Hurray. Another L. This was quite fun to write.
You'll notice that this isn't in Notes. (My watchers will, I mean.) It's quite too long to be a drabble, as are some of my other fics. Over the summer, I'm probably going to break Notes up and make most of them individual stories.
Disclaimer: If I owned L, I wouldn't be sharing.
A middle-aged man and a young boy boarded that plane together. The man, whose hair was just beginning to gray, looked a little over-dressed—especially next to the boy, who was wearing a plain white T-shirt, wrinkled jeans, and no socks under his sneakers.
The woman who took their tickets smiled down at the boy. "Hello there," she said sweetly. "And how old are you?"
"Nine," L replied simply, biting his thumb and clutching the man's hand as he stared back at the woman.
"Is this your grandpa?"
Neither L's expression nor his voice changed at all, and there was no hesitation. He simply came out and lied.
Quillsh knew it was foolish to frame this tiny genius by normal standards, but he couldn't help but be slightly disturbed to see a nine-year-old lie so readily and easily.
"Have a nice flight."
The two boarded. L clambered into his first-class window seat and sat in his usual position—feet up on the chair, clutching his knees.
"You may sit like that for now," Quillsh said as he took a seat himself, "but you'll need to sit normally and buckle up when we're going to take off."
"Why?" the boy asked indignantly.
"Mr. Wammy," L said severly, "plane crashes are very rare. It is more likely to be kicked to death by a donkey than to die in a plane crash."
"Do you have any statistics on turbulence?" Quillsh replied at once with a slight smile.
He watched L's dark eyes flick back and forth as the boy searched his vast store of knowledge; then L scowled. "Fine." He dropped his legs, put on the seatbelt, and proceeded to squirm and fidget in a rather amusing manner.
After a moment, Quillsh said, "I have a question, L."
"Uh-huh?" He had turned to look out the window, and Quillsh could see the boy's eyes reflected on the glass.
"Is it easy for you to lie?"
The boy shrugged. "No easier or harder than it is for anyone else, I suppose." Whether that was another deliberate lie, or whether L just believed that lying was a simple task for everyone, Quillsh wasn't sure—but in any case, that statement couldn't possibly have been true.
"Besides," the boy continued, turning back to look Quillsh in the eyes, "truth is so subjective anyway."
"Not subjective enough for you to say that I'm your grandfather," Quillsh protested lightly.
"Sure it is. If she had asked me in Japanese, 'O-jiisan desu ka?' then it would have been perfectly true for me to respond in the positive, because you are, if you will pardon my saying so, an old man."
I'm not that old, Quillsh thought, shaking his head. "First of all, she was not speaking Japanese; second of all, you know very well that even if she had been, she would have meant 'grandfather,' not 'old man.'"
"But in that case, it would have been true."
"She was not speaking Japanese, so what you said was a lie and the argument is invalid."
"Fine, then. The other question she asked me: my age. I did answer 'honestly,' but wouldn't it also have been true for me to say that I'm ten years old? Or even much older, an adult even?"
"Well, counting from when I was conceived, I'm ten already. And my mind is certainly sharper and more mature than those of many adults."
Sharper, yes. More mature? Maybe not, Quillsh thought, hiding a smile. "But conventionally, age is counted in years from one's birth."
"And merely because everyone agrees that that is 'truth,' it's absolute?" L questioned.
Quillsh shrugged. "It may not be the wisest way to go about it, but that's how society functions."
"Ahh—and society is, of course, completely perfect."
Where on Earth did a young boy learn such an ironic tone—and about the nature of society, no less?
"All right. So truth is not absolute," Quillsh conceded. "But then, what are you looking for when you solve a case?"
L's never-blinking eyes bored into Quillsh's. "I am looking for justice."
The man quirked an eyebrow. "And is that absolute?"
"Certainly not," L replied at once. "There are many, many different interpretations of justice—some vastly irreconcilable, some completely misguided, and many that are variations on the same basic, noble idea. However…"
"I am the one in a position to exercise my own views on justice. And no," he said, anticipating Quillsh's next question, "that does not, in itself, make my 'justice' any more correct than anyone else's. It simply means that I am a position of power that enables me to impose my views on others."
"Be careful, L. You're awfully young to let power go to your head."
"Any power I gain, I will deserve."
"Then let's hear this justice of yours," Quillsh invited.
L thought for a moment, then pouted at Quillsh. "I can't put it into words when I'm sitting like this."
"We're not taking off yet," Quillsh said with a smile, waving his permission.
The boy unbuckled and popped his knees back up. Then, with his thumb to his mouth, he spoke.
"Justice is kindest to the innocent victim and harshest to the senseless slaughterer. Justice makes well-informed decisions, and if it makes mistakes, it is gracious and swift to admit and correct them." He thought a moment. "I may need to work on the grace part a little bit," he said in a hurry. Then he continued, "And justice is not a woman—nor is it a man. It should not be personified, because it is not a person. It has no human emotions, no human bias, no human desires. It is perfectly objective."
Quillsh was momentarily speechless. This boy—this tiny boy with guarded shoulders and crazy black hair and dark, dark eyes—held so much wisdom in his young mind that it seemed surreal. He had already saved the world from chaos once and Quillsh was certain—absolutely certain—that he would do it again.
"L, I think that is a flawless, beautiful view of justice," the man said, placing a fond hand on the boy's messy hair.
"Thank you," the boy replied with a slack smile. "I think so too."
The plane took off smoothly, and in no time the stewardess rolled down the aisle to offer refreshments. Quillsh asked for tea, and the stewardess turned to L.
"I'd like a cup of coffee and ten packets of sugar, please," the boy requested.
The stewardess blinked and glanced at Quillsh, who nodded his permission, long past the point when he would find L's eating habits strange.
"Regular or decaf?"
"Regular is fine."
The stewardess obligingly poured the cup and handed over the sugar. "I think you're the youngest coffee drinker I've ever seen," she commented amiably. "How old are you?"
"Twelve. I look young for my age," L responded, and again Quillsh was chilled by the utter lack of change in the boy's expression.
"L," he said once the stewardess was out of earshot, "out of a mild curiosity, why did you lie to that woman?"
"I felt like it," the child replied, intently focused on stirring sugar into his coffee. "And I thought it seemed more reasonable for a twelve-year-old to drink coffee than for a nine-year-old to do so."
"Would it really have mattered?"
L shrugged. "I suppose not."
Quillsh was silent for a moment. "One more question, L."
"Do you ever lie to me?"
The boy met his eyes, a typical symbol of complete honesty that he'd probably learned to utilize, and without blinking, without his voice or expression changing at all, he answered, "When I feel like it."