Disclaimer: I still don't own Death Note. Lyrics lines are 'Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes' by Fall Out Boy.

Note: Here is an unsensational and short story about Near. It is a simple exercise for me to practice flexing my fingers in this fandom again. It is not meant to be a comprehensive insight into Near's personality, it's a snapshot of how, maybe, he could be. Enjoy.

x

Usually and Not

imperfect boys with their perfect lives
nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy


It is biologically correct to say that Nate River is the most intelligent human being to have ever lived.

Near knows it's true. He knows, because his quiet, rational reasonings have brought him to that conclusion, and he knows that he is not wrong. His opinion is not inflated by arrogance, or deflated by humility. He is perfectly incapable of biasing facts, and he is aware that to most people, bizarrely, this makes him imperfect.

It is not, Near thinks, that he is incapable of understanding emotion. He comprehends it perfectly. What he is incapable of is feeling it. He has accepted this, even though he is aware it should strike him as a less than pleasing prospect, because one night, once upon a time, at the eve of a day that had meant more than any other day in history, he hadn't fallen in love.

Linda had been beautiful, and was waiting for him in the terminal of a private airport. She had not approached him, and in truth, she had not expected him to approach her. There had been hope perhaps; some glimmer of optimism that is born to resist the pressings of truth and life, and in recognition of this he had acknowledged her. He had nodded, she had nodded, and he fully expects to never see her again.

He knows he was meant to realise he had always been in love with her. He was supposed to have seen here there, in a slim white dress in the middle of this snow, and feel his heart skip a beat. This is it, he should have thought, this is it: I am finally coming home. He should have moved in soft steps towards her, leaving the cleared-out pathway where concrete glistened wetly and darkly, and crunching instead across dirtied snow. The sound should have made her turn, with this look of shock and awe and open emotion on her face, and he should have run to her.

If he could have, perhaps he would. But he did not.

Both of them had always known he was going to walk right on by and out into the world again, because it is, quite honestly, all he could have done.

He can realise, objectively, that at least half of all of this – of the Kira case, of what romantics will say has made him who he is today – had nothing at all to do with killing criminals. He can see that he, and L, and Light Yagami, were the least important players in this grand game; little more than the brittle and brilliant scaffolding upon which lives had been hung. They had been the bare boned plot of a story about love and friendship and hope, about duty and determination and, perhaps least of all, justice.

He thinks perhaps he was the least important of all, because he was the victor in a game that had never once been about winning. Yagami had fought from ambition and blood lust and lunacy, and L had fought from justice. They held up their heads to the storm, proud and defiant, and had been struck down.

L, though, had always been a little weak.

He had never seen L as stupid, or as foolish. L was simply flawed – there was a miniscule chip in the diamond surface of his mind that rendered him imperfect. Near, however, is unblemished. L has always been nothing more than a Good Idea, a concept which it will be Near's life's work to polish. L had cared too much for justice, which has always been far too abstract and uncertain a thing upon which to lay the foundations for a name that changed the world. With justice as your guiding light, Near reflects, there is no guarantee of resolution, only a vague, cotton-edged promise that all things shall be done justly. Near does not offer any certainties of redemption, or any strong words of reassurance. He offers a cool and honest promise that he shall get to the bottom of the matter in as short a time as he is capable.

What killed L, he thinks, was that he cared. In every action or inaction, he stood to lose the badge of justice he had fought so hard to earn. Near had nothing to lose but his life, and the moment he had been prepared to lie it down was the moment he had won.

And if he is very honest with himself (which, of course, is the only thing he can ever be) he knows all too well that the victory does not mean a damn thing.