Author's Note: This is the rough sequel to Dumb Luck, and it's for MiaoShou—who kicked the plot bunnies into gear by remarking that he'd like to read the M-rated version—and Jenwryn, who was apparently thinking the same thing. XD The both of you are painfully adorable, and I would write you many millions fics if I had enough of a brain. 8D

As far as sequel status, there are references to what happened in Dumb Luck, but reading it first isn't mandatory.

The beta work, the encouragement, the AU circumstances, a lot of the dares, and pretty much all the awesomeness ever in the universe is attributable to the one, only, and fantastically amazing Eltea. :)

it takes a hell of a long time setting up, but I promise it earns the rating many times over. XD

Also, this fic comprised a full twenty-three percent of my total NaNo wordcount. XD


Matt's phone trilled the Song of Storms from Ocarina of Time.

Muttering, he scrabbled for it where it was jittering across the surface of the end table among the ashtrays and chocolate wrappers, trying with the other hand to prevent Leon from becoming food for zombies.

Sadly, his two goals could not coexist, and Leon met an unpleasant end involving messy dismemberment and a lot of computer-generated gore. Tossing his controller down, Matt snapped the phone open and brought it to his ear.


"Hello, Matt," a voice that was not Mello's greeted him calmly.

"Near?" he prompted. "Wow. Hey. What's shakin'?"

"Very little," Near answered mildly, "which is why I called. Would you and Mello like to stop by for a visit?"

Matt nudged the controller with his foot, hitting the button to restart with his toe. "Sure. Mello's on a chocolate run, but we could swing by once he gets back."

"That would be excellent," Near decided. "Should I prepare anything in particular? Coffee? Tea?"

Matt snorted. "It's us, Near."

"Ah, yes," the boy noted idly. Matt imagined him, headset coiled about his ear, with one hand in his hair and the other on the next building block. "I had forgotten that the two of you will eat anything, and as much anything as can be provided."

Matt grinned. "Right you are, my friend."

"I will do my best to provide a great deal, then."

Matt liked the sound of that. "Awesome," he said. "See ya, Near."

"And you, Matt."


He was forging a bloody path through a crowd of the ravenous undead when Matt heard the keyhole get cursed to a variety of unsavory hells. Shortly, the door opened and then slammed, and Mello sauntered in, wrathful and radiant in all his uncontainable glory.

He tossed a plastic bag emblazoned with the drugstore's logo—judging by the size, probably fifteen dollars' worth of chocolate; Matt was improving at gauging price by bulk—to the elaborate spider's web of electrical cords on the floor.

"Near called," Matt reported.

"After me lucky charms, I presume?" Mello muttered.

"The charms of your company," Matt replied, battering at the button that worked the trigger, "such as they are, 'lucky' being somewhat debatable."

Mello bent double into a delicate arc to extract a bar of chocolate from the bag. "When's he expecting us?"

Matt ran out of ammo and proceeded to decapitate a zombie dexterously. "Whenever we get there," he answered.

"We've won," Mello protested, tussling with the foil. "Can't he leave us alone now?"

They had won.

"What are you doing?" Matt asked upon finding Mello hunched over the scarred desk, scribbling away, a scrawled-upon, much scratched-out piece of printer paper on the desktop to his left.

"Winning," Mello announced.

Matt raised an eyebrow. "Are you writing him a letter?" He cleared his throat and clasped his hands under his chin. "'Dear Kira Clause,'" he gushed, "'I've been such a good boy this year. For Christmas, I want a skateboard and a pony and a heart attack!'"

Mello seemed to be employing one of the skills he had perfected since the beginning of their cohabitation: completely ignoring Matt until he had finished doing whatever it was that he'd started.

Matt tended to have a harder time ignoring Mello, but he imagined that anyone would. Something about a hot blond in leather who liked yelling in your face was difficult to tune out.

Nodding to himself once, Mello lifted his pen from the page, reread what he'd written, and then set the utensil down, swiveling in the creaky desk chair to look at Matt at last.

"I just killed Kiyomi Takada," he declared.

Matt would have liked a pause to parse that, but Mello marched valiantly on without so much as taking a breath.

"But she won't die," he added, "until she has explained to us all that she knows about Kira's plans, after which she'll stage her own kidnapping, which will probably actually lead Kira to kill her first lest she reveal him to her 'captors.'"

Mello looked very, very satisfied with himself.

Matt considered. "You sure she can handle all that? She's pretty dumb. Even Near says so."

Mello frowned. "Aren't you wondering—"

"How you managed it?" Matt cut in, smirking a little despite himself. "Well, Mello, between the first class of Killing Notebooks 101 and you having a piece of paper down your half-burned pants when I found you—a piece of paper that you refused to let me throw away—it's not that complicated." Mello raised an eyebrow, and Matt held up three fingers. "I'm no ordinary sidekick, Mello-Man."

Mello displayed a single finger, and it wasn't the one Near would have chosen. "I get it." He admired his handiwork again. "You've got to give me some credit, though."

"You can have as much credit as you like," Matt told him, wandering off, "as soon as that smarmy bitch helps us cut Kira's feet right out from under him…"

She had, and they had, and it had all progressed exactly as they'd planned.

Matt plucked the keys from among the detritus on the dresser. As far as he could tell, Mello still resented the Disneyland keychain that linked house keys, car keys, and the bottle-opener—thought it was unprofessional or something.

As Matt had told him more than once, he was just jealous that he hadn't been inaugurated into the circle of Disney princesses yet.

Mello usually retorted that Cinderella wasn't even a natural blonde.

Speaking of Mello, he was tossing chocolate bars into a black backpack. He must not have thought Matt was looking, because he shoved the brain-teaser—the type where you had to disassemble it with some trick and put it back together with another one—that had stumped them in alongside the candy bars.

"Let's take the bike," he said.

Mello didn't make suggestions; he made decisions.

Shrugging inwardly, Matt raided the closet. He wasn't too picky about transportation, as long as the transportation in question was (a) badass as hell and (b) clean and sufficiently finely-tuned to maximize the display of its badassery. Since both the muscle car and the bike fit into that category, Matt wasn't particularly worried about how they got to where they were going, so he took his helmet in one hand and his leather jacket in the other and looked to Mello again.

Mello didn't approve of the jacket—it was brown instead of black, rather less than form-fitting, and lined with soft fleece, especially around the collar. If memory served, the phrase he had used was "travesty of all that leather stands for and aspires to be."

Matt wouldn't go that far.

"Only if I get front," he announced, shouldering on his travesty and tugging it into place.

Mello zipped his backpack peremptorily and slung it on. "Why should you?" he inquired.

Matt grinned, poised. "Because I don't look like a chick," he answered.

Wisely, he ran like hell before Mello had adequate time to process the statement, travesty flapping behind him, the stairwell ringing with his quiet cackles.

Mello took his place on the bike behind Matt with a startling docility—so obediently, in fact, that Matt wondered whether it was actually him behind the tinted glass of the helmet's visor.

Then a set of slender fingers danced down his leather-clad sides, and a pair of knees squeezed against his thighs, and a muffled mutter of "Are you going to sit there revving, or are you going to drive?" slithered into his ear.

Yes, it was Mello. No one else had quite that gift for possibly-deliberate ambiguity.

The bike rumbled avidly beneath him, a deep, guttural purr that set the very cells of his limbs to shuddering. Mello's body conformed around him, and he coaxed the vibrating machine into motion, guiding it out onto the smooth stretch of the street. In the first throes of twilight, when the highways disappeared into the haze of sunburned smog, it looked like the whole world was spread out before him. It looked like the ride would never end. It looked like he could stay that way forever, with the wind grasping at his sleeves, with the humming of a happy sport bike under and around him, with Mello gripping his hips like they were the last handhold in the world.

He wanted Mello badly. He'd wanted Mello forever. It was a damn good thing the idiot had been up a gnarly scar and down some major self-esteem when Matt had found him, because if he'd been at full strength… Well, Matt probably would have passed out on the spot, and that would have been kind of embarrassing.

What it all came down to was that he guiltily savored the fact that Mello had little choice but to cling to him right about now.

All too soon, of course, they arrived, welcomed by the disinterested breadth of the parking lot, and Matt killed the engine and set a foot on the ground. Mello peeled himself from Matt's back and hopped down, and Matt was, he supposed somewhat predictably, more disappointed than torture could have made him admit.

He really did need to learn how to drive slower.

The front doors of the towering building swooshed obligingly open before they reached them, cool, conditioned air breathing into their faces, and Mello examined the dim eye of the camera mounted above.

"Hello to you, too," he muttered.

"Well," Matt remarked cheerfully as they waited for the elevator to ferry them up to the eighteenth floor, for that was the one with a robot sticker over the button; "he should be happier to see you this time, since you're not, y'know, putting a gun to anybody's head."

Mello glanced at him. "Yet," he corrected.

Matt stared at him. "Don't tell me you brought a gun, Mel. We're having tea."

Mello raised his shoulders briefly. "Guns and tea go well together."

"You're a lunatic," Matt decided.

"But I make it look damn good," Mello countered.

Couldn't argue with that logic.

The elevator dinged, and the doors thundered aside to reveal a room all in steel and plastic, a wonderland of wires and plugs. It was a strangely contradictory place, Spartan in its furnishing, but with those simple surfaces blanketed in the most sophisticated technology money could buy. Cords snaked everywhere, and the far wall was quite invisible under a proliferation of bright screens, whose unkind, uncanny glow illuminated a spot of white on the gray floor. White hands balanced a white domino flecked with black spots, and then a pale head rose, and gray eyes appraised them as they approached.

"Good afternoon," Near greeted them calmly. "Thank you for coming."

"Sure," Matt replied, since he strongly doubted Mello would develop a sudden propensity for graciousness. "Thanks for having us."

Near nodded and gathered himself to his sock feet, giving Matt a decent look at him for the first time.

"Lookin' good, kiddo," he said, and it was true. Matt hadn't seen the little genius-face since leaving Wammy's more than three years ago, and although the boy was still dreadfully recognizable, Near had changed. His face was leaner, and his hair was longer, and he might have been a few inches taller, though Near stood up so infrequently in the first place that it was virtually impossible to frame a comparison.

Whatever the case, New Near was a hell of a lot easier to adjust to than New Mello had been.

New Mello had been an open-handed slap in the face, because New Mello was Old Mello, Matt's Mello, Matt's Mel, the Mello of late nights and stomachaches and feverish studying binges and mischief for its own sake—and then he wasn't. He was darker and colder and coiled tight enough to strike when you least expected.

Also, he was encased in leather.

Matt had been so, so terrified that the joy had gone, that the mirth had gone, that the soul had disappeared, that the Tough Guy had finally won, and that he'd evicted all the other parts of Mello—the parts Matt loved, and the parts that loved him.

Then New Mello, sprawled and spreading soot all over Matt's bedding, had groaned emphatically, scrabbled for his crucifix with a bandaged hand, and opened his eyes with a heartfelt "Fucking hell, you should've let me die."

Matt begged to differ.

New Near smiled faintly, and Matt returned to Earth for another visit.

"Thank you," Near said. "You seem healthy as well." He shuffled over to a small steel table ringed by industrial-looking chairs. "Tea?"

Mello eyed the china teapot as if it might criticize his choice of raiment—not that anyone would have been able to blame it—but Matt sat down and accepted a cup. Near filled it for him and then tapped a finger on a silver thermos.

"I have hot chocolate, too," was his comment.

Mello sighed and joined them. He had been outplayed.

Sipping at his cup, he inquired, "So is anything planned for us this evening?"

Near smiled the Evil Smile. Before Matt even had time to panic, he drew a deck of cards from one pajama pants pocket.

"I thought," he remarked, "that we might play strip poker."

There was a pause, and then Mello spoke.

"Oh, hell, no!"

"Oh, but hell, yes," Near responded airily, shuffling the deck with nimble fingers. "Won't you humor your host?"

Mello scowled. "We're not children anymore, Near."

Near's smile was guileless this time. "On the contrary, Mello, we most certainly are. We've merely had so precious few opportunities to act like it that sometimes even we forget."

Mello raked his hands through his hair, making a face. "Fine, Near," he conceded. "You'd just better hope the cards are on your side."

Unsurprisingly, they were. Matt figured that it was only fair, given how alone Near was most of the time.

"God damn it," Mello muttered when he was down to his pants. "We should've standardized how many articles we each had. And you must've rigged these, you little bastard."

Near wiggled his bare toes and simply smiled.

Matt pushed a few more Altoids into the pot. "You should've put your helmet on before we started," he noted. "Would've given you an unbeatable poker face, too."

It wasn't like he could really talk, since his jacket, his gloves, his shoes, his socks, and his shirt were crumpled on the floor next to Mello's coat, vest, and combat boots, but at least he didn't boycott boxers like somebody he knew.

Mello was glaring across the table at Near, who looked inordinately pleased with himself.

"You know," he noted, voice acidic, "this is still a stupid game."

"…when you're losing," Near added blithely.

Mello threw his cards down petulantly and sat back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest, the rosary beads clicking softly. "Let's do something else," he muttered. "What the fuck kind of tea party has strip poker?"

Near collected Mello's cards and accepted Matt's with a grateful nod. "The kind that involves a couple of bored teenaged boys," he answered.

Grinning despite himself, Matt selected one of his erstwhile poker chips and popped it in his mouth. Curiously strong indeed.

As Mello settled into a deeper scowl, Near smiled kindly. "What would you like to do, Mello?" he inquired. "Might Truth or Dare strike your fancy?"

Mello was not amused. "Fuck you, Near," he spat.

Naturally, winning against Kira had turned Mello into an even sorer loser than he had been before.

Unperturbed, of course, Near tilted his head. "I'm sure we could arrange it," he replied.

Matt almost choked to death on his Altoid, which would have been pretty anticlimactic after all their efforts to survive the mass-murdering psycho and whatever.

Mello looked as though he had just tasted traces of arsenic in his chocolate. Near smiled sweetly.

"Truth or dare, Mello?" he asked.

Mello bared his teeth. He'd been challenged now.

"Dare," he hissed.

Near nodded towards Matt, who was horrified all over again. He hadn't signed up for a repeat of last time—well, apparently he had with his implicit agreement, but he certainly hadn't signed anything—and if Mello kissed him now, he'd probably just die.

Which, again, would be a bit of a letdown after having put so much work into living.

"Take Matt's pants off," Near instructed.

Oh, just that? That was all right, then.


Mello was up on his feet and looking down his nose in seconds.

"C'mon, Mattykins," Mello ordered. "On your toes."

"I hardly think he needs to stand on tiptoe," Near murmured.

"You shut the fuck up," Mello shot back.

Near smiled thinly. "Your language has worsened," he noted. "I didn't even think that was possible."

"I'm full of surprises," Mello muttered, fumbling to unbuckle Matt's belt.

Matt, for his part, stood there with his cheeks reddening—but he wasn't discouraging them, since blood rushing to his face was considerably better than blood rushing elsewhere right about now.

"You're full of shit," he managed, cheerily.

"Hold on," Mello advised.

It was unlikely that he was kidding, and even if he was, it was much better to be safe than to be sorry when you were standing in the middle of the world's palest genius's HQ with the most gorgeous guy in the vast reaches of the universe about to pants you in view of at least two dozen cameras.

Not that Matt had ever been in this particular situation before, but he figured you could probably generalize about that sort of thing.

Barely had he grasped the waistband of his Triforce-patterned boxers before Mello yanked enthusiastically on his jeans, which sent them crumpling about his ankles, sent Mello onto his knees, and sent Matt's face into the register of red usually reserved for stoplights and strawberries.

Near considered. "I may have to turn the heat up a little," he observed, "since we seem to have begun a race to see who can get undressed the fastest."

Mello, who was still kneeling in front of him in a way that probably didn't look quite so suggestive as it seemed in Matt's head, sneered a little.

"You're losing," he reported.

Near smiled and shook his head. "It's your turn, Mello," he reminded them.

Mello got up, and Matt collapsed gratefully into his chair. If things continued like this, he was going to be sitting like L pretty soon.

Unexpectedly practical, that position.

Mello drummed his fingers on the table, and Matt closed his eyes to stop himself thinking about where else that hand might play.

Less than surprisingly, closing his eyes made it worse. Matt gulped tea so fast that he burned the roof of his mouth.

"So, Near…" Mello pursed his lips to think, which definitely didn't help either. "Truth or dare?"

Near glanced at Matt, who avoided his gaze, and then decided, "Truth, please."

Mello leaned forward, smiling, and propped his chin on his palm. "Are you a virgin?" he inquired.

Near flushed, which was rather strange. He looked… alive.

Pink still dusted porcelain cheeks as Near responded dutifully, his voice slightly clipped. "Perhaps Ms. Lidner forgets the ten-year gap that separates her from you, but my age is rather more difficult to disregard."

"Oh, come on," Mello scoffed. "Surely you've encountered at least one other female in your life. People swore you were banging Linda back home."

Home, he said. Matt had never heard him call it that before.

Near stared at his longtime rival as if Mello had become a hungry-looking zombie.

After far too much Resident Evil 4 that morning, Matt sympathized.

One of Mello's eyebrows flicked up. "I'm kidding," he said.

"Oh, thank God," Near muttered, slightly hoarsely, as he scrabbled for his teacup. "Matt, truth or dare?"

Matt shifted uncomfortably in the steel chair, which was none too understanding of his plight. "Truth," he said, having weighed it as the lesser of two extremely potent evils.

Near took a deep draught of tea before setting his cup down. "When was the last time you cried?" he asked.

Matt stared at him, and Near blinked expectantly.

Reluctantly, Matt cast back, reeled in the line, and came up with nothing. He cast again; denial couldn't hide the fish forever.

Oh. Yeah. That one.

Intently he picked at an invisible speck of grime on the table's surface. "A week after I found Mello," he mumbled, "he was finally well enough to get out of bed, and we'd figured the search for him would've cooled down, and we'd talked about it that night, and when I woke up in the morning, he was gone."

Silence but for the harmony of buzzing screens and humming machinery. Matt imagined Near looking accusingly at Mello.

"It was for chocolate," Mello protested, probably affirming his assumption. "The stuff you had was crap."

Matt looked up and met Mello's eyes, trying to hate him. It was a fool's errand, one that he had embarked upon more times than he could count.

"I thought you'd left again," he said, flatly.

There was another pause, long enough for Mello to seem as though he might be moved to cringe. As though he might be moved at all.

Near cleared his throat quietly. "It's your turn, Matt."

He rubbed his face. He could have Emo Time later.

"Truth or dare, Near?" he managed. He wasn't prepared for Mello yet, not that preparing for Mello was even humanly possible.

Near frowned. "Dare," he said, presumably doubting that Matt was a threat.

"If you will," Matt replied, "please end everything you say for the next… unspecified time period with the words 'in bed.'"

Near blinked. "Everything?" he prompted.

Matt looked at him, eyebrows raised.

Near smiled sheepishly and corrected, slightly meekly, "Everything in bed?"

Mello snickered. "Also known as 'nothing.'"

"No need to be catty," Near muttered back. He paused, winced, and sighed. "…in bed…"

Mello grinned.

Frowning cutely, Near eyed Matt again. "Truth or dare in bed?"

Mello was enjoying his reprieve altogether too much—but not for long.

"Truth," Matt concluded. Invariably safer.

Near offered a sugary smile. "Have you ever fantasized about Mello?" he inquired.

Or not.

The corners of Near's lips curled upward wickedly. "…in bed?" he amended.

Where was that gun Mello had mentioned when Matt needed it?

Doggedly Matt admired the table again. He and this damn table were becoming firm friends. He gritted his teeth. Stupid fucking Truth or fucking Dare.


"Once or twice," he muttered. …an hour.

Near was twirling a finger in his hair, and his eyes were wide and innocent. "Why don't you tell us about it in bed?" he asked guilelessly.

Fucking Near.

…did not sound too unpalatable, but that was not the point.

"'S nothing specific," he answered, folding his arms tightly across his bare chest, his voice lower and quieter still. "Just… me. And Mello. Someplace warm, where nobody'd bother us and nobody'd care."

He imagined that Near was looking pointedly at Mello again for the duration of the pause.

"That's lovely," Near decided, "in bed."

Matt smiled thinly. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

"Besides," Near remarked idly, "I think virtually everyone who has ever encountered Mello has harbored some sort of fantasy about him—really, Mello; it's practically mandatory given the way you dress in bed."

Matt sneaked a glance. Mello was grinning, a slightly feral twist to the expression.

"Yeah," he acceded absently, "I have always kind of wondered what it would be like to fuck me…"

Haven't we all?

"Truth or dare, Near?" Matt asked calmly.

Near shrugged, white-pajama-clad shoulders hopping once. "Dare. In bed."

Matt smiled innocently. "Near," he said, "I dare you to give Mello a hickey."

There was a pause.

A rare uncertainty flickered across the empty pallor of Near's face. "I… don't know how that's done," he admitted.

There was another pause, and Near's face darkened.

"…in bed," he mumbled grudgingly.

"In bed is a good start," Matt informed him, smirking with gusto. "Really, you've just got to suck hard enough."

There was another pause still, and Near's cheeks went violently pink.

"Oh," Matt commented airily, "not like that. Just his neck or something."

Mello contributed for the first time, his voice slightly strained. "You will not be—"

"It's a dare, Mello," Near returned frostily, "and I'm damn well going to do it in bed."

Mello's expression was pained. "Matt," he said unsteadily, "you are a bastard of the first degree, and I will be revenged on you—"

Near slid down from his seat and sidled around the edge of the table, looking mistrustfully at Mello, his finger twisting at his hair with a truly remarkable nervous fervor, and tossed a request almost absentmindedly at Matt. "Please refresh me on what I'm supposed to do in bed."

Matt shrugged. "Just suck at his skin until you break some blood vessels. Keep at it for a while."

Near stared at him, unblinking, for a long moment, and then he stared at Mello instead.

"That's sick," was the verdict, "in bed."

Enjoying Near's dilemma appeared to be more fun than finding the whole thing disgusting, because Mello smirked, flipping his hair ostentatiously out of the way to open better access to his neck. Matt suddenly wished he'd inflicted this dare on himself—what better excuse…?

"C'mon, you undersized albino stud," Mello urged, grinning a bit more evilly even than usual. "Take my breath away."

Near scowled, which was positively adorable. "Don't tempt me to interrupt all of your respiratory functions permanently," he retorted venomously, "in bed."

Mello nodded. "That's exactly what I'm asking fo—"

Near pounced.

He moved pretty damn fast for a guy who only ever used his legs on special occasions.

Shortly, Matt discovered that he couldn't have torn himself away from this spectacle if there had been a million dollars on the line. Near set a hand on either of Mello's shoulders, fingers curling around them, palms resting against a collarbone each, the white lines of his delicate hands making even Mello's skin look dark. His mouth ghosted over the curve where Mello's neck and shoulder merged, and his breath whuffed softly, gold hairs fluttering in its wake, as he climbed halfway into Mello's lap for leverage.

"Near—" Mello managed, hands rising as if to push the other boy away only to fall at his sides, his eyes widening, and then glazing, and then slipping shut as Near's small pink tongue slid over his skin.

Hastily Matt drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them.

Near's knee was on the chair between both of Mello's, and he balanced more of his weight on it, the other foot seeking purchase on the steel bar lower on the chair. A faint murmur escaped his lips where they weren't quite sealed against Mello's neck, his fingers digging into Mello's shoulders, and Matt saw the faintest flash of ivory teeth catching Mello's skin. As for Mello himself—his head was thrown back, his breath hitching, his right hand scrabbling helplessly for the chair back, finding it, and clenching tightly.

Jesus Christ. Somebody was going to go up in flames any second.

Matt thought it was probably going to be him.

Near drew back, breathing with some difficulty, and scrutinized the scarlet mark he'd left. He looked defiantly at Matt.

"Is that good enough," he inquired acridly, "in bed?"

"Fuck, Near," Mello managed, cracking his cloudy eyes open. "You're a natural."

Near flushed again, whether in happiness or humiliation was anyone's guess. "I think it's more that you're desperate," he responded, "in bed."

Mello laughed, richly, lowly, a sound that originated deep in his chest and sent a tremor rippling through Matt's. "You're damn right I am," Mello said.

Near met his gaze for a long moment. Matt couldn't tell whose eyes crackled more fiercely.

Near eased himself off of the chair. "Please excuse me for a moment in bed," he said, impressively levelly.

"Sure," Matt murmured.

Near shuffled off, fingers getting tangled in his hair, and Matt and Mello partook in a long marathon of silence. Mello cleared his throat a few times as the awkwardness wore on, and Matt poked a little at a bruise on one of his knees.


Near returned bearing a cardboard box that probably weighed half as much as he did. The feathery white hairs that lined his forehead were slightly wet and accordingly plastered in place, and Matt thought he saw a few more drops' worth smeared on Near's temple, which led Wammy's House's Number Three to conclude that a certain albino somebody had hurriedly splashed cold water on his face during his absence.

Matt ought to have thought of that. Perhaps these were the sorts of things that separated Ones from Threes…

Near managed to stagger over to the table, upon which he half-dropped, half-placed the box with a tremendous clank.


Matt looked. Sure enough, the box was full of chains, handcuffs, and God only knew what else.

He realized his mouth had fallen open.

Near smiled a little. "This headquarters," he reminded them, "has lately been full of federal agents in bed."

A hint of a smirk touched Mello's lips, his eyes gleaming as he peered interestedly into the maze of steel links and rings.

"What's all this for?" he inquired pointedly.

Near turned wide eyes and an ingenuous smile on the half-naked blond. "Mello," he remarked innocently, "would you prefer truth or dare in bed?"

Mello eyed the Box O' Kinks. "Dare," he decided.

You are the stupidest genius I have ever met, Matt concluded.

And he'd met a lot of geniuses.

Near curled his finger in his hair. His loose sleeve had slipped down far enough to reveal most of a pale forearm, and the bones and tendons in his wrist stood out so much that Matt was slightly startled.

Unfortunately, there wasn't ample time to worry whether Near was eating enough, because the boy's words almost stopped Matt's heart, let alone his protests.

"Make Matt scream," Near said.

Matt felt the blood go out of his face—felt it. He'd never seen anyone actually blanch before and had assumed it was just a figure of speech.

Then all that blood flooded back into his cheeks and forehead as Mello's cool blue eyes wandered over to find his.

An eyebrow flicked up.

"Shall we dance?" Mello inquired.

Fuck you and your fucking sexy fucking piece of shit sexiness, you fucking fuck, Matt thought.

"Nngh," he said. Or, rather, whimpered.

Leather whispered over steel as Mello stood and then swaggered slowly towards him. Matt's heart was doing its best impression of a piston, not too unlike those in the motorcycle's engine, and he worried about the state of his ribs, making a mental note to get more calcium in the future. He could feel the damn unreasonable organ pounding against his knees as he pulled them tighter to him.

Oh, please, Mello. Please, please, please, for once in your life, don't do anything crazy.

I think you're capable of it…

Mello was standing over him now, and Matt's blood was beating a hummingbird's war drum in his ears. He stared up at a cold-eyed killer with endless, fathomless expanses of smooth skin, with silk-hair that would put Rumpelstiltskin to shame, with a jagged half-veil of knitted-over skin tracing its way down the left side of his face and pushing tentative fingers into his torso—skin that had drawn its fragmented pieces together by force of will and come back with a vengeance.

Matt wasn't sure why Mello was insecure about the stupid scar; it was the most badass thing to grace the Earth since the word "badass" had come into common usage.

And it wasn't like they all weren't scarred, in their own ways. It wasn't like anybody was really whole. The world went at you from Day One and never let up, and wasn't that the whole damn point? Wasn't that what made living so crazy and stupid and goddamn admirable in the first place?

Mello loomed over him, and Matt's heartbeat was drowning out everything remotely resembling coherent thought, which was making all of this just the slightest bit impossible.

Mello smiled, touching a finger to his lips—perhaps in contemplation, and perhaps to indicate silence.

Then he dove on Matt and commenced tickling him with a mercilessness that would have given Kira a run for his money.

Warm, deft fingers at his ribs, at his neck, on his chest, the insides of his elbows, the backs of his knees—

God damn it. Mello knew that Matt was the most ticklish human being in the Western Hemisphere.

Matt scrambled out of the chair, fleeing the devil-hands, but Mello grabbed his arm and threw off his balance, and he tumbled ungracefully to the steel floor.

Cold, cold, cold—Mello

"Stop!" he howled, batting the hands away, struggling to breathe through the laughter. "Mello, you fucking—bastard—hate you—kill your children—"

Mello slapped his protective hands out of the way and ran a fingernail up his chest.

Matt squealed. Squealed. It was fucking embarrassing.

"Eat your damn children, you fucking sadist—"

Through the hair in his eyes and the general thrashing, he couldn't see Near, but he would've bet his Wii that the little bitch was laughing like a maniac.

Or jacking off. Or both.

Multitasking was a virtue.

Just before Matt asphyxiated, Mello sat back on his heels and frowned pensively.

"This isn't working," he observed.

Fucking… fuck… of a fuck…

Given his current state of oxygen-deprivation, it took Matt a long moment of lying sprawled on the floor to realize what Mello was looking at.

His Triforce boxers were no match for the extremely obvious indication of his arousal that his susceptible libido had decided to display. The flagpole of surrender that had caught Mello's attention banished the last of the laughter with an efficiency dictators would envy.

Heh, dicktators—

He was going to kill himself.

But not before Mello crept forward on his hands and knees, the computer screens' fluorescent contribution playing on leather and unreadable eyes, and brushed a hand along the gathered elastic.

Matt couldn't breathe.

He blamed the tea.

Or Mello's fingers encroaching under the waistband of his boxers, meandering idly through the thicket of dark hair, advancing unrepentantly downward—

No, Matt thought, panting in little half-breaths, trying to remember how to work his lungs; not here, not on the floor, not partway under the chair with Near standing by drinking tea—not with an audience, not with cameras—

Well, maybe with cameras, but God damn it, Mello, please—

Another voice piped up in his head, rather less reedy than its predecessor. Quit while you're behind, Matt. Take what you can get, when and where you can get it. Focus, you fucktard. Enjoy it while you've got it.

Ah, the voice of reason.

And profanity.

Same thing, really.

Mello's hand found its mark, and Matt bit his tongue on a gasp-groan that bruised his throat. He'd squeezed his eyes shut—whether to deny or to encourage he didn't know and couldn't tell—and accordingly he simply sensed, pulsed, felt. Warm, deft fingers indeed. Fingers like firebrands, an almost delicate curiosity, a reflective murmur and a firmer grip—

"Mel—" he choked out.

"Shut up and scream," Mello whispered back, his mouth suddenly against Matt's ear, his breath wet, his tongue wetter. "Scream, Matty. Scream for me."

Tantalizingly slowly, Mello curled his hand tighter and started pumping.

Matt's chest clenched, and his back arched, and everything in him revolted with a violence he hadn't known he could muster.


"That's a bit excessive…" Mello nipped at the curve of his ear playfully, fingertips darting, just as lively. Matt groped blindly for a handhold, for a lifeline, for something to wring the living hell out of, and found only Mello's skin, smoother even than he'd imagined and impossibly hot under his vulnerable hands. "…'Messiah' will do nicely…"

"Blasphemous little sh—Mel!"

"C'mon," Mello coaxed. Matt's eyelids flitted upward, and he saw the luminescent grin. "Little louder, dear heart."

Something in him froze, but the vast majority was molten lava, and that was harder to ignore.

Mello sped up precipitously, his bent fingers scraping every nerve, nerves that were all too happy to respond—

Matt writhed, and broke.

"Mello—Mellofuck, Mello—" he was babbling, and distantly he heard his voice rise to a cry, a shout, a— "Mel!" —scream, and oh, God, he was going to—

The warm hand withdrew; Mello dropped a soft kiss on Matt's cheek, disentangled himself from grasping fingers, and collected himself to his feet.

By some feat of humanity, Matt managed to roll partway over, folding his shaking arms on the floor and hiding the slick, flushed wreck of his face within their welcoming familiarity. His heart beat against the cold tiles.

There was a long silence. Another glaring contest, Matt presumed.

"What?" Mello demanded when his paltry patience had elapsed.

Near's voice was clipped and unforgiving. "Look at him, you ass."

"What about him?"

Near made a noise that mixed a huff with a sigh. "Are you really going to leave him half-finished on the floor, Mello?"

Another silence, and then bare feet padded back to his side. Leather scuffed on the floor as Mello sat and ran a hand slowly through Matt's damp hair. He trailed a finger between Matt's shoulder-blades.

Matt opened his eyes, looking at his screen-cast shadow on the cool floor. "You know what, Mel?" he muttered.

Mello's voice was uncharacteristically kind. "Yeah?"

Matt sat up, looked at Mello a long moment, and got to his feet, letting Mello's hand fall. Coiled catlike on the floor, Mello blinked up at him, the whole world reflected in his eyes.

Or at least the whole wall opposite.

Without further ado, Matt delved a hand into the flowing silk of Mello's hair, curled his fingers cruelly, and dragged his captive up as well.


Not a chance, you little shit.

He shoved Mello against the wall, hoping it hurt, took the terrible-wonderful, scarred-perfect, intrigued-alarmed face in both hands, and kissed Mello so hard that it knocked the wind out of both of them.

Breathing was overrated anyway.

Mello's interest was undeniable, the message clear, succinct, and pushing unambiguously against Matt's thigh. Oh, God, Matt wanted to fuck him into the wall, into the floor, into oblivion—

Well, hell—what was he waiting for, a green flag?

Desperately, violently, with fingers throbbing almost as insistently as another portion of his anatomy, he snatched, fumbled, and tore at the leather laces holding Mello back.

"Why didn't you say—" Mello mumbled against his mouth.

Matt drew back just long enough to search the pale eyes critically. "Would you have listened?"

Mello utilized the pause to try to catch his breath, looking unsettled but oddly receptive, his naked chest knocking against Matt's as he gasped. "Well, I—"

"There were more important things," Matt cut in, ducking, following with lips and fingertips the hostile intersecting ridges of skin halfheartedly remade. Mello shifted, but Matt knew—knew how much he hated the damn scar, knew how much it would mean to him to think that somebody else could love it.

He'd always known Mello too thoroughly for either of their own good.

Sure enough, Mello's interruption was tentative, and he squeezed his eye shut as Matt's mouth followed the rise of his cheekbone. "That's a weird fetish, Matty…"

"I'm a weird guy," Matt replied. "And you're fucking gorgeous."

What was actually weird was the ridiculous contradiction engendered by the thing—the way that Mello showed as much of his hips and his abs and his arms as he could without getting fined for pausing at the street-corner, all the while hiding his face behind helmets and shades, collars and chocolate bars. He protected it—as if it changed anything, as if it did anything other than make him greater, deeper, vaster, wilder. As if it wasn't a mark of distinction and a better troublemaker-deterrent than a gang tattoo. As if it hadn't made him look older, darker, meaner.

As if it wasn't sexy as hell.

Matt didn't think Mello was ever going to forgive himself. And that was pretty fucking sad.

It was kind of horrible how beautiful the Mello's weakness was.

The devilish dynamo in question coughed up an unconvincing sardonic laugh. "Comic relief kind of sidekick, are y—"

Losing patience with the laces, Matt gave up and plunged his hand down Mello's pants.

The gesture earned a gasp and a slow, quiet groan, and Mello's fingers dug into Matt's shoulders. Almost faint from wanting, fainter still with having, Matt pressed his mouth to Mello's cheek, partly just for leverage, and could have stayed that way—touching, finding, stroking, everything about it so right in every region of his tingling whole that he could quite contentedly have stayed there, leaning into Mello, smooth hair knotted around his knuckles, their bodies compressed, Mello's heart pounding against his, until the sun burned out.

Mello's moist breath against his neck evened out a little, and a warm hand slid intently over the curve of his hip.

Near cleared his throat quietly, made a raspy noise, and then cleared it again.

"There are," he managed on his third try, "bedrooms on the floor above this one—"

That was all the urging that Mello needed to start dragging the ungainly, four-legged, partially-entangled monster that was the two of them up the stairs.

The stairwell was freezing, and goosebumps sprouted eagerly all over Matt's extremely exposed skin. Mello had him by the arm and was dragging him practically blindly, with a desperate carelessness that was almost sweet.

He probably needed to get his head examined.

He would be more than happy, however, to let Mello examine some other parts of him in the meantime.

Mello darted—and Matt stumbled—through the door clearly labeled "19," and then Mello shoved open the first door he saw in the hall into which they'd emerged.

A rubber bumper obediently prevented the doorknob from denting the subtle off-white wall, but Mello had eyes only for the demure double bed in the center of the room, framed by an oak nightstand on either side. The thick down comforter was the same pure, immaculate white as the old-school curtains at the window and stretched, smooth and unruffled, over the breadth of the mattress.

For, Matt estimated, about three seconds more.

As it turned out, it only took Mello two and a half to heave the both of them onto the bed, pulling Matt down on top of him, seizing his hair to yank him in for an absolutely destructive kiss, at the same moment confiscating Matt's hand and shoving it against the failing restraint of the laces where they dangled, half-looped, between the impedimentary leather that swathed his legs.

Yeah, Matt agreed, biting Mello's bottom lip. That shit had to go.

Some deft squirming and a lot of tugging solved that problem, and then Mello hooked a finger in the waistband of Matt's lucky Triforce boxers and divested him of the final flimsy barrier.

Kneeling over him, everything laid open in the rosy glow of the deepening evening, Matt looked into Mello's eyes, and the world stopped spinning.

Fuck, yes.


"Lube," Mello whispered.

Matt stared down at him. "Fuck," he replied.

Lingual fixation? Nah.

"The point," Mello responded. He motioned towards the adjacent bathroom with his chin. "Shampoo."

"Shampoo?" Matt repeated dumbly, momentarily dazed by the prospect of how much soap bubbles would complicate this already impossible procedure.

They both jumped as a slightly metallic voice interjected coyly from a speaker on the wall by the door.

"Try the drawer in the bedside table to Matt's right," Near recommended.

Mello looked around Matt at the far wall. Matt turned and saw the unrepentant indigo eye of the unobtrusive camera mounted near the ceiling.

"Little perv," Matt muttered, grinning at it over his shoulder, having expected nothing less.

Mello reached out and searched for the drawer handle. "Well," he replied, "let's give him a good show."

Matt intended to exaggerate a little for Near's benefit, but the second Mello smeared a palm drenched in viscous liquid over him, his brain departed via the window and wandered off into the city somewhere, leaving him with a few fragments of internet instruction, some burgeoning primal instincts, and a shit-ton of horny enthusiasm.

Which he supposed wasn't too bad, all told.

He was Wammy-bred. He could figure it out.

Mello, for all his tough talk, writhed at one finger, whimpered at two, and fisted the comforter, gasping, when Matt replaced them with something a little more potent. Through the blurry veil of consummated lust Matt memorized the fierce pink in Mello's cheeks, the glimmer of sweat on his forehead, the tangling of his eyelashes as his eyes fell shut and his face contorted, his spine twisting like a thing alive. Mello had always been the master of mixed signals—

Hesitantly, he began, "Are y—"

"Don't stop."

It was less an order than a plea, and unequivocal enough.

Matt attempted to establish a gentle, gradually-quickening rhythm, though it was extremely difficult to concentrate through the heat breeding in the pit of his stomach and pooling in his throbbing cock, the blood racing in his ears, the stars dancing before his eyes. It just felt right to be so damn close to him, to be merging, melding, running together, hair mixing, sweat mixing, spit mixing, skin on skin on glorious skin. To be in him, to be a part of him.

And to be abusing prepositions, apparently.

He made a great deal of what were probably embarrassing groans, liberally supplemented by the panting, the straining, and the delirious mumblings of he-knew-not-what into Mello's ears, neck, throat, and mouth. He supposed he shouldn't have been surprised, but it was still dizzying to discover just how strongly Mello tasted of chocolate.

He was thrusting deeper and more confidently now, bracing himself against the headboard as Mello's fingernails scraped at his ribs, carving out stinging wakes that only emphasized the local blaze. Those fingers clenched as the two of them slammed together harder still, and Matt thought, distantly and with a bizarre satisfaction, that he'd have cuts and bruises to show for it. That there would be proof.

There wasn't time to dwell on it, however, because it was at that moment that Mello's hips bucked, pushing him even further into the constricted passage that he'd claimed. Matt's brain burst into fairy dust, and Mello—Mello writhed, bruising Matt's arms blindly as his fingers tensed, blond bangs clinging to his forehead, made a small sound like a sob, and came vehemently.

Matt took one look at the gold hair splattered across the pillow, the hazy, half-lidded angel's eyes, and the gloss of sweat across the collarbones, and the edge rose up to meet him, the tidal wave cresting to smash down with staggering force on his defenseless head.

He tasted Mello in the air.

Trembling now, everything sated and shaking, he disentangled himself and flopped heedlessly onto the bed at Mello's side, laying an arm over the heaving chest that still silently begged for his kisses.

Something foreign, something that wasn't cool bedspread or searing skin, met his fingers.

He eased the crucifix out from where it had slipped under Mello's shoulder. His fingertips brushed over the imprinted flesh it had left as a souvenir, and, wordlessly, he righted the rosary on Mello's breastbone.

Mello's hand rose and laid itself over his.

Matt just breathed for a long time.

Mello lifted their twined hands and kissed his palm.

"Near?" he prompted.

There was no answer.

"Hey," Mello said, louder, a rich and exhilarating note of contentment humming, just audible, in his voice. "Mister Voyeur. I'm talkin' to you."

"So I gather," Near replied crisply, sounding slightly out of breath.

"Bring chocolate," Mello commanded.

Rolling his eyes was mandatory, Matt decided. He'd heard that so many times that sarcasm had become an involuntary response.

"I do try to be accommodating," Near noted acerbically, further credit to the strategy.

Mello grinned. "Look, kiddo," he drawled. "We just gave you the best damn orgasm of your life. The least you can do is bring me some damn chocolate."

"I could go for a cigarette," Matt added, "if you've got any."

Mello raised an eyebrow at him. "Yeah, I figure Near's definitely the chain-smoking type, Matt."

"He's eighteen," Matt mumbled into Mello's arm. "He can go buy some."

"Or," Near remarked, "I could bring you the pack that's in your pants pocket."

Matt smiled. This was why Near was Number One.

That was okay; he'd just fucked Two, and the Number One in question was probably still highly hot and bothered from having observed the proceedings.

That definitely counted for something.


Matt was drifting in and out of a dream that was almost indistinguishable from reality when Near shuffled through the door, which they hadn't bothered to close, bearing another cardboard box. He set it down on the corner of the bed.

Mello, who had done a great deal of muttering about being cold until Matt had lifted him up, pulled the comforter loose, and draped it over him, sat up interestedly.

Matt wondered if this was what heroin junkies were like when they saw needles.

"This isn't chocolate," Mello was declaring, surprised and affronted, as he stared into the box. "This is chocolate syrup, and whipped cream, and… sprinkles?"

Near blinked vast gray eyes innocently. "We had a sundae-making party last weekend," he explained. "In bed."

"That's the ticket," Matt decided. "Everything's better in bed."

"Like your mother," Mello muttered, presumably automatically.

"Precisely," Near confirmed. "Incidentally, Mello, I believe it is your turn in bed."

Mello rolled partway over and looked languidly at Matt. "Truth or dare?"

Matt avoided looking at the sundae box. Much better to play it safe. "The truth will set you free," he averred.

"Was that the best sex in the history of ever?" Mello inquired.

Matt tried to blow his bangs out of his face with a breath and found that he had to push them off of his sticky forehead with his hand. "Oh, God, yes."

Mello grinned. "Good."

Matt traced the tapering line of Mello's collarbone as it subsided into his shoulder. "Very." He glanced absently over at the pale boy smirking by the sundae toppings. "Turth or dare, Near?"

"Dare," Near replied smugly, "in bed."

Matt wondered how many times Near would underestimate him before he learned just how malicious Matt could be.

He settled contentedly against Mello's side, leaching warmth, the soft smoothness of the comforter rustling. "Hmm," he remarked idly. "I dare you to let Mello handcuff you to a chair and permit him to do whatever he likes to you for a full five minutes."

Near opened his mouth. Then he shut it.

Matt smiled and snuggled closer to Mello's warm body.

Mello gazed at him, and Matt's brain almost malfunctioned irreparably as Mello offered him the smile—the pure smile, the sweet smile, the one without a trace of smirk, the one that generally only appeared while he was sleeping, and even then just in flickers.

"You're so evil," he said, reverently.

The little smile was too beautiful not to touch. Matt pushed himself up on one arm and kissed it. "Learned from the best," he responded.

Mello slipped out of the bed, retrieved Matt's boxers from the floor, and unconcernedly donned them.

It certainly wasn't the first time Mello had stolen his clothes, but the theft usually didn't leave him lying naked in somebody else's sex-soaked bed.

Y'know. Usually.

"Hold your breath, kids," Mello instructed. "It ain't a party without me."

Footsteps pattered down the stairs, and Near rummaged in the sundae supply box to recover a gallon Ziploc half-full of slightly broken Oreos, which he brought with him as he crossed the room and climbed into bed next to Matt.

"You're going to get crumbs in the sheets," Matt cautioned.

Near pulled the comforter up to his chin. Perhaps he sought camouflage to hide from Mello's presumably kink-ridden whim.

"They'll need to be washed anyway," he pointed out, "after what you two have done to them in bed."

Matt grinned. "Touché."

There was an elaborate jingle, and Mello strutted in, swinging a pair of handcuffs around one finger, expression dominated by a smirk to be reckoned with.

Near disappeared under the comforter. "Save me in bed," he pleaded, muffled both by the bedclothes and by the Oreo he'd crammed into his mouth.

Matt ruffled his barely-visible hair. "Not a chance in hell, kiddo."

Mello snapped the handcuff chain. "I'm ready," he sang.

"Damn you in bed!" Near wailed.

Mello grinned wickedly. "My favorite place to earn it," he reported.

When Near merely cowered smaller under the covers (Matt couldn't help but wonder if the escape served the additional purpose of allowing the boy to assess the goods—and not the Oreos), Mello sauntered over, hauled him out of his haven, dragged him over to a wooden desk chair Matt had been somewhat too preoccupied to notice, and pushed him into it, Oreos and all.

"I don't think I like this in bed," Near decided meekly.

Mello smirked, undoing the cuffs and tossing the key at Matt, who promptly lost it among the sheets.

"You started the game, Near," Mello reminded him airily, plucking the bag of Oreos away and pitching it at Matt as well.

That he caught. He had his priorities.

Mello leaned over Near and strung the handcuff chain through the bars of the chair back before securing Near's wrists behind him. Matt wasn't sure the restraints would actually work—Near's hands were so thin that he might just slip free.

Apparently Mello had tightened them sufficiently, however, because he stood back, smirking again, as Near tugged uselessly at the clinking steel.

"I didn't know you'd play so rough," Near protested, spots of pink in his cheeks. "…in bed…"

Mello smiled, looking like an overstated movie villain at his moment of triumph. "But Near," he answered, "you saw how I play."

Near raised one knee protectively to his chest and frowned. His fears were not unmerited, as Mello then descended on him, knocked his knee aside, and began calmly and deliberately to unbutton his loose white shirt. Still and silent now, Near watched the proceedings, looking as though he was striving for detachment. When Mello ran slim hands over his pale, newly-bare shoulders, he flinched, curling his toes, but said nothing.

Curiously Mello pushed the fabric further down Near's arms, displaying the scar again, affording only the second glimpse they'd ever had of its quiet dominion of Near's narrow chest. Mello set one palm against the white neck, bent, and pressed his ear over Near's heart.

"Time bomb," he commented. "Swallowed a clock."

"I'll have to get the valve replaced with a larger one," Near sighed, "if I grow any bigger in bed."

"Let me know if you do," Mello told him, standing up straight again, the better to tousle the already-disheveled hair. "It'd be a bitch to be alone in the hospital for all that."

Near just smiled softly, most likely to avoid ruining the moment with a mandatory verbal addendum.

Mello paused and then clapped his hands together. "Okay," he announced; "Schmaltzy Time over. Let's get to the good stuff."

Near, by the looks of things, did not share Mello's excitement.

Mello ran a knuckle along the boy's cheekbone, underlining the mistrustful gray eye peering out from beneath white bangs.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he said. His victim had time to look slightly relieved before he specified, "I'm just going to sex you up a little."

Near was not amused.

Flashing a grin at Matt, Mello approached the sundae box and unearthed a bottle of chocolate syrup. He returned and gave Near a hyperbolic onceover. "Tilt your head back," he ordered.

Near set his jaw and obliged, his eyes closed. "I don't want to know in bed," he muttered.

"Nope," Mello confirmed cheerfully, straddling the boy shamelessly and raising the bottle in both hands. "But you will anyway."

Carefully and deliberately, Mello squirted syrup from a few inches above Near's cheek and drew the outline of a somewhat lopsided heart.

D'aww, Matt thought, quite against his will.

Then Mello set the bottle aside, cupped Near's face in both hands, and licked it off.

God, they were like kittens.

…the sexiest kittens ever

Near's nose scrunched as he tried not to recoil, and he cracked an eye open. "Mello," he asked, voice slightly strained, "what are you doing in bed?"

"You next," Mello answered calmly, sliding one set of fingers into the pale hair for leverage and lapping at a persistent smudge.

"Forgive my lack of enthusiasm in bed," Near mumbled.

"I'll chalk it up to erectile dysfunction," Mello assured him. "Matt, c'mere."

"No pants," Matt explained eloquently.

"Try the dresser in bed," Near remarked distractedly.

"But Near," Matt countered innocently, grinning, as he clambered down and went for the bureau. "There is no dresser in the bed."

Near rolled his eyes, then opened them incredibly wide and squeaked as Mello's hands drifted down his chest. "Don't touch that in bed!" he gasped.

"I'm not in bed," Mello replied, ducking to apply his tongue idly to Near's pale chest, "so I will."

Matt hopped into the blue plaid pajama pants he'd recovered from the dresser as quickly as humanly possible. The less of this he missed, the better.

Mello glanced up from nibbling on various exposed portions of Near. "Matty's excited," he observed, smirking.

Matt raised his eyebrows. "Nothing you haven't seen before," he retorted.

"Fair point," Mello conceded.

Nodding, Matt walked his fingers up the nape of Near's neck, parting the wisps of white, twisting his fingers gently into the thick curls that rippled against his palm. Bracing himself on Near's warm shoulder, he leaned down and started chewing on the half-hidden curve of a pale ear.

Apparently he was the puppy in this pet store.

Which was not a bad thing to be, as far as he was concerned.

"Hold the fort," Mello instructed, kissing under Near's chin once more before retreating to rifle through the contents of the sundae box again. Dutifully Matt explored Near's nose, forehead, and eyelids with his mouth, which proved a hell of a lot more entertaining a Mello-given task than the mind-numbing surveillance he always got stuck with during investigations.

Mello returned, shaking the whipped cream canister like a can of spray paint.

"Let's do this shit," he declared, grinning wolfishly.

Near turned immense lamb eyes on him accordingly, but Mello ignored them, the better to lean in over his captive and push the plastic nozzle at an angle, sending fluffy white Reddi-Whip spurting onto Near's chest.

"God, that's cold in bed!" Near cried, squirming.

"Good thing you're so hot," Mello replied bemusedly as he laid a pair of crossed lines over Near's heart. "X marks the spot."

Matt gasped. "It does exist!"

Near rolled his eyes. "Haven't we discussed the heart surgery? Doesn't that mandate my having a heart in the first place? …in bed?"

Matt combed his fingers through the tangled white hair. "While I agree that the bed is the first place," he noted, "this whole thing makes you sound kind of like a cyborg."

There was a pause.

"Didn't I always tell you not to let him play too many video games in bed?" Near asked Mello.

Mello shrugged, considered, and motioned to Matt. He indicated his latest edible magnum opus on the canvas that was Near. "Your turn," he announced.

"Mmm," Matt acquiesced.

Near sighed, but he seemed to have discovered by this juncture how utterly useless it was to argue.

Matt contemplated the various angles and then knelt on the floor before the chair, positioning himself between Near's legs and spreading a palm on either one for leverage. Yes, that offered ideal access. Trailing his fingertips lightly and entirely unnecessarily along Near's thighs, he stretched forward far enough to lick slowly and intently at the creamy ornamentation icing the soft swell of Near's slender chest. Ivory skin warm beneath his lips, ignoring the way Near wriggled and spouted incoherent objections, he nuzzled the closest available collarbone and then probed interestedly with his tongue at the bud of the pale pink nipple he'd uncovered.

"Nnh," Near said.

Matt chose to interpret that as "More, please; I'm sexually repressed."

Which, all things considered, was probably fairly accurate, though he supposed that it was a self-imposed repression that plagued his albino associate.

Whatever the case, his hands advanced further up Near's legs, which twitched away from him, and he closed his eyes and sucked gently.

"Nngh," Near managed.

Matt chose to interpret that as "Yes, that's the spot, thank you!" Per his translation, he traced around the circumference of the delicate protrusion with the tip of his tongue, pinched it gently between his teeth, breathed softly against the wet skin, and reveled in the tremor that thrilled through the object of his affections.

"Matt," Near whispered unsteadily.

"In bed," Matt finished, drawing back to meet an extremely confused pair of murky gray eyes.

Mello was running his hands through the loose curls and kneading insistently at Near's bare shoulders.

"Jesus, you're tense," he remarked. "What do you do, tie yourself in knots?"

"In bed," Near muttered, wincing as Mello's thumb dug into a tender spot between his shoulder-blades.

Mello smoothed pale hair off of a pale forehead, raking it away from Near's face. Mr. Genius-Boy looked significantly closer to his age when he wasn't half-obscured by the draping disorder of his bangs.

Matt blew on the downy, almost translucent hairs dwindling downward from Near's navel, and then he kissed his way up the slightly crooked white scar that partitioned Near's torso.

"Good work, Matt," Mello told him, tossing him a wink. "You've done a very thorough job of licking him clean."

Matt grinned back. "Well," he replied, "he is a very dirty boy."

Mello went for the chocolate syrup and the sprinkles, collecting the Reddi-Whip on the return trip. "Shall we make him a little dirtier?"

"You two are awful," Near informed them, voice slightly thin, "in bed."

Mello smiled like a cat. "That sounds like a challenge," he decided.

Near sighed feelingly, only to give a soft squeak as Matt's fingertips ventured down along the insides of his thighs a few spare seconds later. In the meantime, as Near attempted to figure out whether he should shove his legs together and crush Matt's hands or open them wider to avoid the searching fingers, Mello laid a Reddi-Whip trail along the pale shoulder, drizzled chocolate syrup over it, and garnished his concoction with multicolored sprinkles.

"Fancy a banana split?" he asked his fellow conspirator innocently.

Matt guided Near's legs apart, disregarding the indignant sputtering noises that issued forth, and sat in the space he'd freed up, ignoring too the tingling warmth of contact. He balanced his feet on the edges of the chair and found that he occupied a prime position for snacking on Near.

And for running both hands over his chest again, making certain to favor certain twin erogenous zones that set the boy's breath to catching.

Mello helped him suck, lick, and lap the toppings off of Near's shoulder, rogue chocolate syrup dribbling over prominent collarbones, and between the two of them, they managed to get more of it into their hair and onto their faces than past their mouths.

Which wasn't really a problem.

"Mello," Matt implored, puppy-eyed, "I think I've got chocolate on my face. Please help me."

Heartily, Mello obliged, drawing out the process of cleaning Matt's face with his tongue far longer than was even remotely necessary. Near made weak sounds that Matt imagined might have been logical comments on the subject, fragmented into little murmurs by the act of observation.

Like puzzle pieces, Matt thought distantly. Like puzzle pieces scattered on the floor.

"You should shower," Near managed feebly. "You've got syrup in your hair. In bed."

Mello feigned mediation and then raised an enlightened index finger, beaming. "We should all take a shower together!" he proposed.

Matt was pretty sure he'd just died, and this was heaven.

Near backpedaled rapidly. "The showers are tiny," he explained, words jumbling as they tumbled from his lips. "We'd never fit into one all at the same time, and besides, it's been far more than five minutes, so my dare should be over in bed—"

Mello guzzled some chocolate syrup, nudged Matt out of the way, clasped Near's chin in one hand, and kissed him avidly.

Near's eyes expanded to an implausible radius, and then they fluttered shut as he succumbed—quite inevitably, Matt thought—to the full power of Mello.

Matt watched their mouths slide over each other, Mello's lips unrelenting and unrepentant, chocolate syrup smudging everywhere, and lamented that he couldn't think of a way to get in on this.

Mello drew back and tucked a lock of displaced hair behind Near's ear. "Well?" he prompted.

Anxiously Near considered him. "I—" came the halting response. "—don't think—"

Mello stroked his hair. "Leave your insecurities handcuffed to the chair," he recommended.

Near flushed. "Just—it'd be a very tight fit—"

He stopped and went a little pinker still.

"That one doesn't even need an 'in bed,'" Matt remarked approvingly.

Grinning, Mello licked a drop of chocolate from Near's jaw. "Come on," he coaxed. "It'll be good, clean fun."

"You're hopeless," Near told them faintly, "in bed."

"We'll let you be the judge of that," Matt replied cheerfully.


Matt was so over-stimulated and overjoyed that it seemed like his brain actually shut off for substantial portions of the three-man shower.

In the most extravagant of the guest rooms, Near turned up a master bathroom-worthy establishment with a fairly good-sized shower, though it was still a bit cozy with the trio of them jammed into the cube of its three polished marble walls, enclosed by the gilt-edged glass door.

Which was fine by Matt; the more their slick, unmitigated bodies collided, the better, as far as he was concerned.

He remembered lathering Mello's back, dragging his fingers over the latticework of the scar where it trespassed onto the sharp angles of the shoulder, while Mello trailed a soapy finger down Near's spine until the defenseless boy yelped and darted away from him, glaring. Matt was also fairly sure he'd spent at least three minutes massaging shampoo into Near's scalp, working the floral-scented fluid into the thick hair with firm, aggressive fingers, and he thought he recalled Mello sidling up behind him to set a dripping, pointed chin on his shoulder to watch. Suds had seethed about his fingers as he'd rinsed the lather out again, and Near, eyelids fluttering, had made soft cooing noises that intensified into half-choked groans as Matt's hands drifted rather lower.

He didn't think they actually had sex in any of the possible permutations (particularly since, honestly, there hadn't been ample space for all the thrashing that would have ensued), but the countless encounters of wet skin, the meetings of damp mouths, and the moments when sopping hair mingled—yeah, those were just about as good.

Matt wasn't complaining, at any rate.

Unsurprisingly, things other than water and soapsuds swirled down the drain, which made it difficult to discern whether or not they were cleaner at the conclusion than they had been when they'd begun, but Matt didn't really care.

He was also rather amused by the thick and thorough fogging of the mirrors.

A finite certainty did arise, however, and that was that Near, bundled into a thick white terrycloth bathrobe, his hair halfheartedly towel-dried, his skin scrubbed pink, his eyelids low, looking incredibly gratified and, rather more mundanely, very sleepy, was about tantamount to a milk crate full of kittens on the Cuteness Scale.

Mello, lounging exquisitely with a towel wrapped low around his waist, was a different story, and one that proved that Matt had some reserves of sexual stamina left after all.

"We should have some dinner," he mumbled, "and then sleep for fucking ever."

"Seconded," Near acceded, stifling a yawn, "in bed."

Matt stretched his arms over his head, trying to prevent the contagion of Near's yawn from passing to him. "You can stop saying that now," he decided. "I can't believe you put up with it that long."

Near smiled drowsily. "But it's so much fun in bed."

Mello reached for a chocolate bar, found it to be out of arm's reach from where he was sprawled on Near's bed, and gave up.

Matt fished his cell phone from the pocket of the pants he'd retrieved when carting all of the abandoned clothing and belongings up to this bedroom and pressed one of the numbers on his speed-dial.

Twenty minutes later, he accepted a hot pizza from a rather bewildered delivery man.

When Anthony Rester swiped his identification at the door, tapped in the code, and strode into the lobby of the headquarters building, it was with a bit of unshakable consternation that he headed promptly for the elevator. The previous day, Near had insisted, uncharacteristically adamantly, that his small but loyal team make the most of their victory, encouraging them repeatedly to take the day off and adding that even longer vacations might suit them well. They had earned it, he assured them, and he wanted very much for them to be able to relax a bit after so much quality work in his service.

Rester didn't know what he was expecting, but it wasn't to find his employer on his bed, dressed in white boxers and a striped shirt, an odd pair of orange goggles tangled in his hair, curled up between a young redhead decked in plaid pajama pants and the patterned-black-boxers-clad blond on the other side. If memory served, the blond was Mello, and if vision did, he had an arm slung around Near's waist.

Rester paused a moment, tried and failed to unsee the image, and then backed out of the room and closed the door quietly.

The elevator dinged cheerily as it released him into the lobby again.

You know, a vacation sounded pretty nice.