This is how it starts: L yawns, delicate veins tugging at the muscles in his wrists, then pecks a few more times on his laptop and closes it up without a word.
"Ready for bed, Raito-kun?" he asks.
And Raito, disheveled and disgruntled and hunched in an uncomfortable crouch in an equally uncomfortable armchair, shifting intermediately in a vain attempt to find a softer spot, heavy-lidded eyes glaring at that stupid stupid chain connecting him to the only person in Japan not asleep at four in the morning, sees the light of God.
"I am so happy I could kiss you," he declares, and stumbles to the bed the stupid stupid handcuffs force them to share.
He misses the look L sends him, which is just as well, because it probably would've made him freak out and overanalyze everything and he never would've gotten any sleep, and then L's surprisingly fine tastes in bedsheets would've gone to waste.
Even though they've been stuck together for several months, there are still some things about L that surprise Raito. The way he lounges around in bed is one. Raito wasn't sure what he'd expected, the first night they'd had to sleep together -- it'd been on a single lumpy futon, covered with cookie crumbs and only big enough for a single person, but they'd had to endure it until Watari could get them an actual bed because L had gotten rid of the hotel-provided one to make room for surveillance equipment, and Raito spent a miserable five and a half hours cramped against the wall and staring at the stain on the top right corner of the mattress that looked vaguely like Australia -- but L, contrary to the way he seemed perpetually slouched when awake, slept eagle-sprawled, limbs splayed every whichaway and dead to the world. I could kill him, Raito thought, that first night, I could slit his throat right now and he wouldn't wake up until it was too late -- and then he actually felt guilty, and he didn't understand why. He figured it had something to do with the way L looked so innocent when he was sleeping. It'd be like killing a defenseless, wild-haired puppy.
L's breakfasts generally consist of glazed doughnuts dunked in coffee. Years of nutritional lectures from his mother compels Raito to choose to skip this. Sometimes he just forgets about breakfast all together, tries to ignore the nauseatingly sweet smell of sugar and cream so early in the morning, but most of the time he makes L plop in a chair near their makeshift kitchen so he can languidly peel an apple near the window or squeeze himself some orange juice.
"You could order hot breakfasts from room service, you know," L says, one morning, after twenty minutes of patiently and unblinkingly watching Raito eat a banana.
Raito takes a bite, slowly, contemplates the banana for another minute, and then resumes nibbling the edge. He's pleased with the slight twitch in L's left eyebrow. "And you could eat something halfway healthy."
"Sugar wakes the brain cells," L replies.
And that was that.
There's one thing Raito had expected of L, however, and that was L's complete lack of anything even remotely resembling social understanding. He'd been completely at ease the first time he'd had to change clothes in front of Raito, and Raito, determined to follow his example, feigned nonchalance as best as he could.
Bathing was another issue.
"I'm not -- I'm not showering with you," Raito half-snapped, half-yelled, even as the little boy inside himself curled into a fetal position and died. The other side, the logical side, smirked that he told him so.
L had looked honestly confused. "How do you suggest we shower, then?" he asked.
And that, yet again, was that.
It seemed a lot of things were just that, when it came to L.
Wednesday's another one of those days, those long, dull days, when the other investigators are away doing investigator-things and Raito and L are still stuck together, still confined to the room, with L typing away on his computer and Raito staring at the window and resisting the urge to throw himself out of it.
Just when he thinks he can't stand it anymore, when he's about to do something, anything, to break the monotony, L's fingers still on the keys and he says, "Look at this."
Raito expects news. Raito expects drama, disaster, news of Kira; he expects death and shock and no little amount of destruction.
Raito does not expect a bright, cheerful page that says SO YOU WANT TO LEARN ORIGAMI?
"I can have Watari bring paper," L offers. "I realize you must be terribly bored."
An odd, unfamiliar warmth starts to slowly burn in Raito's stomach, and had he been more inclined to analyze his own emotional response, he might've identified it as gratitude. But he doesn't, and he won't, so he just considers it a sign of an impending apocalypse when he hears himself saying, "Sure."
This is how it goes: Raito wakes in the morning, gingerly detaches himself from L's arm, which has been flung with alarming precision and remarkable strength at the exact center of his forehead, and makes paper cranes.
He makes exactly twenty two and a half before he a) runs out of paper, and b) realizes origami sucks. His cranes look like sinking geometric sailboats. He's never seen sinking geometric sailboats, of course, but if he had, he's certain they would bear striking resemblance to his paper cranes. He's halfway into a standing position before the stupid stupid click of the handcuffs reminds him that he can't take the steps necessary to throw the cranes in the trash, so, sitting in a sulky silence, he's forced to leave them scattered on the bed, their crooked and badly-folded edges staring at him, mocking him, constant reminds of this, the most spectacular failure of his life, the fact that he can't even fold paper correctly.
So, naturally, when L wakes, he immediately notices the cranes, says "nice eye for detail, Raito-kun," and displays all twenty two and a half on the table in the very front of the room, even the half-squished one he accidentally flattened when he rolled over.
"How are you two holding up, Ryuuzaki?" Raito's father asks, visibly concerned, the next time he drops in for a visit. He's wanted to visit before this, of course, but his family's getting worried, asking questions, you know, and he has to assuage their concerns, and he can't seem to look either in the eye. Raito wonders when he started frightening his own father.
L pops another truffle in his mouth. "It's actually not as hard as I thought it'd be," he admits.
Chief Yagami looks at Raito next, but it's not like he's going to complain after L said that.
They're watching a rerun of some low-quality anime, or, rather, L is watching a rerun of some low-quality anime while Raito pores over a large dusty book Watari delivered that morning along with half the local bakery, when the chain rattles three times in quick succession and something soft and wet is pressed against Raito's lips. It takes him a few seconds to realize that, no, it isn't a wet washcloth, it's not a repeat of the incident when L cheerfully threw wet dish towels on his face every time he closed his eyes for two days until he agreed to take his turn washing the dishes. It's L himself.
L, kissing him.
Raito pushes him away.
Against all practical reasoning, L's lips already look puffy and slightly swollen, cheeks flushed a light pink. His sudden lunge was probably the height of his physical activity over the past few months. As Raito stands, calmly, one hand casually brushing invisible dirt off the hem of his shirt, something unreadable flashes in his eyes.
"That was inappropriate," L says.
"That was disgusting," Raito says.
"I'm sorry," L apologizes.
"So am I," Raito replies.
He starts walking towards the bathroom, hesitating for only a moment to tug on the chain when L made no move to follow, and repeats, "I'm sorry. I never told you how much I hate the taste of cherry." Over his shoulder, he adds, "As soon as you brush your teeth and I throw out that fruitcake, we can try again."
The next time Raito's father visits, he nervously compliments the careful arrangement of paper ducks on his way out. Even, he says, the dying ones, the half-finished and flattened one, which "are a bit depressing."
Raito moves them to the front.
"I still think you're Kira," L says.
Raito doesn't look up from the chessboard. "Okay," he says, and then, "Checkmate."
And this is how it ends: the two of them, sitting there, one nibbling on a forkful of chocolate pie and one trying to dip his finger in the whipped cream topping without the other noticing -- unsuccessfully -- and it defies all logic, this thing, these people, the killer and the hunter, both reduced to nothing but boys, a game between them and the taste of sugar lingering against their tongues, surrounded by the whisper of cranes when they draw back the curtains and let the wind inside.