“I, L, do in fact exist. So, come on! Kill me if you can!”
For some time now, criminals worldwide have been dying of heart attacks at an unprecedented rate, an event unheard of in the history of crime. An emergency Interpol meeting is held with delegates from across the world getting together in a large hall in order to discuss the situation. They are convinced that something is happening but cannot be sure what it is. What also bothers them is that although over 50 imprisoned criminals have reportedly died, there may be others whose deaths have not been reported because they were not in custody at the time, so the actual number could be in the hundreds.
Differing opinions fly around the room. Many of those who died were on death row anyway, so does it really matter? But what about proper legal procedures? Can causing death by heart attacks even be classified as murder, and if so, then how is it done? Such a wide area would suggest a large organization is responsible. One delegate even suggests the CIA or the FBI could be responsible, angering the American delegates. And anyway, how can the police track down a killer who simply causes heart attacks? How could a weapon be traced back to the killers?
Finally, one of the delegates suggests that they consult L.
L is a detective who is considered the best in the world. He has been known to solve the most complex of cases, even ones that had previously been considered unsolvable. The problem is that nobody knows who L is. He is unknown to everyone, cannot be contacted in any normal way, and only takes on cases that actually interest him.
At that moment, a man appears on the stage in front of the delegates. He is dressed in a large overcoat and fedora hat and nobody can make out his face. He is carrying a large briefcase. He is Watari, an associate of L's, but like L, nobody knows his real identity either.
Watari goes to a table in the middle of the stage and sets up a laptop computer. Through its audio device, L addresses the conference. He has agreed to take on the case, which he describes as nothing short of a monstrous crime of mass murder. However, it is also extremely complex, so this time, L is going to require the support and cooperation of police worldwide.
Sometime later, Light Yagami is on his way home from school along with a couple of friends. The conversation is about the never-ending deaths of criminals. Theories range from the police to some kind of supernatural cause. One of the boys even expresses concern, admitting to having once stolen from a shop when much younger.
Ryuk the Shinigami has been following them. While Light has Ryuk's Death Note, the pair are bonded together. Bidding his friends goodbye, Light returns home and goes to his room, locking the door behind him. He admits to Ryuk about being apprehensive about leaving the Death Note at home when anyone else could get hold of it.
Light switches on the TV in his room that displays the news channel and starts up his computer. Browsing the internet, Light finds one of a number of websites about the phenomenon he and his friends were talking about. Many online believe that some divine being has come to earth to pass judgment on evildoers. This being has even acquired a common name: "Kira." Light figures that "Kira" is a Japanese misspelling of the English word "killer," and while he does not find it tasteful, considered Kira's goals, he admits that it has stuck.
Light remarks that although nobody will admit in public that killing is right, this does not stop them from displaying their real thoughts behind the anonymity of the internet and expressing full approval for his actions. Things are going just the way he wants them to.
At that moment, the TV news suddenly interrupts its program for a special announcement from Interpol. It is a special broadcast that is being shown live all over the world, with appropriate translators. The screen shows a young man seated at a desk with a plate displaying the name Lind L. Tailor. The man announces that he, Tailor, is L, a detective who has the support of every police force in the world.
The broadcast is also being watched at the headquarters of the Japanese National Police Agency (NPA), where a special task force made up of dozens of officers has been set up in order to investigate the phenomenon. Among them is a senior officer who represented Japan at the recent Interpol meeting. After the delegates had voted to give L their full support, L had requested that the investigation be based in Japan, since he had reason to believe that whatever was causing the mass deaths of criminals was located there. When the delegates had asked for evidence for this statement, L replied that he would present the evidence during a direct confrontation with the killer.
This confrontation is the live television broadcast. Addressing the TV viewers, Tailor announces that the mass killing of criminals is not acceptable and he vows to track down and capture the mass murderer known as "Kira."
Safe in his room, Light pours scorn on this announcement. Without getting hold of the Death Note, there is no way that Tailor can even arrest Kira.
On television, Tailor continues by stating that he has a good idea why Kira is committing all these killings, but states that it is nothing short of evil.
Light is outraged. He is trying to make the world a better place—a place for decent human beings to live. It is those who are trying to stop him who are evil. Furious, Light opens the Death Note and quickly writes down the name "Lind L. Tailor" and eagerly counts down the next forty seconds.
Moments later, on TV, Tailor collapses. Light laughs, stating that this is what happens when people challenge the god Kira.
As two men on TV remove Tailor's body, the screen goes grey with static before suddenly cutting to a white screen with only a large, black letter L. A voice expresses surprise at what has just happened.
Taken aback by this, Light listens as the voice admits astonishment at the fact that Kira can kill from a distance without actually being anywhere near the victim. The voice then goes on to announce that Lind L. Tailor was, in fact, a convicted criminal scheduled to die that very day. His case was never made public by the media, so nobody, not even Kira, could have known about it.
Addressing Kira directly, L announces that he does exist and challenges the unknown murderer to kill him as well. All that Light can see is the letter L on the screen. L continues to challenge Kira to kill him, as the police and people watching the broadcast around Tokyo watch in amazement. When Kira fails to comply with L's challenge, L concludes that there are limits to his abilities and thanks him for providing a valuable clue.
In exchange for the clue, L offers Kira some information. He states that although the broadcast was said to be worldwide, it was in fact only shown in the Kanto region of Japan. When the Kira killings began, L traced the first one down to Kurou Otoharada, who had unexpectedly died of a heart attack while holding some nursery school pupils and their teacher hostage. L recognizes this killing as an experiment for Kira to test his abilities. Before Otoharada died, the hostage taking was only reported in Japan, so L decided to broadcast Tailor's challenge to Kira at intervals around the country, starting with Kanto, which happens to be the most populated. It was just pure luck that Kira was in that area.
L concedes that he does not know how Kira can kill from a distance but is confident that he will find that out once he has captured Kira, who will then be sent to his execution. Light realizes that he has fallen for L's trap and that L has won this battle, but that does not mean that L has won the war. L and Light are both convinced that they are right and the other is wrong. Both are convinced that they are justice and that the other has to be found and disposed of. L then terminates the broadcast.
At the NPA, the detectives are impressed. L has proved that Kira really does exist and has already narrowed down his location.
In Light's room, Ryuk chuckles at the irony of the situation. Two beings, L and Kira, have no idea who the other is or what he looks like. However, they are determined to track the other down and whoever finds the other first will win while the other will die: L by the Death Note or Kira by legal execution.
Light is determined to win the contest. Ryuk is looking forward to it.
In Death Note 13: How to Read, Tsugumi Ohba states that he selected "L" as the title of the second chapter because he wanted to establish L as the second main character. Ohba added that this is the only chapter name consisting of a single romanized letter, "perhaps" stemming from a respect for L.