Summary: Watari first meets L. Pre-Death Note.
A/N: I have never taken so many liberties with a series before, I usually work with given information. This was completely made up, but the idea had been in my head for a while. Enjoy!
All characters © Death Note
The Calm After
The streets of early morning Southampton were in utter disarray. Chunks of rubble and debris left in the wake of the earthquake were cluttered about the ground like scattered game pieces on an urban board. The quake had taken place only a few hours ago, shattering the early dawn air with its deadly rumble. Southampton, one of the largest cities in southern England, had taken devastating damage.
I was a part-time journalist then, a Japanese reporter and covert inventor with a walrus-like mustache and graying hair. I had never liked the name Quillsh Wammy, so I chose to simply be called 'Watari,' with no surname. I was sure the alias would come in handy when my inventions became world-known.
It was only coincidence that I was in Southampton that day. I'd been planning a trip up north to London to visit my old friend Roger and had merely been passing through the city. Unfortunately for me, I had chosen the wrong time to be in Southampton. Thankfully I was unharmed. The earthquake had been off the charts and the most violent one to rack England in decades.
The morning fog had not yet dissipated into the cool air, creating a nebulous haze around the rubble. I shivered in my long trench coat. Downtown Southampton was little more than a ghost town. The silence was so thick that it seemed to physically weigh me down.
Careful of my footing, I made my way to an area that had not been scoured by the rescue team yet, glad to escape from the other reporters. It was difficult to distinguish the blocks, for the homes on these streets were so demolished that I couldn't tell where they ended and the road began. The pavement was torn up and cratered in many spots, so I directed my full attention to attempting to see through the mist and not tripping on any wreckage.
I was so absorbed by this, in fact, that I did not hear the quiet sobbing at first. The sound was faint and took a moment to reach my middle-aged ears.
That's right, I thought. They hadn't checked this area yet. There could still be survivors here.
As quickly as I could, I tried to find the source of the noise. The crying sounded young, as if coming from a child. I pushed my glasses further up the bridge of my nose and swept my eyes over everything in sight.
A few minutes passed before I finally discovered him. I peered through the fog at a small child who sat huddled on the steps of the remains of his house, sucking his thumb. He did not see me at first, but when I came closer he simply looked up and stared at me emptily. Gray soot was caked all around his face except where his tears had made clean streaks on his cheeks. I saw then that his eyes were as black as coal, and swam with a desolate emptiness that seemed too old for his small body. I walked up to him and bent my knees to face him.
"Hello, child," I told the boy. "I'm here to help. What is your name?"
The boy, who looked about eight, gazed at me with his head cocked, the last vestiges of tears brimming in his eyes. He seemed to not understand me.
"I'm Watari. What is your name?" I repeated. He merely stared at me again with a confused look on his face. The child's unruly hair was black as well, and I noticed that his eyes were slightly almond-shaped. His young features were somewhat Asian, but somewhat foreign at the same time. That gave me a sudden idea.
I tried again in Japanese.
"What is your name, child?" I asked him, the language rolling off my tongue expertly.
At this the boy looked at me, and after a moment replied, "Don't have one, sir," in a Japanese that could have only come from the mouth of a native speaker. His voice was low for his age and as flat as his eyes. I looked him over and decided that he didn't appear to be suffering from any fatal injury, so I continued.
"What do mean, you don't have one? Surely your folks must have given you a name."
The boy pulled his knees up to his chest and squeezed his thin arms around them. "Never had one, sir. This was an orphanage."
I turned my eyes to the collapsed building behind him, then back towards the child.
"Everyone's dead in there," he said to me in that same flat voice. "I hadn't predicted there would be so much blood."
I felt a chill at his words. He was so calm, just staring placidly into space. I worried that he might be in shock.
There was something strange about this child. What dead eyes...
"Child, are you alright? I should get you over to the rescue squad now; they will take care of you."
At this the boy frowned slightly. I saw that his dark eyes had massive shadows underneath them, almost as if he hadn't slept for months.
"They would probably give me a stupid name," he muttered in his child's voice, chewing on his thumbnail. "I don't speak English yet, but I could probably learn in a day or two."
The boy turned his gaze up to meet mine, seeming to brighten considerably. "Watari-san, do you have anything sweet to eat? I'm hungry."
I was surprised that he remembered my name, seeing as I only mentioned it once in English. And did he say that it would take him 'a day or two' to learn the language? Perfecting the western language had taken me years.
Yes, there was something strange about him indeed.
"Not right now child," I told him warmly, feeling the oncoming of a new idea tugging at the back of my brain. I gestured to his tattered garments that floated on his thin body and held my hand out for him to take.
"Come. Let's get you cleaned up first." He took my hand wordlessly, his cold, clammy, and tentative inside mine. Something about this child was compelling, yet I couldn't place my finger on what it was yet. He was…different. I felt that he was a bit similar to me, in a way. I couldn't think of relinquishing this child to unknown hands.
"You're not taking me to the rescue team, are you, Watari-san," the boy said. It was not a question.
I looked at him, trying to hide the incredulous look threatening to spread over my face. It was no use denying it.
"How did you know that, child?" I asked.
The black-haired boy shrugged flatly. "I don't know. Sometimes I just know things."
"I see," was all I could say. What deduction...
We walked in silence through the haze past all of the cluttered debris caking the street, the boy still holding onto the first two fingers of my hand. I noticed that he walked in a funny manner, with his back hunched over and his neck jutted out. At first I thought that he had hurt his back in the earthquake, but the boy seemed to display no outward signs of discomfort at his posture. The way his back bent over reminded me strangely of the letter L in the English alphabet, only upside down.
I stopped and turned to him suddenly.
"May I give you a name, child?"
The boy took his thumb out of his mouth and seemed to deliberate on the matter.
"I suppose so," he consented after a moment. "If it's from Watari-san then I guess it's alright."
"Hmm…" I stroked my mustache.
"How about Eru Roraito?"
The boy made a face and commented dryly. "It's a bit weird, but I suppose it'll have to do."
"Eru…" he murmured to himself with a small smile. "So this is my name now?"
I smiled kindly at him. "Yes, Eru."
He tugged at my sleeve lightly. "Where are we going, Watari-san?"
"How does Winchester sound? I was on my way there to visit an old friend. You'll like him."
"Does he have a name too?" the boy asked. I nodded and adjusted my glasses.
"His name is Roger. And my real name," I added, "is actually Quillsh Wammy. Not Watari."
Eru giggled softly to himself, an eight year old boy with black eyes and black hair who was paler than the moon.
"Can I still call you Watari?"
"Of course," I replied. "Now come, Eru. The world waits." The boy broke into the first true smile that I'd seen yet. I could see the potential brimming behind those tired eyes.
I started to walk again and cast my head over a shoulder to see if he would follow. He did.
"When we get to Winchester…may I have a snack?"
A/N: So maybe their first meeting could have been like this, who knows? No, Watari is not a pedophile, he's just taking L under his wing. If you saw a young L alone and crying, who wouldn't want to take him home?