I know I know...I havent updated in FOREVER! School, real life...all that crap. And I just plain could not get inspired to write anything. This chapter was meant to be longer...I cut it off right before a hot ass lemon. But I havent finished the lemon yet...and I thought I would gift my readers with this and leave the lemon for the next chapter. Dont worry...its almost done. I will post it as soon as it is. I am working on it right now so who knows...might be posted sometime tonight. Hope you guys enjoy this. Sorry for such a long wait.

Chapter 24 – Laughter and Love

Ten days had passed since Near had come home. Mello was sitting in a chair at the table trying to get some of the school work done that had been piling up on him. Near was taking a nap, the pain pills having made him tired again. But sleep was good. His body needed the rest and the energy to heal his wounds.

Dr. Smith had made a house call the day before and said that Near was healing well. He took the stitches out of Near's abdomen and said he would see them in a week when Near was scheduled to have a follow up MRI to make sure he was healing well internally. He would also have an x-ray to see if the cast on his arm could be removed yet. Dr. Smith suggested that Mello take him out of their room sometimes and help him to start moving around more. The suggestion had made Near nervous. He wasn't ready to face other people yet. He especially wasn't ready to go walking around in areas where Matt might come upon them.

Near had developed a deep fear of the other boy. He often woke at night shaking and crying from the recurring nightmare of Matt attacking him. Mello, sensing something was wrong, would roll over in his sleep and wrap Near in his arms. Just being held in Mello's embrace would relax him almost instantly, make him feel safe again. He would drift back to sleep and the nightmare wouldn't return until the next night. But he still didn't want to leave the room.

Though it frustrated him, Mello understood Near's fear. He had been violently and viciously attacked by someone he never thought would hurt him. He had almost died, twice. He had been cut open and put back together and sewn shut, pumped full of drugs that made him anxious and emotional, forced to stay in a hospital surrounded by strangers, having people touch him.

Near moaned softly in his sleep and Mello turned to look at him. He curled himself into a ball and wrapped his arms around Mello's pillow. Mello couldn't help but smile. Near could move much better now, almost without any pain unless he bent to far. He could walk much better now too, being able to walk back and forth to use the bathroom without any help. But he still got tired easily. While he could make the trip to and from the bathroom, he usually had to lie down and rest afterwards. Near moaned again and Mello watched his hips press forward. He grinned slightly.

Standing up from the table, Mello moved to the bed and sat down next to Near. He reached out and pushed the soft white hair out of the boys eyes. Blinking, Near looked up at him. Mello leaned down and kissed him softly, running a hand down the boys back to settle on his waist. When he pulled back, Near was blushing.

Mello smiled and kissed the boys nose. "Why are you blushing?"

Near laughed at having his nose kissed and buried his face in the pillow his arms were still wrapped around. "I was having a good dream."

"I could tell. You were starting to hump the pillow."

Mello ducked when Near swung the pillow at his head. "Shut up. I was not."

"You were, too." Mello fell off the bed when Near swung the pillow again and Near roared with laughter. "Oh, funny, haha."

Near peeked down at him over the edge of the bed, a smile spread across his face. "Yes. It was funny." He threw the pillow into Mello's face and rolled away from the side of the bed. He stood up from the other side and carefully started making his way to the bathroom, one hand pressed to his stomach.

"If you weren't still hurt I would so be kicking your skinny butt right now." Mello rolled onto his stomach on the floor and watched Near make his way slowly across the room.

"I thought you liked my butt." Near pulled down the back of his pants and showed it to the other boy.

Mello growled and got onto his knees. "I do like it." He crawled across the floor until he was behind Near and sat up enough to sink his teeth into that bare flesh.

Near squeaked and pulled away, pulling his pants back up. "Don't do that while I'm walking. And I need to pee."

"Okay. I'll wait right here." Mello sat back on his heels and watched until Near disappeared into the bathroom. He heard the toilet flush, then the water in the sink running.

Near opened the bathroom door and blinked at Mello. "You didn't have to literally wait right there."

"I know." Mello held his arms out to the other boy. "Come here." Near made his way over and Mello wrapped his arms around him, pulling him down onto his lap. He buried his face against Near's neck and breathed in his scent. Near moaned softly and relaxed into his arms, resting his head on his shoulder. "You didn't get as tired walking that time."

"No, Mello. I'm not ready to leave the room yet."

Mello sighed and sat back to take Near's face in his hands. "You need to get some exercise. More then just walking circles around our room. I wish you would at least walk to the library."

Near stared at Mello's chest and felt his eyes begin to tear again. "I'm not ready. Please stop asking me to do this. I cant, not yet."

Sighing, Mello kissed Near softly and pulled the boy against him again. "I'm not the only one. Roger wants you out as well, and Dr. Smith."

"I know. Just not yet, okay? Maybe after the cast is off?" Near sat back and gave Mello a pleading look.

"Okay. I'll stop asking. Just think it over. You will let me know when you are ready, right?"

"Yes. I will." Near leaned forward and pressed his lips to Mello's. He shifted until his groin was pressed against Mello's stomach and deepened the kiss, rocking his hips slightly.

Mello chuckled and leaned back a bit. "You're just a big ball of horny today aren't you?"

"I want you in me." Near reached between their bodies and gripped Mello through his pants. Mello hissed and captured Near's lips again.

Both of the boys jumped and looked toward the door when they heard a throat clear. Roger was standing in front of the door, holding a tray with their lunch in front of him. "Seems I arrived at the right time." He walked across the room and put the tray on the table. "You boys need to keep your intimate activities to the night, when the other children who reside in this house are in bed. The last thing any of us need is for someone to wander by your room and hear the two of you making love in the middle of the day. You are lucky everyone is currently in the lunch room and didn't happen to be walking by when I opened your door."

Near's face was bright red as Mello helped him to his feet. He held his hands over his groin and made his way into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. Mello turned and glared at Roger. "You didn't have to embarrass him like that. What we do isn't your business. We aren't loud. We don't fuck like bunnies all day. There are reasons behind our touching that you know nothing about."

"Then why don't you explain it to me, Mello. Maybe then I will understand why you repeatedly ignore my warnings about being careful."

"I am being careful. I'm being careful that no one else finds out about our relationship, just like you told me to do. But I'm more concerned with being careful with Near." Mello looked over his shoulder to make sure the bathroom door was still closed before he walked over to Roger, took him by the arm, and lead him over by the windows where he hoped Near wouldn't hear them. "Near has nightmares every night. The same one. About Matt attacking him. He is too scared to leave our room yet. So I would appreciate it if you wouldn't bring that up to him. I touch him because he needs it. It makes him feel safe, Roger. I wouldn't do it if it hurt him."

"How do you know it doesn't hurt him? He was injured inside as well, Mello."

Mello flushed a bright red and looked down at his feet, shifting his weight back and forth. "Who said my touching him involves me being inside of him?"

Roger blinked. "Oh." He blinked again as he realized what Mello was saying. "OH!" He cleared his throat and put his hands into his pockets. "I didn't think that that was the way of your relationship."

Mello glared at Roger. "It's none of your business how we make love. I don't hurt him. I never would. I love him and I'm taking care of him. Our relationship, the private aspects of it, are none of your business. How we fuck certainly isn't."

"I didn't mean to upset you, Mello. And you are right, it is none of my business. I'm just worried about Near. I won't mention him leaving the room, but you might mention to him that Matt is locked in his room and will be for quite some time. There is no risk of seeing him for now. I'll leave the two of you alone. Just remember."

"I know, I know. Be careful. Just go, already."

Roger shook his head and left the room. Mello locked the door behind him and opened the bathroom door. Near was sitting on the closed lid of the toilet and looked up at him when he came in. "Is he gone?"