Mello watched Misa Amane through narrowed eyes, trying to keep an eye on her and the enormous man she was with without being noticed himself. He didn't exactly blend into a crowd, but from behind a convenient alley wall across the street he could see them perfectly. He wondered briefly if Matt was all right back at the apartment with nothing to do, but dismissed this thought – he had plenty of research on his plate, and he was nothing if not adept at entertaining himself.
Mello's cell phone suddenly began to vibrate. He pulled it out and glanced at the number on the screen – it was Matt. He flipped it open and put it to his ear. "Yeah?"
"Hey, Mello. I was thinking." Faint squeaking accompanied Matt's voice; he was spinning in his rolling chair as he spoke.
Mello waited a moment. "You were thinking…?" he prompted when no reply came.
"Well… you know your last name? It's Keehl, isn't it?"
"Matt!" Mello hissed. "Don't say that out loud! This could be tapped for all I know—"
"Well," Matt pressed on, "I was thinking. If you say it right, it rhymes with 'fail.'"
Mello shut his eyes briefly, trying to quell his bubbling homicidal urges. "I'm tailing Misa Amane right now, Matt," he said through clenched teeth. "I really don't care what my name rhymes with."
"No, I'm not kidding!" Matt said urgently. "I mean, look at how much you've failed at since you started with this—"
"I didn't fail!" Mello snapped, turning away from the street. "There were setbacks, yeah, but I didn't fail at anything!"
"Yeah, because your first hostage dying on you and getting your hideout assaulted and blowing yourself up and losing your name and the Death Note to L, no, to fricking Kira don't count as failures—"
"Shut up!" Mello snarled, his hand involuntarily twitching in the direction of his gun. "Near's had just as many setbacks as I have and you're not calling him a failure!"
"He got his hideout assaulted, too, sure, but he escaped with his face intact. And he's still got three people left alive as opposed to your one. And he's not living in the building with the single lowest rent in Manhattan."
"It's your apartment, Matt."
"Whatever. I still think it's because of your name that you fail. Because it rhymes. No way that's coincidence."
Mello took several deep breaths. "Look, you idiot, that has absolutely nothing to do with anything. I bet Near's real name rhymes with something stupid, too."
"I dunno. But 'Near' doesn't."
"Yeah, it does. Like… uh…" Mello thought hard for a moment. "Well, something."
They were silent for a moment, racking their brains. "…Um, 'mere'?" Matt offered. "Like, 'a mere trifle'?"
"That's just dumb."
"Makes him sound intimidating. He's about as intimidating as a cream puff."
"Like a smear on the pavement?"
"Yeah, like that."
Mello smirked. "That works. So is he gonna get hit by a truck or fall off the Empire State Building because his name rhymes with 'smear'?"
Matt was silent. "Well, it could," he said after a moment. "Your name's too much of a coincidence."
With a derisive snort, Mello stepped back into the sunlight, training his eyes once more on the street. "Shut up and get back to your research. I have to tail…" He trailed off, searching for Misa. She and her bodyguard were gone. "Where's Amane?"
"She's gone! I was having this idiotic conversation with you and now she's gone!" He lowered his sunglasses and stared wildly around the street, but who knew when she had left? "Dammit, who knows when we'll find her again?"
He should have seen it coming before he opened his mouth. Matt laughed. Before Mello could slam his cell phone shut, Matt declared with all the wounded retaliation of a twelve-year-old, "FAIL!" and hung up, leaving Mello seething on the street corner.