Killed the Cat
The first time he had the living shit beaten out of him he was six, and it happened because he'd sneaked into the older boys' dormitory one afternoon to find out for himself what Kenta was doing with all those girls. Kenta had been hinting for some time that whatever it was, it was both prurient and an activity of which the orphanage directors would not approve. Neither of these things interested L in the slightest. What had interested L was the fact that he knew something was happening, but that he didn't understand what it was.
Even at six years old, that had always been the one thing he could never resist.
So he sneaked in one afternoon, stayed long enough to see exactly what Kenta and the girl were doing (which he found ultimately disappointing when compared to all the buildup it had received), and the next time Kenta began to taunt him about his ignorance he informed Kenta, in great detail, about everything he'd seen that afternoon. Which was when Kenta beat the shit out of him and then sent him to the infirmary, blood streaming from a swollen nose.
"You 'wanted to know what they were doing?'" he'd echoed L, eyes betraying the insincerity of his words.
"Yes," L said simply. "I wanted to know what they were doing."
The nurse had been sympathetic; she'd always understood the more unusual orphans better than the director did. "Your curiosity is going to be the death of you," she'd said tenderly, concern in her eyes at the sight of the bruises on his face as she held the ice pack to his nose. "You're going to have to learn to control yourself."
For his part, L took two lessons away from this encounter - namely, that sexual intercourse was an absurd waste of time and warranted no further attention on his part, and that knowledge was a commodity whose value was inversely proportional to the number of people that realised you possessed it.
He never had managed to internalise the nurse's warning. Even now, when it's a hair's breadth from becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy, he cant' stop himself. He has to know, whatever the cost.
The other members of the Kira Special Investigative Unit are restless. Of course, they're thrilled that they've managed to catch Kira, or at least one of the Kiras, but they're also terribly concerned about how any of them can possibly be brought to trial for their crimes. After all, what jury, what judge, what sane human being, would be willing to convict someone of mass murder with a prosecution claiming it was committed by notebook?
"We'll never be able to convict, since we can't allow ourselves to test the Death Note," L tells them. "But that doesn't matter to me as long as I've solved how the crimes were committed."
He registers their shock in the face of his words, and then realises: of course they want a conviction; they're policemen, after all. And justice is certainly a nice concept, but as far as he cares, it's of no great consequence where Kira is concerned. It simply doesn't matter to him.
He's come to realise how little actually matters, aside from proving once and for all that Light is Kira.
This isn't about Kira's victims. It has never been about Kira's victims. At first it had been about the fact that someone was killing people and L couldn't figure out how they were doing it, and then it had been about the fact that Light Yagami was outsmarting him at every turn, that Light knew more than he did. That was what it really boiled down to, in the end.
L has discovered the Death Note, and he understands now how the murders were committed. But a far larger piece of the puzzle remains empty - the piece that will prove once and for all that Light Yagami is the original Kira. L knows that Light is responsible, knows it in his gut, but that isn't good enough. He's come to realise that during the past few days, in which he's spent countless hours analyzing why discovering the Death Note's existence has not been as satisfying as it should by all means have been, and the conclusion he's reached is that he will never be satisfied until he's seen proof of Light's guilt with his own eyes.
The entire Kira case has been a battle of wits to surpass all others. It has even progressed beyond the original life-and-death stakes, and L has come to realise that the winner will not be determined by who survives, but by who knows more when he dies. He and Light are both playing to win, and even from the very beginning it wasn't likely that the victor would end this fight alive. Even so, he will not, will not allow Light to win.
|"It's going to be the death of you," the nurse had said to him over a decade ago. He smiles as he writes his own name on a scrap of paper torn from the Death Note, because now he knows for certain that it will be.
He will not, will not allow Light to win, and Light's greatest miscalculation lies in the fact that he hasn't realised that L will go to any lengths not to lose. L sets the scrap of paper on fire in an empty cocoa tin and then goes into the control room to wait.
It doesn't take long. The first faint flutterings of his heart are barely perceptible; he wouldn't have paid them any notice if he hadn't been waiting for them. But he knows they're coming, so it's the easiest thing in the world to ignore them and think clearly through the implications of Watari's sudden death before those flutterings become the wild, panicked spasms of a heart unable to do its job, and he reels and collapses, sliding from the chair onto the ground.
L has signed his own death warrant, but that doesn't matter as Light Yagami's wild, triumphant face looms to fill his field of vision, the expression it wears telling him all he needs to know. He thinks, Yagami Light... I wasn't wrong after all.
You are Kira... And having proven this, I win.
Those lovely images are the work of amasugiru, btw. As always, comments/criticisms are happily received.