M is for Mayhem

BY : Ldesu
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 777
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

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M is for Mayhem - Ch1 -Leaving Home
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He stood with his back against the dark panels of the old oak door, eyes downcast for a moment. So ... that was that then. He had to go. No, he wanted to go. He'd thought about leaving before of course .. but somehow it just hadn't happened. Not for long anyway, not permanently.

Looking up he caught sight of Matt's silhouette as he leaned against the big window at the end of the hall. Mello swallowed hard and called out.

"Matt."

Matt looked up and started down the hallway towards him, swinging his goggles in one hand. "So ready for that ride? We can go on one of the old back trails today, the ground's dried out enough."

"No.. I... " Mello felt his mouth go dry, face start to crumple. He turned away.

Matt stopped his advance. For a minute they both just stood there; Mello breathing hard, Matt hardly breathing at all. Then a door opened somewhere and a line of chattering kids straggled between them, making their way outside. Laughter drifted back as the heavy door swung shut with a bang. Matt stepped forward again and put a hand on Mello's shoulder.

"It's true then? He's really dead?"

Mello shrugged off the arm "Yes. It's true."

He turned to Matt with a fierce, resolute, glare.

"It's true, L's dead and I'm leaving here. Finally ... they can all go to hell!"

"OK" Matt said slowly, drawing out the sound. "OK." He tapped a finger against the goggle strap and chewed on his bottom lip, regarding Mello thoughtfully. "OK. That's fine then. I'll go get my stuff ready."

"No ... No, not you. Just me."

"But we ..." "I know but now I think it'd be better if you stayed here. For a while anyway."

Matt seemed stunned. Mello's expression softened a little. His turn now to do the hand on the shoulder thing. Both shoulders.

"Matt I need you to be here. I need you to do some stuff for me. And I need you to watch him."

Silence. A long moment between them with eyes locked, things conveyed, but no sound. Mello was the one to break free. He turned again, abruptly, and started back up the hall.

"I'll tell you where to come. When the time is right."

As he headed to his room with Matt in his wake, Mello recalled Matt's arrival in the orphanage.

He'd sat where he always sat. This table had the best view of the dining hall, apart from the top table, and also got first dibs on the food, such as it was, as it came up from the kitchens. He watched as the new boy stood uncertainly in the doorway and looked around for somewhere to sit. The tables were already pretty full today, they always were on a Wednesday; treacle sponge and pink custard.

Near appeared, trailing his current plushie obsession. He looked across at Mello and raised his hand briefly in greeting before moving over to the new boy, speaking to him quietly and gesturing to the bench at the back. Mello watched as the boy nodded gratefully and they walked across the room with heads close together.

Looking over at the top table Mello gazed at Karol and L deep in conversation about something with Wammy. Karol looked up momentarily and caught Mello staring. He smiled briefly and winked, then turned his attention back to whatever L was saying, gesturing with his fork, softly shaking his head. Mello felt his colour rise and looked away quickly, back down at his plate.

He felt fine. Really he did. Nothing was wrong, nothing at all.

Mello pushed his plate away and poured himself a glass of water. Sipping it slowly he focussed on the grain of the old wood table. Dark and uneven. Probably the table never had been entirely flat but now it was scored deeply in places and the beam of light playing across its unpolished surface was broken and showed up the marks of old spillages, gouges and burns.

He was fine. Useful. Wanted. One of the favoured.

His fingers traced around the carved shape of the mouse he couldn't see but knew was there at the top of the right table-leg. He felt the almost sharp ridges of its whiskers and the curvature of its tail. Yes. He was fine.

Then amid the noise of the banging and scraping of cutlery and plates and the endless chatter, he heard a different sound. Near had giggled. Mello narrowed his eyes and didn't look up.

He scraped his chair back and stood, gathered his tray and placed it in the rack behind him. He looked up at Karol again. He was still talking with Wammy but L was not; L was watching him. Before he could break his gaze L opened his mouth and Mello thought he was going to say something, instead he popped a sugar cube on his tongue and rolled it around, sucking it against his teeth. Mello felt his cheeks heat; L blinked and beckoned him over.

Moving to L's side, Mello felt as if everyone's attention must be on him. His blush spread down his neck as he stood next to the older boy, leaning close to hear what was said.

"Data on the Belgian?"

"Just completed."

"Good. I have a related task ... if you can spare the time."

"Of course L. What is it?"

"Hmmm ... I know you're working on something with Karol ..." L paused, his eyes wide and deep; Mello felt transparent. "... But if you have some time I would like you to cross-correlate that data with the weather records for the region over the last 5 years."

Mello nodded "Yes L, no problem, I can do it right away."

"Thank you Mello, you are always very helpful to me." L tilted his head as he spoke and smiled suddenly then turned back to the conversation on his left.

It had been a long night but Mello had finished correlating in the early hours and presented the report on his findings to an alert L at dawn. After nearly an hour of further analysis with L noting but passing over a major datapoint he'd fumbled, he'd crept to bed for a couple of hours rest before the morning tutorials. Now it was lunchtime and he felt the tiredness starting to creep up on him and his head drooped as he sat in the autumn sunshine.

"Wanna play?"

Startled somewhat, Mello stared up through his hair and squinted at the figure standing against the sun. A red-head. The new boy. Fresh-faced and with an open smile the boy held out an old tennis ball and gestured towards the courts.

"I've only got one racket but if you don't have one we can take it in turns against the wall." Mello found himself raising an eyebrow involuntarily. "I'm M..Matt by the way."

Mello stared back some more then focussed his gaze on the far court. From where he sat on the swings he could see the coach but not who he was playing. He knew though. From the precise rythmical sounds, from the way the coach was run off his feet, from the small crowd of appreciative onlookers.

Mello regarded the boy again. He saw the uncertainty, the newness, his need to fit in, to be accepted. He returned his gaze to his book. "Fuck off".

The arm with the tennis ball dropped to Matt's side. Fingers gripping it tightly, curling against the felt, nails digging into the nap. He stood where he was, not moving but with a tension bracing his frame.

Mello kept his eyes on his book. He sensed the boy was close to the edge. Probably feeling lost, alone, abandoned. He knew that feeling. The desperation piercing the gut. He was probably close to tears. "I said fuck off moron!"

The arm snapped back and let fly. The ball hit Mello on the right cheek with some force.

For a moment Mello was too stunned to react, his eyes wide open, his mouth forming an 'O'. He heard a quiet "oh fuck" and then the boy was down on the ground under him with blood pouring from his nose and smeared across his face.

Later, sitting outside of Roger's office, swinging his legs, toes scraping along the floor, Mello cracked another section off his chocolate bar and munched on it noisily, mouth deliberately open. He continued to glare at the boy opposite and occasionally at the odd passerby for good measure. The boy held a bloody handkerchief to his face, head tilted back.

"I think it's stopping".

"Tsk..." like Mello cared.

The door opened and they were both summoned inside.

"It was an accident. The swing." Mello couldn't believe what he'd been hearing.

"Is this true Mello?"

"Yeah .. an accident," Mello mumbled as he munched.

"I see. Mello put that away right now, I won't tell you again..." The bar was carefully re-wrapped and placed inside his back pocket. ".... You seem to be at the nexus of a lot of the accidents that happen around here don't you?"

"Synchronicity, not cause and effect," Mello gave his best smile.

Roger didn't look entirely convinced. "I see. Well you are lucky it's not broken Matt, just a little blood. Go lie down in Matron's office for a while, ask her for an ice-pack. I'm sure you'll feel better shortly."

The door closed quietly as Matt left.

After a minute of silence Roger continued speaking. "Mello, I am informed that you have completed the latest batch of tests and will be moving up again. Good work. Of course this means you will have some extra free time for a while." He stood looking out of the window, then back at Mello. "It's against my judgement but Wammy has instructed that you take up some mentoring duties along with the move."

Mello couldn't help smiling proudly. Maybe Karol and L had recommended him. "So who do I get?"

Roger said nothing but smiled and cleaned the lenses of his glasses with his large white handkerchief.

"Not Near!"

"No, of course not. Try again."

-----------------

Mello threw back the door to his room. It hit the wall with a bang. L was dead and he was really going this time; best to go now, quickly.

Grabbing his holdall, stuffing it with clothes, boots, books, a few CDs - his life - he ignored the figure in the doorway as long as he could. When it became clear he wasn't going to move Mello swung the overfull bag at him, taking the opportunity to slam the door in his face as Matt stepped back to absorb the impact.

He snicked the lock shut, resting his fingers lightly on the old brass knob. He felt a small vibration but the handle didn't turn. Watching his fingers smoothing over the patination of the fingerplate he thought he heard a sigh then a match strike. His fingers hovered a moment, then moved on and away.

He could just get his nails to catch the edge of the shutter next to the sash window. Teasing it back he retrieved the envelope taped inside and put it in his left boot. That made three out of five. It would have to do, he could tell Matt about the other two.

Movement down below caught his attention. Milton holding something up and showing it to the littles. Some bug or other no doubt. He could hear a muffled query then a squeal and laughter as the little ones scattered and ran across the quad with Milton strolling after.

Turning back to his room, Mello looked around once more. It was inevitable that he was leaving here. It had been since that day. The day Karol had left.

-------------------

"Look Matt I don't like this arrangement anymore than you do."

"Oh I don't mind, it's nice actually. I like spending time in your room."

Mello huffed.

Matt continued "It's quiet and warmer up here. But ... this stuff ... somehow I just don't get it."

Mello threw the book across the room, "Well maybe if you put that blasted game away for five minutes you would get it!"

Matt hit pause and sat back in the chair, stretching. His shirt rode up exposing a pale strip of skin which seemed to glow in the light from the monitor. "OK, I'm all yours," he grinned.

Mello looked away. "Shit. Forget it. I'm bored with this anyway. I'm going out."

Matt looked out at the grey sky; at least it had stopped raining. "OK. I'll go get my coat."

"Hey! You're not coming with me."

"I am. You have me from 1 to 5 today and it's only 2. You get to keep me for at least another 3 hours. Anyway, I haven't seen much of the town yet, you can show me."

"City, it has a Cathedral."

"Show me that then."

"No way."

"OK, what do you want to show me."

Mello rolled his eyes and took a vicious bite out of his latest chocolate bar "Nothing, I want to show you nothing!"

Matt stood. "OK, lead the way."

Mello regarded him coolly for a moment, then snorted. "Fuck! Clingy much? OK ok we'll go, I need some supplies anyway. You've got 2 minutes; I'll meet you in the lobby."

Mello ambled down the stairs and into the entrance hall. He signed himself out in the day book and looked up as he heard a clumping descent start from overhead. Matt was lolloping down the stairs, pulling on his coat and wrapping a scarf loosely around his neck. As he reached the last landing Lambert stepped out of nowhere and partially blocked his path. Matt hesitated and looked uncertainly at the much taller older boy. Mello stepped forward allowing his feet to fall heavily, the metal studs clicked loudly.

He called out "Hey Matt, c'mon or we'll be late" and turned towards the door. He paused a moment until he heard Matt resume his descent then turned the handle and went out.

They had decided to hang around in town and get some food; liver and onions was on the menu that night back at Wammy's. Mello breathed out the expletive softly, "Fuck". Matt crowed. He had Obi-Wan, Mello had Jar-Jar Binks.

As they munched their way through the burgers, Matt looked around at the other patrons. "Hey, that guy in the window seat keeps looking at you. Do you know him?"

Mello didn't look round; he didn't need to. He'd seen the man when they sat down. "Ignore him."

"But you didn't even look" Matt hissed.

"So?"

"So, you know ... it's kinda creepy the way he keeps looking. Uh ... he's coming over I think."

Mello's grip on his carton of fries tightened almost imperceptibly but his gaze was steady as he shrugged his indifference and continued adding to the 'log cabin' he was starting to construct.

"Hi, er.. it's Michael isn't it?"

The way the man was staring at Mello was intense. Matt shifted uncomfortably in his seat; he clearly wasn't anywhere in this picture. He knew what being invisible felt like, this was it.

Matt regarded Mello closely. He detected a tiredness on his friend's face and a dullness seemed to creep into his eyes.

"I'm staying at The Royal Oak this time ... do you know it?"

Mello raised his head, drawing breath to speak. He caught Matt's stare. Holding his gaze for a beat he seemed to hesitate. He drew breath again and looking straight at the man smiled and said "Fuck off paedo. I'm not Michael. I'm not who you think I am ... at all." He stood and, pushing past the frozen man, left the burger joint.

Once outside Matt glanced back and saw the man, still apparently frozen by their table but clearly still watching them. Turning back around he opened his mouth to ask what that was all about but the look he got made him think again. He pulled out his pack of cigarettes to keep his mouth more safely occupied. He failed. Offering one across to Mello he heard himself say "Fancy a fag?"

Mello snorted and punched him in the arm, but took one, cupping his hand against the wind as Matt proffered a light.

"So ... um ... if we take the bus we can get back before Robot Wars."

Mello snorted again but Matt didn't miss that crinkle around his eyes as he pulled the smoke into his lungs.

"Oh come on Mel, it's the semi-final and Nemo hasn't said one word since he got back. He's bound to have got slaughtered."

Mello grinned. They turned down the lane next to the bus station.

When they got back Karol was gone. No-one seemed to know where. He hadn't said anything or left a note, not this time; not even one in his and Mello's secret place. Feeling anxious Mello found L, catching him on the stairs, and tried to extract an explanation. But if what L said explained anything, Mello wasn't sure.

"It was inevitable." L brushed Mello's cheek lightly and tucked his hair behind an ear.

"But L, is he OK? Is he coming back this time?"

"No Mello. He won't be back."

"When did he leave? Do you know where he is? Could you find him? ... Could I find him?"

L smiled then looked thoughtful as he hunkered down on the bottom step of the attic stairs. He put his thumb to his lip and raised his eyes to the ceiling. He chewed on the nail for a full minute. "1%" he said finally. "Mello, things change. I know you are probably ... feeling sad? ... But what seems important to you now will not always be so. Things always change, sometimes it works out just fine, sometimes it doesn't. There is very little one can truly rely on, especially in other people. Maybe not even in oneself."

Mello watched as L stood and continued up the narrow stairs to his and Karol's old rooms. Then he ran. He ran to the bike-shed, the old Kawasaki was still there. He ran to the gate, the main road. He ran to the junction. He kept on running.

Coming back that night at 3 a.m. had not been part of the plan when he'd set out after Karol. Not that he'd had much of a plan anyway but now he was back, no Karol, stuck outside, and it was freaking cold.

He tugged the toggles of his parka and closed the furry hood tight up around his face. His fingers were getting numb, shaking along with the rest of him. He looked up at the twisting, twining, trunk of the old wisteria and weighed his options again.

Break in. Break his neck. Freeze to fucking death.

Stuffing his hands deep into the felt-lined pockets he stepped back and gazed up at the attic window, then the sky.

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I ponder what you are.
Thousands of light-years away so high,
Just a fusion reactor in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
Burning hydrogen from afar."

But he knew no help lay there; that room was in darkness, L had been due to fly out that night. He was away these days more and more.

Mello felt the cold hard shape of the small phone hidden in the lining of his coat. No-one he knew he could call though; no-one who had their own phone; no-one he wanted to call anyway, except those he didn't have the means of contacting, like Karol. Still, now at least he had a phone, and 50 quid. And the coke had been unexpected; strange but good. Not an entirely wasted night.

He stomped his feet to warm them and decided to force the library window and hang the alarms. He'd not had time to study the new system sufficiently yet but he'd rather be in the shit inside than out and he was in for it from Roger anyway, his absence again at bedtime roll-call would not have gone unnoticed. Then he saw the faint red glow of a burning ember. Someone was standing back there, observing him from the shadow of the stacks.

As he watched, the ember glowed again and then moved as a figure emerged into the dim pool of light from the window. A thoughtful look on his face, Matt drew smoke from the cigarette again and blew it out over the glass. He smiled at Mello, noting how cold he looked and how surprised .... and how cute, bundled up like that with his pink cheeks, hugging himself.

"Hi" he mouthed.

"...?" said Mello.

"Wanna come in?"

Mello nodded dumbly.

Matt nodded back and drew on the cigarette again before slowly turning and walking away.

" ... Bastard!" Mello cursed into the darkness, his breath condensing over the pane. "Bollocking, bull-buggering bastard! ... " He pressed his nose and hands flat against the library window, then curled his numb fingers into fists.

"Bastard!" he started his rant afresh, louder this time. Then he heard a crunch behind him.

"So ... you coming in then or are you just gonna stand here swearing all night?"

He knew he could always rely on Matt.

------------------

Now Roger's voice could be heard outside in the hallway, asking if he was in there. No time like the present. Mello opened the door stepping up to Matt who manoeuvered the holdall onto his back with the handles over his shoulders.

Roger looked between the two of them, then turned Mello to face him. "I know nothing I can say or do will make you stay." He paused meaningfully; Mello regarded him steadily, sucking unconciously on his bottom lip.

"So ... well ... just keep in touch Mello. Don't become a stranger to us. You know you will always have a home here if you need it ... if you want it."

He looked between the two boys again then pressed a sealed folder into Mello's hands. "Take this with you. Wammy prepared it the last time he was home. It's been waiting for you ... for your departure."

Mello looked up at the elderly man as he clutched the file to his chest. Then his hair swung forward as he looked down at his feet. "Thanks."

"You're welcome Mello. Good luck."

Roger held out his hand where he knew it could clearly be seen, Mello shifted the folder and extended his right hand quickly, giving a brief but firm grip.

"Right, well I'll leave you two to your goodbye's. Matt please come and see me when you're done here."

"Ok, but I'm taking Mello to the bus station first."

Roger nodded, "First thing tomorrow then", and walked on down the corridor and could then be heard descending the main stairs.

After a few minutes to allow good clearance, the two teens proceeded in his wake.

"Shit!" Mello peered around the corner and considered leaving via the kitchens, Near was waiting by the front door.

Matt tugged him back. "OK. This is it. You're gonna smile at him. He's gonna say some nice shit, you're gonna say some nice shit. Then he'll hug you and you'll hug back."

Mello screwed up his face "Ew! I will not!"

"Sssh!... then you'll hug him back. Then you'll walk out that door. Then you'll be free."

Mello pulled another face and scuffed the toe of one boot.

Matt squared his shoulders "Look Mel, if you don't get past the boss you can't move up to the next level. You can do this."

Mello sighed "I know."

"Yeah, I know you know. Here, I've already got your reward."

Matt extracted the 'Flake' from its temporary hiding place in the bowl of his helmet and watched Mello track it as he opened the yellow crinkly wrapper, careful not to apply too much pressure to the crumbly chocolate log. He raised it in a deliberately slow arc and placed it firmly between his lips like a cigar. Then, leaning back, he hooked his thumbs into the belt straps on his jeans and waited.

Mello smiled, a genuine Mello smile. He placed his hands on either side of Matt's head, palms flat on the wall. First parting then wetting his lips with the tip of his tongue, he tilted his head slightly to the right and leaned forward, all the time never breaking eye contact, slowly taking the other end into his mouth.

Matt's pupils were huge and black. His breath seemed to catch as he swallowed compulsively. Mello rolled the log to one side of his mouth; the shape clearly outlined against his hollowed cheek. Now Matt's breath was ragged and he could feel the hard heat building as Mello gently presseded his hips against his thigh. Soft lips brushed his as Mello finally bit down, taking the lion's share and licking the chocolate crumbs from Matt's mouth.

"Mmmm, your reward ... " Mello whispered, smiling, "I guess I can always catch a later coach".

Sometime later the sound of two pairs of boots cannonaded across the lobby. Tugging on a lock of hair, Near hummed quietly to himself as he finished the 9th unique solution of the puzzle he'd been doing since he started his vigil. He smiled. Mello could be relied upon for drama; he always rose to the bait.

The boots stopped in front of where he lay on the parquet. A cigarette butt appeared and was ground into the polished floor.

"Hello Melly-mel" Near sing-songed. He raised his gaze and regarded Mello with a wide smile.

Mello grunted and said "Let's just get this over with."

"You are always so impulsive Mello. You really should stay here; we could work on this together."

"Forget it. It wouldn't work you know that. We'd end up killing each other; well I'd kill you ... if Kira didn't."

Near was thoughtful a moment and flicked his eyes up to the ceiling briefly before replying. "Maybe ... but I think not. It would not be in your interest to do so and the consequences would provide a serious setback to the investigation."

Mello sneered and glanced at Matt who was now standing in front of the notice board, clipping and unclipping his helmet strap as he studied the Health & Safety notice intently. Moving to the door Mello said "Yeah ... well 'bye then."

He was surprised when Near rose to his feet and placed a hand on his arm. The hand was warm and soft and gentle - hardly a restraint, hardly there. Almost too quiet to be heared Near breathed "Don't leave me dear Mello..." Then louder "Let's not part like this."

Half-turning he saw Near's small pink mouth pout and heard a breathy sigh.

"Near ... I can't ..."

"It's OK Melly-mel, don't ... say anything. Just..." Near put his arms around Mello's waist and rested his cheek against his chest. "Just ... don't forget."

Matt looked at Mello over Near's head and grinned. "I'll go get the bike out. Meet you by the main gate. You've got 20 minutes to the last coach."

For a moment Mello just stood there, unyielding, unresponsive. Then one arm betrayed him and tentatively came to rest on Near's shoulder, his fingers lightly touching the soft skin of his neck just inside the open collar of the too-big shirt. Then he lowered his chin to rest on the familiar nest of tousled white hair.

Near sighed again, more contentedly. "I'll miss you Melly-mel. Be careful. Don't take uncertain risks. Come back to ... us ... when you can."

"I can't come back 'til I've won Near ... but I will win."

He twined his fingers in the white hair and tilted the head up towards him. He placed a gentle kiss on his soft pink lips, holding him close and quietly breathing in his scent - talcum powder and parma violets.

"Huh ... you always smell like some prissy maiden aunt."

Stepping back Mello ruffled Near's hair and smiled, a genuine Mello smile, at his precious nemesis.

Then he walked out of Wammy's House and never looked back.

... tbc ...


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