Chapter one: Lollipops to practice
I was sitting against the cold wall, looking around at the other kids surrounding me in the large room. There were at least fourteen, maybe one or two more, and they were all spread around the room, some keeping to themselves like me, others chatting or playing some odd hand-game. I bit my chocolate bar, stretching my legs out in front of me.
The clothes that Wammy had given me before coming here were really comfortable; a loose black long-sleeve shirt and loose black pants. I wiggled my toes, getting bored out of my mind: I had been sitting here for fifteen minutes. One by one, the other kids had been brought in, and the room gradually filled up. But Roger wouldn't start the stupid orientation until everybody was here.
We were all waiting for one person, apparently. That old wrinkly fool, Roger, was standing by the door, constantly checking his watch. He looked up at me as I loudly snapped off another piece of my chocolate bar. I met his gaze squarely, staring at him cooly until he looked away. For a nine-year-old, I was pretty confident in my ability to stare down anybody, adult, animal, or piece of wood. Okay, maybe not the last one, but still.
I'm pretty damn awesome.
I was beginning to hate the late person already: don't they know that I have better things to do than hang around an orientation that hadn't begun, waiting for them! Well, granted, they probably don't know that, but still. It's absolutely their fault that my butt's falling asleep. What felt like forever and a half later, the door opened once more, and another old guy -who I recognized as Wammy himself, the one who had brought me here in the first place- led a boy in by the hand.
I stared at him, as did everybody else in the room. He seemed unsure where to look, since everywhere he looked, staring eyes met his own. He settled for looking down at his feet, which he trusted not to stare back, I guess. I examined him in the same manner I'd examined everybody else: giving them a good twice-over. But none of them seemed to be so interesting as this guy was.
He had messy, bed-head hair in a dark red colour that could not be natural, since I'd never seen it before. He was wearing a baggy black and white striped shirt that was obviously much too big for him. He was wearing loose jeans that also seemed to have thin stripes on them -horizontal, of course.
I grinned as I saw the end of a lollipop sticking out of his mouth: at least he was original in his taste in sugar: cakes and sugar cubes are taken by L, chocolate is mine, thank you very much, and strawberry jam...let's just say that it's been used. Compared to all the other kids in here, who all looked relatively similar: guys with short hair, girls with hair in pigtails, guys wearing jeans and t-shirts, girls wearing loose dresses or overalls...let's say that the appearance of this new, LATE guy was a breath of fresh air.
He let go of Wammy's hand, and shuffled over to sit against the wall opposite me. He slid down it, stretching out his legs like I did, and took a GameBoy out of his pocket. I raised my eyebrow, and snapped off another piece of chocolate. At the loud sound, the new guy looked up in surprise, and met my gaze. And damnit, I was not prepared for that. His eyes were blue -a really deep, ocean blue- and his gaze was so focused and direct that I couldn't look at him for very long.
I casually bit off another piece of chocolate and looked away, pretending that he wasn't amazing enough to keep my attention. A lie of course, he was starting to seriously interest me. He looked back down at his GameBoy, and I slyly observed him, still pretty shaken from his blunt stare, but more intrigued than ever. Wammy started talking, and I kind of listened, more interested in the new guy.
"Welcome, everyone, to Wammy's house." Wammy began. "Each of you children will stay here now, and learn as much as you can. I hope that you all will have a good time here together. I am Wammy, the founder of Wammy's house. This is Roger, the man who will be in charge from now on." he said, gesturing to Roger, who smiled grimly. I had an idea that he'd rather we were all insects than children.
"How about we all introduce ourselves, and say a little something about ourselves, like our age, favourite food and favourite colour. Please remember to use the names you all picked for yourselves, not your true names, alright?" Wammy suggested, and everybody nodded.
"Linda, if you would start?" Wammy suggested, and a girl on the other side of the room started talking. She had light blonde hair and looked pretty normal. Her name was, apparently, Linda, and she liked to draw, hated spiders, and was seven years old. Everyone began introducing themselves, and I remembered all their names, even though I didn't care at all. It was my turn, and I snapped off a final bite of chocolate before beginning.
"My name's Mello. I'm nine years old, I love chocolate, and I love explosions." I said, not looking anywhere in particular until my gaze was caught by the gamer boy. He was looking at me, and I caught a tiny smile on his face. Instantly, I flushed, completely unsure why he smiled: was he making fun of me? I mentally snapped myself in the face for losing my composure, even for a second, and bit down on my chocolate bar again, averting my eyes and zoning out again, although I was subconsciously waiting until the interesting boy would speak. Finally it was his turn, and I looked up as he began to speak.
"I'm Matt." he began, and everybody's heads turned to stare at the newcomer. Of course, everybody here was new, but he was more interesting.
"I like videogames, cars, and I wanna smoke when I'm older." he said, and the kids all laughed. I stared at him. He had a very faint British accent, but I'm sure I did, too, seeing as I'd been in this country for a few months. What I found super funny was that the lollipop sticking out of his mouth probably wasn't because he liked them. It was probably to practice, for cigarettes later on.
After the girl closest to him started to introduce herself, he looked up at me, and once again I was caught in his direct, hypnotizing stare. But this time I didn't look away first, I just stared back. It was actually quite fun, like a staring contest. Finally Matt's GameBoy made a funny sound, and he looked down at it in dismay. I grinned: he'd lost his game by staring at me too long. He pressed a few buttons, then looked back up at me, a funny little smirk on his face. I had a funny idea that this guy would be my best friend. Just because I liked him so much already, and we hadn't even talked.
Mello. That's a pretty weird name, but I guess most people's are in this place. Except for mine. And Linda's. Wammy had explained to me that it was better to use fake names at this orphanage, because most people who graduate become super famous and need to be completely anonymous. So I guess it makes sense. Mello. Somehow it suited the odd boy sitting across the room from me.
Perhaps 'odd' isn't quite the word: he had shoulder-length, perfectly cut blonde hair with ruler-straight bangs, piercing blue eyes that could stare at you forever, and lightly tanned skin. It was the colour of his hair that interested me at first: it was kind of orangey, and very pretty. It took a few moments for me to be sure that he was a boy, because most people would have said that he was a girl. But there was an unmistakable aura of confidence brimming from him, the kind that girls just don't really have.
Or, I'd never met one with that sort of I'm-hot-and-you-love-it attitude. Especially not an eight-or-nine-year-old. I could feel him staring at me from the beginning. I'd vaguely wondered why, but one glance around the room told me that he'd probably already gotten bored of staring at everybody else. The snap of chocolate made me look up at first, and that's when I saw him staring. So I stared back. It almost made me want to laugh the way he looked away casually, obviously pretending that I wasn't amazing enough to keep his attention, but I could tell that that wasn't true.
And sure enough, a few seconds later, I glanced up from under my bangs, and he was staring at me again. Interesting. Somehow, it was kind of like a game, but not as exciting. It was more...fun, I suppose. After everybody had introduced themselves and stuff, Wammy said to pair up with a friend and write down our names in groups of two on a sheet, so we could pick our own room-mates, who we'd stay with for...well...basically, as long as we were here. Everybody immediately began talking, asking people to stay with them and things.
I noticed that Mello made no move to ask anybody, he simply ate his chocolate bar, snapping pieces off dramatically as he seemed to always do, looking absent-mindedly out the window. But I had a funny feeling he was watching me again. Not in a creepy way. In a way that seemed to mean he was making sure that I didn't get to be anybody else's room-mate. Just as I beat the twelfth level (I had been playing the whole time, of course), a skinny boy with glasses came up and asked if I'd like to be his room-mate.
I could feel Mello's penetrating gaze on me as I looked up and shook my head apologetically, murmuring something indistinguishably like 'I'm sorry, I already...um...' The boy frowned in confusion, and I dreaded having to explain exactly why I couldn't be his room-mate (I didn't even have a real reason).
But I was saved by, surprisingly, Mello. An especially loud snap of chocolate breaking made the bespectacled boy jump and turn. Mello was glaring at him fiercely, almost daring him to stay next to me any longer. A small squeak of fear was the last I heard of the boy before he was one.
"Once you and your room-mate have signed up, please follow Roger so he can show you to your rooms." Wammy called, and soon all the other kids had left out the door, chatting excitedly. Mello and I stayed where we were, sitting against our respective walls. I occasionally glanced up at him from under my bangs with every level I beat. He was wiggling his toes, chewing his second chocolate bar. His gaze locked suddenly on my own, and I flushed, caught staring, and looked back down to my game. Wammy, who was just leaving, suddenly looked up and saw us.
"Matt? Mello! Do you two not have room-mates?" he asked. I slowly lifted my gaze from my GameBoy and looked up at Mello. He raised his eyebrows at me, like a playful challenge. I grinned and told Wammy that we didn't. He blinked at me, and crossed his arms behind his back, smiling from me to Mello and back.
"Well then, you two ought to room together. I'm sure you'll get along famously." he said as Mello dramatically snapped off another piece of chocolate. Mello slid up the wall to his feet and stretched, clutching his chocolate bar in his hand.
"I'm sure that we will." he said as he crossed the room. He locked eyes with me and offered me a hand. I took it, and he pulled me to his feet.
"Good, good. You two will be in room number thirteen, then." Wammy said, and lead us out the door.
I don't know why I did it. Honestly, I really don't. I suppose just the idea of Matt -who already seemed like the most interesting person in this dump, by far- rooming with Teacup (lamest dude EVER!) was just repulsive. I knew it was worth my while to intervene: Matt shot me a look of pure gratitude after I'd chased away the glasses-wearing fiend. We walked together in silence to room number thirteen, and Wammy unlocked the door with a large old-fashioned key as me and Matt watched. He was a little bit shorter than me, but then, he was probably a little younger, too.
"Okay, boys," Wammy said as the door swung open to reveal a small room with two beds, two desks, two chairs, two wardrobes, a mirror and a large window, "your luggage should be brought up soon. Please be in the main dining hall for announcements and dinner in two hours." he said, patted each of us on the back, then left. I glanced at Matt, but he wasn't there: he was already flopped down on one of the beds. I raised my eyebrows and grinned; he was just like a puppy. I closed the door and flopped down on the other bed, digging in my pocket for another chocolate bar.
"So," Matt began, and I looked up to see him looking at me, his chin propped up on his hands, elbows buried in the blanket. "I guess we should get to know each other a little..." he said, trailing off as I looked at him. It suddenly occured to me that he could be shy. I grinned and rolled over, snapping off a corner of my chocolate, my sugary, melt-in-your-mouth saviour.
"Sure, Matt. D'you wanna play 20 questions?"
"What's that?" he asked, puzzled, and I stared at him.
"Seriously? You've never played? You're missing out!" He didn't comment, so I just explained how to play.
"Well, we play rock-paper-scissors to find out who asks a question first. Then we each take turns until we've both asked twenty. You have to answer, and you have to tell the truth, no matter what. If you don't...well, you're supposed to, so..." I frowned, thinking. Were there any penalties in 20 questions?
"So...so you just should?" Matt finished, and I looked up to see him smiling.
"Yeah. That's right." I said, stretching.
"So, let's play rock-paper-scissors first." I said, and raised my fist. He copied me, and finally (after six ties) I won. "Okay, so now I ask the first question." I said triumphantly, and he pouted, but seemed ready, too.
"Okay. What's your real name?" I asked. I knew I was testing him. If he was lame, he'd say that we weren't supposed to, and he might go tell Roger or Wammy that I'd tried to find out, bla bla bla...but if he was awesome, then he'd just tell me. I glanced up to see his expression. He had paused his videogame, for once, and was looking at me with raised eyebrows.
"You know I'm not supposed to tell you, right?" he asked. I sighed.
"I know, if you don't-"
"Mail Jeevas. That's my name." he interrupted, and went back to his game. I blinked at him.
"Mile?" I asked, and he looked up with a small grin.
"It's pronounced Mile, but it's spelt M-a-i-l, like a letter or a postcard." he said, and I laughed.
"That's a cool name." I said, and snapped another piece of chocolate off my slowly shrinking bar.
"My turn," Matt said, and to my amazement, he switched off his game. Like, 100% off.
"Wow, you must be interested." I said, gesturing at the black screen. He rolled his eyes at me and tossed the GameBoy off his bed.
"What's your real name?" he asked, looking at me in serious interest. I glanced up at him then answered.
"Mihael Keehl." He blinked.
"How the heck's that spelled?" he asked, and I laughed.
"M-i-h-a-e-l K-e-e-h-l. My turn. Why do you want to smoke when you're older?" I asked. Matt, or rather Mail, and he smirked at me, raising an eyebrow.
"Cuz it looks hot." he said, the arrogant smirk still in place on his boyish face. I was suddenly struck by an epiphany: no matter how 'normal' he had seemed (aside from the lollipop and videogames), Matt was actually...cocky. And arrogant. Even though he was shy. Interesting combination. I grinned at him, somehow liking him better with everything he did and said.
"Suuuuure...I always thought it was gross. And it stinks like hell." I said, snapping off another piece of chocolate. Matt rolled his eyes.
"Well whatever. Why do you eat chocolate so much?" he asked, and I laughed.
"Just for the endorphins. Aaahhhhh...and the sugar rush? Seventh Heaven. Plus it's sexy." I said, and he snorted.
"Of course it is..." he said, rolling his eyes. I smirked, but actually, I was feeling quite uplifted: fifteen minutes, and I was already thinking that this guy was gonna be my best friend. I guess I'm easily pleased.
"My question now," I said, and Matt grinned at me, lying on his stomach with his feet in the air. I kinda like the way the beds were positioned: Both with one end against the opposite wall from each other, like we'd been sitting in the bigger room only twenty minutes ago, or something.
"Why are you here? Like, here at Wammy's?" I asked, and he shrugged.
"Beats me. I guess you could say, because I'm an orphan and my foster mom was raped and murdered recently? I had nowhere to go, so...here I am." he said, so casually that I was quite impressed with his nonchalance over such violence. I tried my hand at being polite. "I'm sorry about that. Poor you." I said, and Matt gave me a funny look before laughing.
"Stop it. Being sympathetic doesn't suit you." Fine by me, it's uncomfortable and irritating.
Makes me feel all fluffy and nauseous inside.
"Stop it. Being sympathetic doesn't suit you." I said, quite truthfully. Although it really was rather nice of him to go out of his way to actually be sincerely sympathetic, it looked like he wasn't used to it: he made this funny face and twisted his hands together. His nose scrunched up slightly, and he avoided my eyes, as if looking at me would convince him that what he was trying to do was dumb.
After I said it didn't suit him, he relaxed and rolled his eyes, but definately seemed to agree with me. It true that I had only known him for, what, half an hour? But still, Mello seemed to me like the most...normal person out there. Normal by my standards, I suppose, not by society's: he did what he liked, and didn't particularly care if anybody else wanted him to or not, he didn't pretend to like people, he looked and acted how he wanted, and didn't seem to put on an act for anybody. I had a feeling that if he ever decided he wanted to punch me, instead of refraining from doing so for my sake, he'd probably do it as hard as he could, then (maybe) apologize later.
"Why are you in here?" I asked, and Mello looked up at me, a piece of chocolate between his teeth. He chewed it slowly, probably thinking of how to say it without terrifying me. Or maybe not. "I never knew my parents. Well, I suppose I must have known my dad, but my mom died when I was born, and my dad hung around the hospital for a bit, then left in his car without me. Apparently, he drove off a cliff a few hours after that. So I was put in an orphanage, which was...blown up recently." he said, not totally meeting my eyes. I laughed, and he scowled at me.
"It's not funny, you know." he said, but his mouth was curving up at the sides, like he didn't want to get mad at me.
"I know, I know," I said, running a hand through my hair. "It's just I got this weird feeling that you blew up your old orphanage. That's all. I'm sorry about your parents, though. But just think! You never knew them at all, so maybe you don't miss them quite as much as you could?" I said, trying to cheer him up, but I knew I was failing miserably. He probably knew this, of course.
At my words, Mello burst into laughter. It was rather cute, I suppose: he rolled over, covering his mouth, scrunched up in a ball, and kicked his legs as he laughed. Cute, like a mutated, laughing hamster. Well, actually, he looked ridiculous. As I watched him, I started laughing too. I tried to stop: it felt rather unnatural, since I hadn't laughed in a good two months, but I couldn't.
Oh, God, I really was laughing: I was giving these tiny little snorts, I could feel tears forming at the corners of my eyes, and my ribs started to hurt, but every time I looked at Mello, who was by this time surely laughing at me, I burst into another round of laughter. If laughter really is good for your abs, I bet I'll have a sixpack in a couple years, just from laughing with Mello.
It's pretty contagious.
Hope you liked the first chappy! oh, btw, all Mello parts are written by the amazing and wonderful Sailor-Nova343, and all Matt parts are written by the not-quite-so-amazing me! yeah that's why their shorter...that's ChocoholixAnonomous for ya...:)