Author's Note: Co-written written with my vunderful beta, Scaity.

Though it may seem so, this is not an AU fic. It will all make sense at the end.


The fire crackled, licking at the cloudy night sky. Sparks exploded out of the blazing pile of wood as a breeze twisted the smoke into wispy gray curls as they reached to the sky which was an unusual shade of Prussian blue.

This aforementioned breeze blew this aforementioned smoke into an unsuspecting young man's face, and he gagged, doubled over, hacking.

"Matt," his leather-clad companion sighed, observing the wheezing form that had fallen off the log next to him. "You smoke all the time. Shouldn't you be used to this by now?" All he got in response was another gag.

From the other side of the campfire, a young man snickered, lowering his face into his lover's gravity-defying hair.

"Light-kun," the dark haired man scolded quietly, turning his head up to meet Light's gaze. Near snapped out of his daze at the sound of that name. When did Light get here? "Matt's destructive habits are not something to be taken lightly."

Something was not sitting right with Near. The sand seemed too soft and white, the sky too perfect of a dark blue, and the water the color of myrtle as the waves placidly rolled in. The sun had just dipped below the horizon.

"Look who's talking," the blonde, scar-faced teen murmured as the detective ate his twenty-third marshmallow.

"Said the pot to the kettle," the fair-featured boy added, twirling the advanced Rubik's cube in his hands. "As I recall, Mello, we purchased enough chocolate to feed a third world country, and I don't even have a square for my s'more."

"You know, Near's right," Matt pointed out. "You look like you're swimming in chocolate wrappers."

"Shut the hell up, Matt," Mello growled defensively. "At least I'm not a psycho teenager who plays with dolls and blank puzzles."

Light, who had been stifling his laughter quite impressively for the past few minutes, burst into a fit of hysteria, falling backwards off his log with a loud thump, his foot whacking the side of his lover's face.

"Sorry L," he apologized as he climbed back onto the log, still snickering.

"Me? Psychotic?" Near exclaimed incredulously. "I'm not the mass murderer at this campfire."

"What ever happened to forgive and forget?" Light asked innocently. "Near badly wanted to shout "No!" but all that came out was a silent gasp as he nodded in agreement. It was as if there was a block not allowing him too, like a vampire who couldn't say "God" because the name burned his throat.

Light adjusted his rumpled shirt. This effort proved to be futile, as L immediately yanked the younger man down to sit on the sand behind him, curling his knees into his chest and yawning as he twisted his fingers into Light's sleeve.

As shocking as this display of exhaustion from L was, no one but Light seemed to notice, because Near was too busy roasting marshmallows with his toy robot and completed Rubik's cube, and Matt was distracted by Mello's frantic searching through his vest pockets for a chocolate bar.

"Where is my emergency chocolate?" Mello demanded then gasped in horror, "You didn't eat it, did you?!" Mello's expression was venomous.

A red, hot blush spread across Matt's cheekbones as his usually well hidden, goggle covered eyes darted around nervously, "N-no…" he stuttered but received a painful thump on the back of his head and a murderous glare.

Mello shifted, turning his back to Matt. "I hate you," he growled.

"Don't say that; you know you love me." Matt grinned wickedly, throwing his arm lazily around Mello's shoulders.

But Mello shrugged Matt's arm off and snorted in disgust. Dejected, Matt withdrew his striped arm and reached down to grab the lighter and cigarettes that had fallen out during Mello's chocolate hunt. But much to his despair, Matt soon realized that his lighter was out of fluid. "Damn it," he grumbled, throwing it to the ground moodily.

"If you haven't noticed already, there's a fire about a yard away," Near reminded him, chewing at a marshmallow thoughtfully.

Matt's previously gloomy expression brightened. "Oh yeah!" he exclaimed cheerfully, holding a cigarette out to the hot flames. A moment later, a windy trail of vile smelling smoke began drifting into the air and Matt exhaled a grey cloud happily.

"Matt! I thought we had a deal! You promised you wouldn't smoke tonight!" Mello almost whined.

"I never promised; I just deceptively mislead you." Matt grinned wryly.

In one swift movement, Mello grabbed the box of cigarettes and tossed them into the flames. Matt looked appalled.

"That was a brand new box!" he howled.

"Yeah? And?" Mello leaned in closer to Matt so their faces were inches away. "Smoking makes your breath smell bad." And with that he plucked the cancer stick from between Matt's teeth and tossed it into the flames after the others. "There," Mello proclaimed with a satisfied smile. "All better."

Matt looked horror struck but his expression quickly changed to a large grin. "So if smoking makes my breath smell bad, does that mean you won't kiss me?"

Mello blushed. "Matt, we are in public," he reminded him quietly.

"I don't care," Matt declared, grabbing onto front of Mello's jacket, pulling him into an embrace, and kissed him on the mouth, trailing his lips along his scar towards his half shut eyes, causing a shiver to run up and down Mello's spine.

Near cleared his throat awkwardly. It wasn't like them to show affection in public. What was going on here? "How about a ghost story?" he offered.

The group agreed quickly, Matt and Mello with quite a bit of shuffling and blushing, Light with an amused quirk of his eyebrow, and L with a drowsy nod. For as Near began speaking, L started to slip out of consciousness, only slightly aware of his surroundings.

He could feel Light's strong arms cradling him and the warmth radiating from his body as he curled into him. The fire made peculiar patterns of red and black on the back of his eyelids and a cool breeze played with his hair, tickling his face, but L was too tired to bother brushing it aside. Somewhere off in the distance, he heard the drone of Near's voice. There was a pause, and then someone screamed, but L barely noticed; he was long gone from reality.

"What the hell, Near?!" Mello demanded quite unhappily as he held the rubber spider in his hand. "Don't ever do that again!" But Near wasn't listening; he was too busy smirking in triumph and rearranging his robot's arms. He didn't remember taking a spider with him, but it sure did come in handy.

"Lighten up, Mello; that was pretty great. You screamed like a girl," Matt joked, trying to hold down his laughter and failing. Apparently Near had rigged his robot so that it could throw things, and he had come prepared with a rubber spider to launch at an unsuspecting Mello. "You're the only one at this campfire who doesn't see the humor in that," Matt added. "Right Light? L?"

Light nodded, smiling, but otherwise remaining silent. He put his finger to his lips then pointed at L, who, to everyone's amazement, was sound asleep.

"Well, now what do we do?" Mello asked. "We're all out of food, Near is done telling his stupid story and launching things at innocent bystanders," Mello glared at Near, "and L is asleep. I'm bored."

"Only boring people get bored," Near commented icily.

"Your face is boring." Mello shot the horrible comeback at him.

"Your mom is boring." Apparently it had turned into a game of the witless.

"Your hair is boring."

"Your ass is boring."

"Hey," Matt butted in, pointing at Near, "his ass is quite remarkable, thank you very much."

Mello gasped, "Matt!" He whacked him in the arm, then turned back to Near. "Well, your—your clothes are boring!" Mello was clearly running out of ideas.

"You're boring in bed," Near shot back immediately.

Matt was once again incensed. "How would you know?" he demanded.

"The same way you would." He quirked an eyebrow at Matt, smiling rather creepily.

Mello gasped. "You would not know!" He sounded venomous.

"Oh? Wouldn't I?" Near was having fun. "Don't you remember those remarkable nights at Wammy's?"

"You dirty lying bastard!" Mello shrieked as he jumped to his feet. "Matt don't listen to him!" Matt looked horrified, disgusted, and angry.

"Mello, how could you?" he whispered, sounding crushed.

"No! I didn't! He's lying!" Mello looked shocked that Matt didn't believe him.

"Mello I thought you loved me! I thought we had something special!" Matt looked like he was going to cry. Matt cry? Near marveled. What's going on?

"Matt, please believe me. I didn't. Near is a liar!" Mello begged.

"Mello, you were in the Mafia, which is full of liars. How could I ever trust you?!" Matt exclaimed.

By this point, Near was showing more emotion than any of them had ever imagined was possible as he collapsed to the side, guffawing. "Matt," he choked out. "I was being facetious. Mello and I have never touched each other in a sexually inappropriate manner. He is my friend, not my secret lover." He hiccupped from laughing too hard.

Matt's white face slowly gained color until it was a blazing shade of crimson. "You dirty lying bastard!" he screamed.

"Hey, that's my line!" Mello protested.

"Everyone just mellow down!" Light shouted.

There was a long moment of silence. A cricket chirped.

"I hate that adjective! It should go die!" Mello muttered. There was another long period of awkward silence that was broken my Matt suddenly humming.

"Nooo! Shut the hell up, Matt! You know I hate that song!" Mello howled, shaking Matt by the shoulders. That didn't work because Matt started to shout the chorus.

"They call me mellow yellow, quite rightly. They call mellow yellow, quite rightly…" He smiled wickedly at Mello.

Mello sat there, his right eye twitching. "God damn it Matt!" Mello shouted, thwacking Matt upside the head. "I'm going to kill you!"

Interrupting their heated feud was an indescribably adorable yawn from the other side of the campfire. "Light-kun," L murmured, stretching, then turning and ducking his face into Light's shirt. "Is it morning yet?"

The atmosphere immediately softened at his sleepy voice and Light smiled down at his lover. "No, not yet."

"Can I have a marshmallow?" he asked, looking up with droopy eyes.

"Sorry, but you ate them all. There's no more, remember?"

L's eyes widened, then tilted into an expression of disbelief, and his bottom lip began quivering. "But-but there's always more marshmallows!"

Matt chuckled. "Marshmallow…"

"Gah!" Mello exclaimed throwing his arms in the air. "No more Mello jokes!"

Suddenly there was a loud boom that echoed over their heads.

"Holy shit!" Mello exclaimed, jumping and grabbing Matt's arm, muttering something about stupid fiery explosions.

"It's just a firework Mello," Matt soothed.

"I'm not stupid! I know that. It just startled me!" Mello snapped back.

Matt's response to Mello's attitude was unheard because another series of colorful fireworks erupted over them and they all turned to watch.

The fireworks were too bright and too colorful and they didn't sound normal either; instead of a low crack like thunder, there was the hollow sound like an enormous balloon popping.

After ten minutes the show ceased, leaving behind a heavy green smog. Near's eyes started to water and L coughed a few times.

"That was cool," Mello smiled.

A light drizzle started to fall, breaking up the smoke. A loud thunder crack announced the deluge. Within seconds the fire was smothered and the sheet of rain was near to impossible to see through.

It took a few seconds of confusion before Near realized that he was not getting wet. It was like there was a small hole cut out of the clouds right above his head.

"How weird…" Near muttered as he reached out into the storm, which was a mistake. It was like glass showering down, stinging his hand. He yelped and his arm recoiled against his chest. A thin red web started to bloom on his palm.

"Mello!" he called, barely able to see him. There was no response.

"Matt?! L! Light! Anyone?" He reached out his arm towards the blurry figures. He could barely see their outstretched arms, and was unable to tell who was who.

"I can't reach!" he cried, the strange rain tearing through his thin white shirt. To his horror, everything started to melt like wet paint dripping down a canvas.

The colors mixed like a swirling whirlpool around him until the rain slowed then finally stopping.

Everything was black except for a small gap in the dark clouds that poured a strange blue light over him.

All he could see was nothing; nothing except the endless dirt pillar on which he stood.

"Hello?" Near called, "is anyone there?" Nothing responded but a howling wind.

He bent down into a crouching position, his forehead resting on his knees and his arms wrapped around his legs.

It's just a dream, he wailed to himself, just a dream, just a dream…just a dream…

He opened his eyes and took a sharp intake of breath. Everything was still black...

His pupils dilated and he realized where he was. Swiveling around in his chair, he could make out the black forms of his card acropolis and the many monitors flashing rhythmically.

Near sighed. I should give up on sleeping; he rubbed his swollen eyes that had ever darkening circles under them.

Sleep…

The only time I can be with my, family…

Even though we're far from perfect, they were the only people I had even if we could not even have a normal campfire at the beach. He smiled.

He missed Mello. Even though he as crude and annoying, he was still his closest friend.

He never knew Matt very well, but he was always kind.

Wammy was like a concerned grandfather who tried to make everyone happy.

L was like a father in a way. Even though he rarely saw him, he was still someone to look up to.

And Light, oh, how he loathed Light.

Near might have won against Kira, but it was Light who truly beat him. Because even though Light died and Near lived, he was alone. There were the people he worked with like Gevanni and Lidner and Rester, but they were not anyone special, just coworkers. His real family was gone and that murderer was with them and loved by them, while he was down here alone and forgotten.

Emotions were not supposed to be a part of his life. but they seemed to assault him at night when he was alone. He would feel lost, forlorn, sometimes helpless, and fear…fear; fear of failing, not living up to L, being a disgrace to the name.

No one could be as good as L. Some, he thought, knew that reality better than others, destroying their sanity over it, trying to surpass the unbeatable man.

If he only had others…Mello and he would have made such a great team, balancing each other's strengths and weaknesses, Matt there to help; he was great with technology…and breaking up fights. Near smirked.

They were definitely not perfect.

Even in his dreams they bickered like in reality, but that made it all more real.

Sometimes he wished he would never wake up.

Other times, he did. When outside noises intruded, like thunder and flinching in his sleep and knocking a glass off the table…

He stared at the shards on the ground; he normally didn't move a muscle when he slept. How could he have knocked that cup off the table? It hadn't even been near the edge…

At the moment he was working on a particularly difficult case. As the glass reflected the flickering light of the monitors, their spastic reflections danced across the floor and touched a piece of paper that had slipped under the desk. Near got off the chair, avoiding the glass and crawled under the desk to grab it.

Holding it out to the light, he could not recognize it. He must have overlooked it somehow. His eyes widened, this was the information he needed. He was going to win the case now. How could he have missed this? Thank god that glass broke.

Little things like that made him hope that he was not completely forgotten.

Near smiled and went back to work.


Author's Note: Reviewers get Mello's emergency chocolate. My beta would be much obliged if you left a review on her copy as well. Thanks! :D Link (with spaces): www fanfiction net / s / 5339407 / 1

Also, I'm planning on changing my pen name soon, so keep an eye open for that.