A/N: Sorry guys the delay in getting this chapter out has been inexcusable. While I'd admit that I lost my fervor for this story, that's not your fault, as you've all stuck with me. There's nothing worse than reading many chapters of a story never finished. So I HAD to belt this one out and let it stop guilting me while I write other things. I'll admit it isn't my greatest. I've been reading so much good fanfic lately! So much AMAZING fanfic! It kinda gets me down at times because I don't feel I could write nearly as well as my favorite authors do. Whether it be due to them having a better vocabulary, or simply being more creative. I want to write an epic saga! HOF2 is a saga, but not epic IMO. I also feel I might do better by moving to a different fandom, something I've already experimented with by writing a Kuroshitsuji one-shot, and I'm also silently working on a Death Note- Kuroshitsuji crossover, which to be honest I've put on hiatus as well since I think it's gratuitous and nobody would find it interesting. I do have Kuroshitsuji fever lately, and I expect that a lot of my writing will take off in that direction. Ciel is more fun to write than Near, because unlike Near, he actually does show emotion. I think this is why I tend to write Near so OOC at times, because I really wish he was something different. Then again, is OOC really that bad? It's a fine line I think. Worry not Death Note fans, I haven't abandoned the fandom yet. I am working on yet another DN fic. Gevanni X Near this time. I think it's a hot pairing and there's hardly any fics out there for it. This one may be awesome or crap, depending on how you see it. :) I'm not even sure how I see it yet. I'm doing my best and that's all that matters. Sorry for rambling. Thanks for hanging in there for me. I hope this final (and somewhat rushed) chapter is to your liking. It's not the sugar coated, bubblegum happy ending that some might hope for. But real life isn't always sugar coated and bubblegummy anyway. Please review.

Darkroom

Chapter 14

Matt pulled down the dirt path that was indicated on the map. The muscles at the base of his temples were taught, bulging as he grit his teeth. Even though he knew the assailant was more than likely already dead, he couldn't wait to get his hands on him and destroy whatever was left of his corpse. He'd reached the place at last.

Flinging the door of the car open and bolting out as it barely came to a stop, he grasped the knob of the apartment door. It was locked. He kicked the door with all his might, but it was as if the solid door seemed to laugh at him. He collided his shoulder with it, all 120 lbs of him. Nothing at all. He rammed it over and over again, bones straining against the impact until he heard the wood of the door frame start to splinter. He continued onward, even harder, not caring about the injury he might be causing himself, blood teeming with adrenaline.

The door had finally flung open, crashing against the wall loudly, exposing a rather dismal, dirty small apartment. Dishes piled up in the sink, and with furniture from the 70's or early 80's at best. He peered around the small area for where Near might be. He had spotted a steel door in a recessed part of the wall. That must be it, he supposed. Lurching at the door he twisted the knob, relieved to find it unlocked. He wouldn't be able to break through this one as easily, as he'd barely managed with the last one.

The first thing that hit him when the door swung open was the horrendous smell, bad enough in fact to momentarily halt his progress. The room reeked of a mixture of human waste, mildew, and blood. He suppressed the urge to wretch, placing his forearm over his nose. His arm slowly sank however, as his eyes focused in the dim light of the dark room. Underneath a single bare incandescent bulb that hung from the ceiling, was a man holding Near down in a missionary position, his manhood buried balls deep inside of him.

Consumed with rage he lunched forwards, grabbing the lifeless body by the waist and pulling him off of his lover and throwing it on it's side. He hadn't bothered to even look at the face, which was carved and destroyed in exactly the manner he had specified. He wasted no time in kicking the limp body as hard as he could, snapping bones and moving it across the floor inches at a time, cursing and spitting loudly.

"Matt!" Roger called out from the doorway.

Matt stopped his attack on the corpse as he snapped back to attention, diverting his attention to Near, his legs turning to jelly at the sight before him. He wasn't even recognizable. Not only due to the blood and torn flesh that was absolutely covering his naked body and staining his pure white hair, his face was absolutely pummeled. One of his eyes was blackened and swollen completely shut. There were several swollen lumps on the sides of his head. His lower lip was split and twice it's normal size. His neck was covered with deep, bleeding scratches. He looked grotesque. The face of his lover that had once had been so beautiful and flawless was hideously disfigured, his body pinned to the ground like an insect in an examination dish.

Matt sank to his knees in front of Near, extending a shaking hand, afraid to even touch him. There was so much blood, he didn't know which of it was his or where else he might have been injured that wasn't immediately apparent.

"Near... Oh God Near..." He whimpered as a deluge of tears began to flood from his eyes.

Roger stared in shock from the doorway as Matt started to check Near's vital signs. He was alive, as indicated by shallow breaths and a faint pulse felt from the side of his neck.

"Roger... Call an ambulance. Call them now."

Roger, without replying, quickly pulled his phone from his jacket pocket and stepped away from the doorway to place the call. Matt gently stroked the side of Near's face with the back of his fingers.

"I'm so sorry baby. I'm so sorry he did this to you. I tried to stop it as fast as I could. I tried so hard to find out where he'd taken you. I'm sorry I came so late. Please be ok. Please..." Matt sobbed, wanting nothing more than to hold him tight and hear his voice tell him he was ok. A little bruised, but ok. He knew he was in rough shape though, and what frightened him was that he didn't even know how bad it was, just how bad the damage to Near's body had been.

"Matt." Near said.

His voice was dry, raspy almost gurgling. Matt noticed Near had one eye half opened, just enough to fix his gaze on him. He took another shallow breath, possibly attempting to speak again.

"You don't have to talk. I know it hurts. An ambulance is on it's way. I'm staying with you. I wont ever let you go again."

"He... He raped me." Near said. He wanted to cry but was completely unable to. He looked away, too afraid to look Matt in the eye, too mortified to be seen by him in this undignified manner.

"It's ok Near. It's ok. I don't care. I love you just the same. You're still as pure and beautiful as you always have been to me. Please don't worry about that. Just hang in there. Help is on it's way."

Matt unfastened the shackles that were restraining Near's arms to the floor. He noticed the blue bruising around his left wrist, and assuming it was broken he carefully lifted his arm and placed it at Near's side.

As they waited for the ambulance, Matt kept talking to Near in a soothing tone, hoping to keep him conscious and to keep him from talking, as it seemed to require a good deal of effort. Matt knew there was tons for Near to tell, but he'd have to wait until he had the energy.

The ambulance and a barrage of police had finally arrived. Matt had taken off his jacket and placed it over Near's lower half to preserve what was left of his dignity.

A police officer followed by an EMT were the first to rush in the room, pausing suddenly at the gory scene.

"What the fuck... You.. Step away from him and back up to the wall."

Matt protested at first, but did as he was told, letting the paramedics have access to Near. It took a moment for Roger and Matt to convince the police, with the help of some confirmation from Near himself, that Matt wasn't the one that did this to the man, and that he in fact had done this to himself, for reasons unknown of course.

Near was placed on a stretcher and carried from the apartment. Matt didn't want to be in this hellish room for a moment longer than necessary so he waited outside beside the ambulance. As the door closed, he felt a sudden wave of anguish rush out of him. He needed to break down and let all the emotion out now that Near couldn't see him. He knew that his lover was never going to be the same again, and that while he got him back alive, what this man took from him can never be replaced.

Letting the last of his tears fall to the ground, he took a deep breath, bit his lower lip and got inside the ambulance to accompany Near to the hospital. Roger stayed behind to deal with the police. Roger had already put two and two together. He knew it was unlikely for the man to kill himself, especially at such a time and in such a violent way. But he only could say this for sure having known about the death note. He was convinced that this was Matt's doing, and that he'd used the book to both stop the man and exact this revenge at the same time. The police most certainly could not know this though. The death note had to remain a secret for the time being, and then destroyed when he could see to it.

Despite his age, Roger could be very good at coming up with a story at a moment's notice. The police had believed it for the time being. He'd convinced them that the man was probably suffering from schizophrenia and probably hadn't taken any medication for it in quite a while, probably since coming to the US. His motive was not ransom, but rather to torture and punish the person who defeated Kira before ending his own sorry life in a way that was sure to mentally scar his victim. It seemed reasonable enough for the police not to detain either one of them. Later fingerprinting would show that the knife was handled only by the deceased, leaving it a clear cut while bizarre case of suicide.

It was unlikely that Matt was going to let anyone detain him at this point, so it was a relief when they let him go as the EMT's were carrying Near out of the apartment on a stretcher. Matt followed them outside and watched as they prepared him for the trip. Firstly attaching an IV drip and inspecting him for any wounds that needed immediate treatment. Even the EMT's were sickened by seeing what had happened to Near, as Matt overheard things like "poor thing" and "He's a mess" echoing from inside the ambulance.

The adrenaline started to wear off, and Matt felt himself crashing, just from looking around at the whole scene around him. The ambulance, the bloody trail leading from the apartment, the police, and Roger himself, who seemed to be paler and more gaunt than usual. Matt hadn't considered how such a grotesque discovery might be affecting the elderly man. He'd considered Near and Matt as if they were sons of his. Yes indeed, Matt felt himself crashing as he sank to his knees and let it all out. All of the pain, the sorrow, the guilt, and the anger, flowing out of him in the form of tears and muffled whimpers. His shoulders shook as he sobbed over and over again.

Roger put a frail hand on his heaving back, and spoke softly to him.

"It's ok Matt. It's ok my boy. He'll be fine. It looks far worse than it is. It's ok, just let it out now, but then be done with it. He needs you to be strong for him. Finish up your crying and get inside that amublance to be with him. I'll deal with matters here."

Matt's crying slowed to a series of whimpers. He took several deep breaths, nodded, and shakily rose to his feet.

"Thank you Roger." Matt said, before walking towards the ambulance. "I'm coming with him." He said, climbing into the back.

It seemed the EMT's had cleaned a lot of the gore off of him in an attempt to check for injuries, and with that alone he looked much better, with the exception of his face which still seemed like a truck had hit it.

Near kept quiet for most of the journey. He was awake, just staring blankly at the ceiling, wincing occasonally when the ambulance hit a bump in the road. Matt was far calmer now, if anything stoic, letting the anger simmer slowly inside of him. He'd gotten his vengance and was only disappointed that he didn't make the bastard suffer nearly as much as his victim had. Matt well understood at this point that the road to recovery for Near was a long one. Not so much for his physical injuries which were yet to be determined, but mentally as well. He wanted him to be the same as he was, instead the constant fear and sleepless nights he was sure to encounter after this ordeal.

"Hey. Look at me." Matt said, Near hesitated for a moment before glancing over to Matt who was sitting beside him. The instant their eyes made contact, Near's narrowed slightly and a single, stray tear rolled down his temple. "We'll get through his ok? You just have to be strong and get better, and we'll work on the rest of you. I'm not going anywhere."

Near nodded, and for a brief moment it almost seemed as if he smiled before staring back up at the ceiling.

That first night in the hospital was the most difficult. Near had to kept subdued due to the pain affecting many different parts of him while Matt and Roger paced nervously in the ER waiting room. It was rather busy that night, but fortunately they had given Near priority. The waiting was killing him though. He tried watching TV but was unable to keep his attention focused, not that the show that was playing was much interest to him in the first place. He all but raided the vending machines, trying to munch on all sorts of crap to calm his nerves, and he even as a last resort tried the coffee, which was as awful as he expected it to be. Had Roger had not been there he probably would've been outside chain-smoking the whole time.

After a 2 hour or so wait, the ER nurses had decided to let them in. He was pretty much unconscious. He had tubes coming from his nose and his arms. Various wires for things Matt didn't even know the names for coming from under his hospital gown. He had tape and bandages on his face. His wrist was bound in a cast. He just simply looked pathetic.

The doctor had come by to read the final report. It turned out that Near had a fractured nose, one of his front teeth had been knocked loose, a broken wrist, 2 broken ribs, a mild concussion, and the one that made Matt the sickest, some tearing to his anus. Additionally he was severely malnourished, running a high fever and in danger of catching pneumonia since his immune system was compromised. Amongst the myraid tests they had done, one of them included an STD test to make sure the rapist hadn't given him anything.

The answer to the most important question Matt had was positive though.

"Doctor. Is he going to die?"

"No. It's pretty unlikely. He's young, and seemed healthy before all of this happened so I think he'll bounce back quickly. His mind however..."

The doctor had left them, and Matt sat down on a chair next to Near's bedside in the ICU. Roger had decided to go home, as he was quite exhausted. This was a lot for someone his age and Matt respected the need for him to go home and sleep. Matt however refused to leave and sat the whole long night by Near's side.

The police had come by to question Matt, but not aggressively. It didn't seem as if he was a suspect afterall since the security footage of their apartment building showed Matt leaving and entering at approximately the same the time as the murder had taken place. Since he could not have possibly been there, and the police had no knowledge of the Death Note. He was off the hook.

One week had gone by until the finally decided to sign Near's release papers. At long last he was going to go home. He'd been conscious since the day after he was admitted. He was quiet mostly, even for him. It's something Matt had expected, but aside from how he was less chatty than usual, he seemed to be trying to act as if nothing was wrong. Matt didn't want to push him any and just let him cope with things his own way for a while. He seemed to be dealing with the pain well, and seemed a bit bored if anything.

"Welcome home baby." Matt said as they entered the apartment together.

Matt was sure that finally being home was a comfort to Near as the boy immediately set to sitting on the floor and stacking his dominoes. His bruised face bore a blank expression. Whle Matt had wanted to let Near cope with it in his own way for a while, there was a burning quesiton he had to ask.

"Near. Why did you keep the Death Note?" Matt asked.

He didn't respond. It was as if Matt hadn't said anything at all.

"Near!" Matt raised his voice, although he didn't intend to.

Near stopped what he was doing and turned to look at Matt taking several seconds before responding.

"I was planning on using it one day."

"What?"

"As a last resort method. Should the world ever be so unfortunate enough to have another Death Note dropped into it, it would be the fastest method of exterminating it's owner once their identity is known to me. That's the reason."

"You should have told me."

"I didn't want to burden you with this knowledge. In fact I'm a bit disheartened that you had to resort to using it to save me." Near said.

"I'm just glad I found it. If I hadn't... he would've killed you." Matt said solemnly.

Near nodded.

"What should we do with it?" Matt asked.

"Put it back where you found it. I see no purpose in destroying it at this point just to satisy our own emotional needs or guilt."

He was so cold. Completely devoid of emotion as he had been in the past before him and Matt had become involved. He wondered if he would ever have back the Near he fell in love with.

Later that night, when it was time to go to sleep, Matt had layed down next to Near in the bed and gently wrapped his arms around him. Near's body went stiff, and Matt slackened his hold on him as a result.

"Matt please don't touch me." Near said.

"What? Why?" Matt asked in a somewhat pained voice.

"Listen. I'm not ready yet. I find being touched to be very disconcerting right now. Please let go. Try and put some distance between us." Near said.

Matt unsnaked his arms from Near's body and rolled over onto his side, away from Near. He felt the pools of tears flooding his eyes as his throat clenched. He didn't want to cry openly in front of Near. He didn't want to make him feel guilt, or moreover, seem needy in front of him. He bit hard on his lip as he tried to stop himself from sobbing. Near knew however, and it pained him deeply. He was going to try whatever it took to get back to normal, to feel comfortable in his own skin again.

"Matt."

"Yeah?" Matt replied, although it unintentionally sounded more like a pained whimper.

"I love you. That hasn't changed." Near replied.

Matt nodded, his the sound of his head shuffling against the pillow gave Near his confirmation. Matt squeezed his eyes shut knowing that one day, everything was going to be okay.