**~ A/N: IMPORTANT! please read ~**
Ok, so this is a story that came to me in the spirit of Halloween (my favorite holiday). While I don't normally like to work on more than one story at once, I just had to write it so I comprimised. I resolved to write the entire story before continuing with Monster (hence the long delay in update). In other words: this entire story is written and ready to be submitted! (besides some possible bonus chapters ;D) My question is this: do you want me to submit one chapter a day? (they are fairly long unlike usual) or submit it all at once?
If I do submit all at once, I would appreciate if you would review more than just the final chapter ok? So let me know which option you would prefer in a review for this chapter.
Thank you!


4 years. It had been 4 years since the initial panic. 48 months had passed since the rumors of a virus had been confirmed, but much worse than anyone had feared. It seemed like longer.

It had been almost 5 years since he last saw Mello. That seemed like an eternity.

Matt wondered how people had settled so well into the new reality. It was predicted that more than 80% of the population had been infected but it was hard to get an accurate count. Considering how easily the virus spread, 80% was a figure to be celebrated. Initial reports had predicted that only 5% of the entire earth's population might be spared but four times that had survived and found shelter. It only proved humanity's resilience. Instead of cities now there were communities of people living inside both preexisting and newly created fortresses.

For once, paranoia, antisocial behavior, and crappy living conditions had paid off. The redhead mused on how well he had it compared to others who lived on their own in this new world. There were those that didn't trust the communities and Matt counted himself among these. While there were definite benefits, better food and safety being the main ones, there was also a large flaw. If just one person was infected, it could easily spread to the entire area. Besides, the gamer had found that he was good at surviving on his own. Anything he needed that he couldn't get himself, he could usually barter for from the nearby community. Most of them wouldn't dare to leave the sanctuary of their home so they could send him out to scavenge in exchange for fresh fruits or vegetables from their gardens or even fresh meat if he was lucky.

As time passed it became easier to stay alive. Because they couldn't breed, the infected were slowly dying off. Though difficult to kill, they were succumbing to nature. Larger communities of people could now be found in places with extreme weather where it was hard for unintelligent infected to find shelter or food. They had an animal intelligence that Matt knew could be deadly if he let his guard down but generally they were easy to evade or kill if they weren't in groups.

Sitting down on the couch in his crappy apartment, Matt began reading one of the books he'd gotten on his recent trip to the library. It was Wuthering Heights, Mello's favorite when they were kids. Like every other day, Matt wondered if the blond had made it through the infection ok. They were both geniuses and Mello had always been too damned stubborn for his own good so he supposed there was a decent chance that the chocoholic was alive and well somewhere.

He had given up searching years ago though, when finding one person using the limited communication became next to impossible. Now Internet was the sole way to contact others in the world. He had talked to people from communities all over the world, describing a lost brother and pleading for help finding him but no one had seen him.

In the end he had created a site that told his location should the blond ever try to locate him. Of course, only Mello would be able to decipher where he was living. To anyone else it would seem like gibberish. All he could do was wait but after 2 years, it didn't seem likely that he would be found.