Anecdotes from the Story of the Century

Idiots

"Matsui?"

"Yeah?"

"Could you—nah, I don't think I should make you do that…"

"What is it, Elin? If you need something, I can readily fetch it for you."

"No. Really. It's…it's nothin'. It's too stupid…"

"Come on, Elin, what do you need? I'm sure it's anything but."

"See, I…back at home, when we were kids, and I got sick like I am now, my brother used to sit in bed with me, and we'd read together. And kind of…cuddle, a little."

"Y-you guys cuddled?"

Cough, cough. "Uh-huh. It was one of those rare moments when we actually acted like siblings."

"You want me to do the same thing, don't you?"

"Well, uh, not really, I—yeah. Yeah, that's kind of where I was getting at. Yeah. I'm sorry."

"You have nothing to be sorry for, Elin. If it'll help you feel better, then I'll do it."

"But…what about my flu? Aren't you worried about catching it?"

"Ha-ha! I'm wearing a mask and gloves, aren't I?"

"Thank you, Matsui. You wanna see the funnies, first?"

"The what?"

"You know, the funnies? That's New York slang for the comics."

"Ah. Over here, we have manga!"

She's in bed with another man, their arms wrapped around each other as they hold up the comics together (not high enough). His smile is so big that his mask can't even hide it. Her head is on his shoulder. When she isn't sputtering into a coughing fit, she's laughing that hearty, nasally laugh of hers. Laughing with him. Laughing about nothing.

Matsuda and Erin. Erin and Matsuda. Something about it is vaguely sickening to him, and he's seen more than his share of sickening things in his life. He's seen far worse than this. Why should this even leave a scratch? Why should this make him stop stirring the sugar into his coffee to give it the time of day?

After all, he's the one that sent Matsuda up there, to begin with. Like a handheld video game to keep her occupied, so she doesn't get out of bed to interfere with work again. That'd been his intention ever since he'd arranged their trips to school and back.

They're not attached to each other in any way that's inappropriate. He's just doing what I intended him to.

Touta Matsuda is actually doing his job well, for once.

(A little too well. Is that even possible?)

Wishing is useless, he knows this, especially when it comes to the past. But something in him briefly wishes that idiot hadn't deviated from their plans and tried to infiltrate the Yotsuba Group's office on his own. Not only could he have jeopardized the investigation, not only could he have gotten himself or any of them killed, but if he hadn't had to fake his death to escape the actual thing, he'd probably be the one accompanying Misa to the interview instead of Mogi.

"Don't worry, Matsui. The way I see it, if you were still her manager, we wouldn't get to be sitting here, right now, chewing the fat."

He wouldn't be here, soaking up all of her attention.

But isn't that what he was supposed to do?

"Mm-mm, my compliments to Watari. And…Ryuzaki, I guess. And you too, Matsu."

That's her expressed gratitude for providing everything he can to make her comfortable. In passing. And it's hesitant, like she either doesn't think he deserves gratitude or is completely blindsided by his involvement in her recovery. When Matsuda was rescued, she'd slobbered all over him, mascara and rouge trickling down her face as she turned around to blame him for Matsuda's screw-up. No thank-you for helping Matsuda out of that mess when he could've very well left him at the Group's mercy.

And naturally, when Matsuda the loose-lip told her that the cake was from him, she'd had no answer. Had he given it to her himself, she'd have probably slammed the door on his face without a word.

Not that I've ever cared that much for gratitude.

It hasn't been something he'd gotten plenty of, no matter how many cases he's solved; a gratuity, if nothing else. And it isn't as though he'd saved Matsuda just to impress her. Still, had he died, Yotsuba's guilt would be confirmed, but she would be so unhappy, this he could not deny. She'd never forgive him, not without Matsuda to act as a proxy.

Actually, it's doubtful that anyone in the task force would have forgiven him for abandoning Matsuda. Chasing Aizawa away was one thing, but abandoning Matsuda? He might be an idiot, but he's still one of the team. The "family."

When they call themselves a team, do they include him?

Technically yes, he would be included. They're all working together towards a common cause with himself up front as the leader. At this point, that's all that matters.

Matsuda makes her happy. He makes her cry. Matsuda is like a best friend or brother. He means little more to her than a bully with a superiority complex, a relentless thirst for games, and as much reason and empathy as a cockroach possesses.

He can't say that this is completely untrue. The part about having as much reason as an insect is untrue. Everything else? Not so much. She did ask him once to "chew the fat" with her, using her words. He'd brushed her off. She'd needed sleep, and he'd had work to do. It would've been…too distracting, for them both.

As far as he's concerned, she's the one without reason. Challenging him day in and day out without actually sitting down to consider the logic behind his actions, especially when she'll lose anyway. Defending Matsuda while she thinks she can belittle him with no problem. Denying everything Misa tries to bring to her attention (which is so ironic, it's almost laughable).

Idiot. You're an idiot, Erin Blogger. And so is Matsuda. You practically deserve each other.

He wants to turn off the monitor, or at least mute it. Out of sight, out of mind. But he doesn't. Light is sitting on his left flank, and Mr. Yagami is studying files on the couch not much farther than that. L never turns off a monitor, for any reason. If he does, both will get suspicious. No one would benefit in the least if anyone should catch on that he's developing something that he's trying to wave away. Something that makes him burst into these random, quiet spells of irrational bitterness.

Even Misa isn't benefiting; she's only trying to bring it to Blogger's attention in hopes of using her to distract him from her quality time with Light. He's safe, as long as Blogger continues to dismiss her claims. The more he pushes her away, the more she does the same.

He has a case to attend to. Misa and Mogi should be back from the interview soon. Yes. Work and coffee will set him straight.

He slurps his coffee a bit louder than usual, focusing on the boiling black sensation scalding his throat raw. Though this does earn an agitated glance from Light, no one finds it odd, otherwise.

Despite his telling her to stay in bed, she'd stumbled downstairs anyhow with Matsuda helping her all the way, to see how the mission had gone. Is he going to help her back up into bed? Likely, since he'd helped her down. He pinches the handle of his coffee cup almost to the breaking point at this possibility. He tells her that he may restrain her if she keeps acting out, knowing that this would make her flinch. It does.

"Whoa, cool your jets, tiger! I just came out here to see if the guys were back. As soon as I see 'em, I'll march right back upstairs."

It's strange, how Misa appears so willing to accept Light's decision to abort the plan, as she had been so fired up about it. Apart from her trademark pout, she doesn't put up much more resistance than that (though she does stop to ask Light to sleep with her on her way out, giggling at Light's somewhat evasive reaction).

Thankfully, when all is said and done, Erin sniffs that it's all right, she can get back to her room alone. Wishing everyone good-night, she boards the elevator with Misa. She can't protect Matsuda, now.

(How embarrassing it must be, to be so meek that a younger woman feels compelled to stand up to your superior for you).

Matsuda approaches him and Light shortly afterwards and bows. "Elin says thank you for the soup," he says as helpfully as he can, like he didn't already know this. "It helped her a lot."

"That was the intention. Anyhow, I have another assignment for you."

The rookie detective's eyes seem to light up. "R-really? What do you need, Ryuzaki?"

"Mogi appears to be overworked, with his new job as Misa's manager. He accidentally shredded a stack of documents that are vital to this case. I need you to sort through the shreds of paper and tape all of them back together."

The light in Matsuda's eyes dims, but shimmers again, like he's just been asked to do a jigsaw puzzle. "Huh? Oh…wow. Poor Mogi. Don't worry; I'm on it!"

It's not unusual for him to assign tasks like this. He's had Wedy do the same thing for the documents extracted from the Yotsuba Group's weekly meetings. It's who he's asked to do it that piques Light's curiosity. "Are you sure you want Matsuda to do it? That could take him all night, and he might end up wrapping himself in tape," he says when Matsuda is out of earshot.

His fingers dig into his knees as he hugs them close to his chest, effectively barring back his true feelings from the open. He's already coming up with his follow-up, should Matsuda come back successful, his hands sticky and torn up with paper cuts.

That's partly the point. 'Good work, Matsuda. However, Mogi has just informed me that he's made a mistake. He never actually shredded the documents I needed. He misplaced them and then assumed he'd shredded them. I'm afraid I have no use for these. Please make sure they are shredded immediately.' Matsuda, you idiot.

"It's only a stack of ten, maybe twelve documents. I think he can handle that much," he says nonchalantly, pouring himself another cup.

He's punishing him for a job that he'd asked him to do. If there's any sense in this, he has yet to come up with it.

Around that time, he can see her on the monitor, kicking the sheets off of the bed, stumbling out towards the bathroom in what appear to be the throes of high fever.


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