Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note, or the months of the year.

Note: Hai guys. So my last two fics have been Mello/Sayu, so for the people who read my stuff but don't actually care for that pairing, here's a non pairing-orientated update! This one'll be twelve chapters long (because there are twelve months in the year I'm so clever right) and will pretty much detail the year after the end of the series. It'll follow Near, the taskforce (mainly Matsuda if I'm honest), the SPK and Misa. Chapters will mostly be shorter than this, I think, because I'm more likely to update it if I think 'oh it's only 1500 words' or something.

Anyway I'm rambling. Spoilers for the entire series, no bad language yet but I'll up the rating if it comes to it. Enjoy.

x

Passages

Chapter One: February

you don't have to go home, you just have to go

January ends abruptly, and February begins with little warning. No one expected February because no one was waiting for it - something about the events of January made it seem like it would never end. Like the good and right thing would be for the twenty-ninth, and the thirtieth, and the thirty-first to play out at half speed, over and over, until those caught up in what had happened were back, and alive, and ready to return to the world.

Now, in glaring winter dawns that are fading quickly into early spring, February seems improper.

Frost crunches underfoot, blades of grass that didn't die but stayed, suspended, in springtime, miniature crystals clinging to strands of xylem, refracting the light. The ground sparkles like some new mine, diamonds glinting through rocks.

The air is crisp and cool and heavy with things going unsaid. Grief is a tangible force, sneaking between bodies and wrapping thin fingers round warm throats. A sense of guilt clings to some of them.

It clings to Matsuda most.

The priest has no place here, really. Though if they are honest, few of them do, these people gathered round an open grave. Matsuda thinks it is hollow and unfitting, to have the priest of a God Light rejected overseeing his funeral, but it was not his choice to make, and if it were offered he would not have taken it. He has no stake in this family, no stake in their grief.

No stake in what is left of this family. He looks up, across the pit in which Light's coffin is being laid, to the sobbing woman clad in black. She is the sole survivor of the Yagami family. The girl in the wheelchair besides her bears the name, but her mind has long since shut down, it seems, and she serves as little more than a sharp, painful reminder of what is gone and what is lost.

Matsuda almost didn't come today. It made him sick to think about it, turning up at the grave of a man he as good as killed. It has only been eight days. The funeral was organised quickly, though, despite the flurry and the conflict and everything that needed to be resolved - they wanted his body in the ground. Near wanted his body in the ground. As if, if they left it, it would come back to life and rise up against them in a tirade of supernatural fury.

Except that it would be unlike Near to think like that. Still, Matsuda thinks about misgivings and revenge, icy cold fingers clawing at his chest and a fire tearing through his heart.

He wonders what Light felt, and remembers bullet holes, and tries think about something else.

-

Misa isn't sure why Matsuda is coming to visit her so much. She knows that Light has had to go away for awhile, because he needs to catch Kira and they're all relying on him, on her Light, to crack the case. Matsuda and the others are very nice, but they're not Light, and they'd be lost without him.

The thought makes Misa smile. She can't concentrate on her book (reading makes you smarter, she heard somewhere, and if she is smarter then Light will like her more) because her head is filling with ideas, plans, for her upcoming wedding. Light promised it would be as big as she liked, because he knew how much she liked being in magazines. And he would catch Kira, and be the most amazing detective in the world, and she would be his beautiful bride, and they would be married on Valentine's day, like he promised…

Misa smiles again and traces circles on the table top. Her mind is anywhere but on the book when the doorbell goes, a chirpy buzzing that sounds through the apartment. She flutters through the door and glances through the peephole. As she expected, it is Matsuda.

She lets him in and frowns at his black attire. "Matsu? Why're you wearing so much black?" She pulls a face and wags a finger at him. "You mustn't try to go goth, it wouldn't suit you!"

Misa giggles at her own joke, and Matsuda smiles. She thinks it's rather a weak smile, and guesses her joke wasn't that funny after all. She thinks Matsuda might not even know what a goth is. Forgetting that she asked a question, she offers tea, and bustles off to make it.

Matsuda does not sit; he never does. He is awkward around her even after knowing her for nearly five years, though Misa is pretty sure that he's just this way around all girls. She pokes her head out of the kitchenette to tell him it's okay to sit down, and his mouth fumbles with words that were clearly meant to be a combination of an apology and a thank you, and end up as just a muddle of sounds.

She puts in his regular three sugars (grimacing at the imagined sweetness; it reminds her of Ryuzaki) and adds a swirl of milk. When she places the cup in front of him, Matsuda is staring off, his features contorted in and his brow furrowed. Misa pulls at her skirt, tilting her head, and wonders what is wrong.

But she has never been one for idle thought, so she comes out and asks him.

He starts, as if he didn't know she was there. But everyone always knows when Misa is there. Light told her once that she could brighten up any room. She kept the colours of their apartment subdued so he would notice her being bright more, but he never said it again. Misa knew he thought it, though, and that was enough.

"Matsu?" she prompts, sitting down next to him. "Tell Misa what's wrong." She lays a hand on his arm, and feels the muscles tense under her touch. He is more awkward than usual. Misa frowns.

He sighs. "Misa…oh, it's nothing. But you know Light…you know he'll be away for a long time, right?"

Misa nods. "Yes. But Misa is sure he will write to her soon! Even if he can't call her. Light knows how much I like getting letters, so he'll probably take the time to write me one." She is certain of this, and Matsuda seems so worried. She wants to make him feel as secure as she does, because Light said he'd be coming back and that means he will.

Is that what Matsuda's worried about? Light being away?

"You guys will be okay without him for a little while," she says, patting his arm. She didn't realise she hadn't moved her hand until now. "Monchichi is very smart, isn't he? And Mochi will beat up anyone who causes trouble!" She punches her palm to emphasis this. Matsuda smiles. It's still weak but she's glad she can make him brighten up a little bit.

Misa's good at making things brighter, Light always said so.

Matsuda picks up his tea. He is visibly relaxing, breathing in and out. She notices, all of a sudden, that his eyes are rimmed with red.

"Matsu! Have you been crying?"

He answers "No" too quickly and Misa is not convinced. But she doesn't want to push it, in case he gets more upset, so she just wraps her arms around him and hugs him, pressing her face into his shoulder.

"Whatever's wrong, Matsu, it'll be okay."

"Maybe." He is quiet. He's way too quiet for Matsuda. Matsuda was always more like her, loud and bouncy and happy and maybe they didn't understand everything Light and the others said, but they were bright and they could still help out in their own ways. Misa doesn't like seeing him sad.

"It will be," she says again, and she sounds so certain that for a second, Matsuda looks like he believes her.

-

"Light Yagami's funeral was today."

Near does not look up. He is arranging marbles into a pyramid, and if he jogs it, touches it, or places even one marble in a slightly wrong position, the spheres will begin to unlock and roll and skitter away to all corners of the room. So he ignores Rester, and, carefully, lowers another marble onto the pyramid.

A few minutes pass, in which Near places three more marbles onto his structure. It becomes evident that Rester wants a response of some kind, but Near really can't think of what he is expected to say. "Good" he hazards, and Rester is silent, so he thinks it was probably not what the man wanted.

He thinks that if he put one of the marbles with the green glass inside it on next, the pattern will look much better, too, and this is a much more interesting thought so he follows this one up instead.

"Lidner and I are leaving tomorrow," Rester is saying. Near gets the feeling that he wants a conversation, but unless Rester brings up the topic he wants to talk about Near isn't going to humour him.

"And when is Gevanni going?" He fishes a blue marble out of the bag. The pyramid is almost complete.

"Gevanni left two days ago, Near."

"Oh." Three more marbles left to go.

"We'll go back to the FBI," Rester continues. "But you know that if you need us, if you want us back at all, just get in contact and we'll be here."

Two more marbles. Near can't picture a scenario where he would need Lidner and Rester back, and almost says so. He remembers their loyalty, and the fact that their lives have been on the line far, far more than his, and bites his tongue. Instead, he says, "Thank you."

Then, "Was Yagami's funeral well attended?"

Rester shakes his head, and Near only sees it out of the corner of his eye because he is fetching another marble. "The Japanese taskforce. His family. That's it."

"Not Amane?"

"She hasn't been told. The Japanese taskforce…Aizawa told me that they worry what she would do to herself if she learnt he was dead."

"She is the second Kira," Near says, and it is fact, not condemnation.

"She doesn't remember it."

"Does that absolve her? She would do it again."

"She won't have the opportunity." Rester's voice is firm, but it isn't a challenge. It is…paternal? Near wonders if Rester has children. He realises he has never asked.

Near is drawing breath for another statement when the door clicks shut. A tremor, incredibly slight, ripples through the room, and just as Near places the last marble on the pyramid, the ones at the bottom skitter and slide away. He maintains it was the tremor of the door closing, and not a shiver in his hand (not confusion, not anywhere close, and nothing to do with being ignored by a subordinate) that caused the collapse.

He mutters something unintelligible, and collects the marbles closest to him. Some have rolled further away. He does not reach for them, he will wait for -

Who will he wait for?

-

The month wears on.

Officially the Kira case is not closed, but officially the task force aren't meant to be working on it anyway. The circumstances mean that they are, at least temporarily, free of obligations.

Free of work obligations, anyway. Aizawa, with tiredness and memories of January sketches over his face, is going home to his family. He is going to stay with them for a good few weeks, he says, and he is going to get to know his daughters again and he is going to dance with his wife and they're going to go to dinner and theme parks, like families are meant to.

He's lost nearly five years and he's damn well going to make up for them, even if it means quitting his job. That probably wouldn't be financially stable, but he doesn't really care.

Mogi and Ide seem okay. Ide stares off a little too often for Aizawa's comfort, and sometimes when Aizawa speaks to him a guilty look comes across his face, like he was dwelling on the things Aizawa had asked him, quietly, pleadingly, for his own sanity not to dwell on.

Mogi is stern and strong as always. He is a little less trusting now, Aizawa thinks, and apart from the people gathered in that room right now, packing their belongings up and moving out to home, and apart from Near, Mogi's not putting his faith in anyone.

They are all studiously ignoring the fact that it is the twenty-fifth of February, and that in three days time, it will be Light's birthday.

Would have been Light's birthday.

Aizawa knows that Matsuda will probably go to visit Misa. He knows Matsuda will probably go to visit Sachiko and Sayu. He knows Matsuda hasn't recovered from this yet and he can see the man failing, visibly, to cope with every day life. Someone asks him if he wants a coffee, and Matsuda actually stops, completely thrown by the question, and frowns and puzzles it over, and eventually says 'yes', then when he gets it he stares at it like he's never seen one before.

Aizawa's asking for counselling sessions for all of them, but he makes a special note to make sure Matsuda gets his.

He also idly comments to Ide that he doesn't think Matsuda is doing so well, and knows Ide will never tell the man that Aizawa was worried about him.

-

Misa was sure that Light would write to her on his birthday.

She wanted to write to him, but she didn't have an address. She knows that that's for security, but it still grates. She's his fiancée, she should be able to wish him happy birthday, damn it!

She has baked a cake. Just in case, she tells herself, because what if he comes back, and she's not got anything ready for him? What kind of future wife would that make her? So he bakes and buys presents and wraps them carefully and neatly, and sets them on the table, and puts on a pretty dress.

The doorbell rings, and her heart skips a couple of beats.

She can barely bring herself to check. Her stomach clenches and her pulse quickens, and she hurries to the door. It could be Light, he would come back to see me if he could -

It isn't Light. Her heart sinks, her shoulders slump and she deflates as she lets Matsuda into the apartment. He is apologetic - he knows she wants Light here, not him. But he's a friendly face and at least someone is bothering to check up on her and make sure she's not getting too lonely or bored, so she fixes a smile and cuts him a slice of cake.

He starts to stammer out something about Light, but Misa doesn't want to hear it. It's sudden, unusual, she just desperately, ridiculously doesn't want to hear him talk about Light. Like if he does, he'll jinx it, and Light definitely won't be back for his birthday. So she interrupts him by asking how many sugars he takes, because she does know but Matsuda probably wouldn't remember she knows. She often wonders which one of them is smarter and usually thinks it's him, but Misa is much cannier.

"We can talk about Light tomorrow," she says, tidying the pile of presents. "Tomorrow."

"Tomorrow," Matsuda agrees, and with that she knows he'll be back. He looks after her - she'll tell Light how nice he was to her - but it's not the same.

February has been a bad month. Tomorrow it'll be March, though, and March means the start of spring, so maybe things will be brighter.