He couldn't explain why he did it. The blonde quietly snapped off a small square of his chocolate bar as he pressed himself flat against the wall, peeking stealthily around the corner and down the hall. Dark shadows danced in the moonlight pouring through the various windows lining the hallways, the velvety curtains swaying in the summer breeze. It was a warm night, so the hall monitors had opened the windows before they retired for the evening. It was 2:15 am and the orphanage was silent, save for the nearly silent footfalls of the 7 year old Mello.

Today had been like any other day for the past couple of months. He had gone to classes until 3 pm and took a 3 hour nap immediately after. The blonde had to fight with his red-haired roommate Matt for the first few days. He complained that Mello shouldn't sleep at such weird times while playing his Gameboy Color at full volume, to which Mello replied by ripping the Gameboy out of the other's hands and removing the batteries. This game was repeated every day for two weeks before Mello finally found Matt's secret stash of extra batteries. From that point onward, the blonde awoke at 6 pm on the dot and began his studying. He couldn't let his evening activities affect his performance. His afternoon nap was to make up for the lack of sleep he got at night. At 2:00 am every morning, the teachers that patrolled the dark hallways left their posts to go to sleep themselves, and a certain blonde 7 year old began to finish up his studies for the night.

It was a habit—no, a compulsion. Every night it was like this. He quietly snuck out of his room, careful not to shut the door too loudly. Here he was, yet again, just like last night, and the night before that, and every night for the past two months. He stared up at the reflective brass number 9 that shone down at him with redirected moonlight. Quietly, gently and patiently, he lifted his arm, almost afraid that the creaking of his joints might alert a teacher to his presence. He clutched the door handle and rotated ever so slightly. He was met with a resistance. He let out a breath he had been holding. Good. No one/Nothing had picked the lock.

Mello sat down against the wall right next to the door, looking back and forth, up and down the hallway. Honestly, adults could be so stupid, leaving the number one child at Wammy's House unprotected. Surely people would be after the top candidate to become successor to L. Murderers and criminals…even monsters could come and get at the small frail child while he slept. Mello wouldn't allow that. No, he couldn't allow that. After all, that's why he kept watch outside of the young genius's door every night. There was no way he would let anyone get to the other young boy. To Near. No, he wouldn't allow anyone to hurt him.

Another soft snap signaled that the young blonde had bit off another piece of his chocolate. He was going to beat Near. He and he alone. If he allowed anyone else to hurt Near, that would just mean that when Mello beat him, it wouldn't be because he was better than him. Mello was going to beat the quiet child while he was at his prime, just to make doubly sure that he truly surpassed him in intelligence. He wasn't about to just let the title of Number One just fall into his lap because of some unfortunate mishap that he could have prevented.

Three hours later, Mello sat in the same spot, and was happily lost in the land of dreams. He didn't even notice that the door he was so protective of opened not more than a few inches away from him and a pale, ghostly figure quietly came out of it, being careful to shut the door silently, noticing the blonde where he was every night. And just like every night for the past two months, Near, dragging his white blanket behind him, sat down next to the blonde that protected him from danger. He softly spread the blanket over the two of them, laid his head down on the older one's shoulder, closed his eyes and fell asleep, content that he felt safe when the other was around.