It was clear to Light from a young age that he was anything but ordinary. The way other children acted was stupid, immature and so very confusing to Light. He watched from the side-lines as his peers played and made mischief. He so desperately wanted to join in; but when he tried to, he got it all wrong somehow and they wouldn’t understand anything he talked about. Isolation was his only solace, it was the only time when the world around him made sense, but that didn’t stop him from this sense of wrongness that came with being different.
One night, Light’s fears were confirmed as he realised that he was broken in some way, that everyone else was normal and he was the weird, confusing one. He overheard his parents’ hushed discussion in the other room whilst he was meant to be sleeping:
“This isn’t normal, Sachiko. There’s something wrong with him.”
“He’s just smart for his age, honey.”
“This is more than intelligence. He refuses talk to anyone; he doesn’t interact with anyone at the school, let alone with us. He is not a child, Sachiko, he isn’t the son I wanted. Why can’t he just be like every other kid?”
“You don’t mean that! I admit he is slightly abnormal, but I am sure he will grow out of it. You worry too much.”
From then onwards Light committed himself to becoming normal, at all costs. His father would want him again if he was normal. So, he closely observed others and learning how to talk and act in every situation he could come across, he slowly appeared ordinary. Throughout school he discovered that he was surrounded by idiots and decided that that was the reason he couldn’t understand any of them: his superior mind wasn’t able to grasp such primitive thinking.
When Sayu was born, Light was ecstatic. He thought Sayu would be like him, would understand him in a way no one else ever had, because she was his sister. However, she was none of that: she was talkative, likeable, normal. His mother loved her so much, so much so that she forgot about Light. His father was pleased with the way Sayu acted. She was his perfect little girl, everything he ever wanted, unlike Light who he looked at with disappointment whenever Light said something apparently inappropriate or corrected someone because they were wrong. He tried to resent Sayu, this ungrateful child who had everything he wanted: affection and attention from both his parents, whilst he remained lost in a disorientating world with nothing to guide him but reprimands and neglect.
Light was obsessed with the word normal. He wanted, needed, to be normal. If he was normal he would be liked, his father would be proud of him and love him, his mother would notice him, and he could be accepted. Nothing Light did was ever right. Nothing he did was ever good enough. He was a failure.
All of L’s life he has been encouraged to accept himself as he is, to be as eccentric as he wants as long as it helps his brain. Emotions do not help his brain, they don’t solve crimes, all they do is get in the way. They make him weak, like the rest of the stupid, helpless people in the world. L was better than them, he is from Wammy’s House, he is special.
L was taught to eradicate his emotions, to become the best. His brain and his ability to solve cases were the only important parts of him. He tried and tried to rid himself of these stupid, useless emotions, but he couldn’t. L supposed he was the most emotional person on the planet.
He was not worthy of the title. So, he decided to pretend. He didn’t want to be thrown away again; so to Wammy, to everyone, he appeared emotionless, calculated, and unempathetic.
L despised himself. His entire existence was working to become worthy of his title. He solved thousands of cases, never failing even one.
So it could've been expected that, when he was allowed to leave Wammy’s House, he burnt out. He'd spent so long living up to the standard that was L, that he had nothing left to give. If it weren't for Misora, perhaps he wouldn't have survived. Despite this, L does enjoy his work, loves the thrill of figuring out a case, but in between it all he was filled with a gaping emptiness inside himself. He felt as if something was missing but he didn’t know what, and L couldn't stand to not know something.
Then he met Light Yagami, and everything made sense.
“Yes, father.” Light said before he hung up the phone, his father had asked him to come and bring him some clothes and food to his workplace, as he had to stay the night. It had been a while since Soichiro had had to pull an all-nighter for a case, but Light was used to it. He sighed slightly as he rose from the chair, he had to crack his back because he had spent way too long studying, not that he really needed to, but he had drifted off too many times in lessons effectively missing lots of information he needed to know to get top marks in all of his exams. Light had to gain the top place or else he was good for nothing.
He wandered out of his room and to the door leading into his parent’s bedroom and knocked twice.
“Mum? I need to get some clothes to take to dad.” Light spoke to the door, which held his mother behind, “Mum? Ok, I’m just going to come in.” Sighing again, Light creaked open the door, he found his mother lying on her bed on her laptop, she obviously hadn’t really noticed him knocking, or chose to ignore it. Light quickly went over to the chest of drawers and grabbed some of his father’s clothes and then left saying a quick goodbye to his mother, who hummed in response. At least she replied this time.
Downstairs Light found his sister, Sayu, watching TV with some of her friends that Light hadn’t even known were in the house. He rushed past the living room, patting his sister on the head in the process (which got him a rather rude exclamation from the girl) and into the kitchen.
“Sayu, is there any dinner left over? I need to take some to dad.” Light called from the kitchen when he didn’t find anything worth taking to his father; he hadn’t eaten dinner that night because he had to study.
“There should be some in the fridge.” Sayu said as she entered the kitchen and looked into the fridge, “aha! Here it is, take that in a box. Um… come back soon, ok Light?” Sayu was one to worry and fuss over Light, most of the time she messed around but when Soichiro came into conversation Sayu would try in some way to comfort Light. She didn’t really know or understand what was going on between them, but she at least noticed the tension between Light and their father.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back before you even know I’m gone. Have fun with your friends.” Light talked softly, ruffling his sister’s hair once again, before stuffing the food and clothes into a bag and leaving the house.
Walking down the street in the dark had always been somewhat worrying for Light. Logically, he knew that he lived in a pretty safe neighbourhood and did not need to concern himself too much. But, Light could not really help himself, he had become this very anxious person: everything had to be right, nothing could be out of place, and only then would he be ok. Having a police officer for a father did nothing to alleviate his anxiety, it merely made him more aware of all the different dangers he could be in. As Light walked along, he became more nervous and finally decided to get the bus instead, he knew it would be quicker anyway.
Boarding the bus Light was relieved to find that there were only a few people already on, so he could sit alone. The ride was fairly short and of no interest as he stared lazily out of the window, watching the streetlights pass by. Soon the bus stopped near the police station and Light got out onto the pavement. He trudged reluctantly over to the building and pushed his way through the rotating doors, to the desk at front.
“Hello, I have brought some clothes and food for my father, Soichiro Yagami. Can I bring these to him?” Light asked the receptionist politely.
“Oh, Light! I haven’t seen you in ages! Sure, sure you can go straight through. Mr. Yagami is on the 6th floor.” The receptionist waved him through cheerily; Light, himself, did not recognise the woman at all but he didn’t deem her of much importance anyway. He was only here to give the stuff to Soichiro and leave as quickly as possible, not to have a chat with a useless receptionist.
“Thank you.” He quickly replied as he drifted past the desk and into the lift; pressing the button for the sixth floor.
The doors soon slid open to reveal a large room, with desks scattered around and a massive screen at the back of the room showing statistics. The room had five officers in it, all of them looked rather stressed and focused, except the one sitting very oddly eating cake. Light had not seen this man before at the precinct, but he hastily dismissed his curiosity and scanned the room for his father. He found him walking over to the strange, black haired man. Hurriedly, Light followed him, nodding to Matsuda as the jovial man greeted him.
“Father,” Light started, prompting the man to turn around, “here are the things you asked for.” Light held out the bag, he had brought, to his father, stiffly.
“Thank you, Light.” Soichiro said expressionlessly, no hint of gratitude in his voice.
Hm, who’s this Mr. Yagami?” The odd person looked up from his computer quizzically, a forkful of cake centimetres away from his face.
“L, this is my son Light.” Soichiro answered this L figure. L? Where had Light heard that name before? Wait, L, the famous detective? This eccentric man couldn’t be him, surely.
“Oh, nice to meet you Light.” L stared into his eyes, almost threateningly, like he was trying to determine how dangerous Light was.
“Um… Nice to meet you too.” Light mumbled back, slightly put off by him. He adverted his eyes, to escape the scrutinising stare, and looked up at the large screen displaying what Light determined to be the evidence for whatever case they were working on. It all looked quite fascinating, it was a case about some serial killer that had left absolutely no trace or evidence, and for the first time ever Light wanted to become the police officer his father had told him he had to be.
“It’s a student…” Light muttered to himself lowly.
“What did you say, Light?” The question made Light’s gaze snap back to L.
“Oh, I just said that the perpetrator is most likely a student, because most of the victims are young and live in an area with a large student population… Sorry, I didn’t mean to interfere, I’m probably wrong anyway.” Light responded, lowering his head a bit, as he caught his father’s warning glare in his peripheral vision.
“Interesting. I was having similar thoughts myself, although I didn’t think it was so clear that someone could determine it so quickly. I guess this warrants a well done, you seem quite smart, Light Yagami.” L complimented, staring at Light the entire time without blinking, unnerving Light although the praise was unexpected and made Light blush slightly; before he realised that L’s statement was practically dripping with condescension.
“Light, I think you ought to be going, you have the entrance exam tomorrow and we have work to do.” Light’s father said pointedly, looking down his nose at his son. L glanced up at Soichiro, pouting slightly before he quickly wiped the look off his face, appearing emotionless.
“What entrance exam?” L interjected before Light could leave.
“To-Oh university entrance exam,” Light replied before nodding at his father, “I’ll be going now, good luck with the case.” He turned and left, sighing in relief that everything had gone alright. However, the entire journey back Light could not get his mind off of the eccentric detective, his curiosity had been piqued for the first time who knows how long. For ages Light had felt numb as he just went through the motions every monotonous day. L had seemed so different than all the other people he had to interact with, and so intelligent too, and Light found himself wanting. Wanting to talk to him again, wanting to get to know him, wanting to see if the ‘genius detective L’ was actually as great as he had been made out to be.
When Light reached his house, he forced the thoughts of the detective out of his head: he had more things to worry about, like the exam, and it isn’t like Light will ever see L again.
As L paced up to the large and, quite frankly, ridiculously ornate entrance hall to the world renowned To-Oh University he attempted to convince himself that this was for the case at hand, and not, in any shape or form, about the intriguing boy called Light Yagami. The suspect was, L was 99% sure, a student; and a clever one at that, operating all around the city, but the first murders were near To-Oh. So, naturally, they would be found here, and L was the only member of the taskforce that was guaranteed to pass the entrance exam, along with the unavoidable fact that he was the only one young enough to be able to fit in unassumingly. Well the idea that L would ‘fit in unassumingly’ (Mr. Yagami’s words not his) was fairly laughable, what with L’s eccentricities. Against popular belief, L was fully aware of how odd he appeared to other people, it was just that he did not care what the other, boring humans thought about the way he was. All they needed to know was that he was the best detective in the world.
However, it seemed that all of L’s inner struggle was fruitless, for as soon as L entered the room for the exam and caught sight of a brown-haired boy, with a too perfect smile on his face, all thoughts of the case were dashed from his mind as he found himself wanting to converse with him and wipe that disgustingly perfect façade off of his countenance. Frankly, the very idea that the suspect could be found in this exact university was almost definitely improbable, for even if the suspect went to To-Oh (which was unlikely given that there were many universities and schools in the area), there was no way of being certain which year they were in, what course they were studying; there were thousands of students in this university and no way of knowing them all well enough to discern which was the culprit. L took another glance at the boy across the room and his curiosity got the better of him; there was no point going back now anyway. Walking over to the small cluster of people that surrounded Light, L interrupted:
“Hello again, Light!” The detective said too enthusiastically, biting back his smile a bit too late. His left hand habitually wandered over to his other wrist to surreptitiously flick the metal band that was permanently there.
“L?” The boy looked up with a look of surprise and confusion, which was quickly masked into a neutral expression.
“Please, call me Ryuzaki.”
“Sure? Um… Ryuzaki what are you doing here, if you mind me asking that is?”
“Taking the exam, of course” L rolled his eyes.
“Oh, right, yes. Of course…”
A bell sounded and an invigilator strode into the room.
“If everyone could take the seats with their student number on so that we may start this exam.” All of the room’s occupants rushed to sit down, “Right, the time is 12:34 and the exam starts now. Good luck.”
Flicking through the paper, L groaned as he saw how simple and obvious the questions were; to tell the truth he was not expecting it to be taxing in the slightest, but he did think that at least some of the questions would give him a bit of a challenge, questions that would take him longer than a second to complete, that would require him to think. But, it seemed that there would not be any challenging aspects of this exam. What a waste of his time.
“Number 162, please sit properly.” L groaned again in indignation. He could feel a few curious eyes upon him, as he forced himself into a ‘normal’ sitting position; his gaze collided with that of Light Yagami, holding the stare, until his opponent turned around back to his own test paper.
The clock ticked away and L was growing increasingly bored, he had finished the paper practically years ago and was just waiting for the clock hand to get to 14:34. He wanted to bang his head against the table in boredom. Why did he think this was a good plan again? At this very moment, L could be out there finding the culprit and be able to move on to his next case, but no; he was stuck here in a room full of idiots that were obviously struggling on this easy exam. Well, all of them idiots except Light, who had also finished a while ago. L really was starting to take a liking to Yagami’s son. It was just all so fascinating, the boy was evidently smarter than all his peers and most adults, but he had never really heard Mr. Yagami speak of him, whereas he talked about his daughter, Sayu, regularly. Light seemed like the kind of son one would brag about proudly. Then there was the detail that Light had a constant front up, concealing what he actually thought and felt.
“Ok, time’s up. Put down your pens.” When all the answer sheets had been taken in murmurs swept the room and people stood up to discuss with others or to exit the room. Light was still seated. Alone. L jumped at the chance to speak with Light without any other distractions in the way.
“So, Light, do you want to go have a friendly tennis match?” L had never been a good conversation starter or even a good conversationalist, but he had spied the tennis match on his way over and it was the first thought that had come to mind. He knew that Light used to compete in tennis, as he had of course done his research. Light looked startled and downright baffled at what the detective had just asked, his eyes narrowed slightly before he managed to school his expression.
“Alright… It would be good to exercise after sitting for so long, I suppose.” Light blinked up at him, an eager glint in his practiced smile, but didn't move to get up.
"Shall we get going then, Light?"
"Oh! Yes, sorry, wait a second, just let me put away my things." Light's perfect act was fracturing slightly.
"I wouldn't be against waiting if you hurry." His tone teasing, resulting in a small laugh from Light. L smirked, triumphant.
"I would never dream of making the illustrious L, I mean Ryuzaki, wait for too long, it is against my character." L wondered exactly what Light's character was, seeing as he liked to hide it and did so effectively.
The pair walked at a fair pace to the tennis courts, all the while making friendly, if not a little awkward, conversation. Light seemed to be opening up a bit, as he talked about his interest in tennis, which brought an unexpected smile onto L’s carefully kept face. Usually, L would reprimand himself for his show of emotion but for the first time in a long while he felt genuinely happy.
Then as quick as the pleasant feelings had come, they vanished. L had a chilling thought: his suspect was an above-average, intelligent student. And, here he was, making polite conversation with an extremely clever and competent student. His eyes narrowed with suspicion. How could he have been so oblivious? Light was the perfect match for his suspect, but if he was the culprit why would he have told L about the crimes being performed by a student? Unless he was trying to make sure L would never suspect him… L decided that he would have to consider this deeper, which tragically meant having to spend more time with Light.