Spoiler Warning: This takes place before the beginning of the manga series Death Note, and gives spoilers from chapter 59 (book 7).

Call Me Watari
by Kuonji

Quillsh Wammy stood from his desk and stretched. He was in one of those moods when he felt secure in the compassion of his fellow citizens of the world. The assistant he had hired two months ago had managed to obtain a splendid deal for his new device. The international pharmeceutical company that Quillsh had just signed papers with would be contributing a minimum of 8 percent earnings to the Wammy's House Foundation.

It looked like all that Quillsh had worked for his long life was running on comfortably oiled wheels. Both his inventions and his orphans' foundation had the recognition and support to continue even without him.

He looked out the picture windows at the darkening grounds of his family home, feeling content.

Flipping off the lights, Quillsh pulled open his etched oak office door and nearly ran into a small figure who had clearly been waiting there. He squinted in the dim light, although the slouched quiet form was easy to recognize. "Hello there, Li--"

"Call me L."

"Right, right. L." Quillsh smiled tolerantly. L had many such quirks that Quillsh found himself catering to. He was a fascinating child. He was unusually intelligent, a genius even. He had a calculating mind, paired paradoxically with a perpetual sense of vagueness that endeared him to all the caretakers -- if not to the other children.

"I know you're just humoring me for now. But I have to get you in the practice. An international detective can't let his real name get out, not even to other people close to him."

This was another of L's many principles that Quillsh found himself conceding to. L had a very definite idea of his future that no amount of effort could dissuade him from. He did not make statements like, 'I want to be a detective' in the way that other child might, in half-pretend. Somehow, when L said it, he sounded quite serious, and on mellow days like this one, Quillsh believed him.

It was hard to imagine it now, but it had been close to seven years since Quillsh had found the abandoned just-barely-toddler on the street corner, staring mesmerized at the displays in the bakery cafe in front of him. Quillsh's old heart had gone out to the child, and he had taken him in.

Now Quillsh crouched down, putting himself carefully on level with the miniscule would-be detective.

"What's on your mind, then, L?"

L stared at the opposite wall, clenching and unclenching his bare toes in the carpet of the hallway. Quillsh could see his eyes, luminescent in the dimness. They were shifting restively, perhaps following the patterns of the wallpaper, perhaps following the patterns of his own brain waves. "I need your help, Mr. Wammy."

Quillsh was instantly serious. "What's wrong?"

He worried about the boy. His penchant for speaking his mind, coupled with his sharp deductive talents, inevitably led to awkward situations that set him at odds with his companions. Quillsh wasn't sure if L even had any friends his age in the orphanage. As far as he could tell, the bohemian boy didn't care. All the same, Quillsh worried for him.

"I don't have any money," L said. Quillsh's eyebrows shot to his hairline. L had never cared about finance before. He tended to give away his monthly allowance, or have it taken from him when he seemed to forget about it. But he continued. "I don't have any contacts. I need both to do what I have to do." He looked up with his sleepless dark eyes. "You have both."

Quillsh stared, unable for a long time to comprehend the implications.

"What you have to do... You mean, being a detective?"


"You want me to help you become a detective?"

"No. I want you to help me in acting as one."

Quillsh choked. "In acting as... You're only ten years old, Li--!"

"L. And I'll be eleven soon." He shrugged bony shoulders. "Age won't matter anyway. If you help me."

L looked at him unblinkingly. Even after all these years, it was difficult to read the boy's emotions. It wasn't that L hid them. He just did not express himself like others did.

L's eyes flickered, and for a moment, Quillsh was able to distinguish the pure longing in them. It was just the same look that had induced him (against his better judgement) to buy a box of peach tarts for the child that day, what must have been his first 'meal' in too long, and probably his first taste of the sweet confection.

Quillsh felt himself inexplicably giving in, and perhaps it showed, for the boy -- L -- spoke again.

"We'll need some equipment. It's going to cost a lot at first. And Mr. Wammy, it's important that you know this. There's seven to five odds... no." He hesitated before restarting. "There's a 59 percent probability that we may die as a direct result of our line of work. That will go up depending on the cases we take."

Quillsh did not wonder where L had come up with the number. L regularly predicted the victors of the Monday afternoon horse races, which Quillsh had only once given in to betting on, and then only at L's insistence. The results more than covered the expenses of raising the boy.

"Anything else I need to know?"

"I'll have to learn to drive. And we both should learn how to handle weapons." He rocked back on his heels, shifting his gaze to the ceiling. "And first aid, I think."

Quillsh considered. "First aid is no problem. Nurse Feller can help us with that. However, you'll have to wait a bit before you learn to drive. And why don't we just leave the weapons to me, eh?" He had once been a crack shot in Her Majesty's army. He was sure he could pick it up again.

Even as he thought this, he was filled with disbelief that he was actually going along with this. Quillsh Wammy as a detective, indeed. He must be having delusions of grandeur in his advancing age. There was something about L, though, that inspired trust.

"All right. Anything else?"

L looked uncertain for the first time. He drew one hand from his pocket, and he had to speak around his nibbled thumb when he answered next. "I want you to stay with me. Even after I turn 18."

L's words did not make it a request, but peering at his tightly tensed posture, Quillsh had no doubts.

The inventor regarded the boy genius with a fond eye. "I should think that'd be obvious. If we're going to be an international crime-fighting team, we'll have to stay together, won't we?"

L stared at him a few more seconds. Then a smile, the only thing quintessentially child-like about him, appeared. "Mr. Wammy, how do you like the name Watari?"

The Beginning.