(Another one for dn-contest, this one on the prompt 'Pokemon.' Oh, crack abounds. Kal Snyder really DOES like Anne of Green Gables; How to Read 13 says so. I missed writing Mello. Remind me to do it more, yeah?)


It was a nervous grunt at best and it barely cut through the L.A. heat. Americans, Mello thought. He was getting used to Americans. He'd learned to kick his voice into more than a half-baked American accent—all about squashing vowels, it was. Crap slang, but it grew on your tongue like a fungus. Mleeh. He licked his lips, faintly tasting chocolate. Ah. Right.


"Hand me a chocolate bar, will you? There's some in my pack."

"Yeah. Um."

Kal Snyder alias Jack Neylon reminded Mello of a lizard, eyes darting around like that. Nervous little creep.

"What's this?"

He glanced back, bored. "What's wh—"


Snyder was holding up something small and red and square between two dirty fingers.


"Chocolate." Death glare. "Now. And give that here."

Snyder tossed it to him without comment, but had to note with some interest that whatever it was, Mello was scowling at it. The boss ripped open the Hershey bar and took a large bite with a feral, grumbling sound. Still chewing noisily, Mello added, "Didn't your mother teach you not to mess with stuff that isn't yours?"

"And not to talk with my mouth full," Snyder ventured.

The scowl shifted into a wide, hazardous grin. "But I haven't got a mother, have I, Neylon?" Another bite, bigger than the last. "So shut your face."

It sounded more like soshuhyuhfaissh, but the meaning was understood well enough.

A sigh escaped Snyder—a wimpy little sound, nasal and wistful.


"I had a mother. S'all."

Mello snorted. "I bet you did." The red square was still in his hands, sweaty, plastic.

"What's that supposed to—"

"You look like a mama's boy, Neylon." He chucked a piece of candy wrapper at the older man, and it bounced off his forehead. "It's obvious. It's why you suck at this. I don't know why you do it."

"Good money," Snyder replied, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"You mean bad money."

Again, that hint in Mello's voice that hadn't gone away with the traces of his British accent, that statement of I am different than you.

"Any money's good," said Snyder pragmatically, "if there's a lot of it." He pulled a cigarette from his pocket; lit it with a match. Mello's scowl returned and deepened. Snyder didn't notice. He was busy thinking about his mother, who'd always been poor and would've taken any money she could get, and who read Anne of Green Gables to him every night for six years in her rasping tobacco-wracked alto; he'd never once gotten tired of it. He thought about Anne, sometimes. Anne had been a pretty weird girl. Maybe she was on drugs. If he ever met Anne Shirley and she wanted any stuff he wouldn't charge her a dime. Girls with red hair—

"You know that's gonna kill you, yeah?"

Mello didn't sound very concerned, just annoyed.

"In this business?" Snyder exhaled. "Nah. The life'll kill me first."

"Only because you suck at it," Mello pointed out. "Get caught, get shot. So don't get caught. Dumbass." He waved the smoke away irritably. "How many times've you been arrested?"


"What about last month?"


"See." Mello rolled his eyes. "God, you're useless. That happens again, I'll shoot you if Ross doesn't."

Someone had once told Kal Snyder in a whisper that Mello didn't actually like killing people if he didn't have to—said it's disgusting, the man had said, says he hates it—but he really, really doubted that and was prepared to take any and all of Mello's threats seriously. He was fucking scary for a kid.. He met Ross in an alley, they said. Snyder'd been there. Ross found him sitting in a doorway. Sobbing, no less. A raw sound like someone breaking a window. And Ross had approached him with his big-stance scorn and that nameless kid—he suddenly had a gun in each hand, one on Ross and one aimed straight at Kal Snyder himself. He didn't even look up.

You're Rod Ross, right?

Take one step closer, he'd said, and I'll still kill you.

Let's talk.

"So, um."


"Is that, like—a video game, or—"

"What did it look like," said Mello tersely. "Yes."

"Which one?"

'Cause they didn't do much playing, here. Not that kind.

Mello swallowed the last of his chocolate bar to conceal something that might've been…what. ...sheepishness? "It's not mine."

That wasn't really an answer, but. "Whose is it?"

And Mello wasn't going to answer that. He was not. "If you must know."

An awkward pause.

"It's Pokémon."


…A still more awkward pause.

People in the Mafia didn't really talk about Pokémon.


"Yes, Snyder, that Pokémon."

"I think my nephew likes that," Snyder said, musing. "That's the one with those weird-looking animals. Japanese, isn't it?"

There was an odd glint in Mello's eye at the mention of Japan. "Yeah."

(Neylon has a--?)

"…I didn't think you'd like that kind of thing."

Caution was all over Snyder's statement, but Mello still snapped at him: "Told you, it's not mine."

"So whose—"


"Drop it."

Snyder dropped it.

"I don't know how that got into my stuff, anyway," Mello muttered, several minutes later. "Idiot."

Someday, he guessed, he'd have to give it back.