Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note, Mello, Matt, or cigarettes. Quotes to The Libertines and Marcus Aurelius, but he's pretty dead and probably not going to sue me.

Note: This…this is kind of a melting pot for some of my ideas about Matt and Mello. I have absolutely no idea if I like it or not. It's been fun to write though, so hey.

Strong language and spoilers ahead.

x

Pseudo-Heroic

The boy kicked out at the world

The world kicked back a lot fucking harder.

So Matt wakes up. The thing about this is he wakes up, not gets woken up. He checks the calendar he pulled out of a magazine and stuck to the wall because it had Mario on it, and it tells him he's not wrong to be confused - it's the day, alright, December 13th, and that means being woken up by Mello demanding his present at the crack of dawn. It's meant that for ten years now, since he was dragged kicking and screaming and crying and bleeding into an orphanage in Winchester, and dumped in a room with a skinny blond boy.

But today, he wakes up, so something's wrong.

He finds out at breakfast that Near's gone too, and Near was even younger than him, so that basically means the shit has really hit the fan.

Matt figures he could wait two months for his birthday and use the time make a proper plan, but he's half angry and half anxious and he's got a feeling he knows what this all means, so the teachers spend the rest of the day looking for him before they realise he's vanished, too.

-

By the time he realises he hasn't got a hope in hell of tracking either of them down he's turned fifteen and he's chewed his nails down to ragged stubs. He realises its difficult to type like this but keeps bringing his fingers to his mouth anyway, so he takes up smoking and it seems to help. He sort of passes for sixteen and learns to recognise the type of shops that won't ask for ID, so at least he doesn't have to keep asking lanky teenagers to get him a pack of fags.

He hopes Mello hasn't left England yet because Matt's fucked if he has.

-

Days go by and the idea that he's looking for Mello in the wrong continent won't go away, so he finds a kid about his age with a broad American accent, and he's too clueless not to be a tourist. Matt lifts his wallet and passport and swaps the photos, and remembers them saying that Kira was in Japan, so Daniel Thompson boards a plane bound for Tokyo.

Matt tries to think like Mello would but he's never been very good at it. His job was just to help Mello put his plans into action and take the fire if things went wrong.

-

Maybe he should be trying to find Kira, because the fucker's probably easier to track down than bloody Mello, and then at least he'd have something to offer the guy if he did find him, instead of platitudes, company and half a pack of cigarettes.

-

It's two years before Matt realises there's better ways to live than picking pockets, and that he really fucking hates Japan. He finds another passport and decides he really needs to get his own, and he picks California because it's hot and maybe Mello will have picked somewhere to match his temperament.

His flight is boarding, and for whatever weird reason he wants to attribute it to, the final call makes him snap out of it. Mello's not much more than a ghost now anyway, and Matt has his own fucking life to lead - he's not going to start chasing after one person the way Mello has his whole life. He swaps his ticket with some kid who looks as confused as he is, and winds up in America anyway, but on the opposite coast.

-

Matt's skinny and he's quiet and he's a nightmare with a computer, so he works out how to let the right people find that out, and soon enough he's working hacking jobs for some loon in a suit. The loon teaches him to drive because he's usually drunk and figures he can get Matt to be a retarded type of chauffeur if he ups his pay. Matt takes the lessons and the money then hacks his bank account and does a runner, and he hears three days later that the loon was in a car crash.

Go figure.

He rents an apartment. It's not big but it's better than hostels and shelters, and it has electricity and water so he can't really complain. It takes him a few days but he gets enough fake documents to apply for a couple of jobs, and he ends up working part time in some dump of a computer shop.

-

It hits him that life is shit one night walking home from work, and he's glad his fake driver's license say he's twenty-three because it makes buying the bottles of vodka and six pack of beer much easier.

For the next three days he does nothing but drink and puke, and when he checks his messages he finds out that the woman who lives next door's cat has disappeared, so if he sees it can he bring it back, and that he's fired.

-

Time passes, Matt isn't sure how. He'd probably have killed himself by now if he didn't still hold out a candle of hope, and Wammy's hadn't bred survival into him. Days go by in a blur of alcohol and cigarettes, and occasionally a job to top up his funds.

He hears a rumour about the mafia, and this wild eyed boy they've got running with them these days, and how's he sharper than nails and cruel with it. He figures it's probably not Mello but it's not like he's got anything else to do anyway, so he flies to LA the same day this building he hears was a mafia hideout explodes.

-

Maybe he just wants to see the body, but he goes to the explosion site. He kicks through some of the rubble and thinks he smells chocolate, but with the acrid smell of burnt flesh and broken bricks filling the air he knows he's just kidding himself. But the idea makes him sift through the debris like a madman, and Kira can't be God because he wouldn't have let Matt find a head of blond hair and a pulse.

-

Mello's drifting in and out of consciousness and Matt knows he'd never be forgiven if he checked him into a hospital. He also knows no plane is going to let him on board with an unconscious kid with half his face melted off, so he steals a car and takes to the road. Mrs Next Door's a nurse, after all, and he did return her cat when it came clawing at his door, so maybe she can fix Mello up.

If he lasts that long.

Fuck, he better had.

If he doesn't, Matt'll kill him.

-

Mrs Next Door is appalled by the whole thing but applies antiseptic and pours Matt a bourbon after he feeds her cat. Mello's still not really with it and they drop so many painkillers down his throat Matt doubts he will be for a while.

And then he suddenly doesn't want to be anywhere near him. Doesn't want Mello to know he practically crossed a continent on the off chance of finding a trace of him, so he books him into a hotel under a fake name and leaves him to wake up, and on a whim he scrawls his phone number in biro up Mello's arm.

It'll probably come off before Mello even notices it, anyway.

-

The call comes in at three in the morning and Matt should really have known better than to think any different, and all Mello says is to open the door. Matt obeys and the first thing Mello says to him is that L is dead. Matt tells him he'd already guessed.

Mello doesn't ask him for his help. Mello never would and never could. Instead, he asks him if he wants Kira caught. Matt says he really doesn't give a fuck and that Mello looks like hell. Mello punches him and Matt laughs and hugs him, and Mello's caught so off guard he doesn't even hit him again.

So then they're working together. Mello tells him everything he's learnt about the Kira case, and the mafia, and Near, and Matt must have been listening to it because later on he can reel it all off, but at the time, all he can do is stare at Mello, and think that he doesn't look like hell at all.

In fact, he looks fucking beautiful.

-

Eventually Mello gets round to thanking Matt for saving his life, except he says "Good thing you brought me to New York. Made finding Near a hell of a lot easier." It's more than Matt expected, and when Mello clasps his shoulder he knows those years of fucking about were worth it, if it brought him to this.

Eventually Matt tells Mello he's willing to help him catch Kira if he wants, except he says "Near kind of pisses me off. I'd love to see you beat him." It takes Mello by surprise because Matt's always been kind of neutral about Near, but he gets the meaning because he knows Matt learnt how to speak his language a long time ago.

-

The jobs Mello has him doing are, truth be told, boring as hell. But Matt's beginning to find he can deal with the monotony, though he complains loudly and frequently just to let Mello know he's not rolling over. The fact is simply that now the boredom is broken up by calls from Mello, and the sound of his voice sparking across the space between them makes him not mind sitting and watching monitors for hour on end.

The building he's watching is a dull one as far as buildings go. He'd rather be listening in on Amane, and after Mello agrees with him that she is very pretty, Matt finds himself calling himself twice as often.

-

Late nights after days of doing nothing with stress and nicotine pumping through his veins, Matt sits awake on his couch until the early hours of the morning, the light from his game dancing on the ceiling. Sometimes Mello joins him and he usually eats chocolate, but sometimes he'll take one of Matt's cigarettes and light up.

Matt'll tell him that the things can kill him, and Mello will cast him a look and they'll both laugh in the kind of hollow, humourless way people laugh when they know they're dead men walking.

Afterwards Matt wakes up with a hangover, though he's not sure when alcohol came into the mix, and the taste of ash and chocolate in his mouth, and he's not sure if it's because he nicked some of Mello's chocolate, or because of something else. He doesn't try to hard to find out, though, because if it is something else, and he does find out, he's pretty sure it won't happen again.

One morning he wakes up with nail marks on his chest and he thinks he's starting to understand, so he keeps on staying up late with cigarettes and chocolate and Mello, and every now and again he wakes up, and remembers.

-

He lets them get away - shit, he was so stupid to fall for such an obvious trick as sneaking out behind a van! But he lets them get away and he knows he'll catch hell from Mello for it, so he buys an extra couple of packets of cigarettes at the duty free before catching a plane.

Mello swears and shouts and Matt was angry before he got here, fuming at himself, but now it's draining away into Mello as the boy-man tears through their motel room like a whirlwind made of leather and beads and gold. He's calm and says quite coolly that if Mello's not careful the neighbours will come knocking and Mello turns on him in a fury. He's an inch, maybe two, taller than Matt, and five times stronger, and Matt knows he's going to get beaten up.

He doesn't give a fuck, though, because this has happened before and flailing fists turn into hands ripping Matt's shirt off and Mello forcing him against a wall, heavy breathing and sweaty gasps, and Matt's willing to suffer a few bruises for that.

He knows the people next door will probably hear but doesn't really care, because he can think of worse ways of spending their first night in Japan.

-

Mello's phone goes and he says "Hal", so Matt knows it's the chick whose bathroom he hid in after the hotel Matt put him in chucked him out. Mello listens, and his face grows from alert and interested to wary, to repulsed, to resigned. He sits down, hangs his head, keeps listening. Matt hangs back in the silence with his heart in his throat and ears and he can tell, he knows that this is it, and then Mello says "Guess I'll have to do it, then" and hangs up.

He looks up at Matt, and Matt looks back.

They were brought up at Wammy's, and neither of them is stupid.

For a couple of seconds something like an apology flickers in Mello's eyes, but Matt doesn't want to hear it because fuck, he chose this, and it sounds pseudo-heroic in his head but he remembers the years he spent trying to figure out blurry numbers on a digital clock through a haze of alcohol and smoke, so he's more than happy to die for Mello, if that's what he needs.

Mello pauses before saying something and Mello never pauses, so Matt knows that it is what Mello needs.

It's sick and it's sad but he thinks that if Mello goes down there's not much place left for him. He's Matt, Mello's friend, and that's all he's ever been. Without Mello, he'll just be Matt, and that didn't work out so well last time he tried it.

So Matt, he wants to go down as the sidekick. He wants to go down in flames and anonymity and nothing even close to glory, because Jesus, he wants to go down with Mello, and he wants the pair of them to go down fighting.

-

So they kidnap Kiyomi Takada. As he spins the wheel of his car and wheels screech and he drives straight into an ambush, Matt thinks it was a shitty plan, really, but he can't shake the feeling that it's done something, and it's better than working at computer stores and buying groceries and looking for lost cats.

He looks round at the men with guns and he thinks, no, he knows, he's probably going to die this time. He'll try to talk his way out, sure, because what kind of genius would he be otherwise? But hard faces and strong arms and so many cars - he's not stupid. He's never been stupid.

So Matt climbs out of the car with a cigarette and a racing pulse and a smile, because every day since he met Mello he's been thinking about the way he's going to die, and if he's honest, if he's really fucking brutally honest, he always knew it would be to buy Mello time, because Mello will never let someone save his life.

So Matt, he smiles and says his piece and the bullets start flying, but fuck it. He's loved every second of this, and as he hurtles towards oblivion, he thinks that yeah, it was worth it.

And if Mello turns up in the afterlife and asks him to go on one more crazy suicide run, Matt, well, he knows he'd say yes.

-

We'll die in the class we were born

And that's a class of our own, my love.

-

To the ashes of the dead glory comes too late