Near lay eye-level with the dust on the marble floor. Despite the lurching sickness of reality present in his mind, his expressionless eyes remained dry, blinking rapidly. There he lay, back snapped in two, his whole team of four behind him; and yet nobody rushed to help, nobody spoke. How could they be expected to? The world was surely flipped on its side, the atmosphere spinning out of control. No reaper, genius, god or simpleton could defeat the residue of betrayal - the painful lump in one's throat, the burning behind the eyes, the nausea fighting an overwhelmed body. Everybody seemed to have reached a mutual resolution; it's over.
Nobody spoke. Silence pulsed through sickeningly calm air, deafening the five human beings into madness. How much time had passed? An hour? A few seconds? Time was meaningless here, all laws of nature defied.
Near remained still, essentially motionless save the heaving of his lungs. The same word repeated in his head over and over to a heavy, consistant beat.
Breathe in. No.
Breathe out. No.
With a wracking and pitiful cough, the suffocating spell of factuality shattered - unsurely at first, but promising an unavoidable eruption. Near's mouth was now filled with his own alkaline blood. He stared unseeingly ahead while achknowledging hollared words around him but not actually bothering to make sense of them.
Instead he recollected, his pinpoint mind unmistakingly accurate even at a time such as this.
This must be it, Near thought. These are my memories, this can only be my life flashing before my eyes. I am dying.
But something was not quite right, for all Near saw were the horrors and events of the very day he had just come to pass.
Perhaps, he reasoned, when presented with trauma such as this, one's mind picks out the most influencial memories to display before pulling the plug and retiring.
He then closed his eyes. And he saw.
It was only about seven in the morning when everything started to fall into place. All Near's past questions - Why hadn't they found L's dead body? Who actually cleared the corpse of the fallen Raito? - lined up like obediant children, only to snicker and reveal a dirty trick.
L and Light had simply gone beyond his expectations. They had brought something so new, so udderly incomprehensible to the playing field that he never did stand a chance. Because what did Near ever know about love, really?
In the beginning, L and Light had sat facing eachother, hearts racing and bleeding and reaching out all at once, and they plotted. A grim decision full of sacrifices on both parts, the young lovers pulled a deal. L would back out early and Kira would get the limelight he desired - for a short time. Some time after L's supposed death, Light himself would retreat, faking his defeat like the legendary detective before him. They had agreed to assist eachother, and the unfolding plan was convincing and relieving for both parties.
Near himself had doubted the truth when he stumbled upon it. Why would L give up? Why Raito as well?
The two young men, without much need for discussion, had both understood their dire situations. They were in love. Like magnets of opposite charges, L and Light were drawn to eachother. And they were useless alone.
Had L killed Kira and lost Light, what point would there be to live? Why go on day after day while every atom of his body screamed for the other man, wreathing and grieving and constantly unsatisfied? Unable to live a life with his loved one, L would most likely take his own, and both men would be dead. To no purpose at all.
If tables were turned and Light had really defeated L, he knew as Kira he wouldn't be able to do his job. What kind of murderer is a half-hearted one? Without L, Light could create no justice. And grieving would be unbearable.
So they would fake death, and sacrifice the one person in the way of their happiness - Near.
After assuming he had won, L and Light decided between them that there was an 89.5% chance that Near would feel that something was missing. They calculated it would take exactly 32 hours for the adolesent to congure up a reliable hypothesis and only four minutes to get over the shock and take action. In the frame of those two hundred and forty seconds, L and Light would have to pounce. There was no other time that success could be guaranteed.
As precise as their assumptions and calculations were, however, L and Light found themselves facing eachother's pale faces, overcome with nerves. If it all went wrong, if they didn't manage to hold off Near's team and defeat the boy himself, the young men would face certain separation. At this point, nothing could be worse.
Outside Near's residence, Light checked his watch. In about eight minutes, Near should have his revelation - he had waited all night, he could wait a bit longer.
L turned to him, his wild eyes searching.
"You are tense, Raito," he whispered decidedly. "You have been pale and unwell. I worry for you. Perhaps you have doubts or regrets?" L's soft voice carassed him lovingly, and Light shook his head with vigor. He felt the unmistakeable pressure behind his eyes, and sure enough, a second later they started to fill.
Why do I have to be so goddamned emotional? What kind of man am I? he scolded himself. He looked away to hide it, but when he spoke his voice presented the tell-tale crack of desperation.
"Ryuuzaki, I swear, if I lose you-" L cut him off, and suddenly the wiry limbs and torso of Light's eccentric, delicious companion were hungrily wrapped around and molded into his. With his tongue and mouth also taken hostage, Light allowed himself to completely submerge into the familiar and ravaging world that only he and L could create. For seven blessed minutes, L and Light simply enjoyed eachother; wrapped up in L, Light forgot his worries and understood only passion and intimacy. Delighted as always with the sense of belonging he felt with the young man, Light searched L's body and territory with knowing and eager hands - for seven minutes. And then it was over.
"Don't stop, please... don't," Light moaned imploringly.
"It's time," L replied softly, pressing his forehead against Light's while he caught his breath. Light felt the words exhaled over his skin and thought, for maybe the hundredth time, I never want this to end.
He straightened and let his eyes take in L's existence greedily.
"I love you," L breathed, nearly inaudible. Light felt the rush of need come over his body in voracious waves.
"If something happens," Light started intently, only to be cut off by a careful, slender finger across his lips.
L and Light slinked into the building, everything working as planned.
When they found Near, he was wide-eyed and confused, trying to make sense of the events taking place.
When they left Near, he was broken and crumpled on the floor.
When the white-haired boy finally opened his eyes, Light had his team contained and L was inches from Near's face.
He watched the hurt and sadness pass through his mentor's eyes as he sputtered out his last words.
"Always hated Light... But you... How could you... Betrayal," Near managed. L smoothed back the child's tangled hair and spoke in a soft manner.
"My friend, if you are acquainted with the bitterness of betrayal, perhaps you did understand one aspect of love after all. Betrayal and love are codependant, are they not?"
Light had now joined L, and Near could feel himself slipping.
Just what was that supposed to mean? he wondered.
Light and L caught eachother's eyes and felt a mutual, toned-down euphoria. Finally, they felt peace.
And so Near was left with this last visual image; L and Kira, Ryuuzaki and Raito, walking away, hand in hand.