There's something beautiful about knowing the exact moment you will die. There's a number, a strict limitation written above my head with a name that's too rarely used.

Sometimes I wonder, if people knew exactly when they would die, would live their lives differently? Would the workaholic company man come home at 4 o'clock instead of 8 so he could eat dinner with his family? Would the housewife leave the laundry for another day to instead go shopping with her daughter? Would the people of the world still waste away, begging for the acceptance of a society that is too cold and uncaring to remember their name?

I know what will happen when I die. My time here will be remembered by an unmarked headstone. I am a sentence unfinished, trailing off into nothing and nowhere. No one will read my story and fondly remember—there is nothing of substance in my life, at least not in the eyes of the world. I will go on unremembered, largely regarded as another victim of circumstance.

He thinks I don't realize. That's a laugh, we're both geniuses, he should know better. Sometimes I think Mello really is blind; he has so much potential but his ambition makes him vulnerable. His passion makes him obsessive. His fervor makes him a force without direction, a natural disaster waiting to happen. Near is levelheaded, calculated and cool. Mello is his polar opposite. I am the one stuck in the middle, a geek with too much time and too little focus.

If he thinks I'll make it out alive, Mello is an idealistic fool. If he thinks it's better not to tell me of my impending death, then he is still a fool; an egotistical, self-serving one at that. He probably thinks I'll run away, bury myself in the electronic reality that I'm so fond of. I bet he thinks I'll be scared.

I am nothing like Mello. I guess you could say that he and I are polar opposites, although that would put me at the same place as Near and I prefer not to compare myself to him. Mello has a way of forcing himself on you—there's no way to avoid Mello if he wants you to listen. His gaze is penetrating, like he can see through you and find out what makes you tick. His blue eyes are wild and fathomless. I don't like making eye contact with people, it's too direct. He says I hide behind my goggles; I say the world looks much friendlier tinted with gold.

Mello is showy. He thrives on drawing every eye in the room; I don't have a problem with that, it means that many less eyes on me. Near once had the gall to tell me that I live in Mello's shadow. I told him that it is a pretty big shadow, and there is more than enough room for me to inhabit it. (Anyway you look at it, it seems, I'm hiding behind something. I'm not cowardly; I just prefer not to waste my time with needless social interaction.)

The limelight makes me uncomfortable, and I am happy to say that I never draw attention. No one finds the guy hunched of his Nintendo DS very intriguing; I never had a girlfriend, probably for that very reason. I never felt like I was missing anything.

Any implication that I am a part of the mafia is a laugh. I lack the serious motivation and effort it takes to hold grudges against people, and be underhanded on a large scale. Occasionally, however, I'll get a call asking for my expertise. I'm just, "That hacker Mello knows." Mello trusts me, usually, and he knows for sure that I won't double-cross him. That would take too much effort.

Another trait I carry that makes me useful is my lack of morals. The times that Mello has called me in, I'm paid handsomely for my work. It's never bothered me that I'm being paid for the destruction of another person's life. I don't ask questions, because why should it make a difference whose identity I just stole or which security system I just turned off? Crickets chirp where my conscience should lie.

I never said I was a good person. Mello repents for the lives he takes, and I know for a fact that every day the rosary around his neck gets a little heavier. I don't seek penance; I don't offer atonement. When I die—which is soon, I know—I won't see the Elysian Fields.


A/N: Even though Tinted Gold has been finished for years, I hope there are still people enjoying my character study of Matt. Thank you again for reading and reviewing. Enjoy!