Author's Note: My second attempt at writing Death Note. This was supposed to be a one-shot, but it was becoming too long for that, so i've decided to break it down into a few chapters. This is my take on how Near and Mello's relationship became so screwed up. This first chapter is an intro; the rest will take place when they're older, during the Kira investigation. Rated M for later scenes. XD I hope you enjoy.
I'd like to dedicate this to the person who is the Near to my Mello; you're truly inspiring.
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note or any of the associated characters.
M, My Name is Mello
It was raining the day L brought Near to live at Wammy's House. Mello was seven and--being an active individual--horrendously bored having to stay indoors.
He was draped backward over the arm of a lounge chair in Roger's office, arms thrown out, hair and fingertips dusting the emerald carpet, decidedly spending his remaining ten minutes of "time-out" putting no effort at all into anything productive. There were brain-training puzzles arranged in one corner that would perhaps be entertaining, maybe; if it wasn't so unfair that he was being punished simply because no one else saw the brilliance of replacing the chocolate milk mix with garden soil. It wasn't his fault he was the only person who had a sense of humor.
Roger's office was the most boring room in the entire mansion, and Mello rather disliked spending lengthy chunks of time confined within the chestnut-paneled walls. He didn't, however, hate it so much that it would stop him from putting a frog in the punch bowl during the Halloween party scheduled next weekend.
He smirked at the thought of the girls shrieking and darting for safety, and a chuckle worked its way past his lips. The sound was small, but amplified in the too quiet room; the only other sound being the low hum of a tropical fish tank on the far left.
Roger glanced up from his desk, studying him with slanted gray eyes, ever suspicious of the fun-loving blonde.
"Mello," he said at length, a sigh bordering the words, "what are you up to?"
The door banged open, and Mello bolted upright, swiping a fan of golden hair away from his eyes. "L!"
"Ah, there you are," L said, watching the child launch himself from the chair and cling to his side.
"L, we weren't expecting you," Roger said, moving to stand from his chair, but L waved him back down.
"It's quite alright," he said. "I wasn't expecting me either."
"Is that another child?" Roger asked, adjusting the frames perched on his nose to better see the blanket-wrapped bundle in L's arms.
"Yes. Watari and I will be in momentarily to discuss him with you," L said, spider-like fingers curling around one of Mello's wrists. "Mello, come this way."
He hauled the child into the corridor, pulling him along as quickly as Mello's small legs would allow. He fumbled to catch up with the rhythm of the pace, then fell into an easy sprint at L's side.
"Where are we going?" he asked, glancing upward toward the small bundle. All he could make out was one sock-clad foot sticking out of the bottom of a fleece blanket.
"Just to my room for a moment. I don't have a lot of time," L said, rounding a corner and tugging him down a hallway with a single oak door at the end.
Mello stumbled a bit, and L's hold tightened to prevent a fall.
"Watch your step," he said, but Mello wasn't listening; he was too preoccupied with the glorified thought of L's room.
He had only been inside twice, and once he was too young to remember. The first had been when L had brought him to Wammy's House, and the second when L finally left for a new case and Mello realized he wasn't allowed to go with. L had granted him permission to sleep there the first night he was gone, if it made him feel any better, but warned to not make a habit of it.
Though his time in L's room had been limited and few, he still felt a shard of jealousy claw at his stomach. Who was this kid to L that he was being treated with the same attention L had always reserved for him?
Mello was special to L; he wasn't like any of the other orphans at Wammy's House, brought there through referrals from other orphanages. Mello had been personally saved and recruited to Wammy's by L, cared for and hand-delivered. Up until that point, he had been the only one. Now this?
Mello seethed, but was brought about when L released his wrist to open the door and gently nudged him inside.
"Mello, please get the door," he said, crossing the room toward his bed.
He obliged, closing them into the room, then turning back just in time to see L deposit the bundle onto the edge of his bed and peel the rain-soaked blanket off.
Mello blinked and then stared at the creature, who stared back with Wicca-black eyes, clutching a small--albeit large in his arms--toy robot. He was tiny, five-years-old back then, though no larger than three, and everything about him WHITE. White hair, white skin, white pajamas, white socks. Pretty like Christmas and snowflakes.
…But the eyes, inhumanly large and cryptic; twin black magic crystals shot through with sparks of cosmo-deep wisdom.
Mello felt his heart freeze over, paralyzed by some unseen force, silent and almost supernatural. A chill shimmied up his spine, then imploded as fire-tipped nails clawed back downward.
L set the blanket aside and turned to Mello, crouching into his favored position to level up their eyes.
"I need you to do something for me," he said, clutching the boys' shoulders.
Mello didn't answer, continuing to stare beyond him into the bewitching black eyes; unable to break away from the pull of the gaze even for the detective.
"Mello." L clipped his chin between two fingers, turning the boys' face toward his.
Mello swallowed hard, his voice a ghost of a whisper when he spoke. "What...is that?"
L smirked. "That is Nate River, but you should call him Near. And please don't mention his true name to anyone; It's a secret, just like yours. Do you understand?"
Mello peered back over the detective's shoulder, wide-eyes unblinking, and gave a nod.
L turned Mello's head back into position. "Near will be living here with you now. Watari is instructing one of the maids to set up the empty room opposite of yours. He will be allowed to stay in my room for tonight, and I would like you to stay with him."
"Me?" Mello asked, eyelids finally beginning to flutter again and blink moisture into place.
"Yes, Mello. You." L slid his arms down Mello's shoulders and took hold of his hands, penetrating his soul with his own dark, owlish eyes. "Listen to me: this is a very important mission that I'm giving you." He glanced over his shoulder at Near, studying him a moment, then turned back. "He's very clever, just like you, but I need you to look after him for me while I'm gone. Don't let the other children push him around just because he functions a little differently."
"He's weird," Mello said, leaning closer so only L could hear.
"It's not for us to judge those who we don't understand," L chided, then gave a tentative smile and squeezed Mello's hands. "But I'm certain that you will understand him. You're different than the other children here, don't you think? You have a gift, and I want you to stick together."
Mello smiled. He always smiled when L was home, but especially when L was home and praising him; when he was proud of him and smiling at him and his breath was warm and sweet against his skin.
"Okay, L. I'll protect him. I promise."
L pushed himself back up, dragging Mello across the room toward the bed. He grasp Near's free hand and pressed it into Mello's, holding them together as he looked between them.
"Stick together," he said, gently palming their tangled fingers. "And above all else, trust each other."
He seemed satisfied with their nods and dropped his hold to reach into his pocket. "I don't have long, but I've brought you a treat, Mello. Please share it with Near."
Mello's eyes gleamed as L pulled out and dangled a shiny wrapped chocolate bar between two fingers.
"Chocolate!" Mello shrieked, bouncing on his toes as L pressed it into his hand.
"I brought this one all the way from America. I thought you'd enjoy that." He ruffled Mello's hair, muddling it more than it already was to begin with.
"Now," he said, giving the boys' hands one last squeeze together. "Please behave. No putting small animals into refreshments or anything else that may drive Roger into an early grave."
Mello's face crumpled into a pout, his lips puckering. How did L always know everything, even before it happened? It was equally as amazing as it was frustrating, in Mello's opinion. He never had been able to prank the detective.
L tried to stand, but Near's hand shot out and latch onto his shirt, overbalancing his robot and sending it head first onto the floor. L hesitated, glancing first at the hand fisted against his stomach and then at Near. Mello started when his eyes followed L's, surprised at the sight of Near's cheeks sprinkled with glittering drops of misery.
"I'm sorry I have to leave so quickly, but I'm needed back in America at once," L said, leaning in to swab the tears away with his sleeve. "I won't be away for too long. Don't you worry."
Near sniffled, rubbing the back of his sleeve against his nose, then convulsed as a sob ripped through his chest. L continued to mop at the rivers of saline, his tone dropping another decibel as he leaned in closer.
"You're going to be fine; you'll be just fine. We talked about this." He reached over for the robot, patting the carpet a few times before grasping its foot and pulling it up to set on the side table. He turned it by the head to face Near. "You've got your robot," he said, dusting a tear from his chin. "Do you still have the cross?"
Near tugged at the beaded cord looped around his neck, lifting a rosary out of his pajama top and into view. It gleamed in the grayish light from the window, modestly plain and silver. It wasn't abnormally large, but it seemed too bulky for his small frame; certainly not made for a child. He dropped it again at L's nod, and it disappeared beneath the folds of white and satin with a dull glint.
"Good," L whispered, never breaking his gaze. "And you've got Mello now as well. You'll never be alone again."
Mello floundered a moment, feeling a sudden urge to confirm L's promise, but unsure what to do. He looked around helplessly, then settled on twisting his palm and adjusting his fingers to lace with Near's, then gave a protective, reassuring squeeze. Near glanced down at their hands, then up at Mello, blinking out twin tears.
Mello looked back at L, catching a note of thankfulness swimming along his black-lake eyes as he began to back away again. He paused in the doorway, taking them in for a long moment, pride evident even under his dead-pan expression, and finally slipped away.
Near's hand was trembling, Mello noticed, and followed the length of it up to his face. His eyes were squeezed closed, tears streaming from beneath his lashes as he rasped for air, jerking slightly with each sharp inhale. Mello felt a slow panic spread from the pit of his stomach upward, seizing his own breath as the instinct to cry out for L to come back coiled around his vocal cords.
As he opened his mouth to do just that, he felt the tremors begin to fade, like water after a pebble had been tossed in and finally hit the bottom, slowly coming to a still calmness. Near dipped his head as his breathing became steady, sucking in a few deep pulls of oxygen before reopening the onyx marbles to look back up at Mello again.
The wetness was still there, stained with puffiness around his eyes and down his cheeks, but no new tears were forming. Instead, a blankness had replaced them, washing out his expression as a whole. It looked as if he weren't even capable of the bawling he had been doing seconds ago.
Mello blinked, confused about everything that had just transpired. It was probably the weirdest thing that had ever happened to him.
But no matter; the kid had stopped crying and he was in possession of his first ever chocolate bar. He failed to see any cause for complaint.
"Come on," he said, prying his hand loose to climb onto the bed and prowl across the cerulean bedspread. He tugged the corner down, slipping under the covers and held it open for the other boy.
Near grabbed his robot, then crawled toward Mello and wormed his way into the space between his side and the blanket.
"I've never had plain chocolate before," Mello said, tearing a finger down the wrapper. "Only chocolate flavored cake and milk and ice cream. Have you?"
Near gave a nod, but said nothing; Mello snapped off a piece of the bar and handed it to him, then shoved a second into his own mouth.
The sensation creamed over his tongue, melting in a delicious blend of sharp chocolate and sugar. His eyes fluttered closed as he sucked it back, savoring the delightful taste, and snuggled closer against the warmth of Near's body.
For Mello, it was the moment two addictions were born.