A/N: Hola. Yay, oneshot. This is just something I thought of randomly. I was walking to the library and spotted this whole bunch of white balloons caught in a tree. Anyway, on with the story.

(Friendship/Angst, MattxNear friendship, Wammy's era, spoilers for Near's name.)

Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note.

"Near!" A loud knocking accompanied Matt's voice and Near sighed quietly. It wasn't that he didn't like Matt, quite the contrary actually, but the gamer could be so loud sometimes. Perhaps he ought to tell Matt the door was open before the redhead ended up knocking it down.

"Yes Matt? It's open," Near said flatly. A quick glance at the clock told him it was a little after ten in the morning and he wondered briefly why the techie was up so early, since he usually slept until at least eleven if he had the chance.

"Happy birthday," Matt said merrily as he tumbled into the room.

Near considered this in the fraction of a second before he looked up at the over excited boy. Mello had probably been giving him chocolate again, which would account for the sugar high. Matt should never be given sugar. Quietly he contemplated what the gamer had said. Was it his birthday? He must have forgotten.

"Thank you Matt," Near said as stoically as ever, turning his attention from the model plane he was building to the freckled boy in the door way. Matt held a small wrapped package and a single white balloon, as pale as Near himself. It was the balloon that caught Near's attention. He froze as he focused in on the innocent white orb drifting serenely just above Matt's head.

"Near?" Matt frowned at the tiny boy's reaction. His coal-black eyes were wide and he sat perfectly still, just staring. "Yo, Near. Hey, what's up?"

Near heard him, but it didn't register. He was lost in thought.

It was a warm spring night and the sounds of laughter and fireworks filled the air. Nate was smiling happily as he watched the bursts of colour lighting up the night sky. His mother and father sat on either side of him, his mother fussing over him the whole time. It was Walpurgis Night and the first festival of any sort that the boy had been allowed to go to. He had so many things wrong with him that his mother barely let him out of the house for fear of some harm befalling her precious little boy. His father, however, argued that it would do him good to get out occasionally since he would have to start school sometime. He had been home schooled all his short life, but his parents intended to enrol him in middle school soon.

There was another loud bang and another burst of colour painted the darkened sky. Nate toyed with the string of his balloon, watching the pale white orb bobbing on the faint breeze. The carnival atmosphere of the celebration was a bit loud for him, but nevertheless he was enjoying himself. It would have been difficult not to have fun with the air of merriment and celebration. That, combined with the fact that he had never experienced this sort of thing before and his young age, allowed him to lose himself in the celebration.

Finally with a barrage of shouts and cheers the fireworks ended and Nate's mother insisted they leave before it got any later. Still smiling, the pale boy followed his parents back to the car. They were nearly home when they were hit head on by another car carrying a group of college students on their way to a party. The last thing the tiny boy could remember was watching his white balloon float up into the sky until it was just a pale dot beside the moon.

A gloved hand fell on Near's shoulder and the pale boy jumped slightly before recovering his composure. Matt was kneeling next to him, peering into his face with concern.

"You alright?" the goggled gamer inquired as the smaller boy blinked several times.

Near nodded. "Yes. Just thinking."

"About what?" Matt asked.

"My parents," the tiny genius replied calmly.

"Oh… sorry," the techie apologized sheepishly. "Um… Happy birthday." It almost sounded like a question. Quietly Matt presented Near with the small package, which he had wrapped as best he could with white paper. Near studied him silently for a moment before Matt spoke again. "Well, go ahead and open it," he urged.

Carefully Near removed the paper and folded it neatly before he turned to the actual gift. It was a small puzzle. All the pieces were the same size and shape, edges excluded, and tiny tendrils of ivy wound their way across it. It was one of those that seemed easy, but if you didn't put every piece in the right place the vines wouldn't match up. He grinned at Matt who beamed at the small show of approval.

The two spent the next hour chatting companionably as Near assembled the puzzle, gladly forgetting all about the white balloon hovering behind him like a ghost of his past.