Title: A Pressing Need to Save the World
Series: Death Note/Doctor Who
Characters: Mello, Near, the Doctor (which one? I'm pretty sure it's Ten! Don't ask how or when. TIME IS RELATIVE.)
Rating: PG for language
Word Count: 3,000+
Warnings: AR, crossover, a hint of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff (but really not enough as I'd like :P). Contains spoilers for Death Note, period.
Summary: On November 5, 2004, Mello became L's successor, and Near disappeared. Five years later, they meet again.
Author's Notes: I've always wanted to read a fic where Near turned down the position of L's successor, thus (presumably) saving Mello from his horrible fate. And it's been a fantasy of mine for awhile that Near would make an excellent companion for the Doctor. And so I submit to you the embarrassing product of my extreme nerdiness.
The title comes from a track from the Doctor Who fourth series soundtrack. Some of the dialogue in the first scene is loosely adapted from Chapters 59 and 61 of Death Note.
A Pressing Need to Save the World
"If you can't beat the game, if you can't solve the puzzle, you're nothing but a loser."
"So then which of us did L...?"
"Neither of you, yet. And he can't choose, now that he's dead. Mello. Near. Why don't you two try to work together?"
"… That's impossible, Roger. You know that Near and I don't get along … we're always competing … always."
Out of the corner of Mello's eye, he saw Near slow, almost imperceptibly, gently tracing the curves and ridges of the last puzzle piece in his hand, before sliding it into place. Click.
"It's fine, Roger. Near can be L's successor. Unlike me, Near will calmly and unemotionally solve the puzzle."
"But, Mello ..."
"I'm going now … I'm leaving the orphanage, too. I'm almost fifteen anyway, Roger."
"Roger." Near's voice sounded strange, almost creaky and ancient. It stopped Mello as he turned towards the door, a reflex that made him curse internally.
"Might Mello and I have a moment to speak to each other alone, please?"
"I don't need to speak to you at all, Near," Mello muttered. "It's yours. I don't want it."
"Mello, just wait one moment. Why don't you hear Near out? I'll just be outside in the hall." Roger shuffled past him, closing the door behind him. Mello stayed, frozen, staring at the door, his face twisted in a grimace, his fingers and bare toes twitching convulsively.
"What is it?" he hissed.
"You're not leaving the orphanage."
At that, Mello snapped, turning around to face Near's hunched back, as he remained crouched on the floor, idly following the connected grooves of the completed puzzle with one finger. "What do you mean, I'm not leaving? You'd better believe I am! I'd rather die than work with you." Work with him? That was a joke. There was no "working" with Near. "Working" with Near meant endless struggle and frustration, a brief taste of accomplishment, quickly felled as Near would glide in, with an answer so much simpler and more effective and more brilliant than anything Mello could have produced.
"We're not working together, and you're not leaving the orphanage." Near paused for a moment, his hand hovering over the finished puzzle, before he laid his palm flat over it and used it to push himself to his feet. "I am."
Mello was silent, staring at the boy who still stood facing away from him, his face tilted towards the floor, one hand slowly creeping up to twist in his hair. "What?"
"I will not be the next L. You are the next L."
"No." Mello could feel the anger and fury rise in him. "No. Don't you dare do this. Don't ... patronize me."
Near finally looked at him, his eyes so dark against his pale complexion that they looked like tunnels which bore deep into his skull. "Mello ... I'm not patronizing you."
"I don't want to win this way!" Mello shouted. "I want to win by beating you. I want to be better than you!"
"Mello ... what you said before, that I would be the better L … you're wrong. I wouldn't be the better L. I know it. L knew it, too. That's why he never picked me." The corner of his mouth twisted in something between a grimace and a smirk.
"Your test scores --"
"Test scores don't mean anything, Mello -- not in the real world. L's inability to name a successor ... it's my failing, not yours. There are so many things I'm not capable of doing that you will be able to do. I am not L. You are."
Mello stared, mute. I ... am L. The words made him dizzy, and the shock mixed with the anger and hatred that still coursed through him were a sickening cocktail that turned his stomach -- a cacophonous chorus set to the pace of a deep drumbeat of fear and grief, because L was dead. He closed his eyes and bit his lip, longing for chocolate. When he opened them again, Near had silently stepped forward, until he was only inches away from Mello's face.
"This is goodbye, Mello. I know you'll be glad about that, but ... I for one hope we meet again." And then he smiled, one of those weird, creepy, infrequent, goony smiles of his, that made him look like a murderous clown.
And then he left, leaving behind the completed puzzle, and Mello, with lips dry and eyes burning, and fear in his heart.
It was five years later when they next met, and Mello had long ago left the Wammy House and England behind him. Mello was deep in the Kira case, holed up at SPK headquarters in New York, still trying to avenge L's death. All of his work, his stubborn refusal to quit, had led him to this place. He knew who Kira was -- he knew it was Yagami Light, but proving it? That was something else entirely.
And then the call came. It came on his mobile, his private number, known only to Matt and Roger and the top members of the SPK. The screen read, "Unregistered Number."
He knew who it was from the first word. "Mello."
"How did you get this number?" he asked, hating the way his heart sped up and bile filled his mouth with distaste -- and yet, at the same time, his mind buzzed. Because it had been five years. Because, to his shock, he had spent the last five years craving that anger and energy that Near had inspired, craving that competition, and craving the ... strange understanding that he hadn't even realized they had once shared.
"That's irrelevant. I have something for you ... something that will prove useful."
"I don't want your help."
"I'm not helping you. I'm bartering information."
"Bartering?" Mello laughed. "What are your demands? A stake in FAO Schwarz?"
"Nothing right now. Just ... a favor, to be cashed in some time in the future."
In some ways he was intrigued -- what kind of favor could Near ask of him? "I'm not working with you."
"Oh ... no, I didn't mean that. I have other pursuits right now, actually."
For some reason this struck a deep chord, not of anger, but of sadness, in Mello's heart. This position he had worked for his whole childhood, that he had received, it seemed, by some bizarre twist of fate ... and Near didn't even want it anymore? He had ... other pursuits?
"Near. What makes you think that I'd want to take anything from you, no matter the situation?"
There was something that almost sounded like an amused huff of a laugh on the other end. "Because, Mello, there is a pressing need to save the world, and I know that matters to you. I'll be at a certain location tomorrow morning. Can you make it?"
He hadn't really considered the fact that he might possibly see Near while obtaining this information. He couldn't even imagine it. What would Near look like now? When he tried to picture Near, five years older, nothing came to mind but a pale, undersized, malnourished twelve year old, swathed in white, who looked more like a mental patient than a young genius training to be the greatest detective in the world.
But that's not the Near he saw the next day.
As he entered the diner, he spotted him immediately, his blinding white hair standing out against the dark of the booth.
Near was older. His face was still childish, almost cherubic, but he looked older nonetheless. And his clothes ... he looked almost normal, though Mello could spy many of his old habits. His clothing was still baggy, still comfortable and soft, as if he couldn't bear to feel anything rough and abrasive against his skin. One knee was drawn up to his chin, and the other leg dangled, his foot, clad in a thick, striped sock, just touching the floor. A pair of scuffed sneakers were on the floor under the table, discarded as unnecessary. On the table there were two objects: a thick manila envelope, sealed, and a toy car, an old 60s style yellow roadster. With one hand Near was idly pushing the car back and forth; in the other hand he held a mobile phone, which he seemed to be idly typing into, a strange half-smile on his face.
Mello walked up to the table, and when he got there, found that he couldn't say a word. Before he could manage to, Near looked up, noticing him, and blinked.
"Mello," he said. "Take a seat."
He hated this, he realized, just as much as he had thought he would. His curiosity wasn't powerful enough to make this bearable. It was true he had, at times, been curious about Near's whereabouts after he had disappeared on that strange November day, that day when his rival had, just as Mello said he would, calmly and unemotionally solved the puzzle and decided that he was not the solution to it. Mello had even been irritated and annoyed, though unsurprised, when his searching turned up nothing. Mello hated ... not knowing. He hated being in the dark.
But he hated this even more. He almost turned around and left, but then Near put the phone down and picked up the envelope and opened it, and he found his voice. "Let's get down to business," he said, and plunked himself into the seat with insincere ease. I can't let him see how much this bothers me. I can't let him know.
Near tilted his head and nodded. "Yes," he agreed. "Let's." And then he pulled from the envelope a notebook.
It was black, and wrapped thickly in plastic, but Mello could read the writing on the front -- "Death Note." Before he could ask, Near continued, "This is only one. It was in the possession of the Japanese police force. Yagami Light has two more in his possession."
"Yagami Light --" he started, stricken. Had Near been investigating the case on his own all this time? Had he beaten Mello even without the benefit of the title and resources of L?
"I'm not going to insult your intelligence by telling you what it does," Near continued calmly, as if Mello were not reaching his boiling point right across from him barely a minute into their meeting. "I know you will figure it out. There is some more ancillary information in this envelope that you'll find useful. The rest is up to you."
"Don't get yourself killed, Mello," Near said, simply, stopping Mello firmly in his mental tracks. "This isn't the case to end all cases. It may not seem like it, but this isn't even the biggest crisis the human race will ever face. There are many other cases that are waiting for you ... this world needs you."
The phone suddenly emitted a succession of short beeps, and Near picked it up and raised it to his ear, holding it delicately between his fingers.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," he said into it. "Don't be so impatient. You have all the time in the world, after all." And he hung it up, rolling his eyes.
"What about this favor, anyway?" Mello said, snatching the envelope and reaching for the notebook from Near's hand.
"Oh, don't worry about that. I'll contact you when I need you."
The impertinence of the brat ... Mello slid the notebook into the envelope and sealed it back up, stowing it away inside of his leather jacket. "That number no longer works, you know."
"That won't be a problem," Near smirked, and pocketed the toy car and the phone before leaning down to slide his feet into his sneakers.
Outside the diner, they stopped for a minute, looking and not-looking at each other, and Mello felt a strange sense of hesitancy come over him, as if he didn't want this meeting, which he had absolutely despised, to end for some reason.
"I know you won't agree, Mello, but I've enjoyed seeing you again. I'm glad my deduction that we would meet once more was correct."
"Where ..." Mello took a breath and shook his head. "Where have you been, anyway?" What he really wanted to ask was, "Why did you do it? Why did you throw it all away?" But saying that might lead to answers that he didn't want to hear.
"Oh, I've just been ... around." Near tugged on a strand of hair, and that goofy smile -- the one that had always so angered him back at Wammy's, the one he'd flashed before they had last parted -- once again graced his face. "Just ... traveling."
"Traveling?" He retorted, with an expression of deep skepticism. Before he could say anything further though, the phone in Near's pocket once again shrilled.
Near sighed, and tugged hard once more on his hair before letting his hand fall and slide into the pocket. "I have to go now, Mello. But ... good luck. And remember what I said." He turned and walked away, rounding the corner before Mello could respond.
For a moment he considered just leaving, but then he found himself following him. He turned the corner and saw that where Near had disappeared was barely a street at all, though not quite an alley. It was empty, except for a garbage dumpster, some piles of trash, and a strange, bright blue windowed box that looked completely out of place. Just as he arrived he could have sworn he'd seen movement, and the sound of a door clicking into place, but it seemed completely still now. He contemplated going to investigate, but then another ringing interrupted him -- his own phone. It was Matt.
Shaking his head, he turned away, bringing the phone up to his ear and poking around his jacket pocket for his sunglasses, and then for a bar of chocolate. "Yeah. No, I'm just leaving. Yeah, yeah. He's still a little weirdo."
And then ... there was another noise. A funny, creaking, swooshing noise, not like anything he'd ever heard before. And it was coming from the street he'd just left. He stopped, and then hung up the phone, cutting off Matt mid-sentence.
But by the time he reached the entrance to the street, there was nothing left to see. The blue box was gone, and the sound was fading away. All that was left was a powerful, unnatural wind that whipped his hair back, and ripping the dangling wrapper from his half eaten chocolate bar and sending it flying off into the city.
Ridiculous Bonus Epilogue!
"Well. Happy now?"
Near removed his jacket, still chilled from the cold November day, and toed off his sneakers, nearly stumbling over them as he walked up the gangplank towards the console. "Yes, actually. Thank you for your assistance."
"Oh, it was nothing," the Doctor said, as he picked up the mallet from where it lay on the floor and readied himself for a swing at the console. "Just … you know … sneaking into the taskforce's headquarters, pretending to be a computer technician when I was caught – though mind you, that Matsuda is dim, so it wasn't too complicated – hacking into the system (which was a tidy piece of work, I'll give Yagami that much), finding out where the notebook was stored, getting the security clearance, and then clearing out before Yagami returned … well, really. It was nothing." He gave a powerful blow to the console, which sprang to life, and began to fiddle with the dials – Near had watched him carefully on many occasions, and despite all his intellect couldn't quite grasp how the thing worked. Wouldn't Mello find that amusing and gratifying?
"Still annoyed that I'm getting all the credit? Don't worry, only Mello will know. And he won't tell a soul." Near smiled slightly, almost with a hint of fondness. "Anyway, where are we going?"
"To clean up!"
"Well, yeah. Someone's got to send those shinigami packing. They've been meddling with this planet for far too long. I mean, honestly. Gods of Death? Gods? They're barely ghouls, in my book. Anyway, it's just a matter of rounding up the stragglers and then sealing up that portal between their galaxy and this one. And then they'll all be back where they belong."
The TARDIS shuddered as it came to a halt, and Near gripped the rail to avoid falling over. "So now we're …?"
"Roughly two months later, in Tokyo. I believe we should have a chance to send the first unwelcomed guest on his way."
The Doctor picked up his duster from where it lay folded over the railing, shook it out, and put it on. He patted his hands over his pockets and then pulled out a pair of dark, wrap-around sunglasses, which he handed to Near. "For protection."
"Doctor," Near said, softly, as he slipped them on – they were far too large and made his nose itch, and he thought glumly that he'd be glad when this was over. "I have a question."
"If a shinigami were to look at you, what would he see? I mean, for your name, the time until your death?"
The Doctor thought for a minute, and then reached into his pocket again and pulled out another pair of sunglasses. "I don't think we'll find out the answer to that question today, Near."