A/N: Yes, I know that was over a week. Really, I'm sorry, but I only have one more week of school. Try to hang in there with me. Thank you ALL for your encouragement!


Anyway, Brave Hero

eleven.


"Nn… L…?"

"Shh," L shushed as Matsuda's eyes began to open. The younger male looked up into L's worried face as he regained consciousness. He blandly wondered what was going on until he felt some sort of liquid on his shoulder and tilted his head back to see three large faces of the transformed Kogs, all drooling through their canines and growling down at the two of them in the ditch. Matsuda would've, under normal circumstances, been panicking and in a weird way he sort of was - little alarms going off in the back of his mind - but he just felt so tired and there was this throbbing and he really just wanted to go to sleep.

He averted his eyes back to L, the tenses look on his face and vaguely muttered an "I'm sorry," to the older man. Matsuda had little idea of what was wrong but had a hunch that he had done something not-so-smart again to get L angry with him and so, for that, he was sorry. He only wished that he could help. But then, as he felt his body move without any help from its owner, he wondered just what was it he could do. It looked like L had it all under control, as usual. Was L really lifting him onto his back? And oh, there was a huge pack of Kogs right in front of them getting closer and finally all Matsuda saw was black hair all around him.

There was the far-off sound of footsteps and Matsuda could hear - no, feel - L's heartbeat somewhere around his own. There were trees then and the Kogs were behind them, all following with lusty red eyes, all transfixed on the two of them.

Watch out, L! he wanted to shout but was just too tired to say much. He may have mumbled something but he wasn't sure if L even heard. A Kog jumped from the boughs of a tree just up ahead and blocked them off, causing L to slid down on the ground and skid underneath the beast, grabbing the fur coating his back left leg and swinging around, keeping one hand on Matsuda's back to secure him as he swung the two of them onto the confused Kog's tail and they ended up on the back of the large cat. L flipped Matsuda over his shoulder and sat him in front, slouching and looking blearily eyed as L leaned forward and pulled on the Kog's long, pointed ears.

The beast yelped and reared back, turning around in three complete circles before running in the direction L intended. The others followed suit, all seeing the two on the back of their comrade. L looked back and pulled harder on the ears, urging the Kog to go faster. It jumped onto the trunk of a nearby tree and launched itself up into the thick leaves, brushing the foliage up and surrounding L and Matsuda.

Matsuda blinked and faintly shielded his eyes by raising his hand up and before he knew it, the sun was bursting through to him in giant rays and the two of them were on top of the trees, running at lightning speed, the leaves below like waves of emerald. Matsuda turned his head and saw that, one by one, the other Kogs were jumping up from the forest below and running after them, hopping from branch to branch so quickly that they barely bounced under all the weight.

"Matsuda? Are you all right?" L asked, looked down. He was almost yelling but Matsuda could hear it only as just above a whisper.

He nodded and smiled. "Yeah… I'm good…" He looked back again and then up at L. "Are those the cute little cats, L?"

L seemed to frown. "Yes, I suppose."

"They're not so cute anymore though…"

"Which is why I shouldn't be ignored-"

"WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIII!" The high-pitched frequency pierced through the daytime air, reaching L and Matsuda's ears like a thin thunderbolt. Matsuda's hands then flew up to his ears in attempt to block the horrible noise but it was no use and L had no choice but to hold on rigidly to the Kog's ears of they would go flying off. Matsuda turned his head with his hands fixed on his ears and saw the other Kogs, their mouths open, the sounds coming from them. They must've been calling out to their friend who had been taken captive.

As if to prove that theory, the Kog that L and Matsuda were seated on returned the loud cry and Matsuda pushed his hands up closer to his ears.

"M-Maybe we should let it go, L!" Matsuda shouted, finally finding his voice. His ears were ringing.

L's eyes seemed to be unfocused as he looked ahead, the sun bouncing in the east. "If we do that now, we'll die for certain!"

"But… that sound…"

L's mind raced, as did his eyes. The sound was getting to him as the entire pack joined in the forlorn cry and he had not even the shield of his own hands to help him out. He made a rash decision, mind cluttered by the shrill cries, and pulled down hard on the Kog's ears, forcing the cat down into the forest again, the leaves raising and falling around them. Matsuda screamed at the sudden downfall and they landed at the edge of the forest, the Kog turning around at the edge, facing the others that came down from the trees, all standing in a row of about twenty, red eyes glaring.

Matsuda stiffened up against L. "W-What now?" he asked, looking up. He was waiting for that sound to erupt from their throats again but it didn't and he was caught in anticipation.

"Matsuda," L said, voice tight.

He looked up. "Huh…?"

"You're going to have to get off here, all right?" he said, eyes on the Kogs ahead.

It took Matsuda a moment to comprehend what L was saying and when he didn't move even then, L gave him a hard shove in the side and Matsuda fell off of the side of the beast, hitting the dirt with a hard thud. He sat up, yelping in pain, and looked up at L with wide, watery eyes. "W-What'd you do that for? Why am I staying here?"

"You're not, you're going to go ahead. I'm going to go back into the forest and lose these guys."

"L-"

"I'll meet up with you later. They won't stop chasing us just because we've gone out of their boundaries now, they look like they've been hungry for too long-"

The Kogs began to growl and click their teeth, scratching their nails against the ground. The Kog L was on was getting antsy as well, swishing his tail back and forth in an anxious manner. L looked down at Matsuda now and said loudly, "Please continue on." And without waiting for Matsuda's response, whether it be an objection or a compliance, he charged forward into the thicket and the sound of howling and growls erupted from the foliage. Matsuda cringed and scrambled to his feet. He stared into the forest but only saw the tail of the Kog L had ridden into the others. He stared for what seemed like a long time but was only a few minutes and he turned on his heel and continued on.


"Are you mad?"

Raito glanced over at Matt with a perturbed look on his face, his eyes half lidded and an eyebrow raised. Matt sighed, thinking that was the answer to his question, a resounding "yes" but then Raito sighed and shook his head. He said, "No, not really. I… forget that you're not used to all of this."

Matt shrugged. "Yeah. I mean… I've never had to use a sword before." His eyes rolled upward in thought. "I mean, I was thinking it wouldn't be much different from using the Beam Sword on Super Smash Bros… but I guess I was wrong," he sighed.

Raito sent him a confused look. "You know, I have no clue what you're talking about."

"… No, probably not…" Matt looked around as they continued. "You think there are anymore of those Jacte things around?" He put his hand on the hilt of his sword protectively.

"Yes, probably."

"Wonderful…" Matt thought for a second. "You know, maybe you should hold on to my sword for a while. If we see anymore, well," he said, fumbling to take it from his belt loop. He held it out to Raito as they came to a slow halt. "Well, you're just really good at it and I'm… not…"

Raito looked back at him for a long moment, his eyes racing along the length of the blade before he turned around and continued to walk on the path. "Don't be silly," he called without looking back. "I'm a mailman, you know."

"Yeah!" Matt raced ahead to catch up. "A mailman who knows how to kick serious bogey-ass!" He held it out again. "Please, Raito? I don't want to be the reason we get a game over!"

Raito groaned. "No."

"Please?"

"No."

"Please?"

"No!"

"I could go on like this all day."

"Ugh!"

"You saw the way I was with that Jacte back there! I almost shit myself!"

Raito rolled his eyes at the terminology Matt used and finally turned to him, stopping once again. He gave Matt a look of resigning and Matt thought for a brief moment he had won until Raito said, "Okay, Matt, you're right. I'll just have to teach you how to handle combat a little better."

"… Huh?"

Raito smiled slightly. "Once you get used to fighting me, you'll be all right against everything else. Or, most things, at least. Hmm." Raito walked to the side and saw a large stick laying in the grass. Matt watched his movements as the brunet picked it up and tossed it up and down in his hand, feeling the weight of it. He smirked and took it in both of his hands, tightening his grip as he walked back over to the path. He said, "All right. Come at me with everything you've got."

Matt blinked. "You're going to use wood? Raito, you'll be hurt, dude!"

"You just worry about yourself. Now, come on."

Matt seemed to hesitate, only for a bit, until Raito's reassuring glance told him it was all right and he charged forward, letting out a battle cry that sounded strangely like something taken from World of Warcraft. Raito waited calmly for a second until Matt's sword came directly at him and Raito stepped to the side, causing Matt to fall flat on his face, his sword falling out of his hand. Raito brought his stick down on the boy's head and Matt bellowed, grasping his skull and rolling over.

"W-What the fuck?"

"You are so unprepared. Try again."

Matt growled and stood up, grasping the hilt of his sword as he did so. "Yeah, yeah…" He stood tensely as Raito moved backwards, their eyes locking. Matt thought it would be a good idea to have a 'surprise' attack this time, inside of waving himself around madly. So he took a step forward like he was circling Raito and once he got close enough, swung his sword with all his might at Raito's side. Raito blocked it by moving his stick up just an inch and then swiped it across Matt's face.

"AGH!" Matt cried, stumbling backwards, his hands on his face and his sword on the floor. "You're trying to hurt me!" he accused through his hands.

Raito shook his head. "I'm only blocking you. You can't expect me to go easy on you, Matt, because no one will."

"Ah, for fuck's sake… yeah, I know that but… can't you, I dunno, lower your power level or something? S'fucking over nine-thousand right now… shit…"

"I don't have a power level," Raito urged, highly confused.

"Yeah, yeah…"

"Ready to go again?"

"All right, just a second. Let the world stop vibrating first."

Raito laughed and Matt glared but at that time, neither one was aware that they were being watched.


Mello didn't know much about the layout of Near's castle since he had originally been brought there in a sack. Even when he had been called upon a while ago to come to Near so that they could speak face-to-face, he had spent too much time in the hallways fighting and cussing at the guards to really notice where he was going or how to get there. So as he was being abducted from his room once again and dragged down the halls of the palace, he had no clue where he was going and really didn't care at that point.

"HEY! TELL ME WHERE YOU'RE TAKING ME!"

"Princess, we're just going-"

"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Mello shouted, kicking and flailing in the guards' grasp.

One looked at the other and they shared a tired expression. They had always wondered just why they were always asked to deal with Mello when there were so many other things they could be doing, like cutting their wrists or some such. They continued on down the hallway, dragging Mello between the two of them and finally came to a large red pair of double doors. The first guard opened it and they came inside.

The light, different from the harsh blue lighting out in the hallway, was orange and the soft glow of candles shone around him. He felt the plush carpet under him as he was thrown down by the guards into the room and before he could attempt to retaliate or threaten them, the doors were shut right in front of him.

"Mello, over here," called a soft voice.

Mello turned rigid at hearing it and looked up from where he lay on the floor, seeing a large wooden table with chairs surrounding it. As he tilted his head to the side, he saw Gevanni and Hal standing a few feet away from the middle of the table and they were looking at him with expressions of wariness and anxiety.

Mello sighed and climbed to his feet, finding Near at the other end of the table and seeing that the soft candle light was coming from close to fifty aromatic candles seated on the tabletop. Near was in his usual position at the head of the table with a large mound of dice in front of him that h built up even as he spoke.

"Please, join me over here."

"What's this about now?" Mello asked, glaring.

"Well," Near said as he looked up, "I know you were quite irate with me before-"

"I still am."

"-however, I thought it would be a good idea if we discussed these things." Near smirked a little. "Ruler to ruler." He gestured towards the seat next to him and Mello narrowed his eyes but couldn't help the want for a chance to possibly save millions of his people from slaughter. Maybe Near would listen. Maybe.

So Mello resigned himself and sighed, walking with his head held high across the floor that was soft under his bare feet and the ruffles of his light blue dress waving lightly as he made his way to the seat. Gevanni and Hal's eyes watched him but he paid them no mind as he sat next to Near and pulled his seat in.

Near smiled, looking down at his dice. "Gevanni, please have something brought to the princess. He must be very hungry."

Mello huffed, waving away the statement. "I ate chocolate."

"But that was over five hours ago, Mello."

"What? You record the times when I eat?" Mello screeched, horrified.

"Now, now, that's not important…" Near placed a few die down in stacks, turning them all so that they were facing the same sides. "Tell me, princess, what does the name Matt mean to you?"

Mello paused. "… Matt."

"That's right. Someone you know?"

Matt. Mello thought about it for a second before remembering that boy in Dakota's waterfall in his room. And he faintly remembered being told about him in a letter sometime before. He was the one who was supposed to be rescuing him along with… Raito… That same kid who was howling about Mello giving away his virginity for the sake of the Kingdom, which he still had, coincidentally. Yes, Mello remembered Matt. But now that his plan for Near had gone horribly awry, Mello was running low on options and he was sort of depending on Matt and Raito to come for him, as much as he hated it.

Mello looked at Near and shook his head. "Nope, never heard the name before."

"Is that so?"

"It is."

"That's interesting…" Near mused and as he continued to pile blocks on top of one another in an intricate manner, Gevanni came around the table from another door - when did he even leave? Mello wondered - and sat down a plate of food in front of Mello. Mello eyed it with disdain but some hunger - it had been over five hours since that chocolate bar. So Mello decided to screw it and that he wouldn't starve himself for Near's amusement. But, out of spite for Near, he neglected the fork and dove into the spaghetti face-first.

"It's interesting," Near continued, "because this was recently found in your room…"

Gevanni, who was back at his spot beside Hal, held up a piece of paper and read aloud, "Dear Princess, Hi! It's me again, Matsuda. You have never answer any of my letters, even when you weren't kidnapped but that's okay. I'm sure it must be very tough being kidnapped. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that we've sent your boyfriend, Matt, to rescue you! He's on his way right now but he may be in danger as he does not know much about our Kingdoms. Let's cheer him on, all right? Write back! - Matsuda."

By the end of the letter, Mello had stopped ravaging his noodles and raised his head up, his face covered in red sauce and bits of garlic. He blinked at Gevanni who was looking over the top of the paper at him shrewdly. Near merely continued stacking.

"I… well, hell, I mean I don't know the kid! He's like a fan or something, fuck if I know…" Mello mumbled.

Near shook his head. "Don't worry about it, Mello, I'm not upset. I've sent someone to deal with it."

"… Deal with it?"

"With Matt," he said matter-of-factly. "He and whoever is accompanying him will be dead in a day so there is no need to worry about an obsessed fan coming for you, princess. You're safe here."

Mello's face suddenly became thunderous but before he could shout, holler and maim, he let out a breath and turned to the side.

You idiots, go back, he thought.


To be continued.


A/N: Thanks for waiting, please review! Next one wont take as long. XD