MY NAME IS L
Naomi walked down the bland and brightly lit hallway, passing doors on both sides. None of the doors had handles on them, or windows. They easily could have been mistaken for part of the wall, if it wasn't for the ID slot in each door that constantly blinked red to show the door was indeed locked, and everything was in working order.
Most of the hospital wasn't like this. Generally patients could walk around or at least leave their rooms. This hallway (where Naomi specialized), however, was for patients who came in with severe enough problems that they needed to be in constant isolation. Some of them would eventually be able to move to the regular part of the psychiatric hospital, but some, usually the ones with severe psychosis, would have to be moved to residential living as soon as they were stabilized. So far, Naomi reflected, there had only been two cases where a patient was received in the isolation wing and left to return to an independent living situation, or at least one more independent than a group home. Something told her that this would most likely not be the case with Ryuuzaki.
As her thoughts landed on her newest patient, Naomi was jerked out of her ruminations. She had been looking for his room; at least, she was supposed to be. Naomi glanced down at the notepad she was carrying. She was also carrying a pen and a tape recorder. Apparently she had walked right past it. Naomi held back a sigh and turned around, counting the numbers on the doors to her right.
1632, 1630, 1628, 162- Oh, right, it was room 1628. She slid her ID card quickly through the slot and waited as the machine processed, first turning yellow and then beeping softly and turning green as the door mechanically slid open. She entered the room, glancing around for the man she had seen in the photograph. He wasn't hard to find. He was sitting in the corner diagonal from the door, simply staring at her with a sort of passive interest. He looked a lot younger than he did in the photo. In the picture he had looked like a man. Seeing him now he seemed more like a boy. Of course, she noted, it could be due to the way he was so childishly displayed there on the floor, his legs curled up and his arms wrapped around himself, but he definitely appeared closer to nineteen rather than twenty. Even younger, possibly.
Naomi walked over to the chair by the desk and took a seat. She placed the tape recorder on the desk and left the notepad on her lap.
"Hello, Ryuuzaki. I'm Doctor Naomi Misora, your attending psychiatrist, but you can call me Naomi."
Naomi smiled. Ryuuzaki blinked.
"Naomi, then. It is a pleasure." He fidgeted with his feet, and then rather sporadically kicked one of his socks off. "I am L."
Naomi nodded. She had been expecting this, having prior knowledge of his array of previous aliases from his file. Of course, this was one that hadn't been mentioned. She wondered if 'L' had just surfaced now, or if it had been a former personality, if indeed these were personalities.
"Alright then, Elle," Naomi said, making a mark on her notepad and then setting up her tape recorder. "Do you mind if I record-"
L watched her scribble something down on the notepad. "It's L," he said, wanting to make sure she had gotten his name right. "Like the letter."
"Oh, okay. Sorry," Naomi said. L watched with satisfaction as she scratched something out and rewrote the correction in its place.
"Do you mind if I record the time we spend talking to each other today?"
L glanced at the tape recorder, then at the camera up in the corner of the room by the door, and then back at Naomi. Naomi bit her lip. It was a lot of security. She had to admit it was probably enough to make anyone paranoid.
The tape wasn't recording, but Naomi took it out of the player to make sure he could see she wasn't going to go back on her word. Developing trust with patients was important. "Okay."
L's eyes widened. Naomi assumed that meant surprise.
"It's your choice, really."
"Oh?" L asked, eyes narrowing slightly.
Naomi was reminded of how frightening his eyes really were, like two button sized holes. It made her think of a quote. "When you stare long into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you." …Or something like that.
"I must've assumed that since I was coerced here involuntarily I wouldn't be given the option to make choices about the finer details of my living arrangements. And I was right; I can't even pick out my own toothpaste." Here L pouted. "Yet I can decide whether or not my therapy session is to be recorded?" L asked with some amount of incredulity.
L kicked his other sock off. He seemed to be trying to make it hit the ceiling. He looked disappointed when it fell short. "I trust you're more intelligent than the nurses, I'm sure you can work out the irony."
Naomi raised an eyebrow, despite herself. She had a rule that whenever she was with a patient she would not give in to feelings of annoyance or exasperation. She would remain in control, keep her cool.
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"I believe it is only right to apologize when you sincerely mean it, Dr. Misora."
"I do mean it, and you may call me Naomi."
"Anyway," Naomi shuffled through her notepad. L – Ryuuzaki, was turning out to be one heck of a kid to work with. Perhaps it was time to stop the useless banter and see if she could wrestle some real information out of him.
"L, first of all, do you know where you are?"
"I am not delusional, Naomi. This question seems unnecessary."
Naomi held back a sigh. "Please just answer the question. Consider it procedural."
"Wammy's House, somewhere near Sutton, London. I am unsure of the exact address as I was taken here, as I stated earlier, involuntarily, and thus did not have the chance to observe my whereabouts. Is that satisfactory?"
"Yes," Naomi intoned, making another mark on her clipboard. She glanced back at L, who was shooting daggers at her with his eyes. "Thank you for your cooperation."
Onto the next question. "Do you know why you're here?"
This seemed to spark some real interest in L. His posture immediately straightened, although he didn't uncurl himself from his scrunched position, and his face visibly brightened.
"Yes," he deadpanned.
Naomi waited, poised on the edge of her chair. Seconds passed. Christ, he was frustrating.
"Would you care to explain?" Naomi asked, unable to keep the tone of derision from her voice. However, that only seemed to excite L.
"It's a long story," he said in warning, despite the fact that he looked positively delighted.
"That's alright. I have as much time as you need."
L sat hugging his knees in his normal corner, his left foot twitching in agitation. B was nowhere to be seen and L didn't like it at all. He didn't like it so much that his left foot was twitching, and there was a lump in his throat that wouldn't go away. If B was gone then that meant he would be alone. He would be left to the mercy of the quiet that hung around Wammy's House, and it would be cloying and horrible and drive him insane. L did not need anyone. He was strictly self-reliant… but he needed B. He only needed B because it was cold here, and because of the memories that were harmless. But most of all, he needed B because without B he wouldn't be able to count the cracks.
L felt his panic begin to rise at the thought of the cracks. He gripped his shin tightly, his knuckles turning white from the pressure.
"B?" L ventured quietly, unsure of what to do. He did not like feeling uncertain; he took comfort in routine and familiarity, especially when everything around him was so unstable.
"B?" he asked again, this time louder and more clamorous in tone. There was no sign of his umbratic counterpart.
"B!" L nearly yelled, crouching on his toes, his eyes wide open and his neck craned forward.
"What?" B snapped. L's head turned sharply to the side. B was sitting to his left, mimicking L's position, his dark vermilion eyes sparkling.
"Where were you?" L asked. He sounded betrayed but was looking at B with suspicion.
"What do you mean?" B said, glowering. "I was here the entire time."
L looked disgruntled. "Well, I don't-"
They were interrupted by the door sliding open for the second time that day. A nurse walked in and B disappeared. This time his absence did not incite panic in the dark-haired anomaly, simply because early on they had made an agreement that every time someone entered the room one of them would disappear. It wouldn't do for a nurse or doctor to see them both there at the same time because they'd only end up separated, and it was obvious L couldn't handle that.
The nurse was pulling a blood pressure cuff and thermometer on a cart. She had long blond hair that hung in pigtails, and it tickled L's face as she leaned over to wrap the blood pressure cuff around his forearm.
"Time for your vitals, Ryuuzaki" she announced cheerily as she pressed the on button. The cuff began to tighten around L's arm.
He could feel his heartbeat as the cuff tightened, like a friendly reminder that he was still alive. The machine let out a long beep and the blond nurse removed the cuff from his arm. "Ninety over sixty," she read out loud. "Hmm," she intoned, pressing a manicured nail to her lips. "That seems awfully low."
She glanced at L with hazel eyes, a light pout on her plump lips. L stared up at her from his corner. "Well there's definitely a possibility of hypotension. I'll talk to the food staff – see if they can get more salt in your diet. Meanwhile, I guess I'll be taking your vitals more often now, just to make sure things are okay…" She smiled brightly. "That means you'll get to see even more of me! And we should probably check your weight again. You seem even thinner than you were before."
There was no response from L. The nurse may as well have been talking to herself, but she didn't seem to mind in the slightest.
"Okay, sweetie, time for your temperature."
L grabbed the thermometer from her. He did not need help putting it in his mouth. The blond nurse hummed while they waited. L attempted the best glare he could manage with a thermometer in his mouth.
"It's normal," the blond nurse stated, placing the thermometer back on the cart. "I just have a few questions for you now." She waited for a reply from the black-haired patient, but continued speaking after a few seconds of awkward silence.
"Can you tell me in just a short sentence how you are feeling physically and mentally?"
L racked his mind for the biggest words he knew.
"Psychologically, I am sesquipedalian, and corporeally, I am feeling rather lackadaisical."
L blinked innocently. Sadly, there was nothing better to do than toy with the asinine.
B reappeared as soon as the door had slid shut behind the blond nurse and they were alone again.
"Did you see her eyes?" he asked, obviously referring to the nurse that had just come in to take L's vitals.
"Yes," L deadpanned, curious as to where the conversation was heading. He was excessively observant, down to the last detail.
"It was remarkable, wasn't it?" B remarked with obvious excitement.
"Didn't you see it?" B asked, quickly becoming confused. "Her eyes were fuchsia."
"No they weren't," L argued, "They were hazel."
B looked disappointed, almost hurt. "You didn't see it?"
"They were like my eyes," he said. The statement captured L's attention. "Except fuchsia. You can see my eyes, right?"
L stared into the wide, vermillion depths of his companion's eyes. In the murky dark red of the iris and the black of the pupil L could see his reflection, like a mirror. Except the image was distorted and disproportioned. He ripped his eyes away. "Of course."
"Her eyes were fuchsia," B said, as if in confirmation.
L nodded. He remembered seeing the nurse. She'd had long blond hair in pigtails, plump, pouting lips, and large fuchsia eyes. How could he have forgotten?
It was late in the evening, some time after B and L had counted the cracks in the ceiling. They counted the cracks everyday to make sure there were one thousand six hundred and twenty-eight of them. L was lounging against the wall, somewhat more spread out than usual due to the comfort their counting ritual brought him, and B was biting furiously at his fingernails. L closed his eyes, letting his head loll against the wall. He felt relaxed and at ease, almost as if he were free of all responsibility.
He imagined he was on a cloud. He floated out the locked door, past the stains and the bathroom, and his bed. He flew past the purple-eyed nurse with her blood pressure cuff and waved to his doctor, Naomi, as he turned the corner in the hall. He began to count down as he flew – 1628, 1627, 1626, 1625 – When he had gotten to 1223 he was interrupted by the feeling of B's eyes on his face. Angry at being awoken from such a pleasant dream, L slowly opened his own eyes and looked up. B sat crouched directly in front of him, blood dripping down his fingers from his broken fingernails and dripping in rivulets over his lips. The hue of the dark liquid matched his lurid eyes.
"Why did you tell her?" he asked grievously. He shook his head, wild black hair whirling and blood splattering on L's face.
"That's alright. I have as much time as you need," Naomi reassured unnecessarily. She had a feeling Ryuuzaki would tell his story – with time or without.
L settled down into his corner, some of the excitement fading from his features. He seemed to be thinking.
"I suppose," he began slowly, "That it all started with me being the greatest detective in the world."
"The greatest detective in the world?" Naomi repeated dumbly.
"Yes," L said, as if he were stating the obvious.
"What makes you the greatest detective in the world?" Naomi asked, once more making notes on her clipboard.
L seemed slightly annoyed at having to prove his worth.
"I am L," he said, as if that answered the question. When Naomi gave him a confused look he added, "And I can speak French."
Naomi stopped writing and shook her head in an attempt to clear her mind. This was making no sense at all.
"What does you being L have to do with being the best detective in the world?"
"It's the greatest detective," L corrected, "And if you stop asking questions it will be easier for me to explain."
Naomi pursed her lips, her eyes narrowing dangerously. There were a million things she wanted to say to him at the moment. It was unfortunate that saying them would get her fired.
"By all means then, explain."
"I am working on a case. It is very dangerous, and secret."
Naomi had to bite her lip to keep herself from asking a question.
"It stands to reason that I must be here because they found out about the case."
Naomi nodded. "Can you give more details?" she urged.
"Well…" L said, and it was if a dam had been broken. "I didn't become a detective by choice; it seems circumstances just pushed me into the position. People are being murdered," he said with emphasis, "and no one cares to do much of anything about it. For the sake of justice, I will do what others will not."
Naomi just nodded again, while making sure she had written everything down correctly. She didn't want to impede his flow.
"Therefore, I am the greatest detective in the world because I am the only one who can solve this case, seeing that no one else has the perseverance or intelligence to do so," L stated solemnly.
Naomi waited a few seconds to make sure he was finished speaking. When L began to chew on his thumbnail Naomi asked, "How do you know people are being murdered?" Her pen was poised above her notepad. This was an important question.
L brought his thumb down from his mouth and slowly focused his attention back on her. He seemed to be growing somewhat excited again.
"I've seen them. Only, I've never seen them actually being killed, I just come across them dead. If I'd seen them being killed, then I'd know who the killer was."
"So you just find yourself in front of dead bodies," Naomi stated. L nodded.
"I think," L began, lowering his voice so much that Naomi had to lean forward in her chair to hear, "That the killer has the ability… to make things happen." He shook his wild, shaggy head. "I know you're not going to believe me."
"I'm not going to judge anything you have to say," Naomi said, attempting to sound sincere and probably failing.
L continued none the less. "He can kill without ever coming in contact with the victim. When I'm by the bodies it's obvious that they're freshly killed, yet there is no other person within a half kilometer radius. There are no clues as well, no footprints, nothing. Also-" Here L looked absolutely terrified. The sight struck something inside Naomi's heart. "I think the killer can control my mind. I think I do see them being killed, but he erases that part of my memory. He does it because I see him too, and he doesn't want me to know who he is."
There was a large lump growing in Naomi's throat. When she had come into his room a little over an hour ago, Ryuuzaki had seemed confident, if not a little pretentious and indignant. Now he seemed small and frightened and even more childlike. Naomi held back a sigh, her mind whirling from the amount of information she had just received. She smiled warmly at him.
"Thank you, L. You did well today."