It was generally forgotten---even by Roger and Wammy himself---that Mello and Near had been anything but enemies. But Mello and Near knew things about each other that nobody else knew, not even Matt. Mello knew Near's favorite color was black, not white. Near knew that Mello preferred rock music to the rap Matt was always listening to. They both knew things about each other, things that they kept secret from everyone else.

Like their friendship.

Near was two when he first came into Wammy's Orphanage. He stood next to Roger, his hand in his hair, already starting his habit of twirling his hair. Mello, then four, happened to be passing by, a chocolate bar in hand, when Roger stopped him.

"Mello, this is Near." He said. "He's going to be staying in your room for a few days." Mello opened his mouth to protest, but Roger didn't allow him to speak. "No complaints, Mello. It's only for a few days." Mello eyed Near, who was wearing jeans and a black T-shirt, and sighed.

"Come on, then." He said, holding his hand out to Near. "I'll show you the way to my room." Near blinked slowly, then held his hand out to Mello.

Three days later, Near had his own room. But he was in Mello's so often that it managed to stay pristine white until he started using it.

Near and Mello shared a room until Mello was about nine. Near didn't mind Mello's almost-constant bouncing around the room, and Mello didn't care that Near beat him on every test they had together. Every night, after lights-out, they'd sneak outside and go to their "secret place", which was really just a clearing Mello happened to discover one night while he had been outside. It was a small clearing, with a lot of trees that had really strong branches, which were alternately emptied of or filled with colorful leaves, depending on the season. Mello would help Near up the trees, and they'd sit on the thicker branches higher up, talking about whatever they could think of.

Near learned Mello's favorite color was white. Mello laughed at Near's growing annoyance with the artist of Wammy's following him around everywhere, wanting a picture of him. They learned about each other's families and pasts, about each other's real names.

When Mello was nine, he was moved to the other side of Wammy's.

"Why?" Near asked, sitting on Mello's bed as he watched Mello grab his things. Mello sighed and paused, cracking his knuckles.

"It's because I"m too old for this side." Mello said, standing up.

"I'm coming too." Near insisted, standing up as well. Mello, trying not to laugh, placed his hands on Near's shoulders.

"No, Near. Not yet." Near pouted. "Hey, hey. No face. C'mon, Near, smile." Near shook his head. Mello sighed. "You can come over in two years, Near."

"But that's in forever!" Near whined lightly. Mello couldn't help it that time---he laughed.

"Meet me later." He whispered in Near's ear. "Usual time, at the secret place."

They met every night for a few months. Mello and Near only saw each other at mealtimes and during their meetings. Their meetings, however, slowed slightly as Mello had harder classes and made new friends. Their meetings slowed to once a week... once every few months... by the time Near had turned eight, the meetings had stopped completely. Near continued going to the "secret place", to celebrate victories and mourn quietly over losses, but he did so alone. He went through his classes, beating Mello's scores on every test he was given.

When he was nine, he was finally moved to the other side of Wammy's. Mello, his friend (Near had heard Mello call him 'Matt', so he assumed it was his name) and Near all had the same classes now, but Mello now brutally ignored him. That is, until the first test they had together. It surprised Near---it was the first test that Mello had ever been upset because Near beat him.

In that moment, Near realized how different Mello really was. When Mello left, Matt behind him (Matt had been playing his PSP while Mello vented his frustrations out on Near), Near stood up shakily. Pushing past people, Near managed to stumble outside alone. Glancing around to make sure he wasn't being followed, Near ran towards the "secret place" that seemed to be his alone now. Clutching at his chest (he had always been a sickly child, and the pain he felt from Mello's abandonment and the running wasn't helping), he managed to get to the tree Mello had always helped him up.

Grunting quietly with effort, Near managed to pull himself up to one of the higher branches, one that gave a view of Wammy's and part of the town beyond the Orphanage. The branch was thick enough that Near could curl up, and he did, mindful of the bruising on his arms, legs, and torso, ignoring his spilt lip and bruised face. Before he knew it, it was dark. Roger and several other teachers were coming out with flashlights, looking for him.

With a sigh, Near climbed down easily. As soon as his feet touched the floor, someone grabbed him from behind. Knowing instantly who it would be, Near tensed.

"Near---" Near didn't wait. He bolted as soon as he heard his name come from Mello. "Near!" Mello, shocked, froze and gave Near an advantage. Managing to slip by Roger unnoticed, Near raced into Wammy's. Since it was lights-out, he managed to get into his room without anyone asking anything.

He didn't notice the light coming from the end of the hall, illuminating orange-tinted goggles that hid green eyes. With a sigh, pushing back red hair, Matt stood up, pausing his game and stretching. Glancing once at Near's room, Matt proceeded down the hall to Mello's room so he could tell the blonde where Near was.

Inside his room, Near curled on his bed and felt tears fall down his face. He cried for a while, and when he was done, he looked up and caught sight of his face in the mirror. Runny nose, red-rimmed eyes, tear tracks drying on his face...he looked at mess. He stood up, picking at a string to the white pajamas he wore 24/7, and walked to the mirror. Staring at his reflection, he felt an unusual anger coming on. With a small, angry cry, he hit the mirror with his fist. Nothing happened, and he hit the mirror again and again, each hit stronger than the last. The mirror cracked, then shattered. Blood trickled down Near's wrist, but he ignored it and continued to hit the space where the mirror had been.

He only stopped when Roger and another teacher restrained his arms.

The next morning, Mello and Matt were outside Near's room. There was an awkward silence, broken only by Matt's videogame. Mello opened his mouth to speak, but Near cut across him.

"I wonder if, perhaps, Mello woud grant me time to heal before he tries to vent out whatever anger he has on me once again." He said blankly. Before Mello could respong, he moved around them to go eat.

When Near was thirteen, he and Mello were pulled into Roger's office. They were informed that L had died. Their leader, their inspiration, their idol---dead. Near felt nothing---no sadness, no sense of loss---and wondered briefly what was wrong with him. Mello, as usual, flew off the handle, demanding answers Roger either didn't know or wouldn't tell them. Roger suggested that Mello and Near work together to solve the case L had been on. Near paused for a fraction of a second before he pressed the puzzle piece down.

"All right. Sounds good." He said monotonously. Next to him, Mello had frozen, and Near allowed himself to hope.

"That's not possible, Roger." Mello said firmly, shaking his head. Near sighed inaudibly. "You know that Near and I can't get along." Near wanted to oppose that comment, but forced himself to stay silent. Mello sighed. "It's ok. Near can be L. He can solve this case like a puzzle." Mello took a deep breath. "I'm leaving Wammy's."

"But, Mello---" Roger protested. Mello turned away from him, walking past Near.

"I'm almost fifteen anyway." He said. "It's time I live my life my way." Near stood when the door shut.

"Roger." He said polietly. Roger waved him away, and Near bowed before leaving. Once he was sure no one was coming after him, he ran to the "secret place". Reaching the tree he wanted, Near pulled himself up---

---and froze when he saw Mello leaning against the trunk on the branch Near was usually on. They stared at each other for a few seconds, then Near made a movement to go down.

"No, Near." Mello reached out and grabbed Near's wrist before he could move. "Stay." Near moved and sat across from Mello. They both turned to Wammy's and were silent for a few seconds.

"Have you ever been here with Matt?" Near asked quietly. Mello, not expecting it, jumped and looked at him.

"Wha---no, this is our place." He said softly, without conviction. "Our secret place... Matt's not part of this."

"It's no longer really yours." Near replied, just as softly. "It is mine, though." Mello sighed.

"I know." They fell quiet again. A sudden, unfamiliar anger coursed through Near suddenly, and he spoke before he could think, for the first time in his life.

"Why couldn't you have stayed calm for once, instead of flying off the handle!" Near snapped quietly. Mello tilted his head in Near's direction. "I hope you're happy!" Mello turned to him now, his eyes wide. "I hope you're happy now. I hope you're happy how you hurt your cause forever, I hope you think you're clever!" In an instant, Mello managed to flip them around somehow so that Near was against the tree trunk and he was pinning him by his neck.

"I hope you're happy." Mello snarled at him. "I hope you're happy, too. I hope you're proud how you would grovel in submission to feed your own ambition." He dropped Near, who rubbed his throat and gasped slightly for air.

"So though I can't imagine how, I hope you're happy right now." They glared at each other, and Mello scooted back a little, turning his face in the opposite direction of Near. Near sighed.

"Mello, just come back with me." Near urged slightly, his hand on Mello's arm. Mello turned his head to look at Near again. "You can still become the next L, what you've worked and waited for. You can have all you ever wanted..."

"I know." Mello sighed, placing his hand on Near's and moving it off of him. "But I don't want it---no," He shook his head, correcting himself. "I can't want it anymore..." Near frowned.

"Mello...?" Mello smiled sadly at Near.

"Something has changed within me. Something is not the same." Mello looked over at Wammy's before glancing at Near out of the corner of his eye, making an 'L' with his hand and showing it to Near. "I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game. Too late for second-guessing, too late to go back to sleep." Mello stood up, grinning wolfishly at Near before glancing at a branch below them and closing his eyes. "It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes...and leap!" Near gasped, reaching out a second too late, as Mello jumped and landed safely on the branch below them. "It's time to try defying gravity. I think I'll try defying gravity. And you can't pull me down!"

"Can't I make you understand? You're having delusions of grandeur." Near muttered, climbing safely down to the branch Mello was on.

"I'm through accepting limits 'cause someone says they're so. Some things I cannot change, but till I try, I'll never know!" Near opened his mouth, but Mello cut across him, shaking his head. "Too long I've been afraid of losing love, I guess I've lost, " Here he glanced at Near, then shook his head and laughed lightly. "Well, if that's love, it comes at much too high a cost!" He stood again and Near grabbed his hand, thinking Mello was going to jump again, but Mello grabbed both of Near's wrist and smiled at him. "I'd sooner buy defying gravity. Kiss me goodbye, I'm defying gravity. And you can't pull me down..." Mello locked eyes with Near, and Near could see the hope in them. "Near, come with me. Think of what we could do---together." Near's eyes widened and Mello took that as invitation to continue. "Unlimited... Together we're unlimited... Together we'll be the greatest team there's ever been, Near. Dreams, the way we planned 'em."

"If we work in tandem..." Near said slowly. Mello's eyes lit up and his grip on Near's wrists tightened lightly.

"There's no fight we cannot win." They said, Near starting to smile a little as well. "Just you and I defying gravity. With you and I, defying gravity."

"They'll never bring us down!" Mello was panting lightly. Near smiled sadly at Mello's excitement. "Well? Are you coming?" Near paused for a few seconds, looking out at Wammy's before reaching around his neck and moving the black and red beads that hung around his neck.

"Take this." He said softly, placing it over Mello's neck. Mello looked down at them, reaching up and touching the cross on the rosary Near gave him. He smiled crookedly as Mello looked it over. "You were always so much more religious than I anyway."

"Near...?" Mello asked, looking up at him.

"I hope you're happy..." Near said again...but there was softness in the words now, none of the anger that had been inthem earlier. "Now that you're choosing this." Mello's eyes widened and he gripped the new rosary tighter.

"You too." He said softly. "I hope it brings you bliss."

"I really hope you get it, and you don't live to regret it." They said, Near's hand on Mello's face and Mello's hand on Near's wrist. "I hope you're happy in the end. I hope you're happy, my friend." Mello suddenly smiled.

"So if you care to find me, look to the western sky!" He said, gesturing to the west. "As someone told me lately, everyone deserves the chance to fly!" He pulled Near to him and jumped off the branch. Near's arms went around Mello's neck and Mello's arms tightened around Near's waist. They landed, Mello on his feet, before they toppled over, Mello's arms leaving Near's waist to land on the ground by Near's head. "And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free. To those who'd ground me take a message back from me." Near blinked owlishly, but smiled nonetheless. "Tell them how I am defying gravity. I'm flying high, defying gravity! And soon I'll match them in renown..." He stood up, easily pulling Near up. "And nobody in all the world---no genius that lives anywhere---is ever gonna bring me down!"

"I hope you're happy!" Near said, wiping his face with his sleeve. Melo smiled softly, his hand tangling in Near's hair.

"Bring me down!" He said softly, pulling Near towards him and kissing him. They pulled apart and Mello disappeared, leaving Near by the tree in the dark as the sun rose.

This is something i randomly came up with. i think "Freedom Is An Image In One's Mind" is officially over now. I'm sorry, and I thank anyone who's read, reviewed, and/or favorited it until now.

also, the poll on my profile is going to be open for maybe one, two more weeks, so get in a vote before it closes.

Thank you guys~ !