A short white haired boy poised himself at the edge of a window sill, gazing at the world outstretched before him. A finger twirled and twisted a lock of his bangs as he contemplated many thoughts simultaneously. Closing his dark eyes, the boy's hand fell from his hair as his knuckles made a soft thud against one of his thighs.

This was not like him, not like him at all. He was much more composed that this. Drawing in a gentle breath, his index finger returned to idly curling the same lock as before.

Something changed in the landscape, and the albino tilted his head to observe what had caught his attention. Two figures, one blonde and one red headed, came into his view, suitcases slung over their shoulders. The youth released another quiet sigh as the pair travelled away from the building the boy dwelled within.


Arms lowered to pull his legs tightly to his chest, holding back a deep breath. He was better that this, so much better than this. Perhaps he was as weak as Mello had believed him to be.

Short memories from earlier that day played through his mind as he mulled over them intently.

o O o O o O o

Mello could not believe what he was hearing now.

L...was dead?

The blonde had erupted into a frenzy of yells and shouts, bombarding Roger with frantic questions.

What does he hope to accomplish, acting so childishly? Near thought. He was not fond of Mello's outbursts and planned to stop this particular episode before it went on any longer. Putting a final puzzle piece into place, he lifted the puzzle board above his head, allowing the pieces to form a broken pile at his feet.

Mello paused in his fit, watching as the pieces fell carelessly to the floor, only for Near to resume putting the puzzle back together again. Good. You finally stopped your nonsense. Pieces clicked into place rapidly as Roger further explained the situation.

However, Mello's defiant tone returned just as quickly as it had left. He managed to keep his volume to an acceptable level. "The two of together?" He paused a moment, speaking in a calmer manner.

"That's impossible. We don't get along. We're always competing. Always..." Mello's gaze was cast upon Near for a few seconds. Drawing in a breath, he released it and spoke quietly, firmly. "Its fine, Roger. Near should be the one to succeed L. He will no doubt put the pieces together..." Cobalt eyes attempted to meet with Near's ebony orbs; but, as always, his gaze was fixed elsewhere. "Put them together... without any emotion."

The final piece of the stark white puzzle clicked into place. As if on cue, Mello announced his plan to leave the orphanage, turned and left the room.

His last words lingered in Near's mind.

"I'll live my life my own way."

o O o O o O o

"How could Roger say that to me? In front of that dimwit no less!"

Red hair fell over bright green eyes as his head shook in dismay. "Mello..."

The two youths occupied a small bedroom. Mello poured over a small dark suitcase atop one of the twin beds, packing his clothing in a rapid process of folding then stuffing.

The other of the two sat on the opposite bed, observing his partner's actions.

"Can you believe this, Matt?" he paused to take in a quick breath. "We're not equals...we can never be. I can't stand him!"

Matt sighed, exhaling slowly. He knew it was best to let Mello calm himself before posing any legitimate notions. Once the blonde had yelled himself out, Matt began his own monologue. "I's not going to happen." Matt focused on his own suitcase, propped at the side of his small bed, packed and ready to go. He would be accompanying Mello on his journey to solve the Kira case. Without Near. Without anyone but each other.

A loud "clop" noise and a metallic click signified that Mello had finished packing as he closed the suitcase. He sat next to his belongings, calming himself, watching Matt.

Silence rang in the air between the two before Mello broke it with a stutter. "Y-You're still coming with me, right?" His voice shook softly as he averted his eyes to the floor.

"Of course I am, Mello," Matt stated, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder.

The blonde allowed his head to rise, meeting Matt's gaze. Exactly when the red head had risen to his feet and touched the blonde was unclear to Mello, but it didn't matter. Nerves relaxed against Matt's touch, a confident smile found its way to Mello's lips. "Let's go."

o O o O o O o

Near was now in his own room, having closed the door behind himself, shutting the world out. Slumping to the bed, he rolled onto his side, eyes transfixed on nothing in particular. He curled into a fetal position, finding that the pose organized his jumbled thoughts.

Mello...his thoughts burned. Mello, why? Why is it you act so irrationally when I am present? Hands came to rest on his kneecaps, rolling the skin in circular motions.

A soft knock at his door jarred the boy from his thoughts. But he did not move.

"Near, it's Matt. Can I come in?" When no reply came, the door was opened and in emerged the other boy. Closing the door behind him, the older youth strode over to the bed, sitting next to Near. Emerald eyes focused on the prone figure, back turned to him. He searched for answers on how to proceed.

"There's no other way to put it," he began. "But I'm going with Mello."

Near gave no signs that he ever heard Matt's words.

"I really don't know why he acts like that... he's really got to control his temper." Fingers threaded together idly as he continued. "...I wish he wouldn't do things like that."

"Take care of him."

Matt was brought out of his thoughts, perplexed that his shorter friend offered a reply. "What?"

Near rose to sitting position, still crouched over. He attempted to hold a gaze with Matt, even if it was only seconds long. "Mello needs help. He will not listen to me. But he will listen to you." Unable to hold his eyes in place any longer, Near let his focus fall on his pajama bottoms, playing idly with the wrinkles.

The red head stiffened, realizing this may be the last time he would see his younger friend.

Fingers twirled consistently in white hair before he felt warmth envelop him. Arms fell around Near, warm and gently.

"I'll keep in contact with you...somehow." Crimson bangs shielded Matt's murky orbs, hoping to keep his emotions at bay.

A light touch came to rest on one of Matt's embracing arms, fidgeting with the wrinkles in his striped top.

"I won't tell Mello, but I'll call you as often as I can. I'll tell you how we're doing so you won't have to worry about us." After a few moments, Matt released his hold on Near, trying to look the boy in the eye.

Dark eyes were fixed on the floor, far from Matt's gaze.

With a heavy sigh, he released a small chuckle, watching as the other returned to curling a lock of hair.

"Goodbye, Near."

Near felt the bedding lift as Matt rose off it, wishing for the redhead to leave the room immediately and allow him to think. His wish came true as Matt exited, turning the thumb lock and shut the door behind himself.

You know my habits well, Matt thought the boy, happy that his room had been left as he liked. Returning to a prone position, Near curled his legs into himself. He was grateful to be within a confined space. It allowed his thoughts to flow freely though his mind as he began assessing and sorting.

After a few silent moments, Near rose to his feet coming to sit by the window sill, hoping to catch a glimpse of his friends departing.

Would he see them again? Would Matt really call him? Questions such as these bubbled to the surface of the albino's conscious.

L was dead now. That meant that Near would soon become the next L, following in his mentor's footsteps. He would begin pouring over the case with all his energy.

Silently, he thanked Kira.

Thanked him for the opportunity to close himself off to the world. Thanked his for the chance to burry himself in work. It would allow him to mask whatever feelings he had concerning his only friends, Matt and Mello. He would no longer feel. If he did not feel, he would not be hurt. It was all for the best, thought Near.

As the events of the Kira case would begin to unfold before their eyes, little did they know, so did the events that would prove to bring the three successors together once again.