Title: Silent Consonant
By: Dr. Kim-chan
Author's Note: It's the Good Doc, back in the fic-writing circuit yet again, adding yet another Death Note story under my belt. All my other stories, such as "Bakery Boys" and "Ronin Note", will be resumed shortly (mainly because the flash drive that held my fic files went on the fritz before finally dying on me), but this idea came to me while surfing through page after page of Beyond Birthday fanart.
The events of the novel "Death Note: Another Note" (and to some degree, the main series itself) seemed to suggest that fate is inevitable; that some people are just destined to do things that set off a whole 'nother dizzying chain of events. However, let's take two events: one that never happened, and one that did, and alter them. The outcomes may have been different, and yet still, no one comes out entirely unscathed.
Especially not L.
The idle gossip of his fellow classmates merged together, the low whispers and soft giggles registering in his ears like the low rumbles of thunder that precipitated an approaching storm.
Somehow, though, he blocked out every bit of information he deemed useless until he could pick up on the familiar drone of the teacher's lecture, though if truth be told, hearing what he'd already studied diligently on his own was useless. Constantly receiving high scores on tests both real and practice, serving as an example to Japanese students everywhere…such a high intelligence had both its advantages and downfalls, and even to an intelligent mind, it was difficult to weigh each list against each other and decide which path to take.
However, even with no one to relate to, it didn't necessarily mean that socialization was a priority. For Light Yagami, his path was more or less clear-cut, and any additional frivolous commitments would only obscure his destination. It was his last year of high school, and all the years of hard work would eventually pay off as he took (and almost certainly pass) university entrance exams—he was seriously considering To-Oh University—then a few years later he would follow in his father's footsteps and become part of the Japanese police force. As to whether he would also become chief like his father, only a future further hidden away from Light's view would tell.
For now, all that was in his view was the afternoon sun streaming in through the window, the courtyard and the other buildings that encompassed the school grounds.
To see something, and yet feel an incomprehensible distance from it…the inconsolable thought that there was nothing new to experience, nothing and no one to challenge his own personal world, that beyond the glaring sunlight was a world full of people who couldn't understand him…
Yes, intelligence certainly had its downfalls.
The sunlight barely penetrated his caramel eyes, glossed over from an intense boredom…
He barely had time to take a quick glance at his textbook when something black outside the window entered the outermost peripheries of his vision.
Startled, Light began to turn his head for a closer look…
The sound of the teacher's voice abruptly stole his attention, and his focus was all too swiftly brought back to the dark reality of the classroom.
"Will you please translate this passage?"
Not missing a beat, Light picked up the textbook and stood up from his chair, but at the very last second he stole another glance at the window.
…Just a bird, probably.
His eyes scanned the page for the beginning of the prescribed paragraph, and then he began to read.
Light sighed as his hand alighted on the front gate of his house. Even the commute to and from school never failed to remind him of the supposed futility of human existence.
En route home, towering above an insanely busy crosswalk at the center of the city, was an enormous television screen not too much unlike the ones sitting in the living rooms and bedrooms of most people's homes. And every day, it seemed, newscasters sat behind their desks, faced the cameras with faces fit for a morgue, and informed the masses about unfortunate murders, corrupt politicians, robberies both petty and grand, trials and mistrials, halfhearted social commentary. The unhappy routine only repeated itself when he went to cram school in the evenings. It all suggested, and only served to add to, a profound fog of pessimism growing beyond its own and others' control, spreading to even a relatively peaceful country like Japan ("relatively" being the operative word).
Taking all this into account, Light both admired and criticized his father's line of work. The rational part of his mind knew that the Japanese police force (or any police force across the world, for that matter) couldn't possibly eradicate crime entirely. As long as there were those who held their own interests in mind, crime wouldn't disappear. But at the very least, the emotional side of Light's mind argued, they could do more. Forensics and bureaucratic red tape would only get so far.
Just a few more years, he assured himself, opening the front door. Then I can make a difference.
"I'm home," he said out loud as he stepped into the genkan.
Almost as soon as he began taking his shoes off, his mother Sachiko stepped into the hallway, face beaming.
"Welcome home, Light. You take your practice exam today, don't you?"
Light nodded listlessly.
"All right. Hurry and change, then. And good luck, honey."
He sighed. "Thanks, Mom, I'll try my best."
Same as usual…
At least, until later that afternoon.
The monotony of the day usually dragged on, even into the early hours of the night, but when Light walked into his assigned classroom of his cram school, the first vestiges of a future beyond his reckoning whispered to him—or rather, whispered to each other.
The percentage of students who attended cram school with genuine intentions was significantly higher than those who attended high school, but still rather paltry compared to Light's lofty standards, so certainly it wasn't unusual to hear gossip flying around the room in the time before the teacher arrived. However, there was one conversation in particular that Light felt was worthy of a few moments of his time.
"You heard of L, right?"
"You mean that famous detective? What about him?"
Light immediately leaned in to better hear the two boys sitting a couple of seats away. Certainly he had heard of L, mainly through his father. If the situation warranted it, the mysterious entity many knew only as L rose up to solve the problem, either alone or with the assistance of the police or more higher-ranked agencies—if it could be called "assistance". No one except an equally mysterious man known only as 'Watari' could meet him face-to-face, and usually all the police could do was pull strings within the country where the crime was occurring and act as eyes and ears to whatever place L himself couldn't get to.
Though Light had helped the Japanese police with a case before, he never had the chance to meet L "in person" (as far as the definition of that phrase could go in L's circumstances), but he was one of the rare few Light admired completely. L was everything the police wasn't: free from the bounds of proper procedure, highly intelligent, able to take on the filth of the world however he pleased…
"I heard he's suddenly gone missing."
Light raised a skeptical brow, and so did the boy on the direct receiving end of this news.
"How can they tell? No one's ever actually seen or met him, right? Maybe he's working on a really sensitive case…besides, you know Internet rumors. Can't prove 'em one way or another."
The first boy shrugged. "I just heard he'd taken on a few more cases, and then one day they stopped getting any more information from him, and some of them started raising a stink about it. Of course they can't contact him directly to ask where he is, but apparently this has been going on for months…"
Before the second boy or Light could hear any more tidbits, the creak of a door alerted the students to the arrival of the teacher, and the two conversationalists hastily hissed promises to continue the conversation after class was over, leaving Light to stare intently at the polish of his desk as he pondered what he'd just heard.
The modern world's greatest detective…missing?
If all of this was true, then did it allow the possibility that even L had been defeated by this rotten world?
He shook his head. He also had to keep in mind that, as far as he knew, this was a rumor that had come from the Internet, a sketchy realm if one was looking for honest information, and even if the stories of L abruptly cutting communications with various agencies were true, there was no way to verify the detective's reasons for doing so. If nothing else, L was known to be a notorious recluse.
The shuffle of papers signaled students passing copies of tests to each other, but Light suddenly perked up for another reason entirely.
No, there was a way to verify that information.
It was ashamedly simple, but only he could do it.
"So when do you get the test results back?"
Light gingerly picked up his pair of chopsticks, looking as unruffled as possible despite the rare fluttering of nervousness interfering with his appetite. From the outside, the atmosphere couldn't have been less tense. He was done with cram school (though a bit more studying awaited him before bed), and now he was in the middle of having dinner with his family. The TV in the adjoining living room droned on, an informative tonal soundtrack to the small talk being generated among the rest of his family.
Speaking of which…he barely snapped out of his reverie in time to hear one of his mother's questions.
"In a few days," he answered, picking at his bowl of rice and homemade pickles.
Beside him, his sister Sayu sighed melodramatically.
"You make it sound so easy. I'm still having problems with algebra." She glared at her older brother and pointed an accusing finger at him. "You're gonna help me with my homework tonight, right?"
A slight smile barely broke Light's lips apart, but he sobered up once he caught another glance at his father, who was sitting at the head of the table. Soichiro's expression betrayed the many worries and stresses he faced at work, even when given the rare opportunity to return home and enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Ever since Light came back home, he had been rehearsing how to ply his father for information. A number of factors depended on the success of such questioning, including disposition, how classified the information was, and how Light himself initiated the conversation.
For one last time, Light reviewed his motivations. He himself didn't have any personal investment in L, and it didn't affect his life either way if the rumors turned out to be true or not. Then again, it raised many concerns that he himself would have to face sooner or later. L was a strong conduit among police everywhere, and how interesting it would be if, just as he was preparing to enter his father's line of work, L himself disappeared. It would stage one of the world's greatest mysteries: how do you find someone if the only one who had the capacity to do so was the missing person himself?
If for no other reason, it would certainly break the monotony of his life.
Still, he would have to go about this delicately.
Which meant no direct questions.
"I heard a strange rumor at cram school tonight," Light mentioned flippantly.
As he expected, everyone jumped to attention, especially Sayu.
"I thought you weren't the type to gossip," she teased.
"Not about childish things," Light retorted. "And I only heard it. I wasn't actually participating in the conversation."
"So? What was it?" Sayu pressed.
Light bit his lip, prepared to take the plunge.
"Some people were saying that no one's heard from L lately. They're even saying he might have disappeared."
Sayu raised an eyebrow. "L?"
"Yeah. You remember—that famous detective they're always talking about on the news?"
"Oh, I've heard of him. Dad's talked about him before, right?"
Light nodded, and out of the corner of his eye he saw his father's eyebrow twitch slightly.
"Of course, it was a rumor, so the rumor could've just simply been that, but it's a shame if it's true," Light continued, considering himself safe for now. "L's handled a lot of difficult cases before."
"Yeah, but still, L's just one guy. Even if he is gone or retired or whatever, Dad can handle anything that happens here, right?"
Ironically, this encouraging comment from Sayu was the one to finally break Soichiro's gloom.
"Thank you, Sayu, but sometimes cases do come along where we need some outside assistance, and L has proven to be a rather valuable asset."
He looked down at his plate, trying to hold down a weary sigh in his chest and failing.
"Which makes the situation all the more disconcerting."
(End Chapter One)