Angela: Yet another co-written story from me, go figure. I seem to be good at those. O: This time, it's between me and Contemptus Saeculi.

Also, because this is my one hundredth story, I'm going to do something special for it. First person to review CatSkin Fever gets a special oneshot from me, written the way they'd like it. I'll PM the first reviewer for specifics on the oneshot, so don't worry about specifying it right away. O:

And with that said, I'll leave you to the story. (Which is AU, in case you haven't noticed)

Mihael held his ID out at one of the bouncers at the door to the nightclub, CatSkin Fever. The man waved him inside with a nod and a slight smirk. Mihael-Mello, he corrected himself when he stepped inside the club- had been working here for the past two years now, and this routine had become normal. Show his employee ID, step inside, and change his name from Mihael to Mello.

He gave a half-hearted wave in the direction of the bar, where L was pouring a shot for some drunk sitting in a corner. As always. Nothing ever changed at the CatSkin, and nothing ever would. For someone like Matt, sitting at the bar, that would have pissed him off, had he been a bit more awake and a bit more sober.

Matt was weary of a life of routines for everything. He accepted the SnakeBite with a mumble of thanks, a almost-sigh. His eyes were burning behind his tinted goggles, no thanks to the nine consecutive hours he'd spent staring at code in order to get his job done. He planned on spending most of his paycheck tonight- the less for the cops to trace the better, right?

The door on the far side opened and Mih-Mello strides in. Matt could see the switch clearly. Mihael was shoved aside as Mello's gait, a hippy swagger- a strut that screamed 'Keep watching, it gets better'- came to surface as soon as he crossed the threshold. His eyes narrowed and his lips twisted and oh, there's danger there.

Matt rolled his eyes and took a healthy swig of beer and cider- just another night in the Catskin, then. Their star was here at last.

Mello strutted his way across the floor, avoiding anyone who grabbed for him, and made his way to the room where the dancers got ready. Once back there, he swiftly changed into the outfit he always wore. Not that it could be called an outfit; it revealed more than it covered.

Matt watched him go backstage before turning back to his drink. His sad puppy eyes narrowed at the dregs of his drink- now he remembered why he hated Snakebites They taste like ass, he thought scornfully, before finishing the lot.

He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand and looked around- the place was starting to fill up, it was close to show time. So he would be there soon. Probably. Matt sighed through his nose and signaled L for something better, something stronger.

L made a hand motion signaling he understood and turned to make Matt's favorite drink. The younger man looked like he was waiting for someone, and L had a pretty good idea of who. Sliding the glass across the bar to Matt, he leaned against it and began to wipe a glass.

"You look tired," he commented idly. He wasn't friends with the other man, but Matt was Mello's friend, so L didn't mind talking to him from time to time.

There was a flicker, a heartbeat, as Matt made eye contact. Not that the other man would know it - tinted goggles always hid his eyes, especially inside the club. Then he rasied his glass to his lips, but did not drink.

"Long day... that's all." Perhaps that wasn't the best answer he could have given, but it wasn't not a total lie either. Matt decided to stick with that for now. He sipped and felt the corner of his lips twitch up slightly- the vodka burned, but who cared? He was just killing time, killing boredom, killing- something. He wasn't sure, but Matt was content to wittle away the hours with the infamous L- the man whom both Mihael and Mello had set their sights on, only to be hung out to dry time and time again. Not that Matt cared- he just got sick of listening to it every other night.

Even apathy had its limits

L nodded absently. "Of course. It's always a long day. It'll be a longer night." And it would be. The CatSkin was frequented by people who lived such lives. Men-and women, but they weren't as frequent- who needed a place to sit and knock back enough alcohol to kill the unwanted thoughts that plagued them haunted the place. The CatSkin was a safe haven on the brutual streets of L.A, a city that never slept.

It was, in effect, a world of its own.

The corner of Matt's mouth twitched wryly, and he itched for a cigarette. Never one to deny himself, he lit one up- looking all the world like a young James Dean with nothing to lose.

"A perk then, L. One good thing in this sea of shit."

A blonde woman tittered a few bar stools down, on the arm of another more conservative and solemn woman. For a minute he thought the blonde looked vaguely familiar, before it hit him - she was the world's top model for now, Misa Amane, known as MisaMisa across the world. What she was doing in a bar in L.A. he had no idea, but from the look of it, he knew what she wasn't doing: going home alone. Three men-all drunk by this point- had joined the two women and were making passes. And if Misa's laughter and inability to stand on her own were any indication, one of the three-hell maybe all of them- would get lucky tonight.

The taller, paler, more composed of the two females felt the irratation welling up inside, behind a facade years in the making. She sighed through her nose and finished her martini in one swallow, before sliding the olive into her mouth. The man to her right waved the barkeeper to keep the drinks pouring and she nearly rolled her eyes. Yes, they were a fun distraction but she wasn't going home with any of them, and she thought- with a rather pointed glance to her drinking buddy (who was slopping something fizzy and pink down her chest)-neither is Misa. Besides, Mikami would be joining them shortly. At Misa's prodding, all three of the lovers had decided to check out the famous 'Mello'. Why not, right? Live it up and all that jazz.

L looked up as suddenly the lights in the club dimmed and the music on the second floor where the dancefloor and DJ were located stopped playing. Mello was coming out. L's eyes flew to the young man with white hair-Near, his mind supplied- who had slipped into the club unnoticed as Mello sauntered out. Nothing but flimsy cloth and sex appeal covered the stripper who was working his way across the stripper's floor, where money was already flying.

Everyone loved Mello. Mello didn't love any of them.

A new song started up, something Mello had most likely picked out himself for the DJ to play.

While all eyes were on this evening's entertainment, Matt's eyes only sought the deceptively young looking man Mello had mention briefly in passing the other night- Near? Yes. Near.

On the other side of the room, at a two person table doused in shadows sat Near, his white skin, white hair and black dead eyes contradicting everything. There wasn't expression on his pale face, except maybe faint longing. Raw want, who knows? It's hard to tell with this kid, who's eyes are always dead and who never has a reaction to anything.

Near's eyes stayed glued to Mello's form as the other moved in ways he'd never thought possible for a human body to move. To call Mello beautiful would be an understatement, he decided. Mello was perfection in a slim, blond blue-eyed body. He couldn't get enough of him.

"Ne, ne, Takada-chan!" Misa's hushed whisper sounded close enough to her that Takada felt her hair flutter with the hot breath. She only managed to nod, knowing that Misa got this. Mello wasn't so much a dancer as a work of bloody art. Usually Takada would turn up her nose at such vulgar acts but hot damn. Mello was... something else.

Something else indeed.

He didn't move in small jerky bursts the way the other dancers did, he moved like water. Every step he took, every move he made fit together like a finished puzzle, and even in the hazy smoke from cigarette butts and dim lighting, he was perfect. And he knew it too. He leaned closer to one of the men by the stage but was gone before the other's hand could even begin to reach for him. Mikami-who'd joined them by now- made a noise of approval in the back of his throat.

"He's good at what he does."

Misa clutched at him with a grin and a squeal of agreement while Takada couldn't bring herself to look away. Her drink had long since been forgotten and oh, she was being sucked in. Mello has that effect on people, she'll later think wryly with a shake of her head. But now, just now, is this art or raw want, she can't think, she wasn't sure.

Matt seemed to be the only one immune to the 'Mello-Effect', as he'd dubbed it. He tapped ash onto the countertop like this was nothing, and sipped his drink and watched Near watch Mello.

It was strange and pathetic, and Matt wished he could care.

L slid a third drink before Matt. "It's on the house," he said, nodding before mixing a drink for someone else. He didn't know why they bothered ordering drinks when Mello was on stage. When Mello danced, no one drank.

A low sigh and Matt exhaled lazy smoke rings at the ceiling, "Thanks, L."

He didn't really get what all the fuss was about. Sure, Mello was attractive, and yeah, Mello knew how to work it, but it nothing to get so awestruck about. But then again, Matt wouldn't exactly object if it was Near up there.

L didn't answer this time, watching Mello. He'd never understood why the blond had even taken the job two years ago, but he didn't care enough to ask. And Mello never cared enough to answer.

After what felt like forever, Mello stopped dancing and bent to scoop up all the money off the floor. It was more than usual but he didn't bother stopping to count it as he vanished behind the curtains to change into the outfit he'd come in with. He'd dance again later, but for now he was thirsty. Changing quickly, he came out and slid onto a stool next to Matt. He leaned against the countertop. "The usual, L."

Matt relinquished his cigarette long enough to finish his drink, and tore his eyes away from Near who- ohfuck! Eye contact! Matt stiffened slightly, if only for a moment as the albino's dead gaze moved on - to Mello no less! Matt wanted to cackle bitterly at the sky, then curse Kira for his misfortune. He took in another lung-full of toxin and called it even. A few feet away, Takada and Misa conversed in low, frantic whispers, closecloseclosalmostkissingclose. They laughed together before Takada remembered her drink and Misa ordered another. The booze burned her throat going down, but sat warm in her belly. Takada felt its effects at last- warm and loose and floaty and dammit she was smiling flirtily at the bartender for no other reason than the fact that his hair fell into his eyes and the contrast between skin and clothes and eyes was black on white on lust. Mello noticed the flirty smile and took malicious pleasure in informing the woman that L was gay and taken. Not by him, he thought in somewhat annoyance, but taken nonetheless. He smiled a sickeningly sweet smile filled with poison as he told her, and then turned back to Matt. "My stalker's here again."

Takada blinked, thoughts slower than usual. Then she huffed and rolled her eyes. She almost informed 'Mello' that for someone so slutty, he was a fucking prick. But then again, Takada was a with her speech and her everything when she had been drinking. She kept her composure while Misa sent the pretty boy a dulled, dirty look as he turned away.

Matt rasied his brows and exhaled. "Yeah? Hadn't noticed." He offered a shrug absently, not even an apology, but instead a question, 'Who? Where?'

Mello pointed to Near absently before downing the drink L handed him. "He's here every night that I am. He tips great for the lapdances but he thinks we've got a relationship going," he said dully. Normally he'd go on letting Near think they had a relationship but lately the white-haired kid-like guy had begun getting grabby with Mello. Mainly in places Mello did not like being touched. "Wanna go tell him off for me?"

Matt let his shadowed eyes slide from one guy to the other and back, thinking, weighing pros and cons. He would- well, he'd have an excuse to get closer, to talk to him. But there was that annoying habit people tended to stick to when confronted with bad news- the Shoot the Messenger technique. At long last Matt shrugged and lit another cigarette, snubbing out the spent one and exhaling.

"... Fight your own battles man," he said at last with an exhaled smoke-breath. More importantly, don't get me involved in your weird ass love life- I don't want my chances going down the drain because of a shoot the bearer of bad news mentality. "Why not have the bouncers throw him out if he's getting... delusional?"

"Because he's my best paying customer and I'd rather just have him see reality than kick him out if there's a chance I'll still get money outta the kid." Mello's answer was calm and straightforward as he threw back a second drink. If he got drunk enough, he'd do a lapdance or two for some of the more sleazy guys at the back of the club, he figured. The sleazier they were, the better they paid.

The answer seemed simple to Matt- glaringly obvious. "So why not hook up with another guy in front of him?" Why was he still talking? Matt frowned to himself and gulped his forgotten drink. Long ago he'd learned not to try and talk silly little things like morals and empathy into Mello; it was better to go along with it, scoffing and rolling his eyes. Or sit out and watch the fun.

"Because there's not one I want," he said, his tone that of finality. The subject had been closed for the night, it seemed. He staggered to his feet, all leather and alcohol and sex appeal and took a step forward. "I'm going to do some lapdances. I need more cash." He stalked off, to find someone who looked lonely. He didn't spare Near a glance when he passed the table.

Matt snorted quietly, scoff of the highest degree. Mello with his impossible standards and high hopes. Mello with his leather and chains and cracked faith. The one thing one had to know, in Matt's opinion about Mello, is that he always wanted what he couldn't have - more money and more men, but most importantly, L. The only person who hadn't crumbled into a puddle of sexual need an hour or less after Mello had set his sights into worming his way into his bed.

But he had to admit, under all the leather and chains and cracked faith, Mello was the epitome of sex and everyone in the club knew it.