Disclaimer For Every Chapter in the Whole World: I own nothing. We can all understand this, right? I don't have to keep saying it, right?
A/N: Edited and reposted as of 8/25/09
1. an institution for the maintenance and care of the mentally ill, orphans, or other persons requiring specialized assistance
2. an inviolable refuge, as formerly for criminals and debtors; sanctuary
L knows that he cannot expect Raito to remain unchanged, not after five years of living in an institute for the criminally insane. He knows that the aggressive therapy tactics and the days of solitude (his one request after the trial being that Raito would have a singular cell; L is still unsure whether he'd meant this as punishment or a small favor), all those months of living with people uglier, angrier, meaner, and older than he was would twist Raito into an entirely different creature.
There is no juvenile asylum for mass murderers, and L isn't sure that he would've sent Raito to one if it had been available.
Regardless, Raito had been tried as an adult and, upon his own confession and the exposure of the Death Note, he'd been convicted of all his thousands of murders. The judge had been prepared to sentence him to death, something that Kira, killer of thousands and molder of societies, certainly deserved. Had been about to receive.
And then L had intervened.
He isn't certain, even now, why he did that. L isn't certain about many things when it comes to Yagami Raito who is Kira.
However, he can remember with perfect clarity, that rainy November 5th five years ago when all this mess had begun.
The rain itself was rather inconsequential, since L had no patience for fussy weather of any sort. But that day he could feel death creeping behind him and every time he'd turn his back on Raito, the hairs on the back of his neck would rise. He'd felt an aching sort of melancholy settle around him, and he knew that if he didn't get out of that room, now, he was going to absolutely lose it.
He had just wanted to scream, and just cry, and throw a tantrum and whine, all at once. It wasn't fair; he'd risked everything for this case and now it turned out the odds had never been in his favor. Yagami Raito and the Kira case had always been a gamble, but L had been confident . . .
Yes. Well. That confidence had almost killed him.
He had begun to speak of bells, but Raito had seemed not to hear him. L hadn't really cared much; he was always startled at how comfortable he felt around this beautiful, deadly boy. And he needed to speak anyway—he, L, who usually kept his silences until the even the most patient of personalities was driven to speak, to hum, to do something to fill the void. He couldn't keep quiet, not when he could feel death so so near.
After waiting for him to pause for some time, Raito had finally just interrupted him mid-sentence, and the harshness and aching bitterness in his voice had made L stop speaking immediately.
L had shut his mouth and stared out at the dull scenery, pretending not to see Raito's sudden change in demeanor. Just as he'd hidden the fact that he'd seen Raito struggling for the past week or so—ever since Higuchi's arrest and murder. The boy had lost sleep, and it was apparent in his dramatic weight loss, and dark circles under his eyes that were a smaller, paler version of L's own. He had been losing track of conversations in the past week especially, and had seemed to be ever involved in his own thoughts. And now he was speaking with a voice like the dead.
Now this will come to an end, L could remember thinking. "I thought I had instructed Raito-kun to use the alias 'Ryuuzaki' when he addressed me, did I not?" he asked.
Raito looked distracted. "Sorry . . . Ryuuzaki."
But Raito didn't speak, not for a very long time. His head was bowed as he shivered in the rain, which showed no signs of letting up. L couldn't see his eyes. It bothered him.
Finally, Raito looked up, and his face was torn and undecided and . . . and tormented. L felt his pulse quicken.
When Raito still didn't speak, only examined L's impassive face with dark eyes, L spoke instead. "What is it, Raito-kun?" he asked, making his voice sound just a touch gentler than usual. Raito seemed to respond to such sentiments more often than not.
Raito inhaled sharply, then said, "I need to show you something." His shoulders slumped now and he examined the cement at his feet with studious determination.
"Show me?" L asked. Tone warmer, a little slower.
Raito laughed harshly then, startling L. It was not a laugh he'd ever heard from the boy before: bitter and choked, it was the laugh of someone much older, much darker than Raito was supposed to be.
"Yes," he said, and now his voice was choked too, as though he was forcing the words through his throat, onto his tongue, and past his lips through sheer willpower. "It's a few miles away from here-" He stopped again, his words cut off, and he seemed to struggle with himself as L watched, pricks of fear sliding across his skin. Raito forced himself to speak again. "It has to do with the case," he whispered, and L had to strain to hear him over the pounding of rain on hollow metal.
"What is it?" L asked. His own voice was barely above a whisper.
Raito's hands clenched at his sides and he still did not look up. "Come with me," he forced past his lips. "I'll show you."
"Does Raito-kun mind if I bring a voice recorder on our little excursion?" L asked, beginning to move towards the door, even as Raito seemed to be frozen in place.
Suddenly, he was moving, heading to the door, passing L, and laughing again. "Sure, why not?" he asked. "Bring a video camera and a filming crew if you think it'll help, Ryuuzaki."
L's thumb pressed against his lips as he followed Raito down the stairs. "I am sure that will not be necessary, Raito-kun."
When Raito showed no signs of deviating from his path towards the exit, L asked, "Should we not dry off, Raito-kun?"
Raito turned around then, faced L, and met his eyes. No hesitation—L could no longer see the hesitation that had been so prevalent earlier this week.
His decision had been solidified.
A chill raced down L's spine, heightening his awareness of even insignificant details. (To this day, he can still remember the exact outfit Raito was wearing.) It was not because L was so spooked by the dull, expressionless facade Raito was currently sporting—it was genuine fear, for his life, for his work, that sparked the shiver spreading goosebumps all over his body.
"Why should we?" Raito rejoined. "We're just going to get wet again."
"Ah," L murmured. "Is it all right with Raito-kun if Watari comes along with us?" Oh God, L did not want to do this, no matter what happened he didn't want to do this. He didn't want to die, he didn't want Watari to die, or Raito to die—
The thought had surprised him, he remembers. So caught up in the misery of his own unavoidable death, L had quite forgotten to consider what would happen if he really did win—the converse situation, of course, would result in Raito's own death.
Raito looked startled, then nodded, his shoulders tightening almost imperceptibly. "Sure," he said. "He can drive us."
And so L made a brief call, and in a few very long minutes, they were on their way, gliding past the near-deserted, rain soaked streets.
The car ride was silent, save for Raito directing Watari in a near whisper. He seemed to grow increasingly anxious as they neared their destination. His leg was shaking, something L had never seen him do, and he was twisting his hands together as they rested in his lap. His eyes were restless as well, snapping from one point of interest in the scenery to another at an alarming speed.
Only once did L try to speak. "Raito-kun?" he asked softly, so quietly even Watari would have trouble hearing him.
Raito's eyes, at once both fierce and empty, mad and dead, snapped to make contact with L's unblinking ones. He didn't speak, only waited for L to continue.
For lack of anything better to say, he asked, "Where are we going?"
Raito didn't answer for a moment, but he did avert his eyes to stare once more out the window. "You'll see," he murmured finally. Seeing L's suspicious expression out of the corner of his eye, Raito laughed again, quieter this time, but still in that chilling, almost deranged manner. "You have nothing to worry about, L," he assured him. "I am past the point where I can do you any harm." His voice, quiet as it was, still rang with the bitter taste of desperation.
L did not answer, because there was no answer for a statement like that. The first possibility was that Raito was lying and was taking L somewhere where he could kill him without suspicion. L found this option highly suspect, since Watari would know exactly where they were, and for how long. But the only other thing L could think of was that this was going to be a confession. And that outcome had only a .02% possibility of occurring. Less if L factored in Raito's potential sociopathic disorders.
Finally, Raito directed Watari to pull over against a curb in front of a large park. Watari had turned to L for instructions; L made a snap decision.
"Watari, if you could please wait for us here?" he'd asked, observing Raito's reaction. He seemed to relax a tiny bit. "And if we are gone for more than an hour, you may assume the worst."
Watari looked startled at receiving such directives, but Raito hadn't blanched at all. He'd only climbed out of the car into the still-pouring rain.
The rain was coming down harder than ever, limiting visibility and making movement squelchy and uncomfortable. L soon found himself soaked anew. Even the accursed shoes he was wearing were squishing as they made their way down a charming garden path.
Suddenly, Raito veered off the marked walkway and headed into thicker foliage. L hesitated, then followed him at a good distance. As the plants began to obscure his view of the path they'd left, however, L stopped. "Raito-kun, I really must ask where we are going," he said.
Raito looked back at him barely able to see him through the cool rain. "I . . . I can't get it out, Ryuuzaki," he answered, his dead voice contorted by the rain. It made him sound sad. "The words, I mean," he continued. "I just . . . we are very nearly there. Can't I just show you?"
L hesitated again. If this was some elaborate act . . . but Watari was standing by. But if Kira killed Watari first . . . then the task force . . .
Unlikely. There was nothing Raito could gain by taking L out here and attempting to murder him with his bare hands. He would be caught almost immediately. And besides, Raito was not behaving like someone about to commit a murder, however good an actor he was.
"Very well," L said, and began to follow him.
"Not far to go now," Raito muttered, only just loud enough that L heard him.
Was this a confession? Raito had played too good a game to simply give up now, unless something had changed without L knowing. Before they'd captured Higuchi, had Raito been acting peculiar? No more than usual, really.
And suddenly, in front of a large tree, Raito stopped. "Here," he announced, and before L could ask him what he was talking about, Raito knelt beneath the tree. L almost knelt next to him, but Raito held up a hand to stop him.
"Wait there," he said, and L noticed that he was trembling, hard. He waited, even more confused as Raito began to dig.
"Raito-kun, what-" L said, when he could not keep his silence any longer. But just as he began to speak, Raito pulled a curious package out of the ground. Quickly, recklessly, he flung it open.
And there, sitting in the thin metal container, in a plastic bag, was . . .
"Death Note," L whispered. His mind reeled. This was not happening. This was a dream, a horrid dream where Raito was the criminal L had always accused him of being. This could not be reality. This was not how L's case was supposed to end. He was pulling the slim black notebook out of its container now, almost reverently, not caring when the rain struck it and began to dampen the cover.
Suddenly, L realized that the situation was potentially dangerous, and he lunged forward. To his surprise, Raito turned held the notebook out to him, still on his knees.
This stopped L. Was this some sort of joke? What on earth would possess Raito to do something like this? Hesitantly, wonderingly, L reached out and took the notebook.
Immediately, a dark figure appeared behind Raito, somehting L could only assume was a shinigami—which appeared to be mid-rant.
"-is he doing with you, Raito?" the death god was demanding. "You know he can see me now, right? You've lost it, haven't you? Does this mean I don't get apples from you anymore?"
Raito appeared to ignore the shinigami serenely. He was only looking at L.
L was staring at the shinigami, which looked very different and yet horribly the same as Rem. The best he could come up with to say was a very faint, "Good Lord," in his native tongue.
The shinigami began to laugh. "Yeah," it said. "I get that a lot."
"What are you?" L demanded. He knew—he thought he knew—but he'd better make sure before he started really freaking out.
The creature gave him a toothy grin and moved in close enough that the stench of death surrounded him and L turned his head to the side so he could breathe. "Shinigami," it—he? Probably a he—informed him. "I'm Ryuk."
It was purely habit that L announced, "I am L."
And the shinigami—Ryuk—was laughing again. "I can see your name, human," he chuckled. "And besides--" L could see him spare a passing glance at Raito, who still said and did nothing-- "I've been watching you for a long time."
Chills; more chills, good God L didn't think he'd ever be warm again.
It was an act of pure willpower, but L forced himself close his gaping mouth and take his eyes off the shinigami—though his gaze kept returning to it despite himself.
Time to get some answers. "Raito-kun," he began. Raito shook his head.
L tried again. "Kira," he said.
Raito nodded, expression hard, still on his knees in front of L. "Yes," he said.
L studied him carefully. Relaxed shoulders, no facial expression, glazed eyes. He was done. Just . . . done, just like that.
"You are under arrest," L said, and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. Raito—Kira showed no surprise to L having them on his person, nor did he struggle or flinch or try to move away as L stepped behind him and secured the cuffs around his wrists.
"There is one more thing," Raito said, as L locked the restraints around his wrists into place.
"What?" L asked, matching Raito's monotone.
"My watch," Raito said simply. Then, seeing that L was still confused, he instructed, "Take it off and press the knob six times."
With a feeling of gnawing anxiety in the pit of his stomach, L reached down and undid the clasp of his watch, then pulled the little instrument to himself. With one last, curious glance at Raito, L did as he was told.
A compartment popped out. Raito flinched, though he himself had told L to do it. Ryuk watched in silent anticipation. He couldn't be certain—was this still part of Raito's plan to kill the detective? Since he didn't know, it was best to keep his mouth shut.
L extracted the tiny piece of paper and read what was written there. 'Kyosuke Higuchi' was printed in perfect, if hurried, kanji. "Raito-kun," he whispered. Raito looked back at him steadily. He did not react, and L . . . well, L actually felt a sudden urge to slap the boy.
How dare he? How dare he? Did he think L was incapable of figuring this out on his own? Was he acting still? L felt himself being consumed by his own anger and confusion and all the fear that had been eating him alive narrowed down to this one point, to this one . . . child who had bested him at his own game for so long, and now had the gall to just give up, to just deliver himself into L's custody.
"Other side," Raito whispered, voice barely audible at all.
Struck by a sudden panic, L turned over the tiny piece of paper, and couldn't suppress a cry at what he saw there. Raito flinched back again, but he never took his eyes off of L.
In tiny, delicately written letters, it read, 'L Lawlie-' There was the beginning of the 't' at the end, but it had been left unfinished. L stared at it. Stared at how close his own death was.
It took him several minutes to regain his composure, but when he finally felt like he could speak without babbling, he turned wide eyes on Raito, whose expression was unreadable. "Raito-kun," L whispered, voice barely audible above the rain that was beginning to slow.
Ratio did not make any sign that he'd heard L; he just continued staring in that harsh, too-focused way.
"Raito-kun," L tried again. "Why did you . . . why did you not finish?"
Raito stared back at him for a minute, before suddenly, his slender frame shook with soundless, breathy, cruel laughter. L stared at him, shocked, as he bent his head and curved his back so that he was staring at the ground. He was still looking at the dirt beneath him when he answered. "I . . . couldn't . . ." he gasped, the words two sharp punctuations that came between what were now silent sobs. His breath hitched as he spoke, and L grabbed his shoulders and pulled him up to his feet, raising his head so that Raito was forced to look him in the eyes.
"Why?" L demanded, forgetting that he was supposed to sound apathetic.
Raito's silent laughter-sobs continued, and L was shocked at the desperation written clearly across his face. "If you . . . don't know, L . . . I don't suppose . . . there's any point . . . in my . . . telling you."
Raito laughed harder. "No," he said, and L shoved him away in disgust. He carefully put the paper back in the watch and slipped the entire contraption into his pocket. He still held the Death Note carefully away from Raito, who had fallen when L had released him. He was standing again, no longer laughing, but still trembling as though he were.
L looked at him coldly.
"And Watari," Raito said, voice shaking, speaking as though he were continuing a conversation. "Quillsh Wammy."
L flinched. "Have you written his name?" he demanded, his voice louder than he'd intended. He didn't care, as long as the answer was-
"No," Raito said. "I wanted to write yours first. And I couldn't . . . when I couldn't, it wasn't right to write his. Not when you would live."
"Tell me why," L whispered.
"I want to ask for a favor," Raito said, completely ignoring him.
L stared at him. The sudden change in conversation was unnerving. "What?" he asked, making no promises.
"Make certain I get the death penalty," Raito said, his voice low and pleading. "I can't live with this—I don't expect you to understand."
L nodded. "I doubt that will be a problem, Kira," he said.
Yet it had been a problem. L had always been for the idea of rehabilitating criminals; he just knew that it didn't often work. But everyone, even Kira, after his confession and failure, deserved another chance.
And so, when L delivered Raito to the justice system, it was only on the condition that, if Raito willingly confessed, execution would not be an option. Raito was unaware of this plea bargain, and so when it came time to testify, he spoke calmly, his voice calm and detached, and told his entire, impossible story.
And he had remained calm all the way through the deliberation of prosecutors and witnesses, not even flinching when his own father took the stand, just sitting in his chair, a perfectly broken statue, staring straight ahead.
The testimonies of the task force, Raito's confession, L's accusation, and the voice recording L had made that day when Raito had given him the Death Note, were all more than enough to convict him.
And then the judge had delivered his sentence: a lifetime spent in an unnamed and hidden institute for the criminally insane. Which, as his testimony and behavior throughout the trial proved, he was. No visitors. No parole. No pardons.
Raito had screamed.
L flinches at that memory, feeling his stomach ache as he remembers how Raito had whipped around after that initial scream, and how he had found his eyes, even through the computer screen L was watching through.
Raito had struggled against his restraints, had fought his captors manically until they were forced to sedate him to transport him safely to his new, permanent home. L remembers how Raito's father had stared at his son that was no longer really his son, his expression pained even as he'd attempted to detach himself from the nightmare that was Kira.
It is something L is still trying to detach himself from.
For the next five years, L worked feverishly, solving more cases in that time than he had during his entire career so far. Watari watched, stunned, as L's genius seemed to reach new heights (when really he forced himself to think harder, be better, work longer), as he seemed to be able to go longer and longer without any sleep (when really, he began to hate sleep because when he slept there were nightmares), and as he had isolated himself from everyone, even Watari himself. They used to have conversations; L had even, from time to time, sought Watari's advice. Now their contact was limited and often not even face-to-face. Their communication was restricted to requests for information or food, and polite thank-you's.
Watari worried, but L was a grown man. He could decide for himself what he was going to do, how he was going to react. And if this was how L was going to cope with losing Raito, then Watari had no place to intervene.
It wouldn't have any effect anyway. L had always done what he pleased, and he had always coped with difficult situations by isolating himself socially. And by eating cake. Lots of cake.
And for five years this went on. L worked as hard as he could without making himself physically sick, trying and failing to forget his greatest challenge and his greatest failure, trying and failing to forget how Raito had made him feel, actually have emotion that wasn't simulated for others' comfort.
For years, L avoided making the call he knew that he'd have to make. And finally, with the completion of his hundredth case that month, Watari silently holds out a cell phone. L looks at it. The number is already dialed.
In an uncharacteristic gesture of irritation, L pushes the phone and Watari's hand away. "I have no time for such frivolous pursuits, Watari," L says, looking up at the older man from his crouch on the wooden floor.
"You have been staring off into the distance for an hour and a half, L," Watari answers, his voice so dry it chafes.
"Thinking," L points out.
"You solved your last case a few hours ago, and you have not requested another one."
"I can think of nothing besides cases?" L asks, keeping the irritation out of his voice with practiced ease. Just as Watari could detect it anyway, with practiced ease.
"No, not for a good while now." Watari holds the phone out again.
"I do not have any desire to call them, Watari," L says, his words almost snapping out.
"Yes, you do, and that is the problem," Watari answers. "L, you do not have to be afraid of this."
L is silent for a moment. "I am sorry, but it is not your business," he finally says. Watari notices that L doesn't contradict his previous statement.
"L, please," Watari says, and L looks up at him, making eye contact for the first time in . . . has it really been months? "If you cannot call them, then I will do it in your name. I know you want the information, and I admit that I, too, am concerned. They have not contacted us regarding details on his crimes or his behavior in over two years. Not even an update on therapy."
There is a long pause while L regards the phone distastefully. Finally, he takes it from Watari and holds it with two fingers, pressing call with his other hand. He looks away from Watari as he waits for the call to go through.
L tries to quell his anxiety as he listens to the other end of the call ring once, twice, three times. Then, a cool, professional female voice picks up.
"Crowley Institute. How may I help you?"
L directly calls the director's office, and he is actually surprised to hear that the man had a secretary. "Please connect me with Dr. Crowley," he says, his voice garbled from the program that disguised him.
"I'm afraid he's in a meeting-"
"Tell him that L is calling. I am certain he will entertain my call for a few moments."
"Please hold." At least the secretary hadn't been chatty.
L sighs. He hates waiting, and tells Watari so with his eyes. He is surprised to see the old gentleman smiling, and then is sad that he should be surprised. It has been a while, L realizes, since he's interacted with Watari on a personal level.
L waits exactly 30 more seconds, and then the line clicks and another voice, soft and obviously male, speaks. "L," it says.
"Dr. Crowley," L answers. He nearly grinds his teeth in frustration. The last five years have spoiled him; he hasn't had any need of niceties at all.
"What can I do for you?"
L opens his mouth to say I am calling to inquire of the condition of prisoner Yagami, but what comes out instead is, "I am calling to inform you that I will be sending an envoy of mine to inspect prisoner Yagami's living and mental conditions."
"An envoy? Watari again?" Crowley asks, his voice smooth. L hates it; it was a lying voice. Like Raito's, but slicker.
"No, I will be sending someone new. You may call him Ryuuzaki. He will be arriving in three days' time. Is that acceptable to you?" What is he doing? Why did he say that? He doesn't want to go within 100 miles of the damned asylum they'd locked Raito in.
Crowley, having no knowledge of L's internal dilemma, doesn't miss a beat. "Certainly. Do you have a time of arrival?"
Again, L does not think before he speaks. This-going with the flow-is entirely new to him, and he is not certain he likes it. "Late afternoon or early evening. He will call with a more precise time later."
"Very well," Crowley says. "I look forward to his visit."
"Thank you," L says, and terminates their connection.
And sends the phone skidding across the wooden floor, until it collides with the opposite wall.
Watari immediately kneels beside to L. He does not touch him, but the offer, the thought, the reassurance, is there. L is thirty years old, after all, but he is still very much a child in many things that matter. Watari supposes that he always will be.
"Why did I just do that?" L wonders aloud, and although his voice is deadpan, it is only out of habit. In reality, his stomach is churning, and he can feel his chest tightening from long-buried anxiety and uncertainty.
"I am glad you did," Watari says. "Heaven knows that they could be lying to us about any number of Raito's conditions."
L stiffens, almost imperceptibly. "This will not change anything," he says.
"I know," Watari answers, then ventures into slightly more dangerous ground. "I think it may be good for you to see him."
L looks at Watari with large, inanimate eyes. "It will not change anything."
"Perhaps you can get some answers to the questions you have," Watari proposes, and is glad when L looks a little more alive upon hearing his suggestion.
L looks at him again, and his eyes are softer than they'd been in years. No one but Watari, and possibly Raito Yagami, would have noticed, but the hard, glassy sheen L has worn since Raito's trial has faded a bit. "Thank you, Watari," L says.
Watari nods. He is only doing his job in looking after L, anyway. (Though they both know it was more than that, it goes deeper than that, as L has never had any father that they know of, and Watari has never had children.) He stands, then crouches over once more and picks up the several pieces the cell phone has snapped into. L looks away, feeling slightly ashamed of himself and, more particularly, his outburst. It had been entirely unplanned.
Watari straightens, and pauses on his way out of the room next to L. He drops a hand onto L's head and strokes his hair, just once, before pulling his hand away. L does not react, but Watari knows that he doesn't mind. It perhaps even helps a bit with the pain he is feeling.
"He will be much changed, Lawliet," Watari says, almost whispers. It is a warning, though, not a reassurance, and L takes it as such.
"I understand. Thank you."
L continues staring blankly at the wall.
A/N: Um. Hi. A full explanation of why I've been gone for . . . oh, months and months, is available on my profile. Suffice to say that I was grounded in the worst way, I'm very very sorry for leaving you all, and I'd rather no one yell at me. On the bright side, I'm taking this opportunity to edit all my stories, and I'm hoping to repost about a chapter a day or so—though I'm just starting university, so I make no promises.
Anyways, thanks in advance for being understanding! Once I've reposted everything, I'll start with the update on a fairly regular basis—at least one chapter a week in one of my stories. (Though Silence will be my priority, since I've finally figured out where it's going.)
I've missed everybody very much—oh, and if you have one story you'd like to see up sooner than the others, let me know and I'll see what I can do.
Thanks for reading! Send me any questions you've got.