Matt had been knocking as hard as he could on the bathroom door for the better part of the past five minutes.
"MELLO! OPEN THE MOTHERFUCKING DOOR! I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE!"
But Mello was determined to remain firmly in the bath forever. He had filled the often-neglected bathtub with steaming water and bubbles and climbed in, fully clothed, an hour ago, and he had no intention of either leaving or answering Matt.
"MELLO, I HAVE TO PEE!"
Mello prodded at some of the bubbles with a painted toenail. They didn't pop. THEY wouldn't leave him. Not until they fizzled away. Fucking bubbles.
"I AM KICKING DOWN THIS DOOR NOW." Matt began throwing himself at the door. Mello, seeing an opportunity for comedy, unlocked it and ran back to the tub. Matt crashed into the bathroom and tripped over the various trousers and shirts on the floor, stumbling around in a daze until he fell over. Mello giggled sinisterly.
"You're a little shit," said Matt, pointing angrily at Mello, who stuck out his tongue. "What're you even doing in here? And are you wearing clothes in the bath? What the hell?"
"L's gone." Mello tilted his head back to get his hair wet and bubbly. He wasn't going to cry. He wasn't going to cry. Matt grinned, then quickly tried to look sad.
"Aw, man. That...damn."
"Shut up. I know you're jealous and I know you're glad he's gone. So just shut up."
"You know," said Matt, unzipping his pants unconcernedly and flipping up the toilet seat. "I AM kinda glad he's gone. At least you'll be normal again. There was something seriously wrong with you."
Mello wasn't quite sure how to refute this while Matt was peeing, so he pretended to not be able to see or hear Matt until he was done.
"Yuh-huh." Matt wiggled his fingers under some hot water for a few seconds. "You've been MENTAL for the past week. It's been hell for me, watching you act retarded. And you're no fun anymore." Mello sighed.
"Matt, you just don't understand. I love L. I LOVE him. He makes me happy and excited and I can't get enough of him...you just...you COULDN'T understand. It's like I'm-"
"Obsessed? Yeah. Mello, that's not love--that's infatuation. It's nothing MAGICAL that someone dumb like me could never understand. It's just your hormones saying 'Ooh, a warm body!' and your immature mind thinking it's TWU WUV. But you know what? If you really loved him? You wouldn't've HELD him HOSTAGE. People who love each other don't DO that."
"Holding him HOSTAGE? Where the hell do you get off telling me I've been holding him fucking hostage? If he was miserable, he would've-"
"SAID something? Mello, he didn't NEED to! You just haven't been paying attention. Hell, I picked up on it, and I'm just going from what I've heard from you and Ne-" Matt cut himself off, horrified.
"...Near? You SPOKE to NEAR about ME?" Matt winced.
"Yes. Who else was I going to talk to? YOU'VE been in L's room all the goddamn time, and I'm sure as fuck not just gonna lie awake nights, wondering what's going on when Near's been looking into it anyway."
"LOOKING INTO IT? I thought he was just...just frighteningly observant. And why would-"
"I saw him leaving L's room on my way to the infirmary. Like I WASN'T going to ask him? And he told me, 'cos you wouldn't. He TOLD me what L said about being 'reluctant' and he fucking TOLD me that you blackmailed him. BLACKMAIL, Mello! Did it ever cross your mind that maybe, if you had to resort to blackmail to get him to be with you, he wasn't exactly willing?"
"He just--he needed convincing, is all." But Mello suddenly felt less certain of himself. L had told Near those things? Near and Matt were discussing it? And L was gone now and God only knew when he'd be back. Everything was utterly fucked.
"CONVINCING, Mello? You are SO fucked up! Do you just not understand the idea that anyone could NOT be madly in love with you? 'Cos, you know, that's...that's not likely." Matt crossed his arms and jerked his chin to one side, challenging Mello to refute him. It wasn't a very intimidating display, all-in-all, but a cold horror was creeping over Mello. He felt like he had been punched in the stomach. When Matt put it like that...it WAS possible that L didn't...in fact, it made SENSE that...
Matt was still positioned like an angry chicken, but Mello couldn't stand there anymore. He slowly turned and walked over to his bed. Matt looked appalled that he was being ignored.
"HEY! You can't just walk away!" Mello continued to ignore him, so he followed and watched as Mello flung himself face-first onto his bed in spite of the fact that he was sopping wet.
"Fix it somehow, okay Matt?" he mumbled. Matt scoffed.
"Hell no. You're the one who got yourself into this. Plus you HIT ME, remember?" He pointed to the black eye he was developing. "And these glasses are my old prescription too, so I can hardly see anything anyway. Jeez, you expect me to help you? You're really-" Matt stopped short when he noticed Mello's back rising and falling and shuddering.
"Aw, Mello," he said, patting Mello's shoulder awkwardly and unhelpfully. "Stop that. It's okay. L probably doesn't hate you all that much."
"No--I REALLY fucked this up." Mello shoved his head farther into the pillow. "There's nothing I can do to fix it. I was AWFUL and now L's gone and Matt--Matt, what if he doesn't come back?" Matt chuckled a little.
"Of COURSE he'll come back. He's L. Do you really think he'll let Kira beat him? He's better than that. And you know what? You can apologize to him when he does come back. In fact," Matt looked off into nothing thoughtfully. "It's probably GOOD that he's gone now. When he comes back, you can show him how much more mature you are and how you'll never do anything inhumanly cruel to him again. And then he'll have no problem forgiving you, right?" Matt tickled Mello's neck and was promptly kicked in the stomach.
"Yeah...yeah. I'll fix it when I see him. He promised, you know." Mello looked up at Matt imploringly. "He said he'd be back. So then...then it'll be all right."
"Good! You see! Now why don't you eat some chocolate and watch me fight the last boss in Sonic Heroes and everything will be absolutely perfect."
By December, Mello was still feeling horribly depressed, but he was trying his best to ignore it. So when the other boys asked him to play some soccer, he decided it would be best to accept their offer. Physical exhaustion did wonders, and soccer proved to be very satisfying because he could hit the other children with the ball in the name of sport.
Mello was walking back inside from one such session when Roger grabbed his arm harshly.
"Huh?" Mello looked at Roger's hand on his own sleeve and saw that he was tense. Very tense.
"And Near, come to my room."
"Yes." Mello saw Near stand up slowly, taking his puzzle with him. He glanced at Near's face, hoping to see some sign that Near was just as confused as he, but Near was as infuriatingly emotionless as ever.
Roger led them into his office and snapped the door shut behind them before sitting down lightly at his desk, folding his hands in a business-like manner. Near plopped himself down on the floor and resumed clicking pieces into place. The hell? Mello couldn't stand how quiet everyone was being.
"What is it, Roger?"
"L is dead."