Anecdotes from the Story of the Century

Impulse

Fifteen minutes ago, Matsuda had been sent away to brew a fresh pot of coffee, fuel for another all-nighter. Neither he nor the requested beverage, never mind both, have materialized in the monitor room since then. Further investigation with a disgruntled Light in tow reveals an empty kitchenette and a now lukewarm pot of coffee.

Surveillance reveals a grinning Matsuda on Misa's couch in slippers, a large bowl of popcorn settled next to him (plain, not the good caramel- or chocolate-coated kind). All light sources in the room are off except several scented candles scattered in the corners and a flashlight in Matsuda's hand, which he aims at the center of the wall. Misa and "Elin" are sitting at his feet in their nightwear, making shapes with their hands in front of the light and giggling at the shadows projected on the wall.

Shadow puppetry?

Elin holds up a fist and moves it in front of the light in what is supposed to be a hopping motion, wiggling two fingers for ears and protruding the tip of her thumb to look like a nose. She has shaped her hand to look like a—

"Ooh-ooh! That's a rabbit, isn't it? A cute little bunny-rabbit!" Misa coos.

"It could be a rabbit. Or—don't blink now…"

Elin turns her hand ninety degrees and cranes her wrist so that her two fingers become a bill, her forearm is a long neck, and her thumb becomes a stubby tongue between them. She snaps her two fingers open and shut, like she's trying to imitate quacking.

"…it could be a duck! Aflac™! Aflac™!"

For some reason, Misa and Matsuda find this reference to an insurance company completely hilarious; Matsuda almost drops the flashlight and his elbow sinks into the popcorn, he's laughing that hard. When it's Misa's turn, she flutters her hands like wings over Elin's "duck," her thumbs crossed over one another.

"I know what that is!" guesses Matsuda between gasps. "That's a butterfly, isn't it, Misa-Misa?"

Ryuzaki doesn't like the way she's smirking. "Maybe. It could be a butterfly…or it could be a bat that's gonna suck the blood out of your duck!" She wastes no time pretending to hiss as she swoops her "bat" over to latch onto the head of Elin's "duck." Before long, the girls are wrestling on the floor, with Elin stuck between squealing with laughter and crying "Aflac™!" over and over like the tortured waterfowl she's supposed to be imitating.

None of them take notice of his or Light's presence in the doorway.

He can't say he's thrilled about seeing her fraternizing with the Second Kira like they're best girlfriends, never mind that Misa Amane does not currently seem to have any of the Second Kira's powers or memories. He knew what he was getting into when he'd put Matsuda in charge of her, but Misa and Light were never supposed to know of her involvement in the case. It's a miracle that she still has enough sense not to give out her real name, or who Ryuzaki actually is, or that she had once seen—or thought she had seen—a "monster" upon bumping into her on the town.

(They both seem to have forgotten, really. Women seem to have a fairly fickle sense of memory; this can work for one or against one.)

It's not as if he can say anything about it. Or he could, but she won't listen to him, whenever she can help it. No one shares in his suspicions regarding Misa or Light, but she scoffs them, especially. Besides, she isn't the type to turn down an offer that she hadn't had to break a bone for to "hang out" with a celebrity. Especially one of Misa's caliber.

It's all fun and games until Elin yelps in mild pain, exemplifying the dangers of fooling around with someone with long nails. She drops the act in an instant. "Ow! I think you just scratched me, Misa."

"Ohmygosh, Misa's sorry!" Misa jumps up almost instantly while Matsuda bends in for a look, equally concerned. "Misa didn't mean to. Is Elin okay?"

Matsuda, in an attempt to be helpful, shines the flashlight on the two girls as Elin nurses her hand. "Yeah, I think so. Didn't draw any blood, from what I can see…"

"Don't worry, Elin! I know how to make it better," offers Matsuda. He spreads his fingers apart to create the shape of a dog's head with his hand, generating whiny barking noises—they sound whiny in Ryuzaki's ears, anyway, like a puppy's—as he starts to lightly flick her around the cheek and tip of her nose with his fingertips. Trying to simulate how a dog might lick someone's face, he assumes.

Elin goes right back to sputtering that hearty laugh of hers as she tries to wiggle out of his reach. Her glasses almost fall off of her face. "Aha, M-Matsu, stop! Cut it out!"

…Something about it seems a bit off. This isn't what most people would call inappropriate behavior, although it is very moronic. These two have no trouble or qualms in acting moronic with each other, no matter who's watching. But he's never had problems with seeing it, before. Maybe it's because she keeps telling him to stop, though her peals of laughter contradict the meaning of her words. Misa has already scratched her; suppose he pokes her eye?

His stomach slightly curdles. He must be undergoing the early stages of caffeine withdrawal.

"It's my understanding that when someone tells you to stop, you must stop," he mutters. That grabs their attention.

As soon as Misa peeks behind the couch and sees Light with his chin in his hand, deep in thought, she quickly forgets about Elin's injury. The hem of her black silk nightgown lifts a little higher than it should as she springs upward to greet him before settling back over her thighs. "Light, what a treat! Here Misa was, thinking you'd be too busy to come to our sleepover! Even if Ryuzaki has to be here, too…"

"Hello, Misa," Light mumbles, his mind somewhere else, as though he is trying to piece something together. "Aflac™…that's an American company, but at least a quarter of all Japanese households are insured by them. Or they were. The CEO of their Japanese branch, last week…"

"Actually, we've come to fetch Matsuda," Ryuzaki deadpans. "You left a perfectly good pot's worth of coffee to almost spoil." In all actuality, he couldn't care less if the coffee was piping hot or at room temperature, but he also knows that Matsuda doesn't like being told that he's failed at something.

He did get into the Japanese police force chiefly through connections.

This hits said co-worker like a brick to his forehead. "Aw, shoot! I-I'm really sorry, guys! I was getting that coffee, I swear! B-but then Misa-Misa and Elin needed popcorn, and…well, uh, I…"

"You were sidetracked, Matsuda. We understand. In fact, it doesn't surprise us in the least. You can make up for it by brewing a fresh serving for us."

Elin folds her arms and scowls. "And what if he don't wanna? He's busy with us, so if you really need a caffeine fix, just drink the pot he already made. Coffee was coffee, last I checked."

He hears her speaking, sees her lips move, but isn't quite listening. He's observing the way she pushes her glasses back up on her face. Besides, it isn't as though she's saying anything terribly important. She's just trying to get a rise out of him, like she's been doing since they'd moved in to the new headquarters, while trying to impress her company with firmer backbone than she actually has. He can tell this by the way she won't make direct eye contact with him.

He knows Matsuda will do it, no matter what Elin says. He's already planted the seeds of inadequacy into his conscience.

"You know, you've got a lot of nerve, telling us to stop when we're told to. We've all been telling you to quit being a bum for a while now, but you haven't shown any signs of listening." Picking up the flashlight Matsuda has dropped, she aims the light towards the wall before making a fist in front of it. Just a fist.

Misa blinks. "What's that? A rock? An onion? A mushroom?"

"Actually, this is Ryuzaki. But all the aforementioned are pretty close guesses, where he's concerned."

She glances over her shoulder to see Ryuzaki's reaction to this, but he has none. He's gone, and so is Light, who takes his turn in leading them out of the doorway, having said something about "needing to look something up." Poor Light, being forced to pick up that deadbeat's slack on top of being the "prime suspect" and having said deadbeat stuck to him like gum in his hair.

Maybe she should've taken the time to ask them if her contacts have come in, yet? But that might've been a stupid question. Obviously, they haven't, or else they'd have given them to her. Right?

And where's Matsuda off to, in such a hurry?

"Matsu? Where ya going?"

"Um, pardon me ladies, I'd better go get that coffee straightened out."

Elin wilts a little. "Why should you? Just because you work for Ryuzaki, doesn't mean you're at his constant beck and call. You shouldn't be."

Matsuda's smile is an odd combination of gentle, harried, and sheepish. "That's easy for you to say. He's not your boss," he says before fumbling out the door.

Damn straight, he's not.

A dark impulse from the back of her mind compels her to create another bird with her fist, one that also reminds her of Ryuzaki. By raising her third finger. She rarely flips the bird, but when it feels right, she'll flip it quick and high and all will be right again. Just not where anyone can see outright. Or at least, that's the ideal. And lately, Ryuzaki has been pushing her more and more, so why not now?

Unless Misa has something to say about it. She hastily switches off the flashlight, leaving the melting candles as the sole light source in the room. "Elin, put that away! This is Misa's apartment!"

The scented wax smells a bit headier to her than a moment before. "Huh, what? Aw come on, y-you can't tell me he doesn't deserve it."

"I don't care. Give him a raspberry or anything else, but you're not going to lift that finger while you're in my apartment. Have a little more class, Elin! I know you do. You're lucky the guys left before they saw you do it. Guys don't like girls who do that, unless they're really trashy." Misa must really not like the bird if it makes her speak in first-person.

Her cheeks burn almost as brightly as the candles as she's tempted to pull on the collar of her orange cream-colored pajamas. She's not the only one who should be told to have some decency and a few other things, if not more so than she.


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