"Mello, why do you hate me?"

A pencil dropped from shaking hands as the blonde stopped his writing, glaring holes through his papers and into the table below. Finally, Mello raised his head, staring down the snow-white boy sitting in chair beside him with a look of overwhelming dislike. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"I was simply asking a question." Near stated, absent-mindedly swooshing his toy plane through the air, not even looking at Mello as he spoke. "Questions are never wrong."

"You've been asking me the same question for the past three days!" Mello shouted in aggravation. Why was Near bugging him all of a sudden?

"You've never given me a straight answer." the other responded in a monotone voice, setting his toy down on the table softly, as if handling a delicate jewel. "I don't find a shout of 'Fuck off, Near' or 'Get away from me, you loser' as a very legitimate response. In fact it only begs the question further – Why do you hate me?"

"Since when do you care?" Mello challenged, getting increasingly irritated. He could start rambling off all the reasons why he despised the little sheep boy – and there were many – but he was wondering why Near asked in the first place. It was blatantly obvious why he hated him – he was a dumb shit know-it-all who beat him at everything – and Near never cared about other people's feelings anyway. "What happened to just dismissing anything I ever do as me being over-emotional or some shit like that?"

"I still believe you are over-emotional." Near said. "But I am asking you the reason behind your over-emotional response to me. Answering my questions with more questions will get nowhere."

Mello could have punched him. Hard. Knocked that over-sized, dumbass brain right out of his skull. There were many, many times he'd wanted to execute said action – but no. This was a civil environment. As long as he lived at Wammy's, under L, he would not, would not, beat Near senseless. He'd resist the overwhelming urge to do so.

But God, he was not over-emotional damn it!

"Why?" Mello tried to force out all the calm he could muster, but he couldn't hide the obvious strain laced within his tone. "Why do you want to know?"

"I just do." came the reply as the other boy twirled his hair, staring off into space.

"That's no answer, damn it!" Mello raged, slamming his pencil onto the table. The small outburst caught a bit of attention from the various other children in the library, glancing up from their own studies only to dismiss the event as just another one of Mello's mild tantrums. Mello snarled at the few stares that lingered, challenging them to dare do anything about it, and then when they quickly looked away in a slight fear he turned back to Near, lowering his voice very slightly. "I won't answer any of your dumbass questions unless you give me a reason to!"

"I think it would best if I didn't." Near answered in his normally quiet voice, now toying a bit with the plane again. "For both you and me."

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" Mello nearly yelled again, though managed to keep his voice low. "I'm not gonna sit here and have you play your dumb little games with me, Near! Either tell me why or leave me the hell alo—"

"Hey Mels!" came a voice from behind, and Mello turned to see his best friend, Matt, approaching him and Near. The blonde froze, momentarily hoping that Matt hadn't caught his earlier outburst. That would just make him look like an over-dramatic idiot…

"H-hey Matt!" Mello replied, stuttering ever so slightly that it went unnoticed by the red head. Mello had admitted to himself a while ago that he liked Matt. A bit more than a friend. Though he doubted that Matt felt anything remotely similar. After all they were just… Friends. Friends? Yes, Matt was his friend. His closest friend. His loyal friend. His friend with bright traffic-cone-orange goggles that made his green eyes shine out like stars, beautiful stars. His friend with fiery red hair that looked so soft and shiny and smooth…

Mello shook himself, trying to contain the thoughts, push them away into the back of his mind and hold them behind lock and key. This… This was not his objective. No, it was Near. Annoying, self-important, dumbass fluff-brained Near and his irritating nonsense. Surely Matt would side with him when he told Near to buzz off. Surely he would, they were always in everything together…

Together…

'Damn it there I go again!'

Mello clenched his fists in anger at his reoccurring, distracting thoughts – This was not the time! Shaking his head slightly to clear his mind, he then lifted his head to glance over at Matt again.

"Hey Matt, could you tell Near to scram? He's being an annoying ass—"

Mello stopped mid-sentence, his eyes wide and his mouth agape.

Matt was bent over the back of Near's chair, arms folded tightly around the smaller boy, his head resting on the other's shoulder. Near didn't seem to mind the act, putting up no protest; in fact he'd stopped playing with his own strands of pure white hair to twirl his fingers in Matt's bloody red locks, an unusually affectionate gesture. The red head chuckled, then brought his lips close to Near's ear as he whispered something, very light and playful sounding. Near even cracked a small smile.

The whole scene left Mello in complete and utter disbelief.

This... This was...

Looking away from Matt, Near seemed to catch on to Mello's apparent shock and nudged Matt lightly. Matt glanced up, then upon seeing his friend's gaping mouth and popping eyes he released his tight hold on Near and stood up straight. "What's the matter, Mels?"

Mello didn't respond, still too overwhelmed by what he had just witnessed.

Matt gave him a confused glance, and then realization sparked in his emerald eyes as he turned to Near. "You did tell him, didn't you?"

Near just shrugged, though the obvious answer to that was 'no'. "I have been trying to understand his feelings more like you told me." Near said, attempting to lift the blame from himself and place it on any other. Mello always came in handy for this cause. "However he has repeatedly refused to answer, so I can't say I've learned much."

Mello was still rightfully traumatized from the earlier scene of his best friend, his secret crush, and his arch rival being so… Erm, 'friendly'. He couldn't even bring himself to respond to this new information, barely even hearing the words.

Matt just sighed at Near's response, shaking his head. "Well, I guess I half expected that… But it doesn't really matter, I guess." Matt then smiled, leaning down close to Near again, his face inches from the albino boy's. "Wanting you two to be a bit more friendly to each other is probably a bit too much to ask, anyway." He then gave Near a light peck on the cheek, as if to praise him for trying.

That was where Mello drew the line.

Glaring the most brutally vicious death glare he had ever given anyone in his life – and that was saying quite a lot – the blonde boy threw his chair back, slammed his fists on the table and shook slightly with rage. He then yelled at the top of his lungs:

"I. HATE. YOU!"

And of course, he attracted the attention of the other orphans and staff all over again. But it was all simply dismissed - while the raging young boy stormed out of the area with loud banging stomps, babbling angrily and incoherently to himself - it was all dismissed as just Mello…

Being overly dramatic, overly emotional Mello.


Matt watched after Mello as he stomped rather childishly out of the library, and then doing as best he could to avoid curious glances from surrounding people before they returned to their previous work. Sighing, the red head turned to Near, who sat ever so comfortably on the wooden chair before him, having returned to playing with the old toy airplane as if nothing had happened.

"Okay, I did as asked," Matt said, wiping his lips with the back of his hand in a slight disgust. 'I can't believe I actually kissed him... Ack...' But Matt then shook off the disturbed thoughts, knowing he'd done this with reason. Very, very, very important reason.

He outstretched his arm, palm facing upwards, as if waiting to receive something. "Pay up."

Near barely even glanced up from his toy, then set it down gently and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a small rectangular case and tossed it to Matt, who caught the device eagerly and looked it over. Pleased, the red head grinned widely as he gripped the little package.

A new video game. Of course.

He had been bribed to trick his closest friend in a rather vile way – with a video game.

"Hey Near," Matt then began to ask, a bit curious as to why the whole situation had started in the first place. "Why'd you wanna mess with Mello so bad anyway?"

"Because," Near stated in his always-monotonous voice, showing no expression at all on his blank face as he rolled his plane along the table in front of him. "People can be much more fun to play with than toys."