Chapter 1: Chromatic Echo

It was another one of those nights. Those nights that left the silver haired boy restless, overthinking, and talking to himself. Rethinking almost every decision he had made, trying to find a new, preferable outcome. He knew how illogical this was, knowing he couldn't change the past. What's done is done, and there was no use dwelling on it, yet there he sat with a knee to his chest, staring blankly at the ruffled mess his bedding had become. His thoughts were put on hold as his eyes trailed over to the clock, squinting lightly as he tried to make out the numbers in the darkness.

4:35am.

Yes, it was one of those nights. Near long ago lost track of how many times this happened, giving up counting after what felt like the thirtieth. This had happened many times since then, thoughts too clouded with regret to get a moments rest. He let out sigh, turning toward the window which was letting in a small amount of light from behind the curtains. He shifted, moving one leg to the ground and keeping the other pulled up to his chest. This was the third sleepless night this week and dark bags were becoming apparent under his eyes, standing out against all of the silvery white aspects of his appearance. His eyes drifted closed though he could hardly sit still in his restless state. Despite this, he remained still other than the rising and falling of his chest, fighting down the urge to fidget or tap his foot or anything similar. Part of him saw this as an act of practicing self-control in order to make up for his faltering emotional stability.

The thoughts started again, lashing out from the shadows of the room until they surrounded the pale boy. Tonight, like the others, had a goal, or at least his mind did. Think back, remember, rethink, and choose. Choose differently, take the new scenario and make more choices until a better outcome was achieved.

"I should've stopped Mello from leaving Wammy's. The small decision of letting him leave without a protest is one of the things that led to this ending." Near's thoughts left him as a whisper, cold yet soft, like freshly fallen snow.

Though Near knew that the blonde's future likely would've been brighter if he hadn't gotten involved in the Mafia, part of him was glad that he had. Near would never know the details of what had happened to the chocoholic in climbing the ranks of the Mafia, but it had surely changed him. Maybe not obviously on the surface, but he was certain that Mello was different after that. But he was still Mello, in all his fiery array of emotions. Near admired who the rambunctious child he grew up with had become, and he was almost certain that he would've ended up quite different without the Mafia's influence. Despite this, Near was almost convinced that if he had stayed at the orphanage, the chance of him being alive would increase by at least 20%.

Suppose this worked out and Mello stayed. The both of them would be the next L and take on the Kira case. Even better, the incidents involving Sayu Yagami wouldn't have occurred, nor would have the events leading up to the scar that would always remain on the chocoholic's face until the end. With both of their minds working together making up for the traits that the other lacked, they would've caught Kira much quicker than they had. Along with this, Mello would be alive along with others that had died all too soon.

Near wondered what he would be doing now if the blonde had remained in his life. Surely he wouldn't still be here, losing sleep on 'what-if's and regrets. No, he would likely be sleeping soundly, safely grounded in the satisfaction of winning the game of cat and mouse that he had played with Light Yagami for so long, along with preventing a number of possible casualties, Mello included among the names. Perhaps when he awoke tomorrow morning he could pick up the phone and call Mello and ask to see him for no other reason than to feel his presence, or perhaps discuss the memories they had surely made while on the Kira case, or even remissness as far back as their days in Winchester. Mello would smile, Near would likely remain emotionless on the outside but content in his heart. It felt so close, so simple, almost as if it could be reality if he would happen to pick up the phone and dial the familiar number once the sun rose.

The ghost of a smile formed onto his lips for the first time in the 8 months since the Kira case was deemed officially closed. Near opened his eyes, the smile instantly gone as the moonlit room reentered his vision. The colorful, sunlit vision of Mello's smile vanished along with his own grin. It was almost like waking up from a good dream, though worse as it left behind a painful weight in his chest. How did rethinking a simple choice he made as a thirteen year old child end up with him feeling even more devastated and regretful than before due to the idea of once again speaking with the blonde?

As Near pondered on this question, he reached a conclusion. "...No. I have to stop this. This is taking too much of a toll on my mental state. I'm in the position of L and I can't afford any more distractions. Mello… I'm sorry I let you vanish, but I need to get you out of my head." There was a pause, almost as if he were giving the darkness around him time to respond. Though the closest thing he got to a reply was a wave of guilt at his own words, soon to leave his mouth. "Why did I allow myself to grow attached to you?"

Near almost fell off the bed in shock as he heard an all-too-familiar voice answer from the shadows behind him.

"Simple. Because you're an idiot."

A/N: Aaaaaa this is so bad! And short. I think I'll continue it if people actually like it, though.