It was such a quiet beep. Yet it sounded like a thunderclap in the heart of the man who heard it. Roger's colour passed through white to gray. As he struggled to gain his footing in rising from his chair, the young genius, Caerleon, rose from her own perch to assist him.
"Roger?" Trepidation steaked through her gaze, but the old man didn't answer her. He tried not to lean on her, as he made his way to his desk and stared at the timer.
It was unchanged. Either Near had logged onto his computer today or else something had gone badly wrong with the technology. Hope flared. There were children and alumni enough in this institution with the capability to hack into the system. There were perhaps three who could actually enter the mainframe. But speculation only prolonged the agony. Roger opened his desk drawer and took out the 'phone on permanent charge in there. It flashed an alert for a received message and his hands shook, not pressing the button to read it. Whatever it was, it could not be good news. His mind span through memories of the child Nate, the adult Near. But he was stalling again.
The elderly gentlemen pressed the button to receive the text. What Roger read there was so unexpected that he fell into his chair. Caerleon rushed across the three feet to his side and took the 'phone from him. Just four words to starkly convey a terrible message. 'Mail Jeevas is dead.'
"Caerleon, my dear," Roger regained a little of his habitual stoicism, "I need you to do something very important for me." He tapped in a number on a second phone, but didn't call. "Ask whoever answers to put you through to Near. When you are certain that it is he to whom you are addressing, convey to him the message that you have just read." The guardian opened up a file, using a third phone to select a number that he wasn't even supposed to possess. "I am certain that, in these circumstances, Near will understand my not prioritising him in my own communications." He listened to the tone ringing out endlessly. It switched to answerphone. Mello's gruff voice simply saying, 'Shoot'. "Mello, this is Watari. Please contact me at the earliest opportunity."
The girl watched him hang up, noting his frustration and anxiety. "Excuse me, Sir." She spoke into the telephone, before addressing Roger again. "Near says that for that name to have been used, it must have been Matt who hacked the server in the first place. He also believes that if such an alert was put in place for Matt, then he logically would have also added one for Mello." She listened again. "Near is 12% certain that this means that Mello lives, but he says that any response is better coming from you than him."
Roger nodded and tried again. It went straight to answerphone. "Oh! Mello, where are you, son?"