Less than a week after Mello left this place I had every photo ever taken of him, which wasn't many in a place as secretive as this. There are four administrators that knew his name, and they never gave out names. He was safe.

I was sitting at my bedroom desk where the last file photo of Mello scowled up at me next to my pens and my open notebook. I looked down at it, probably a bit wistful, because it was the scowl that he used for everyone, and not the special scowl that he scowled only for me.

I knew that he would attempt to do what I had just done and erase his photo from existence, and I knew that when he found out that I had done it before him he would be back. First of all, he wouldn't trust me to do it the whole way, and he would be correct. When he asked, cajoled, or threatened the people who I had just talked to, at least one of the four would remember how I mentioned that I was keeping a copy - that was no accident.

I don't know if I wanted to have an ace up my sleeve, another bargaining chip to ensure victory, or just wanted to know that would happen - to imagine his face when he knew that I got him once more. None of those reasons hurt.

Knowing that the photo was likely to end up in Mello's hands again, because he's not one to do things halfway I decided to write something on the back of the photo. And since I'm not one to do things halfway either this note to Mello had to be perfect. It had to say everything that there was between us, let him know that I was one step ahead, and prod him for any information he might have at that point in the future when he came back to get it.

On the first sheet of notebook paper I wrote,

Dear Mello,

You never did clean up after yourself. Don't worry about the rest, it's all taken care of.

Short, condescending, and containing all the necessary information. It wasn't right.

"Was it important to get a dig in there so quickly?" I wondered.

"Yes, before he stopped reading" I smiled to myself. But I knew it wasn't the right thing to say, as satisfying as it may be. He'd read a few sentences maximum. But to write that the rest are taken care of, was unnecessary. I could just say that out loud, since he'd obviously want to take it directly from me. Clandestine wasn't his style. He'd want me to know he was taking it.

I tore out and crumpled the notebook page that I just wrote on. Looking down at what I just wrote I knew that this was going to take a few tries. The next one just gloated uncharacteristically,

Dear Mello,

Christ, you are dumb.

IT was his language; he'd understand. But it wasn't true, and it was more insulting than the last.

I wasn't even trying. Mello wasn't dumb, and I never say things like that. Even when the people around me are irritating me with their lack of intelligence and I just want to scream it. I probably wouldn't be this angry when he came back to get the photo. When would he get this? The fact that I'm gloating in the of just writing any message is implicit. This fact won't be lost on Mello. It's the first thing he'll think, even if I didn't mean it.

I was annoyed with myself now. What do I even mean?

Dear Mello,

I am worried for you. I may have issues, but you'll certainly end up dead before this is over, if you don't put your pride aside.

I'm not sure what I mean by that. First of all, that rhymes, so it should at least be "Give up your pride". But I think that I mean that I want him to work with me.

The third crumpled sheet joined the rest in the bin. My pen twirled along my fingers as I thought.

Dear Mello,

Let's stop this fight. The sooner it's over

I stopped writing mid-sentence and the page came out quickly, snapping along each ring in the spine like a zipper and I crumpled it and threw away.

"I don't really want to stop?" I thought. "It's too much fun."

My relationship with Mello was complicated. There was too much to say in a note, and I wasn't good at stating the obvious. I had to keep writing though.

Dear Mello,

I know that you've always had feelings for me, you know I reciprocate. This fight can go on as long as you want but I've always loved you.

I looked up from what I just wrote and rested my cheek against my knee. My thoughts were swimming in my head, an unorganized mess. I needed to get outside of my head and use my hands. But not as much as I needed to crumple what I just wrote. It was especially offensive to me, so I tore it a few times for good measure before I threw the pieces in the wastebasket under my desk.

With that out of the way I needed to stack something to organize my thoughts. There were some pencils and erasers on my desk. They looked like absolutely no fun to stack. Organizing my thoughts was defiantly stacking or building work, but I didn't write many letters.

I settled for folding some freshly torn pages in my notebook into origami shapes. It was so calming to smooth the creases of those sheets into shapes.

Everything was promise as a new pristine white sheet was torn carefully along the perforation in the notebook and carefully folded down the middle. Like a newly set chess board, victory was far from assured. Mello sitting behind the black pieces waiting for the opening.

I could feel my thoughts focusing on the task at hand, what needed to be said, as the extra cycles of my mind focused on the menial and pleasant.

Two more folds were the beginning of the church steeple, coming into view like the first time I saw it from the back seat of a town car cresting a hill to bring me home. I sharpened the creases with my thumbnail and popped it into the shape of a tower, and began a new sheet that I'd fashion into a base. A simple box. A third for a roof. Before I put the roof on the base, I drew myself inside with a pencil. Just one stick figure. No one else. They're all outside facing the nasty business of the world, while I'm safe inside.

The paper is gone, the notebook is empty. I arrange the pile of shapes a bit more and my thoughts are suddenly clear.

"Poor Mello." That thought actually escaped from my head, past my lips and spilled into the room. Into the room and into reality where it had to be confronted, like the words written on the papers in the bin. But I ignored it, like I ignored the discarded notes.

But he'll be ok, he's also a genius. Maybe even smarter than I am by the time he reads this, and ever capable of grasping subtext. I take my pen. The sooner I write this, the sooner I was on to the next round.

And so I turn over the photograph and write. I write everything. Subtle barbs, pity, pacification, apologies, and confessions of love.

Two words were all I needed,

Dear Mello