The cloudless sky seemed to be mocking the people below with it’s warm and bright atmosphere. They weren’t outside for the singing of the birds or the smell of the flowers blossoming, nor were they out simply to enjoy the sun; in fact strictly speaking they weren’t out enjoying anything although it was a beautiful day. Joy, among other things was not a common emotion found at a funeral service. The small crowd gathered closely around the rectangular hole to watch as the casket that held what was left of the woman they knew was carefully lowered into the ground next to her life’s partner. All she had to leave behind was a lone child. What few family she had left was much too busy to bother to take in an extra child. And in any case they were all in Japan save for a sister in Law who would rather come down with the flu than be responsible for that child. She watched him through watery eyes unsure of whether to feel sympathetic or angry at his lack of emotion. Surely there had to be something wrong with a kid who attended their own parent’s funeral and couldn’t even shed a tear. She was sure she wasn’t alone in her thoughts though. Who would want the kid who walked around with death on his lips? He was the black sheep, the outcast, the kid who while other children played in the mud would rip the wings off butterflies. The one who while others played fetch with the dog sat wondering how long it would take the dog to die if you tore off it’s legs. The one who deliberately touched a burning stovetop simply because their mother said not to. Having intelligence that far exceeded that of anyone beyond his age proved more of a speed bump in socializing. Making his ability to connect or otherwise form lasting relations with those close in age a challenge to say the least. With no proper guidance in a more advanced level of edification his brilliance was merely wasted in the frivolity of taunting anyone holding a more authoritative role. That was why as brilliant and curious as he was no one wanted him. Although to be honest his aunt was half expecting him to kill himself the second everyone turned their backs so she figured there was no point to in reaching out to him. She had no way of knowing what he was thinking though, or how he had felt. It would have been a lie to say he was saddened by this. Sad was too strong a word alone, was how he felt. Not lonely but simply alone. But alone was how he had felt for years before her death. He became alone the moment he realized her time was running out, and cut himself off from her emotionally to avoid any attachment that would lead to unnecessary grievances when the aforementioned event came to pass. Not that he minded being alone, he usually kept himself detached from others, what was the point in growing close to someone when they were just going to die? Eventually the thing that most people feared above all else, their own demise, would close in on them. He was reminded of that continuously, and even knew exactly when they would die. Even so death did not scare him, very few things did. What did scare him was not knowing what was going to happen. The uncertainty of standing at a crossroad and being unable to choose a path because both were completely clouded over, and that was where he stood. As he lay on his back across “his” bed he tried to imagine what was going to happen next. How long would he be with this family before they got sick of him and he would have to move? Where would he move to? He hated the uncertainty, he liked having a plan, he hated being left in the dark, and he loved being prepared. He loved the feeling of watching everyone else jump back in surprise while he watched, his prediction playing out before him. Which was not what was happening now. He had no way of knowing for sure how long he’d be there and until the time came, there was no telling where he’d be next. He could just run away…but then where would he go? Without knowing what he was going to do all the only option he had was to stay put. A knock on the door interrupted him from his thoughts. Sluggishly he lifted himself from the bed and moved to answer the call. On the other side his temporary guardian waited with a strange man. A man too old to call someone’s Father, but not old enough to refer to as elder. The man named Howard Shaw had come on behalf of Wammy’s House. Wammy’s House? “What’s that?” the boy asked flatly. He took note of the out of place accent, wondering if perhaps this Wammy’s House was somewhere in the United Kingdom. “It’s a Special Orphanage for particularly gifted children” It is not run like a regular orphanage, its purpose is to instruct children in a higher manner than that of an ordinary orphanage or school.” Howard was withholding. Everything he said was true however, should David Beck return with him there was something exclusive in store. He didn’t particularly like the sound of such a place, but it wasn’t as if he held any regard to the home he was in presently. He simply stared into the face of the older man before him mildly curious. “And I’m supposed to believe that’s why you’re here?” There was his attitude showing up, a distinct quality of his character that never failed to give his parents a headache. He would be forever questioning authority and denying any evidence of genuine obedience. “I am here to determine if you are suitable to be taken in by us.” Howard said discontented by the boy’s lack of respect. “How will you do that?” asked David leaning forward ever so slightly in a sort of mock interest. Howard pushed himself to ignore the obvious contempt and simply passed on a sheet of paper containing a list of seemingly arbitrary words. The boy took the paper in his hands much more eagerly than expected. David couldn’t tell if he was being made fun of or if the man was serious. He made no change of expression while his eyes inspected the words. “Can you tell which of these words is out of place”? The boy refrained from letting a smile creep over his face. Of course no single word on the list was in fact random. Holding the paper up as if it were a sign he pointed with two fingers at two separate words. “I can assuredly tell you which words are out of place.” The sheer confidence and egotism that seeped out of his voice along with his statement served only to persuade the man. He gave what may have passed for a half of a smile and took back the paper saying; “It is up to you to decide whether you’ll join us or not.” He said finally. “That was however, only a first test.” Truly an insignificant test it was. David could see that, Howard and whoever it was he was speaking for was already aware of his academic levels, but the limits of his mind were far from being touched. It was not something that could be reached with such a simple test. In fact with such a young mind the boundaries could only be expanded. “So what is the next test?” The boy had to admit that while he wasn’t sold on the idea he was genuinely curious. “You are to write a comprehensive paper summarizing everything you know. Within a thirty day period.” The idea itself was ridiculous enough without even touching the fact that what they were potentially doing was dragging him halfway across the world to test and then throw him aside. That particular test had an ulterior motive. What simple facts he knew at this point were only second to proving by completing the test that the taker had the mental capacity to do so. And it was only a part one. The second was an expansion of the first in which the taker would magnify what they had previously written using any source they could reach. Although this served more as an exercise than a test. These of course were accompanied by some close to unnecessarily detailed psychological tests primarily rather to be observed more than taken. Of course the subject would be initially unaware they took place unless at a point afterwards it was deemed necessary to reveal the results for further explanation or in a worst case scenario to provide the taker with the appropriate help. The test would essentially either fuel their need for understanding or break them. At such an early stage in the project it wasn’t clear as to whether this was an appropriate approach or not. Nothing was completely sure at the present time. Given that this had only been done once before any serious flaw the approach held had yet to surface. It was his choice to go or not, England was an unfamiliar place to him, but what did he have to leave behind? Nothing was the answer; he would miss nothing and had nothing to lose. So as he later was walking out the door with his few belongings he felt no grief in leaving. As others said their goodbyes he only nodded. They wouldn’t miss him either. Not only had he been there for a short time but he was sure he wasn’t leaving a particularly good impression. Blankly staring when he was being spoken to, laughing to himself for no apparent reason, and most obnoxious of all the habit of pointing out other’s intellectual flaws. He was what most adults referred to as a smart-aleck. It was safe to say that as much as he pushed others away, they did the same to him. It wasn’t until they were sitting in the car about to arrive at Wammy’s that Howard brought up the true nature of his coming. “Are you familiar with L, the detective?” David could only shake his head, if he had heard the name before, he had long forgotten. “You will be. L is the real reason I brought you here.” “What is that?” The boy spoke up for the first time since they’re first meeting. “To create a successor for L, a copy in manner of speaking. As of now there is only one other child taken in for this purpose. Since you are the second you will be known as B.” so presumably this other kid was A? “Just B?” “Only B, it stands for Backup. You are not to give anyone your real name; in fact… it would be better if you simply abandoned that name. Of course if you prefer you could simply be assigned a number.” “I’m not complaining.” David, now B said in response. In truth he had never felt his own name really fit him, in looks or personality. Such a western name did not very well match a child with a substantially Asian face any more than a name meaning beloved fit a child who refused to build friendships. He liked the idea of starting over, however the word Backup stuck in his mind like a train wreck. He was unsure of how he felt about that. In the very least it would take some getting used to. As the car pulled through the opening gates at the entrance B peaked out the window cautiously as if he didn’t want anyone to know he was looking. Most of the building’s young occupants were seizing the opportunity due to the unusually pleasant weather to play outside. For the first time in eternities he felt nervous as he stepped out of the car. The building seemed to look down at him dauntingly as if it were scrutinizing his every move. He kept his gaze halfway between the floor and the man in front of him as Howard led him down the hall towards his new room. They passed another kid who B only took a quick glance at and speculated to be close in age to himself on the way. Howard left B to himself in his room; he had better things to do. Of course. B didn’t mind though. He would rather have it this way. Somehow, although the room in its ordinary state held no particular interest, he felt as if he’d been thrown into another dimension. He dropped himself on the bed and looked up at the ceiling hanging on arm off of the bed. There was no guarantee he would like it there, the idea was nice enough but it was so foreign a territory he didn’t want to allow himself any assumptions just yet. At least he would wait until he was familiar with the run of things. For now he was content in thinking it couldn’t be any worse than where he was.