Kriminalist

Chapter Three - A Lesson In Rebuilding Part A

MATT

Game over.

That’s all I was thinking when I saw Kira crumple to the floor, and later found out that two other “secondary” Kiras had also been caught and dealt with. Game over. We lose. All of it was for nothing, me and Mello slaving our asses off, hacking databases and not smoking and not playing games - for nothing. We lost everything, and Near was the new L. It had to be one of them, right? It had to be Mello or Near. And afterwards, I guess Near kind of assumed that me and Mells would want to join him. He asked us if we wanted to form part of his team, or to take over as Coil and Deneuve. Mello just stood there. One of his eyes twitched. So before he could say anything, I stepped forward.

I took a long drag on my cigarette, blew the smoke out slowly and deliberately, my eyes fixed on Near.

“No thanks.” I said, and turned and walked out of the investigation centre.

Then I heard the shots, so I ran back and dragged Mello out, but that’s not the point. At least no one got hurt. I think the Matsuda guy almost wet himself, but it was alright in the end. They forgave him. I think.

The point is, after that happened it was just the two of us, alone, stranded, just me and Mells. We didn’t have Wammy’s House any more, because all that could give us was L. And L was kind of taken. We didn’t have the original L or Wammy himself or anyone to hide behind. It was just the two of us.

The first thing we did was go home, really. We were both kind of bummed out. Mello just sat on the roof for a while, I tried to talk to him but he wouldn’t even look at me. A pigeon flew past and he took a shot at it. I guess it shows how close we’ve grown that he didn’t take a shot at me, not that it would be the first time if he did. But that’s just Mello, you know? Part of me loves him for it.

Love. That’s a… funny concept. I’m not sure I understand it. But I do know I care more about Mells than anyone else in the world, he’s my best friend, truth be told he’s my only friend. But that doesn’t devalue it at all. It just means I wanted him as my friend rather than anyone else I’ve ever met. So I have to look after him, even though I know I’ll always be the lesser one in this relationship. I’ll always be inferior. But it doesn’t matter, so long as I’m with him and we can have fun together and we can do what we do. I smoke and game and hack computers, he shoots and swears and eats chocolate. That’s us, and we’re good at it. There’s no need to change a thing.

But something has changed. We don’t have a purpose any more. We were raised to be L, and now we’re surplus to requirements. I get on my laptop and make sure all the money from our Wammy accounts is wired to a new, private, joint account. It’s secure. At least we have something. Even if we have no home, no friends, no job, no purpose, at least we have something.

When he gets down off the roof, after hours and hours of brooding, Mello seems really down. I mean REALLY down. I’ve never seen him this way before. He looks like death warmed up. I guess this is what happens to the ones who aren’t the heroes, isn’t it? All those Pokemon trainers you have to beat, and the Pokemon League, when you beat them at the end, how do they feel? And I guess they feel like this. Inadequate. Worthless. You finally found that one thing you were good at, but someone else was better.

He kind of slouches through the lounge and slumps down on the edge of the bed. So I follow him, put down the gameboy next to the PSP and power down the laptop for a while. He’s not even eating any chocolate, so I pick up a bar from the side as I go through.

I sit down on the bed next to him and unwrap the top corner of the chocolate, and wave it under his face. He pushes it away. I shrug, and put the corner in my mouth instead and bite it off. He glances up at the snap, looking kind of jealous. I wave it under his face again but he just ignores it. God, this is bad. I’ve never seen him turn down chocolate twice.

“Mells?” I say softly. I don’t want to break the silence, but I can’t just leave him. He looks up, says nothing. “You don’t want this?”

“No.” He whispers hoarsely, and looks away again. “I don’t want any of it.”

I put the chocolate down on the bedside table and opt for another tack. “Look. We’ll sort it out. We can start over, make our own name.”

Mello shakes his head, as if in denial.

“Come on,” I continue. “It’s not that bad. We can be better than Near. This was just one case.”

“Matt.” He just says my name, just once, like that, but the emotion in his voice is so strong I can’t even think about saying anything else. “Shut up.”

He leans forward a little and puts his gloved hands over his face and starts to shake, and I realise with the utmost horror that he’s crying.

“Oh, Jesus, Mells,” I say, putting my arms around his shoulders and drawing him close to rest his head on mine. “It’s gonna be alright, I swear.”

He just lays there and cries for a while, and then after some time has passed he stops shaking so much and raises his head and looks at me.

“Can we sleep?” He mumbles, looking down, suddenly shy, the raw emotion still shading his face. I just nod because he should know by now, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do if he asked me, except maybe quit smoking, and even then I’m not sure. We end up sleeping fully clothed, him wrapped in my arms still and resting with his head nestled in the curve of my shoulder. Like lovers? No. Like children.

There’s one thing I know for sure. He’s seen his parents die, he’s lost his home country and been moved to an orphanage where he hates everyone, he’s been in trouble with the mafia and shot at and had half his face and arm burnt off, but Mello has never cried like that before. Never. So I’m not going to offer any complaint, no matter what form of comfort he wants. I’m just going to do it, so he can get better.

MELLO

I just can’t deal with this. I just can’t. I mean, what the fuck? We’re nothing now. How could Near win? I swear, I should walk up to headquarters and just shoot that albino bastard, see who’s winning then… God, I…

I feel like I’m falling to pieces. My whole life I’ve dreamed of being L. Of being someone. Now I’m all alone, and I have nothing, nowhere to go, or… Matt, at least I have Matt. He’ll never leave me. I’ll kill him if he leaves me. He can’t.

He won’t. I’m all he’s got too, yeah, it’s the two of us against the world. I don’t care if the world’s been winning, it ends here. I will never lose another case. Never. I swear it.

But how can I get another case? I’m not a detective. I’m not even a policeman. I’m just this stupid German orphan who grew up in England, with a gun and a fucking temper. Who’s going to trust me with a case? And Matt, he may be less trigger-happy but he isn’t more responsible, he still looks like a teenager. Everything’s gone wrong. Everything’s lost.

Everything’s just… God. Help me.

So when I’m lying there in Matt’s arms (and if you say anything about that being gay then you can fuck off, I’m not gay) I do the only thing I can think of: I hold on to my rosary and pray.

MATT

Mells sleeps for a long time. He’s exhausted, I think. Emotionally. I don’t think he’s ever felt this bad. It scares me a bit, like he might do something stupid. Kill someone, or… or… no, I can’t think like that. He might be a bit reckless sometimes but he’s learnt the value of life, several times over, he wouldn’t throw it away. At least I hope not.

When he does wake up he stirs slightly, and then lays still. His breathing pattern has changed, so I know he’s still awake, but he lies there for a while longer. I think he just needs the comfort. I’m all too happy to provide.

Eventually he moves and sits up, and runs a hand through his hair, then mutters something about a shower. I let him go, then head through to the lounge, stretching out my arms as I go. Mello’s not all that uncomfortable, actually. Surprisingly. Somehow it seems like under all the leather, his skin must be the same texture, or spiky or something, but it’s not. Not that I’ve been beneath the leather. Ah… that came out wrong.

I quickly turn the laptop on and start setting things up. I have my own company, not that anyone else knows this, writing programs and fixing stuff for big companies. It gets in a bit of money, and it’s fairly easy stuff, and I can do it totally anonymously. I mostly set it up to occupy my time while Near and Mello and L and everyone were away, but I temporarily closed it when Mello called me over. I go to the site, open it back up again, and it’s ready to go. I get a couple of jobs straight away, I’m pretty in demand. I start work on one while I’m waiting for Mells to get out the shower, and I’m typing away for a good half hour before I realise he’s not back yet.

Which is odd. I mean, Mello, he’s the kind of person that can be under the water for less than a minute and yet always come out perfectly clean, so he doesn’t take long showers. I pause with my hands suspended above the keys, halfway through a command. Where is he? The water’s still running.

Oh, God, no. Not now. I get up and run to the door. It’s still closed, so, hesitating, I knock on it as loudly as I can.

“Mells?”

No answer.

“Hey, MELLS!” I yell it, but there’s still no answer. Shit, this is bad, this is really really bad. There’s only one thing for it.

I take a couple of steps back, use a bedpost and a chest of drawers to support myself, and kick the door as hard as I can. It takes three kicks to break down, and I’m in, and that’s where I see him, on the floor of the shower, laid there all curled up with the water running across his face.

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