It was so dark that Matt was about 700% sure the apocalypse had just happened and he missed it just because he was busy kicking Ganondorf's ass for the millionth time. Well… he didn’t really mind, thinking about it. Matt always saw the end of the world as a sort of, “Oh… crap… well… that happened.” moment. What can he say? Unlike the oh so sober Catholic Mello, Matt was an atheist absurdist through and through. Not that he begrudged a man for clinging to faith. Not at all. The universe was really too much of a fucking mess to begrudge anyone for anything.
Damn, Matt thought, It must be late as fuck if I’m thinking about the end of the world. He checked his phone and snorted. It had been a few hours since his last smoke, and damn if he wasn’t going to sleep without another. Filthy habit, he knew it, Mello made sure to tell him and Near wasn’t too fond of pulling punches in that regard either; Matt didn’t care. Didn’t think he’d last long enough to get lung cancer anyways.
As Matt stood, his joints cracked loudly, making him wince. A moment later, he cracked his neck and shoulders, sighing as the knots in his upper back eased, for now at least. The joint pain would, supposedly, only get worse as he aged, especially because of his terrible posture, but Matt didn’t sweat it it; more important things to do, after all, like getting a smoke before his he was tempted to claw at his skin. Grabbing his cigarette and lighter from the top of his dresser, Matt left the room.
As Matt entered the hallway, he paused. Mello’s room light was still on - weird, for 3AM. The blonde was a strong believer in sleep - even speedrunning a game with Matt or Linda wouldn’t stop him from leaving at midnight to sleep. From what he knew, the blonde hadn’t changed since he left Wammy’s…
Matt quietly grasped the handle and pushed it just to just before 35 degrees - Matt was well aware Mello’s door creaked very loudly at about 35 degrees, and that Mello never bothered to oil the damned thing on purpose.
Mello’s room was, contrary to the blonde’s ostentatious fashion taste, rather plain in design. While Matt at least had a few manga volumes and some fandom merchandise, Mello’s room looked as personal as a hotel room, aside from the cluttered study table. Matt was unsurprised to see that Mello was at the study table, but he was surprised to see that the blonde was slumped over his desk - asleep, Matt soon realized, because of the steady rise and fall of his chest. Matt shook his head. Just like Mello to wear himself out and fall asleep while working.
Unlike Matt, Mello never stopped caring about his work and his goals. Yet, they managed to fit well together - Matt liked to say they were like peanut butter and jelly, but he stopped saying that after Mello hit him for it when they were 10. The blonde had one hell of an anger problem when they were younger; not that it improved with the years, but Matt wasn’t the blunt of it anymore (Near was, bless him), so Matt didn’t care.
Matt approached the desk as the corner of his lip curled into a gentle smile. He leaned forward to see the book title - Introduction to Japanese Mythology - at the top of the page. So that’s why the blonde took more time than expected to visit Near: he was getting a book for research. He even had notes beside his head. Matt stared at the header, a single word that made Matt’s stomach unsettle.
Matt stepped back and tilted his head to look at the ceiling. He exhaled heavily, relaxing his shoulders, and returned his gaze onto Mello’s notes. Matt still couldn’t fully believe it. He didn’t want to believe in God - or anything, really - but the Shinigami did exist, he logically knew that. He saw Shido. He almost wanted to spend time with Shido to coerce something about the afterlife out of the fucking owl, but he knew Mello would think that such a pursuit is a waste of time, so Matt didn’t. Couldn’t get Mello mad at him again. So he played uncaring as usual, as affable as usual; this was Mello’s mission more than it ever would be Matt’s, anyways.
But old habits died hard, didn’t they? After all, Matt was still a smoker, Near still had severe agoraphobia, and Mello still wore himself down to the bone for a rivalry that existed only in his head. Frankly, it was better than Beyond’s arson and A’s suicidal tendencies, so Matt considered them successes, even if they were… less than perfectly adjusted to common life.
After all, it wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last time, Mello fell asleep studying.
“Melodius, Mellopothy, Melloful, Melodrama - Melodrama! Mels, I found what your name’s actually short for!” Matt slurred as he slid open the door to their dorm room and slumped against the wall. Matt was a well aware that B or R may have spiked the fruit punch for game night with something with the strength of vodka, but he felt wonderful so he didn’t give a damn. After all, he finally kicked A’s ass in smash bros and now reigned as the #1 video gamer in all of Wammy’s - quite an accomplishment when A was a verifiable genius with unnaturally excellent hand eye coordination.
Matt blinked, realizing that Mello hadn’t replied. Turning the corner of the room - it was, after all, L shaped, with a set of bunk beds, two study tables, and two dressers - Matt found Mello draped over his study table, as if he’d fallen asleep studying. Mello’s hair was disheveled, neck and arms in awkward angles, back turned just enough to make an ache the next morning.
Matt winced and quietly placed his hand on Mello’s shoulder. When he didn’t wake, Matt shook it a few times, ignoring the sleeping boy’s grumbles of protest until Mello woke up completely and aimed an almost adorable glare at the other boy. Matt smiled indulgently at his younger roommate.
“Meeeeeels, go to bed, it’s late” Matt hummed.
Mello wrinkled his nose and looked away. “But… the test is tomorrow and… well… I can’t be beaten by Near.” Mello spat out. Matt sighed - it seemed all Mello was doing nowadays was study, because of that albino newbie who, from day one, was the only person to outrank Mello. “Matt, what time is it?”
Matt glanced at his watch. “2am, I just got back from kicking A’s ass.”
“Fuck.” Mello cursed under his breath, and then paused. He looked up and smiled. “Congrats, didn’t think you had it in you.” He teased, making Matt pout and cross his arms childishly. Mello shook his head and leaned back in his chair. He took a good long stare at the ceiling, letting out a long sigh. Matt wondered how so much drama could fit in such a scrawny body. “...I should sleep, shouldn’t I?” He softly asked.
Mello sighed again. He stood, facing Matt, and gave the older boy a hug, which Matt easily returned. Most of Wammy’s was relatively touch adverse, but Mello was an exception, and Matt didn’t mind touching if it was his best friend. “Goodnight Matt.” He paused, probably catching scent of the alcohol on Matt’s breath. “Lay off the vodka will you?”
Matt laughed. “Blame B, Mels. You should’ve been there, it was, like, amazing.”
Mello pulled away and shrugged. “Yeah, maybe.... But, you know what? I’m gonna beat Near - show the damn pipsqueak where he belongs, and become the next L. You’ll be my Watari and we’ll save the world!” He exclaimed.
Matt cheered, smiling brightly at the rosy dream the duo shared. “Yeah!”
Mello’s smile practically took up his entire face and then some; so infectious, it had Matt smiling just as broadly. “Goodnight, Matt!”
“Goodnight Mello.” Matt chirped.
It was a dream that never really came to fruition, but Matt didn’t mind. Matt was happier here, in the middle of danger and in the LA Mafia, than he ever was at Wammy’s. Sure, it wasn’t detective work, not traditionally, but Matt was happy in their shitty apartment in the middle of the bad part of the city. He was happy smoking cigarettes and hacking for money and killing the occasional person and ranting to gaming forums about his opinions on Destiny’s ironically nonexistent plot. He was happy, with Mello.
While a part of Mello was still hung up on becoming L and beating Near, Matt knew that Mello’s spontaneous, hands-on, genius was not cut out for sitting in a dark room with a single monitor and a single friend for days at a time; that was Near’s gig, made for him almost as much as the Mafia Boss gig was made for Mello. Matt also knew that Mello would punch Matt for saying that - even if Mello knew he was right. After all, if he fully believed that he should have succeeded L, Matt wouldn’t have left Wammy’s.
Still, they weren’t in London anymore, and Matt, secretly, hoped they never went back to London. Now that Matt finally found Mello, there was nothing at Wammy’s but a bunch of depressed preteens who, until Near died, would be pointlessly put through the detective factory until they found their niche outside of it and succeeded in it. Somehow, Linda saw it and decided to stay as a teacher, thinking, for some reason, she thought she could make their lives better, but Matt knew better.
Secretly, Matt was sure she was only there to prevent another A.
One time, when both of them were drunk off their asses, Matt told Mello that he wanted to live in Silicon Valley - do tech shit. Matt didn’t know what tech shit he wanted to do, but he wanted to do tech shit. Mello’d told him to shut up because last time they were drunk, Matt said he wanted to make a circus out of animatronics. Matt… hadn’t ruled that idea out when he became sober. That’d be some cool ass tech shit.
Matt snorted out loud. Did he really just think that? He looked at the blonde and smiled once more. Mello, though scarred and hardened, still looked beautiful, to Matt. In the end, as long as they’re together, Matt gave no fucks about the rest of the world. He hadn’t ever since he realized just how much he loved Mello.
“Where the hell is he, Roger?”
It was a sight to be seen: Matt, the normally cool, amiable, and unshakable gamer was absolutely livid. He strode forward into Roger’s office and slammed his hands on the old man’s desk, goggles askew and eyes striking in their unabashed madness.
“How could you let him leave? He’s just 15! L didn’t leave Wammy’s until he was 20 - what were you thinking!” Matt screeched, searching Roger’s stony expression for some sort of answer. Matt couldn’t help it - a mere 20 minutes ago, Matt found the letter left for him on his bed, a letter that detailed Mello’s escape and his intent to solve the Kira case and beat Near in his own way. Mello had promised to come back for Matt, but Matt wasn’t having it - none of them knew jack shit about this world, and Mello was gonna kill himself trying. Matt, he couldn’t allow that. There was no one like Mello in his life, no one he cared about as much. Matt couldn’t afford to lose Mello.
“Are you quite finished, Mr. Jeevas?” Roger asked, his voice eerily cool. After a few minutes of silence, Matt’s rage slowly cooled into a simmer. Roger only used last names when he was more serious than usual - Matt knew when to shut up.
“Yeah.” Matt muttered.
“Mello, legally, is allowed to leave at 15.” Roger carefully explained, making Matt look at the old man incredulously. “I couldn’t stop him,” the older man admitted.
Matt shook his head, stepping back from the desk as a humorless chuckle escaped his lips. “Couldn’t, or wouldn’t, Roger?” He darkly asked.
Roger’s expression fell. “Do you honestly accuse me of that, Mr Jeevas?”
Matt looked at the old man before him. He was dressed well, as he was always dressed, but his sleeves were ruffled, collar askew; he was affected by Mello’s departure, even though his English sensibilities didn’t make him inclined towards expressing it. His face was lined with canyons eroded into his face by the antics of children he never asked to care for. This was supposed to be Wammy’s house yet, here Roger was. He hadn’t failed them for the last 5 years. Matt sighed. “No.”
Roger nodded. “I understand that this scenario isn’t ideal. But I cannot do anything. I must arrange for L’s death myself, because Wammy is no longer alive either, and we do not have the resources to scour all of England for him, if he’s even in England anymore.” Roger murmured. He looked away from Matt.
Matt almost wanted to laugh - was there absolutely nothing? “I… This isn’t right.”
Roger shook his head. “I understand, Matt. You love him, this is hard for you.”
Matt actually did laugh. “Love?” He wheezed.
Roger shrugged. “You cared for him.”
Love and care were not strong enough words to describe it. Matt, who spent his life in a continuum of numbness, boredom, and faint amusement, now felt as if his soul was ripped out of him. It burned like poison, burned more than Beyond’s alcohol or Beyond himself - was this why he set himself on fire, out of grief for A? Matt couldn’t believe it. Somehow, his Mello was gone. His partner in crime, the L to his Watari -
The boy he’d do anything for.
Matt found Mello after a lucky break while hacking. It was a ridiculous adventure that, irritatingly enough, ended with the beginning of the Kira Case’s uptake, but Matt was glad that he made it this far, at least. Matt sighed and glanced at his iphone again - it was even later and at this rate, if Matt kept zoning out, it would be better to let Mello sleep. Still, Mels was gonna hurt very badly if he kept sleeping like that - may even get early onset arthritis with Matt or something. Matt looked at his friend and chuckled. Nothing would stop Mello, not even arthritis.
Eventually, Matt frowned as his eyes outlined the edges of Mello’s scar. It looked painful, but Matt knew, from tending to it, that the skin was relatively soft. Still, Matt hated it, not because it was unappealing - Matt couldn’t care less - but because every time pretty, vain, dramatic Mello looked in the mirror, the blonde frowned. Though Mello never told Matt, he knew that the blonde was self-conscious. He knew it from Mello’s lingering glances on his old photo, knew it from the man’s unconscious touches, knew it from the way the blonde drew up his hood more often around strangers. Matt wanted to kiss it, tell Mello that he was beautiful to Matt and many others still. But he knew Mels was too proud to ever acknowledge it.
But, Matt realized, Mello couldn’t deny it now.
Before he fully realized what he was doing, Matt pressed a soft kiss to Mello’s cheek. As he pulled away, Matt felt his face heat in embarrassment. Matt suddenly felt like he needed to explain - he had, after all, kissed his best friend’s cheek. “Er… I mean...You’re so pretty. I don’t even mean it as an insult - you’re just… pretty fucking cool you know?” Matt whispered, letting a sliver of his heart’s essence dissipate into the air. A few minutes passed in the twilight zone between Matt’s thoughts and his task, before Matt decided he’d dallied for long enough.
Matt gently grasped Mello’s shoulder and shook it. “Mels, get up. Go to bed, it’s late.”
“Mmph…” Mello groggily raised his head. “Matt?” He mumbled, voice hoarse. “Matt… what time is it?” Mello asked.
“About 2 AM.” Matt replied.
“I… Oh damn, really?” Mello asked, pressing his palm to his head as he straightened up.
“Yeah, man.” Matt ruffled Mello’s hair, causing the blonde to glare at the redhead. “Go to bed dude.” Mello pushed Matt’s hand off and stood and cracked his sore joints.
“Mm…” Mello shrugged off his jacket and rosary, taking a moment to hang them both in their respective places, before he flopped face first on his bed like the graceful swan he was.
Matt chuckled. “Good night, Mels.”
When Matt left the room, closing the door as quietly as he entered it, Mello turned to his side and stared at the closed door. Mello had a lot on his mind.He pressed a single finger to the tingling part on his left cheek. Inadvertently, Mello felt his lips pull themselves into a positively sappy smile. He thought Matt was pretty fucking cool too.