~He Smiles~

Let it be known that no-one should be under the illusion that Mello is a calm man. He may, from time to time, pause for dramatic effect, but that is what it is – a pause: the moment of stillness amidst the flurry of action that is his way of life. Mello experiences calm the way a storm does just before it unleashes its fury.

So, it comes as a surprise to those that know him moderately well (those whom he likes well enough to earn his notice, but will never earn his full trust for the simple reason that they are not Matt) that there is any form of insult that Mello will face without retaliation. Insult his intelligence? Good luck ever speaking to him again. Insult his strength? He takes it as a challenge. Insult his religion? Let's hope you'll wear your black eye with the same amount of pride that he wears his rosary. Insult his mother? Not if you value your life. Insult Matt? No-one will ever find the body.

But imply that he looks like a woman? Well, that's a different story…

Mello is a man that values his privacy, and truth be told, finds vain enjoyment in others viewing him as a mystery. He doesn't care that they look at him with confused stares and whisper behind their hands as he walks away. He lets his smile answer for him when people mistake his gender. Sometimes, silence can speak louder than words – if you speak the language, Mello supposes. Matt taught him that.

Because no-one would understand unless they'd been there, experiencing what the two of them had lived through:

When they were kids, and Matt took off his huge vest for the first time and showed Mello what was underneath and told him how he felt about it. When they grew into their adolescence, and they drifted apart until Mello forced the issue and Matt admitted it was because he was jealous. When they first kissed, and Matt asked him to call him by a new name. When Matt ran away from home to live with Mello and his family, and for the next few days the answering machine was full of messages from Matt's parents, accusing Mello of perverting their daughter. When Matt was recovering from his double mastectomy, and Mello crawled into the hospital bed next to him despite the nurse's remonstrations. When Matt and Mello went to the first peaceful gathering with Matt's family, and the grandmother with dementia said, "What a beautiful young woman you are!" (the atmosphere had been tense until everyone realized she was addressing Mello – then they all laughed nervously).

When they went to a diner last week and the older waitress flirted with Matt, thinking that the two of them were just friends.

She trails her lacquered fingernails up his bicep and simpers. "A strong man like you will need a good, hearty breakfast."

Matt shoots Mello a look, amusement dancing in his eyes. He smiles, passing it off.

When the waitress witnesses Mello feeding Matt waffles with his own fork later on, playfully smearing syrup on Matt's face, she gets the picture.