Categories > Anime/Manga > Death Note

Say Something Else

by ninhursag 5 Reviews

A short, speculative bit of fiction about L's childhood.

Category: Death Note - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: L - Published: 2005/08/02 - Updated: 2005/08/03 - 953 words - Complete

When the boy who would someday be called L was three they diagnosed him with profound, pervasive mental retardation. He didn't speak, didn't pay attention when spoken to and paid even less attention to the state of his own body unless someone was sitting on him with the goal of feeding him, cleaning him or otherwise inflicting touch on him in some way. He fought that bitterly and recklessly, with every bit of strength in his small body. His mother cried and his father screamed and then one day just grabbed and shook him until something broke loose. They had to move the boy to a hospital after that and then directly to a special school.

The boy barely noticed his surroundings had changed once the physical pain of his injuries was over. The home they brought him to had blocks to line up and piles of books to scribble in, never mind more basic things like the way the light curled in through the windows and over the floorboards or the bits of lint that collected under his bed. Things like people and words were foreign and pesky, not quite part of his world. Like insects buzzing around his head.

By the time he was five the boy's building block creation had grown frighteningly elaborate. Strange, oddly gorgeous designs set forth in brightly colored plastic. His counselor didn't notice until he heard the duty nurses whispering and then he took a look, shook his head, and muttered something about savant syndrome and splinters of intelligence.

When he was six he got a new counselor. By then the block buildings had become block cities, vast and interlocking, filling up far too much of the play room. The new counselor was quite young, but serious and wore her hair in a severe bun, as if to harden and sharpen a pretty face. One day she sat down next to the boy while he was building, took his hand in hers and wrapped them both around a bright yellow block.

"Block," she said, pressing it into his palm. He turned and looked at her with impossibly wide dark eyes. It was the first time he'd ever looked at a human being and met their eyes without being physically forced. "Block," she repeated, before removing the block with a careful hand, holding it out of the child's reach.

His expression didn't change, but he grabbed for it. Then fought for it, kicking and scratching, body arching. She just repeated the word. "Block. Say block."

Finally, exhausted and scratched up from his own fingernails he stopped fighting her. Stared at the block. Stared at the counselor. The block. Chewed a little on his thumbnail.

"Block," he said, sounding mildly irritated, but otherwise accentless and monotone, as if there was nothing remarkable about speaking after all. "Say block." She smiled at him, picked up his hand and put the block in it.

"Good boy," she murmured, though he'd already stopped paying attention and gone back to building. She wrote something down in a thin spiral notebook and after that he saw her every day.

By the time boy was seven he'd stopped scribbling in books and started reading them. It was not until he started reading the text books on his counselor's shelves that the nurses started to throw around the term 'Asberger's Syndrome' and gifted and talented. Instead of splinters and islands of intelligence in a sea of retardation they spoke of how his problems were really only caused by his obvious mental gifts. By then the boy would have actually known what these things were.

No one asked him if he was happy. They spoke of breaking through the shell of autism to the person beneath as if teaching him to speak and think on their terms completely negated everything he'd been before. They spoke of how far he'd come when his counselor was actually permitted to hug him and lead him by the hand without screaming fits or fights. Even his parents came to visit him once or twice and smiled tensely, gave him hugs but he ignored them until they went away. They talked about how improved he was, a miracle, how he'd probably be able to function in the real world soon enough. They still didn't ask if he was happy.

They said he ought to be so grateful to the home and to his counselor for the profound gift they'd given him. He had a new word by then, one he hadn't really understood before when he'd read it. But know he knew what they were saying and what it meant. The words was 'liars'. Dirty liars. Because he'd been happy, so happy, building castles and cities of blocks, rocking back and forth and humming. He'd been complete and happy and unworried about anything else.

Now he had words which told him things like head case, wrong, and you'll never be normal. Other words like friend and love and dear and yeah, even happy. Now he watched the nurses and the counselors and even the janitors and staff talking and laughing and touching and knew they were right and he was wrong. Now he actually knew. Knowing did not help.

It wasn't until he was twenty-one, and more than fully functional in mainstream society, whatever that meant that the boy who was called L managed more than knowing. He looked into the golden brown, perfectly baked cookie eyes of a boy named Yagami Light and announced he had a friend. For the first time he actually understood what was actually meant by words like friendship and happiness. Not just the dictionary definition.

Figured it would be something as fucked up as this.
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