Kriminalist

Chapter Sixteen - A Lesson in Love Part C

MATT

When the phone stops ringing, I sigh and pass a hand over my eyes. I can’t believe we’re acting like children again. I pick it up and dismiss the missed call message, not wanting it to run my battery down, and then stare at Mello’s face on the screen. My wallpaper is a photo of the two of us, laughing and joking back in England. Before Mello went off to fight Kira and left me on my own. It usually makes me smile whenever I see it, but right now it just makes me want to cry. How could things be so hard between us? Why can’t I just tell him how I feel?

But of course, that might make things worse. I don’t dare to hope there was any real meaning to him dreaming about me. For all I know he was dreaming of some other Matt, of a Matilda or something, someone he met in the Mafia. Maybe it was just one of those weird dreams that don’t actually reflect how you feel. It could really have been anything, so how can I even begin to hope that he might feel something for me?

I need to see him. We really are acting like children, and it needs to stop. We need to sit down and talk. And I need to tell him what I’m thinking, because if I don’t then the sheer destructive force of it will rip out of me and ruin everything. I can’t take it any more, all the secrecy and second-guessing and feeling like he hates me. I just want this all to be resolved. If I could have anything in the world… it would be to go back to the time we took that photo, before anything really mattered except L. Now he’s gone and Near is somewhere else and we’re at each others’ throats, and I hate it. Mells used to make me happy. Why can’t we go back to that?

That’s my decision, then. I’m going home. I’m going to talk to him. I fire up the car and spin it in the middle of the road, heading back to where I came from. I have to see him.

MELLO

By the time I get to the third bar, I begin to think that I was wrong. He wasn’t in our usual place, or the place we went to for our first American drink, or the place we went to to celebrate our first case. I rode past the park where we went for a walk and a smoke last week, and he wasn’t there. I checked five Internet cafes. I just don’t know where he’s gone.

It’s my fault. I guess I don’t know him as well as I thought. In fact, looking back, it was me who chose to go to all of the places where we have memories. Matt just agreed, blindly, following wherever I chose to lead him. He never argues with me or asks me to change anything for him, except for the names I give to people. Which is fair enough, really, because I can be a bit harsh sometimes.

I keep checking my phone, but there’s still no call from Matt. Eventually I see that it’s beginning to get low on battery, so I put it in my pocket and make myself leave it there. I have to keep looking for him. The wind is getting worse, but I have enough experience to be able to ride against it.

I have to keep going. I head for the next bar, leaving my bike parked, half-running. I’m trying not to attract too much attention, but it’s hard not to when a leather-dressed German rushes into a bar, looks around, and then rushes back out. I must look like such a professional detective. It’s a wonder we get any clients at all sometimes.

MATT

When I get to the house, I’m surprised to see that the door is open, swinging to and fro in the wind. The weather seems to be getting worse. Mello’s motorbike is gone, and his keys are too, so I assume he’s out somewhere. Probably drinking at a bar or something. Getting drunk and chatting up women. Doing god knows what.

A sudden wave of worry hits me; what if he’s in trouble? We have more than enough enemies, being detectives; The Mafia both here and in Japan are against him, not to mention any petty criminals, and his own natural talent for causing trouble. I wrack my brains, trying to decide what to do, and eventually I walk over to the house phone and pick it up.

I call for ages, but no one answers. I wonder if he’s ignoring me, to make up for me ignoring him earlier? I guess I deserve it.

But there’s still a chance. I head back outside to the car, scrambling to get under cover as I feel the first few heavy drops of rain hitting my head. The phone tracker is still in there.

I switch it on, and input Mello’s number, waiting for it to start working as I start up the engine. It starts beeping, showing Mello’s location as the other side of town, right in the middle of a load of bars and nightclubs. Predictable. I set off as fast as I can, needing to get to him as quickly as possible.

As I drive the little dot on the map moves a bit, getting further and further away from the house, but I’m moving quicker. The rain is lashing down. I’m only a few blocks away when it happens, the worst and most unexpected thing. The little dot disappears.

I quickly reach over and fiddle with the controls, but it’s saying it can’t find a signal; the phone must be off. But why would he turn his phone off? And where is he now? I drive as fast as I can, hoping to make it to the last place I saw that dot before he moves again.

MELLO

Shit, shit, shit. I thought to check my phone again, only to find the battery’s gone dead. I didn’t hear the noise it makes to warn that it’s getting low, so what else didn’t I hear? What if Matt tried to ring me?

I get back on my bike to move to another area, having exhausted all the bars nearby. He hasn’t been seen or heard of. I just hope he’ll be around the next corner. It’s raining so hard now I can hardly see through my visor, but if I leave it open the rain goes into my eyes and makes it even worse.

There aren’t many people around on the road; whoever is here is here to drink, and the weather’s so bad that not many people want to be out. The business of the day is not conducted in this sector. Only a few cars pass by me as I start up the bike again, heading onto the road.

Another car splashes past; the wave of water it sends up from the puddles makes me falter, the wheels almost crashing from underneath me. The wind is unbelievably strong. This is one of the worst storms I’ve ever been in. It’s a constant struggle to keep the bike upright, and stop the wheels from skittering off left or right over the water. I don’t care, I need to find him.

A flash of lightning diverts my attention for just a second, and before I know it another car rushes past. I struggle with the bike for a few moments, on the verge of panic, before I feel it slip and slide out from under me. I crash across the road as the bike flies in the opposite direction, skimming across the water, unable to stop. It crashes sideways into a wall, while I come to a rest on the tarmac, dimly aware that the car ahead has stopped.

“Hey! Are you alright?!” A voice shouts above the noise of the storm, muffled through the helmet, but recognisable. “Mello?!”

“Matt.” I murmur, aware that he can’t hear me, slipping out of consciousness.

When I wake up I find myself in bed, clean and dry, my leathers draped over the radiator in my room. The curtains are open, and I can see that the rain has eased off, though there is still a slight drizzle.

I raise my head, and groan at the feeling in my side. Broken ribs? It feels like there are at least one or two, and a quick glance at the bruising there tells me I’m probably right. My head feels fine, though, and I can’t sense any other injuries.

“Mello?”

Matt is standing in the doorway, holding a chocolate bar and a cup of coffee. I smile weakly. I’m not sure of how he is feeling towards me.

“Are you alright? The doctor made a house visit, and he reckons you’ve broken a few ribs. Your bike is pretty smashed up, too.”

“I’m fine.” I reply. “Just a little… can I have the chocolate?”

“Sure.” Matt comes to the side of the bed and passes it to me as I slowly drag myself up a bit, leaning back against the pillows to support myself. Our hands brush as I take it. He flushes slightly, unable to meet my eyes.

“Matt-” I begin, just as he says “Mello-”.

“You first.” He smiles briefly, seemingly nervous.

“I’m sorry.” I tell him. “I’m really, really sorry. I didn’t mean to shoot at you or get so angry.”

“I know. And I’m sorry I argued with you.”

“I…” I look away myself, now as unable to meet his eyes as he is to meet mine. “I didn’t mean what I said, either. About… Penelope. It was… it was you, that I was dreaming of. And it was…”

I can’t say any more. The words won’t come.

“Mello, I understand.” Matt says, sounding sad. “I know you’re not… like that. I know we’re friends. I’m sorry that I tried to push it, and I won’t ever again, but I just can’t deny what I feel. Can you still live with me, knowing that I… that I love you?”

“You… you love me?”

“I love you.” Matt repeats, meeting my eyes at last.

“Oh, god, Matt.” I say, feeling better now, feeling like it’s all better. “I… fucking adore you.”

“You’re kidding me?” Matt says, after a shocked moment.

“Fuck no! I dream about kissing you, you asshole. What kind of friend dreams like that?”

“But I… all this time I didn’t say anything! Why didn’t you tell me?!”

“Why didn’t you tell me?! We could have avoided all of this! My bike is ruined!”

“So is our kitchen tiling!” Matt shouts, grinning. “It’s your fault, you’re the so-called gutsy one, it should have been your job to tell me!”

“Fuck you!” I shoot back, grinning just as much as he is. “Just… just fucking kiss me, yeah?!”

And so for the first time awake, we kiss. And it’s just as good as I dreamed it.


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