Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note, I'm not making any profit off this.

Some spoilers, some bad language.

x

Bare

It is almost one in the morning and the night is as dark as it's going to get. That's what they have to wait for, before they can leave, before Mello will agree to stepping outside. They are moving.

The afternoon that faded into evening, and night, and obscenely early morning, was spent in a hotel room in New York. Low budget, but it had a bed and it's own bathroom and Mello slept for most of the time anyway. Matt guesses he probably didn't get much sleep when he was pretty much living in Halle Lidner's bathroom. He guesses he won't get much sleep when he moves into Matt's place, either, but at least he can offer him a couch.

It's not a cold night and that's bad because it means more people are out on the streets. People are out anyway but tonight they're lounging, not labouring, and hanging about instead of hurrying. Mello pulls his hood up a bit further and drops back a little, almost stepping on Matt's heels. Part of it is his paranoia - well founded these day - but part of it, and it's a part so big it makes Matt uneasy - is his new-found self-consciousness.

The scar on his face has burnt more than his flesh, ripped away more than his skin.

Matt has the bag with Mello's stuff in it over his shoulder, because Mello thought it looked less suspicious that way. He's traded the lengthy, feathered trench coat for a khaki parker tonight. It's unnerving. Mello isn't this person, Mello's eyes don't dart around before he steps out of a doorway. He's meant to scan the area for danger, not recoil from a drunk spewing on the street.

Matt sidesteps and slows so Mello has no choice but to fall into place beside him. Matt brings a hand up and grabs his shoulder - it's more rough than friendly, which is what he's going for -and he leans across, breath hot against raw flesh, and whispers -

- "Get a hold of yourself before I belt you one, okay?"

Mello jerks away and glares at him. It's a relief to see he can still respond to provocation, at least. Mello picks up his pace, pulling away ahead of Matt. He stuff his hands in his pockets but straightens his back, and though the hood is still up he's not clutching it to his face anymore.

So Mello'd rather fake confidence than look vulnerable in front of Matt, which suits Matt just fine because if Mello fakes it enough, maybe it'll start to come naturally again. Matt can cope with Mello raging and ranting, throwing his games out the window because Matt didn't give him the response he wanted, aiming footballs at his head during a 'friendly' game, but he can't cope with this, this Mello-that's-not-Mello. Uncertainty, shyness that's almost painful to be around - Jesus, he even tripped over his words when he called Matt to ask him for help.

That was when Matt knew something had gone wrong, really. Because Mello had said "I need your help" not "Come and meet me" or "You're helping me catch Kira". He'd phrased it as a request, a question, not the demands Matt is used to. It threw him so much, he almost said no.

Then he remembered that it was Mello, and it stopped being a question of yes and no.

It would have been better if it was a cold night, because Matt remembers being told that the colder it is, the less likely rain is. But it rains now, and this gives Mello an excuse to grab at his hood again without it looking defensive. Matt doesn't have a hood - doesn't even have his body warmer - and they speed up, but within minutes his striped shirt is stuck to his skin and his hair is plastered to his face. Mello glances across and his face splits into a malicious, sadistic grin from the shelter of the parker. Matt growls and it makes Mello laugh.

Fuck, he hasn't heard him laugh like that since he was twelve.

Impulsively he reaches out and grabs Mello's wrist, close enough to his hand for it to be mistaken for a miss. His fingers close around a thin arm and thick fabric, and he pulls him forward, quickening the pace again. Mello swears at him and jerks his arm to shake him off, but it's half-hearted and Matt has no intention of letting go. He yells back something about the rain instead.

Matt's apartment is even less attractive than the hotel room they left but it's dry and right now that's pretty much all he cares about. That, and the blond boy following after him. He pulls Mello through the door and bolts it behind him, dropping his shoulder and letting Mello's bag slide to the floor. He heads through to the cramped living room, stretching his arms and peeling off his shirt as he goes. Mello's going to start sending him on missions doing God-knows-what soon, in the name of beating Near (or catching Kira, whichever), and the last thing Matt wants is to have to juggle surveillance equipment with a box of anti-bacterial tissues.

He tosses the sodden ball of material in the direction of the radiator, hoping it'll remind him to deal with it later. He turns back to Mello, an offer for a hot drink already half way out of his mouth, when he notices Mello has his eyes fixed on the wall past Matt's head. Matt laughs and says he didn't think Mello was the bashful sort, and he's pretty sure Mello would have thrown something at him if there'd been anything in reach.

Mello's already slept and now that he's here with him, Matt's not even remotely tired, so they talk until the sun's filtering through slats in the blinds and staining the floor. They go from Kira to Near to Wammy's, and as the city outside them wakes up they're laughing about the time Mello barricaded Matt in Near's wardrobe for most of a Saturday, and the look on the kid's face when he had pulled the chair away and Matt had tumbled onto his carpet. Somewhere between Near screaming and Roger appearing on the scene, Matt realises that this might be the last time they actually do this, and that Mello isn't awkward or ashamed any more.

He puts a hand on his shoulder. It's gentle this time, solemn, and he dips his head to look up at Mello. Mello looks back and he's realised it too, Matt thinks, realised what they're going to be facing up against and that Matt knows it as well as he does. Matt tightens his grip for a second, then pulls away.

The conversation picks up but it's changed because they're both valuing this now. They're both weighing it and measuring it and Matt knows that he, at least, is filing this away. It's getting on to six and for the last five hours, he's had Mello all to himself for the first time in years. He's not letting that go.

They're not boys anymore. They're barely out of their teens so they're not men either, but they're different. Mello's different. Everything is changing and rolling out of his control so Matt sits back, and lets it. He figures he's got a few more hours left yet anyway, so he decides not to care much about what's changing and what's coming. Instead, he pours more bourbon, and clashes glasses with Mello, and raises a toast to childhood's end.

x

Note: …I don't know either. Nor do I care. Mixed feelings, not really very fond of it but it's twenty to six in the morning and I've been feeling out of my mind all day and had to write something.

So I got into Matt's mind instead. I could have done better. It should have been longer. But whatever. Hope it flows okay and nothing was out of character, or I had glaring inaccuracies or inconsistencies within my own story, Death Note universe aside. Anyway…an actual event instead of aimless plot line introspection. I need to sleep now…but won't. There we go.