Shades of Mystification

BY : Hellagoddess
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 20577
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

First off – more brilliant fanart from Duomi, this time from Chapter 14 – you know the one! If I wasn’t a girl and marginally more straight than gay in that respect, I would have her art-babies…actually no because I don’t like children, but she would deserve them regardless…

Go visit and comment :)

http://duomi.deviantart.com/art/SoM-Issue-14-85339589


Also, PLEASE READ! There is a gap of time between this chapter and the last! Insert about 4-5 months between the two – this will account for some of the ways our boys act – to be honest, I’m lazy and couldn’t write every single day that happened between the last chapter and this one! Sorry guys! But I hope you like it! Also, another longer than usual chapter as a thank you for all the support and reviews and stalking and gift-art! Here you go! Oh, more sap on the odd occasion - it may actually get worse before it gets better…sorry!

Chapter Sixteen


Raito stepped out of the lift, making sure not to drag the end of the drycleaners bag he was carrying on the floor. He knew he was expected so wasn’t surprised when L sauntered around the corner, a fork hanging out of his mouth and a plate of half-eaten cake in his hand. The artist talked around the utensil, tilting his head to the side as he took in Raito’s crisp suit, and immaculate hair.

“Raito-kun looks very handsome today.” He eyed the Italian-made outfit the gallery owner was wearing, eyes lingering on his handmade shoes. “More so than normal.” His gaze raked back up his legs to the juncture of his thighs where it lingered again, though for much longer. L sucked hard on his fork, eyes unblinking, staring shamlessly, and Raito arched an eyebrow, determined not to be sidetracked.

“Here, something for you.” Raito held the bag out, which L pointedly deliberated in taking. To do so meant to put down the cake and Raito could see the moment that he humored his lover and took the bag, placing the cake on a table nearby, in case of dire emergency.

“Why has Raito-kun deigned to give me clothing? Am I not suitably attired?” He plucked at the edge of his shirt where a spot of cake must have fallen earlier. A bit of icing remained there and had wiped off on his thumb as he picked at his clothes. Raito made an appalled noise when the artist promptly stuck the digit in his mouth with a sound of surprised relish.

“No. You’re not ‘suitably attired’. Not for what we’re doing tonight.”

L stared blankly at him, thumb still in his mouth.

“Come on, we have to get you ready.” Raito walked through to the bathroom and, leaning into the stall, turned the shower on. L had followed him, unzipping the bag and peeking inside while he shuffled along.

“Why is there a suit in here?”

Raito gave him a look and took the bag back. “Have a shower, call me when you’re done and we’ll try to do something about your hair.”

L shambled, confused, towards the stall, pulling his sweater up over his head. Raito could see the defining moment when he paused, thoughtful, and turned towards the brunette, a distinctive leer on his face.

“Raito-kun, would you like to-”

“No.”

The artist pursed his lips and, looking away, shucked the rest of his clothes, stepping out of the pile and into the shower.

Raito cleared his throat quietly at the sight of all that glorious pale skin and quickly turned towards the doorway.

He took the suit back out with him to save it from the steam, draping it over the back of a chair and taking care to make sure he didn’t crease it. He hadn’t taken the whole morning off work, looking and then spending an amount so large he had to write extra small just to fit all the numbers in his cheque-book, for L to end up looking like a homeless person.

He brushed a seat studiously for crumbs and sat down, waiting. L never took long in the shower when he was by himself and Raito had spent too long on his own appearance to mess up his hair by joining him and adding additional time. He checked his watch briefly, noting how long they had till they had to leave.

He heard the spray turn off and rose slowly, giving L some time to dry off a bit.

“I’m done, Raito-kun.” The artist called as Raito made his way to the bathroom. He opened the door and paused for the briefest of seconds. L was still naked, scrubbing at his hair with the bathroom’s only towel, giving Raito a delicious view of his body. His fingers twitched as he walked around behind him, wanting, as he always did, to touch that silky skin.

He settled for placing his open mouth hungrily against the juncture of L’s neck and shoulder, staring at him smolderingly in the mirror from behind him. L dropped the towel and turned his head, enticing Raito to lift his mouth to meet the artist’s. They broke apart and L turned in his arms, pushing his slowly wakening erection up against Raito’s thigh. The gallery owner had to pray for patience as he gently shook his head and separated them. Already the artist’s slightly wet skin had dampened his suit.

L’s lips twisted, disappointed, but he seemed to understand there was a reason and therefore didn’t complain when Raito reached for the brush he’d bought the artist a few months earlier and began to attempt to tame his hair.

After fifteen grueling minutes filled with clumps of pulled, tangled hair, glares and poorly-hidden winces of pain in the mirror and too much hair-gel on his hands, Raito gave up. He just didn’t have the time to wrestle it into some semblance of normality.

He walked back out quickly, after placing a quick kiss on L’s forehead to thank him for sitting so still. Grabbing the suit, he walked to the bed and lay it down there. L had followed him slowly and eyed the bag warily.

“Get dressed. We’ve only got an half an hour before we have to be there.” He smiled and walked back out to the main room to give him some privacy.

“Be where, Raito-kun?” L sounded confused but the gallery owner had wanted it to be a surprise, so he didn’t answer.

Several minutes later, after drinking a quick cup of tea in the kitchen, Raito strode back into the bedroom, expecting L to be placing the finishing touches on his outfit. What he found was as far from that as it could possibly have been.

L was still in his boxers. That much Raito could establish. Bits of the suit were scattered over the bed, the pants hanging half onto the floor. Raito rushed to straighten them, patting the crease straight in the leg. He looked around for the jacket and found it rumpled up against the foot of the bed. He hung it over the back of a chair, smoothing down the sleeves and making sure it was hanging right.

Then he turned to L. The artist looked so lost and adorable that Raito could just about forgive him the mistreatment of the suit he’d bought.

He had his socks on, which was an accomplishment in itself. L always hated to wear socks, and Raito had been expecting a disagreement over them so was pleased to see that one hurdle had been covered already. His boxers were fine, but his shirt was on inside out and he had the cummerbund high up around his chest, under the shirt. Raito fought to keep his this-is-my-serious-face face and partially failed. L’s lips twisted in an embarrassed expression of his own and he looked away.

“If Raito-kun had wanted me to wear a corset, he could have just asked. Or perhaps purchased one of a more fitting nature.” He tugged at the loose band of cloth settled around his chest.

Raito burst out laughing. He just couldn’t handle it and the more that L frowned down at him, the more it was funny. Soon he was gasping for air, bent double, eyes watering as L kicked at the carpet dejectedly and didn’t even look at him any more.

“I’m sorry, ahaha, God I’m sorry, but you just…” Raito sniggered and had to turn away, lest he come apart again. He took a deep breath and walked up to L, unclipping the cummerbund and laying it to the side. He slid the shirt off and turned it the right way around, holding it out for L to slip his arms into. Still smiling, he fixed the buttons up on the front and then reached for the pants.

Bit by bit they got L dressed, Raito resisting laughing at the embarrassed flush to L’s face as he realized where the cummerbund went and that it wasn’t what he’d thought it was. Raito kissed him quickly then reached for the tie.

“Here, put this on, I’ll just go and get your shoes from the car.”

When he returned, L hadn’t moved, the tie still hanging limply from his hand. Rather than embarrass him further, Raito took the tie, dragging the thin material around his neck. He flicked his collar up and set to work. It was harder tying it from the front than he’d anticipated and he had to have a few goes before it started going right. He felt a light touch in the corner of his mouth and started. L had brushed the tip of his tongue with his fingertip, where he’d been poking it out unconsciously. He grinned and finished up, pulling the man towards him to kiss him one last time before they left.

Walking to the lift, L tried to pry information out of him once more.

“Raito-kun still hasn’t disclosed the nature of our outing. Nor why I am dressed like him.” L stood on one foot while Raito helped him slip into shoes then stood, wriggling his toes while they waited for the lift. The gallery owner smiled at him and reached for his hand.

“No, I have not, nor am I going to. You will have to be patient.” He was going to say something further when he noticed an odd thing. Disengaging his hand from L’s, he walked around in front of the man to make sure. Yes, something was spoiling the line of L’s suit. He eyed a curiously large bulge in the artist’s right-hand pants pocket, looking up to see that the dark-haired man wasn’t meeting his inquiring gaze.

And after he’d asked him twice already…

Raito closed his eyes briefly, slipping his hand into the pocket, fingertips finding what was making such a huge lump. He grasped and pulled. Slowly a long length of red licorice unraveled itself from the artist’s pocket, hanging between them.

L shuffled and pretended like nothing was happening while Raito’s frown of disapproval slowly morphed into one of shock as he saw just how much the artist had stuffed in there. No wonder it had looked awful in the suit. He dropped the astonishing length on a nearby tabletop before turning back. “I told you not to bring any sweets, Ryuuzaki.”

L made a sour face, glancing back at the licorice twist longingly but his expression brightened considerably when Raito said something further, taking pity.

“Don’t worry. There will be something there for you to eat.”

/////////

Raito thanked the usher and took his seat, after making sure L was settled. The curtain swished closed as the boy left, having done his job. L eyed the tray of small cakes and confectionary next to him with a cold, discerning eye, obviously looking for his favorites first. Raito smiled when he popped a small cube of something into his mouth, knowing the tray had passed the test of worthiness.

The lights dimmed slightly and a few faints lights came up on the stage. Raito leaned forward in the private loge he’d requested for the night, seeing how many people had come. He should have been down there, mingling and gaining more publicity for the gallery, but he’d wanted the night to be special for L. They didn’t go out much, if at all. In fact, when he thought about it, this may have actually been the first time they’d gone somewhere that wasn’t an apartment or the gallery to drop paintings off.

And it had the added bonus that if someone saw them, Raito could always pass L off as a business associate. Businessmen went to shows like this all the time, team building and all that. But the gallery owner was sure no one he knew would see them up so high if they had come for the night.

Three giant drums sat in equal intervals across the stage with a larger one centered behind them. Raito, had he not already known, would have instantly recognized what the show was going to be, as he was Japanese-born. But L was having trouble it seemed. He still hadn’t said anything, only casting the stage curious looks between his devouring of the tray next to him. Quite suddenly Raito hoped the tray lasted the duration. He didn’t want to think about what happened last time L ran out of confectionary. L had said that he’d tasted sweet and he still had a faint scar from a bite mark on his inner thigh…

A hush fell over the crowd and the first performers came out, several of them carrying smaller drums which they placed on the ground and sat behind, poised and filled with a sudden tension. The rows of people fell silent, an air of abrupt expectation falling over them all.

Then they began, the booming rhythm filling the huge hall easily. The floor shook from the beats on the largest drum, the shouts of the players, calling new sections of the song pounded in his ears. Raito had always loved Taiko. There was something primal and traditional about the performance that called to some hidden part of him. They reached a crescendo and then abruptly ceased to thunderous applause. Raito shot a look at L, surprised to see him staring rigidly forward, eyes fixed on the stage. An unwrapped sweet was limply gripped between two of his fingers, melting and beginning to slide out of his grasp, but the artist made no move to eat it.

Raito arched an eyebrow, glad that he seemed to be as enthralled as he’d anticipated. The show didn’t go for too long, Raito could tell the players were tired, in the midst of a nationwide tour, but he appreciated the effort they put into the act. A local group played afterwards, just as entertaining, if a little less epic.

Then the show was finished and they filed out with the rest of the crowd, L discretely clasping his hand beneath the press of people so they didn’t lose one another.

Raito expected a flurry of painting when they returned so he walked to his laptop by the window-seat and prepared to be forgotten for a few hours at least. What he had planned could wait a while longer. But L remained standing, biting his thumb and staring ahead blankly. Raito rose after a few minutes and took him in his arms.

“Why did you take me there, Raito-kun?”

The gallery owner was surprised.

“I took you because it was a part of my culture that I thought you might enjoy. You obviously hadn’t been to one before. And…” He looked down, sliding a hand into his pocket, touching the small package there as if to give him strength. “…do you know what the date is today, Ryuuzaki?”

L paused, rubbing his thumb across his lower lip.

“I can deduce from your nervous exterior that today means something more to you than normal. You are with me on this special date, so I can only assume that this event has something in common with the both of us. According to the universal calendar, we have been dating in a sexual and emotional sense for 184 days.”

Raito rolled his eyes good-naturedly. Trust L to be so specific. He tried to ignore the slight flush blossoming on his cheeks he always got when L stated their bedroom relationship so bluntly.

“And the way you have continuously put your hand in your pocket throughout the evening tells me that you have some kind of celebratory item there, so that would make today our anniversary.” He tilted his head to the side. “Am I correct, Raito-kun?”

Raito flushed deeper, suddenly feeling very silly that he’d bought something when L obviously didn’t have any attachment to the date. He twisted the parcel between his fingers again before slowly bringing it out. He held it out to L with a small smile but the artist didn’t reach for it.

“Is it not customary to exchange gifts at the same time, Raito-kun?” L eyed the package, probably already calculating what was in it.

“It’s okay, just take it.” Raito swallowed down his disappointment at the cool gaze and tried to smile. L pushed the present away and gestured to the couch.

“Would you please sit down, so I may retrieve your gift from my bedroom? Then we may exchange them in a proper manner.” L turned and walked away, missing Raito’s stunned look and then suddenly ecstatic smile.

He looked down at the package in his hands. For what it was it really should have been bigger, he didn’t want L to mistake it for the smaller, obligation-type gift that would normally be given. But he wasn’t a native Japanese, maybe he wouldn’t know the difference.

L shuffled back, his face bland as usual, and they swapped in silence, the sound of sticky tape slowly being peeled back and the rustle of wrapping paper were the only noises.

He was only halfway to unwrapping his when the gallery owner looked up to see L genuinely smiling down at the small handmade box. His pale fingers slipped the lid off and he wet his lips.

“It’s honmei-ch-” Raito started, wanting to explain. L looked up.

“‘Sweetheart’s chocolate’. I know, Raito-kun.”

The brunette flushed, smiling at the look of adoration L had. The present forgotten in his hands, he watched as L carefully selected one of the four chocolates in the box. Each had its own meaning and Raito had taken over an hour at the sweet store selecting the handmade products.

The box he’d painstakingly made himself, and from the reverent way that L set it down he understood the thought that had gone into the gift, even though it wasn’t part of his culture. He placed the chocolate in his mouth, savoring the taste. Coming forward, he brushed his lips against Raito’s, sharing briefly before he brought his hands up and cupped them around the present still in his hands.

“Raito-kun is falling behind.”

Coming back to himself, Raito turned his attention to the present in his hands. He finished with the paper and was surprised to find a box similar to his own. This one was also hand made and as charming and amusing as it would be for L to have gotten him the same thing, he didn’t like sweets as much as the artist.

He stroked a finger across the lid, admiring the workmanship and slipping it off. His fingers shook and the lid fell to the ground from his suddenly trembling hands.

A puzzle ring.

L had bought him a puzzle ring. If he’d ever had any doubt about the artist’s feelings, then this dashed them all away. He absently counted four of the interconnected loops of silver, suddenly glad the artist hadn’t bought one with more. He wasn’t sure he was worth such a loving and possessive present as it was. More loops would have meant too much for the both of them.

“Is Raito-kun not contented with my endowment for this occasion?”

He looked up, seeing L eyeing him, thumb hovering near his mouth, uncertainty simmering in his gaze. The artist must have seen the emotion on his face because his other hand rose, clasping Raito’s, the other leaving his mouth and plucking the ring from it’s resting place.

“Puzzle rings signify the thought and effort that helps keep the bonds of friendships or marriages strong, Raito-kun. What better way to symbolize the relationship between individual beings? Interconnected to form a whole.”

He paused for a second, the ring hovering at the end of Raito’s finger, waiting. The gallery owner nodded slightly and L slid the ring onto his middle finger, both hearing the tiny click as the ring settled. Raito wasn’t surprised to find it was a perfect fit. He wouldn’t have put it past L to measure him in his sleep.

There was so much more meaning behind this than he could fathom. If he took it off, L would know. Even if he removed it to shower or sleep, L would know. Holding the ring up to the light, he admired the design, glad that L had chosen a man’s ring and not something feminine. He eyed the interlocking bands, knowing that the instant he took it off, they would break into their separate parts, ridiculously hard to put back together. By buying him this, L had secured his claim, had asserted that Raito’s heart was his for as long as the puzzle ring remained unbroken.

“Happy Anniversary, Raito-kun.” He heard the man murmur, before the artist’s hand entwined in his and silky lips came to rest against his own.

************************

Honmei-choko – normally given on Valentines and then possibly on White Day – however I felt it was appropriate to the situation.

Puzzle Rings – A Turkish – then later English (hence L giving it) renaissance style of ring. It was traditionally used to see if a wife cheated on her husband. When removed (as you would inevitably do when about to commit adultery), the ring would separate into its smaller parts – nigh impossible to reinstate without the proper knowledge. These gifts will come into play later – so I won’t answer any other questions about them! *wink*

Thank you all again, so much for the reviews! You’re all such an inspiration and whenever I feel like giving up this story or taking the easy road on it – you all remind me what I’m here for – to entertain YOU and MYSELF at the same time! So Thank-YOU, you wonderful, delightful, brilliant person reading this!

Please review and let me know what you thought - I know it's moving slow - but all will be revealed in time :)


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