Disclaimer: Orly? Yarly.
A/N: Uhm... yeah. Hope the OC's in this don't annoy you, but they won't be that big of a part in the story except to make Matt's life all the more indecisive.
Song of Choice: Annie Waits - Ben Folds (though I'm not sure how well it actually matches, again...)
Los Angeles, California 3:02 A.M. PDT, Friday
The chocolate is the biggest clue, really. It should have been what gave Matt the knowledge in the first place, if he forgot so easily what had happened to him. The chocolate should have been what clued Matt in; he shouldn't have waited until the thing hit him like a train, he should have simply known and stepped onto the other side of the track, not simply lingered there. But it had hit him, and it was too late.
But the chocolate was still there, sitting on the table, staring at him. And so was Matt, sitting on his chair in a weird little crouch, staring back.
He hated sitting like this. It was the way L sat. Mello had never been able to pull off that sit, though he'd tried several times and failed miserably – he simply didn't have the balance. Matt did, but he'd never been comfortable with it. Still, he sat like this, hoping it would help him think as he stared down that chocolate bar.
It didn't. He wasn't L. Nothing could open his mind – it was already too far open, gaping so far that it believed not only the true but the false as well. He'd fallen victim to his own imagination, it seemed, and there was nothing more to do but wait.
The chocolate bar was staring at him, though. Staring at him. If it had eyes, Matt felt sure it would be glaring, but since it didn't, it only stared.
Slowly, Matt got to his feet and paced over to the table, looking slowly down at the chocolate. It had been sitting there, untouched since the day Mello had left it there, only a single bite taken out of it. It was starting to get that ugly white gristle on it from sitting out in the open air, the kind of thing that Mello had always hated emmsnely because it had signified wasted chocolate and god dammit that wasn't allowed to happen, not with him around.
Sucking his cheeks in and biting them slightly, a bit too hard really, he reached out and took the chocolate bar into his hand. Rolled it around in his palm. Looked at it condescendingly. Rolled it again, so that the bite was staring him in the face. Looking at it, Matt realized he'd never taken the time to memorize the bite marks Mello left, never thought about the unique pattern that his teeth would leave behind, not just on the chocolate but on his neck, his shoulders, anywhere else Mello felt the need to bite.
Matt had always liked that, but there were no bitemarks on his body anymore – they had all faded from the time he had been left behind. Suddenly, he felt jealous of this chocolate bar, as absurd as it was. It still had the mark, still had the sign of Mello's presence bitten into its body whilst Matt's had faded completely.
For once, Matt wished Mello had really hurt him, just once. Really, really hurt him physically, clawed him deep enough to leave a rip in his skin, shoved him hard enough to send him into a jagged surface, bitten him hard enough somewhere… anything to leave a permanent scar. Even a tattoo would suffice, as long as Mello put it there himself.
But now he was gone, and Matt had nothing.
"You're such a fool," the chocolate whispered. Or perhaps it was the Mello that wasn't there in the doorway, smirking at him, blue eyes dancing with thousands of teasing, taunting words. Probably, it was just Matt, muttering to himself.
Carefully, gently now, Matt put the chocolate bar back on its spot, releasing his cheeks from his own teeth's grip. There was blood in his mouth, and his head was pounding sporadically, giving him a horrible headache. His heart had tightened in his chest, and his vision blurred with what could be tears, but could just be his eyes watering from the headache he'd given himself.
"Come to bed," Mello didn't whisper. "It's late."
Somewhere Over The North Atlantic, 1:01 P.M. PDT, Saturday
Matt hated airplanes.
Near had gotten him a first class ticket, one by the window with a TV above his head. The television was playing some old movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's, he thought. He'd seen the movie before – Matt couldn't ever understand why, but Mello enjoyed it. Funny, because Mello had never been one for romance.
The overly peppy airplane-attendant continued to pester him, asking him if he wanted a drink, something to eat, maybe a beer and did he want a pillow? Matt always rejected her. She was being more attentive to him than anyone else in the first-class department. Maybe she found him cute. Maybe she found him weird, and was curious. Maybe Near had paid her.
She was annoying. Annoying, also, was the couple sitting behind him. Both female; he could hear them flirting behind him, one of them giggling almost constantly at the things the other one said. They were sweet, really cute. The giggly one was extremely over-attentive to the other, but not in a maddening way, more in an I-love-you, let-me-do-something-good. Like a puppy. Like Matt. Annoying, because it made Matt wish, and wishing for impossible things was stupid.
"Don't worry so much, Matt. We'll land soon. I know you hate planes, but we have to get to England," Mello didn't say, not leaning back in the seat and kicking his feet up on the other seat with a wild grin on his face.
Matt didn't turn, didn't look at not-Mello. He couldn't allow himself to acknowledge him, because he wasn't there.
But still, not-Mello's whisper was just as enticing whispered in his ear, even if he couldn't feel it on his cheek: "Don't ignore me, Matty," he didn't whine. "Did I do something wrong?"
You're dead, Matt thought.
"Sorry," Matt said. He turned his face to look at not-Mello, but as would be expected, he wasn't there. Instead there was only the flight attendant standing in the isle-way, looking at him confusedly.
"What was that?" she inquired, big green eyes blinking curiously. Matt's wry smile vanished then, though he hadn't even realized it was there at all, and he shook his head with a mumbled, "nothing."
The flight attendant gave him a pointed, slightly worried look but didn't push the topic, instead toddling away to the grumpy old man across the way waving her in, calling something about more beer. Behind the seats, the second girl giggled (again). The first girl chuckled: "You're so cute, Andie."
Not-Mello smiled at Matt, appearing in his vision a bit fuzzily. Matt realized suddenly that he couldn't remember every detail of Mello's face anymore. It was startling, and it crushed Matt's heart.
Not-Mello tilted his head to the side slightly, blue eyes soft with distant nostalgic sadness. "Do you remember when we were like that, Matty?" he asked softly, reaching over to lay a hand on Matt's. The redhead couldn't feel it there, didn't undergo the comforting warmth of his once-lover's palm that wasn't really there, but still it made his heart flutter because he couldn't help it. Not-Mello's eyes softened even further, once icy blue depths becoming the blue of a gentle sky. But when his lips moved again to speak, the words didn't reach Matt's ears, simply floating away. Because they weren't really there.
Matt turned away and pressed his head back on the cold window, closing his eyes as tight as he could manage, trying to block out the knowledge from his head.
Behind him, Mello's expression into a broken, pained one, the 'I love you' lost on his lips.
Winchester, England 8:03 P.M. GMT, Saturday
"So, Matt, how was your flight?"
He sounds so dumb, trying to talk to him like that. He's treating him like a new orphan, just recently tossed out of their normal life and shoved into a crazy world of competition and death. He sounds like he's trying to treat him like a normal guy, just an old friend, but knows he isn't.
The old man looks into the review mirror, peering at him. He's so old. Matt wonders to himself if this guy is the replacement for Wammy – he's certainly wise enough looking… but then, the aura that made Matt immediately trust the original old man isn't quite there in this one.
Matt looks down at his feet: "Annoying. People talked too much."
The rest of the car ride is silent.
Winchester, England 8:47 P.M. GMT, Saturday
The old man speaks again only once they have pulled into the driveway of their destination, outside the grade wrot iron gate that Matt is all too familiar with. "Please enjoy your stay here, Mister…?"
Matt looks up at him, blinking his eyes drearily. So you aren't the replacement Wammy, then. You're just a chauffeur – you have no idea who I am, nor what's wrong with me. You just think I'm a rude young man, he thinks, a slight superior feeling falling over him. He considers just ignoring him and strolling out, keeping his nose in the air, but of course, he doesn't. He's not superior, not really – in fact, he's the lowest of the low right then, acting like this to what seems to be a very kind old man who, despite the rudeness Matt had displayed before, is smiling at him still and asking for his name.
Looking down, Matt mutters, "Jeevas." It's risky, giving him his real name, but he decides it doesn't matter. If this old man has some hidden hatred towards him and can use his name against him somehow, well…
Matt can't say he'd protest the release of death.
The old man's smile widens into a much more genuine one. "Mr. Jeevas, hmmn? Ah, well then," he replies kindly, shuffling out of the car and coming around to open the door for Matt, dark brown eyes flickering with soft kindness. "Is there a Mrs. Jeevas in the picture?"
Matt flinches visibly half way out the door, face flushing painfully. Seeing the horribly pained look on Matt's face, the old man quickly backtracks, face growing wry. "Um, sir, I apologize, I did not want to intrude, I am terribly sorry if I upset you in any way…"
"No…" Matt interrupts him, sliding out of the car and hugging himself almost childishly, eyeing the old man with a look of anticipation. "No, whatever, I… there was another Jeevas. Sort of." When the old man gives him another confused look, he elaborates, "Mello passed away."
The old man's face goes from confused to sympathetic in an instant, hand reaching out to pat Matt's shoulder. The redhead flinches, for once not used to contact since he hadn't had any kind of friendly contact in a very long time, but he doesn't move away from the touch. "I'm sorry to hear that, boy," he replies firmly, shaking his head slightly. "I'm sure she's smiling down at you from heaven now, though." He smiles. "Cheer up, chap – she'd want you to be happy."
Matt doesn't bother to correct him. Not about anything he said. He doesn't tell him that Mello was a boy, a man; he doesn't tell him that Mello, if he is dead, certainly isn't going to be smiling even if he is in heaven; he doesn't tell him that he'll probably never cheer up. Not in a million years. Instead he just offers the old man a false smile, adjusts his goggles, says "Thank you, sir," like a good old boy, then hurries off on his way with that fake smile on his face, if only to keep the old man happy for a while.
After all, just because Matt's life is ruined, he sees no reason to ruin the man's day while he's at it.
Winchester, England 9:01 P.M. GMT, Saturday
"Oh, Matt! You showed up!"
Matt barely feels it at all when Linda tackles him into a hug, even as her even-bigger-than-he-remembered breasts crush into his face. He forgets sometimes that he's a little short, and she's more than a little tall. When she finally pulls away, letting Matt breath, she starts on a whirl of speaking. He hears apologies, sympathies, I'm-so-sorry-for-you's, cries, I-missed-you's, lies like everything-will-be-okay-I-promise. He hears, but he doesn't listen, and he doesn't reply. He just stares past her at the children across the way.
He's almost surprised to see that the orphanage is up and running again, after Wammy died. Now that he thought of it, he had read an email talking about that, but at the time he hadn't thought he cared. He'd been too busy planning with Mello, planning and talking and making love and being in love and love love love…. He hadn't even stopped to think of what had happened to the orphanage he fallen in love in, nor about the children he'd left behind when he was eighteen.
The children he looks at are unfamiliar and very young. He watches, fascinated, as a tiny brunette boy throws a block at a little girl with a silvery-blonde bob. The girl squeaks in irritation and turns on the brunette, tiny fists balled with anger, but as Matt watches the brunette boy curls into himself and wails for forgiveness: "I'm sowwy, I'm sowwy, Twish, I didn't men it!"
As Matt watches, still enraptured by the scene, the little girl lets out a grumpy huff. "Thas okay I guess. But its Trish, not 'twish'," she mumbles. To her left, a little redheaded boy (not red like Matt's, but the orange most people are familiar with starts crying then, just as peace is made, and again chaos breaks out, a tall black haired male rushing from the other room to comfort the redhead. And then, just like that, peace is restored to a whimper from small child and whisper from slightly less small, a giggle from the brunette, an eye roll from the blonde, and a coo from the raven-haired.
It's a pretty average scene for children in an orphanage, but something about it keeps Matt gazing.
Linda sees Matt staring at the children, blinking in surprise as she realizes she's been ignored this entire time, though really she should have been used to it. She turns now and places a hand on Matt's shoulder, brining him halfway back to reality as she murmurs, "The blonde one is Trisha, everyone calls her Trish. She's a little bit mean, but she's nice to Jay, the little freckled brunette guy." Linda smiles a little more at the next child she describes: "The redhead is Sneak – he lives up to his name, too, always sneaking around and causing trouble ever since he learned to crawl. And then the guy over there is our oldest right now – he's 15. You might remember him; he was one of our younger kids when we were still in the orphanage – Shine? The kid who always make origami?"
Matt smiles, but just barely. "Yeah, I remember."And he does remember – he always remembers the orphans. It was one of his gifts – he never forgot a face. Now, still looking out at Shine, he remembers almost completely; he remembers him not only because of his skill with origami but because he was also the one and only cross-dresser in the orphanage (unless you wanted to include Mello, but Matt doubted that he'd appreciate the title very much). Right then, actually, Shine was dressed in a soft blue tank-top and a short denim skirt, silky black hair pulled into a messy ponytail as he rocked Sneak in his arms. He'd gotten made fun of for the habit quite a lot back in his childhood days, at least at first, but after a while Mello actually stuck up for him and he got left alone – nobody wanted to get on the blonde's bad side. Thinking about that now, Matt wondered if Shine knew that his once-protector had
The redhead grimaced, putting his face in his hand. Even now, he hated finishing that sentence. Even now, a damaged part of his mind screamed at him that it couldn't be true, that he would remember if it were true…
Linda looks up at Matt with soft eyes, as if she understands, but she doesn't and she knows it. "The orphans that knew Mello were informed of his death already – you don't have to be the one to tell them." As if that was what he was worried about… "The younger ones who never knew him just know that they're going on a fieldtrip on Monday."
"Oh," Matt echoed distantly. Then, "How many children are there now?"
Linda smiles distantly, true affection alight in her eyes. "Oh, I don't know. Twenty? Twenty two?"
Matt shoves his hands in his pockets, watching the children blankly. Jay is watching Trish with wide, worshiping eyes as she builds a block tower, a huge grin alight on her face. The sight of it sends a stab through Matt's heart – we used to be like that.
"Cute, isn't it?"a whispered voice doesn't say in his ear.
Matt feels a chill go down his back. Not-Mello was back again, even after vanishing half way through his plane ride; he doesn't look at him, but he can tell he's sad, or would be, if he existed, by his voice.
"Who takes care of them?"Matt asks shakily, ignoring not-Mello and returning his gaze to Linda. The brunette pauses for a wary second, and then shrugs.
"I don't know. Roger's son, officially, since Roger passed away about a week after you left." This knowledge stings more than Matt thought it was – not so much that Roger was dead, since he knew that the old man had cancer before he left, but that no one had bothered to inform him that he died. Then again, he'd been busy with Mello then – he doubted he'd have been terribly interested in going to the funeral anyway.
"Anyway," Linda continues warily, "It's officially his son, Chet, but… well; he's not really around a whole lot. Mostly the older orphans and the two helpers – Syd and Mandy – help out and take care of each other. Mostly Chet just helps with the basic stuff like food and instructors that come in, not much else. He sort of just… sits around in his apartment. Hangs out with his women, you know." Linda's smile has become faker and faker by the moment. "He tries, though. Really, he does."
She's lying, Matt can tell. Chet does nothing at all.
This stings even more. Whammy and Roger were dead – they were practically the parents of the orphans. Now, they'd been replaced with… what, a manager? The thought made Matt a little bit sick. Mello would have been infuriated. In fact, he probably would have torn down the Chet guy's door and shrieked at him for being a heartless bastard he is for sitting around on his ass while a bunch of poor orphans need guidance. Called him a bastard and a fool and then a whole string of curse words before promptly throwing him out of office and appointing someone else King of Wammys. Maybe he'd even take the job himself.
Matt looks down at his feet. He's not that strong.
"Sorry to hear that."
"Yeah," Linda sighs. But then, quickly, she perks up: "But we get off just fine. It gets awfully difficult sometimes, since money tends to disappear sometimes, but… well, we're a family around here. Not everything's changed."
Matt smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes. It doesn't matter – his goggles hide them anyway.
Winchester, England 10:02 P.M. GMT, Saturday
Matt has jetlag.
Matt is exhausted.
Matt can barely think straight.
Matt has a headache.
Matt is in his old bed again – it's smaller than he remembers.
Through the thin walls of the orphanage, he can hear two young orphans talking through the walls.
They're tainting Matt's pain with nostalgia:
"Is it okay if I love you?"
"Oh, oh, I love you too, damn it. Don't give me that look, I'm a ditz!"
Matt can hear them.
Matt wants to cry.
Matt is exhausted.
Matt can't sleep.
How can he?
A/N: Gah, well, sorry for several things: the long wait, the insert of OCs, and the crappiness of this chapter altogether. Do you feel bad for Matt? The orphans? Do you like Shine? Personally I enjoyed the picture of him I had in my head XDD plus I loved the idea of Mello gallivanting through the halls, defending little six-year-old-or-so cross dresser orphans XD I don't know why. I loved writing Jay and Trish, too X3 Even if they're really just there to make Matt's life miserable. Also, because this occurred to me: no, stupid, the people on the other side of the wall are NOT Jay and Trish, they're only like four years old XDD just to make that clear.
Again, sorry about the OCs, but they were kind of necessary, and for the wait, which I have no excuse for C: Review?