Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note. Quotes are the Bible, Catch-22 and the poem/title is Shel Silverstein. Warnings for spoilers for most of the series, foul language and some nastiness.
Note: So…yeah. This is technically an off-shoot of my other fic 'By Flashes of Lightning'. You could, really, get away with reading this as a stand-alone, but you'll have to accept Mello and Sayu as a…kind of? established relationship. Ish. Well, not really. Also telling you not to read BFoL takes away the potential of extra reviews for me. So…I suggest that first. But like I said, feasibly, this could stand alone.
But really, friends, readers, countrymen: this is what I couldn't tell you before.
Where The Sidewalk Ends
"He heals the broken-hearted, and he binds up their wounds."
"He had lived innocuously for a little while and then had gone down in a flame over Ferrara on the seventh day, while God was resting. "
"Anything worth dying for…is certainly worth living for."
"It's my birthday today," Mello mumbles, as a soft hand moves up across scorched skin and into heavy hair. Except he's not really sure if he said it aloud, or if he did, what relevance he thought it might have to the situation at hand.
The situation at hand. The situation is…the situation…
Sayu is the situation.
Sayu, this stupid kid, this Japanese girl who he found out by accident was six months older than him. She can't really be called a kid, either, not with those hips, not with the way she moves against him as one hand presses against the small of her back.
She's probably not stupid either, so that's that assessment down the drain.
Sayu doesn't respond so now he's pretty sure he didn't say that thing about his birthday out loud. Then she's moving up, and into the kiss he'd half-started, uncertain and inelegant, and at that point he stops even trying to think about whether she's stupid or not, because he doesn't actually fucking care.
He can't stay. He swore to himself he wouldn't, deliberately didn't tell Matt where he was going, so that if he was out too long the boy would start to panic, and come barrelling after him with a gun. So he can't, he can't be bending down into another kiss, he can't be bringing one hand up to tangle his fingers round Sayu's as she strokes his hair, but he is, and he really needs to stop because…because…
…Why does he need to stop again?
Don't get too involved, he remembers telling himself earlier, talking into the bathroom mirror with shower-wet hair plastered to his face (covering his scar, not that he'd ever admit that was what he'd trained it to do), don't get too involved, you're going back there to prove she's not special. You haven't been round anyone but Matt for ages and that's the only reason you keep thinking about her. This doesn't mean anything.
But Mello finds himself, when he finally pulls away, telling her that he'll be back, and to look out for him, and not to bolt her door at night. She tells him it doesn't bolt, and he raises an eyebrow (he raises both, but he only has one left so in the end it's all semantics) and tells her that it should. She asks why and he tells her, "Because guys like me might come round in the middle of the night".
She smiles and says if they're anything like him a bolt wouldn't stop them. Her voice sounds hoarse and different to how he remembers, and he wonders how much she's been speaking lately. He wonders if she really has lost weight or if he's imagining it. He wonders how much of it is his fault.
He runs a finger down her throat. She shivers, her eyes flutter shut. He half-bends, almost into another kiss, but moves away. If he doesn't go now, he'll never go, and God knows that'll raise questions in the morning.
So he goes. His hand is cold without Sayu's clinging to it, and his face feels strange where her fingers had touched. He watches his step on the stairs, alert for any creak, and the door shuts behind him without a sound. Somewhere upstairs, a light is on. After a few seconds, it flickers out.
It's December and the nights are fucking freezing. Mello's kind of glad of the cold though, it forces its way under his skin and forces his breath to mist and forces all thoughts of Sayu Yagami out of his head.
For all of five minutes, anyway, and then he almost trips over a magazine with Misa Amane on the cover, and that reminds him of Kira and that reminds him of Sayu.
How did this even start? Mello swings a boot at the magazine, sending it into the gutter in a flurry of mud-stained pages and glossy print. A voice in the back of his head (the same voice that tells him, with a kind of dreary certainty, that this will be his last birthday so he might as well enjoy it) tells him that it really is his own fault if he can't get the girl off his mind, because after all, he was the one who plucked her out of her life, threw her into this mess of devils and daring and gunfire.
And notebooks, he adds automatically, even though the thought of it makes something in his stomach shrivel in on itself. Stupid fucking murder notebooks that he had tried to kid himself were worth threatening a teenage girl over. And then in the end he'd gone and got his name revealed anyway, after all his precautions, and now he was on the verge of falling in - no, of getting involved - with Kira's sister, of all people, so how does he, of all people, have any right whatsoever to walk down the road at 2am and ask himself, 'How did this even start?'
What he has to do now, he tells himself firmly, what he has to do now is never go back there again. He has to focus on Kira, not a particularly attractive family member of Kira, and he has to focus on taking the bastard down, and getting out of this alive, and getting Matt out of this alive…
Only Mello, he's always had one thing going for him. He's always been smart, even before Wammy's started grooming him for a playing the role of L - in this bloody farce, he adds. So he knows, somewhere not-really-deep down, that they'll need a miracle to get out of this alive.
He brings a hand up to touch the cross hanging from his rosary, leather pressing against painted wood (though they're both black, and a little less pure than Christ would have had them be). Even as he starts on an automatic prayer, he realises - he's never really believed in miracles.
Then he thinks of Sayu again. He thinks of the look on her father's case as a round of bullets were pumped into his chest and he thinks that she knows that was his fault. He thinks of her when he met her, trembling and panicked, and he thinks that that was his fault, too.
He thinks back to her room, and the fact that the first thing she'd said to him wasn't "I hate you" but "are you okay?".
He still doesn't really put much faith in miracles.
Today, though - today he's got a little more faith in people.
Matt's video game has been feebly declaring that it was low on power for an hour now, and it finally flickers up. Matt slides up his goggles and gives it a distinctly disappointed look.
"I expected better of you," he says, and reaches for the charger.
Then he realises that Mello hasn't said anything for a really long time, and he looks around, and realises Mello isn't even in the motel room.
He scratches his head, and some of his hair stays sticking out.
"I need to notice things like that," he mumbles to his game. He makes his way to the door, and is halfway to turning the handle when he hears a key scraping in the lock outside, and steps back before Mello barges into him.
"Cravings?" Matt asks, twisting his mouth and not specifying what kind of cravings. Mello glares at him. "All out of chocolate at the PMS Supplies store?"
Mello punches him in the arm. That's probably a yes then.
"I need your advice," the birthday boy says suddenly, and Matt almost does a double take.
"O…kay. That's…certainly new."
"It's about a girl."
"You're into girls?"
"Shut the fuck up, Matt."
Matt holds up his hands. "Well sorr-y. There was me thinking you wanted advice."
"Yeah." Mello shoot him a look that Matt is pretty sure had sent older, stronger, more mafia-orientated men to cower in corners. "Advice, not snark."
"I always get those two mixed up." Matt drops onto the ratty couch occupying a corner of the room, and pats the space next to him. "Come on then. Spill your guts. Not literally, of course - got to remember to save that pleasure for Kira. Taking that from him, well, it'd be just rude really, wouldn't it?"
Mello sits down next to him, and swings his feet onto the small table in front of them. Through some combination of the weight of his boots and the force with which he slammed them down, a few more splinters appear in the wood. Matt sighs.
Mello glancedsacross at him. "Kinda, yeah. That obvious?"
"Yeah, well, you only fucking talked about her every day since I met up with you."
"It was relevant to the case, wasn't it?" Mello scowls.
Matt rolls his eyes. "Yeah, mentioning the fact that you kidnapped her was relevant. Rehashing it fifty times or so - not so much. Kind of the opposite of relevant, really. Closer to time wasting."
"Matt, I will punch you again."
"And I'm sure it'll hurt just as much," he assures him, pulling his goggles down again. "Maybe later in this little therapy session, we can move onto your issues of anger management and sadism. But right now, we're dealing with the fact that you've got the hots for someone you kidnapped." Matt spreads his hands, and grins at his friend. "So - deal."
On the fourteenth of December, Mello decides that fuck what Matt thinks, he's not going back to see Sayu. It's bad for him - he runs the risk of getting emotionally attached - it's bad for her - she runs the risk of getting involved in something she shouldn't be involved in - and it's bad for Matt, who would probably lock himself out of the hotel room in Mello absence and draw far more attention to them than they need.
On the fifteenth of December, Mello falls asleep during a movie and Matt pokes him awake. In the bleary semi-alertness that his mind hovered in before realising the woman on screen is really bloody ugly, he thinks he can hear Sayu saying something, and he remembers her touching his scar. He's almost out of the door before Matt notices something on one of the monitors, and he turns back to the room, the movie, and the Kira case.
On the sixteenth of December, Mello accepts the fact that he has a thing for Sayu, and that for her sake, he has to stay away.
When the sixteenth of December turns into the seventeenth, he's already most of the way up her staircase. He thinks about dramatically pausing with his hand on the doorknob and rethinking the whole thing, but hesitation has never been his style so he pushes it open and to hell with caution.
He's a dead man anyway so he might as well enjoy what he's got left.
"Matt kept saying I should come here," Mello mutters into her neck, and he runs his hand down Sayu's side and brings it to rest on her hip. They covered the topic of who Matt was at about three in the morning a week ago, after Mello had finished telling her the things about Wammy that he thought about telling her when she was tied up in a mafia base.
"S'that the only reason you came?" she mumbles back, fingers curling round his shoulder.
"Yes," he says, and they both know it's not so she smiles, and exhales a long breath.
"Big sigh for a little girl," he comments, and pushes himself up to look at her face.
She's gorgeous underneath him. Her skin is pale (paler for lack of sun, his stomach still twists a bit when he remembers what she told him about the way she'd been living) and her hair is shot darker by comparison, splayed out on the pillow behind her. Her eyes are the same colour, and they mingle with the porcelain of her skin to make her look like a doll.
His doll, he thinks possessively, and his hand slides down onto her thigh.
She smiles. "I exhaled, I didn't sigh."
"I want you to have sighed," he says idly, twisting a few strands of her hair round his finger.
Sayu's forehead creases a little. He thinks it's somewhere between a frown and a question. He likes it. "Why?"
Mello shrugs. "Makes you seem like one of those princesses. The kind that are locked in castles, like out of fairytales?" He smiles, a little darkly, and tugs gently on the hair. "So you stand around by the window for a few years, sighing, and then I turn up."
She quirks an eyebrow. "My - ah - 'knight in shining armour', right?"
"Right. And I take you away and I protect you." Ignoring, of course, the fact that I'm probably the reason you're in the damned tower in the first place.
"So you want me to have sighed…so that you can imagine you're a knight rescuing me from a tower and protecting me." She smiles back, and there's nothing dark in hers, just wryness and bemusement.
"Well, when you say it like that it just sounds silly," Mello snorts, and Sayu opens her mouth, perhaps to say he hadn't said it any differently, and then realises it's pointless. Instead, she leans her head forward and laughs into his shoulder, quietly, always careful not to make too much noise.
He unravels the strands of hair from his fingers, and then eases his hand under her head. She leans back a little, and they look at each other for a few seconds. Mello isn't sure what he's looking for, so he tries harder to find it.
Sayu is taking in his eyes, and his scar, and she looks, just a second, like she's about to cry.
His name rolls off her tongue and it reminds him of the second time he visited her, when they talked through the night and she was finding her voice all over again. He had helped her, sounding out the words she couldn't get her mouth around, pulling her close and planting gentle kisses up her neck when her lack of control frustrated her to tears.
"Mello…when will you come back?"
He doesn't know what to say because he doesn't know the answer. The thing is, he realises, she didn't ask the question like she even expected one. He thinks Sayu is probably smarter than a lot of people give her credit for, or maybe it's just a woman thing that lets her ask such loaded questions.
"Maybe I won't," he said, and he hates himself.
Sayu looks up at him like she already knew that, and she closes her eyes. "Will you want to?"
"Yes." It's honest, and he wishes he could make her feel the desperation he wants her to, because then she'd know, she'd know he wanted this as much as she did - maybe more - and that there had been times when he'd thought 'fuck Kira', that he'd wanted to throw everything aside and just go somewhere, anywhere with her.
But he can't, so he just says 'yes'.
Sayu opens her eyes. "That's good enough for me."
Mello can tell how starkly true that is. It's laced in every syllable, every sound he hel;ped her practice. He wonders why everything Sayu says comes out like gospel truth, and even when he wants to tell her that he - he - fuck it, he thinks he loves her - it sounds like a lie.
"I'll see you on Christmas," he says. He means it. "I want to see you on Christmas. Can you - can you get out of the house? Or - I'll come here. Whatever. I just - Sayu, I want to see you on Christmas…"
Sayu leans up and kisses him.
"I'll see you on Christmas," she tells him.
Mello doesn't even know why he wants to cry, but he pulls her close and breathes her in, and for a second, that's all he needs.
Christmas is not as cold as the rest of December has been, but it's cold enough to merit the heavy jacket Mello wears. Even if it wasn't, he'd still be wearing it. Before, he was just hiding his face from Kira, but with the raw, red lines running down his cheek, now he wants to hide it even from Sayu.
She doesn't let him though. She is waiting by a tree, leaning heavily on a walking stick and looking embarrassed about it. He reaches her and tells her not to look so ashamed of it, lots of people use canes. She tells him 'old people', and he kisses her on the nose and says it doesn't matter.
When they're far enough away from the gate she pushes back his hood. He fumbles to pull it back, unmarred cheek flushing red, but she catches his hand. 'Lots of people have scars', she says. He snorts and replies with 'morons', and she shakes her head, and says 'soldiers'.
Then she smiles, and adds 'and knights'.
She's still holding his hand, and she's remembered the stupid thing he said about her sighing when he was lying in her bedroom.
He decides not to worry about his scar anymore.
'Lean on me' he tells her, prying the cane out of her hand. 'Lean on me, not this. I won't let you fall. I won't let you fall.'
She looks up at him. She knows he won't, he thinks, and something in his heart surges up.
'I won't let you fall' he keeps saying, until she laughs and tells him to shut up. He keeps an arm wrapped around her and they walk for a while, until Sayu asks if they can sit down. There isn't a bench nearby so Mello just picks her up. She makes an unlady-like noise that he thinks is beautiful, and he has to swing her down again so he can kiss her.
This is stupid, a part of him says, and he agrees wholeheartedly.
He doesn't care.
Then, the whole of his heart moves onto other things, like a girl wearing gloves and scarves and relying on him not to let her fall.
The last time he sees her, she has a cut on her left shoulder from where she grazed it against the wall. It's something absurd and tiny but it makes his entire chest contract, and he thinks that he should have been there to stop it.
He knows he won't ever be there again, because Lidner called, and -
He kisses her more roughly than he means to, and this time she can taste his desperation. She will push him off any second, she will ask him what's going on, she will look at him with big, brown eyes filled with trust and hurt and all the kinds of things Mello never wanted to get involved with and now can't get by without.
She doesn't. She wraps her arms round him and kisses him back just as desperately.
He doesn't know how, but she does. Sayu is there, underneath him, his fingers tangled up in the buttons of her pajama top, and she understands.
They've never gone this far before, partly because it's something neither of them have done before and partly out of fear of the noise. But now that's stopped mattering because they're both achingly, painfully aware that this is the last chance they'll get.
"Sayu," Mello mumbles, as he trails fingers up her thigh and plants kisses down her chest.
"Mello," she whispers back.
They fumble about in silence for a few moments, and the sex is anything but elegant and breathtaking and wonderful, but neither of them particularly care. They're quiet, and they bite back moans and exclamations, until Sayu presses her face into Mello's shoulder and gasps.
When it's over they don't move for nearly five minutes. Their breathing slows, from harsh and ragged to measured and deep. Mello strokes her hair over and over and keep saying he's sorry, and Sayu keeps telling him he has nothing to apologise for.
In the end he has to go. Sayu doesn't want to let him go, keeps sliding her hands up and down his arms and leaning against him, and her shoulders shake. Mello thinks she might cry. He thinks he might, too, except he would never be able to look Matt in the eye afterwards.
And it seems stupid to be thinking about that now.
He is by the door when she says "Mello" again, and he turns back.
She bites her lip. She glances down. She decides something. "I love you," she says, with a shrug as if to add 'I know it's stupid, but hey, there we go'.
Mello crosses the room in three paces and kisses her. He pins her down to the bed, rough and strong, and says the same thing back between tongues and teeth, and then Sayu really is crying, and she doesn't say goodbye, she just says 'I love you' over and over.
He desperately doesn't want to go.
Now, though, he isn't even sure that's his choice to make.
They go down in a roar of sound, the both of them, and the rest of Mello's body goes the same way as the skin on his face. That's long after his heart stopped, though, and it's almost more to add insult to injury than anything else.
The worst part had been the drive. A naked, scared, kidnapped woman in the space in the truck. Matt's death being blared across the news, shots of a bullet-riddled corpse. The memory of a girl with a scrape on her shoulder.
The long road, dark and slick with rain, and nothing to do but drive and think that maybe it wasn't necessary, after all, but it was just too fucking late now.
Almost absently, he mumbles 'I love you', and touches his rosary, sending out one, final prayer that she'll be okay. That even after the mess he's gotten himself into, the mess he dragged everyone into, she'll get out of it okay.
He doesn't know it, but it's the last thing either of them will ever say.
The news is lit up with pictures of a bright red car and a blazing church. Sayu watches it quietly, her arms folded neatly in her lap. Her mother frowns over it and bustles around, trying to suggest happier viewing. Sayu's hand curls around the remote and her mother sighs, relents. Lets her watch it and goes back to worry.
Sayu doesn't cry. She doesn't need to.
She goes upstairs, pulls the sheets around her, and she sleeps. She doesn't dream.
Good memories and nightmares.
There is a place where the sidewalks ends
And before the street begins
And there the grass grows soft and white
And there the sun burns crimson bright
And there the moonbird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
THAT WAS LIKE THE WORST ENDING I HAVE EVER WRITTEN. Ack I felt I was doing so well all the way through (apart from constantly getting tangled up in myself, overusing the word 'tangled' and generally over-egging the emotional pudding). Also how clichéd and awful is it that I used the last line of the LABB prologue to finish this. I hate myself, I do.
Anyway. Here is the more emotive Mello/Sayu promised. keem, I will sleep now. I hope you, especially, enjoy this. Because…you know. I'm pretty much only writing Mello/Sayu because of how awesome you are.
I also totally left room for me to write another oneshot by not detailing the kidnapping. CLEVER NO.
…shutting up now. 'Cos it's like 4am and I should be asleep. But...instead. This. Well, hope you enjoy.