Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note.
When Quillsh Wammy created the notorious Wammy's House, he didn't consider the important factor that he was essentially creating kids with no moral compass whatsoever.
Unlike most children, who grew up with the teaching hand and moral guidance of their parents and guardians, Quillsh and Roger didn't have nearly enough time or enough of them to make sure every child grew up with a strong sense of right and wrong. At Wammy's House, kids didn't go out cruising with their friends to admire the attractive girls in their skirts. They didn't attend church to learn about religion. They didn't hear about their cousin's weddings, and they barely even knew that marriage was between a man and a woman. The beliefs and morals were very loose around Wammy's, floating around the air and waiting to be caught by unlucky children running across t them.
But Beyond Birthday was not one of these individuals.
He grew up just like Wammy's had let him; loose, morally-empty, and therefore, quite un-opinionated. His mind was a wishy-washy slur of things, waiting to be molded into something unique and until then, like a blank canvas.
His canvas did eventually get painted on. But his moral compass had never been wound and set.
Which is why he never knew exactly what had happened between himself and L while he was housed at the orphanage, and exactly why he couldn't distinguish an idol from a friend from a more romantic liaison, and an obsession between an adoration.
O O O O O
It was the first time that Beyond Birthday had ever laid his eyes upon L Lawliet.
And unlike he did with most people, the first thing Beyond noticed was L's slump. The gentle, pretzel-twist curve to his spine that made B's vertebrae tingle at the thought of being melded into that position was the first thing that B studied.
This was, although quite common for most people observing someone such as L, thoroughly unorthodox for Beyond.
Because up until he had met L in flesh and blood, the first thing he had always noticed about people were the numbers floating like clouds in a bottle over their head. Their future, looming like a reaper's scythe, was always the first thing Beyond paid attention to. And why not? It was the most fascinating tool Beyond had in his reach, and so effortlessly, so why not use it?
But Beyond didn't even notice L's death day and the letters clumsily bumping against each other that formed his identity for a good two minutes after he had met him. He was too intent on studying L's features; his coal black eyes with undeniable warmth but yet still distant on the exterior, his shaggy hair that resembled B's in more ways than one, the jeans that hung on his frame limply, and the obviously scrawny body that hid under oversized shirts. And only after he had taken his time to observe all of L's details, his eyes had flickered up to the L Lawliet only he could see, and then finally to the death day he normally always focused on straight away.
And when he realized that this man was the only one who could distract his attention like that, he knew that L Lawliet was special.
And even though he was a child, barely even scraping past nine, he knew that he and L were only four years apart. It was a statistic that made him proud, knowing that if such a little number separated their ages, then little things should separate other things differentiating them as well.
Unlike the other kids, who stared in awe and murmured amongst themselves as they watched L, hands stuffed deep in his pockets and hair curtaining his eyes from side-view as he conversed lightly with Roger, B was intent on talking with the man he had learned to blindly adore over the years. After all, how could you replace someone you had never shared a mere conversation with?
An introduction, B thought, was definitely in order.
Strutting through the crowd of apprehensive kids all twitching to step forward but too tentative to be that bold, Beyond pushed them aside and scowled at the children attempting to slouch like L did. He then boldly stuck his palm out to L, his face set sternly.
Roger and L's conversation faded away as Roger noticed Beyond standing as firmly as a soldier in front of them. L's eyes wandered down to meet B's. And then both adults recognized that Beyond's hand was extended in a curt greeting.
B was blissfully sporting some nescience of L's habit of not touching objects with anything more than his fingertips. His palm probably hadn't touched anything with the exception of soap in the past ten years.
L's sallow body moved to face Beyond, the detective tilting his head and pondering his options, all the while staring intently at Beyond's outstretched hand. He finally sighed softly and took B's hand in a gentle shake.
Roger's eyes shot up into the sky, thoroughly flummoxed. L normally refused to shake another human's hand, simply out of habit instead of disrespect, and yet here he was ignorant of the rule he had set for himself. Many had wondered before if L refused to touch things because he was fearful of germs, or fearful of human contact, but neither answer seemed to fit as everyone watched L shake B's hand.
Right before recoiling as though he had been burnt by a sizzling stovetop. There was only so long that L could put up a façade that it didn't irk him to touch something so completely. Beyond didn't think much about the repulsion to human contact.
"Hello." L mumbled at B.
"I'm Beyond." B said, and considered his options. Smile, wave, hug the man he idolized? What was appropriate action under these unorthodox circumstances?
"I suppose they call you B." L observed, cocking his head to the left. Beyond nodded dutifully.
"And they call you L."
It was clear, it was obvious, it was bordering on dumb to even bring it up, but if you had eyes as sharp as Beyond, and if you analyzed L as much as Beyond did, you would have noticed a small, almost insignificant smile on the detective's face.
O O O O O
It was a mere two years later, Beyond still at the ripe age of eleven, when L visited Wammy's again to talk with Watari and Roger. The whole visit was supposed to be kept secret from the children, but in an orphanage filled with kids who possessed IQs all over one hundred by the time they reach six, cleverness and sheer smarts always won over discretion. Not to mention that gossip spread like wildfire in the house as well.
Except when that gossip reached B.
…where it would stop dead.
And fortunately for Beyond, he was the first one to get a hold of this knowledge, meaning that he would be the only one. Of course he had the childlike urge to brag and play the immature I know something you don't know card with the other kids, but this was nothing as innocuous as the dinner today is chicken instead of turkey! or I saw three kids putting whipped cream in your pillowcase, this was truly vital information. And treasuring it for the value it was worth, Beyond held his tongue.
And enjoyed the treasure for himself.
Beyond slinked down the stairs away from his room, skirting by two stumbling and ambling kids. He wondered what he would have to do to grasp a hold of L's attention and keep it for at least ten minutes – his own attention span – and the first answer that popped into B's head was to astonish him.
He wanted to be noticed, and if L caught attention of the fact that B had an uncanny and striking resemblance to himself, he might be more attracted to conversing with his possible successor. So B hunched his shoulders as much as he could without his back aching, stole one of the older kid's shirts so it wouldn't be snug on his skin, and mussed up his hair more than it already was.
With his appearance complete, B slouched down the stairs, wincing as his spine whined at the pain of being forced to curve at such an awkward angle. And knowing that Roger had agreed to talk with L in the kitchen to avoid publicity of the children, Beyond walked straight to the kitchen door. He ignored the fact that he would get reprimanded for barging in before lunchtime, but his reward would suit the punishment if he played his cards well enough.
"B! Get back to your room!" Roger ordered the moment B peered through the doorway. Roger attempted to stand in front of L, but B had seen enough that hiding his idol was already fruitless. L turned around at the addressing of the younger boy, tilting his head in interest.
"This is B, right, Roger?"
"Do you mind if I… speak to B alone?"
B wondered if this had just come too easily. Wasn't he supposed to plead, or beg to talk to L for a moment or two so he could become encouraged to be his successor? He had had a speech semi-rehearsed in his head, but apparently L had deemed it unnecessary. B could do nothing but mentally pray that he wasn't being chastised for disobeying Wammy's rules.
"Come on, B. Let us take a walk."
B followed his idol like a devoted puppy, trailing behind him never more than a foot away and suppressing his urge to grab onto L's baggy sleeve. Almost like a toddler or infant gripping onto their mother's clothing for protection, B didn't want to be separated with this man.
L had wordlessly led out the younger boy to the backyard, a place that B didn't linger often. Other kids would play a crude version of soccer while the girls did clumsy cartwheels by the benches and shared their lunches with their friends. Beyond had never been fond of the outdoors, nor was he fond of the sun on his skin, but from the looks of L's pale and porcelain-like skin, neither did he.
His hair providing a healthy curtain of shade over his eyes, L knelt down by the grass and stared silently at some uncultivated bushes hugging the side of the orphanage wall. Vines writhed up, and through the dirt and the weeds, Beyond could detect a few hints of red muffled by the lush leaves. He copied L, kneeling down by him and immediately noticing that the older detective was barefoot as he stood on the soles of his feet on the grass. B stared down awkwardly at his clothed feet, realizing that there were certainly a few details to L's appearance he either hadn't noticed last time or had forgotten to copy.
"B," L said softly, not bothering to make eye contact but rather pulling aside a vine with a fingertip and staring intently into the bush, "I planted this bush a few years ago with Watari. Every time I visit, I like to see how it's doing."
Beyond swallowed around his mouth. He wished he could confirm for L that he had noticed the bush before unlike the other kids who had no care for botany or gardening, but Beyond was barely outside, and when he was, he didn't give much attention to the yard's decorations.
"Roger assures me that it's been cared for," L tilted his head and by brushing aside a few leaves with a thumb nail, he plucked out a newly-revealed strawberry, ripe and pretty all around.
Now that B realized that the generally ugly bush was a strawberry plant, he noticed that the crimson fruits were scattered around the ground as well. A few spoilt ones, turning brown and wrinkly were pressed into the dirt and a few nibbled-into ones from the hungry birds that flew around were right by Beyond's feet.
But the one L was holding in his hand, twirling it by the small stem he held in between his fingertips, seemed almost flawless. There was a small ant crawling around the bottom of the ruby berry, but L brushed it off with his thumb and promptly bit off half of the fruit, leaving the rest dangling on the stem and leaves.
L picked up on the fact that Beyond was watching his idol devour his snack, and slowly turned around to face the boy and wordlessly offer the rest of his strawberry to B. And normally, B tended to stay away from things he hadn't tried thoroughly before, but if he could trust anyone, he knew it was going to be L, so he nodded and took the remains of the fruit out of L's grip. The older man promptly went back to burrowing through the bush's branches to search for more strawberries and made a satisfied purring sound when he found another and dropped it on his tongue to eat.
B stared almost awkwardly at the strawberry, examining where L's teeth marks had bit into the berry. He plucked off the petite leaves attached to the freshly-picked strawberry and then without further hesitation, plopped it into his mouth.
It was crunchy, juicy, and naturally sweetened. Beyond, although never having eaten a strawberry before, could tell immediately from the way that the fruit tumbled around the cavern of his mouth that it was an excellent one. Ripe to the core and cherry red, and as a trickle of strawberry juice dribbled down the finger B had used to hold the strawberry half, he noticed that it bore a striking resemblance to blood and hastily licked it up. Sweet and sinful on his lips, Beyond smiled.
"It's good, L."
"Freshly-picked are much juicier than the mass-produced ones in markets. I should ask Watari to plant one of these for me…" L mused to himself, looking for yet more fully-developed strawberries.
"They're sweeter than the normal stuff I eat." Beyond shared, wondering if L was even listening or too absorbed in his task of harvesting a handful of fruit.
"I normally eat these with sugar, B. They are not at all as sweet as what I normally eat."
Beyond was momentarily puzzled. Roger always reprimanded children for eating sugary sweets and divulging on junk food, claiming ugly truths about diabetes and heart disease that would rot their growing teeth and harm their bodies. The term sweet-tooth was almost as much of an insult as some of the bad words the older kids tossed around. Yet, watching as L took packets of sugar stashed away out of his pocket and sprinkle the grainy substance over his strawberries, Beyond could call this man nothing better than an addicted sweet-lover.
"Can… can I have some too?" Retrieving himself a strawberry and holding it out for the same sweetening treatment L had given his own strawberry, B eagerly awaited the sweet taste he barely ever felt on his tongue in the orphanage.
L nodded, pouring sugar onto B's strawberry while devouring his own. B automatically copied him, eating the fruit in one bite and letting his tongue slide over the sugar to dissolve it with his saliva. And it was good, it was fantastic, but through the haze of hastily swallowing his treat, a few of the strawberry's seeds had wormed their way in between his teeth and sat there uncomfortably. Beyond winced and wiggled his tongue around, trying to push the agitating seeds out of their traps.
L noticed the change of facial expression and smiled softly, "You'll get used to the seeds, B." He told him, and with a little sigh, he got up from his kneeling position. "Let's go back inside."
O O O O O
Two weeks later, with spring in full bloom, other children discovered the strawberry plant and plucked it clean. Beyond was in slight dismay that other kids had uncovered the treasure he and L had shared between just the two of them, but at the same time, he definitely didn't want to snack on the berries anymore. The seeds in the fruit were enough to drive an eleven-year-old mad, so Beyond stuck to what he soon discovered a month later; the liquefied and thickened version of strawberries.
While burrowing through the kitchen cupboards one afternoon after being the last to lunch, Beyond had stumbled through a half-eaten jar of strawberry jam.
The strawberry painted on the label caught his eye, and especially when he had unscrewed the lid and found a jelly-like ooze that jiggled when he shook the jar. And… no seeds.
And like all curious kids, B couldn't resist sticking a hesitant fingertip into the jar and prodding at the jelly as though waiting for it to poke back. He pulled back with his knuckle smothered in jam, rubbing it around between his thumb and finger. It was sticky and didn't seem at all like it came from a strawberry unless you sat on one and crushed it beneath your heel and smashed all firmness from it until it became mush. But it was the same color, the same shade of shining ruby, the same shade of freshly-drawn blood, just like the type that had dribbled from B's knee when he had scraped it on the pavement and produced a runny scar two days ago. So with a cat-like tongue as it shot out from his lips to lick up a smudge of the jam, Beyond tasted it.
"Mm," Beyond felt the sound of satisfaction escape his lips before he could help it, so without a second thought he recapped the jar of jam and stuffed it in his jacket to stash upstairs in his room for later.
And he couldn't help but wonder… had L tasted strawberry jam before too?
O O O O O
"I'm sorry, L! I do not know how he even knew you were coming, but he's insisted to see you!"
L cocked his head to the side and chewed thoughtfully on his thumb, contemplating Roger's words.
"I don't mind," he said simply, "He's a little different from the others. Has he always been like that?"
Roger fiddled with his hands, "They're all a little different, L. B is no exception."
"Hmm. I suppose you're right. But the last time I visited, I took a stroll out to the strawberry bush with B. I would like to do that again."
Roger didn't question L's strange request, for B never did seem like a child easy to approach and befriend, let alone even carry along a conversation with. L's attachment with the child seemed almost surreal, but then again, L was more of a social prodigy than B was.
"He's in the kitchen, L."
L nodded politely in Roger's direction, and concealing his palms in his pockets, he slumped over to the kitchen door and creaked it open. And sure enough, inhabiting the space and enjoying a jar of jam in the corner was B, silent and focused on his snack.
L slipped in, instantly gaining the younger boy's attention.
He had barely changed in the last three years, with the exception that he was now a fourteen-year-old teenager who had grown a few inches and developed maturity. L was more than used to children at Wammy's impersonating his clothing, his hair, the way he slumped, but no one had gone so far to replicate L in every which way. L had always found it amusing when children attempted to slouch like he did and could never keep up the façade for longer than an hour, yet B had mastered the permanent curving of his spine that wasn't ephemeral at all. It was almost impressive the lengths he went to.
The only difference, was that while L knew there was wrapped candy in his pocket, Beyond was holding an almost-empty jar of strawberry jam.
"Still fond of strawberries, I see." L remarked, slumping forward with no formal greeting whatsoever. He, once again shoe and sock-less, knelt down beside Beyond and curled with him into his corner.
"I… couldn't stand the seeds." Beyond expounded, obviously feeling the need to, as though he was guilty for not picking up L's adoration of berries along with the rest of his habits and calibers.
"Jam sticks," L replied simply, "and I cannot type and write when my fingers are sticky."
Beyond shrugged, once again dipping all four fingers into the jar and scraping them up the sides, retrieving globs of jam at a time before licking it all up as the red dribbled down his palm and wrist like clotting blood.
"Strawberries are the same, except for the fact that they don't stick to anything. And don't make stains, either."
Once again, Beyond shrugged, diving back into his jar, "Strawberry seeds," he retaliated, "get stuck in my teeth."
L smiled faintly, curling his hands up on his kneecaps, "Have you ever wondered, B? Strawberries are the only berry, the only fruit, with their seeds on the outside. It's almost like a scientific mistake."
Beyond chuckled at the fact, looking up from his snack and locking eyes with L's dull ones. His eyes flickered between the jam in his grip to L. He suggestively offered the jar to the detective, tilting it in his direction.
"Jam is naturally sweeter," He retorted, sucking the remaining fruity substance off of his fingertips.
"It is not a competition, B, between who has the more annoying food," L reminded, a little miffed, "We are on the same side, you must know."
"Of course," B drawled, and when L didn't notice the light inclination of the jam in his direction, the copy scooped up the remains on two fingers and held them out under L's nose, "Care for jam?"
L stared intently at the proffered sweet before agreeing to take it. He scooted closer for better access, and without any hesitation or awkward queries, he swiftly enclosed his lips over Beyond's fingers and licked away the jam up to his knuckles, being more than thorough that his flesh was clean of the substance.
And Beyond felt himself naturally push his fingers further on L's tongue, biting back an almost animalistic purr as L's pink tongue ran up the cusp of his finger and sucked on it to get all the remains of jam, right before pulling back with a smack as though he had done nothing abnormal. It almost caused B to wonder how many times L licked strawberry sweets off of people's fingers, if licking all of it off one of his successor's hand didn't even deem worthy of a comment. L didn't even have a faint rosy tinge of embarrassment plaguing his cheeks.
"Uh," B muttered, fingers twitching as L pulled back, "more jam?"
L wiped a smudge of crimson off of the side of his mouth and shook his head, "No thank you, B. I've always preferred raspberry jam to strawberry."
B's mouth fell open softly in a gentle 'o', looking down at his empty jar of jam and the hand he was still extending in proposal. He hastily replaced the lid on his jar with sticky fingers before tossing it into the trash bin and reaching for the hand towel by the wall.
"And not to mention that jam looks a might more like blood then the strawberries that are used to make it. It would make a common civilian queasy."
B shrugged, still staring at the two fingers that L had taken the liberty to lick clean like the dinner plate of a small child. It was L's saliva, L's DNA, L's godforsaken cooties on his fingers.
And he was hesitant to wipe it off.
"How about instead we enjoy some cherries instead of jam, B?"
The suggestion flew into B's ear but came out the other, the words barely even registering in B's head, as well as the fact that L had stood up and was heading for the door.
"No, L, that's all right," he said, hand falling back to his side as he reached for another cupboard and rifled through it, "I think I'll enjoy some raspberry jam instead. You mentioning it gave me a craving."
A flicker of a smile played on L's lips as B pulled out another glass jar with plump and bouncing raspberries gracing the label, sliding into a seat and uncapping his snack.
L slouched over to peer over Beyond's shoulder at the jam, one pale finger ladling out a dollop of jam right before landing directly on his tongue. "It's a bit brighter than the strawberry jam." He observed, tilting his head at the newly-acquired fact as he settled himself into a seat as well.
B internally hid a scowl from view.
Truth was, he hated raspberry jam.
AN: Writing about L's spine makes my back hurt Dx
This is about as close as B/L fandom can get to honest-to-goodness fluff. Is it cuddly and cute? No. Are there butterfly kisses and lingering hugs? No. Sweet nothings being whispered into ears? Absolutely not. But I think writing them using those actins would definitely go into the category of OOC characters XD
Dedicated to anybody who inspired me to write this or helped me out when I couldn't get my muse while writing it. You know who you are. ;)