AN: Another chapter? So soon? Oh yes. Oh, so much yes.

Well, we've been busy writing, and it's currently 11:37pm, and many of you are asleep, so I hope this is a lovely little surprise to you upon your awakening. I'm also shoving McDoubles into my mouth as I type this, but that's a whole different story.

We hope you enjoy this. Some seriousness here, and if all goes right, expect another alert in your email in an hour. And if all REALLY goes according to plan, we might have a video link for you guys to watch on the morrow. Much love, thank you again! We love that people actually follow this story~


Leather and Stripes

.:Chapter 17:.

"Destroying Wonderland"


'I need you to come over. Now.'

The elevator seemed to barely move, but Mello's stomach still lurched uncomfortably as he waited in the mirrored box. He impatiently prodded the glowing numbers repeatedly, a soft ding chiming after each jab.

Something was wrong. All of his calls to Matt went directly to voicemail and he hadn't gotten any texts back. Mello let out a harsh sigh, running a hand through his hair and massaging his temples. Pacing would be stupid. He was stuck in an eight-by-eight box, and the last thing he needed was to feel like a caged animal on top of overly concerned about the gamer. He and the redhead hadn't exactly seen a lot of each other in the last month, which fueled the shock of his current text even more. Or was he overly concerned? No, he was just overthinking, which really wasn't anything new because he did that every fucking day. No surprises there.

The mirrored doors slid open with a cheerful ding, and Mello was already half way down the hall before they started slipping shut again. As he approached the end of the hallway, he noticed sunlight filtering out of Matt's door, left wide open. His pace increased as he willed himself not to run to the end of the hallway. Because that would probably be completely pathetic.

"Matt?" Mello called out hesitantly as he neared the doorway.

Matt had been in the process of throwing one of his mugs across the room, satisfied with the loud smashing sound it made when it slammed into one of his walls. Clearly the redhead couldn't hear the blonde, large skull candy headphones plastered over his ears. He moved toward another glass in the cabinet, throwing it harder against the wall, not caring where it hit. "I'm such a blooming berk!" His voice howled over another crash, this time a dish. "Of course, why wouldn't she! I'm a complete cock-up! I can't do shit right, I can't even do THAT RIGHT!" Another glass.

Mello flinched as the glass hit the wall, taking a few steps inside and grabbing Matt's hand as he reached for a rather expensive looking plate. "Matt, Matt, stop it, calm down!"

The redhead felt the hand on him, and if he hadn't looked before he swung, he would have hit Mello in the face with the plate. Jerking back at the last second he let it swing, hitting the floor loudly.

"Mello, bloody hell, you scared me...I thought you were..." Matt shook his head and pulled the ear phones off. "Saying I don't want to calm down? That trollop... you have no idea!"

"No, I don't, since you wouldn't tell me what's going on," he let go of Matt's wrist, glancing around at the completely trashed apartment. "Good Lord...Matt, were you robbed or did-?" Mello turned back to the redhead, eyes widening. "You did this?"

"Does it matter who did it?" The gamer gave Mello a disinterested look before moving toward his bedroom to fetch something. Walking back out, he held a pillow in one hand and a rather sharp looking knife in the other. He then began to stab it and pull it apart, "I'm doing a bit of clean house. Getting rid of anything and everything she ever had anything to do with." His eyes were cold as he tossed the pillow over his shoulder, looking around for something else to destroy.

"No you're not," Mello grabbed Matt's wrist again, wrenching him around and holding him by the shoulders. "Matt, I understand that you're upset, but I have no idea what's going on and I need you to explain it to me for the sake of my sanity," he said evenly, eyes meeting Matt's. "Please."

Matt leaned forward, close enough that the two men's noses almost touched. His voice was low and dangerous, his eyes full of hate and anger.

"She was having sex with some man in her bed. I went over to get my iPod; I must have left it there the night of my birthday... I know it's been a while. I completely forgot it was there... and I went to listen to it... it was gone; I didn't think I'd need to announce I was coming over. HAHA, I guess I should have! " Gritting his teeth he pulled back and glared to the side, "Doesn't matter. It was probably me again. Only factor that stays the same, ay? But you know the part that hurts the most?" His jaw clenched harder, "I heard her. She was telling him about us, saying she was sorry and that I didn't mean anything to her. It was…she said she loved the sodding git. She said something about her job, but I was already out the door...I heard enough."

It was like the air had been ripped out of his lungs. Mello had never seen anyone look that hurt and dejected and-

"Fuck, I-I'm sorry...Matt, I'm so sorry..."

"So am I." Matt ripped himself free of Mello, stalking toward the living room he ripped pictures off the wall.

"Us at the beach? Fuck her." He slammed the picture frame on the ground, stepping on it with a loud crunch.

"Christmas party? Eat shit." Another frame on the ground, another boot to the glass.

"If she had the bloody balls to have at least told me she was over this, I would have gotten the picture, yanno? But no. Let's string the geek along. Make him care. Then, when I'm done with the berk, I'll drop him!" Another photo, this one ripped right off the wall. A poster she got him right after Halloween gone; Matt guessed she wasn't even really that in to Star Wars.


"I…I'm so fucking ticked at myself. Myself, not her. Not her, because she never really cared. I let myself fall into it again. THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME!"

It was loud, loud and painful. Matt's fist went through a window, glass shattering all around the redhead, fragments littering the carpet.

"Nothing's wrong with you," Mello watched the pain overtake the adrenaline coursing through Matt's system, blood welling up on his knuckles. "Come here. I'm not going to stop you from trashing your place because I think you need to get this out of your system, but I'm not going to let you bleed everywhere."

The redhead glared at the blood on his knuckles, his frown becoming a tight line. Following Mello, he walked toward the bathroom. "Yeah right," Matt muttered, "I'm not even mad she left me." He felt hollow, the painful jolts screaming from his bloodied hand were the only feelings he could sense. "I'm mad she said she never cared. She must be a damn well-off actress or something..."

Rummaging through the medicine cabinet, Mello shook his head, "Girls have a funny way of saying exactly what a guy wants to hear, you know." He looked over his shoulder at Matt for a moment, "You have any gauze or anything?"

"It's under the sink." Matt flopped down on the toilet, his head hurt now that he was calming down. "But... why? Why go through all the trouble to make me think she liked me? I don't get it."

"She could be lying to him."

Matt scoffed, "You didn't hear her. You didn't see what I saw. No. I was the fake one."

Mello tore open an antiseptic wipe, dabbing it on Matt's knuckles and wrist, a small laugh leaving his lips. "Here we are again. Me cleaning you up after you lose your cool."

"Seems like a pattern," Matt managed a small smile, but winced as the medication touched the open wound. "I'm... sorry you had to see that. I try to keep my temper under check,'s pretty bad." His green eyes stared intently out the window of his bathroom, attempting to ignore the familiar throbbing in his knuckles. "I didn't have anyone else to call." He paused before adding, "Actually, I didn't want to call anyone else."

"I'm flattered," he smiled, eyes jumping to Matt's face before starting to wrap his hand. "Though, I really should get paid for all this medical treatment. They'd charge you about two hundred bucks for this in the emergency room."

"I'd rather bleed to death than pay a doctor to fix a few cuts." Matt rolled his eyes, glaring out the window again. "You know, I don't think I've ever seen you get mad; I've made a right fool out of myself plenty of times... but you? You stay calm no matter what. What's your deal? How in the world can you do it?" Green eyes slowly found blue, searching. "Am I really a bad guy?"

Blue eyes glinted in the sunlight, "No, you're not. I've had a lot of practice keeping things to myself. Or, actually," he taped up the gauze, "I've had practice not letting people read me."

"Have you ever felt the urge to just punch me in the face?" Matt asked randomly, head tilted a bit. "We've never had a fight; maybe you're just holding it in. I don't mind." He leaned back, "You can hit me if you want."

"I must be really pathetic. Girl troubles every other minute, whining about something or another, throwing temper tantrums. Hell, you've had to pick me up out of a bush, shit faced drunk, like, piss-artist drunk. I'm a complete nutter, I must annoy you. You can't be the only bleeding person in the world who isn't annoyed by me."

"Shut up, Matt, you're being ridiculous."

"Am I?" The redhead pushed off the seat and past Mello, "I don't think anyone can handle as much bullshit as I've put you through. Maybe you're pretending too, all just a lovely joke. Right? I bet you trounce off to Claudia and have a right laugh at the git with the ability to cock-up everything without even trying." The redhead raised both arms in the air and laughed, no traces of joy in it. "You ain't a saint, so you must be like her. No way. I've never known a one soddin' person who would do the things you do. None. Everyone has a motive."

He laughed at that, following Matt back into the living room, avoiding several shards of glass. "Everyone does? Really, Matt, because do I strike you as a conniving little bitch? Honestly, do I?"

"Yes. Yes you do." Matt turned on his heel and glared at the blond, "I never even so much as ASKED what was going on that night! Did you give me an explanation? No. But I didn't ask. I beat a man. I didn't kick his arse or have a fight with him, Mello, I beat a man! And why? Because he had you against the wall. I didn't ask, and I should have. I know you, but I don't know you!"

Matt could feel the anger welling up inside him, it was unjustified, there was no good reason to treat Mello this way. But he had held his tongue for so long about so many things. No. He wouldn't hold it anymore. The guilt that racked his body, the pain in his heart over this person, the way Mello made him feel. It was his entire fault. What if he was playing him like Halle did? What if he knew what he was doing to the redhead?

"You know more about me, I'm always throwing my life problems around like it's nothing while you just listen. No one just listens! NO ONE!" Matt's voice slowly began to rise, he was almost yelling now. "You have a motive. You have to. Guys like you? They don't hang out with guys like me."

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean? What is a guy like me?" Mello took a step forward, willing his voice to be even.

"You bloody well know what type of guy you are, Mello." Matt's eyes narrowed, taking a step forward as well. "You're one of the in-crowd. The people everyone wants to be. Handsome, mysterious, can walk down a dark alley and NO ONE has the nuts to fuck with you! Everyone likes you and has no sodding idea WHY they like you! But they do. Everyone wants to be near you, you're the bell of the bleetin' ball!"

Matt's teeth clenched, anger surging through his body. "You walk in a room and all the heads turn, who's that bloke? No idea, but I want to talk to him!" His fist tightened at his side as he took another step, Mello knew damn well what he did to people. He had to; it wasn't fair how he affected him. It wasn't!

"Me? No way, mate. No one looks at me like that. I'm a ball of fuck. I'm one step close to anti-social and if I didn't know how to lie and act my way through social settings, I'd never have one person wanting to so much spit on me if I were on fire. But you? The whole lot would come to help you. So why would you," his hand rose, jabbing Mello in the chest with a finger, "want to pay any attention to a loser like me? I know what I am. I know. I try every day to ignore it, to play the game and win the points. Use what little looks I have and personality I can stammer up, grins and smiles. Give the crowd all of who you are and maybe they'll allow you in. But no, no one like you really likes someone like me. You're just like her. She couldn't have liked me, and she didn't." Just like you, Matt left unsaid, panting. You can't.

"Don't you dare compare me to that fucking bitch," Mello hissed, teeth grinding together as he took a step closer to the redhead. "You think I'm that low, that I don't give a shit about anyone other than myself? Think again, asshole. You're right, you know next to nothing about me, and all of your little presumptions about how fan-fucking-tastic my life must be? Shove them right up your ass. I'd rather be you, flying under the radar and have genuine friends instead of knowing hundreds of fuck ups who will blow you up the minute you aren't worth your salt."

He pushed the middle of Matt's chest, shoving him back against the wall, taking the last few steps to close the distance between them. "And me?" his voice was low and irate, each word punctuated by Matt's heartbeat, "I'm worse than anyone of those fuckers. But for you? This is real. This is real because I have nothing to gain or lose from you. So next time you want to start something with me and want to start questioning what I'm doing, why I'm here, and why on God's green Earth I haven't beaten the shit out of you already for comparing me to her, think about that."

Matt stumbled backwards as he was pushed, back hitting the wall he didn't realize he was so close to. It was as if someone had dumped a bucket of cold water over him. Shame flooded his emotions and features as openly as a kicked puppy. Why had he said those things? Why was he so hurt? Mello hadn't done anything to him, all of the things he felt, it was his own fault. Mello was his only real friend. Was he such a screw up that he'd push the last real thing in his life away because he couldn't sort himself out properly?

His eyes dropped to the floor as he tried to think of something to say, something to apologize for his ridiculous outburst. How could he even imply Mello was like her..? What was wrong with him?

"I'm sorry..." He whispered, eyes too ashamed to meet the blond. "Hit me. I deserve it, don't hold it back. I said the stupidest things... I'm sorry; I'm not fully sure what came over me." He picked at his fingers, wringing them together. His chest hurt, his stomach was turning loops. He hadn't meant to turn on the blond... it just... happened? It was because Mello was too good to be true, and when things were too good to be true, they often were. He knew it was a bad idea to call him, to see him again so soon. Too much confusion. But the moment he found out about Halle, there was only one person he wanted around.

"I just... don't deserve a friend like you. It's still hard to believe ..." He swallowed back whatever he was going to say, glancing at the blond for a second before he looked away again. Was it horribly inappropriate to think Mello looked extremely attractive angry? Yeah, it was. His cheeks flared at the thought, making the entire situation that much more uncomfortable. He could remember the way he felt that night, pretending Mello was there. The blond this close to him…he was afraid Mello could hear how hard his heart was beating.

"Are you sure I'm worth it?"

The blond paused for a moment, blue eyes meeting green. "Yes," he sighed, pushing away from the wall and taking a few steps away from Matt. "You're angry, it's fine. Just don't do that shit again. I came when you called. I came to help, not make things worse."

Matt's heart leapt in to his throat, spewing the words he was thinking before he had a chance to stop himself.

"Would it be really weird if I, uh…asked for a hug?"


"So," Matt rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, "Can I have a hug?" The question was muttered under his breath. It wasn't very manly to ask for a hug from your best friend, but shit. He really needed it, really wanted it.

Mello turned, cocking his head to the side. "Well? My bitches come to me," he held his arms open, rolling his eyes.

Matt laughed nervously, walking toward the blond. "I don't think I'm classified as a bitch, Mel." He offered the blond a weak smile before wrapping his arms around him, letting his face rest between his collar bone and shoulder. "Thank you for, you know, everything."

Awkwardly, Mello's arms found their way around Matt's shoulders, staring at the far wall vacantly. "You really like her, don't you?"

The redhead didn't want to answer that question; he wanted to enjoy the moment. Who knew when he would be able to trick Mello in to being this close to him again? He felt how hard it was for the blond to place his arms on the other man. He felt ashamed of what he was doing; he was the manipulative one, not Mello. Wounds still fresh from Halle, and he was already getting touchy-feely with Mello. He had his doubts and feelings the entire time he had been with her, but he had honestly tried to like her. He thought he did...

But being held like this, it made the anger melt away. It still hurt like hell that she never cared at all... but maybe, maybe if Mello cared just a bit, it would all be okay.

He really did like Mello. He had to stop denying it now.

Pulling away he smiled and pushed some of his red hair out of his eyes. "I think I'll live."

"I certainly hope so. I might have to beat the crap out of you otherwise."

"Be careful, I might like that." Matt chuckled under his breath, "I think I need to clean all this up."

"Probably," Mello kicked some pillow stuffing with the toe of his boot. "Want a hand with it?"

"Sure, I could use the company." Matt smiled, throwing some pillow fluff at Mello. "Seriously, I'm sorry I freaked out on you." Walking into the kitchen, he grabbed a trash bag, "I'll find a way to make it up to you." Making eye contact and smiling again, "I promise."


'Hey Mel, my friend Matsuda is DJ-ing at a Rave. I wanted you to go with me, I'll pay for your drinks and stuff. I said I'd make it up to you!'

''re not gonna slip something in my drink, are you?'

'Only if you want me to. ;)'

'Oh God. lol, fine. Tell me when and where.'

'I'll email you the address. I promise it'll be fun! TTYL'