Wammy Kids knew about death.
It was kind of sad to think about, and you could see in Roger's eyes how much he wished it wasn't true, but that was how it was, and there was nothing for it, really.
Matt had paid attention. He was good at watching things, good at seeing things other people didn't or didn't want to.
He'd kept track, and he'd tallied it up in his head—most of the kids went quiet two days a year. One was their birthday, and one was the other day. The other anniversary. The other moment that had brought them here.
Near only had one day—one reprieve a year, when he set the pieces of the train track down on the floor and looked at them as if he didn't know how they fit together. Either it had happened on his birthday, Matt hypothesized, or he'd conflated the dates. Maybe he'd taken the average. One day. Fewer distractions.
Matt had always thought it was strange that Near took his moment in the dead, heavy heat of August, and Mello's head slid into his hands in the white hush as the old year began to wear out its welcome. But maybe that was the whole point. Maybe around here, your birthday was meant to foil you one way or another. The world was spiteful that way.
He'd watched B, too, back then—watched B watch all of them. Not everything, like Matt, just everyone. B didn't care about things.
B was good at math. Numbers made sense to him, and Matt sometimes thought he watched people to quantify them—blood pressure, heart-rate, IQ. Line them up and compare. And L was the best of anyone, when you added up the scores.
They all had a score, though, in B's head, perhaps instead of a name. Matt thought maybe that was why, the afternoon B stood on the doorstep with his sparing belongings packed, the focus of a loose parabola of his staring ex-colleagues, he looked at Matt, and Mello, and Near in succession, and his absent expression gave way to a thin smile of intense amusement.
"Hm," he murmured, and his scarlet eyes danced, and Matt felt cold.
He wasn't sure what that smile meant. Or maybe there were just some things even he didn't want to see.
He slides his arms around Mello's narrow chest and lays a hand flat over the prominence of the ribs that rise from it. Mello breathes softly. His blood pressure is probably in the stratosphere, and his heart throbs against Matt's palm faster than he'd like.
Mello's mind is as sharp as ever, keen enough to cut his veins.
He looks at the gray wall, and Matt imagines that he sees tall white stones and black waves that go on forever, warm, and soft, and soundless.
He strokes Mello's chest, and the crucifix beads knock quietly together.
"It's okay," he promises, and he genuinely believes he has the right to say it.
"I don't want to die," Mello whispers.
Matt holds him tighter, pressing a kiss to the silky hair, and smiles. He's not happy, per se—he's satisfied. Content. There's a resignation to it, but there's also an acceptance.
"It's okay," he says again. "We'll do it together."
Mello sighs, and takes Matt's hands, and settles.
"Okay," he agrees.