L likes apples, but occasionally he has his fill.
The only area where the lines of logic can't penetrate is the realm of the personal, and for L, that haven doesn't exist. L has no name because L is not a person, L is the arm of the law when the law itself fails, a force of nature as merciless and unstoppable as a tropical rainstorm, sometimes called justice, sometimes sanctimony, differing definitions but identical results, just as typhoons and hurricanes are determined only by the part of the map in which they occur.
In his own way, he knows, he's as pompous as Kira. In his own way, he is Kira, minus the Messiah complex; it's partly that pride and pomposity that form his hunch that Yagami Raito is Kira, because Raito is almost as clever as he is, Kira is almost as clever as he is, and the chance of finding two such people connected to one case when up till now he has yet to meet any is so close to infinitesimal that he's almost tempted to believe it can happen. From one point of view the Kira case is the hardest he's ever taken, but from others it's the easiest, because he's never had to make so few allowances when trying to think like his prey, never been so exhileratingly involved in the chase. A worthy foe, a worthy fight, a job worthy of a craftsman's pride reaching its conclusion. Everything sliding into place with a pleasurable thrill.
The day they detain Amane Misa, he looks up the weather in Copenhagen and begins to pack his bags.
And then, without warning, it falls apart like an agitated witness: quickly, painfully, conclusively. Through the camera he sees Raito's eyes widen, Raito's body language turn from indifferent to defensive, and everything changes.
Raito must be Kira. Raito can't be Kira. Raito can be Kira, Raito is Kira, he's still convinced, but the conundrum is that suddenly, overnight, Raito stops acting like Kira. L pores over cases of schizophrenia, he tests and baits Raito at every turn, and the only determination he can come to is that it doesn't make sense, the rules that have served him faithfully over the years are incapable of encompassing the present situation, and it doesn't make sense.
Raito has officer Matsuda bring and hand in his homework for him, and seems surprised when L doesn't follow to do the same.
"The only reason I entered that school was to meet with you," says L, scrolling down through the latest deaths -- drowning, traffic accident, that sounds hopeful, arson -- noting in passing how those words might be taken by an uninformed third party. Misa's accusations are unfounded but perhaps not entirely without basis. "It's served its purpose."
"Wow," Raito murmurs after a pause. "Are we sure that you're not Kira? Your heads must be about the same size." Then he smiles, a flash of perfect dental miracles that's an invitation to join in.
Raito is treating him like a classmate, like Ryuuga Hideki who'd stepped onto the stage with him as freshman representative: a bit of ribbing, good-natured rivalry, more relaxed than he'd been when they were classmates. What's ironic is that this isn't the way Raito treats his actual peers, whom he fobs off with polite distance and unspoken but acknowledged superiority. It isn't anything L has experience with, either; it's like Raito is using some dramatized version of friendship he picked up on TV as a script.
What's even more ironic is how easy it is to slip into the illusion.
He thinks, /I bow to your superior knowledge of swelled heads/, finds it on the tip of his tongue, and swallows it before it can wriggle out. He's never talked to anyone like that in his life -- there are other reasons people find him unbearable.
He says, "It isn't impossible. If Kira is capable of controlling people to execute his killing, he could just as well be controlling me as you. Fortunately it's improbable for either of us to be Kira at the present time unless we're in collusion, which is even less likely."
Raito tilts his head. He seems younger these days, more vulnerable, defenseless, so much that it's almost too exaggerated to be in act. "Less likely? If we were in collusion, wouldn't you be one of the two people to know about it?"
"In ordinary situations, yes. This is not an ordinary situation." This is a situation he doesn't understand, and that isn't ordinary at all. "It's important not to treat it as one."
Misa-chan would have said, /You're no fun/. The police, Raito's father, would have nodded and agreed, deferred to his judgement.
Raito's smile is a bit crooked, a bit knowing, the tip of the head from one professional to another. "Of course," he says, and he isn't just pretending to reach the same conclusion himself.
L wonders what the world looks like from behind that smile. He wonders if, looking from opposite sides of a mirror, they see the same thing.
Gods of Death only eat apples. He writes it down on a slip of paper and stares at it in bed, lifting it between the light and himself. It's an anagram within an anagram, one of those boxes that hold boxes that hold boxes, ad infinitum, until the final box is either empty or welded shut.
"What do you think, Raito-kun?" He doesn't turn his head to ask.
To the right, Raito makes a politely irritated noise. "I think that you should leave your work outside the bedroom." The shift of blankets, a soft rustle that's probably Raito turning on his side, away from L. "And that it's probably Kira's idea of a joke."
"The second Kira confirmed that there's some meaning to the term 'God of Death'." He remembers Raito's partially masked reaction to that revelation, knows now as he knew then that he's on to something. "You suggested that it might be a code word related to their supernatural killing powers."
"I did," says Raito. There's no hitch of breath, no change in inflection, but L feels the uncertainty like a tangible thing.
"You remember that, don't you?"
"Don't you think I remember my own actions?" Raito gives his wrist a savage twitch, and the chain tinkles on the bedspread. They could make money like this as street musicians -- L wisely keeps that thought to himself.
The strange thing is, he hadn't believed the memory loss at all when Raito came into the station demanding to be imprisoned, but now he's fighting down an equally strong conviction that it's true. Raito is a glorious bundle of contradictions, put on this world, he thinks, especially to make trouble for him.
L doesn't get overly attached to his theories, but this one is different; this one can't be wrong. It's like inserting a key into a lock, turning it to a satisfying /click/, and then realizing, blankly, that the door /still won't open/.
"I'm going to open you if I have to break you down," he announces, matter-of-fact, and lays the paper aside to switch off the light.
Another shift of the mattress that's Raito flipping over again, and then there are hands on his cheeks, smooth upper-crust palms, turning his head swiftly, ungently so that they're face-to-face, and for a second he hears a voice whispering --
now, yes, now, in this period of uncertainty you've bought for both of us, just for now this can happen, this is the only chance
-- while Raito's eyes are very bright even in darkness, and the smiles have fallen away.
"I will watch you fail," says Raito, enunciating each syllable with clarity and precision -- you don't fudge the wording on ultimatums -- then releases him, rolls back towards his own side of the bed while the chain chimes accompaniment. Sulks in silence.
/But I never do/, thinks L, counting Raito's breaths, as they wait together for Raito to fall asleep.
"What is this?" says Misa, staring at the dining table, which is laden with apple beet salad, apple fennel soup, apple salsa frittatas, a big steaming apple pie currently holding the position of centerpiece, and apple slices arranged prettily on side plates, like a fruit-lover's theme party.
"A fare fit for the gods -- of Death, at any rate." Raito seems to have regained his sense of humor overnight and leans over to swipe a spoonful of salad, devouring it cheerfully. "Delicious. My compliments to the chef."
For Misa, that's the same as a heaveny decree in itself. "Oh, well, if Raito-kun says so..." She ladles a portion of soup into her bowl with the martyred air of one sacrificing herself for love. Her ponytails bob up and down, and a small wrinkle dappears above her nose as she scrunches it up to take a sip. L studies her until she sticks her tongue out at him; Raito's behavior is confusing, but this girl, despite her predictability, is in some ways more difficult to comprehend.
"What brought this on?" says Raito later, once they're all seated and digging in. "You don't expect an over-consumption of apples to produce mysterious ninja killing powers, do you?"
"You'd be surprised," he murmurs, and bites into the thick crust of the pie, unmindful of the golden filling dripping in sticky trails over his fingers. He licks them clean afterwards. Misa frowns over his lack of table manners and Raito looks faintly disapproving as well, one step away from handing L a napkin.
The beloved of the gods have no use for indecorum, no empathy for the beasts of the world. At times like these they resemble each other unflatteringly. It makes L want to lean over the table, drag his fingertips over their cheeks, tar their wings, pull them down to earth where there are laws that nobody is beyond.
Instead, he continues, "As it happens, though, I just like apples."
Raito snorts. "You're as bad as -- " a slight hitch here, barely perceptible pause before he continues smoothly " -- my sister. She gobbles them down like anything."
"Chief Yagami did mention apples disappearing at a ferocious rate from your home." Since Kira started acting, he doesn't have to add, nor the fact that Yagami Sayu has a fondness for tomatoes, pasta and chocolate but not, to anyone's knowledge, apples. It's the kind of crude lie that Kira is beyond telling.
"Just like you not to care about anyone else's feelings." Misa tosses her head. "You big meanie! When this is over, Misa will sue you and make you eat an entire refrigerator of apples, see how you like /that/."
Apples are poison, temptation, the kind of knowledge you can't rid yourself of even if it bars you from paradise, and L's never turned one down. Why is the sky blue, what makes flowers grow, how did those jewels disappear, that man die? One mystery after another that he can't keep from poking his fingers into, can't keep from prying apart, because this is what he shares with Kira, a wanton flouting of every boundary there is, even the ones that hurt to cross.
Raito catches his eye from across the table, and there's an artful cast to the angle of his lashes, nothing obvious, the barest minimum of expression to convey a sense of sorry 'bout that, what can you do about these girls, eh?
He's a beautiful mess of unanswered questions, but sometimes L is reminded that he's beautiful in other ways as well, and each time it's like a pebble that he stumbles over before catching himself.
L looks back at his half-full plate. He considers it for a moment, then pushes it back and unfolds himself, wanders off. Behind him, Misa starts on another round of unflattering epithets while Raito murmurs, "Hush, hush," a largely unsuccessful attempt, harmonious bickering. Two people that don't make sense, but sooner or later they will, as everything does, because L never fails.
For now, though, he's tired of apples. Just for now.