Fifteen year old Nate Rivers sat next to his cousin, bored out of his mind, though it didn't show on his face. The young prince was thinking of how late it was, how tired he was, not paying attention to anything else. In front of him, a young girl played music on an instrument he didn't care enough to identify. The usual look of apathy on his face, Nate stood up and motioned for the girl to stop at the same time. The girl, a young girl with black hair, who seemed to be about his own age, stopped instantly. She looked at him.

"I'm sorry." He stated blankly. "Excuse me." His cousin sent him a glance.

"Nate?" He asked quietly. Nate shrugged.

"Send her back." He responded, just as quietly. With a sigh, his cousin waved the girl away.`She left, a confused look on her face. Nate sighed and looked out of the window. His cousin came up behind him.

"You shouldn't do that, Nate. That girl was beyond hopeful."

"Give her some money for her troubles and send her back." His cousin sighed.

"Nate, do you want to get out of here?" The fifteen year old looked at his cousin oddly.

"This is my job, may I remind cousin." His cousin shook his head.

"Look at you, Nate." Nate tilted his head and looked down at himself. He was wearing what he had been ordered to wear---the usual silver and black robes with a blue emblem---the normal cloth for someone of his stature. He raised a hand to his hair and subconciously twirled his white locks of hair.

"I see my outfit. Exactly what is cousin trying to say?" His cousin shrugged.

"Don't you want to break the monotony, at least a little?" Nate shook his head.

"I rather enjoy the monotony, thank you very much." He lied. "Now, as it is late, I am going to bed."

Nate got kidnapped that night. The only thing that went through his mind was 'My cousin jinxed this, I just know it.' However, the kidnapper didn't get very far---as a matter of fact, they had left the palace grounds when his kidnapper relesed him. Nate looked up into the eyes of his cousin. Twirling his hair, he gave his cousin a look that said 'Explain. Now.' His cousin grinned.

"Just a break from the monotony." He said with a shrug.

"Wonderful break. Now take me back." Nate said.

"Not yet, dear cousin. I'd like to explore a bit---this place seems a bit interesting. You should do so as well, Nate." Nate shrugged and looked at the dark shirt that passed his knees---his pajamas.

"People will know me instantly." He stated blankly. "If not from my clothes then from my name." His cousin smiled. Well, smirked---his cousin rarely smiled.

"I thought of that." He said. It seemed he had already changed from his usual garments of gold and black as well, wearing instead a large white long sleeved shirt and blue jeans. He also was not wearing socks or shoes. "Here---change into these." He threw a bundle at Nate---inside, he saw white pajamas. "And out here, you can be called Near instead of Nate."

"If I look around with cousin, will cousin bring me back as soon as he's finished?" His cousin nodded, his right hand up.

"I solemly swear it, Nate." Nate shrugged---his cousin wasn't one to break his word.

"And how will I call cousin here?" His cousin shrugged.

"Call me L."

Near had been following L for an hour and a half when it happened. The marketplace in the village was so much more open and...crowded than the one in the palace. Then again, the one in the palace was mostly merchants displaying their things to a small group of four in the throne room. Here, it was loud, with merchants shouting out bargains over each other, people arguing over prices and items. It was very interesting and, against his will, Near found himself pulled into the whole thing.

However, because it was so crowded was probably the reason it happened. Near had turned around to look at a gold brooch that would probably find its way into the kingdom, and turned again to follow his cousin only to find that L had vanished. He didn't panick, but he didn't know what else to do. So he kept moving, slipping through people silently and effortlessly. He managed to make it to the other side of the marketplace, but it didn't help. L was still no where to be found. Taking deep breaths, Near tried to calm the panic that was starting to rise in his chest.

"Hey." He froze and tilted his head to the side slightly. In the shadows someone called him. "You're certainly a pretty one, aren't you? Come over here, we'll make a deal with you, kid." Near shook his head, trying to keep his breathing normal. If he lost conciousness because of his heart out here, that wouldn't be good. He didn't have to be running in order to lose conciousness---he could do it easily if he got too terrified, or excited. He had always been a sick child, mostly staying indoors and if this turned into a chase...

Then Near was screwed. Completely. He tried not to think about that.

"Back off him." Another voice called out, and Near closed his eyes in a sudden rush on uncharacteristic terror. He knew, he knew, that this had been a bad idea, that he should have gone back to the castle. This whole thing was affecting his heart in a way that it shouldn't, and Near's hand unconciously clenched the fabric over it. "He's with us, and you know better than to mess with us."

"My apologies, of course." The man in the shadows came out and Near's eyes widened. The man had been in his late twenties, maybe, and had dark hair. He seemed a little blind, or it may be the result of coming out of a darkened alley, because he squinted a little at himself and the male behind him. "I didn't realize."

"Whatever, Mikami. You never seem to realize these things." The voice behind Near taunted. "You'll get yourself killed one day, by me or one of my men, if you're not careful." Mikami snorted but decided not to reply, favoring instead to walk past Near and as soon as he did, Near fell to his knees. The voice behind him sounded much closer when it spoke again. "You all right, kid? Need help or something?"

"I'm---" Near blinked, staring at the ground. The voice sounded strangely familiar, but he couldn't place where he heard it. Nonetheless, he couldn't face his 'savior'. He had his normal mask on, but it didn't help that his heart was racing. "Fine. I need to find my cousin." He didn't dare to look at the other without his heart beat normal.

"Your cousin? Hey, I can help with that, I know---Hey! OI!!" Near didn't hear past the 'I know' part---he passed out.

L was looking for his white cousin. He didn't realize until much later, when he asked if Near wanted to eat and the boy hadn't replied, that his cousin was gone. L shook his head. This was all his fault and he had to find his cousin, because if he didn't it could spell disaster for the kingdom. He had been searching for a little over twenty minutes when he ran into someone.

"Oh, I'm sorry." The other said, dusting himself off slightly.

"It's quite all right, I accept your apology. You bumped into me rather rudely, however, I have something important to do, so if you don't mind, I need to be going now." L replied, making the other scowl.

"What do you mean, I bumped into you? You're the one who nearly ran over me." L shrugged.

"Unnecessary details. Now, if you'll excuse me---" The person he ran into, a teenage boy with brown hair and amber eyes, grabbed L's arm as he walked by.

"I'm not done with you yet, sir." L smirked.

"I'm done with you, however. I really must be going."

"Who the hell are you?"

"I'm L. And what exactly is your name?" The boy ignored him.

"L? What the---who the hell names their kid 'L'?" L shrugged.

"My parents, that's who. Now, if you don't mind---"

"Raito, let's get going!" L looked in the same direction the boy that held his arm did and his eyes widened slightly. There, waving and calling to the boy near him, was the girl who had been in the castle earlier. He turned around quickly to look at Raito.

"You got lucky." The boy hissed at him. "Coming, Sayu!" He called out, walking towards the younger girl. L sighed and shook his head. What was he doing again? Oh, right. Finding Near.

Near woke up, shaking his head.

"Good, he's up." Near sensed, rather than saw, the person sitting next to him on the bed. Near shivered, then attempted to sit up---he failed miserably. The voice next to him laughed. "You can't get up yet, kid."

"My name's not 'kid'." Near gasped out silently.

"So what is your name?"

"Near." Near shivered again, and managed to get his eyes to adjust to the lack of light. Next to him, a boy sat. He had goggles on his head and a cigarett in his mouth. "Smoking's not good for the body."

"So I've heard." The boy laughed.

"Welcome to our home." A woman came in, tilting her head to the side as she walked in. Her short hair fell to the side as well. "My name's Wedy. Aiber would see you, too, but he's busy. He's taking care of our stage."

"Merchants?" Near questioned, managng to pull himself into a sitting position. Wedy shrugged.

"In a way. Matt, when did he wake up?" The boy with the cigarett, now known as Matt, blinked.

"Just right now, Wedy." He said. "Said his name is Near."

"Near, huh?" She looked Near over a couple times. "Matt, the monolouge's nearly finished. Go get ready."

"Yes, ma'am." Matt saluted and got up. As he walked by Wedy, she pulled the cigarett from his mouth.

"Don't smoke. How many times do I have to tell you?" Matt shrugged. Wedy rolled her eyes and pushed him out of the door. "Just go get ready---we need all three of you out there, as usual."

"We gonna go out with a bang?" Matt questioned.

"Out with a bang." Wedy replied. Matt grinned and left. Wedy turned to Near. "Come on, Near. You come watch the show."

ne, it was a good first chapter...this was originally supposed to be a one-shot, but it seems something bit me and now it's waaay too intricate to be a one-shot. sigh oh well. enjoy.