Kriminalist

Chapter Twenty-Six: A Lesson in Discovering Part A

MATT

Something on the monitors arrests my attention just as I’m about to go. Could it… really be? Right there, in front of them? But of course… there are still some letters missing. I count them up - there are eight left to find. That makes three each, but one of us will only get two.

I start searching all around me, through boxes, behind units, on window sills. It takes me only maybe five minutes to find them - a “T” on a rook, and an “H” on a queen. Looking at the word patterns, I can only assume that there are no more letters for me; the rest are for Mello and Near. Armed with my evidence, it seems, it’s time for me to go down a floor.

I step into the elevator, glad that restrictions don’t apply on this floor; I can move around as I like. It rumbles smoothly into movement, briefly dipping to the next door down, barely feeling like movement at all. There is a faint chime from the speakers to announce our arrival and then the doors slide open with a soft swish, letting me out.

I pause for a moment before I knock at the door. I can hear their voices still, hushed and muffled, but theirs. I close my eyes, trying to hold onto this last moment, because I know that after this I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do. They won’t be happy with me. But what else can I do? I’m here now… there’s no way back.

I’m a little scared, actually. I pull my goggles up over my eyes, the thick glass colouring everything in such a familiar way. I think if they’re going to be mad at me anyway I might as well add another reason, so I light a cigarette as quietly as I can and draw in a deep breath. Once the nicotine starts to work on my nerves I feel a bit better. I put the cigarette in my mouth, one hand in my pocket, and with the other, I knock on the door.

It takes a few moments, then I hear a rustling noise as someone gets up. Mello’s voice comes through from the other side of the door, quiet but calm - “Who is it?”

I take the cigarette back out of my mouth and clear my throat. “Ah… It’s… it’s me, Mells.”

Mello tears the door open and stares at me, shock and joy and confusion and shock passing over his face in quick succession, until he drags me into the room by my wrist and closes the door behind me again. He whirls to face me, his hands gripping the sides of my shoulders as he searches my face for… for what?

“Where the fuck have you been?!” He demands, half angry and half relieved, and for a brief moment I remember how I felt when he called me from Japan back at the start of all this, asking me to help him when I hadn’t seen him in so long.

“Uh…” I reach up and adjust my goggles slightly, then point to the ceiling. “Up there.”

“Wh…” Mello and Near turn as if attached by a string to stare at the ceiling, as if by some special trick they could look up there and see me, a few hours ago, looking down at them.

“Anyway,” I say quickly, wanting to take advantage of their surprise to distract them from the fact that they have every right to be really, really angry, “I know how to solve the anagram. I mean, I know what it says. I have some letters too.”

“You… have some letters? What are they?” Near demands. I try to ignore the fact that Mello is staring at me as if he’s never seen me before.

“Here.” I let all the chess pieces fall from my pockets, throwing them onto the bed next to the apples and cards. “I also saw on the security cameras that there are at least two more hidden in this room, I think three. There’s one, right under the lampshade, you see? It’s an ‘N’.”

“Stop all of this.” Near says suddenly. “You know the answer. Tell us the answer. No more clues.”

“Alright, alright.” I move to the bed, and start rearranging the letters into the right order. “There should be nine apples, then my eleven chess pieces, then ten cards.”

“I… understand.” Near says, watching over my shoulder, his eyes picking out the patterns in the letters very easily. “It says… “L, do you know Gods of Death love apples?””

“Yes.” I agree, now that the anagram is finally unravelled in front of us. “Or in other words, someone with access to classified information is playing a game with us.”

“Well, at least we are aware now.” Near says gravely, sweeping up all of the pieces in his arms, like treasured toys. “I will get these to our evidence bank.”

“If you could leave quickly, Near.” Mello says all of a sudden, in a somewhat strangled voice. He’s still looking at me, and meeting his eyes I feel myself go pale.

Uh-oh, I think, as Near closes the door behind him.

MELLO

“You… stupid, stupid boy.” I say, as calmly as I can manage, through gritted teeth. “I thought Kira had you. I thought you could be dead.”

“M-Mells, I just needed to -”

“I thought,” I snarl, dangerously closely to entirely losing my temper, “You were dead.”

“I know you did. But I had to do it this way, or you would have -”

“Matt. Shut up.” I tell him, walking closer to him until we’re face to face. “I worried about you so much. I could barely sleep for worrying. I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out ways of getting past the security system to look for you. I told you to go to Roger!”

“I just -”

“Shut UP, Matt!” I yell now, grabbing him by the shoulders again, making him look at me, making him see how he’s made me feel. “I don’t care what you thought you were doing! If you ever, ever pull a stunt like that again I will personally drag you to Wammy’s House, take you down to the basement, and lock you in!”

“Mello.” He whimpers, quietly, and I know now that he understands what he did. He understands how upset I am. But that doesn’t make it all better.

“You’re going to England tomorrow.” I tell him, letting go of his shoulders and heading for the door.

“No!” I’m startled by how desperately he grabs onto my arm, and that note of panic in his voice. “You can’t send me away, Mello, I mean it.”

“Can, and will.” I snap. “It’s supposed to be for your own safety, moron!”

“Fuck you.” He says, suddenly beginning to cry behind the goggles. “If you can really send me away then you don’t care for me at all.”

“Don’t be so fucking ridiculous.” I bite out, trying not to soften. “I’m sending you away because I love you and I don’t want you to die.”

“You’d rather break my heart, huh?”

“Yes!” I shout, all the anger suddenly flooding back to me. “If that’s what it takes to keep you alive, then yes! How can I do my job if you die? How can I give a shit about the world if it doesn’t have you in it?”

“Fine.” Matt snaps, lifting the goggles slightly to run his sleeve across his eyes. “If you send me away, I’ll kill myself.”

After a moment of silence, I turn away from him and walk back towards the door. “Don’t threaten me with things you can’t follow through on.”

“You don’t think I mean it?” Matt says, fully crying now. “I do. I mean it. I’ll do it. You’re such a bitch, Mello, don’t fucking send me away!”

I don’t say anything; just open the door, and walk through it, and lock it behind me. I take a moment, take a deep breath, and then go in search of Near.

NEAR

I waited patiently for five minutes, maybe less; and now, as I predicted, Mello is at my door.

“Come in.” I say gravely, still studying the card I found upon my return, redundant now in terms of a clue.

“Near, I want you to organise another flight to England.”

“You do realise, Mello, that he will only try to run away again?”

“Not if someone responsible is with him.” Mello says. “Gevanni, or Lester.”

“Maybe even Lidner.” I muse, nodding in a satisfied way. “As I have said; If there are two of us, we will surpass L.”

There is a moment of silence; I turn to see Mello glaring at me, as if some switch in his brain has been turned on.

“There are three, bitch.” He snaps. “Matt’s staying here. But you make sure no one here knows about it, alright?”

“Alright.” I reply mildly, placing the new card neatly on top of the others as he storms out of the room.

I know, I know. It was risky. But I had it certain that, faced with this saying again, there was a seventy-four percent chance of Mello changing his mind. And I was right. Now that I have both Matt and Mello exactly where I want them, the investigation can really begin.


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