~oOo~

Okay, this took awhile to get out. I'm sorry for that. My inspiration was flushed down the metaphorical crapper for the longest time. School kills me XD

Anyway, I hope this chapter is enjoyable :D L comes back soon, so don't worry :D

One last warning: Sensitive religious topics. That is all.

~Mello~

I'd kill him.

I'd kill him.

I'd been searching Wammy's House for hours. Fucking hours. I nagged everyone I passed, I opened every door, but Matt seemed to have vanished off the face of the Earth. My heart iced over and nearly jackhammered right out of my chest.

"Near!" I shouted, the playroom door banging open. "Where the hell is Matt?"

Near looked up at me from his gigantic tower of dice.

"I haven't seen him," he said, maddeningly calm as always.

I was so angry I could've hit him- or at least, I could've knocked over that tower of his. But, instead, I just turned around and stormed out of the room. I guess that was better than getting in more trouble with Roger. Seriously, I swear that man had a vendetta against me or something. You get in trouble a couple times, and adults automatically assumed you were a rotten kid, no matter how well you acted otherwise. I wasn't a rotten kid...was I?

(Sorry for getting off-topic. If I bore you to tears, feel free to leave, motherfucker. I don't want you here if you can't handle a tangent or two.)

People in the hall moved to the side to get out of my way. Everyone had learned to give me plenty of space- and I liked that a lot. It gave me a massive ego trip; nobody bothered with fucking with me anymore. It gave me a lot more space to do whatever I wanted to do.

(It gave me the power to protect Matt.)

"Matt!" I yelled. "Get out here, this isn't funny!"

I hated this feeling. I hated being helpless, I hated being powerless. I hated not knowing, I hated not being able to find out.

Matt. Matt was the only one who could really draw out such helpless emotions from me without ever having to touch my skin.

Matt. My best friend. My greatest weakness, my greatest strength. As much as I liked Matt, I didn't like the feelings that he made me feel. He made me feel hopeful, happy...and that scared me out of my mind.

Damn it.

As soon as I found the little fucker, I was going to kill him. But first I was going to hug him and beg him to never make me worry like that ever again.

~Matt~

I could tell it was getting pretty late. My stomach growled uncomfortably, but I ignored it. I was used to being hungry. I was used to staying in the dark. It was better than the alternative, better than going out and facing him.

I started groping around in the blackness of the utility closet for a place to sleep when-

"Matt! What the hell are you doing in here?"

Busted.

Mello grabbed me by the collar and dragged me out into the blinding light. He looked angry enough to hit me- I closed my eyes tight and braced myself. But instead, he pulled me into a hug so tight I thought he'd break me.

"Don't ever scare me like that again, Matt!" He growled against my shoulder. "Do you have any idea how worried I was?!"

"Sorry," I said sheepishly.

"Why were you in a closet?" Mello demanded, shoving me away, but still keeping his grip on my shoulders.

I felt my cheeks burn with embarrassment.

"Because your birthday's next week."

Mello cocked his head, moving his hands to his hips.

"What does that have to do with anything?"

I hung my head (in SHAME, motherfuckers).

"Because I don't know what to get you, and I felt bad, because you deserve something really nice."

I bit my lip and waited for Mello to give his usual sarcastic response- maybe "Don't be such a baby," or "How stupid are you, Matt?"

"Thanks."

"Huh?"

"I said thanks, moron. But you could've just asked me what I wanted, you know. Damn, I thought you were smart, Mattie."

All of a sudden, I felt so unbelievably embarrassed that I hid my face in my hands; I wanted to run right back into the closet.

He was right- this whole thing seemed so absolutely foolish then. And looking back, it seems even more foolish now. It was just a stupid little kid doing stupid things. But then again, no matter how smart we were, all Mello and I ever really were was a couple of scared and stupid kids who did scary and stupid things.

"Mel...what do you want for your birthday?" I asked sheepishly, my voice muffled.

Mello took my hands and pulled them away from my face. His expression was uncertain, but determined all the same.

"You know that I could get almost anything I wanted just by asking Watari for it- but there's just one thing I want, and I want you to give it to me."

"Anything, Mel. Just tell me."

I was ready to give Mello the world. I was ready to do anything for him.

"I've always wondered what it's like, to get kissed and to actually want it. So...I want you to show me."

I raised an eyebrow.

"You want me to kiss you? But isn't that what boys and girls do together?"

"I don't know, and I really don't care. Just do it for me, okay Matt?"

I blinked. Well, I guess kissing was part of the 'anything' I'd just promised him. I held both his hands and squeezed them tightly. I smiled weakly at him.

"...Mel, I gotcha a birthday present."

Mello smiled back and played along with me.

"But it's not by birthday, Matt."

The hallway seemed to dissolve around us, all except for the beam of light from the stained glass window, bathing us in multicolored light. Mello and I were in our own little bubble; nothing else mattered.

"I know, but I wanna give it to you early."

Mello nodded, his smile stretching wider across his face.

"Close your eyes, Mel."

Mello did as I asked, his hands trembling with anticipation.

I wasn't quite sure how I should do this, because I'd only ever seen people kissing in the movies they'd play once a week in the auditorium. But I wanted so badly to make Mello happy.

I leaned in close, pressing my lips clumsily against the corner of Mello's mouth. Then I pulled back, and pressed my lips against his. Right in the middle of the halls of Wammy's House, where we'd been ripped apart and beaten up just for holding hands, I kissed my best friend.

I lingered there for a good ten seconds before pulling away. Mello was grinning like a fool and blushing like crazy. I felt my cheeks grow warm just looking at him.

"Well? Did you like your present?" I asked.

Mello nodded fervently, pulling me in and hugging me tight.

"It was the best birthday present ever."

The moment was ruined by the unmistakable sound of giggling girls.

"So cute!" one of them squealed, nearly swooning on the spot.

"How sweet," another sighed.

Mello clenched his hands into fists, his eyes narrowed dangerously, and I knew where this was going. Before he could do something he might regret, I grabbed his wrist and kissed him on the cheek, taking the chance to whisper in his ear before in an attempt to soothe his temper.

"It's alright. They don't matter."

Mello's hand relaxed immediately, his whole demeanor becoming less threatening.

"...I guess you're right."

That was easier than I thought.

"Hey Matt, I wanna show you something."

Mello took my hand and dragged me outside, grinning his face off.

"Mello, it's freezing out here!"

He didn't care about it- he dragged me through the snow in my jeans and sneakers and a flimsy jacket in the middle of the falling flurries. Snow bled through my shoes and socks and froze my feet. I learned, though, that Mello would often do things on the fly, because when he wanted to do something, he dragged logic by the hair, fucked it in the ass, and did it anyway.

(...I think my metaphor has fallen apart at this point.)

We stumbled through the drifted snow until we found a patch of pristine white.

"My mom used to play a game with me when it would snow," Mello explained. "She'd draw one half of the heart, I'd draw the other half, and we'd try to make the two sides as even as possible. I wanna try that with you."

I grinned at him.

"Okay, Mel."

We stuck our fingers next to each other in the snow. The cold burned my finger, then it started going numb. Slowly, carefully, we dragged our fingers along the virgin canvas. I curved it carefully, then drew a straight line until I met Mello's finger again.

My half of the heart was a bit bigger than his, a little lopsided, not quite matching.

I frowned. I'd messed the whole thing up. When Mello noticed my gloomy expression, he kissed me on my frozen cheek.

"It's perfect, Matt."

"But it doesn't match," I pouted.

"It doesn't have to match. It's perfect because you helped me make it, dummy."

All of a sudden, the cold didn't seem so bad anymore. I was glad my cheeks were already red, so he couldn't tell I was blushing.

Mello pressed his forehead against mine, his bright blue eyes looking right into mine, an endless ocean of emotions, so vast I could never reach the depths of them.

"Matt, I have something for you, too."

"It's not my birthday, Mel."

"I don't care. I wanna show it to you."

Mello rustled in his pocket and pulled out a cheap plastic ring I saw him find in a box of chocolate cereal the other day.

"Matt, when we grow up, I want you to marry me."

I raised an eyebrow.

". . .Who's gonna wear the wedding dress?" I asked him.

"Not me."

"You look more like a girl than me, Mel!" I whined. "No fair."

Mello stuck his tongue out at me.

"Too bad. I already said not me."

I stuck my tongue right back at him.

"Fine, but we're having a cake in the flavor I want."

"So is that a yes?" Mello asked me. I nodded in response.

I pouted at him, but I took the ring from him anyway, and put it on the fourth finger on my left hand.

Mello took my cold hands in his, tangling our fingers together.

"Promise me you'll always stay with me Matt, okay?" He asked, so shy, so unlike how Mello usually acted. I knew how much courage it took him to be so honest with me, to tell me just what he was feeling. Mello never liked exposing his tender feelings like that.

"I will. No matter what."

Mello hugged me closely, sharing his warmth.

"...I promise I'll always love you, Matt. Forever."

Tears burned my eyes and built up in my eyes, running down to my cheeks and pooling into the goggles hanging around my neck.

"I love you, Matt."

I know what most of you must be thinking at this point. We were just kids, we were stupid, how could we possibly know what love and marriage are all about? Well, kids may not know everything about marriage, but I know for a fact that they know plenty about love. Probably more than most adults, actually. It's been my experience that adults are usually the ones who are clueless about love, making it far more complicated than it was ever meant to be.

"I love you too, Mel."

We were a couple fucked up kids. Scared, wounded, left out in the cold without a hope in the heartless world, reaching into the dark until we found each other's hands. Mine was still mangled and scarred, his was still soft and flawless. But out there in the December cold, they both turned the same shade of pink.

~Near~

I stacked the last of the dice onto my huge block tower, reaching above my head, a replica of the Empire State Building. Before I'd been brought here to Winchester, I'd always loved when my family would go into the city. I could see the towering giant anywhere I went, looming over me like a silent watchman. It was so amazing to me back then, but now it seemed to mock me.

When I was lost and terrified, it looked down at me and laughed, never doing anything to help me in my suffering.

Why?

Why was it staring at me?

Why didn't it help me?

Why didn't anyone help me?!

Had I done something wrong in some other lifetime, angered some invisible god?

Suddenly, my hours of work meant nothing to me. In a fit of anger, I screamed and kicked it, sending it falling to the ground in a million tiny crashes. I'd probably stood up too fast, so all the blood rushed to my head and I blacked out for maybe two or three seconds- it happened a lot, so I wasn't scared at all.

I woke up to the panicked voice of one of the female caretakers, whose name I have forgotten. I do remember she was rather young, and was one of those caretakers who were constantly harassed because of her excessively kind nature.

"N, are you alright? What happened? Are you hurt?"

She helped me to my feet. A gigantic knot was swelling in the back of my head from when I hit the floor.

"I want to go to bed," I told her flatly, ignoring her question.

She made sure I got there safely, treating me like some scared little dog that's run away from home. I went in and locked my door, glad for some time to myself.

I was one of a handful of children at the institution that had their own bedroom. I'd always been glad for this, but I was especially grateful at the times when I just had to cry, or when every little noise seemed a thousand times louder than it should.

I curled up on my bed and closed my eyes, trying to sooth the newfound throbbing in my head.

I shouldn't feel this way, I chastised myself. They never loved me. Buildings can't speak. Nobody cared about me. Nobody pitied me. Nobody but L.

That's why L had taken me in, right? It was all out of pity. He saw a frozen little child and he'd taken me in, much like a dirty stray cat or dog. I doubted that he truly cared about me either. I didn't mind though, as long as he tossed me those tiny tokens of affection every once in awhile.

Watari had come back from the hospital and told us that L was awake and doing fine, so I hoped that he would come back soon.

If I were a religious person, I guess I would thank God. But seeing as I wasn't quite so blind, I instead felt grateful to the doctors and the hospital that had managed to save his life, where the gratitude belonged.

But I digress. I let my bitterness get in the way of a story. I apologize.

I closed my eyes and fell asleep, allowing consciousness to slip away. A cool numbness washed over me as I found myself, once again, in that house with the pretty white walls and the pictures with no faces.

This time, before I reached the door, I was eaten alive by a rabid wolf.