January 26, 2013

Spoilers for chapter 99/episode 32.

Inspired by the book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Mello and the Thousand Paper Cranes

The silence that engulfed every corner of the room had long ago been broken by the constant beeping sound coming off from a device, and a series of sobs coming from a certain blonde. The sheets of the bed in front of him were wet not from tears, but rather, from sweat, as he had been gripping it for a long period of time now, not planning to let go soon.

As each second passed, he only held tighter.

Mello brought his head down to his knuckles, frustration, anger, and sadness all mixing up inside of him like one big chaotic mess. A thousand and one thoughts rushed inside his head, making him even more confused than he already was. He gave a louder sob, tears threatening to spew out.

What happened? How? Why? Were the questions Mello asked himself over and over, yet he found no answer. Mello went over his thoughts despite how each fleck of memory felt like a gunshot through him.

His plans were supposed to be perfect. His instructions were crystal clear. He found no holes that could possibly hinder them, and he made sure that everything was fool-proof. Mello even had a back-up plan for his back-up plan. He deduced everything to be precise…absolutely flawless. And yet, there he was, sulking in front of the possible deathbed of his best friend.

Mello couldn't bear seeing Matt all beaten up and broken like that. The redhead was breathing through an oxygen mask. He had a bandage around his head, and so did the whole of his torso underneath the hospital gown he was wearing. There were all sorts of plastic tubes connected to him. And the goggles he always wore over his bright green eyes had been snapped into two. The sight wringed Mello's heart.

He cringed upon looking at Matt and broke out in cold sweat. Mello could remember everything. Watching Matt surrounded by Takada's bodyguards. The gunshots they fired. Hurrying. Crashing the truck. The church burning. Escaping and leaving Kiyomi Takada behind…

Mello immediately headed way to Matt's exact location soon after, already having medical assistance on standby.

Time had been vital. If Mello hadn't been there on time… No. He wouldn't even dare think about it.

"Matt, you idiot…" Mello murmured, sinking his head back down again, clutching even harder on the sheets that he could almost feel his nails digging into his skin. "Why didn't you stick to the route…? Why didn't you take my directions…?" Matt could be really stubborn sometimes, to the point where he had to pay severe consequences. But it's not like Matt does it on purpose. He just was. It was almost innate.

And this was probably Mello's mistake, the flaw in his plan. He didn't anticipate Matt's recklessness.

"Why did you have to be so stubborn," Mello trailed off, when he heard the door open gently behind him. He turned his head toward it with a fallen expression. "How is he?"

The doctor looked neutral, Mello noted. He was hoping that it was a good sign. At least he wasn't frowning.

"We were able to take out all the bullets from his body," the doctor announced as he scanned through the papers on the clipboard he was holding. "Fortunately, no vital organs were damaged. If not for the bulletproof vest he was wearing, he could've been dead on arrival."

"I see…"

"His organs are stable, and his blood pressure is fine. But he could remain unconscious for a longer period of time. Twenty-four bullets is no joke. His body did not seem to handle the pressure very well. Right now, your friend is on a comatose."

"C-comatose?" Mello was taken aback. And he almost choked on his words as he spoke. "Are you sure?"

"Yes. But rest assured, we've predicted an 85% chance of him waking up. We're just not certain as to how long it will take. It could take days, weeks, or even months…" Mello nodded in slight comprehension, before the doctor dismissed himself.

And for the first time in his life, Mello did not know what to do. Everything was a mess inside his head. He was trying to swallow what the doctor had informed him, but it was like swallowing a bitter pill. Maybe that's why he was only second. He just didn't understand.

Mello chose to stay silent. There was no point to go off in anger. He just needed some time to think things through. To cool down.

With a sigh, Mello got up from his seat. He gave one last look at his best friend before ruffling his hair very gently. "I'll come by tomorrow…" And left.

It was another cold morning. Without Matt around, everything seemed to be much, much colder. As if the season wasn't already doing its worst. Mello wrapped his scarf around his neck tighter as he walked through the almost bare streets. He had been going in and out of Matt's hospital the day he was admitted in and Mello was hoping… wishing… praying even, for the faster recovery of his best friend.

But even if Matt was in such a state, Mello's life had to go on. He had to move forward. He didn't want to be mopping around, or to be going off getting angry at everything because he knew that Matt wouldn't want that. He was sure of it. Matt would've wanted him to relax and take it easy, because everything was going to be okay.

Mello gave a huff in frustration. Somehow it would.

"Hello, young man. You seem to have a heavy burden over your shoulders..."

Mello abruptly stopped from his tracks, surprised, as he heard a voice from behind him. He immediately spun around. And there he was met by a rather old and slightly crippled lady. Her face was sagging, but her smile showed spirit of a young girl, despite some missing teeth.

"I'm sorry, old lady. But I don't have time to talk," Mello said hastily, wanting to leave as soon as he possibly could. But just as he was about to head off, the lady somehow already advanced on him. Mello was slightly irritated as she spoke once more.

"You know, there is a Japanese legend that if you make a thousand paper cranes, a crane will grant you a wish," the old lady said, smile never faltering. But Mello didn't have time for some legend. He didn't have time to make a thousand paper cranes. He didn't have time to believe in it.

"I don't believe in superstitions," Mello said in a gruff. He was just about to go passed her when he felt a tug on his leather jacket.

"You can try." Mello clicked his tongue. This lady was getting persistent and it was ticking him off.

"Would you just -!" Mello was cut off when he was handed a box. It was big enough to be held by only a hand, and it was covered in velvet silk. Mello eyed the box suspiciously and opened it, only to find tiny pieces of colored paper inside. "What am I supposed to do with this?" But as soon as the blonde has looked up, the lady had somehow disappeared. He turned around, but saw no one. Without having much of a choice, Mello decided to take the box with him.

But he didn't take interest in it after that.

…Until that night.

It was curiosity that drove Mello to kick-start his laptop, have the silk covered box next to him, and try his luck on this legend the old woman was talking about. And after a few convincing reads later – either he really was convinced, or he was just hopelessly desperate, Mello was thinking of how much of an idiot he was for doing something so ridiculous.

Well, what was there to lose? Patience, yes. But Matt was not part of the option.

Curses were flying out of Mello's mouth as he sat there, eyes intently shifting from the computer screen to the paper he was holding. "Why can't I get this damn thing right!?" He yelled in frustration and ended up ripping the paper in two.

Mello was so close to giving up, but thinking about it, it was like giving up on Matt. So naturally, he decided against it. Mello was going to do this until it kills him.

A few more hours passed by and it was already in the wee hours of the morning. Mello did not leave his seat, not until he got one right. Which took him until sunrise to do so, but nevertheless, he got there.

Mello stared at his palm, not in complete bliss, but somehow satisfied. His first paper crane.

Only nine-hundred ninety-nine more to go.

That morning, Mello had managed to create about sixty-four pieces. It wasn't much, Mello had to be honest, but he was making progress. He then decided to continue this in Matt's hospital. And with him, he carried a rather big glass vase.

"Hey, Matt," the blonde greeted, grabbing a chair and settling in front of the gamer's bed. He took out the silk-covered box and scattered its contents next to Matt. The cranes that he'd made, Mello had put them inside the jar. "Guess what I'm doing," Mello said, as he began with a red colored piece of paper.

Of course, Mello did not expect a reply from the other, but if he ever did, he was sure Matt would go off with something like: "Oh! Tell me! Wait! Let me guess! You know who Kira is? Geez Mello, you should really take a break from that. It's not good for you…"

"No Matt," Would be Mello's reply. "This time it's not about the Kira case. Hey, and you're one to talk. You and your stupid chain-smoking habit." He looked at Matt for a quick second before continuing. "I'm making a thousand paper cranes. Can you believe it?"

"You're silly…"

"I know. Stupid isn't it?"

"You don't have enough patience for that!"

"I'm doing my best, you know?" A sobbed escaped Mello's lips, but he held back his emotions. He dumped his finished piece into the jar and proceeded to make another one. "Look, I've already made a handful. I even got a jar to measure my progress…" Mello announced.

"That's really neat! You should teach me sometime!"

"Maybe I'll teach you sometime. That'll surely get you away from your stupid games."

"And no. I won't stop playing video-games, if that's what you're thinking…"

"So you better wake up soon."

And the beeping sounds continued to echo throughout the room.

Mello continued with the same old routine, going back and forth from the hospital, each time making a decent amount of origami cranes before the day ended. After a weeks' time, the glass vase had been full by a fourth.

"Two-hundred and one, Matt…" Mello trailed off.

"Wow, Mels. I'm actually really proud of you!"

"Aren't you proud of me?" Mello looked at the cranes satisfied. He couldn't wait until he's actually made a thousand. Although it was quite far-fetched, Mello did not let go of the string of hope he was holding so tight onto.

He wasn't, until Mello decided to make the mistake of standing up to get himself a glass of water.

He didn't know how it happened, but he somehow knocked over the bedside tray.

The vase shattered and so did the pitcher of water.

The cranes were soaked. Every last bit of them. Every last one Mello had been so patient over, had exerted so much effort in. And he only stood there, dumbfounded. Until his fight-or-flight kicked in and Mello was angry and frustrated and…and… he wanted to go off in rage.

But he had found himself dropping to his knees and crying.

"I – I… No!" Mello was desperately trying to pick up and save it, but he ended up with cuts on his hands from the shards of glass. The paper that he did manage to pick up had broken apart and turned to mush. "No!" Mello pounded both fists on the ground, and a little less than a second, everything was soaked in blood.

But Mello didn't feel anything.

Only the numbing pain of his hopes crumbling apart and his fears taking over.

This time, Mello didn't really know what to do.

Until he heard mumbles from somewhere above him. Mello quickly stood up to Matt's bedside.

"M-Matt? Matt, are you awake?" Mello asked frantically. He was replied with mumbles. And more mumbles, 'til Mello was slowly greeted by the familiar set of green orbs. "Matt! You're okay!"

"Mello? That you?" Matt trailed off in a drawled dragging tune.

"Yes! Yes, it's me!" Mello squeezed Matt's hand in re-assurance. "How are you feeling? Do you want me to go get the nurse? Or the doctor?"

"No, no. Just… you."

"Okay." Mello sat back on his forgotten chair, hands still planted on the others'. He then noticed Matt crinkle his nose, despite the lazy look in his eyes.

"Why does it smell like blood? Mello, did you hurt yourself?"

"I got in a bit of an accident."

Matt chuckled, and this time, Mello felt a warm hand over his blood-covered one. "Geez Mels. And I'm supposed to be the one in the hospital. What have you been doing?"

Mello looked away, embarrassed. Did he really want Matt to know how he was getting worked up over making a thousand paper cranes in hopes of making a wish for him to wake up? Well, it was too late as Mello's mouth flew open and out came the words as he explained them to Matt.

"But I ended up breaking them anyway."

Mello looked back when he noticed a hand reaching up to his face. Mello leaned closer and felt Matt's touch travel from the grotesque mark to the smoother part of his face. Mello felt a pinch.

"What the hell was that?" Mello demanded, shocked at the gamer's action.

"Mels, you're so silly. We're not Japanese…" Matt giggled.

"Yeah… We aren't, are we?"

I've been away from this fandom for so long! TT_TT I'm actually a bit emotional about it.

So, I've had this idea stored in my archives for about a year now. A year! And I was only able to finally get up on my ass and work on it today. Why? Because of the date. I really wanted to make the date. Today is the official death day of Matt and Mello (if you're following the manga) – but y'know, I refuse to believe in it since they clearly faked their deaths (yeah, I'll just keep on telling myself that) and I just had to make my own aftermath version to commemorate.

Although I did feel a little bit rushed and I feel like I wasn't able to incorporate my 100% in this. Angst is still not my forte but I guess that's not an excuse.

Anyway, I still hope it moved you even slightly.