Missing Piece

BY : Moonchild10
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 1047
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.

And in my dreams you're alive and you're crying,
as your mouth moves in mine, soft and sweet,
Rings of flowers round your eyes and
I’ll love you for the rest of your life

In Near’s dreams, there was a quiet, shadowy place.

It was a place where no evil could happen… no pain, no sorrow, no loneliness. Dreamlands, he had once heard it said, are fragments leftover of childhood innocence. In all reality, Near could admit, he was still a child. But this did not mean he was innocent. He had seen far too much, heard far too much for the fractured ideal to be possible, and he often found himself yearning for the days when it was before he came to his senses and pushed these yearnings away. The only place where innocence existed for him was that dreamland of his.

In that world, when he closed his eyes, changing landscapes purged his soul of stress and he was weightless, fearless. And more often than not, in those brief visits to dreamland, he would find the figure with the golden hair watching him, touching him, talking to him. Of course, this shadow of Mello was nearly always as he had been when they were young; when he still had some semblance of morals and he was still afraid to touch a gun. Back in those days when the worst thing that existed were arguments and their worlds still coexisted, black and white, one impossible without the other.

And now Mello was dead.

This was a fact that Near preferred to ignore. He didn’t want to think of it. If he did, he would see the images of him cold and dead in the ground, and his logic would tell him that soon nothing would be left of Mello but bones and dust. It was a very undignified way for someone like Mello to spend eternity. Because after death there was nothing. After death, Near too would disappear just like Mello. And both of them would cease to exist. The fact that Mello no longer inhabited the universe left him feeling cold and sick. And yet it was so hard to believe Mello was really gone when he felt him in his dreams.

“You ever think about dying, Near?” Mello had asked this on one of those rare days when they were in each other’s presence without wanting to kill each other. Near sat on the floor of Wammy’s House common room, slowly piecing together his white puzzle for the hundredth time that week, and Mello sat against the wall a few feet away, eating his hundredth chocolate bar that week. Near had just kept working, not sure whether Mello’s words had been a threat or not, not sure if he should answer. “Well?” Mello’s voice was more insistent this time. “Do you?”

“That depends,” Near answered patiently, not taking his eyes away from the puzzle. “On your intentions in asking this question. Are you threatening me, Mello?”

“No. Jesus, Near. You’re so damn paranoid. I’m just asking.”

“You don’t have to shout, Mello. And no, I suppose I don’t.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Death is the absolute end. There’s no point in thinking about it when you should be putting focus into living before it happens,” he answered matter-of-factly. And then he looked up at Mello, dark eyes meeting green, and they both had to look away.

It had always been that way. Their stare had been too intense, the electricity between them (be it rivalry or hatred or attraction) was too fierce, and their eyes could never lock for long. It was overwhelming to Near that two people could have such a deep connection and yet be at each other’s throats more often than not. That connection had been particularly strong on that last day at Wammy’s. Mello had not left immediately. He would never dream of leaving without giving Matt a thorough goodbye, and so it was nearly six that evening when he finally marched out the front doors, small suitcase of belongings in hand.

Near had been waiting for him. It surprised even him that he had been affected enough at the thought of Mello leaving to actually wait on the front steps for him, sitting with his puzzle in front of him and pretending to work on it, even though it looked like rain. When Mello caught sight of him there he stopped, giving him an incredulous look and shifting his luggage from one hand to the other and back again.

“What are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.” he didn’t look up.

“Why the hell would you be waiting for me? You hate me.”

“I don’t hate you, Mello. You hate me.” he took his eyes away from the puzzle then, raising them slowly up Mello’s chest, past his neck and chin, and then finally to his eyes. This time neither looked away. They were locked for a moment, but Near could have sworn it was a hundred years. Could have sworn nothing could happen to make this moment end. And he liked it that way. Time had stopped and the two were frozen, trapped in each other’s worlds.

“I don’t hate you…” Mello muttered in a way that left Near convinced he didn’t really want him to hear. And then he turned away again. Near knew there was no way to make Mello stay; nothing could change Mello’s mind when it was made up. And it was none of his business anyway. And yet, something stopped Near from interfering with the moment of childishness his mind thought up as the words slipped from his mouth.

“Mello, wait.”

Mello turned for a moment, his eyes half-lidded and lonely, and stared. “What?”

“Here,” Near found himself holding out a single piece of his puzzle, the one with the black L printed on it. It had secretly always been his favorite, so easily distinguishable from the others. “This is for you.”

Mello gave him an skeptical look but took the piece in his hand, far more delicately than Near would have imagined he would. “You’re serious, then?” Near nodded solemnly, and watched as Mello pocketed the piece. He had expected him to throw it on the ground. Mello gave a small nod, which Near suspected was as close to thanking him for the ridiculous token as Mello could get. “Well, bye Near.”

“Goodbye, Mello.”

Mello disappeared soon after, walking down the path away from Wammy’s and exiting the tall gates, turning left and vanishing from sight. Part of Near wanted to stop him… part of him ached as he watched the person who had seen him as an enemy for most of his childhood leave for what could possibly be forever. He wouldn’t admit, even to himself, that he would outright miss him. But this ache was something, and he carried it with him secretly, trying to ignore the loneliness it stirred up and the feelings toward Mello that he would really rather not acknowledge.

Despite how well he knew Mello’s pride, part of him wanted to believe that Mello would come crawling back sometime soon, unable to fend for himself. But he knew he was only deluding himself (which was in no way healthy), and of course Mello didn’t come back. Mello was not one to come back after he was gone.

Even after he saw Mello again all those years later, it was as though he was still gone. Mello was different. He had always been crazed, but now it was to an ungodly level. There was something inhuman in his eyes, something raw and lonely and unabashed about taking lives and running drugs deals, something that told everyone he came into contact with that they had better not think of crossing him.

But when he looked at Near, there was only raw desperation, desperation that he could feel just as sure as he could feel the heat of Mello’s skin as he kissed him, wild and lonely and frantic. There had been too much time and distance between them for far too long, and they both felt its effects. Near had always been a glutton for punishment, and he let him do these things. Let him touch him, feel him, take him, his tortured and conflicted emotions toward Mello reciprocated by Mello’s ragged breathing and the way he whispered his name.

“Near…” he had never heard anything so terrible and beautiful, and even after the passion had cooled and their clothes were back in place and Mello walked away from him yet again, his body trembled. His heart pounded. His need for Mello peaked and fell and dissipated into his mind with a million other things Near pretended he had forgotten but thought of often when his rational side wasn’t looking. And then before Near could see him again, he was dead. He was left with a cold head full of memories and the thin echoing of Mello’s voice in his mind as he put all that much more effort into capturing Kira. All his time, all his energy, just to forget the fierce green eyes and the scarred but beautiful face that refused to fade.

And then the dreams started, frequent and vivid, Mello every bit alive as he had been before his death. Near’s reaction to them varied from irritation to bliss, depending on the day. He and Mello talked of things as if no time had passed, as if one of them wasn’t dead and the other wasn’t lost in the past and losing his grip on reality outside of the cases he solved. He played in silence, waiting for sleep and for Mello. Because it was the easiest way, the most convenient. The best thing to help cope with emotions he couldn’t quite grasp when all his life he had managed to keep all his feelings in check. Other than those involving Mello.

On this particular night, Mello was the Mello from the last night he had seen him. He was scarred and angry and filled with conflict as he spoke in a rough voice and his eyes darted helplessly around the shadowy, unassuming room. And Near soothed him, holding him closer than he would ever allow himself to in reality. Mello’s heartbeat was dull and warm, and the softness of the blond’s hair against his cheek was enough to make his breath come short.

“Mello,” he whispered against the hair as Mello touched his shoulders, his face, clung to his as though he was afraid and muttered incomprehensible things into his shirt. “Mello, I miss you so much…” he could only say it in dreams, only release these confusing and choking emotions in the safety and comfort of a world that was separate from reality, that did not really exist. Because in reality Near was different… Near was Near and Near could not allow anything to show, could not allow anyone past the wall between him and the rest of the world. Only the vision of Mello could see the fragile interior and the delicate Near that hid inside, wanting desperately to feel worthy of such affection.

But Mello only clung, only whispered his name and kissed him. And yet there was contentment in holding him and being held, letting Mello’s warmth permeate him. Even in the warmth the sense of loss was overbearing, and Near hated to admit how much seeing Mello this way made him lose more and more of his grip on reality. This was something that shouldn’t happen, but he would cease to exist without Mello. That much was clear now. Near’s world was now like his puzzle, the one whose piece he had given to Mello on that final day at Wammy’s. It was blank and white now, without the single piece that bore that ornate black L. And he could feel his own life mirrored by it, scarred forever by that missing piece.

“Near,” the single syllable spoke volumes against the shell of his ear, and he trembled, clutching a handful of Mello’s vest in his fist as though it was the last thing he would ever be able to touch. Mello’s hands were in his hair and his lips were on his face, and even in dreams it was unlike Mello to be tender, especially with Near. And yet there the gentle touches were, ghosts of kisses across his skin and fingers softly stroking his scalp, buried deep in his hair. “You don’t disappear.”

The waking world was unwelcome, and Near sat up slowly, aware that he had fallen asleep on the floor, curled under himself like a cat. Looking around the dim room, he slowly allowed himself to become anchored once more to reality. He was here, this was real, and the dream was fading. Rester was poking his head in the door to check on him and Near was dismissing his concerns. And all traces of the dream were fading like the tiny, lacy snowflakes that fell outside of Wammy’s the night he left, that disappeared at the first touch of breath as they lay clinging to the fibers of his jacket. This was real. The dream world was not. And as the world righted itself, Near found himself wishing it wasn’t.

He examined his hands. Pale, slender fingers and palms that reminded him of L’s. Soft hands. Soft like a child’s hands. Just moments ago in his imaginary world they had clung to Mello like he was a life raft. Now they clutched only at open air, at a lock of his own hair to twirl around one finger. And as he sat in his customary position and glanced around at the towers of blocks that surrounded him, it caught his eye. There, on the floor, sitting alone on the otherwise bare space of rug before him. His heart hammered slightly as he reached for it, barely daring to believe that it was real.

“Mello…” The thing in his hands was real. It was not a dream. And it sat in his hands as though reminding him of its past, of the long journey it had made, and of all the things it meant, both to Near, and to that person who had fatefully disappeared into a rainy night and never returned. It was a puzzle piece.

Pure white and printed with a single letter L.

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