If I could find you now, things would get better
We could leave this town and run forever
Let your waves crash down on me and take me away, yeah
– "Ocean Avenue" – Yellowcard –
Mello sees the way they look at him—like he's cheap food that belongs to the boss, and they're going to dig in the second they can find a way to blame it on somebody else. He sees the hunger, and the dismissal, and the disregard.
It's a good thing Rod considers him a human being, one way or another. Rod thinks he's a kid, yes, and he is, if you want to get technical. The important thing is that Rod finds him fascinating, because Rod figures that even kids can have incredible minds, and Rod can't wait to see what this one comes up with next. Rod will cut him slack until he someday falls, and nobody will fuck with Rod's favorite curio as long as he's around.
This is the Mafia. Rod's not going to be around forever.
Mello wears a switchblade strapped to his chest and sleeps with a Glock 19 under his pillow.
There are so many things wrong with this that if he was going to fix it, he doesn't know where he'd start.
(That's a lie.)
Matt enjoys cold pizza for breakfast and cheap beer and cigarettes all the time. His hobbies include playing video games until his eyes bleed, dismantling his noisy neighbors' locks, and taking long walks on the beach at sunset.
This is L.-fucking-A., after all. They add that part for you if you don't put it in.
He also likes driving through the streets at night, late enough that even this town's quiet, looking for pieces of his past.
He doesn't tack that onto his prospective personal ad, though. That's something crazy people do.
Mello shakes free of sleep when his cell phone beeps, shuddering across the rickety nightstand. He picks it up and opens the text—from a number he's never seen, with a 917 area code.
Wake up, Mello.
He rolls onto his back and thumbs blearily at the keys. Very fucking funny, Near.
Be at Sprinkles in twenty minutes. They have dark chocolate cupcakes.
Fuck you, Whitey.
Mello tosses the phone down on the coverlet. The problem is that he does, and he will, and he can't change that.
And damn if dark chocolate cupcakes don't sound pretty fucking excellent.
Matt always comes on Saturdays—they have the banana flavor and strawberry. With Santa Monica Boulevard rushing behind him, slower at this hour but building, he considers the tempting confections laid out under the glass.
The coconut flavor also looks delectable.
The bell on the door jingles cheerfully, and the girl behind the counter bids somebody good morning. Matt considers his options unperturbedly, and he registers in his peripheral vision when the newcomer approaches on his right, gazing down at the display.
"What's your favorite?" the guy asks.
Matt glances at him now, because seriously, how lame do you have to be to—
"Try the chocolate marshmallow," he suggests.
That morning, Mello buys Matt a cupcake, and that night, Matt jumps for Chinese takeout, and the second-largest city in America starts to feel a lot more like home.