Balance (Yagami Light)

Boring.

Corrupt.

Useless.

Pointless.

Why was he here? Nothing mattered. Even if he pursued his dream, followed his father's footsteps, nothing would change.

Why try? Why bother? Without true justice, things would not change. People were rotten, horrid.

Evil.

To have the power to change that, to be able to enable the hand of justice to move quickly. If people knew their actions would be met with retribution, then their behavior would change.

But, how to grease the wheels of justice? So many barriers existed. So much needing to provide proof, substantiate accusations.

Catch them.

If the process could be streamlined, then it would work. If people slated to die actually died…if those who deserved to die died, the system would work.

But, there was no way that would happen. It would require the hand of a god to accomplish that.

"The human whose name is written in this note will die."

It would require the hand of a god to accomplish it. There was a way he could change it.

He could make the system work so that those who deserved to die did. He could streamline the process.

He wouldn't have to catch them, just know their names and faces.

There would be no burden of proof, no lawyers, no politicking. Just swift and sure retribution. The wheels of justice would move quickly. He would ensure it.

He would make people good.

He would make people change. They would change, knowing that their actions would not go unrewarded, unpunished. The righteous would continue. Everything would change.

He knew his purpose, his life's goal. He would follow his father, but with the power to change the world.

A goal.

A direction.

Perfect.

Let the game begin.

Victory (Ryuzaki/ L. Lawliet)

Death is over in an eternal instant. In that moment, there are only memories.

The past wasn't something he really concerned himself with, beyond what he needed to know for the present. The past is gone; the cases it held are over with. No need to concern himself with them.

So close, so very close to finally having the evidence he needed. All he needed was two more weeks and he'd have everything. Fourteen days to conclusively solve the case. Three hundred thirty-six hours. One hundred twenty thousand, nine hundred sixty seconds.

But, fate only gave him forty seconds. Forty seconds and the truth. Fate let him know, ultimately, he was right, even if he couldn't prove it well enough.

There are memories, though. Memories that have nothing to do with the case.

He remembers being small. It was a long time ago, though. He remembers being encouraged to solve puzzles because he was good at it. He doesn't quite remember when the puzzles became cases, though. They were the same, ultimately, so it didn't matter. And, they only made him start the ones he liked. When he started, he solved the case. Sometimes, he solved two or three at a time, especially after he defeated the other two detectives for their titles.

What he did was all he knew. He solved puzzles that defied others. He thrived under conditions he knew intellectually would drive others to illness and early death.

Ironic that he die now. But, there was no way this could be called 'natural' death. He was being murdered by the one who gloated over him. Just how did he do it? How did he find the name that hadn't been used in years? A name there was utterly no record of?

The shinigami knew, though. The shinigami knew the name he could barely remember, never bothered to remember.

He had always been L. It was his name. A single letter, no other meaning. All along, his real given name was known. It was only his family name being secret that kept him safe.

Not that he had any connotation to family to go with it. He was an orphan, found by an inventor mostly on chance. Or perhaps it was fate, if one believed in that type of thing. Even very young, he demonstrated the ability to discern and solve those things that baffled those older, more experienced, than him.

He retreated behind technology because it took away the 'you're too young to understand.'

It hurt to die. A heart attack was more painful than he expected. Everything was going grey, even the triumph on the face hovering before his, even the triumph he felt at being right.

His mind traced the current case. A dangerous game of chess, of Strategy. Or maybe it was more like Go? He couldn't decide anymore. He couldn't remember anymore which was more complicated. A game in the dark, one he had to win.

Had he won? Had he lost? He knew the answer. That was winning, wasn't it? There were others, others like him, trained to be like him, who would be able to finish, would be able to put together the pieces.

Which of them would make a better successor, though? Which one would be able to counter the moves that trapped and confounded him until the last seconds? So many times, he thought he had the proof he needed, only to be outwitted, predicted.

He hated that. He hated losing. He was not losing. He was winning. He knew the answer. He won.

He couldn't see anymore. Everything was growing dark.

Mello would be brash. Near would follow in his footsteps. Maybe both of the, together. Both of them would prove his victory.

Tired, so tired. He can't remember being so tired before. He's having trouble remembering anything anymore. All that mattered, anymore, was he was right. Those who followed him will prove him right. Of that he was confident.

Peace was tempting, so very tempting. He couldn't remember what he was striving for anymore. Was there anything else? He was satisfied. He could sleep now. It would be all right. With a sigh, he let himself go.

An eternal moment, encompassing a lifetime, a heartbeat. Death.

Second (Mello/Mihael Keehl)

Second, always second. Always just behind. The only thing he was first in was age. Everything else, he was behind the white haired, puzzle solving freak.

If he could posses him, beat him in some way. There has to be something he was better at than him.

There is only one place Mello won over Near. Impulsiveness. It wasn't in Mello's nature to analyze, to plan so far in advance.

Not to say he couldn't.

His analysis usually was an instinctive understanding of the situation based on emotion. His plans were usually direct, to the point, confrontational. There were times he'd reach the conclusion before Near, but he couldn't substantiate it, so he lost.

He hated that.

He would punish Near, as much as he could. Nights of shame, days of irritability. But, he couldn't bring himself to hate Near, as much as he tried.

He didn't know what drove that first kiss, but when the news of L's death came the next day, he was glad he'd done it.

But, he needed an answer. He needed to know which of them would have succeeded. He needed something to fight against.

Something to define him that included Near.

He always knew what Near was doing, what track his investigation was taking. It was almost like Near was letting him. He may have been.

Mello moved in where he saw the gaps in Near's strategy. Near went for the government, convincing them that needed to listen to him. Mello went for the underworld, convincing them that he could make them safer.

Between the two of them, they drew a net that would capture Kira.

He took risks he knew would work out. He knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he needed to test the murder's notebook, to prove that was the method of death. So, he took the steps he needed to get one.

Though he didn't want to kill anyone involved with the investigation directly, he was prepared for it. Mello knew he wasn't willing to die himself if it didn't mean solving the case, but he always had a way out. Even if it was painful, even if it scarred him. He wasn't afraid of death, just of losing.

When he had information he knew Near did not, that Near would need, he made the effort to give the information in person because, as much as he didn't want to admit it, he missed the white haired freak. He also needed to give Near the reassurance that he was still alive. He saw Near's pleasure in his survival. He wanted to do so much, to touch him, to kiss him again. But, the game was still on.

They moved as if they communicated with each other. Yes, Near knew of his 'spy' and told her to keep him informed, but there was a deeper level of communication between them. They knew each other at the most basic level.

When Mello knew what his final move had to be, what he needed to do in order to give Near the opening he needed, his only real regret was that he wouldn't see him again. He knew he was unlikely to survive. His name was known and he would be revealing his face.

As he died, he regretted three things. He regretted Matt's death. He regretted not seeing Near again.

He regretted being first.

Responsibilities (Near/N/Nate River)

There were always too many things to do, too many things that demanded his attention and time. Responsibilities, duties, cases, everything he was called on to do.

Everything except what he wanted to do.

That was not entirely true. He could think about what he wanted to do, and in great detail, but he could not act on those thoughts. It was not possible.

Near was the good guy, the over controlled eccentric genius slated to take L's place. He had survived. Though, he did not feel that said much to his ability or gifts. He had been backed into a corner, one he was having difficulty maneuvering out of, not because of his opponent, but because of those around them both. There was also the matter that he was not as much of a risk taker as Mello.

His thoughts backed away from the name. The name was whispered softly in his mind, almost a touch of reverence to it.

Mello, the twice damned fool who blew himself up and then pushed Kira so hard that he was killed.

Mello, who gave him the opening he needed.

Mello, who left him alone, not just once, but twice.

He could not linger on that, though. He was L now. He was the one the world turned to, though they did not know it for the most part, to reign in the worst of the crime that had returned on Kira's demise.

But, in his spare moments, when he did not need to think, had nothing else to focus on, Near's mind returned to that night, the very last night he knew who and what he was and was meant to be. Before he fully became L; before the last L died.

He and Mello shared a room. It was better than a lot of the kids had. Many of them were four to a room. That there were only the two of them in a room was an indication of their status, that one of them would be the next L. It was a right, a privilege

And, at the time, a punishment.

Mello was not gentle. He did not know, beyond what a dictionary said, what the word meant. Not to say he was rough, just pushy and not willing to accept 'no' for an answer. He was always eager for the 'one thing in this place that feels good.'

That last night was like many of the ones before, except for one thing. Mello kissed him for the first time. And something inexplicable changed between them. For the first time, Near found pleasure in Mello's groping touches. He wanted. He tried to express this in his own touch, hoping that Mello understood because, for once in his life, he did not.

Near was not surprised when Mello left. Part of him understood. Part of him ached with the sting of rejection. But, he knew it was not him that was being rejected. It was the lack of decision, the lack of finality. Mello and Near both knew Near would most likely be L's successor, had he lived long enough to choose. That was not the issue. Mello needed something definite to rail against. And without a definite answer, there was nothing to rail against.

So, he left. He left Near and whatever it was they were developing in the nights. He left the right to the name L to Near.

He left the memories and the uncertainty to Near.

Near believed they would meet again, at least then. As the case progressed, as more and more dangerous moves were taken, he began to realize that hope was in most likely in vain.

When the building exploded with Mello in it, Near's heart twisted painfully, though he did not betray himself to those around him.

How he managed not to betray himself when Mello showed up eight days later, he never quite understood. There, before him, burned, bitter, and so very alive. Again, Near knew want, but held it in check. It wasn't time. There was still too much to do.

But, when he slept next, he dreamed.

He dreamed of Mello's lips and hands, of the rough kiss and groping touches they shared their last night together. His memory, trained so diligently to be accurate while awake, turned these memories and those of times before into something sweetly desired instead of dreaded. He woke alone, Mello's name fading on his lips. In a way, he was glad to be alone. Then he didn't have to explain the mess on his clothing. But, the unfamiliar ache would not go away.

Had he known, he might not have so lightly made the offer to write Mello's name in the notebook. He knew that it would be rejected. But looking back, even with the limited scope of emotion he allowed himself, it felt wrong.

Near followed Mello's movements with interest. Involving the Japanese police force, spreading confusion as he did. It was amusing how similar their techniques were in their most basic form. In their way, they were working together, closing the trap around Kira. Near delighted in the game.

Two months, a trip to Japan, turning the minds of those with Yagami against him, gathering evidence. Near had little time to spare to what Mello would do.

He was not surprised when Mello acted, though. It gave him the opening he needed.

It lost him the only person he cared about.

He did the only thing he could. He used Mello's sacrifice, used Mello's death, to bring down Yagami, to bring down Kira.

When next he slept, he dreamed of Mello, dreamed of Mello's approval, of his touch.

Waking up was bitter.