It was, Matt is starting to realize, a hell of a way to fall in love for the first time.
Sitting on a couch in a shitty Japanese apartment, chain-smoking and watching Mello clean compulsively while ranting to himself. The evening sun filters in through the grimy windows, making patchy patterns on the walls, reflecting off the smoke from his cigarette and Mello’s hair. It makes everything look warmer than it really is, soft oranges and yellows, shadows softer and corners fuzzier. Mello’s knuckles are scrubbed raw and bloody from doing the dishes.
He sometimes thinks he's the only person in the world who can listen to Mello talk for more than 20 seconds without wanting to punch him in the nuts. Oh yeah, he can see it in their faces; even Near, bless his limp little wrists, used to get this look (okay, so it was more of like, an eye-twitch, but it was totally there). It might be because Mello kind of reminds him of his little brother, all quick limbs and furious eyes, but that’s not the whole of it, not really. Nevermind that it would have some entirely disturbing implications if it were.
He’s probably the most normal of all of them when it comes down to it, likely largely due to the fact that he had the opportunity to have a little brother, if only for ten years or so before an old man in a suit who looked suspiciously like Alfred from Batman had a “talk” with his parents and got him sent off to some boarding-school-cum-orphanage in the middle of goddamn England. You can visit them on holidays, they said. Yeah, fuck you.
But he’s not bitter, not really. He was only twelve, after all, and thought video games were much more interesting than family members (still does, a little), and the prospect of going somewhere new and exotic was enough to keep him occupied the first couple of months, through the barrage of intelligence tests and classes.
And his bunkmate. He wasn’t deaf; he knew what the other kids were saying, how no one lasted more than two weeks in the same room with Mello before stumbling out in the hallway crying and clutching a bloody nose or worse. It wasn’t that bad, not after Mello realized Matt had no interest in being competition but also wasn’t about to take any of Mello’s shit. That and Matt could kick Mello’s ass any day of the week.
It got comfortable, after a while, Matt’s silences and Mello’s temper tantrums, until before he knew it he was searching for Mello’s form during meals and free periods, seeking him out from no reason that he could discern other than maybe a perverse fascination, tracking him like the targeting system on a first person shooter. Until one night two years after he arrived, he woke up to find Mello packing everything he owned in a small bag, leaving without more than a mumbled see ya.
See ya. And if Matt decided to fuck off too, not too long after that, it was no one’s business but his own.
“Mello, if you don’t sit your ass the fuck down, I’m gonna sit on you.”
“Go to hell,” Mello snarls, and knocks against the coffee table, leaving a smear of blood in his wake.
So somehow they’ve ended up here, in this shitty apartment in an even shittier section of Osaka, Mello furious at himself because yet another one of their leads turned out to be utter balls. “Damn it, Mello,” Matt says, stubs out his cigarette, and tackles Mello to the floor.
A brief scuffle ends up with Matt parking his ass triumphantly on Mello’s chest and lighting up another cigarette as Mello flails weakly beneath him. He ignores Mello’s glare and picks up one of his hands, wincing at the mess. “Let’s get you cleaned up, yeah? And then I think I want some ice cream.” He reaches down to pat Mello’s cheek.
Mello bites him.
“Jesus fuck!” Matt yelps, snatching his hand back. The mark bleeds sluggishly, perfect imprint of Mello’s teeth. He should have worn his gloves. “What the hell, man?”
Mello licks the blood from around his lips and some of the fight goes out of his eyes. “Sorry,” he says, not-quite-contritely. “Let me up, you asshole.”
“Are you gonna bite me again?”
“Are you going to let me fix you up?”
There’s a long silence and Matt lets Mello have it, sucking on his cigarette and trying to ignore the throbbing in his hand. The smoke drifts lazily up to the ceiling. He can feel Mello’s chest moving underneath him, breathing in and out, slowing until it’s steady again. A glance down reveals that Mello has closed his eyes, facial muscles relaxing. His hands unclench, twitch a little.
“We still have a lot of other things we can look into,” Matt offers quietly.
Mello exhales and his eyes slide open. “Yeah,” he says.
“Yeah.” Matt stands and offers Mello a hand up, which is accepted after only the smallest hesitation. They both head for the kitchen, where Matt twists the water on and sticks Mello’s hands under it, rummages around for the antiseptic cream and the bandages they have stashed somewhere. The water runs red and then clear, swirls down the drain. He takes care of Mello then himself, dabbing the cream on and wrapping up their hands in silence.
He’s proud, Mello is, proud and pissy and scary-smart. Matt’s pretty fucking brilliant himself, otherwise they wouldn’t have brought him to that place, but he’s the last resort, nowhere near L caliber. Not like Near, or Mello, and maybe it should have made him feel bad, but honestly? He couldn’t bring himself to care enough. He just doesn’t have the drive, and he’s okay with that. He’s okay with following Mello around like this, keeping him from ripping himself apart from the inside. He cares about what he cares about, and right now all he wants to care about is choosing between butter pecan and caramel swirl.
The girl behind the counter gives them a funny look when Matt fumbles with the unfamiliar money, jumps a little when Mello leans over and gives her a grin that’s all teeth, sharp and feral. Matt pays for his ice cream (caramel swirl, finally) and Mello’s (some kind of double chocolate monstrosity dipped in chocolate with fudge injections and chocolate chips for good measure) and pushes Mello out the door without waiting for change, not really in the mood for a scene.
They find some concrete thing sticking out of the ground and sit down on the steps next to it, not quite ready to go back to the room yet, Matt spreading his legs out with a sigh. Mello peels off the wrapper on his ice cream carefully, not looking at Matt or anything else. People flash by, slow and fast, indistinguishable blurs under the neon lights that are just coming on. The sky above them turns fantastic colors (all the pollution in the air), and Matt watches it through the cracks between the buildings.
I’m just along for the ride, Matt thinks helplessly, scrubbing his free hand across his face. What the fuck is this?
Studying Mello out of the corner of his eye, watching him eat his ice cream and try his hardest not to tuck his legs up on the step (fold in on himself, just like –) in a way he won’t admit to, even now.
A hell of a way.
It was a gradual thing, which is probably what threw him, since everything else about Mello was like getting hit with a sledgehammer. The way he talks, quick staccato bursts, the way he walks, shiny leather swagger, boots clomping, taking up as much space as he possibly can, plowing through anyone and everyone. The way Mello turned up on his doorstep two years after Matt thought he’d fucked off for good, dark circles under his eyes and looking like he’d just raided Marc Bolan’s closet.
(Well, Mello said, shifting back and forth, getting rained on. Are you going to let me in or what?)
(Dude, Matt said. What the fuck are you wearing?)
But he’d let Mello in anyway, opened the door wide and let Mello push past him, wet fur and damp leather, kick off his boots and shrug off his coat in a pile on the floor like he owned the place. Matt’s game system flickered quietly in the living room, screen flashing ‘Pause Game’ every couple of seconds. Reflected blues and reds on the walls and futon, messy blankets and ash trays. It was a tiny apartment, cheapest area of Atlanta, and he’d wondered what Mello was thinking, taking in the empty coke cans and the dirty socks. Not that he cared, either way, but.
(You’re really fucking hard to find, you know that? Mello said.)
(Yeah, he allowed, and steered Mello toward the kitchen.)
(I didn’t think you’d come back to Georgia. Considering.)
(Yeah, well, when you’re in shit, you tend to run to familiar ground.)
After Osaka, they head for Tokyo in a stolen car, Mello at the wheel, Matt smoking out the window. If there’s one thing Matt misses about America, it’s the cars; compared to his ’68 Cobra Jet, this compact Jap crap is positively queer. When they get stuck in traffic, Matt tells Mello about the road trip he took in it a couple of months before Mello showed up, about the endlessly open roads and flat land of the Midwest. The sky back then had been painfully blue and clear, but the people had been nice, and if there had been an older waitress at the greasy spoons he came across he could usually wrangle a slice of pie for free. Once he’d gotten stoned with a bunch of hippies in Santa Cruz and ended up being thrown bare-ass naked into the ocean after eating almost an entire chocolate cake. Mello doesn’t say anything, just grunts every now and then, listening to Matt talk over the humming of the car and tinny noise of the PSP.
It’s easy to study Mello’s profile now, in the car, dark goggles obscuring Matt’s eyes and making it impossible for Mello to tell him off for staring. He looks a lot better than he did back then, when he’d been dripping puddles on the floor, skinny and exhausted and probably furious at himself for having to ask for help. Bizarre was the best word for it, mostly because of how utterly comfortable it felt, baiting Mello, seeing how much shit he could dish before Mello launched himself at him with an incoherent snarl of rage.
They’d ended up on the kitchen floor with Mello flat on his back and Matt straddling his knees, and Matt remembers leaning forward to press his forehead against the clammy skin of Mello’s stomach where that ridiculous leather vest rode up to expose Mello’s bellybutton, hands shaking with something that could have been relief but was probably adrenaline and too much caffeine.
(When was the last time you slept?)
(None of your fucking business.)
(You can crash on my futon, if you want.)
Nothing had changed, over those years, and nothing’s different now. Mello’s still a bitch, Matt’s still just some guy with really bad judgment. Mello’s still his first real friend and a hell of a time, even if he is currently leaning over Matt to dig around in the glove box for a chocolate bar and his hair smells like shampoo and sweat and all Matt really wants to do is bury his fingers in it and lick Mello’s ear.
And that’s how it is. Slow, like having his chocolate stolen after lunch and putting a snake in Mello’s bed to make up for it. Slow, like firing up his computer as Mello tugged off his leather pants (and really, the hair should have tipped him off) and put on borrowed boxers. Calling a guy up and collecting on a couple of favors he was owed while Mello curled up on his bed, pale and tired under the blankets, hair spread out like a halo and an uneasy bluish tinge to his skin. Watching Mello sleep off two years of stress on a futon under the dim glow of the TV. Bickering over who would get Matt’s shitty complimentary brownie on the plane. Buying ice cream and eating it under an unfamiliar sky.
“You gonna let me drive anytime soon, man?”
The thing is. Okay, this sounds dumb, but the thing is, they could die any day. Not that that isn’t true all the time, but it’s different now. It’s not like getting up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning and getting hit by a bus because you weren’t looking. It’s not even like the time he pushed Mello into the pond when they were kids and Mello nearly drowned (how was he supposed to know Mello couldn’t swim?). He doesn’t think about it a lot, but every once in a while he’ll be reminded that they’re going after the guy who took L out. Fucking L. Game over. If that’s not something to make you piss your pants at night, he doesn’t know what is.
Now, Matt’s not really a seize-the-day kind of guy. More like a sit-on-your-ass-and-wave-to-the-day-in-passing kind of guy. But there comes a point where you can’t do that anymore, because something comes up that you can’t help reaching out and grabbing, even if you don’t really understand why.
They’re in Tokyo again, yet another shitty apartment, and for the past hour they’ve been putting the final touches on the worm that they’re going to use to hack into the police department’s mainframe. It’s midnight now, everything lit up by the glow of multiple computer screens and the reflection from the neon lights outside. Matt takes a deep drag on his cigarette and eyes Mello from across the room.
Mello’s sitting in the swivel chair in front of the keyboard, the plush one, which is probably the only nice thing in the entire room (well, besides the thousands of dollars of state-of-the-art computer equipment) typing with one hand and absently eating a chocolate bar with the other. The light from the screen makes him look. Well, it makes him look kind of pasty and nauseous, to be honest. His hair’s up in a haphazard ponytail and his arms stick out from his shirt, whipchord thin, pointy elbows and bony fingers. He’s got that half-psychotic gleam in his eyes again, tapping away and crunching on his chocolate, the shadows in his face deep and dark.
Matt sighs. Shit.
When he gets up and walks over, Mello shoves the last of the chocolate in his mouth and makes a triumphant noise. “Hah! It’s done.”
“Hey, Mello,” Matt says.
“What?” And Mello looks up at him and grins, toothy and wild, hair coming out of his ponytail and brushing against his face. He frowns a little when Matt doesn’t say anything else, arms coming up jerkily to scratch the back of his neck. Shit.
So Matt swivels the chair around, leans down, and kisses him.
Mello’s lips are warm and chapped, swollen in the corners where he chews on them, covered in flakes of chocolate. Matt breathes it in deeply, the smell of chocolate and the feeling of Mello’s skin, something sharp and spicy underneath it all, leaning over this chair as computers hum quietly all around them. It’s not the first time he’s done this, but it’s the first time he’s had so much riding on a single moment. Mello is, well, Mello. Conceited and arrogant and volatile, vicious and beautiful and so many bad ideas at once that it makes Matt’s head spin and his throat contract. Mello’s arms are frozen where they were scratching his neck and his lips are closed; Matt swipes his tongue across them, tasting chocolate and copper.
And it’s great, right up until Mello flinches backwards and then punches him in the face.
Pain explodes across the bridge of Matt’s nose, sending him reeling back. He can vaguely make out Mello jumping up and grabbing his coat, stomping out the door and slamming it behind him. He feels for the chair and drops down into it, leaning forward and pinching his nostrils shut to stop the blood flow. Okay, so that could have gone better. He snickers and immediately regrets it.
They’ve got ice somewhere, so Matt lurches up again and heads for the refrigerator. He digs around one-handed and comes up with an icepack, which he wraps up in a towel and presses to his face. He’s not too worried, though, because he’s hidden the car’s chocolate stash under his own bed. The bleeding stops after a while.
There’s no telling what else he was expecting, really. Three weeks ago they were in Osaka and Matt had to run outside and chain-smoke his way through an entire pack every time Mello walked out into the living room fresh out of the shower, wearing nothing but a towel and with his damp hair sticking to his neck. Nearly died every time Mello reached across him for something, scent of chocolate and church incense and warm pressure across his chest. It was just absolutely fucking ridiculous, he didn’t know what to do, it made him want to puke, but.
But now there’s this, and Matt’s okay with it. He’ll stuff tissues up his nose and wait for Mello to come back, send off the worm and scroll through the information that it brings up. Because Mello will be back, if only to finish kicking the crap out of him. And then he’ll see where it goes from there.
Where it goes is Matt crashes out on the couch at four in the morning after flipping the computer screen off and popping a bunch of Tylenol. The first pink streaks of dawn crease the sky before he’s startled awake by the door slamming shut again, announcing Mello’s return. He’s dragged upright and slammed against the back of the couch before he can even wipe the crud from his eyes.
“What the fuck was that supposed to be?” Mello spits, hands fisted in Matt’s collar.
Matt rolls his eyes. “How about, ‘Good morning, Matt, thank you for staying up and tracking our worm, and oh, by the way, I’m sorry for nearly breaking your face.’”
Mello’s “fuck you!” is accompanied by a shake, jarring Matt’s head, and all of a sudden he’s had just about enough of this. Enough of walking on eggshells, enough of being jerked around, enough of Mello’s drama queen bullshit. He reaches up and jerks Mello down, flipping them both over so he’s got Mello pinned to the couch underneath him.
“Just what the hell are you so angry about, anyway?” he asks, Mello bucking, trying to dislodge him. His knee slips between Mello’s and Mello freezes.
“You deserved it,” Mello says tightly. Pause.
“Maybe,” Matt allows. Mello’s eyes flicker from side to side and up to the ceiling, looking anywhere but at Matt. He’s still, except for the occasional restless twitch. Jerky breathing ruffles Matt’s hair and he has to close his eyes when another shift presses his crotch against Mello’s hip. “What would you do if I did it again?”
And then he does, pressing his lips against Mello’s before Mello can say anything. Nothing. Nothing for a tight, long second and then Mello makes this sound, this desperate, wild noise from deep in the back of his throat and opens his mouth and they’re kissing. They’re kissing and Mello’s teeth are knocking against his and Mello’s tongue is darting around, slick and hot and sin and Mello. He’s dying, is what this is, he’s going to hell because he’s going to follow Mello down and he can’t fucking help himself. He’s seen Mello thumb those beads on his rosary when he thought Matt wasn’t looking, mouth prayers that aren’t going to do either of them any good, not anymore, not when Mello bites Matt’s lip and slams his hips up, making Matt groan and snap his head back.
“Wait,” he pants. “Wait, Mello.” He shudders when Mello licks a hot stripe up the underside of his chin. “You don’t have to – I’m not going to ditch you if we don’t do this.”
“I know – ” Mello says crossly, and yanks him down by the hair again. When did he get his arms free? Matt thinks, but then it’s irrelevant because Mello’s fingers are clenching against Matt’s scalp and Matt can finally, finally touch him. A few hours later, Mello’s going to be up and ripping Matt a new one for not telling him about the notebook thing and how the police still have it right away, but right now he’s on his back and letting Matt shove one hand up his shirt and the other down his pants, is fumbling for Matt’s fly with those bony fingers of his and mumbling incomprehensible obscenities.
Mello fucks like he does everything else, that is, like he’s got something to prove, and most of the time Matt has no objections (like when he’s braced against an alley wall with his pants around his ankles and Mello’s cock up his ass, gloves stuffed in his mouth to keep him from getting them caught, or when he’s got Mello’s legs wrapped around his waist and Mello’s nails digging into his shoulders and Mello hissing at him to move, move you son of a bitch I thought redheads were supposed to be feisty fucks) but occasionally he wishes Mello would just... slow. down. If Matt’s a lazy punk then Mello’s an unstoppable force, and it’s all Matt can do to hold on and hope to hell they know what they’re doing.
(I know what we’re gonna do, Mello said a week later, rocking back on his heels and wiping Matt’s come off his lips.)
(What’s that? Matt groaned, reaching down and pulling him up for a sloppy kiss.)
(We’re gonna take out the Yakuza on the West Coast.)
That’s how Matt ends up in a stolen car in Vegas around ten minutes away from the cartel’s safe house where Mello set him up with a bug in his ear and instructions to “sit here and wait, because I’ve got a bad feeling about tonight.” It had been something to see, the way Mello took a group of sorry Mexicans and systematically built them up as one of the most powerful organizations on the West Coast, bumping off untouchable mob bosses and greasing palms left and right. He never let Matt get too close to any of it, saying he was too important to get mixed up with these pathetic fuckwads, limiting him to reconnaissance and the occasional stealthy assassination. Ace in the hole. Matt sighs. At least it’s a nice car this time.
What he really wants, he reflects, tapping out a rhythm on the steering wheel and listening to the crinkle of Mello’s chocolate wrapper in his ear, is to be able to wake Mello up by swallowing his cock down and sucking him off while he’s still pliant and warm with sleep. To have Mello let him because they’ve got nowhere to be that day. To lounge around in bed all morning, too lazy to do much more than make out and run their hands all over each other.
The hookers on the corner are staring now because he’s been there almost as long as they have, so he kind of waves at one and snorts when she bursts out laughing. They all saw Mello leave, that kiss that was as much a branding as anything else, all tongue and teeth and hand against his crotch, and that glare Mello shot them before slinging one leg over his motorcycle and driving off. He sighs again. It’s not like he’s ever put much store by dignity, anyway.
But the point here is that Matt’s probably never going to have one of those mornings, not unless he ties Mello down and chloroforms him or something, which most likely wouldn’t work out all that well for his dick in the long run, not after Mello cut it off and made him eat it and... where was he going with this? Right. Because that’s just not who Mello is, and that’s just the shit card they got played.
“Shit,” from his earpiece, and Matt frowns. There’s a brief crackling and then it sounds like Mello’s giving instructions to his cartel flunkies and running somewhere, probably upstairs where all the surveillance equipment is. Matt grits his teeth and turns the key in the ignition, but doesn’t do anything else because Mello told him to sit tight unless the shit really hits the fan, because Mello will never be anything but fucking crazy, and this whole situation had been one giant shitstorm from the beginning no matter what Mello said –
The sound from the explosion nearly blows out his eardrum.
“That psychotic little cunt,” Matt hisses, throws the car in gear and drives.
He passes three ambulances with their sirens blaring on the way there. It barely prepares him for what he sees, which is a whole bunch of smoking rubble where the warehouse used to be. Fire trucks form a ring around the front of the place, all hoses turned on the smoldering fires, so he swerves around to back and climbs out of the car, squinting through the smoke. If the tracker he’d stuck to the back of Mello’s vest was still working, Mello should be right about
There. Flat on his back on the ground and wheezing faintly, arm at a funny angle and looking like he must have crawled out. The relief of it makes his knees weak, but somehow he gets them working and sprints over. From this close he can see better the damage the explosion did, what look like second- or third-degree burns across the top of the left side of Mello’s face and all the way down to his shoulder. Mello cracks one eye open at Matt’s hand on his other shoulder and glares as if to say, what took you so fucking long?
“No – hospital,” he croaks, and then passes out.
“Of course,” Matt mutters, and yanks him up so he can drag him to the car.
So he finds some sketchy doctor through their contacts and gets Mello set up with an IV and a cast, tries to ignore the way the old pervert lingers just a little too long over Mello’s flushed skin (he stopped soon enough after Matt pointed a gun at his spine, anyway), and settles in for the long haul. He wouldn’t be surprised if Mello is actually the worst patient on the planet, bitching about everything under his breath, squirming when Matt has to drain the gunk off his wounds, ripping out his IV and then throwing up everything Matt tries to force down his throat. On the third day Mello tries popping a bunch of codeine and walking across the room only to have his legs give out two steps away from his bed, and that’s where Matt finds him when he gets back from the gas station where he’d gone to stock up on nonperishables and energy drinks.
Mostly it’s boring as fuckall, this ‘going to ground’ shit, just sitting on his ass in a crappy motel and watching Mello breathe shallowly across the room. He plays Tetris a lot, smokes out the bathroom window. Resists the urge to trash the place every time Mello hacks weakly in his sleep. Matt’s never been a saint, no matter what Mello expects of him, and he’s never been so cleanly furious in his whole life. It’s irrational, he knows, but it’s easier to focus on the anger than it would be on anything else.
He ends up going outside to get away from it sometimes, sits on the curb and stares at the neon lights flashing just down the road. More than any other city, Vegas reminds him of Japan, too much, too loud, too bright, too many people. The old lady at the counter in the lobby knows him on sight now, ever since he offered to reorganize the motel database for her so it would be easier to navigate. She'd smiled and refused politely, then gave him a few tokens for the Laundromat down the street. Eventually the anger fades, along with everything else, just leaving him with a sick Mello and a bone-deep exhaustion he can’t seem to shake.
He falls asleep sitting up, wakes again when he feels the bed dip and someone take the PSP out of his limp hands to set it on the counter. Mello has been able to move around on his own for a day or so now, but they still haven’t said much of anything to each other, beyond Matt’s perfunctory inquiries about how Mello was feeling or Mello’s requests for water, or pills, or help making it to the bathroom (that one rankled, Matt could tell).
“Matt,” Mello starts, kneeling awkwardly on the edge of the mattress. He worries at his cast with his good hand. Matt peels off his goggles and waits for Mello to continue.
“Matt,” Mello says, “I – ”
Which could be the beginning of any number of things, including I need to get moving or I still need to catch Kira, but the one thing Matt knows it is definitely not is an apology. Matt stopped expecting any sincere apologies from Mello long ago, if he ever really had. But he’ll forgive him anyway. He’ll forgive him because this is Mello, who he loves so much he’s stupid with it.
He tugs Mello over so Mello’s head is resting on his shoulder, careful of the bandages, gropes for Mello’s free hand and laces their fingers together over the cast. “Yeah,” he says. “I booked us a flight out of here tomorrow morning.” Mello must still be goofy from the drugs, because he un-tenses a little at that and buries his face more firmly into the crook of Matt’s neck. Matt’s mouth twitches and he brings his other arm up to stroke gently down Mello’s lower back. “Good thing, too,” he tells the ceiling. “By now I’m willing to bet all the hookers in Vegas know how cockwhipped I am.”
He can feel Mello’s lips curve into a smile against his skin.
And that’s it. That’s the story. What, you want to know how it ends?
There’s nothing more to tell. They fought and they fucked and they got closer and closer to Kira and – oh, right. I guess there is one more thing.
After Vegas, which Mello refuses to ever talk about, they head to New York and then Japan again after Near and the SPK. There’s a woman Mello’s got in there, this bombshell blonde named Ridner that Matt probably would have been trying to bone had things been different. As it is he’s got his hands full trying to keep Mello from deploying a tactical nuke up Near’s ass, especially after that clusterfuck of a school reunion when Mello came back more pissed off than Matt had seen him since, well, since the institute. His own ass had felt that one for weeks.
Then Mello comes up with this plan to stake out this dumb bitch who’s probably the second Kira, and Matt goes along with it. Just like he goes along with the plan to stake out and finally kidnap this second dumb bitch who’s got an entire retinue of guards around her 24-7 (even if one of them is Ridner), and that’s where things get a little bit messy. Mello’s kind of like having a cannonball as a life preserver, in that way.
But then again, Matt knew what he was getting into. He knew what he was getting into that skanky day in Atlanta, and he knew what he was getting into when he agreed to ride shotgun on this ridiculous mission. Maybe he didn’t know what the hell was up with the gun thing (seriously, handgun law, anyone?) but –
And his last thought, right before they open up on him, is. Well, okay, it’s actually something like I am so viciously fucked, but underneath that, way back in the back of his brain, underneath the adrenaline and the terror, is man, Mello’s gonna be pissed. But that’s just the way things go, isn’t it? Nothing you can do but hold on to what you got for as long as you can have it, as fucked up as it may be. Don’t you let go, boy, ’cause it’s gonna be one hell of a ride.
(hit the ground running)