The corridor is longer than he ever remembers it being. Slowly, through the great hall, dark with the damp midnight and the silence of a sleeping house, he moves like a man possessed. Passes windows where, as a boy, he used to watch the sunrise coming up over the land and wonder how anything could be so grand.
He doesn't want to know anymore.
The only sound aside from his quiet footfall is the rain against the window, battered by wind…and on the carpet as it falls from his hair, perhaps, because it's quiet enough that he can hear that too. It's just so damn quiet. There are no lights, because everyone else is asleep, like he should be. The dim glow from the windows comes from the city not far away, reflecting the street lights in the storm clouds. It's not moonlight, just another bastard without a place to be, a poor imitation and a failure, when all is said and done.
It's enough light to cast shadows.
They reach for him.
No, just the battered strands of his imagination coming into play after too long at work. Too long trying to magic another option into existence…
Fuck, it's too late now anyway.
This hall is so damn long.
The stair rail comes to his hip now, not his shoulder. He's never notice how much he's grown, but with his thoughts assailed by memories and the ever growing darkness, he can't help but to muse on the difference. His hand trails slowly up the old wood, and if the sun never comes up, he doesn't think it will make much difference in this place. It's like the sun ran away forever, it's so damn quiet and dark here. So fucking quiet.
He toes his shoes off at the top of the stairs, and shivers at the draft on his damp clothing. The cuffs of his pants are icy against his bare feet now, because he'd just thrown the shoes on in a hurry after all.
This hall is no shorter than the last, and fuck, he has to wonder why the house is so…big.
No. That's not the word. It'll come to him later, he supposes.
He sheds his light cotton jacket on the way, because the fabric is wet and reeks of cigarettes now.
Pauses outside his door.
Stares at the one across from it.
He doesn't remember moving. He doesn't remember needing anything this much. Nothing.
Not his cigarettes.
Not his computers.
But it's a hollow want…when the door swings open and there's nothing there but must and the empty feeling of a room once full of life. Nothing there but the ghosts of what used to be, and that's nothing new. Nothing at all, really. He's seen this before.
It's not what he wants.
And so again, he turns away, shivering at the cold, and leaves the door open. Lightening flashes at his back, and the thunder follows soon after. The nagging in the back of his head flares, but he shoves it away. It'll be fine.
It'll be okay when the sun rises.
When the sun comes back.
The hall is so long.
The quiet drills into his ears, hollow and desperate and mocking, and he doesn't want to open his mouth because the only sound he could make at this point would be something pitiable and terrifying. They're all asleep anyway…who would hear him?
Still, he walks a little faster.
And when the shadows falls from the ceiling, roiling in the corner of his eyes, come, to, get, him…
Grown as he is, he runs like he did as a little boy, eyes shut tight, bare feet pounding the carpet because he needs. He needs to get away.
He needs it so badly.
Runs, runs until he can't breathe, and his air is more like a sob anyway, but that's coming too, he can feel it. The tightness in his throat, the pain, the fucking pain, not in his side, but in his chest.
Oh god, not here. Not yet.
He rounds a corner, and doesn't know whether to keep going or turn back, because he's run here so many times before.
With books, to study, walking calmly, he's run here.
With food, frowning because it's been a day or so since that last lunch, he's run here.
At night, laughing wildly with something stolen, hiding away, he's run here.
Chased, he's run here.
Alone, he's run here.
His feet carry him forward.
Forward to a door that isn't his, never was his, a place that he belongs in, if for no other reason than that he's already there.
At least part of him.
At least…it was.
This door swings open too, and the ghosts are stronger here. The scent of him is faint, but alive. The figure sleeps on in the other bed, and he has to grin, just a little bit, because that one could sleep through anything. Oh, but him…this is all it would take, and he would stir. The simple movement of opening the door, and then he'd wake, and come. They'd slip away, they'd hide. They run together, for no reason but to run.
No, not run away.
But he doesn't appear in the door this time, wearing only his baggy sleeping pants and a feral grin. He doesn't slip out into the hall, silent, so quiet, and shut the door after.
No, no he doesn't.
And it hurts.
It's coming, he can feel it, but he doesn't know what he wants.
There are goosebumps along his arms, bold and damp with the chill, but he's not weak enough to rub them yet. Not yet.
He's run here before, but now there's nothing here…nothing.
He crosses the threshold and pulls the door shut behind him. The other never stirs, and it doesn't help. It's so fucking quiet.
There, across from him, the bed. Just beneath the window, because he always…he always liked to wake up with the sun on his skin. He's seen his outline in the sheets, catlike and lithe before he woke after sleeping in on lazy mornings… he's leaned in the door and watched him come awake.
God, it's empty.
That's the word. He knew it would come to him.
It's so fucking empty.
It's coming, and he doesn't know how to stop it, but the pain is nearly here. He can hardly breathe. He can't see straight anymore, and the pain, the pain, pain.
He stumbles, cold, wet, barefoot, and bleeding, to the empty sheets and falls on them.
His scent is here, growing stronger by the minute as the water seeps from his body, slightly warmer, and into the fabrics beneath. He buries his face in the pillow, and oh, just breathes.
And there it is.
The first sob is muffled by feather down and cotton, and he revels in it. Tears, hot and sharp and real, are pressed to his eye lids trapped against his skin, as warm as forever.
The scent is a comfort, a memory of sun on bare skin, glistening after a run across the moor. A memory of laughter, wrestling in the grass beneath that old oak tree a mile away, lost in the fields with no one but themselves and the imaginary worlds of two boys exploring. It's a memory of nursing the cuts and scrapes after his training. It's a memory of curling up on the hearth in the library in the death of winter, shoulder to shoulder and alive.
It's a memory of him.
The second sob is a wail no pillow could suffocate, because he's gone. He's just fucking gone, and he's sixteen years old, sobbing like a child, but it doesn't matter, because his best friend is just, fucking, gone.
A major piece of his life, a burning ember of comfort and support, reduced to the ash of a memory.
There's no way the other is still asleep, but it doesn't matter. Face down, buried in his bed, in his memory, he remembers. He remembers gentle talks and teasing about first girls and their kisses, and then the nothings when they merely sat together. The easy silences upon reaching their tree, when they just climbed up its branches and rested in the afternoon sun, alive. When they startled the thrush and listened to her sing, just breathing, just there.
And Mello's gone.
And Matt's never needed him more.
And while Near may be listening, Matt just lets go…to the rain on the window and the memories in the pillow, he lets go because the sun isn't coming back and neither is Mello.
He sleeps, and really…that's all he can do.