Intrinsic Rivalry

BY : Pantherrose
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 1512
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.

Little Sarah smiled sheepishly at the mess she’d made upon the table. Used bowls and utensils littered the scarred surface, while spilled milk and water flowed into the grooves of the grainy surface. She’d tried to bake, a task she felt sure she could accomplish after years of watching over her mother’s shoulder. Lately, all they’d eaten was a limited menu of fast food products, and she had wished to welcome her mother home with a home-cooked meal.

As she attempted to wipe up the remaining dregs of her failed concoction, her injury smarted painfully and her small hand flew to the source. With an ineptness borne from inexperience, she clumsily adjusted the white bandages around her wrist and winced as the harsh material grated against vulnerable skin.

~ ~ ~

The door screeched as it flowed open upon rusting hinges, causing Near to inwardly wince at such an obvious announcement of his presence.

He found himself in a dim room, lit solely by a muted television and its rapidly changing, flickering images. The quickly shifting light cast an eerie glow upon the scene, while it painted iridescent colors onto Mello’s pale face.

“It’s about time you got here,” Mello said, peering at his guest from behind blonde bangs. “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t come.”

Mello stood in the middle of the dark room, facing the detective as he remained indecisively by the open door. From the light of the glowing machine, Near could tell that his opponent wore the usual skin-tight leather vest and pants, but thigh-high leather boots now completed the ensemble. He didn’t seem to be armed, but Near couldn’t risk making a mistake and later realizing that he was wrong.

“Were you waiting long?” Near asked, his voice reverberating soft but even.

At the question, the blonde’s lips curved slowly into a smile. “Long enough,” he answered almost flippantly. “Did you have trouble finding this place?” he then asked, making Near come close to cringing at the threat of more small talk. Mindless banter held no appeal to the eccentric boy, and he now exhibited this aversion with a tight-lipped frown.

As though he could read the boy’s mind, as well as his expressions, Mello smiled even wider. His white teeth glowed blue in the artificial illumination. Reflected in Near’s dark eyes, the flashing lights and the feral grin bordered on the edge of insanity.

“I’m curious Near,” Mello finally began after moments of taut silence. “At the orphanage, there was always someone to stop us when our games became too dangerous. Even though you were always such a pompous little bastard, they never even let me touch you. Do you remember the time I launched myself at you with this very knife?” He paused. Slowly, almost languidly, he slid his hand down his black-clad thigh to dip into the top of his right boot. The knife he pulled out flickered cruelly in the darkness. “Their damn constant interference stopped me from finding out all that I really wanted to know.”

“And what is that, Mello?” Near asked carefully, calm eyes fixed on the gleaming metal.

“I wanted to know if I could make you scream.” Mello answered as though distracted. He ran the tip of his finger smoothly over the blade, luring the other’s intent eyes to follow each and every movement.

“And why would you have such thoughts?” Near questioned with an almost casual air. Only the sudden flare in his eyes betrayed his surprise.

“Scream, cry, beg,” Mello clarified, chuckling softly to himself. “I don’t care what it is, as long as I get a reaction from the emotionless wonder.”

“I have emotions,” Near muttered before he could stop himself. Had he possessed less control over his reactions, he would have grimaced at the uncharacteristic lapse.

Mello’s light chuckles exploded into full-blown laughter, causing Near to step quickly towards the door. The laughter rose and fell eerily in the small space, filling the entire blank area with a menacing cloud of roiling threat and foreboding danger.

Out of the corner of his eye, Near glanced quickly towards the door. He felt uneasy, his desire for breaking Mello apart competing with his very will to live. He hadn’t expected the course of this particular encounter. But why couldn’t he predict Mello, as he could with all the others? What makes he and Mello so different from all the people he’d crossed in this life?

What did it matter, when Mello was approaching him with the knife clasped steady in his fist?

The blonde was too fast, just as he’d always been in their infrequent physical training. His lithe and wiry figure moved with a speed that Near’s small, compact body could never hope to match. The detective knew this fact well, and no emotion passed over his features as Mello successfully pinned him to the door.

The sinking feeling did not come from being overpowered, but rather from the definitive click he heard behind him.

He was trapped in this horrible place. With the sharp knife nicking the flesh of his bare throat, drawing a small dot of crimson, he knew that his intuition, his clever mind had failed him at the most dangerous point of his life.

Near drew a deep breath, taking great care not to impale his exposed throat on the gleaming metal. Why not taunt the fire, when it’s the only course of action left? Near would never plead or beg, but rather fight Mello until he died.

“Didn’t you learn anything at Wammy’s, Mello? Your pathetic emotional outbursts are going to get you killed, one day.”

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