Another contest submission that somehow never got submitted. Addendum April 2005:
This was written sometime around chapter 50 of the manga, so everything in it is speculation. It's interesting to see which parts I got right and which ones I, err, didn't. DEATH NOTE (isn't mine)
Summary: If you start from the premise that L is mildly autistic, an idiot savant, where do you end up?Phobias
L's older brother never understood why L needed special attention, but he always helped out as best he could anyway. "You look tired, Mom," he'd say. "Is there anything I can do? Why don't you go lie down and I'll cook dinner tonight, don't worry about L...Of course I know how to cook. He'll be good today, I promise."
"You've always known him best," she'd sigh, as if L wasn't in the same room listening with wide eyes. He was easy to overlook, hunched into himself on the worn and tooth-marked sofa. He'd suck his thumb industriously and his eyes would follow his mother or brother around the room while the rest of him would be perfectly still for minutes, even hours at a time. And then he'd break something, or start gnawing on the furniture.
L never talked but he always listened. His first words were, "Mr. Tell, where were you when Miss Young's dog was killed?" He was standing on the Tells' front porch at the time, hair wet from the rain, little head upturned, face solemn but slightly flushed from the effort of standing on tip-toe to reach the doorbell.
After his parents had thoroughly and with great embarrassment apologized to their distraught neighbor, they marched L home and sat him down and demanded he explain himself. L said, "Mr. Tell was always complaining about Miss Young's dog. He owns a gun, an antique rifle he inherited from his grandfather; the dog was found dead in the river but you can tell from the quality and quantity of blood that it died first, probably from a gunshot wound, and was thrown in afterwards."
L was six and spoke calmly and in complete sentences. Prior to this moment he hadn't spoken at all.
"He's doing it on purpose!" his mother screamed. "He's making fun of me! Two years of speech therapy and all this time we thought he was retarded when he" - here she realized L was in the room still - "why didn't you say something! We were worried about you!"
L only looked at her. "I didn't think it was necessary," he said. And in the ensuing scuffle, as his mother lunged forward and his father restrained her, somehow his older brother was pushed into the stove where dinner was cooking - stir fry, because that was easiest - and his hand was caught against the pan and the whole house stank, stank of burnt meat for days afterward.
And that is why L doesn't like cooked food. It has nothing at all to do with mageirocophobia.
L was sent away to school in Germany at age seven, an experimental new school for awkward geniuses where the students all lived together away from their families. He had his own room and four classes daily, in Geography, Literature, Algebra, and Normal Human Interaction. Mrs. Price, his teacher for NHI, had a flipbook with exaggerated facial expressions drawn on one side and the emotions they were supposed to represent printed on the other. In class she often taught from that book, with the pictures held out so that all of her students could see them. "This is a sad face," she'd say. "See how the eyebrows are knitted together and the mouth is curving down in a frown?"
"But Mrs. Price, how is that different from an angry face?" a student once asked. L knew the answer without having to be told: an angry face had eyes narrowed to slits, a sad face had eyes squinted shut. No one ever looked like the faces in the book, though. Mrs. Price, for example, had a Happy mouth but her eyes were Sad. L decided that his end-of-year project would be a better book, with at least twice as many expressions in it.
When L turned his book in at the end of the term there were fifty times more faces in it and L was pronounced Top Student. His name was engraved in gold on a plaque in the school lobby, the first name ever displayed there. L's school was so new that his class was the first to graduate, but that wasn't until L was thirteen and even the Top Student in Normal Human Interaction couldn't master it completely when for seven years he hadn't had any Normal Humans to practice on.
L does not have Sociophobia-if he seems afraid of society it is only a reflection of a childhood spent locked away in a German academy.
In England L lived with Watari. It used to be that sometimes, on Tuesdays, they'd go to the see the Royal Botanical Gardens together, a tradition that began with Watari somewhat helplessly supposing that L might need time to adjust after his long stay in Germany. The Royal Botanical Gardens were almost like the neatly manicured grounds of L's old academy and Watari hadn't had to deal with an adolescent boy in many years. Boys like fresh air don't they? As a matter of fact L does, or did-these are happy memories.
During these strolls past sculpted marble fountains and strictly geometric rose beds--please stay off the grass--they'd hold hands. Sometime around June of their first year together L told him he'd rather they not. "There isn't any particular reason that I don't like people to touch me," he explained, "but I'd appreciate it if you didn't. That applies to hugs and pats on the head as well."
"You're afraid of touch?" Watari asked. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize."
"It's alright," L said. "I've always been this way. Aphenphosmphobia, it's called."
The distinction between a phobia and a conditioned response is an important one, which is why L is always very careful to make it. A phobia is an illogical