Hello! I just wanted to make a quick note on what this story is supposed to be - especially since, judging by its title, it doesn't even really sound like a story. But it is. Basically, this is my attempt at writing a piece detailing the events between Mello exploding half of his face off and Matt arriving to help him catch Kira. I know, it's been done to death (though to me, at least, it never seems to get old), but I wanted to write one that could actually have happened. That is, I wanted one that could fit neatly into the story as it is laid out by Ohba and Obata.

That said, the timeline of events that you will see below is, in part, taken from Death Note: How to Read. Everything else was made up by me.

Thanks for reading!

November 11, 2009:

Mello looked down at the device in his hand. There was no point in prolonging it. This was his only chance. Even if Soichiro Yagami didn't have the guts to write his name down in the Death Note, it was only a matter of time before Kira learned of the day's events, before Kira discovered Mello's real name. If he wanted to live to eat another chocolate bar, he had to do this now. Nodding to himself, Mello checked to make sure that he was in the proper position. Then, with a determination that reminded him of someone he used to know, he pressed the button.

On the other side of the world, at the same time (although it was several hours later in England), Matt was looking down at the device in his own hands. His tongue played absentmindedly with the cigarette held firmly between his teeth as his fingers danced over the buttons of his Nintendo DS. His eyes were glazed over and he sat with his elbows on his knees, trying in vain to find adequate distraction in the game that he had played and beaten too many times before. He tried not to think about the things that he was sorely missing in his life. He tried not to think about the past. He tried not to think about anything at all.

November 12, 2009:

Vague, contradicting thoughts played over and over in Mello's mind. How unlucky that his plan hadn't worked the way it was supposed to, that he hadn't been as safe as he'd believed. He had been unable to escape the collapsing building as he had planned. But he was lucky that he was still alive, that he hadn't been found by the cops, that he could still move, albeit slowly. Taking care to move no more quickly than a melting chocolate bar in the Arctic, Mello dragged himself out of the rubble that had fortunately not crushed the air out of his lungs or broken any bones. He knew that no such thing was happening, but in his half-delirious state, he could feel the flames crawling over his skin, tasting him. Red, red flames. Red like an apple…or hair.

While Mello was dragging himself out of debris, Matt was dragging himself out of his bed. Half-formed, contradicting thoughts spun around in his mind, remnants of a dream mostly forgotten. Settling his feet beneath him, Matt held onto his head, willing the images – no, the delusions – to leave him in peace, though he knew it was a futile effort. Not a day went by that he didn't think or dream about blue eyes and yellow hair.

November 13, 2009:

By the time Mello stumbled into his apartment, it was well past midnight and he was feeling rather more like himself again – that is to say, he was angry. Mostly he was angry that it had taken such a long time for him to walk all the way back to his apartment. Normally, he'd have taken a cab, but although he wasn't sure of what he looked like, he knew that there wasn't a driver in Los Angeles that wouldn't take him to a hospital at the mere sight of him. He'd spent the entire afternoon and evening slinking through alleys and avoiding the eyes of others. Eventually the fresh, cool air calmed his mind and his burning skin, and he'd been able to begin pulling burnt leather from the places on his shoulder and torso where it had all but melded to his ruined flesh.

Matt woke up and rolled uncaringly off of his bed, hoping half-heartedly that the thump he'd made when he hit the floor wouldn't wake up the old lady who lived in the apartment one floor below his. Standing, he stretched his arms over his head. His brow furrowed slightly. There was something pushing at some distant corner of his mind, a quiet nagging that something was out of place – like the feeling one gets when they know they've forgotten something, but they can't remember what it was. As he stumbled sleepily into the kitchen area of his apartment, Matt tried and failed to rid himself of the impression that something was wrong. When he couldn't do that, he settled instead on suppressing the urge to make himself a cup of hot chocolate.

November 14, 2009:

Sitting on the edge of his bed, Mello cursed loudly and profusely. He was holding his left arm out to the side while using his right hand to wrap it in gauze. It was more difficult than he'd expected it to be, especially since the gauze itself seemed to have a mind of its own. He glared at it as he dropped it onto the bed on the outside of his outstretched arm, then reached under his arm to wrap it once around the burn before dropping it again. It was a long and tedious process, made worse by the fact that the left side of his face was killing him. He'd wanted to wrap that first, but he'd quickly realized that he would need the use of his left eye in order to tend to his arm and chest. Finally, he finished the spot on his upper arm that he'd been working on. To make sure the gauze stayed in place, he tied it in a loose knot, using his teeth to pull it tight.

Matt sat on the couch in his cold apartment, typing on his laptop with half-frozen fingers. It was difficult to hack with a broken heater system. He just wished that the landlord would hurry up and get it fixed. The lack of heat was reminding him all too clearly of a day during one winter at Wammy's House when the furnace had stopped working – only then he'd had someone to share body heat with. He shivered and wrapped the blanket sitting next to him tightly around his shoulders.

November 18, 2009:

For over three days, all Mello had done was sleep (which he'd been doing almost non-stop), change his bandages (which he'd done only once, though he knew he should have done it at least once a day), and eat chocolate (which he'd done whenever he'd been conscious enough to chew). Now, finally, he thought that he might have the strength to move about in public again – if only because he needed more chocolate. His body didn't hurt nearly as much anymore, and sure enough, when he went into the bathroom, cleaned his wounds, and really looked at himself for the first time since the explosion, he saw that the burns were healing quickly. Already they were looking less like charred flesh and more like scar tissue. Still, he was careful not to look too closely. He noticed also that his hair had grown longer than what he was typically accustomed to, but he didn't want to bother with it. He simply snipped away the burnt bits and stepped out into the world, feeling rejuvenated for all his recovery.

Matt, on the other hand, had long abandoned even the hope of recovering. He lay in bed, staring at an orange ceiling, looking out an orange window at an orange world. He wondered how this had happened to him – or, more accurately, he pretended to wonder. In reality, he knew exactly how he had ended up this way, in such a state that he never laughed, never even smiled, never found any joy or warmth in anything anymore. He had put his whole life into the hands of someone who was even more reckless than Matt was himself, and who knew even less about things like love and loyalty. And Matt had made the incredibly foolish mistake of truly believing that he could be enough for such a person. That was something that he had never been able to recover from.

November 19, 2009:

Mello would like to say that he was frequently visited by hot blonde women, but unfortunately it wasn't the case. So when Mello decided to use his connection to Halle Lidner to get to Near, he couldn't just wait around for her to show up, he had to go to her apartment. Luckily, she didn't seem to have much of a problem with being led to the SPK at gunpoint. Not-so-luckily, however, seeing Near had more of an impact on Mello than he had foreseen. It wasn't so much Near's calm confidence, or his blatant insinuations that Mello was beneath him at all levels – Mello was used to that. It was the fact that he was actually there, right in front of Mello, so unchanged after all those years. Mello hadn't seen Near since the day he'd left Wammy's House and said goodbye to his life. Well, that had meant saying goodbye to someone else, too, someone very different from Near. Mello hadn't expected that seeing Near would bring up so much…well, so much.

Though he received more visitations by hot blonde women than did Mello (more like woman, really), Matt still found himself leaving his apartment to seek out such company more often than not. On this day, he found himself feeling especially lonely, an emotion he had more or less gotten used to over the past four years, eleven months, fourteen days. Nonetheless, he just couldn't stay alone anymore, so he went on the long walk from his apartment to Hannah's. Hannah opened the door and smiled at him kindly, welcoming him into her home and her bed. Matt liked Hannah. After only a few months she had given up asking him why he seemed so fixated on her M&M yellow hair.

November 27, 2009:

Once again, Mello sat on the edge of his bed, and once again he was looking down at the electronic device in his hand, one finger hovering over the buttons. He'd been looking down at his cell phone for well over an hour at this point. The thing was, Mello knew he needed help. Even he was capable of admitting that when it was irrefutable (even if only to himself). And this was irrefutable: Mello no longer had the mafia to support him, and he couldn't conduct his investigation of Kira single-handedly (he knew because he'd tried). Mello truly and undeniably needed help.

And admitting that was easier than admitting the other reason that he'd been holding his cell phone for an hour.

Mello nodded to himself, and without even pausing to try to remember the number, his fingers moved rapidly, pressing the buttons in the correct order as if he'd been doing it everyday for the past almost-five years.

Matt almost didn't answer his phone when he saw that the number was blocked, but something in the corner of his mind told him that he might regret it if he let the call go ignored. So he sat up slowly and grabbed his phone from the bedside table. "H'lo?" he mumbled, hoping that this wasn't a client. He didn't feel like hacking today. There was no answer. "Hello…?" he said again, more clearly this time, wondering if maybe the person on the other line hadn't heard him the first time. Still no answer, but he could hear what sounded like shaky breathing, like the person was nervous, or trying not to cry, or maybe just creepy. "Listen, asshole, I know you're there so just –"

"372 Crescent Street, Apartment 67 B, Los Angeles," came the response at last.

Matt almost dropped the phone. As it turned out, it wouldn't have mattered if he had, because the line went dead after that. An address, just an address, and barely any words at all. But Matt knew that voice. He hadn't heard that voice in almost five years, and it was deeper than it had been the last time he'd heard it, and yet it was as if he'd been hearing it every single one of those 1,779 days. No, he said to himself, staring blankly at the phone in his hands. No, no, no, no, no, he thought over and over again even as he hastily filled a bag with video games and striped shirts. He kept it up all the way to the airport and on the whole flight from England to California. He didn't even know what he was objecting to, or maybe what he was denying.

Matt stared at the door in front of him. This was it: 372 Crescent Street, Apartment 67 B, Los Angeles. Now all he had to do was knock on the door. Only he'd been standing in front of it for about forty-five minutes and he didn't seem to be getting any closer to knocking than he had been when he'd first arrived. He didn't know what he was waiting for. Why wouldn't he just knock? Or perhaps this was a new nightmare and he would just stand there staring at the door until he woke up with sweaty palms and tear-stained cheeks.

But just when he was beginning to think that this must be the case, the door was opened from the other side. And there was…


Matt's jaw dropped, as well as the bag in his hand. Mello was standing not two feet in front of him. Mello with the same blonde hair, and the same blue eyes, and the same black clothes. Of course, the hair was choppier, not a bob anymore, and the eyes seemed angrier and meaner, and the clothes were leather instead of cotton. Plus there was that ragged patch of new scar tissue stretched over the left side of his face and extending down his bare left arm. None of this particularly surprised Matt. He was shocked to be seeing Mello, but it was Mello – the real Mello, old Mello, his Mello.

Mello was staring, too. The chocolate he'd been about to go buy was completely forgotten. All he could seem to do was stare dumbly forward, his eyes catching repeatedly on the red hair, the orange goggles, the familiar black and white stripes. Some part of him realized that he probably looked incredibly stupid, that Matt was most likely horrified by the look of his not-quite-healed scars. In fact, Matt looked like he was horrified…or something. But, God, it was Matt.

Finally, Mello came to himself enough to step aside and gesture for Matt to come in. Neither of them said anything as Matt entered the small apartment. Mello walked slowly into the kitchen, still too shocked to do much of anything aside from noticing that Matt was following him silently. Mello went to the cupboard and took out a bar of chocolate, but he just held it in his hands for a moment before putting it down on the counter. Realizing that Matt had stepped into the living area, he followed and saw that his gaze was on the TV. He was probably checking to see if it had the right plugs for his game consoles. It did. Mello remembered buying that particular TV because he'd noticed those plugs, though at the time he hadn't been thinking about why such a thing might matter.

Mello looked at Matt from across the small space, and before he could tell them to stay still, his feet were shuffling (in a very manly way, of course) over towards the best and only friend he'd ever had. Slowly, as if giving Matt the chance to move away if he wanted to, he wrapped his arms around Matt's waist, pinning Matt's arms to his side – that way, if he chose not to return the gesture, Mello could tell himself that it was because he couldn't move his arms. Burying his face in Matt's shoulder served two purposes: hiding his scar and allowing him to take in Matt's scent, the same as it always had been only with something new…tobacco, Mello thought. He held on tight, because he couldn't say I'm sorry, and he couldn't say Thank you, and he sure as hell couldn't say I love you. He just hoped that this was enough. And after a moment he felt Matt wrap his arms as well as he could around Mello's shoulders. The tighter Mello squeezed, the looser Matt felt. All the resentment he'd felt simply melted away. He was still angry but it was clear that Mello had been through a lot. So even though they both knew that they'd need to talk eventually, neither of them said a word. This was enough for now.