Title: Pen Pals

Summary: There is a new assignment at Wammy's, and every child is supposed to participate. The assignment involves secret pen pals, and it seems like L is out to annoy the two top students at Wammy's House…

Rating: PG-13, possibly for language

WARNING: Before we start, I consider it wise to warn my readers that I, Melibea, have a thing for the pairing of Mello and Near. This may not reflect in my writing, as I don't believe I have planned to make this into a MelloxNear or NearxMello fic; but then again, considering my predilection, there is a small chance that this might eventually have something of that pairing. The chance is small, but it is there, so I believe it would be best if I just told everyone here and now. I also like MattxMello. (–Hints-).

This also contains SPOILERS for obvious reasons, but it also contains spoilers of the very last Death Note manga episode. The extra one. (You may read it at mangafox—that's what I did).

Now, let's begin, shall we?

Prologue: L Builds a Puzzle

There was the soft clatter of paperwork as the administrator of Wammy's House made his office ready for L's visit. Said detective had, as was expected, claimed it all to be unnecessary; he had been visiting Roger's office since he had been but a small child, and there was no reason for the elderly man to tidy up for him now that he was a detective. Seeing the mess of test results and student IDs gave L a welcome reminder of his childhood. So the detective didn't really mind, no. Roger, of course, disagreed. This was the three world's greatest detectives, for Christ's sake.

"María! Quickly!" the administrator shouted over Mello and Near's last test results. It took a few precious seconds for María, a handsome woman of about twenty-nine, to walk into Roger's office.

"What is it, Roger?" María asked. There were no formalities at Wammy's House.

"Is he here?" Roger asked expectantly. "Has L arrived?"

"Not yet," María said with a huff. She seemed annoyed. "Honestly, Roger, I don't think it's good for your health to get like this. I don't understand why that L couldn't just tell you a few days earlier that he has coming…"

"Show more respect, María!" Roger warned as he shooed the woman with one hand, sending her back to the task of waiting for both L and Watari to arrive. "This is L we're talking about, he does as he sees best!"

The woman named María rolled her eyes. "Whatever you say, Roger. Just don't get a heart attack."

She left, leaving Roger to wonder whether or not he had time to organize yesterday's test scores in alphabetical order or if he should just toss them into the archive and leave the organizing for later. The man stood there, looking at the paperwork anxiously, and then started reading through the names anxiously. "Linda, Mello, Rester, Matt…" Had he even saved the scores to his computer yet or would he have to take all the files back out later…?

"Roger, he's here!" María's voice interrupted the older man's thoughts, causing him to nearly let go of the papers he was holding and leave them on the floor. The floor…

In a quick movement, Roger took all the papers on his desk and swiftly tucked them below it. There was no time to run to the archives just beside the doorway. "Tell them to come in, María! Don't keep L and Watari waiting!"

Roger then sat on his chair, took a quick look below his desk to make sure no paperwork was showing on the other side, and briefly alternated between having his elbows on the wooden surface of his desk or merely leaving his arms limp at his sides. He had chosen the former just a small second before L had come in, Watari following close behind him.

"Watari and L are here, Roger," María said with a neutral tone, following the two men as soon as they entered the room. It was a mere formality, something to help L not have to deal with greetings. The man was a little more than a bit socially awkward. Watari smiled.

"Thank you, María. You may leave now," Roger said. María nodded, and soon enough, they were alone in the room.

"So, L," Roger's voice was calm and serious, as if he had not been in a panic just moments before. In front of him, L was crouching on his seat, Watari standing by him even though there was another seat next to L. The elderly man carried a medium-sized brown bag with him; as Roger spoke, he opened it. "To what do I owe this visit?"

L waited before replying. He was looking at Watari attentively. It came to no surprise to Roger that his colleague soon took out from his bag a pre-sliced piece of strawberry cheese cake inside a plastic wrap, spoon and dish already secured inside the plastic. Watari then unwrapped the treat, and gave it to L, who took it eagerly. Roger waited patiently as L put the first spoonful of cake into his mouth, and then the genius spoke in his nonchalant voice.

"It has come to my attention, Roger, that the children here have all been doing extra well in your exams since I last spoke to them."

"Oh, yes. They have all been even more dedicated since then, L," Roger said proudly. He remembered that incident fondly—L, having found enough time after solving a rather interesting case, had instructed Roger to take all the orphans into the common room, where he spoke to them through a laptop. The children had been ecstatic, more so when they discovered that L was allowing them to ask him questions. Even Near and Mello, though on the outside indifferent, had taken something from this experience. Mello had taken to studying harder, be even more determined; Near had begun to participate, though rarely, in class.

"It was, I must say, a success in that respect; I was certain that even those who disagreed with my reasons for solving crimes would take that as a reason to wish to replace me more than ever. However, it did not help me choose the child I would believe more equipped to be my successor. It narrowed down my results, yes"—another bite—"but I am still torn between two children. So I come here with another experiment I wish to propose to you."

"Go on," Roger said, accepting a cake from Watari out of courtesy even though it would go uneaten. The cake was chocolate, and it looked nice. Yet Watari knew as well as Roger himself that Roger was diabetic.

"What would you say if we started a game, of sorts, for the children? Let them practice their detective work in a safe environment. I am quite sure it would also be fun for them, if it is true that they all wish to be detectives. They have certainly earned to have some fun."

There was a pause as L ate some more, but Roger was getting too curious to be very patient. "Go on."

"I believe the term is 'pen pals'. We have the children send each other letters. Of course, to make this into a detective game, we need instructions—and a goal. So how about this? We have each child try to figure out which one of the other children is the one sending and receiving their letters. So the children are forced to practice both concealment and sleuthing techniques: both important requirements in a detective. The first child to figure out who their 'pen pal' is, without getting caught, wins."

Roger had to fight back a smile. L was a genius, and this was a great idea, but it was also an idea that the children would undoubtedly find fun, if presented as a game and not yet another assignment. And what better way to learn how to be a detective than through practice?

"Your ideas are brilliant as always, L," Roger said. He would know, of course. L had been one of his first students, almost fifteen years ago, when he had first become an Ethology professor at Wammy's. He had been the one student with the most insight he had met in his career; at the time, he had only been eight.

"Thank you. I have but one request." L's voice was still calm and emotionless, but Roger could tell this was of great importance to him.

"Whatever you wish, L," Roger said. L's word at Wammy's House was the equivalent of Law.

"Make sure to pair all students randomly. All, but for one exception." There was a pause in which L gulped what was left of his cake. Watari was already ready with a bag of chocolate chip cookies. "I want Near and Mello to be paired together. That is my one condition. Needless to say, you may not inform them of my choice."

"I—of course, L," Roger agreed. Mello would not be happy about this. He would undoubtedly suspect him of doing it in purpose. The man sighed. If this was what L thought would be best, then so be it. He didn't fail to see the convenience behind him.

"L? Shall we go?" Watari then said kindly. Roger then knew that their little talk was over.

"Yes, Watari." L stood up. He and Watari walked to the door, but L stopped before going through it. "Roger?"

Roger looked up. "Yes, L?"

"I have been told that the student Mello has recently acquired a fixation with chocolate? If you do not want that cake, you can always give it to him. But say nothing about me. I was not supposed to be here today."

Ah. So that had been the reason for the chocolate. "I see. Thank you, L. I will give him the cake."

It took a mere second and then Roger was left alone in his office again.

Author's Note: Well? What do you think? I'm rather nervous, as this will be the first (real?—drabbles don't count?) Death Note fanfic I have ever written and posted on . It will also be the first work of fiction (short or no) I have written featuring the Wammy children. (I had once tried—"tried" being the key word here—to write a Death Note drabble with Misa, for those who are interested). I hope I'm doing well. I think I rather like this idea. Hopefully, no one has done it before. (If it's been done, then my apologies to the author!)

Another note and then I'm done: Roger and L refer to a previews "meeting" between L and the Wammy children in which the orphans get to meet L through a computer. I don't want to spoil anyone, so I won't say why I pointed that out. But if you know why I'm bringing this up, you get a cookie! (Or half an hour with the Death Note character of your choice :P).