Author's Note: As is frequently the case, Eltea was invaluable to the conception of this fic—for starters, she introduced me to the fic that inspired this one, 'The Red Leopard,' by SlvrSoleAlchmst1, which you must read if you haven't. My dearest also beta'd and coaxed me into re-writing the mediocre ending I had before, though you won't know anything about that until we get there. ;)


Recorded History

I. Evidence

As Mello awoke, two tastes mingled, fighting for dominance, on his tongue—chocolate and alcohol.

Shit, he thought before he was even fully conscious.

It turned out to be an understatement.

His head throbbed. He sat up, reeling as it spun with the gathering momentum and the wild, unbalanced unpredictability of a tire swing. He looked down. Matt lay quietly—dare he say contentedly?—with one arm bent under the pillow, his hair in exquisite disarray. His back was to Mello, making it impossible to see his face, but the faint bruises, the light scratches, and the way the nubs of his vertebrae made Mello's stomach drop all over again spoke volumes.

"Shit," Mello said aloud.

Matt stirred, but his breathing stayed soft and even.

Mello stared at him, so happy for a moment that his mind went utterly blank.

Then, with horror, mortification, and the rest of the usual crew rushing into the space, he pushed the twisted sheets out of the way and climbed cautiously free to scour the wreckage of empty bottles and crumpled wrappers for his pants.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

Through the hammering of his pulse in his temples, through the bile hovering halfway up his throat, through the prickling of the cold on his skin, he started to recall hazy bits and pieces, blurred scenes, moments fraught with mental static and poor sound-quality, like the television of his memory was on the fritz.

Piece of shit, he thought helplessly.

He was remembering hot, clashing kisses, fiery fingertips, wet and warmth, and a pleasure deep and drenched in alcohol—steeped in truth. Saturated with satisfaction.

"Piece of shit," he whispered plaintively to a pair of pants that were not his, shoving them out of the way, pawing through the detritus-evidence scattered everywhere.

His burning eyes finally spotted the distinctive glint of the leather when a beam of halfhearted sunlight bested the cracked blinds and squirmed under the bed. Mello crawled, reached, snatched, and tugged. In his panic he almost put them on backwards.

That would've been awkward.

He grabbed a shirt out of the closet at random, found himself with a faded band T-shirt, and slung it over his head, not giving a shit, for the first time in recorded history, who he might be advertising for.

It was unfortunate that he couldn't push up his sleeves, because he immediately knelt and went at the monumental mess with the kind of fury that only an extraordinarily-hungover Mihael Keehl could wield.

The empty bottles stood in a line by the door like sentinels, the comforter lay placidly draped over the armchair, and Matt's clothes were folded neatly at the foot of the bed, his stupid-ass, sexy-as-hell goggles perched on top—all by the time Matt moaned into the pillow.

Mello was in the process of replacing the Queen shirt—should have cared who the fuck he was advertising for after all; he'd barely stifled the scream of agony when his beleaguered brain had processed the information—with more appropriate attire. He spared Matt a glance. Goggle Boy wasn't sentient yet. He had a little more time.

The hanger rattled quietly back onto the bar, and Mello strode to the saluting vessels in the doorway, gathered them in his arms with difficulty, and sidled out into the hall to smuggle the lot of them down to the trash.

No evidence. No trace. Matt had decided to sleep in the nude, and Mello had left him some privacy to get up accordingly. Anything further, anything involving strangled cries and humid, labored breathing, anything involving tongues dripping chocolate and sweet sweat mixing where flushed skin met, was pure invention, courtesy of an overactive imagination.

Mello took the stairs. No need to hurry back.

"Let's get fuckin' wasted." Matt had a diplomatic solution for everything.

"I'm in if you're buying."

"Stingy son of a bitch."

Mello snickered. "Damn straight."

It seemed like Matt paused—just for a second, but he did.

"Shit," Mello sighed, and the gloomy gray of the stairwell's cement walls pushed his voice back at him. It sounded petulant and pathetic.

Shit. Just… shit.