Title: Beyond The Note: Midnight at the Lost and Found
Fandom: Death Note
Pairing: N/A, Naomi and L centric
Word Count: 2008
Spoilers: Full series, small little spoiler for Another Note
Warnings: Depressing and deals with potentially sensitive subject matter.
Summary: Naomi Misora's life had become something dull, empty and meaningless. She couldn't let go of what had happened all those years ago, when the Kira Case first came to light. It consumed her. She didn't realize that tonight, everything was about to change.
She hadn’t even known she was pregnant until she lost the baby.
She’d already been in America by then. She hardly remembered getting there. She only remembered her moment of cowardice. She had come face to face with Kira - he had confessed to her - and she had been able to do nothing. She could only turn and walk away in shock, her heart gripped with a fear she’d never known possible.
She’d failed. She’d sworn to avenge Raye, and she hadn’t been able to. She hadn’t even been able to…
She’d cried for weeks and hadn’t even understood why. Hormones, the doctors told her. It would pass. She hadn’t thought it would. She was stronger than that, better than that. She hadn’t even wanted children anyway. But losing that thing she hadn’t even been aware of had been like losing Raye all over again.
It didn’t matter. None of it mattered anymore. That life was over, and she’d done her best to forge a new one. She’d changed her name, she’d moved to New York, she’d taken a job writing for a small newspaper. Life and time went on. Even under the threat of Kira, life had gone on.
But Kira was gone now. No one knew the details, but Kira was gone and the world was slowly getting back to normal. She kept her engagement ring on a chain around her neck and she wrote her stories and she hardly slept and life went on.
Friday nights found her in a little all night diner, drinking cup after cup of black coffee and staring blankly down at a notebook. She never wrote anything, but she told herself she was working.
She just couldn’t handle seven nights a week alone in her small apartment, listening to the TV drone and climbing into an empty bed. She needed one night a week away from it all. But she couldn’t stand other people. At least in the diner she was out and could tell herself she was among people without having to interact with them.
She was on her sixth cup of coffee. The diner was practically empty - it was just past midnight. Naomi could hear rain hitting against the glass windows. Late fall rain, making the street a freezing hell.
Just another miserable Friday night in the big city.
Another hour and Naomi supposed she’d brave the cold and wet and head down to the bus stop. If it had stopped raining by then, maybe she’d walk. Anything to keep her out of that empty apartment until morning.
Her coffee cup was empty. Naomi signaled for a refund and slid off her stool. Damn smoking ban. She had to go out in the rain for a cigarette. She slipped out the door and stood under a streetlamp, sheltering her lighter with her hand. She hunched over it, coaxing a flame. She was dimly aware of someone passing by her and entering the diner behind her.
Another miserable insomniac, most likely. Or a crackhead, or a cop. New York nights brought out all kinds.
She smoked her cigarette in the cold rain, huddled in her black leather jacket and thinking of the cup of hot coffee waiting for her back in the diner. She finished the cigarette and snuffed it under the heel of her boot.
When she re-entered the diner, Naomi was surprised to see the seat next to hers was occupied. She paused in the doorway, a memory stirring but not quite surfacing. Shaking her head and dismissing her odd feelings as a lack of sleep, she took her seat.
“Ah. Naomi-san. It‘s good to see you well.”
Naomi froze, staring straight ahead. No one had used that name for over seven years. No one knew that name. She’d made sure of that. And yet…
Now the memory surfaced. Los Angeles, 2002. The subway. She’d seen him there. He’d tried to attack her….
It was him, there was no mistaking it. He looked almost exactly the same, though that had been almost ten years ago. The same messy black hair, the same raccoon rimmed eyes, the same white shirt and loose jeans and ratty sneakers without socks. She stared in mute horror at him, and he looked back with a bland and curious expression. There was nothing threatening in his demeanor, and yet….
A slice of pie was set before him.
“Is the pie here good?”
“I… I don’t know.” Naomi blinked. What was going on? “And my name is Noriko.”
“Is it?” He titled his head. What was he doing here? Who was he? How did he know her name?
“Who are you?”
“You don’t remember me? I’m sad.” He cut into his pie, holding his fork awkwardly between his thumb and forefinger. “We worked together, once.”
“Of course I remember you, but…” What? They’d worked together? No, that didn’t make any sense. She’d worked with….
No. It couldn’t be. But what other explanation was there?
This was L? This was the world famous genius detective? A sallow skinned, scrawny kid who had once tried to hug her with all the tact and etiquette of a drunken monkey?
“We shouldn’t talk here.” he picked up his pie plate and hopped off the stool. Struck dumb, Naomi followed him to a booth in the back. The rain was beating steadily against the window now.
“Much better.” He was sitting funny. Crouched, hunched. She’d seen that posture before. The rest of the pieces were beginning to fall into place. She felt foolish for not realizing it then, in the subway.
Naomi fidgeted with her cup of coffee.
“I’m surprised to see you alive, Nori-san. You were reported missing in January of 2005. Shortly after your fiancé was murdered by Kira. They suspected you killed yourself. I knew you were too strong for that.”
Naomi looked down, an angry flush staining her cheeks. She didn’t know what to say. How could she admit what she’d done? That she had turned and run away when faced with the very criminal she’d vowed to apprehend?
“I left Japan,” she said, quietly. “I didn’t even go back to my hotel. I left everything.”
She just shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. You are…?”
“Call me Ryuzaki, please.”
“Ryuzaki. In the subway…”
“That was me. You have a very strong kick.”
She blushed again. God, how many times had she screwed up and not even realized it? She wanted to bury her face in her hands. For once, she wanted to be back in her miserable apartment.
“I’m sorry.” And she was. If only she’d known…. She supposed there was no worrying over it now. It was too late for regrets. Even in the face of L. She’d been so desperate to find him all those years ago. Now she half wanted to run from him.
“You quit the FBI.”
“You were a very good agent, Nori-san.”
“No, I wasn’t.” She didn’t want to elaborate. But a very good agent wouldn’t have run with her tail between her legs.
“You aren’t drinking your coffee.”
“I think I’ve had enough.” She pushed her cup away, feeling sick and strange. And under it, a bit thrilled. This was L, sitting across from her. He’d shown himself to her. Not once, but twice. For whatever reason, he felt her worthy of that unheard of honor.
She didn’t think she deserved it.
“You’re believed to be dead.”
“So am I.”
Naomi once again froze, staring at him blankly. “I don’t understand…”
“You don’t have to.” He scraped the pie filling off his plate. “But it’s best I stay out of Japan. It could cause… disruption.”
Naomi only nodded. Had he sought her out? Or was this coincidence? She didn’t dare ask. He hadn’t seemed surprised to see her, but…
“You shouldn’t be wasting your talents.”
“How do you know I’m wasting them?”
“You quit the FBI.” And that was his only answer. She looked away, out the window. She watched the rain in the glow of the streetlamp.
“I can’t go back to the FBI.”
“I know.” He rubbed at his bottom lip with his thumb. She could see his reflection in the window. “I would like you to work for me.”
“What?” Her head snapped in his direction. “No, I can’t. You don’t understand….”
“We worked well together before. And I…am in need of someone. You meet my requirements.” Now he was looking out the window as well, and Naomi thought there was a strange note in his voice. They sat in silence for a long time, her coffee growing cold and the rain falling steadily outside.
He wanted her to work for him. If he knew she’d let Kira get away, would he still want her? She doubted it. But she supposed she could see the logic. She’d seen him already. They were both, apparently, in the same position. Though how he could be assumed dead when L had never stopped investigating the Kira case….
The answer was obvious. Ryuzaki was believed to be dead. Whoever he needed to avoid must not have known he was L. She still didn’t understand, but she supposed that was to be expected. L was known for his secrets. And she had her own, after all.
“Have you decided?”
“It isn’t that easy.” Naomi rested her head on her hand. But wasn’t it? Life went on. Empty and meaningless and alone. She was being handed back her life - the life she’d had before Raye, before Kira. One sickly looking young man was offering her all she’d ever wanted and more. She could have her life back. A life back.
“Would you like a piece of pie? I’m going to have another.”
“No, thank you.” She shook her head. “And yes.”
He didn’t respond. He just signaled the waitress for another piece of pie. Naomi reached for her coffee cup and took a sip. It was cold. She didn’t care. She didn’t know quite what to think. Her mind was churning with a million thoughts, the only constant that it was nice to sit across from someone for once.
“Maybe I will have a piece of pie,“ she said, after a few moments. He pushed his plate to the middle and slid a spoon across the table to her. He was right. The pie was good.
They sat in the little booth early in the morning, sharing pie and watching the rain until the early commuters began to fill the sidewalks and the streetlights shut off. Ryuzaki paid the tab - for Naomi’s coffee as well - and slid off the booth with a yawn and a stretch.
“I’ll be in touch,” was all he said, before shuffling out and disappearing into the crowd. Naomi followed after a few moments, lighting up a cigarette as she headed down to the bus stop in the early morning mist.
It was the last lonely Friday night Naomi would spend in the little all night diner.