L

"Matt! Matt, Matt, Matt!" Mello called out, running toward his best friend and attacking him with a tight hug. Pulling back, he bounced up and down on the balls of his feet and proudly displayed the perfect paper for the redhead. "I did it! I scored higher than Near! I beat him!"

The blond found himself in a tighter hug when Matt reached out his arms and drew his friend in. "I'm so proud of you," he said honestly, smiling into the other boy's neck as he felt his face going red, since he'd never been that physical with Mello before; Mello did nothing to break the rather intimate hug, meaning Matt had done nothing wrong. He pulled back and grinned at the flushed eleven-year-old, offering, "Do you want to go out to lunch to celebrate?"

Smiling, he nodded and replied, "Sure thing, Mattie," grabbing the boy by the hand and leading him out the front gates in the direction of the city, never letting go of the quite embarrassed gamer's hand as they made their way toward one of the local restaurants. Pushing through the double doors to the diner, the friends were greeted by a chorus of 'welcome backs' and 'it's been a whiles,' and the hostess just smiled at the pair and led them to an open booth, handing them each a menu. "I thought this day would never come," Mello confessed after the hostess left, flicking through the menu without really reading any of it.

"I knew it would someday," the redhead responded, trying to ignore the way that the blond's foot was brushing his bare calf, and he mentally cursed himself for wearing shorts instead of pants. "You're totally smarter than Near, but sometimes you just get unlucky. I'm so glad you finally beat him."

Mello smiled brightly, and to Matt it was the damn most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. "That means a lot coming from you. That's the reason I love you, man!"

The 'I love you' made Matt's heart flutter more than it should have, and he tried to calm himself down by forcing himself to accept that Mello's 'love' was the type of love one showed friends, or a brother. "Hey, you know I love you too, bro," he managed to say back, proud of his ability to keep his voice from wavering despite the feeling of his heart thundering against his ribcage.

"Of course you do. So what are you gonna get?"

I

Placing a hand lightly on Mello's back, Matt rubbed circles into the fabric of the blond's shirt and frowned at his friend's gloomy demeanor. "Mels, it's Christmas Eve," he murmured, rubbing his back more confidently and using more pressure, "and I'll be damned if I let you stay up here with your face shoved into a pillow because you got a 99 on a test."

"You don't get it, Mattie," Mello grumbled back, turning onto his side to face Matt. "A 99 means it wasn't perfect, and if it wasn't perfect I didn't beat Near. I think that's reason enough to avoid the jolly festivities of Christmas."

Regardless of what he said, he still pulled himself to his feet when the redhead tugged on his hand and starting walking the both of them towards the door, only to stop when Mello froze in place in the middle of the threshold. "What is it, Mels?"

He pointed above them with a shaky finger, stuttering, "M-Mistletoe."

Flushing on the spot, Matt squeezed his eyes shut and prepared for the blond to say something snarky, but snapped his eyelids open when he felt soft lips pressing against his, and immediately his knees buckled. Clutching onto his best friend's arms for support, his eyes fluttered closed and he pressed back, enjoying the moment. When they broke apart, both were blushing madly and looking away from one another. "That was…" perfect "…awkward."

Mello coughed. "Y-Yeah…"

"Um, do you want to go downstairs?"

"Sure."

G

When Matt and Mello were both thirteen, L came to visit the orphans at Wammy's House. All the children, both young and old, were excited to see him again, but Mello was by far the most ecstatic for the detective's visit. For the entire week before he arrived, the blond could do nothing but talk about L, L, and L, and it was really starting to grate on Matt's nerves.

It wasn't that Matt didn't like L, it was just that his visits made Mello ignore the redhead for the sake of studying day in and day out to improve his already near-perfect grades before L got there. He pulled all-nighters often, most of the time passing out on top of his textbooks and leaving it to Matt to pick him up and tuck him into bed.

Matt didn't mind it, though; after all, it was the one time of day that he could lay next to him and just watch him breathe and wiggle and talk in his sleep, and he certainly thought it was adorable. Sometimes, he'd even press kisses to his forehead, cheek, temple, or, if he was feeling daring, the corner of his mouth.

But he never kissed him full-on. No, that would be taking advantage of him, and no matter how deeply Matt felt for his friend, he could never do that to him.

He really was such a puppy.

H

The day Roger broke the news to Mello and Near that L was dead, Matt was sitting in his and Mello's room, watching the video feed from his computer and packing up two travel bags with clothes for both him and Mello.

He knew the blond was going to leave, and there was no fucking way he was going to leave without Matt.

Mello came storming into the room just as Matt was packing up his laptop, halting in his rampage to stare in disbelief at the two bags sitting on his bed before directing his gaze over at Matt. Shrugging, Matt zipped up his backpack and tossed his friend a coat, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and walking side-by-side out the front gates of Wammy's for the last time.

T

"You're joining the fucking Mafia?" Matt screeched, gripping Mello's bare shoulders tightly and shaking him back and forth until the blond forced the other boy to let him go. "Mello, you're fifteen! You've got your whole life ahead of you!"

Turning his back on Matt and glancing once more over his shoulder before walking out the door of their apartment, he said quietly, "It doesn't matter what my life might've been. This is what it is now, and you'll just have to accept it. If you don't like it, tough shit."

"Then don't think of coming back."

Stopping in the middle of the doorway, Mello turned around slowly and glared daggers at the redhead. "What did you just say?" he demanded, stepping closer to Matt and narrowing his eyes.

"I said don't think of coming back. I don't want you here anymore."

Mello laughed, a dark, humorless sound. "You don't want me? Ha! I'm the one that's paying for this damn apartment, so guess what? Get the fuck out. I don't wanna see you here when I get back."

Gritting his teeth, Matt picked up the still-packed (even after a year, he hadn't fully unpacked it in case they needed to move) duffel bag sitting by the couch and pushed past Mello. "Fine. Have a nice life. Don't expect me to help you out if you need it. I fucking hate you."

"Need it?" Mello's voice made Matt stop and turn around. "Need it? I don't fucking need you for anything! I can do this on my own!"

Closing his eyes and shaking his head, he whipped back around and left, never looking back. "Goodbye, Mello."

Y

November 10, 2009 at 23:59, the Japanese task force raided Mello's Mafia hideout.

November 10, 2009 at 23:59, Matt was sleeping on the couch in his new apartment.

November 10, 2009 at 23:59, Matt wasn't watching secret video feeds to make sure Mello was okay.

November 11, 2009, Mello blew up the base with himself inside.

November 11, 2009, Matt didn't know what Mello had just done.

Then, on November 27, 2009, Mello had the audacity to call Matt and ask for his help on the Kira investigation.

And on November 27, 2009, Matt was foolish enough to say yes.

A

"She's not doing anything," Matt complained, half-assedly looking at the video feeds pulled up on his computer, finding no interest in anything Misa Amane was doing. He shifted the cell phone to his other hand and hit a few keys, bringing up more angles on the cameras. "Seriously, she's doing jack shit. Is it really worth the effort spying on her?"

The entire time Matt spent talking on the phone with Mello he hadn't realized that the blond was en route to the apartment and standing outside the door during the redhead's last complaint. Hanging up the phone as he walked through the door, he said, "Yes, it is. Now shut down the computers and sit your ass down on the couch; I brought dinner."

Dinner, as usual, was uneventful and silent except for the sound of the news broadcast in the background, and the two not-quite-friends sat on opposite sides of the couch, even after they were finished eating. "You've changed," Matt said almost inaudibly, not having brought it up despite their being reunited for almost two months.

"So have you," Mello replied, shifting uncomfortably in his seat and unconsciously moving closer to the gamer.

Matt, painfully aware of his ex-best friend's close proximity, cleared his throat loudly before turning enough to face him. Gently, he brought an ungloved hand up and traced the scar on the left side of Mello's once-angelic face, barely making contact with the rough skin. "I see the way you look at yourself in the mirror, Mello. It's not as bad as you think it is."

Snorting, he muttered, "You would say so. You're not the one with a disfigured face."

"It doesn't matter what you look like; inside, you're still the same Mello I called my best friend." The same Mello that I fell in love with so many years ago. The same Mello I'd like back.

"You always were such an optimist."

Cracking a half-smile, Matt carefully wrapped his arms around Mello's neck and pulled him close enough to make their noses bump, breathing out, "I never hated you."

"I've always needed you," Mello whispered back, tilting his head to the side and moving in the last few centimeters to close the gap between their lips.

G

With that kiss, Matt finally knew everything the blond had been holding back, everything he had been hiding from him. It tasted of hope, apologies never said, fear, desperation, longing, and, above all, love. It was like nothing either had had before, and they wanted more; they wanted to show, wanted to feel, wanted to hold onto each other and never let go.

So when Mello's teeth bit lightly at Matt's bottom lip, he didn't hesitate and allowed the other entrance, humming in the back of his throat before joining Mello's probing tongue in a dance. He was tired of fighting with Mello, and Mello with Matt, and they chose to coincide rather than battle for dominance, simply taking in the moment.

When Mello made to lay Matt down on his back and straddle him the redhead allowed it, arching his back up toward the only one he'd ever loved and tangling his fingers tightly in Mello's hair. All too soon oxygen became a necessity, and Mello pulled back to gaze questioningly at Matt, hands sliding down his still-clothed chest, and asked, "Mattie?"

Mattie… He hadn't been called that in years, and as Matt opened his eyes he saw an image flash quickly over his vision: a baby-faced blond boy with sparsely freckled cheeks and a slightly crooked smile. "My Mello…" he started, smiling softly and pulling him back down to barely brush their lips together, "you're back."

A

The next morning, Matt found Mello face-down on the floor, dead. Breath hitching in his throat, he shakily grabbed the small note clutched in his hand and read it.

Kira.
Read notebook.
I love you.

Feeling a tear running down his face, he picked up the small spiral notebook and opened it, finding all of Mello's notes on the Kira case.

Only one thing interested him, though.

Light Yagami.

With angry tears burning his eyes, he tried to get his breath under control and picked up his cell phone, going through his contacts and finding the one person he knew would accept. "Mace. I need your help."

M

By the time Mace arrived at the apartment, Matt had lifted Mello's body into the bed and tucked him under the sheets, closing and locking the bedroom door behind him. For the next few hours, he and Mace went over the plan to kidnap Kiyomi Takada over and over, making sure that there were no misunderstandings.

Mace took off in the red Camaro and Matt took the motorcycle, speeding in after his old acquaintance fired off the smoke bomb at NHN Studios and persuading Takada onto his bike. Reluctantly, Halle agreed to let Takada go with Matt, but had a team of bodyguards follow them until he turned and shook them off.

Once at the first destination, he parked the bike in the back of a delivery truck and ordered Takada to take off all her clothes and put them into a box. She asked for a blanket to cover herself, to which Matt responded, "That little scrap of Death Note isn't going to do you any good. You don't know my name." After she'd put everything into the box, he tossed it in the back of another truck and headed back to the cab of his own truck, firing up the engine and driving toward Nagano.

He didn't bother watching the news, and he knew that by then Mace was dead, most likely shot by Takada's bodyguards. Pulling into the church at Nagano, he cut the engine and sent around to the back, throwing open the door and stalking up to Takada, snapping her neck without hesitation after forcing her to call Kira and say she killed her kidnapper.

With Takada dead and Kira informed of his 'death,' Matt set the damn place on fire and hopped back on the bike, driving back to his apartment and dropping down on the couch, head in his hands and crying uncontrollably.

I

Matt finishes carving the last letter into the side of the bullet he's holding before blowing off the metal shavings and loading it and two others into his gun, slipping his goggles off and stepping out of the apartment with a mission objective to fulfill. Focused, he mounts his bike and speeds off, pulling to a screeching halt in front of what he knew to be the task force headquarters.

The security system is no match for his hacking skills, and he easily makes it inside and up the stairs to the main room. Bursting through the door, he cocks his gun and points it straight at Light Yagami, not flinching even when the other task force members draw their guns in his direction. With his unoccupied hand, he pulls out a grenade and threatens to blow the whole fucking room to smithereens if any of them interfere.

"Light Yagami," he says murderously, sneering at the brunet with nothing but malice, "you are Kira."

He shoots once, burying the bullet in his stomach. "This is for Mace."

He shoots again, hitting him in his chest, opposite of his heart. "This is for L."

He cocks the gun one more time, the engraved bullet now in the chamber, and aims for his head. "And this," he growls, practically spitting his words, "is for Mello."

Bang.