Disclaimer: Death Note belongs to Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata, Shonen Jump, Madhouse, Viz, and a whole lot of other people. I am not one of them and I do not own Death Note (come on, if I did, that would not have happened to Mello and Matt at the end!). I'm not making any money and no copyright infringement is intended.

Warnings: MAJOR spoilers for episode 25!! If you haven't gotten that far, turn back nowwwww. Also, spoilers for Mello's real name.

A/N: I've always secretly thought that L knew he was going to die. And on that basis, the first time I watched Death Note and Roger said that L didn't pick, I knew, just knew that he had wanted Mello and Near to work together. Perhaps he had been counting on Mello to put his differences aside at the beginning? He thought wrong, obviously. But... what if he hadn't made that assumption. What if he'd "double checked," so to speak? ... I also liked the idea of L being close(-ish) to Near and Mello, as sort of a bizarre older brother, when he could be there for them. And I like Mello. All of those things are why I wrote this. Oh, and it helps if you listen to "Light Light's up Light for Piano" (youtube!) while you read this. I hope it is enjoyable.

-


The bells were loud. They nearly drowned out his thoughts. They pulled him into the past and told him what his future was. In that case, he had to make plans. L trudged his way up to Watari's work room.

"Ryuuzaki. Is something the matter? What is it? ...Hmm? What's wrong?"

-

"I understand," said Watari, after L had spoken to him at length. He made Watari promise to follow out his instructions.

He then set up a record of all that he had deduced from the case so far, as a testament to his firm achievement. He thought he was done, after that. He had only to wait for a time. They would finish the case for him.

But... still, it bothered him. He was only ninety-five percent certain it would work out that way. Ninety-five percent was not one hundred. It was not good enough. And knowing him, that wild child would slip into the five percent. Though... how much should he try to control their lives for the sake of this one case? He decided he would suggest, then, not order.

Completely alone in his room, he made the call.

-

Mello was only half paying attention to the lesson in class when the door opened and Roger, of all people, stepped in. "Pardon the interruption," he addressed the teacher. "Mello, there is a phone call for you."

His eyes widened in surprise only for half a second before his expression grew smug. There was only one person important enough to have him pulled out of class for a call. On his way up to the front of the classroom he paused at Near's desk. "I guess you're not that special. He wants to talk to me, not you."

"Probably because he spoke to me earlier today," said Near non-chalantly.

Mello's expression grew annoyed. "Whatever." He strode to the front of the room where Roger was waiting. He was guided through the hallways and back to Roger's office. He picked up the receiver lying on the desk, already off the hook.

"L!"

"Yes."

"What is it? Did you catch Kira yet?" asked Mello excitedly.

"In a manner of speaking," came the languid reply.

"What do you mean by that?"

"I am ninety-nine percent sure. Still, even if it were one hundred..."

"Not enough to convict?"

"Precisely." A pause. "Mello, I would like you to work with Near on the investigation of the Kira case."

Near!? Mello fumed silently before regaining enough sense to speak politely to L. "But you said you know who it is. What is there to work on?"

"Kira is going to have me killed today."

This time he couldn't keep his reaction under control. "WHAT?! Then stop him! Arrest him right now! To hell with getting more evidence!"

"I said, he's going to have me killed, not that he was going to do it himself," L sounded irritated, "There is no point in arresting him. And there is no point in avoiding what is to happen. I am only calling to make arrangements for the future of this case. I've already explained this to Near."

"I'll never work with him," said Mello obstinately, "You know we've always competed in everything, since we were little! Why won't you just pick one of us?" His voice dripped with sarcasm, "Better yet, why not just let Near handle it?"

L sighed to himself. Yes, it was much better that he called. Very irritated, he barked in a stern voice, "No matter how talented he may be, Near cannot complete this investigation without you!"

Mello grew silent at L's rebuke. "Sorry."

"No, my apologies for losing my temper. Nevertheless my supposition remains. There must be two of you working on the case for the outcome to be successful."

"I don't like it."

"You don't have to. Open the door and let me speak to Matt."

Mello jerked. Matt was waiting outside for him? Well, if L thought so, thousands of miles away, then he must be. Sure enough, when Mello opened the door his best friend was sitting on the floor across the hallway, mashing buttons on his Game Boy. He must have come here after class let out to wait for Mello. "What did L say?" Matt didn't even look up.

"He's still on the phone. H-he wants to speak to you."

At that, Matt did look up. L wanted to speak to him? He was only third. Why start talking to third place now?

They went back inside and Matt took the receiver from Mello. "Hello?"

"Matt. My wishes are for Near and Mello to begin work on the Kira investigation." L paused, waiting for Matt to say something, but the apathetic googleboy did not. He continued, "Although you are not crucial to the case, you are of vital importance to Mello. I would like it-"

"You know I will. But for him, not for you."

"Of course."

"L?"

"Yes?"

"Goodbye. I'm sorry it had to turn out this way."

"As am I. Give the phone to Mello."

"L." This time it was Mello.

"I said that my wish is for you and Near to work on the investigation together. I cannot force you to work with him, and my death should not obligate you to do so. Nevertheless those are my wishes."

Mello gave a shudder. L sounded so... morbid? Eerily calm? He was so resigned to his fate while Mello, Mello himself could barely begin to comprehend that he would soon lose L forever. With blinding clarity, he realized this was the last time he would ever talk to L. "This isn't fair," he choked, "Why do you have to die?"

"Mello," chided L, "Of all people, you and I should know that life is never fair."

"Yeah. You're right. But it doesn't mean I have to like it."

"Of course not."

L closed his eyes. He remembered meeting little Mihael Keehl for the first time, with a bite to match his bark, unconvinced of his abilities to be his successor because of his tremendous range of emotions that often blinded him to the answers he sought in solving a problem or puzzle. But in time, Mello had unconsciously proven himself to L, rising all the way to second place. And those emotions that often hindered him also proved useful as a wild card at times.

The two young men on the phone had lapsed into silence while L had been thinking. Finally he made up his mind and spoke once again, because he knew Mello needed to hear it, "The qualities that make you rank second are also your most valuable assets, Mello. You have many attributes that Near will never have, and that makes you important."

Mello didn't say anything, but words were unnecessary. They both knew the weight and value of what was said. "I'll solve the Kira case and I'll... I'll work with Near if I have to. I won't let your sacrifice be for nothing!"

"Thank you."

"Goodbye, L."

He smiled, though Mello could not see that over the phone. "Goodbye."

Click

"Come on, Matt. Let's go."

"Where're we going?"

"Skipping class to go to Tescos. I'm gonna need a lot of chocolate for this."

Matt shrugged and followed, still mashing away on the Game Boy.

"Hey Matt,"

"Eh?"

"I'm gonna need you, too, if we have to work with Near on the Kira case."

He looked up from his game, searching Mello's face for a minute. "Heh. Alright, man. I'll make sure you don't strangle him... too much."

Mello laughed, the two of them walking down the autumn path to the store.

-

On the other end of the line in Japan, L leaned back into his chair. Now he could say that everything was set in motion after his departure from this Earth. "Kira, Light Yagami, you will be brought to justice."

-

Owari


Thanks for reading!