Where to now? I wondered aimlessly, stalking down the street.
Okay, maybe stalking is a bit too strong a word. But damn, was I mad! The last few days had been a mess. A mess. First, that idiot brigade in SWAT suits had found my place, trashed it, and left.
Okay, well, I had been the one to blow it up, but still.
A now I was wandering around, wondering what the hell to do next. I had no place to go, no friends to take me in. Everyone was either dead, or I had made an enemy of them…I felt a pang of regret, but quashed it quickly. I must have someone to go to; I couldn't possibly be totally alone. But who-
Oh. Of course.
You idiot, Mello.
There was someone; really, they always had been the only person; my only actual friend, really.
Feeling really stupid, I headed downtown…I had some research in order.
The library staff kept giving me dirty looks as I exited the building; in fact, most everyone in there had been; I guess that leather, chains, and sexy hair doesn't really work in a library; but whatever. I got what I needed, and now just needed to get where I wanted to be. Taxis zoomed by, but each one seemed to contain about ten people; was there some kind of mass exodus going on? What was this? Finally, a taxi more rust than yellow and a broken front fender pulled over. Despite my initial doubts about how the taxi sustained such grievous injuries, I got in, and told the driver my destination.
The batter taxi was piloted by an old guy with the gleam of a demolition derby champion in his eye. I wasn't worried; I probably had the same look about me these days. I rubbed the left half of my face; ouch, it stung. It had probably been grazed with some shrapnel while I made my escape from that idiot L Two's goons, but I hadn't had time to check it out. It better not be deforming, I thought viciously. The taxi took off, swerving ungracefully around parked cars and speeding over potholes. I was bounced around in the back seat; banging against the door and once; while clearing a particularly giant pothole; the roof.
Finally, the taxi screamed over to the side of the road, skid marks outlined blackly against the gray road, in front of a dilapidated apartment building. I gave the driver what I owed him, and unsteadily got out of the taxi. It zoomed off into the street, honking loudly at smaller cars in its way. I shook my head to unscramble my brains, and turned to look up at the looming building.
This was where he lived? Crappy place.
I went in through the grimy revolving door and found myself in a dimly lit reception sort of area. I stared down the secretary and found the stairs; the elevator looked as though it would kill me.
I clambered up five flights of stairs and finally located room number 209. I banged my fist against the door, wincing as a bruise on my hand connected with the fake wood.
There was a disturbance in the room beyond the door; I could hear electronic sounds and a yell of delight from the apartment. I grinned.
The sounds cut off as I banged on the door again, and footsteps approached. The door opened a bit, then wider.
The person that stood before me was about my own age. His tousled red hair stood up in awkward angles and his bangs fells over the orange tinted goggles that covered his wide eyes. He wore a black and white striped shirt and baggy jeans.
"Matt." I said, letting just a trickle of relief enter my voice. Hey, I hadn't seen or heard from him for about four years. I had a right to be happy to see him. I appraised the redhead systematically; he was pretty much exactly the same as when I had last seen him; four years ago, right before I left Wammy's after L died.
Yup, pretty much exactly the same. The stripes, the goggle…when did he start smoking? I wondered, noting the cigarette dangling from his mouth. Interesting; that was new.
"Mello?" the redhead squinted at me. "Are you hungry? I have a couple chocolate bars in the kitchen somewhere, but otherwise I'm running kinda low in the edible department."
That was typical Matt; he doesn't see someone for four years and the first thing he wants to know is if they're hungry, because he has no food.
I grinned. "Actually, I could go for some chocolate, but are you even going to say hello?"
Matt blinked. "Oh, right. How long has it been now? A coupla years? Hi."
I laughed, and moved into the apartment, which wasn't much lighter than the hall; Matt had all the curtains drawn and the lights off. But I could make out a giant TV and several gaming platforms scattered around. An old couch was in front of the TV, on the screen of which a paused game jittered. A mattress and several blankets were pushed into a corner. "What's with the darkness?"
"Video games. Easier to see."
"But bad for your eyes."
Matt tapped his goggles. "It's like night vision. But I'll turn a light for you." He stepped over and flicked a switch. I blinked rapidly to adjust my eyes. Matt turned back to me. His eyes widened. "Whoa. What happened to you?"
"Well, that idiot L Two sent in this sorta SWAT team to take back this notebook thing-long story-and I had to blow up my hideout and now I am here 'cause I have no other place to go. Why?"
"I mean, what happened to your face?"
That was about the worst thing he could have said. "What do you mean?" I asked nervously. "What's wrong with it? MATT!" I yelled when he didn't respond. "Well," he said, slowly, "I think you got caught in it when you blew up your place…uh, you might want to look in a mirror. It's not too bad," he added, noticing my horrified expression.
"Oh. My. God." I stared at the burn scar along my left cheek. "Oh my god! I thought it was just a cut!"
"What? You didn't see it before?"
"I wasn't really looking in mirrors the past couple days, Matt!" I snapped, hysterically. "Shit! Shit! I'm…I'm…ugly!"
"Oh, come on," Matt said, consolingly. "It's not that bad."
"Yes! Yes it is! It's terrible! A deformity! A great bloody scar right down the middle of my face! I look like the villain of a manga!" I waved my arms agitatedly. "I'm not hot anymore! I'm not sexy! It's a freaking disaster!"
"Please. Calm down, Mello." Matt grabbed my arms and pinned them down to stop me from destroying his bathroom. "It's not that bad, seriously. It will probably fade down in a few weeks. Anyway, don't all tough hot guys have scars? Hmmm?"
I considered. "Well, yeah…but not freaking shiny red splotches on one side of their faces! I look like a joke!"
Matt rolled his eyes behind his goggles. "It's a scar. Lots of people have scars." He brightened. "It makes you look very intimidating. More like a mafia leader."
"Mafia leaders can by beautiful, too!"
"Of course they can," he said, soothingly. "But the scar makes you look better. Would I lie to you?"
"Yes." I said, decidedly. "Yes, you would."
Matt groaned. "Just stop panicking. Come have some crackers. I found some in the kitchen." He pulled me out of the bathroom.
I nibbled despondently on the crackers. We were sitting on the sagging sofa in Matt's living space, with a box of saltines on the coffee table. I felt like shit. Not only was my plan destroyed, the Deathnote reclaimed by the NPA, and my people dead, but now my face was screwed, too? How much disaster could a guy take?
I glanced over at Matt, quietly playing his DS next to me. He squinted at the screen through the orange plastic and grimaced. As though he could feel my eyes on him, he glanced up. "It'll be okay, Mels," He said.
Matt was the only person in the universe who could call me 'Mels' and survive. He was my best friend.
I tried to smile back and failed.
He patted me on the back and lit a cigarette. "You know, I can help you with whatever you're trying to do…just tell me."
I sighed. "Okay. It's a long and complicated story, but here goes…"
It was long. And sad. And pathetic. And so riddled with misfortune for yours truly, I almost cried while telling it. After I was done, matt sat back, and nodded slowly. "A…notebook? Like one I can get at Staples?"
"No! A notebook from Hell!"
"And Shinigami exist? Roger was telling the truth when he said a Shinigami would eat me if I didn't go to sleep?"
"That I seriously doubt. But yes, they exist." I shifted position on the couch. "So, can I stay here?"
Matt grinned. "You think I would ever turn you out? Just tell me how I can help. I should probably get a better apartment…but for now, you can sleep on the couch."
I smiled thankfully at Matt. It was nice to have a best friend.
It was about 11:00 PM. I was lying on the couch, avoiding a spring which was dangerously close to popping out. Damn, I was tired. All I could hear were the cars driving by and Matt's quiet breathing.
It was all so damn peaceful.
And, exhausted as I was, I fell asleep almost immediately.