Author's Note: Yeah, it looks suspiciously like Northern California. So sue me. XD
Why did the downtown of my hometown jump in there? I do not know, except that I love it and am therefore not surprised. :P
There is no point to this fic; there was a day when I just wanted to write Matt/Mello, so I did… and I wasn't going to save it until the right day, only then my procrastination got the better of me, as always. XD
The crumpled foil bounced off of the rim of the trashcan and joined its brethren on the floor.
"You know what I was thinking?" Mello asked.
"No," Matt said.
"Of course not," Mello replied. "So I was thinking—"
"That's not what I mean," Matt cut in, eyes on the little square of screen on the handheld. "It's 'no' as in, 'Whatever you're thinking, no, I don't want to.'"
Mello scowled. "You might be missing out on the best fun you're gonna get in this shit-town."
Matt shrugged and thumbed at the appropriate button. "It's my birthday, Mel," he said mildly. "I don't want to get arrested on my fuckin' birthday."
There was a pause, as he'd known there would be.
"It's your birthday?" Mello prompted.
Matt nodded. "February first, Mel, like last year and the year before. I don't move it around to trick you."
Mello kicked at a tuft of carpeting. "Well, what do you want to do with your birthday, then?"
Matt executed a deft combo move and pined bemusedly for a cigarette. "Sleep. Eat. Play."
"That's what you do all the time."
"…without you bitching in my ear."
"The bitching," Mello sniffed, "is mandatory. Besides, it's not bitching. It's constructive criticism."
"Bitch," Matt countered idly.
"Fuck you," Mello responded without much force. "Come on. We've been cooped up in here forever. Let's go out and do something."
"I'm not playing the Give the Finger While the Policeman's Back Is Turned Game."
Mello rolled his eyes. "I grew out of that when we were twelve, Matt."
"Coincidentally," Matt muttered, "the year you got caught."
Tellingly, Mello ignored him. "I'm serious, Matt. We can go buy you a cake or something. And use cigarettes as candles and shit."
Matt gave him a look. Mello never had cake. Mello never talked about cake. Cake was more than just dessert, more than its substance, more than itself. It was practically transubstantiation. Maybe that was part of what Mello was getting at, being a Catholic and all.
Or maybe Matt was just too damn tired from fighting firewalls all night to try to figure the stupid bastard out today.
He set his game down, pushed his goggles onto his forehead, and rubbed his eyes.
"Yeah, okay," he conceded. "Let's get some cake."
Mello smirked. "Now we're talkin'."
Matt shoved his wallet into his back pocket and followed the linoleum-brick road towards the door. "We've been talking," he answered, "all along."
"…but not about cake."
He let Mello drive, which could be considered a bit of daredevilry, except that he would have been too tired to watch the road. He hadn't slept properly—that was, for thirteen straight, smooth, uninterrupted hours—in longer than he could remember, and he was tired. Tired of the computer screen, tired of the error messages, tired of the lines upon lines of antlike code; tired of the grimy window and the fire escape that blocked the sunset, tired of chocolate wrappers and cigarette boxes, tired of lighting up to cool down. He was tired of knowing they were going to lose. Tired of being Near's diversion, which Mello probably didn't even realize they were.
Mello didn't look at things he didn't want to see.
He was tired of watching Mello give up everything. Tired of watching the game consume him; tired of watching the world nibbling at his edges. Tired of tiptoeing into the kitchen to drape a blanket over an unconscious body with blond hair splayed over the keyboard.
"Where are we going, Mel?" he mumbled, cracking an eye open for a glimpse of blurring pine trees and crumbling hillsides.
"The good bakery," Mello answered.
Matt shut his eyes and leaned against the window again. Mello wasn't much for straight answers.
Matt was tired of puzzles. Puzzles and codes.
He was alone in the parked car when he awoke. His stirring brain leapt immediately to panic without stopping by logic's place for a cup of tea, and he was terrified, because Mello was leaving again, he'd be gone again, and Matt couldn't take it, not now—until he realized that the keys were gone, and that even Mello wasn't stupid enough to take the keys and not the car.
He was stupid enough to leave Matt asleep against the window with the doors unlocked, but since Matt still had his wallet and his clothing, apparently no harm had come of it.
He went back to sleep.
He woke up to the slamming of the driver's side door this time, and Mello passed him a pink cardboard box.
"What kind?" Matt managed blearily.
"Chocolate-raspberry," Mello divulged. "It combines and accentuates the best aspects of both flavors, making for a highly unique gustatory experience unmatched by any other culinary marvel in the modern sphere."
Matt gave him a moment of quiet in which to notice what he'd just said.
Mello paused, happening upon it. "I'm tired, too, you know," was his explanation.
"I know," Matt said, and it was the truth.
He set the cake on his lap and pressed his cheek to the window, eyeing the parents towing, guiding, and leading their children down the sidewalk, admiring the parade of strollers and the pageant of brightly-colored T-shirts and flailing limbs. He liked looking at families. It made him sad sometimes—jealous, he supposed—but he usually felt a little warmer in the periphery of their happiness. Unwittingly they lent him part of their vibrancy.
"What makes chocolate-raspberry so good?" he asked.
"Chocolate," Mello replied, "and raspberry."
Matt looked at him.
"Ask a stupid question," Mello began airily.
"Get a stupid answer?" Matt hazarded disinterestedly.
"Jellyfish," Mello answered.
"Fuck you," Matt said.
He had long since started dozing again when the car ground to a stop, gravel pinging with a shrapnel tang, and the rumbling of the engine faded into silence. Forcing his eyelids upward, he was pleased—and somewhat surprised—to discover that the cake was still placidly settled in his lap, having kindly refrained from slipping off and plastering its culinary superiority all over the dashboard.
Mello was sitting, one hand splayed over the top of the wheel, and looking quietly out the window. Matt traced the trajectory of his gaze.
"Hot damn," he breathed.
There was a canyon below them—practically literally below them; the car's tires were so precariously close to the gravel edge that Matt couldn't even see the road from this angle. As far as he could tell, it might as well not have existed at all. The world dropped away below, a rolling carpet of uninterrupted verdure filling the bowl of the Earth, creeping eagerly up the opposite mountainside.
He wanted to lean over Mello to gawp properly, but part of him worried that he'd shift the balance of the car and send them bouncing down the slope to their grisly deaths.
On his birthday.
"Jeez, Mel," he whispered. "How'd you find this place?"
Mello drummed his fingertips on the steering wheel, smiling faintly. "I used to drive around a lot," he responded. "Especially before I ran into you. I had a lot time on my hands and a lot of things to think about."
Matt set his chin on Mello's shoulder, and silky hair tickled gently at his cheek.
"Thank you," he said.
Mello smiled again. "C'mere," he suggested. He ruffled Matt's hair and got out of the car, boots slapping on the spare twelve inches of pavement between the door and the edge, to stroll around to the back. Uncertainly, Matt followed.
Before he had time to wonder, Mello had hopped up onto the trunk, pulling one knee partway to his chest, the better to hook an arm around it and gaze out over the vast panorama beyond. There wasn't much to do but to join him.
Matt didn't mind.
When the sun was struggling to hold its ground above the horizon, Mello slid from his perch and brushed off his hands.
"Move," he ordered.
Matt jumped down, confused, and went to stand at Mello's side where the blond was looking at the trunk of the car almost reflectively.
"Hiding a body?" he inquired—and was actually concerned for a second when Mello stepped forward without giving an answer.
Then Mello popped the trunk, and Matt, doubting his eyes, saw the huge box overflowing with video games of every variety.
"Happy birthday, Matt," Mello said.
"You remembered?" Matt asked dumbly.
"Is that so hard to believe?" Mello responded.
Matt shrugged and smiled.