Warmth in Winter
Miya's Note: Because Twisted Religion is giving me so much trouble right now (I haven't given up on it, don't worry.), and because this idea's been hanging around in my head for a long time, I decided to crank out a one-shot full of FLUFF. As much as I love sexy adult Mello and Matt, I also love adorable Wammy's Mello and Matt, and felt kind of bad for never letting them kiss during House years in TR, so I thought I'd remedy that here. Hope this at least makes up for the lack of new TR a little bit, for those of you waiting.
This does not follow the Another Note and the extra chapter's version of L's role in the orphanage, because I much prefer him as an overseer with Wammy and Roger, so that's what I use here.
I don't own 'em, but I wish I did. Le sigh.
For all of his money and his reputation and his brains, one would think that Quillsh Wammy would be able to keep his properties in a state of repair, but anybody who denies that money, reputation, and brains are never enough when it comes to keeping machinery working has never seen the power of high-dollar technology when it decides that it wants to revolt (even against the most rich and famous owner) and malfunction.
Now, Quillsh Wammy, as an inventor and a practical, scientific man, had never taken stock in the idea that machinery had the capability to make decisions and choose to revolt, but when the network of heaters in the Wammy's House suddenly and abruptly went kaput in the dead of winter, he found himself starting to go back on that thought. Since the thing had absolutely no visible damage to speak of--neither he nor the numerous repairmen he had hired found anything wrong--he was quite embarrassed to find that there was no logical explanation other than that the temperature control had decided that it was too cold, and that it didn't want to work to keep the occupants of the House warm anymore, if it, itself, had to stay outside and bear the chill.
The thought was so absurd that Wammy had to resist the urge to try bringing the heater a blanket.
L had asked him what was wrong, and Wammy tried to shake the teen's questions off. The man was at that moment so embarrassed that he had lowered himself to participating in the personification if inanimate objects, that he was tempted to just lock himself in the study with some tea and a throw blanket and give up on technology altogether.
It had been almost a week since the Revolt of the Angry, Cold Machines, and it didn't seem as if a single resident of the complex that comprised the "House" was able to keep warm enough to remain optimistic about the situation. Numerous children had gotten sick already, Wammy was caught in mortified depression every time he looked at the heater and imagined it laughing at him, and Roger was especially annoyed, because he was having to take care of the snotty, whining little brats all around him.
"Roger, I'm cold!"
"Roger, I ran out of tissues!"
"Roger, I don't wanna take my medicine!"
"Roger, Bobby stole my blanket!"
"Roger, Roger, Roger!"
It was enough to drive a man mad.
One child, however, was hiding in the library, his nose in books, because his biggest enemy in the world had a rather severe cold that was threatening to turn into pneumonia, and this was his chance to get ahead. Roger was surprised at this, as the child, Mello, was the one that he had expected to be the biggest problem, as Mello had a reputation, with his best friend Matt, to get into a lot of trouble and cause a generally large amount of mischief on purpose, even when it wasn't exceedingly cold.
Roger had to admit that it was a rather pleasant surprise, especially considering that Matt was curled up on the floor of the library next to Mello, and instead of complaining to the grumpy caretaker, he was whining about his slight sniffles to his friend.
Both of the boys looked rather like they were in a strange nest of blankets, pillows, books, notes, and tissues, but other than having created a (luckily fairly contained) disaster area in their general vicinity, Mello and Matt were being relatively little to worry about.
Mello was in a rather good mood, because his eleventh birthday had just passed, and though his peers (other than Matt) were generally too self-consumed to have noticed that he'd gotten a year older, the illness that afflicted his rival Near had come just on schedule, and he was relishing in the unhindered gaining of knowledge and sweet, sweet victory.
Matt, next to him, had his face buried in a corner of Mello's blanket, his own wrapped up to his ears, the only things making obvious the identity of the lump on the floor being a mess of bright red hair and a general proximity to Mello. The Matt-lump made an awkward honking sniffle, and Mello, his nose almost brushing against the words in front of him, ran one hand idly through the red hair.
"Matt, buddy, could you quiet down a little, please? I'm trying to concentrate."
"Could you move the tissues closer, then?" the Matt-lump replied nasally.
Mello, still looking at his book, felt around blindly for a moment, and then gripped the box and moved it directly in front of his friend, who reached a hand out of the blanket pile and brought a tissue to his nose, trying to blow as quietly as he could.
Mello was satisfied enough.
The studying blond's eyes grew tired not long after, and he sat the book down on a pile next to him, having to nudge the redhead who had obviously grown a lot more tired than he. Matt groaned and turned up toward him, the blanket pulled up to just under his eyes, which, as they only rarely did, shone blearily and green without tinted plastic goggle lenses covering them.
"You have a good nap?" Mello asked, leaning down.
Matt nodded, the top of one fist showing over the top of the covers as it rubbed at his eyes.
"I think I've had enough studying for now. You feeling up to bugging Roger some?"
The eyes sparkled a little at that, and Matt pulled the blanket down a bit, showing his mouth, which was curved into a more-than-slightly mischievous grin.
If it weren't for the scientific value of the orphanage, Roger would have never bothered dealing with children. It was children like Mello and Matt, who could be some of the most vile creatures Roger had ever encountered on this earth (higher on his list than even the most vicious predator), that made the horrors he faced in dealing with them almost outweigh the value of these monsters' minds on science.
It was times like these that Roger almost considered telling his long-time friend Quillsh to bugger off while he packed his bags and left.
After the very ill Near, Mello and Matt were second- and third- smartest in the House, and it was this that made them so deadly. Even as a very smart scholar himself, Roger was rather intimidated by the fact, especially, that Mello and Matt, when they put their heads together, had the combined intelligence to create complex plans in minutes that would make his mind reel with the simple fact that they were quite obviously (and quite embarrassingly) smarter than himself.
Roger was extremely glad that Near was well-behaved, and possibly even more glad that Mello, especially, didn't like him. This, at the very least, kept his problem down to two devils working together against him, not three.
It would be pertinent to remember that Roger, after that day's particularly nasty joke involving blowing Matt's cold terribly out of proportion and scaring the old man halfway to a heart attack, Roger had an even worse grudge against the boys than he had held before.
For now, however, that isn't the important thing. The two most significant details for the moment are that 1.) Mello and Matt were very close friends, so much so that each considered the other his only friend, and 2.) because of the nature of their friendship, there were rumors running rampant (which terrified the rather conservative Roger) that friendship wasn't all that was between them.
It is also important to note that Mello and Matt, themselves, found these rumors rather funny most of the time, though the taunting from other children and the wry, suspicious looks from their caretaker got old after a while. Matt rather liked girls, himself, and Mello…well, Mello was Catholic, and that's all anybody really needed to hear.
The rumors, however, stayed strong.
That night, Wammy had fallen asleep in his chair in the study, the cold tea in the cup still dangling in his hand dripping onto the carpet. Roger was dreaming of a world without children. L dreamt of sweets. Mello was a little chilly, but had fallen asleep after a while of curling himself more tightly under the covers.
Matt, however, was wide awake.
Even though his cold was finally beginning to subside and he no longer had a fever, he was finding that he was still having issues with temperature regulation, and the freezing winter air that had invaded the House since the heaters' strike was hitting him like knives through his blanket.
Stupid, selfish heaters. They needed to just get over it and do their jobs.
After a couple of hours of shivering and futile attempts at doubling the covers up to try and maximize their efficiency (which just succeeded in making them too small to use), the redhead had finally had enough. Even though he technically wasn't supposed to leave his room except when absolutely necessary because he had been grounded by Roger, he curled up in the blanket much like he had earlier in the library, and shuffled, in a kind of cocoon, to Mello's door.
He didn't want to make noise for fear of being caught or waking the other children, so he skipped knocking, and opened the door and scuffled into his friend's room. Mello was little more than a blond mop on the pillow, and Matt could see that he was curled in fairly tightly on himself. It looked uncomfortable, and reason told the redhead that the question he had planned to ask would probably not gain favorable response, but he needed to try anyway.
"Mello," he whispered, poking at what seemed to be where the other boy's foot should be.
Mello curled up tighter.
The blond snapped awake with a tiny shout, popping out from under the blanket and flailing wildly. Matt tried to calm him down as quickly as he could while still keeping as much of his body as possible covered, and Mello finally noticed who it was and stopped freaking out, and then realized he was cold and wrapped himself up again.
"What is it, Matt?" the blond asked, a little groggily.
"No, Mello. I mean I'm really cold, and I couldn't sleep. Do you have any extra blankets, or know where I could nab one?"
The blond looked at him like he were stupid (which obviously wasn't the case), and then looked down at himself, and shivered slightly to show just how much he would like to know where he could find another blanket, too. In fact, all of the extra blankets had gone to the sickest of the children, and Mello scoffed as he realized that Near still had at least one thing that he didn't.
Matt looked around pathetically, as if standing at the foot of Mello's bed would somehow help his situation.
"You could always put on more clothes," the blond suggested.
"I'm already wearing two pairs of pyjama pants and a long-sleeved shirt. If I wear more, it'll just be uncomfortable."
The look Mello gave him was actually rather funny. "And you're still cold?"
Matt nodded, solemn.
Mello thought for a while on that, and then his eyes brightened with an idea, and Matt could see it even in the low nightly light.
"Matt, this is gonna be cold for a minute, but give me your blanket."
The redhead shook his head as if this prospect would cause his certain death.
"Matt, do you trust me?"
Whenever Mello asked that question, it showed he meant serious business. It was also usually accompanied by the blond's oh-so-hated innocent, pleading eyes that were reserved only for Matt, and that the redhead, though the expression was obviously faked, could never, ever resist.
In other words, it was practiced guilt-tripping.
It was very effective.
Matt unwrapped the choke-hold the blanket had on his body tentatively, beginning to shake as soon as the first bit of the chill hit him. He handed Mello the blanket.
The blond actually had the audacity to put it on himself, and then lie back down.
Matt most certainly would never trust Mello after that, and he began to tell the blond just that, but Mello silenced him.
"You really think I'm that crappy of a best friend? Jeez, Matt, have a little faith."
The redhead didn't see where this was going that would be of any help to him.
Mello smiled, and part of the dual-covers lifted up, invitingly.
Matt simply stared.
"Well, are you gonna crawl under here or not?" Mello asked exasperatedly. "I figured, since we're both cold, this would help the both of us."
"Isn't that a little…awkward? You know, what will people think?" Matt was still shivering.
"Matt, I think we've been friends long enough that we can sleep in the same bed, fully clothed. It isn't like we don't already share our space most of the time anyway. How's this any different?"
Matt was doubtful, but he was much colder, and he walked around the bed and laid down on it, scooting in under the blankets. Any issues he had were erased the moment his shivering stopped and his body was covered in pleasant warmth.
"Toasty?" Mello asked, scooting back on his pillow to share, since Matt hadn't brought one of his own. The redhead was a little wary of getting that close to the other boy, but comfort came before pride, and he shifted over.
To his pleasant surprise, he found it was even warmer, closer to the blond. He nodded.
"See, I'm not a total bully."
Matt grinned. "I know you're not."
"Especially not to you."
The redhead found that his cheeks were suddenly very warm, too. Odd.
"I know," Matt repeated.
"You're not still contagious, are you? I don't want to be too nice if it's gonna get me sick."
"Thanks, Mello," was all Matt said to that.
The blond laughed.
"Plus, why would it matter?" asked the redhead, jokingly. "We already share our space most of the time, like you said, right?"
Matt both loved and hated it when Mello smiled at him, and for exactly the same reason. When Mello smiled, any harshness that the boy's face usually had disappeared. His eyes sparkled, and his lashes fluttered. The blond didn't seem to notice that he had the strange tendency to raise a shoulder coyly when he did it.
For quite obvious reasons, Mello was often ridiculed for looking effeminate. Usually, he would retaliate against jokes by showing just how much of a boy he was with wise-cracks and bravado, but when Mello smiled (as opposed to smirked or grinned), all of the tough attitude that kept him from seeming too girly went straight out the window. This was probably why he didn't do it much.
When Mello smiled like he was smiling at exactly that moment, he really did look like a girl.
Matt, remember, rather liked girls.
Mello had closed his eyes and curled up a little in the sheets, one of his knees brushing against Matt's leg. Matt sometimes wondered if Mello did this on purpose, looking so pretty. Yes, the redhead knew far too well that Mello was not a girl. In fact, he had found that out the hard way by making the mistake of thinking otherwise at first. Matt knew, also, that he hated the way the other kids talked about him and Mello like they really were two kids of the opposite gender instead of two boys.
Matt, however, also had a tendency to find himself mentally picturing Mello amongst (the redhead had to resist subconsciously adding "other") girls in the house, kind of like some strange beauty pageant…or magazine spread (which sounded more manly and grown-up, but somehow more awkward) in his brain. On top of Mello's general placement amongst the females in Matt's inner categorization of his fellow orphans, his best friend would not, by any means, let Matt get away with having a girlfriend. It may not have been intentional, but Matt didn't want to lose Mello as a friend, which meant that he still hung out with the boy, which meant that most potential romance tended to get scared off.
Matt had gotten quite a few girlfriends, but he also held the record for having the shortest relationships of any boy in the house. Mello could be a rather frightening presence to people who didn't know him, he reasoned.
Mello, interestingly, had never had a girlfriend (or a boyfriend for that matter, thank you), and didn't seem to mind.
Matt was distracted from his inner monologue by a slight sound from the boy in front of him. Had Mello just sighed? Was "sigh" even the right word for that sound?
Mello made the sound again, his lips parting slightly as he did, the shoulder that hadn't raised when he'd smiled shrugging up equally coyly to match. He had to be doing that on purpose. The Mello in the mind-pageant (no, definitely not a magazine spread…the thought was really awkward, especially with the magazines that came to mind, those being ones he had seen the older kids sneaking around behind Roger's back) accepted his roses and his bouquet of flowers. The (no, not the "other") girls wept a little at losing.
What the heck, Matt? Well, darn.
Matt thought of the rumors that had spread about him and Mello. He had to get out of his friend's bed before the morning, or else he'd never hear the end of it. There were already stories going around about how this boy had caught them kissing in the library, or how that girl had…well, left Matt because she was getting "jealous boyfriend" vibes from Mello. Like Matt needed new tales saying that he and Mello had done things he didn't even want to think about doing with girls.
Beside, Mello was Catholic, and that was all there was to that. The blond had to be even more offended about the rumors than he was, since those rumors not only said that Mello was a little too close to Matt, but that he was doing something against his religion, which, as far as Matt had seen, Mello always was extra-special careful not to do. This meant that even if Matt, you know, wanted to do something unthinkable with those lips and that pretty hair and those coy shoulders, and that knee against his leg…
Matt twitched a little at the thought.
It was at this moment that Mello, who was obviously asleep already, curled up a little more, his face shifting forward on the pillow, his other knee brushing up against Matt's other leg, and his arm curling around Matt's midsection like he was grasping some stuffed animal.
The rest of Matt felt positively frigid compared to how his face had heated up.
Mello had made the little…sigh…thing again, and his nose that was still probably smudged with ink from brushing intently against the book earlier that day was nuzzled into Matt's neck.
Matt was not Catholic, but God forgive him!
"Mello," the redhead hissed.
"You're warm," Mello said back in his sleep, curling in even tighter and grasping even harder on his human teddy bear.
"Uh-huh…" the redhead stuttered back. "Mello…you're…"
"Mm," Mello…sighed, nuzzling a little more.
It really was warm, though, and not altogether unpleasant. In fact, Matt could even have called it comfortable…or, at least, it would have been if it wasn't giving him the irresistible urge to fidget and try to scoot away.
"Mello!" Matt hissed as loudly as he dared at that time of night.
Mello woke up at that, but whereas Matt kind of would have appreciated if the blond had done so the same way as he had the last time, with the flailing and the getting the heck off of Matt that the flailing would have entailed, Mello just kind of "sighed" again and decided that he wanted to back up just far enough to try and see Matt and figure out what was wrong. When one is nuzzled into someone's neck, however, that takes rather little movement, most of which consists of running his or her (ink-smudged, in this case) nose up said neck and over the chin, lips, and nose above it so that he or she can lock eyes with whomever he (Yes, he, okay? He's NOT a girl, Matt!) is being awoken by.
Both boys' bodies completely locked up when their predicament registered fully in their minds.
Matt's cheeks were blazing, the blankets had grown stifling around him. Mello's body was so close and so warm, and the blond's breath was threatening to catch Matt's lips on fire. If Matt hadn't known better, he would have thought the heaters had spontaneously fixed themselves, and too well.
Without any thought (which Matt was incapable of at the time, anyway), he asked the first thing that came to his lips, which just happened to be "Why do you have to be Catholic?"
Of course, the first thing that came to Mello's lips at that was "What?"
The chaos in Matt's mind turned into some semblance of thought while it tried to explain to him why he'd picked that to say. Because I want to kiss you. Because I'm not allowed. Because I don't care anymore what the others will say, but I know you care what God would…
"Matt?" Mello asked, starting to back up a little so he wasn't so close.
Mello sounded genuinely hurt. His religion meant so much to him…did Matt hate him for it? Why? Why now?
It was just then--as tears had started to make Mello's eyes sparkle even more than they did when he smiled, as his shoulders raised protectively, not coyly, and as his arm over Matt's waist had just started to loosen its hold--that Matt couldn't find the words, but his mouth moved anyway.
Matt finally figured out what that sound from earlier was. No, Matt, not a sigh. That would be a moan. It sounded a little like a reply of "Oh" to Matt's communication, but it was hard to tell if from understanding or surprise.
Matt realized, unexpectedly, that Mello's lips were the warmest thing of all.
Matt pulled back from his kiss with a bit of a squeak. Mello's eyes were wide. Oh, blast. That couldn't have been the right response. Matt was really gonna get it, now…
"Matt…do you know how many Hail Mary's I'm gonna have to say to make up for this?"
The redhead stuttered a little, trying to apologize. "No, Mello! I'm sorry, it wasn't your fault, it was mine! I don't know what came over me…"
The blond's face was not scolding. It was soft, and beautiful, and…smiling?
"No, Matt," he said. "Not that. This."
The grip on the redhead's midsection tightened back up. Knees brushed back down the legs in front of them as the blond's body shifted even closer. Mello's lips were back on Matt's, and the sound came again, like understanding, and surprise, and a sigh, and a moan all at once. The heat over Matt's body had shifted back down to a comfortable warmth with relief that Mello obviously didn't hate him, and relief that, somehow, being made fun of was even funnier now that he actually was kissing Mello and it definitely didn't seem like as bad a thing as everyone made it out to be. The awkwardness that Matt had felt out of embarrassment was gone, and the only thing left to be embarrassed about was his own inexperience, but Mello seemed just as lost as he was, though no less eager, it seemed, to try and figure it out.
Matt had been with a few girls, but never long enough to kiss them (and never alone enough, especially), and though he liked to joke with the older boys about what older people did with each other, he really didn't understand the mechanics of kissing. This is why, at first, the boys just kind of pressed their lips together and moved their heads around, but that didn't seem to do anything particularly exciting, and it sure didn't feel like it was right. Mello, though, when he made that little sound of his that Matt was really, really starting to like, opened his lips a little to let out air, which felt kind of nice.
It sounded kind of gross of an idea to open your mouth when pressed against someone else, since that someone else's mouth was full of spit and old food or toothpaste, but Matt was feeling daring, and it seemed appropriate for him to make some kind of noise, too.
He and Mello sighed at the same time, and their breaths mixed.
Matt was a little bit thrown off when Mello got even more daring and stuck his tongue in his mouth; Mello having been a bit more brazen than Matt in that he had peeked in on some movies that the others had been watching where people kissed, and though he thought the way they did it was weird, had thought to try it anyway.
Matt was a bit more thrown off that it didn't feel gross at all, and Mello was a little surprised that it sure didn't feel as weird as it had looked.
Their noses were doing a lot of bumping together, and so were their knees. Neither really knew what to do with arms and hands and legs and feet. At one point, it even felt as if one or both of them would start to drool, and coordinating lips with tongues proved to be a little difficult.
Despite all of that, it was absolutely wonderful, because Matt was kissing Mello, and Mello was kissing Matt.
They fell asleep curled together, and one of Mello's arms had gone all tingly during the night because he had slipped it under Matt's waist. They were still in each other's arms when Roger barged into the room, screaming at Mello to find his friend, because the redhead was grounded and should have been in his bed.
Needless to say, Roger was a little startled (but not completely unsurprised) to find exactly where Matt was.
The caretaker, at first, just kind of stared at the still-sleeping boys, his eyes growing wide. Then, without any warning, Roger Ruvie…
As Roger didn't just pull the blankets away from the boys, but ripped them away, Mello and Matt curled tighter into each other with a collective groan.
"Cold," Matt said.
Mello looked up to see what the problem was.
"Who is it?" asked Matt.
"Roger," the blond groaned, curling up even tighter than before, groping for body heat from the redhead.
"Get up!" Roger yelled, livid, his glasses sliding down his nose.
Mello buried his face in Matt's chest. Matt nuzzled into Mello's hair. Both shivered.
Roger, who was a lot stronger than was expected at his age, grabbed each of the boys by a foot each, and dragged them down the bed. "Up," he hissed. "This is the last straw! I can't take it anymore! Travesty! Sacrilege!"
Mello's head snapped up at that. Roger was struck with the impression of being glared at by some evil doll come to life.
"Oh, no," Matt said, immediately noting the caretaker's error.
When Mello was angry, he usually did one of two things. He either 1.) hit someone (if angry at a peer), or 2.) burst out in a rare and frightening stream of logic and a vocabulary that would have been too advanced for any eleven-year-old not at the Wammy's house (a tactic reserved for adults like Roger), and though his arguments were brilliant, his rage often made them come out so quickly (and, worse, with a distinctive lilt of his old accent from his homeland) that--and this only made it more effective against Roger--would send any lesser man's head spinning in trying to keep up.
Roger managed to catch a few things from the outburst that streamed from the blond's lips, including "lack of evidence to prove that illicit activities occurred in this room," "flagrant violation of our privacy," and "God's domain to judge our actions, not yours."
The old man was so thrown off by this that he just let Mello snatch the blankets out of his hand with a huff, wrap himself and Matt back up, and then stick his tongue out in a childish manner that rather clashed with the sophisticated language he'd been using just moments before.
Roger turned and left the room without a word.
Mello beamed at Matt, as if to say, "Look! I win!"
Matt leaned over and kissed the blond eagerly, and it was slightly less awkward than the kisses shared the night before, up until the moment that a light cough interrupted them.
Still attached at the lips, the two turned their heads and eyes just far enough to see L hunched in the doorway, looking for all the world more perplexed than offended. Mello's and Matt's jaws both dropped, their lips sticking together for a second before peeling apart.
"So I see that Roger was correct," L mused, hooking a thumbnail under one of his front teeth. "Intriguing."
Matt and Mello gawped.
"Do not let this interfere with your studies," L said simply, and then turned around and took a cupcake from the tray that Roger was holding (as Wammy was still locked in the study, thoroughly distraught and possibly going out of his mind) before he ate it in one giant bite and left again. Roger glared at the boys through the door, obviously perturbed that L hadn't punished them.
"Two more weeks of grounding, which means to get back to your own room, Matt."
When the man finally left, too, slamming the door behind him, Matt sunk into the blankets. "Another two weeks? He's probably not even gonna let us sit together at lunch or anything! I don't want to go back to my room. It's cold."
Mello grinned. "He just said you had to go back to your room. And he said we were grounded, but he never specified any restrictions other than that fact, right? He just assumed we knew what he meant."
"His mistake. He didn't say anything about me going to your room."
Matt grinned back.
By the time the heaters finally gave up on their strike, Roger had grown so exasperated that he'd lost all hope of being able to salvage any kind of dignity he had left. Mello and Matt, on the other hand, had gotten so good at keeping warm that they barely noticed when the House's temperature rose back to normal levels.
Mello had to say a lot more Hail Marys than before (to make up for all of the kissing), and Near got better (instead of withering away, like Mello had hoped he would), but when Matt kissed him, none of that mattered.
Years later, on a cold December night in a dingy apartment somewhere in the middle of Japan, the heaters revolted, but Matt knew exactly what to do, lifting up the edge of the covers invitingly.
Lips locked, they forgot about the world in favor of warmth in winter.