Title: Always
Author: Let's Explode
Rated: M
Genre: Romance/Drama
Disclaimer: Let's Explode does not own Death Note.

A/N: This is a newer, improved version of the other 'Always' I've written. I've been revising (but not completely altering) practically the whole thing. Hopefully, this version will have lesser grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or paragraphs in which I've been spouting nonsense. I have no beta, and I'm not perfect, so don't scream if there still is an occasional mistake; I'm just doing my best. :D I'll be introducing newer chapters to continue the story, but nothing too traumatizing, of course. ;P Okay, I'll stop rambling now.

Chapter 1: One

I can't live around you.


I like to think I'm a not real. A fictional character or a virtual hero, I guess, because the good guys always win in fantasies. There are no 'what if's or 'possibilities' because when you're off in La-la Land, everything goes the way that it's made to be. The bad guys lose, the good guys win and get the girl, or guy, if you like that sort of thing. Either way, the heroes always win.

The hero's the one with the story- past, present and future. The hero's the one who everyone expects would solve all the conflict in the world. It's a common theme, to let conflict pull everyone's interest. The excitement in drama is what craps the whole thing up, the plot that the writer or programmer got going on, because it's all the same. Just when you get your heart racing, the conflict ends.

And then you feel empty.

It's seems like some sort of masochism to me. What's so great about conflict anyway? Why do people favour it so much in fantasy but never in reality? There is always too much pain, too much tears and effort involved. It seems only rational that people should hate it. Too bad for us suckers, conflict likes playing us like a violin, no matter if you have done practically nothing your whole life because that's what makes us so flawed and so 'human'.

Humans suck. I would know what I'm talking about. Last time I checked, I was definitely human. I tend to forget sometimes, you know? I dedicate my time in behavioural study, but that's just another fancy word for stalking. I don't mind putting myself down with insults, because if the words ring true, then I don't see the point in lying to anyone.

Near calls me honest. Roger calls me rude. L calls me blunt. They all have garbled rubbish opinions of me, but they don't matter as much as Mello does. He calls me an asshole, a prick, a fucktard, a dick, a retard… the list goes on long enough to impress even me.

Yeah, I know. He must be so great. I don't press it because I've never really cared to begin with. I won't say this aloud, but he's a hypocrite; he isn't exactly a ray of sunshine either. He's volatile and violent, I would even say murderous. He acts like he steps on shit all the time. I call it his inferiority complex, but I never say it to his face.

I must be some kind of coward to have pulled this off for years. Heck, who am I kidding? I am a coward.

Look for the guy who has his head down, looking kind of creepy when the light off the screen of the PSP, DS, Nintendo or whatever it is he has in his hands is reflected on his goggles. He's not risking looking anyone directly in the eye. If you don't see him, that's okay, because sometimes, I don't see him either.

He's me.

Christened as 'Matt' when I was somewhere around five or six, a guy with a sob story, but hey, it's not like I'm the only one. I used to live in an orphanage, so things like that are common. I'm still convinced that I used to be followed, stalked, studied or something, because some British guy with a white moustache just so 'happened' to know I was in trouble, just so 'happened' to have broken down the front door to that old apartment, a gun in his hands. He had just so 'happened' to have enough evidence of my parent's felonies to have them behind bars for a long time. Go figure.

Sure, my parents are alive, but they were charged with too many crimes for them to even think of the possibility of seeing me again. Charged for possession, drug abuse, theft, and hmm, child abuse- but those are just technicalities. I don't miss them, and I don't want to see them again.

My parents suck along with the other humans, only they suck more. They made me hack and steal from ATM machines, but I'm not here to talk about that.

Now that I think about it, why am I even here at all?

I live in a sad kind of apartment with Mello, with the wallpaper peeling off, the furniture and bed threadbare, but at least there's hot water in the grimy bathroom. I pay for it all, the water, the electricity that I use so much of, the food in the fridge- mostly vodka, whiskey and chocolate- everything. It's not much and it's not home, but it does me good to feel independent. Heck, I can even say I feel proud.

I don't complain about the state of things here and neither does Mello, surprisingly, because I know he's spoiled enough to be tempted. I'm just bringing it to the fact that he's never here except to eat, piss, shower and yell at me for things like being stupid, being here, or being too obsessive.

I'm a chain smoker. I didn't use to be, but when Mello decided to just waltz back into my life, I think I deserve breathing time. He doesn't know that, though. I smoke too much, and when I don't smoke, I use nicotine patches (which suck), and when I don't do either, I take black coffee so strong your nose could bleed. But all day, every day, I'll have technology with me. I'm like Snow White on crack; I don't have animal friends, I have computers and games and pixels, toys and televisions. These things are my surrogates; the happy family I never had, the friends I didn't want, the fixes that keep me going... the Mello I used to know.

Mello, this new Mello, mentioned before, that I'm wasting his breath. He's said that I do nothing but sit my butt sore. He and I both know that that's untrue though, but he's a lot less willing to acknowledge it.

I'm not Mello. I don't want to parade around like a peacock and watch the world stare. I won't flaunt how deep I am in shit like he does. It's reckless and dangerous, and I'm not the one who has a whole mafia who would back his behind no matter what. Being a mafia leader has brought him too high up in his head. I still want that innocent, grumpy Mello I used to know.

Now he treats me like a servant, only I tolerate him without any sort of wage. Yeah, I'm starting to get a little sick of it, and I'm starting to think I deserve better than this. Things shouldn't go his way all the time, and I think he should know. Sure, things are working miraculously for him now, but I know luck doesn't stretch too long a time.

All Mello has ever had to do at Wammy's to get his way was show his fist, but that's just mindless bullying compared to what I see these days. Bullying won't work on his cronies in the least, so now he scares them. He pulls out his gun, ready to fire.

He acts so sure when he does that. His eyes are always blazing, cocky and it hurts that he's not the same. I remember years ago when he had sworn to me that he would never kill a man. I'm starting to believe that moment had only been a figment of my imagination. Now, he uses his gun plenty, killing people regardless their kind, killing people in more ways than just shooting.

It just doesn't sit with me.

My Mello hung around me because while everyone else had been too afraid of him, I was merely indifferent. The Mello I used to know said things like 'pardon' and 'excuse me' and damn it, every 'sorry'. He's not the same anymore. He's all leather and danger and adrenaline - much too violent and impulsive than he ever had been before. He's all motorbikes and ladies, and alcohol.

And still he prays at night with that crucifix, uttering prayers for his selfish needs, claiming it's for the better. I hear him all the time, every night when he thinks I'm asleep. "Please, let me win," or "Let me kill him", his pleas are all kinds of atrocious. He's not so much of a saint. I see him differently.

But I never say anything.

I think it's why he still comes back to me, even after all this time.

(… but I don't know if I control me, or he does…)

(… I don't know if I can take anymore…)

I've shut myself up for so long, and I think I've had it. People never see me as the better. I'm just the guy poor Mello's stuck with. I'm just the guy Mello hangs around with. I know what they say about me: they call me his lapdog, his servant, his- I'm not! I'm not, okay? I'm just... I'm just Number Three. It's all I am.

But I think I've had it with it all. Maybe I'll speak up and speak out, for once in my life.

I cough violently, something happening a lot lately. I really shouldn't be smoking when I'm diagnosed with asthma. I never had to use my inhaler before I started my nicotine addiction, but this reluctant reliance on medication isn't going to make me stop. Maybe I'll consider when smoking gets critically bad for me. I don't have any intention to live so long, anyway.

I'm just surviving life.

Taking a little, teeny tiny step at a time because I'm a wimp and I'm lazy. There's no need to rush into life, in my opinion. I always say not to take a risk if it's not worth it, and hell, nothing is ever worth it. Not even life. Mello, my Mello used to say that when there's a risk involved, then it's always worth taking. Yeah, he's a reckless bastard, but I'm not a fool to ignore that he's right.

We're both right, in a way. We always are.

The hinges of the front door protest loudly as it is forced open. Mello enters like he owns this bust up lame place. He does his routine, kicking off his boots and they tumble to the floor across the room with dull thuds. Mello shrugs off his leather jacket and leaves it on the floor, a gesture that tells me that Mello wants it cleaned again. He marches off to the fridge and pulls out the last of the fifty bars of chocolate I bought just five days back and gives me a look, brandishing his bar in the air. This means I have to run to the store again. I've already been given this membership deal down at the store, me being a regular customer now and all.

Discreetly, I sigh. The things I do for Mello. I must be sick and pathetic, to do these things for him when I don't benefit even in the slightest. He makes me clean, dry clean; waste my green (that rhymed because I think I'm a potential poet). I sound like a greedy idiot to calculate every cent that goes out of my wallet, but honestly; thirty five hundred dollars a month?

He plops down unceremoniously beside me, peering at me curiously as I bring down another firewall. It's so easy to pretend I'm not watching or listening, that I'm unaware of everything else. It's the reason I make a good spy and information gatherer. Mello thinks I'm too absorbed in the things I do, just like the others who have ever had seen me before. Poppycock, but what do I care what anyone thinks?

I'm nobody, and I like myself that way.

No one's going to cry at my funeral. I'm not even going to leave a will.

No one should miss me, not even Mello. If he can leave me without a word over and over again, I can leave him in just the same way. It shouldn't be so hard.

"Matt," Mello finally speaks to me. That makes the fourth time in total this week, but I'm just surprised he has actually said my name this time, even if he did use it with irritation. One would think with us living together and all, we'd talk more. Yeah, I've gotten used to the disappointment.

Maybe he thinks I can't focus on him with my supposed 'attention' on the laptop. It bothers him because he craves attention like an alcoholic would whiskey.

L has mentioned to me, more than once actually, about my ability to focus my full attention on many things at once without wearing myself down, like upgraded or advanced multitasking or something. "If you let me, I could hone your mind into one of the brightest the world will ever see." L haad also said that I could easy snag the title number one, if I put more effort in my studies instead of myself.

I was the first person to know of L's death in Wammy's. It had been a real pain in the ass to do, but I managed to hack into his own laptop for it all. Everything was there; his evidence, his files, everything, and I had them copied to my own disk. I began investigating, and when Roger found out he was livid, but he knew he no longer needed to tell me the day he told both Mello and Near.

They think I have lived as a hacker for these five years, and they're partially right. I tried stepping in L's shoes, trying them on for size before I decided that that guy wasn't who I'm supposed to be. I called it quits, deleted everything I knew without looking back.

Because I had been doing exactly what L wanted; succeeding him.

I never wanted to. I never wanted to be a detective either.

Another thing L mentioned about me: I think far too much to be healthy. This is why Mello's visibly pissed right now, so annoyed that he's flipped my laptop shut, which is really stepping far across the imaginary line I have made. Rip my clothes, sure. Take my drinks, fine. Break my bones, I don't care. Touch my technology? Hell no. The thought that he might have closed the program I had been using bothers me, but not enough to make me show any visible reaction. I wonder if this is self-control or shock.

He shakes me roughly, bruising my arms as he hisses, "Asshole! Listen to me!"

"Hmm?" I question, gently prying his hands off of me. I don't like the feel of someone pushing me down physically rather than mentally.

Mello snarls angrily, because there really never is another emotion other than anger when it comes to the blonde. "Would it kill you to just listen to me for once?"

I do listen to you, I want to say. Or am I not listening hard enough?

I implant cameras in high security areas and I spend days without eating or sleeping, hacking into things for you just because you tell me to. I listen to your rants on Near, about how you're so close to beating him, how much you deserve to be the best. I stick by you for no reason at all and I can just walk out, but I don't because I think you'll change back. You put up with me because you have no one else to talk to, and you don't care if I'm someone you don't like at all.

None of those words come out. Instead, I cock my head aside like a fool, asking, "Yeah?"

I get on every one of his nerves just like everyone does. Sure, Near sets Mello's nerves ablaze, but I think I embed myself there, impossible to get rid of. I'm just a pest. He bites his tongue to prevent himself from screaming out loud, letting me go finally. He throws his chocolate bar at me and I catch it reflexively, accidentally.

He's angrier.

"Fuck, you prick!" he yells at me. "I wanted you off your lazy ass setting up bugs and cameras in the SPK! I wanted you to watch them, and you're here doing something so fucking pointless!" He points his finger at the laptop. "What the fuck do you think you were doing playing around?" Mello's (aquamarine... piercing blue-green) eyes are throwing daggers in my way, but I'm too busy trying to regain feeling in my right arm.

I jerk my thumb into the single bedroom in this apartment, the one that used to be mine before he came, and I still don't complain. "They're already bugged. You go ahead and watch them. They're boring." As am I.

He's surprised by my defiance, and I like that I have caught him off guard. The blond is standing now, and he's – surprise, surprise - pissed. His breathing is heavy and he pulls at his hair. "I gave you an order! You don't tell me what to do! You were supposed to fucking spy on them! Easy like shit!"

The words fly out of my mouth before I can stop them. "So why don't you do it? Easy like shit, right? Shouldn't be a challenge for you."

His eyes narrow dangerously. "Are you insinuating that I am an idiot? I dare you to say that again."

I am treading on very, very, dangerous grounds, but I like the steady rush of adrenaline. It's so refreshing and new- so much more different, so much better than nicotine. "I'll say it as many times as you want me to. Why can't you do it?" I'm feeling so brave, suddenly. I think I don't mind having a death wish. Near is, after all, what Mello wants to overcome. Number One is Mello's goal, and not mine. So why do I have to do his bidding? I'm tired of being referred to as a dog.

"Shut the fuck up, Matt." he hisses, and pulls out his semi-automatic and presses the barrel of the gun to my brow. I don't stiffen, I don't relax. I simply do not react. "Shut up. Shut up, or I'll kill you."

I keep my gold-tinted eyes on him rather than on the gun, and I tell him, "Do it, then." He's been killing me slowly, and I'm sick with it. He might as well get it over with. Of course, Mello's pressed the gun to my head many more times than I can count, but I've never challenged him to shoot until now. I have never spoken like this with him. I don't know what to feel or how to react, so I don't. I don't know if he will just shoot me, because Mello never backs down from a challenge.

But he still needs me...

... Right?

"You're useless," he tells me, and he stalks off into the bedroom, slamming the door loudly. The sound rings in my ears longer than necessary. His temper is murderous, and I've triggered it, faced it, and directly challenged it. I survived it, but only because he let me. I look down to my laptop, now a small scratch on its surface. I switch it on to see the program lost, and I sigh.

Only to your eyes, Mello, I say inwardly. I am.


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