Note: I totally thought I'd have more time to update this summer.
Really, I did -- but I'm sorry. My time has been divided between volunteering, working, tennis practice, summer homework, and the demands of my friends to "go out" and "do" things. I haven't had much alone time, so I beg your forgiveness.
Anyway. Thank you to all who gave suggestions! Everyone seemed to guess "W" correctly, and one special person guessed "C." You'll know who you are soon enough. C:
"Love Lies Bleeding"
Running in All Directions
We'll do it all,
On our own.
We don't need
- Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol
"I wonder if they have any..."
I bade A goodbye and entered the dining room, last of the group. Scanning the area, I found that there were four, small round tables covered by white cloths and set for about three kids each. Of course, there were eleven of us, so one of those tables would seat only two.
That was when I saw the boy from before, C, sit down. And for some reason, I felt suddenly inspired to run to the table in that particular direction.
Inviting myself into the chair beside C, I sat down and smiled, waiting for my presence to be acknowledged. He was presently staring at his place setting. Just staring. ...Staring. Still staring. I put my elbows on the table and rested my head on my hands, staring at him as he stared, waiting.
I'd hate to think that a plate with a napkin is more interesting than I am.
Taking the initiative, I nudged him a little with my elbow. He turned away, but I knew he knew I was here. Playfully, I blew a gust of air at the back of his head, sending his slightly curled, dark locks fanning out in all directions. Oh, and I expected him to whip around and beat me across the face (though perhaps that's something only A would do) because I knew I was being annoying, and I knew he knew I knew. Heehee.
Oh, but he didn't.
He stood, picked up his chair, and moved to the next table over. He didn't even spare a glance.
...Despondent, I fell face-down on the plate in front of me and covered my head with the napkin.
The Chosen Ones
"These," L dumped a mound of folders on the bed, "are the profiles of those who have 'passed'."
A nodded, glancing briefly at the five, identical manila folders. "So, you said we're going to... track down some kind of occult society. But, what are we supposed to do?"
"Investigate, of course."
"Well, I know--"
"...It's not that simple, though."
"No. It's not."
L turned his attention to the folders, thus ending the discussion. A's question was left dangling in the air, unanswered, but she found it pointless to continue probing. Meanwhile, L fingered one of the folders (A could only wonder how he'd know exactly whose profile it contained) and held it up. "Alternate / Age 7 / Rank 1. A will be L's eyes and ears during the investigation, with direct contact to Watari. She must relay all information to her superiors through a secure line. A is the only child with exclusive knowledge of L's identity; at times, she may pose as L."
Working closely with L: what an honor. However...
"It sounds like you're making me do your work," A remarked bluntly.
L popped a sugar cube in his mouth and slurped on it wordlessly.
"Running from the new kid, Coil?" (1)
"Hello to you, too, Wedy."
C dragged the chair to a halt and sat down unhappily.
"What's with you, Sunshine?" the blonde inquired.
C mumbled something below his breath, which Wedy couldn't grasp. Though, knowing Coil, it was probably something along the lines of: "I'll never catch up to L," or "I failed at -- insert effort here -- yet again." And Wedy could very well guess the cause of this depression. Recently, she'd overheard that he was demoted a letter, a vital rank, and the news of this probably sent him spiraling (coiling?) into depression. Just like last time. For you see, after L, Coil was the brightest child that Wammy's had to offer... before A came along, that is.
Wedy snorted. "Get over yourself."
"Next," L continued, picking another folder haphazardly from the pile. "Wednesday / Age 15 / Rank 5. W will reside with the Carters (2) in Kenya. Wednesday is among the oldest of the children, requiring less supervision, and has notable skill in hacking computerized systems."
A looked upward in thought. "She's stealthy, too."
"Why do you say that?"
A paused, then shrugged. "She stole my English report once... It was a pretty impressive feat. I was actually right there in my room when she stole it, and I never even noticed her come in."
"Is that so?" L replied, the corners of his mouth curling up into an enigmatic smile. "How did you discover the culprit?"
"Well, I mean, it could be just a blind conjecture, but afterwards I found 'Today is Wednesday' written on my desk in lip gloss."
Generous plates of pancakes were distributed to the crowd of children. Wedy was absentmindedly poking at her breakfast, trying to calculate the difference in calories between adding and not adding syrup (like all teenage girls do), when Mr. Cobalt entered the room.
"Miss Wednesday? Is there a Miss Wednesday in the room?"
Someone pointed a fork in Wedy's direction, and the old gentleman ambled over to her table. "Excuse my interruption, but your presence is requested. If you will just follow me..." he said, trailing off and heading to the exit.
C snorted. "What'd you do this time?"
Wedy glared at him and slammed her fork on the table. "Shut up, Number Three."
Coil seemed to cry a little, on the inside.
The blonde dropped her utensils and slid her plate away, backing out of her chair. Unfortunately, the child from the next table, seated just behind W, also chose that moment to back out of her chair. And they collided.
Wedy turned and spat, "Watch where you're going, H!"
"Halifax / Age 10 / Rank 3. H will reside with the Lidner family in Nova Scotia. Incidentally, Nova Scotia is her country of origin, so she will have the advantage of familiarity with the location." L smirked behind his cup of tea. "Is there anything you would like to add?"
But A decided to ignore the mocking tone.
"Halifax..." she repeated thoughtfully. "We've never talked, so I don't know much about her... but she did give me back my English report that one time."
Hal stuck her tongue out at her nemesis (a.k.a. roommate). "Watch where you're throwing your body weight," she replied calmly.
Wedy was highly affronted.
If this crowd of children had been any crowd of children other than those proper Wammy minions, there would have been a chorus of "ooooh's" in the background. But alas, that is not the case, and Wednesday was not instigated further. She left the room with a simple scoff and a swish of the hair.
An older boy sitting beside Hal rolled his eyes at the behavior of the two blondes. Sighing, he said, "Come on, H. We're being called down, too."
(3) "Middow / Age 17 / Rank 4. M will join the Matsuda family in Japan. Again, he has been assigned his country of origin, so he will be familiar with the area. M is also the oldest of the children, and will be responsible for the more difficult aspects of the investigation."
"Middow," A began. "In class, he claimed that his deceased family was once a powerful group of businesspeople. If that's true, it's possible that M has retained some of his parents' connections. I wonder if that'll be useful to the case?"
Middow adjusted his glasses and headed for the door with Hal behind him. While passing between the round tables, he discovered a dejected-looking boy sitting alone with his head down on the table, breakfast ignored, and a napkin randomly covering his syrup-colored hair.
M hesitated, and then tapped the boy's head.
BB looked up and around.
"You have syrup in your hair," M informed.
B let out a loud, defeated whine. He glanced behind him at C, that cold-hearted crush, wondering if he'd noticed. And C was, indeed, looking at B's head.
"Now, we also have," L began, picking up another folder, "Coil / Age 12 / Rank 2. C will join the Jeevas family in Haiti. (4)" L placed the folder back down on the bed. "Although I have not known C personally, we were generally rivals during my time at the orphanage. He does not know my face, but I am eighty-four percent certain that he remembers every single test score I had ever achieved."
"...Yeah, that sounds like Coil," A affirmed with a slow nod. "I don't know much about him, though. He tends to avoid me."
"That, too, sounds like Coil."
Purging the Impurities
An elderly gentleman -- not Mr. Cobalt, but another one, whom the children vaguely recognized but could not quite recall -- entered the dining room and quietly requested that C join him out in the hall. That was fifteen minutes ago.
Now, with the population in the dining area cut in half, the room was considerably less crowded and the rest of the children enjoyed their pancakes uneventfully. They were not at all anxious when Nurse Bedingfield walked into the room and demanded that everyone hurry up with their eating. (Bedingfield was a demanding person, you see, and this was not out of the ordinary.) Soon afterwards, the caretakers rounded up the six or so children and led them outside, back to the bus, ready to take that second, hour-long trip.
And that was their unsung departure from the world of Wammy's.
Insight and Discovery
"So, in terms of relaying information, the other kids will contact me, and I will contact Watari, who will contact you."
"Correct. Be aware that this communication relay may possibly cause a circulation of misinformation, so you must be clear and meticulous about details. However, such measures must be taken, since a direct link to Watari or myself is too risky."
A was quiet, pondering.
"You said before... that I may have to pretend to be you. Is this what you meant? That the other kids will report to me, thinking that I'm L, in order to throw off any possible interceptors of communication?"
"So, to some extent, I'll be in the line of danger, won't I?"
"Yes. Although, it is highly unlikely that our lines will be infiltrated. You are relatively safe."
"Relatively," she repeated slowly, turning her gaze downward. "Well, relatively speaking, I'm safer than the other kids -- but not as safe as you." She paused for a moment before continuing, "In the end, doesn't this mean that my life has priority over theirs, and your life has priority over mine?"
L popped another sugar cube into his mouth, his expression becoming solemn. "Although the concept of lives having priority over one another seems unfavorable, this is the truth," he began firmly. "Should you ever succeed me, A, you must come to terms with this. As L, you would have the influence to move international militaries and sway the opinions of powerful nations. Your life is quite valuable -- not to be taken lightly, and not to be thrown away. At times, yours will have priority over others'. This is the truth."
And A couldn't help but wonder if it was.
"Now," L said, several minutes later, "please bring me the wastebasket from the corner and move your chair at least three feet away."
A gave him a quizzical, one-eyed squint. However, disregarding the request as simply another annoying trait of the great L, she obliged. Picking up the trash can, A deposited it near the side of the bed and then moved her chair to the far wall, several feet more than just three. She figured that he probably just had to cough up a sugar ball (don't cats have hairballs?), or some such nonsense, and did not want to be caught in the line of fire.
Of course, that's a ridiculous notion.
Instead, L dumped all of the profile folders into the can and pulled out a matchbox, striking a fire using only the thumbs and forefingers of each hand (impressive), and dropped the incendiary into the wastebasket. The pile combusted in a flare of heat, which A could feel quite uncomfortably, from more than three feet away.
"Wh... what're you doing?"
"Deleting all records of your existences. For safety."
Perhaps A would have retorted something snarky, or rolled her eyes, or inquired as to why L did not simply use a paper shredder like the average human being. However, there was something in that fire -- that combustion of heat waves and blazing light -- which held her gaze, unwavering. Just for a moment, for a moment, there was this airy feeling of remembering or knowing something that she had never remembered and never known in the first place. Just for a moment, she knew.
And then, another thought came barreling through that secret, fluid knowledge which seeped into her mind from some unknown source. It was urgent and unambiguous, this new and alarming thought.
A counted off on her fingers. "A, C, H, M, and W..."
She looked at L with pleading eyes.
(1) Erald Coil, supposedly third of the "top three" detectives in the world.
(2) Anthony Carter, a.k.a. Rester (age 22)
(3) "Middow" - (English-ization of) Shingo Mido; one of the men from the Yotsuba Company. (--Forgotten minor character alert!--)
...In case you don't remember, he was that nerdy-lookin' guy with the glasses and brown/blonde hair that helped out Namikawa. :) What can I say? I needed a representative from the Yotsuba group. :D
(4) When someone asked for France in a review, I thought, "France, eh? But, L will already have Europe covered... so let's go somewhere French in the Carribean."
From the Author: HAH hahaha... Yes, I actually went ahead and calculated everyone's ages. According to "How to Read 13," L was born in 1979, and so (for the purposes of this story) B and A were born in 1982/1983. Thus, the current year is 1990, and from there I calculated everyone else's ages. :'D
What a pain. -.-
Anyways, this is a light intro to our new cast of Wammy's, who will be joining their respective families shortly. (A's family is yet to be revealed.) Thanks again to those who sent suggestions -- and congratulations, fire spirit, for figuring out the mystery that is "C.":)
...Hey, aren't we missing somebody?