Raito's sitting in bed, sockless, hair mussed, laptop open and ready in front of him, attempting the near-impossible task of scratching one's upper back with one hand while simultaneously trying to direct a forkful of cake into his mouth with the other, when he realizes that L's habits -- while repetitive, eccentric, and no small amount of infuriatingly constant, while childish and weird and stupid and always smelling, however faintly, of sugar -- they're horribly, horribly addictive; furthermore, they've somehow managed to slip past his defenses, his little anti-L's repetitive eccentric quirks filter, and this means Raito's lost control, which is a very bad thing, which, of course, hasn't happened since the week he solemnly remembers as Raito-kun Is A Eunuch And Will Be Treated As Such Until He Sweeps Like He Promised He Would.
Obviously, it's time for revenge.
As luck would have it, fate -- or perhaps commercialized holidays -- drops a golden opportunity directly in his lap.
"Ryuuzaki doesn't celebrate Christmas?" Matsuda says incredulously, somehow managing to convey deep horror at the very prospect while looking entirely unsurprised at the thought. Watari, with the air of someone who knows he's doing something he probably shouldn't but is charging ahead anyway, spares the camera in the corner a pointed glance, where Raito is watching and suddenly realizing that Watari wants him to watch.
He leans forward in his chair.
L, sitting in that strange half-crouch a few feet away, glances indifferently over at the screen and then turns back to his own. Watari mentioned that Aber believed he'd overheard relevant details to Kira's identity while on the phone with Namikawa, so he was watching the tapes, headphones temporarily flattening that wild hair.
Raito suddenly remembers Watari's rather mournful air when he'd explained how they only had one set.
And Raito is many things, but "generally unsuspecting of nefarious plots unfurling right under his nose" is most definitely not one of them.
So, he watches.
" -- it isn't as though he intentionally doesn't," Watari's explaining, with another furtive glance at the cameras, "but before the Kira case, he's always worked alone, or communicated only via computer. And celebrating by yourself is a bit depressing, isn't it? So he simply lets the holiday pass by."
"You mean he's never gotten any presents, either?" Matsuda asks, aghast.
"That... wasn't quite my point," Watari responds.
"Ever?" Matsuda presses.
Watari looks mildly offended. "I give him plenty of gifts, thank you," he sniffs.
"You buy out the bakery," Matsuda corrects, waving a hand, "and you do it often enough that it's not a treat. But, come on, level with me. Presents, yay or nay?"
And it's then, right then, staring at the affronted Watari in the control room with his nose practically pressed onto the television screen, that Raito can feel a plan forming; not one he would've handpicked himself, surely, and most definitely not up to par with the time he switched the foul cherry gunk of L's crepes with red cough syrup, but it might do, it might work, it might make up for every indignity he's suffered at the hands of that incorrigible racoon-eyed sex go --
"I just thought," Watari says, almost grumpily, "that someone could raise his spirits a little this year; he's really come quite far, you know, allowing people into his life this much, and it might make a little more sociable if, ah -- " a definite glance at the cameras this time, " -- certain people, the ones he cares for the most, would make a little extra effort, you know, draw him into the spirit of the holidays -- "
-- and by god, yes, yes, he is an absolute genius, his plan will work.
"Raito-kun," L says, plucking the headphones from his ears with two fingers, "do tell me why your expression while looking at Watari bears remarkable resemblance to the one you wore when I showed you how to suck the mango fruit in our shower yesterday afternoon."
The plan is this: Raito, under the guise of following Watari's not-so-subtle suggestions, will attempt to inflict a little holiday cheer into L through his only notable weakness -- his sweet tooth. What L won't know prior to the consumption and successive admiration of Raito's baked goods is that Raito added a secret ingredient to the mix, and, most unfortunately, Raito will be forced to point out that he's not the type of guy to just give things away without receiving something in return.
"I'll be happy to wait, of course," Raito will generously offer. "Until you can come up with suitable compensation."
And the following weeks will be spent basking in the glow of having L -- L! -- top-three-detectives-in-the-world solve-any-case makes-Raito-scream-every-time L, tripping over himself to please him.
The secret to Raito's success, of course, is sugar cookies.
"I won't ask what that is," L says, "but, given the ingredients, I don't think Raito-kun will require ketchup."
-- unfortunately, Raito's already elbow-deep in dough when he realizes a) he doesn't know how to make sugar cookies, and b) he's chained to the very person he's plotting deviously against.
He doesn't know how these things slipped his mind, but, well, he's always had a problem with overenthusiasm, and L had looked agreeable enough at the prospect of filching more sweets from the kitchen.
"I'm making sugar cookies," Raito admits, after a moment of bemused silence, in which he also pried the fingers apart on his left hand and wiped some of the sticky goo on a towel. He doesn't see the harm in confessing, since L would hopefully be eating them soon anyway. "I thought we might decorate them afterwards, you know, for the holidays. We're all trying to make things a little festive."
"Ah," L says, sounding amused. "That explains the reindeer candy canes."
Raito turns around to see him very carefully plucking a solitary googly eye from atop a peppermint cane. L catches his look. "They're rather deformed," he comments. "Mogi's contribution?"
"He means well," Raito says.
"He made sure not to damage the actual candy cane," L agrees, as if the state of the sweet itself was the only way to distinguish good intentions.
Raito bites back a smile and turns back to his dough, or, rather, he would have enjoyed turning back to his dough, because that would mean he was making actual progress; as it stands, however, he turns back to the pathetic slab of ingredients that should be his future cookies, but meanwhile only resembles an off-white lump of questionable edibility. He can, once again, feel L's gaze on him.
"Don't even," he says.
Wordlessly, L's stare turns innocent, a seemingly genuine mix of confusion and polite amusement. Raito knows better.
"Don't," he repeats.
L says nothing.
"Ryuuzaki -- " he begins, warningly.
"Raito-kun, I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about."
A giant glob of would-be dough hits the kitchen wall, inches from L's head.
"You're doing that thing!" Raito shouts. "No, don't look at me like that! You know what I'm talking about -- that, that stare, the one that always comes before you outwit me or tell me what I'm doing wrong, and I'm not letting you do it this time! This is important! These aren't just cookies, they're embodied Christmas cheer, damnit! And what's more, they're mine, and, and -- and it's very unsatisfying when you just stand there and look at me like that," he finishes lamely.
"Ah," L says again, and bites his thumb. Then, "You've got a spot of Christmas cheer on your chin."
So, his first plan flopped. His first idea wasn't the best. He'd been so incensed at L that he'd grabbed another handful of the cookies-that-weren't and lobbed it straight between his eyes.
There's always a rough draft before the masterpiece, Raito tells himself.
The new, revised, better plan is this: Raito, chained to L with no hope of unexpected release, will wax melancholy over spending his first Christmas away from home. He will wax melancholy like no man has waxed melancholy before. He will wax so melancholy, in fact, that L will be forced to conclude that the absence of his family on Christmas morning is doing nothing short of eating at his very soul, so he'll be forced to play the good, sensitive boyfriend and invite Raito to re-create his holiday experience as much as desired in their headquarters.
And Raito will refuse. Not his place to intrude, after all.
Accordingly, L will insist. (There's been a moment or two that Raito's doubted this, especially when he remembers Raito-kun Is A Eunuch And Will Be Treated As Such Until He Sweeps Like He Promised He Would's sequel, Clean Under The Cushions Or The Cock Gets The Cold Shoulder, but he will perservere.)
And then comes the good part: when the plan's worked, when Raito's finally regained control, when L's begging to do things Raito's way.
And then, satisfied, Raito will lean back and enjoy his new status as the dominator.
And then, perhaps he'll take off his socks and have a piece of cake.
The best part about it is that L doesn't suspect a thing. Of course, this isn't for Matsuda's lack of trying: a single inappropriately-timed comment about the latest headline of Teen Tuduo (Giving Your Boyfriend Two More Xs In His Xmas) made L use his toes to scratch his calf in a way that Raito just knew meant he was close to discovering the truth, and if not for Misa's quick squeal about her layout on page eighty then there was a good chance the whole thing would've come tumbling down. As it stands, Raito waits two days in order to assuage L's suspicions, and even then he's sure to make his voice as casual and inconspicuous as possible.
Silence from the other end of the couch. They're in the main control room after everyone else has gone to bed (because they, of course, aren't forcibly connected to an insomniac). Raito stares at the ceiling, legs crossed, arms outstretched and hands resting comfortably behind his head.
"Do you ever miss your parents?"
"I don't mean to pry," Raito adds. "I'm just curious. I mean, I don't even know if they're alive, or in Japan, but I... wondered."
More silence. It abruptly occurs to Raito that maybe there's a reason L never mentions his parents; maybe they were brutally murdered or maybe they were incarcerated for being murderers or maybe they were just really bad porn stars, but, whatever the reason, Raito's faced with the distinct possibility that he's just deeply offended L and he suddenly can't bear to turn and meet his eyes.
Time for damage control. "I was just thinking," Raito plunges recklessly along, "about how I'm not going to be celebrating Christmas with my mother and sister this year -- "
"Does Raito-kun want to celebrate here?"
Raito jerks violently.
Several things happen at once.
For one, Misa suddenly flies in the room, exclaiming her dismay at the top of her voice that Raito has to be without his family during this important time of the year.
Raito's jaw, which had been seconds away from dropping in complete disbelief, does nearly unhinge itself in its attempt to convey its owner's shock, and only the edge of the cough, uncomfortable as it is, keeps him kneeling right over, its cheap covering digging unmercifully into his spine.
And L, sitting calmly throughout it all, continues sucking on his lollipop, lips tender and red and moving nimbly over the glossy candied surface.
"Ryuuzaki!" Misa cries, launching herself at the bottom of the couch. "It isn't enough that you have to chain yourself to Misa's Raito-kun all day and night so they can never have a real date, but now you're making Raito-kun miss Christmas with his family, too! That's not fair!"
"I agree," L says.
"This is a season for family," Misa wails, "and you -- what?"
Raito's eyes have not left L's lips. As he watches, a languid peek of tongue teases the top of the sucker before slowly, easily traveling downwards on the outer edge, making the lollipop itself slick and wet and glistening and contrasting sharply with the swollen stickiness of L's mouth.
"Ryuuzaki?" Misa asks.
L pulls his mouth away. Raito feels as if he's lost his best friend.
"I said, you're right," L tells her. "It wouldn't do to have Yagami-kun suffering all Christmas. Chronic homesickness will do nothing to help us catch Kira."
"O -- oh," Misa says. It takes her a moment to absorb and digest the words, but when she does, her smile can be heard a mile away. "So Ryuuzaki and Misa can work together to make this year Raito-kun's happiest ever!"
"Yes," L agrees. If Raito's mind hadn't been completely occupied with the lollipop only inches away from L's lips, or if he'd had any inclination to stop staring, he would've recognized that L was being unusually talkative and been suspicious accordingly. "In fact," L continues, eyes glittering strangely, "I was just asking if he'd like to bring his holiday experience here, since I unfortunately can't unchain him yet."
Misa looks uncertainly at Raito. "Is that what Raito-kun wants?"
Raito-kun wants the goddamned lollipop to go back in L's mouth.
Out loud, eyes unwavering, he says, "If only Ryuuzaki could be so generous in all areas."
Misa giggles, then claps her hands. "So it's settled!" she declares, sounding extraordinarily pleased with herself. "Tomorrow we'll start decorating the house -- oh, we'll have to get a tree -- Misa just hopes you men aren't the rest who think Misa will wrap your presents for you just because she's a girl -- "
Something pierces the dense fog in Raito's brain.
"Decorating the house?" he echoes.
Beside him, L raises the lollipop back up to his lips, and Raito can see that he's carefully schooling his face into its usual unblinking and unassuming expression. "Amazing what a little curiosity can lead to, hm?" he asks.
"And Yagami-kun," he adds, "my parents are dentists."
They go shopping.
They do this at six o'clock in the morning, and they do this with Misa chattering insistently away beside him and buying out half the mall, and they do this despite his second plan, which was supposed to be flawless and wound up exploding right under his nose -- without him even realizing it.
"Stockings!" Misa cries happily.
They do this, Raito decides, because there is a god, and it hates him.
He scowls. The Santa hat on his head wobbles threateningly.
"Come on, Raito-kun!" Misa enthuses, latching onto his arm with mitten-clad hands and steering him towards the ostentatious display of bright red stockings. L shuffles along warily. "Pick out your favorite, and then Misa will, and then they can be hung together back at headquarters!"
Pick out your favorite, in girl-speak, means feel free to choose whatever you'd like until I find something I think is suitable for you.
Raito has learned this lesson very quickly.
So he stands back, scowling at the display, scowling at the store, scowling when he catches the eye of an employee (who suddenly, and rightfully, has second thoughts about offering to assist them) -- he scowls at the world in general, really, and then he watches Misa, who's in her element, and then he watches L, who's gingerly shifting through the stocking in obvious hopes of finding one that isn't adorned with bells, felted snowmen, or red and white pompoms.
And then he gets another idea.
The plan is this: he'll seduce L.
This, in itself, is harder than it sounds, because L has shown a remarkable amount of self-control when it comes to doing without sex if it means getting Raito to do what he wants him to do. Raito will just have sharpen his own willpower. He'll do his damnedest to look sexy and irresistible, and then he'll show no interest in any kind of physical contact. L will break. Raito will be victorious.
He's quite confident about this plan. Third time's a charm, after all.
December twenty-fourth, Christmas eve, Raito decides to set off this third and final plan of action. It's close to eleven, and he and L are in their room. L's poring over the latest issue of Teen Tuduo, a year's subscription to which was Matsuda's early present, and nibbling on marshmallows. Raito's lounging around and trying not to look at the giant block-lettered headline (New Year, New Tricks).
"Ryuuzaki?" he finally asks, when the silence is one second away from driving him up the wall. "I have to get out of this horrible sweater."
And it's true, really, even though it's also the first step of his scheme. The sweater was the product of Misa's uncanny ability to zero on the most tacky merchandise of their store of choice -- and in less than thirty seconds -- and it's truly a hideous waste of fabric, the sweater, a thick woolen one that scratches at his neck and rides up his back every time he sits down.
It also has dancing elves all over it.
"I just feel so undignified," Raito says, and L looks up, gives the sweater one final, unreadable glance, and then moves to the chair outside the bathroom door, all without making a sound.
Raito enters the bathroom with a grimace.
Once inside, however, and once he's sure the door is closed as much as possible, the grimace turns to a smug, satisfied smile. He pulls out a brown bag from behind the toilet.
Outside, L turns the page.
The contents of the bag are another result of their shopping trip, one that Raito still isn't sure how he pulled off but is grateful for anyway. He'd managed to whisper to Misa what he wanted, and she was only too happy to help him, but how he managed to smuggle it in their bathroom... he pulls out the goods, throws the bag aside, and chalks it up to a Christmas miracle.
Then, a few minutes later, he walks back into their room, coughing politely, and L raises his eyes.
Raito's wearing a pair of red and green socks.
They're a size too big.
They're decorated in cheerful little Christmas trees.
They're the only things he's wearing.
L tilts his head to the side, considering. Then he comments, blinking innocently, "Raito-kun is much more distinguished now," before turning back to his paper, casually flipping another page.
Seppuku, the dictionary says, sep·pu·ku, n., ritual suicide by disembowelment formerly practiced by Japanese samurai. Also called hara-kiri.
"No," Raito snarls, and throws himself into an armchair. "That's too good for me."
It comes as no surprise to Raito that Christmas day is complete hell.
His sleep -- light and restless, courtesy of usually having to sleep through nonstop typing -- is easily interrupted at the agonizing hour of seventy thirty by a knock at his door, the fault of, most surprisingly, his father. "Sayu would've insisted on opening presents an hour ago," the chief explains, somewhat sheepishly but mostly just sad. "I think I've trained my body to wake early on Christmas mornings."
Raito blinks stupidly. "You said you were going home last night," he accuses.
His dad smiles, then, genuinely warm. "Well, you're my kid too."
And there's no way he can demand more sleep after that.
The day itself is just as sickeningly cheerful and upsetting to his stomach as he thought it'd be... times ten. Misa created some strange headband with mistletoe perched at the top, then spent hours trying to squirm against Raito at just the right angle to demand a kiss. Mogi made more reindeer, this time with two eyes per cane. Matsuda nearly spilled hot chocolate on six hundred dollars worth of surveillance equipment. His father disappeared around noon and came back at dusk, bearing gifts: warm socks from his mother and Sayu's latest math test, which she'd scrawled, "A+! Thanks for the help, Onii-chan!" in the corner margin.
"God," Raito murmured, overcome by an unexpected and unwelcome wave of nostalgia. "Seems like a lifetime ago."
But it was quickly forgotten as Misa, who'd missed the "onii-chan" bit, demanded to know who Sayu was and why she was sending gifts to him.
By the time ten o'clock rolls around, Raito's tired. Similarly, he'll never again allow his father to drink too much eggnog and lead the group in a singalong of "Jingle Balls." It's only when L gives a violent twitch at a particular verse (it begins with "what fun it is to ride" -- that's all one needs to know) that Raito realizes he doesn't want to be here, either.
They make it to the safety of their locked room in record time.
It's then that L turns to Raito.
"The next time you get angry with me," he says, "please just punch me again."
And he sits down cross-legged in his favorite chair, draws his laptop to his knees and hunches over the keyboard without another word, leaving Raito standing in the middle of the room, hands at his sides, feeling as though he's missed something important.
"What?" he demands.
The typing pauses, briefly, then continues. "The next time you get angry -- "
"No, no, I understand what you're saying," Raito interrupts, sounding rude and not caring in the least. Another round of Jingle Balls is starting in the control room, and he can feel a headache coming on. "I want to know why. What do you mean, just punch you? What else would I do?"
"You tell me," L replies. "You're the one being passive-aggressive."
"Horribly so," L confirms.
Raito considers taking L's advice and punching him.
Maybe L sees this in his expression, or maybe he's just tired of playing vague, but he sets aside his laptop, draws his knees to his chest and rests his chin on them, regarding Raito with that patented wide-eyed expression. "There's obviously something on your mind, Raito-kun," he says. His voice is dispassionate, almost bored, like he's just stating the facts.
Which, Raito supposes, he is.
"It's also obvious that your problem's with me," L persists. "I don't know what I did, but it's affecting you a great deal. You're stewing in it. I catch you looking at me like there's nothing you'd enjoy more than supergluing the cherries together so I won't be able to eat them." He pauses. "Again."
"But," L continues, "whatever it is, you've decided not to fight me, which is how you usually blow off steam. Instead, you're going through some kind of -- action -- some kind of plan -- that's making you more miserable than you were when you first decided you were angry. Don't try to deny it," he adds, when Raito opens his mouth to argue. "We both just spent over half our day watching Mogi trying to peer up Amane's skirt. Don't tell me you enjoyed it."
Actually, he did. At least, he did when Misa finally realized that no one accidentally dropped roasted cashews that much, and then proceeded to beat Mogi over the head with one of his own reindeer.
"Raito-kun," L says. Raito looks at him. He's starting to feel a bit foolish, like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Again, I don't know what I did wrong, but please -- " was his voice actually cracking? " -- please, Raito-kun, never put me through today again."
"I don't think I've ever heard you talk so much without mentioning Kira," he says.
"Twelve hours of listening to Matsuda explain the joys of Christmas," L reminds him.
Raito's lips twitch, almost against his will. "Watari put him up to that, you know."
"Did he?" L looks fond. "Well, Watari has spent the last two years telling me not to work so hard over the holidays. I suppose he's quite tired of it. It makes sense that he'd recruit someone like Matsuda for the job."
And suddenly, abruptly, Raito feels the last week's tension leave his body at once, and everything -- his revenge, his plans, his only partly joking plans of hara-kiri -- it all feels so stupid, now, and very far away, like it was a lifetime ago, and when he looks at little half-smile playing on L's lips, he remembers all too well something else that's been a long time in coming.
"Ryuuzaki?" he asks. "Do you still have that lollipop?"
There are, after all, many worse things in the world than having L's undivided attention.