There was a sudden dash of running feet on the landing above, as Mello stepped into the hall. He rolled his eyes, dropping his helmet into the cupboard and shoving his biking gloves into it. Taking the stairs two at a time, he rounded the corner to peer into the bathroom. "Have you only just got up?"
"No." Matt replied, though he only had his jeans on and was only now lathering his face with shaving gel. "I've been in my study." Green eyes swivelled round to glance at his husband. "Working."
"Perfecting your hiscores." Mello corrected, starting to walk away.
"Hal called." Matt picked up his electric razor and inspected the head. Mello returned to lean up against the doorframe, waiting expectantly. "She said that Wammy's needs a thorough decorating."
Mello scowled. "What? Tell her to get the fucking decorators in."
"It's a top secret, classified location, Mello. She wanted know..."
"So what?" The blond marched away, calling back. "If I wanted to recreate 'Sister Act', I'd buy a nun's outfit and have singing lessons. I'm not redecorating the bloody orphanage. Shove a paintbrush in the kids' hands if it comes to it. She really called just for that? For crying out loud! I mean, what are we...?" He was cut off by the humming of a shaver, so came back from their bedroom. "Honestly? She really called to ask us to redecorate fucking Wammy's?"
Matt laughed. "No."
Mello sighed in exasperation. "Then why the Hell did you just say she did?"
"I didn't. You went on a rant and got there all by yourself." The redhead pulled faces at himself in the mirror, guiding the blade towards his ear. Mello watched him do it for a few seconds, then strode across the bathroom and took the shaver from his hand. "What?"
Mello held it out of reach. "I've got things to do. Tell me what Hal said."
"She wanted to know if you knew who would ordinarily be hired, because there's nothing in the archives and Near doesn't have a clue." He held up a hand before the Slav could interupt. "I suggested Roger, but he's gone to France and isn't contactable for a fortnight."
"And Wammy's will fall down if it's not redecorated within the next fortnight?" Mello growled. "While you're in here, get on the scales please." He pointed to them. "I want to see how your weight's going on."
"My shaving gel is drying on my face, Mello."
"Then get on the scales quickly then!" He waited until the redhead did as he was told, then leaned over to see. "Oh! Matt! You're still only 7 stone 6! You've only managed to put on a grand total of four pounds in the last month?" He spoke in a tone that suggested that this was not only wholly unacceptable but almost certainly Matt's fault. "Have you eaten breakfast this morning?"
Matt stepped off the scales, reclaiming his shaver as he did so. "I've had a cuppa and a cigarette. I don't do breakfast. Not when I've been sober the night before anyway. Get me pissed every night and I'll have a full fry-up next morning. Law of cause and effect."
Mello growled. "Go and eat some breakfast and have a cake as well. Then come into my study. We've got a case." He sprinted off into his room and pulled the casefile out of his bag. He had intended to sit on one of the chairs to read it, but he was too restless. He paced as he read, seeking an overview, but his mind was racing too much to take anything in. This was his first major assignment. Not as a student, not as a consigliere, not as a contender for L, but as Mello, a detective in his own right, making his own name. Well, apart from the Kira case. Mello stopped dead. Did Kira count as a Mello case or a contender for L case? Obviously the latter, but it had been done in his own name. Where did the credit lie? He exhaled, thinking hard and starting to panic a little. He frowned. What was he doing panicking? He had solved bigger cases than this in the past. Mello sank down into his armchair, the papers hanging listlessly from his hand. "Shit."
"Do you want coffee?" Matt called from the landing, shaking Mello from his reverie.
"Erm." Mello scratched at the edge of his scar on his forehead. "Hot chocolate please."
Matt appeared at his doorway. "S'up?"
Matt gave him a long appraising look. "Is it something in the case or haven't you got that far yet?"
Mello sat up a little straighter and propped his foot up on the little table. "I'm fine."
"You're a great detective, Mello; one of the greatest minds alive in the world today." Matt commented from the door. "Hot chocolate coming right up."
Mello blinked, startled, and sagged a little in his chair. He twisted his head around, but the redhead had already wandered away. Mello raised his eyebrows and covered his mixed feelings in a perusal of the paperwork. He was thoroughly immersed in it by the time that Matt returned with a tray, carrying two steaming mugs and a bacon sandwich. "Thank you." He mumbled over the bar of chocolate clenched held between his teeth. Matt sat down on the other chair, balancing his DS Lite on his knee, so he could play and eat at the same time. He had gained four levels before Mello removed the chocolate and asked him, "Did you ever stop to think what happened to American junkies after most of the Mafia there were killed by Kira?"
"Can't say it's filled my every waking thought, no."
"Some illegal drugs are home-grown, home-cooked, whatever, but the vast majority are being flown in from South America, Afghanistan, Burma, well most of South-Eastern Asia, Eastern Europe. All of this has to be co-ordinated. You're not going to get much into the country just with mules, so there's transport to organise, officials to bribe, factories to receive the raw shit and doctor it so it goes further, then off it goes to the middlemen, the dealers and finally onto the streets." Mello caught Matt's frown. "What? You thought it was pure stuff out there? Don't make me laugh. 99% of it is laced with anything that looks the part and pads it out a bit. That's why the 1% is so expensive."
"I know. I'm working out if this is gearing up to be a drugs lecture, but mostly I'm deducing a lot by the fact that you know all this."
"So the co-ordination is done by the Mafia. Most countries anyway." He frowned. "Possibly all of them by now. But that's incidental. You have an absolutely collossal market like America, where suddenly, overnight, all of the big families are gone. The process grinds to a halt. If the drugs are even getting into the country, then it's not in the sort of quantities needed to fulfill that market. There's no-one processing the stuff, no deliveries, no-one passing to the dealers. Bit of a pisser for the likes of you, who have the occasional joint and had better not be dropping bombs of speed when I'm trying to fatten you up to a decent weight again."
Matt tutted. "I've just eaten a bacon sandwich and I'm sitting still. There's hardly amphetamines in my system."
"Good boy." Mello waved the chocolate in the air between them. "I'm not trying to be a bitch about this. You do what the fuck you want to, but not to the point where you look like Lamond."
"Fuck off! I've never been that underweight!"
"Not far off." Mello smiled sweetly. "So your lot would just whinge a bit and just get drunk, until the Mafia are ready to provide a service for you again. I'm sorry, did you think it was flown in rainbows? Perhaps on bluebirds fitted with little trailers, flying straight to your dealer's door. Or don't you like to think at all about it?" He watched Matt become pointedly engrossed in his game. "Back in the real world, the Mafia are getting extremely wealthy supplying the drug market. As I was saying before, it's not the like of you that's the problem, it's the serious junkies. The ones who would sell their own granny for their next hit. Kira wiped out the Mafia, what happened out on the streets with the smackheads?"
"I don't know." Matt replied, coolly. "I was too busy putting you back together again."
Mello nodded in acknowledgment. "I'll tell you what happened. Utter freaking chaos. Extremely expensive drugs, in very short supply, not even making it into some cities, let alone towns and villages. People doing whatever they could to get hold of any drugs that might stave off their cravings. A crime wave hit the entire States, until even the prison cells emptied by dead Mafioso were overcrowded with people who murdered and thieved their way towards their fix. More people in cold turkey than the rehab. centres, hospitals or doctors could handle. Thousands of suicides. The ultimate irony is that the Mafia actually reduced crime, if you look at it from a certain angle."
"No. It caused it." Matt stopped. This was one of those grey areas in their relationship, where discussion was, at best, discouraged. Mello had too many raw nerves to step on regarding that period of his life, while Matt had long since decided that he probably didn't want to know. As long as Mello wasn't cracking under the memories, he could keep his secrets.
"Touche." The blond licked his chocolate. "Meanwhile, you have the police and other investigators tied up with this and all the other Mafia concerns that are bobbing to the surface with no-one to suppress them, including all the people with true confessions, now that they know they aren't going to be clipped for ratting. Then the junkies start raiding the drugstores, hospitals, everywhere else they could get their paws on anything to sate their cravings. The owners of these places start screaming out for extra protection. In come the National Guard, but the whole country's resources are stretched to breaking point and the vice-president announces that the USA will no longer actively oppose Kira."
Matt paused his game and stared at his husband. Eventually, he softly concluded his thoughts. "That was a pretty good move on Kira's part."
"Too fucking right it was. Messed Near up as well as me, and as well as taking out the possibility of more FBI agents crawling all over Japan, as they already had done. Absolutely genius move on Kira's part, though I find it hard to believe that he had thought through that far." He shook his head in indignation. "Why was it so easy to rile a mob in New York? Well, it's easy enough to rabble-rouse anywhere, at any time, but back then the whole country was like a powder-keg ready to go off. Law and order were breaking down." Mello considered it. "Had broken down. Crime was visible everywhere. People didn't feel safe and there's Kira prancing around like some superhero, blatantly killing all the baddies. It was his bloody fault it was in that state in the first place!"
"Kira was a psychopathic criminal. Check." Matt quickly moved them on, sensing that Mello was about to start ranting more than he already was. "So what happened to stabilise the underworld then?"
"Three things." Mello raised a hand to count them off on his fingers. "Number one, the Scilians, actually in Scily, I mean, sent people over there. Unfortunately they didn't know enough of the operations, so had to start more or less from scratch. Number two, the British Mafia sent their people in, started establishing new families over there. Other countries did the same, but the British had the edge, because they had... it's not important."
Matt's palm slapped down on the edge of the chair. He half-rose from his seat, as if about to attack or storm out, but in the end sat back down and lit a cigarette. His fingers, gripping his DS Lite, showed white knuckles with the pressure upon them. His words emerged through gritted teeth. "Don't you ever give me another drugs lecture again."
Mello growled back. "It's hardly the same league. I've told you, I don't care what you choose to take, as long as your mind is sharp and coherent, just in case I need you for anything, and you're not a stone and half underweight."
"You are such a fucking hypocrit!"
"I am not!" Mello glared, but there was doubt in his eyes. "But even so, it didn't matter because the Mafia never managed to monopolise the cartels as they had before. There was already a third player in the game."
"Who?" Matt spat.
"Now that," Mello tidied together the papers on his lap, "is what I've been hired to find out."