Thanks to desertwolves, Dante96, SaintsFan1, and Guest for their kind words! This chapter has more about Mello, Able, and of course L and Cherish and their friendship. Fun stuff ahead, enjoy my readers!
Disclaimer: Still only own the oc's and original plot points. *Sad face*
The first week of M's arrival was taxing on everyone. It didn't take long for the rest of Wammy's House to learn that he was unpleasant to be around. Zachariah was convinced M was born angry. Some of the children were afraid to be around him, while others seemed desperate to win over his approval. One of those people was Cherish.
She wanted to befriend the boy, but her efforts had not taken her far. All she had managed so far were a handful of greetings when she'd come by the orphanage. After the first few times, he seemed to grow aware of when her presence was in the house and was now actively avoiding her.
Today was no different. After finishing her schoolwork she had skipped straight over to Wammy's with the same goal in mind. But she couldn't find M anywhere, and it wasn't for lack of trying. Every room and corner had been checked, but the blond boy did not want to be found.
"You haven't given up the chase yet?" L inquired, his head buried in his laptop.
"Of course I haven't," said Cherish. "I thought you of all people would understand that. You'd never give up, would you?"
"This isn't a game I ever agreed to play, but I suppose figuratively speaking, I would persevere," L said, pausing to blink at her. "He doesn't seem to want your friendship though, so all of your endeavors feel pointless."
She was starting to have the same thought, but she wasn't about to let L know that. She couldn't be accepted by everyone, after all, she still didn't have any friends outside of Wammy's House. Maybe that was why she couldn't give up on M. The orphanage was the first place she had formed friendships, and to be denied that now felt wrong. M hadn't made any friends yet either, and she didn't want him to be alone. He was just a boy, no matter how smart he was proving to be.
In the first week of his living there, everyone had discovered what type of smarts M possessed. He was different from L, more cunning and deceptive, and fueled with emotion. It was apparent he didn't know how to wield his emotions, and while he was about as sociable as the next genius, he didn't have the same awkwardness around others that L did.
"I'm going to go ask around again." Cherish decided, pacing over to the door.
L watched her for a moment in acknowledgment before returning to his stack of sugar cubes. He popped one into his mouth, holding it in his cheek so he could speak. "Bad company corrupts good character."
Cherish wrinkled her nose back at him, and she saw the twitch of his lips at her expense. He may as well have been laughing at her. She must have been around Wammy's House for too long, because somewhere along the way she had gained a competitiveness that she never used to have. "Hey, he's going to be my friend, even if it kills me."
"He just might," L said in his monosyllabic way.
"Do you always have to get the last word in?"
L stared at her with a fixed face. "Yes."
Cherish huffed, but let a foolish smile take over her face once she was in the hallway. L's childlessness endeared him to her, and she hoped that he would never change.
Her eyes were focused as she made her way through the house. Lessons had ended by now, and the children were spread out over every floor and the grounds. She went to the kitchen first. Most of Wammy's children all seemed to be scrawny despite having huge appetites, and each diet was as strange as the next. L had his sweets; Zachariah smelt like a theater because of all the popcorn he ate; BB could make a castle out of the empty glass jars of strawberry jam he consumed; Linda had her pudding cups, which she was quite protective of.
Cherish hadn't adopted this habit, probably because she was still eating three square meals a day at home with her parents. They certainly weren't going to let her suddenly stop eating one of the four food groups.
When she got to the kitchen, she was disappointed to find it empty, but as she turned to leave she spotted Able walking down the hallway.
"Hey," She called, quickening her stride to catch up to him. He jolted when she wrapped her hand around his arm, stopping him in his place. Maybe he hadn't heard her? "Sorry Able, I didn't mean to scare you."
"No, I was just thinking," He said, forcing a smile. It was thin and empty. "What's up?"
"Have you seen M around? I was hoping to try and talk with him."
"Still trying to make a new friend, huh?" He asked.
Cherish didn't answer right away. She remembered what Zach had said, about Able and BB being failures. Beyond did not show his face often, so she couldn't say for certain what he was up to, but as she looked over Able, she saw his defeat. Since she had come to the orphanage he had always been a positive force in the house. Now it appeared as if all of the hope had been beaten out of him, and he was in need of inspiration. The best Cherish could do was a hug.
"I always have you if he doesn't want to be my friend, right?" Cherish asked. Able had gone still in her arms.
"Of course. I'm your Pazu, remember?" He squeezed back, and some warmth crept back into his voice. Not enough to be convincing, but at least she felt she had done something for him. Able let her go after a moment, having an answer to her question. "I saw M go outside just a little while ago, so he should still be out on the grounds somewhere."
"Thank you," Cherish said. "Have any advice for me, on how to go about making friends with him?"
"I'll stick with a cliché and say, just be yourself. That should always be enough, or else it just isn't worth it."
The faraway look was in his eyes again, and Cherish could see she was losing him. "Let's do something together again. Tomorrow works for me, so don't make any plans, okay?"
"What did you want to do?" Able asked.
"I don't know, anything really, just make sure you're free. Promise?"
He appeared to contemplate over the idea or was trying to come up with an excuse to say no. She hoped that wasn't the case.
He left after that, leaving Cherish with nothing but his promise, an unmeasurable currency that may prove to rob her blind. She chose to believe in her friend though and forgetting her doubts she followed Able's advice about searching outside for M.
The sun was beating down, and she shielded her eyes with her arm. Many of the children were running about outside, but M wasn't among any of the little clusters. She headed towards the back of the house, hoping he hadn't gone further than that. The land around Wammy's was a large wooded area with many trails, and she didn't feel adventurous enough to trek through there wearing nothing but a dress and her Mary-janes.
When Cherish got to the backyard, she was disappointed to find it abandoned. That was how it seemed at first, but when she tilted her head back with a sigh, she ended up spying a blond head of hair up in the oak tree. He hadn't yet seen her, and she took slow steps forward so as to not spook him.
"M?" She called softly.
"Oh no," He grumbled, and he spun his head until he found her below. "What do you want this time?"
"I just wanted to talk, and get to know you better." Against her better judgment, she grabbed at the wide trunk of the tree and hoisted herself up until her feet found solid footing along the bark.
M's eyes grew with surprise. "Are you sure you can climb up here?"
"Yes," She puffed out. "I used to climb over the gate of the property when I first started coming here."
"Yeah, but tree climbing is a lot harder," He argued, and he started to move from his place on his branch. "Let me come down."
"No, I can do this."
He still must not have believed her, because he climbed down two more branches before stopping just above where her head could reach. "Need some help?" He asked, looking down at her with that know-it-all gaze that everyone in Wammy's house employed so well.
"I'm alright," Cherish said. She managed the rest of the way up in a graceless manner, swinging her leg over the branch across from M until she was straddling it in her dress.
"I didn't think girls were supposed to sit that way," said M, looking at her funny.
"We aren't, so don't tell anyone." She made a shushing motion with her finger to her lips. "Anyway, I don't think we're in any danger of being caught. Nobody really climbs trees here."
"That's what I thought too, but you followed me."
Cherish flushed and looked down, which was a mistake because it made her realize how far up in the tree they still were. She quickly snapped her head back up. "Sorry. I guess I'm trying too hard to be your friend, huh?"
"Yeah, and I don't get it. Why do you want to be friends with a kid; aren't you too old?" said M, leaning back against the trunk of the tree, not seeming bothered by the height.
"I don't really think that matters," said Cherish. "Since coming here, I've probably broken more than one rule when it comes to making appropriate friends, but I wasn't so good at it outside of Wammy's."
"There's no one here for me to be friends with either. Everyone is older than me," M muttered sullenly.
"For now, but Wammy is going to be bringing more children here, you're just the first one he found."
"Really?" M sat up straighter, his hands clutching at the branch before him as he scooted closer.
"Yeah, I don't really know how long that will take him, but just be patient. You'll have new friends before you know it."
"Man, waiting and being patient aren't things I'm good at," said M, crossing his arms.
Cherish smiled. "That doesn't surprise me."
M glared back at her with ferocity. Apparently, he wasn't one for jokes at his own expense.
"You really want to be my friend?" He asked.
"Of course, but I'll leave you alone if that's what you want."
M sat back, a considerate expression falling on his face. "But what would we do? I like sports, and not to be funny, but you don't look very athletic."
"I climbed up here didn't I?"
And after she said that, a snap erupted from the tree. Cherish let out a squeak as the branch she was perched on gave way. It happened so fast and was over in an instant. She hit the ground hard on her left side, and a burning pain started from her wrist, traveling up her arm. A pair of feet landed close beside her head, and she heard M's voice in her ear over and over as he knelt down beside her.
"I'm sorry, Cherish, I'm sorry. It's my fault you fell," He said, his voice wobbly. "Wait here, let me go find some help."
While M took off for the house, Cherish rolled onto her back, cradling her injured arm to her chest as she looked up at the bright sky. Much of her was still shaded by the thick canopy of the oak tree, but she immediately noticed the shadow of an approaching figure. He had managed to slip on his trainers before coming outside, which made her wonder how long he had been watching.
"I said he might attempt to murder you, but I never thought he'd go as far as to push you out of a tree," said L.
"He didn't push me, I fell out," Cherish grounded with tears stinging her eyes from the pain.
"I see. Yes, that makes sense." He crouched down, his head hanging above hers while their eyes locked. "May I assist you up? It appears only your wrist is broken."
She had to agree with that. Her left arm had grown fat and purple at the wrist. "Thanks...Loris."
L carefully helped her into a seated position, making sure she was straight, and that her head wasn't bruised and broken from the fall. "You still don't approve of my new name."
"It'll take getting used to."
"Were you successful in acquiring a new friend?" L inquired as he chewed on his thumb, studying her where she sat on the grass.
"I think my fall might have goaded him into it."
"A win is a win. Though it might interest you to learn that that particular branch used to hold the tire swing, so its integrity was compromised."
Cherish opened her mouth, ready to retort when Wammy came out from the patio of the house, with M tight to his side. The kid's face was all red like he had been running or shouting. Maybe both.
"She has a broken wrist, Watari," L informed him before he even got to speak.
"Oh dear. It looks like a trip to the hospital is in order," Wammy said as he carefully guided Cherish up to her feet. "I will have Roger contact your parents to meet us there."
At the mention of her parents, L took a step back. "I'll leave you in more capable hands."
"You're not coming with me?" Cherish felt her gut sink. She wanted her best friend there with her when her parents arrived, not just Wammy. Her mum and dad had known for a while about her activities and friendships at the orphanage, but they had yet to actually meet any of her friends. Cherish had the suspicion that they didn't believe her.
"Well I'm going with you," M declared, to which she smiled.
"Loris, you should come as well. This may be your last opportunity to spend with Cherish before we leave again to work with L." Wammy said, looking down his nose through his spectacles with a pointed look.
"You get to work with L?" M asked with envy. He had only been there a week, and already the other kids had been singing L's praises. Cherish knew she was probably the most guilty of that, but it was difficult not to when she had to keep secret about L's identity.
"Yes," L said brusquely before turning to Wammy. "I'd rather not go to the hospital, it's not an environment I like putting myself in."
"Then I'll have to ask that you assist Roger with the other children while I'm away."
Cherish had to hand it to Wammy, that was a pretty underhanded move. She would have commented as such, but given the circumstance of her injury, she was more focused on managing the pain in her arm, and what she'd say to her parents when they saw her.
"I'll stay in the waiting room with M," L conceded.
"That's fine," Wammy said. He ushered them around the house to the garage where a sleek black car was kept.
Cherish was sure she'd never seen such a fancy piece of machinery. It was much more luxurious than her family's station wagon with the wood paneling. Wammy held the back door opened for her, and she climbed inside the dark interior. M and L seemed to struggle over who would sit in the middle, with L winning when he held M back by a hand on his head.
"Really mature," Cherish muttered. She tried to grin, but it ended up looking more like a grimace because of the agony in her wrist.
"I never said I wasn't childish," L retorted. He climbed up onto the leather upholstery beside her, assuming his normal position. It seemed even automobile safety wouldn't keep him from his habits.
Once M was tucked inside, Wammy started the engine. He also ordered everyone to put on their seatbelts, which M had already done. L reluctantly followed suit, but Cherish couldn't seem to do it with only the use of one arm. L sighed, finally taking pity on her as he fastened the buckle the rest of the way.
"Thanks," She said to L's blinking face.
M leaned forward in his seat, narrowing his eyes at them. "Are you two boyfriend and girlfriend?"
Cherish flushed. "Of course not!"
"No," L said at the same time. "Now can we please go to the hospital before Cherish's parents decide we are negligent?"
Wammy chuckled, and started the car down the driveway. The car fell into a stuffy silence after that, with M watching them occasionally. L kept his eyes forward, and Cherish wondered if he was as embarrassed by M's question as she had been. He didn't let anything show, but that wasn't anything to report. She sunk back into the soft seat, choosing to forget the matter, even though her face felt as hot as her broken wrist.
Alright so next chapter we are back in L's POV. He gets to meet Cherish's parents for the first time, so any ideas on how you think that will go? Also, I want him and Mello to talk next chapter, and for Mello to officially get his title. Exciting stuff on the way. Cheers guys!