Author's Note: For Chamyl, who wanted a summery Mello/Near to combat the weather! XD
So… Matt is Mello's roommate, which you can either interpret in an All-Three-of-Them-Are-Having-Kinky-Hot-Sex way, or in a He's-Just-Mello's-Friend way. Your choice! XD I just can't imagine a happy post-Kira AU where Matt is completely out of the picture, so I had to accommodate him somehow. ;)
They're in Florida because I was in Florida in September for a wedding, and we went to the beach. XD
Near looked uncertainly up at the vast video screen and immediately succeeded in picking out the number of their transfer flight to NYC.
Or what should have been their transfer flight to NYC, if it hadn't been "indefinitely delayed."
Cringing, he glanced up at Mello, who had one leather-gloved hand on one leather-clad hip and had pushed his sunglasses up into his hair to peer at the schedule.
"Well, that's a bitch," the blond decided, bizarrely equably, as he retrieved his cell phone from his (predictably, black leather) carryon. "Let's see how long we're going to be stuck here."
Near curled up in one of the gray chairs in the waiting area for the closest gate, their bags spread around him, as Mello paced idly back and forth, gesticulating wildly with the hand not holding the phone. Eventually he snapped it shut and returned, pursing his lips, to where Near was sitting, twirling anxiously at his hair.
"It looks like we're going to be stuck here for just about a day," Mello announced, "so we might as well get a hotel room and get used to it."
Near drew himself to his feet and heaved his bag off of the next seat over, slinging the strap over his head. "Did they guarantee us a place on the next available flight?" he prompted.
Mello nodded. "We're just going to be a little late. Let's get out of this hellhole, and I'll call Matt and let him know."
Miami International wasn't that much of a hellhole.
It was outside the airport that was a problem.
After they'd retrieved their checked bags, which again required Mello to utilize his unique talent for chewing people out, they set themselves to the task of finding an exit. Once they'd navigated a maze of escalators that would have made Escher proud, automatic doors swished open before them, and that was when the first breath—or the first gasp-choke-pneumonic wheeze—of Florida air walloped Nate River without the smallest shred of mercy.
It was like getting hit in the face with a wet blanket. Repeatedly.
The worst part (as he discovered shuffling after Mello towards the car rental, which lay across the wasteland of incomprehensible signs that was the parking garage) was that the wet blanket feeling only intensified the longer you were out in it. Beyond the air-conditioned bastion of the airport lobby, the world pressed on him, muggy and moist, until he wanted to unzip his skin, step out of it, and leave the terrible, inescapable thickness of the atmosphere behind.
After Mello had negotiated with the startled-looking young man behind the counter—and after he had pointedly ignored all the looks, astonished and appreciative alike, that his leather raiment had inevitably attracted—the blond noted Near looking weak and petulant.
"Doesn't agree with you, eh?" he prompted, catching Near's chin in the hand that wasn't dragging his suitcase.
Near shrugged, trying to wriggle out of his grip, which made the insufferable warmth even warmer.
"It's oppressive," he reported, "and I don't like it. When do we get to go home?"
He sounded like a child, but it wasn't as though anyone would find that amiss. What a picture they must have made—Mello all in shining black leather, gold hair sliding across the conspicuous scar, grinning down at a pouting boy dressed in white pajamas. It was like something out of a poorly-modernized version of A Christmas Carol, with a spoiled child for Scrooge and an Angel of Death in place of ghosts of various tenses of Christmas.
"Soon enough," Mello said, which was not much of an answer—and certainly not much of a comfort.
He did, however, turn the air conditioning on full-blast the second they got into the car.
Near spent most of the ride to the hotel with his face by the vent, basking in the breathability.
They were briefly subjected to the wretched humidity again between parking the car and staggering into the foyer of the hotel, where Near wandered—but never out of sight—and analyzed the structural integrity of the glass elevators while Mello checked them in. He liked the elevator ride that followed, and the room Mello had procured for them was more than suitable for its simplicity. Near settled on the couch and turned his attention to the television, flipping to the news channel. Might as well get something useful do—
Mello sprawled next to him—and partway over him; those boots were even heavier than they looked, particularly when they were lying on one's thigh—and flipped his phone open again.
"Hey, Matt," Mello said momentarily in response to the murmur from the speaker. "We're stuck in Miami for a little while." He grinned. "Yeah, I know—so fucking tragic that we have to take a vacation. I am crying you an ocean; believe me." Near found the volume button and put it a few notches down. "We're just bumming around the hotel at the moment… yeah, that's a good idea. I'll tie him up and throw him in the trunk or something."
Near's interest in the Chinese economy waned quickly, and he stared incredulously at Mello.
"Hell, yes," the blond was concluding. "Good plan, Matty. Thanks. See you sometime tomorrow, yeah. Have chocolate waiting." He snickered. "Aww, I love you, too, Mattsy-Wattsy. Now stop wasting my long-distance minutes." He snapped the phone shut.
Near raised an eyebrow slowly. "'Throw me in the trunk'?" he repeated.
Mello hopped off the couch and moved for his suitcase. "We're going to the beach," he announced.
"We're doing what?"
Mello sauntered over to his suitcase. "I wouldn't be above throwing you in the trunk, you know."
That was what Near was afraid of.
- - - -
Mello really hadn't played fair.
Near could beat him on an even playing field, at least when the game was one of minds and machinations, and he thoroughly enjoyed reminding Mello of the fact in subtle, ostensibly-innocent ways, mostly just because the blond was so dreadfully cute when he went around muttering mutinously about it.
But today Mello wasn't playing fair.
First of all, Near didn't know when Mello had had the chance to buy his pale companion a pair of silver swim trunks, since they had only rarely parted company during their stint in Wyoming dealing with the sick fiend who had been going after the wolves.
Second of all, Mello had held his best robot hostage until Near put the damn things on and got in the car.
Mello was quite the sadist some days.
Near hugged his robot to his chest and glowered as Mello, who wore a pair of black and white checkered trunks that he'd probably borrowed-without-permission from Matt and a black tee-shirt presumably from the same source, slid into the driver's seat, turned the keys in the ignition, and put one flip-flopped foot to the accelerator.
Near groused a little longer, but it was hard to stay angry and watch the odd suburban-tropical scenery flick by out the windows at the same time. He was generally just happier with the air conditioning running anyway, particularly since it stopped his pajama shirt from sticking to the back of the leather seat.
Sweating was so undignified.
Mello paid for parking in a recreation area with clumps of trees that were dropping fruit everywhere, appearing to appreciate the dense, wet heat little more than Near did, and Near climbed around on the playground a little bit, Mello looking on with a knowing smile, before he gave up on physical exertion in this climate and followed Mello to the strange little tunnel that led beneath the road.
They emerged onto spotless beige sand.
Near had been missing his socks—Mello had insisted on sandals, and he hadn't been able to muster a logical argument to the contrary—but when he buried his bare feet in the warm sand, it was almost as good.
He turned to smile at Mello just in time to get a huge straw hat shoved onto his head.
"Have you ever been to the beach, Near?" Mello asked idly, shepherding him past the spiky shrubs waving dark green tendrils and down the shallow slope to the beachfront proper, where he retrieved from his duffel bag a series of parts that he assembled into a bright orange beach umbrella.
"Not as such," Near admitted, vaguely fascinated by the way the sand squished between his toes, little grains shifting about each other. He started in surprise and then recoiled as Mello's fingers infiltrated the shadow of the hat brim and started smearing something lukewarm and extremely gooey on his face. "Ick—!"
Mello gave him a stern look undermined by the beginnings of a grin. "Near," he reprimanded, "if you don't put on sunscreen, you'll probably just peel right out of existence."
Near made a face at him, and Mello cupped his chin again, spreading the goo over his cheeks. "I'm surprised you haven't turned to dust yet," he remarked. "I thought that was what happened when you went out in the sun."
"I am a highly-evolved vampire," Near informed him, wrinkling his nose as Mello applied the glop to the back of his neck. He could feel all the local hairs wilting under the onslaught. "This is unpleasant," he noted. "Are you almost done?"
"Not even close," Mello reported cheerfully, a malicious glint in his grin.
Before he was freed, Near had to sit down on one of the beach towels for an absurdly long time while Mello rubbed sunscreen on his legs and arms, at which point he stole Near's shirt and refused to give it back. There was some more pouting, and a bit of conciliatory wheedling from Mello, and then deft hands stroked sunscreen onto his back and his chest, and then he was finally allowed to go.
Holding tightly onto his hat, Near ran curiously to the edge of the water. It was a bright turquoise color for a long while, and then it faded strangely into a much darker blue. He supposed that this was probably the result of the topography of the shore, such that very shallow water for a distance facilitated…
A wave crested white and hissed towards him, and foam swirled suddenly around his toes. Near squeaked and scampered back; the water wasn't cold, but it was—well, wet, and—
Glancing back confirmed that Mello, sprawled under the shade of the umbrella, was laughing uproariously. Near stuck his tongue out at him and then gave his full attention to the ocean, creeping forward to meet the waves' audacity again. He dipped one foot in, and then the other, stepping tentatively forward until the water whisked about his calves, tugging and shoving at turns as the sea pulsed and hurled waves up the sand, only to draw them back again. He waded a little deeper, fragments of ridged shells scurrying around his feet as the current sent them dancing, and then a little deeper still, trailing his hands in the water and watching it eddy around his fingertips. There were children laughing further down the beach, and the sky above him was a soft powder-blue like Mello's eyes, cotton-ball clouds floating along the navy-blue horizon. Wet sand burbled under Near's toes, and the grains suspended in the water about him gleamed as if they had a secret.
Then, of course, the pull of the waves snatched his balance away, and he took an extremely ungraceful tumble into an ocean that ceased to feel so friendly.
Near floundered, and the salt was burning in his nose and his mouth and his eyes, so he squeezed them shut, but he couldn't tell which way was up, and the sea's invisible hands grasped at him, pulling him further into its suffocating depths—
And then there was a pair of fully tangible hands, one clasped firmly about each of his wrists, and Mello dragged him gasping to the surface.
Blinking against the stinging of the saltwater in his eyes, coughing up some of the portion that he'd swallowed, Near nestled closer to Mello's chest and wrapped both arms tightly around his savior's neck, where damp hair tickled at his hands.
Mello stroked his back gently until he'd settled, then set him cautiously down in the water again—having wisely retreated up the beach a ways; thankfully, here the water only came up to Near's knees.
"Be careful, kiddo," Mello cautioned, belatedly at best. "You almost lost your hat."
He'd somehow retrieved it, and he plunked it down on Near's dripping hair again.
Near gave him a withering look, but Mello just grinned, tilted Near's face upward, and leaned down for a very salty (but perfectly satisfying) kiss.
- - - -
Mello was on the phone with Matt again as he drove back to the hotel, or so Near gathered from the snatches of conversation that he overheard while fading in and out of a beach-towel-swaddled doze.
"Yeah… undertow… You'd think he'd have done his physics, right?"
"I know my physics," Near mumbled.
Mello rumpled his wet hair with one hand, withdrawing it before Near had time to figure out if he had enough appendages to dishevel his passenger, drive, and hold the phone at once.
"Anyway, you'll have to give him some swim lessons when we get back…" There was a pause, and Mello shifted in his seat. "Well, I assumed you knew h… I am not goggle-ist!"
Mello huffed a little, promised Matt that he loved him goggles or no goggles, and then hung up the phone, the better to mutter about slanderous accusations and counts of libel.
Near smiled and snuggled deeper in his towels.