L makes a rare trip to the outside world and revisits memories he'd rather forget. One-shot about the day before L died.
The W insignia lit up the computer screen. “Yes, Ryuzaki?”
“I’m going out for a while. I thought you should know.”
“Is that really wise, Ryuzaki?” Watari asked. “Kira’s still looking for you.”
L pressed his thumb to his lips. “Yes, I know that. But I think I’ll be fine. If anything happens, you’re bound to hear about it.”
There was silence for a moment, then Watari answered, “All right.”
L smiled, then began to walk toward the door. Just before he opened it, he heard Watari’s voice say, “Be sure to stay safe.”
L’s smile wavered for a moment. “It’s been a while since you’ve said that, Watari,” he said softly, then quickly walked out the door.
L looked up at the sky as he walked down the streets. Dark clouds were hanging overhead, threatening rain. He sighed. The rain always made him act odd. Well, twenty-five percent odder than usual. Shaking his head, he looked down at the sidewalk, focusing on his shoes. To his surprise, he smiled. He had never liked shoes, not even at Wammy’s House. He chuckled. He had given Watari such a hard time when he was little, always insisting on going out barefoot.
L suddenly looked up. He was right in front of a café. He peered inside the window. It looked quite serene in there: quiet, softly lit; a good place to think. Shrugging his hunched shoulders, he pushed the door open and walked in. It was very thinly populated inside. All the better, thought L.I won’t attract as much attention. He was still attracting attention, given the stares from the few people in the café, but the less the better. And there was a ninety percent chance that they were only staring because of his appearance and/or posture.
He walked up to the counter. “Excuse me?”
He had said it softly, but he had caught the girl behind the counter off-guard nonetheless. She had been reading intently, and dropped her book when he had spoken.
“Sorry, sorry,” she apologized quickly, brushing a strand of curly brown hair out of her face. Simply out of habit, L studied her. She had a heart-shaped face, friendly, from the looks of it; her wide brown eyes did not suggest that she was particularly bright, but not slow, either; she was very meticulous in rearranging the things she had knocked over; and she was evidently new, given her anxious way of biting her pinky nail. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“Just a coffee,” L said.
“Coming right up!” The girl behind the counter smiled broadly, showing a mouth full of braces. L cocked his head. He put her anywhere from about sixteen to eighteen. He cocked his head the other way as he watched her pour the coffee. Her hand trembled slightly; he could not tell if it was him making her nervous or simply the fact that she was new. She looked up and noticed him staring at her.
“Sorry, am I annoying you?” L asked politely. The girl shook her head, an honest gesture.
“No,” she said, neither her voice nor her body language suggesting that she was lying. She handed him his coffee. “Here you are.”
“Thank you.” L handed her the money he owed, then began to walk from the counter.
L turned around. The girl was waving at him to come back. He cocked his head. Did I undercharge? No, that wouldn’t be the case. I figured out the exact amount. Overcharge? No, she’d keep the extra money for herself, unless she was extraordinarily unselfish. Given her age, I doubt she would be.
“Yes?” he asked as he came back to the counter.
“You look like you’ve got something on your mind,” the girl said, her voice hushed. L’s eyebrows rose.
“How can you tell?” he asked.
“Well, for one, you’ve got those huge bags under your eyes…”
“I suffer from insomnia.”
“But your eyes look really sad. Do you wanna talk?”
L knew the surprise was clear on his normally emotionless face. Ordinarily, he would dismiss the subject. The only one he ever talked to was Watari. He was the only one L knew he could fully trust.
“Wouldn’t that take up your time?” he asked. The girl stepped out from behind the counter.
“I’ll just take my break early. My name’s Reiko. What’s yours?”
I’d definitely place her at about sixteen. She couldn’t have finished high school yet. Not if she's this naive, L thought, then softly asked, “Could I wait until we get to a table to tell you?”
“Oh, sure! You want me to get one?” Reiko did not even wait for an answer; she bolted off and sat down at a table. L smiled. It had been a while since he had met a girl who was hyper, but not overwhelming. I suppose Misa Amane makes you bitter toward women, he thought as he followed Reiko to the table. He sat down, and looked up as he heard Reiko laugh.
“What?” he asked.
“The way you sit. It’s funny,” Reiko said. She bit her lip. “Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh.”
L smiled. “A lot of people make fun of me because of it, but if I sit any other way, my reasoning ability drops by forty percent.”
Reiko’s wide eyes widened even more. “You mean it helps you think?”
“I suppose so.” L took ten packets of sugar and began trying to construct a pyramid with them. He looked up as Reiko got up, then tried to imitate his way of sitting. She failed, and ended up falling off the chair.
L stared at her for a moment, then began to laugh. Nothing over the top, just a chuckle, but it had been a long time since he had laughed properly. Reiko grinned, her cheeks pinking slightly.
“I guess that’s what I get for laughing,” she said. “Now what’s your name?”
L paused, thinking. If he told her his true first name, which really was L, she would automatically guess who he was. He could convince her otherwise, but the probability of that working successfully was very low. And even if he did tell her that it was sheer coincidence that he shared the same name as the greatest detective in the world, (The world came up with that, not him.) she would still probably tell her friends that she met L, and they would tell their friends, and given the fact that everyone knows someone, word would spread across the world, publicists would come in, his face and name would be broadcast, and he would be a sickeningly easy target for Kira. But no one in the world, save for those at Wammy’s House, knew his last name, and, if by some very, very, very slim, less than one percent chance that Reiko was Kira, she would never guess on how to spell it.
“Lawliet,” he said softly. Reiko cocked her head curiously.
“Lowlight?” she asked. She had difficulty pronouncing it, no doubt due to the fact that the Japanese language did not contain the letter L. L smiled.
“It’s odd, even where I’m from.” He tried putting another packet on his pyramid, but the whole thing fell over. He grabbed one of the fallen packets, gently tore it open, and poured it into his coffee. Then he picked up another and repeated the process.
“Where are you from?” Reiko asked.
“England,” he said. “Winchester, if you would like to get technical.”
“How long have you been in Japan?” Reiko asked.
“About two years. Technically, I’m only a quarter English. I’m a quarter Japanese as well, along with a quarter Russian and a quarter French, which I believe is what my name is.” L poured a fifth packet of sugar into his coffee.
“Is that why you speak Japanese so well? Because you’re a quarter Japanese?”
L shook his head. “I have a knack for languages. I speak French, Spanish, Italian, Thai, German, and Chinese, as well, plus I’ve studied Latin.”
Reiko stared at him. “Wow.”
L looked up at her. “Like I said, I have a knack for languages.”
Reiko shook her head. “So…L-Low…” She was still struggling with his name.
“You can call me Ryuzaki. That’s what my guardian calls me.”
“Ryuzaki? Why’s he call you that?” Reiko asked. L shrugged.
“He liked the name,” he said simply.
“So…” Reiko started thoughtfully. “You can’t be that old. Not if you still have a guardian.”
“Oh, no, officially he’s not my guardian anymore. But I still work with him in my...field,” L explained.
“You’re a doctor?”
“No. But you’re on the right track.” L did have a doctorate, along with his double majors in criminology and psychology.
“So, anyway…wow, that’s a lot of sugar,” Reiko said as she watched L pour in the tenth packet of sugar and begin to stir. L shrugged again.
“I have a horrible sweet tooth. What were you going to ask?” he asked before he took a sip.
“So, what’s on your mind, Ryuzaki?” Reiko asked. “You still have that troubled look on your face.”
L looked up at her, then put his coffee cup back on the table and hugged his knees closer to his chest, his typical “I’m uncomfortable talking about this” pose.
“I…haven’t had the easiest life,” he said.
“Tell me about it,” Reiko said, resting her chin in the palm of her hand. “I want to hear.”
L shook his head. “No, you don’t. It’s far too depressing,” he said curtly.
“So is the news. Especially with Kira killing everyone! He’s totally evil, but people still watch it.”
L fought down a smile as she mentioned Kira. If they ever met again, which was a very, very low probability, he would have to show her Kira’s head before presenting it to the police.
“You really want to hear my story?” he asked. Reiko nodded. L sighed.
“Well, I suppose I should start from where it started going downhill.” He stopped, closing his eyes and gathering the nerve to say his next sentence. “My parents died when I was five.”
He heard Reiko’s gasp, then continued, “None of my relatives wanted to take me in. You see, I scared them. I’m very smart, and, at the time, I was already in the third grade and top of the class. None of them wanted to deal with a genius. They…they thought…” L knelt his head, resting his forehead on his knees as he drew in a deep breath. He hated talking about his past; it made acting indifferent harder by at least sixty-five percent. “They were afraid that I was too smart for my own good, which I probably am. No, I most definitely am. But they feared I would hurt them or their families. So I was sent to an orphanage for ‘gifted’ children.”
L lifted his head. Reiko was staring intently at him, hanging on every word. He shook his head as he bowed it again.
“Watari, the man who headed it…he’s the closest thing to a father I have,” he said, his voice wavering with bottled-up emotion. He shook his head again and took a deep breath, calming himself down. “He…he has always been extremely kind to me. When I was younger, he would take me to visit my parents’ graves whenever I asked. He was never afraid of my intelligence, though he told me several times it surpassed his own. Rather, he encouraged me to learn as much as I could. After I finished high school, when I was about fourteen, he sent me to Harvard, in Connecticut.”
“Harvard?” Reiko asked. “It must have been intense there.”
L shrugged. “Not really. I graduated top of my class.”
Reiko thought for a moment, then asked, “Did you miss him? Watari, I mean?”
L paused for a moment, then nodded solemnly. “I wrote to him everyday.” He was silent for a minute, then whispered, “I told him about the bells.”
“What?” Reiko asked. L shook his head.
“Nothing,” he said. He looked up at Reiko and met her eyes. “Thank you for your time, and wanting to hear my story.”
He got up and started for the door, but Reiko called, “Wait!”
He turned around.
“That troubled look hasn’t gone away! What’s wrong?” she asked. L stared at her, then sighed.
“I can’t tell you the real reason,” he said. “It’s classified.”
“Oh, come on!” Reiko whined. L’s lips twitched into a smile.
“Okay. I’ll give you two hints,” he said, holding up two fingers. “One is that it has to do with Kira. Two is that I’m an absolutely horrible criminal who Kira will, if he doesn’t already, believe the world will be better without.”
Reiko frowned. “You are not,” she said.
“How can you be sure?” L asked softly, the hint of a smile still on his lips. Reiko shrugged.
“I don’t know. I guess I can’t. But I don’t think you are,” she said. She thought for a moment, then asked, “Hey, Ryuzaki…does Watari know what’s wrong?”
L shook his head. “I wouldn’t want to worry him,” he said. “We’ve got enough going on.”
“I think you should tell him,” Reiko said. “If he truly is like your father, then he’ll want to listen.”
L mulled over what she had just said. He smiled. It’s very odd how a genius like me can be confounded over something a coffee clerk said, he thought. He looked at Reiko.
“Thank you very much, Reiko. I’ll think about your suggestion.”
Reiko nodded. “Any time. Hey, next time you come here, you better be smiling, Ryuzaki.”
L shrugged listlessly as he headed to the door. “The likelihood of that happening is about .01 percent. But…I appreciate the thought.” With that, he walked out the door.
L looked around as he stepped outside. It had gotten even colder, and the air felt denser than it had before. His eyes darted to the clouds in a panic. The threat of rain was even stronger than before, by a good fifty percent. Still…there was a slight, fifteen-percent chance that he could make it back before it started raining. L began walking briskly toward Headquarters. The air was so moist, it felt as though it were beginning to suffocate him. Perhaps it would not be Kira that finished him off; perhaps it would be the rain, instead.
L shook his head. Thoughts like these were irrational. They would just get him worked up until he completely snapped. It began to lightly drizzle as he walked. He could feel the mist settle in his tousled, raven hair. Quickly, he spun around, hearing something. His wide, dark eyes darted around the street. Nothing. The roads were empty. He shook his head again.
I really have to get some sleep tonight, he thought. I’m sure I won’t have nightmares if I’m tired enough.
It began to rain harder. L spun around as he heard a tinkling, like a wind chime. But, there was no wind, and no wind chimes in sight. L shut his eyes tightly, then opened them again and looked around. Still nothing. He was imagining things.
His step was quicker as he started walking again. Every few seconds, the rain got harder. And every few seconds, L would turn around, searching wildly for the source of the bells ringing through the air. As the rain grew harder, the bells grew louder, and flashes of memories would cloud L’s mind.
A huge car crash…
Throbbing pain in his arm…
An explosion of flames…
Two people lying lifeless in front of him…
A little boy staring in fear and horror…
L leaned against the building closest to him, grabbing his head and gritting his teeth as salty tears slipped down his face and mingled with the raindrops. He launched himself from the building and ran as fast as he could to Headquarters.
Throwing himself through the doors, he bolted through the lobby, then slowed until he stumbled his way to a sealed-off room. His long fingers danced on the keypad next to the door, punching in the combination to open the door. He stood, dripping wet, in the doorway, staring inside the room, searching for the friendly face he knew was inside.
“Ryuzaki? Is something the matter? What is it?”
L saw Watari in the glow of computer screens. His vision was blurred, but he was not sure why.
“There’s a funeral out there…” L whispered. “I hear the bells. It’s just like their funeral…It’s even raining…” He blinked, and warm tears slipped down his face. It was hard to tell, because L still could not properly see, but Watari looked sympathetic.
“It’s raining?” he asked. L nodded. He tried to take a step toward his old friend, but ended up crumpling to the floor.
“Ryuzaki!” Watari was immediately on his feet and was over L in a moment.
L slowly sat up, hugging his knees to his chest. He let out a single sob.
“I’m going to die,” he whispered hoarsely. “Kira is going to kill me soon…I’m going to die…just like them…”
“Ryuzaki, calm down,” Watari said, placing a hand on L’s shoulder. “You’ll be getting into hysterics soon enough.”
L rested his forehead on his knees again, gasping in shaky breaths. He shut his eyes tightly, feeling warm tears slip down his face once more.
“Can’t you hear them?” he asked when he had gained control of himself, though his voice still shook. “Watari, can’t you hear the funeral bells? Every time it rains, it’s someone’s funeral…I hear the bells every time…I wonder if it’ll rain for mine…”
Watari, hand still on L’s shoulder, knelt in front of the young, almost hysterical man and said, very seriously, “I know about the bells, Ryuzaki. You wrote to me about them, remember?”
L kept his head down. “But this time they’re so clear…I don’t understand it!”
“Ryuzaki,” Watari continued, “I’m sorry to say that you will never understand it. Shock does strange things to people, things far beyond logic…”
“But I’m not in shock!”
“You were when you were younger. I could tell you were. You didn’t talk for three months after you first came to the House.”
L covered his eyes with the back of his hand. “Plenty of logical explanation for that…I was five…I was in an unfamiliar environment…”
“You had watched your parents die.”
L’s tongue froze as what Watari said hit him. His hand dropped from his eyes, and he stared at Watari with eyes even wider than usual. Then he closed them and sighed, two more large tears streaming down his cheeks.
“I’m sorry, Watari,” he apologized in a whisper. “I’m being far too irrational right now…I’m driving myself mad…”
“It’s okay, Ryuzaki. There’s no need to apologize. I think all you need is a good night’s rest; you haven’t slept in almost a week.” Watari chuckled. “I think all the sugar you consume is the problem.”
L managed a weak smile. “Just like at Wammy’s house…It would seem I haven’t outgrown it.” He shakily got to his feet, Watari’s hand still on his shoulder to make sure he did not fall. “I think I’m going to take your suggestion and go to bed.” He sighed, then looked up at the older man. “Thank you, Watari. You don’t know how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”
He turned around and walked out of the room, then slowly made his way to his hotel room. Not even bothering to undress, he fell into his bed and drew the blankets over his head. As the rain pattered against the window, L could still hear the bells ring. It was such a pretty sound now, more like a wedding than a funeral. As he lay in the warm darkness under the blankets, he began to think.
He was ninety-five percent certain that Light Yagami was Kira.
He was ninety-six percent certain that Misa Amane was the second Kira.
And he was 99.9 percent certain that he was going to die some time tomorrow, due to Kira.
L sighed as he slipped into unconsciousness, and his thoughts began to slow for the first time since the Kira case had opened.
I’m praying that you don’t die as well.
Finally, L drifted to sleep, undisturbed by percents and probabilities, the bells still softly chiming in his head.