Warning / Author's Note- Spoilers for episode 25 at the beginning and at the ending. Spoilers for Watari's real name, though L's isn't mentioned anywhere. I tried to keep the dates accurate, though I might've messed some up. Sorry if I did. This is also my very first Death Note fic, dearest readers, so please take it easy on me.
Disclaimer – Death Note doesn't belong to me, neither do its characters. Actually, some quotes in the chapter don't belong to me either, but the rest is all mine!
Dedication – This one's for Alexz, definitely. Without you, hun, I never would've started watching Death Note. I also never would've gotten to watch the first episodes too (and played DDR, but that's another story altogether…)! So thank you so much and this one is for you!
The Sound of Memory
Memory is a funny thing. No matter how badly you want to remember some events that occurred in your past, sometimes your memory just won't allow it. Or the exact opposite can happen too – there are some things you'd do anything to forget. Sadly, we don't get to pick and choose which one's which…
It's raining hard today. The sky is grey since the sun is covered with heavy clouds, and I am standing in the heaven's torrential floods on top of one of the highest building of the city. To some, I may appear truly crazy, but I'm actually quite intelligent. But this day, this temperature, the coolness of the water soaking through my clothing… this all clings at my memory. But the thing that sparks the unforgettable souvenir is the sound.
The sound of the bells.
Church bells, to be more precise. Church bells always ring for a good reason. Either a new child is baptized, or a couple is now married, or someone passed away. But in all these cases, church bells always mean something.
But to me, they mean so much more than these day-to-day events. I hear the bells whether or not they're really ringing.
They, mixed with such a horrible temperature, are bringing me back years ago. Bringing me back to that peculiar day, the 10th of May 1986. The day that I heard them for the very first time…
I had always been a different child. I never knew what happened to my mother and father, though I could easily deduce, by the lack of social care I received, that they were too poor to keep me at birth. The orphanage was a shabby one. It didn't take any hard evidence to prove that it wasn't real food they were serving us, but rather weird concoctions of cheap or almost-rotting product.
I was seven years and roughly six months old when I first got to live with a real family. My "mother" was a pretty woman of forty years old, my "father" a distinguished business man of forty-three. I also had a "brother" exactly a hundred and eight days younger than I.
I didn't stay there for long. Somehow, the "poor boy who seems so tired and in need of a good home" they had picked up at the orphanage didn't fit their standards of a perfect son.
Their decision to send me back had been on my second day of school, which had also been my third day at their house. The afternoon before, all of us second graders had read a 12 paged book, then had watched a one-hour movie on the same subject. Then our nice teacher had cooed to us, asking that we write a little composition on which one we liked best and why.
My "brother" arrived at school with a half-page on the subject, the pride and joy of the teacher. Everyone else had written a line or two. Things such as "I liked the movie because there were more images" or "I liked the book because I like reading" were common, but he hadn't done so. He had managed five lines on the subject.
I guess my teacher didn't appreciate the fact that I produced a thirteen-paged essay on the subject, comparing the themes in the book and the way the animation in the movie didn't quite portray the same ones. She immediately called the principal, who called my parents to "have a little talk".
My mother was terrified, couldn't stop crying while screaming that I was a spawn of the devil. My father also seemed unsure about me, so I only sat down and stared at them intently, which only seemed to unnerve them 40 more.
They let me sleep at their home until the next day. I had never been much of a sleeper, so I listened to their constant arguments whether or not to keep me throughout the night. But as soon as the sun was raised, the man who'd call himself my father gave me some bogus story about how they wouldn't have enough money to keep me after all.
I flatly told him he was a liar, and that judging by his work hours and his job title, his revenue should be somewhere around 70,000 per year.
Thirty minutes later, I was back at the orphanage. I had to sit back with the other children as the old teacher attempted to teach most children how to read and write. It was the same story every single year, with every single illiterate child that stepped through the doors. We'd go through the same concepts almost every year. I couldn't stand it anymore, I wanted something new. I absolutely needed a challenge. My rare trips to the abandoned library behind the orphanage, where dozens of old books would teach me life's real things, couldn't satisfy me any longer.
I walked out of the orphanage the second that the teacher had turned her back. There was no way I would stay there any longer than I had to. I knew the chances of survival for a boy my age, out in the streets, was a meager one. Somewhere less than twenty-five percent.
I don't know how long I managed to walk. Rain had begun to pour while I had been in class and had now degenerated into a raging storm. Hours upon hours flashed by as I marched down the slippery road. The sky was a bright pale yellow in the horizon, but the one above my head was painted a menacing shade of grey.
The temperature had also dropped, yet in my stubbornness, I had refused to wear shoes. My bare feet would splash in puddles and I'd shiver out of cold. I was miserable, disappointed at life in general, and more importantly, alone.
Then that's where I heard them so clearly for the first time in my life. The church bells.
They were loud and sounded majestic, a sound that I had never gotten to listen to ever since I was born. I felt almost enraptured by the sound, its music drowning the clap of thunder that had been filling my ears.
My feet then began to move on their own accord. I followed the resonance of the bells, soon sprinting towards them. I felt the rocks of the pavement digging in my feet, sprouting blood and creating pain, but it didn't matter. I only wanted to reach the noise.
I skidded to a halt in front of a church. It had been built for approximately eight hundred years- an ancient sturdy structure made of old stones and mortar. As soon as I stopped, so did the bells. But I could still hear their echo in my mind, and I was suddenly filled with a mix of emotion I did not recognize. Happiness? Peace? Despair? They all seemed to be mingling, something that had never happened to me. Usually, I either felt numb or bored.
Then people began to fill out of the church, popping open their umbrellas in the process. It was easy to deduce that it was a funeral, since everyone was wearing dark clothing. Many were crying and hugging each other.
I suddenly felt my heart tugging painfully in my chest.
It tugged again as the bell tolled one last time, and then everything was silent. The doors of the church opened again and another man came out. I had seen his face before – he was another one of these rich men that owned many facilities. I could barely see his expression because of the battling rain that shielded my view, but I knew that he had lost someone dear to him.
As the man stopped to talk to someone in the parking lot, a few people passed by me, talking. I only heard a few fragments of their conversation, my mind still reeling with the sound of the bells.
"… no children to keep him company now..."
"… losing his wife at such a young age…"
"… been married only a year."
My eyes turned back to the man as he shook hands with the people he had been talking to. As soon as he turned around, another older woman almost jumped on him and began talking hurriedly, waving her arms around. I assumed, from the conversation I had overheard, that he was Quillsh, who had lost his wife after a year and had no children. The woman must be a relative, since she was now bawling dramatically, mostly to gather his attention.
But Quillsh wasn't even looking at her. In fact, his eyes were plunged directly in mine, even though the distance between us surpassed the twenty meter mark.
He turned around and said something to the lady, before crossing the street. He was in front of me in under a hundred and thirty seconds. From this close up, I assessed that he should be in his early forties. His eyes looked tired under his glasses, but I noticed that his clothing was immaculately pressed.
Quillsh shifted his umbrella from one hand to the other, before crouching down to my level. He was keeping his distance, remaining about two meters in front of me. In a gentle voice, he asked quietly, "How come you're standing out here in the rain, little boy?"
I looked up at him, at his caring eyes. Even though I felt compelled to trust him, I knew better than to talk to strangers. I remained completely quiet and stared at him, waiting for him to introduce himself.
Quillsh suddenly closed his umbrella, still balancing himself on his heels. Water instantly began to turn his outfit and perfectly-combed hair into a complete mess. But as he began to get more and more drenched, I saw what he was trying to do. The umbrella, his dryness, had somewhat put a barrier between us two. Now he was almost stooping down to being my equal. Most children would laugh at a drenched man; I only stared at him curiously.
He spoke again, water dripping from his neatly-trimmed mustache. "I am Watari. May I ask your name, boy?"
Quickly, without thinking, I answered, "I am L."
He smiled, obviously amused by my choice of name. "Now, that isn't your real name, is it?"
"No," I agreed, wiping water from my face with an equally sodden hand, "but Watari isn't yours either. Your name is Quillsh, I heard someone mention it."
Quillsh grinned lightly. He, unlike other adults I've frequented so far, didn't seem shocked the slightest by my sense of deduction. It was as if he'd see kids like me every single day of his life.
"Alright then, L, if that's what you wish to be called. You're very intelligent; I have to tell you that. Why don't you want to tell me your real name?" the older man ventured quietly.
I looked squarely at him and motioned to the street behind me with my trembling hand. "I want to leave everything behind," I said quietly. "I want a new start."
Quillsh smiled warmly, reaching over to take my outstretched hand. I didn't pull away when his warm fingers touched my frozen skin. Somehow, I trusted this man.
"You know what, L?" he murmured as he stood up, still holding my hand. "I think I want one too. I have a new project in mind, and you may just be the perfect person to help me start. Are you interested in living in my orphanage, L? It's built and ready, though I was hesitating whether of not to really board children. Now that... Now that my wife is gone, I believe I could devote myself to this project. Would you like to visit?"
I looked up at him as he let go of my hand and opened his umbrella. Soon, the raindrops were shielded from his body as he smiled down at me, his offer lingering in the air. I peered down at the spot besides him where the water wouldn't fall, knowing that he was inviting me into a brand new life. A new beginning.
"I'd like that, Watari," I whispered, nodding. He only smiled once more and took my hand again, tugging me closer in the dry area under his umbrella as we began walking.
Now nineteen years have passed, rendering me twenty-five years old. Following these bells was the best thing I could've done in my entire life. I've heard them again, these bells. Once when I started my first case. Another when I've met Mello and Near. The loudest ever – after the occasion of my meeting with Watari - had been when I first started working, on December 4th 2004, on the Kira case.
Or, that's what I thought was the loudest. Today, November 5th 2005, almost a year after beginning the Kira investigation, I'm hearing them again.
But now, they're almost suffocating me with their noise. I vaguely noticed Yagami Light standing a few feet from me, sheltered from the rain that's soaking me. He shouts something, yet the sounds of the bells are too loud. I place a hand upon my ear.
He shouts again, yet his voice is lost through the symphony. There is something quite ironic as to why they are ringing so loud, sparing me from having to hear him. It makes me grin as I wave at him that I can't understand. Then he steps forward and into the raging inferno of water.
"Ryuzaki," he says, water drenching him by the torrents. Lightning lights up the sky and both of our faces in the process. "Come inside, you're getting wet."
I turned around and peered in the distance. I wished I was back in front of that little church, looking up as Watari marched towards me. But then again…
Every single time I heard these bells, my life was turned upside down. Watari brought me home, my first case turned me into a famous detective, meeting Mello and Near gave me my first friends, and Kira has proven himself to be a more than worthy opponent and challenge. Now, I'm hearing them again, but louder. Clearer too, somehow.
"Do you hear them, Light?" I murmur, my voice almost losing itself in the burst of heavy winds.
He, the boy who I was certain was Kira, looked around before shaking his head. "Hear what, Ryuzaki?"
"The bells," I stated calmly, keeping my eyes in the distance. "They've been ringing all day."
He stares at me in a funny way, and I can't help the small smile that tugs upon my lips. "The church bells… Don't you hear them? They're surely ringing for a wedding… or for a…"
I halt. We both know that the last part means "funeral". And by this, I mean my own funeral.
I know that by the end of the day, I won't be alive anymore.
But the bells have never deceived me. So in less than a few hours, no matter how my life seems fine at the moment, I know I'll have something better to await me.
I will be drifting with the sounds of my memory…