Note below. Enjoy.
Friday afternoon, Central Park. Ever so slightly over-cast, with a good chance of a blissful weekend ahead.
A girl on a bench. Young, early twenties, late teens. Auburn haired, and beautiful. Slim, delicate … with limbs of shell, fragile and pale, and with the look of something easily broken.
Looks were deceiving. She was tough.
Abigail shut her eyes and raised her sun-warmed face skywards, revelling in the feeling of this unexpected sunshine. It was September, and they were truly in the midst of an Indian summer. And loving every single snatched moment.
She was in what truly was her happy place; this small oasis in the centre of the hassle and crowds of real life in New York City. She was sitting on the bench she visited whenever she had a chance, the one next to the duck's pond, where somewhat quainter children went to sail their boats or feed the birds. The best kind of children, in Abigail's rather prim view.
It was quieter over here than in other parts of the park. But not too quiet; with just the right volume of background noise to make her feel comfortable. A pond, some trees and the sun. It was all she wanted.
The girl stretched comfortably out, before crossing her legs and settling her sunglasses more comfortably on her nose, before yawning, and settling to what would be the calmest hour of her week.
And then, as ever, he had to go and ruin it.
Clink. A footstep, and Abigail felt the bench move. Obviously, someone had sat down next to her. Abigail decided to ignore them. She wasn't taking up too much room, and there was no need for them to bother each other.
The person cleared their throat loudly.
Rude, she thought vaguely.
The person sighed.
Then they were silent.
And at last, they spoke.
'For God's sake, Axel, are you blind as well as deaf?'
And Abigail almost fell off the seat in astonishment. She scrabbled with her sunglasses for a moment, before tearing them away to stare in blank surprise at the man sitting next to her.
He was blonde. Wearing dark glasses. Messy-haired. Dressed in black leather, head to toe. A crucifix around his neck, and a bar of chocolate in his gloved hands. And he was staring straight ahead, across the pond.
But the weirdest part was that he sounded exactly like Mello. That kid she had known once. And worse, he had called her … Axel.
Her mouth hung open, at an unattractively wide gape. He glanced over at her, and smirked, taking a bite of the bar, and looking disinterestedly away.
'M-m-m-Mello?' she asked, sounding scandalised. He nodded briefly.
'Hello, Axel,' he said, coolly, crispy, monotonously.
She grasped the glasses so tight she thought she might have bent the frames. A thousand questions raced through her head, and she settled for the simplest.
'Where have you been?'
The corner of Mello's mouth twitched unpleasantly.
'I haven't seen you in at least four years, and the first thing you ask is where I've been? Creative.'
You're such a bitch, Mello. It was true. He was like the little girls who had pulled her long red plait in class and giggled at her lack of figure. But the comment didn't penetrate her skin now. She was tough, in contrast to her fragile appearance, as if a gust of wind could blow her far, far away.
'Five years. And yeah. It is,' she said, still staring at him as if she was seeing a ghost.
Four years? It was five, if it was a day. Closing on six, actually. Abigail could have told you down to the minute. Numbers were her thing. She had counted; the days after he had left, the times she had wanted to talk to him, the heartbeats that physically hurt … you asked her. She would know. Numbers were her thing.
He glanced at her, with an expression that suggested such derision at her surprise that she instantly settled back to stare straight ahead and act as disinterested as he was.
That had always been her thing too, lying. She was a top-notch liar, and don't think that wasn't precisely one of the skills that tossed her into contention.
Silence. If it wasn't for his strange reappearance, it would be an utterly tranquil moment.
'So. Are you going to answer, or what?'
'Good to know you haven't changed on the inside. Still as blunt and socially inept as ever.'
She was surprised at the sting in his words. She had forgotten how acrid his comments could be. How quick and sharp he was; and what a lashing that tongue was capable of giving.
'Excuse me, but I do believe of the two of us, I can identify who the truly socially inept one is. And she's not wearing sunglasses.'
The man didn't say anything for a moment, absorbing the double stab in her words. Abigail remembered discovering Mello's hatred of being mistaken for a girl when she was twelve and since then had worked it slyly into ever dealing she had with him. There hadn't been many, but that particular crack had made an appearance in them all.
Then he smirked.
'Not changed in the slightest,' he said, and Abigail relaxed.
'Well. On the inside, apparently,' she sniffed, crossing her legs, and feeling rather self conscious. 'And what, exactly has changed on the outside?'
The man didn't speak for a moment, as he stared at her with what she would otherwise have called inappropriate leisure, but somehow she was anxious to hear straight from him what the difference in her was. It was unreasonably important to her.
'Taller,' he said, looking away, as if the subject was boring him to death. She waited a moment.
'That's it?' she drawled, monotonously, irritated by his complete lack of care. He sighed.
'Yes. Taller. You're taller now.'
He turned to her and spoke all in a rush.
'Taller, slimmer, even paler, same big eyes, different hair cut, heavier fringe, sharper cheekbones, same droll wit, different care in you … more normal. Different clothes,' he said, looking down for a moment, and meeting her eye, confusion in his face.
'Where's all the black and lace and stuff?'
Abigail remembered to breathe, and tore her gaze from the horrifically scarred portion of his face with unnatural effort to squeak out, 'In a garage somewhere, I left that all behind when I left Wammy's …'
'Ah,' Mello said, carefully, returning to lean back on the bench. She did the same, her shoulders tensed completely. She exhaled slowly.
'Shit, Mello … what happened to you?'
He was quiet. Didn't say a word. She remembered his moody silences all too well, from back in the day when she thought she'd do just about anything to carry out a conversation with him. He had intrigued her, as much as he had frightened her.
'I didn't – I – Look. Axel. I'm here to ask you to join me.'
'Um. Okay, what?'
And then the floodgates opened, and this boy in black was begging her in all earnestness to understand and agree, to help him. He spoke as he had never spoken to her before, his words hypnotic, his eyes magnetic, all working in harmony to lure her to him. It would have worked. It would have been perfect. She would have been Mello's dog, in an instant, once. This boy with the graced smile, and the golden tongue.
He was deception itself.
He spoke of Near, his hatred of him. Of his selfish motivation. He spoke of L, what he had died for, and how imperative it was to honour his memory. He spoke of glory, of justice, of a free world.
He lied. Impeccably.
Abigail wanted to believe him. The part of her that was still the little girl enraptured by this mysterious genius. But that part of her was quiet and subdued now. Now, it was as if she wore the love of another as a talisman or armour over her heart, and Mello's words rang tinny and false.
She listened, and could hear, without adoration drowning the words.
He talked about the unfinished business. He talked about Matt. She remembered Matt. Knew him alright. Knew that he was completely Mello's bitch. She wondered idly if he was still around.
And then Mello stopped. He stopped, mid-sentence, and looked suspicious.
'Why do you have that expression on your face?' he asked suddenly. She froze, and tried to decipher her own expression. She decided it was pitying. But Mello didn't give her a chance to explain. He was talking again, slower.
'You – you're different, now, aren't you, Axel?' he mused, quietly. Calmly. Resigned.
She nodded. It didn't take a genius to figure that one out.
'You're not going to help me, are you?'
'I could never help someone like you. Not because I don't want to. Because I was never on the same page as you. I don't understand you. I tried to. But you're an uber genius, boy. I'm just … just the kid they called Axel. A mathematician.'
'You were fifth.'
Silence. And then he tried again.
'Come with me. Help me, now. Leave this behind, and come with me, Axel. I know you want to.'
His eyes – beseeching, electric eyes. She pitied him, pity tinged with those remnants of affection.
'I don't want anything to do with you. Like, anything at all. Seriously, think about it. "Ah, yes. Axel. You shall be the sixth most intelligent person … IN THE WORLD!" This bites, Mello. Or whoever you are. It bites and I've given it all up. All of it. Forever.'
He wasn't offended, she could tell that much. He just watched her, calculating, as ever.
'No. That's not me. I was never Axel,' she told him sharply, still aware of the warm sunlight easing her through this confrontation.
'That was what they called me, but I was never her. I was never her the way you are Mello.'
She watched his eyes soften, an unusual thing to see in a face so cold and proud.
'I'm Abigail,' she told him, simply, watching him flinch. 'Abigail Karrington. That's who I am. Who I always have been. And there's no use pretending otherwise.'
Her name. Her face. Her uncaring trust. He could have killed her so easily, and she knew that. She knew it, and somehow still used it against him. He struggled with himself for a moment, and spoke haltingly.
'Do you remember … the night of the fund raiser?'
She laughed, quietly.
'Jesus, Mello. Do you think there is any girl alive who doesn't remember her first kiss?'
He smiled, for a moment, and met her eye again.
'I thought about it, afterwards,' he admitted.
'What, when you were gallivanting with God knows who? The ones that marked you up real good,' she scoffed, gently, running her eyes over the left side of his face, her expression tender.
'Yeah,' he said, thoughtfully. 'I've asked Matt already for him help, and it was readily given. BB, L, not much help. Near – Jesus, no. There's you … and that's it. The sum of my resources.'
He smiled, ruefully. The talisman against his charm couldn't quite contain her quickened heartbeats.
'You. Ax – Abigail,' he said, the name sounding foreign on his tongue.
She knew what he wanted to say, but was too afraid of sounding weak. Come back with me, stay with me, not because I love you but because I'm alone otherwise. I need you, your company, your unfailing devotion. A man like me needs minions, and you're my fourth choice.
'Sorry, Mello,' she said, gentler than she felt. 'You might have stolen my first kiss, maybe even my heart back in the day – but don't worry. I know you well enough to know that you didn't care for me the way I did for you. But now … I gave it up. Really. All of it.'
'All of what?' he said, sounding nettled. She smiled, and spread her arms.
'This. This line of ascension, this unnatural mind. I left Wammy's when I was sixteen, and tossed it all in. I work as a tour guide, for God's sake. I didn't want to be a genius, Mello. I never coveted being the best. I went and became a tour guide, and you know what? I couldn't be happier.'
'Being a tour guide?'
He was disgusted. She could tell. She nodded, and pointed across the pond.
'You see him?' she said, pointing to a tall man, who was laughing uproariously with his young auburn haired daughter at the far side of the pond. He was tanned, dark haired, handsome and careful with the child, who in turn was paler than him, with the same eyes, but long dark red hair, the same as the girl sitting next to him on the bench. The boy in black stared for a moment, and she laughed.
'Yep. They're mine. And they don't know about me. But really, Mello … what's to tell? Once upon a time I might have become L myself? Sixth in line? I can calculate faster than I can form a coherent sentence? What kind of legacy is that to leave a child? My child.'
The girl frowned moodily, squinting into the sun.
'Someone made a mess of me, Mello,' she told him. 'A God-awful mess. And I swore, she wouldn't be like that. I love her. I love them both. They are my life, now. A better one that I had before. And I'm sorry yours couldn't be like mine.'
He stared at the two laughing together for a moment. A gulf stretched between the two orphans, hunger on one side, and guilty satisfaction on the other.
'What's her name?' the blonde haired boy asked impulsively. Abigail looked abashed.
'I, er … She … I call her Mel. It's short for Melissa,' she admitted. A smile began to stretch across Mello's face.
'Isn't that what you called me?'
'You named your daughter after me?'
'And yet you want her to have nothing to do with this darker patch of your life?'
'Nothing at all.'
'Has she shown any genius-like tendancies?'
The girl sighed.
'You won't keep her from that life for too long,' the boy told her.
'I know,' she replied, 'but I'll try for as long as I can.'
'What's going to happen when she wants to leave you?'
The girl hid a smile, and stared him straight in the eye.
'I'll let her go, without a fuss. I'm good at letting people go.'
He took the dig without a word, and rose. She followed suit.
'It was good to see you,' she told him, fervently. He managed a smile, and something in her fell.
'I won't see you again, will I?'
'Come visit some time. For Mel's sake.'
'I can't believe you named a kid after me.'
'A girl never forgets her first kiss.'
'And here's my last,' he said, bending to place it gently on her cheek, brushing the pale, soft skin tenderly before drawing away.
'I hate goodbyes,' she said, the choke in her voice barely audible. He knew it was there.
'Then … I won't say it.'
'Fine by me. But Mello … good luck.'
'You too. And … thanks.'
'For nothing. Bitch.'
And then he walked away. But she watched him go, and saw him glance back. They shared one smile, one single glance of understanding, and then he was gone. She knew he wouldn't be back.
And sitting down, she realised something else. Even if she had no legacy yet to leave her daughter, it would come in time. The unlikeliest often had one secretly. Like Mello. She might not know his name, but she had known the gentle brush of his first kiss, and every day watched the indelible mark he had made on her heart cut deeper with heavier lines. Foolish, fragile first love. There for all-time, ever.
And that, she thought, slipping the glasses back on, was enough for any woman, and any lifetime.
And more than enough of a legacy for anyone to leave behind.
A/N: I think I can safely say this is my best work to date. ;) I'm on a Death Note roll, here, since I finished them. I have a few more in the works, and I hope you enjoyed it. Please tell me what you think of it. Oh, I'll share some trivia with you. I built this all on one sentence; when Abigail say, "I don't want anything to do with you. Like, anything at all. Seriously, think about it. "Ah, yes. Axel. You shall be the sixth most intelligent person … IN THE WORLD!" This bites, Mello. Or whoever you are. It bites and I've given it all up. All of it."
I wrote that and then wrote a story around it. It completely changed from beginning to end, and really wrote itself. The romance wasn't supposed to be in it at all, but there you go! I hope you liked it. I really enjoyed writing it. Please drop me a line to give me your opinion, my loves! Bai!
- Wraitlike xxxx