Title: Spelling

Rating: PG

Genre: semi-angsty but also fluffy :D Umm, friendship/family?

Pairings: None really, LightxL if you squint, the same for any pairings between Mello, Near and Matt. This is mostly about friendship.

Summary: It was Mello and Matt's dying day, he said, Near would be feeling lonely. He needed company, even though the spirits of the dead were hardly what a regular human being would have considered "company".

A/N: Haha hi. :D I wrote this well after midnight a couple of months ago, and now I finally remembered it and decided it was presentable. It's kind of weird (mostly because it was originally a part of a multi-chapter story), but I think it's okay. Hope you like it too.


L had told him to watch over Near.

Light had refused, stating that he was not the kid's guardian angel, but L insisted. It was Mello and Matt's dying day, he said, Near would be feeling lonely. He needed company, even though the spirits of the dead were hardly what a regular human being would have considered "company". It wasn't like Near, as much as he looked like a ghost, could see them, anyway.

L said he was busy elsewhere. Busy? In afterlife? Right. But then the raven-haired ghost had smiled that eerie smile of his, even more otherworldly now that his lips were truly transparent, and said, "Or can Light-kun not bear to look at the face of the child that defeated him?"

So on January 26th Light's haughty spirit haunted the office Near had confined himself in, and he stared and stared and stared at the young man, determined to show L just how much the fact that the boy had been his downfall did not bother him.

Not that the detective's spirit was present to show appropriate admiration over his ability to take even the most fatal blows like a man.

Near was even worse, slumped on the floor with one knee drawn up, fiddling with the remaining pieces of his puzzle; yet another white one with only one corner unfinished. Probably the stupid L puzzle again; Light had grown sick of it after all the times the other spirit had dragged him here to just stand and stare at the kid. L always had this strange, strange smile on his lips when he saw the puzzle, and that stupid smile was the reason why Light tolerated watching the brat that caused it.

Stupid L, he thought bitterly, and immediately after that, poor L. An orphan, all alone with his computers and cases, tricked to his death by his one and only friend... It was no wonder that seeing at least someone in the world remembered him and missed him made him happy.

And if the brat made L happy, Light was willing to let the detective keep him. Or, uh, keep looking at him. And perhaps keep him when the boy died.

Struck by a short spell of warmth towards the cold little bastard who had, with such uncaring eyes and a twisted little smirk, watched him die not too many years ago, Light moved his hand as if to run his fingers through the boy's white hair.

A flash of black and gold, and the faded green eyes of another spirit were glaring up at him; Mello had appeared from nowhere and wrapped his ghastly arms around the unsuspecting boy to prevent Light from touching him.

"Get lost, Yagami," Mello growled.

Light rolled his eyes. "I'm not here because I want to. L made me babysit the brat."

"Yeah, well, change of watch. I don't want your slimy spirit anywhere around here," Mello hissed. "You're not good enough to touch even Near, let alone L. Crawl somewhere and die again."

Near, unaware of the spiritual traffic around him, put yet another puzzle piece in place, leaning right through Mello's immaterial arm. The blond grimaced.

Light shrugged. "Matt doesn't hate me, though," he reminded the younger man. "He's being sensible – we're dead already, there's not much we can do."

"Matt's a big stupid softie," Mello muttered into Near's white hair.

Light chose not to comment on that, and since Mello was here, he figured he could forget L's orders - Near wasn't alone anymore. More out of a habit than anything else he turned and walked to the door. "I'll tell L you said hi," he threw over his shoulder before stepping through the door and leaving the room behind.

Mello didn't answer.


A little later, Gevanni entered the room to find Near sitting by the now finished puzzle. The young detective was staring at the floor with empty eyes, and Gevanni was thoroughly shaken to see two thin wet trails extending from the corners of his eyes to the tip of his lowered chin.

"Near...?"

The boy looked up. He wasn't crying; it looked like those two lone tears had just managed to slip, and it didn't seem there were any more tears to cry, anyway. Gevanni knew Near had been saddened by the deaths of L, Matt and Mello, but he was fairly certain the kid hadn't cried before, not even for them.

No, wait – that wasn't right. Near had admitted to having shed a few tears after L's death - "I was only twelve. My idol got himself killed and left me his responsibilities as an adult and a detective. I was mad," he had said.

So were these tears for the boy's two unfortunate rivals, his orphan brothers?

One for Mello, one for Matt?

"For a moment," Near said, and his voice was quiet but steady, "I could feel his arms around me. He used to do that when we were young – when the other children bullied me. Matt would cover me while Mello would chase them away... and when Matt wasn't there, Mello would just cover me with his body and take the beating for me."

Gevanni held his breath, because the moment seemed too delicate to disrupt; his throat felt a little tight.

Near blinked slowly, looking at the man for a moment before turning back to the puzzle. "That was before he found out that we were the top two candidates to become L."

Whammy kids, Near thought to himself as Gevanni turned his face away, probably to hide the shining in the corners of his eyes, Whammy kids had never had much of luck. A had committed suicide; B had lost his mind, failed his own attempt at suicide, and died alone in a cold cell, tied in a straightjacket. L had spent his whole life separated from the rest of the world, and had eventually died in the arms of the first person he had ever truly cared about – his killer.

Matt, either ignorant or uncaring of the havoc Mello seemed to wreak wherever he walked, had foolishly followed the blond and, in the end, had been shot in the middle of surrendering. Mello, selfish and single-minded, had only lived long enough to hear that he had indirectly caused the death of his best and only friend, before dying in a burning church – the symbol of what he had once put so much faith in.

Gevanni stood there for a while, clearly not knowing what to do. Finally, since Near was no longer paying any attention to him, he turned and left the room silently to do what he could: prepare a cup of tea for his downcast boss.

Near stared at the corner of his puzzle. It wasn't his usual L puzzle – this one had a black, Gothic M in the bottom right corner. He placed his small, white hand on the cardboard, covering the symbol like the two boys going by the letter had once covered him; the pieces were still warm after he had held them in his hands for so long before putting them into their rightful places.

You couldn't spell family without an L or an M. Or without an A.

You didn't need a B, and three people had died for that.

You didn't need an N, either.

"Near."

Gevanni had returned. Without another word, the man set a cup of steaming tea, probably sweetened by honey, on the cold floor next to him; and just as he had arrived, he left again. The young detective could almost feel him yearning to comfort him, could almost hear him reminding himself that even though Near looked fragile, he most certainly was not.

Near was grateful that the man knew to leave him alone at the moment.

But he was also grateful that he had wanted to stay.

"..."

Near moved his hand so that it covered only the rightmost vertical line of the letter M.

You couldn't spell friend without an N.


Ok, that was a little strange. :'3 But what did you think?