Written for Carbucketty in an attempt to fulfill my Moral Obligation (ha). We're both big fans of Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited, and, uh, I urge each and every one of you to go read it. But, anyway, one of its major themes is Youth and I wanted to kind of convey that with this oneshot as Carbucketty did in her companion(ish) Mello-and-Near story, Aloysius.
Maybe, Gevanni thinks, maturity for Near is growing out of his robots and remote-controlled ducks and switching to card castles and construction toys. [postseries, follow up to the Shonen Jump oneshot]
It's going to rain, Gevanni thinks as he hurries down the street. At least a little. The clouds are low and saturated, a thin sheet spread over the bustling streets. They deaden the noise of the cars and pedestrians, muffling everything in a blanket of isolation, and if Gevanni looks down at the dirty sidewalk long enough he can almost convince himself he's alone.
He wishes he wasn't so alone as he steps up to the entrance of a glass-walled skyscraper, slipping in through the door and striding across the long, brightly lit corridor. This is Near's stronghold, the safe house of justice and dwelling of L - an ostentatious building that resembles a hotel erected on one of the busiest streets in Manhattan. It's not the original SPK headquarters, but the layout is much the same.
Tightening his coat around his shoulders, Gevanni punches the access code (95136602), keeping his eye opened wide for the retina scan and his thumb on the pliable finger pad for identification. "Access granted," a computerized female voice tells him, and the concrete doors whoosh open. He permits himself a moment of relief that he is up to date on the security codes, takes a breath for fortitude, and steps inside.
"I didn't think you would be coming," a cool voice says from the antechamber. Near is sitting on one of the flat, uncomfortable looking chairs, one socked foot up on the seat and the other dangling to the ground. He looks the same as always - white pajamas, twirling his fluffy white hair - only older.
Gevanni's surprised at how much things stay the same, even after three years. "I heard Rester and Halle showed up earlier."
He is answered with a nod. "They wished me to solve the murders happening in Japan. I was surprised that you weren't there with them."
A shrug. "I decided you knew how to handle it."
"And was your faith rewarded?"
"The killings have stopped."
For the first time since he arrived Near looks at him directly, and his eyes are still that dark, soulless black. Gevanni, not for the first time, wonders what could have happened to make a kid - a man - turn out like this. "You didn't answer my question."
"Let's go out on the roof," Near says after a while, standing up and heading into the operations room. Gevanni, curious, follows. He expected to be dismissed a while ago because Near has never been one to carry on polite conversation and it's not like there's a lot of things they have to catch up on (even after three years). Of course he's been keeping up with the newspaper, watching L unravel impossible cases, and Near knows he has. What else is there left to say?
But apparently there's something because the white-haired boy is leading him past a room-wide card castle and walls full of disconcertingly blank monitors to the elevator that ascends to the top of the building.
It's funny, he thinks, that he still sees Near as a boy of eighteen. Funny because now he's at least twenty-one, and his face has matured a bit, slimming down, filling out, and… whatnot. Something about him is still essentially childlike. Maybe it's the way he only wears those ridiculous pajamas, or twirls his hair, or - something.
It has begun to drizzle when they open the rooftop doorway. Near takes a deep breath of the rain-scented air as though he hasn't been outside in months - and maybe, he really hasn't. The small raindrops catch in his hair and sparkle there for a moment like tiny jewels.
Gevanni follows the boy - the man - as he crosses the gray rooftop, his socks making shuffling noises against the stained concrete. He is glad that he wore his old raincoat, because the rain, although light, is steadily increasing. He feels the moisture run down his face and swipes it off his lips before it can trickle into his mouth.
Near has placed both of his pale hands on the guardrail that runs around the top of the building. "I have been told," he says, looking out over the dirty smog-filled city, "that even L did not know what true justice was."
Not sure how to reply, Gevanni says nothing. Instead, he gazes down at the tiny cars that fill the streets and look like brightly painted toys.
"I think L might have had an idea, though," the genius continues. "An idea that he never shared with any of us. Otherwise, how would he know...?"
His voice trails off with a question and Gevanni watches as he closes his eyes, a raindrop trembling delicately on his pale eyelashes. "The best thing he ever left us with," Near says, sounding defeated, "was that the good guys always win."
"I wonder..." Gevanni begins to reply.
Near finishes his statement for him. "If Kira had won, would he have been the good guy?"
Maybe, for Near, maturity is growing out of robots and remote controlled ducks and switching to gigantic card castles and construction toys. He played with a bit of both during the Kira case, but now the only robots Gevanni can see are piled in a basket in the corner. He wonders if, when Near was little, he played with teddy bears and soft things like stuffed animals. He can't see it though. Can't see Near with anything that's not plastic or mechanical or completely artificial.
They've come in from the rain and Gevanni is shaking the water droplets off his close-knit coat. Near is just kind of standing there, the ends of his sleeves dripping as he twirls his curly wet hair.
"Aren't you going to change?" Gevanni asks. "You must be cold."
"I..." Near fingers the top button of his shirt. His shoulders are soaked and Gevanni can see the beige tint of skin peeking through the fabric. "I seem to have run out of clean clothes, and Roger is taking care of his remaining affairs at Whammy's."
"You mean you're here alone?" Gevanni is startled and almost worried, and wonders why - Near is twenty-one and should be able to care for himself. But Near really isn't like any other young adult and for Roger to leave him alone -
Near avoids his gaze. "It was necessary for him to travel and necessary for me to stay here. He will most likely return by tomorrow morning."
Slightly frustrated, Gevanni deposits his coat on the back of a chair and begins to unbutton his own long-sleeved white shirt. "You can't just stay in your wet clothes for twelve hours," he replies. He's wearing an undershirt and this button-down was a bit too small for him anyway.
He tosses the garment at Near, and it hits him on the side of the head. "Ah."
"Sorry, but... you can wear that."
Near begins to unbutton his own shirt and Gevanni looks the other way to give him privacy. When the child - though he's not a child any more - announces he's finished, he turns back.
The shirt Near's wearing now and the damp one that lies crumpled on the floor look exactly the same. Somehow, Gevanni wants to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Reviews are appreciated, con crit is encouraged, and go read Carbucketty's story Aloysius.