The streets of New York City were cold and icy, the bitter wind biting at Mello's exposed skin.
In his right hand, he held the object of his addiction- a chocolate bar. In his left, he held a steaming Styrofoam cup of hot cocoa he had bought to banish the winter chill. Despite this, as well as the heavy, fur lined coat he was wearing, he still felt cold.
He cursed the weather, muttering curse words under his breath. He couldn't wait to get back to the warmth of his hotel and take a long, hot bath. More than that, he couldn't wait until he could get to Los Angeles, where he would never be this fucking cold again.
He would have taken a taxi or something like that, if he a) trusted those damn things, or b) felt like spending any more money. Since he didn't feel like either, he had decided to walk.
Then, a sight caught Mello's eye that made him do a double take. He took a few steps backward and looked down, confirming that he had seen what he thought he just saw,
There, huddled up against a cold concrete wall, was a little boy, no older than eight or nine years old. He curled in on himself as tightly as he could, in hopes of warming up a little.
He looked cold, and he looked dirty, but more than that, he looked alone. He looked up at Mello with a pleading pair of blue gray eyes.
"You got a home, kid?" Mello asked, in a cold, icy tone of voice. The boy shook his head.
"You got parents?"
Again, the boy shook his head.
"My mommy went to Heaven," he said sadly. "My daddy said I made her go to Heaven. Then I started finding stuff you get shots with in the bathroom and stuff. Then daddy started hitting me. He...he said I was …then we got kicked out of our apartment, and daddy left me here."
Drug addiction. Child abuse. Some of this kid's story was hitting way too close to home.
Mello would have liked to be heartless. To walk away without another word. But his conscience gnawed at him, telling him to do something. Anything. What he did next came out of instinct, and was so natural that he couldn't believe he had hesitated.
He handed the boy the cup of hot cocoa and the chocolate bar. The little boy stared up at him in awe, before devouring the chocolate bar as if he hadn't eaten in a week.
He probably hasn't, Mello thought bitterly.
"Can you read?" He asked. This time, the boy nodded, sipping at the hot cocoa gratefully.
He pulled out the miniature composition notebook he always kept in his jacket pocket. Normally, he used this to keep track of mafia and gang members, but today it would serve a different purpose.
Pulling a pen from behind his ear, Mello tore out a page from the notebook and scribbled an address he remembered passing not too long ago- the address of a battered woman's shelter. He was pretty sure they would be willing to help a child.
"Here, kid," he said, handing him the slip of paper. "Just go down that street there. Take a left, and then go right. Look for this address here. They'll help you, okay?"
As an afterthought, Mello slipped out of his coat, exposing his bare arms to the bitter chill outside, and handed it to the boy. The child put it on, marveling at the lingering warmth of Mello's body.
"Thanks, mister. I don't think anyone's ever been this nice to me."
The boy beamed up at Mello, his cherubic face glowing with happiness. Mello felt a smile tug at the corners of his lips. Normally he would repress it, shove it down, but today he let it come.
It lightened the angry, scowling look of his features, making the ice in his eyes melt, his whole face more open and friendly. He looked so inviting, so warm, despite the late winter chill.
At that time, the boy went his way, and Mello went the other, never to see each other again.
They had never learned the other's name. The boy never knew from what circumstances his savior had come, or where he was heading in his fast track toward self-destruction. In truth, neither did Mello.
The smile lingered on Mello's face as he walked the remaining distance to his hotel room, winter nagging him the whole way, tingeing his pale skin pink. But then he thought of that boy, how helpless and frozen he was, and his smile grew a little wider.
The cold was almost inviting.