Author's Note: This fic—not chapter, the whole fic--is part one of two. The full thing will basically be the entire chronicle of Matt and Mello from introduction till death, called, overall The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot, after the song by Brand New (the accompanying music video is on youtube.) There will be a lot of drama, a lot of humor and randomness, and a LOT of angst. This is Mello after all, Captain Dark and Twisty himself. Right. Anyway. Yup, this installment is called, tentatively, Brighter Than Sunshine, after the Aqualung song. I like naming things after music; leave me be. Oh! And I'm currently working on a soundtrack for this half... Part II already has a full one. lol.
.:Brighter Than Sunshine:.
The young foreigner, Mihael Keehl was, at first, quiet, reserved… he kept to himself his first few days at Wammy's, curled into a corner of the expansive library, reading intently and devouring bar after bar of chocolate as though his life depended on it.
On the third day of this self-inflicted seclusion, Roger began to worry. The nine-year-old blond had barely spoken a full sentence since his arrival. The doctors had called it post traumatic stress, claiming it was the lingering after affect of his parents' disturbing deaths, and that he should begin recovery soon--if he did at all. The caretakers did everything they could to coax the boy out of his solitude… soliciting toys, outings, TV time… all the things that had worked on the other children. It seemed fruitless, he didn't budge.
A week after the Slavic boy's appearance at the orphanage, Roger was reading the morning paper in his office over a cooling cup of tea, when a distraught five-year-old Linda flew into the room, pigtails streaming. He glanced up, startled, as she flung herself at his knee, clutching the fabric of his slacks desperately.
"What is it, dear?" he asked consolingly, patting her head gently.
"Fight in the library, Mr. Roger," she gasped, staring up at him with large brown eyes. He sighed, getting slowly to his feet and taking her hand as he led the way out of the office and down the hall to the large double doors leading into the archives.
Before even pushing into the room, he could easily discern the young, high-pitched voices hurling insults from within. Entering slowly, Linda still clinging tightly to his hand, he glanced around, quirking a surprised eyebrow at the scene before him.
A caretaker was positioned in the far corner of the room, pinning an angry, cursing redheaded child to the wall; and L, himself, was standing opposite, looking about in a lost manner as though searching for assistance as he restrained a small, viciously struggling blond from attacking the other boy.
Roger disentangled himself from Linda and crossed the room swiftly, coming to stand between the opposing parties and glared back and forth between them. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded.
L shrugged noncommittally, reaffirming his grip on the wild array of flailing limbs. "I was simply looking for a particular volume on criminal psychology and happened to hear the screaming," he replied helpfully. He glanced down, mildly annoyed as the boy in his arms made to bite at his wrist.
Roger turned his glare once more to the boys behind the disruption. "Mail! Mihael! Explain immediately."
Mail, the redhead in question, wrenched free from the caretaker and wiped angrily at his bleeding lip, sending a glower at the other child. "He hit me first, Roger!" he yelled petulantly, pointing accusingly at the simmering blond in L's grip.
The adults turned their attention to Mihael questioningly. He 'humphed' in irritation, crossing his arms awkwardly and trying to look aloof, though the effort was rendered useless by the large bruise forming around his right eye. "He called me a girl," he answered in a thick drawl.
"I thought you were!" Mail shrieked back, taking a menacing step forward, only to be grabbed once more by the caretaker, "It was an honest mistake with all that hair of yours!"
The blond growled in reply, but said nothing, merely pegging the taller boy with a withering glare.
Roger sighed, rubbing at his temple in annoyance, watching L slouch away in the direction of a bookcase now that the threat seemed neutralized. Glancing down at the two boys who were surreptitiously sizing each other up for a rematch, he quickly intervened. "Both of you, to the infirmary now. Then, I want to see you in my office immediately afterwards to discuss a suitable punishment."
Mail heaved a dramatic sigh, shoving his hands into his pockets as he started slowly toward the door, dragging his feet. Mihael made a point of snatching up the half-eaten bar of chocolate on a side table, before grudgingly following after his adversary.
They paused as Roger spoke up again. "And make sure to apologize to L for disturbing his research!"
Rolling azure blue eyes behind his bangs, Mail slowly turned to face the raven-haired teenager who had been attempting to make a discreet retreat. "'m sorry, L," he mumbled unconvincingly, before quickly heading toward the door.
Mihael, however, stood still, gazing curiously up at the older youth. "Research?" he asked slowly. L nodded distractedly, already flipping through the pages of his book. "What about?"
L lolled his head lazily in the boy's direction, taking him in at a glance before simply saying, "A new case," as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.
Mihael furrowed his brow, trying to work this through as L shuffled past him, patted him on the head in a preoccupied manner, and murmured so only he could hear, "Welcome to the Wammy's House, Mihael Keehl."
Mail banged into the room with a huff, slamming the door behind him before flopping onto the closest bed and burying his face in the pillow.
The second occupant of the room lifted a snowy white head to regard the new arrival with vaguely interested eyes. "Problem?" he asked simply, sliding a piece of his jigsaw seamlessly into place without so much as a glance.
The redhead slammed a fist into his bedspread in frustration before lifting his head to pout at his roommate, hair ruffled with static. "Roger gave me a detention," he moaned.
The other boy seemed unimpressed as he turned his attention back to the puzzle on his desk. "I see. And why is this different from the other dozen times?"
Mail rolled his eyes. "Because," he stressed, "I didn't do anything, Nate." He cupped his chin in one hand while drawing distracted circles on the coverlet with the other. "It was that new kid. The blond. Tried to make polite conversation and he hauled off and slugged me. What was I s'posed to do? Lay down 'n' take it?"
Nate regarded him from the corner of his eye. "Surely he had a reason. No sane person would start a fight for nothing."
"Well…" Mail pursed his lips, glancing down, "I may have… called him 'Girlie,' when I asked his name, but still! That's no excuse!" He scowled as the tiniest ghost of a smile flashed across his best friend's face at his tirade. "Anyway," he continued, rolling over onto his back with a sigh, "Roger's making him and me weed the garden in the morning. Together." He frowned in distaste at the thought.
"You might try apologizing," Nate said neutrally, already beginning to tune the other boy out.
"Yeah, yeah…" Mail groaned, batting a hand at him dismissively as he reached awkwardly for the Gameboy next to his bed.
Squinting his eyes against the early afternoon sunlight filtering down through the overhead canopy, Mail lazily mouthed for the straw of his lemonade as he regarded his silent companion. Finally desperate enough for the drink to prop himself up on his elbows in order to grip the glass properly, he watched in interest as muddled sunlight flashed golden across Mihael's hair.
"…You might try apologizing…"
He pursed his lips thoughtfully. He'd never been one to stay ruffled for long, and as the only sentient being currently in Mail's immediate vicinity, Mihael was, at the moment, his only chance of staving off boredom.
The blond snapped off a bite of chocolate, staring intently out in the direction of the football field, and Mail tilted his head at the obnoxiously loud crack! the bar made. "Hey, why d'you eat so much chocolate, anyway?" he yelled suddenly, recalling how the other boy had ignored the muffins and finger sandwiches brought out to them in favor of the sweet nestled in his pocket.
He barely caught the flick of Mihael's eyes glancing down at him through the leaves before he pointedly leaned back against the tree trunk, obscuring Mail's view with the thick branch he was perched on. The redhead huffed, picking absently at a tuft of grass. "The silent treatment, huh? You sure hold a grudge, don't you?"
Met only with another stony silence, Mail sighed, standing and brushing off his shorts. He leaned his shoulder casually against the side of the tree.
"Look, I'm sorry I called you a girl, okay?" he said finally, when the sound of chirping birds and cool summer breeze and squirrels and just… nature in general (blegh) began to get unbearable, "I hadn't gotten a good look at you yet… and in my defense, you do have pretty long hair." He pouted, feeling as though he were talking to the tree itself, and not the stubborn brat high in its boughs.
When a tiny twig dropped into his hair, accompanied by the rustling of leaves and scraping of bark, he glanced up in surprise, meeting the dark, bored eyes peering down at him from above Mihael's branch. "My hair's always been this way," came the simple reply, "I see no reason to change it now."
Thrilling to any sort of conversation, Mail rocked back on his heels with his hands in his pockets, head flung back. "Your mum like it that way, or something?"
A tiny hint of a shrug as Mihael sat back, once again glaring out over the orphanage grounds. "Maybe."
Mail chewed his lip thoughtfully, raking his mind for some way to keep the dialogue going. If he heard one more squirrel chitter he was going to kick something.
Making a jump for the limb closest to him, he swung up and shimmied halfway up to where Mihael sat and looked at him again. "You're not still mad at me, are you? I guess we got off to a bad start, but we could always--"
"What makes you think I'm holding a grudge against you just because you mistook my gender?" the other cut in, his eyes once again flicking in his direction. "Do you think I care about the opinion of someone completely unimportant to me?"
'Ouch…' Mail blushed, glancing down. "Well, I dunno… you just seem mad. Haven't talked to me all morning… and… you're up there all by yourself… and--"
Mihael interrupted again, turning carefully to lay on his stomach on the branch, head lolling over the side, and stared at Mail through a veil of gold. "Maybe I'm just quiet and like to be alone. Have you thought about that?"
Amused, Mail grinned roguishly up at him. "I think you like to talk. And you love attention."
Mihael arched a delicate brow, the hint of a smile gracing his lips. "What makes you say that?"
The redhead shrugged. "Just a feeling, I guess. Same way I get the feeling you hold a mean grudge. You hit me pretty hard, after all." He pointed at his split lip for emphasis.
Mihael rolled his eyes, taking a bite of his chocolate. "Don't flatter yourself by thinking you're the first to call me a girl. You're not that original."
Mail choked back a laugh, rubbing the back of his head. "Then why'd you hit me, if people'd said it before?"
"Yeah, well, I hit all of them, too," Mihael replied nonchalantly.
He did break into a fit of laughter this time, earning an odd look from the other boy. Still chuckling, he got carefully to his feet and clambered the rest of the way up the tree so that he was sitting off to the side of Mihael's own perch. "Right, then," he said, thrusting out his hand, "truce?"
Mihael just stared at his outstretched palm.
"I haven't seen you talk to anyone since you've been here," Mail prompted, "You're in no position to turn down a friend."
"I've never had a friend before," Mihael said matter-of-factly, "Why do I need one now?"
Mail faltered for a second, looking straight into hard emerald eyes ('the same color as the leaves,' he noted absently) that were far too old… too… jaded for the soft, almost angelic face housing them. "Everyone needs a friend," he said softly, "Especially here. Friends are allies, valuable assets. You never know when you're not strong or smart enough by yourself; when you'll need an extra hand, or brain, or something…. 'Sides, friends are the only family you have, now. They're everything."
Mihael jerked slightly, taken by surprise as the buried cunning and beyond-his-years-type wisdom which had first earned the redhead a place in the prestigious Wammy's House shone through in deep ocean blue eyes. Blinking, he tore his gaze away from Mail's and stared over his shoulder. He was silent, but after a moment, reached out blindly and shook the still outstretched hand firmly with his own.
An ally was an ally, after all, and Mail seemed as good as any… perhaps even better than most.
Mail beamed at him, settling back against the trunk to follow Mihael's stare toward the children currently organizing a game of tag. "I'm Mail Jeevas, by the way."
This only earned him the second of what he would come to know as the blond's 'Never mind, you really are a flaming imbecile, aren't you?' looks.
"I'm aware of that."
Mail shrugged. "I know. Just seemed symbolic, y'know? Starting over, wiping the slate, making friends, 'n' all that."
"Ah." The pause was so long that Mail thought he was just going to leave it at that. "…Mihael Keehl."
To be continued.
So, I actually had no intention to even start posting this story until I'd had the entire first installment typed up. But, honestly, without my Matt/muse around to constantly help me in the inspiration department... I've been losing the will to write; and if the story isn't worthwhile to the fans in the first place... then it's not worth finishing, right? So, I figured I'd post the first chapter and see how it was received or if people even want to deal with another chronicling story anyway...
So, yeah. I'm not entirely sure what the updating frequency on this fic would be... I've got little random snippets of it, all the way up to the ending scene, written out... I just need to fill in the blank spaces. Maybe if I'm prompted... it will be a more efficient process? Who knows?
...I've got a kitten laying on my face. Very distracting.