Tear You Apart

BY : Duomi
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 5706
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.

Chapter Title: Storm Coming

Disclaimer: Death Note isn't mine. If it were... this is pretty much what would have happened, actually.

Rating: R

Pairing: Kira/L

Comments: I'm sorry this took so long again!!! Honestly, this time it just seemed like Life swallowed all of my free time into a black hole somewhere. I ended up writing a good chunk of this long-hand in a park when I hadn't gotten a chance to write for a week or so. I'm working on a few other mental projects, but TYA's still close to my heart, so I'm giving it priority.

...Okay, I can't resist! http://youtube.com/watch?v=omCFKGhe5j8
Watch that, and just picture it as Light singing. It's not hard, Zac Efron is Kira. Trust me-- there's a website. (Zacefroniskira.com) I haven't seen that movie, or the first, but I had to download that song and I can't listen to it without just giggling the entire time. I'm not sure if the video was supposed to be serious, but it's hilarious as Death Note! Just wanted to share that with everyone, since my sister and sister-in-law, neither of whom have seen much Death Note, made me watch that clip for the same reason.

Also! I got another fanart!
http://kaith-sith.deviantart.com/art/The-game-of-life-and-death-91070063

Thanks, Sabaku_lotus!

Note: Much love and thanks to Gloria B. for being my sounding board on this chapter! I was having issues with the ordering of parts, so she gave me some wonderful suggestions, including the idea of using the time zones as breaks for the chapter since it otherwise becomes messy. Most of the chapter takes place in one day, though it does skip around just a bit to keep it interesting.

-----

24 November, 8:54 p.m. (Tokyo)

Matsuda sighed, leaning back from his empty plate and bowl and radiating contentment. "Sachiko-chan is a genius," he praised sleepily. "I've never eaten this good in my life."

"Don't call her that," Soichirou and Aizawa corrected brusquely. The apparent telepathy caused the two to glance at each other with brief, taut smiles.

With the food insulating him from their criticism, Matsuda merely looked sheepish.

"You've got to admit, though... she's a miracle-worker. I know I'm thinking better. It feels just like having my mother around, only... we're in a big hotel, and investigating a murder case." Matsuda furrowed his brows, slightly lost at the words that had sounded much better in his mind.

"Sachiko is not your mother," Soichirou, no longer the Chief of police, corrected again. He was favoring Matsuda with the stern frown that always made Matsuda want to squirm in his chair like a child caught misbehaving.

"Dear, I don't mind," Sachiko dissented gently, coming into Headquarters again with Sayu at her heels to help clear away the dishes from the detectives' post-dinner snacking. Since her arrival, Sachiko had taken over the kitchen on the third floor, making sure that the detectives received three meals a day and that they never felt a twinge of hunger.

Matsuda himself had already gained four pounds.

"Do you need anything else?" Sachiko asked her husband fondly, coming up behind him and resting her hands on his shoulders. Relaxing into her touch, Soichirou covered one of her hands in his own and gave it a squeeze.

Aizawa, noticing Matsuda watching with a sappy expression, glared at his fellow detective and nodded at him to return to his work.

Sayu came over to collect the dishes near Mogi and Matsuda, pointedly ignoring Near where the boy sat on the floor amidst his toys.

Saddened at that, Matsuda looked over at the albino boy. "Maybe he needs something?" he suggested helpfully, not liking the tension between the two. Sayu had become a breath of life to the investigation, teasing the other detectives like they were part of her family and even getting a smile or two from her somber father with her playful antics. The pale-haired younger boy was the only weak spot in her friendly charm.

"He needs a new personality," she muttered caustically.

"Sayu..." Sachiko chided wearily. Since meeting Near, Sayu had been unable to get along with the boy.

At one point, she'd even tried to attack Near again. Listening in to the investigation, Sayu had asked about how Light and L had escaped in the first place. Near had pointed out that that information wasn't something she needed to know, and that going over parts of the investigation they'd already finished was only a waste of time, especially given that he didn't believe Sayu would have anything of use to add.

When Rester had stepped between them, the girl had snatched up one of Near's Lego-men and rebounded it from the boy's head. That particular incident had ended with her banned from Headquarters for the rest of the night with her father advising her to think about if she felt she could at least manage to not be openly in the way of the investigation if she couldn't find something useful to do.

On reflection, Matsuda realized that Sayu's determined cheerfulness had shown up again the morning after that, as though the girl had decided that her usefulness to the investigation team could be trying to let them relax a little. Matsuda himself did that often-- though on accident, just by being the source of uncountable embarrassing comments or monumental clumsiness. He could still feel the crushing humiliation of the time he'd tripped and spilled Chief Yagami's coffee on him when he'd tried to fill the man's cup...

Conversation had moved on around Matsuda while he reminisced, and Sayu had stacked the dishes she'd collected by Matsuda's keyboard to peer over his shoulder at the information the investigation had compiled on MisaMisa's possible whereabouts.

Brushing her hair back behind her ear, Sayu seemed nostalgic. Matsuda had a disturbing moment where he realized that when she was older, the Yagami girl had a chance at the popularity and beauty of her brother. Her energy was different from Light's cool perfection, but there was still a distinct charisma to the girl. Nervous that Soichirou might be able to guess at Matsuda's less-than-professional thoughts, the detective snuck a look at the ex-Chief, but Soichirou was still speaking quietly with his wife.

"...Niichan must really miss Misa-chan," Sayu mused to herself. "I mean, he went to all that trouble to save her, but you guys still think they're not together yet. Did you know he brought her home to meet us when dad was at work? When they went up the stairs we could see right up her skirt--"

"Sayu!" Sachiko interrupted, scandalized by her free-thinking daughter. Sayu gave her an impish smile.

"...Light-Kira was not motivated by emotions," Near droned. Not looking at Sayu, he sat in the middle of his fortress of toys and idly threw darts at a board across the room as he twirled his hair with his free hand.

Pausing a beat, the room watched as yet another dart missed horribly, rebounding from the wall and skittering across the floor.

"You're... really bad at that," Sayu observed, obviously working to not laugh.

The albino boy actually spared her a flat glance before holding out his hand for Rester to give him another dart. He immediately let it fly again, with similar results. Sayu's will eroded, but her laughter was cut short by Near's next words. "Your brother saved Misa to keep her powers as Kira active, and, I assume, to use her as a decoy in case he could break free. Part of our attention will always be absorbed with finding her while she's free, and she's kept the world from returning to how it was before Light started his killing spree. But--" Near threw another dart, and this one briefly hit the edge of the board before dropping down. Undeterred, he continued. "Light wasn't interested in Misa."

Sayu stepped away from Matsuda's chair with the air of someone indulging a child who's making up a story. "So why was he dating her, then?"

"Convenience." Another dart missed. "...I have not yet determined, however, why he was having intercourse with L."

The dishes Sachiko had been holding smashed into pieces on the floor as the woman gaped at Near, unable to control her reaction. "What?"

Sayu's response was even more instinctive. A dark fire lit her eyes as she dove at Near. "You lying brat!"

Rester stepped calmly into Sayu's path, using the girl's momentum to toss her over his shoulder. He then stoically ignored her indignant shrieking and flailing.

Matsuda had jumped to his feet, sensing the other detectives doing the same. The scene froze, as no one knew quite what to do.

"Sayu..." With a deep, heavy sigh, Soichirou stood. He frowned when his words went unheard by his daughter. "Sayu! Calm down. Commander Rester, release my daughter. I promise, she will not harm Near."

"Um-- Chief, is that a good idea?" Matsuda interjected hesitantly, remembering the last time Sayu had gotten her hands on Near. A look from Soichirou silenced him, and he wilted at the reproach in his superior's glance.

Rester ignored Matsuda, watching Soichirou in a considering way. He arched an eyebrow and then obeyed-- literally. The tall army veteran moved his hand from where it had been supporting Sayu's sack-like position on his shoulder.

Sayu's next kick ended in a yelp of fear as the girl fell sideways from Rester's shoulder. She landed hard on her behind with a clacking of teeth and curled slowly up, shaking in a fight against angry tears, pain and embarrassment.

"Matsuda-- put your gun away," Aizawa snapped.

Blinking in surprise, Matsuda realized he'd pulled his firearm without thinking. Not even sure what he'd been intending to shoot, Matsuda blushed and holstered his weapon.

Luckily, the fall seemed to have hurt Sayu's pride more than her body, and the girl pulled herself stubbornly to her feet after a minute with only a wince to show for it.

"Sayu. That was no way to act in public," Soichirou chided, stiff with shame and what Matsuda thought might be a shade of sympathy. "Apologize to Commander--"

"He was lying, wasn't he?" Sayu demanded, interrupting her father and giving him a pleading look. "Why aren't you defending Light? Niichan wasn't ashamed of himself, he'd have told us if he liked boys..."

"--That's what's bothering her?" Ide muttered at Matsuda's side, too low for the others to hear.

"As he told us that he's Kira?" Soichirou pointed out gruffly.

That seemed to hurt more than Sayu's fall had. Eyes widening, the girl clenched her hands into fists as her eyes shone with tears she stubbornly fought. "That was mean. You didn't have to say that..." Shaking her head, she turned and hurried from the room.

The room fell into awkward, painful silence as the detectives watched the door or their computer screens, not wanting to intrude on the family scene.

A click and clatter sounded as Near threw another dart at the board and it hit the floor instead. His hand hung in the air a moment before he rested his chin on his drawn-up knee, finger twirling furiously in his hair.

---

24 November, 1:12 p.m. (Madrid)

I keep forgetting how difficult writing for so long is... Light thought ruefully, rolling one shoulder. Setting his pen down, he leaned back in a leisurely stretch and gave a sigh of satisfaction.

Over the past several days, Kira had made his presence felt again. One hundred and fifty criminals that had slipped under Misa's radar had now been accounted for, and he had even managed another brief broadcast earlier in the day, working to put a stop to the world's intermittent Kira Riots.

Overall, a very productive week.

Closing the Death Note's carefully-taped cover, the genius mass-murderer glanced across the room to his living companion, ignoring Ryuk from long-habit.

More listless than Light could remember seeing him, the detective was staring with blank eyes at the empty chessboard in front of him, hunched in a chair near the floor-to-ceiling windows. No sweets lined the surfaces around him, and to the best of Light's knowledge the man hadn't had a thing to eat since he'd accepted that interfering with Kira might cause Light's death. When Kira had returned to his judging the next day, L had cast him a flat look that was lined with self-doubt and pain, and had then apparently retreated into his own mind for an escape.

He'd been playing chess against himself for a day solid, now. Occasionally, he would give some small twitch of his hand or tilt of his head that would let Light know if L had won or lost in his imaginary games.

It had quickly gone from amusing to pathetic, and was now approaching incredibly disturbing. Even Ryuk's laughter was dampened, and the shinigami's enjoyment of his non-life was often interrupted by watching L with morbid fascination.

Letting his gaze travel beyond the depressed detective, Kira considered the weather in the afternoon sunlight. The two were still in their room at the Hotel Atlantico, as L had lacked the energy to usher them to another flight and Light was enjoying staying still for once.

Making a decision as he studied the crisp Fall day, Light pulled himself gracefully to his feet and paced over to L. The other man appeared not to notice, lifting an invisible piece and sliding it across the board.

Calmly, Light watched. After a few minutes of this, he reached out and delicately took hold of a spot of air from one of the black squares and took one of L's pieces. "Check."

L blinked. Slowly, awareness returned to his black eyes, and he studied the board. His lower lip began to pout out, and his blood-shot and dark-ringed eyes dragged reluctantly to Kira's face. "I had not known that Light-kun was paying attention to my game. It started too long ago for him to have so quickly memorized the positions of the pieces..."

Light smiled wanly down at him. "When killing criminals is as difficult as writing down a name in a notebook, L, it isn't hard to multi-task." L winced slightly, eyes returning to the board as he attempted to find a way out of the check. "...It's been days since you've eaten," Light reminded, feeling a spot of something like concern that was quickly denied. "It is ironic, however, that your version of depression is to eat fewer sweets and no junk food. I believe with most people, it's the opposite."

"Light-kun would be wrong, then," L responded despondently. "Many people suffer a loss of appetite in response to depression." Lifting his good hand, he began to gnaw on his thumb.

Unthinking, Kira grabbed L's wrist and pulled it aside, making L's teeth snap together with an audible click. L looked up again dully.

Light crossed his arms on his chest in displeasure. He hated doing things without planning. Looking casually aside, he spoke to L. "I'm going outside. It's a pleasant day, and I haven't been out in too long. You should come along-- though how you look now, you might terrify anyone looking at you..." he added with wry mockery and a slight smile.

"...I will stay inside," L decided, eyes once again on the board. Lifting his hand as though he were forcing it through deep water, the older man moved another piece. "Check."

Having expected that, Light casually made his own move. "Checkmate. Really, L, that was just sad. If you're going to be like this you'll be of no use at all." Shaking his head in irritation, the young genius went to one of L's stockpiles of candy, neglected for days, and pulled on a jacket before stuffing several of the treats into his pockets. Putting on his latest disguise and grabbing sunglasses for L, he returned to the other man's side. "You're coming with me. That's no longer a request-- your mental capacity is degenerating. Maybe a little fresh air will get your common sense functioning again." Reaching out, he tugged at L's arm.

The detective refused to stare at him, but his pout gained definition, jaw setting stubbornly. Rolling his eyes, Kira reached to drag him.

Sliding down in his chair in one quick move and holding himself steady on the table one-handed, L turned and snapped his leg up simultaneously. His heel caught Kira in the jaw.

Completely off-guard, the murderer fell to the floor, laying stunned for a moment before groaning in pain and gingerly touching the injury.

With great caution and reluctance, L stood, staring expressionlessly down at Light before shuffling for the door with his hands buried deep in his pockets. "I'm not a child," he stated flatly. "Light-kun might want to think again before treating me as such."

Sitting up and swallowing the blood in his mouth, Kira choked his rage down and took a calming breath, resisting the urge to dive across the room and get his vengeance.

L was still handicapped, and the fight would lack a certain satisfaction.

---

25 November, 2:03 a.m. (Tokyo)

Sayu didn't leave her room at Headquarters until two in the morning, when the others had all gone home or to their own rooms.

Dressed in cotton-candy colored pajama pants and a Monchichi top, Kira's younger sister took to the hallways aimlessly.

The giant building with its endless identical halls and rooms without guests might have been frightening, but Sayu found the emptiness soothing. Without her family or the detectives around, there was no need to put up the pretense of being fine. Arms crossed on her chest and thoughts numb from stress and worry for her brother, she let her feet move her at random.

Some time later, she came out of her thoughts in front of a familiar door. Hesitating only a moment, she stepped onto the sensor pad hidden in the floor, and the Headquarter doors hushed open.

The room appeared empty at first glance, screens dark for once and disconcerting without her father and the detectives in front of them.

A pale glimpse caught her eye, and Sayu started in surprise when she finally noticed Near.

The young genius lay sprawled on his stomach in his city of toys, a tiny clay figure still clutched by one hand. His face was turned away from her, but his pose was too relaxed for consciousness.

Only when Sayu was certain the boy was really asleep did she venture closer.

Fascinated in spite of herself, Sayu knelt beside the boy at the edge of his Lego city and tilted her head to watch him. Sleep made the albino appear even younger, wisps of white hair falling into his heart-shaped face.

Unable to stop a smile, Sayu rested her chin on her hand. "You really are just an annoying kid, aren't you?" she whispered. "Some genius you are, falling asleep on your toys..."

Her eyes strayed to the figurine once more, and she strained to recognize it. Similar sculptures representing the others working on the case, as well as her brother, Misa and L were grouped around as though Near had been playing with them before he fell asleep. Some were clever approximations, and Sayu couldn't help a laugh at the make-up on Misa's sculpture and the vacant smile on Matsuda's. Light's looked evil, and L's was vaguely creepy. There was even a figurine with a blond bowl-cut that Sayu supposed might be the "Mello" she'd heard Aizawa talking about.

She was reaching for Near's hand to slip the figurine free when the doors opened behind her. Heart in her throat with the guilty feeling she'd been caught doing something wrong, Sayu spun around.

Rester stood in the doorway, a glass of warm milk in his hand. With a flat, suspicious look, he headed over to his superior and gazed thoughtfully down at Near.

Without a word of explanation, the army veteran thrust the glass of milk at Sayu. Taking it in bewilderment, she opened her mouth to ask why he'd handed the glass to her when Rester gave her a look to silence her. Kneeling, the large man reached beneath Near and, with surprising care, lifted the unconscious boy into his arms.

Stirring, Near drew the figurine closer to his chest and made a sleep-sound. "Dad...?" he mumbled in English.

Sayu's heart constricted painfully at the word, and Rester went still, gazing at Near with his expression clearly stating he had no idea what to do. His awkward silence woke Near farther, and the pale boy rubbed his eyes with the back of one hand before peering up at Rester. "...Oh, Commander Rester. I fell asleep," he said, either as a question or observation. Sayu's English wasn't as good as Light's-- in fact, English was yet another class in which Sayu had scraped by with the Light's assistance due to her lazy studying skills-- but the sense of the words was easy enough to grasp. "Is the milk..."

Rester looked to Sayu, and Near followed his gaze. The boy stared at Sayu for a moment with his expression, as always, totally unreadable. Wordlessly, he held his free hand out, and Sayu handed him the milk with a strong sense of shame, embarrassed to be there.

Rather than telling Rester to put him down, Near tucked himself closer with the milk in one hand and the toy in the other, obviously willing to be carried. "I suppose that's enough work for tonight," he offered flatly, speaking in Japanese again. Seeming to take this as an order, Rester nodded and headed to the door.

With a slight frown, Sayu watched after them before looking to Near's clay figurines again. Her family was there, Mello, the detectives... even Rester, a dark-haired man she hadn't seen and Watari. That she knew of, the only figure missing... was hers.

---

24 November, 1:40 p.m. (Madrid)

The walk to the park was crisp, bordering on cold. After nearly half an hour's exertion Light directed L beneath the gates and into the Real Jardín Botánico-- with L, of course, paying to get them inside. Exercise had lifted Light's spirits in spite of how out-of-shape he'd become from months inside during the investigation and subsequent hiding. Coat on one arm, the murderer breathed deeply as he led them down well-tended paths in the botanical garden, taking in the sights as Ryuk hovered along behind them and laughed.

At the current moment, his laughter was directed at L. The detective had grown completely unaccustomed to physical labor, and several days without nourishment hadn't helped him. Barely-laced sneakers were also not the most comfortable thing to wear on a long walk. When Light finally took pity on the red-faced, out-of-breath and under-weight detective and found them a stone bench overhung by branches in a quiet area of the garden, L nearly collapsed into his usual crouch, arms hanging over his knees in exhaustion and white shirt transparent with sweat.

Settling onto the same bench after carefully brushing the dirt from it and then dusting his hands against each other with a distinct look of discomfort, Light observed their surroundings keenly while L caught his breath.

In the far distance, a woman played with her child, laughing as the youngling pulled her along the paths of the garden, trying to pronounce the well-marked names of the multitude of plants there.

Light's eyes were drawn to the scene, and his mind went to his own childhood.

"...Light-kun is smiling," L observed, his usual monotone strained by his gasping breath. It seemed that Light was more interesting to him than the garden. "Was he thinking that the child is safer with fewer murderers...?"

"Hmm-- no, though that is a nice thought," Light responded. He gave a slight shake of his head. "I would take Sayu to the park sometimes. We both walked to school, and it was my duty as her older brother to make sure she made it home safely after prep school. It was never stressful to be around her... she's nowhere near our intelligence, of course, but... somehow from her, the adoration and the idol-worship was tolerable, and didn't make me think of her as a useless human being. It may have been because she's family," he mused, unexpectedly nostalgic.

"And with MisaMisa...?" L prompted.

L's inquiry was met with an offended glare. "Don't compare Sayu to Misa," he ordered curtly. "They're nothing alike. Misa's obsession is brainless and irritating. Sayu's... she's a good person, L. There isn't anything mean in her, unless she's defending her family. She's pure."

L made a dismissive sound, and Ryuk snickered. "Looks like the sibling-complex cuts both ways, huh, Light?" he commented, shaking with amusement as he floated nearby. "I always knew she was weirdly interested in you, but I'm amazed you have those emotions too..."

Both men pretended not to hear the shinigami. "Amane's obsession stems from the fact that Kira avenged her family," L pointed out blandly, gaze more focused than it had been for days and mind as sharp as ever. "She's supported Light-kun to the point of halving her own life-span. Twice."

Light dismissed Misa's sacrifices with a shrug. "She's made herself occasionally useful in the creation of my kingdom, but it doesn't change the fact that she's a criminal. She's killed others, and her intentions don't matter to that. When I'm in control, Misa will be gotten rid of as soon as I can find a way to get around Rem."

There was silence for a moment. Then: "So, to Kira-kun, he expects people to follow him in support of the fact that he kills those who murder others. Yet, if someone else takes that a step farther and attempts to help Kira by his own rules, killing murderers, then you would judge that person as evil and kill them?"

Kira accepted the words with a smile. "I realize that's hypocritical, L, but we've been through this. I know that I'm doing evil, but this is for the good of the world. I have a very clear plan, and the intelligence to discern what would be best for everyone. Murder is evil, whatever the intentions."

"...Except for you, or the police."

"Not how you mean it. I've agreed that my own actions are evil. I'm creating a better world, but if there's death lining the pathway, I'll take full responsibility for it. I will be the only murderer in my kingdom, the only bringer of death. And I still believe that if you had my power, you'd be led to follow the same path."

There was silence again, while in the distance children laughed and played and couples strolled in the cool air, enjoying the November day. The sound of sirens was becoming an unfamiliar thing, and the city felt safer, in spite of the omnipresent threat of Kira.

After a long enough pause that Light assumed L was done speaking, the detective shifted slightly. Stifling his own word before they could start, Light waited.

"...Light-kun is wrong," L responded finally, tone almost absent. His thumb rested lightly against his pale lips, and his eyes stared at nothing. "I have Kira's power. I can influence governments, I have the mental capacity of several intelligence agencies. If I wanted to, I could have insured that criminals who had gotten outside of the system or around justice were dealt with. In my position and with my anonymity and the trust of other countries, I could easily have become a serial killer unlike any the world has known. It may not be as easy as writing a name in a notebook, but it would not be beyond my capabilities. Yet, instead, I work to keep criminals off of the streets, and though I've leaned toward the death penalty on several occasions, I believe in allowing some criminals to live, and even to escape, if the justice system fails. I watch those mistakes carefully, and evidence is never missed a second time... the justice systems of the world are all faulty, but still necessary for free will."

"That sort of 'free will' is dangerous," Light replied with a frown. "You have to realize that. It would be safer for everyone... most people can't make that sort of decision on their own, the option of allowing criminals to live or not. It's too dark, and the idea of it is too big for them. My way, the people can condemn me in public, but feel relieved in secret that someone is taking care of things. That's how people are."

"...Again, I disagree." L turned his gaze once more to Kira. "I have more reason than most to empathize with your reasoning, but I believe that you are still wrong." He seemed about to speak, then tightened his lips and looked away.

"...More reason than most?" Light prodded, gaze sharp. "What are you referring to...? Your intelligence?"

"..." Incredibly reluctant, L shifted again, fingers on his good hand clenching on his knee. "...Yagami-kun was correct in his inference that my parents are no longer living. They died in... an incident, years ago. It was only coincidence that they were killed, but the incident was planned, and killed many others as well. My first case was to capture those responsible. I succeeded." Speaking without emotion, L chewed furiously on his thumb. "...Until your arrival, the perpetrators remained alive, in prison. Kira killed them."

This admission set Ryuk off another round of laughter as Light watched L in surprise, for once caught not knowing what to say. "...Then, you should understand--" he began after an uncomfortable pause.

L shook his head and interrupted. "I can see the reasoning, and vengeance is tempting... Still, I realized that their deaths would mean nothing in the end. My parents and the others would remain dead, and more blood would be on my own hands. Rather than feeling grateful to Kira-kun for taking care of their murders for me, I admit to being... irritated."

Light eyed L skeptically. "Irritated."

"Even before Watari found me a replacement for the laptop which had become broken when I received the news, however, I had come to the conclusion that the irritation was uncalled for. Light-kun did not steal their deaths from me or the victims, as I had every intention of leaving the men in prison for the rest of their lives. The fact that Kira-kun passed a judgment on them when he himself had not done the work of capturing them was also irrelevant, as no other Kira-murders had offended me so personally at that time. Even now, however, looking at the situation logically... I find that I can not forgive Kira-kun for denying me the right to choose what punishment to give those killers. Childish, but I can't seem to get around it..."

"...What did the others say?"

L turned his eyes once more to Light, silently seeking clarification without any actual expression or question.

Light obliged with a frown of annoyance. "The relatives, loved ones, everyone the other people who died in that 'incident' knew-- did they have a say in what should happen to the murderers? Or did you simply pass your own judgment and decide that you had known best what to do? ...L. You have to see that. You've been doing exactly as I have-- you passed a judgment, believing yourself to be the one who knew best, who was the most intelligent and suited to determine what the fate of those men's lives should be. You're angry with me because you've convinced yourself that leaving those murderers alive to feed off of the resources of the government and be a burden to the public, and in danger of being possibly released on parole back into society, was somehow morally better than ending them quickly and removing their threat and their taint completely. You didn't give a damn what the others wanted. You're still angry now because I didn't go along with your decision, but came to another conclusion about what would be best for the world. I'm sure it must be difficult for you, as you've appointed yourself to be the defender of the world, but try to realize that you might not actually be the only one the world can depend on, and that just possibly, you aren't the most amazing person on Earth."

"Because you believe that you should be in that position?"

"Because-- much as I feel sick for admitting this-- we have... similarities, L. We both feel it our responsibility to make the world a safer, better place, and that if we aren't using our intelligence in that capacity we're being worse than useless. We could have been anything else, but we both have a drive to see justice done, and to take on the cases that no one but us could ever understand, to solve them and prove why we exist. For you, being the greatest detective in the world is how you define yourself, and you feel lost without that, depressed and wondering what to do with yourself now that you're supporting me. To me, reforming the world has become my priority. I don't want people to need to choose between being good people and wanting to see justice served and murderers taken care of properly. Even if it makes me evil, I'm doing what has to be done to save the world, as you continue to take on cases in spite of them leaving you hunched and unable to sleep."

"..." L stared off into the distance, then raised his eyes to the leaves and the sky above them as he considered that. Finally, he pulled himself to his feet and started back the way they had come, apparently having had enough of the outdoors. "...There is a bakery in the area, is there not?" he asked hopefully.

Allowing himself a small smile, Light caught up to L and held out a lollipop from his pocket. L's black eyes fixated on the treat, then dragged up to Light's face. After a moment where the two stood still and L attempted to read Light's intentions, the detective carefully accepted the sweet and unwrapped it.

Lollipop lodged firmly in the side of his mouth, L shoved his hands back into his pockets and lurched onward, not commenting on Kira's unusually understanding gesture. "...We missed the flight," he said instead, words slightly slurred by the candy.

"That's all right. I booked another-- we're leaving tomorrow," Light informed him easily. "Since you'd neglected to tell me what your plans had been before you sulked in the corner for three days."

"...I do not treat death as lightly as Kira-kun," L murmured.

"Hmm... in your defense, you haven't killed as many people."

Ryuk threw his head back and shook with high humor at that, trailing behind them. "...Hey, Light. You got any apples in your pockets?" he asked, hope thick in his voice. "I've known you longer than L has."

Glancing back mildly at the shinigami, Light arched an eyebrow. "You've had more apples than you need, and you don't even have to eat. No, I didn't bring an apple for you."

"Kira-kun was concerned for me," L mused. "Should I be flattered?"

"Don't bother. If you collapse from hunger, I'd have to drag you to the plane, and it would raise attention," Kira dismissed.

A faint smile curled the corners of L's mouth as they returned to the hotel.

---

25 November, 2:31 a.m. (Tokyo)

Sayu left Headquarters shortly after Rester and Near, turning back toward the elevators to go to her room. Partway down the hall, however, she stopped by a door that had always been locked. It was open now, enough to show several inches of the room beyond.

Cautious, Sayu gave the door a gentle push. Inside, a wall of monitors took up one wall, showing infrared images of the hallways and rooms. In one screen she could see a bulky human mass she assumed to be Rester holding a cooler figure that must be Near. Even his body lets off less heat..., Sayu thought in some amazement about the cold boy.

There was a polite throat-clearing, and Sayu finally noticed Watari sitting in one of the room's comfortable-seeming chairs, a fresh tray of tea beside him and two cups.

"Would you care for tea, young miss?" he inquired.

Glancing out into the hallway, Sayu hesitated for a moment before going inside and closing the door. Looking to the screens again, Sayu frowned. "...Aren't you worried about Light getting into the camera system?" she asked quietly. Though she didn't personally believe that her brother would try to kill all of them, she knew also that Near was a very paranoid person.

Watari turned his eyes to the screens as though just noticing them. "Ah, yes. Near requested that I disable the normal security cameras, but the thermal imaging is still quite useful in the even of an intruder happening past our security measures. Sugar?"

"Two cubes, thank you..." Sayu murmured. Claiming a chair not far from Watari but against one wall, Sayu drew her legs up to her chest and accepted the tea. "You left the door open, even though you could see me coming... So, you wanted to talk?" she hazarded.

"Exactly so." Kind, intelligent eyes studied Sayu intently, and she thought the old man seemed almost sad. "...Do you know, L has sat just as you are now since he was a child..."

Curiosity warred with the politeness Sayu's parents had instilled in her, but finally won. "What's he like? Matsu-chan and Aizawa-san talk about him like he's just like Near, but..."

Watari chuckled. "But it's difficult to imagine anyone else like Near?" he offered. "There is some superficial resemblance, but L and Near are very much their own selves," he clarified.

"Have you known L long?"

"Since he was eight years old," Watari agreed readily, affection and pride softening his features. "He's always been a genius among geniuses. Even at that age, it was quite obvious."

Sayu brightened, holding her tea in both hands to keep them warm. "Niichan is the same way. He's always been smart. I guess it spoiled me-- I'm stupid, so he always helps me out."

"I haven't observed you to be stupid," Watari corrected reasonably. "Perhaps not at their level..."

"You're just being polite," Sayu stated with a smile. "It doesn't bother me-- it's okay. I'm just average, but compared to my brother I'm slow, really dumb. So's almost everyone else, though. It's what makes him stand out so much... or part of it. It doesn't help that he's perfect in every way, handsome, and charming," she laughed. "If I didn't love him I might hate him. A brother isn't supposed to be better-looking than his sister!" She sighed dramatically and shook her head, happy and forgetting for a moment that her admired older brother was also the infamous Kira.

Watari sipped his tea in peace for a moment before Sayu, feeling a compulsion that many girls did, broke the silence. "...What did you want to talk about?"

"...I would like your thoughts on your brother, actually," Watari informed her.

The words broke Sayu's sense of unexpected comfort. "Why? ...Would you use it to find him?" In spite of her efforts, her words were uncertain and almost afraid-- cheering up the detectives was one thing, but working actively with them against her brother was another. Even if his actions were evil, she couldn't quite accept it.

"I would like to... understand him," admitted the old man. Setting his tea down, he looked at the camera displays through his thick, white eyebrows, and the glow off the monitors made his age even more obvious. "I've looked at all of the available data on Light's life, yet feel that I'm not much closer to understanding his motives. He is a... complicated young man."

"..." Sayu turned the tea cup in her hands, gazing into liquid that appeared black by the room's dark lighting. Realizing that no one else had asked her anything at all about Light or even tried to see him as a human, Sayu struggled with words to explain him. "He never thought anyone understood him. Mom just believes everything she wants about him, and dad tries to get him, but... Niichan's so much smarter than them. He told me when I was little that I couldn't tell them everything he told me, because they'd get worried about him. He told me I had to do the same thing for myself and keep them from being unhappy. Most people really just annoyed him, but he always acted nice to them anyway. Everyone always loved him, except for some of the other boys, but they were just jealous of him. But... even though I wasn't as smart as he is, he'd always make time for me. He always helped me with homework, even if he knew I understood it and just wanted to be around him. He'd take me to the park, and make sure I remembered everything for school and made me do my homework even if I'd told mom and dad I didn't have any. Dad was always at work, so he never really noticed anything, and mom's nice, but... she's still a parent. She likes to believe that we're perfect. Light's the good student, and makes dad proud, and mom happy. I'm dad's little girl, and I help mom with the chores and watch TV dramas with her. But with Light... we could be ourselves. He teased me and could be mean, but it was all right, because he didn't let anyone else see that about him. And I loved him more than anyone else..." Almost as though hypnotized by her own voice in the room, silent aside from the electronic hum of the monitors, Sayu didn't realize what she'd said until her words stopped. Tears rose to her eyes again, and the girl took a quick drink of tea to ease the sudden pain in her throat and to push the tears back, refusing to cry in front of Watari. She shook her head forcefully. "I'm sorry-- I was talking too much. I do that sometimes..."

Too polite to comment on Sayu's distress, Watari nodded. "I believe that's exactly what I needed to hear," he informed her quietly. He accepted Sayu's empty cup as the girl stood. "Thank you, and have a pleasant night's dreams."

"You, too," Sayu murmured, hugging herself. "Good night. I'm sorry... about L, I mean. You miss him, right?"

"...Yes, I do," Watari agreed simply. Sayu nodded, then let herself out to return to her room.

---

25 November, 2:45 a.m.

Left alone, Watari returned to the central monitor, which was also his main computer screen. He called up an email that he'd minimized upon Sayu's arrival.

The world at large still didn't know of L and Watari going separate ways. Minutes before, Watari had received a message on L's behalf from a government agent in Spain. The message warned that L and Light had been recognized on surveillance footage entering the airport in Madrid on a flight from Vladivostok, and that measures were being taken to catch them on their attempt to return to the airport. A man who had worked with L before, the agent hoped the information would arrive in time to prevent disaster.

The descriptions given for L and Light fit the men reasonably if allowances were made for simple disguises, and that agent was known to be both intelligent and trustworthy.

Watari had every reason to believe that this hint, rather than the thousands of false leads the detectives had been pursuing, had a strong likelihood of being real.

Now, he only had to decide what to do with the information.

-----

Storm Coming is by Gnarls Barkley. For some reason, I wrote this chapter mostly by listening to country music... usually I write this with my generic playlist. Weird, huh?

The "instance" L mentioned in his past that killed his parents was one of the Winchester Mad Bombings, which were mentioned in roughly one line in Another Note in reference to a point when L met Watari, leading me to the assumption that something about the Bombings killed off whatever guardians L had and led to Watari discovering him, and from there the five years L mentioned being in England would have most likely been at the Wammy's House and/or hunting down the perps from the Mad Bombings. I mention this here as a simple explanation of that scene, since the chances of L going into detail that could lead Light to knowledge of Wammy's House or his parents' names are about one in a trillion. Also, L going along with Light after the garden doesn't mean he's fully supporting him now-- just that he's starting to come to terms with the fact that there is some common ground in their method to dealing with injustice and that the Death Note may not necessarily be the horrible root of all world evil. It's even possible that Near was just holding the Sayu-doll because he was thinking about her relationship with Kira and liked the visual reminder of her! Or not. Look right there, I'm giving you freedom of perception.

Comment responses: (Thank you everyone who's commented so far! TYA broke a hundred comments! Yaay!)

Specimennumber1: Mello's man-bitchiness can be fun! Most people seem to prefer Mello, though. *grins* Looking forward to seeing the pic whenever it's done! Thanks for the comment.

WM: Heh, I probably shouldn't have thrown the Mello bit in there yet since his part isn't for a few more chapters, I think, but I missed him. Hello again!

Hellagoddess: Oohhh, that's what happened! Well, when you see this update, hello! *grins* The extra-special long review made me really happy, I assure you. Don't be jealous of my Light and L! Your Raito and L kick ass and are much fun, and are weirdly perfect to themselves considering it's L as a painter and slightlynicer!Raito! I usually take anything Ryuk denies knowledge of with a grain of salt, since he can be shrewd and observant as well and knows how to keep his mouth shut when it amuses him to. He's an interesting character. I have really no idea what I'm doing with him here, aside from making Light pretty annoyed. Glad you enjoyed the Mello and Matt time, too! The bit about your comment notes and the one that just inexplicably said "Mello upside down" still makes me giggle. It has so many strange possibilities. Mello Upside-Down Cake? A secret Wammy's House recipe? I'm betting it'd have chocolate. Maybe bullets or pleather too. ...And, I think everyone gets nostalgic for old-school Zelda sometimes. And if not I'm still going to cling to that belief. Thank you for commenting!

Lila: Thanks for taking time out of moving to read and review!!! That's amazing, it made me pleased. I really like replying to comments-- probably more than I should! Your appreciation is definitely appreciated, though I think that even with authors who don't respond back, don't doubt that they value reviews. They probably just have... lives, or something, and not as much time to respond. *grins* Hope your move went well!

Viridian Kat: Yup! I probably will read it when I get time to. I've been real bad about keeping up with any online writing lately... *sighs* The idea of you reading this fic at your graduation is hilarious, btw! Thanks for that image, and your words! I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter, and congratulations on the graduation. *thanks you for homemade Internet cookies* I still need to see the new Narnia movie! I'll definitely keep and eye out for the slash.

Emyrei: Sorry I didn't update all that soon! Time is not my strong suit. Thank you for the comment, though, and welcome to the story!

Sabaku_lotus: Thank you so much, again!!! It's so cutely detailed, I love it. Hope life's been a bit less hectic for you, as well! I'm glad you didn't find any of the parts meh, it's a reassurance. I look at my own writing very critically... Anyway, thanks again! Being like Matt is a good thing, I think.


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