Matt and Mello are together again, and perhaps this time, it's them that are waiting for the world.
Computers, Matt reflected, were great for information on people, but not always that useful for understanding them.
Mello was stretched out on a couch, limp and asleep, decorated in leather and metal and seemingly unaware of the alcohol bottles scattered around the floor, the drug paraphernalia and weapons occasionally appearing in hidden corners around the room, and the drug smoke and alcohol fumes saturating the apartment's air.
Matt sat in the chair across from where Mello was stretched out, lighting a cigarette and allowing the nicotine smoke to overwhelm all the other unsavory stenches in the air. He'd kept precise track of everywhere Mello went and everything Mello did, but he still hadn't quite banished the image in the back of his mind of the young teenager charging headlong into danger, without a thought that it could hurt him. This Mello was thinner and sharper; there were the beginnings of lines on his face and no baby fat left. He seemed to be made of bones and muscle; quite a feat considering the half room full of chocolate that Matt had found.
Matt finished the cigarette, let it burn out, and tossed it into a trash can, on top of needles, bullet casings, chocolate wrappers and crumpled papers. Most of the papers Matt could recognize even in their crumpled form, including one still on the table. A printed out email from Matt, crumpled and smoothed and crumpled again, telling Mello he'd be out of contact for a while while he looked for something. Mello must have panicked when he found it. The edgy nervousness that his Mafia members had shown before Matt kicked them out agreed.
Matt's hand hovered over the cigarettes in his pocket, then drifted to another pocket to pull out his gameboy. The sound would alert Mello to his presence once he woke up.
A few dings and musical attempts at flourishes later, and the hollow music from the gameboy was threading its way through the apartment, followed by quieter clicks from the buttons. Mello didn't move at all, still laying on the couch, graceful and neat and worn out and exhausted, like some prince of pride and failure.
Prince, of course. When Matt thought about it, it didn't surprise him in the least. He'd simply showed up, informed the Mafia members that he was Mello's friend and they were leaving, now, with the right tone and a blank stare, and they'd left. But they'd been edgy and taken by surprise; Matt was quite sure that simply acting as if they would obey wouldn't cut it for Mello to control them if he was around them long. Acting like everyone on Earth would obey him could, though, and Matt was sure that Mello had practiced exactly that for so long that he probably believed it too, now.
Time passed while the hollow music darted through the apartment. Mello kept sleeping, and Matt eventually worked his way through six levels and two more cigarettes, leaving the ashes and butts on the table next to the chair he'd claimed. They were hardly the worst thing there, anyway.
Mello stirred, eventually, blinked at the ceiling once, then was sitting up straight, staring at Matt with the funniest expression Matt had seen in years. One side of his face was screwed up and twitching, while the other looked shocked and tried to frown. Matt snorted, played his game for a few more seconds, then paused it and looked up at Mello. "Hey."
Mello frowned, gave him an annoyed look, and glanced at the table next to Matt's chair. "I see you're still smoking."
Matt shrugged. "Quit after you left. Couple months later I had to stay awake again, quit a week after that, had to start again a year later, never bothered to quit again."
"It'll kill you."
Matt snorted, coughed, and tossed the cigarette butts, along with a handful of other stuff from the table, into a trash can. "So? Everyone dies." He shrugged. "We're against Kira. Smoking's not gonna get the chance to kill me." He certainly hoped it wouldn't, anyway.
Mello glared at him and stood up. "Smoking is not going to get the chance to kill you because you're going to quit now. And Kira won't kill you because you're going to listen to me and not do anything stupid to get yourself killed by him."
Matt raised an eyebrow. "Stupid... like joining the Mafia?"
Mello just glared harder. "Yes. Like that."
"...Bit late for that, you know."
"Go back to Wammys, Matt. I'm not going to be responsible for you dying." Mello turned around, walking to the kitchen.
"I haven't been at Wammys in years, we leave when we're sixteen, remember?" Matt trailed after Mello, leaving his bags scattered around the floor by the chair. "Anyway I'm thinking I'd rather be killed by Kira. Everyone dies anyway, Kira kills with heart attacks, seems like a pretty clean way to die compared to a lot of the alternatives." Lung cancer being one alternative in particular that he'd prefer not to experience.
Mello turned around and gave him another frustrated glare. "You are not going to die from smoking, or Kira, or anything else. You are going to die of old age in your sleep at the age of a hundred and ten. Got it?"
"Name one Wammys kid who hasn't died before they turned thirty." Matt leaned against the door frame and pulled another cigarette out.
Mello shot him another glare before turning to dig through a cabinet. "You are infuriating."
"Also name one Wammys kid who isn't infuriating. ...You know, those may be connected." Matt considered the connection for a while while Mello searched the cabinet, then found some kind of chocolate granola bar to eat. "Hey, seriously Mello, do you think they're connected?"
Mello frowned at him. "What are you not thinking about?"
Matt shrugged easily. "Nothing." Mostly because I am completely failing at not thinking about it at the moment.
Mello stared at Matt for a while before heading back to the living room. "Fine then."
Matt trailed after him, claiming the couch when Mello stole the chair he'd been in earlier. It was more evidence of how Mello had changed that he hadn't been expecting; the Mello he'd known never would have let something like that go at all, much less so easily.
Then again, there are probably plenty of little details about him that I never want to hear either. And even if he's got the wrong reasoning to think of it, he's probably already sure I have cancer.
And Matt had no interest in bringing that topic up for discussion. Neither of them had the time or money to waste on hospitals and medicine that wouldn't accomplish anything, anyway.
Being killed by Kira was beginning to be more and more appealing.
Mello settled into the chair, looking very much like the prince of pride Matt had seen earlier. It was left up to his surroundings to make him the prince of failure, too.
Matt wondered what he could be prince of.
"Fine, then. Why are you here?"
Matt shrugged. "Nowhere else I need to be, and I can be more useful if I'm nearby. So what's changed in the last few days?"
"Not much." Mello's eyes skimmed over the apartment. "You seem to have made any changes. Where did everyone go?"
"Eh, I told your minions to scram while we talked. They'll be back mid morning, if they listen to me. Probably earlier." Matt shrugged, then put his cigarette out and threw it at the trash can. "They're obedient little puppies if they're surprised and scared enough. What's next, then?"
Mello frowned at Matt, almost said something, then sighed. "Just don't call them minions when they can hear you." Matt raised an eyebrow. "I know you're not that dumb, I just also know that you do really stupid things for the hell of it."
"Like joining the Mafia?"
Mello threw an empty bullet case at Matt's head. "Shut it. I had my reasons. Just like you did for smoking, so we're even."
Matt tilted his head out of the way and shrugged. "I won't tell them they're minions." Today.
Mello nodded and leaned back. "The Japanese police have something that they're calling a Desu Note. Apparently it's what the third Kira used to kill. We're going to get it."
"From the police?"
"Some of my... minions... are in Japan kidnapping the police chief."
Matt blinked. "...Kay. That's new."
"You got the tickets."
"You didn't say anything about kidnapping police chiefs or Death Notes."
Matt sighed. "Fine. Anywhere I can set my stuff up?"
Mello pointed into the hallway. "Last room on the right. Dump everything out in the hall, they can find somewhere else to put it, and you're staying in there while they're around."
Matt rolled his eyes.
"I know they've seen you. That doesn't mean they have to know who you are."
"If you say so, then." Matt stood up, stretched, collected his bags, passed half of them off to a grumbling Mello, and headed down the hall. "This room?"
They worked together silently, Mello clearing out what was already in the room while Matt set up his computers. Matt attempted once to light a cigarette, only for Mello to promptly snatch it away and throw it out the window. Matt huffed, but decided that he'd be smoking when Mello was out of the room for a few days.
Mello eventually ducked out the door with the last armload of unidentified objects and disappeared for a few minutes. Matt paused in his typing for long enough to hear the sound of chocolate wrappers, then returned to checking all of his computer's programming for anything that might have happened while it was out of his sight on the flight over.
Mello eventually strolled back into the room, one half-eaten chocolate bar in one hand, the other holding a still wrapped bar, and peered over Matt's shoulder. "What's that?"
"Just checking everything." Matt twisted around enough to steal the unopened chocolate bar.
"You can let me smoke or you can let me eat chocolate, your choice." Matt took a second to peel off the wrapper, then bit the corner of the chocolate bar and held it in his mouth while he continued typing.
Mello reached over and somehow broke the chocolate so that the eighth Matt had bitten was left, and the rest was returned to Mello's guardianship. Matt blinked, then shrugged. He wasn't going to be getting any more chocolate away from Mello any time soon.
There were another few minutes of silence while Matt could feel the irritated glare on the back of his head before he was satisfied that everything was the way it was supposed to be. He spun his chair around, leaning back to look at Mello. "So, what'm I doing now?"
Mello frowned at him, moved so that the remaining chocolate would be just out of reach if Matt tried to grab it, and glared at the ceiling for a moment. Some habits, apparently, do not change. "I need you to arrange the flights back with the police chief."
"I got you the tickets already."
"On a public flight, with a kidnapped police chief."
"...Right, yeah. Charter plane coming right up..."
Mello ducked to the other side of the room, dug around in a cabinet for a moment, then dropped a list on Matt's keyboard. "Make sure it's one of these. I can arrange for the pilot."
"Sure." Matt glanced at the list, then focused back on his computer.
The days fell into routine quickly. Matt stayed in his room during the day, while Mello's minions came and went. They were banned from entering Matt's room. One tried, soon after they first got back, and Matt heard a gunshot, then screams.
He supposed he should have been furious with Mello. The guy was clearly alive, though, even if he'd be spending a while in the hospital. So instead he lit another cigarette and went back to poking around Near's security.
Mello came in a few hours later, to give Matt something else to do. "I thought you'd be mad," he said.
"Bout what?" Matt asked.
Mello didn't mention it again.
Mello kicked his Mafia minions out every night, sometimes early morning, and then Matt was allowed to wander wherever he wanted in the apartment. The first night he made a great show of it, running around with his arms in the air screaming "I'm freeeeee!"
Mello threw something hard at his head, and Matt started laughing. Then he started coughing, and Mello snapped an "I told you so," and spent the rest of the night looking guilty and angry and pacing. Matt didn't make a show out of it after that.
Mello's minions would drift in and out, starting in the late morning, and the first one approaching was always Matt's cue to get back in his room. They would stay, sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours, before leaving again, and they would disappear for varying lengths of time before returning. Then Mello would kick them out for the night once he got tired of dealing with them, or when Matt started playing video games and blasting the music, whichever came first.
Inside his room, Matt did just about everything that might be possible with a computer. The room was perpetually half-lit at best, with the only window facing North into a narrow alley, and generally darkened more by the cigarette smoke. The voices of Mello and his minions were muffled by the walls, and often further drowned out by whatever Matt had playing on headphones.
There was still a constant tension, though. Even when Matt goofed around, or did something stupid to annoy Mello, or finished everything he could think of to do and played pointless games, he still felt as if something was going to happen.
He didn't mind, though. Whatever happened, he was waiting; they both were. That was what let him annoy Mello with stupid things, or joke about it when Mello caught him coughing.
He felt like they were on the edge of a cliff, both of them, about to be off it. Jumping or pushed, didn't really matter. And Matt didn't know whether he or Mello or both of them had gliders to soar and land safely, or if neither of them did, but either way Matt didn't care. If they didn't have the gliders, or if they did and were flying into a hurricane--well, maybe they'd be flying straight at the ground, but Matt was sure as hell still going to enjoy the flight.