Summary: "Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked." Mello is always second best to Near, but when Near's albinism leaves him going slowly blind, he begins to rely on Mello in ways he never thought he would.
Only the first few chapters are edited.
Title: A Field of White
Category: Anime/Manga » Death Note
Language: English, Rating: Rated: T
Published: 01-27-12, Updated: 05-30-12
Chapters: 18, Words: 59,637
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Its about control, really. I have noticed, in what little time I have spent in the outside world, that things have a tendency to shift around us. When I was small- smaller, that is- I would play the What If game. What if my mother died? I imagined I would be crushed, that I would feel a crippling wave of shock and there would be a ripple as the world readjusted around her loss. When she did die, I was simply told and it was almost shocking how little else changed. I am stubborn, more so that Mello, although it would never be guessed from looking at the two of us. I changed myself to be as outwardly impassive of the changes life made as life was about making those changes. It made us even. I refused to lose control, even if it was for the sake of a happy afternoon from which I would return, red-faced from laughing like the other students always did.
L taught me to play the percentage game instead of the What If game. It was colder, and nothing could take me by surprise. I surrounded myself with nothing, stripping the color from my walls, bedding and belongings. No distractions. It took a while before I realized that, as much as I looked like and came across as a blank slate, there was no way for me to truly go without distractions, so I began to allow myself toys. Insultingly young toys meant only to stimulate my hands, without really distracting my mind.
The other children wandered into and out of my space, never touching anything except for Mello, who made it a point to soil everything I had bleached clean of distractions, and Matt, who seemed in awe of my ability to remove myself from the world; a trait I knew he envied and tried to emulate with his games, though I never cared to ask why. In and out, people flowed around my life, as did events, the passing of my birthdays, the death of one of my classmates, whose funeral I attended in blinding white. Walking home, I saw a patch of grass and dirt that had somehow turned white, bleached with chemicals or dyed with paint, I did not know. I had received a camera for my birthday, from Roger, the only one who marked the passing of such events, aside from me, and I did not see it as a day to celebrate. I slipped it out and took a quick picture, the first in the camera. When I got back to my room, Matt and Mello were exiting it, Mello looking triumphant, and Matt simply guilty. I could smell the permanent marker before I even entered and was not surprised by the long streaks of black that marred everything I owned. I stripped my bed, replacing the sheets and blankets before scrubbing my walls and furniture. Moving to the carpet, I considered different ways to remove the stains before someone cleared their throat at the doorway, catching my attention.
"Hello, Mello." I said without turning around, knowing it unnerved the attention craving boy, and really, who else could it be?
"You almost done? Roger sent me up to see what you'd been doing all day. I think he's worried the funeral upset you. So? Has this tragic day finally broken through poor, dear Near's shell, or were you just tidying?"
"I have been cleaning my room. Please thank Roger for his concern."
"Thank him yourself . Your room's almost done anyways. Happy? It looks like an asylum again." I looked around, a little surprised by the comparison. It was true, although I'd never thought about it that way. Mello moved close, confusing my eyes and my vision trembled quickly before my contact, already irritated from the cleaning chemicals, fell out. Mello actually leaped back in surprise.
"Your…your eye!" Sighing, I stood up.
"Yes, I lost my contact. Mello will have to help me to the bathroom." Too shocked to protest, Mello actually allowed me to grab his arm and he led me to the bathroom. I rinsed off my contact and replaced it.
"But…your eyes are black."
"No one's eyes are black, Mello. The sclera contacts that protect my eyes from light are black, but my eyes are purple."
"No one's eyes are purple, Near." He said, unconsciously repeating my words back to me.
"Obviously, mine are. It's the only pigment I have. The pink from my albinism blends with what I assume would have been my eye color. My mother's eyes were blue." I left Mello in the bathroom, in shock for the second time that day. Parents weren't a forbidden topic at Whammy's, but nobody ever talked about them. Settling on a foaming carpet cleaner, I finished my room and looked around. Saying it was like an asylum was an exaggeration, however, it was impersonal, with the exception of the small white box of puzzles and toys I kept. I carefully taped the picture I'd taken to the wall and resolved to take more.
The next week passed without incident and I returned with several new pictures of white for my walls. Never something that was supposed to be white, always something that had lost its color. One day, Matt walked in, observing my walls, before remarking,
"There's nothing alive in any of them" He walked back out without further explanation regarding his presence. I had been playing with two robots while I taught myself Amharic. Matt's presence wasn't any surprise. Mello often sent him to make sure I had not suddenly grown a desire to plot against him. Lifting the camera up, I took a picture of myself, and it joined the others on my walls. I could have waited, but the biweekly updating of the scores was the next day, and I wanted the picture of me to be perfectly white. The scores would undoubtedly lead to an enraged Mello and my own subsequent beating.
To my surprise, it snowed the next day and I wandered out, looking for something to add to my walls. It was not too long before I began to shiver in my thin pajamas and I was just about to return when a black figure ran towards me.
"Congratulations again, Near. First place." Mello spat out at me. I kept silent, knowing it was best not to respond at all. He leapt towards me, and knocked me to the ground, and I found myself suddenly thankful for the snow that softened my fall. Straddling me, Mello raised his hand and I waited for the blows that would mottle my skin with bruises, but he put two fingers into his mouth, sucking them. I wondered what this new form of punishment could be, and closed my eyes, but he opened my eyelids by force with one hand and plucked out my contact with his moistened fingers.
Not the friendly white that soothed my life, but the burning, searing kind. It was painful, the amount of light that beamed down from the sun, refracted in the snow into an even more evil force that sliced at my eyes. I couldn't help it. I gasped,
"Please, don't Mello." It was the first protest he'd ever gotten. Carefully, he plucked out the other contact then stood up and walked away, calling back over his shoulder, "I'll be waiting with these in your room." For a while, I lay on the ground with my eyes screwed shut, rolling in pain. My eyes strained against the light, trying to escape back into my head. At some point in my rolling, I hit a tree with my side, hard, and I got some of my senses back. I judged the distance from the tree to the door and started walking back, my eyes still tightly shut. I walked hard into the door, falling over. From the ground, I extended my hands, using my fingers to gently feel my way up the door to the handle. I pulled myself back up and walked inside, where I judged it'd be safe to open my eyes. My eyesight is terrible without my contacts and although the twitching and flickering of them in protest to the light was worse, I was also somewhat dismayed by how blurry my vision was. When my contacts were returned, I would be able to accurately measure if the exposure to the sun had caused any permanent damage. I stumbled down the halls, very aware of all my control slipping away. I was shaking from the pain, my clothes were sticking to me, covered in twigs, dirt, sweat and snow, and I was so very very not white. Finally, I half-crawled my way back to my own hallway, where I first opened the wrong door (empty, thank goodness) and finally opened my own door. I had an irrational fear, for a moment, that I would return to find my room equally marred, covered in scratches, bruises and dirt, but it was as pristine as always. In the middle of my white, was a big black blur which I registered as Mello, before the edges of my room turned black too. All that was left was Mello, in the center of my vision, and then that was gone too.
I saw the Near standing there and he looked utterly undone, like, scared as hell. I felt the kind of victory I didn't feel being the second smartest genius in school, or even beating up the first afterwards, 'cause, hell, I made Near show some fucking emotion. Nobody can do that shit. Everything was right about it too, his pristine clothes were trashed, his smooth white skin was scratched and bruised and his eyes were miracles on their own. I knew it was the lenses that made them emotionless, but it kind of looked like they had turned purple and expressive just for me, to show me the pain I'd put him in. I smirked, so he could see exactly who was number one. His lips mouthed my name and then he fell down.
Not gonna lie, I had a small moment of complete panic. I seriously thought I'd killed the little albino bastard, but when a shudder went through him, I realized he was alive, just fucked up. So I approached him and walked up and rolled the midget over, and his head lolled back and his arm was limp, but he was alive as far as I could tell, just being a pussy about it. I realized dinner was only two hours away, and Roger had started checking up on people when they didn't show, so I tried to wake him up, by wetting a washcloth and kind of patting at his face with it.
It was humiliating. Me, Mello, kneeling on the ground with Near in my arms like doomed lovers at the end of a chick-flick. Finally, I just filled up his bathtub, stripped him and dumped him in. I figured his self-preservation instincts would kick in and he'd wake up before he drowned. But he just thrashed once, and then sank into the water, face up, looking almost peaceful underneath the water.
"Shit." I hissed, and pulled him back out, getting my long black sleeves soaked in the process. I kind of wrapped him in a towel and picked him up and put him in his bed, under the sheets. I pulled on his pants, but it was such a pain, I really didn't feel the need to do his shirt. I mean, morticians do that, but A, I wasn't getting paid, and B, they give dead bodies special clothes with like, zippers and shit up the back. One hour till dinner. Ugh. Plan B, right? Mello always has a plan B. Actually, Mello usually doesn't even have a plan A, but a good, charismatic hero-type like me always comes out on top, and I'm more charismatic than most.
I got the washcloth and scrubbed all the remaining smudges off his face. I addressed the small scratches with a thorough cleansing and put Neosporin on them. Some ice wrapped in another washcloth took care of most of the bruises and the scratches didn't raise any more. It felt completely weird to treat his body so gently, but I couldn't really afford to get in trouble with Roger again. I recognized a bruise on his chest that there was no way I'd given him, so I poked it gently and watched the pale spot my fingers had created fade back into purple. Near made a tiny gasp, and I looked up at him, surprised all over again by his purple eyes, now open.
"What are you doing?" Honestly curious, I asked,
"Where did you get this?" Near seemed shocked by the sheer stupidity of my question, though no emotion entered his voice.
"Mello did this to me two weeks ago. I believe the rib is bruised." Okay, so I bruised a rib once, trying to parachute off the building with Matt (didn't factor in the fire escape) and it hurt to sit down, lie down, stand up, and breathe. There was no fucking way that tiny little Near was just walking around like normal with his rib bruised.
"Holy shit." Yeah, real intelligent, Mello. Near continued examining himself, and I just kind of stared because the emotion in his eyes looked so out of place on Near. Apprehension before he started his self-diagnosis, surprise at the state of the wounds, the moment of comprehension, and suspicion when he looked back up.
"Mello took care of me during the time I was unconscious." Statement, not a question, so I didn't say anything. We stared at each other warily, each waiting to see how the other would decide to set the tone when Roger settled it for us by knocking twice and opening the door. His expression at seeing us together was worth the mess.
"Uh…Mello." I gave a sarcastic smile and wave. "You two are late for dinner." Near surprised us both by speaking.
"Can we eat up here, please? I lost my contacts in the snow and Mello helped me up here, but I'm still recovering."
"How did you lose both lenses at the same time? You need to be more careful, Near, you'll lose even more of your eyesight if light gets in." Lose more of his eyesight? God, what if Near went blind…and it was my fault? Fuck. It was just supposed to make him lose, for once. I reevaluated the state Near was in when he walked in, the strange vulnerability, even the unfocused look of his eyes when he looked at me. I knew albinism sometimes went hand in hand with blindness. I looked at Near and realized, he'd just gotten all the way up here, blinded by light, and also just…blinded. Shit. For the first time, I fully faced the reality of what I'd done and looked at Near with a little bit of…pity. Fire entered Near's eyes, and it was a little daunting for both of us to see it.
"Roger, I am well aware of my condition and certainly I have done more research on the subject than most doctors. What happened today had an 82% chance of happening at least once this year, and Mello was there to help before anything happened. Please bring up dinner. You may go." Roger actually turned around and walked out, like a waiter taking Near's order.
"That was pretty badass…for a sheep." A hand rose up to twirl Near's hair, and it took a moment for me to realize it was my hand, so I tugged cruelly on his locks, as if to emphasize his albinism.
"Why did Mello help me when it was he who hurt me in the first place?" Flash of guilt at that one.
"You were scared. I didn't expect that." Near looked at me curiously.
"The obvious solution to my fear would be to not scare me in the first place, Mello. Regardless, your guilt is misplaced. I was not frightened, simply disoriented by the light."
"Fuck that. I saw your eyes, Near and you were scared." His violet eyes narrowed.
"It is a common misconception that one can read emotions from the eyes alone." I put a finger under his chin and lifted his face up close to mine.
"You're wondering what I'm doing. Now surprised. Now skeptical. Irritated. Frustrated. You're gonna-" Near pulled his chin away. "…pull away. Ta-da!" Eyes fixed carefully on the bedspread, Near looked up and asked,
"Can I please have my contacts back?"
"On the dresser." Near put them back in and crawled into bed again, where a small and secret part of me mourned the loss of violet.
"The chances of guessing correctly based on the situation is fairly high. I could recreate the same results. Mello feels as though his victory was spoiled by the realization of the magnitude of how he has hurt me. He feels slightly guilty and confusion over the guilt. Incidentally, the contacts have not fully restored my sight, so I will need to order stronger ones. Will Mello please bring me the magnifying glass from the top drawer? Then you may go." I rolled my eyes, but found myself getting up to help. Made him go blind. It sounded so…permanent. And cruel.
"I'm your concerned savior. I can't just skip off and leave you here or Roger'll know somethings up."
"Fine." Near pulled a laptop from under his bed and used his magnifying glass to scan the screen, but even with it, he had to squint. More guilt. Finally, I walked over and took the laptop from his lap, reading it carefully to him. I had already administered three sight tests to him and realized with some relief his sight was only a teeny, tiny bit worse, when Roger reappeared, set food down and left. By the time I'd inhaled half my food, I realized Near had only taken a small bite, and only took that when I had left quickly to grab us drinks.
"Why arentcha eating?"
"I don't eat in front of people." Oh, you don't do you? I thought. I guess I got what people call "The Mello Gleam" in my eyes (as in, "Run, I see the Mello Gleam!") and he shrank back ever so slightly. I pinned him against the headboard and scooped up a spoonful of the mole, mostly sauce, but it's the winning that counts, and stuffed it into his mouth. Reluctantly, he swallowed it.
"There. Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?" I got up to leave, feeling my point had been made. Mello always wins. Even when he doesn't, victory is sure to follow.
"I don't have anything alive on my walls."
"What?" Near pointed at his pictures.
"Idiot, there's a picture of you." Near pulled out one contact, even though the light made him wince again.
"Living things have emotions, drive, and eyes that show them. I am alive." He replaced it. "I am not."
"What do you want me to do about it?"
"Mello is always alive." I turned around and leaned forward, fake pouting and batting my lashes.
"Then take a picture."
"No I don't-" I stood straight back up. I knew he wouldn't, I was just playing with his mind, like I knew only I could, and I needed to regain some of whatever I had lost by being gentle with him.
"Then don't waste my time." I walked out.