Lights

BY : sailtheplains
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 942
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Matt was used to taking on odd jobs. He’d been traveling constantly, ever since he’d left Wammy’s House. After he left the place he’d taken his entire savings and got himself a plane ticket to Chicago. He wasn’t looking for Mello. Mello had ditched him, not the other way around and it left him bitter and resentful. Not to mention a twinge of betrayal.

He found his niche in traveling around. He’d been all over the United States. It fascinated him. Eventually, he found his way back to New York. He knew Near was here somewhere…somewhere in this metropolis Near was working on the Kira case but the city was populated by over a million people, the chance of meeting up with him was next to nil. He didn’t worry about it too much.

He was under another fake name and playing in a piano lounge this time. The pay was great, the job was easy, (after all, their education at Wammy’s House had included music, they had all been allowed to pick an instrument and he had chosen the piano, it being the most versatile and so he had about ten years of experience) the only downside was that he had to wear a tux but it paid his rent to a dingy apartment in a shady part of town. He put most of the money back for his car and equipment (not to mention new video games).

The people who frequented the high-class place were rich, pompous bastards with money to burn and noses so high in the air he was surprised the altitude didn’t make them bleed.

Now, every once in awhile, Matt would get stares and looks from young women. He usually got great tips from them and sometimes a phone or room number to a certain hotel. Every once in a while he took them up on the offer but otherwise steered clear.

So, when a particularly beautiful blond in a form-fitting red dress that seemed to cling in all the right places sat at the table nearest to him and looked at him, he shrugged it off. However, she didn’t leave. She stayed there for three hours, apparently willing to wait until the night was finished. That bothered him. Usually they left by now. She also did not eat anything. She had one glass of red wine and then just drank water, watching him.

The solid red flag shot up when she switched positions, put her chin in her hands and her eyes changed as if to say, I’ve got you.

He did not show any sign that he'd noticed. He finished his piece. It was the end of the night. He collected his tips and went into the back. He turned to look back out the tiny window in the double-doors and she was gone. That confirmed it.

He got his stuff and hurried to his manager’s office.

“Ah, James—you’ve been getting excellent—“

“Sir, I’ve got a problem. Someone might be after me—I may not be in tomorrow.”

Like hell. He knew that look. He wasn’t going to be back. He got the vague feeling sometimes that someone was stalking him and he certainly was in no mood to find out who.

The man started to get up, looking alarmed. “But—“

“I’m sorry. I don’t have time to explain.” And Matt took off out the back door, down an alley and up a ladder to get to the roof of the next building.


On the ground, Linder hurried around the building just in time to see him scurry up the ladder. She flipped open her phone. “Near. I’ve found him. He’s caught onto me and is making an escape. He’s going on top of the hotel next door.”


Near raised his eyebrows, though not in surprise. “He probably had a few escape routes planned. Not surprising.” He looked over at Gevanni from his position from the ground, lying on his front and playing with a Transformer (Optimus Prime). “Get a helicopter but keep high. Linder will keep track of his progress. He won’t go back to his apartment. He’s not that stupid but he’s exceptionally good at escaping. He can disappear without a trace. Don’t lose him. Rester, get the satellite cameras up. We’ll try to intercept him.”

“You know, Near—would it not work if you just asked him instead of having him followed.”

Near quirked an eyebrow. “I cannot contact him if his phone is untraceable, if he is constantly on the move and he uses a different name, social security number, driver’s license and other government documents wherever he goes. He has shown no signs of joining a gang that might get his name out either. You do not seem to understand that, while Matt was third in line for L’s place, that does not mean he is stupid compared to me. He’s likely aware, even vaguely, that someone is looking for him and when the instinct gets too strong, he leaves before we can close in on him. We got lucky this time when we got a sighting of him. He’s only been in the city for a couple weeks. Would you like to tell me how I am suppose to contact him civilly?”

Rester snapped his mouth shut and looked away.

Gevanni got up to go to the roof. So if he robbed a Las Vegas casino he’d make those guys in Ocean’s Eleven look like a bunch of amateurs.

“Here he is,” Rester muttered, moving an image to the large main screen, showing a young man in a tux jumping to another building.

“Keep feeding the image to Gevanni. Linder, keep an eye on him from the ground.”


Matt kept going and finally jumped down a ladder, skidding out. He ran to an apartment complex, climbed a trash bin and jumped to the fire escape, climbing to the top. He swept across the building was ready to jump on—

--and he had to jerk back when the helicopter swooped in on him.

“Holy shit!” Matt flipped back, hair blowing everywhere. He started to run back. A bullet smashed into the concrete next to his leg and when he looked up the woman in the red dress was on top of the building, pointing a gun at him. He looked at her. He turned around and looked at the young man in the helicopter.

“What’s this all about?!”

“We’re going to have to insist you come with us.” Linder kept her gun on him.

Matt started to reach under his jacket for his gun but had to jerk away from another bullet from behind. He stumbled and whipped around. “What the hell, asshole!? You guys aren’t with the police—“

Linder tackled him from behind. She managed to snap one bracelet on him before he jerked up and backhanded her. She stumbled but just a little and then snapped the other cuff to her wrist. “Hurry up, Gevanni!”

Matt took off towards the edge of the building. Hal dug her feet in but he was stronger than she was.

As soon as Matt jumped, Gevanni swooped under him. The two of them tumbled into the helicopter. Gevanni shut and locked all the doors and sped off, throwing a bottle over his shoulder.

“Next time I’m running the satellite or the helicopter,” Hal snapped, snatching the bottle from the air.

“You stand out the least,” Gevanni retorted. “How would it look to have Rester or me sit in there for three hours? He wouldn’t feel as threatened by a woman staring at him!”

Matt got his bearings back. He jumped up again but felt a jab in his leg. He looked down to see Linder pushing the liquid from the bottle into him via syringe. “Fucking--!” He reached into his jacket, pulled his gun right into her face. He started to pull the trigger but his finger slipped, his vision blurred, and down he went.

Hal, looking kind of annoyed, sat back against the wall of the helicopter.


Matt opened his eyes, a small groan attached to the end of his first breath. He blinked, bleary. He was in a bed, a thick blanket covering him. At first, he had no thought other than that somehow he’d gone back to his little apartment and gone to sleep but then he remembered he didn’t have a blanket like this.

This is a nice blanket.

That jolted him. He stared up at a white ceiling and started to push himself up when he saw—“Jesus Christ!” He jumped back, almost hitting his head on the board.

Near was sitting on the edge of the bed, just watching him with that ghostly dead look of his.

“Son of a bitch! What the hell are you doing here?!”

“I work here. You are at the headquarters of the SPK. You probably know about that already, correct?”

Matt straightened. “Yeah. I found out about it….what do you want?” His look sharpened a little. “You’re my little stalkers, aren’t you?”

“I’m afraid I did have to resort to following you and apprehending you in the way we did—as you’ve made a point to make yourself practically untraceable.”

“To everyone but you, naturally. Fuck me. You treated me like some kind of dangerous criminal.”

“Well, considering everything you’ve done—government hacking, false identities, unregistered and concealed weapons, stolen bank account numbers—should I be impressed or disgusted that you took the liberty of cleaning out the bank accounts of corrupt officials after Kira killed them?”

Matt rolled his eyes. “So what are you going to do? Why am I in bed and not in prison?”

Suddenly, Near’s stance changed. His face wasn’t so cold. “The proper response would be to tell you that I would like your assistance in catching Mello and hunting down Kira. As you were to come right after Mello, you might have been useful.”

“Oh, wonderful. And you assumed I’d go along with that. But that’s the proper response, is it? So what’s the improper one?”

Near went silent.

Matt raised his eyebrows. “Don’t tell me you were feeling sentimental and chased me across the country to relive old times or something.”

“No.”

“Good, because I wouldn’t believe you anyway.”

“We brought your personal affects from your apartment. I have to admit, your systems and programs are very advanced.”

Matt glared at him. “Who the hell said—“ Then he did something of a double-take. “You’re avoiding my question.”

Near’s look was cold.

“Why would you want to see me?”

Again, Near was silent.

Matt stiffened. “Is this about what I think it’s about?”

“No. It has nothing to do with the past.”


There had been some tension between the two of them when Mello left. More from Matt’s side. His resentment and bitterness towards Mello, that feeling of betrayal was, at first, turned inward but quickly lashed out at others, mostly Near because Near…Near did nothing. Not that Near could have done anything to stop Mello from leaving but Matt shoved that aside. That little ratbastard. Matt had gone to his room the night before he was to leave for New York and started a fight that nearly killed the younger boy. He wouldn’t be surprised if he was planning revenge.


“I only want to work with you,” Near went on.

“You said that was your proper answer. What's the improper one?"

"That is not important. I would like to work with you."

Matt rolled his eyes. “Well, I don’t want to.”

Very slightly, Near started.

“Surprised?”

“Yes. You don’t want to help find Mello?”

“Hell, no.”

“Why not?”

Matt glared.

God, he hated it. Matt had never given a damn about the rivalry between Mello and Near. He put up with it. He put up with Mello’s bickering and selfishness. He put up with his bitching. He put up with his revelry in adoration he received from other students. Because he was second to Near and was willing to talk. He could turn on the charm in a split second and knock your teeth out and steal your shoes in the next.

Matt had been his friend through all these things at Wammy’s House. He had always been laid back about being third. When he messed up, it didn’t matter much. In a juxtaposition, when Matt and Mello were eight, they had a piano recital. Mello played perfectly, he’d practiced a long time so he could do just as well as Near. When Matt had gone up, he had practiced just before it started and played great, when he got up on stage, he fumbled. Then, Mello had smiled and patted him on the back and Matt shrugged and joked.

Fast-forward five years later to another music recital. Mello played great. When Matt went up, he fumbled again. He hated the stage. He sat down, yawning and winked, “You played great, Mello.”

But Mello had given him a high-ended, smug look and said, “You should have practiced more.”

That killed Matt’s mood instantly to exasperation and he had rolled his eyes.

“You were the one that screwed up.”

Matt had looked at him side-long, “Unlike you, I’m not obsessed. I don’t care. It’s not like anyone important is watching.”

“L is here!”

“So. Who cares? It’s not like he’s interested in talking to me. I’m sure he’ll shake your hand after the show. You’ll get compliments from everyone. Don’t worry.”

Damn, he’d liked Mello a lot more as a kid.

Mello studied long hours, which was fine, but then he rubbed it in Matt’s face in very subtle ways--maybe he didn't even know he was doing it. But Matt hardly studied and always got third in line. He had the feeling that if he’d tried, he could probably beat Mello and that idea made him laugh to himself most of the time. The rest of the time he just felt vindictive.

And then had come the breaker. People saw Mello and Matt together almost every day. You could hardly find one without the other. However, all those people saw was the third following around the second.

They started calling him Mello’s ‘dog’, his ‘bitch’, his little ‘puppy’. That pissed him off, not that Mello cared. He was nobody’s fucking dog. True, he’d do things for Mello but he did them because they were friends and what else were friends for than to help each other?

He guessed he’d just never considered how one-sided it was until then. He did stuff for Mello and tried to cheer him up if something went wrong; he acted like a friend. Mello never returned any of it.

So when Mello left, he felt bitter. Extremely bitter and it sealed the deal. He had been ditched. He’d been treated like shit and then discarded. It pissed him off, so he’d taken it out on Near, which had been completely unfair and uncalled for.

All-in-all, he was glad to be rid of Mello. True…he got lonely sometimes, if anything Mello had made time for him sometimes but over all—it was one less headache to deal with. He heard rumors here and there of a mob leader who’d been taken out. And not by Kira. There were others too and he figured it was Mello but did not inquire.

About the last thing he wanted right now was to go find Mello.

“I’m not interested in finding him, Near. If you think I’m keeping tabs on him, you’re wrong. I don’t give a shit.”

“He’s trying to catch Kira, Matt. I would think that would be—“

“I don’t give a shit. I’d rather hang out with you than him!”

That silenced Near for a moment. He blinked, stared and then swiftly got ahold of himself, “Beside the point. I—“

“He’s an asshole. If he comes here and temporarily loses his mind, stops being a selfish prick and gets over himself and agrees to work with you, then I’ll be staying somewhere else in the building.”

“You've already realized that you can’t leave.”

“Not now and that job paid well, too. Thanks a whole fucking lot. Your stunt out on the roof will be on the news tomorrow and I’ll be recognized.”

“It will not air on the morning news, I forbade that. Unfortunately, it was broadcast on the evening news before we could stop it.”

“Fuck.”

“A correct feeling, though not a term I would use.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to.”

“Would you like some breakfast?”

Matt sighed and looked at the clock. Three in the morning. He rolled his eyes. “Sure. Why not.” He pushed the blanket off and froze. It hadn’t even registered. His clothes were gone. Someone had changed them. He was in a black t-shirt and sweatpants. He looked at Near under his hair. “Where are my clothes?”

“They are being washed.”

Matt grumbled and decided he did not want to know who had changed his clothes. He put a hand out on the side table and felt around. When his hand met his glasses he jammed them on. “Did you at least bring my other glasses from my apartment?”

“We did.”

“Thanks.” He got up, adjusting the black, slim frames.

It had taken some negotiation but Matt and Near did decide to work together. Although Near looked for Mello and Matt kept on Kira. And…after a time…Near stopped actively hunting Mello and seemed to be increasingly interested in the things Matt did. Mello would show himself eventually, Near figured.

It had kind of unnerved Matt at first but he eventually got used to that ghostly presence beside him. They checked each others’ work. Near was very blunt but at least he did not mock him. In return…well, Near rarely made mistakes but there might be some alternative that Matt would think of, in which he’d jokingly call him a ‘smartass’ or something similar and make Near’s paper into an airplane and throw it back, then tell him his idea.

It was surprising that they actually did work pretty well together. There were days, naturally, when Matt wanted to rip the little shrimp’s hair out—sometimes his blunt nature and cold calculations pissed him off.

Then, other times, they’d sit next to each other and when Matt would put out a cigarette, he’d feel the younger boy’s presence. Intent, close and warm. It made him feel weird, vaguely awkward and he’d dig around for another cigarette and focus on that instead.

If there was one great thing about living with Near—it was that there was always money to buy cigarettes.

Near did not put everything in a ranking, like Mello did. Near did not treat him as a lesser because of their former standing. Now, they were both adults and each had different experience in the world. While Near's experience was playing the political field, Matt's was grounded on the street. That was something Near needed. In exchange, Matt was given somewhere secure to stay. No one could arrest him here. There was always cash if something came up and things were punctual and mostly patterned. Matt brought in the shifting chaos of the real world and Near gave responsible stability.

Their relationship--whether friendship or otherwise--remained unspoken.


Eventually, he came to realize, Near’s close, ghostly, strange presence stopped making him feel uncomfortable. It was natural now. The warmth of it was nice. They typically sat across the room from each other at the end of a day, a table between their respective couches. Near had a toy of some kind with him and would look over recent reports.

Matt sat across from him, his portable on the table, his feet either on the table or on the couch and smoking a cigarette while he flipped through the other half of Near’s reports.

One day, Matt couldn’t sit still. He was fidgety and distracted. He got up, stepped on the table and across and sat down next to Near (on the opposite of today’s attention—rubber ducky number four, and yes, there was a difference—not that Matt could tell, but Near could so he supposed that was all that mattered).

Near’s eyes and hands stopped moving, he looked at Matt.

Matt felt his eyes and looked back. “What?”

Near looked at the couch, then back up.

Matt puzzled, only briefly, as to why words seemed to have suddenly failed Near. He shrugged. “Just thought I’d sit over here. Company. Sometimes I get jittery from being cooped up in this place.”

A faint smile flitted briefly over Near’s face. Matt did a double-take when he caught it.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

Matt cocked an eyebrow and blinked when Near sat closer. He said absolutely nothing in explanation.


Fast-forward.

It was Christmas. Matt hadn’t thought to get Near anything. He assumed Near wouldn’t be getting him anything either. Although, the time had passed strangely. They sat together all the time now, more comfortable. Near even leaned against him sometimes. They only had these moments in private, out of sight from Near’s cohorts. Outside, it was all business, except for a moment or two when Matt might jokingly flirt with Hal, to which Near would look away.

Christmas Eve.

Hal, Gevanni, and Rester all went home. Their one day off. Near and Matt stayed, of course. Near being too much of a workaholic to leave and Matt having no where to go. Though that night, Matt made it a point to go down to the control room. He was wrapped up in a thick comforter.

He looked at Near, staring up at screens, mostly news but there was a Christmas special here and there and he got the feeling Near was looking at those.

He looked lonely.

“C’mon, shrimp,” Matt called, pushing his glasses up into his hair. “I got some spiced wassail and biscuits--er--cookies--or whatever, to decorate. Never done it before. Come help me.”

Near looked at him.

Matt felt a stab of…something he couldn’t quite pin. “C’mon.”

Near got off his chair and, curiously enough, left his toy behind. He followed Matt to a side room. Every room had a Christmas tree in it. They were all fully decorated and covered in either white lights or colored. These ones were colored.

Matt pulled a low table over in front of the winking tree and moved his thermos of wassail to the table, along with two mugs. He laid his blanket out and gestured for Near to sit. Scratching his hair and snuffing out a cigarette, his grabbed a bowl of cookies and several smaller bowls of brightly coloured frosting.

When he set them down, Near looked over them. “I did not know you could bake, Matt.”

He chuckled and, like Near, sat cross-legged. “It’s amazing what kinds of things you have to learn when you’re living in the outside world, switching cities and jobs every month or so because you get the feeling you’re being followed. But. I really have never decorated Christmas cookies.”

Near nodded. “I haven’t either.”

“I suppose Mello was the only one out of the three of us who participated in that sort of stuff at Wammy’s House.”

Near nodded again.

Matt sighed and grabbed two cookies, handing off a snowman to Near and a tree for himself. “You don’t like Christmas, do you?”

“No. I don’t.”

He heard the unsaid, because he felt the same way. It’s a lonely time of year for people like us. He showed little sign of it though. He grabbed his little knife and some green frosting and set to work.

Near, naturally, made a perfect snowman and laid it on the table to look it. Matt ate his tree almost as soon as he finished. He poured the steaming wassail and handed a mug to Near. There was still a lonesome sadness about him.

“C’mon, Near…not as bad with two of us, right? You don’t gotta admit to anything but I’m not dumb.” Without really thinking on it, he reached down and patted Near’s thigh. He heard a tiny sound and looked over.

Near was looking right at him.

“What?” They had made movements like that before, small touches and things. Maybe it was the time of year.

Near kept giving him that strange look. It wasn’t that normal dead look but it was just as intense, made moreso by the rainbow of little lights from the tree, as all the other lights had been turned off. He looked down and then back up and leaned a hand on the inside of Matt’s knee.

“Are you okay—“

Near kissed him.

Matt dropped the cookie he was holding, an undecorated gingerbread man, and stared, wide-eyed. He inhaled sharply against Near’s mouth when the other moved his hand up farther.

“N-Near…”

Only his eyes showed any expression, the intense blackness of them searing into him. Near moved his other hand to Matt’s shoulder and pushed.

Matt did not fight him, he was too surprised. Granted, there had been moments in the months they had lived together that he had almost wanted to try a stunt like this. The reaction would have been worth it. Hilarious, probably but he hadn’t expected Near tryit. Perhaps he was just lonely—

No.

So what’s the improper response?

Near had never answered him. So Matt went down on his back and Near carefully removed his glasses and set them aside. He looked down at Matt. “I’m assuming you understand now…”

He wants this and he has for a long time.

Matt nodded. The tree lights made Near's clothes look like stained glass.

At first, Near leaned down on one elbow and stared at him. Then he kissed him again. Something about it. Maybe it was because they shouldn’t be doing it. Or because it was Near. Or because so many other things—but Matt did it back.

Near seemed to take more confidence in his response and crawled over him a bit. He straddled Matt’s waist but then…he just, very carefully, laid down. Matt looked down at his pale hair and said, very softly, “Are you okay?”

He felt a slight nod against his chest.

The multi-colored kaleidoscope blinked over them, Matt on his back, lying on his blanket and Near sort of curled up on top of him. He wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it but for some reason, it fit.

He hesitated for only a second and then put a hand on Near’s back and then turned his head in the same direction Near’s was facing and watched the lights.

There was a long, comfortable silence and then Near raised a finger and poked one of the ornaments. The movement made the tinsel shimmer. “Thank you.”

Matt wrapped his arm more firmly about Near’s shoulders, thumbing the shell of his ear, and gave a faint smile..."I didn't get you anything for Christmas."

Near shook his head. "It doesn't matter."

"I suppose you showing me emotion is enough?"

Matt chuckled when Near turned his face up to look at him, frowning.

Then he smiled.

Laughing quietly at himself at the strangeness of it all, Matt moved his hands to Near's waist and pulled him up. He paused and then kissed him. Near shifted, moving a knee inbetween Matt's legs and pressed closer. Matt pushed his rough hands into Near's unruly hair as the younger renewed the kiss, a little hungrier.

Beyond them, the lights twinkled, bright and warm.


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