A/N: This'll be a short story, but I might expand. It all depends. Right now, I plan it to just be a two-shot.
Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note.
It wasn't a particularly dreary day, yet L hadn't felt like taking a walk, cracking a window for some fresh air, or even dwelling on the fact that England was having a rare sunny day. In anyone who was remotely normal, the presence of the sun would be a catalyst for excitement. However, the cause of this eighteen year old's semi-excitement (in comparison to the mountains of sweets he consumed daily, nothing seemed to cause him much excitement anymore) was the fact that he had just received a call from Quillish Wammy, his personal… everything. The last piece to the puzzle could be put in and there was no way that Andrew Webster could escape: L had solid proof. It was the beauty of the solved riddle that eclipsed the beauty of the day, to the detective.
L flicked his fingers over the keys on his keyboard, back hunched, his body contorted into his usual crouch, before pulling his cell phone from his jeans pocket. He hit speed dial, heard the click of someone answering on the other end and simply stated, "Issue the arrest warrant," before hanging up. The police could take in from there.
L hunched forward even more, leaning to click at his laptop, exiting each window. He could perhaps catch a few hours worth of a cat nap, as it would take Quillish at least two hours to collect cases that would even vaguely interest L. He deserved a break, anyway.
It wasn't until he'd finished exiting each window and had reached his desktop (a blank white) that he noticed a window he'd minimized. Pulling it up, he tensed before noting that he had muted the webcam conference; for a moment he had the most frightful thought that anyone who happened by the computer (that apparently Roger had abandoned) at Wammy's House could hear everything that had happened over the last three hours.
L recalled getting into contact with Roger, the older gentleman only able to see the gothic initial, while L was allowed a full-on view of Roger. L had called to discuss some of the children at the orphanage, filtering through for those worthy of being called his successor. He'd received the files on every child currently in residence at Wammy's a few months ago, but wanted to personally discuss a few of them with Roger. L would not make the same mistake twice; BB had been enough of a problem. It was in the middle of the conference that Quillish had called and L had bid Roger farewell, minimizing the window instead of exiting it.
L always left a computer at Wammy's, located on the desk of his old room. (Quillish had promised L that he would always have a place at the orphanage, and thus, his room had always been left vacant). A signal was sent to Roger through his phone whenever L needed to talk to him. Roger would then use the laptop stationed in L's abandoned room to confer with L. It was an extremely safe connection, and had only been used twice since it had been placed there. L had always suspected that one day one of the children would find their way into the empty room and turn on the laptop.
The room was in almost complete darkness, the curtains shut closed just the way L always had, so that the unused bed, empty dresser, and vacant nightstand were not visible. There was a faint glow coming from a corner of the room, however. L leaned closer to get a better look. A figure seemed to be cocooned in a nest of blankets, and the light was coming from what looked to be a book-light, which was connected to a book the person seemed to be reading. One of the blankets was pulled over his or her head. The face and gender was indistinguishable. The figure was hunched over his or her book, not to L's extreme, however.
Suddenly a high beeping sounded in the dark room and L watched, thumb coming to rest at his lips, as the figure seemed to jump a few feet in the air. The figure seemed to recover quickly, clasping what seemed to be one of his or her watches (the figure wore one on each wrist). He or she stood, marking his or her place, and gathered the blankets: at least seven of them. He or she kept one of the blankets up over his or her head, the face still able to peek out. The figure mumbled irritated, "God Maggie, when did you become a space cadet?"
L smiled around his thumb. Female. He continued to watch as she slinked over to the nearest window, and slowly pulled back the curtain. She silently observed the outside and L noticed that her hand was twitching or perhaps- no, her hand was shaking. Perchance she suffered from agoraphobia? How… interesting. She quickly blocked out the sun and swiftly paced to the door, reaching the knob and shutting off the book-light.
It seemed, in the perfect darkness there was a faint glow admitting from the webcam. L realized that the 'L' initial must not be present on the screen: the light would be much brighter. It had probably gone to a blank black screen. This faint glow was noticed by the female. She paused and turned around, finally glancing at the laptop. L could barely see the frown through the darkness, but he nonetheless saw the motion of her lips turning downwards. This only confirmed his theory: she came here often and when she did so the laptop was never on.
Reaching out to the light-switch on the wall beside the door, she flicked the lights on. She took a step forward and switched the weight of the blankets from one hand so that it was distributed between both of her arms. L let his eyes take in her clothes: horizontally striped pajama pants, hoodie….. a… tool belt? L grinned. How positively eccentric. He didn't recognize her from any of the profiles he'd been searching through, so she must be new.
She sat at the desk where the computer was placed. Leaning forward, she gazed into the lens of the camera. From L's point of view, her eye took up the entire screen. Her irises were a green-ish-blue with gold flecks. She pulled back and tilted her head, frowning deeply. "The light means it's on, right?" she mumbled, seemly to herself.
L decided that even if she was talking to herself, he would answer her anyways, "Why, yes it does."
She screamed and jumped away, falling back and out of the chair, out of the screen. A crash sounded and L figured that she had fallen onto the floor. L continued, as though he hadn't scared the living daylights out of the girl, "Tell me, do you suffer from agoraphobia?"
Suddenly her voice sounded, but no person appeared back in the screen, "A-a-agore-what? Who are you?" She added in a whisper, "Oh my god, they've found me."
"Agoraphobia: noun; a condition characterized by an irrational fear of public or open spaces. And you may call me Leroy," (It was his current codename, and came easily to his lips) "Are you certain you were allowed into Wammy's, if you don't even know what agoraphobia is?"
This seemed to ruffle her feathers. Her face suddenly appeared in the screen, her top lip pulled back in a mild grimace. It appeared she was kneeling on the floor, "Listen here, Leroy, I really don't appreciate being insulted by someone who just scared the fucking crap out of me and has yet to apologize."
L frowned in distaste, removing his thumb from his lips and cupping his knee, "That kind of language is unnecessary, but I suppose you have a point; my apologies. May I request your name?"
There was a silence before L gave a wicked grin. He had figured he was setting himself up for something like that. He coughed to hide his chuckle; this girl definitely had an attitude. "What is your name?"
"Mallory," she answered almost instantaneously. "Mah-lory," she added, for pronunciations sake.
L scratched his kneecap, "But I distinctly heard you refer to yourself as "Maggie"."
She didn't even flinch. Instead, she just looked annoyed, "That's what my mother used to call me."
"Ah, so it's your middle name," L stated.
"Nooo," she dragged out the word, "It's what my mother called me."
L tilted his head, and even though she couldn't see it, Mallory seemed to sense that this answer wasn't sufficient and added, "My father named me when he was drunk. He named me after Thomas Mallory- you know, the guy who wrote Le Morte D'Arthur? It's French- means 'luckless'. My mother always said that I was too pretty to be called 'luckless' and that my acting skills could rival those of Maggie Smith's."
"Ah," L grunted in response. He wasn't sure if she was lying. Her face was open, but there was a layer he couldn't quite comprehend.
A loud but melodious chiming rang out on Mallory's side of the connection. She jumped, but L, used to the dinner bell, didn't even blink. She hesitated, turning towards the door, before glancing back at the computer. L figured that Mallory wasn't done investigating this talking laptop. L removed his hand from his kneecap, and grabbed his teacup, which had long turned cold. He sipped, made a face, and put it back down next to the computer. "Go eat," he advised. She looked too pale to be healthy… perhaps not as deathly as L himself, but certainly not the proper shade for a young lady like herself.
She finally stood, climbing out of her kneeling position, "Will you still be here?"
L tilted his head, amused, "The computer, yes, probably and I suppose I could leave the connection open if you would like… but I can't promise that Roger won't remember that he left the laptop on and come disconnect it himself."
Mallory still hesitated, "You promise?"
L grinned at her childish behavior, "Yes, of course."
Though she couldn't see his face, Mallory still returned the smile and trudged out of the room, pausing at the door, both to glance back at the laptop and to peek out of the room, wary of what was lurking out in the hallway. She slipped a hand into her tool belt as she exited. How interesting.
L stood, left a note for Quillish not to turn off the computer, and went to the bedroom to take a nap. This girl was interesting. He also wanted very much to know what was in that tool belt.
L had barely shut his eyes (or perhaps that was just how it seemed) before the door to his hotel room was opened. L reluctantly got up and walked out to the main room to greet his constant companion. He glanced up at Quillish, as he entered the room and nodded to the short, stout, white-haired man who had raised him. As the founder of the orphanage, Quillish was well-versed in all the residence, so L decided to inquire about this unusual girl. Perhaps Quillish knew what was in that tool belt.
"Good afternoon, Leroy," Quillish greeted, "I was just informed that Mr. Webster was apprehended."
L nodded, "Good, good. Quillish?"
"Yes, Mr. Leroy?" he answered.
"Tell me about a girl at the orphanage named Mallory."
Quillish frowned, "How did you-"
"A technological mistake on my part."
Quillish did not push the matter further, "Mallory, well, her stay at Wammy's House will only be temporary. She's from the states. She is currently staying there just so that the Federal Attorney's in America can continue to gather evidence. She is a witness in a mafia trial. She'll eventually be sent back to the United States to testify, and then be sent into witness protection."
L murmured, "That explains her paranoia."
Quillish nodded sadly, "Yes. I don't believe she likes it there. She was above average at her public school- straight A's, top six percent in her class. At Wammy's… she's struggling. I do believe she is the last in her class. And she avoids the outdoors. It saddens me that she doesn't feel safe."
L shrugged and walked his slouched walk back towards the bedroom, "Don't take it personally, she probably wouldn't feel safe in an armed military base."
Quillish nodded and L continued, "I will go rest now. Could you make some chocolate-chip pancakes when I wake up? And can you get me her file?"
"Yes, Leroy. And I see your note," Quillish smiled, his eyes crinkling, "You will continue to stay in contact with Mallory?"
L didn't respond. It would have been an entirely unnecessary gesture.
L awoke a few hours later feeling extremely refreshed. He'd never needed much sleep. His computer had since gone to a screen saver so he gently pecked the space bar. Munching on pancakes, he observed the new surroundings. Mallory must have returned after dinner and taken the laptop to another room. The wall paper was a periwinkle with aqua trim. How… quaint. There was also some background noise, but nothing he could decipher.
L took time to look over her file: Female. Seventeen. October 23. Blood type O. Middle class. Chicago. Mother. Father. Two younger brothers. Two cats. A dog. A newt. Brunette. Blue eyes. Straight A's in every class except Math. L only glanced over the picture provided: taller than average, top heavy, flabby arms, big breasts, distinct waist, wide hips, thick thighs, long legs. L knew these things were wasted on him; he had never really cared about how someone looked.
In comparison to the girl he had seen just this afternoon, in these pictures her complexion was creamy pale, instead of deathly pale, with a splattering of tan freckles concentrated on her face, shoulders, and forearms. Maggie Elisabeth Garrett.
"Leroy?" L glanced at the laptop, speak of the devil.
L placed the file down on the table next to him, "Yes, Miss Mallory?"
She smiled, shifting the laptop a little to the left, "You weren't there. I was worried. Not a ton, but enough. I hope Roger doesn't mind that I took this laptop…"
"I'm certain he won't mind," L smiled.
Mallory had placed her hoodie's hood up over her hair, "You can call me Mal."
"I'm not certain if you are aware, but that means 'bad' in French…"
Mallory nodded, "Je parle français."
"Ah," L nodded. How… interesting.
"Can I give you a nickname?" she asked innocently.
L frowned, bringing a thumb to his lips, "What did you have in mind? You have no idea what I look like, and most nicknames are derived based on physical characteristics."
Mallory's expression didn't change, "You are forgetting the nicknames based off the shortening of names. I was thinking of shortening Leroy to…maybe Roy… or … L."
L sighed. He had thought Roger wouldn't slip up, or that some of the kids who were aware that the great detective had once stayed at Wammy's House would be smart enough to not mention it. Or… Quillish. L sighed. That meddling old man, L thought, affectionately. Quillish must have spoken with Roger and informed him that it was fine to tell Mallory that she was speaking to L. He would have to have a discussion with Quillish later; he was always trying to get L to socialize more.
L pecked away at his keyboard and watched the exact second when Mallory's face slipped. It was the exact moment when the initial L was so famous for took the place of the black screen on her laptop. So she hadn't been certain to begin with, it had been an assumption. "Don't you find it annoying when people sneak around and find out things you don't want them to know?" L asked, then smirked softly, "I assure you, Miss Garrett, I am far above that."
Unlike when she realized that she was actually speaking with the famous detective, her face didn't even flinch. L's smirk grew… Maggie Smith, indeed.
When Mallory/Maggie did not respond L began, "Now that we have the formalities out of the way, may I ask you a question?"
Her eyebrows shot up, "You may."
"What exactly is in that tool belt of yours?"