Title: Creatures Void of Form
Pairings/Characters: Naomi, L, Watari, vague allusions to L/Naomi.
Warnings: Some disturbing imagery.
Word Count: 2016
Author's Note: This is a small expert from an AU series I have going, in which Naomi quit the FBI and went to work directly with L following the events of Another Note. I don't write them in any order, so they aren't at all necessary to read for this fic. :D
Summary: Maybe Naomi was becoming more like L than she thought, if she was so absorbed in their current case that she forgot her own birthday.... But someone remembered.
The rain came down in blinding sheets, dark curtains punctuated by the sweep of searchlights and the painful flash of photography. Naomi Misora half slid down the bank of a deep gulley, rocks and branches scraping at her clothing and mud staining her skin. The urgency in the air drove her on. The scene had to be processed before the flash floods, before the bodies were washed away and lost.
The rain had done its damage already. White corpses in the bottom of the shallow ravine, buffeted and washed by the rain. Five all together, tossed carelessly into the earth like garbage. Naomi frowned, her boots sinking into the mud. Skin paled from death and the wet, they looked almost like grotesque dolls, discarded by a child.
“We’ve got to get moving!” someone called over the rain and Naomi shouldered her way closer to the scene. She knew she wasn’t welcome here. She wasn’t FBI anymore, but local police remembered. She was something like FBI, someone with more authority and more power who had come muscling into their territory, waiting to steal their case.
How soon they all forgot that this job was supposed to be about the victims. Did it matter who solved the case, as long as the sick fuck who’d done this was put away behind bars? You didn’t go into this line of work for personal glory. Or you shouldn’t. But they did and it made Naomi sick.
She knelt down beside the closest body. Female, preteen, clothes torn and body laced with deep lacerations and bruised from blunt trauma. Eyes open and staring, distorted by the rain. No fresh blood. There was nothing to be determined by the position of the body at this point. The ridges of mud built up along the girl’s legs indicated she’d already shifted down the wash. There was little Naomi could do but snap a few pictures, the camera flashes a strange parody of the lightening that was sure to come within moments.
She worked quickly, scraping and snipping and bagging her evidence. The body became something other than human while she worked, a collection of injuries and limbs and possible clues. Nothing more. The flash floods would come soon, and they needed to be done. She didn’t have time for sympathy, not with five bodies to go over as fast as she could.
She was aware of eyes on her as she sealed her evidence bags. She knew what they were thinking. ‘Enemy’. she was there to steal their collar, steal their case, steal their glory. When she first came to work for L, agreed to be his eyes and ears, she had imagined prestige and respect. How naive she had been.
The medical team was pushing by her, shoving her out of the way. She narrowed her eyes but said nothing. There was nothing to say. The politics of criminal investigation had followed her from the FBI and there was nothing she could do about it.
She climbed up the wall of the wash, slipping somewhat. No one offered her a hand of help. She had to wait fifteen minutes in the pouring rain, shivering, until she could speak to the officer in charge of the scene.
Demands that their lab results be faxed to her immediately quickly descended into an argument. Shouting, waving of arms, glaring of eyes and parroting of excuses. Naomi held her ground. ‘Massacre Misora’ hadn’t been the name they whispered behind her back in the bureau for no reason. She squared her shoulders. She yelled right back. She drew herself up to her full height and stared down the corpulent officer until he relented - grumbling and reluctant.
She wasn’t here to make friends. She was here to do her job. With the assurance she’d be faxed all relevant information, Naomi left the crime scene. It would be under a torrent of rushing water within the hour. She could only hope something had been recovered.
The killer was smart. He killed before a storm, dumping the bodies into ravines and letting Mother Nature destroy the evidence. It was only luck that a ranger had stumbled across the bodies before the storm did its job. Some formless, faceless monster out there, waiting, watching, and striking.
His preferred prey was pre-teen girls, ten to twelve. Naomi suspected sexual assault, but there had been no way to tell in the ravine. She would need to wait for the autopsy reports. But everything about the murders bespoke a sexually motivated killer.
With the bodies of the girls they had found tonight, the total of victims was up to seventeen. It was surmised that not all the girls had been killed at the same time. Naomi agreed. He kept the bodies until the weather provided him an opportunity to dispose of them. It wasn’t a spree, as she had heard the officers discussing. This wasn’t the work of a disorganized, degenerating madman.
She had done her job for the night. She sat in the backseat of the car assigned to bring her back to the hotel. She’d hand what she gathered off to Watari and Ryuzaki, and let them deal with it.
Once back at the hotel she stripped off her muddy, rain soaked clothes and left them in a heap on the floor. The evidence bags were dropped on the desk. She stepped under a hot shower spray, washing the filth and grime off of her skin. The images of the dead girls were still fresh in her mind. She could predict that cause of death was exsanguination. The lacerations she’d observed were deep - cutting to the bone. Excess violence, high rate of victims….
It didn’t take a genius to figure out they were dealing with a sado-sociopath.
She turned off the shower and stood there a moment, forehead pressed against the tile. The storm was raging outside now. The crime scene would be destroyed at this point. All that had been gathered so far was all they had to go on. Had they moved all of the bodies in time? Or had any been left too long, swept away with no hope of identification or peace until the storm had passed?
It would be a lie to say she hated her job. But it would be disrespectful to say she loved it. It was a bittersweet thing, moving from crime scene to crime scene, body to body, morgue to morgue. Sometimes it felt as though the knowledge that with every criminal put away, that was another life saved, didn’t seem to help. Not when she stood here in the warm, opulent bathroom of her hotel room, safe and warm, and a madman was still loose in the streets, killing little girls...
Sighing, Naomi towel dried her hair and wrapped one of the hotel bathrooms around herself. Back into the bedroom. She wasn’t entirely surprised to find Watari standing there, impeccable as a British butler - as always.
“I took the liberty of sending your soiled clothing to the hotel laundering service,” he said, with a small smile. He stood beside a silver room service trolley. Dinner. She was hungry, she realized.
“Thank you. I got what I could, but…” She shrugged, sitting on the edge of the hotel bed. “I’m waiting on the local lab reports.”
“I wouldn’t expect it anytime soon.”
“No.” Hell, she was probably more a hindrance than a help to L. “Thank you for dinner.”
“Dinner?” Watari chuckled. “Ah, not quite. Here.” He rolled the trolley over and removed the silver lid with a flourish. There was a cake. One of those elaborate confections with frosting scrollwork and filigree.
“Happy birthday, Naomi.”
Oh god. It was her birthday. In all the chaos of the case, she’d forgotten. She buried her face in her hands, feeling suddenly tired.
“I…thank you.” When would she have remembered? After the case was closed and she looked at the date and realized it had passed by?
“And here.” Watari drew a slim, gift wrapped box from within his jacket. “From Ryuzaki.”
Naomi didn’t question it. She knew that whatever the gift was, it wasn’t truly from Ryuzaki. Most likely he was aware - or had been made aware at some point - that it was her birthday, but he wasn’t the sort to care. At most Watari had gently informed him, and offered to pick out a gift for her. Ryuzaki wasn’t the type to care about things like that. He didn’t care about much of anything other than solving his cases.
But Watari seemed to try and soften that image. Naomi didn’t know why. It wasn’t the first time ‘Ryuzaki’ had given her a gift. Small things, but generally intimate and laced with connotation.
This time it was no different. Naomi lifted the lid and bit her lower lip. Against the tissue paper, lying - like a dead thing, her mind interjected - was one of those designer scarves that were all the rage among wealthy fashionistas. It was blue and gray. There was some sort of elaborate pin on it, and Naomi was no fool. That was a real diamond set into the silver.
“I… be sure to tell him thank you,” she managed. Flowers were one thing. Even small pieces of jewelry - not real diamond, of course - were one thing. But something like this…
But it was a gentleman’s gift. There was little of Ryuzaki in the gift, no matter what Watari would try and lead her to believe. She didn’t know what the older man saw that drove him to make these gestures in the detective’s name. Nothing in Ryuzaki’s behavior, certainly. Nothing made it to the surface there. The closest they had to friendly conversation was laced with banter and sarcasm. And Naomi….
If she was honest with herself, she was more often than not frustrated with Ryuzaki. She was honored by his trust in her, and she respected him more than she’d respected any other human being, she even genuinely liked him, but he frustrated her. He had ever since their first case in LA. It was as though he expected her to be like him. Emotionally cut off, mind filled with nothing but justice. Devoted only to the case and nothing more. In a way, as formless and faceless as the criminals they hunted.
She wasn’t like him. She shared his passion and devotion but she couldn’t turn herself off the way he could. And sometimes she wished she could, because it would be so much easier… Certainly it would be easier on their bizarre, professional-but-not relationship. At least from where she stood.
“I believe he thought it would compliment your eyes. Ryuzaki would join us, of course, but with the case…”
“I know.” And she knew that Ryuzaki most likely would have joined them, but only because there was cake. And she also knew he didn’t care about her eyes, or whether or not some scarf he’d probably never seen matched them or complimented them or anything else. And she knew she should be working the case as well, but….
“Take him a piece of the cake, will you?”
“Of course.” Watari cut the cake, and Naomi lifted the scarf from its box. It was beautiful. More feminine than she tended to wear, but beautiful. She hesitantly wrapped it around her neck, securing it with the diamond brooch. If nothing else, it momentarily took her mind away from dead little girls dumped like trash in the wilderness.
“Lovely,” Watari assured her. “Ryuzaki will be pleased.”
“I’m sure he will.” She touched a hand to the soft silk. There was a card beneath it. Nothing but a folded bit of fancy white cardboard, no note other than the single letter ‘L’ written in heavy gothic font. The final touch in Watari’s elaborate scheme that Naomi could only consider match-making. She wanted to tell the older man he was wasting his time. She didn't know why he did it, other than maybe he thought it was foolish that both she and Ryuzaki be lonely, separated only by a hotel wall. She'd always suspected something paternal in the man, and it was clear he cared for Ryuzaki and wished him the best. But was this really what would be best for a young man who showed no interest in anything besides puzzles and mysteries and games of the most depraved and violent sort?
She didn't doubt that Ryuzaki had some kind of fondness for her, in his own strange way. Vague and without definition, and she couldn't accept it was anything romantic. She couldn't conceive of him having romantic interest in anyone. And even if he did, it wasn't as if anything more than what they had would ever work, anyway.
And yet… Still.
Maybe the next time she saw Ryuzaki, she’d thank him personally. If only for taking her mind from the case for one night.