Anecdotes from the Story of the Century

Oysters

In hindsight, she almost hasn't the faintest idea why she'd picked oysters in yet another foolhardy attempt to knock the great detective down a peg or two, and at the same time, get his gears grinding again. She doesn't even like them. Crab and lobster are acceptable, and sushi is okay (she'd have to be a total jerk to fly over to Japan and not like at least some of their sushi), but mollusks? Blech!

Actually, why hadn't she picked either of those sweet red meats, instead of this hideous arrangement of slimy pollution-colored bivalves set out in front of them, their shells open in a sort of challenging stance, daring her to slurp up at least one of them?

(This is what people call an appetizer?)

Then she remembers. If she hates oysters, the mere sight of the shellfish is bound to kill L, considering how all she's ever seen him eat is junk food. He thinks he can eat away his sorrows while Kira is free to do as he pleases. Not this time. She's going to spur him into action by torturing him where it'll hurt a lot, if not the most: his taste buds.

The fact that this'll be through a challenge, something that he can't possibly resist taking up? Doubly so.

Dining at a semi-formal restaurant in the first place had been Misa's idea, and giving Matsuda's jacket to L so that they'd be allowed inside had been…well, Matsuda's, but getting the oysters are hers. It comes to her in a flash when the waiter arrives to take their orders, and it's his turn to give the waiter his. No doubt that he'd ask for something diabetic, as usual. Not if she can help it.

She slams down her menu and blurts before she has the time to catch herself: "Haven't you heard that you can't eat your pudding if you don't eat your meat?"

If anyone has caught the obligatory pop culture reference, they don't make this evident. Not even L, who should since he lived in jolly old England for how many years (unless he spent that whole time under a rock, which sounds fairly plausible to her). At any rate, all eyes are on her, more attention than she'd been aiming for.

Oh, well. She's already thrown it out there, and it's too late to turn back.

Clearing her throat, she adds, "I'm just saying that if you want cake, Ryuzaki, you should earn it. I propose a challenge. You, me, and…"

Having skimmed over the menu prior to the waiter's showing up, it takes her about three seconds to come up with something hard to swallow: "…a fat plate of oysters! No salt, no sauces, and no sugar. Just pure, unadulterated mollusk."

She leans into L's direction, cups a hand around her mouth, and whispers, "Unless you're too chicken."

Matsuda goes bright red and chokes, probably because he's never heard anyone call Ryuzaki chicken before. Misa knits her eyebrows; all she wants is at least one date night to go completely right. Light's looking at them both funny, like they're about to do something mildly stupid, only to roll his eyes and sigh, "Fine, get what you want. Just be sure to eat whatever you order. We don't want to waste food."

She expects L to glare at her, quake in his dirty old sneakers, ask her how dare a nobody like her challenge him and call him chicken on top of it, anything that will give her confirmation that there's a ghost of human emotion lurking in her opponent. Light hasn't been the only one getting on his case about…well, the case. He's just more direct about it.

Instead, he just blinks and asks, "Can I still order dessert?"

Figures. If he didn't complain about wearing Matsu's jacket, he won't lash out at anything she can dish out. Not outwardly. "Order every dessert they've got, but you can't take a single bite unless you win the challenge. First one to ralph, or otherwise have the oysters back up through their mouth, before dessert is the loser. Bonus points if you can eat more than the other guy without losing any of it."

"I can keep score!" cheers Matsuda.

"Don't encourage them," says Light. "And Ryuzaki, you don't need to order every dessert. Just pick whichever one you were going to."

"Fine. I accept your conditions."

She rubs her palms together in anticipation. "Then it's on!" she declares, confident that the mere sight of the dish should have L's stomach lurching all the way out of the restaurant. Especially since they can't use any condiments. Where will he be without his precious sugar?

The waiter, tapping his notepad with the tip of his pen with thinning patience, says, "O…kay, I'll put you down for the medium plate."

"Oh yeah. And neither of us can leave the table until one of us loses. So no bathroom breaks. That shouldn't be a problem for you."

So now here they are. Ryuzaki's peeling his first mussel out of the shell in his trademark two-finger pinch, while she's sitting there wishing she'd just kept her piehole shut. If only she could put a little sauce on these; maybe then they'd look more appetizing…

You can't get the pearl without digging into a couple of oysters, she scolds herself. Besides, everyone's watching.

She wants to be able to see his face while he's gulping down oysters—partly to make sure that he actually is eating them, partly to see him turn green around the gills, he could certainly use some color. It's rather difficult to keep track of him, though, when she has to squeeze her eyes shut, pinch her nose, and think about crab while she shovels the shellfish in with her fork, her spine rattling as the cold, slimy stuff slithers down her throat.

All the while, she must look like a complete pig. That's not totally her fault, though. She has to eat quickly, so the taste doesn't catch up to her.

"Wow, Elin! So far, you've eaten six whole oysters, and Ryuzaki's only had one!" Matsuda marvels. "You might actually win this! Ah, not that I'm not cheering for you, too, Ryuzaki." Matsu's too sweet to pick sides. Either that, or he's afraid L will retaliate somehow, such as dock his pay.

"Make that seven," she gulps, her eyes watering as her vision begins to swim. Neither of them has ralphed yet, but something doesn't seem right, besides the fact that her stomach is doing the limbo. He hasn't said a word, or opened his mouth since he'd eaten his first oyster. He hasn't even flinched.

When the entrees appear, she barely has the strength to separate her dish into piles with her chopsticks.

"Elin, a-are you okay?" asks Matsuda, a sushi roll posed halfway up to his mouth.

"Yeah, you look a little…green," says Misa, as though she'd been searching for the right word to describe how she looks from her view. "Maybe you should go to the bathroom?"

"I can't. Then I forfeit dessert. I'm no quitter," she groans. Whether she's directing this at L or towards herself, she's too queasy to know. "I'm no quitter…I've never been a quitter…"

She's too queasy to pay attention to the fact that that last bit isn't one hundred percent true.

It's when the waiter shows up with the trophy for this stupid contest—green tea rare cheesecake—that she can't hold it anymore. Maybe it's the color that sets her off, or the shape? Who knows? It happens so fast, she isn't even aware of what's happening until she's lurched over the table, staring eye to eye with the horrified waiter's shoes, while everyone's shouting in the background.

Where did all that puke come from? Why is her throat on fire, and why does her mouth taste so nasty, like everything she'd eaten today, and the day before, is evacuating?

Most of all, why isn't L blowing chunks?

"Aw, man. I-I'm so sorry," she chokes to the waiter, "I d-didn't—I didn't mean to—"

He picks that moment to carefully roll the mussel out from under his tongue, where it had been hiding for the past forty-five minutes or so, and onto the plate.

As though her puking hadn't set Misa off enough, she's practically falling out of her seat, her nose scrunching so tightly that it may very well break off of her face. "Eeewww, that's so gross! You cheated, Ryuzaki! You don't deserve the cake! Oh, why can't we ever have a good date night? It's not fair!"

"I didn't throw it up, did I? Also, the salivary glands in the mouth release enzymes that perform the initial digestion of food, so in a sense I did technically eat it. So I didn't cheat. Besides, I doubt that taking the cake is my challenger's top priority, at the moment."

What? He cheated? Why hadn't she taken that into account? She should've called him out on it when he didn't flinch at the mere concept of eating shellfish. That weasel.

She can't tell which burns more: acid reflux or shame. She can't win with Ryuzaki. No one can.

Naturally, Matsuda has no idea what to do. Erin's throwing up those dreadful oysters on the floor, Misa's throwing a tantrum, and everyone in the building is throwing concerned stares into their once cozy corner. Light throws an agitated glare in every direction as he tries to calm Misa down. At least the cake is safe.

He can't find it in himself to enjoy his prize, though. Her gagging puts a damper on his own appetite.

"You'd best make that cake to go," he tells the waiter, like everything isn't going all wrong. "Also, you should inspect your shellfish more closely. Another incident like this could instigate a lawsuit."

Not to mention, there's at least a forty-five percent chance that this may be the last time they dine out at an expensive eating establishment. Not that he'll miss it. Anything that requires him to wear a jacket isn't worth it.

He scoots over to pull back her hair. She smells like vomit, sour and unbearable, but what's even more so is the swell of something rising through him that some might call remorse or guilt(?). All he's gotten out of this misadventure is a horrid, fishy aftertaste in his mouth that can easily be diluted with mouthwash and plenty of sugar. This entire attempt of hers to make a point is pathetic, but honest and driven with a certain determination that he finds both admirable, entertaining and annoying.

"Get offa me," she grunts, trying to wave him away. "You got the stinking cake, what more d'ya want? Y-you're probably getting off on this, you dirty cheatin'—"

She doesn't get the chance to call him a name. Another violent wave of nausea forces her to double over and spill out the rest of her stomach's contents from the evening. She shouldn't have challenged him. He'll do whatever it takes to win a challenge, which doesn't make him above cheating. But "getting off" on her misery? Quite the opposite. Although he doesn't suppose he could blame her for thinking so.

The least he can do is hold back her hair, when she's too sick to fight him off again.


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