Chapter Fourteen - A Lesson in Love Part A
I wake long before Mello does, finding myself closer to him than when I fell asleep. We’ve both moved in the night, his arms wrapping closer round me, with my face buried in his shoulder. I don’t move or make a sound, even though I’m awake for quite a while. I don’t want to ruin anything; it feels nice to just lie here, listening to Mello breathing. One of my hands is on his chest, and I think I can faintly feel his heart beating. He’s only peaceful like this when he’s asleep. All the rest of the time he’s noisy and rude and violent… not that I’m complaining. I can’t complain. I like him just the way he is.
And it doesn’t even bother me that he would probably push me away if he knew how I feel. I don’t care. He never has to know the way I feel about him, so I’ll never tell him, and that way I can just stay close to him instead. Like this. This would never happen if he knew.
I wonder what I’ll do when he gets a girlfriend? Will I feel jealous, or…? No, I know I’ll be jealous; I could barely stand to see him look at Penelope, and they weren’t even flirting. I was just paranoid. Will I be able to stand it when he really is with someone? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll leave for a while, see the world a bit, or do some work for a games company. Then when it all goes wrong I’ll come back to wipe his tears. When he needs me. Yeah… that sounds good.
Do I want more? Well, of course I do. But I’m not really that pushy, you know? Mello wouldn’t be able to stand it, but I can. I can stand being third in line, I can stand being the Watson to his Holmes, so I can stand not having him. So long as I’m close to him, so long as I’m his best friend, I don’t mind. But if he ever pushed me away, I couldn’t stand it.
That’s why I don’t move or make a sound, waiting for him to wake up but not caring if he sleeps all day. He smells good, like dark chocolate - sweet underneath but bitter over the top. I take a deep breath, smiling, feeling peaceful and warm.
It’s with a pinch of sadness I hear his voice; did he have to wake so soon? His voice sounds strange, probably because he’s only just woken up. Pretending I was asleep, I stir lightly and pull away a little to look up at his face, only to find something unexpected. He isn’t awake. His eyes are still closed. He’s frowning slightly.
“Matt… please stay…” He says, and I realise he must be dreaming. His arms tighten slightly around me, and he begins to look really upset.
“I’m right here, Mello.” I murmur, trying to influence his dream and turn it in a happy direction, but it seems he doesn’t hear me.
“Matt, don’t go!” He bursts out, sounding afraid. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him sound afraid. Sad, yes; but afraid?
“Mello, calm down.” I continue, reaching up to touch his face soothingly. “It’s just a dream… it’s alright…”
“Matt…” Mello sighs, sounding happier. “I’m so glad you feel the same.”
Then, without warning, clearly under the influence of some kind of strange distorted dream in which things like this could and would happen, Mello, still sleeping, leans forward and plants a small kiss on my lips.
My cheeks flame up, and I freeze in place. I don’t know how to react. He’s just dreaming, so it isn’t real, but… it’s almost as if he heard my innermost thoughts and desires and fulfilled them, almost as if he really could feel that way… I….
“M-Mello…” I stammer at a normal speaking volume, knowing I have to wake him up before it seems like I’m taking advantage or something, and this time his eyes flutter open.
I can tell instantly that he remembers the dream, and realises what has happened. I suppose my face, blushing and shocked, kind of gives it away. For a second he just stares at me, looking horrified, then he jumps away and sits up in bed, leaving me behind. I sit up, too, to be level with him. He looks at me like I’m L come back to life, something that just shouldn’t be.
For a moment, it was perfect. And now… my dreams are shattered all over again.
Oh, God, I can’t believe I did that. He knows, now. He must know. Shit. He’s… he’s my best friend, and I didn’t want him to know! This will change everything. How could I have been so stupid as to imagine I could sleep in the same bed as him, and nothing would happen? It was bad enough last time, I had to scrub myself in that shower, trying to get rid of all the unclean and sinful thoughts, trying to keep myself pure. Of course I’ve killed. But it was in self-defence, and in the defence of Matt. It was self-sacrifice, sinning to keep him alive. Lying to keep him at home and safe. Resisting temptation to avoid pulling him into sin. Now I’ve gone too far. It was all for nothing, because he knows now, and as soon as someone else knows you can’t deny it any more. It’s alright when it’s just you, you can pretend it isn’t true and ignore it. But when there’s two of you, it’s… it’s no longer possible.
“Mells…” Matt says, cutting into my frantic thoughts, and looking pained. “Who were you dreaming of?”
I look away from him, and at the wall, searching desperately for an answer that will end this. He’s given me a way out, and I will take it with both hands, and thank God that it is there. “Penelope.” I mutter, almost ashamed at using a dead woman to cover my own sin.
“Right. I’m relieved.” Matt says, sounding not at all relieved. “I thought you meant it for me, for a moment.”
I laugh weakly. “No, I’m not gay.” I lie, with a fake smile and an awkward little glance in his direction.
“Right. Me either.” Matt replies, sounding more sure of himself now.
Matt gets up first, going back to his own room to get changed, adding that he’ll make breakfast afterwards. I nod and watch him close the door as he leaves, then sigh, running a hand through my hair, unsure of what to think or do. Eventually routine takes over and I get up to change into new clothes, pulling on black jeans and a t-shirt. I’m not in a leather mood today.
Sighing, I run a hand through my hair again, wondering what I’m doing. How could I allow things to get to this point? In the eyes of God, I… I’m…
I’m so frustrated with myself. I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to be stronger than this! There’s no wonder I lost to Near, if this is the real extent of my self-control. Fuck it. I need to toughen up. I need to get better!
Leaving my room at last, I head to the kitchen to see Matt already making breakfast. His goggles are over his eyes and he’s playing with his gameboy while he waits for pancakes to be ready. I roll my eyes.
“Matt, don’t play while you’re cooking. You’ll burn something.”
Matt chuckled, waving the gameboy at me. “You don’t know how appropriate that statement was.” He said.
“What?” I reply, frowning. He beckons me over and shows me the screen. It’s Pokemon, as usual.
“Look, here’s my Pokemon. It’s a Bulbasaur, I call it Mello. And here’s his opponent, the Charmander.”
“Oh?” I say, having never really played this game, and not understanding.
“See, the Charmander is a fire type. So if I’m not careful, he’ll attack me with fire and I’ll lose.”
I watch the battle playing out, reading the text onscreen and trying to figure out how it all works.
MELLO is BURNED!
Oh, right. Thanks Matt. Real full of tact, there.
“Er…” He begins, obviously trying to think of a way to excuse it.
MELLO is hurt by the BURN!
“What a stupid game.” I mutter going back to the other side of the island.
“S-sorry…” Matt tries, looking fairly mortified. “I didn’t know that would happen.”
“Of course you didn’t.”
Oh dear. I realise how that looked, but I really didn’t mean it.
Maybe he deserves it, though. I mean, Penelope? He really thought I would believe that, and not have a problem with it? Especially after our argument the other day! It hurt to hear him use her as an excuse. Maybe he did like her after all. I don’t know. What am I supposed to think?
Sighing, annoyed now, I lay down the gameboy to flip the pancakes and serve them up, one each. Mello’s is covered in melted chocolate, just the way he likes it. Mine just has sugar and lemon.
“Anyone ring up yet?” He asks.
“No, no more vulnerable women.” I reply, without thinking about how it sounds.
“What?” Mello snaps.
“What? … Oh. I just meant…”
“You just meant that there’s no one for me to prey on yet, is that it? No one for me to be unprofessional with?” He glares, leaning forward over the island to be all the more in-my-face.
“No!” I burst out. “For God’s sake, I just meant that no one needs us. Calm the hell down.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down!” He yells. “You’re the one that’s trying to get me fired up!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, let me see. ‘Mello gets burned’? Hmm? Remind you of anything? Like, I don’t know, maybe this massive scar across my face?”
“I always call my starter Pokemon Mello, just like the trainer is always called Matt!” I shout. “It was just a coincidence!”
“Oh, so you’re my trainer now? Is that how you see it?” He snarls, getting angrier by the minute. “You’re my owner?”
“I just… I don’t know! Why are you getting so stressed?”
“I’m not stressed, Matt, I’m fucking angry! What is your problem with me?”
“I don’t have a problem with you!”
“Then why are you trying to hurt me?! You’re a fucking liar!”
“I’m a liar?” I reply, getting angrier too, because he should know I’m not like that. “I’m not the one who pretended he was dreaming about a dead woman.”
“Pretended? I was dreaming about her.” Mello snaps, looking dangerous.
“Oh yeah? Then how come you were saying my name?”
Mello’s face twists furiously, and he stands up, pushing his chair over behind him as he does so. “I wasn’t dreaming about you.”
“Yes, you were. Admit it.” I reply, yelling. “Just admit it!”
Mello’s gun is suddenly in his hand, and I prepare to scoff at whatever threat he throws at me. But this time it’s different. This time he shoots. I hear a bang, and feel the rush of wind past my ear as a bullet embeds itself in the wall next to my head. He actually took a shot at me.
“You fucker!” I shout. “What if I’d moved? You could have fucking killed me!”
“Well, good! Maybe I’d finally get some peace!”
“You want peace, do you?” I snap, grabbing up the gameboy and the car keys. “Well fine. Have some peace. I’m going to take my car, and drive away from my house, and leave you to eat my food, on your goddamn own. And I hope that makes you fucking happy.”
I storm away, out through the door and into the car and away. Mello doesn’t even leave the kitchen to watch me go. I guess he really doesn’t care after all.