Darts and lessons.

(A pretty sucky title, if you ask me)

Warnings: None. It is pointless to say I don't own the characters. I don't even mind if you plagiarize my fics. Remember that FF.N doesn't allow links (That I know of, I have been stupid about features before), so when I link to a story or image, take out the spaces.

"I'm leaving this institution. I'm almost 15 years old. It's time I started living my own life."

I knew that there was no point in arguing with Mello when he was like this, but the truth was that I didn't know what to say. I knew that it would be bad for both of us if he were to leave at this stage. He would obviously get hurt, and he would possibly become a threat to my own operations later.

I looked at the clock; it was 7:45. If he was thinking clearly, he would stay another night, but I couldn't bet on that. Mello would need to get some food and pack some supplies, which would take him a few hours, at least. That meant that I had two or three hours to think of something to say that would stop him.

It was never the right thing to do to go into a situation unprepared. And I could make him hate me even more if I said the wrong thing.

There was a common room by the main entrance which was the only exit that students could access. The windows were high off the ground. If he took the fire exit, I would hear the alarm. If he went through the back entrance, he'd pass through the staff offices. I could wait in the common room with my eye on the front door.

I pulled out every set of darts from the cabinet in the games room, and opened the board on the wall.

They each hit with a little click. With each click another jag of wrong words hit the floor, unsaid.

"That's stupid, Mello. You're smart, but you'll still just be a 15 year old kid on your own. Bad things happen to 15 year old runaways."

"Mello, you're not stupid, I know that you'll do fine on the streets. I really want you to work with me."

"Mello, you know that I don't want to work with you either, but it's probably the best thing to do right now."

"Mello, I won't lie to you. I believe that if you wait, you'll understand everything I'd want to say to you, so stay and think things over for once."

Click, click, click, click.

I can't really believe that Roger would just let him go. He didn't try to talk to him right away, so maybe he was actually doing something about the situation. That would be nice, but I knew that he couldn't count on it.

I supposed that Roger was my Wattari now, if I'm going to be L. If he can't at least do his current job of protecting all of us with all of his money and resources, or at least get Mello some money before he leaves, then I'd know that he couldn't handle being Wattari.

"Mello, do you think being number one will make someone care for you?"

Did Mello have someone? I had only ever seen him with his roommate studying. Or Mello studying and the roommate playing games. They didn't spend much time together talking that I ever observed. Mello was usually outside being a poor sport at football or dodgeball, or whatever sport people who go outside play. Matt was usually playing videogames. But when they were together they seemed to get along. The roomate gives into Mello's bossy nature though. He won't try to stop him.

"Mello, if you leave, you'll be putting yourself at a disadvantage."

"Mello, if you want to be my foe, I will use you. You'll only end up losing to me anyway."

I picked up one of my last darts and aimed.

"And what happens when you catch Kira? You come after me? And what happens when you kill me?"

I pulled all of the darts out of the blemished plaster, one from the outer ring of the board, and closed the doors.

"Then you'll be Number one, but what then? Sit on a throne and eat chocolate*, and kill anyone else who comes close to your abilities?"

Yes, that would probably say. I'll try to say it a little nicer, but it would do.

I went to find Mello. It was 8:50 pm, now raining outside.

I opened the door of Mello's room without knocking. Matt was lying on his bed playing a game.

"Hey, Mello." he said casually, without turning away from his game.

"It's Near."

He didn't say anything for a moment, then paused his game, and turned to look at me.

"What's up, Near?" He looked somewhat surprised, but not worried, to see me.

"Where is Mello?"

"Huh? I don't know." I didn't detect any outward signs of a lie, it didn't seem like Matt was hiding anything.

"When did you see him last?"

"This morning." He was getting a bit annoyed, but not lying.

"And I suppose you've been in the room all day?"

"What's this about?"

"Have you?" I pressed.

"Yes. Except for lunch."

Damn. That was before we saw Roger.

I ran. He followed, for some reason, asking what this was about again. Perhaps Mello asked him to lie and keep me from talking to him, but Matt didn't seem to be acting.

I asked everyone that I came across if they had seen Mello. Again, Matt asked me why.

"He said that he was leaving this institution."

Matt wanted me to clarify, but he was a smart boy, so I didn't waste time helping him figure it out what 'Leaving this institution' meant.

He helped me ask around.

When I reached the kitchen I checked inside, Mello would have at least taken supplies. We didn't keep much food that didn't require preparation or refrigeration. There were empty boxes in the trash, five empty cereal boxes with the bags taken out and, more tellingly, the box that contained candy bars, empty underneath them. He went for that first, of course. He must have walked out of the office, to the kitchen, and escaped through a window with the clothes on his back. And so ended my search.

I went and sat on the porch, in the rain, knowing that he was gone and that I had failed. In 25 more minutes Matt made his way out and joined me.

I told him that this was my fault. He put his arm around me.

"There's no need for that," I said. It was raining and cold, the touch didn't bring any comfort, and I'm not one for touching to begin with.

But I notice that he's close to tears. It wasn't for me, that he was comforting me, he wanted a hug, but didn't want to be weak. I put my arm around him, and he leaned in. Maybe he was crying, I don't know, the rain was too loud, and it seemed rude to look over.

"Why didn't you say anything?" He said at length.


"To Mello." Angrier now. It was no longer appropriate to hug him, so I let go.

I paused a moment, and told him that I didn't know what to say. I thought about it too. And asked him what he would say.

He hid his face. He didn't know either, or maybe didn't want to reveal it to me.

"I know you were quite close." A lie. "I'm sorry," The truth.

"He was my only friend. He didn't even say goodbye." He choked.

That was the missing piece. They were close. I just didn't notice. Mello couldn't go back to his room because he knew the roommate would be there, he'd hold him up, or even change his mind. Damn, if I had known that, I would have known that I had an hour at best.

"He knew you'd try to stop him. He probably didn't want to make it hard on you."

"You didn't want him to stay." He accused.

"I didn't want him to go..."

He got up and stood, not looking at me. His shoulders moved rhythmically, but I heard no sobs, and I just sat there. After a moment he went inside, perhaps understanding that I didn't truly desire either outcome. Maybe that was the problem; Mello leaving was a net loss, even though I hate sharing.

Before he closed the door Matt told me that I should come in out of the rain as well, but didn't wait.

I had missed my chance to save Mello, because I had waited. If I had said something to him impulsively on his way out of Roger's office I would have at least had a chance. But I didn't even take that chance. I cursed myself for not understanding sooner that sometimes taking an action which isn't the best is better than taking no action at all. I spent all of my time analyzing how pieces fit, and didn't notice missing pieces. But I won't do that again.

Mello made a decision, I didn't, and so I would honour his wish to leave and cover his tracks here. And I would add this lesson to my toolkit, 'he who hesitates is lost'. Of course I had heard those words before, but the platitude suddenly meant something. Something Mello knew implicitly, and part of the reason why I needed someone like him to be better.

"Goodbye, Mello." I said to the rain. "Thanks for the lesson."

(*A/N: imgur. com/LPZrd. jpg It is practically cannon that this is what he would actually do. Sorry to be Mrs. Irony-Point-Out, I really just like the picture ^o^.)

I am writing an apparently pretty terrible, or at least terribly long sequel to this with yaoi and EVEN MORE angst. It is called Intertwined.