A/N: Hey, I can still write Mello/Near! Awesome. This was a request I got… months ago from a DN fan who wishes to remain anonymous, and I finally found some time - and inspiration - to sit down and do it. (Sorry it took so long and is so short. ^^;) The request ran as follows: "A M/N fic, with Near being the seme and Mello the uke. Non-explicit, kind of like in 'Dream.'" A bit of a challenge, (faints), and hopefully I've managed to fulfill it. Enjoy, everybody!

Disclaimer: Death Note and related characters © Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Good thing, really, cuz who knows what would happen if I owned it…

Strange Bedfellows

Raven Ehtar

Things don't work out the way they teach it in school. All the rules the world was meant to abide by, however complex they may be, were supposed to keep everything predictable. Even for students taught to think as those who wantonly flaunted those rules, some basic laws were regarded as inviolate.

One plus one equaled two. Gravity pulls down. A bullet in the brain kills. The sky is blue and grass is green. Birds fly and fish swim.

But even basic principles can become warped, or ignored altogether. There is no rule that can't be broken, and this is especially true of people. Not what people do, but a person's core. What someone showed the world and what they believed of themselves could be wildly contradicted by their behavior and motivations.

People were not as playing cards or dice, with their every feature and value evident to whoever looked. If one wanted an analogy, then they were more like ponds or lakes, with a calm, placid surface, but also with hidden, murky depths, multiple tributaries and swirling eddies that churned their personalities. One could act completely contrary to what a cursory reading of the individual would suggest, and still be perfectly within their nature. Someone normally selfish could be generous, a cruel man could act with kindness, a boastful one humble. A killer could be caring, a cold man compassionate, a superficial man could act with suicidal loyalty.

Sometimes the cold, murky depths of one's psyche held nightmares. Nightmares have a habit of preying on the unwary.

Near shifted ever so slightly in his place nestled amongst the blankets, finding a more comfortable position that would also accommodate the slim figure sharing his pillows. The other did not stir, only continued to snore so softly it was barely audible, his narrow chest rising and falling, pale lashes fluttering against his cheeks as his eyes darted back and forth in REM sleep. His normally sneering mouth and piercing eyes were relaxed in sleep, and Near memorized it as well as he could. When the sun rose completely the softness, the vulnerability would evaporate like dew, as would any other trace of the 'weakness' that brought the elder boy to his room night after night, cold and trembling in the dark.

There was no rule governing a person's actions that couldn't be broken. Ask anyone - anyone - at Wammy's House if they thought the orphan boy Mello was weak, vulnerable, one likely to seek out comfort from another when his confidence wore thin, and you would likely be laughed at for your trouble. Mello was many things - brash, impulsive, insecure - but 'vulnerable' was not one of them. He was well known among faculty and fellow orphans alike as having a violent streak that usually translated into too-rough horseplay, but which sometimes got him into real trouble.

Like with Near.

There was a kind of running competition at Wammy's House, a mental and academic race to the top to be considered the heir to L, world's greatest detective. All of them would become 'agents of justice' of some sort, but only the one at the top could be the next L. At the moment the one sitting in that topmost spot was Near. That didn't sit well with Mello, whose drive and ambition would have had him reaching for that place himself even if he hadn't wanted to be 'the next L' in particular… Which he did.

So he drove himself as never before, continually reaching for that coveted rung on the ladder, the number one spot in Wammy's House and the right to call himself L's heir. But however hard and long he drove himself he always fell just short of reaching. And always there instead, 'looking down on him' as Mello would say, was Near, unflappable and undisturbed.

It infuriated the hotheaded blond, and his incendiary nature had been demonstrated a few times on the unfortunate Near. The two of them became known rivals at the orphanage, and while Near seemed to be an uncaring participant in the struggle, everyone knew Mello considered Near his worst enemy.

That's what everyone 'knew'. Those were the rules that governed the behavior of Mello, and to some extent, Near. They would forever be enemies in a common cause, or until Near lost his position to Mello. That's the way they were, the parts they'd been given, the roles they were meant to play. The idea, the very notion of their getting along was so out of the realm of possibility that it didn't bear thinking about.

Which did nothing to explain why it was Near sometimes woke with Mello's warmth beside him. According to the rules of conduct and character they had been given, it was impossible. The only reason they would share a common sleeping area would be if they were forced to or dead… if one believed the rules.

And that the reason they were together in the morning was because Mello had nightmares during the night? That the insecurities and the fears crept so close that the brave front crumbled away, leaving the boy behind it defenseless? That in those times, he sought comfort from the one person he considered stronger than him, and allowed himself to be ruled over as he never did when the sun was up?


It had surprised Near, as well. He had thought, as had everyone else, that Mello hated him to his very core and would sooner see him under the tires of a truck than ask him for reassurance. But he had been wrong, Mello's lake had been stirred, and hidden possibilities revealed. He appeared on Near's threshold late one night, shaking, eyes wide, and had asked to stay with him until morning.

It might have been some elaborate trick. Some kind of twisted scheme to get close to Near just to undermine or hurt him, but Mello was sincere in his fright. By morning it was gone again, and he was as gruff as ever - perhaps more so to make up for showing weakness to his enemy - but it had been there. Whatever it was that preyed on Mello's mind and sent him stumbling out of bed in the dead of night he never said. Not that night nor the many nights that followed. No one else knew about Mello's nighttime visits, and neither boy felt the need to enlighten them. Let them continue to think they were purely enemies. The truth would only confound them, the way it had confounded Near to see Mello frightened and vulnerable.

The way it had confounded him the first time he felt Mello's lips on his.

Mello sighed in his sleep. Near brushed his fingers along the elder boy's arm under the blankets, enjoying the heat of his skin.

Such a soft and timid kiss it had been. Hard to believe that it was Mello giving it. Even harder to believe he would give it to Near.

If it was possible to circumvent the rules of personality in one person, then it was also possible to do so in another. To those who were familiar with Near and his nature, most would think that he would freeze under such circumstances, or tell Mello to stop being ridiculous and leave. Few, if any, would expect him to take control; for him to take matters into his own hands.

While in the light of day Mello fought to be the one everyone looked up to and respected, at night he allowed himself to lose the precious control he sought. He allowed himself a measure of weakness, and gave over the 'superiority' to the one he tried so hard to wrestle it away from.

Not that he did so completely without a fight. Some parts of his character code remained as true as ever. Near had the marks to prove it. But Near won, as he usually did.

No, things didn't work out the way they taught in the class room. Near smiled, and drifted back into a light sleep.