A/N: Long story short, I now have two homes on opposite ends of the country. Moving was a bitch, that alone took two months to complete, and let's not even talk about the whole flying back and forth time zone thing.
But I'm building a career doing the only thing I know how to do: write, so I don't regret any of it in the least. And honestly, my future looks pretty damn bright right now. I'm just sorry it took several months for me to get back to this story.
Given what I HAVE been writing for the past four months, my fear is that characterization and even my writing style may be slightly skewed. I sincerely hope this isn't the case and that nothing detracts from the reading of this chapter. That is, if you're still reading it, I realize it's been a long wait. Again, I'm sorry. But, better late than never I suppose.
Also, the ending here is a little iffy, it's not what I'd originally had planned, but Mello decided to be a little bitch. XD
Thank you to all who've read and reviewed thus far, and if you're still with me then my thanks is even greater.
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note and thus I am not making any money off of this work.
The waiting was the hardest part. Logically he knew it had only been days since he'd last seen Matt, the pink haired, idiot gamer that refused to leave him alone. Mello knew that was entirely his own fault though, having forced Matt to be his best friend when he was nine. Kid had been such a push over back then, now he just acted like one. Matt said he did it to appease Mello, but the blond knew better. Matt just didn't want to be noticed. Though he was god of the little virtual worlds he conquered, he'd never wanted to be a player in reality. Not like Mello had. And that's what made the waiting hard. He just knew, instinctively, deep in that part of him that only stirred when Matt looked at him, the part of him the understood every movement and inflection the gamer made, Mello knew Matt would follow him.
Loyalty. He fucking hated it.
Matt knew blood smelled bad. He could recognize the scent from a distance of twenty feet away and could even estimate how long the blood had been exposed to the air based on smell alone. But that was assuming the blood wasn't fresh, and no lesson at Wammy's House had ever had anything to do with the observation of fresh blood. Freshly spilled blood, it was an animal the teenage was wholly unfamiliar with. Still scented with iron, accentuated by the noxious stench of brain matter, lukewarm and staining a thousand dollar carpet. Fresh blood made Matt vomit.
And he'd been vomiting for all of two minutes, constantly, to the point that he barely had any time to take in a breath before stomach acid and partially digested food came pouring out of his mouth and into the toilet bowl. It was funny, Matt thought, sweaty palms just barely keeping his chest from falling against the ceramic throne, because he hadn't eaten anything in days, nothing more than "biscuits," which he knew were really just cookies, and hot water. He couldn't eat, could barely function. He'd just been walking in the direction L pointed him in, like a robot, not knowing any better because his mind just couldn't handle thinking about getting Mello. That required truly acknowledging that his best friend was… gone?
Near was dead.
Matt gagged and coughed, chalking bile into the toilet once more. At this point it'd just be easier to reach down his throat and tear his stomach out completely. Eyes scrunched closed, he gasped for breath, willing his heart to stop hammering and the nausea to abate. Numbly, he flushed the toilet.
He'd never been close to Near, the albino being the only person Mello had every really loathed, Matt disliked the boy on principle. Teenagers were stupid that way, he was stupid that way, and maybe if he'd cared a little more Near's brilliant mind wouldn't be on the carpet in tiny pieces, it'd be helping him find Mello.
Matt bit down on his lip, refusing to let the sobs he knew were coming loose, instead he bit through his lip and tasted blood. Near was dead. And he knew who did it, it didn't matter how or why he knew, just that he fucking knew who'd shot the white haired kid from across the room. That knowledge made him sicker than the stench of Near's blood did. So maybe he didn't care about Near after all, just what Near's death meant, and that was always B's ploy, wasn't it? Isn't that what Light had told them as they'd raced through London? There was meaning behind the deaths. And Near's meant that he'd lost Mello.
Mello was gone. He'd killed Near. There was no coming back from that. It was impossible to even hope that Mello would come back to him from that. Killing people fucked you up. That was why it was a criminal offence. Once a murderer, then unfit to remain in society, because murdering people… it just meant you weren't okay.
Mello wasn't going to be okay, and Matt just felt like there was nothing left for him to save.
A knock came from the door, but whoever it was didn't wait for a response. Light casually walked in and sat on the edge of the bath tub, staring at Matt with only the slightest amount of concern.
Matt choked and threw up again.
"Pleasant," Light drawled, reaching over to pat Matt on the back.
The teen nodded vaguely in response, sweat dripping down the side of his face. "I'd never seen anything like… that," he whispered. And suddenly he was facing toilet bowl water again, pursing his lips shut because he just wanted to stop throwing up.
"I wish I could say the same."
Matt glanced at the older man. There was no emotion in Light's voice, just fact, an easy fact that the profiler seemed to have made peace with. Matt couldn't help but wonder how many freshly dead bodies one had to see before he could acknowledge it as if it were commonplace. Statistically murder was a very common occurrence, but acceptance of it, that wasn't so common.
"Lean back, away from the toilet, it'll help," Light instructed, the hand that had been patting Matt's back gently moving to grip the boys shoulder and ease him away from the bowl. The twenty year old shifted slightly, reaching over to pull a towel down from the rack beside the sink, and then he turned the bath faucet on, placing the terrycloth beneath the water before turning back to Matt, handing him the wet article. "Near was shot with my gun."
Silence responded to the statement, but Light didn't seem to notice the discomfort it was laced with and Matt just sat there, the warm, wet towel dripping in his lap, unmoving.
The profiler reached into his pocket and pulled a small piece of bloodstained metal from it. The small, golden bullet was mangled, it's tip pushed back, resembling a peeled banana, and Matt was amazed at the damage such a tiny thing could do. In just a split second, the tiny piece of metal had murdered a genius and fractured his best friend's soul.
"Beyond took it from me at the arena."
"So… Beyond Birthday came here and killed Near."
The word itself might as well have been a bullet because it made Matt's head reel with pain. Or maybe that was just dehydration. He needed something to drink. Preferably something hard that burned as it went down his throat and would only make the dehydration worse. Jackie D. would've been a good girl to have around at that point.
Light seemed to sense the thoughts rolling through Matt head like marbles, disorganized glass spheres all knocking against each other, vying for attention. The older man sighed and yanked the towel from Matt's hands, folding it over and then dropping it over Matt's head. "Get up, we need to get back to the truck."
The pink haired teen blinked, still sitting on the tiled floor while Light hovered over him, waiting. "We're leaving?" he asked. "Just where the fuck is there for us to go? The chick told us to come here and what do you know, there's a dead ass albino bleeding out over all the computer equipment! Housekeeping's gonna have a hell of a time cleaning that shit up." God his voice was so dry, in inflection and taste. He felt like he was eating dust.
"Stop it Matt. Trust me when I say you'll have more to pity yourself for after tonight, so push the rest aside and focus."
"I can't… I can't think straight!" The teenager snapped back. "I just… I smell it, even here, from the fucking bathroom, I still smell the blood!" His voice was shaking, a slight tremble just barely detectable. "So much fucking blood."
A hand gripped his arm and Matt let Light pull him to his feet. "And you will always smell that blood Matt. No amount of bleach is going to get rid of it. We gave you five minutes to adjust, but now," Light swung the boy around and Matt found himself being slammed against the sink. White marble dug into the small of the teen's back as Light shoved Matt backwards, pinning him by the arms. Blue eyes widened in surprise as cold amber stared back at him, unimpressed. "We don't have time for this Matt. Mello's here."
Sweat stained pink hair was combed back as Matt sighed, the action rattling his lungs as if they were made of glass.
Irritation flashed across Light's visage and Matt could sense how difficult it was for the man not to growl at him like a rabid dog. Fingernails clenched painfully into Matt's arms as Light shook him, but the boy barely felt it. "Goddamnit!" Light hissed. "You've seen a dead body before, I was there, I saw you staring at it, and you didn't react like this!"
"React like this? Of course I didn't react like this!" Matt responded, cringing as he felt the hysteria tingeing his words. He was holding on by a thread… one god damn piece of string that could be torn apart by nothing more than a pebble. "Beyond Birthday had killed those people! And they were total strangers! They didn't matter! The strangers never matter! But Near, Near fucking matters! And so does Mello!" He was screaming, and he was vaguely aware of how the bathroom door opened and Watari stood in its frame, his tweed pants and starched shirt stained with blood. But Matt didn't really care, he was human, and he deserved to break down, even if it was at the most inconvenient moment possible. "You know what matters even more than that?" he continued, wide panic and anger filled eyes wildly latching onto Light's. "The fact that Mello fucking killed Near! THAT. FUCKING. MATTERS!"
"Matt." It was a steady whisper, and filled with all the pain Matt was boiling over with. Watari took a step into the bathroom but Matt was already pushing his way out into the hall, hiding everything he was feeling, the distress, the unease, the way his mind just seemed to be splitting in two, he hid it behind a scowl.
"Matt!" Watari called after him, but the boy kept moving, stumbling into the living area.
He shut his eyes as the sent of blood once more filled his nostrils. The body had been moved… Near's body, Matt reminded himself, refusing to think of the other teenager's lifeless form as an exhibit at a crime scene. Matt refused to breathe as he trudged towards the door, ignoring the way his shoes bristled against the carpet, tacky with blood stains.
"Matt!" Watari's call came again. "Where are you going?"
"Mello's here, isn't he? I'm going to get him!"
"Get him," Watari exclaimed. "What do you mean?" The older man followed his charge out the door of the hotel room and into the hallway. "Matt!"
"He's here! That's what the girl passed out in a room five floors beneath us said!" Matt rounded on his mentor, glaring at the man. They'd checked the girl into another room and left her with a bellboy Light had tipped quite nicely. It didn't look like they wanted to do anything other than leave her there too, did that make them heartless? Fuck yeah it did.
The pink haired teen shook his head at the look on Watari's face, the expression clearly telling him "Don't go down there, you don't want to go down there and see him, none of us do." And really, denial was a better, sweeter state of mind than anything else at that moment. Matt couldn't fault the elderly gentleman, the man who'd fucking raised Mello, for not wanting to go any further past this point. Mello couldn't return, you don't return after you blow your arch rival's brains out, just wasn't polite. But Matt, Matt could go back, he could go back and forget.
But damnit, he couldn't leave, not without Mello. Never without Mello.
"Matt," Watari rested a wrinkled hand on the boy's shoulder, squeezing. "Please, at least tell me why you think he's here."
A snort came from the doorway of the suite. Light leaned against door frame, arms crossed, a grim expression on his face. "To kill Near," the profiler said. "Beyond sent him."
Matt closed his eyes, blocking the world for just a second. "Beyond would only let Mello go if it meant Mello would have to go back to him, that's what you're saying."
"Well, honestly, it's a brilliant move. A teenager who'd been brought up with a Justice Code of Honor more stringent than the Knights of the Round Table's, and he kills his… competition, Near. Now, he's got nowhere else to go," Light explained, his every word making Matt's skin itch. Every time Light said Near's name it felt like he, Matt, was the one taking the bullet to the head.
"But that doesn't mean he has to go back to Beyond," Matt said. He pushed himself away from the wall he'd been leaning against to stand in the middle of the hallway. "So I'm going to find him, and I'm going to punch him in the face!" And Matt turned, jamming his thumb against the elevator button with more force than necessary.
Behind him Light sighed. "And besides punching him, what do you plan to do?"
The elevator door dinged open and Matt stepped inside, followed closely by Light and Watari. The small space left the boy feeling claustrophobic, especially given the tension wafting off of everyone around him. It was almost surreal now, just standing in an elevator, moving at two miles per hour down to the hotel lobby. Such a simple action, a luxury action considering the elevator was private, but a simple one none the less. Businessmen, women and children, regular people rode elevators every single damn day. And apparently, so did teenage murderers.
"L's still out there," Watari said, breaking the silence.
"And Mello can tell us where he is," Matt responded immediately. "He'd have to know if Beyond let him go."
"To kill Near."
"STOP SAYING THAT! I KNOW WHAT HE DID DAMNIT!" Matt screamed suddenly, rounding on the two men. "I SAW THE DAMN BODY, I SMELLED THE FUCKING BLOOD! YOU THINK I DON'T KNOW WHAT HE DID!"
Watari flinched, his mouth turning down in a frown, but Matt couldn't take the man's emotions, not now, not anymore. He couldn't take Watari telling him to stop, to let it go. Matt didn't want to face the facts, he just wanted to face his friend.
Too bad Light didn't seem to think denial a great vacation spot. "Matt, you can't just chase after Mello. He's armed, he just shot someone, he's-"
"MY BEST FUCKING FRIEND!" Matt yelled, cutting off the profiler. "And I will not leave him, I will not treat him like a criminal." His words were cold, solid and heavy. They didn't echo through the small space, but they filled it, pressed themselves into every corner of the elevator and left no room for argument. "You can go check hotel surveillance, as I know you want to, you can devise some great, manipulative plan to follow Mello back to wherever the hell B was keeping him, but I won't. He's my best friend and I really don't give a crap that he just killed someone we grew up with."
Matt spun around, refusing to meet Watari or Light's eyes, and the elevator door dinged open. The teen took a step out only to falter, pause as his eyes landed on a figure standing right in front of him, eight feet away.
Blond hair, black leather pants, a gun in his hand.
"Mello," Matt breathed. But before he could make a move towards the other boy, Light tackled him to the ground, a bullet whizzing through the air and right over their heads as they crashed to the marble floor.
A/N: So there you go. Short, I know, originally this was just the first part of the last chapter but… I wanted to get something up now.
Special thanks to ShinigamiMailJeevas for sending me the PM that got my ass in gear. So send that reaper some love!
And honestly, I missed writing this.