A/N: Hang on, everybody, 'cause here's where L comes in and he's . . . well, as usual, L's just a delightful little person, isn't he?
November 28th, 2004
L Lawliet didn't do boredom.
He used to feel bored—and he didn't like to remember that, to remember the crushing weight of the stupidity of his classmates combined with the incompetence of his teachers and finally, his own inability to shut off his brain.
Yes, he used to feel bored.
Until he realized that boredom isn't a feeling—it's a condition. An ailment. An illness. And like any other illness, there was a way to treat boredom.
Generally, L treated it with a haughty, caustic attitude and with no small amount of contempt.
Specifically, he treated it by finding something else—something interesting—to do.
The problem with geniuses, he thought while disassembling his mother's piano, is that once they find a particular way of thinking, they tend to get stuck. And it's not like we're incapable of changing our minds, he added, it's just that we're so arrogant that we think that our way of thinking is the only way.
Gently, he twisted the pin of middle C's string and pressed the key firmly. He listened for a moment, head cocked to one side, then nodded. The pressurized wood in the hammer looked strong still, even in a piano nearly 50 years old, so he pushed the soundboard gently and waited until he heard a click and then smiled to himself, pleased.
Tuning a piano—check. And all before breakfast, too.
He just had to make sure his mother didn't find out what he'd been doing.
His parents were generally supportive of his habits and idiosyncrasies, and they even helped cover the cost of his specialized classes when his own funds couldn't cover it. But if his mother ever found out he'd taken apart and then put back together her baby grand, he would be lectured and grounded before he could even drawl, But Mom, I knew what I was doing.
L found music fascinating. He didn't possess much talent himself—his voice was acceptable, in tune if not entirely pleasing to listen to, and he could play the piano and the violin well enough—but that didn't stop him from studying it.
It had pleased him greatly when his mother had placed him in piano lessons at his request and they (his teacher, his mother, and himself) had discovered that he wasn't much of a pianist.
He had learned the theory lighting fast, of course (music was all mathematics, when it came right down to it), and he could read music after a lesson or two, but he . . . he didn't have an ear for it, he supposed one might say.
His mother was baffled—why on earth would her brilliant son be happy when he found something that he couldn't do perfectly?
But that was just the thing (and it was the thing he couldn't explain to his parents either). Unlike most people, L had actually had to look for something he couldn't do well on the first try. All his life, all of the standard pursuits—academics, sports, and the like—had come easily to him. Much, much too easily. He'd been bored out of his mind.
Absolutely out of his mind. It had taken him to the point of near-insanity until he realized that he'd better find something to do with himself before he snapped and brought a gun to school. Or something. That was just an example, really.
(And besides, where would he even find a gun? This was Japan, after all, and it wasn't legal for civilians to own guns. He'd supposed that he could get his father's somehow, but he'd have to be careful about it and his father would notice it was missing in the morning before he left for work . . .)
Well. Once he'd found himself fantasizing about killing off a sizable portion of his known world, he'd decided that it was time to make a change.
His father had helped him get a job when he was 16, contacting the (ironically) weapons company that contracted with the NPA and passing him off as a technical writer. It wasn't a particularly interesting job, but it paid surprisingly well when he considered that all he had to do was write instructions on how not to kill yourself with a pistol or what the safety procedures were when the nuclear reactor started feeling a bit touchy. Then, once the paychecks had started coming in, the real fun started.
His mother had asked him what the point was of all this—and by all this, she meant the skydiving lessons, the SCUBA diving, his brief foray into the chemical engineering of makeup, the bookbinding class, the "Intro to Pottery" seminar, the protest he'd gone to, advanced capoeira, the old car engine he'd rebuilt, the gardening and cooking books he'd bought. And about a dozen other things he'd done in the past year or so. And that was another thing he couldn't really explain.
His family was great, it really was. His father was devoted member of the police force and was excellent at his job (although perhaps he spent a bit too much time there and not with his family), his mother was kind and caring and didn't mind cooking a little extra for him since he asked for sweets so often (although perhaps she spent too much time pushing her son to study, to excel, to be better and perhaps she cared a little too much about his test scores), and his little sister was bright and full of life (although perhaps she shouldn't be sneaking out late at night quite so much to party with her friends).
But they were average, and there was nothing L could do about that. Sometimes—mostly back when he'd been bored and furious and out of his mind with frustration—he wondered what the point of having a family was when they couldn't really do anything for him.
But of course that wasn't true. He knew that. His family loved them, and he . . . he mostly loved them back. He wasn't sure he was completely capable of loving someone "with all his heart" since it seemed like his heart didn't do anything without his brain's permission; and his brain wasn't exactly in tune with his emotions. But he liked them, more than he liked anybody else. He didn't mind being around them, and he was grateful for their support and their love. He supposed that without them life would seem much colder and darker.
At any rate, he knew that he would not be able to explain why he suddenly had about 30 new interests. They would look at him and furrow their brows and blink and not be able to see how he took no pleasure in things like schoolwork and tennis because schoolwork and tennis were so, so easy for him. To them, when they found something they were good at, it was thrilling. To L, he was good at everything, he understood everything, so where was the joy to be found in the average, everyday things he did?
Of course, there was an average, everyday thing he participated in that he wasn't perfect at—not that I'm perfect at anything, perfection's just an illusion—he reminded himself.
It was something so small, so seemingly inconsequential; and at the same time, it was one of the largest parts of his life.
L frowned as he reached school and stepped onto the grounds. It wasn't that he was incapable of socializing, if one took socialization at its denotation: "a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skill appropriate to his/her social position." But its connotation—the interaction of him with his peers, his ability to empathize, and the desire, especially to communicate with others—was another story entirely.
It wasn't as though L didn't have any friends—well, okay. He really didn't have any friends.
But it was more that he didn't want any friends—at least, none of the common garden variety that seemed to invade his school and choke him like weeds. He supposed that he wouldn't mind socializing if it were with someone else on his level, but he'd never found anyone quite that smart, and he didn't ever expect to.
And so, he made sure to fill his time with activities in lieu of another person with whom he could have a stimulating conversation. It wasn't a perfect substitute, but he was happy enough. Content, at least.
He weaved through the faceless, nameless masses in the hallways, walking slowly, treading carefully, until he reached his first class. He waited until the bell was about to ring before he slipped inside and into his seat—that way, no one tried to strike up a conversation with him. And when the bell rang again to dismiss class, he'd be up and out of his seat before anyone else had even started packing up.
Okay, so maybe it wasn't the healthiest way of dealing with people. And he certainly wasn't afraid of them, God knew they left him alone enough. (The class genius, the class freak; they thought they hated him because he was so weird, and yes, maybe that was part of it. But really it was because he was just so . . . smart. It was because he could go places they couldn't, because with a blink, they would all melt away, secondary to whatever he was thinking of at the moment. And they couldn't—or didn't want to—handle his self-imposed isolation.)
He sat normally, which didn't bother him nearly as much as when he was a child. He still sat a bit rigidly, he supposed, and he thought about making more of an effort to relax and mimic his classmates' posture, but then he just shrugged and slouched down further in the hard plastic seat that belonged to him for the next 55 minutes. They were just lucky he didn't bring his knees to his chest and crouch instead; that was much more comfortable, and he could think much better that way, since he wasn't constantly distracted with the idea of looking normal to the rest of the world.
Mathematics. First class of the day, and the best. He was in Multivariable Calculus, something he enjoyed to a degree. It wasn't particularly difficult, but he deliberately restrained himself from reading ahead in the textbook so he was forced to listen during class to absorb the new information.
It was funny, though; as with most subjects, whenever he "learned" something new, even if he really hadn't ever thought about it or hadn't ever come into contact with it before, it still felt painfully familiar. It just . . . made sense, he supposed. It was like he was taking 7 different classes on common sense and the world in general. For the average person, he thought, it would be like sitting down and realizing that today's lesson was about shapes and that a triangle had three sides and three angles, a square had four sides and four angles, and so on.
Common sense. Common knowledge. Not something you had to think about.
He shrugged a bit to himself and tried to remind himself that he didn't know everything (but, he thought with a wry smile, I'm pretty close) and that something in this school could take him by surprise. Probably.
For now, he listened to the lecture about vectors in 3-dimensional space and resisted the urge to read ahead instead of listening to the teacher crawl along and cater to the lowest common denominator in the class.
Chill, he thought to himself. I need to take my time with this, or 55 minutes is going to seem like 55 days.
At the same time, though . . . listening to this lecture was going to take about 55 hours, so maybe it wouldn't hurt if he multi-tasked. He glanced at the board and read the questions they'd have to do tonight as homework, and then he flipped straight to the questions.
Without reading the material, and keeping at least a part of his mind on the lecture still going on, he tried each problem, working through it with just a basic understanding of vectors and what he considered to be common sense in general.
It was more challenging this way, more fun if he ignored the shortcuts they'd given him and instead relied on basic calculus and the theories and equations he'd already memorized to solve the problems. That kept him occupied through most of the class period, although the questions at the end went much faster, since the teacher had finished and he now had a better understanding of the material.
Minutes before the bell rang, he flipped through his homework, checking and rechecking the answers to make sure they were all right. He'd made sure to "show his work" too, since his teacher was unnerved by the very few steps he usually took to solve problems. Instead, he solved them the way he was supposed to, by following formulas and emulating the examples in the book. He nodded to himself and tucked the paper away into his backpack where it would languish and presumably die.
Looking around, he realized that he'd gotten through first period without wanting to kill anybody even once. Victory.
As predicted, he was out of his chair and on the way to his next class before the echoes of the period bell had stopped sounding.
He wasn't afraid socialization. He wasn't. It was just so unpleasant usually that he didn't see the point. He supposed that maybe he could have taken one for the team, just to put his mother's mind at rest. She worried about him, he knew. Especially when she'd pick him up from school or see him at his father's work parties—when she saw how very little he cared to communicate with the rest of the world. She worried.
Oh well, L thought, slipping his bag off his shoulder and onto the floor next to his desk. Her loss.With a frown, he removed his blazer, then paused and grudgingly slipped it back on when the teacher glared at him.
If math was his favorite part of the day, it all went downhill from there. Math, then Japanese (which he was more than fluent in, but was required for all students), then history of Asia, and then lunch. By the time lunch rolled around, he was usually in something of a daze, eyes glazed over from the effort he put forward every day to listen and behave.
Lunch usually cheered him up, since his mother had long since stopped trying to get him to eat a balanced meal. The sugar cheered him up considerably, and was well-worth the looks he got from his classmates because of his bizarre diet.
After lunch, he ambled over to the laboratory section of the school for chemistry, then it was back to the standard classrooms for physics, the gym or outside for physical education, and finally, English. Which he was also more than fluent in, but was, of course, required.
English and Japanese were the worst classes, he felt, because at least in his other classes, he could stop himself from reading ahead so he didn't get too bored (it worked, barely). But when you're fluent, you're fluent, and there's not much else to do about it. Especially for someone like L, who, besides Japanese and English, also spoke Korean, Chinese, and Spanish. (He also spoke French and could speak Arabic passably, but when he said stuff like that, people just thought he was bragging.) (Which he was.)
At any rate, English was far from his favorite subject. So far, in fact, that he spent most of his time staring out the window when usually he found that sort of thing to be more boring even than what was actually going on inside the classroom. He translated when called upon, of course, and he could feel his classmates' hostility as he read easily, effortlessly, even, with a clear, even accent and no fumbling with longer words or hard consonants.
Luckily, he didn't care about them at all. He didn't care about much, actually, except for keeping himself entertained, which wasn't easy. But it was attainable, to some degree, so he mostly focused on that.
For the moment, though, he found himself staring out the window, eyes flitting from one piece of scenery to the next, to trees and benches he'd already memorized to the windows of other classrooms where he could see most of the students paying attention but a few like him, staring blankly out a window.
And it was because he was focusing almost completely on the world outside his banal classroom that he happened to see a black notebook flutter to the ground out of nowhere. He raised his eyebrows and glanced up to the sky. He could see nothing.
Well, that was sort of interesting.
A/N: Okay, guys, here's L! Whew, it took me a while to get his character right; and he's still definitely a work in progress, much more so than Raito; L is just such a singular person, and that's hard to get down even when I'm writing him normally.
Anyway, I did have fun writing this, and even though I know it was a lot of heavy-handed exposition, I promise the story's going to start to move—fast.
Also, if you think you know what's going to happen next . . . okay, you're probably right. But AFTER that, I bet you'll be surprised. You'll see what I mean. Eventually.
Last but not least: to people who have asked, I definitely have every intention of finishing Disorder, but I'm just a little stuck. Still working on it, though. Also: if anyone has my old story, Ignorance recorded somehow, I'd love you if you were to let me know and send it to me! I miss it.
If you liked, please review! Thanks!