Disclaimer: Don't own DN. Lyrics: Galaxies by Owl City. Final year edited for correctness thanks to Doplleganger's Doll. Another reason I should have DN13 tattooed to my skin Prison Break style.
you're the only north star
i would follow this far
The ghost-skinned boy is shadow pale against the wallpaper. He has a slouch that Quillish thinks will never quite be fixed. He has spent these few years – all the years of his life – perfecting that slouch, hiding in it - shoulder bones as a barrier against the world. There's a line about the boy's lips that makes him look like he wants to be sullen, but curiosity and intrigue and the simple presence of a world outside his own keep his eyes wide, his expression blank, his shoulders hunched.
"It's done," Quillish says, showing him the papers.
The boy doesn't quite smile, but the sullen lines leave his mouth, and there's something a little less like terror in his eyes.
Quillish keeps waiting for puberty to wrack the child's skinny frame, but it doesn't seem to come. At fourteen, he still looks like the same wiry, snow-blushed urchin from the orphanage all those years ago. But there's something different now – something intangible, something electric – and it crackles through the air when he speaks, through the silence when he thinks. He's a nightmare, he's a blessing – he's every inch the wretched wonder Quillish Wammy knew he would be when he first clapped eyes on him. His apparent insistence on not growing up lends a kind of surrealism to his intelligence; a haughty sense of separateness. In him, like hot and cold fronts in a storm, are met the parallel forces of wonder and omniscience – magic and science.
There's a power in that, Quillish knows, and he's certain his charge could wield it, if the boy had ever cared for such things as that.
The growing up happens almost overnight. Watari – for he is Watari, now, and Quillish Wammy is nothing but a name on documents and old diaries – could swear he sees him growing before his very eyes. L – for he is L, now, and he is already the world's second best detective – sprawls outwards daily, extending himself from the skinny shins of adolescence to the taut smoothness of near-adulthood. He grows and he tires, for the first time in his life, and there are moments when Watari can almost see him grinding to a halt.
Every time, the process is the same. L reacts (in silent, motionless ways that only a lifelong guardian – that only a father – can see) with astonishment, with disbelief, as if he cannot bring himself to believe his body could betray him this way. Then, he wavers, and every time despite all the evidence to the contrary, Watari is sure that this will be the time he breaks. But L collects himself, shakes himself out, and carries on.
Sleepless, and older than ever before.
They are world-renowned.
L, of course, is the important one. L is the lightning genius, the Holmsian sleuth, the legend of police forces and detective agencies the world over. He's grown long and lanky, but the boniness of his youth still clings to him. He eats little, and sleeps less, and never tires. Buried beneath the gaunt and excited lines of his face is the man he could have been: a sharp handsomeness, a charismatic smile, warmth. A curious thing about L is he is aware, frighteningly aware, of every path he has taken and ever path he might have took – and he has never questioned his decisions, not once.
Watari himself has become the looming shadow; the last port of call for investigators struggling for answers. They come to him, and he, in turn, brings their please to L. A kind of notoriety has grown up around him, a kind of reverence, and Watari can't say he doesn't enjoy it.
And in the moments where he worries, where he notices the tiredness and ponders on loneliness, he has only to look at L's face, illuminated by fluorescent lights and sheer delight, to know where to put his faith.
There are murmurs in the underground networks, that something strange has been happening to criminals.
L's interest is piqued, naturally. He peruses the case files he can find, examines as many anecdotal and circumstantial reports as Watari can bring him, and slowly, Watari can see the seeds of an idea beginning to bud. He stays quiet and hovers in the background, fascinated, as ever, by the process. Eventually – L comments in bitter astonishment that they must really need his help if it took them this long to think to call him – the word comes through that L is wanted. Watari dons his coat and hat, and L watches him leave for the ICPO conference with the familiar glint in his eyes.
L is not daunted by what lies ahead, and he is not afraid, so neither is Watari. If there is one thing he has learnt, it is that he trusts L implicitly, and with the whole of his heart. He trusts L not to stumble. And if it came to that, if L were fall, then Watari will fall with him – gladly, proudly, for this is the boy he has raised and loved, and this is the un-son he would die for, but to have seen him shine.