Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note.

A/N: Warning! Attack of the FLUFF!

Also- it's AU. The only difference? They survived. How it should have been. It just hurts too much, and sometimes almost physically, to think about this love not being in the world. Fictional or no. :)

By the way, I don't personally hate Near. But Mello does, and so Matt out of loyalty.

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"I'm gonna kill the fucker!" Mello raged, whipping our toaster at the wall. It shattered into a million pieces with a brilliant crash. "Someday soon!"

I sighed. I had just fixed that like last week. "Must you take it out on our appliances?" I asked him calmly.

Only I could get away with a comment like that, and I knew it well. He'd beat the hell out of anyone- male or female, old or young. He was just equal-opportunities like that. He'd hit anyone, that is, except for me. I'll never know what it is that makes me so special, but Mello has never laid a finger on me to hurt me. He's never hit me. I mean ever. As long as we've known each other. He doesn't even raise a hand or bluff about it. I've even attacked him a few times over the course of our lives. He'd put up his arms to protect himself, he'd dodge, he'd hold my wrists, but he'd never fight back. He'd once jumped a kid named Pierce- P, incidentally- for flicking him. But, for whatever reason, I could beat him to a pulp and get off scotch-free.

I would never do it for real, though. I suppose that's part of the reason we work.

He shot me an icy glare. Even I wasn't above a good glaring-at. "Yes," he said curtly.

I didn't bother to ask him why. He was too pissed off to be able to come up with a reason, and besides, it was time for me to live up to my self-awarded title of Sidekick.

"What'd he do, Mels?" I asked, not mockingly.

Mello's violence appeared to leave him all at once, and he sighed angrily and sat down by where my feet were on the couch. I turned off my game (saving first, of course) and set it down carefully on the coffee table. Which, happily, was currently intact. Mostly. Gotta count your blessings when you live with Mello.

It may seem dangerous to leave a perfectly good DS in the vicinity of an angry Mello, but that was another thing about my stark-raving-mad lunatic of a roommate/best friend: he would never destroy the stuff that really mattered to me. Like my games and game systems, for example. Even when he was furious with me personally, he never got near my games.

He's an odd one, but... yeah. Mello. You can't pretend to be shocked.

"He's just being perfect again," he mumbled.

Um... whoa.

I've known Mello for seventeen years now, and he's despised Near for all of them. Never, not even once, have I ever heard him refer to Near as perfect. Not even sarcastically, not even calling him 'little-miss-perfect' or something of that variety.

It startled me so much that, for a moment, I could only gape stupidly at the blond in front of me.

"What?" he demanded when he noticed, a slight redness creeping to his ears. That's why he grew his hair out, by the way: to hide the fact that his ears blush and give him away. It's the only part of his expressions that he can't control, and the only part of him that you can read.

"Nothing, you just... I've never herd you call him perfect," I said hesitantly.

He shrugged a little, turning his face away. "Well, he is, isn't he?"

Near, with his blank, dark stare. Near, with his bleached hair and skin and clothes and soul. Near; emotionless, cold, logical, calculating, concrete-sequential incarnate. Near, with his flat, dead eyes, his inhuman stillness. Cold, aloof, small, sick, silent. Always watching you, thinking. Near, who you can never just talk with, who will never be able to have a simple conversation without analyzing you and everything you do or say from every possible angle. Near, frozen.

"Near's not perfect," I said quietly, firmly. "Not even close."

Mello was being more expressive than I was accustomed to. Whatever specifically Near had said, it had hurt him more than usual. Mello didn't normally react this way, even when hurt. Normally he'd either shout about it until he'd vented or he'd just immediately force himself to get over it. That was something I'd always admired about him; that he could just force himself to deal with things. I'm not easily upset, but when I am it takes me ages to move on. Not like Mello. He's so used to his turbulent emotions that he's learned to almost always control them. Which, seriously, not a lot of people can honestly do. Anyway, Mello was being unusually expressive: I could tell in his shoulders that he was aching in all of his essence.

He made a sound that was almost a chuckle. It broke halfway and ended up sounding more like he was gagging. Or choking. "Well, he's still better than me, isn't he," he next to whispered. It wasn't a question.

For the second time in as many minutes, Mello took my words away. Mello, with his intensity, his bright eyes, his constant movement. Mello's mind that you can see working. His incredible, impossible physical strength. Mello, so very alive, his perpetual energy, unstoppable determination, his drive. Mello, impossible to predict, to ever fully understand. Mello, with his cocky, sexy, angry attitude and his very-real weakness underneath. Mello, with his grace and his confidence and his leather and his fire.

Mello, now, he wasperfect.

Seventeen years, and I was only just now discovering that I've always loved him?

Fail.

I looked at this person that I now knew I loved, and I shifted against the arm of the rotting couch where I sat.

He was still looking away, but now he was looking at his hands. His beautiful hands. Thin, long fingers, strong and hard from constant work, with the calluses that only holding a gun can give you. He was staring at them as if repulsed. Maybe he could see the metaphorical blood on his hands. I couldn't. When I looked at him, I only saw him.

"Better than you?" I echoed him, turning it into a question as I scooted closer to him, letting my legs fall properly over the couch. Without hesitation, because I was Matt and could get away with anything when it came to Mello, I took his hand nearest me with both of my own.

He looked up then, certainly. I'm normally a fairly predictable person, so something like this was sure to catch his attention.

I didn't meet his eye, focusing instead on his hand, memorizing all the long-familiar little scars, calluses, blemishes. I could feel his gaze burning me, but I ignored it, bringing his fingers to my lips and nose and holding them there. He didn't move. My heart was stuttering. I held them there for a long moment, and then kissed them. Then, so slowly, so, so slowly, I brought his hand to my heart, holding it close, bowing my head.

Still he remained motionless. I was almost dizzy by this point, but I kept my movements smooth as I led his hand gently to my knee and turned it onto its back. I laced our fingers together. There was an almost electric current going through me, and I wondered if it was conducting through him, too. It didn't matter. Even if he didn't return my recently-discovered feelings, I'd still always be his sidekick. His best friend.

"Near's not better than you. No one is better than you," I whispered. I had intended to say it louder, but the whisper was all that would come out.

He heard me, though. I finally looked up, and he was actually smiling at me. It was a small smile, but it was a smile, nonetheless, and it was beautiful. His eyes were gentler than I had seen them in many, many years.

He squeezed my fingers. "You're biased. You're in love with me."

No one else would have caught it, but I saw, as he knew I would, that it was a question. It was a way for me to back out. I could laugh and say 'you wish' and he'd laugh too, and we'd never bring it up again and dismiss it as a Heterosexual Man Love moment. He was asking me if I loved him with that blasé statement, because it was the only way he knew how to. Even though we both knew he could have just straight-out asked. Well, it was as good as, because we knew each other so well.

I smiled a very small smile right back at him. "Yeah, you know. Blinded by love, and all that."

His smile increased, and I shifted to be leaning on him.

"But, really," I continued, "Near can't compare with you. Maybe he has higher test scores, but he doesn't know the world like you do. He doesn't know people. Seriously. It's impossible to have a meaningless conversation with the man. I've tried. He's just... so cold. And you're the opposite, Mello. You're fire. And, I dunno, I kind of pity him sometimes. He's just not like you: he'll never be able to interact. Maybe he doesn't want to, but he doesn't know what he's missing. He'll never have a friend."

"And he'll never fall in love," Mello said, almost inaudibly.

My already racing heart double-timed and I felt blood rush my brain, making everything fuzz over for a moment.

I'm not stupid, but at that moment I could have convinced a passerby that I was. I pretty much just grinned, cuddling in closer to him.

He rolled his eyes and wrapped his arms around me. I turned my head so that my cheek was at his collarbone. He put his chin on my head. He was warm around me, and he was holding me tight.

He sighed, nuzzled into my hair, and then replaced his chin on my head. "You know, it might be worth it," he continued quietly.

"Worth what?" He was so warm. I was right. And I could feel his power and energy, his utter intensity. I could feel how he could break me right in half, squeeze the life out of me, but how he never, never would, no matter what.

"Worth not being Near," he said, almost thoughtfully. "Having you. It might be worth being second."

I was normally capable of eloquence. Really. But think about it from my position. Mello, Mihael Keehl, just told me that having me might be worth being second. Mello. The Mello that once tossed a child across a room (Near) for getting one percent better than him on a test. The same Mello that threw A's stuff out the window when he beat him in a race. The same Mello that stayed up for three nights straight, ignoring the hallucinations, studying for an exam to get the highest score, which he almost did. Almost. This was the very same Mello that joined the Mafia- and promptly took over- in order to catch Kira before anyone else could. And, yes, this was the very same Mello that blew himself up to avoid losing.

And he believed I was worth it. That loving me was worth being second, the thing he hated most in the world.

That is love.

That's love.

That's the definition of love. At least with Mello.

Wow.

I tried to look at it objectively. I've always been good at that, so it wasn't too hard to do, even under these circumstances.

What could he find about me that was so... worth it? Well, I'm the only one on the planet who can stand him. We've been friends for nearly two decades. I'm calm and cool, always, which compliments his fire. I'm not bad looking. I'm very smart, so I'm worth talking to, in his eyes, but I'm noncompetitive (or, if you're Roger, lazy) so I'm not a threat. I'm good with technology, whereas it's probably his weakness, although he's by no means incompetent. Yeah, I guess I can see why he could want to be around me, but to love me? I couldn't find the logic for that one.

When I expressed this to him, he smiled smugly, enjoying what he was about to say. "Because I'm not Near."

I waited for my brain to figure that one out for me, but it failed. "What?" Made him feel superior, anyway.

"I'm not Near, so not everything I do has to follow logic. And... because you're the only one I never want to hurt."

That made me shiver, a pleasant tingle that sparkled its way from my toes to the top of my head.

We stayed like that for a long time.

I was pretty sure he would never really let go.