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 - Chapter 2
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The coach pulled out of the bus station.

Mello had been the last to board so, even if he had wanted to watch Matt's still waving figure, from his seat on the aisle he would have had some difficulty. Instead he stared down at the ends of the scarf clutched in his hands. He scrunched the wool, it was soft and springy. Then he looped it again loosely round his neck and closed his eyes, leaning back against the headrest.

The scarf smelled of Matt. More precisely, it smelled of cigarette smoke and mentholated eucalyptus. Great. He pulled it off and stuffed it in his coat pocket.

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

"Take it" Matt had said.

"Don't need it, I've got a hood."

"Take it." Matt had placed the scarf around his neck anyway. "It's your birthday in just over a week and I haven't got anything else to give you."

Mello had accepted it then. Not speaking his thanks but holding the ends and tugging it tighter against his neck. Then he'd picked up his bag to place it in the outer storage compartment. When he'd turned back he'd caught sight of Matt, staring blankly into the distance before he'd pulled on his smile again and clapped Mello on the shoulder.

"So. Mail me yeah? And try not to get into too much trouble."

"Heh, you too."

Mello and Matt had stood awkwardly then for a moment. Each wanting to say more but not quite knowing how... or what.

The driver had slammed the hold shut and was checking something off on a clipboard.

Mello had a sudden inspiration. He rummaged in his left pocket, fingers digging deep and pushing through the hole in the lining. He had to use both hands to retrieve it, trap it from scooting round the back. He managed to pull the small phone free from the threads it was caught in, pressing it into Matt's hands.

"It's got some credit left. I'll call you. Um ... text you. When I get another."

Mello continued, "It's a pay-as-you-go; you can top it up. I kinda acquired it. But .. heh .. believe me, they won't have reported it missing. Milton cracked the sim card, it should be fine."

Matt had hugged Mello then. Enveloping him.

The coach engine roared suddenly as the driver started it up; Mello broke away.

"OK. Right ... so keep your head down with Near. Don't trust anyone. Monitor the network only if you think you can do so safely. But don't even try for a few days. I expect a deep systems check and security trawl will be ordered now it's confirmed about L. And of course the access rights will be reset by Near. Karol's BIOS backdoor will survive all that I think ... but don't assume anything."

"Yeah, yeah. I'll be careful." Matt smiled, computer security was more his speciality.

"Yeah, um, I know ... OK ... See ya around."

Then Mello was gone, up the steps of the coach. The doors had swung shut with a sigh, the air-brakes had released, and as he sat down the coach moved off.


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


Mello felt bad about leaving Matt like that. He would make it up to him, call him in a couple of days. He hoped it would only take a few months to determine the right path, the access he needed, the levers with which he could get ahead of Near. Then Mello would send for him and they would take on Kira together.

He closed his eyes to avoid human contact. He could hear the murmur of a few people talking over the engine noise, but thankfully the middle-aged woman he had sat next to seemed happy to leave him alone, her nose buried in a book.

After a few minutes Mello opened his eyes again and sat up. He reached inside his coat and pulled out the thin folder Roger had given him. It was still sealed; he hadn't had time to study it yet. He flicked on the reading light and regarded the small neat label on the flap; written in Wammy's cursive script it read 'Mello - Plurimus Maximus Litterae'. Jeez - he hoped the whole thing wasn't going to be in Latin, what a drag.

He slit the seal with a finger nail and drew out a handful of large and several medium-sized envelopes.

The top envelope was unsealed and contained a letter on official looking notepaper, signed with a flourish by Sir Quillsh Wammy KBE. It was an open reference, dated six months previously, addressed 'To whom it may concern...' extolling his academic ability, his initiative, flair for languages, and his drive to succeed at whatever he decided to pursue. Mello considered its usefulness and wondered if it might be obsolete now Wammy was dead.

The next contained several sheets - various signifiers of academic achievement - including his validated IQ score, SATs, Baccalaureat, International Maths Olympiad Award, and his Chess Championship certificates. He smiled at the last ones then stuffed them all back in the folder - he supposed that, like the reference, some may be useful if he were applying for some sort of tedious employment, but he didn't intend to do that now, maybe never. But he'd hang onto them for a while.

He turned to the smaller envelopes. Two were blank and rattled; he ripped the top off the bulkiest and tipped out the contents - his IMO Bronze and Gold medals, and chess medallions.

He opened the other one - a small key. He looked and felt carefully inside, nothing else, just the key. He held it up to see it better by the weak reading light but he couldn't distinguish anything exceptional about it and it didn't look familiar. Mello held it a minute thinking. It was small, the pattern of teeth was intricate ... he looked along it's length ... shiny, no real scratches so probably not much used, but it had a string of small numbers or characters which he couldn't make out in this light. It reminded him of a bike lock key, but it was far too complex for that. A puzzle. He placed it back in its envelope which he folded over carefully before placing in an inner pocket.

The next envelope was labelled with his full name and contained his passport, personal savings account bank book, and a clear plastic wallet with three air travel vouchers issued by British Airways.

He'd sort of forgotten about his old savings account - it hadn't been updated in a while as Karol had set up a new one for him. The book listed 195, his lifetime savings from his small personal allowance at Wammy's. Probably significantly less than that now given the large withdrawal he'd made last January for Matt's new controller.

He examined the airline vouchers. There were three in total, valued at 293, 307 and 311. Hmmm... Odd values... Was he meant to do something with these? Go somewhere? Somewhere specific or just anywhere? Maybe he could trade the vouchers for cash. He tapped the passport against his chin. He could go to Japan. He'd been to Tokyo for the Maths Olympiad in 2003. He was sure that L had believed Kira lived there, in the Kanto region. He was sure it was also where L and Wammy died. He may get some good leads if he went there, but he also had no real information on who L had suspected or exactly who he was working with out there. No, leave that to Near for now.

The last envelope was rigid, with card reinforcing the back. It was labelled 'Do Not Bend'. Mello pulled a face, must be photos. Correct. A few photographs, mainly from before his time at Wammy's, and his birth certificate. The colour in the photos was washed out and faded badly in places. In one a pale young woman with straggly hair was holding a baby in her arms. She was smiling, maybe laughing, at the person taking the shot. His vision blurred and he couldn't look at the rest.

He put everything away and leaned back again against the headrest, closing his eyes.

The journey would take a couple of hours in total and he wanted to rest now as far as possible. It would be 10.30 when he hit the city and while it would probably take him only half an hour to get to the club, Jase wouldn't be off until 3 a.m. God ... if he still worked there. Shit. It had been too long since he'd been up to London. And in all the rush to leave that damned place he hadn't thought to call ahead. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And now he'd given his 'phone to Matt. Shit.

In the last year or so Mello had started to go with Karol on his London 'excursions', maybe six or seven times in all. They'd been to Southampton more often of course. Convenient. Easier to get back to Wammy's on a Saturday night with no-one the wiser. But in London they always stayed later and would go back home on Karol's bike at dawn. It was a rush for Mello to be in the heady mix of the sounds and sights of the city and club scene while Karol did his deals.

Mello met Jase that first time at SX, introduced by Karol. He'd hung out with him and the other bar staff and professional dancers taking their breaks in the staff room, being a bit too obviously young-looking at that time to be allowed on the main floor of that particular club. He'd had a growth spurt since then though - maybe he could pass now?

Jason's long break had always seemed to coincide with his visit and he had kept Mello under his wing, chatted and brought him soft-drinks and snacks. They'd both liked to listen in on the dancers' gossip while they changed and bitched about the performances for the private rooms on the upper floor. Mello wasn't stupid - he thought he knew what went on behind those closed doors. He thought he knew what Karol did too.

Normally Karol kept him waiting only an hour or so before they'd move on somewhere else, but he and the outgoing eighteen year-old Jason had become sort of friends. Jase had even said he should come visit without Karol sometime and he'd show him the sights. Mello felt sure he would be Ok putting him up for a few days. He wondered if Jase had seen Karol at all in the 8 months since he'd disappeared?

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"Visiting family?"

"Er ...?"

"Are you visiting family in London dear?"

Mello opened his eyes and regarded his co-passenger a moment before saying pointedly "... er... sorry I was half-asleep... Yes, going to stay with my brother for a few days." He closed his eyes again and shifted to curl away from her, on his left-side in the seat, trying to make it obvious he wasn't going to converse further.

"That's nice. I'm going to stay with my son ... and his wife. He's meeting me off the coach." The woman was looking through her bag. "He works in television you know." She pulled out some sweets, "Mint? Yes, he's quite important, an assistant producer for the news channel. They're the strong ones dear." She rattled the sweets at him.

Mello sighed to himself. Would ignoring her work? Could he keep it up all the journey?

She launched again, "He's just bought a new flat in Islington. It has a proper second bedroom so I can go and stay more often now. She won't like it of course but it's not for her to say is it? I'm his mother after all. You should take a mint dear, your brother will be able to smell the smoke. You shouldn't be smoking at your age you know, well not at any age of course."

Mello opened his eyes and stared across the aisle. Why had he chosen this seat? Why had he responded to her at all? He could have pretended to be asleep, or foreign, unable to speak English ... was it too late? Probably. He sighed again and turned to her and took a mint.

"Thanks. Um ... er.. " If it had been someone other than this motherly figure Mello would have had no reservations about flipping them off but he struggled to adopt his hard-as-nails persona under such a barrage of mothering. "I'm feeling quite tired actually and .."

"Yes, you do look a bit peaky dear. Been burning the candle at both ends I don't doubt. Young people always think they're invicible. You should listen to your mother more and not stay up so late all the time I expect ... and the smoking won't help. I know you will probably be planning to go out Xmas shopping and sightseeing with your brother but I hope he's the responsible type, because London is full of ...."

Mello tuned her out but nodded from time to time to show he was listening - which he wasn't. He considered telling her he didn't have a mother, or father, but thought better of it; she would probably take pity on him and ask him more questions and never let up for the rest of the journey.

He noted vaguely that she'd switched topics back to her son, more precisely his wife. He suddenly felt an overwhelming need to be alone. He stood, "Er ... excuse me," and walked down the coach to the small bathroom compartment. It was occupied so he decided to hang around, waiting for it to be free. He glanced up and down the aisle. The coach was pretty full, being the last one that night. There was a space further back but, with a harrassed looking young woman with a toddler seated just behind, he wasn't sure that would be any better.

The bathroom compartment opened and Mello stood aside for the man to get past him. He went in, shut the door and just stood there for a few moments looking at his reflection in the dimly lit mirror.

Come on Mello ... it's just a two-hour coach journey, you can do this. You've done all sorts of shit. What's wrong with you? But Mello felt strangely down and vulnerable. He felt like he wanted to hit his head, to hit something, ... What was wrong with him?

He stared hard at himself. He saw the dark shadows under his eyes and couldn't help thinking of L. Gone, really gone. Dead. Killed by Kira. L, the cleverest person he knew ... had known. The genius of Wammy's House. The one they all looked up to. Wanted to smile on them. Wanted to be. Caught out by that murdering .. shithead .. freaking .. bastard! God, L!

How had Kira got to him? How had he known who he was? Did he get lucky? ... Did he get close? ... Did L become careless? Had L made a mistake? He had seemed so unflappable, so calm, so knowing ... he would never leave himself open. Surely?

Shit, L! He felt hot tears start to prick his eyes. He tipped his head back and concentrated on breathing slowly.

C'mon kid, he could hear Karol saying, you're tough as old boots, you'll get over it, move on. You've got to move forward Mello, that's all there ever is.

After a few minutes Mello felt calmer, under control again. He was moving forward; finally taking charge of his life. He was going out into the world. He could do whatever he wanted. He was free.

No, he wasn't free. He knew that. He would never really be until he was free from this thing with Near.

L should have chosen Mello; they always worked well together, complimentary. But Near, he was just like another L, only not as good ... a more closeted, more unworldly genius ... missing the insight, the spark, the leaps of imagination, even if he was strong on analysis and deductive reasoning. How could Near possibly succeed where L failed? ... But then ... how could he?

What could Mello do that L couldn't ... nothing. Less than nothing without the backing of the inheritance and the connections that foolishly he'd ceded to Near so easily. No ... not foolishly. He knew that mantle wasn't for him; it wouldn't fit, it would weigh him down.

But what was he going to do? What ...?

... He could never do what L could ... but ... maybe he could do what L wouldn't?

Mello smiled. His heart felt light for the first time since he'd heard the news of L's death. He knew this was the answer he needed.

He would do what L would not ... what Near would not ... what the authorities could not.

He would do what it took, whatever it took, and he would win.

Smiling, he returned to his seat.

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London in December was cold and wet, and unbelievably busy. The traffic had been heavy coming into the capital and the coach was late. He stood beside it amid the crowd waiting for their bags to be unloaded and looked around.

There seemed to be people everywhere in the bus terminal, getting on buses, getting off, waiting, lurking, preying and being preyed upon. As he stood finishing off a small slab of chocolate, just observing the chaos, Mello surreptitiously watched a team of thieves and pickpockets move their way efficiently through the melee. They collected several wallets and pieces of unguarded luggage, passing items quickly aside to other team members who coolly walked the evidence away and out of the area within seconds.

Mello glanced around apparently casually to locate the CCTV cameras ... yes, there were at least six he could see from here. Probably a couple not active but even so the thieves could not have avoided being recorded, but with the crush of people it wouldn't be clear what was happening and the way they were dressed the operators would not be able to get a good view of their faces. Smooth. He admired the enterprise and balls, but these people were small fry ... the pickings would be trivial and not worth the risk. Stupid. All the same he remained alert to the people around him and moved closer to the coach, making sure to get to his bag before anyone else could.

As he moved to the main exit he felt someone come up on his left-side. He looked round. The boy smiled at him.

"Got a light?"

"What do you want?" Mello responded, keeping walking.

"Just a light. You just arrived?"

Mello did not reply and simply continued his brisk pace, exiting the building and turning onto the main road. The boy followed him.

"Need somewhere to stay mate?"

Mello laughed. An obvious opening for a scam really. "Look, just fuck off."

The boy stopped walking, turning back to the station and shouting "Arsehole!" as a parting gift.

Mello spotted the entrance to the Victoria tube and calmly walked down the steps with an overtly pre-occupied air, stepping around the inebriated beggar and his dog by the ticket machines.

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One change of train line and an unpleasantly crowded 20 minutes later he emerged onto Tottenham Court Road and made his way across to Soho Square. Club SX was off one of the side-streets.

The bustle of activity around here never ceased to amaze him. Neon and Xmas lights brightly lit the way, and the sounds of people laughing, drinking, talking, well shouting, over the deep driving bass drifted over him as bar and club doors opened and shut. The whole place had a party atmosphere.

Even so, it was cold, still raining in a half-hearted way, and getting on for midnight. Back in Winchester everyone would be going home around now, but here it seemed like things were just getting started.

He swung his bag over his shoulder and walked purposefully, trying to look older than his, soon-to-be, fifteen years. He thought he could pass for eighteen if he gave off the right attitude, maybe if he smoked. But they'd be sure to ask for ID at the door. He'd just have to try to get a message inside to Jason. Entering these dives had never presented a problem when he was with Karol, who had usually seemed to be expected, just nodded through by security at most places.

The queue for the club extended for 40 yards or so and didn't seem to be moving much. A few umbrellas were dotted here and there but not many. Mello couldn't help ogling the flesh on display. What were those girls wearing? Or not wearing? They must be freaking freezing.

Trying not to stare too obviously, Mello approached the doorman on the right and stood to the side, hoping to catch his attention.

"No chance sonny. Piss off."

"Um .. I need to get a message inside to a friend."

"Yeah, like I've not heard that one before." The large man, shook his head smiling as he moved to check the ID of the group of three girls next in line.

"No, it's true. My friend works here. Jason, one of the bar staff. I need to let him know I'm here." Mello tried to sound confident and assured like he did this kind of thing all the time.

"Really. Jason who?"

And that's when it hit Mello, he didn't really know Jason very well.

"Um .. just Jason ...er, Jase."

Waving the girls inside, the man stepped over to Mello. "Look kid. How old are you? 15? 16? Not worth my rep to let you past now is it?"

Mello bristled at the 'kid' comment, but had to agree with the rest. "But, I don't need to get in, just get a message in. You could do that couldn't you?"

The man looked doubtful. Then his eyes widened a little and he tilted his head slightly, raising one hand and touching his headset a moment. He frowned and glanced over to his partner who nodded almost imperceptibly. He looked back at Mello, looking him up and down and grinning. "What's your name?"

"Michael Keane."

The man turned partly away and spoke quietly into his mouthpiece. He listened to his headset again, then said something else. Looking back, he winked at Mello saying "OK Michael. Wait over there," gesturing at the corner of the building, away from the line.

Feeling a little relieved, Mello backed off and waited.

About 10 minutes later he was startled as a plain door he hadn't noticed opened next to him. A man he didn't know said gruffly "In" and held the door open with one arm. Mello ducked under his arm and entered a brightly lit hallway, reverberating with the sounds of the club's throbbing bass.

The man bolted the door shut then, saying nothing further, turned and walked briskly down the corridor. Mello followed.

He was led to the bottom of a spiral staircase. "Coat off, leave the bag."

"Er... I'm Michael. I'm here to see Jason."

"Coat off. Leave the bag" the man repeated with the same blank expression and cold stare.

Mello quickly considered his options but thought it better to comply.

"Arms out, legs apart."

The man then ran his hands over Mello, feeling him all over quite thoroughly, with a practised efficiency. Suprised Mello just stood and turned as the man directed and manipulated him. Of course he found the small envelopes Mello had secreted in his boots, but he simply flexed them then returned them to him.

"Clean" he spoke into his headset. Then to Mello "OK, leave that other stuff here, you can go up."

Mello glanced back down the corridor. He felt uneasy, trapped. What was he doing? Something was off about all this - but what specifically? He looked back at the stairs - move forward Mello, that's all there ever is - he started to climb.

At the top of the stairs he was met by another man. This one looked a little friendlier and vaguely familiar. Mello thought he had seen him about the club before.

Smiling he said "Mr Molotkov will be pleased to see you Michael. Please come with me."

Feeling somewhat nervous and perplexed - who the hell was Mr Molotkov? - Mello decided to try to play it cool and just see where all this was leading.

"Sure," he replied, giving a cocky smile back.

They proceded down that hallway and the next, finally fetching up at steel door with a peephole. The man knocked, 3 short raps, then stood back looking up. Mello looked up too and saw he was facing a camera mounted high in the corner.

After a minute heavy bolts or locks could be heard sliding open and the door swung back. The man gestured towards the door and, after a momentary hesitation, Mello stepped inside.

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"Ah little Michael!" a warm accented voice rang out. "How are you? You haven't visited us for a while I think."

Mello could see he was in a large office. There was a thick, darkly patterned, carpet and a wide imposing desk with a reading lamp, but no-one seated at it. He looked around and saw to one side a dark leather sofa and two padded armchairs grouped around a low table. The speaker was sitting in the far chair, one leg crossed casually, ankle on his knee, holding a shot glass in one hand and waving Mello forward with the other.

As he moved forward the door shut behind him and Mello jerked his head around to see another man standing beside it. One of the large, silent, expressionless types.

"Come sit." The seated man smiled at Mello and continued," A warming drink perhaps on such a cold night?"

Feeling his anxiety rise, Mello remained where he was, just a few steps in.

There were two uplighters and the desk lamp but, coming from the brightly lit corridor, Mello's eyes had yet to adjust fully to the lower light level in this room. He focussed on the speaker's face, trying to make out his features, wondering if they had met before.

His whole demeanour exuded a quiet power. From what Mello could see, he was smartly attired and seemed fairly handsome, probably in his mid-thirties. He had very dark, maybe black, hair, thick but well-groomed eyebrows, a long straight nose, and pale clean-shaven skin. His legs were long and elegantly poised; Mello thought he must be quite tall. His hands were large. He looked quite relaxed, but his lips were tight and thin.

"Come, come," the man gestured to the sofa, "I won't bite."

As he spoke he leaned forward into a pool of light and, for the first time, Mello saw into his cool blue eyes. He was not so sure about that last statement. The man had something sly and predatory about him now, a tension in how he sat, though seemingly casual, and an intensity in the way he watched Mello's every movement and facial expression.

Mello opened his mouth to speak and found his throat constricted. He swallowed but then spoke firmly. "I'm looking for Jason, one of the bar staff... sorry I don't think we have met."

The man seemed amused, "Hah! But I know you Misha."

A strange feeling washed over Mello as he heard his old familiar nickname from this stranger's lips. No-one had called him Misha in such a long time. Not for years. Not since Wammy had found him and taken him out of that place; given him a new life, a new name. He felt faint, short of breath, a cold sweat prickled his skin.

The man stood suddenly and stepped foward, catching Mello as his legs buckled, lowering him gently to the sofa. He hovered over Mello, his face swimming out of focus. Not looking up he called something to the man by the door, who turned and exited abruptly.

The words had been rapid and given in a staccato burst but, as he drifted into darkness, Mello thought he'd caught them all the same ... an order to fetch someone called Maxi ... the order had been given in Russian.


... tbc ...


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