AN: Another update in less than 12 hours? Yup! It happened! But uh...heh.

Ha...hahahah ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha, please don't hate me. This is a very...awkward...yes. Pleasedon'thateme.

(Leather is sitting to the side, shaking her head at me for this, but hey. It's necessary.)

We'll hopefully be able to get the next chapter up pretty soon! We've been on a roll.

Cheers! (and please stick with us!)

~Leather and Stripes


.:Chapter 10:.

"I Do Not Hook Up"

xxx

He felt a soft breath at his ear, her nails gliding playfully down his chest. He could feel her smile, lips pressing into his neck, and knew the exact expression plastered across her face.

"Damn…" she laughed, breath still coming in heavy puffs.

He made an off-handed noise at that, staring at the ceiling.

"Why don't we do this more?"

He shrugged, licking at his bottom lip absently. She was looking at him. He knew she was looking at him.

"I mean, you've been calling a lot recently and…I'm not gonna lie, I missed it," her hand slipped a bit lower, fingers sliding just under the sheets at his waist.

"Claudia…"

"I'm serious, Mello. It's nice having you around again," she smirked, fingers trailing lower, "No one fucks like you do."

The blond frowned, swatting away her hand and sitting up. He ignored her sounds of protest, running a hand through his hair.

"What's wrong, babe?" the brunette smiled, crawling over to Mello as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed. "Can't take a compliment?"

"I can't take you thinking that this is anything personal."

Claudia pouted, sliding her arms around the blond's shoulders, "Are you so sure? You've been calling me an awful lot, Mel."

He knew he had. In the past however-many years Mello had known Claudia, he had only required her…services off and on. It was out of need more than anything. He'd never been a fan of the term 'booty call', but knew it was exactly what this was. And she did too. "I'm not in the mood for your shit, Claudia."

"Mmm, but you were an hour ago when you called. And the day before that…"

Mello shoved her off then, throwing the brunette back against the sheets, "Fuck off."

"But you sounded so deliciously desperate, Mello. I just couldn't help myself," a wicked grin spread across her face, a hand reaching to scratch up the blond's thigh.

Claudia's smile disappeared, her eyes widening as Mello's hand closed around her throat. He pinned her there, eyes narrowing and breath coming quicker. "I thought I told you to fuck off."

A hand reached out, clutching at Mello's forearm and trying to push his hand away. Claudia blinked furiously, gasping for air as the hand at her neck tightened slightly, a vicious sneer spreading over Mello's features. She struggled against his grip, sputtering breaths escaping her lips. After a moment, he released her, moving to the edge of the bed and standing, slipping on a pair of cotton pants.

The brunette stared at the ceiling, air flooding back into her lungs. She placed a hand on her throat, sitting up slowly and watching the blond pad toward the kitchen. "Mello," Claudia muttered, coughing slightly at the use of her voice.

She heard a small rumble, a glass making contact with a countertop, but no reply.

"Hey, Mello," she called, pulling the sheet up to cover her chest.

The blond reappeared in the doorway, a tumbler in hand. "What is it?"

Claudia smirked, still massaging her throat, "What's his name?"

Mello paused, glass raised to his lips. He lowered it, leaning against the door frame. "What?"

"You heard me," the smirk grew, "tell me his name."

"I really don't know what you're talking about."

"Mello, I'm not stupid. Why else would you be calling me constantly after months of hearing nothing from you, huh?" Claudia crawled forward, sitting back on her ankles. "Who are you trying to get out of your big, bad brain?"

The blond downed the contents of his tumbler. "No one."

"Bullshit."

Mello watched her carefully, eyes narrowing.

"You don't need to do that tough-guy shit with me, Mello. I know you better than most people do," Claudia smiled. "And I know that there's someone driving you crazy."

He opened his mouth to reply, a hard knock on the door cutting him off. Mello stared at Claudia for a moment, a knowing look spreading over her lips before he turned to answer the door. Only two people had the audacity to show up to see him unannounced. And he'd be lying if he said he wished it wasn't Matt.

As he slid back the deadbolt, he could tell from the rough shuffling on the other side of the door that any hope of the redhead being there was gone.

However, as Mello cracked the door, the smell of cigarettes hit him hard.

Shit.

The familiar redhead stood on the other side of the door, grinning slightly, his cigarette perched between his lips. "Hey Mel, can we talk a minute? I'd understand if you're too busy."

Mello used every ounce of self control he had to quell the blush threatening to stain his cheeks. "Uh, yeah…what's wrong?" he opened the door a bit more, glancing back at his room.

A hand shot up, running fingers through red locks in a nervous manner. Matt readjusted his glasses before actually speaking, "You see, I went to this party the other day, a Halloween one. I fully wasn't expecting to meet anyone, you know, after the whole Erika thing I really, really didn't want to go there again. But there was this girl…" He paused, looking through the door slightly, "Aren't you going to invite me in?"

"Oh, yeah," Mello moved out of the doorway. "So, there was a girl…?" He cast another glance in the direction of his room before gesturing Matt over to the couch and shutting the door.

Matt followed, kicking his shoes off at the door before walking in and sitting on the couch. He gestured to Mello's appearance, all shirt-less and flushed. "Did I interrupt anything?"

The blond raised an eyebrow, answering perhaps a bit too quickly. "No. Why?"

He shrugged, "Whatever. Okay, so I was at this party, I made my costume and everything. I went as Mario, you know, from Super Mario Brothers?" He puffed out his chest a bit, smiling broadly, "I look damn good with a mustache. Anyway, one of my friends at work gave this girl he knows my number and said she was going to be at the party. Turns out, she totally came as Princess Peach! What are the odds, right? So we got introduced, and just started talking and…" He shifted on the couch, rubbing his shoulder, "She was so pretty, so nice, so different from the other girls I've dated, what's worse? She was flirting with me! Openly!" The gamer sat back, his eyes looking straight into Mello's. "What was I supposed to do? This perfect girl presents herself, so I did what any guy would do…I asked her out."

Mello felt his stomach twist into a knot, resting a hand on the back of a chair. "You have balls, Matt. After all that crap with all those…" he trailed off, knowing he was sounding like a whiny little bitch, and licked at his bottom lip absently. "Have you guys gone out yet?"

"Che, no. I'm too chicken shit of messing things up before it even starts. Anytime a normal girl goes out with me, I fuck it up. I'm not sure what to do. We're supposed to go out to eat in a few days." Matt stared openly at Mello, his eyes pleading for assistance, "What should I do?"

"Don't fuck her the moment you meet up with her."

His mouth fell slightly ajar, his eyes widening before he started to laugh loudly. "Yeah well, trust me; I wasn't planning on doing that." He paused, looking around once more before turning back to Mello. He could have sworn he heard something coming from what he could only assume was Mello's bedroom. "So what's up with the bed head and this?" He swished his hand a bit to motion Mello's flushed cheeks. "I'm starting to think I did interrupt something." Matt grinned, "You should really hang a hat on your door so no one bothers you." He laughed even harder at the idea he was about to present, "Did you have a good time with your friends lotion and Kleenex?" Matt doubled over on his knees, his chest racked with soft laughter. "I'm sorry, I'm kidding, it's no big deal. Now I just feel like a jackass for bothering you in the middle of your private time."

A splash of pink spread over Mello's cheeks. "You better be lucky that I find you mildly hilarious, Matt," he smirked, stretching in an attempt to draw attention away from his face. "It's my day off, so I figured I'd just…lie around."

Matt jerked his hand in an up and down motion laughing, "Laying around, sure, if that's what we're calling it now-a-days."

That oh-so annoying pang reared its ugly head, Mello forcing his eyes away from Matt's hand. He licked at his lips again, now seriously regretting letting the redhead into the loft. Mello enjoyed his company, but didn't enjoy constantly having the gamer dangling in front of him, just out of reach.

"Pff, whatever, Matt. I'm better friends with Hershey and Godiva anyway, regardless of how you think I spend my days off," he allowed a smile, "I believe you're the one with close, meaningful relationships with lotion and Kleenex."

"That's really kinky, Mello." Matt chuckled a little more before attempting to get serious again. "But really, what do you think I should do? I really don't want to mess this one up, she's super nice and I don't know how to handle nice."

"Just…be yourself," the blond shrugged. "And don't rush into your sexcapades as quickly as you normally do. You barely know a girl, and then, suddenly, you've got her on her back, and then there's no relationship, just fucking sex."

"Oh, I like the sound of that."

Any blush that had existed on Mello's features was instantly washed away as soon as he heard that voice.

Claudia came up from behind Mello, wrapping an arm around his waist, pressing against his back. "You left me all alone, Mello, what gives?" A grin spread across her face as her eyes found Matt sitting on the couch, "And who's your friend?"

Bright green eyes widened to the size of golf balls as a half naked woman entered the living room behind Mello. His face instantly flushed three shades of red. Had she been here the whole time? Did she hear his embarrassing jokes, or his girl issues? He sputtered a little, standing up, "Uh, shit Mel, I didn't know you had…company."

Blue eyes narrowed as Mello looked down at the brunette, her grin growing by the second. "I don't."

It took Claudia a moment to look back and forth between the two, recognition dawning on her features. "Oh, he's just a sourpuss when he doesn't get any chocolate after a good fuck, right baby?"

Good Lord, he could murder her right now. "Claudia…"

"You never introduced us," she beamed, walking over to the redhead and extending a hand, her tight camisole and panties leaving nothing to the imagination, "I'm Claudia."

Matt's stomach clenched for a moment. This all seemed odd to him, like he was stuck in a Van Gogh painting. It shouldn't have surprised him that Mello had women he went out with, just like Matt did. But it was different, wondering about it, and actually experiencing it. He knew he should feel proud for his friend, all the normal emotions when your buddy gets laid. Instead he just felt sick.

"Uh, I'm Matt." The redhead kept his eyes off of the woman's body the best he could, out of respect for Mello, of course. He wiped his sweaty palm off on his pants before shaking her hand. It occurred to him at this very moment, he rather be anywhere but in his friend's living room. "I think… I should be going."

"Nonsense!" she walked around the coffee table, plopping down on the couch next to Matt. "I couldn't help overhearing, and, I was thinking, if you want, Mello and I could double with you and your date. That way we can keep tabs on you. Help you out, you know?"

"Claudia, I don't think Matt wants us to-"

"Like," she paused, as if trying to find the best way to word what she was about to say, "well, if you were to fuck anything up, I can swoop in and she and I can girl-talk, and Mel can stomp on your foot if you do anything really stupid. It'd be like having two wingmen."

He considered this option carefully, while cringing every time this strange woman called Mello by his nickname. He curiously wondered how many other people called him Mel. For a moment, he didn't feel like using that name anymore. Taking a deep breath, he knocked himself out of his thoughts and smiled. "Sure, that sounds like a good idea. I mean, I'd rather have Mello there making sure I don't mess up than doing it alone." Matt took his glasses off, cleaning them on his shirt before he spoke again.

"So… how long have you two known each other?" He wondered out loud, offering that smile again.

"A while," Mello mused from behind his chair, hand darting up to massage the bridge of his nose.

"About four years now, actually," the brunette nodded, smiling at Matt.

"Wow. Okay, cool? So are you two… together or something?" Matt seemed a little hurt, his voice wavering. Why wouldn't his friend tell him he was dating someone? Unless… he didn't consider him a friend?

The blond watched Matt between his fingers, slowly dropping his hand.

That God-awful pang was back.

"Not really. We have an…odd sort of relationship. Years ago we got set up, and have stayed pretty close since then," Claudia stood then, heading back to the bedroom. "I should, uh…get dressed."

"Yeah, probably," Mello muttered after her, eyes never leaving his friend on the couch. "It's nothing serious." Nothing at all serious. If Matt had any idea of exactly how not serious it was, he wouldn't be sitting there, shoulders hunched, looking like a kicked puppy.

"That's cool; you're entitled to have a life outside of our friendship. I guess we're not close enough for me to have known, that's not a big deal." Matt reached his hand back, rubbing the back of his neck with a fake laugh. "I should be going; you have things to finish anyway. Sorry I bothered you with my problem, I'll figure out if we should do that double date or not and text you later."

Mello let a sigh pass between his lips, grip tightening on the back of the chair. "Matt, it…it really just happened recently. You were…upset with Erika, and it's really not anything serious so I didn't want to bug you with it. Hell, if anything remotely important happens, you'll be the first to know," he added, with a small smile. The only thing that would matter seemed to be rather upset, slumped on Mello's couch. "Seriously, you're a good friend. I didn't think you'd want to deal with my shit when yours is, well…a lot more substantial."

Matt considered Mello's answer, it seemed honest. Finally, he looked up with a bright smile, "Man, you know you can come to me with anything right? You should have told me! She's hot, so I'll forgive you.." He narrowed his eyes playfully, "This time."

"Careful there, Matt," Mello smirked, walking to lean in the doorway between the living room and kitchen.

The brunette appeared again, fully clothed. "Alright, well, honey, I'm gonna get going so you boys can chat," Claudia allowed a sly grin, slinking into the doorframe with Mello. Slipping an arm around his neck, she gave him a quick kiss before whispering in his ear, "He's cute, Mel."

He let a small growl echo in his throat, replying in a hushed voice, "Don't you-"

"I can see why you're so…" she licked at his earlobe, nails dragging across his hip, "…distracted."

From his place on the couch, Matt cleared his throat, glancing awkwardly to the side when Claudia and Mello looked in his direction.

"Sorry," she laughed, walking to the coffee table and picked up her purse. "It was great meeting you, Matt," Claudia beamed, walking to the door.

"Uh huh, likewise."

"Gimme a call, Mello, and I'll see you boys later," she waved before closing the door behind her.

Mello let his eyes drift from the door to the gamer sitting on the couch.

"That was some hot lotion you had there, Mel." An awkward smile lifted Matt's lips as he shifted a bit on the couch, his joke not having as much power behind it as it did in his mind. "I mean, she's hot. Yeah."

"Yeah, well…" Mello shrugged, walking back to his chair and sitting down. "We'll just pretend like that wasn't awkward."

"Awkward? Really? Not at all!" Matt laughed, lying through his teeth.

"Fuck you, don't lie. You would have bolted the first chance you got."

"Yeah, I was thinking about how high up your apartment was to be honest. Would I break my leg, or just get maimed?"

"Depends how you landed. It's just the second story, so unless you decided to fall directly on your head or neck, it wouldn't be fatal," he laughed, letting out a soft sigh. "So, uh…when's your date?"

Matt fiddled with the knee of his jeans, "A couple of days from now, she picked the place and everything. I pretty much just need to show up." He looked up, frowning a little, "she's way different than I'm used to."

"We can…" Mello paused, gulping at the word he was about to say, "double…if you want. For moral support on your first date with a…real woman." The faintest glimmer of a sneer flashed across his face before he smiled, "I'll bail you out if you mess up."

"Really?" Matt brightened up quickly, his teeth flashed in a bright smile. The idea that Mello would be there to help him out, it made the date seem less stressful. "You're a life saver! I'll owe you big time! Thanks, Mel!"

"It's not a problem." Lie. "It'll be fun." Lie. Mello couldn't help his smile growing, though, as he looked at Matt's grin. "Just tell me when and where."

"Of course, I'll shoot you a text with all the info, but I guess I should be leaving. I mean, I already scared your half naked girlfriend away." He sheepishly smiled, standing and slipping his shoes back on.

"Alright, and…don't worry about that," the blond stood, following Matt to the door and opening it for him. "She probably found this whole thing much more amusing than she should have," he added softly, teeth grinding together for a moment.

"You two seem to click, I'm glad you have someone you can spend time with. I must look kinda foolish with all my bad luck, to someone who's been in a relationship for four years." He laughed awkwardly, his own words bothering him more than he thought they would. "I can't even keep a relationship longer than a few months, if I'm lucky." He shrugged, walking out the door turning back to face Mello. "What's your secret?"

An odd feeling tugged at Mello's chest. "It's…it's not exactly a relationship, Matt," he paused, trying to figure out exactly what to call meeting up and sleeping with the same person off and on for several years. "The thing with Claudia is that she knows a lot about me. I've never had any need to lie, so there's never been anything awkward there. Nothing to hide." The blond frowned inwardly at his own statement, shaking his head, and continuing, "I guess just be honest. You're a catch, Matt. Anyone stupid enough to not see that isn't worth your time."

The redhead shrugged, not really wanting to vocalize some of the things he rather respond with. He'd like to think Mello could trust him, or he'd like to ask him what he was lying about, but these things never left the contents of his mind. Instead he smiled and nodded. "Okay, thanks for the advice Mello." He lifted his hand and turned to walk off, something nagging at the back of his mind. Wasn't it normal to want to be trusted by your friends, to have them tell you everything? But were they friends? Sure, he considered them friends. Matt liked Mello's company, they talked, well… Matt talked, and Mello seemed to get him. But was it all one sided? How much did Matt actually know about Mello?

He decided then, at that moment, that the next time they hung out, he'd be the one listening instead of talking.

xxx