See, when I first apped? I didn't much like the thought of slash in GENERAL in DN. It just seemed so... intellectual and sterile, if that makes sense (And I think it does!) And I wasn't the only one; literal quote from conversation with Near's player here (I'm Haru, she's Harle):
Haru:The best part, somehow, is how we converted ourselves. XD
Harle: I KNOW. XD We came into this going "...no. Just... no." And ended up going 'omg yes'. What happened, yo? XDD I mean, I even was extra-glad you were apping Mello 'cause I knew you weren't into Mello/Near and I wouldn't have to deal with a Mello who wanted to OTP our characters... XDDD Maaan. How things can change.
Haru: I know! I was thinking just -- no, really. No. That there's rivalry. It's fear and disgust. It's not -- only then RPing them and we were, in fact, *RPING* that and it's not like we even changed their behaviour at first -- no, we changed our PERCEPTIONS without ever MEANING to. A bit at time. Until retarded flirting happened. XD XD
Harle: Indeed. XD And oh, the retarded flirting. XD Replied. <3
And where did we change these perceptions from? Well ... see, we apped them pre!timeskip, when they were both, honestly, really young, but all our canon influences are later (We see them pretimeskip for a chapter and a half, while we've seen them post timeskip for nearly 25 chapters, and there's a four year difference there). So we've been, as I've mentioned elsewhere, trying to 'work them towards' the behaviour we see in the canon.
And, well, new chapters come out every week -- that means from the time I joined (mid-June), there's been about sixteen new chapters. And, heh, that gives a lot of time for motivations and so on to continue coming out. We were mostly on track with them (I was pleased, for example, that we were both right that they adore L as an ideal -- Near says as much in chapter 82!), so I think we've had a good grasp on characterization from the beginning (feel free to agree, anon or not, heh), but more is being... obvious. And that includes in Near and Mello's relationships to each other.
They don't get along. End of story. Their personalities are very different; Near is utterly antisocial and withdrawn from everyone around him, and Mello's out playing with and harassing (and being harassed by) the other kids.
Twenty days after that above picture, they find out that L was dead. The following scenes haven't happened for them in camp canon -- I'm addressing 'manga canon' here, but I feel I should mention that Mello and Near for camp are taken about a month, maybe two, before L's manga death.
But, to work with the canon to explain where we're getting interpretations of their character from, they both respond with grief to L's death: Mello's is more loud and hurt and outraged, and Near's is more quiet and -- extremely subtle, short, understated. The first image of a response we get to L's death is this:
...I don't know about you, but I find that a very subtle, understated response to L's death, and it's all through Near. We don't even see his face, just his hand, and his puzzle.
The mangaka then makes an interesting choice -- she goes an entire chapter post-timeskip. We see the boys here, four years older, and get hints of the choices they've made -- we know they've gone their separate ways somehow. Near is working on the case, stands like he doesn't know how to stand. He sat like a freak as a kid already, but physically he's a bundle of nervous habits as a seventeen-or-so-year-old (Text here not important unless you want to admire his shiny brain; it's mostly just showing that Near has picked up ticks):
Note the hair twirling, the stoop, the socked feet despite the fact he's out in public (Near never goes barefoot, and never wears shoes). I'm not putting the next page up, but it shows he still sits funny -- one knee up, the other down. What this relate? Nothing, really, except either a) L's death caused increased physical methods of coping, or b) Near is putting on 'twitches' as a disguise of his actual behaviour, the way it's possible L had done as well.
By contrast, this is the first shot we see of Mello, four years after we know he learned about L's death:
He's gone from barefoot to wearing boots, wearing elabourate, overblown
This is the first time we've seen, by the way, news of how Mello and Near interact. Nothing else was previously shown of their interactions in the manga, other than knowing they were very different types of people from the same place.
The guy who was kidnapped -- the hostage -- gets killed by Kira, which makes Mello get more enthusiastic; we see no sense of shame or guilt over the death of this person, just excitement that he's on the right track. He then sets out to kidnap Raito's little sister, but that's really irrelevant to what I'm doing here, except to say that it means he gets, after a while, the Death Note that was in the custody of the Japanese police (run by Raito's father) -- but I'm getting ahead of myself. The chapter ends with Mello's determination to kidnap Yagami Sayu.
Chapter 61 goes in and fills what happened when Mello and Near found out about L's death. We don't just see Near's response this time, but Mello's as well:
We see the grief carried through, in their separate ways:
...and Near, presumably in his grief, in his denial that an L who could lose is the L he really wanted to emulate (probably a coping mechanism), sets up the schism that'll haunt them for years:
Which isn't to say they'd got along before that. Roger suggests the two of them work together, and Near accepts but Mello refuses. We're treated to the first glimpse at WHY they're so different -- Mello responds emotionally and knows it, and knows he's never been 'as good' as Near because of it, but at the same time, this also subtly treats the difference in how they're responding to L's death (hot/cold, basically):
Instead, Mello -- with a look of rage and grief -- decides to leave the orphanage. This is the last thing that is said between Mello and Near for four years:
I don't think there's any doubt there that one way to read Near's expression there is more grief. But...
Skip forward to four years, where a mafia guy asks why Mello's so determined to get ahold of that notebook. He replies that it's not just the notebook--
A lot of people take this as his 'not wanting to lose to Near', and I think at this time, it is -- that doesn't quite change until later (and then it's not a complete change), but it's also a very, very obvious desire for revenge on Kira.
(This, if there's any question, is where I get Mello's bizarre love/affection for L from; in canon, he clearly has been entirely bent, destroyed, and rewritten by L's death. Near too, of course, but Mello, as always, is more dramatic and less subtle about it.)
Near continues to investigate, and eventually he comes to a realization that Mello might be behind the kidnapping to get the notebook from the Japanese police:
Shortly after, Raito (Light) tries to get in contact with the director of the SPK, the agency Near belongs to, to try to find information; this isn't relevant to the Near/Mello situation, but this, btw, is where Harle gets a lot of her sadistic side of Near from -- absolutely deadpan and calm, Near asks for the phone, the director hands it over, we turn the page and see this:
...Yeah, and Near needles Light a looooot, and hounds him by associating himself with L to Light's mind, and so on. XD Anyway! Moving on to what I'm actually talking about. The SPK, Near reveals, exists to get the notebook and bring Kira to justice -- basically, the same thing Mello's doing, but using aboveground routes.
Mello gets Mr Yagami in, makes a trade with him for Sayu vs the Notebook; we know that he's willing to kill her if he doesn't trade it (even gives the order, until Yagami snaps and says he'll trade). At this point, Near's not entirely sure it's Mello but he suspects it might be, and the smoothness of the transaction gets his interest (The "L" there is Raito, who set himself up as the new L after L's death, btw):
...So, blah blah, Mello gets the notebook, Near moves in to ask Yagami some questions to try to confirm if the 'mastermind' was Mello -- namely, oh the canon crack, if it sounded like he was 'eating something, like a chocolate bar.' He gets a yes, and takes this as strong evidence:
Can't make shit like this up. Anyway. Yeah. Near's interest grows. He also makes a model of LA out of dice, but I'm not bothering picturing that. But yeah. Out of dice. Anyway, then Mello kills off a bunch of the SPK to send a message to Near, but leaves a few alive. This makes Near into a sad monkey, but he pretty much expected it; there'd been a spy reporting back to Mello (or two, but...) and by killing off five or six people, Near doesn't have much to go on as to who it is.
Anyway, Near is forced to tell Light that he thinks someone who goes by the alias "Mello" is behind it; he does, however, lie to Light about not having any photos (since he has the one we saw earlier.)
Details on where we're getting the competitiveness from:
"Since among the children they'd choose L's successor, no one, not even Roger, knew their real names, so they all went by their aliases. It also seems there was typically a strong element of competition in their studies, pitting them against each other in order to see who was best. At the very top in this regard was a young boy who went by the name 'Near'. The young man N mentioned - 'Mello' - he seems to be the one closest to Near's level."
Eventually Light catches on to the competition continuing, this time over him (or, well, Kira) and Near confirms it:
Near tells Light over the phone that he needs to defeat Mello to beat Kira -- because Mello's become a murderer himself. This is just a side tick, but later we see that Near was really just saying this; he doesn't seem to much care that Mello's been killing people, because 'anyone who got a tool like that would want to test it', but -- that's later. And this is the information he's feeding Light!
At any rate, Near then comments on Mello's obsession with him:
Near then adds an alternative: That Mello might also want to change the world to his liking, because, after all, he's 'always been number one'. Of course, he's saying this to Light, partly as possible entrapment, but. Heh.
Mello tries to blackmail the president to keeping tabs on the SPK and Near and giving the information back to him, but that information gets to Light, and things essentially backfire from there: Light stages a raid on Mello's headquarters, nearly all the mafia he's working with are killed, Mello loses his Note, and barely escapes with his life -- he ends up having to set off a bomb that graphically scars him, and escapes in the confusion. He also doesn't see any doctors to tend his wounds; Near has kept tabs on all the places he could go and turned up no new leads. Plot plot plottymcplotplot.
Near realizes that Mello will have to contact him; Mello's lost everything, and he'd have to get in contact with the SPK in order to continue his war against Kira. He tells people to be on alert, etc. What he doesn't know is that Mello's already been in contact with one of Near's surviving agents -- Ms. Hal. When Near bugs her to pick up whatever interactions come 'in the eventuality' Mello contacts her, she has to silence Mello as soon as she enters her apartment (where he's been staying).
Seriously a gutsy woman; I like her -- it's not everyone who can remain calm to entering their apartment and getting a gun in their face. Anyway, she then asks Near if she can turn off the bugs while she showers; getting Near's permission, she turns off the bugs and gets naked.
And seriously, either Mello's gay or asexual, because there's a three-page shower scene he gets rapidly more bored and irritated at her through, and damn, I'd tap that. Anyway.
Text from this scene, as Mello gets rapidly more irritated with her for not taking her to Near yet:
Hal: Hey, whatcha gonna do?
Mello: Hal, which side are you on, Near's or mine?
Hal: Didn't I tell ya a week ago? I'm not on either side. Both you and Near want to catch Kira...
You are, so to speak, like-minded, aren't you?
Hal: Hey, tell me your plan. Are you slipping away? If so, I'll tell Near that you were hiding in my bathroom and I met you and told you what I have to say.
Hal: Or should I make another chance we meet?
Mello: ....Hal, go back to the HQ.
Hal: Eh? I have no reason to get back there now.
Mello: You can make up any reason. Get back to HQ.
Hal: Understood... Now put that thing away.
Mello holds her at gunpoint, they walk into SPK headquarters, he gets lead into the room with Near (still holding her at gunpoint), and Near greets him as everyone else in the room scrambles to point their guns at Mello: "Welcome, Mello."
Noteable bits of text from the scene in question:
Near: Killing Mello now is of no use for us. We should raise our hats to him for the fact that he once owned the notebook once and also closed so much on Kira. Pointing him a gun is as rude as can be.
Mello: Near, you say clever things.
Mello: This is just as you intended thus far, isnt't it?
Near: Yes. I didn't expect to come this far.
Near: ...but with Mello's help, I could narrow down Kira so much.
Mello: I'm not your tool to solve a puzzle.
Yeah, that bit pissed Mello off:
...Near then tells Mello to shoot him if he wants to. Mello is, er, obviously sorely tempted, but then Hal jumps in and grabs his gun:
Hal: Mello...if you kill Near now and then catch Kira in the future, it will mean nothing.
If you should shoot Near, even we'll shoot at you. If both you two die now, it will lead nowhere. Only Kira will be glad.
Mello: That's right. Near, I just came here to get back the photo of mine you have now.
Near explains that there are no copies of the picture around, and he's talked to everyone at the orphanage who knew Mello, so Mello should be safe from Kira. He then hands the picture back. Mello, listening to Near explain the situation, turns it over. And this is what he sees:
Mello says he's got no intention to cooperate with Near, but that, if Near gives him something, he'd be upset if he didn't give something back. He explains the existence of Shinigami.
Jevanni: Who believes such a thing as the god of death?
Near: I believe that.
Near: What is good for Mello to tell a lie about shinigami's existence?
Mello then explains that there were also false rules, blah blah, plot. The real thing I'm describing the bit comes up next:
The smiles. The sudden understanding of an equal competition. The desire to beat out the other, while still sort of desiring to be with the other ("I'll wait for you"), hell, the gun down the pants -- it's like this mild dissatisfaction and striving between them throughout all the chapters so far has suddenly clicked into place. They've found the place they WANT to be competing. For the first time, they're getting along, but in a strange, frictiony way.
More evidence comes on from here; Light gets the shinigami Ryuk to back up that all the rules are true, and Near just says he trusts Mello more than he trusts any shinigami. Mello and Near talk on the phone often and share information constantly -- like hell they don't intend to work together, heh. Mello avoids being seen by sending someone to Near-- "It's my turn to use you." Near pretends to be threatening Mello's life in order to get more information out of Light ("Then I could use the notebook to kill Mello"), because of the public face Light has to put up. Near talking to Light on the phone and letting Mello listen in on the other line. Death threats, information sharing, and a desire to be in contstant communication -- and so forth and so on. And that's about where we're at by the current chapter. I'd give more explicit examples, but it's hard to, since I've only got raws. Here's some interesting moments from the translation, though:
Light: The god of death says all the rules are true. Are you saying Shinigami is telling a lie?
Near: Well, I believe Mello more than the god of death.
Light: Near, though I understood what you said, it's beyond our control that we write a name on the notebook. In past we already discussed verification of the notebook, but it's always been our conclusion that we should respect life and should never try the notebook.
Near: Then let me suggest something.
Near: I will write Mello's name on the notebook.
Light: (reflections) !.....
Near: Of course if you know Mello's name.
Light: (reflections) This fellow is suspecting we know Mello's name...moreover, he might have had Mello escape to try this.....
Near: Mello should be punished by death penalty when he is arrested. I caught him but he has escaped from us with our
blundering. I should be responsible for that, and I'll write his name.
Light: Near, we can never test the notebook by all means, and we will keep it responsibly.
Near: That's what I expected.
Hal: Near.....it's Mello.
Near: (reflections) Mello....so you've started .... What are you planning?
Mello: Near, soon a man called Mogi will go there.
Mello: It's my turn to use you. Let him in and ask him whatever you want to know. Don't get off his phone and let me listen to your conversation through it. If L is Kira, have him say anything I can fully understand. It's what you are good at. If you can do it, I'll catch Kira for you.
Near: (reflections) Mello...how you've acted.... In this situation, Mello has no danger... But in this way...
Near: Indeed the way Mello took was too much, but it was because he wanted to catch Kira.
Hal: .....To be more specific, Mello wants to catch Kira before Near.
Aizawa: (reflection)......When we visited Wammy's house, I heard Mello and Near were competing each other for L's successor. Also, Mello was always second to Near.... But was that why he did so much....?
Near: For Mello and me L has been the only person we adore, and the only person who deserves our respect. L has been the goal for all the members of Wammy's house. It's clear that L, our respectable goal, was killed by Kira..... We want to catch Kira by all means..... Don't you think it a natural feeling?
Near: Once he knew Kira's means of killing was a notebook, he should want to get the notebook as a clue to catch Kira. So Mello, heedless of danger, put himself among Mafia and made use of them... Then he robbed of the notebook, though his way might be wrong.
Aizawa: (reflection)........Their goal L..... then L was killed.... I understand their feeling to do that by all means.... I have the same feeling with our leader killed..... ..... The root of both is Kira.....
Near: If you get the notebook, it's natural you try it. Mafia....they were good target to try the notebook. I don't think Mello had to write down names by himself.... It's a wrong way of doing things, but it was all because he wanted to catch Kira, who he hated.
But how does this matter to CFUD? NONE of these events happened in CFUD's backstory!
But there's a basic mindset that we're working with here. When forced to work together, instead of staying apart, what mindset do they fall into? It's one that's hungry for their ...striving together. It's very mutually masturbatory, in a way. To quote Near in Ying's anon meme earlier, they love each other because they stopped hating each other but can't feel mildly about each other. Canonically, we know they're both given to intensely competitive desires for each other, and death threats, and the source of their enjoyment in working together is the need to beat the other/thought of being the one to get vengeance. And they DO enjoy working together, being together, sharing intimate information because of it. It's not entirely overtly sexual in the manga (unless you consider the phallic interpretations of the gun in the scene they meet up after the timeskip, hee! Using it to threaten Hal in order to get to Near, almost shooting Near on the spot, it going 'limp' when he gets shocked by the epiphany of 'Dear Mello' -- seriously, look at the placement on that picture; if that's not phallic, what is? and then immediately shoving his gun down the FRONT OF HIS PANTS, but that's not the point XD) and this isn't a surprise, since it's coming out in Jump.
But I've moved from a place - -originally I couldn't see it, now I can't NOT see it, because literally, their mutual arrangement is the most important thing to both of them, canonically, especially as it ties into their mental prowess.
And, so, in camp, the development between Near and Mello has followed the same trend -- not getting along, fighting, disliking each other, being unable to relate ... to violence, dropping each other hints, a sudden desire to just SHOOT HIM NOW, and from that, understanding, interest, a new 'arrangement'
... and yeah, their L thing. I think you see it all in there. XD
Edited to add, re Chapter 83:
Chapter 83 gives us this piece of sharing information and the response to it:
Two things here I find of note: First, Near is being the one to 'work out' a way that he can share informatin with Mello that Mello won't reject, but will know it's actually sharing; this is so very Near, in a way (the same Near who agreed at the first to work with mello when Roger suggested it) and shows such an insight into Mello's way of thinking; it also shows that Mello's imput is welcomed. Second... I have to agree with Harle, on the subject of their competition, which they themselves call a race:
If it's a race, it's a relay race.