Soldier of the Vacuum

BY : EllieF
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 1127
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Notes: I'd only seen the anime when I got this plot bunny that wouldn't leave me alone, so it is my crazy uninformed speculation about how the boys met and why they joined forces. Let's call it an accidental AU in which Matt wasn't a Wammy's House kid. It's chock full o' spoilers for the end of the anime.

Soldier of the Vacuum

I'm a soldier of the vacuum
When the darkness comes
I'm a vaudeville comedian
In a theatre of bones
—Thea Gilmore


The first time Mello sees the guy with the goggles, he almost kills him.

He's walking home late at night and hears someone behind him. He doesn't turn around, but slows up long enough to make sure the person's actually following him.

He is.

Mello turns into an alley, stops in a hurry as if he's made a mistake. Pulls out his gun, spins and aims in one motion...

And the guy has his own gun out and pointed right at Mello's chest. The bastard hasn't even tossed his cigarette away. He's about Mello's size, with shaggy dark hair, and wearing these dumb-looking yellow goggles. Not bad-looking, actually, if you like that sort of thing.

"Hey," Mello says. "I got nothing against you personally. I'm just not fond of surprises."

"You're almost as fast as I am," Goggles says. "I know someone who could use a guy like you."

"Sorry. I work alone." He sees flames instead of the stranger, hears the blast again instead of the muted traffic, and fists his free hand to keep it from straying to the scar. Of course he works alone now. He's not an asshole.

Goggles eyes him suspiciously. He takes a big old drag on his cigarette and blows out the smoke without using his hands.

Unless Kira has started acting totally at random, an American teenager isn't a threat. "Does the name Light Yagami mean anything to you?" Mello asks, just to be sure.

The kid's expression is answer enough: he's clearly baffled. "Nope."

Mello lowers his gun, watching the stranger the entire time.

Goggles half-shrugs and holsters his gun too. "Should it?" he says.

"It's not your problem. And neither am I."

The kid hesitates. His mouth twitches, and he nods. "OK, if you say so."

***

The second time Mello sees the guy, he wants to kill him.

He drops down from the fire escape as Mello's leaving his apartment and moves in close, trapping him with his back to the wall and blocking any escape route.

Damn it, the fucker is fast. Mello’s gun is tucked into his waistband at the back; might as well be upstairs for all the good it'll do. "OK, now you're just being annoying," he says, silently cursing in all six languages he knows. "How come you're still following me?"

"You're a decent piece of eye candy."

Mello notes again the hands propped on either side of his head and performs a mental recalibration. He likes to indulge, and fucking's one of the best indulgences he knows. And, unlike with chocolate, he's not all that picky. "Your good taste makes you marginally less annoying," he says.

Goggles just smirks.

Mello pulls the bar of Ghirardelli from his jacket and takes his time unwrapping it. Snaps off a big piece with his teeth exactly as if he were alone, and waits for the other guy to start to feel awkward.

But Goggles reaches out and wipes a crumb from Mello's mouth, and sucks it off his thumb with intent.

The light from a passing car sweeps through the alley, casting his eyes into deep shadow; Mello's heart skates the edge of a roaring void that hasn't gotten any better in three years, and his hand flies before he can stop it.

Not that he would.

Goggles parries the slap. There's an odd look in his eyes, which are actually nothing like L's at all. He pushes off from the wall and is gone before Mello recovers.

"Next time," Mello calls after him, "I really will shoot you."

***

The third time Mello sees the guy... things kind of get away from him.

He's sitting near the back in Club Ares when he sees the glint of light on goggles and the glow of a cigarette out of the corner of his eye, and he's irked already. He gives the jerk about seventy-five percent of his best glare. Then he loses sight of him for a while.

There's a girl wearing not much more than two scraps of red lace giving him the eye, and normally Mello'd be all over that, but he imagines Goggles sitting out of sight somewhere, laughing at his predictability. He stretches his legs out onto the chair opposite him and watches the liqueur cling to the glass as he swirls it.

After a bit he drains it and goes to the bar for a refill. Red Lace has vanished too. Damn that guy, cramping his style without even doing anything.

He heads back to the alcove, empty now that last call's getting close. Three steps past the archway an arm snakes around his chest, another loops around his waist, and he feels the smoothness of those stupid glasses against his temple.

"You can't shoot me here," Goggles says into his ear. "It's a shame you had to leave your gun at home."

"It truly is," Mello says, setting his drink aside because this might be amusing. "I'm pretty sure I told you I don't like surprises."

"You'll like this one." He slides the arm around Mello’s waist lower, fingers finding the bare skin between his vest and pants. Licks a cool stripe onto his neck and says, "What's your name?"

"Mello." Which is, of course, a lie.

"I'm Matt." His hair tickles his neck as he nuzzles there; his fingers trace his hipbone, slipping beneath the waistband as if by accident.

"Hmm," Mello hums, pitching it perfectly between appreciation and annoyance.

Matt's only touching him in three places: the arm across his chest, his mouth just barely resting on his neck, and his fingers tracing arcane patterns on his stomach as if he plans to take all the time in the world. Except that his breathing is just a little ragged, and when he accidentally-on-purpose palms the front of Mello's pants, he's the one who makes a kind of strangled whimper.

Something in the pit of Mello's stomach gives a little kick, and he thinks This could be good. "Enjoying yourself?" he says, because he's never been able to resist the urge to push things.

"Hmm," Matt says, mimicking his tone, his fingers mocking too, toying with the button and zipper, plucking at the leather with a maddeningly light touch. Mello tries to reach back with the hand that isn't pinned to his side, but Matt evades him, pops the button and slides his hand down.

"Oh," he says. "Oh, you're..."

Not wearing underwear? Bigger than you expected? Mello thinks, and grins because clearly both are true. The way Matt doesn't even try to fake cool is almost enough to make him like the guy. For about a quarter of a second.

Matt nudges the zipper down a little to get a better grip and starts stroking, almost lazily; must be pretty sure of his skills.

Not without reason, though, so Mello can't feel too annoyed. Matt's thumb circles around the head of his cock with just the right pressure, just... "There," Mello says before he can stop himself. "There a reason for this?" he adds, to remind Matt who's in charge here.

"I'm bored, and you're pretty." He pushes Mello’s hair aside and licks at the nape of his neck, his hand quickening at the same time, and, guided by some lucky instinct, bites down in just the right way to make him feel about twenty degrees hotter.

He'd all but melt against anyone else any other time, but here and now he just sways a little. "Flattery."

Matt laughs softly.

"Go to hell," Mello says.

"Your mouth says 'Go to hell,' but your cock says 'Don't stop.'"

Mello turns his head enough to be sure Matt can see the smile bigger men than him have called scary. "Bastard," he says, answering the arrogance more than anything.

"Prima donna," Matt counters. He reaches out with his free hand, then brings it back to cup Mello's chin, dragging a wet finger across his mouth. Mello licks his lips and tastes the sweet burn of the Godiva liqueur. He leans back, letting his eyes fall closed, forgetting for now the whole question of who's in charge. I might like you for whole minutes at a time at this rate. Parts of you, anyway. His fingers are very good, exactly rough enough.

"You're so fucking hot like this," Matt whispers, and takes advantage of Mello’s distraction to pull his hand away and swipe his tongue across his palm.

Mello doesn’t even have time to protest before Matt wraps his hand around him again, stroking fast, warm and slick and so damn good he arches into the touch, very close now.

Matt moves with him, sounding like he's on the edge too, his mouth at Mello's ear, his breath a hot rush. "God, Mello, you're fucking gorgeous, I want— I wanna see you come." He strains forward and kisses him, for the first time, sloppily, all gasps and smoke and chocolate, and his hand loses the rhythm but friction's all that matters now, and Mello comes as hard as he ever has, so hard the whole world flares white.

His legs almost give out, but Matt pulls him closer. "I've got you."

He feels Matt finishing himself off, panting something that definitely sounds like his name. It doesn't take long, but it's long enough for Mello to get his breath back.

Matt hands him a napkin and he gets cleaned up. "I think a drink is called for, huh."

"Yeah." Matt’s already got a cigarette dangling from his lip, and it doesn't quite hide his grin.

The bartender doesn't seem to have seen anything, or else she's had a lot of practice pretending, and she puts up Mello's Godiva and Matt's Laphroaig without so much as smirking.

Matt takes a tiny sip and closes his eyes, and Mello watches him with faint amusement. Whisky is vile, but he knows a connoisseur when he sees one.

"The other night," Matt says after another sip, his voice strangely soft. "Who'd I remind you of?"

Mello blinks. "My... brother, I guess, would be the best word," he says, surprised into telling the truth, which is yet another thing he'll definitely get Matt back for later.

"He's not around anymore?"

Not stupid, at least. "Got it in one."

"You looked like you'd seen a ghost. I'm sorry," Matt says, and that's when Mello sees through at least the first layer of the tough-guy act.

He leans over for a moment, quite deliberately a little more than perfectly reasonable caution calls for, and says, "Kira killed him."

"I know how you feel."

Mello raises an eyebrow.

"I know exactly how you feel." Mello has to bend closer again to hear Matt's murmur, and he approves of how quickly he understood; you don't want anyone to hear you saying this kind of thing, because you never fucking know. "Kira killed my dad."

That's interesting enough that Mello actually turns the stool to face him.

"He was one of the first," Matt says, not looking over, flipping his lighter between his fingers. "He was an FBI agent."

"One of the twelve who went to Japan?"

The lighter clatters to the bar. "How do you know that?"

"You'd better come home with me." You'd deserve to know more even if you hadn't just made me come my brains out.

***

"I'm working on the case," Mello says, back at his place with the white noise generator running just in case.

Matt doesn't look surprised. He lights another cigarette from the old one and leans back on the couch.

"I'd kill Kira with my own hands if I could. The person you reminded me of was L."

"Was? But—"

"The real L died three years ago. Someone stole the name, and I can almost prove it was Kira, the bastard."

"That... is really bad."

"He thinks he's won." Mello stalks to the table and starts breaking a chocolate bar into tiny, tiny pieces. "But that's OK." He chooses a shard and pops it into his mouth. "It'll make it all the sweeter when I win in the end."

Matt comes over and slips his arms around him, more hesitantly than before. "Let me help you."

"I told you I work alone." Mello turns to face him and steps back, but only a little.

"You also said it wasn't my problem, but it is. I'm tired of this small-time shit." He lifts the goggles away and Mello sees his eyes for the first time. They're the color of the very best dark chocolate, black except when the light hits them just right, like now. "I want to do something that matters. I want to get the guy who killed my dad."

Maybe he's getting soft in his old age, Mello thinks, but Matt's right: this is his battle too.

Slowly, he nods.

***

The last time Mello sees his lover, he's accelerating toward what he's pretty sure will be his own end.

He sees the news report and it's hard to watch, but he owes Matt that much—for someone to see how he went, and to know why.

Just pieces for that little psycho's puzzle after all, but Mello's the last piece, the one that makes the whole picture finally come clear. He may not be able to kill Kira with his own hands, but he's the boot on Kira's neck and that's enough.

He pushes the rig even faster. You'd better fucking win, Near.

Danger sings in his blood, but he smiles, riding a manic recklessness, a rush better than any drug.

Matt is dead and L is dead. Mello doesn't believe in much, but he knows he'll see them again soon.


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