Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note. Lyrics are 59 Sound by Gaslight Anthem.

Note: This was my submission for the first round of Write The Wrong 3. If you wanna check up on the competition, go to youroctober's forums. This is the unbeta'd version. Her comments made it better but seeing as the competition is ongoing I'm not going to keep them in for now.

All my Mello and Matt stories end with the same note of defiance and last gasp blazes of glory. I can never shake that feeling off of these two.

x

Anyway

-

and i know cos we were kids
and we used to hang

-

The world is quiet and still and night drapes a veil over everything, obscuring and changing, some translucent screen between Matt and the gravestone in front of him.

Nothing is buried here and they are quite accustomed to that. This is the house of the special and the incredible, of the burning and blazing and simply unpredictable, and when those fires run free and ravage and destroy and finally tear you up, there is very rarely much left to be buried.

It is a small cemetery, a small patch of the gardens cordoned off, morbid in its simplicity. There are five headstones, all grouped close together, around the base of the largest and best oak tree the grounds have to offer.

Oaks, Matt thinks, are strong, and from their tiny acorns grow monster trees like this one. He knows that's what they wanted them to think when they looked at this, wanted them to associate with it. Sure, all these people are dead, but hey, try hard, listen to us, and one day, little acorn, you could be massive. You could be incredible.

Matt has never really much wanted to be incredible.

A and B's gravestones are at the back. They were the first. Matt has heard Mello say that he wishes he'd known them, wishes he'd been there in the beginning to see them, these legendary ones, the first letters. Matt knows when he says that he wishes he'd been there for B – the wild one, the mad one, the one who ran and fought and kicked and spat and wove his mystery over Los Angeles and could never quite handle being second.

Matt sees that in Mello, sometimes, and thinks he'll probably go the same way. That kills him, just a little bit.

Mello wouldn't care about A. The weak one, he has heard him call the boy. He snorts whenever he's mentioned, laughs at the idea that A didn't have to die. He should have coped with the pressure, Mello says, he had no idea, not really, he was just a stupid kid.

Matt will never agree with that because Mello might not have been there at the beginning, and Matt might not have been one of the first, but he had been close enough.

Little broken bones and that much red and the look on B's face will never quite go away.

The gravestones at the front are for L and Watari. Matt's stomach clenches a little when he looks at them. It goes entirely without saying that L should not have died. Kira, whoever he was, whatever he was doing, was just some punk with a God complex. L, he'd been so much more. He'd done so much, solved so many mysteries, and Matt had listened, wide-eyed, when Mello had crept back in one night and said I met L, listen, listen to what he told me.

Matt has never wanted to be the L the world sees, but he has always wanted to be the L Mello told him about that night. The quiet one with heavy eyes, the tireless one with justice as his marker, the one who fought and strove and succeeded. The one who was human, who thought about the past, who visited the children who would one day up his mantle.

Matt wondered what it was like for L, looking at a little boy who one day might be doing exactly what he was doing – but only if he failed, first. Only if he died.

Looking at the gravestones, Matt thinks L was stronger than any of them. Secretly, he thinks A might have been, too, because there are at least half of them here who do not want this, and do not know how to escape. They are giving their lives and having everything taken from them and A, he was the only one brave enough to do anything about it.

A was Matt's friend and Matt had promised, that night, in the cold and the rain, that he would not let this happen to anyone else.

Watari's gravestone is as simple as the others and close to L's. Matt found out once, by accident, that the Watari they had heard so much about was the one who had founded the orphanage. The Wammy it was named after. He had never told Mello or anyone but he had always secretly hated Watari after that, always secretly harboured the thought that this was his fault, that he was here now because of him.

And then Watari died. Watari died because L had died and because Watari would not leave L's side and his only duty, his only desire, was to protect him, to help him.

Mello had disappeared the next day, and Near the day after that, and Matt sort of understood Watari, really, and he didn't hate him anymore.

The last gravestone sits in the middle and is completely blank, and Matt knew, the first time he saw it, he just knew, that that gravestone was for Mello. It was just a matter of waiting for him to die.

Because Near was following the path, and Near would always make sure he was safe. Mello was the wild one now, the rouge card, the unpredictable runaway. Mello was the next one who would die. That was what the orphanage had decided.

And here it was, all but set in stone.

Well, fuck that, Matt thinks, and he shoulders his bag, and he runs away, too.

Not gonna let it happen to anyone else.

-

Then there are years of looking and travelling and taking menial jobs and working his ass to the bone for a guy who quite clearly did not want to be found. It frustrates him and gets under his skin and wears him down completely, and there are days when he stands and just throws things at the wall and screams about how much he hates Mello, for making him do this, for running away, for being.

Then he would settle again, smoke a cigarette, lie down, start it all again.

-

He finds Mello entirely by accident.

He's broke and has taken to the more illegal side of things to turn a buck. This time, it's wiring surveillance for some mafia goons in LA who would rather pay some kid forty bucks for a slapdash job than risk any reputable company.

He avoided LA for the longest time but eventually he knew this was where he'd be. There'd be some sort of poetry in it, for Mello, some sort of sick pleasure he'd get from setting his base of operations in the place where B went down in flames.

He'd be getting some sort of kick from this, from making this the city of second bests, the haven for those on their last chance, for the runaways, for the brilliant ones whose minds have given them the slip.

He's attaching the last camera when he hears his voice. He drops it and the lens smahes, but Matt doesn't care. He whirls around, tumbling off the chair he's balanced on, crashing to the floor. He looks up awkwardly from where he's landed in a pile, and goes, "Mello?!"

Mello looks different. He is a little leaner, his hair is a little longer, his face is a little colder. He is entirely wrapped in black leather and his little rosary tangles with the zip. He has paint on his nails and cruelty that Matt has never seen before lacing his gaze.

"Matt? What the fuck are you doing here?"

It's a recrimination, a snarl, and Matt has been looking for him for four years and right there and then something in him snaps.

"Cameras," he says. He doesn't say, I missed you. He doesn't say, I came to help. He doesn't say, I was looking for you. He says, Cameras.

"Get the fuck out of here." His lip curls, and God, if he doesn't just look the perfect paradox. He's barely more than a kid, all smooth skin and perfect eyes, crystal blue and a mane of golden blond. He's beautiful in every classic sense, with a feminine frame contradicted by the heaviness and masculinity of the leather encasing him. He's like an angel dragged down to the same level as the rest of them, too stunning and clean and incredible and bright to be from the same place as the rest of them, with their clumsiness and blemishes and imperfections.

Matt looks for him behind those eyes, looks for his friend, who came upstairs and told him, word for word, what L had said, who ranted about Near beating him in the science project competition, who shared his chocolate with Matt and Matt alone.

Mello snaps a bar of the stuff between his teeth then, and a piece flies off, and only Mello could make eating chocolate something that aggressive, something that threatening.

"Out."

Matt gets up and he leaves, because that isn't Mello anymore.

-

And that was never going to keep him away for long because that night he dreams of empty gravestones and he knows that there is no life for him anywhere but here.

He knows that he isn't here to be L. He never was. He knows that his place is not to be first, not to challenge the leaders, not to strive and to rise and to surpass. His place is to stand at the back holding the tea tray for the crazy ones, to watch and to help and to protect.

He still sort of hates Watari, a little bit, but if he's honest, he hates himself a little bit, too.

And they're the same now, really.

-

He hears the explosion and knows exactly what has happened.

Outside his window, in the distance, he can see fire, hear sirens.

He is dressed and out the door before the minute hand on his watch has moved. Mello needs him.

-

Rubble scars his hands and the heat of it all is bringing ugly blisters up all over him and he doesn't care. He digs, tears through, his stomach lurching at every dead and charred body his hands graze against.

He is going to dream about this for the rest of his life.

His hands touch blood and burnt skin and broken rock everywhere, and he digs until they're numb, and he's glad of that. But he doesn't stop. Can't stop. Not until he sees him. Until he sees the –

He finds him.

For this one second, he forgets how he's meant to be breathing. Half of Mello's face is a livid red, raw, and there are these horrible pale bits showing through that Matt doesn't want to think about. There's no skin left, just charred remnants at the edges. The edges of his hair are singed and his arm is twisted at a horrible angle and Matt worries, absurdly, if it's broken.

As if that's the biggest problem right now.

He manages – he'll never know how, but he manages – to wrestle Mello's body out of the wreckage. He's a broken and fragile little thing and Matt can feel his heart breaking and bleeding and he can't think straight, can't see straight. He swallows. Pulls him free. Focus on this. Focus on this moment. Focus on Mello.

Get him free. Get him to the car. Right, backseat. Buckle him in as best you can. Shit, he's bleeding on the seats, ignore that, is he even alive? God, be alive, I can't check here, they're coming, I have to get you away –

For once in his life Matt is grateful for Kira because Kira is the reason why, with sirens and fires everywhere, people are still reluctant to look outside their windows. And that's the only reason Matt gets Mello to his apartment.

And then he remembers Kira is the reason Mello is like this in the first place, the reason any of this is happening, and he hates him again.

He drops Mello on the couch and kneels next to him. Pulse, breathing, it's faint but it's there. He does everything he can think of – elevating the head, water on the wound, antiseptic (alright, whisky, but it's as close as he's got), keeping him warm, and when he's done the last things he can think of doing, he stops.

He collapses into the corner and his hands are burning and scratched and blistered and bleeding and he covers his eyes and cries and cries and cries.

-

Mello's giving Matt this look: 'I'll never quite forgive you'.

And Matt know it's bullshit because when Mello woke up, when he worked out what had happened, he had pulled Matt against him, and held him and held him, and sobbed into his shoulder.

Matt's shirt had come away bloodstained and ruined but he didn't much care, because he knew that Mello had needed him, and he knew that Mello had known he needed him.

"Yeah, whatever," Matt says, taking a drag on his cigarette. He power-smokes these and he really shouldn't. If he took his time with them, they'd last longer.

Mello snorts.

He's looking different these days.

The boyish perfection has melted off somewhere along the way. He's ragged now, harsher round the edges, and suddenly seems so much more grown up. His wiriness is spreading into thin muscle, his clothes have shifted into biker gangs instead of kink wear, and there is, hanging somewhere behind the odour of singed skin and dark memories, a kind of inevitability, and a kind of acceptance.

No, Matt thinks. You're not going to die. I'm not going to let you.

"So, what now?" he asks. It's a risk, really, because it implies so much.

Mello pauses, takes his cigarette off him, smokes it to the end. He exhales and it mists in front of him, and with the scar and the smoke and the headiness of golden hair, he looks terrifying and beautiful and incredible.

"We catch Kira," Mello says, very simply, and just like that, everything has changed, and they are a partnership again.

Matt still has dreams about bodies and burning and blood and what if Mello hadn't been breathing. Mello has this look in his eye sometimes like he thinks today is going to be the last day of his life.

Maybe it will be, Matt thinks, every time he sees that look. But then he counts the days he's had extra, the days since he got the burn, and thinks, I did that.

Maybe Mello is gonna die. If he is, Matt knows damn well that he's gonna die, too, because he's not letting Mello go anywhere without him now. But he also knows that if that's how they're gonna go, it's gonna be in a blaze of glory, and they're both going to make damn sure that the groundwork is laid for Near to take the prize.

Because there's not much hate left in either of them anymore. They've come so close, too close, to losing everything, that now, perspectives have shifted, and this is all about the moment.

Maybe all they'll ever be is the backup.

Right now, Matt thinks they're both kind of okay with that.

He's going to die anyway, and he'd much rather it be giving Mello one last chance.

-

young boy, young girls
ain't supposed to die on a saturday night