Single Booger Theory
By Sutlers

Wammy's, as L remembered, was a lovely, sprawling Victorian summerhouse, complete with airy rooms and winding staircases, expansive, manicured gardens with shrubbery shaped into all kinds of interesting formations, state-of-the-art computing facilities and the best rhubarb crumble he'd had the privilege of enjoying anywhere. He did not remember it being quite so overrun with little people.

Winter always brought a lull in the stream of unsolvable international crime, so he had decided, under Watari's urgings, to spend Christmas at the orphanage where he had grown up. He was provided with a little alcove, three computers hooked up to the system mainframe, and a delightful view of the frozen pond in the back gardens. In times like this he always found it relaxing to go through old case files, unsolved mysteries, conspiracy theories and the like, and he had all the evidence he had gathered on the Kennedy assassination up on the screens. The C.I.A. had really cocked that one up spectacularly, but if he'd gotten everything in order, then it would turn out to be—

"I made Near eat a booger," a small voice said triumphantly from below him.

L looked down. "Um," he said uncertainly.

"It was a really huge one, too." The voice belonged to the tiny blond one with the funny haircut—Mello, Roger had told L. He had Near with him, sitting on the floor and clutching a blanket forlornly. L spared a moment to curse Roger and fifteen generations of his ancestors for installing that automated deadbolt system with which he or Watari could lock and unlock all the rooms in the institute from the comfort of the central command console.

"Mello said they were good for me." Near looked like he was about to cry. L tried not to panic.

"Well," he hedged, "there have been studies that indicate that booger digestion actually strengthens your immune system by allowing the body to absorb and destroy the dead bacteria in the mucus."

This didn't appear to go over well with Mello, whose expression turned thunderous. L glanced around frantically for something, anything to mollify him, but the empty plate of rhubarb crumble and the computer screens blinked mockingly back at him. It wasn't that L hated children; in fact, he quite liked some of them. Like that one, what was his name, small redheaded number 3. Matt. Who slept a lot. He just didn't know how to deal with the ones who kept insisting on talking to him. "Um," he said again.

"Let me see what you're doing," Mello demanded, tugging on L's pants. He didn't look like he was going to have a screaming fit anymore, and L sighed in relief. He did look like he was trying his best to climb up into L's chair, which wasn't working because L's legs took up too much space. L reluctantly set them down to allow Mello to clamber into his lap. He smelled like dirt and snow and was a lot skinnier than he looked in that over-sized black t-shirt.

"Oh, Kennedy!" Mello said happily. "I know this one! It was—"

"It was not a huge mafia conspiracy, Mello," Near said imperiously from the floor, the effect somewhat spoiled by the blanket he was chewing on. He stood on his tiptoes to try and get a look at the computers, and L finally relented and pulled him up onto his lap, too. He was also impossibly tiny, warm soap-smell.

Mello frowned. "My theory is better than your two random crazies theory."

"Is not."

"Is too."

"Is not, Mello, there's absolutely no evidence of any kind of—"

Mello snarled and for a few seconds L's lap became a war zone, his spleen dying an honorable death and his balls barely avoiding becoming the second casualty. He wheezed and grabbed Mello by the scruff of his neck to pull him off Near. Near was waving around a toy robot that he'd pulled out of nowhere and seemed to be trying to stab Mello with.

"Er," L said. "That is, um. I don't think you should. Um." The flailing gradually subsided and they both looked at L, waiting for him to continue. "Let's take a look at the autopsy photos then, shall we?" he blurted.

"Okay!" they both said together, and L let out a breath, reaching around Near to bring the image files up. They listened with rapt attention as he went through the locations of the bullet wounds, the damage to the interior of the limousine, Connally's shoulder wound, individual witness testimonies, and finally every individual frame of the Zapruder film. The sun was setting over the pond by the time he was wrapping it all up and his lap had gone strangely quiet.

"And so," L finished, "that was the last bit of it. Who do you think it was now?"


L glanced down. They were both asleep, leaning on each other, Mello's thumb in his mouth. He sighed and untucked Near's blanket, pulling it over them. His legs had already gone numb, anyway.

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