It hasn't been over a year since I updated! Thank goodness for small miracles, right?
As always, I owe all of my reviewers a huge thank you. Your reviews are incredibly inspiring and they keep me writing no matter how hectic RL gets. This chapter was possible because of your continued support and interest. So I'd really like to thank all my wonderful, considerate and patient reviewers: Agent 0r4ng3, yumeniai, Wolferunner123, Unknown Variable, Picas Lei-Fur, Shade O'Killer, shizukoyasu, Guest, Guest, Carottal, Tsume Yuki, Rainbowbubble, Tallulah Grammar Songstress, DeppleICk, Parrot Post, PunPunMatt, pardum, Aranella, DragonOfRuby, Mahlerman, yugiohfan12, safranbrod, Reight, SeraphimXII, RavenRemyRiddle, Tigrislupa, Mamita, Nonimus, Roith and Lorette, blackstarsakura13, Matron, Oh Susanna, X, BlackQuill00, kains, Dorianimeyaoilover, suitsfan22, Zerone, Guest, and OppositesAttract.
Also, this chapter would not be nearly so grammatically correct without the help of my amazing beta: Tigrislupa!
As far as Matt knew, Saturday mornings were mythical creatures that he avoided at all costs. Waking up before two in the afternoon simply wasn't done. Consequently Matt was less than pleased about the infernal knocking interrupting his beauty sleep at…
With a sigh, he turned his head and blinked groggily at the living room clock. Nine o'clock. Who the hell was up at nine o'clock on a Saturday?
No, no. Matt knew the answer to that question. L's little minions were always up at obscene hours, probably so that the Detective himself didn't have to be. Well, the bastards could continue banging on the door like imbeciles; Matt was not getting up. They had their own keys, didn't they? If they wanted in, they'd have to do it themselves.
He turned his head away from the clock and buried his face into the space between the couch cushions. He closed his eyes and willed himself to go back to sleep. Seconds passed, then minutes. It felt like an eternity had gone by, but he was still wide awake. Matt suspected it had something to do with the persistent knocking.
Covering his ears with his hands, Matt sleepily regretted his decision to fall asleep on the couch instead of in his bedroom. His bedroom was at least a bit father from the fucking door and the fucking fucker who was banging on it.
Unable to stand it anymore, Matt lurched up into a sitting position, got up and marched across the room.
Well, he attempted to march.
More accurately, he stumbled over the piles of books, wires, and computer parts littering his floor and nearly flew headlong into the door of his apartment.
Scowling furiously, Matt unlocked the door and yanked it open.
"What the fuck do you–" He froze, his mouth hanging open in shock.
He hadn't expected this. Hadn't even considered it a possibility.
Standing on his doorstep was not one of his L-assigned keepers. No. That would be too easy.
"How do you, no, never mind. I know how. What are you doing here, Yagami?" Matt asked flatly.
Yagami smiled pleasantly at him, as though he didn't hear the annoyance in Matt's voice. "I didn't know your eyes were green."
Matt frowned at the non sequitur. "What?"
"You're not wearing your goggles," Yagami said helpfully.
It was true. His goggles were hanging around his neck. He had hung them there for safekeeping just before he fell asleep last night. Matt roughly pulled them back over his eyes and glared at Yagami through the tinted lenses. "Yagami-kun, what are you doing here?"
"I'm not allowed to visit my friends?"
There were so many things Matt could say to that. He opened his mouth. Closed it. Narrowed his eyes. "It's too early for this. Go away," he said finally, slamming the door shut.
He turned away from the door but had barely taken a step when the knocking began again.
Twitching slightly, Matt whirled around and jerked the door open. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" he demanded.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Greene-kun," Yagami said innocently.
"You can't just show up unannounced at obscene hours of the morning and pretend like it's perfectly acceptable behavior."
"I thought you liked to eschew acceptable behavior."
"No," Matt snapped. "It's socially acceptable behavior that I find dubious. I do, however, have personal standards of decency. If I ruled the world you'd be shot for being so fucking chipper at this time of day."
"At nine thirty in the morning?" The bastard was laughing at him.
"Yes," he snarled.
A faint smirk tugged at the corner of Yagami's lips. "A terrifying thought. Nothing would ever get done."
"Of course not, that time would be made up later – " Matt cut himself off. "I know what you're doing," he said instead.
His words were met with a confused blink and a bemused, "I'm sorry?"
Curse the bastard's acting ability. It was still too early for this. "You're trying to trick me. It's not going to work."
"It isn't?" Yagami tilted his head to the side inquiringly.
"No. You are not going to suck me into this conversation so that I mindlessly invite you in."
"Oh. Was that my plan?"
Matt really wanted to hit that stupid smiling face. But that would be admitting defeat. "Don't pretend it wasn't."
His glare was met with a careless shrug. "Don't pretend it hasn't worked. Could you honestly fall back asleep now?"
Matt scowled. "Yes," he insisted stubbornly.
Yagami raised an eyebrow at him.
"I hate you."
"Since you're lying so much more than usual today, I suppose I'll take that as a complement."
Matt twitched. It was far too early for this shit. Someone must hate him. "Why are you here, again?"
"I wanted to see you." The bastard had no right looking so earnest.
"You see me five days a week. Surely you're sick of me," Matt deadpanned.
"Impossible. How could I be sick of your radiant countenance?"
"Right. It's too early for this. Remind me why I'm not shutting the door in your face?"
"Because that would be rude?"
Green eyes rolled behind tinted lenses. "Try again."
Yagami smirked. "Because you're awake now and you're curious about my motives."
That was true enough. Matt said nothing.
"Which is why you should invite me in."
"I think your logical progression is missing a crucial middle step there."
"My logic is flawless," Yagami informed him loftily.
"You're full of shit."
"You wound me, Greene-kun, you really do. We're friends, aren't we?"
"I thought so," Matt said grumpily. "I'm reconsidering my judgment. Friends don't wake friends up on Saturday mornings."
Yagami put his hands on his hips and gave Matt an amused look. "Aren't you being a little melodramatic?"
"Probably. It's hard to say. Lack of sleep has clouded my executive functioning ability," he snarked. "You should be careful; I might slip and strangle you by accident." He wasn't actually joking.
Yagami had the nerve to laugh. It was less rusty sounding than it had been when they first met. On a normal day, Matt might be pleased by the change. Not today.
"Death threats aren't funny," Matt snapped.
"Of course not," Yagami said. But the jerk's eyes were still dancing. How infuriating.
"Liar. You're still laughing."
"Wherever would you get that idea?"
Matt grabbed the door handle and tried to shut the door once more. Unfortunately, Yagami's foot was in the way. "Move."
Scowling at his unwanted visitor through the crack in the door, Matt wondered if he should try breaking Yagami's foot. Or maybe his hand. Both hands, actually. That way Yagmai couldn't keep knocking.
Yagami smiled back at him and said nothing, as though hoping he could outlast Matt's patience. A ridiculous idea, of course. Matt was infinitely more patient than Light Yagami could ever hope to be. The redhead leaned against the door frame, watching his uninvited visitor through the doorway and waited.
"Will you invite me in now?" Yagami finally asked.
Matt opened his mouth to refuse but reconsidered. Despite his own insistence he really was beginning to wake up, and that meant he could no longer ignore the factors underlying this little intrusion. Yagami had been acting strange all week, after all. The chances of this visit being related to that behavior were extremely high. As much as he hated to sacrifice his best sleep of the week for anything, he had to admit that finding out what was wrong with his…friend might be worth it. Besides, Yagami was, in fact, stubborn enough to sit on Matt's porch all day drawing unwanted attention from L and his minions. That was not something Matt wanted to deal with.
He sighed. "Fine." Matt pulled the door open all the way and stepped to the side to let Yagami through. "Welcome to my humble abode," he said.
Cautiously, as though he was expecting something terrible, Yagami stepped inside.
Matt closed the door behind his guest and turned to follow. He promptly ran into Yagami's unmoving form.
Matt was way too tired to deal with this sort of thing. "What kind of person stops in the middle of the entryway? You're supposed to be the polite one, aren't – "
"You live here?" Yagami asked incredulously. The question cut through Matt's rant like a knife.
"Obviously," Matt muttered, his brow furrowing in confusion. He edged around Yagami and tried to figure out what had the elder acting even stranger than usual. Glancing over the tangles of wires and electronics and the monstrous piles of books in the living room, he failed to see what was so shocking.
The teen leaned down and picked up one of the many textbooks littering the floor. He opened the book and flipped idly through the pages. "The math we're learning in school must be pretty boring for you if you're reading advanced theoretical textbooks like this in your spare time," Yagami noted, closing the book and holding it out for Matt to see.
Matt blinked at the Real Analysis (1) textbook in front of him. That stupid thing had already been the bane of his existence; this was just the icing on the cake. He smiled awkwardly and snatched the book from Yagami's hands. "It's ah, just a bit of light reading," he tried to explain, realizing how stupid he sounded even as said it.
But Yagami acted as though he hadn't heard a word Matt said. The teen pursed his lips and turned his gaze back over the room. He glanced over the spotless kitchenette before settling his scrutiny on the hallway leading to the rest of Matt's apartment. "Where's your room?" Yagami asked in an annoyingly fake innocent tone.
Matt considered being difficult since Yagami suddenly felt the need for pretense, but figured that at this point he might as well play a proper host. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, before maneuvering around his unwanted guest. He offered Yagami a baleful look before leading the teen deeper into the apartment, skillfully picking his way over the odds and ends littering the living room.
"Bathroom." Matt gestured at the room as they passed it.
Yagami paused to peek inside before following Matt to the room still marked with Matt's name in garishly vibrant letters that would not come off despite Matt's best efforts.
"It's not terribly exciting," he said as he pushed open the door.
The look on Yagami's face as he slipped in past Matt showed he clearly disagreed with Matt's assertion.
The room was as small and simple as ever and just as overflowing with technology and books as the living room. The bed was half made with plain white sheets and a generic blue-gray comforter. The only personal things in the room were his pictures and other mementos of Mello and Wammy's House. However, those were hidden carefully amongst his possessions, out of sight but never out of mind. He had no doubt that L's minions could find them if they really wanted to take them, but it made him feel better to know that they certainly would not have an easy time of it.
"Are you done?" Matt asked after several minutes of watching Yagami silently dissect his room.
The teen blinked and offered him a strange smile. "Ah, yes. I like it. It's very…you."
Matt snorted. "Polite as always. I won't be offended if my organization methods make you twitchy."
"I detect no method to this madness."
"You wouldn't, nor would anyone else, but I know where everything is in this apartment and that's the way I like it."
Yagami's smile became less strange. "Of course you do."
"Do you want something to eat?" Matt asked for lack of anything else to say.
"That would be nice."
The two made their way out of the room, and Matt headed for the kitchen.
"Whose room is that?"
Matt turned back and saw that Yagami was not following him. He was looking at the third door in the cramped hallway.
"Oh, that." His still slightly groggy mind fumbled for an answer. "That's my… ah, guardian's room."
"I thought you were staying with a host family."
Matt blinked in surprise. "I am," he said after a beat. What was with all these weird questions?
"Is he…or she here?"
"Um, not at the moment." Not ever. L's minions rarely bothered to stay the night. The room was completely bare.
…And that was probably not normal, Matt realized belatedly. "He'll be in later," he added. That was normal, right? Guardians checked in…no. They stayed, guarded their charges, err, children. Maybe? Shit. Should have read the damn briefing. Fuck. Well, at least he was finally awake. Time for a much needed distraction. "Anyway, how about that breakfast? I've got two kinds of cereal," he said with forced cheerfulness. He was 87% sure that the milk was still good, but if it wasn't Yagami would be too sick with food poisoning to notice anything odd.
Yagami rocked forward onto the balls of his feet, as though he was going to ignore Matt's invitation. But then the teen settled back onto his heels, and after another moment, turned to look at Matt. Under those searching eyes, Matt's hands twitched for a game to hide behind.
"What?" Matt said, his voice admirably steady given the circumstances. He had no idea what L would do if Matt's cover was broken. Not that it was broken. Not yet. But Yagami wasn't stupid. What if L got nervous and decided that relocating him again was what it would take to get Matt to dance on the party line?
Matt's breath caught in his throat. Fuck. Fucking Hell. He hadn't even thought about that. After everything that had happened – starting over. Again. Shit. Shit. That was not something Matt wanted to think about. That couldn't happen. He was – He didn't want to leave. Not now. Not unless he would be going home. And that was about as likely as –
"…eene-kun? Greene-kun? Matt?" Light's voice was very loud and very close.
Matt opened his eyes. He hadn't realized that he had closed them. Yagami was standing very close to him. Matt took a step back.
"Are you all right?" Yagami asked. "Do you need anything? Should I call someone?"
"I – I'm fine. It's – " Matt took a deep breath and let it out slowly. The wave of rising panic was subdued for the moment, but he could feel it lurking just out of reach, waiting to rush back in and swallow him whole. He shook his head and ran his hands through his hair. He couldn't worry about that right now. Not with Yagami here and paying far too much attention to everything around him. "Don't worry about it."
Yagami opened his mouth, then closed it and shook his head slightly. With strangely deliberate slowness he reached out and placed his hand on Matt's arm.
Matt blinked down at the offending appendage in confusion. "Why are you touching me?"
Yagami ignored the question. "Cereal sounds wonderful right now," he said instead. The teen gave Matt a too thin smile and began guiding the younger boy in the direction of the kitchen.
Rather than arguing, Matt let himself be led to one of the barstools in front of the kitchen counter. Food sounded like a good distraction, even if he wasn't particularly hungry.
He watched silently as Yagami cleared away the piles of books Matt had left on the counter, reluctantly stacking them on the floor against the wall for lack of anywhere else to put them. Then Yagami went into the tiny kitchen and began riffling through the cabinets. Matt considered pointing out that Yagami has started looking on the wrong side of the kitchen, but didn't. The kitchen wasn't that big and Yagami would figure it out eventually. In the meantime Matt could just sit and not think. Yes. That was a really nice idea.
Eventually Yagami found two bowls, two spoons, the milk and a box of cereal. "You heard that the Homeland Security Act was signed into law in the United States, right?" Yagami asked as he began pouring cereal into the bowls.
Matt glanced up from the countertop and gave the teen a blank look at the bizarre non sequitur.
Yagami shook his head and smiled faintly. "You should keep up on these things. It's your home, isn't it? In any case, it's all over the international news."
"I guess," Matt said noncommittally as he tried to figure out what Yagami was doing.
"Don't act so excited. I thought you'd be concerned about the infringement on your privacy." Yagami poured the milk into the bowls.
Oh. That's what this was. Yagami was making…not small talk, not really. But what passed for it between them. Impersonal, but slightly interesting…and properly distracting for all involved. Matt could go with that.
"Eh. They can't be everywhere," Matt said, letting himself be drawn into the conversation. "And when it comes to cyber security, the internet is not exactly something they can easily regulate. Not for a long time at least. Anyway, after what happened last year, this was bound to happen, wasn't it?"
Yagami shrugged. "Things are tense. The UN Security Council might even stop blustering and actually do something about Iraq." He handed one of the bowls to Matt.
"You say that like the UN actually does anything to begin with," Matt pointed out as he took the bowl. He felt calmer now. Talking about something so far away from himself and his problems was surprisingly soothing. "Do you really think they even have those weapons?"
"Well, the U.S. can do something, and your president is certainly trying to build a case." Yagami sat down on the other barstool, the second bowl in hand.
Matt resisted the urge to mutter, 'He's not my president.' That would not help in the slightest. "Like I said, after what happened last year I wouldn't be surprised by anything. The last time anyone was stupid enough to attack any part of the United States – " He faltered, realizing belatedly that he was potentially treading on painful ground.
"Yes, we all know what happens when you poke the sleeping dragon," Yagami said wryly. "And considering the difference between an attack on a military base and a bunch of helpless civilians, I'd say you're probably right not to be surprised."
Matt grimaced. He didn't know why he was suddenly bothered by this, but he was. Yagami seemed fine, but the guy was good at lying. Matt could usually tell, but…Matt found himself wishing that he hadn't brought it up in the first place.
Yagami raised an eyebrow at Matt.
Matt said nothing. Yagami frowned thoughtfully for a few moments before his eyes widened. Yagami snorted. "Come on, it's not like you to suddenly develop a sense of tact, Greene-kun. I don't mind talking about it."
"Maybe I do," Matt said reluctantly.
"Why? I don't mind. My country was not a helpless victim and yours was not the sole, dominating aggressor. To think otherwise is the height of arrogance. It was a bloody, inhuman massacre on both sides. Our loss doesn't erase what we did, not to your people or…others."
"Doesn't it bother you at all?"
"The entire thing disgusts me. Humanity disgusts me. But it's no better or worse than anything else. The world is full of terrible things."
Matt didn't know why, but Light's insistence on being objective was suddenly infuriating. "I'm not talking about the world. I'm talking about you. Your family - "
Yagami's brow furrowed. "A few distant relatives I've never met and that I know little about died in the war, that's true. Some of them were soldiers, some of them weren't. I'm sure you know all about it from reading up on my family. But that's hardly upsetting. It happened. It happened ages ago. It can't hurt me. And not talking about it only courts the danger of forgetting the lessons such things are meant to teach us."
"I didn't realize that nuclear strikes were such a rich source of education," Matt snapped.
"Yes, you did. What's wrong with you?"
What right did Yagami have to be irritated with him? That was unfair, especially after all the shit the bastard had been pulling lately. "Forgive me for being concerned," he snapped.
Yagami scowled, but then shook his head. He took a deep breath and then said slowly, "How can I, when you can't seem to forgive me the same?"
Matt considered that cryptic statement. "For some reason I don't think we're talking about the war in the Pacific anymore," he said finally.
"How perceptive of you." Yagami gave him an unreadable look and then began eating his cereal.
Enigmatic bastard. What right did he have to derail a perfectly good conversation and remind Matt that Yagami had been acting strange all week and was now in Matt's apartment eating Matt's food and poking his nose into things he had no business noticing? None. He had no right. But if Matt pointed that out he'd be admitting to…something. At this point Matt wasn't even sure what that something was, but it would definitely be enough for Yagami to work with. What a mess.
Matt sighed and began eating his now slightly soggy cereal. "Sorry this is all I have," he said between bites. "I know it's not really traditional fare over here." There, that would hopefully diffuse the situation for the moment. If Yagami was going to start asking difficult questions, which he clearly wanted to do, this was certainly not the place to have that discussion. Matt was pretty sure there were no bugs in the apartment. He had done a sweep recently. Still, better to be safe than sorry.
"Well, it's not particularly healthy, but it won't kill me." Yagami kindly took up the preferred thread of conversation. "Have you even had a traditional Japanese breakfast since you got here?"
"Nope. Haven't had the chance."
"We'll have to fix that."
"Of course. Remind me to have you over for breakfast one day."
Matt almost froze with his spoon half way to his mouth. He forced himself to finish the motion and took his time chewing his bite of cereal. 'Over', as in to Yagami's home? Was Yagami really offering that? Why?
"R-really?" he said finally, once he could no longer pretend to be silent for the sake of politeness.
Yagami nodded. "You could use the nutrition."
Matt frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means you clearly don't eat enough."
"I eat plenty."
Yagami snorted and pushed away his empty bowl. "Of course, Greene-kun."
"Hey – " Matt began, but Yagami interrupted.
"Regardless. I would be honored to have you visit my home."
"Well, if you'd be honored, how can I possibly say no?"
Yagami just looked at him.
Matt sighed. "Fine, fine. You're like a dog with a fucking bone, you know that?"
"I'm trying to decide if I should be insulted."
"I agree with you and now you're insulted? Way to be difficult, Yagami-kun."
"I'm being difficult?"
Matt picked up his mostly empty bowl and drank down the leftover milk. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt. "Well, yeah. But it's okay. That's your usual state of being."
"Now I'm convinced I should be insulted," Yagami said, but he was smiling a crooked sort of half-smile.
"Boo-hoo. Come on, I want a rematch."
The teen perked up. "Tennis?"
"No, shuffle board. What do you think?"
Yagami ignored Matt's sarcastic barb. "I know a club we can play at; I used to play on the same team as the owner's son."
"Great. Let's go," Matt said getting to his feet. He glanced around the room looking for his shoes.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Yagami asked bemusedly.
"Huh?" Matt turned back to Yagami. The teen smirked and gestured at Matt's clothing.
Matt looked down at himself. It took far too long for his brain to register what Light was getting at. He was still wearing yesterday's clothes. Ah, well. They weren't that dirty. It was fine. He went back to looking for his shoes.
"Greene-kun, what are you doing?"
"Looking for my shoes. Obviously."
"Go take a shower and get changed, Greene-kun."
"Who died and made you my mother, Yagami-kun?"
Yagami grimaced. "I am not going anywhere with you until you're presentable."
Matt stared. "We're just going to get sweaty while we play. What the fuck does it matter?"
"It's…You…decency – "
"What has decency ever done for me?" Matt slumped against the counter.
"Then we can stay here all day."
That was not an option. "Really, Yagami?" Matt demanded. "I thought you were above this sort of thing."
"And I thought you could handle being in public. Clearly I was wrong."
Matt scowled. "Fine. Whatever. Neat Freak. You win. I'll go wash up. Try not to burn the place down. And don't touch anything." With that Matt stomped over to his room, threw open the door, grabbed some mostly clean clothes, and stomped over to the bathroom. He slammed the door behind himself and locked it. What a day this was turning out to be.
(1) Real Analysis is basically a high-level mathematics course on the theory behind calculus among other things.
I did not plan the discussion of World War II in the Pacific Theater. It just happened as a natural consequence of using the Homeland Security Act as a time stamp. Matt and Light insisted. I did my best to handle it well. But it's very possible that I failed in that. If so I apologize. It is true that most Japanese young people know very little about the atrocities committed by Japan during that war. From what I understand, this is because of what they're taught or not taught in school. Light did some extra-curricular studying which is why he has a somewhat more educated and nuanced view of things. And, well, it's completely consistent with his typical disgust at humanity for being rotten to the core.
Anyway, how was the chapter? What does Light think he's doing? How is Matt going to cover the gaping holes in his cover story? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Constructive criticism is always appreciated. Hearing from all of you always brightens my day and reminds me why I write!