Disclaimer: After over 6 years of writing fanfiction, I'm getting a bit sick of answering this question…
Author's Note: Inspired by an adorable picture of L reading to Near. X3
Warnings: Light, fluffy, implied LxNear. I should also mention that I imagine Near to be around 5 in this fic. Perhaps even younger.
"…and then the prince leaned down and pressed his lips to Snow White's. In doing so, he broke the spell upon her. She woke up, completely healed, and she and the prince lived happily ever after." The droning detective gingerly turned a page, allowing the book to fall open to a beautiful watercolor of a prince and princess riding off into a rainbow sunset. "The end."
In his lap, the little boy frowned. Whether this was due to the ending of the story or merely the fact that the story had ended, L wasn't entirely sure. So he waited in silence, perfectly still, and allowed the pale child to run his tiny fingers across the glossy storybook pages, drinking in every detail of the picture.
"L," Near then murmured, his voice stuck in its usual tone of bland monotony, "why is it that the princess wakes up when the prince's lips touched her own? Was he giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?"
It was only years of practiced impassiveness that kept L from snorting in laughter. "No," he explained flatly, though his eyes sparkled with traces of amusement, "he merely kissed her. Then, because this is a fairytale with no basis in reality, she was brought back to life."
The child scowled. "That makes no sense. The dwarves had kissed her earlier—why were their kisses inferior to the prince's?"
"Because the kiss the prince gave her was a kiss of love," L returned, watching as those little white hands rapidly turned the book's pages, drinking in every illustration… for the eighth time. "The dwarves did not love her in that way, and so their kisses were ineffective."
Near hummed, mulling this over; he had paused over the picture of Snow White in her glass coffin, scrutinizing each of the midget men that stood around her, holding flowers. "This 'love'…" he muttered musingly, "…is it really that effective of a tool?"
"A number of people believe that it is," the detective affirmed casually, meeting the child's gaze when he turned to look up at him with wide, black eyes. "Some have cited love as having saved their lives, or stated that it is a 'miracle.' Sources both fact and fictional have perpetuated this claim over many years."
"I see…" Near pursed his thin lips, lashes lowering in a contemplative sort of way. "In that case, how does one go about obtaining such a thing?"
The smallest of smiles touched L's face. "Why?" he questioned coolly. "Do you want it, now, too?"
"It sounds… useful," the child admitted, eyes still glued to the heavy tome. "And interesting, like a game. So yes, I should like some 'love' of my own."
"…I see," L murmured, his dull-faced mask cracking just enough to hint at the good humor playing beneath the surface. "If that is the case, Near, it might be wise to inform you that you have already obtained a great deal of love."
The little boy straightened, uncharacteristically startled. "Have I?" he blinked, before twisting around to stare demandingly up at his guardian. "From who?"
"A whole plethora of people," the detective informed, ebony eyes softening as they fell upon his tiny charge. "Roger, Mello—"
"He certainly hides it well…"
"—the other children in the orphanage, Watari… and myself, of course."
Near stared silently at L for a moment, as if working this all out in his mind. "…you love me?" he then pressed, as if double checking an important fact.
L's faint grin widened, lengthening until even an ordinary person could have noticed it. "Yes, Near," he then whispered, gently patting the child's curly head. "I love you very, very much."
"I see…" Near hesitated, face pinched in heavy thought. Then, once his expression had smoothed over, he allowed his gaze to reconnect with the detective's. "Will you kiss me like the prince and princess kissed each other, then?" he asked blankly. And for all of his intelligence, it was clear that he still had no idea of what he was talking about.
L chuckled softy, allowing his lips to skim gingerly over his charge's warm forehead.
"Perhaps when you're older, little one."