Chapter 11 - Last Chapter - '4 years later'
Tires screeching caught his attention in enough time to slam on his breaks. Before he could even think, men were piling out of cars all around him. He was surrounded.
"Bodyguards," he mumbled to himself. "How many does she have?" Grabbing his gun from the front seat, he lit a cigarette and began to step out of the car. "Time to put up another smoke screen."
"Wait a minute, wait a minute," he addressed the crowd jokingly. "Since when do the Japanese have such nice guns?" Taking a puff of his cigarette, he continued more seriously. "I'm an accomplice in the kidnapping of Tadaka. Don't you have a bunch of questions to ask me? What's the point in firing…"
Guns began firing at rapid speeds. He could hear the metal of his car bending as the bullets hit it. His cigarette fell from his lips. The bodyguards ceased firing and stared in complete shock.
In front of him, every single bullet that had threatened his life had stopped, a foot from his body. They were all floating in mid-air, as if an invisible barrier had stopped them.
"What the hell?" One of the guards asked.
All of the sudden, one after the other, the guards began to grab at their hearts. They gasped in pain, falling to the ground before his feet. Then they all stopped moving.
"What the fuck is going on?" Matt whispered to himself.
Mello pulled his bike into the back of a large truck, parking it. He hopped off and picked up a large blanket from the back. "Take off your clothes," he ordered the woman on the back of the bike.
"You want me to do what?" She asked as if in shock.
"You've got a device on you that will tell your body guards where you are," he replied. "Wrap yourself in this blanket, if it bothers you so much."
She sighed and began to unzip her coat. When she was down to her underwear, she wrapped the blanket around herself and finished stripping.
Closing the box her clothes were in, Mello pulled a hat over his face and stepped outside of the truck, closing and locking the door behind him. He placed the bag with her clothes on a separate truck and climbed into the front seat.
His cell rang and he picked it up.
"Mello," Matt breathed into the other end. "Something really weird just happened."
"Explain," Mello replied, turning a corner with ease.
"Takada's body guards had me surrounded," Matt's voice was a bit shaken. "They fired at me, all of them at once… and somehow, I didn't get hit. Then they all fell to the ground and literally died."
"You're not serious," Mello replied, pulling the car to a stop.
"I swear to god," Matt replied.
"You don't even believe in god," Mello mumbled. "But I believe you… just come to the church."
"I'll be right there," Matt replied.
Transporting Takada into the church was an easy task. He left the girl in one of the back rooms, before walking out to the front.
He stopped in place, his eyes widening. A hand flew to his heart, gripping at the cloth on his chest.
He stumbled and hit the ground, letting out a gasp of air. "No," he breathed, lifting his head in pain.
Before him stood a young man, dressed in white. His pale skin reflected the soft light of the moon, and his white hair was blowing slightly in the breeze.
"Mello," the boy whispered.
Then the darkness consumed him.
Matt approached the church in time to see it burst into flame.
"Mello!" He gasped, moving to rush inside.
"What?" Came a voice from behind him.
Matt turned, spotting the blonde leaning against a delivery truck. He appeared fine, although something was off about him… he was standing with his arms crossed and a small smirk on his face.
"Was Takada in there?" Matt asked.
Mello shrugged. "I didn't catch it on fire. I'm assuming Kira thought she lost her usefulness and killed her off."
"You seem rather calm about it," Matt replied.
Mello smirked. "Let's just say I realized something I had forgotten for a long time."
"The body of Takada was found in a back room," the man explained to Raito. "The body of an unknown man was found in the chapel. From the analysis of what we could see of his face, he appears to be Mello, from the picture."
Raito hid a smile. "I understand."
He was left alone, his eyes narrowed at the computer screen.
Mello's body was found. His last opponent was dead. He could finally become Kira, god of the knew world…
With an annoyed noise, Raito turned around. L watched him from where he sat on the back of a sofa.
"Your successor is dead," he informed.
L smiled. "He and I have more in common then you'd like to think."
Raito's eyes narrowed. "Don't tell me… he's a Fuujin as well."
L laughed. "A Raijin, actually."
"Just my luck," Raito groaned.
"Raito-kun," L addressed again. "I'm telling you again, give up ownership of the Death Note."
Raito laughed. "And I'm telling you again, no."
"A war is about to start," L warned. "You don't want to be caught in the middle."
"You can have your war," Raito replied. "I will become god of the revolution."
"You are the god of nothing but your ego," L sighed. "The phone is about to ring. It's Mello. You'll want to answer it."
The phone rang. Glaring at L, Raito answered the phone.
"M," the altered voice on the other end addressed.
"I know," Raito replied.
"I wish to speak to L," Mello stated.
Raito turned and handed the phone to L.
"I saw Near," Mello informed.
L sighed. "I told him not to approach you."
"I was killed," Mello explained. "Just before I died, he approached."
"And Matt?" L questioned.
"Did not see him," Mello informed. "However, he was nearly gunned down. He told me the bullets stopped about a foot away before they hit his body."
L sighed. "Breaking the rules…"
"L," Mello addressed. "The war is about to begin. I will help you in any way I can."
"Keep Matt and Near away from each other," L informed. "The last thing we need is someone with an ego threatening them both."
"Agreed," Mello replied.
L hung up the phone and turned to Raito.
"Don't get involved," he warned, before he left the room.
"Who was on the phone?" Matt questioned as he walked out of the bathroom from a shower, a towel on his head and one around his waist.
"No one," Mello replied, not looking his direction.
"Oh?" Matt questioned. "If it was no one, then why were you on the phone with them?"
"Curiosity killed the cat," Mello replied.
"Meow," Matt joked. He walked over, wrapping his arms around Mello's neck from behind.
"Not tonight," Mello instantly said, inwardly shuddering.
Ever since his dead and regaining his Raijin form, his memories of Near had returned. Remembering the albino boy had been like a painful kick in the balls – not only was he sleeping with the man Near loved, but he loved Near.
It was no wonder the past few years he had always felt like a piece of him was missing. He could tell Matt felt the same way – especially because there were countless nights he had awoken to find the redhead sitting next to him in bed, staring at a painted white Lego man.
L had told him that Matt couldn't know. Not yet. There were ways that they could hold him against Near, try to drag the boy out from hiding. And having Near die was not a part of L's plan.
"Fine," Matt mused, heading over to the hotel bed. He flopped down on it and reached over to the beside table, picking up the Lego he always kept with him.
"Hey, Mello?" He questioned. "Do you think it was him that saved me?"
"You think a Lego man saved you?" Mello joked.
"No," Matt replied breathlessly, staring at the toy with sad eyes. "Near."
Mello's eyes widened and he spoke before he could think. "How do you know that name?"
Matt's head snapped to him and he jumped up instantly. "You know who he is!?"
Mello turned away, cursing himself lightly.
"Who is he, Mello!?" Matt growled, fists clenching.
"It doesn't matter," Mello snapped. "He's dead now."
Matt frowned, sitting back down on the bed. He looked toward the Lego, his eyes growing soft. "I don't believe he is," he mused, before closing his eyes.
"L." The man who addressed him spoke with a deep voice. "Why do you come before us? You must know by now that you were banished."
"This war is pointless," L informed, hands in his jean pockets.
"How dare you address the council in such a manor!" The leader growled. "You believe simply because you are the Fuujin you can come in here and speak to us in such a way?!"
"I've come before you to ask you for a cease fire," L replied, appearing bored out of his mind.
The council laughed and the leader mused, "And why should we call for a cease fire? What grounds do you have for this preposterous request?!"
"Near," he answered simply.
"That child of yours?" The council leader laughed a bit nervously. "What does a half-breed have to do with anything."
"You know exactly what," L replied.
The leader looked to the rest of the council, all of them appearing nervous. "None the less!" He snapped. "You have no right to interfere with this war! You were banished long ago! Remove yourself from our sight before we imprison you!"
L sighed. "I had hoped it would not come to this." He turned, leaving without another word.
"Sir," one of the council members breathed nervously. "You do know if that boy d-"
"Silence!" the leader snapped. "L is not so heartless that he would kill his own child merely to stop us…" 'I hope' he added silently to himself.
Matt was in the chapel at the old orphanage, although why he didn't know. He was staring up at the statue of Christ, wondering why there was a bullet hole in it's forehead. He had never seen that before, even back when he used to visit it.
He spun around, eyes widening at the sight before him. There he was…the boy from the Lego. Near! His mind screamed at him. This is Near!
"Near?" He questioned nervously, taking a step forward.
A small smile crossed the boy's face. "Matt," he replied, taking a step forward as well.
"You are Near, aren't you?" Matt questioned, a frown on his face. "That's your name, right?"
"Yes," Near replied.
"I know you…" Matt frowned. "But… I can't remember you."
Near stepped forward, face to face with Matt. "Its okay," he assured, lifting a hand and touching Matt's cheek.
Matt laid a hand over Near's, looking into those toneless eyes. "Who are you?" He questioned, feeling the answer on the tip of his tongue. How did they know each other? And what was this pain in his chest…?
His breath caught in his throat as Near leaned upward, their lips almost touching. "I'm sorry," the albino whispered. "It's time for you to wake up…"
Matt's eyes snapped open and he gasped lightly. After a moment of shock he sat up, looking at his wall but not seeing it. A dream…? Near had come to him in a dream…
Who was he? Mello knew, but why was he keeping it from him?
L moved to stand next to Mello, who was staring up at the stars. The two were silent for a few moments before L commented, "The war has begun."
Mello closed his eyes. "They still went through with it, even with the threat of destruction?"
"They know that if Near is killed, there is a chance their world could crumble," L informed, eyes narrowing.
"Yet they still went through with it." Mello sighed, looking down at his hands.
"They will try to lure Near into the open," L stated, looking toward Mello. "Both sides will want to grab hold of him, and use killing him and destroying the plains as a threat to get the other side to back down."
"We need to make sure that doesn't happen," Mello breathed. He then turned to L. "Did you manage to convince Yamagi to release his hold on the death note?"
L shook his head. "I'm still trying, but he is being stubborn… I don't want to reveal to much to him, but I fear I may have to in order to get him to save his own life."
Mello was silent for a few more moments. "L," he addressed seriously. "Near used his death note to save Matt."
L sighed, lowering his head. "That stubborn boy… despite what I say, he still follows his own path." He turned to Mello, his eyes sparkling. "Put him in his place."
Mello grinned. "Gladly."
Near glanced up in time to see a black blur pin him to the floor. He had been stacking a card deck, safely tucked away in his house in Home, the one city Chaos and Order could not touch him in. So when he was pinned to the ground, a small gasp of shock fell from his lips.
"Mello?" He breathed, staring up at the blonde in shock.
"Near," Mello growled in response, his hands holding the other's shoulders in an almost bruising grasp. "You need to stop fucking around so much! Your father knows you've been coming to see Matt!"
"I-" Near tried, but was silenced when Mello moved a hand over his mouth.
"If anyone finds out you've been coming to see him, or trying to protect him, they'll use him to lure you out into the open and then kill you," Mello growled. "And you know what could happen if you die, don't you?"
"That's only a rumor," Near mumbled beneath Mello's hand.
"You are dealing with things which you have no idea," Mello growled. "The fate of the alternative world after your death is a gamble, one of which you have no right to take simply because you want to see him. I know it hurts. I know more than anything how much it hurts to not have the one you love by your side." His eyes narrowed. "But I've had to deal. So do you."
Near removed Mello's hand from his mouth, staring up at the blonde. "You still love me?" He questioned, his voice a whisper.
"…Yes," Mello replied, sitting up. He removed his hands from Near's shoulders, but still sat on the younger man's middle.
Near leaned up on his elbows. He stared silent for a moment, before reaching up and grabbing hold of Mello's collar. Mello yelped in shock when Near pulled him down into a kiss.
"W-What?" Mello gasped.
"That's what you want, isn't it?" Near questioned.
"But you love Matt…"
Near paused, trying to think of the right way to word what he was about to say. He finally managed, looking up at Mello and stating, "I love Matt, but I still care about you."
Mello stared in slightly awe. After a moment he smiled slightly, before leaning down and pressing his lips to Near's.
He might as well enjoy it while he had the chance.
Raito sighed, turning to L. "No matter how many times you ask, L, I'm not denouncing the Death Note."
He gasped in surprise when L grabbed hold of his shoulders and pinned him against the mirror. Raito stared in shock as L locked eyes with him.
"You don't understand, Raito-kun," L breathed. His eyes held an emotion that Raito had never seen before… a struggle of pain and what appeared to be… love? "The war between Chaos and Order has begun. If you don't denounce the Death Note, you will die."
"What?" Raito frowned. What was L talking about?
"If you own a Death Note, you are believed to be a shinigami," L explained. "In a war, anyone is fair game… they aren't allowed to kill humans, but shinigami they can."
"They really wouldn't come here and kill me, would they?" Raito breathed.
"They would," L informed, his grip on Raito shaking.
"How do I know you're being honest?" Raito growled. "That you're not just trying to make me let it go so you can defeat me?"
L was about to respond when a sound caught his attention. He jerked Raito to the side in time to dodge a flying object.
Raito jumped and looked to the side. Just inches from his head, a knife was sticking out of the mirror.
L looked over his shoulder, still holding Raito in a tight grip.
A demon, looking quite a bit like a shinigami, grinned widely. "Fuujin," he greeted. "Father of the half-breed. What a trophy you would be to bring home to Chaos."
L laughed. "As if a lowly demon like you could capture a god."
The demon laughed. "I can if I have bait."
L's eyes widened and he turned around. Raito gasped when arms reached out from inside the mirror behind him and grabbed him around the throat.
"Raito!" L gasped, catching his attention. "Do it! Do it NOW!"
"I-" Raito rasped, the grip on his throat tightening.
"DO IT!" L screamed.
"I surrender ownership!" Raito wheezed.
His eyes closed, eyelids moving rapidly. The demon cursed, the hands in the mirror releasing Raito's throat.
"You may have saved him!" He sneered. "But the girl still has the Death Note."
"You won't touch her!" L growled as Raito dropped to the ground.
"That's what you think." One last laugh before the Demon disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
"L?" L turned at the sound of his name. "What's going on?"
L smiled rather sadly. "Stay here, Yagami-kun."
He turned and left the room. Raito frowned.
What the hell was happening?
Misa jumped when a knock came on her front door.
She opened it and blinked in surprise.
"Misa," Near greeted, his eyes full of worry.
"Nate?" She questioned, giving him a quick hug. "How are you? It's been so long since I last saw you…"
"Misa, I need you to please do me a favor," he breathed.
"What is it? Anything." She frowned. Why was he so worried?
"Protect him, please."
The girl stared at him. "Protect… him…?"
Her eyes widened and she realize. "Oh! You mean Mail, the boy you are in love with? Right? Mail Jeevas?"
Near smiled warmly. "Yes. Mail Jeevas."
He left and she quickly lifted up her Death Note, rushing outside.
"Where are you headed?" Ryuk questioned as he flew toward her.
"I was going to find Raito," she replied.
"Raito released hold on his death note," Ryuk informed.
Misa gasped. "Why!?"
"To save his life," Ryuk replied. He chucked. "There's a war going on. Anyone with a Death Note is in danger."
She hummed, stepping outside of their apartment complex. "Do you know where Mail Jeevas is?" She questioned.
Ryuk hummed, looking around. "Right there," he informed, pointing across the street to a group of people crossing.
Misa blinked animatedly at her luck. She rushed over, calling out his name. He looked up at her in surprise, before glancing around and crossing the street to meet her.
"Can I help you?" He questioned, nervously.
"Mail," she paused. "Wait, its Matt, right? Anyway, Near told me to take care of you."
His eyes widened. "You… you know Near?"
Misa frowned. "You… don't?" He shook his head and she hummed lightly.
The blonde haired girl turned, expecting a fan. She was surprised when she spotted Near waving to her. "Near!" Matt turned as well, eyes widening.
Near motioned for them to follow and began running. Misa rushed after him, Matt on her heals.
He led them down a few streets and quickly motioned for them to enter an abandoned building. He stepped inside and moments later they both caught up.
"How strange," Misa breathed, gasping lightly for air. "Why would he need us to go in there…?"
She stepped in, looking around the dimly lit place. Matt followed, removing his goggles from his eyes so he could see better in the horrible lighting. "Near?" Misa cried out, clenching her Death Note close to her chest.
She turned around, spotting the white haired boy. With a smile she called out, "Near!"
He grinned widely. "Wrong."
Both Misa and Matt gasped in shock when Near suddenly turned into a hideous creature.
They turned to run only to see the door shut right in front of them. A few pulls on the handle proved it to be locked from the outside. Matt turned around and swallowed nervously while Misa slammed a fist into the door, screaming for someone to let her out.
"Misa, Misa," the demon chuckled. "Thank you so much for giving me the name of Near's lover. You saved me the trouble of finding him myself."
Matt's eyes widened. "N-Near's…"
The demon was in front of him suddenly, a hand on his cheek. "Such a simple human. There is nothing extraordinary about you… yet you capture the heart of a half-breed so easily. What is it about you, human?" He smirked, his sharp nails trailing just over Matt's left eye. "Although I have to admit… your eyes are quite beautiful. I wonder if they'd look as beautiful if I ripped them from your skull."
He let out a groan of pain and went flying backward, hitting a wall on the other side of the room. Matt slipped fell to his butt, leaning against the wall, his breath caught in his throat.
The demon began laughing as he got up. "I know you're here, half-breed. Show yourself!" He went flying again after calling this, hitting another wall with a groan. "How long are we going to play these games?" he breathed, standing once more. "Where are you!?"
The room fell silent, save for the sound of light foot steps down metal stairs. Matt, Misa, and the demon all turned with wide-eyes toward the opposite end of the building.
A young man with pale skin, colorless hair and eyes, and dressed in white, stopped on the bottom step. He was curling the side of his hair around one finger, watching them intensely.
"The half-breed finally shows himself," the demon chuckled.
"I have a name," the young man said bluntly.
"Near…" Matt breathed in awe.
"Yep," Near stated with a nod.
The demon grinned. "Your name matters not to me, boy. What matters is that we, Chaos, can use you as a threat to Order. Surrender, or we'll kill you, and destroy the alterative world… mm, the very idea sends a pleasant chill down my spine."
He snapped and creatures began to file out of the shadows. Misa and Matt gasped, backing heavily against the door behind them with wide eyes.
"Is that your plan?" Near mused emotionlessly. "I don't think it will work too well."
The creatures pounced. Misa covered her eyes, looking away. Matt, however, couldn't remove his eyes. Near let the creatures pounce him, tearing their claws into his skin and biting at him. Why… why wasn't he fighting back!? Was he trying to draw attention to himself to keep Misa and him safe…? Was he… trying to save them?
The lead demon lifted Near up by the collar of his torn up shirt, grinning into his face. "Why don't you fight?" he purred. "Trying to save your little human friend? You know Chaos rules – we can't kill him… but that doesn't mean we can't play with him."
"Don't go near him," Near replied coldly.
"Or?" The demon purred.
"I'll kill you."
All of the demons threw their heads back and laughed.
"You're in no position to kill me, half-breed," the head purred. "But I suppose I can respect a god's dying wish." He dropped Near, who fell to the ground like a paper weight. "Tie him up," he instructed the other demons as he walked away.
Misa crouched down next to Matt, shaking lightly. The demons leaned Near up against a post, tying him with his hands above his head, like some sort of which being burned at the stake.
They chucked to themselves, sinking into the shadows. The lead demon sat on the steps, pulling out a cell phone. He dialed a number and held it to his ear. When the other person picked up he stated, "We've got the kid."
"Misa," Near breathed, catching the girl's attention.
"I'm so sorry!" She sobbed. "This is all my fault… I didn't know it wasn't you… I should have realized…!"
Near shook his head slowly. "No… it has to be like this."
She paused, frowning. "W-what?"
Near locked eyes with her, appearing serious. "Misa… you have to kill me."
Misa's eyes widened, but it was Matt who first responded. "No!" He screamed in shock.
"It has to be you, Misa," Near whispered. "I don't have time to explain, but it has to be you."
"I… I can't," Misa's eyes began to tear. "Why? Why does it…"
"I can't explain," Near repeated. "Just trust me, please? Everything will turn out for the better. I understand L's plan, finally. Misa, please, kill me."
Matt shook his head wildly, before turning in shock when Misa opened the death note. "What are you doing?!" he hissed as she pulled out a pen.
"What the-" The head demon stood straight up. "Stop her!" He growled. "She's going to kill him!"
"Misa!" Matt gasped, but it was too late. She wrote the last 'r' and dropped both the notebook and the pen, letting her face fall into her hands as she let out a small sob.
Matt's eyes turned to Near. They began to fill with tears. What did he mean, everything would turn out for the better!? He was going to die! How could that be better!?
Near let out a small gasp after forty seconds, and his eyes began to close. His head hung as his last breath fell from his lips.
The demons in the room all stopped suddenly.
Misa and Matt looked up, wondering what had happened.
Every single one of them had paused, standing straight up. They were all looking upward, as if something had told them all to do so.
Something was happening. What was it?
Mello looked to L, who glanced back. The front lines of the war had stopped, all of their following men doing the same. They all looked at each other, as if confused.
"What is this pain?" One finally managed to ask, before the rest began to question. "Why do I feel… so sad? What has happened?"
"Where is this feeling coming from?"
"What is this?"
"This is so strange…"
"Near is dead," L breathed, falling to his knees. "The war is over."
"Explain to me, please?" Mello questioned. "I'm confused, L… what happened?"
"Near is half god, half human," L began, looking down to his hands. "A mix of the two… he brings the two worlds together. He is the peace between man kind and their gods. He is in the heart of every creature, human and deity alike. In his death, the creatures of the world begin to weep… trivial things such as war and conquering one's enemy begin to fade. When you share the same pain, it is hard to fight one another."
Mello tilted his head. "You knew this would happen?"
"Yes," L replied softly. "From the day he was born, I knew it would be his destiny to die. He learned, too, after he came to Home with me." He closed his eyes. "The one thing he wanted was to see Matt once more."
"You told me to keep them apart," Mello reminded.
"I didn't want Matt to remember Near only to lose him again," L informed sadly.
They both looked at the battlefield. None of the fighters seemed to have the will left in them to fight.
The war was over… but at the cost of…
Matt approached Near slowly. He stepped up to the still body, lifting his hands and running them through the other's soft hair. His eyes began to tear, but he didn't mind.
"This can't be," he told himself, curing locks of white hair around his fingers. "No… this isn't so. I'm dreaming. We're back at Wammy, back in each other's arms… we're together, and this is all a nightmare. You can't be dead… You can't be dead, Near!"
He bit his bottom lip, resting his forehead against the younger man's. "You can't be dead. All that… it will all be meaningless, if I don't have you by my side. I… I won't have anyone to watch the rainfall with, like we did the day that we first kissed. I wont have anyone to show how to play video games. I won't have anyone to want to protect, or want to love…"
Matt swallowed the lump in his throat, closing his eyes. "To think, even after four years of forgetting who you are, I still love you… this is true love. Do you know what that means, Near? That means you can't be dead. Because fate can't be this cruel… to give me my one, true love, only to rip him from my grasp. Fate… fate isn't this horrible… is she?"
He slipped to his knees, tears over taking him. He ignored when the demon's cell phone rang and he answered it with a quick breath. He ignored as the demon told its minions that the war was off. He ignored as they left without another word. He even ignored when Misa approached and placed a hand on his shoulder…
"Near?" Misa breathed, her voice coming from the doorway.
Matt's head snapped up and he gasped in surprise. Despite the dead body of the white haired man before him, he was looking straight at a carbon copy standing beside him, a hand on his shoulder.
"You can't be…" Matt whispered.
"I guess I'm lucky," Near breathed in response. "The Fuujin half of me wouldn't let me die…" he paused, kneeling beside Matt. "Or maybe it was my heart."
Matt turned and threw his arms around Near, sending them both to the floor. He didn't care as he pinned the albino down in a deep kiss.
As he pulled back he glared angrily. "Don't you dare do that again."
"I wouldn't dream of it," Near replied, before burring his hands into Matt's hair and bringing him down into another kiss.
Nadine glanced up from the dishes and nearly had a heart attack. Jumping, she grabbed at her heart and gave the boy sitting on her kitchen window sill a harsh look. "Nate, you scared me!" She cried in surprise.
"I apologize, mother," he replied.
"What are you doing, sitting in the window?" She questioned, shaking her head. "Come down from there."
"Actually, mother, there's something I need to tell you," Near informed, not moving from his spot.
"What is it, dear?" Nadine asked.
"Mother… father isn't human."
Nadine stared at her son as if he had lost a head, before laughing. "Don't be silly, Nate dear. Of course your father is human!"
"Actually…" Near jumped down from the window and pointed out it.
Nadine looked. A gasp fell from her lips as she placed a hand over her heart.
L was holding on to her four-year-old daughter's hand, and the two were flying around the yard.
"He's a god," Near finished.
Near bent over, staring down at her for a few moments. "Well," he mused. "That went better then I had thought it would."