and again
fandom: death note
rating: pg
pairing: near/l
disclaimer: Ohba and Obata own, I don't.
word count: 428
notes: Like I said, to sonormalithurts who requested the pairing for the birthday ficlets. Spoilers up to like 62, I think. After that, I don't know what happens.

----

Near remembers.

This isn't the first time he's up against Mello. This isn't the first time they've both wanted something. This isn't the first time Near will win.

It was a long time ago but he remembers.

--

Mello was always talking, always smiling. L was tall and lanky, and too quiet, but Mello'd find him and drag him somewhere by the sleeve of his shirt and Near would find them, playing Monopoly or that silly game where you're supposed to conquer the Earth.

Mello isn't good at puzzles but he is good at power. He is good at making things work his way.

L was good at puzzles, he made puzzles out of bread sticks and sugar cubes and Near watched him. L made him a special puzzle, with his own signature on it, and Near did it, again and again.

The amazing thing about puzzles is that once you're done, you turn it over and you get to do it again.

And again.

--

Back then Mello gave up easier than he did nowadays so Near had L all to himself. With L he didn't need words to communicate, they sat together in the library and completed puzzles in silence, and turned them over and did them again.

Once L looked up at Near, once when Near was focusing really hard on finding the spot for one piece that didn't seem to fit and he said:

"What about when you don't have all the pieces, N? What do you do then?"

"I try to find the pieces that are missing," Near said.

"And if they're all missing?"

"Then I just have to find them all."

L blinked at him, wide-eyed and Near smiled. Then L's expression faded from amazement to indifference and his eyes looked at the puzzle they were doing.

There was an awful lot of blue in the picture.

--

The best days of his life.

Near once saw L staring at a picture on one of hallways of Wammy's house. Near walked to him and slipped his hand into L's.

L squeezed it and turned away from the picture.

They walked to the end of the hallway and then departed.

--

The next day, L was gone. Wammy was gone, too. Roger told everyone they had a criminal to catch.

Near thought they'd be back. Hoped.

--

Where Mello has lost his admiration for L, Near only admires him more.

He dubs himself N and convinces himself he will find all the pieces of the puzzle. Especially the one that killed L.

--
Author's Note: I had it somehow worked out that in the flashbacks Near is like, 10 and L is ...16? I honestly don't know how these age things go. But anyway, I wanted to go AU and have kissing and stuff but that just didn't work out.