Anecdotes from the Story of the Century

Veggies

"Kid, if you keep eating like that, your body's gonna quit on you."

L is the middle of prodding at the strawberry from his cake with the prongs of his fork when she waltzes in unannounced and takes a seat on his left. These are her first words to him, the opening for another new argument.

Light doesn't pull his gaze away from the monitor, but types away as he mildly chides her, "Elin, whatever it is you want, could you please come back later? We're trying to work, and I don't think that this is any emergency that we should know about."

She waves from across the room. "Oh, I never said you had to stop working, Light. But this kinda is an emergency. Ryuzaki doesn't eat right. You like variety, don't you, Ryuzaki? So how come all I ever see you eat is junk food? Sure, we all like it, too, but you need balance, man. There's a lot more to the food pyramid than just cake and cookies and plain old sugar."

It's true, he does like variety, but there are many different kinds of desserts besides cake and cookies. As for balance, he already does apply it, in the way he sits while he eats and works. With his diet, sitting the normal way would slow his body down until he became drowsy and passed out from the sugar rush that usually occurs in people (like Erin). This would be where the 40-percent reduction of his deductive skills would arise. Crouching and maintaining balance requires enough sugar to keep his body aware and active, as tasks such as crouching consume more energy, thus keeping his body at a pace steady enough to prevent it from "crashing."

And regarding the "food pyramid…"

He taps the prongs of his fork to his lower lip. "I am meeting all of my nutritional requirements. This cake was baked with flour, so there's my grain. The whipped cream is a dairy product, the almonds contain proteins, and the strawberry is fruit."

"What about vegetables?"

"I don't need vegetables, nor do I care very much about them. I mostly take vitamins, instead."

She makes a face. "Vitamins? Bo-ring! Vitamins are flavorless little capsules that some chump manufactured. In a stuffy old factory," she adds redundantly.

"What's wrong with a nice, fresh, crispy vegetable grown from real soil with love?" she asks, with a cheesiness similar to advertisements.

"And pesticides," he mutters.

Her fingers drum on the surface of the desk with thinning patience. "Wow, Ryuzaki. When you smell flowers, you're only interested in finding the coffin, aren't you? Not to mention, you're being totally unfair. Those strawberries used to make your stupid cake could've been grown with chemicals, but you're more willing to eat them? What's up with that?"

He picks that moment to call her out on why she's really bothering him about his eating habits: "Miss Crocker, I know the only reason you'd willingly give me the time of day, never mind nag about my eating habits, is because you made a bet with Amane. 5000 yen if you could persuade me to eat vegetables."

"The look on your face confirms my suspicions. You have always been a horrid liar."

Light, his Misa-senses tingling, half-glances over his shoulder towards the door. Said idol, however, swiftly ducks out of view before he can catch her, taking extra care not to giggle or give any other sign that she's watching. He pinches the bridge of his nose in exasperation.

Erin, in the meantime, turns red as the ripest tomato. She has a dreadful habit of wearing her emotions on her face. "How can you say I've always been a bad liar? We've only known each other for a few months. And I ain't confirming nothing!"

That doesn't matter. A few months is more than enough time to know quite a few things about Erin, most of which he didn't even have to ask her about: her birthday (April 7th), her blood type (AB+), her birthplace (Queens, New York, United States), her current place of residence (Manhattan, New York, United States), her GPA upon graduating high school (3.35 at Eleanor Roosevelt High)…the list goes on.

"That's a double-negative. You are confirming something." He notes the way her throat tightens when she swallows.

"Well, I…I'm not confirming or denying anything, is what I mean to say. And even if I did just come down here because I'm trying to win a bet, you should at least give vegetables a try, either way. You know what happens to people who don't eat veggies?" She tries to count off the consequences from her fingers: "Hair falls out, teeth rot out, they get constipated, then hemorrhoids—"

"Okay, I've heard enough," grumbles Light. The monitor room is not a place to be discussing problems of the gastrointestinal system. "Elin, he's not going to eat vegetables even if you force-feed him, so I think you should go upstairs. You're creating an unnecessary distraction." Light is too polite to tell someone outright if they're being annoying, but his tone gets the message across.

"No, it's quite all right. She makes a valid point. Or at least, she's trying to."

Both of them stare at him, Erin appearing more astonished.

"I do? I mean, of course I do!" she proclaims, hastily shaking off signs of hesitation for confidence and rubbing it onto her shirt with her knuckles. "Glad that you're finally starting to see reason, Ryuzaki."

He wants to see just how far she's willing to go for that 5000 yen, make her squirm a little. "I do have one more concern: must vegetables be consumed plain?"

Erin looks at him like he's some kind of idiot. "What? No, of course not! You could eat them plain. Or you could have them fried, baked, boiled, grilled, steamed, seasoned…sometimes you can eat them with PB, cheese, soy sauce or salad dressing; I'm more of a ranch fan myself—"

"What about chocolate sauce?"

Her next face conveys even more disgust than the last. "Chocolate sauce? Now why would you wanna put chocolate sauce on a vegetable? Are you crazy? No, on second thought, don't answer that."

L fiddles with his lips, hooking his index finger into the lower one. "Why not? Have you tried vegetables with chocolate sauce?"

"Well…no. But that just isn't done. Chocolate is for ice cream and stuff."

"Then I propose an experiment. Have you brought any of these vegetables?"

"Ryuzaki!" Light barks. "You can't be serious."

"Uh…yeah. Can't get you to eat something if I don't even have it with me," she says doubtfully, plopping a plastic bag on the desk between them containing a carrot, broccoli, celery, and a cucumber. Meanwhile, he pulls out a small tub from inside a compartment labeled "Ryuzaki's Personal Sauce."

"Cucumbers aren't actually vegetables," he says. "They're fruit."

"You don't say? Do you like cucumbers, then?" she asks, eyeing the tub with a suspicious frown.

"I've never tried them. But that's why we are conducting this experiment."

Lights huffs, "You know what? Fine. Do what you want, guys. I'll just have to pick up the slack." He pushes his seat as further down the desk as the handcuffs will allow and turns away to bury himself in work. His loss.

"Let's start off with celery. I think you'll find that easiest to swallow," Erin says with a sneer, the bag crinkling as she fishes for the stick. "If we're gonna experiment, we'll need a control for comparison, right? So we've gotta eat it plain, first."

"I suppose. But you have to eat with me."

"Why? You think I poisoned everything in the bag or what? Aw, forget it. I ain't gonna argue with you. I didn't do anything, so I can't see where the harm is." She breaks it into two halves as equal as she can make them, then briskly snaps off a chunk of her share of celery in her teeth, the crunch echoing across the vastness of the room. "See? Nothing to it," she says between bites before swallowing.

He follows suit, except almost as soon as he takes a chunk, he sticks out his tongue to pluck it off and drop it into the wastebasket. It's crunchy, fresh, but with almost no flavor. It's like eating a plant; without condiments, that's really all that it is. "Hey, what the hell? You didn't even eat it!" Apparently, she needs him to chew and swallow for a chance to win that bet.

"I don't like it. It needs to be sweetened. Let's try it with chocolate sauce, now. No double-dipping."

"Wait. I gotta eat it with choc sauce, too?"

"Yes."

By the way she looks at the sauce like it's sewage, he almost begins to expect her to back down. Will she turn her back on the conventions she was raised on and desecrate her taste buds in the name of greed?

She splashes sauce on the desk as she tries to dip and chew as fast as she can. Apparently, yes. She almost snaps the stick in half in her fist as her face contorts to strange, watery-eyed expressions. Like she's fighting the temptation to throw her bite into the trash. Too bad she couldn't resist the allure of money.

Finally, she swallows, her forehead colliding with the edge of the desk, gasping for air. All he has to say to her is, "I will have to ask you to please not make such a mess. This is my personal sauce, after all." His voice betrays no sympathy, or any emotion, for that matter.

When he takes his chocolate-coated bite, he finds the taste of celery surprisingly more bearable. But not by much. Perhaps because celery requires something thicker than chocolate sauce. He spits it back out.

"Aw, come on!" she shouts, wiping the trickle of sauce from the corner of her mouth. "You didn't like that, either?"

"It was better, but it needs more. Suppose celery tastes better with caramel, instead?"

His hypothesis proves true. Celery is better with caramel. To him, anyway. He also notices how in spite of his swallowing this time, Erin doesn't leave (much to Light's chagrin, due to the obnoxious gagging she produces with every bite).

She must have bet Amane that she could make him try every vegetable in the bag.

Erin Blogger also has a habit of biting off more than she can chew.

At the end of the "experiment," L has decided he likes celery with caramel, broccoli with strawberry syrup, cucumber with whipped cream, and carrots with chocolate sauce. By the time Erin leaves the room (to Light's undying relief), she can barely walk straight.

"Thank you for your time and effort, Miss Crocker," he says behind her. "I'll file these findings away for future reference. Please come back if you have any new ideas for snacks." In her ears, it almost sounds like he's mocking her.

"Thanks a lot, Elin," mumbles Light. "You've helped to create a monster."

Create a monster? That guy was a monster before she'd even spoken to him. If anything, she's given him new material to drive everyone crazy with.

As soon as she steps out, Erin finds Misa waiting for her, greeting her with pity-filled eyes. "You catch all that, Misa?" she gurgles. Oh, how nasty her mouth tastes right now! There are no words to describe it besides "nasty." None that she can think of, at the moment.

The girl shakes her head. "Misa wouldn't have believed it if Misa hadn't seen it herself. Misa got queasy just from watching."

"You owe me 5000. I'm gonna need all the mouthwash I can get. He made me eat cucumber with whipped cream, Misa: quite possibly the grossest thing I'll ever taste in my whole life. I don't care if a cucumber's technically fruit; real fruit is supposed to be better with whipped cream. But it was the only way to get him to try it."

"Misa won't argue that." She slaps a folded wad of native currency into Erin's open hand as she toddles along beside her.

"Why does he have to have every bite coated in sugar, anyway?" Erin wonders aloud, hands clutching her churning stomach. "That guy needs to go to rehab, I swear to God, he does. He eats like a pregnant woman, practically. No, he's worse than a pregnant woman."

It's strange: she should be angry with him, and she is, but at the same time, his cravings are oddly worrisome. Who in their right mind would refuse to eat anything that wouldn't fix them on the road towards diabetes?

Misa shrugs. "Maybe Ryuzaki uses sugar to fill in a void? Like how some people rely on pills to feel better?"

Something about equating junk food to drugs sounds wrong to Erin, even more so when Misa guesses this so casually, like she's seen it happen every day.

(Then again, Misa is a model/ actress/ performer. For all she knows, she has seen it.)

"What kind of void could he possibly have that'd compel him to eat like that?"

Misa doesn't answer. She doesn't have one. Neither of them do. And even if they did, it more than likely wouldn't be in the right. Not when it comes to Ryuzaki.


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