(A/N): This was just an idea I had, but I thought it was nice, even though it's kinda sad. I know they wouldn't really have ridden together, but I couldn't think of any way to explain it so I'm kinda just gonna jump right in. This has some MxM in here, nothing very strong at all, but still if it's not your thing, I recommend not reading. Or you could flame it, what do I care, it's your own time you're wasting.

Disclaimer (Never understood why people put these in FANfictions, but I like to play along): Don't own Death Note or the characters, I just wrote this story. Capiche?

Near stared out the window of the car that was taking him back from L's funeral, pulling him farther and farther away from his hero. Matt and Mello were also in the car. Mello was next to the other window, and Matt was in the middle. Matt had fallen asleep, Near noticed, and was leaning into Mello. Mello's arm was around his sleeping form, tracing slow circles on the redhead's hip, his face turned up to the roof of the car, lost in thought.

"He's asleep," Near commented aloud.

Mello snapped back to Earth. "Huh? Oh. Yeah. Stuff like this always tires him out." He lifted Matt's goggles, which he had insisted on wearing, and set them on the seat. Near couldn't help but lean over a bit to look. He had never seen Matt without his goggles before. It was weird. Everything was weird. Everything was wrong.

He was still in shock. In denial. In disbelief. L couldn't be dead, he was... he was freakin' L, dammit! L just didn't die, couldn't die, especially on behalf of a case. L was too smart for that, he could solve anything. It wasn't supposed to be dangerous; that's why they changed their names and hid their faces. Now... now Near's entire world was being turned upsidedown, everything he believed to be was turning into a lie, the reality he clung to was slipping away, being replaced with a whole new idea that was foreign and strange to him. He didn't like it.

And as L's successor... he shuddered. He was going to have to take over. But how could he take the place of the world's greatest detective if he was confused as to what life really was? Did the sun still rise in the morning, and in the east? No, it could not be, for L was dead. Did rain really fall from clouds? No, L was dead. Was anything about the world the way he thought it was? Of course not. L was dead. Now he had two choices: surpass L or die. He thought about surpassing L, the L, whom he had admired since he was a child, and realized that either way, he lost.

In an attempt to tear himself away from these frightening thoughts for a few seconds, Near glanced at the other passengers, just in time to see Mello lean down and kiss a still-sleeping Matt's forehead. He must have had some sort of look on his face, because a second later, Mello was talking to him.

"Oh, sorry," Mello said, forgetting his rule about never being nice to Near. "You a homophobe?"

Near jumped and blushed. "Wha-? Oh! No, no, nothing like that, it's just-"

Suddenly, Matt moved a little in his sleep, making a little "Mmm" noise. He shifted against Mello's side and put his hand on the blonde's chest. Mello's own hand automatically slid up to cover it, so the two were holding hands right over his heart. "Sorry," he whispered, "he's a light sleeper. You were saying?"

"Just that... well, I guess I'm jealous."

Mello looked confused. "Of who?"

"Of you and Matt. That you have each other. That you don't have to go through this alone. That you don't have to go through it at all if you don't want to."

Mello was silent for a minute, two minutes, tick, tick, tick... "I think I understand what you mean, but I'm having a hard time feeling sorry for you. No offense or anything, but you built your world. You made yourself this way. You could have put down the books just long enough to find a friend, someone, something to show you what life can be like outside of the world they kept us in. But you... couldn't risk losing your status as the best."

Slowly, things were beginning to fall into place, the pieces of the puzzle were finally starting to form the picture of what he truly was and the life he truly lived. He remembered back at Wammy's, everyone saying that Mello would never beat Near because he was too emotional to focus. Near understood now: although Mello's emotions took away from the competition, they gave to him in other ways. They gave him Matt. They gave him an appreciation of life and how the world really worked. All while Near thought he was at the top, too confident of his position to turn around and see Mello crawling up behind him, slowly but determinedly.

And he was right. Near had built his own world, just like he built towers out of dice. And he had placed L at the bottom, as a support, out of respect, stubbornly ignoringing the fact that his hero might not always be there, deluding himself that L was untouchable. And now he was dead. The bottom layers of dice had been removed. Crash...

"What are you going to do now?" Near asked Mello. "Like I said, you don't have to have anything to do with this." Unless I die. The unspoken end to his sentence seemed to fill the air around them. Hanging there, lingering to see if anyone would be brave enough to turn it into words. No one was.

"I might work on the Kira thing, too. Seperately, of course." Because we could never get along. We could never work together. We'd be crazy to even try. More air-words. "I'd have to ask Matt, though."

"Matt'd do anything for you," Near reminded him. Mello couldn't help but smile a little as he looked down at the redheaded boy.

"You're probably right. So maybe we'll look into that case too. Even if the two of us aren't working together, the more people there are the better.

Near nodded, but in his head, all he could think was "No. Quite the opposite. The more people working on the case, the more people putting themselves in danger. The more people at risk of meeting the same fate as L's."

How had it happened? Had L somehow become careless at the end? But that brought him back, full circle, to the question: Where did he go wrong in being so careful? Was L like Near, lacking emotion and knowledge of the true beauty of the world, or was he some sort of neat balance between himself and Mello. He wouldn't be surprised at the latter; Wammy's bred their prize students well. So how did he go astray?

The rest of the ride was darkly silent. It seemed like two eternities played out around them before the car finally stopped and Mello announced, "Well, this is where we're getting out." The cease of motion made Matt blink awake slightly, but when Mello tried to coax him out, he shook his head sleepily and snuggled further down into the seat. "Fine," the blonde said exasperatedly, and with surprising strength, he lifted Matt out of the car. "You're pretty heavy for such a twig, you know," he told him. Matt made a vague noise that might have been Shut up, but Near wasn't sure. Mello was about to close the car door (awkwardly, of course, because he still was carrying Matt), but he hesitated.

"Listen," he said, "take care of yourself, alright? I don't wanna have to haul my ass to your funeral, too." And then, shocking Near and possibly even himself, he leaned in and hugged him as well as he could with Matt between them, basically just putting one arm around him while supporting Matt with his other arm and the rest of his body, but it was a hug nonetheless.

He pulled away, went to close the door again, and hesitated one last time. "I still hate you," he said.

"I know," said Near.

And so the door slammmed. And the car drove away. And it was like nothing had ever happened. But it had.

(A/N): And just so we're clear that was NOT MxN, I HATE MxN, I don't even really like Near that much. I don't hate him or anything, but I am surprised that this is the first thing I'm publishing under my new account. XD Review, please, if only to tell me how bad it sucks. (Yeah, I know it sucks, you don't have to lie.)