell if there was something else beside curiosity, though, and he didn't quite want to know either. Their mornings were strange enough as they were, both of them trying to adapt to the forced symbiosis that L had placed them in and that L didn't seem happier about than Light did. They were trying their best not to inconvenience each other, but it seemed like that was a luxury that their proximity wouldn't allow.
'Again?' L asked simply, and Light nodded. It was a strange way of communicating, what he had with L, convention mixed with a dubious shade of mutual understanding, a mix that left him unsure about where exactly they stood. Not having had any friends until then wasn't the problem, since L was hardly his friend. He felt more like a foreign body attached to him in the same was that Light was attached to him, not quite close enough to establish a connection with, not distant enough to ignore.
He hadn't told L about the dream, but the detective had probably figured something out, noticing the pattern. He didn't want to fuel his suspicions, even though he was pretty sure that there was nothing that could make L suspect him more than he already did. Besides, he doubted words could accurately describe the heightened state that his dream had presented him with, an impression of omnipotence and omniscience that made him feel like…
No, he couldn't think it to the end. It was too dangerous. Not a sin, because only regular people with lack of a better concept committed sins. Not petulance, either, because he knew that the human mind is wide enough in its potential to reach a superior awareness. It was rather his claim to dominate, to reign over a world that he deemed unworthy. The wrong interpretation given to power, because power was meant to be used in favour of the masses and to further mobilize them into power, not to lead a blind population as a blinder leader. It was…
He would have liked to talk to L about all these things, because he could be a great conversation partner when he wasn't sulking or investigating - alas, rather rarely-, but there was the labeled distance between them and the Kira tag that L would always use, and Light didn't quite want to know, to believe what L was saying. He kept silent.
Light checked the time- half past nine. L had probably slept for a couple of hours, judging from the dark lines under his eyes- only a bit darkened, two fine ducts digged into his pale skin which was not as swollen as it had been in the evening. His eyes, though- they were as scrutinizing as ever, though Light could read tiredness in them, an ennui that transpired through L's lazy motions and brief conversation. Light spent far too much time with the detective and had little else concrete to be interested in, so he noticed and noted the small changes in his posture, his manner of speech, his sleeping patterns, and he couldn't deny that it was interesting, like watching a plant grow and wilt and then bloom again under your eyes while you are waiting for the right moment to intervene.
L was exalted when there were new leads for the case, dedicated when he was working, as if the entire meaning of his life concentrated in the information that he had to deconstruct and stitch together- and it probably did-, tense and easily annoyed when he failed to figure something out from the first few minutes, content for the few seconds after making a correct deduction and depressed in the rest of the time. Light knew, because L had probably been the closest to a rolemodel that he'd had, and he liked to think that things hadn't changed, in spite of… well. Everything.
Light didn't know how to intervene. If L was sulking because of lack of progress with the case, any conversation he might try to start would eventually lead to a more or less direct accusation and then there would be anger and doubt and Light liked to keep a stable state of mind, and if L was sad because he was bored or because he felt like his life lacked general meaning, existentially speaking, then perhaps Light didn't admire him that much after all.
They went through the usual motions, a morning ritual that Light knew made L want to implode with boredom while he spent at least twenty minutes in the bathroom. In return, Light felt like climbing walls everytime he noted the lack of preoccupation that his roommate reserved for personal care. They both kept silent, though, and Light carefully suppressed the impulse to grab a hairbrush and set L's hair in order once and for all- or at least until the following morning.
Their mutual confinement was almost a pretty thing, and it felt almost domestic at times. But then Light remembered that he had no time for disillusionment, that L was a detective and he was the suspect and that things were very far from fairytale comfort, and he suddenly felt like the silence between them stretched wider than it was supposed to, multiplying itself to muteness.
They had everything, and therefore nothing to talk about- except for one thing, the one that neither of them would approach. They knew better than that.
L woke up to the sound of defined, almost brutal drums in his ears, dictating the movement of his thoughts. There was an underboiled rage humming in his veins with no apparent reason, a stagnant determination waiting to explode into something bigger. It took him a few seconds to identify the music- Lucretia, my reflection from The Sisters of Mercy, the proclaimed soundtrack of his late teens, an ode to the automatic and the ruthless, to progress and reason. Back before he learned to pretend to have learned to be a robot, he used to lie still for hours with the loud music pumping in his ears and through his system, convincing him that his future would be amazing, glorious. Gloriously empty. He would chase the thought away, replace it with visions of cinematic bliss, crafted self-delusions meant to guide him through the night until he would fall asleep, or until morning would come.
Those dreams had come true, more or less. Of course, dreams are always better before they come true, because it's not a matter of hopes becoming real, but of how they become real. By the time he'd become one of the best in the world, he'd dried out his motivations enough to make success an empty experience, devoid of any meaningful interpretation. He immersed in his work and keeping himself occupied, anchored in the present moment, had become his main source of entertainment.
Watari cared about him, and he wanted him to be human- at least consciously, he did. But there was something else, the wish of an inventor to craft a perfect invention, implacable up to automatism, superhuman. A robot of sorts. L knew that, and he also knew that he wasn't. He could never be. He always felt, even if it was only a dull sound, a dull ache in the back of his mind-heart, and he almost cherished that constant sadness, because it held him from completely forfeiting his humanity.
Such a lovely concept; a less fortunate joke, though.
He briefly considered reaching for his laptop, but it seemed too much of an effort for something that was not worth it at that particular moment. Instead, he decided on standing still and doing nothing at all, a precious thing when he could quiet his mind, but a slow torture when he was flooded with broken images and unwelcome thoughts.
Thoughts such as- Light; Kira; when will I solve this case; when will I go back to normal again; I miss England; I, I, I.
When a case dragged on for too long, he always started sulking because he wanted it gone, done for, solved, what ever would work to get the table clean and clear again. When he was free again, he would get bored and inevitably end up sulking. It was a vicious circle and L was aware of its pathetic nature. If complacency was a gift, it was the gift of the weak.
L wasn't weak. Not anymore.
When Light woke, L knew that he had dreamt again. He could tell by the way he fidgeted in the sheets, opening his eyes abruptly and looking around as if he saw the room for the first time, with a slight disappointment in his eyes. L couldn't blame him. The décor was simple, if not boring, the kind of room that has a sanitary feel attached to it, impersonal like a hotel room, an empty blackboard waiting to be filled with interpretations, feelings, memories. He couldn't tell if him and Light would have those things, because if there was something memorable in the Kira case, then both of them would make sure to erase it as soon as this would all be over.
There was also something else to be read in Light's reactions, though; there were many mornings when he acted the same, like going through a mildly unpleasant ritual. L knew that he had woken up from a dream that he didn't want to share, for some disputably important reason.
'Again?' he asked simply, and Light nodded.
After that, everything unfolded as usual. L had almost come to terms with their situation- almost, because being alone was something that he fed on like a perfusion, and spending every living second with another human being was threatening to his mental integrity. Watari had proposed their current arrangement, and L had accepted it because he knew that it was the best course of action. He had thought of it before, not without reluctance. He had been needed to resort to prolonged exposure to people for many of his cases, but never for so long, and never with Light.
Light was different; he was, in a way, everything that L was not and more. But the statement was valid viceversa, too. Light was intelligent, precise, composed. His mind was made of shelves that were carefully put in order. L's mind was made of thick tangled wires that made up the fabric for an entire universe, and he could find what ever he wanted to find in it, but it hurt. That was his disadvantage. Light didn't hurt, though in that morning, when he had woken up to an apparently unfamiliar sight, he had seemed like his age- vulnerable, confused- more than L would have thought possible.
He might also be- surely is- a mass murderer, but L wasn't put off by that detail. He'd seen worse. Kira was a fascinating case, clean and precise, almost impossible to trace. It was elegant, though the exaggerated idealism and excessively pragmatic solution that he had found to the problem of evil had the gift of making L scowl and pretend that Kira deserved more respect than he was inclined to offer at that moment, just for the sake of it.
There was a constant silence hanging between them, one that L couldn't label as uncomfortable, but that didn't feel like quite the right thing either. There was nothing untraceable, since they were, after all, chained together for an apparently endless case, and they hadn't quite communicated properly up to then, except for their conversations when Light was something different and dangerous, and L didn't know yet just how much he would have to invest in this case.
Overall, there wasn't enough motivation to go around, but L had learned to wade through the tenuousness of everything that happened to him, or rather of the interpretation that he gave it, with relative ease. And it was enough, for the moment.
`Do I dare to eat a peach?` L intoned with an amused smile playing on his lips as he took the fruit from the table, biting into its soft flesh. Light caught the reference middle-air, smiling back at L across the kitchen. It was a small, practical space with enough daylight to go around, by courtesy of the large window that offered a glorious view of the city. It was evening now, and the clinical feel of the artificial lights matched the city landscape visible through the window. Light thought it was beautiful, in its own way. L didn't even look.
`So,' Light started, using his chopsticks to pick up a small bite of sushi from his plate. To L, who would lose his patience only by trying to use the sticks properly, Light must look like a Japanese prototype: tedious. He found the idea mildly entertaining. `Do you miss England?`
`Yes,` L replied plainly. `I miss everything, to be honest.'
`Everything. The rain, mostly, and the feeling of reality.' He paused. `It's all too perfect here to be true. It's dull.`
`It's deceiving, rather. It makes you uncomfortable,' Light stated matter-of-factly.
`Perhaps.` L looked tired, and it was a perfectly normal thing because the man didn't sleep, but Light found that L looked tired more days than not lately, and it worried him.
It worried him- strange thing. He didn't know L. They were two strangers sitting across at a table, exchanging brief words as if they knew each other better than brothers, which they both knew to be false. True. But it worried him, because L had to solve this damn case so they could both go home and forget about everything that had to be forgotten, and sulking was terribly impractical.
And unpleasant, for the most of it.
`We'll catch him eventually,` Light said and he realised halfway that this hadn't been the right thing to say, not at all, because it brought up something that they had both silently agreed to keep quiet about. L stood still, eyes fixed on Light, scrutinizing him in their stillness.
`I will,` he replied, and took another bite of the peach.
Light felt like sinking.