Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note, Mello, Halle, or a kettle. I have biscuits, though. They're Jaffa Cakes. Quote is, predictably, Wilde.
Note: Dear Lord it's been ages since I updated anything. And now you get this shoddy one shot. It's a rewrite of the one my computer deleted just before I finished it. I don't think it's as good but I'm quite happy with it and I feel like I owe you guys SOME kind of update. It was originally meant to be an In Passing chapter but ran on far too long. Thinking of turning into into a three-shot Mello/Halle, interested?
But I have my LNAT exam tomorrow and I'm freaking out so wrote this to try to calm myself down. Hope you enjoy it. I'm getting addicted to the present tense now. And to Mello pairings, this being my third. Next, it's onto Mello/Near! No seriously though, I write a hell of a lot of Mello. He needs his own standalone fic. Like Deus Ex and Pseudo-Heroic. Next on my to-do list after other updates!
You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.
The first time Halle meets Mello, he does not carry a gun.
He is still young. Mello is always, has always, and will always be young, because those that die at twenty one remain that way forever, frozen in the footnotes of history. But with him, the memories only seem to get bolder, more vivid and pronounced with every year, like time is working backwards and seeping colour into a monochrome photograph. Halle, though, does not remember him as he was in this first meeting, though she can think back on it. Though Mello lives and dies young, when she first meets him, he is unscarred, little more than a boy, sprawled in an arm chair with his legs splayed and black leather clinging to him like sweat.
He is nineteen, she thinks, perhaps twenty. She tries to calculate it from the figures Near casually tossed about in conversation, but her mind is taken up by strategic possibilities and she's never taken the time to think it out before.
It is the day after the deaths of the SPK members, and that thought forces its way to the forefront of her mind when she opens her door to find him there: the person in front of her is a killer. Emotion courses through her - anger, fear, frustration at being caught out, horror at the realisation that she must have left a trail somewhere for him to follow her here. She swallows it down because emotion will do her no good here. She needs a calm, clear head, and her gun.
He sees her edging for it and shakes his head. She shuts the door quietly behind her. Mello - and she's knows it's him, she's seen the photograph and here there's the same straw hair, the same cool eyes - nods, leans back in the chair. She wonders that his outfit hasn't ripped, it's so tight and he's so loose, seeming to sink into the armchair as if he's sat in it his whole life.
She doesn't think he looks nineteen, or twenty, or whatever he is. His eyes are sharp but they haven't been hardened by age, and his outfit is just a little too sinister, his posture just a little too casual.
Halle is still afraid, though. She keeps reminding herself that this boy-man in her apartment is a murderer, that he won't hesitate to kill her if she makes a sudden move. But Mello doesn't feel like a murderer to her. She's been around them - God knows, she's been around that type - and they reek of the same thing; coldness, hatred, anger. Mello, though…Mello seems a little uncertain. Like he doesn't want to be here, doing this, but has to be.
They have said nothing. The apartment is very quiet - Mello, lounging in the chair, and Halle, standing by the door, eyes fixed on each other in a standoff to see who'll break first.
"Because I need you," Mello says suddenly, breaking the silence. It's not a loss, though, because Halle is so confused by his cryptic comment that she is the one put onto the back foot.
He can sense her confusion. His eyes play over her face, taking in the feelings of trepidation and uncertainty he finds there. She isn't sure if he enjoys it or not. The answer is the difference between a killer and a boy stuck in a world he was never meant to find.
"It's an answer to your question," Mello continues, sounding bored, like he doesn't want to have to explain it. "You've been wondering why you're not dead. You know damn well your name is out there to be found for someone looking hard enough, and you know damn well that I was looking hard enough. So the answer is: because I need you. Satisfactory, Ms Bullook?"
She almost flinches at the sound of her name. In the way the world has found itself, it's wielded like a weapon, not a greeting, and he says it calmly, as if he's asking if this is the right colour paint for her walls. Halle's stomach clenches though, because it's the proof she needed to prove she was utterly helpless.
He knows it. Mello is a genius, after all, according to tests and books. He plays with the edge of one black glove, the zip of his vest pulled down just a little too low.
"You're going to go along with it, one way or another. I need information on what Near's doing. SPK leads. Suspects, plans, the lot. And you'll give it to me." Mello fixes her with a look that says 'or else', and reaches a hand into his vest. He pulls out a slim black notebook. Halle doesn't know how anything fit in clothes that tight, but that thought doesn't register until much later, when he's gone and she's alone with the darkness and her guilt.
Mello fans the Death Note open, laying it on the arm of the chair. His eyes cast around for a pen, and he scoops up the ballpoint lying on the coffee table next to him. In the perfect Bond villain, the move would have been fluid, choreographed; in him, it's jerky and abrupt. Halle is still not calm, but the motion brings reality back to the situation, stops it morphing into something it's not.
"Halle Bullook," he says, poising the pen above the page. "I can write it quicker than you can shoot me." His voice is quiet and low and Halle would hazard a guess that he's almost going for seductive, and the notion is so absurd that it has to cross her mind.
"If I write," Mello continues, in the same voice, eyes locked on hers, "that Halle Bullook sends information about the SPK to a certain address for twenty three days, and then dies of a heart attack, that is precisely what will happen. But I think it's best for both of us if you just go along with it. After all…I'd much prefer to have use of you for more than just twenty three days.
Halle weighs up the options. This case will probably be the death of her, so she should at least go down fighting. But…but if she was in charge (and she can't help but suppress a slight shudder at the idea of this strange boy having complete control over her) then she could censor the information she was giving him, omit things, keep Near that little bit ahead…
"I will co-operate," she says, feeling an irrational surge of pride that her voice doesn't crack from lack of use and lack of certainty.
A smirk plays its way over Mello's face. "I thought you might."
He doesn't move. He knew all along the reasons she'd agree, Halle thinks. A little jolt runs up her spine as cobalt eyes rest on hers - he knew she wanted to be in control. That's why he was sure she'd bite. That's why he came to her.
Mello sags into the chair. Any more relaxed, she decides, and his bones would part ways. The deal has been struck, the alliance forged, and still he's sprawling in the chair, eyes travelling over her, taking in curves and tautness, slender legs and arched brows. When the day's work of threats and blackmail is done, Mello is just like any other teenage boy - his gaze lingers too long on her breasts, strays once too many times over her mouth.
"Then it appears that, for the time being, we have found ourselves on something of the same side." Halle speaks archly, calmly, impassively. Where his gaze is full of heat she makes sure to fill hers with ice, sweeping it over him as if that will stop the tension and prickles of lust rising in him.
"It appears so," Mello replies.
Halle steps forward. Her hands move to her waist, landing on her holster. The effect on Mello is immediate. He snaps up, looseness evaporating and muscles tightening, fast as a cobra and sleek as a cat and just that little bit clumsy, like the dog that's been lying on its paws too long and has forgotten how to use them.
Mello's not a murderer and he never will be, she decides. He's a kid in over his head, and that might be more dangerous than anything else.
"What are you doing?" he barks, and she shifts her jacket back so he can see her unbuckling it, laying it over the back of the chair she's standing next to. Unflappable, she tells herself. Composed. Be composed.
Then, "Where are you going?" Same tone, authoritative, commanding, and complete unsure of itself, as she keeps walking, in slow, measured paces.
She half-turns. "It has been a long day. I'm thirsty. I'm getting coffee. You're welcome to join me. Coffee, tea…a juice box?"
Mello snarls and jerks the hand holding the pen, but they both know the threat is hollow. It feels good being back in control, even if it's just by making sarcastic little comments. Ultimately it gets her nowhere, but she's siphoning off her frustration at her own impotence into him, his calmness seeping into her.
The kitchen is cool and empty She boils water, pulls down a mug, spoons instant coffee granules into it. There's a half eaten packet of biscuits on the surface next to her, and she's sure they were closed before she left that morning. Mello was waiting a while, it seems.
Afterwards she decides it was probably revenge more than anything else, revenge for the sarcasm and refusal to crumble before him. The kettle clicks off, and she's reaching a hand forward to grasp it when she feels him behind her. He is perhaps a couple of inches shorter than her, and his breath is warm against the nape of her neck. She feels his fingers play along her spine, trailing down to the small of her back, where he spreads his palm against her. His other arm reaches forward - close, too close to hers - and his fingers close around hers, picking up the kettle, pouring the water slowly. The kettle clicks back into place -
- and the only noises are breathing (Halle's is harsher than she'd like it to be, Mello's is soft and quiet), and the mutinous bubble of the cooling water in the kettle.
"I'll be seeing you soon," Mello says, voice low, into her ear. His lips almost touch her skin. Halle doesn't reply.
She stands where she is until long after the door has clicked shut behind him, long after her body has grown cold again in the places he touched. By the time she jolts back to reality, her coffee has gone cold and the water in the kettle has mostly evaporated off. Her throat is like sandpaper so she drinks the stuff anyway, bitter and tepid. She doesn't notice.
Halle holds onto the counter and takes a few steadying breaths. Her apartment still smells vaguely of leather. She shakes her head, pushes her hair back.
This case'll be the death of her, she's sure of it. It's going to be a hell of a ride, though.