A/N: All I can say is that you guys are lucky. Two Death Note posts in a matter of days? I totally found this fic in my backlog; it was written ages ago, because I wanted to try out a new type of writing style. It sat neglected, waiting for me to edit it and work up the confidence to post it. And it's completely Matt-centric. I had intended to be done raping Matt's mind for a while.

In all honesty, Tristan Chord is the only Matt(and Mello)ness that's left for me to finish. I plan to give them a hiatus after that, and try to break new ground instead, once that masterpiece concludes.

So yeah. You guys are lucky indeed. Enjoy my randomness!

Sometimes, Matt feels a little overwhelmed.

Sometimes he has to flop across his bed at a funny angle, so his head hangs off the side and he's on his back staring at the ceiling. Like the blank plaster has math equations on it that he has to solve. Like looking at all that chipping white will help him understand why Near likes the color so much.

It's like he's in a cloud of nothingness, trapped in blessed static and white noise — somewhere that isn't where he actually is.

Sometimes Matt thinks that growing up a Wammy's kid should have come with a manual or something. Chapter One: Adopting Quirks to Achieve Optimum Intelligence (see page twenty five for a list of acceptable traits, i.e. holding silverware with fingertips or establishing high chocolate intake). Because Matt doesn't know how he's supposed to act anymore — not really. Not when things get so bad that he just wants to close his eyes and be Harry Houdini.

Yeah, like Houdini could escape from this.

But escape isn't really what Matt wants. He wouldn't dare run away. All he wants is comprehension — the answers to all the "whys" that never seem to quit nagging him.

Sometimes he takes a cold water bottle, right out of the refrigerator so it sweats dewdrops at the touch of his hands. He lies upside down on his bed and plunks the unopened bottle against his forehead, cold and harsh and unassuming. It's not that he gets headaches — hell, Mello's screeches don't even affect him anymore — but sometimes he needs the feeling of something frigid to make him think straight. When there's too much in his head… when there's a clog in his stream of consciousness, when he needs to vent out whatever built up to heat him like a boiling volcano, well… the best way to ease a burn is to cool it.

So Matt puts a chilly water bottle against his head, holds it in one place until his skin begins to hurt — badly. Until it's so damn cold and it hurts so much that he wants to lift the bottle off and cram his face between the pillows, where his forehead will stop throbbing from the icy torture and he can muffle the sounds of his whimpers. But Matt never takes the bottle off. Stubbornness and curiosity make him leave it there, make him press it down harder as the cold seeps deeper. And fuck, it hurts. So cold it hurts, like his skin is frosting over and solidifying, and he's letting it.

He gets a brain freeze from the outside, instead of from within.

But then there's a moment of clarity. It comes with the painful cold, and Matt can sense it as keenly as he can sense his lung tissue singe when he smokes.

And in that moment, he almost grasps it. Almost.

No matter how close Matt gets to the truth, there are always things that throw him for a loop. One of them is Mello, but Matt supposes that'll never change. It's not worth his self-induced brain freezes to ask why Mello does what he does. (And maybe Matt even likes it, so he just doesn't bother.) It's more their world — or is it Kira's world, now? — that leaves Matt questioning the expansive cosmos. But if he has to break it down… well, he blames the people. There are so many people that Matt can't—

He just doesn't get them. Doesn't get them at all, and it sort of pisses him off.

Like Amane Misa. Matt can't think of her without imagining a gothed out child's doll. Hell, they probably already have them in stores. ("Hey, have you seen the latest MisaMisa doll outfit? Everyone has her lacey pajamas, tee hee.") Matt can't stand keeping Misa under surveillance, because she makes him think of some scientific anti-aging experiment gone wrong. Backwards too far. Like, the older you get, the more you actually end up shrinking to childlike proportions. Because how old is Misa, anyway? Twenty-something, when you factor out her kiddish demeanor? Talks like a bouncing preteen and looks like one too.

Except when they stick her in Lolita maid outfits and lingerie. Then she gets all low-voiced and sexy. But she still looks like a kid, so Matt thinks it borders pedophilia.

He doesn't understand how someone like that can be the Second Kira.

Then there's Takada, who practically has it all. Good looks, brains, and— okay, maybe not so much the brains. Near said it once — good scores in school and a good job don't necessarily mean you're smart. Matt tends to agree; at least now he does. Because Takada is being led around by the nose. She was landed hook, line, and sinker. Pretty soon she'll be some stuffed trophy hung over Kira's mantle, for Chrissake, and Matt probably won't give a shit. Women like Takada are just….

But… there's Hal. Matt sometimes likes to think that she's got it together, even if Mello did tell him about some shower incident where she lured him like a mouse into her steamy bathroom trap, just to tell him that Near had—

Seriously, half the world thinks that just because a chick is hot, she can get away with anything. Matt has no idea what Hal's agenda is, but he's had enough of women at this point. He pretty much doesn't care.

Maybe Matt's just being a misogynist. Not that he wants to have anything in common with Yagami Kira, but….

Maybe there's no logic to it at all. It could all be some twisted joke. Step right up, ladies and gentlemen — only the cutest of the cute get to participate in the Apocolpyse. Because Lord knows that none of the players in this mess are lacking in the looks department. Matt thinks he's pretty hot himself. Maybe the reason Kira gets away with so much is because he's pretty. (Light, Mello says his real name is, and despite the way he spits it the name always rings like bells.) Matt doesn't know. Matt's never seen Kira. Never wants to. Doesn't have to see him to want to take him down.

To think the world is being run by some pretty boy in an office building. Doesn't even come out into the population of citizens that he's judging. Fuckin' coward.

So really, Matt knows that it isn't just the women that are driving him nuts. Yagami Light is perfect proof of that — Matt hates him with every ounce of passion he has — and then there's Mikami, and shit, even L had gotten on Matt's nerves, and L had been on their side. Matt just doesn't get anyone. Doesn't get where their motivation comes from. Doesn't get why Mello's so obsessed with watching those three crazy women, almost like they're more dangerous than Kira himself. Well, two crazy women, because Hal Lidner is Near's and therefore only half-crazy. Maybe Matt's jealous, and hey, he can live with that. But he doesn't know if he's going to live at all. Not with the way things have been going.

So that's where the water bottle usually comes back, to freeze his skin again and add to the redness of the mark that's forming on his forehead from the abuse of surface temperature. Because once the moment of clarity comes, Matt doesn't want to acknowledge it. Not for too long. Because thinking about what they have to do sort of makes his stomach curl. He'll never let Mello see him this way, sprawled across the bed all limp like road kill, but sometimes he has to do it. For sanity's sake. To stem the flow that's backing up inside him and threatening to make his dam explode. Matt sometimes feels like he's going to drown.

He's overwhelmed as hell, but there's got to be some reason why he's doing this. Matt knows there is, but he can't always put his finger on it. He can't always face the confusion and the reality and the horror of it. Mello calls him scared, but he makes the accusation in muted tones of his own, as if he's scared, too. Then Matt doesn't know what to do because fuck, an uncertain Mello is absolutely petrifying.

But Matt will get over it. Because sometimes he finds the strength to get off the bed in a matter of minutes, like he's barely wasted time there at all. He puts the water bottle back in the fridge to get cold again. Goes back to hacking some network. Continues to spy on his targets.

Keeps himself alive another day, and hopes to god that he doesn't get overwhelmed again.