Within the first five paragraphs of Chapter 1, we learn how very, very smart this 12 year old boy, Mail, already is.
Beginning the conversation is Roger:
"Your results consistently place you squarely third in this House. It doesn't matter what subject, what section of the IQ tests, even the sporting events... third. Precisely third." He leaned forward. "Mail, has it not occurred to you just how unlikely that is? You've slipped up just once, when you accidentally achieved first place in a Computer Science project. Mrs Wendum said you did not react well when those were posted."
"You can't expect me to beat Mihael and Nate, they're too good." The boy, to all extents and purposes, appeared almost mockingly relaxed, but there was a slight tension to his shoulders and his gaze was a touch too intent.
In a cursory reading it would appear that young Matt truly believed that Nate and Mihael were just too good; too much smarter than he was; much more athletic that he was (well, maybe Mello was); better in computers than he was. But, no, when you reread it again, and factor in some of the body language that our author has added - appeared almost mocking relaxed.
"I'm not at liberty to discuss the results of the other children with you." Roger spoke primly, but a smile danced upon his features. "However I will say this - Mihael and Nate work flat out, as hard as they can, to achieve their positions. Nate has made the number one spot his own, though sheer relentless effort, and Mihael is putting his all into overtaking him." He leaned forward. "Mail, you put no effort in at all, you do not apply yourself, and you are number three. What would happen if we saw your best?"
Is Roger alluding to the fact that Matt is actually smarter than Nate and Mihael? It would appear so to me.
Mail's gaze had already slid away, surveying the bookcase, the window and the tree outside, the carpet, anywhere but the man on the chair beside him. That mischevious smirk had returned though,
"I'd be number three."
And there it is. I believe this truly supports my theory in TAF2, which, for any newcomers, is that Matt works very hard to allow Mello to look the best. He loves Mello so very much he would never want him to feel second best again. Now it takes a true genius to do that.
But to me, the best ... the best part of this chapter is the pseudonyms. I imagine with all of the cases L and Watari took on there were certain inherint dangers that could be brought back to Wammys. As it was, we already know that when the children are brought to Wammys they were instructed that they were to never speak their native language (unless it was English) again; nothing to make them easily identifiable. Can you imagine, you just loose your family, your swept away from the land you know and brought to another, a new house (Wammy's), a new family (Quillish, Roger, Ann, the other children), and now you are asked to give up any personal possession you have and then, give up the name that your parents gave you! For those that remember that must feel like the ultimate act of betrayal. Back on point .... it was Mail's turn to choose a pseudonym. Everytime Roger asked, Mail's response was "It doesn't matter." or some variation thereof.
Then Roger tries goading Mail another way, still with the same response until finally his temper wears thin.
Roger had foreseen another long argument, so had already figured out the chink in this boy's armour.
"Mihael has already changed his name." He hid his triumphant smile, as Mail's expression changed. Shock had registered there and wonder with it. "From now on, we will refer to Mihael as Mello." He pressed home his advantage. "Nate will be Near... and you?"
"It doesn't matter."
"It matters." Roger was tiring of this. Though he prided himself on endless patience with the children, Mail's seeming stubbornness in not applying himself, nor taking advantage of the opportunities on offer in this institution, were irksome. "Matt." He made a note on the paperwork before him. "I will ask the other children... I will inform Mello that your name will be Matt."
I must confess that I can't recall if this is where we learned where Mail, from now known as Matt, got his goggles, but, we learn that he received them as a free gift in a racing box. We are to assume that he removed them during his interview with Roger, at his request, because, as we know, they do make Matt's eyes unreadable.
Along those same lines, in a very early chapter of TAF2, Mello informed Matt that if he ever truly wanted anything from him, to remove his goggles so that he could see his husband's beautiful eyes. It interesting that as I go back now to the earlier stories how many points I am seeing in the later stories (hope that made senses).
I'm not too sure I brought up too much to discuss in this chapter, but I have included the link and I invite you to start reading/rereading the story along with me so we can discuss future chapters together.