It really is.
"Can we move closer to the window?"
Hunched over a sheaf of papers he'd refused to share, L mumbled something under his breath. Brought the muffin in his hand closer for a bite.
Insensible bastard. Raito gave the chain around his wrist a brief, sharp tug, and the muffin jerked out of range just as L's teeth clamped down.
"I would like," he repeated, "to sit by the window."
L's black-rimmed goblin eyes darted towards him, settled briefly like a butterfly catching breath on a long-distance flight, then slid back to the reports. "If you keep that up, I might have to conclude that you're attempting to hinder the investigation instead of giving the full cooperation you'd promised."
"And if you come to that conclusion, you're not fit to be in charge of the investigation." He gave the chain another pull, watched L eye the muffin as if considering it as a projectile missile. "Look, you confined me for weeks, sent me on a car ride to be threatened at gunpoint by my father, then brought me here and stripped away every chance of privacy. I don't think a bit of sunlight is too much to ask."
"I can see why you and Misa-chan get along so well," said L, poker-faced, before extending a leg to give his chair a push, rolling smoothly backwards with the air of granting concession to a fool.
Tempting to plant his feet and watch L sprawl to the ground, if it wouldn't neatly demolish any chance he had of achieving his objective short of a tug-of-war. He clenched his teeth, propelling his own chair after L before the chain could stretch taut, and they clattered off together.
L might have intended this building as a cross between a surveillance center and a holding cell, but the living quarters were fully and thoughtfully furnished, spacious without appearing empty. Ikea wonderland. The windows stretched almost fully up to the ceiling, and if all the blinds were opened could have turned the room into a conservatory.
Of course, that wasn't going to happen today. Raito commandeered a spot with good view of the street, while L folded back into a huddle, turned away from both Raito and the sun's glare.
Half an hour later. "I would have expected Raito-kun to prefer moonlight," said L
Raito, straddling the back of his chair with chin cushioned on his arms while his legs swung idly, nearly missed it. Beneath the tranquil glow of sunlight, he was beginning to drowse, alternating his view between the pedestrians outside and L's scraggly excuse for a neck almost dreamily. There were veins underneath that pasty skin, he thought, external jugular, internal jugular, vertebral; if he reached out now, they would throb against his fingertips.
Unlike the image of L tumbling on his ass, that idea held no especial attraction. Raito had always been able to learn just as well from a distance as close up; he preferred separation to contact, like Kira, who killed from a distance -- but no, that was a false analogy and a dangerous one. He wasn't Kira. The knowledge was as firmly rooted in his mind as Euclidean principles, and rejected his attempts to probe at it.
"Hmm?" Vocal buzz of vagueness.
"Yagami Raito. You'd be betraying your name if you favored the sun, wouldn't you? Personally, I find the moon much more congenial, and a less demanding companion."
"There's no such thing as moonlight." He swung a fraction to watch the occasional car streaking past, the almost painful brilliance of the white and shining streets. From here, no litter was visible, nor the wads of blackened gum that covered them like leeches. "Only the reflected sun."
"Hmm," said L, on a downwards fall rather than upwards lilt, and Raito knew that he'd just provided another tidbit to go into L's Yagami Raito suspect folder.
Token irritation aside, he found that he didn't mind overmuch. He'd be doing the same in L's place, after all; he was doing the same, probing Misa, one innocuous question after another, and if he stopped short of using her affection for him as a leash, he wasn't far off.
This inspired no guilt. Girls had always been fond of him, eager to help him out given the slightest encouragement, an even exchange, he thought, for treating them with the deference they demanded. His sister joked sometimes that even if he weren't so exceptionally outstanding in sports and academia, he'd still have a bright career as a gigolo ahead of him.
He shifted restlessly, ignoring the edges of the chair digging into his thighs. He wouldn't have any career ahead of him if he couldn't prove his innocence. For the first time, he was applying his mind to a problem that didn't willingly part at his touch like an unlocked treasure chest, and the sensation was -- unpleasant would be putting it mildly. He might even have sympathized with L's depression if it hadn't centered around his own identity as Kira, which he /wasn't/, of course, the very idea was ridiculous, because --
"Ow," he said.
"Is something wrong?" L's focus seemed to drop into the here and now for the first time in hours. His eyes swept Raito's face, peeling off the top layer of skin, and Raito remembered why most people didn't want L's full attention.
He shrugged off the feeling as inconstructive. "I think I'm developing a headache -- did you slip in any aspirin when packing for the seige?"
"Aspirin? -- oh, the pills. I don't know, I don't get sick. You could ask Misa-chan. I've heard that girls take them quite often for headaches and other bodily discomforts."
"So I've heard." His attention span for matters unrelated to the case expended, L returned to the papers on his lap; from this position, Raito could catch a glimpse of his own name, barely legible in L's loopy scrawl.
"You're a strange person, Ryuuzaki," he shifted again, pillowing his cheek on his arms, and closed his eyes. The sunlight stung through his lids, but he didn't mind that; he enjoyed the warmth. There was the rustle of paper, the creak of L's chair as he moved, faint clink of the chain. The almost imperceptible purr of air conditioning. If he tried, he could almost pretend that there was a door in the room connecting them to the outside world.
"I've heard that, too," was the last thing he heard before falling asleep.
It had been Father's compensation for being tied down at work so often. There were long periods when they didn't see him at all barring mealtimes, and then the customary trip to the zoo, walks stretching too long for short legs, ice cream he consumed as a ritualistic endeavor (Father believed that all humans age eight and under possessed a sweet tooth), uncomfortable heat. He never let on that he didn't care particularly for any of it. He could tell from Father's expression that he was expected to enjoy it all, divesting Father of his own burden of guilt, and Raito was a considerate child.
In the beginning his parents would point out animals and tell him the names; later their roles switched, as he started in on the Wonderful World of Nature series that was Father's birthday gift. He told them about population and food sources, breeding cycles and habitats. He didn't point out how the cages resembled the jails that represented Father's work, or that the people were of more interest than the animals, who often just looked bored; even then, his sense of what comprised suitable subjects for conversation was inordinately sensitive.
"I bet it would be more interesting," he said once, "if the animals were just let out to roam." He had a fuzzy image of petting them as they wandered around.
Mother giggled; she was proud of his intelligence, but even happier when he displayed signs of childish whimsy, and Raito had learned to curb his level of discourse around her. "Then the lions and tigers would eat everything up," she said.
Father chuckled too, with less enthusiasm. He was the one who'd taught Raito to watch his tongue in the first place, because Father took things Very Seriously.
"Couldn't the zoo just kill them off? It's not fair that they're ruining the fun for everyone else."
Sure enough, that brought out the Very Serious expression, which marked an end to the discussion. "The carnivores have a right to life just like everything else."
"Yes, father, I understand," and he did. He understood quite well how people might think that way. It was agreeing that was the problem.
He kept his true thoughts to himself, as a matter of course: that one only had a right if it didn't infringe upon the rights of others, that the gazelles had looked very soft to touch and he'd rather enjoy running his hand across their smooth fur, and that if he were a gazelle, trapped in that place for days and months and years on end, he'd find some way sooner or later to poison all the carnivores in their sleep so that he could roam free.
Light. Fried eggs with black yolks.
He woke to find L peering into his face curiously, and threw himself backwards with an expletive that made him hope, a second later, that his father wasn't in the camera room. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Peculiar." L didn't look either guilty or discomfited by his waking, simply intrigued. "You slept peacefully during all previous attempts at surveillance, both at home and in the cell, and yet, just now, you showed the signs of having a bad dream. Is that just owing to posture, I wonder?"
"I'm beginning to think that Misa's right about you." He frowned, tilting forwards before he fell completely off the chair; the momentum brought them crashing gently together before rebounding, like bumper cars; the chain stretched, pulled, tugged them close again. He planted his feet and began ticking off points. "First of all, everyone has nightmares now and then, and no one has them all the time. Second of all, it wasn't a bad dream -- I'd take it over our present reality any time. Most importantly, though, I wouldn't be surprised if you did summon nightmares with your presence, Mr. World's-Best-Investigator."
L frowned along with him, forehead creasing between non-existent eyebrows, and he shrugged off the uneasy sensation that they were mirroring each other. "Another anomaly. Your hostility towards me seems at odds with your usual mode of interaction."
He couldn't help crooking a quick, genuine smile at that. "Don't thank me too much, but here's a tip for you: I didn't become popular by accusing other people of being mass murderers."
"No," L granted this point generously. "You're popular because you're clever enough to know what other people want and skillful enough to assume it -- you're very talented, Raito-kun, which is precisely what is puzzling. I have no doubt you can put up a convincing front of goodwill to allay suspicions if you choose, so the question is, why don't you?"
Because I don't expend unnecessary effort, he surprised himself with the answer. Because I respect your intelligence that much. Because you're the first person I've met I can't lie to, and therefore the only person I don't have to lie to.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said for the sake of the continuously rolling cameras. "I try to treat everyone with sincerity."
"Hmm," said L again, and again there was the suggestion of a scribbled note. "Would Raito-kun care for a round of chess?"
Another test, unquestionably, placing the specimen under different conditions for study, but what did it matter? He had nothing to hide, no means of hiding, no walls to keep him from stretching his wings.
"I think I'd like that."
Chess turned out to be another kind of novelty, a revelation in itself. Go was his game of choice, but he'd played a bit of chess in high school, enough to be bored by it.
It was approaching midnight when he called a halt for sleep; they'd eaten dinner by the chess table, studying it between bites. Four rounds, 2 - 2, and the best mental exercise he'd gotten in -- a lifetime was probably pushing it, and he had an indistinct recollection of being posed greater challenges in the past, but the memories slipped away from examination.
"Continue tomorrow?" He rose, stretching, with a little shudder for the thrill of relieved muscles.
"The case takes precedence," said L, and even sounded slightly wistful.
"Will you be leaving Japan once Kira is dealt with?"
"Unless my next job occurs here as well." In other words, not likely. Raito found himself on the edges of a scowl. Impossible not to feel cheated; the door of the cage, once opened, wasn't so easily closed.
They moved down the hallway in tandem. It had been awkward at first, matching his steps to L's shuffling walk, but came almost naturally now.
"It might be nice to keep in touch, though, after the case is finished. Set up a game every now and then."
L didn't answer. Was thinking, probably, that the successful conclusion of the case might see Raito on the electric chair. Raito kicked, not gently, but not an attack, either.
"I'm not Kira," he said. "You don't have to believe me. You'll see."
L landed a fist on his shoulder. Exact equivalence of force. "Fine, then. If you aren't Kira, and aren't killed before the end."
"Same goes for you," he said, and grinned. Bars fell away, horizons stretched, the prospect of a future of something other than boredom presented itself appealingly.
He was happy.