BOOM, K-RACK

It wasn't a new experience, the sounds that pounded away in the orphanage. Howls of wind shrieked outside, like a despondent banshee, right along with the deafening cracks of lightening that always sounded as if it were barely an inch away. Mello's room was probably the worst place to experiencee the roaring storm, with the large window by his small bed being barraged with rain, sounds that didn't too greatly differ from a window being pounded away at with tools. To make matters worse, much to the blonde's despair, there was a large, bare tree right outside his window. When the wind whipped around and through the branches, they would pound and tap against the glass pane, making large shadows dance across the dreary white wall, like long, spidery fingers reaching out to grab him and pull him into the darkness. He wasn't exaggerating when he said it was absolutely horrid.

Of course, Mello didn't fear the storm in the least. Skin paling, shaking and trembling, crying out in fear? He'd never done any of these typical child things, if his memory served him correct. And it usually did. He'd earned a pretty solid reputation around the orphanage as fearless, and not a little reckless. He lay now in the small cot that was his bed, facing the wall with the window, his eyes closed in slumber. Or, at least, attempted slumber. It wasn't so much fear that was keeping him lying awake, but more the pure noisiness of the fuss. He brought a hand up to his ear, clamping it over it, only to find that the sound easily traveled still to the inners of his ear, keeping him wide awake throughout the night.

It was dark in his room, though that was an obvious inevitability. Not really a midnight black, the kind that he'd before experienced, a terrifying new level of darkness, but a dimly lit kind of dark. Just light enough to be able to witness the shadows that danced upon his walls, illuminated tenfold when the flash of light shone through his window and filled the room with the stark light. His bed was a small cot, which was considered uncomfortable to many, but a luxury to Mello. After all, it was much better than the streets, and extremely more comfortable than anything he'd ever lay in before. The blonde usually slept effortlessly and peacefully the minute he laid his head on the pillow. A small bedside table was beside the bed, made out of some type of cheap wood, a dark color to match pretty much all his other possessions. On the top of this table was a glass of milk, which he was much more fond of than water, and a bar of chocolate, the one item he was never without. There was a desk on the other side of the room that held notebooks and textbooks and papers filled with all his classwork and personal configurations and experiments. Anything to become number one, no matter how much work it took.

Mello found himself, despite the conditions, on the edge of satisfying slumber, about to drift off into the sleep that he so desired and sought. A peaceful dream on the verge of entering his now uncluttered mind, his muscles finally relaxed to their state of effortless resting. But just as he was about to embrace this slumber and drop off the edge of consciousness, a creaking noise was heard. The sound, which would have been soft and almost unnoticeable if not for the fact that it were night, when everything seemed to be amplified, was unmistakably that from his ungreased door hinge. That could only mean that someone was entering his room, and disturbing his precious sleep.

What do you want?" He demanded roughly, turning his body to face the intruder. He blinked, trying to refocus his eyes to the darkness of the room to identify who it was. Finally, a flash of lightening, perfectly timed, lit up the face of the newcomer.

"Near?" Mello questioned, surprise dripping in his tone, along with curiosity and, of course, annoyance. "What is it?"

The white haired male, so child-like in demeanor, looking immature even at his already young age, gave him that emotionless stare that so irritated Mello. The boy adorned light blue pajamas, just barely too big for him, so that the sleeves hung off and over his hands. One hand was clutched around a ratty stuffed animal, a bunny, if Mello guessed correctly, and the other around another toy of some sort. The kid had an obsession with them, the toys, and this was certainly not unnoticed by the blonde or the other members of the orphanage. He was independent though, Near. Never before had the other intellectual truly approached him on grounds of his free will and desire. Mello shot him an annoyed and impatient glare, waiting for his response, pesky curiosity tugging at him.

"The storm's so loud, I was scared." Near told him in that simple, matter-of-fact manner of his that so contradicted what was being said. It took Mello a few seconds for that statement to register, which was unusual for the quick-witted boy. His mouth twisted into a sternly set line as his eyes continued to gaze upon the small boy of the same age, his superior in what seemed to be pretty much everything.

"And?" He said, a bit of his trademark cruelty tainting his otherwise uncaring voice. Near showed no reaction, however, to this tone of his, and instead took another step forward into the room, his face becoming illuminated once more by the bright lightening that cracked and flashed outside, to show no more emotion than before.

"I was hoping that maybe I could stay in here for tonight." He stated, so off-handedly that it was almost as if he were saying something that should be obvious. Mello, not nearly so emotionless or restrained, let out a short, undoubtedly harsh laugh at this, quickly recovering from the twisted humor he found in the situation to give the white-haired male a serious look.

"Are you serious? No, forget I asked, you're never anything but. You do realize that this is the room that's probably worst for sleeping in during thunderstorms, don't you? With your brains, it should be easy to figure out." He said, with a slight roll of his eyes. It was no secret that he was bitter of Near's position of number one amongst those to be chosen as L's heir. The role that Mello pursued with such vehemence and want, only to be stopped by the child-like boy in front of him now.

"Yes, I have calculated this to be the room at the worst angle and positioning for experiences of storms such as this, much more of a statistical chance of being kept awake than my own room. But I wished to spend the night with you, Mello." He explained in a slow and careful manner that could always piss the chocoholic off. He brushed this off, however, with the last statement. It ran through his mind to question it, but he decided not to. After all, what could the answer do but anger him even further. Begrudgingly, he moved aside on his cot, making a space just barely large enough for Near to fit in, let alone find comfort in. Mello certainly wasn't concerned about his competitor's comfort.

"Here." He said with some rue in his tone, a heavy and foreboding reluctance. He turned away from his position facing the wall so that now his body was rotated completely to face the direction of the door, and Near. He gazed at him with the same impatient expression, secretly and tactfully concealing the curiosity that so befuddled him.

With the closest thing that Mello had ever seen Near express as glee, the intellectual came over to the bed, his feet almost silent against the carpeted floor. The blonde noticed, as he tended to observe such obscure things, that Near wore slippers that were not regular to most of the other orphans of the institution. He gave a slight smirk as his sharp eyes caught the smallest hint of a misplaced stitch, and he realized that the boy had made them himself. So Near was crafty as well as smart, well…Mello had noticed that he enjoyed making things, and could always seem to make do with what he had on hand at the moment.

Near slowly and, if Mello was not mistaken, with a bit of hesitant and concealed eagerness, got up into the bed beside Mello. It was distinctly uncomfortable for the blonde, as the moment the childish orphan got into bed, he began to snuggle up against Mello. Of course, he realized that it was mainly, if not completely, due to the lack of space that he had provided for him, but it still gave him an extremely awkward feeling. The great intellectual being so needy, it was an amusing irony for Mello, and caused a small smirk to tug on his lips.

Near slept in a curled up position on one side, and his head rested around Mello's upper chest, much the way a child or a lover would. They were so physically close that Mello could feel every rise and fall of his chest, a steady rhythm that soon began to slow as the chocoholic noticed Near's peaceful demeanor. He figured the boy had probably drifted off into sleep. His own eyes closed, and began to slip into unconsciousness, but not before a subconscious arm went around Near's small form, which Mello realized with a start. It must have been some sort of instinctive move on his part, and he was about to pull away when the white-haired boy cuddled up even more to him, as if the arm made him feel comfortable, or secure. There was no way, as bitter and competitive as Mello was towards Near, that he could remove his arm now. But there was a bit of security for him in the thought that Near must be asleep at this point. Suddenly, the intellectual stirred and parted his soft lips to speak.

"You know, Mello, you're my only friend here." The voice came, the first that Mello had heard him speak in a tone other than calm and emotionless, but rather soft and with a bit of happiness. The blonde felt a genuine smile creep across his face before he wiped it off at the first opportunity.

"Don't be stupid, we're competitors, remember?" He muttered, only to find after waiting a couple moments that Near had fallen asleep. Mello rolled his eyes yet again, but soon closed them and fell into the slumber he'd been trying to achieve all along. Much to his surprise, he found it came easier this time, with Near in his arms, and a slight smile, barely noticeable, crept again across his face. And this time, it stayed there.