Okay! Chapter four here. Sorry it took so long, I keep distracting our beta with RP when she should be working, it's totally my fault. (But she does a killer L so I can't complain. -rolls-)

Someone pointed out there's been a lot of MattMello interaction. We know. Next chapter gets some other characters back in on the action and the one after that does as well. Patience grasshoppers, patience.

Very much thanks to Hikari Daeron for her wonderful job as beta and for calling me after hours even when she shouldn't be on her phone. (You know I love you.)


It was nearing sunrise when Mihael put the car in drive and started down the road back to Mail's apartment. They'd spent hours talking about everything that came to mind. Old times, Mihael's job, Mello, Matt. Even Near had come up once or twice and Mihael had no problem getting a drunken Mail to spill what he thought of the other man. Mihael had laughed when he'd admitted to being attracted to him, and had told him to go for it. It wasn't like he liked the guy.

The sunrise, Mail knew, was usually a beautiful thing. However, he preferred to throw an arm over his bare eyes to block the sight. His eyes hurt like fuck and the beer was running out of his system, bitchslapping his insides as a parting gift. "Hey, M. What're ya gonna do with the rest of your time off?"

Mihael snorted. "Sleep, or get my drunken ass even more drunk. Maybe get laid." He was calm now, fairly clear-headed. Nowhere near sober, but no longer piss drunk the way he'd been before, on the way out.

Mail gave a hollow laugh and shifted to get more comfortable. "You burn through money and booze faster than I do. Fuck, man." His goggles hung dejected around his neck because the soft material of his sleeve felt good against his eyelids; it was an odd thing to notice, but Mail usually wore some sort of shield.

Mihael parked the car outside the building and climbed out, staggering from the car to the door. "Oh, Mail, shit. I hate the hangovers."

Mail followed, as he tended to do. "Take some painkilllers and sleep it off like a normal person. Or find more booze." He stumbled up the steps and unlocked the apartment door. "Crashing here again?"

"Fuck, yeah. I don't think I can make it back home in one piece. And nothing to do there anyway."

Mail snorted, biting back the slur of, 'No-one, you mean'. He walked into his cluttered home and flopped onto the couch. "Deja vu," he muttered under his breath.

Mihael fought with the tangle of wires in an attempt to set up Mail's playstation.

Mail watched with vast amusement - for all his achievements, Mihael was a horrid technician, he was computer-challenged, the list went on and on and oh lord, Mail-y, remember the time he tried to set up the clock on the VCR? Good times, good times. Mail chuckled quietly at that thought.

Mihael looked up at him. Mail was almost unnerved – it was almost like he was staring through him instead of at. But then he shoved the ball of wires at his friend. "Do it," he commanded, and for a second it was like they were kids again: Mihael, frustrated with the wires, coming to Mail for help. (Mihael never could try for long.)

Nodding, Mail leant forward and slipped onto the floor, fingers easily working through the tangles as he set it up. It took him all of two minutes to get everything ready, complete with two controllers and the TV on. "Which game?"

"Ionno. What you got?" the blonde asked, ignoring the throbbing of his head.

Mail waved a hand leisurely at his impressive collection. Everything was in its case, stacked neatly in CD racks. "Take your pick."

Mihael browsed for a moment before yanking one off the rack and popping it in. "This'll do." It was a fighting game, because he felt the need to mash buttons while killing random things.

Mail rolled his eyes. Typical M. He plucked his controller from the floor and chose the character that appealed to him most. He'd beaten this game at least 100 times, considering he'd had it since he was 16 and didn't find it a challenge. But he kept it because of the gore and blood and realistic fight scenes. That and Mihael liked to kill things too.

He was already mashing buttons impatiently, waiting for Mail to hurry and let him select a stage.

A dark chuckle. "Chill out. You'll get your shot."

"Just hurry up."

"Fine, go." Mail leaned back, reclining against the front of the couch.

Mihael sat next to him, and began attacking his controller and watching things fall to his player. He'd played the game loads of times with Mail before, but he'd never bothered with strategy. Button-mashing worked just fine for him.

Mail, in contrast, knew this game so well he'd memorized all the combos and tricks. He used the least effort possible to hit the right button sequence for a major damage combo and blinked slowly, yawning.

Mihael jabbed him with an elbow, still smashing buttons left and right. "Come on, move faster."

Mail rolled his eyes and shoved back, picking up the pace. "Yeah, that's what she said." Wow Mail-y, het-sex jokes? Oh how the mighty have fallen.

STFU, Matt.

Insulting me in chatspeak, Mail-y? You really are a nerd.

Fuck off.

Mihael just jabbed him again. "At least I can get laid," he shot back, grinning. It was routine now, that's all it was. He wondered vaguely if Mail still tasted like cigarettes, before he realized that was the alcohol still in his system talking. They'd kissed only once in their entire life, and it had been decided then that they'd just stay friends. Besides, he liked L better. Always L.

Dating Mail would have been too awkward.

Mail rolled his eyes, flipping dark hair out of them. "Not that I'd want to, freak." Yeah, keep up the game, the facade. That's all it was, really. He'd always been good at lying.

Liar, liar Mail-y.

Shut the fuck up Matt.

Mail narrowed his eyes slightly and gave up his halfhearted attempts and started button mashing viciously.

Mihael waved a hand and turned his attention back to the TV. "Your left, man. Damn, you're sucking at this today. Too drunk to function?"

"Something like that." Mail wanted a cigarette. Matt wanted to jump someone. It was pretty sad how he was beginning to think Matt was a real person, a different person. Mail went for the cigarettes he kept in his vest and god damn I'm out. He threw down his controller and made for the door. "I'm getting smokes, want anything?"

"Some chocolate," he said, looking up and pausing the game. "I'll come with you." He got up off the floor, tossing the controller down. "You're out of it."

A shrug. Mail really wanted a cigarette. "I guess." They were pretty much sober now - virtual manslaughter did that to a person. Mail wandered down to the sidewalk, the air smoggy and just starting to warm up. There was a store a block or so away and he was determined to get to it.

Mihael frowned at him. "What's wrong with you? Is it that Near thing? Because seriously, just go for it."

"Hah. Pretty hard - he's your stalker, remember?" There was a quiet moment before Mail sniggered again. "It seems that against all my caution I managed to get tangled up in your love life. Again. God, this is so fucked up." Usually, Mail was able to sit back and pick a situation apart, but Matt, he liked to be in the thick of things, starting shit. His problem was obvious.

Mihael just snorted. "I don't like him. Fuck, I don't care if you chase him down. Hell, please do. Get him off my back."

"Hard to chase someone who won't run." Mail yawned, breathing the smog and city fumes. He stepped into the cornerstore with a nod to the girl behind the counter - it paid to by bi sometimes. He'd been here often enough that the girl - her name was Melissa - knew what he wanted. There was a pack of smokes and eight chocolate bars on the counter by the time he ambled up to pay.

And she was flirting with him and Mihael just watched. He was bi himself, but he preferred men-mainly L. Melissa slid an extra pack into the bag while Mail paid, telling him it was on the house.

Mail smirked, a wry little twitch of his lips. "Thanks." She handed him his change in a way that their hands brushed and lingered, but Mail just raised his brows - suggestive, amused, who could tell? Then he walked out, tearing at the cellophane wrapping and digging in his pockets for a lighter.

She watched him go with a smile before hugging her fingers as Mihael left with a grin.

Mail was exhaling his first smoke-breath when Mihael wandered out. He watched the smoke swirl and twist through the air mildly, before yawning and taking another hit, starting to walk.

"She likes you," the blonde commented, catching up.

"Of course she does, are you surprised? I'm no Mello but I'm good enough." He shrugged and slowed his pace to accommodate Mihael's slower walk. He handed off the bag of chocolate to his friend and went back to flicking his lighter, bored.

Mihael tore into the chocolate. "No one ever said you weren't. You're better than Mello."

Mail snorted, taking another drag and hold it until black spots danced in front of his eyes. Then he let it go, slowly, easily, and watched the smoke curl and burn and damn it was so fucking good.

"Mello's just a prick, remember?" Mihael grinned slightly, and waved a hand. "Just get laid."

Mail chuckled against his better judgment. "Duly noted." His tone was dry and he rolled his eyes, wondering with a jolt where the fuck his goggles were, and how long he hadn't been wearing them. He was wondering why things were looking funny and bright! Without the orange tint, Mail had seen 'reality' for the first time in a while. He shuddered quietly. It wasn't as pretty as people told him it was.

Mihael held them out. "Took you long enough to notice."

Mail glared darkly at his companion before snatching the goggles from him with a huff – but the threat was lost, he looked about as threatening as a baby chipmunk caught in the rain. To compensate, he promptly clubbed Mihael over the head with them.

He rubbed his head and laughed. "I was expecting that."

Mail shook his head but laughed a bit, pulling the goggles over his eyes. It took him a minute to adjust to the orange world before he wandered up the steps to his apartment. "I totally should lock you out for that," he said, as if his crappy lock could stand up to one of Mihael's ass-kicker boots. That was what he had the computerized security system for. A person had five minutes to enter the correct code or the entire apartment complex went up in smoke.

But his response made the blonde laugh again. "Yeah, yeah. You won't."

Another eye roll. "Maybe."

"Yeah, right."

A shrug, and Mail opened the door only to slam it shut in M's face a heartbeat later. The deadbolt slide home and Mail ran to keep his apartment from being blown sky high. He rolled his eyes at the fuss Mihael was kicking up, wondering why his neighbours hadn't gotten him evicted yet.

And Mihael was busy kicking the door, still grinning. He should have expected this.

Carefully, Mail waited, hovering by the door until he knew a kick was about to land. Then he ripped open the door and stepped neatly aside in time to see Mihael literally fall into his apartment. "I should have guessed you'd be so happy to see me," he said innocently, lips twitching.

Mihael sat up to glare at him before blinking and laughing. "Assfucker."

Mail cackled at that and slammed the door shut. "Cocksucker."

"And?"

Mail once again rolled his eyes and shook his head in mock despair, tapping ash from his cigarette onto the floor indifferently. "I don't know why I put up with you." He inhaled the tar and smoke and cancer easily, prodding Mihael with the toe of his steel-toed boots.

"Because you love me," was the response as he climbed to his feet, still eating chocolate.

Mail snorted in amusement. "Yeah, I guess." He wandered into the kitchen, suddenly hungry. "Fuck, what time is it?"

"Sometime after noon?" he answered, not really sure.

Mail shrugged, peering into his barren fridge. "… M, we have no food."

"Don't we?"

"Did I stutter?" Mail grabbed himself a bottle of some no-name sports drink and headed to the couch. He glanced at the paused fighting game. "Wanna finish?"

"Yeah." He handed him the controller and grabbed his own before leaning back. "Then go shopping later. I'm sure she'll give you free food."

Mail chuckled, grabbing the control and unpausing the game. "It'd be fun to try, I guess." He flicked brown fringe out of his eyes and thought about dying it dark red again. Then he started smashing buttons to keep up with Mihael.

Mihael grinned. "Oh yeah. Flutter your eyes at her and she'll give you all you want."

Mail grinned back, and with a dramatic flair and swish of his hair, "Oh, the innuendo." Screw the dye, maybe he should just cut it.

Snort. "Go on and do it man."

A soft flick and his hair's hanging in his face again. Definitely the cut. An eye roll and on screen a zombie's head exploded in a shower of gore.

"Want me to cut it?"

Mail actually laughed. "The last time you cut my hair, I ended up half bald and burned. How you managed that with a blow dryer and a hair straightener, I'll never know."

"I'm better now."

"Who've you been practicing on? The stash of Barbies you keep in the back of your closet?" It was like they were fourteen again.

"I don't have Barbies. B helped."

"I was wondering why his hair looked lopsided." A beat, and then a drawn out sigh. " Alright."

He went to find the scissors. "It grew back."

"After how many months?" The game paused mid-explosion, leaving something bright and pixilated to look at. Mail tugged down his goggles and went to help Mihael in his search.

The latter held up the pair. "Two weeks."

Mail cringed. "Yeah, yeah - so you tell me. Don't screw up." He led the way to the bathroom, because there was no way in hell he was going to try and clean hair from carpet. He didn't even own a vacuum.

"Yeah, yeah."

Mail rolled his eyes. That was getting to be a habit; he'd already lost count of all the times he'd done it in the last hour. Damn.

With a flourish, Mihael sat him down and took the goggles away so he could cut properly.

The once-redhead gave him an annoyed look from behind sheepdog fringe. Mail never liked to be separated from his goggles, for whatever the reason. It was an odd but cute quirk, as Melissa might say.

"You want to lose all your hair?" he asked, setting them in Mail's lap and taking up the scissors.

"Try it and I'll shave your head while you sleep, Blondie." The sad thing was, that'd already happened - they were, what? Twelve? Thirteen? Mihael had, in fact, broken three of Mail's playstation games and his gameboy in a tantrum and Mail had been forced to react accordingly.

Sharing a room had its pros and cons, after all. Mihael had not been pleased.

Mail chuckled quietly, blinking snips of hair out of his eyes. Sure it'd been hell trying to use the shaving cream and the (pink) disposable razor, but it'd been worth it. Mihael looked like crap with short hair, in his opinion. And the House's picture day had been the next morning – so, of course, Mihael just had to have great timing. He'd subsequently shaved Matt bald the next day when he was sleeping, so they'd both had bald pictures. Ah, memories…

More snips before he stood back. "You look like sex, you know. Go get laid."

Mail combed his fingers through his new, hardly shorter hair and grinned a bit, looking in the cracked mirror. "Good to have your blessing, then." He smirked faintly and shifted, like liquid, out of the bathroom.

The other tossed the scissors down. "Yeah, ain't it?"

Mail sniffed in amusement, a half shrug, and he had to actually – consciously – stop himself from rolling his eyes. "This is fucking boring."

"I know. Let's go get laid."

"... Kay." A shrug, and Mail ducked into his bedroom to rummage through his closet. He hasn't actually changed his clothes in what, a day almost? The current shirt was black and white and striped, and who wasn't surprised? "One track mind, much?"

"Yup. We'll go clubbing and pick up girls for some good sex."

Another eye roll. Mail didn't see a need to bother breaking that habit - or any habit really. Life was too short and he didn't care, not really – it was either nonchalance or indifference. And Matt was the truly apathetic one. Sarcastically, he said, "Good to know your master plan."

"Of course it is." Idly, the blonde glanced into the closet. Mail had nothing he liked to wear, so he decided to stop by his place to change.

Mail stared into his closet for a long minute before digging through, looking for a pair of black jeans - the ones with the chain. Finding them, he yanked them on and switched his shirt to a red, long-sleeved one. A hand ran through his hair, mussing it. "Kay." It'd never taken Mail long to look like sex.

The other grinned. "Good. I'll stop at mine so I can change."

"Of course." He didn't expect any less, and grabbed his keys, jingling them a bit as he made for the door, setting the system.

Mihael was already outside, waiting for Mail. He swung a leg over his bike. "Meet you at the CatSkin? We'll start there and work our way across the city."

A nod. "Got it, boss." Mail had a hundred different nicknames for Mihael, all stemming for his boredom and need to see different reactions: M, 'Hael, Boss, Master, man-whore... the list went on and on.

Mihael made a hand motion that could be called a wave before setting off.

An eye roll, and the caddy's engine purred as Mail guided her back to a familiar get-away.