I did promise that I'd get around to the rest of them, didn't I?

Summary: Because they were the ones who got everything down just so, he and L, and whenever they were the ones who called in favors, you didn't have to think twice about accepting, because it would have been foolish to think that they would ever put you in harm's way. You weren't a pawn to them, like so many of your other employers, and you knew they would look after you.

Pairing: Near/Reader

Will you please ease my pain...?

When your phone danced its way across the top of your dresser, odd little noises being caused by the vibrations against wood, you didn't even have to look at the caller ID to know who it was. When your phone rang silently, there was only one person it could be, and you flipped it open without hesitation, the tiniest ghost of a smile on your lips.

"How can I help?"

If it had been Mello, the double-bass beats of his favorite song would have filled your small bedroom, and if Matt had been the one on the other end of the line, then it would have been the ever entertaining "Finish Him!" command from Mortal Combat that directed your attention towards the phone. Even L, who you had decided deserved the refined tones of Moonlight Sonata, was aware that he had his own theme song on your phone, and approved of the ringtone in question.

But Near, who was the one who had called you this time around, continued to be put on vibrate until you could find a song that fit him well enough to be used as a theme song. Thus far, you had been unsuccessful, and even though Mello continued to voice ideas every time you saw him, and even occasionally via text when he thought there was one he couldn't wait to share, you had told him that the day you found the right song was the day you'd give Near one.

"I require a few of your expert skills." The even voice on the other end of the line redirected your attention back to the present. "I believe you still remember where I am located?"

"I'll be there in ten minutes," you were already headed towards the door, jacket in one hand and car keys in the other, "is there anything in particular you need me to bring?"

There was a pause, and you could practically hear his forefinger twisting away at a snowy forelock of hair. "I believe you are the only thing you need to bring."

You grinned as you locked your door behind you and took the stairs down two at a time. "Well I wouldn't dream of coming without me." You responded the way you always did when that was the answer he gave you.

"What a comforting thought," he replied, "I can't imagine what it would be like for you to come by without yourself along for the ride."

Out of time, I hear your voice
Break through the noise
And pain, my heart's refrain...

You had, of course, grown up alongside the genius that now sat across from you, putting puzzle pieces into place while he waited for his program to do its thing and pinpoint whatever object he was trying to find.

You had not, however, followed in his exceptional-I.Q. footsteps, and instead had taken what you had labeled as "the Mello route". Which was not to say that Mello or yourself was unintelligent, but you preferred guns and getting your way through force than sitting about strategizing how best to play with your prey. You weren't as… Outspoken as Mello was in his negotiations, and you usually offered your gun-toting services to any one of your childhood friends instead of freelancing for yourself.

You liked it better this way, letting someone else call the shots and tell you what to do. It made you feel more secure, and when it was Near orchestrating whatever great scheme you'd been called in on, you knew it would all turn out perfectly.

Because they were the ones who got everything down just so, he and L, and whenever they were the ones who called in favors, you didn't have to think twice about accepting, because it would have been foolish to think that they would ever put you in harm's way. You weren't a pawn to them, like so many of your other employers, and you knew they would look after you.

They would make sure you got out of whatever mess they'd sent you into alive and as close to undamaged as they could manage.

Near stopped what he was doing and turned to look at the screen beside him, frowning slightly as whatever was there disappointed him. "I need you to deliver something for me, if you would." He turned the screen until you could clearly see the vibrant blue dot in the middle of a 3D structure. It was blinking cheerily from the fourth floor, back in the far west corner room.

"Of course. What do you need me to do?"

"I need you to white-wash that room." His tone was perfectly calm as he told you, in essence, that you had to kill everyone inside. "I already have the case that will do it for you; I simply need you to take it there."

"Give me directions and I'm on my way."

Why can't I convince myself
That this is the right time
To contend...?

You'd been young when you'd first started all of this. Dashing about doing the dirty work of those higher up the metaphorical totem pole until you could climb the ranks yourself and find your own lackeys. But you hadn't gotten very high before you realized that you liked it down here. People here, who had others over them, tended to survive longer.

And when Near had unofficially made you his personal conveyance system, taking anything from bombs to birth records to designated points of interest, you had felt relieved. Here was someone you knew not only would look after you, but who actually cared in an odd no-emotions-visible sort of way.

But there were still times, despite how much you cared for the albino boy, that you wanted to tell him enough was enough and simply walk away. But every time you got close to saying those words, as simple and short as they were, he would give you a look that shot straight through you, and you knew you'd never actually be able to leave. You'd become part of his world, part of his tiny monochromatic universe that was filled with wiring and puzzles and only a handful of people, and you couldn't walk away from that.

You couldn't walk away from him.

So you kept his ringtone on vibrate even long after you'd found the perfect song for him, and pretended to consider every suggestion that Mello made just so he'd never ask why you'd picked a certain song for the boy in white who'd managed to slip so easily into your heart without so much as a struggle on either of your parts.

And Near, for all his intellect and insight, never made a sound on the subject and for the longest time you convinced yourself that he didn't know. That all of this was your little secret, and he hadn't a clue the sort of control he had over you. But deep down you knew he'd figured it out long before you had yourself, and he was just biding his time until you caught up to him, and then he'd turn around and ask you what you wanted to do about it.

And that thought scared you more than any other.

Break the tide that's pushing you
Outside the place you're safe
Don't pretend...

It was tiny, microscopic things at first. Things you would never have noticed if you hadn't been on high alert for anything irregular in his behavior. Things you knew no one else saw, because this was Near you were talking about and of course no one else would notice because he was far too subtle to set off anyone else's radar.

But you noticed.

You noticed how he sat a half inch closer to you whenever you came by, how he looked you in the eye instead of a calculated quarter of an inch to one side of your head, how he'd dropped your alias when the two of you were alone and had started calling you by your real name again, how every so often his hand would brush against yours seemingly on accident. Except that Near didn't have accidents, and everything was always perfectly calculated by his entirely too-capable mind, and you knew he was doing all of this on purpose simply for your benefit, and it made your stomach churn.

You'd never really been afraid of Near, he wasn't the sort of person who instantly struck fear into the hearts of others, but you had always been wary of him. He knew things about you that others didn't and you knew he had a vindictive streak like no other when he felt the urge to do something about someone he didn't like. So no, you weren't afraid of him, exactly, but you weren't not afraid of him either.

But this, this sudden sitting closer and calling you by your name, set you on edge. It made your heart beat a bit faster, made you want to run away every time his skin brushed lightly against yours, made you want to scream because up until now you'd thought you had him figured out. But not anymore.

Now it was a whole new game and you didn't know the rules because Near never really was one to share, and you had no idea how to fight back against the sudden tide that was pushing you out of your comfort zone. You were adrift at sea and you knew you'd drown unless you found a raft to cling to, so you did the only thing you could.

You made up rules of your own.

You shoved out all the little voices that had once told you not to stare at his slate eyes, or to keep your hands off his creamy skin. All the little warning bells that tolled when he gave you that tiny, crooked grin were silenced, and you grinned right back. What had once been a sense of propriety when you visited and sat exactly where the chair had been placed was traded in for a sense of rebellion that dictated you could move the chair wherever you pleased as long as you kept it on your side of the table.

And all of a sudden, like a light bulb blinking on in a dark room or an elevator finally arriving at the right floor, you realized what he'd been doing, and the thought that you'd been doing the same to him made pink blossom in your cheeks because you hadn't realized it until now.

He'd been trying to tell you he cared. In an all-encompassing, fonder than most, sort of way. And if you were right in your assumptions, you'd been saying the same thing back, and you hadn't meant to, not so soon.

But now that he'd heard you, you could stop pretending.

Ask my eyes protect my gaze
As the light makes the day
I pray...

The morning you awoke to warmth pressed tight against your back and fingers digging gently into your stomach you weren't entirely sure what to do. Soft, warm breaths were being sighed against your skin and you pulled all of your thoughts together long enough to open your eyes to morning light streaming in through your bedroom window and realize that there was a genius curled up in bed next to you.

And that he'd been there all night.

The guilt had been the first thing to wash over you then, the gnawing, sickening feeling that maybe you'd done something you shouldn't have, and he'd blame you for it and everything would inevitably go straight to hell, and you'd lose one of the only friends you'd ever really had because you'd done something stupid.

It was only after that wave washed over you that you realized Near didn't have lapses in judgment, and he never would have joined you if he hadn't thought it through completely first. And with that revelation came an odd calm to wipe away your guilt and worry because if Near was clinging onto you it was by his choice and his choice alone, and you had nothing to feel guilty over.

The hands around your middle started to move, and you bit back a giggle as they hit a rather ticklish spot in their journey backwards towards their owner.

Once they were out of the way you rolled over, and caught your breath at the sight of a still-sleepy Near drenched in dawn light. "Morning." You managed, watching him blink his eyes fully open.

It was then you discovered mornings were not Near's thing, as he burrowed back under the covers and cuddled closer to you, fully intent upon using you as a very large teddy bear as he drifted back off to sleep, a smile now haunting his lips. "That greeting will still be valid in an hour. I suggest you wait until then to use it."

You grinned, letting him wrap you in his arms and let the world fall away again. Silently, you sent a prayer to whoever was listening, and asked that they let this keep happening until the day the earth stopped spinning.

Then, and only then, could you stop being used as a teddy bear.

Will you please ease my pain...?

Near is one of my favorite characters, hands down. As I'm sure you can tell by how long this turned out. XD

And yes. If I had a special ringtone for Matt on my phone it would be exactly what I said it would be. Same goes for L.

I find this song kinda hypnotic and very soothing, and it's quite reminiscent of Teardrop by Massive Attack. Or, at any rate, it is to me. Like a few of the other songs I've used, I suggest looking this one up just because.

The song "Ease My Pain" belongs to: Declan Flynn

Death Note and its related characters belong to: Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata