Author's notes: So, I've been working on the remaining Tattered chapters getting steadily more disheartened. I wondered, "Why oh why has no one reviewed my newest chapter of Tattered? It's all about Mello, so why?" And then, I looked at my stories and had a lovely "Oh shit" moment.
You see, while this chapter has been complete for well over a month, I thought that I had posted it up. Not so. MAJOR FAIL on my part. Therefore, I must profusely apologize to all the readers. I'm sorry for getting this to you so late!
Also, this is IMPORTANT: Read the update on my profile if you get a chance.
Deep breath. Relax the facial muscles. Close eyes. Tuck hair behind ear.
The hardest part of being an entrepreneur was the cost of investing in the business. So much time was required for research, and so much money was spent on silly, yet necessary, things. Sometimes, it was hard to look into the mirror and see the reflection. It had been easy to discover that men didn't want a curvy guy to fuck. They wanted a thin waist, tight ass, loose lips, effeminate yet sharp features, no body hair, and no reservations.
But $50 fucks weren't going to pay the bills for much longer. More than a year had already been wasted on the foolishness of finding his mother and killing his father, and he couldn't afford to keep falling further and further behind. So Mello had to take a chance and step into a place of no return. This wasn't just the rare request for rimming or fingering. This wasn't even the occasional request to say a particular name or title.
No, he was willingly stepping into a position that others his age were forced into. The sleek man with the expensive car and the small, cunning eyes loosened his tie as he motioned for the blonde to get on the bed. It was a bed picturing Mario's happy Italian face with Yoshi running along the edges. A 1UP night light was plugged into the wall (and damn him for teaching him what all these stupid figures were). A leather strap was pulled from the foreboding black box sitting on a child's dresser. The sharp slap of leather against skin made a satisfying CRACK and Mello knew that a welt was forming. Panting at an acceptable rate, he looked over his shoulder with smoldering eyes.
"Mmm, Daddy, I've been a bad boy."
There was no room for doubting. It only wasted more precious time. Studying his nude body in the full-sized mirror, Mello debated on whether he could take on another client that day. His ribs were jutting out from the lack of nourishment, and his pale skin would have looked sickly if it wasn't for the light bronzer he used religiously to add a healthy glow. Welts completely covered the back of his thighs and the corners of his mouth still bled a little from the too-tight gag he had worn earlier. His right ass cheek was a vivid shade of purple and red, the flesh still hurting like a bitch. At least the marks on his wrists weren't so bad.
Leaning over to grab his make-up kit, Mello paused to relish the pain, to truly appreciate the damage done to his body. Pain was going to be an important aspect of his life, and he was fully intent on learning to enjoy it. He refused to suffer. Powder and tinted makeup was applied over the worst bruising, paling it considerably, then the bronzer was added to even the tone out somewhat. Dabbing ice cold water to the welts then applying a thin layer of Vicks Vapor Rub, Mello finally applied moisture overall and made the phone call. Thankfully, this client had something a little different in mind.
"Hi, Gabriel!" the middle aged man greeted him cheerfully as he welcomed the blond into the large, expensive house. "Please, call me Matt."
Courteously admiring the décor, Mello shook his head. "How about Andrew?" he replied softly before sending a wicked smile to the man. "You look like an Andrew."
"That's fine," the man agreed as he moved down the hallway. "Would you like to get started right away, or would you like to relax a little and get in the mood?"
"I'm always in the mood," Mello chuckled, carefully measuring his words. He could not sound too cliché or sappy; it would send the wrong message.
Suddenly, another voice was added to the conversation. "Is he here, honey?"
"Yes, dear!" the man called out. Turning to Mello, he gave the boy a wink. "She's already waiting in the room. Always so eager!"
Smiling politely, Mello followed the man upstairs towards the master bedroom. He looked for it, that uncomfortable twisting in his gut, but it never made an appearance. Even as he walked in to see the naked woman working her pussy with a dildo and her clit with a vibrator, he felt nothing. It was his first time with a woman. The husband jerked himself off on the recliner set up in the corner of the bedroom as Mello fucked the wife seven ways from Sunday. The couple loved each other; he could see it in their eyes as they watched each other from across the room. It was also the first time that Mello had seen a man comfortable with such an intrusion on the supposed intimacy of the marriage vows. Granted, this "Andrew" had an extraordinarily small penis and his wife had a hungry pussy. Mello supposed that the husband accepted this part of their relationship in lieu of losing the entire thing.
Being with a woman was difficult, he quickly came to realize. There was no pleasurable assault on his nerves with each thrust, and the overly slickness of her convulsing vagina hardly brought on any stimulation. Honestly, trying to keep up the thrusts with a semi-flaccid cock wasn't working particularly well, and Mello knew that if he couldn't do better than this his pay and reputation would reflect the poor performance. Trying to imagine the sensation of getting his ass fucked hard didn't do any better than the physical stimulation, and he almost began to worry. Then a filthy, dirty voice whispered such an unspeakable thing. Almost immediately his hands clenched the curvy hips more tightly and blood swelled in his nether regions. Laughing blue eyes were looking directly at him in his mind's eye, full lips were moist and begging, scar covered hands were beckoning. Unbidden, a gasp escaped his lips as his orgasm claimed all senses. Snapping back to reality a lot more quickly than he wanted to, Mello nearly sighed in relief when he saw that his client had managed an orgasm as well and was looking up at him in pleasure. Easing out of her body gently, he caressed her face with one hand while using the other to remove the condom.
The overly wealthy couple paid him well for his services and he was on his way to buy dinner. The now-familiar fuzziness at the edges of his vision warned that his passing out from lack of nourishment wasn't too far away. Maybe it was the low blood sugar that caused such a queasy feeling in his stomach as he thought back on his despicable act. No, it wasn't sleeping with another man's wife that bothered him, it was that face. The one whose image he had violated for the sake of a couple of hundred bucks.
A couple of hundred bucks that move me closer to killing Kira.
Swallowing thickly, Mello nodded to himself. He had to do whatever it took to survive. Apparently, he couldn't get it up for a woman, so if he needed to use the internal stimulus of memories, than he would do it. Live or die, that was this world's creed; how one managed that didn't really matter. Looking at the passing reflection, Mello sneered at it. What a fucking ugly, beautiful nightmare he was.
Cities came and went. Men, women, and some in between, they all bedded him with the same eager fascination. Ropes, whips, roleplay, vanilla, CBT, it didn't matter; he learned the arts of pleasuring with the same ferocious tenacity stitched into his being by Mr. Wammy's orphanage. Everything was a challenge; it was Near trying to keep him from winning all over again. But sometimes at night, there were moments where it should have become hard for him to see the ends justifying the means. Sometimes, he could feel twitchy hands rubbing his back softly, speaking that despicable French, and whispering words of damned love. He should have looked down at himself in those moments, and hate everything. But he wouldn't lose this time. Hate, he could twist and mold such a feeling, boiling into other emotions like reluctance, love, softness, weakness, fear.
It was another lesson of the realities of this world. He would not be allowed the pleasure of keeping that face hidden away in a corner of his heart, because his heart could no longer exist. Instead, his mind ruled with its diamond fist, all sparkling sharp edges; innocence was no longer allowed, so it purposefully defiled memories until they no longer held any semblance of reality. But who would dare deny this new reality? What was reality but the twisted perspective of the mind?
Like a shadow, Mello followed his rich client through the crowd at some ridiculously overpriced party. He wasn't particularly aware of the holidays and couldn't identify the nature of the celebration, but that didn't bother him. For him, this was the perfect opportunity to flaunt his goods and advertise to other rich cretins. Eyes would watch him secretly (or not so secretly) and the pride swelled again. If a young creature like him could so easily capture the attention of some of the most powerful people in any given area with the simple sway of his hips and slant of his cold eyes, who the bloody hell was Kira?
Just as he was basking in the attention, something came up on his internal radar. Another person's presence, one that put his charisma to shame, brushed against his awareness. Flicking the fringe of hair out of his eyes as an excuse to look around, the teen noticed that most of the people's attention was now on a tall woman commanding attention with her vivid red dress and high-heeled pumps. Long, straight blonde hair hung down to her waist even with it being held up in a high ponytail. Shapely calves were taut as they held her pedicured feet still in the painful looking shoes. Poison green eyes took in the crowd coldly, as if her height wasn't the only reason she towered over the rest of them. A pleasant smile was painted a brilliant red to match her attire and even with her pale skin she pulled the look off without looking like a whore.
Mello's client lightly touched his arm and led the boy over to the intimidating woman. "She's the CEO of so-and-so company…heiress to a fortune…ice queen…superiority complex…"
After registering that this woman wasn't competition for him, Mello took only the information he deemed important. She was rich, a bit emotional, and a perfect target for him. Now, to see which way she swung…
"Elizabeth Kenwood," the older man began to introduce, "this here is my escort tonight. His name is Alexander."
The woman looked down her nose not bothering to hide her critical stare. Mello never backed down.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, sir," Mello said, emphasizing the masculine title as he stared right up into those stern eyes. She was a single woman in a world of all men who undoubtedly talked down to her with the term ma'am, as if to remind her that she should be off serving other men. Tilt the chin, uplift one corner of lips (just like he used to do), and offer a hand for a handshake.
"Alexander, is it?" she replied, consciously taking the bait. The teen didn't miss the prideful look in her eyes as she relished the title he so quickly offered her. "And what are you doing escorting this old bore around for?" A chuckle was added to the end of her statement to smooth over the insult.
The older man knew where he ranked on the totem pole and played along with the pleasantries, even as his grip on Mello's arm tightened. "He's a dear friend of my family," Mello replied easily. "And why are you here alone?" he jabbed easily, with an extra polite smile. She had a superiority complex which meant that her not having an escort would ruffle her feathers as it would imply that was inferior to all these men.
"I'm alone because I find it difficult to find a man that can even come close in comparison to me," she retorted between tight lips.
"And how is that?" Mello challenged, never breaking eye contact.
Sensing that this conversation would quickly become way over his head, the older man released Mello's arm and stepped back into the crowd to continue socializing.
Instead of responding to the question, Elizabeth took another glance at the businessman before returning eye contact to the shorter and younger man. "Are you his little bought-off bitch?" she whispered smugly. "One that will dress like a princess and suck his fat little dick?"
"No, I wouldn't know what his dick looks like, but you seem to," he replied before narrowing his eyes. "But I can be your bitch. If you can handle me, that is."
"I'll have you know that I'm not tricked so easily into paying some whore money for services," she continued, a triumphant glint in her eyes.
"That's what cowards retort when they want to justify their mundane and sexless lives." Her eyes became livid at the taunt. "And why should I be ashamed to offer my services? There's a need in society for what I offer, and if people are willing to pay me for it why shouldn't I accept? Because of some social norms?" Mello's words were chosen carefully, each honeyed drop meant to sink a claw of control into her psyche. Was he attracted to her? Not in the least. Was he interested? Absolutely.
"Boy, I'm heir to the Kenwood fortunes, and my fraternizing with dirty little used-up whores will not bode well for my image."
"You're right, Ms. Kenwood. You're image of frigid ice queen has definitely put you up there with the big boys." Lucifer lips curled teasingly, his tone no more serious than his host's laughable sky blue suit. "However, the image of you carrying on with a young, beautiful lover would throw you up there with all those other CEOs and their mistresses."
The businesswoman looked completely flabbergasted. She could no longer continue to pretend that this boy was just some bottom-feeding leftover from the slums of town. Taking a moment to better analyze him, she noticed the peculiarly regal way in which he carried his underfed frame. His bone structure was superb, and his skin still seemed as pliant and healthy as a baby's. "How old are you?" she finally gritted out. The last thing she wanted to do was get caught into a child prostitution ring.
"Eighteen. Just turned legal three months ago."
Elizabeth fought to keep her mouth from dropping. "H-how long have you been providing…services?"
Mello allowed a pleasant chuckle. "Ms. Kenwood, I'm not some unfortunate child thrown into the gutters in an effort to survive the cold cruel world. I chose to engage in the glamorous life of an escort as soon as I turned legal." The lies came so easily to him.
Later, Elizabeth Kenwood would wonder how she had been sold the idea of paying for sex so quickly and without much resistance.
Looking up from the beauty magazine he was perusing, Mello let his eyes fall on the tired looking nurse. Chocolate hair that wasn't held back by a hair band framed her well-shaped face, and green eyes looked at him with a mixture of sadness and anger. Standing up, he easily fell in step behind her.
"Is your name Russian?" she asked conversationally. He could detect the accent in her voice.
She looked over at him in surprise. "Kak dolgo vy byli v etoĭ strane?"
Deciding that he wasn't about to tell her the truth, he shrugged. "Neskolʹko let."
The brunette nodded, deciding not to push any further. Instead she flipped through the notes on her clipboard. "So, you're here for your HIV testing?"
"Yes," he replied easily, not bothered by the sad look in her eyes.
"If you're doing this to pay off some guy for bringing you across the ocean, don't." Her tone was sharp and he was surprised by the amount of emotion laced in her words. "There are ways to get out of this. I found them, and you can too."
At first, he wasn't sure how to respond. Should he play ignorant and act offended that she thought he was a slut? Seeing the sincerity in her eyes, the blond decided that there was no point in being cruel. "I have a plan…" he paused to look at her nametag, "…Ms. Gorbachov. I'm not going to get stuck in this world. It's only a stepping stone."
Frowning, she shook her head. "Nakita; you can call me Nakita. Having not been in the business willingly, I'm sure that I could never understand why anyone would ever choose such a path."
Mello sighed. "It's just the truth." For a moment, Nakita stared at him oddly, her hand clutching to the clipboard too tightly. "Did I say something wrong?" he asked.
"N-no," she mumbled before shaking her head. "It's just that…well, the way you said that reminded me of someone I met a long time ago. But, n-never mind, let's get your blood sample."
After going through the checkup and coming out clean, Mello paused by the counter to grab a handful of free condoms. Looking at the brunette woman as she bustled about to prepare for her next patient, the teen voiced his question. "Who did I remind you of?"
Looking up from the papers with a pale visage, the woman swallowed thickly. "It was someone I met after being brought to this country. His name was Boryenka."
After running that name through his memories, Mello decided that he wasn't familiar with whoever this woman had known. "Sorry, I don't know of anyone by that name."
"I didn't think you would…that would be too strange. I spent 12 hours with him, and then never saw him again."
"He must have left quite an impression if you still remember him."
Shuddering, she nodded. How could she ever forget? "Well, come back to the clinic as often as you'd like, even if it's just for the condoms. And when you feel like leaving the business, let me know. I have access to resources that could help you."
Nodding, Mello took the condoms and briskly walked out of the clinic with no intention of coming back.
"Lick it, bitch-boy."
Mello prided himself on being able to do anything and everything that the clients could come up with, but this damned woman was intent on absolutely breaking down every ounce of pride he had. Trying not to let his trembling legs collapse under the strain of switching positions, the blond leaned down to lick the black PVC boot he had been commanded to lick. The acrid smell of plastics and latex burned his nose and it took every ounce of will power he possessed not to gag at the terrible taste invading his mouth.
"Do you like licking the mistress's boot?" Elizabeth purred as she pulled the leather cords of her flog taut between her hands.
Wanting nothing more than to shove said boot where the sun wouldn't shine, Mello nodded mutely. His bloody lips were a reminder that he was not given permission to speak during these hours of playtime. A sharp smack to his rear showed her pleasure in his response.
Hooking her boot under the boy's chin, Elizabeth looked down into his unnatural eyes. He was such a pretty thing, blessed with looks that had evaded her until well past her teenage years. This boy infuriated her just as much as he enticed her, and it was such a pleasant combination. The once flawless skin was marred with bruises, welts, and other marks provided by her skill. Hardened red wax clung to his thin figure, and the leather bands binding his hands behind his back and his thighs to his calves looked so very good on him.
"You wear leather well," she complimented as she set down the flog and moved to grab her strap-on. "Today I don't feel like riding on your cock, so we'll change it a bit. Put your face in the floor and stick your ass up."
Gritting his teeth, Mello struggled to obey the command. It was difficult to get into such a position without the use of his hands, and the last thing he wanted was a broken nose. Such a disfigurement could mean a loss of potential profit. Wincing at the pain from his cramping feet, he finally managed the position. The cold cement of the basement floor soothed his stinging cheek. The sharp pain of the dildo being worked into his body without any lubrication made it difficult to remain dispassionate.
"This position fits you," the older woman sighed pleasurably as each thrust from her hips caused the built-in vibrator to tease her clit in just the right way. "You're such a little whore." The comment was accentuated with a slap to the exposed rear. Sensing his increasing discomfort, Elizabeth poured an ample amount of lubrication at their joining without slowing down her tempo. Each thrust smeared the cool liquid across the sexual toy. Running her fingers across the sweating skin, the woman felt herself shiver in more pleasure. "Little slut, you love getting your ass stretched, don't you?" Another slap. The pleasurable shudder ran through her body as she felt the orgasm wash through. The orgasm wasn't as strong as when she let the young man penetrate her, but it was pleasant enough. "Alright, our time is up."
Cold fingers worked off the bindings, leaving Mello to sigh in relief. He was just the slave to her whims so getting off was not a requirement. Looking down at his flaccid cock, he wasn't surprised. Elizabeth was terrible about not hitting his prostate and without that feeling he just couldn't get it up. "When do you want me to come back?" he croaked, his throat raw from the brutal blow jobs he had to provide to her slew of plastic dongs.
"Next week will suffice," she answered as she peeled off the dominatrix gear and handed him his soft cotton shirt and lace-up jeans. "You can stay for an hour or so if you want to so that you can stretch out those muscles. They must be cramping by now."
Nodding, Mello limped his way through the house, a step behind her. Outside of their usual dom/sub play, she had become quite affectionate towards him. Grabbing a heating pad, she wordlessly handed it to him and then led him to the sparsely decorated living room. A few family pictures hung awkwardly on the walls. Groaning softly as he took a seat on the cushioned couch, Mello applied the heating pad to his backside and cranked up the heat as Elizabeth plugged the device into an outlet.
"So, I noticed that you have been trying to call more attention to yourself lately," she started off as she took a seat across from him.
"I need more clients," Mello responded as he allowed his eyes to fall shut. "And with you walking next to me, it's been difficult."
"It's because your glamor is too weak."
Cracking an eye open to stare at her, he tilted his head. "My what?"
"Okay, think about this. How are stage actors supposed to get across their message to a huge crowd? Those in the back of the theater can hardly see them, especially their expressive faces, so how is it that the successful ones can make everyone in the audience feel the passion of the play and the unsuccessful ones can't? What's the difference?"
"Their presence, I suppose."
"It's more than their presence. In fact, it's a special something that I call glamor." Adjusting herself to get more comfortable on the love seat, she leaned her cheek on the armrest and kept her eyes locked on the boy. "At the risk of sounding all supernatural and shit, I believe that all people have natural auras surrounding them. Now, whether those auras are made up on electromagnetic energy or not, I don't know or care. What I do know is that this aura can be controlled at will. Martial arts masters are well known for this. They can use their aura to hide their overwhelming strength from others."
"I'm following you," Mello mumbled as she waited for his affirmation. "That's why most masters are hard to pick out if you're not aware that they are purposefully hiding their power."
"Correct. Now, one can also consciously flaunt their glamour to attract attention."
"And who taught you about this 'glamour' thing?" he mumbled as he looked at the surrounding photos. An ordinary family photo showed two stern looking parents, a boy, and two girls.
"I learned it by watching my little sister," she mumbled. "Mary was a natural, and was always the most popular." Sensing that she needed to vent and didn't particularly care for what he thought, Mello allowed his eyes to close again and his head to fall back on the neck-rest. "You see, my older brother would naturally inherit my father's multi-billion dollar corporation. He's athletic, good-looking, married to the perfect woman, and a level-headed, competent businessman.
"My younger twin sister was the baby. She was encouraged to do whatever she wanted, and being the most beautiful out of us children, she was lavished with anything her selfish little heart desired. Cars, clothes, trips to Europe; anything and everything. Since it was offered, Mary felt like she was entitled to take it all and more. Our parents absolutely doted on her and constantly praised her wild spirit and adventurous feats. I think my mother cried in joy when Mary won her first motorcycle race. I don't think that we knew about half the stuff she got herself involved with, but she always made our parents happy.
"Me? I was the unlucky one. Born completely normal, with no special gifts and no special looks. My parents tolerated me as best as they could. They bought plenty of clothes to try to cover my ever-expanding waistline, they hired private tutors to help me keep up with rigorous classwork, and they even bought me a little puppy to keep me company while everyone else in the house was out doing stuff. And now I have my own company, I'm good-looking, and I'm finally worth being proud of."
"If you're brother's the oldest child, how are you an heiress to anything?" Mello asked merely out of curiosity.
"All three of us children were written into the will to receive their fortunes. George would inherit the company and a few manors, while Mary and I would inherit the rest of the estate. But, now that Mary's dead I inherit it all."
Raising an eyebrow, the teen glanced at her from his awkward position. "Died?"
"No, I did not kill her for the money," Elizabeth sighed. "She died in a motorcycle accident."
"Suuurreeeee," Mello drawled, bringing a smile to the woman's face.
Los Angeles, the beautiful. Taking a deep breath of the smoggy afternoon air, Mello held it for a moment just like one would hold cigarette smoke to absorb as much nicotine as possible. This was the city where a certain Dwight Gordon made his territory. After months of research and hunting, he had finally found a suitable mafia group to infiltrate. Dwight, better known as Rod Ross, was a small-time drugs and weapons middle-man who had successfully kept his turf for over twenty years. His group was small and close-knit, and they already had some hefty contacts. The only obstacle keeping Rod from expanding further into the greater L.A. area was another underground criminal whose only known information was an alias. "Johnny Boy" was living large and was so protected that even Kira had not been able to kill him off like most of the other well-known mafia big shots.
The plan was simple enough. Hunt down Johnny, kill him, take proof to Rod, enter Rod's gang, and then get to Kira.
Hefting his duffle bag over a shoulder, Mello immediately made his way to the back alleys of the city. A run-down motel gave him a good price for a month's stay, especially when paid in cash, and he proceeded to memorize the city's map and photos of different parts of the city. In order to find Johnny, he needed to find out where the gangster's haunts were. Outlining Johnny's turf with a red pen, Mello began the laborious task of trying to hunt down the elusive criminal.
Mello vaguely wondered if he was attracted to blondes because of his currently black hair. Did he miss his natural hair color that much? Was he projecting his wants by picking up and attracting tough blonde females? These thoughts barely had time to race across his cortex as he pleasured the woman under him.
This particular woman was found drunkenly stumbling out of some bar. He was merely going to ignore her as he did all other drunks, but a couple of sexually repressed idiots thought that they would be able to get some free nookie. Before he had a chance to step in and kick their asses, he was treated to the sight of this drunken woman beating the crap out of them. For the first time in his life, Mello felt his cock stir for an individual of the opposite sex, so he decided to take the opportunity to explore.
Her driver's license read "Halle Bullook" and she provided him an interesting experience. Almost platinum blond hair, milky skin, and feral eyes the golden color of a lion's were an exotic and aesthetically pleasing combination. Obviously experience in bed, she provoked him into bruisingly fast-paced sex. Alcohol-saturated lips claimed his and teased him into domination. Legs of iron nearly crushed his hip bones as she reached orgasm, and with a shudder he released his seed into the condom.
"S-so," he panted, "where did you learn moves like that?"
Her chuckle sent comfortable little jolts up his spine. "You're asking about my other bed partners?"
Blushing as he realized that his question had sounded exactly that way, he shook his head. "No, I meant your martial art moves. You know, the ones you used to beat those guys up."
Pulling him into another heated kiss, she pushed up to rub against his flaccid cock as a signal that she was ready for another round. "I learned a little here and there." An encouraging moan rewarded Mello as he delved into her again with a brand new condom in place. "I like learning."
By the time he left her hotel room, Mello had not only managed to forget to ask for payment, but he also had her number securely tucked into his jacket's pocket.
No amount of Systema training could have prepared Mello for a brick to the back of the head.
Pain exploded like a series of fireworks and his vision immediately went black before going in and out stutteringly. There was a kick to his stomach and a fragile rib cracked. More pain exploded on his face, but he couldn't tell what exactly was happening. As far as he knew, his own limbs were flailing out, struggling to strike back, but the only thing he could feel was the strikes falling on his own body.
Rod Ross had been called a great many things, but he could honestly say that "compassionate" was not one of them. With over thirty years of criminal service, several of those being behind bars, Rod prided himself on his little empire of depravity. But, a part of keeping his small empire free from intruding gangs was a rigorous protection of what he owned. That included a young whore getting the shit kicked out of her. The disturbing scene could be seen from the window of his vehicle as they were headed off to enjoy a night at his best strip club. Neither of the two men who were currently pulling their dicks out of their pants drew any familiarity from his memory banks, so he signaled for Rashual and Glen to take care of the problem.
"Boss!" Rashual called as he wiped the blood from his knuckles with the back of his shirt. "You might want to look at this."
Stepping out his car with an irritated grunt, the large, muscular man moved towards his men. "Yeah, what is it?" He really wanted to get to the club soon.
"We don't have any male hookers on our streets, do we?" The dark-haired man asked as he pointed to the unconscious figure on the ground. With pants having been shoved down to the knees, it was obvious that the individual Rod had originally thought was one of his hookers was indeed a boy. A skinny boy, but his arms were clear of any marks that would indicate drug use.
"Fuck, he was just a civilian?" Rod mumbled. There was some blood staining the pitch-black hair, and he felt himself sigh. "I guess we should just leave him for the police to handle."
The boy's eyes flickered for a moment, confusion in his expression as he looked up at the hardened criminal. His hand reached up to grab at the boss, but then dropped heavily as unconsciousness swallowed him up once more. Rod took a step back as the gesture caught him off guard. His mind flashed back to his three-year-old son begging to be picked up by "Papa". His son would have been thirteen.
"Boss?" Glen asked, his beady eyes noticing Rod's strange expression. "Do you want us to leave?"
"Damn it," he hissed as he stepped forward and lifted the boy up. "Pull up his pants, Glen, and let's get going."
Waking up to the pounding beats of stripper music was definitely not what Mello was expecting when he finally got some brain synapses to start firing. Ice packs were wrapped against his ribs, tucked under his bandaged head, and slapped against his swelling cheek.
"Sweetie? Are you okay?" Glancing to his right he saw a young woman with a bathrobe secured around her lithe body. Dark roots were showing under her dyed blond hair and too-thick lipstick shone against her plump lips.
"Y-yeah," he groaned as he sat up. His vision swam for a moment as his body made the necessary adjustments. "Where am I?"
"You're at Rod's place, Hot Stuff."
Mello's head snapped up faster than was comfortable and his heart was pounding. "Rod? Rod Ross?"
"Yeah!" she said too cheerily. "He brought you in all fucked up and told us to take care of you."
Allowing the new information to soak in, Mello took a look at his surroundings. Based on the fact that there were costumes lined up against the walls and a large number of undergarments strewn about, he assumed that he was in the changing room for the establishment. It was small and clean, if a bit on the messy side. "Does Rod do this often to you?"
The girl shook her head and laughed. "At first, we thought that he had roughed up one of his whores a bit too much, but then we found out you were a boy!"
Dabbing his swollen cheek with the icepack, Mello felt it wasn't an issue worth getting upset with, especially if this girl had constant contact with Rod. The mafia boss did not need to know about his temper yet. "I think that I'll take that as a compliment."
The girl's smile brightened considerably. "So, where are you from?"
"Actually, I just got to L.A.," Mello replied immediately. "I was on my way to a job interview when I got jumped."
"Aw, that's too bad! Where were you getting an interview?"
Immediately, his mind reeled through the strip clubs that he had gathered info on. "Fantasy Club," he replied with a straight face. It was a club that catered to the bisexual crowd and was most importantly not on Rod's turf. "I was a little lost," he added before she questioned him on being on the wrong side of the town.
"Oh, so you know how to dance?" she asked.
"Yes. I'm actually pretty good at it." Lies, more lies.
Applause could be heard through the walls as the music paused. "If you weren't a guy, I'd say that you would probably like working here. Rod keeps us safe, and all the patrons here pay well to their favorites."
At that moment, an older man stepped into the changing room, wiping his sweaty forehead with a crinkled handkerchief. "You're awake?"
"He's looking for a job, Carlos," the fake blond supplied immediately.
Raising an eyebrow, Mello wondered how someone as old and white had managed to get the name "Carlos".
"Brittani, I trust that you didn't talk his ear off?"
"Is there any kind of position we can get him?"
Frowning, the man shook his head. "The only way would be bartending, but we've already got a trusted guy. Anyway, I didn't come here to talk about that. Kid, I just wanted to know if you felt good enough to leave."
"No chance; I don't think I could walk half a block without passing out again. My head's pretty fucked up." This was an interesting opportunity, and he didn't have any intention of losing it.
Sighing in resignation, Carlos nodded. "Rod said not to kick you out until you felt better, so I guess that I'll have to find something for you to do. For now, just stay out of the way of the girls. Brittani, set up a cot for him and then get ready to go out there."
Living at a strip club that served dinner with the show had its advantages. During the day, everything was mostly quiet and peaceful. Girls would clean up any messes, cooks would prepare for the next performance, and other girls would practice their routines on the various poles. Being his curious self, Mello watched the different routines with a critical eye, measuring the different techniques and figuring the different muscle groups that would need to be developed to pull them off.
Pole dancing had never really caught his attention, and his brain had registered it as nothing more than cheap entertainment, but after a few nights of observations, Mello felt differently. There were the girls who treated the dancing as an art form, pacing carefully to reflect the music, their bodies morphing into lyrics, their emotions pouring through their performances. Then there were the smart girls. These girls would understand that how they felt about the dance didn't matter in the least bit, only how much money they could squeeze out of the audience did. Taking cues from the body language of the men, these women would do whatever it took to make that extra dollar; the only beat they danced to was that of money being slapped onto the stage.
Keeping out of the owner's radar was fairly easy, so Mello hung around the establishment far longer than was probably intended. Offering up his charming smiles and well-placed compliments, the entire staff of the club found themselves enjoying his company. Free food nourished his frail body, the friendly bartender taught him the art of good bartending, and the girls were more than eager to keep talking.
Weeding through the sob stories, and angry feminist ranting, Mello occasionally found useful information about Rod's operations and connections. There were things that he couldn't find on the internet, and these girls were more than eager to share those tasty tidbits in exchange for him agreeing that Joe Blow was an awful person and that she was a beautiful woman who could accomplish anything with her life. A few pats on the head, a few encouraging hugs, and he was several steps closer to making his move.
In fact, life became so much easier when the bartender was found dead in an alley and the only one who could fill the position in quickly was a certain live-in stranger.
Sitting in the internet café, Mello leaned back in his chair and let out a slow, deep breath. His eyes were undoubtedly bloodshot and his fingers were practically raw from typing so much. This Johnny Boy was a ghost; there were no plausible speculations on his real name, age, or ethnicity. Obviously, a forty-something-year-old 6 foot white male was the default suspect and that's what the law enforcement agencies were sticking with. There had been no real evidence to the contrary. All they knew was that he had moved into L.A. about eight years ago and since then had been growing his empire steadily, like a cancer gaining momentum.
Pulling the fashionable glasses frames from their perch on his face, his thin hand rubbed the reddening indentions. He hated wearing the frames and he hated the hot and itchy brunette wig, but his comfort ranked pretty low on the totem pole when considered next to the importance of keeping his face a secret. While the mafia wars in the USA were quite interesting, he was always keeping an eye on the real goal; Johnny Boy was nothing but a stepping stone whose sole purpose was to put him in a position to take down Kira. Considering that in the States people were being caught on cameras nearly 24/7, as long as he remained disguised and blended in, everything would be fine.
Settling the frames back on his nose, Mello felt his eyes being drawn to a cold-case police case. Almost dream-like, his hand guided the mouse to the file and a slew of information passed before his eyes. Like something out of a horror movie, pictures and reports of dismembered body parts belonging to affluent businessmen being shipped to abandoned warehouses danced through his cortex. Numerous theories floated around, but without any leads, the case stagnated.
As best as the investigators could figure, there was an underground gladiator-esque fighting circuit called the "Games" and the murdered businessmen had been investors in the brutality. Unsure of why he was still reading about a case that had nothing to do with the L.A. mafia or Kira, Mello glided into a document that speculated on a list of "players" residing in the personal files of a few of those dead investors. There hadn't been enough support for the theory to gain legal access to those files, so no further actions could be taken.
Shrugging, the teen delved into accessing those files in a more unconventional manner. Since the case had really reached its peak a couple of years ago, there didn't seem to be any new protections surrounding the personal files of those dead men. Chuckling at the simplicity of hacking into those files, Mello barely spared a thought to the fact that he could have done this job blindfolded and with his hands tied behind his back. Not quite that good yet, Mello settled for taking his time to ensure that he didn't leave any traces of his invasion.
Once that was completed, he began the arduous task of going through the different files in search of one of those lists of players. Turquoise eyes scanned back and forth across the screen
It was buried in an Excel file that kept track of winnings and losses that Mello found the information he was looking for. Frowning, the teen scrolled through lists of countless names, most of them showing little to no profit. Those men barely garnered mention in the document, and from the way he read the document, most of those men failed to survive their first rounds.
Deciding that the losers were bogging him down in his search for…something…Mello reorganized the spreadsheet to show only players that made substantial profits. With a final click, he found himself staring at a name that sent a chill through his body. Borjenka was a player that cost nothing and brought in hefty prize money for a few years. The profits ended in the same year that the murders took place and the Games ended. Only a few other players had a similar track record, and one was able to bring a smile to the thin, cold lips.
It looked like hubris would be the fault that would take this Johnny Boy down.
Flipping a bottle of Bacardi easily in his hand and pouring it into the client's shot glass, Mello allowed his eyes to wander across the crowd before settling on one particular man. The large man had skin the color of freshly ground coffee beans and his bald head gleamed with sweat under the strobe lights. Massive muscles wrapped his frame tightly, and yet he seemed comfortable in his two-piece suit. This man was a regular customer at Hot Stuff and this made Mello chuckle. Hubris indeed would be the downfall of Johnny Boy.
Having taken control of the majority of the L.A. crime world, Johnny Boy couldn't help but mock his biggest competitor. What better way to do this than to frequent the enemy's biggest club and yet never get caught? Brittani moved closer to the dark man, giggling stupidly as his massive hand fondled her rear end. The plan had taken only three days to come up with and took three weeks to prepare for. It wasn't enough to get rid of the mafia leader, Mello needed to be able to take credit for it as well as get Rod Ross to accept him as a member.
So, he had taken it upon himself to spread dissent among the different factions being controlled by Johnny Boy. Posing as a new drug dealer with loose lips, Mello was sure that the little lies he whispered in the dark were being heard by too eager men looking for an opportunity to oust their competitors. If Johnny Boy wasn't there to keep a solid grip on the organization, they would certainly fall to civil war leaving themselves vulnerable to Rod Ross's mafia.
Seeing those dark fingers slip under Brittani's boy-shorts, the teen nodded to himself. Tonight he would make his move. Slipping from behind the bar as all the eyes were on the woman spreading her legs completely as she hung upside down from the pole, Mello made his way to the hotel room where Johnny Boy had reserved a room for the night. Breaking into the room was laughably easy, and as he began to dress up, the Slovene pretended to feel regret towards his actions. He had killed only once before, and that man had been far from innocent. This act would be irreversible, much like the prostitution had been.
Cherry red lipstick was smeared across his lips carefully, a blond wig was settled onto his skull, and a skimpy get-up added the final touch. In the bathroom, cloth to wipe away finger prints, bleach, and trash bags consisted of the clean-up kit. Under the pillow, a knife was prepared to carry out its sole duty.
Of course, Brittani came to the room first, fully intent on preening for another night with her generous patron. She didn't have time to scream as Mello crushed her windpipe before snapping her neck with a sharp jerk. Hauling the body into the bathtub, he then took his place on the bed, allowing his body to fall into a naturally seductive pose that would also keep his junk from being observed too quickly. Adrenaline kicked into his system, guaranteeing that his reflexes would be top-notch for this job.
Precisely on time, Johnny Boy stepped into the room, his swagger confident and his smile reflecting the moonlight. Moving straight for the bed to ravage his "woman" the mafia boss was completely blindsided when his brutally needy kiss was met with a burning pain in his side. The poisonous mouth didn't taste the same, those blue eyes glinted with the hardness of ice, and the hand on the back of his neck was too strong.
Biting down firmly on the tongue that had invaded his mouth, Mello pushed more deeply into the kiss to keep the man's dying sounds muted. It wouldn't do to have the entire hotel knowing that a murder was transpiring. With his free hand, he plunged the knife back into the man's gaping side, this time hitting its target, the lung. The man's large hand took hold of Mello's wig, trying to pry him off, but the pain of teeth digging into his tongue froze the man. His other hand managed a weak punch to the teen's kidney, but another thrust of the knife paralyzed the man. Years away from participating in the Games had softened his survival instinct, his pride had blinded his paranoia, and for a few torturous minutes as he struggled to keep alive, Johnny Boy was left with the memories of his completely meaningless life. Dying, alone, and with a blond stranger content to let him asphyxiate during the kiss.
At the end, he was frightened. A grisly creature hung over the boy, blood red eyes dancing and its voice a cackle of horror.
Stepping back from the body, Mello wrinkled his nose in disgust. In death, the man had released his bladder and bowels, soiling his expensive suit. Licking the blood from his lips, the teen began his laborious task of beheading the body with nothing more than his hunting knife. Prying the blade between the vertebrate at the base of the skull, he twisted the sharp metal and manhandled it until with a sickening crack, the bones separated. Cutting through tissue proved to be much easier.
Hauling the dismembered head away from its body, Mello quickly stuffed it into one of his trash bags before repeating the procedure on Brittani. He knew her name, she had cared for him, and yet his hands moved with all the efficiency of a butcher. Her head was placed in a separate bag, and with that accomplished, the teen moved to complete the rest of his task. Everything was wiped down, including the bodies; then, they were both placed on the bed in odd positions. Surely the police would begin to overthink things and come up with some ludicrous explanation. Next, he reorganized the room to accomplish the same thing. Bleach ensured that the room was clean and that stray DNA was destroyed.
Grinning, Mello hauled the bags over his shoulder and dropped out of the window, silently creeping through the night.
Staring at the boy sitting too calmly in front of him, Rod Ross wasn't sure what he was going to do. At the moment, he settled for merely observing the teen. Blond peach fuzz covered the shapely head, evidence of a recent buzz cut. No eyebrows to speak of, unusual eyes were widened unnaturally, skin was pallid, thin lips stretched out in a comfortable smirk. Everything about this kid struck him as odd, bizarre even. Who in their right mind would walk straight up to the front door of his hideout claiming that he was going to make the boss a powerful man?
"Who are you?" he finally ventured, his eyes briefly glancing at the backpack that was sitting unassumingly next to the boy. If it wasn't for the blood seeping out of the bottom of it and puddling on the floor, he could almost assume it was simply a school bag.
"I'm the man who's going to make you the boss to the largest mafia ring this side of the Pacific Ocean."
Snorting, Rod couldn't pretend that this underfed child was anything close to a man. "What's in the bag?" Apparently, it had been something worth passing through his underlings and going straight to him.
Glancing at the backpack, the boy shrugged. "Johnny Boy." He spoke the words easily, almost as an afterthought. "His head, at least."
Swallowing thickly at the disturbing words, Rod returned to observing the boy. There was something definitely off with him; maybe it was in the cold smirk, or even the demented eyes. Regardless, it unsettled him. "No one knows who Johnny Boy really is, punk. For all I know, you just brought in the head of some worthless junkie from the backstreets."
Again, the boy seemed completely unfazed. "I'm not asking you to take my word for it, Rod."
"I understand that a head alone means nothing to you, so I'm prepared to remain under your watch for the next two weeks. You see, two weeks should be plenty of time for you to witness the complete collapse of your biggest rival's gang. His underlings will be killing each other off, all vying for control of the empire. All you have to do is step in and not screw up, and the entire territory will be yours. Drugs, prostitution, weapons, everything."
"You're a fucking liar," Rod sneered. He didn't need some punkass trash waltzing through his hideout talking crap to him, especially such unbelievable crap. He had been in the gang business for more years than he would like to admit, and he was no fool. Things like this would never happen.
"I wouldn't say such ugly things," the boy purred dangerously. "You see, I found your little 'hideout' without bothering to break a sweat. I found out the identity of Johnny Boy with a little more effort, and now I've orchestrated your takeover. I've done all the real work; all you have to do is sit back for two measly weeks and watch events unfold. If things don't go down the way I said they would, then you'd know that I was a liar and you could kill me."
"You could be a spy for that good-for-nothing Johnny."
Holding up two fingers, the boy smirked. "Two weeks."
Intrigued, Rod Ross sat back in his chair. Years of his life had been spent rotting in this underworld, so what was two more weeks? If the boy was lying, it would be nothing to putting a bullet into the back of his skull. However, if he was telling the truth…
"Why would you come to me?" he asked a little more stiffly. "If you're as good as you say, then why not work for Johnny Boy instead? Why kill him?"
Tilting his head a little as if he hadn't thought about it before, the blond shrugged. "I've always wanted to kill off the number one man, just to prove that he's nothing but the fucking dirt on my boots. Call it a whim, if you wish."
With a snap of his fingers, Rashual stepped into the room. "Hey, take this kid out of here. Keep him in one of the rooms."
"The name's Mello," the boy spat distastefully as he stood from his chair. Leaning down, he flipped open the backpack and in one swift motion tossed the bloody head onto the desktop in front of the large mafia head. "I'm not a 'kid'."
Licking the edge of his bar of chocolate, Mello watched in barely contained amusement as the man in front of him trembled like a dried leaf in the unforgiving autumn wind. Rod was leaning back in his seat, watching the scene unfold with an amused curl of his lip. The other nimwits were standing back, carefully watching.
After having demanded a position as no less than Rod's personal advisor, Mello had taken it upon himself to prove his worth to the organization time and time again. After cleaning up their "damn Godfather-like" structure, he had been able to move them from a Hollywood-esque criminal organization to something far more efficient and deadly. All drugs, weapons, and humans being trafficked through Los Angeles had to have their blessing, or one would end up just like the man trembling before the teenager.
The teen's crucifix shone brightly under the glaring fluorescent flickering overhead. Seeing this, the man began to plead for his life, invoking the names of random saints in an attempt to delay the inevitable. Annoyed with the foolish man's tactics, Mello landed a swift kick to the man's collar bone and sent him reeling back a few feet. Leather glistened dangerously, and the boot took its place back on the ground with a soft fwump.
"Shut up, pig."
"B-b-but I have a family!" he pleaded, the tears and snot streaming down his face. "My d-daughter, she n-needs the medicine!"
No mercy or pity painted the eyes of the possessed boy. "You should have thought about that before trying to send through the drugs without giving us our due." Slipping the gun out of the front of his leather pants, Mello took aim. Before the man could try to make a run for it, the trigger was pulled and the brain matter had painted the back wall.
Another piece of chocolate, torn from its fellow blocks met its demise at the hands of those wicked teeth. A tongue soothed its anguish, seducing it into nothing more than a puddle of pleasure.
Motioning for the other men to clean up, Mello set down his revolver in favor of handling his vibrating cellular phone. Flicking it open with a well-practiced jerk of his wrist, he leaned in to listen to an all-too familiar voice.
"Hey, I'm in town, Mello. Wanna hook up?"
Grinning, he responded with a voice made more velvety by the copious amount of cocoa consumed. "Sure thing, Halle. Where're you staying?"
Author's notes: Mello and Nakita's conversation translation:
"Is your name Russian?" [Nakita] asked conversationally. He could detect the accent in her voice.
She looked over at him in surprise. "How long have you been in this country?"
Deciding that he wasn't about to tell her the truth, he shrugged. "A few years."
Also, I wondered if anyone noticed that the Kenwood heirs were all named after British monarchs: Bloody Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and King George. Completely intentional and adds a different dimension when you think about those particular monarchs and how they interacted with others. Oh, and a reminder: Mary Kenwood = Wedy.
Finally, I wonder if anyone else noticed that Rod Ross's real first name was spelled two different ways. It was spelled "Dwight" in the manga, and then "Dwhite" in the 13th book (which I think was just a typo). I am easily amused by such discoveries.
Next up: Matt!