A.N.: I know it's a bit late for Christmas, but I was away and didn't have a chance to get on until now. This is actually a Christmas present for my best friend, who requested a Christmas MattxMello fic. So anyway, Merry (three days after) Christmas! :D
Mello knows something is going on when he turns the corner to reach his apartment building and sees Matt standing outside. It's freezing, and Matt's bouncing up and down on his heels and clutching his arms across his chest to keep warm. He's not even wearing a coat—just a one of those thin cotton long-sleeved shirts that he always wears. It takes a lot to get Matt outside, even in good weather, and Mello wonders what could possibly draw him out on this gray, dreary Christmas Eve night when he doesn't even have warm clothing.
Matt's standing at the base of the stairs that lead to their third-story apartment, facing in the opposite direction, so he hasn't seen Mello yet. Mello quickly hides one of his shopping bags inside the other—he knows they don't really have money to spare, but he couldn't help buying Matt a Christmas present—before continuing down the sidewalk.
Matt still hadn't noticed him, so Mello gives him a hard poke between the shoulder blades. Matt yelps in surprise and whirls around, slipping on the sheet of ice that coats the sidewalk and grabbing Mello's shoulder to keep from falling.
"God, you scared me," Matt says, sounding irritated, as Mello laughs at him.
"Your fault for standing around outside. Why aren't you wearing a coat, stupid?"
"I don't have one." Matt's regained his balance, and he steps back and crosses his arms. His usually-pale cheeks are flushed from the cold, and Mello can't help noticing how cute it looks. "Unless you want me taking one of your coats."
A sudden image of Matt wearing his leather enters Mello's mind, and the thoughts it inspires are so dirty it almost makes him blush. "I wouldn't care."
"Seriously? You're always such a girl about your clothes, I figured you wouldn't want me to touch them."
"I wouldn't mind," Mello says again. He's already decided that he's going to have to get Matt into leather sometime. "What're you doing outside, anyway? It's, like, thirty-something degrees out here, and it's all wet and nasty, and it's probably going to start sleeting any minute." He kicks at a pile of dirty, sludgy ice to illustrate his point. "And you're never outside."
"I was waiting for you," Matt says, almost defensively.
Mello stares at him. "Waiting for me? What the hell, Matt?"
"I can wait for you if I want to." Matt's definitely defensive now. He hates seeming like he might care too much for Mello.
"How long have you been out here?"
"Like half an hour," Matt mutters, as if he doesn't want Mello to know how much trouble he went to. "You usually come earlier," he adds. "What took so long?"
"That's what she said," Mello replies automatically.
Matt rolls his eyes. "I thought you'd be here at six, and it's almost seven. So why are you late?"
"I was shopping." Mello holds up the plastic bag. They hadn't really needed anything, but he'd needed an excuse to go to the store so he could get a present for Matt. "Why were you waiting, anyway?"
Matt shrugs. "You'll see in a minute. Let's go inside, I'm freezing out here."
Mello's still wondering what it's about, but he starts up the stairs anyway with Matt behind him. When he reaches the third-floor landing, a pair of hands suddenly reach around him from behind and cover his eyes.
"What the hell are you doing, Matt?" Mello asks, stopping in his tracks. He can feel the warmth of Matt's body brushing his back and, really, it feels kind of nice.
"I've got a surprise for you." Matt's voice in his ear makes Mello shiver. "Which would be why I was waiting. Just keep walking, and I promise I won't let you fall."
Hesitantly, Mello takes a step forward, and then another. He trusts Matt to keep him steady, but walking with his eyes covered is still disorienting.
"Stop," Matt says, several careful steps later, and they both stop walking. "I'm going to uncover your eyes now, but keep them closed, okay?"
"Okay." Mello squeezes his eyes shut, and a moment later Matt moves his hands away. Mello feels a sudden breeze of heated air as their door opens.
Matt's hand rests on his shoulder. "Take a couple steps forward." Mello obeys, stepping into their apartment. "You can look now."
Mello opens his eyes. For a moment, he thinks that for some reason, Matt led him into a different apartment; then he blinks and realizes that it really is theirs. It's changed a lot since Mello left it that morning, though.
The room has been cleaned, and the chocolate wrappers, cigarette butts, coffee mugs, and various papers that used to cover almost every surface in the room have been cleared away. There's an evergreen wreath woven with red ribbon on the coffee table, and the white plaster walls are hung with strings of colored lights and chains made of red and green paper. In one corner is a lopsided artificial Christmas tree, about five feet tall, that's wrapped in another string of lights and hung with round glass ornaments in various colors. There's even a plastic golden star on top.
"What do you think?" Matt asks almost anxiously, after he shuts the door behind them.
Mello answers by hugging him so hard he can barely breath.
Matt hesitates a moment, then hugs him back awkwardly. Even though they're friends, they're not really that affectionate with each other, and they probably haven't hugged since they were kids together at Wammy's. Mello can't help thinking how nice it feels. He can feel Matt's heartbeat against his chest, and his own heart speeds up.
"I…guess you like it, then," Matt says, when they finally pull away from each other, and smiles a little.
"Why'd you do this?" Mello asks, looking around the room again. Their apartment is cheap and absolutely hideous, but right now, it looks beautiful to him. "I mean, you'd have had to go outside and everything. And you're usually, like, a vampire."
Matt looks away. "I remembered how much you used to love Christmas when we were at Wammy's. I figured you hadn't had a tree or anything since then, and, well, things are kind of sucky right now so I thought it might make you happy."
"You did this…for me?" Mello feels all fluttery and warm inside, and he knows he's being stupid and sentimental but he doesn't care. He just wants to hug Matt again, and never let him go this time.
"Yeah, well." Matt blushes, and it's so cute Mello can feel himself melting. "It wasn't too hard. I got all this stuff at the drugstore down the street. Didn't take long to put up, either. Or to clean the place. So, like, it's not a big deal or anything."
Mello can tell that Matt hates how caring this makes him seem, but it doesn't bother him much—he's used to it. He knows that he's really the only person Matt gives a damn about—for some reason, he likes that a lot—and he figures Matt just isn't used to that kind of thing. After all, Matt spends more time with video games than with people.
The only thing Mello doesn't get is why Matt would do something like this in the first place. Mello may be Matt's only friend—and, consequently, his best friend—but that doesn't mean either of them really acts like it. They'd been so close at Wammy's, best friends for life, and then Mello ran off and they didn't see each other for five years. They've only been together since late November, barely a month, and although they're relearning their friendship, the sudden companionship has been strange for both of them. Matt, who generally doesn't even like people, doesn't really seem to know what to do.
So why, then, would he go so far out of his way—because there's no way it was as easy as he said it was—and do something that's basically totally sefless, just for Mello? Because that was the only reason he gave—I thought it might make you happy. Well, no matter why he did it, it worked. Mello's happier than he's been in a long time, and he can tell he's grinning like an idiot but he doesn't care.
"I love it," he says, just to make sure Matt's clear on that.
"You do? Really?" It's pretty obvious now that Matt was lying about it not being a big deal, because he's looking at Mello all wide-eyed and hopeful.
Mello nods. "Well, yeah. I mean, I haven't done anything for Christmas since I was at Wammy's—I guess I just never thought about it. It wouldn't be any fun if I was alone, anyway. But I missed it." He's not really much better at affection than Matt is, but he figures that because Matt decorated the apartment for him, he should probably make some kind of effort, too. "And, you know, it's really nice of you. To do this and everything, I mean. I…appreciate it."
Matt's face turns red again. "Okay. Yeah. Well, thanks, I guess. I mean, I'm glad you like it. I mean, that's why I did it and everything. I mean…"
He stops talking abruptly—it's clear he has no idea what he's trying to say—and strides across the room, dropping onto the couch. Mello follows him, setting his shopping bags on the floor and sitting just close enough that their arms brush. Matt shifts a little when Mello's arm touches his, but doesn't move away.
"So, did anything interesting happen today?" Matt asks, seeming to want to change the subject.
Mello shrugs. "Not really. Just, you know, same as usual. We're not any closer to catching Kira than we were yesterday, or the day before that, or…" He trails off. This is depressing him. "Let's not talk about it, okay? It's Christmas. Well, Christmas Eve, but whatever. We need some holiday spirit."
He tries to sound enthusiastic as he says the last sentence, and Matt grins a little. "You want holiday spirit, just look around you. Those paper chains on the walls, I think they're pretty spirited, don't you?"
"Course they are, Matt." Mello grins back, then looks more closely at the chain that's hanging on the wall across from them. All the links are different sizes, and some spots, where the stapler apparently didn't work on the first try, have five or six staples. "Did you make those yourself?"
"Yeah. We used to make those at Wammy's, remember? To decorate the great hall? Back when we were, like, ten."
"Yeah, we did." Mello smiles, remembering. "We used to have those competitions with Near to see who could make the longest chain. Well, he didn't really compete, but we did. And we won every time."
"Remember the time we made a chain that was over fifty feet long?" Matt's smiling, too. "Roger let us put it in our room, and we had to wrap it around three walls because it was so long."
"Yeah, and it fell off the wall in the middle of the night and landed on you, and you screamed like a little girl."
Matt smacks him on the arm. "Shut up. I did not."
Mello hits him back, just because Matt did it first. "Yes, you did, and you woke me up. You thought you were being eaten by a snake or something."
"Hey, I was like ten years old. Besides, it was a valid thing to be scared of. You put a snake in my bed once, remember?"
Mello had forgotten that. "Oh, yeah, I did. That was awhile before that, though. Back when you'd just come to Wammy's, and we had to be roommates even though we hated each other."
"We did, didn't we? We were always doing stuff like that to each other." Matt laughs. "Man, how'd we ever get to be friends?"
"The snake drove Roger over the edge, I think," Mello says. "Or maybe it was when you stole all my chocolate and burned it, and caught your sheet on fire, and almost burned the place down. Well, anyway, Roger got sick of us fighting all the time, and it was around Christmas, so he forced us to make a paper chain together."
"Yeah, he did." Matt nods, smiling. "It was supposed to be a cooperation exercise or something, and I guess it worked. We ended up actually talking to each other for the first time."
"I thought holidays were kind of stupid before that, but I started liking Christmas then. I guess because it sort of brought us together." As soon as he says it, Mello realizes he shouldn't have. He's just going to embarrass Matt by being too affectionate, and the phrase brought us together makes it sound like they're more than friends. Which, of course, they aren't.
But Matt says, "Yeah, it did," and smiles at him, and Mello can't help smiling back.
It occurs to him suddenly how much he's enjoying this. It's like they're best friends again, the way they were at Wammy's. They're actually talking, in a way that they haven't been able to since Mello left five years ago, and laughing together, and smiling. Things have felt a little awkward between them over the past month, but it's not like that now—it's just nice. Mello suddenly wishes desperately that things will stay this way, because he's only just realizing how much he loved being close to Matt and how much he misses it.
"You know," Mello says suddenly, because it's just occurred to him, "I think I'll take the day off from Kira tomorrow."
"What?" Matt seems confused by the sudden change in subject—and after all, Mello's never wanted to take a day off before.
"Well, everyone who's got an actual job is going to stay home, so why shouldn't I?" Mello says. "I'll just stay here with you. I mean, it's Christmas."
"That'll be nice." Matt smiles, then looks down, blushing. "I, uh, I got you a Christmas present. Today, when I got all the other stuff. I know you don't have anything for me, but I just wanted to…well, anyway, I wasn't sure if you'd have time to open it, but I guess you do now."
"Actually, I got you something, too." Mello smiles, too. God, Matt's cute when he blushes like that. "That's why I was late."
"Really?" Matt gives him that sweet, hopeful look, and it makes Mello's heart flutter.
"Yeah." Mello realizes something suddenly, and frowns. "But…shit, I don't have anything to wrap it with. Is it okay if I just stick it in a bag or something?"
"I got a roll of wrapping paper for your present. You can use it." Matt bounces to his feet and starts for the hallway. He comes back a moment later with a roll of wrapping paper and a small wrapped package. He hands the roll to Mello, then puts the present under the Christmas tree.
Mello raises his eyebrows at the wrapping paper, which is covered with beaming cartoon reindeer. "Wow."
"Shut up. It's cute. Now go wrap my present."
Mello picks up his shopping bags and heads to his room. The hallway is just as narrow and dark as ever, his bedroom just as bare and dingy, but tonight, he doesn't notice. He's ridiculously happy, happier than he's been in a long time, and he's got a warm feeling inside that he doesn't recognize, but he definitely likes it. All he can think about is Matt, what Matt did for him, Matt's smile, Matt's arms around him when they hugged…
Mello gives his head a quick shake, pulling himself away from his thoughts, and pulls a small box out of the shopping bag. It's some video game, one that he's never heard of in his life, but the cover art looked cool so he decided to buy it. Besides, he's pretty sure he knows what Matt's present for him is—it'll be a bar of chocolate, that disgusting Hershey's kind and not the European brand that Mello likes. It doesn't matter. The presents themselves aren't really the point—it's the fact that they got them for each other.
When Mello finishes wrapping the video game in the ugly reindeer paper, he takes it back to the main room with him. Matt's sprawled out on the couch, messing with their old radio. As Mello sets Matt's present next to his own under the Christmas tree, he hears the static of the radio suddenly change to "Jingle Bell Rock."
"I found a Christmas carol station!" Matt announces proudly.
"Good job," Mello says, in a properly admiring tone.
He's still sitting on the floor by the Christmas tree, and he glances up at it, looking at it closely for the first time. Some of the branches have obviously been put in the wrong places, because they're different sizes than the ones around them, and there's an empty space on one side where one branch seems to be missing entirely. It's clear that Matt had no idea what he was doing when he put it up.
But…he did it anyway. Mello smiles, knowing that Matt did this just for him. It's that, more than the decorations themselves, that makes him so happy.
The song on the radio changes to "The Twelve Days of Christmas," which Mello has always loved, simply because he likes the idea of getting that many presents. He starts singing along.
"On the second day of Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiistmas, my true love gave to meeeeeeeeeee two turtle doves and a paaaaaaaaaaaaaaartidge in a—yes, Matt?"
Matt's leaning over the back of the couch and staring at him, his eyebrows raised.
"What the hell, Mello?"
Mello grins at him. "I like this song."
"Yeah. I noticed." Matt shakes his head. "Never thought you were the Christmas carol type."
"You learn something new every day. Come on, Matt, sing with me. On the fooooooooooourth day of Chriiiiiiiiiistmas, my true love—you're not singing."
Matt rolls his eyes, but sings along with Mello all the way up to the twelfth day. "You really think anyone would get all those presents for someone?" he asks, after the song ends and "Silent Night" starts playing. "Even if they were your true love?"
"For me they would." Mello grins. "I'm just that amazing."
"So, your true love is going to get you three hundred and sixty-four presents every year. Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but it kinda sounds like you're expecting a little too much from her."
"I can't believe you counted all the presents, you geek," Mello says. "And who says my true love will be a her?"
He wonders as he says it what Matt's reaction will be. Mello's never really given much thought to his sexuality—he doesn't see the point of worrying about something like that, as it won't change anything—but he figures he's probably gay. After all, the only person he's ever been in love with—L; that lasted from when he was about ten to a good year after L's death—was a man.
Matt looks a little startled for a moment, but not bothered. Actually, he looks pleased, if anything. "You swing that way, huh?"
"Yeah." Mello raises his eyebrows. "That a problem for you?"
He's never understood why so many people try to hide their sexuality. After all, he didn't choose it, there's nothing wrong with it, and if other people don't like it, then it's their own stupid fault and not his.
"Course it's not a problem for me," Matt says. "That would be kinda hypocritical, wouldn't it?"
Mello blinks. "Are you saying what I'm thinking you're saying?"
"Well, are you thinking what I'm thinking you're thinking? Because I'm thinking that you know what I'm saying—I mean, considering what I'm saying, it's the obvious thing to be thinking, so I'm thinking that you're thinking that. And if that's what you're thinking, then I'm saying that you're thinking right."
"I'm thinking that you're saying that you're thinking—" Mello realizes he has no idea what Matt just said. "This is stupid. Are you gay?"
"Yeah." Matt gets up and walks over to sit next to him. "Hey, why didn't you ever tell me? That you are, too, I mean."
Mello shrugs. "Didn't seem important. I would've if you'd asked. I kinda always figured you knew—I mean, you knew I was in love with L and everything."
"We were all in love with L. I didn't think it meant anything. I…" He looks down. "I guess I sort of hoped it did, though."
"Why didn't you ask?"
"I don't know." Matt's still not looking at him.
"Well, why didn't you ever tell me that you're gay?" Mello's actually sort of happy about it, although he can't quite figure out why.
"I didn't know how you'd take it," Matt says. "I mean, a lot of people aren't okay with that kind of thing…"
"Yeah, and a lot of people are so stupid they're a waste of oxygen." Mello can't believe Matt would ever think that about him. "Matt, you honestly thought I wouldn't want to be your friend anymore or something?"
"Yeah…" Matt smiles at him hesitantly. "Stupid, huh?"
"Unbelievably stupid." Mello leans over and hugs him. Matt hugs him back, less awkwardly this time, and Mello can't help resting his head on Matt's shoulder. God, this feels nice.
Matt starts stroking Mello's hair, rather hesitantly, and Mello closes his eyes. Matt's arms are so warm, and his hand is so gentle, and not even hugging L felt this good. Mello's not sure why, but he's getting that warm feeling again, and he likes it. He loves it.
Matt's hand moves to touch Mello's cheek, softly rubbing the thick, ugly scars that crisscross his face.
"Does it hurt?" Matt asks quietly.
"This." Matt lightly brushes one of the scars. "Does it hurt?"
"Not anymore," Mello murmurs, his head still pressed against Matt's shoulder. "It's been more than a month now…my face has healed as much as it's ever going to."
Matt gently traces the scars with his fingers. "So you'll have these for the rest of your life?"
"Yeah. There's more, too, all over my back and legs and everything. I'm pretty hideous now."
"I think you're beautiful," Matt says softly.
Mello opens his eyes and looks up at Matt, wondering if he really heard him right. Did Matt just call him…beautiful?
Matt's gazing back at him, his hand cupping Mello's cheek. For a moment, they just look at each other. Mello's heart is pounding, and he wonders if Matt can tell. He can feel Matt's heartbeat, just as fast and uneven as his own.
Matt pulls away from him suddenly, so that they're sitting close but no longer touching. Mello tries not to look disappointed.
"Look up," Matt says, raising one hand to gesture at the ceiling and smiling a little.
Confused, Mello looks up. At first, he isn't sure what he's supposed to be looking at, but then he sees the green sprig, dotted with white berries. It's hanging from the ceiling, right above them.
"Mistletoe," he says, his gaze returning to Matt. He's getting that fluttery feeling in his stomach again.
"I've heard that it's bad luck," Matt says rather shakily, his face flushing, "if you get caught under mistletoe and you don't…you know…"
"And we need all the luck we can get, don't we?" Mello's voice comes out rather breathless.
Matt gives a small smile. "We do. So I guess we'd better…"
Mello tries not to sound too eager, but he doesn't really succeed. "Yeah, we probably should…"
They both lean forward hesitantly, and after a moment, their lips touch softly. At first, they just stay like that, leaning toward each other, their lips just barely brushing. Mello's heart is pounding. Matt's lips are so warm, and so soft against his own, and, God, he's never imagined that anything could feel this amazing.
They pull back after just a moment and smile shyly at each other. Matt's blushing, and Mello can tell that he is, too. The only thing he wants right now is for that to happen again.
"You know," he says, rather hesitantly, "you can't be too careful. If we're at risk for getting bad luck…"
"You're right." Matt nods, his smile widening. "We'd better make sure that—"
Mello doesn't let him finish the sentence. He kisses Matt again, harder this time, wrapping his arms around Matt's neck, and Matt kisses him back, his arms sliding around Mello's waist. They press against each other, holding each other close. Mello never wants to let Matt go.
When they break apart, keeping their arms around each other, they're both breathless but smiling.
"I made that up, you know," Matt says.
"About how it's bad luck if you don't kiss under the mistletoe. I've never heard that before in my life. I've been planning this all day, ever since I saw that they had mistletoe at the store."
Mello grins. "Yeah, I figured it was just an excuse to kiss me. You just love me too much to keep your hands off me."
"Yeah, you're just too damn sexy for your own good." Matt hesitates, then adds, "I really do, you know. Love you, I mean. I love you."
Mello's arms tighten around Matt, holding him closer. That's all he wants right now—to be closer to Matt. He's never felt anything like this before; it's nothing like the infatuation he had for L. This is stronger, deeper, more real.
"Yeah. Me too. I mean, I love you, too."
They smile hesitantly at each other. Neither of them is good at talking about feelings.
"Well," Mello says, glancing up at the mistletoe, "even if it can cause bad luck, I think we're probably covered by now."
Matt looks disappointed. "We are? Already?"
"I hope so. I've been sitting here on the floor for the past twenty minutes. It's really hard, you know that?"
"That's what she said," Matt says, grinning.
"Shut up. Anyway," Mello continues, standing up and reaching his hand toward Matt, "I was thinking we could continue this somewhere else."
Matt takes Mello's hand and pulls himself up, then laces their fingers together. "Like your bedroom, maybe?"
Mello grins at him. "You read my mind. Come on."