Fireflies

"What are you doing, Matt?"

"Hmm?" I turned away from our window to look at Mello. "Oh, no, I just see some fireflies."

"Fireflies, huh?" Mello said in response. "Sounds cool." He sat down and started to study.

I got an idea, suddenly, looking at the fireflies. "Hey, Mel?"

A grunt. Well, that was something. Usually, I didn't even get that. I took a deep breath and said, "Can we go be with them?"

He looked at me as if I was certifiably insane, but he shut his book, shaking his head.

When we got a ways from the front door, I took a running jump and landed, on my back, rolling on a patch of grass. A small cloud of fireflies drifted up lazily after being disturbed and I burst out laughing.

Mello dropped down into a crouch beside me. "What am I going to do with you?"

"Oh, come on. You know you love me," I teased playfully, still lying on my back. "Don't ya?" I said in a quiet voice when he didn't answer me.

"'Course I do, silly," Mello sighed, flopping on his back beside me. "We wouldn't be best friends if I didn't."

I don't know why, but that made a goofy grin spread across my face. It made me so...happy that Mello loved me. "Love ya, too, Mel."

We sat there in silence for a while as dusk turned into evening and slowly into night.

"Look at that!" Mello said suddenly.

Lazily, I let my eyes follow his finger to where he was pointing, though I already knew. "Yep. Orion. He was the greatest hunter in Greek mythology."

"The best." Mello sighed as he let his hand fall back onto the ground, where it landed on top of mine. I didn't mind and, in fact, I kind of liked it when Mello tightened his around mine.

I could feel him shaking; he was thinking about Near again, and I got him to come out here to get him away from the stress. "Yeah, well, look at that," I whispered, lifting our hands and pointing. "Orion's hunting dogs."

"Yeah," Mello said, still as quiet as ever. That wasn't right. I was supposed to be the quiet one. "Orion was not that great without his dogs. Loyal as a dog..." The last words were so quiet, I barely heard him.

I'm worried now. Maybe I shouldn't have pointed out the dogs, but it's said now and I can't take it back.

Mello remained silent and I was torn between being worried and being scared to death. Suddenly, I felt his grip on my hand get tighter before he rolled over and buried his face against my chest, clinging to my shirt with his other hand. The words "I'm sorry, Mattie," came out before he dissolved into tears.

I reached up and rubbed his back gently. I kissed the top of his head and said, "Forgiven, but why are you apologizing, Mels?"

"Because," he sniffled, his voice muffled by my shirt. Orion was next to nothing without his dogs. If it weren't for you, Mail, I'd be nothing."

"Mihael, that's not true," I tried to protest.

"Shut up!" Mello said fiercely, his grip tightening on my shirt and my hand, to an almost painful point. "Will you just shut up and listen, 'kay?" His voice got quieter near the end, almost small and broken. He loosened his grip on my hand (which was now tingling slightly) and shirt and instead looped his arms around my neck. "Mail, you don't realize just how much I love you, do you? You're more than just my best friend, you're my brother. You're all I've got left on this God-forsaken rock and I'll be damned if I'm gonna lose you, least of all by my hand. You're as loyal as a dog, Mattie, you really are. You're like my own little dog. But that doesn't mean I should treat you like one. I don't have the right. That's why I'm apologizing. There are times when I treat you like crap, and I shouldn't. But you still come back. After getting injured so bad it got you put in the infirmary, after every punch, every slap, every pinch, every curse, every kick, every broken bone, every bruise...every broken heart, why d'ya still come back?"

He'd said his piece, now mine could be said, but I was never one to beat around the bush when I know the answer. So, I simply said, "Because I love you."