pre-story notes, yo. XD I've been back from New York for, like, ever. It's time to stop being lazy. I'm currently arguing with myself over when I should introduce Near. I already have his intro written, but I don't know where to put it. Blargh. Oh, well. Enjoy!


Over the next month, Mello and Matt fought quite a bit. Their little fists would fly through the air, Mello would curse and wail, and Misa would always be the one to drag them apart. It was almost a guarantee that she would hurl Mello across the room and immediately start to baby Matt. Mello didn't talk any offense to this. He could see that the relationship Matt and Misa had formed was something that should be left alone.

Gradually, the fights stopped.

Matt started becoming almost entirely submissive in regards to Mello, allowing the older boy to boss him around and insult him. He didn't see any point in putting up a fight anymore-- it took too much effort. Also-- without Misa, Matt would have probably already been dead. There was no stopping Mello when he temper started raging.

Mello liked Matt, he really did. But the line between friend and patsy was very thin, very vague.

Linda was in the mix now, wide-eyed and completely crazy over this interesting blonde creature who was now storming the corridors of the House. She followed Mello around with an almost disturbing amount of devotion. He didn't seem to care either way about her-- if she was there, okay; if she wasn't there, okay.

"It's horrible." Katie groaned, peeking through the blinds of Mr. Wilson's office and observing Matt, Misa, Mello and Linda. "It's just strange! There's something wrong with it."

"With what?" Mr. Wilson asked, slamming his pen on his desk. He was attempting to make it look like he actually gave a damn about the whereabouts of Matt's parents.

"Those children. That one... Mello, they all call him. Mello. He's, like... I don't even know! He just comes in here and it's like he owns the place! All the others bow to his every fancy... and Matt has been stealing chocolate out of the kitchen for him. Matt's a good boy..."

"Well, I don't know about that..."

"Oh, whatever. It's just odd, the way they all are. Most of the children don't band together like this..."

"So, making friends is bad?"

"No, it's just--! Oh, shut up. ... Halle says they're very bright. Matt and Mello, I mean. She's mentioned something about moving them into Light's classes or something... I don't know. She seems to really want to them to be, but she needs you to okay it."

"Hmm."

"Should we?"

Quite frankly, Mr. Wilson didn't care one bit.


Mello was bored.

Matt was taking longer on his math assignmet than was needed.

"Boys, I have something that I want to ask you." Halle said, kneeling beside their table. "Over the past little bit, I've noticed that the two of you are exceptionally bright. ... You're reading material that I didn't read in high school or even college, and understanding all of it... You grasp these math and science assignments quickly and complete them with no effort at all... I... was wondering if..."

Mello tilted his head slightly. "You want us to have classes with the older kids?" he asked.

"Yes. Exactly."

"Sure."

"No." Matt said simply, sliding his paper to Halle.

"Matt, why--"

"I don't want to."

Mello grabbed Matt's arm. "Look at me. Are you stupid? ... No, no, that can't be it, because you're being asked if you want to take advanced classes. So I guess that mean's you're lazy."

"Guess so." Matt shrugged.

"Matt, come on! I don't want to go Mr. Yagami's class by myself!"

Matt glanced at Halle, who was biting her lip.

"Matt, you don't have to switch classes if you don't want to..."

Mello gave Matt a fierce look.

"Well..."


It was past curfew, but Matt couldn't sleep. Quietly, he snuck out of his room and lightly tapped the door to Misa's.

Misa rubbed her eyes and placed a tired hand on Matt's shoulder. "What's wrong?" she asked, yawning.

Matt shrugged. "I don't know, I just... couldn't sleep." he muttered, looking at the floor. "Sometimes it's hard for me to sleep... at night, I guess. I mean, my eyes hurt all the time during the day. So I tend to close them a lot. They don't hurt at night, so I want to keep them open."

Misa's mouth twisted into a frown. Still rubbing her tired eyes, she fumbled around on the dresser she was still sharing with Jeanae. "I found these today in the playroom. I meant to give them to you earlier, but yeah."

She handed Matt a pair of tinted goggles.

"Thanks..." Matt muttered, putting them on and pulling them to the top of his head. "Thanks. Miss Lidner wants me to take advanced classes. I said okay... You know, because Mello's, like, a genius, and he's going, too."

"Do you want to take them?"

"... I'm fine either way, I guess."

"Are you taking them because Mello wants you to?"

"Guess so."

"That's not good, Matt. You should make your own decisions."

"Nah. I'm fine with Mello making them for me."


"You should eat your breakfast, Mello!" Linda bubbled, pushing the untouched plate towards the sulking boy. "You have a big day ahead of you, with your new classes and all..."

Though she was attempting to be supportive, Matt could tell that Linda was hurt by the fact that her two best friends were leaving her. She toyed with her hair a bit and watched Mello refuse to even touch his food.

"I'm not hungry." Mello said after several minutes of awkward silence.

The bell rang and Linda obediantely scooped up everyone's plates to take to the carts.

"Where's Misa?" Mello asked, adjusting his shirt.

Matt shrugged and tried to pretend like he didn't miss her. "I haven't seen her all morning... When I knocked on her door, no one answered. I visited her last night and it didn't seem like she was sick or--"

"Well, if she's alright then she'll be in class today. Let's hurry up before we're late."

Matt didn't even care when Mello cut him off mid-sentence anymore. In a way, he figured it kind of proved their friendship. Mello always knew what Matt was going to say, so there was no need for Matt to even say it. That was a good thing, right? The two boys walked silently to Light's classroom. Matt felt somewhat intimidated by the older kids. Mello, he was sure, didn't.

"Misa!" Matt called, spotting a slumping mass of blonde hair near the front of the room. She turned around and gave Matt a huge grin. "Where have you been? You missed breakfast and everything."

Patrick turned to Matt as well. "She was with me, little man." he said, sliding a protective arm around Misa's shoulders. "All night long."

Mello made a face. Matt didn't quite understand.

"Well, boys, I'm glad that you've decided to join us!" Light said, as if he knew that it would be best to bring the current conversation to a halt. "My class is significantly smaller than Miss Lidner's, you see, what with all the children growing old enough to leave..." He cast a cold look in Patrick's direction. "... But anyway, let's set you two right up here in the front and get you caught up on the lesson plan!"'

The class was currently studying The Great Gatsby, which had been one of Matt's mother's favorite movies.

"This is a fantastic piece of literature. Miss Lidner tells me that the two of you have been reading literary works far beyond the level that you were currently being taught, so I assume that you will enjoy this very much. As for Mathematics, right now, we're--"

And then Matt started tearing up, hugging his copy of that fantastic piece of Jazz Age literature to his chest, and crying and the air suddenly felt very heavy for everyone. "My mom," he choked out. "My mom..." But he couldn't bring himself to form any kind of sentence.

Light looked as if he didn't exactly know how to react to a crying child. Mello reached a shaking, nervous hand out to touch Matt's shoulder, but Misa beat him to the punch, shaking away from Patrick and wrapping her arms around Matt's shaking form. "It's okay, it's okay..."

"Pssht, no, it's not! The kid's been here for months now. Why's he crying now?" Patrick scoffed, tugging at the back of Misa's shirt.

"Because he didn't cry when he got here..." Light muttered, shooting Patrick a harsh glare. "Why don't you go fetch Katie for me, Patrick?"

Patrick obliged, making a loud exit.


Matt's soft crying fit had turned into hysterics soon enough. Not knowing what else to do, Katie frantically dialed Stephen's number. "Jesus, are you busy?"

"Well, I'm having a sick day, but... Uhm, what's wrong?"

"It's Matt! We can't get the boy to stop crying!"

"I'll be right over."

And he was.

"Hey, Matt... Hey, there..."

Matt's tears were collecting in the bottom of his goggles which he hadn't even bothered to take off. Stephen lifted the goggles off of Matt's face gently and quickly dried the tears with his sleeve.

"You gotta tell me what happened, okay?"

"N-nothing happened, I just-- my mom used to watch The Great Gatsby all the time, and she would listen to the book on tape, you know... I--"

Light gave Stephen a wide-eyed I didn't know, I didn't know, I swear look and Stephen gave Light an It's okay, It's okay smile.

"I see, I see... "

Matt latched onto Stephen's waist and cried into his shirt.

"It's normal, Matt. I promise you. It's normal to cry over your parents. I'm actually a bit relieved that you're displaying a bit of--" Stephen started, but he stopped himself. He didn't think it would be right to tell a children that they were disturbingly apathetic. "This is going to be good for you in the long run. You're still adjusting. It's normal, I promise."

Mello gave Matt an awkward pat on the back. Awkward, but loving just the same. "You don't have to take this class just because I am. Seriously. You're just eight. You shouldn't be reading about the American dream anyway. Neither should I. We don't have to do anything that's going to upset you."

Matt's ears turned red. He didn't really enjoy all the pity.

Stephen lifted Matt's tiny body up so that they were at eye level. "Don't be ashamed... okay? This was probably really good for you. See? You're calming down already."

"We can go to church on Sunday if you want to..." Mello suggested. "God knows you're unhappy, so you have to talk to Him so He can fix it."

"How does He know?" Matt asked. His parents had never forced the idea of religion on him, so he wasn't quite familiar with the concept of an all-knowing God.

"Because God is sees everything."

Matt gave Mello a curious sort of look.

"Like the watchful eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg." Light said quiety, knowing that Matt would understand.

Matt understood.

Matt didn't like it.

Matt cried for the rest of the day.


notes and stuff: A little shout-out to one of my favorite books of all time, and also an introduction to a theme that's going to be prominent with Matt's character: a cynical nature, a lack of faith, and distrust in all religion. I, myself, am a Christian, and should hope that no statement made on religion throughout the course of this fanfiction offends anyone. Review, lovelies.