Kriminalist

Chapter Four - A Lesson In Rebuilding Part B

MATT

Oh, God, NO. Not Mello. Not now.

I run to his side, truth is it feels like I fly there, I don’t care about anything but him right now and everything’s going so fast, yet so slow at the same time. I check for blood but I can’t see any. Where’s his gun? No, I would have heard that. Pills? Do we have pills? I touch the side of his face. His eyes are open, but he’s not looking at me. I’m getting soaked. I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. I just want him to look at me and move and get up and be okay.

“Mello, Mello, look at me, Mello?” I keep saying his name over and over, I’m worried out of my mind, what has he done? What has he done to himself? Slowly, really slowly, like he’s made of clockwork and not flesh and bone, his eyes look up to mine. They were blank but as soon as we make eye contact I can see all this pain there, so much pain that it’s impossible.

“Oh, God, Mello.” I whisper, on the verge of tears, still with one hand on the side of his face, pushing his hair back. He moves his lips as if to speak but nothing comes out.

I get up for a moment to turn the shower off, and find a towel on the floor next to it. I kneel back down and drape the towel around his shoulders, and I just keep whispering things to him, I don’t even know what, but I just want him to know it will be okay. When he’s wrapped up I reach forward and lift him up. He’s older than me but he’s also skinnier, so I can lift him without much difficulty, especially without the usual extra weight of guns and leather and chocolate. I carry him out and lay him on the bed. As I’m letting go one of his hands gathers around the neck of my shirt, hanging on, and his eyes haven’t left mine yet.

“It’s alright, I’m not going anywhere, I promise.” I say to him, and he lets go, although there was no strength in his fist anyway. It was just a gesture, futile and hopeless, but something inevitable, instinctual. He just doesn’t stand a chance on his own. Because he’s never been this alone before; even when he was with the Mafia he knew he could leave at any point and come back to me or Near or Wammy’s House. But now there’s nowhere left to turn.

“Did you do anything?” I ask, not sure if I want to hear the answer. He shakes his head slowly and I sigh in relief, and push the hairs back out of his eyes again.

“Listen, Mells. Don’t scare me like that again. Seriously. I thought you were…”

Something flickers in his eyes, and it’s like he didn’t think I would care or something, like he’s surprised. But how can that be true? Surely he knows I… But… but maybe he doesn’t. I always took for granted that he knew, but…

“Mells.” I say. “You do know you’re my best friend, right? And that I care about you more than anything else in the world, PSP included?”

The biggest reward I could ever get for saying anything was just to see him slowly smile, even though he’s soaking wet and full of all that sadness, to smile up at me with his eyes saying “Thank you”.

MELLO

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I don’t know where I’m going to go.

But I know that Matt will be with me, and it’s enough, for now.

I wonder if he knows that he just saved my life.

He’s my best friend, too. And I never thought I would need him more than anything else, I never thought I would depend on him like this. I can’t even resent that. I should. I know I should. But I can’t.

Everything feels empty, except for Matt. Mail. My Mail. Maybe there is something worth living for after all.

MATT

As soon as he seems alright, tucked warmly between the sheets, I slip into the other room and grab my laptop. I take it into the bedroom and sit and watch him fall asleep, solving corporate problems with my fingertips, not really paying attention. When he’s been asleep for a couple of hours I finish one last problem and check my bank account. It looks like we have enough.

I didn’t want to worry him, but in three days the rent we paid already runs out. I don’t think he wants to stay here anyway. It’s bad for him. I don’t want a repeat performance of what just happened.

And somehow it’s only now that I realise what did just happen. Mello was in the shower. Therefore he wasn’t wearing any clothes. And now I can remember the feel of his skin through the thin towel, and his hand grasping my shirt. I feel the slightest stirring within myself, and… no. No, I don’t feel that way. I don’t. Do I? I do. I do.

It’s not as if I’m gay or anything. It’s just… Mells… he’s different. I don’t know what this means. Christ.

To distract myself, I go back to the bank account. Yeah, there’s enough. I go out into the other room, carefully closing the door, and spend the next few hours surfing the web and making calls. I’ve got enough cash to be able to speed the process up a little, and I enlist Roger’s help via email at one point where the paperwork could take months. Not any more. By the time Mello wakes up it will all be ready.

Since I’m done now, I work a little more and then go back to watching him sleep. I nod off myself for a little while, but I still wake up before he does. He must be exhausted. With a small smile I realise I haven’t played a game or smoked all day. Mello’s enough for both addictions, I think. He’s stronger than them.

When he eventually stirs he looks at me for a while with these big, sleepy eyes. I can tell he’s totally awake and alert, though. I meet his gaze and we stay like that for a while, then he rubs a hand over his face and sits up in bed.

“I’m sorry.” He mutters quietly.

“I know.” I say. “It’s alright.”

“I didn’t mean to…”

“I know.”

“Right.” He nods, just once, as if that concludes the entire matter. “We’ve got to leave soon, haven’t we?”

I nod, and smile. “Yes. But I’ve organised everything.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that everything’s ready.” I lift several print-outs from beside my chair, handing them to him one at a time.

“Plane tickets for LA?” He says, reading out what he’s seeing. “Why are we going there?”

I just smile and hand him the next sheet.

“Deeds for… for… hang on. Are you saying this is our house?”

He holds up the photograph of a gorgeous five-bedroom three-bathroom modern house with a swimming pool in the backyard and quite a distance between it and its neighbours, and I nod. He stares at me a moment, then back to the photograph, then back to me.

“Well, fuck.” He says. “You’re useful after all.”

“There’s more.” I say, handing him the next sheet.

“Verschmelzen?” He queries, reading the title. “A new… private detective…?”

“Otherwise known as Mail and Mihael Inc.” I grin. This is the kingpin in my plan. “Let me explain. I was thinking of our assumed names, how if you put Mello with Matt you can make melt. So I put melt into an internet translator, and out of what came up I though Verschmelzen was great, even though it actually means… to blend or merge, right? Which makes sense, because we are merging into one name. And of course it’s German for you.”

“Okay, de-nerd for a little.” Mello says. “Private detective?”

“Yes.” I say. “Welcome to your new career. Objective: Become a better detective than Deneuve, Coil, and L combined.”

He stares at me for a moment, and then grins. One of those trademark scary-ass Mello grins where you know in the next moment he’s either going to shake your hand or shoot you. Thank God he has no reason to shoot me. Also, thank God he didn’t notice that I found out his real name.

“So when does the flight leave?” He asks.

“In about six hours.” I say. “Time to pack. I’ve arranged for your bike to go as cargo. So let’s pack, and then get on it.”

“Right.” Mello says. “Let the new era begin.”

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