Disclaimer: Don't own Death Note, don't own Sayu, Mello, Near etc. I own a box of Maltesers but they're mostly gone now.

Author's Note: Oh God where did this come from and where has it gone. I started writing something involving Near and Sayu after reading Star Jinin's Brutal Truth, but I love Mello so he had to get in there somewhere, and then I started disregarding canon but trying to pretend I wasn't and then it got to 2am and I didn't feel like sleeping and so now it's finished. God I don't even know what this is about, why am I posting it? Ah well. R&R if you notice anything resembling a coherent storyline. I'm tired. I should sleep more.

x

Louder Than Words

Several months after her kidnapping, Sayu learnt that the blond boy who had orchestrated everything was six months younger than her, and dead.

She had asked after him every time she saw her father, and after her father died, every time Matsuda would visit. Neither had been able to understand the apparent concern Sayu had for her kidnapper, and though she had tried to explain it, she had found that she didn't have the words herself.

She supposed that was because it sounded silly, when she put it into words. The reason she had asked after the boy - Mello, she was told his name was, and later, Mihael Keehl - was, incredibly, that she had liked him. It had been little more than a random event, something to pass the time for Mello, but the day before her father was due to arrive in LA, the blond had strolled into the room where she was being kept, dismissed the man guarding her, and told her that he was bored.

"I mean, it's the mafia, I suppose it's easy to draw up a list of complaints," he had shrugged. "When you get down to it, there are worse places I could be. But anyone would admit, the conversation is…hardly stimulating." Sticking his tongue out, he had pointed his little finger at her. "And that's where you come in."

He had told her he was going to remove her gag. "Now, I know your first instinct is to scream, but really, don't bother. It's a mafia hideout, they'll just get off on it. Your second instinct is to ask me why I'm doing this and can't I just leave you family alone, blah blah…" Mello waved his hand impatiently. "Don't do that either. That's depressingly boring, and if that' all you're going to spout then I will simply put the gag back in. Do we understand each other?"

Sayu nodded. Like she was going to do anything else. She was tied to a chair, completely at the mercy of this strange boy covered in leather and crosses, and scared out of her wits. She wasn't exactly sure what kind of conversation he expected her to come up with, given the circumstances. The gag was pulled out of her mouth. She tasted the leather of Mello's glove.

Mello pulled up a chair, backwards, and straddled it. "So.." he said, dragging out the word. "Let's start with some common ground…Your father, perhaps?"

"I - I don't know what - what information I can give you, that you don't already have -" Sayu said shakily, getting used to using her voice again.

Sighing theatrically, Mello put his palm to his face. "No, Miss Sayu, you are missing the point of this. This is conversation, not interrogation. You're - what - 16? And a girl. You must have experienced conversations before."

"I'm twenty," Sayu said, barely even aware of selecting the words.

Mello seemed taken aback. "Really? That makes you and me about the same age then. Isn't that a coincidence?" He flashed her a smile that she guessed was meant to be friendly, but in the semi-light and contrasting against the black of the clothes, it looked ghoulish and frightening.

"Age, there's common ground then," Mello continued. He paused, and rested a finger on his cheekbone. "Then again…I doubt we've done very many similar things in our twenty years."

Sayu waited patiently for him to decide on another conversation topic. She didn't mind that she wasn't being asked to respond - she was glad of it, glad of the chance to get the duct tape and rags away from her mouth.

"Look, you come up with something then, Miss Sayu," Mello said suddenly, surprising her. He had a pout-like, petulant expression on his face, indicating that the conversation did not seem to be going as he had hoped. He fiddled with the gag that he still held in his left hand.

Sayu stared back at him. What on Earth was she meant to say? Something to help her, something to surprise him? What did she know about things like this anyway? Light was the one who was good at this kind of thing, if Light was here…

Her mind seized on it suddenly, grasping to the memory of something positive, something glowing. "I have a brother," she said hesitantly.

"Yeah, I know. Light Yagami, age 23, five foot eight, works for the NPA…"

"I didn't know Onii-chan was five foot eight," Sayu said blandly.

Mello chuckled. "Guess I know your brother better than you do."

She smiled wanly. Despite herself, she was beginning to feel…well, if not quite comfortable, then at least, not threatened by the conversation. "No. Nobody knows Onii-chan better than I do."

Mello raised an eyebrow. "Hm? Well, perhaps I shall challenge you on that, Miss Sayu."

The topic of Light Yagami moved onto Soichiro Yagami, and Sayu stopped worrying about giving information away when she realised Mello knew most of what she was saying anyway, and all she was giving him was her opinion on the late hours her dad used to keep, the number of times Light had done her maths homework for her, and memories of the few, scattered family dinners they had had over the past few years.

"Since Kira came…they've changed," Sayu said, growing quiet. "And that is what this is about, I think, when you take everything away. It just comes down to Kira."

Mello leant forward against the bars of his chair. "So, Miss Sayu, what do you think of Kira?"

Sayu looked up and met his gaze. "I hate him," she said, her voice empty. "I couldn't care less about criminals and great justice and the morality or whatever of what he's doing. I'm no great thinker, I'm not a philosopher, I don't even care about things like that. Me? I just want my family back the way it was."

After a few moments of silence, Mello let a smile play over his face. "Miss Sayu, that's the most rational answer I've heard to that question in a long time. I think I like you."

"You kidnapped me," Sayu replied, "so I'm not going to tell you I like you. But…I don't think I hate you. Just what you're doing."

Mello shrugged. "I'll manage to limp through life with that, I think." He held up the gag. "I'm going now, so I had probably better put this back in…but if you promise to be quiet, I can leave it out for a while."

"I promise," Sayu said quickly, and Mello laughed.

"Somehow, I thought you would."

x

When Matsuda told her that Mello was dead, Sayu was, in part, relieved. It meant one more closed door, one less question she had to make herself ask during the painful visits when Matsuda or Aizawa would sit with her and try to get her to talk. But distantly, she decided that there had to be someone, somewhere, who was a little worse of for the passing of the blond boy in leather, and so she quietly mourned him. She laid a flower on a windowsill, an abstract, meaningless gesture, but it made her feel like she was doing something to commemorate Mello's death. She had a feeling that no one else was.

x

Near had not yet left Japan. The Kira case had wound to its close, Light Yagami fulfilling the role he had chosen when he had first picked up the Death Note. Near had, for all intents and purposes, won.

He would have preferred for Mello not to have died. He had liked Mello. In an idle, half formed day dream, that he had abandoned in favour of action figures and dice, he had imagined working side by side with the older boy, Near planning things to obsession and Mello executing them to perfection.

For a moment, he wondered if there was anyone who had met the news of Mello's death with something other than glee or relief. Lidner, he supposed. He considered the possibility of Lidner having feelings for Mello. It seemed unlikely; Mello had been nine years younger than Lidner, and yet, she had certainly seemed fond of him. It was a possibility. Near noted that the last time he had seen Mello, with the remnants of the explosion that had killed Soichiro Yagami stretched raw down the side of his face, he had seemed much older than his 21-or-so years.

Examining himself in the mirror, he let the fact that he was only one year and eight months younger than Mello had been become the focus of his thoughts. He was shorter than Mello had been, much shorter, pale and fragile where Mello had been sinewy and robust. They had both favoured single colours of clothes, striking out at opposite ends of the spectrum, and if Near considered it from an outsider's point of view, based on their appearances, he would have selected himself as the one most likely to die young.

But factoring in his cautious, obsessive nature and Mello's frantic bursts of emotion, the outcome became obvious. It was as it had played out. Mello was dead and Near was the victor.

Still, sometimes he wondered what it would have been like if Mello had agreed to Roger's idea that they work together.

x

It was many months later when Near returned to Japan. He had requested the help of the NPA's still-operative task force, now under the command of Aizawa to help catch a particularly notorious serial killer who was, according to his deductions, hiding in Japan. With the kind of dedication and efficiency that Near was able to appreciate as a remnant of L's influence on the group, the killer was tracked down and brought to trial.

Near was surprised when the aid came with a price. Aizawa assured him that this would not be the normal course of events, should Near need to call on them again, and that this should be viewed more as a favour than anything else. Respectfully, Near listened as Aizawa explained the request over the airwaves.

"It was Matsuda's idea, really," Aizawa's voice said, out of the microphone next to the laptop. "He was close to Deputy Director Yagami and took the…events…surrounding the family quite seriously. Obviously, the Deputy Director can't be brought back and as for Light…" Aizawa trailed off, before clearing his throat audibly. "Yeah, well, that leaves Sayu, the daughter. She was kidnapped by Mello to get the Death Note, and it's had a bad impact. But she - absurdly - seemed to keep asking about Mello, and Matsuda thought - see, he thought, if someone who had known Mello spoke to her, it might…change things…"

Near stacked one dice on top of another, opened a second box, and continued the tower. "Is Matsuda aware that his plan is fruitless at best, and at worst, sheer time wasting?"

"Near - L - it's just talking to her. Matsuda's tried everything. He thinks if he can make Sayu okay, then maybe -"

"I understand, Mr Aizawa. Touta Matsuda never seemed to be the most logical member of your team. If you can verify to me that Sayu Yagami is trustworthy, I am willing to comply with this request."

There was a startled noise on the other end of the line. Near smiled.

"You did not expect me to agree, Mr Aizawa?"

"Frankly, L, no, I didn't. You seem to be full of surprises these days."

Near's smile lingered. "Perhaps I am having to make up for the loss of Mello. In my more arrogant moments when I was younger…" he stacked a few more dice, topping the tower off with a square of chocolate, "…I used to think that without both of us being in it, the world would fall out of balance."

Aizawa laughed. "Who knows, you may be right. I'll get back to you with her details. You let me know if she's 'trustworthy'."

"Alright. And Mr Aizawa?"

"L?"

"Thank you for your assistance."

x

Three days later, Aizawa was informed by 'Watari' that L had decided Sayu Yagami was indeed trustworthy, and Aizawa was welcome to set up a meeting - provided it was within the next few days, because after that, L really wanted to be getting back to America.

Matsuda had headed over to the new Yagami home before the details had even been confirmed. Aizawa had to call him and tersely dictate the terms to him. Matsuda jotted down what Aizawa was telling him without taking it in, one hand steering the car and the other on his phone.

"Oh, and Matsuda, for God's sake watch the road this time."

"Hey, I only crashed once!"

"One is enough." Aizawa hung up just as Matsuda swung his car into the drive of the small house.

Sachiko was outside, and she shook her head disapprovingly as Matsuda climbed out of the car. "You need to drive more carefully, Matsuda. We can't have you in another accident." She tutted fondly, then frowned at him. Reaching up, she smoothed down his hair. "I'm not having you talking to my daughter looking like you just got pulled through a hedge backwards."

Since receiving the news of Light's death, Sachiko Yagami had, in Matsuda's opinion, become a lot more fond of the young cop. When he came to visit her and Sayu, she didn't scowl at him anymore, and she fussed over him when he seemed tired or turned up with an arm in plaster. When Matsuda had asked him about it, Aizawa had simply said that it was hard for a mother to go from having two children to barely having one in such a short space of time.

"New visitor for Sayu," Matsuda told her brightly, handing her the piece of paper.

"A safe one, I hope?" Sachiko replied, eyeing him critically. "Go through and tell her, then." she glanced down at the note as Matsuda disappeared inside the house. "Wait -Matsuda - this guy's supposed to be here in thirty minutes!"

Matsuda was already inside, self-consciously checking himself in the hall mirror. He knew that Sayu was unlikely to notice what he looked like that particular today, and even less likely to care, but it was force of habit. Whatever may have happened to her, to him, Sayu was still the Chief's little girl, all grown up and beautiful.

"Sayu, you in here?" he said, poking his head into the lounge. There she was, sitting on the couch, legs tucked to one side, staring off into space. She looked over when he came in, and smiled very faintly.

"Matsuda," she said, and the fact that she had made the effort to say his name made him glow. He sat down on the couch, not quite next to her. He checked his watch. Thirty minutes. He still had thirty minutes before Near got here. He looked up, and noticed that Sayu was trying to make her smile wider. He grinned back in response.

x

Sayu and Near sat opposite each other at the low kitchen table, neither one particularly sure what was expected of them. Near fiddled with his hair, and Sayu folded her hands in her lap and looked politely past his left ear.

At length, Near spoke.

"I apologise if I am not as talkative as you are used to, Miss Sayu, what with having Mr Matsuda as a regular visitor." Near was not used to a situation where he was not the only one avoiding eye contact. He was focusing on a tile three rows from the edge of the ceiling, but out of the corner of his eye, he noticed her jump a little. He glanced down.

Sayu swallowed, testing the words in her mind before trying to bring them to her tongue. "Why do you call me Miss Sayu?"

"I believed it to be an appropriate term."

"Why did you come to see me?"

"Mr Matsuda and Mr Aizawa requested that I did."

"Why?"

Near looked directly at her. This was what they wanted him to say to this girl, what they wanted him to talk about. "I was brought up in the same orphanage as Mello."

Sayu blinked twice. "Mello."

"Hm. I was the smartest and Mello was the second smartest, though those were only figures. In reality, he was all action and I was all talk." Near began to notice things about Sayu Yagami, like the length of her hair, and the fact that it appeared to be very soft.

"He said the same thing once. You are Near."

She had gentle eyes, and it was difficult to imagine this soft-featured, graceful girl as the sibling to the crazed Kira he had faced in a warehouse months before.

"I am. You spoke to him when you were kidnapped."

"Mello is dead, isn't he?"

The kidnapping, he had been told, had left her somewhere close to shell shocked, and she barely spoke except in measured, flat sentences. It had left the warm, youthful Sayu locked somewhere away, and offered instead this woman, made of cotton and cool water, and dark eyelashes on pale skin.

"Mello is dead."

"Does that bother you?"

Sayu paused, appearing to think. "Yes. I liked Mello."

Near looked straight past her glassy eyes and into the pair behind them. "How long has it been since you spoke to someone like you spoke to Mello?"

"I am."

The third L cocked his head to the side. So he was expected to believe that the girl had bonded with her kidnapper, but had still been traumatised enough to go into this kind of shock. But as the thoughts ticked over inside his head, and Near remembered that after all Mello was a factor in all this, the idea began to seem less strange.

"It bothers me that Mello is dead, too. I liked him as well."

Sayu met his eyes properly this time. For a moment, they looked at each other, full of stillness and silence and passive reasoning and memories of loss and blond haired boys in leather.

"I am glad to have met you, Near. Will you visit me again?"

Near noticed that she was smiling.

x

Note again: Okay looking through a few more points. Pairings, it was intended to be vaguely Near/Sayu, but idk Matsuda worked his way in there because I love the guy. In fact most of the characters I like (Aizawa etc.) managed to end up in here. I wans just going to do a quick Mello-Sayu scene then cut to Sayu-Near. THAT CLEARLY WORKED SO WELL. And if you squint it's Mello/Sayu but I really just wanted her to like him. Which has no basis in reality but I don't caaaare. It just lapsed into me wishing Mello and Near had worked together in the middle. If you're reading this, thanks for muddling through, I apologise for any typing or spelling errors. Please review, even if it's to tell me to 'stop, oh God, please please stop'. God I ramble in ANs. Night.