Disclaimer: If I owned Death Note, I'd be rich. Which I'm not, so I don't. On a side note however... If Obata and Obha were fed up enough of L and Watari to kill them off, does that mean they're up for grabs? Dibs!
A/N: This story is a standalone, and as far as I know, it won't be tying in with any other story. Basically the internet was cut off, I had a plot bunny, and I jumped on that bunny and rode it all the way home yelling YEE-HAA! This is the result. Enjoy!
L and the Mystery of Christmas
Being a chronic insomniac meant that L had a rather unique perspective of The Wammy House, and he had grown to enjoy these rather personal moments between himself and the building he had come to call home. He compared daytime life with the night, and was slightly amused to note that parallels could be drawn between day and night, and the sun and the moon. The day time was like the sun; constant activity, children roaming the corridors knocking on friend's doors, random specialised classes taking place in various rooms across the house creating a background murmur, and generally bringing the massive old fashioned building to life. There were no scheduled mealtimes as such, so the kitchen was almost constantly in use, and the house radiated warmth. The night was like the moon itself; barren, most of the children in their beds along with the staff, and very little activity at all. The only noises left in the stillness were the noises of the house itself, settling after a hard day.
It was these noises that L had come to know so well since he came to Wammy's. He'd never really been the sunny type.
He shut his state of the art laptop gently, closing the lid on a cold case from around twenty years ago that was one of many from a batch that Watari had managed to dig up from old police files. Sadly it would be too late; the woman who had committed the murders was currently in a care home receiving treatment for Alzheimer's, and probably couldn't remember anything before last Tuesday, if that. Now, he could focus his mind onto his latest mission.
It was two more nights until Christmas, the next night being Christmas Eve, and this year he would solve the mystery. The first Christmas L had stayed at Wammy's, he had been unable to fall asleep and had spent the night on his laptop. He had heard no sound whatsoever, and had therefore been astounded when he had gone to find cake and instead found that every single child's door had a full stocking, and not only that, but every single hallway looked like a Christmas bomb had gone off. Decorations were absolutely everywhere. Tinsel was strung along the high ceilings, lights twinkled in every window, illuminating sprayed on snowflakes and snowy bells. There was tinsel draped over picture frames, crude paper Santa hats had been tacked onto the head of every occupant of every painting, and wreaths of holly hung on each door, even his own.
L had walked down the hallways in a daze, not hearing any sounds out of the ordinary, marvelling at everything that just sparkled. He'd never seen anything like it. The tree in the lounge was huge, almost touching the ceiling, and it was also covered in lights and decorations, some of which were hand made by the children. On the top was a beautiful angel, smiling down on him with her wings spread. His empty plate was the only reminder of the task he'd set out for, and not even the kitchen had escaped the Christmas overload. He didn't even know where the decorations had come from, and he was pretty sure he knew what was in every room in the house. It was what had prompted him to discover the third basement level, and as far as he knew, he was still the only child there to have discovered it. He'd gotten his cake from the fridge, and had happily munched a piece on the way back to his room, where he'd found Watari sitting at his desk with two mugs of hot chocolate.
"Ah there you are L," he had said, "I had thought you would still be awake, and I see you had no trouble finding more cake," he had smiled at him then and beckoned him closer, and they had played a silent game of chess as they had drank their hot chocolate.
"Do make your way downstairs when you hear the others, I know you don't like being around lots of people but it is Christmas, after all, and I would be sad to think you are in here by yourself."
That first year, when he had walked into the lounge and seen the amount of presents under the tree, the first feeling he had was of frustration. Watari had known he was an insomniac, and had acted accordingly by distracting him and keeping him occupied in his room so that the others could shift the presents in without him knowing. What a sneaky old man. He probably wasn't supposed to see the decorations either.
The next year, L was determined to figure out the whole routine, and spent the first half of the night checking outside his door at every noise. He heard nothing until around three in the morning, when there were footsteps in the hallway outside. He opened the door only to find that there were still no decorations, and that Watari was stood about ten paces away with a tray filled with anything that L could possibly want during the night. Therefore taking away any reason whatsoever for him to leave him room. Clever Watari. He had narrowed his eyes at Watari, telling him wordlessly that L knew exactly what he was doing, and Watari had smiled just that little bit wider, telling him that Watari knew that he knew, and was carrying on regardless.
Needless to say really that when Watari left two hours later, the hallway was sparkling yet again, his stocking with a cloister black 'L' on it was hanging on the door, and L hadn't heard a single sound the entire time. The thing that really annoyed him this time was the thought of having to wait an entire year before he could do anything. Any frustration shown to Watari over the situation was terribly amusing for the man.
So on this night, the night before Christmas Eve, one night until D-Day, or Decoration Day, L found himself wandering the silent halls and plotting after the conclusion of his latest case. He'd had an inkling that Watari had known he would be plotting, and therefore had magically produced the stack of cold cases a week before on purpose in an attempt to engage his mind elsewhere. In fact the more he thought about it the more it seemed likely. Unfortunately for Watari the cases hadn't been all that difficult, especially when he rarely slept. He had this whole night to plot.
He scuffed his bare feet along the carpets, knowing that the slight noise was nowhere near loud enough to disturb anyone, even if they had been awake. The wind outside would be more than enough cover for him. Absently he noted that the bottom of his jeans no longer reached the floor and that his feet were noticeably colder for it. He spent the entire night wandering the halls, cursing his cold feet and thinking up more and more complicated solutions.
It turned out that the simplest answer turns out to be potentially the most effective. It was rather simple; wait until the others were in bed, switch his light off so that Watari thinks he's actually sleeping, pillows under the blanket to make sure, meanwhile he hides in various places he's scouted out on his night-time walks. If he could find something black and fluffy it would be even better. Sitting in the second floor linen cupboard with a book and a torch for a few hours actually sounded like a really good idea. Then all he'd have to do is sneak down after he'd seen them put out the decorations, and hide behind the tree where nobody would see him unless they crawled under themselves, and the presents hadn't been all the way to the back the other two years. Then he'd not only see how they put up the decorations so quietly, but also how they brought that many presents from the basement, the secret of which L had discovered in his first few months at The Wammy House.
Satisfied, L returned to his room and switched his laptop back on.
Unsatisfied, Watari watched the cameras from his private office as L's door closed, knowing he'd underestimated the young genius with those cases and that he'd been plotting.
The next night L readied his plan. All of his spare white shirts and blue jeans were stuffed under the covers to look like a curled up person, and a very fluffy stuffed black gorilla he'd found in one of the playrooms was playing the part of his hair. It was perfect; even he would think it was him under there. He'd packed a small bag with a flask of tea, a bag of sugar cubes, a whole chocolate cake, a book on advanced chemistry and a torch.
From his vantage point in the linen cupboard, L could see how the staff did it every year. It took two members of staff to do one hallway, and it took around ten minutes amazingly enough.
A large wooden stepladder was used and L correctly assumed that it was because a large metal stepladder would rattle and squeak. The tinsel was already the correct length and had fixings in the right places so it was only a matter of moving the ladder, which oddly/dangerously/cleverly had wheels, and sticking the tinsel in the appropriate spot. The staff member still on the floor alternated between moving the stepladder and spraying/sticking things on the walls. Everything that they would need was hanging from hooks on the ladder, including the lights, which were strung up on the windows as the ladder was brought back down the corridor. It was all well practiced, and communication was done by hand signals, and L also noted that they wore thick socks on their feet which made their steps soundless. It was brilliantly done.
L deduced that the ladder was loaded with the exact number of decorations for that particular hallway away from the children's rooms, probably at the top of the stairs, and then wheeled to wherever it was needed. The ladder could be carried up the stairs easily enough by two people, and of the decorations were in canvas bags then there would be little rustling. However, the wreaths and stockings were yet to appear.
Sure enough, as soon as the ladder was out of the hallway, another staff member dressed in a red suit with white fur trim came along with a cloth sack, and yet another dressed as an elf followed with a pole full of wreaths. The stockings had obviously been sorted before being placed in the bag because whoever was playing Santa was bringing them out in the right order with the right names; and the elf was pushing nails into the doors, so there must be a small hole that he'd never noticed in his door. He wasn't sure which staff members they all were, but then he never left his room except for at night and usually the only people he had contact with were mainly Watari and occasionally Roger. The staff all knew that there was a boy living in a suite in the attic, but Watari had explained the situation to them and they had learned not to ask questions that they would never receive answers to. Most of the staff and children just assumed that there was something mentally wrong with him.
L waited until the hallway was clear before leaving his hiding place and his bag behind, and stealthily sneaking towards the stairs.
At around the same time, Watari glanced at the camera thinking that it was his time to distract their resident insomniac and saw that the light underneath L's door was conspicuously absent. He decided to investigate and left his office on the second floor, heading towards the stairs. He looked around at the decorations he saw and smiled; it was always fun for the staff to do this every year, their own personal secret mission. It was wonderful to see the expressions on the children's faces, and the only child that had ever come close to finding them out was the child he was about to check on. He still had a recording of L wandering the halls with his empty cake plate, gaping at the decorations as he wandered past them, and it still made him chuckle two years later. Sadly it wasn't often that you'd see any expression at all on L's face, so Watari took any expression he could get.
As his thoughts wandered randomly, and his feet travelled up the stairs, he never saw the boy he was thinking of frozen half way between the first and second floor.
L correctly assumed that Watari would be checking his room, and hoped that he'd done a good enough job on his decoy.
He waited until Watari was no longer on the stairs before sneaking to the lounge. He had correctly deduced that the decorating would start from the ground floor, and that the tree would already be finished, which it was, and so L crawled behind the tree, and sat in his usual crouch with his hands on his knees, waiting.
Watari quietly slipped out of L's room, closing the door gently behind him, still smiling at the sight of that messy black hair just poking out of the covers. It had been a hard week for him after all, and as far as he knew L hadn't slept more than three hours in about ten days, but it was difficult to be sure. When the boy did sleep though, he was dead to the world, and very little could wake him. Watari had a feeling that if L himself knew this, he would find a way to remedy the situation, but then that was a plot for another time. For now, he had to notify Roger that there was an extra pair of hands this year, as distraction was not necessary.
As expected, Watari found Roger in the third basement level, checking the wheelbarrows for squeaks.
"Ah, there you are Roger! How are things coming along?"
"Just fine Quillsh, nothing a touch of WD40 hasn't fixed. What about our resident ghost?" Roger was now stacking presents into the two wheelbarrows, all wrapped and tagged.
"Out for the count, I saw him in his bed. Rather unusual I must say, I expected him to be sneaking around trying to figure out how we do this every year," said Watari in reply, moving to help load the presents.
"If you ask me, that boy needs a curfew and cake rationing. He's eleven years old and you give him the freedom of an adult. I know you don't want to lose his trust after what it took to gain it, but the child will run himself into the ground! The amount of cake, sweets and sugar cubes that boy ingests every day is enough to put me in a diabetic coma just watching him. It's no wonder he never sleeps."
"I know Roger, I too am concerned but you must remember that he is not like other children. I treat him as an adult because he has the mind of an adult. He trusts me because I do not force him to be something that he is not. However, I shall speak to him of the detrimental effects his lifestyle will on his mind if he is not careful."
The two men lifted a barrow each and started wheeling them silently out of the basement.
"It's not his mind that will be in a diabetic coma, it's his body!" Roger whispered.
"Ah, but he values his mind," Watari whispered back as he entered the first exit code in a keypad next to the door as Roger waited.
"That's true. Cavities then. Nobody likes toothache, so he should value his teeth," replied Roger, still whispering as they approached the second door. Once again he waited whilst Watari keyed in the second exit code.
"He is aware, and brushes his teeth three times daily to compensate. He uses strawberry infant's toothpaste but he's not overly fond of mint."
Both men were now approaching the third door, after which they would have to be silent, just in case.
"Of course," Roger whispered, waving a hand dramatically, "I'll bet it's because it's not sweet enough."
"Naturally. It's really a shame that he won't speak to anyone else," Watari whispered as he raised his finger to the keypad, and then he paused. "He really is an interesting individual, and he remains the only person to ever win against me consistently at chess. If that's not an adult mind, I'm not sure what is."
"You've got a point there. I've never beaten you yet," Roger grumbled. Watari simply smiled in response and entered the third exit code. Both men were silent as they exited the basement.
They headed towards the end of the corridor, where there was a small service lift, just large enough to fit one wheelbarrow. Roger waved his hand as if to say, 'after you,' and Watari gave Roger a salute as he entered the lift. The mechanism glided smoothly up to the first floor where the lounge was located, and Watari exited the lift, designed to look like any of the other doors and usually locked, with a sign saying 'Maintenance' on it. Even the keypad for access to the other floors was hidden. He silently padded to the lounge in his own pair of woollen socks and approached the tree.
Just as he bent to place a present under the tree, he heard a noise that made him freeze. He heard it again a few seconds later, and decided to investigate. He carefully put the present down under the tree, and knelt down to see for himself which child had managed to sneak under the tree.
Right there was possibly the most adorable thing he'd ever seen, and he knew he would be having a picture of this. He would know that child anywhere, and he knew right then more than ever that he thought of this particular child as his own. It was the best present an old man like him could get, and he was grinning ear to ear, watching the little one as he waved a hand behind him at Roger who had just entered the room. Roger looked surprised at his huge grin and Watari just pointed under the tree and made an 'L' shape with forefinger and thumb, then raised his hand to his ear as if to say 'listen!'
Sure enough Roger heard tiny little snuffling snores coming from under the tree and soon he was on his knees grinning beside Watari. Watari poked Roger gently on the shoulder and made a camera motion with his hands, and Roger gave a thumbs up as he carefully stood up before leaving the room.
Watari was content to stay where he was. L was right at the back, in the most awkward place to reach, somehow still sitting in his usual crouch; his hands had slipped from his knees at some point and were now on the floor, palms facing upwards and fingers loosely curled. He was using his knees as a pillow, and his face was tilted slightly so that Watari could just see his eyes under his hair. L really did look like a little panda, but he wouldn't be the one to inform L of that fact.
Roger came back with a camera, and Watari quickly snapped a few shots from a few different angles. Roger made a 'what now?' sign, and Watari signed back that he would take L up to his room. Roger nodded and the two men began the task of moving the tree without disturbing L. It would be typical for this to be the one time where he sleeps lightly. Inch by inch, enough space was made so that Watari could slip in and lift L out.
Very carefully, Watari scooped L up into his arms, and smiled when he kept snoring. Roger was shaking his head with a smile on his face, and Watari headed for the stairs. He was almost at the top floor when L stirred slightly in his arms.
His eyes were still closed, and stayed closed as Watari adjusted his grip.
"Shhh it's just a dream you know," He was excellent at manipulating people in their sleep.
"Cake," mumbled a very sleepy L.
"Yes, lots and lots of cake, you can have any kind you want since it's your dream,"
Watari gently placed L in his bed, pushing the 'decoy' out of the way, and did something that L would never allow him to do if he was awake; he ruffled his hair. He'd always wanted to do that. To his surprise, L smiled a little bit in his sleep, but it only lasted a moment.
"Goodnight L, Merry Christmas," Watari whispered, and turned to leave the room.
He smiled and closed the door, knowing that L would remember none of this in the morning, and was reminded of his earlier thoughts regarding a plot involving L and sleeping. He had a feeling that this would be the first and last time anyone moved L in his sleep, and he was sad to think that in the near future, even the slightest sound would wake L if he wished it. The boy's self control in everything else he did was almost inhuman, and he didn't think that L would allow this perceived 'flaw' to remain for very long.
Sure enough L woke four hours later feeling severely out of place and realised that someone had actually touched him, picked him up, carried him, and had been in his room all without him knowing or remembering. It disturbed him on many more levels than he thought possible.
He padded over to his door and rubbed his eyes as he opened it. There was his stocking with his signature L, although there was a note peeking out of the top in Watari's handwriting. He took the stocking inside his room and quickly opened the letter.
You seem to have misplaced yourself yesterday evening but don't worry; I found you snoring under the tree and took the liberty of helping you to your room. The only other person to see you was Roger, and do please try to stay in the lounge for more than ten minutes this year. There will be cake involved.
"I was... snoring?"
Later that morning, L was more than pleased to have seven new outfits, almost identical to the one he was wearing, and almost stripped right there in front of everyone before remembering that yes, he was in the lounge, and yes, he was surrounded by other children, most of whom could barely remember who he was.
What almost made an expression appear on his face was what he thought could be inside the small white envelope, with nothing but a cloister black L on it, that he had found folded inside a pair of jeans. He took the rather large hint, and left it for the time being, after all Watari had promised there would be cake, and he even had it in writing. He was positive that there were tickets in there though.
Sure enough, Watari was standing beside a covered trolley, looking directly at him with one of his smiles. He quickly darted through the room unnoticed and sat himself beside Watari and the dessert trolley.
"I trust that you know what was in there," said Watari quietly. L never looked up from the selection of desserts, but he did nod his head.
"I figured you would be tired of cold ones, this should be far more interesting," added Watari, discreetly eyeing the other children, but they were too busy tearing into the presents to pay attention to what the two in the corner were saying.
"We leave early in the morning?"
"Correct as always, Ryuzaki."
L looked towards Watari and understood with that one word, that Watari would be with him as long as he was able.
With one slow nod, never removing his gaze from Watari's own, he accepted.
Watari smiled, Ryuzaki ate cake, and even though not everything was right with the world, they could help heal the wrongs.
One case at a time.