sunmoonandspoon: (L is depressed today)
[personal profile] sunmoonandspoon
Title: Ancient, Wobbly and Crippled
Authors: [ profile] speaky_bean
Characters: Near, L
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 571
Notes: I’ve never written anything from Near’s POV before, so I hope it doesn’t come out too badly. It’s about Near’s view of the timing of L’s death—perhaps it really was best that L never grow old. Note that Near's views about old age do not necessarily reflect my own! Written for week #73 at [ profile] dn_contest, for the prompt "old age".

Near rarely pays heed to his appearance, but today Gevanni is complaining of his first grey hair. This makes Near wonder if perhaps he’s showing signs of age as well.

It’s a silly thing to expect. At age four Near was frequently mistaken for an infant, and at age nineteen he had the short limbs and rounded belly of a child. Now, closing in on age twenty-four, he finally looks as though he’s hit puberty. Such retarded growth is unlikely to produce grey hairs or wrinkled skin, but all the same, he’d like to see. He’s gone so long without looking in a mirror that he’s beginning to lose touch with himself.

As he expected, there are no crow’s feet marring his eyes, no silver threading his white-blonde hair. Near looks like a gangly preteen, a boy unlikely to say anything other then “whatever” or “dude”. He may never live long enough to look old. Which makes him not-so-very-different from the man he has been sculpting himself into for years. L never lived long enough to look old. Soon, Near is going to be older than he will ever be.

His mirror-self is hard-lined and acne-ridden, so he looks away, pads out of the bathroom and sits down on the linoleum floor with a thump. Near’s muscles are weak and won’t carry him for long. L’s muscles hadn’t been, L could kick a person in the face, L could sit balanced on the balls of his feet for hours. He had been strong where Near was weak, but which one of them found Kira? Which one of them is still alive?

Rubbing his pimply eye-lid in annoyance, Near wonders whether this means anything. Was L’s defeat a sign of impending decay? Was L losing his touch, was he growing old at twenty-five? Near doesn’t know much about L’s personal life, but he can’t imagine it was too different from his own. And though Near looks like a child, he feels older than the soil he can hardly remember sifting through as a child, gardening with his mother. That’s all he remembers of her, dirt and heat and nothing growing. Oh, and her organs splattered across the kitchen table and a lunatic telling him he’s next. Yes, Near is ancient, wobbly and crippled. But brilliant. Like L.

It is so much easier to think of that as wondrous now that L is gone. Near shudders to think of what could have become of him, had he lived to be old. He could have grown in a respectable, dignified gentleman like Mr. Wammy, but even that would be a devastating blow. Mr. Wammy, a world-renowned inventor, had become little more than Watari, L’s nursemaid, L’s portal to the outside world. He became nobody, and L, world-renowned detective, would have become nobody, too.

But this is the best-case scenario. The worst is for L to become a senile, toothless wretch with a plethora of health problems—the well-deserved diabetes and heart-disease, maybe cancer just because. Arthritis, shaking hands, a spine so deformed he should be living in a bell tower. The inability to understand or remember anything, his identity cannibalized by people like Near.

It would have been intolerable for L to grow old. And for the first time since he silently absorbed the shock of his passing, Near is glad that he died when he did.

Near might bow out early, too.
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October 2010

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