Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note.
A/N: to all the L fangirls who will freak out after reading this, I love him to death, I really do. But I am a bit sick of him being portrayed as nothing but Light-kun's yaoi darling, or as a flatly heroic creature. He is complicated and morally ambiguous in canon!
However, it has come to my attention that the L of this fic could be tagged evil!L or sociopathic!L, so be warned. This L is not nice.
Sugar Cubes and Psychoanalysis
Quillish Wammy liked to think of himself as a philanthropist.
He donated money to charities quite frequently, and he even had his own orphanage. It was an orphanage for gifted children, so that every one of them could reach their full potential. Quillish wanted to raise these kids to help humanity. He spent much of his time at the orphanage, baking for the children, or teaching inventing classes. He would also often search for orphans who showed unusual intelligence. After all, most gifted kids were not easily recognized.
But one day, on February 28th, 1984, he heard a rumor about an orphan who was not only gifted, but above prodigious. This orphan was living in a police station, having just solved the case of an elusive serial rapist. So he decided to research this child a little before walking into the police station to meet him. The kid's mother's name was Inama Lawliet. She was half French, half Japanese, and before she died, she'd taught French at a Japanese university. She had apparently wandered, dazed, with a head injury, into a Japanese hospital, just before giving birth. There had been complications, and she'd died shortly after. However, she had managed to name the child, or, at least, give him an initial: L. That was his name. The identity of the boy's father was more difficult to come by. After several days of extensive searching, Quillish still hadn't managed to find out who Inama's boyfriend/husband was. Until it occurred to him. And sure enough, the very same rapist that the child had just caught had attacked Inama, while she was vacationing in England in 1978.
Quillish was growing more and more interested in this orphan. How had he gotten from the orphanage in Japan where he'd spent his first few years? How on Earth had he caught that criminal? What was he, that he could do such things at four-and-a-half years old?
Quillish decided that he needed to go to see the kid for himself.
"My name is Quillish Wammy, I run an orphanage for gifted children near here." he introduced himself to the secretary at the police station.
"Are you here for an appointment with the chief?" the secretary said, his voice bored.
"Ah... Yes. Yes I am." Quillish replied
"Her office is that way," the secretary said, pointing down a hallway. Quillish walked where the finger pointed. At the end of the hall was a door emblazoned with the words: "Chief Catherine Daily"
He knocked on it, and a female voice said: "come in!"
He entered and said "Hello, I run an orphanage for gifted chil-"
"Are you here to take him away? Please tell me yes, please!" she interrupted.
"Ah... I guess so?" he replied, wondering what could possibly cause the woman to sound so frightened.
"Oh thank God," she said, "come with me."
He followed her out of the office, and through a few corridors. She introduced herself as the police chief while they were walking, and he introduced himself as well. When they finally arrived at a door, she said: "He's in there. I won't come in after you if he drives you insane."
Quillish wondered what she meant. The phrasing sounded as though the child were simply annoying, but the fear in her voice when she'd said it made him wonder if she meant it literally. No matter, he could deal with smart kids, he spent most of his time doing just that. So he knocked on the door.
"Enter." said a voice, whose youthful highness gave the lie to its cold formality. So Quillish did. The room was lit with fluorescent lights, strewn with books, and the walls were completely white, except for a small stain on one. In the room's center stood a single chair, in which crouched a young child, sucking his thumb. The child had a shock of tangled black hair, incredibly pale skin, and unusually large, piercing black eyes. He was also painfully thin, and dressed in dirty rags.
"Hello L," Quillish began, in his gentlest voice, "I-"
"You are Quillish Wammy, the man from the orphanage for gifted children. You have come to take me there." the boy cut him off. The statements were spoken in a cold, flat voice, as expressionless as L's face.
"Yes, I am." said Quillish, now quite uneasy.
"Those were not questions. And in preemptive answer to the question you are about to ask, yes, I would like to come to your orphanage. It has an 8% chance of being able to fulfill at least some of my educational needs, which is higher than anywhere else in this country that might possibly allow a child of my age in." L said, still in that creepy monotone.
"Alright, L. Then… Come with me." said Quillish, trying to suppress the growing feeling of unease he had surrounding the possibility of spending any more time around this uncanny child. L hopped out of his chair, and Quillish was glad to see that at least he walked with the normal, shuffling gait of a four-year-old. He put his hand in Quillish's, and allowed the man to lead him away.
When they got to the car, there was a problem. Namely, L categorically refused to sit in the normal position in his car seat.
"If I don't sit like this, my deductive powers decrease by 40%. No, I will not sit normally." said L.
"But what if we get in a car accident? You must sit like a regular child and wear a seatbelt." Quillish said.
"Quillish," said the boy, "I can still wear a seatbelt when sitting like this, and my chances of survival in an accident are only lessened by 2%. I will sit this way. That is final."
"That is final." the words were spoken without emphasis, still in a monotone.
"Alright," Quillish said. He helped L into a car seat, buckled him in, and got in the driver door. As soon as he pulled onto the road, a voice came from the back seat:
"You were a soldier," said L, "in World War Two, perhaps? You look about the right age. You're quite rich, and but not old money, or if you are, the fortune you started with is modest compared to the one you have now. You think of yourself as a good guy... A philanthropist? Yes, definitely. Hmm. You engage in philanthropy because... You did terrible things in the war, and want to atone..." L trailed off. Suddenly, he asked: "Why won't you play? No one can win if you won't play. The police officers didn't try too hard to win, but at least they played."
"What do you mean, 'play'?" asked Quillish.
"I mean you speak as well."
"And what do you mean, 'win'?"
"Well, when I won against the police officers, most of them just left, looking horrified. One of them killed himself, though, and no one would talk to me after that." L pouted a bit.
Quillish almost crashed the car. He resolved, from that point on, not to talk to the kid any more than strictly necessary. Burning curiosity was a small price to pay for keeping his sanity. And some of the kid's guesses were disturbingly close. He had been a soldier of sorts, though not in World War Two, and he was quite rich, but from a modest background. He did think of himself as good, and he was trying to fix some things from his past…
But how had this four-and-a-half-year-old talked someone into insanity? More importantly, why? Was it some sort of twisted enjoyment? Or curiosity? Neither of those sounded quite right.
So Quillish drove to his orphanage, pondering the motivations of the young psychopath in the back seat of his car, while that psychopath tried to pick apart his mind.
When he arrived at the gate, and was getting out of his car to open it, a terrible thought occurred to him. What would L do to the other children? If he could damage an adult mind, what would he do to the fragile psyche of a young orphan? Quillish did not want to find out.
"L," he began.
"Yes?" asked the boy.
"There will be other children at the orphanage. I'm going to have to ask you not to hurt them."
"What do you mean, 'hurt them'?" L cocked his head to one side, looking genuinely confused.
"I mean, don't do to them what you did to the police officers, and were just trying to do to me."
"Alright. Why not? I was just winning. If they lose, they lose."
"It hurts them psychologically. It isn't good to hurt other people."
"Yes, but they lost." L said as if that were the most important thing, the only thing that mattered. Quillish realized that this wasn't going anywhere; L's thought process was too different than his own.
"Just don't do it, alright?"
After making all the necessary arrangements, and informing most of the staff about the dangerousness of their new charge, Quillish led L to a currently unoccupied bedroom.
"This will be your room, unless you want a different one." He said.
"It is sufficient." L replied, gazing about at the sky-blue-and-dolphins-themed room.
"Good. Before I go, do you require anything?" Quillish asked.
"Hm. Actually, yes. Do you have any kakuzato?"
"I don't actually know the English word for them, I cannot find it. You know, the white, sweet, grainy, three-dimensional squares?"
"Oh, sugar cubes. Yes, we have some of those."
"Could I please have some, then?"
"To eat, of course."
"You can't just eat sugar cubes, that's incredibly unhealthy!"
"I can, and often do. Could you please get me some?"
"No. You may eat real food if you are hungry, but you may not eat sugar cubes. A staff member will be in shortly to get you new clothes. I will see you later, L."
"Hm. See you later Quillish." Said the boy.
So Quillish left. After about five steps down the hallway, he realized that L would probably just torture whoever was sent to take care of him into getting him sugar cubes. He decided to warn the staff.