Thank you all for reading. It means so much to me. The sequel will begin soon, and your final thoughts and questions on this story will be greatly appreciated. I realize that I have left somethings rather indefinite, and somethings I didn't fully explain. That's why there is a sequel, but again, I might have missed something...I know it's far from perfect. So, write me might point out something I've missed. Thank you all again.

Step Lightly,



The final zipper slides shut, and the bag stands ready. One bag, a single case that contains everything he owns…all of it from someone's charity. Near watches him from the other bed, his expression unreadable. The sound of his voice still drives slivers of annoyance into Mello's skin but it something he's long become accustomed to.

"I don't believe Roger took you seriously."

"I didn't think he would."

"Do you know where you're going?" The white child inquires, watching the bible in his hands with a look of distaste.

Mello merely shrugs. "I have an idea."

Near nods and stands silently. There is really nothing more to be said. This is the end of whatever they've come to achieve, the end of this round. There are no final players, because the game refuses to end. They have played before without realizing exactly the stakes…that their victory could only come at the cost of a life. They will always play, if for no other reason than to have purpose. After this…things will be different. There is a mass murderer on the loose, but it's more than that…it's more than a vendetta, more than revenge.

They've both lost something this time.

Kira…Kira is personal. Kira is a bond the two of them will carry, no matter where they hide. L, in his strange way, has left them a legacy of their own, apart from the title. Hatred, and vengeance, both stronger than any steel, wind their way through this shallow relationship and into the darker corners of both brilliant minds. There will always be competition…

Because of L, there will always be a reason.

Yet, Mello frowns as Near slides toward the door, turning as the handle cleared the latch. They both wait at his movement, because perhaps there is something to be said after all. Perhaps it is nothing, perhaps something to acknowledge the fact that they are in this together, running parallel along their separate paths.

Even Mello doesn't know. However…it is something, at least. "Near…what was your bunny's name?"

The question obviously catches him off-guard. There is a hesitation before the answer, because that…that is something intimate. Something that both have long guarded, just as every Wammy Child has and will, until the day they die. Share it now, and they will never forget…

Just as it should be, in reality.


Mello nods, turning back to his bag. "Mine was Home."

"Until we next cross paths…"

There is no answer, and one is not required. They've fought their battles, and this, this moment, is something that neither will ruin for the sake of petty arguments. Near is gone now, leaving him with his private thoughts, his doubts and his fears… and his prayers.

He would never forget them.

Muttering aloud, he stands there before his bed, both hands on his bag as he speaks to one who cannot hear him, one who is possibly too busy to listen…or perhaps simply incapable of response…

But Mello knows better.

"I think it's time you and I had a talk, Father. I think it's time we were honest with one another, and though I haven't spoken to you in true repentance in a long while, I pray you'll hear my confession one last time. Things Change, Father. That is a simple truth that you have taught me. You have taken me from the darkest corners of the world, and thrown me in amongst the blessed. I was pulled from the damned pits, and it was there that I tasted fire." He turns and sits next to his bag, propping one boot up as his thumb strokes the worn cover of the pocket bible in his hand.

"That wasn't enough, was it? I came from a good home, with a good, devout family…a family so in love with your image and your good works that they lived to serve you. Their faith was so great in your miracles, My Father, that one day they sent me away to be…fixed…by your good teachings. That wasn't enough either. I thought I knew you then. I thought I knew your grace and sacrifice…that I was righteous and strong."

"I've come to realize now that there are two faces to you, My Father. You are kind and forgiving, but you are also demanding…entirely unwavering in your creed. You give men power, with your name. They wear you like a cloak, abuse it, and you take no heed." The leather-gloved hand clenches about the small book. "That, I have learned far too well. You have taught me many things Father. You have taught me to love, and to hate. You have given me desire and the sobriety of unrequited love. Though my soul is damned through no fault of my own, apparently, you have seen fit to make sure that I am aware of it."

He relaxes against his pillows for the last time, idly thumbing the tiny pages. "You have granted me the sole pleasure of living my life knowing my future…knowing what is to come, and that I cannot change it. I thank you for that."

"I thank you for the small things, for the tiny graces like green eyes and freckles that at once endear and repulse me, because they only serve to illuminate my flaws. 'Look', you said, 'upon perfection and know thy own faults.' …and so I have. You have given me a best friend worthy of a chapter here in the good book, Father. Mail is a treasure; something finely wrought and wasted upon ill-graced filth like myself. I don't understand it, but then, it's been five years now, Father. If I were meant to understand, I'm sure you would have told me by now."

The fingers pause over the chapter, a small smear of blue ink in the top corner. "I am sure you remember my confession…the written oath that I offered up in exchange for my sanity. That if Mail were to help, then I would accept it…but if he were to hinder, I would overcome?"

He pauses briefly. "I think I lied to you, Father."

"I think I lied to myself." He frowns out across the rolling meadows, watching the grasses sway in this sunny day in England. "I haven't overcome him…and I haven't even tried. I realize now that he was there to help, but in your usual, twisted fashion, he was more of a hindrance than anything else. You, in your 'infinite wisdom', have shown me what it is to be so thoroughly out of my league that I don't know left from right. You didn't give me Mail to help me…you gave him to me so that I would stop entirely."

"I can't overcome him."

"I'm sure you know this by now, but I must say that my own realization of the fact was less than settling. There is no resolution, because something else I've come to realize…is that you don't give second chances, do you?" His frown turns to pained scowl, a look of understanding. "You never really gave me a chance to begin with."

"I am not sure why I loved you. Even less sure of my hatred, because how can one so benevolent cause me so much pain? Is it your fault, or mine? I don't have a clue at this point." His eyes fall upon the little bible. "You know…Whenever I see a statue of Mother Mary…she's smiling. She's serene, peaceful, watching over us with open arms and a graceful smile. We know better, don't we? The art of it is beautiful, but it's a lie. It's a damn lie. She's not smiling…how can she smile?"

His fingernail traces the gold leaf title. "In the monastery, with the madmen and lambs…they had a statue of Mother Mary. Your beloved, the Mother of Christ…and she did not smile. She wept. She wept for the pain of her son, and in essence, all of her children. She understood sacrifice. I often wonder how such an unholy place would carry one of its few truths. I was taught to admire her, to understand her pain. I was taught to mourn your sacrifice…mourn even your love. She and I…we cried…and I understand now that her pain was not just for her son. She cried for herself as well…didn't she?"

"…And she cried for me…because neither of us… had a choice in the matter." The nail bites, dulled by leather, but enough to scour the gold powder from the title. "Did we? I didn't ask for this. I doubt she asked to bear your child. I doubt it so very much Father, because I have been taught the pain it brought her. I have known what it is to suffer because there are some things in life you cannot control. You gave her a son, and you turned my eyes from women. You took her son away, and you robbed me of both heaven and intimacy. While I cannot pretend to know her loss, I cannot pretend that my own does not exist. We cried together, Mother Mary and I."

"I suppose…" He pauses, inspecting the shimmer on his black leather, rubbing it between his fingers. "That neither of us can really blame you…you have a plan for each of us after all, don't you? Lately, Father, I've come to realize how very…convenient that is. I've come to realize…that Near was right. Religion…faith…has an answer for everything."

"So pardon me for hating you."

"However, I must confess that I see it now, whereas I didn't before…how the grand scheme of my life has led up to this point, and I must commend your brilliant penmanship. You've damned me, and in the process, freed me to do what needs to be done. Clever."

He flips the cover open again, those first words like a comforting touch to his soul as he reads the familiar text. "…And I must say…I get it. You have spent the majority of my life making it hell. I am prepared for whatever comes simply because of the trials and hardships you have imposed on me…"

He stands again, glancing around the room as he crossed to the window. "There is no peace to be had here anymore…not even your words offer me comfort. That is why I must say this now…while I am strong. It's rather ironic, how your strength would be the one I needed to end it all."

He opens the bible again, thumbing pages, and his voice is quiet for a long time. When it comes again, it is strong. "I believe it is time we parted ways, Father. I think we have served each other long enough and it has been an abusive cycle. Thank you, for the strength you've given me. Thank you for Mail, and for Wammy. Thank you for Near and thank you, personally, for making me into something strong. I am damned. When I was young, I couldn't quite believe it, I hoped and prayed that you would change your mind…change me. I tried to change myself, but…there are no second chances. I am what you made me…what I made me…and because there are no other options, I suppose that 'me' will have to do."

Here he takes a deep breath.

"I am glad to have known you…glad to have once loved you. I am glad to have known your miracles in all their terrible, righteous glory."

"But you are no longer the author of my life." The fists clench on the covers, a slight tremble present in his grip, if not his voice, if not his soul.

"So I never had a chance. I know."

Another second's hesitation, but his resolve is firm. "…But I'm no longer living by your rules. If you will not change me…I will not change for you. You, in all your goodness and love, have become the greatest hindrance in my life. I can do great things Father. I will do great things…"

"But it will no longer be in your shadow." The bible tears easily, the worn pages and wax ink shredding in his powerful grip. "It will no longer be yours to decide. Judgment is coming, and I cannot stop it. If I cannot change my fate, then Damn you, I will change my life."

"I am done with you, Father…you whom I once adored and cherished…The God I once craved and feared. We are done, you and I." Pages flutter to the floor, the cover following with a hollow tap to the wood.

"I suppose I'll see you in Hell. Father Forgive…but things change."