This fic bit my ass about a month and a half ago and hasn't let go since. It was written as part of Sunhawk's "Embrace Your Cliché Month," in which we, as writers, decided to embrace all the wonderful fannish, clichéd fic traits that we like to call "guilty pleasures." Some of us decided we'd had it with being told what did and did not make good fic. We simply believe that writing and reading fic should be fun. And I've been having a blast with this fic. ^_^

Author: Caroline
Pairings: 1x2, past 6x2, Rx1, 6x5, 3x4
Rating: NC-17 overall
Warnings: AU, Cheesy romance novel-ish, bitchy!Relena (because I haven't done one in years), lemons, bad attempts at humor
Notes: For Sunhawk's "Embrace Your Cliché Month." Inspired by all the trashy romance novels I've been reading lately.

The Medallion : Part the First
Of Monkey Suits and Museums

Duo Maxwell was bored. And a bored Duo Maxwell was a dangerous Duo Maxwell.

Duo snorted to himself, tugging incessantly at the collar of his monkey suit. He was about as dangerous as a fruit fly. And about as annoying, according to his hostess. Duo sighed. He hadn't wanted to come to Relena's fancy little shindig, but Zechs had wheedled and cajoled until Duo gave up and agreed to put on a suit and come.

And then the bastard had the nerve to disappear to god-knows-where with his current lover-du-jour, leaving him at the mercy of his sister's high falutin' friends. Or rather flunkies. He didn't believe this many people could actually like the bi... woman. He firmly believed they only tolerated her because she was one of them - high class and old money.

And there he was, a fish out of water.

Raising his glass, he quickly drained the contents, wincing at the bitter taste of the amber liquid. He coughed as the bubbles tried to escape out his nose, which only caused him to inhale some of the five-hundred-a-bottle champagne, which in turn sent him into near convulsions and made his eyes water as he struggled not to drown at Relena's party. Really, there were better places he'd rather try to commit suicide.

He set the glass down on the nearest surface, cursing as he accidentally knocked it over reaching for his handkerchief. He managed to catch it before it tumbled off the table and he set it down more carefully this time.

"My brother was kind enough to invite you, so I would appreciate it if you didn't break all the family's good crystal while you are here," a snide, girly voice said from behind him.

Duo choked back a groan before turning to face his hostess. "Good evening, Miss Relena," he said, trying to keep his displeasure out of his voice.

The woman sniffed. Somehow, with it stuck in the air, she still managed to look down her nose at him. Duo wondered how she managed not to get a crick in her neck.

"Do you know where my brother is?" Relena asked, looking around as if Duo had managed to stuff Zechs into a potted plant just to spite her. Duo took the opportunity to snag another, full glass from a passing waiter." The Carmichaels would like to have a word with him before they leave."

Duo swirled the liquid in his glass in an attempt to look sophisticated. "With any luck, he's upstairs now, getting laid."

Duo hadn't been aware at just how fast Relena's face could go from fashionably death-pale to bright beet red.

"Mr. Maxwell!" Duo winced; there was emphasis on 'Mr.' "I would appreciate it if you would not use such vulgar language in this house!"

Duo shrugged. "You asked."

"Furthermore..." Oh, goodie. She wasn't done. "...my brother is a Peacecraft. He does not, as you would put it, 'get laid.'"

Duo smiled into his bubbly. "Bet that's news to him."

"He would not besmirch the Peacecraft name by having some tawdry affair - during my party, no less -- with some tramp he barely knows. Peacecrafts wait until marriage to indulge in ... in ... bedroom acts. He would not sully his future bride by behaving in such manner!"

Duo wondered if he ought to tell Relena that he and Zechs had spent most of their college days fucking like bunnies. But then he thought better of it. Outing one's best friend to one's sister during one's sister's Social Event of the Season was probably not considered kosher.

"How about I go find him for you, Miss Relena? I'm sure he's just been... sidetracked by one of your other guests."

Relena immediately perked up, as if please to be out of Duo's presence. And she probably was. All Duo could say was the feeling was mutual. "Yes, that is a splendid idea."

Duo nodded, throwing back the rest of his champagne. He coughed again. Damn bubbles.

Relena wrinkled her nose distastefully. "Just to remind you, there are security cameras covering every inch of this house, so try not to steal anything will you? Have a nice evening."

Duo swore, watching as Relena flounced away, her pink ball gown flapping at her heels. He didn't care if it was in poor taste to murder one's hostess at her own party... the woman had some seriously shitty bad karma coming.

He set the crystal glass down before he squeezed it so hard he broke the damn thing. Not that he cared about the glass, he just didn't want to spend the night picking tiny shards out of his hand.

"Fuck this," he whispered as he slipped out of the ballroom. Despite the promise he'd made to Zechs, he wasn't going to stick around and be talked to like he was nothing but street trash. Sure, he came from a humbler background, but just because he wore a rented suit didn't make him less of a person. He was so out of there - just as soon as he could find a phone to call a cab.

The Peacecraft "house" was a frickin' maze. With expensive art and antique furniture, it was more like wandering through a museum than a house. He knew Zechs hated the pretentiousness of it all, but the man had grown up there, and he still felt some kind of duty to make an appearance every now and again.

Duo knew where Zechs' room was -- finding it was another matter altogether. The handful of times Zechs had managed to drag him home with him, for one occasion or another, they'd spent the better part of their time in Zechs' room in Zechs' bed, rather than exploring Wayne Manor, as Duo liked to call it.

Ah, the good old days. Before he and Zechs realized they made better friends than lovers. Still, Zechs had taught him a lot and had been Duo's first -- and thus far only -- lover after admitting his sexuality to his older roommate. He didn't begrudge his friend his new lovers. He knew Zechs had had a hard life, despite the silver spoon lodged in his throat. Or maybe because of it. Being the only son of an ancient, noble lineage was hard enough to live up to. Being the only son of an ancient, noble lineage AND gay... well, that was a whole different kettle of monkeys.

He turned a corner, cursing under his breath when he realized that not only was he in the wrong corridor, he was the wrong wing. Then he cursed out loud just to hear the obscenity echo off the vaulted roof. The portrait of some old Peacecraft ancestor frowned down his nose at him. Duo stuck out his tongue. At least he could tell where Relena got it from.

Abandoning his search for God's Blond Gift, Duo tried the first door he came to, hoping there would be a phone inside so he could call a taxi and get home. For the first time that night, he got lucky. Maybe not as lucky as Zechs was getting at the moment, but the phone on the desk inside the room offered him his first ray of hope of the evening.

The study was obviously Relena's private office. Everything was pink. If it wasn't pink, it was mauve. Duo felt dirty just being in the room. He quickly crossed the room to pick up the -- pink -- phone and called the local cab company. Assured that there would be a cab at the Peacecraft front door in twenty to thirty minutes, Duo flopped down in the -- pink -- chair and closed his eyes.

It didn't help. He could still see Relena looking at him as if he were a piece of gum that had dared to stick itself to her shoe. The woman positively hated him and greatly disapproved of his friendship with her brother. She thought he was a bad influence on Zechs. Truth was, Zechs had been a bad influence on Duo. He'd been a straight-A engineering student at the University until Zechs had moved in. After that, his grades had slipped -- slightly -- when Duo started spending more time in bed with Zechs than with his biochemistry homework. He smiled to himself. Who needed textbooks when he and Zechs were making some sweet biochemistry of their own?

He shifted uncomfortably in the chair, not wanting to relive the past, at least, not when he was in no place to do something about it. Though, that would serve Relena right. He grinned and imagined Relena's pleasantly shocked look on her face when she sat down at her desk only to find her -- pink -- blotter stained and sticky from her nemesis jacking off to dirty thoughts about her brother. But he gave that thought up. There wasn't time, and besides, he really didn't care to be caught in flagrante delicto on video tape.

His hands tightened on the arms of Relena's chair. Fuck. The idea that she thought of him as no better than a common thief galled him. He had never stolen anything in his life -- except for a box of condoms when he was thirteen on a dare -- but to actually say it to his face... Damn that woman. Maybe he ought to take something of hers anyway. Just to show her he could. Something of value. Something to rub her nose in her expensive security system. He could take something that belonged to her, and mail it back in a couple of days, anonymously of course, though she'd have no doubt as to who had taken it, and suggest she ought to upgrade her system as it was obviously lacking.

Maybe he could even take pictures of whatever it was he took, in different locations around the city, then send it back with a T-shirt that read, "I got had by Duo Maxwell and all I got was this lousy shirt."

Or maybe not, but still. It was the principle of the thing.

He looked around, searching for something small enough to slip under his jacket, but important enough that she'd notice it was missing. The gold pen set perhaps? Nah, those were probably a dime a dozen to her. Or maybe the little -- pink -- lady statue on the stand near the door. But it looked fragile and he didn't want to actually break it.

His eyes lit on a small velvet box sitting on the corner of her desk. Getting up out of the chair, he moved to sit on the edge of the desk, looking around to make sure there was no security camera in the room. He couldn't see one, and he hoped Relena didn't really have hidden cameras all over the house. He lifted the lid of the box and peered inside.

A silver coin lay nestled on a pillow of silk. It looked old. Older than old. Ancient even. He slid it out of the box, surprised at how heavy it was. There was a figure on one side, but Duo didn't want to take the time to study it, just in case Relena sent someone looking for him. He slipped it into his sleeve and replaced the lid on the box.

The coin was perfect. It obviously meant a lot to Relena if she kept it on her desk, but with any luck, she wouldn't open the box for a few days -- long enough for him to keep it for a while before sending it back. Maybe he'd do the picture thing after all. Some frat buddies of his had done the same thing to a garden gnome owned by the cranky old lady across the street. After the gnome was returned -- wearing a EuroDisney T-shirt -- the old lady had become less cranky, almost pleasant even. Though Duo doubted seriously that would endear him to Relena, he just wanted to bring that haughty attitude down a notch.

He still had about fifteen minutes until his taxi arrived, but he decided it would be best to leave the scene of the crime as quickly as possible. That and the pink was starting to give him a migraine. And it might take him that long to find the damn front entrance.

He left the room, closing the door to the study behind him. He waved cheerily to the portrait on his way down the corridor. The portrait seemed to be staring incriminatingly at his sleeve. Duo gave him the finger.

He'd have to remember to call Zechs in the morning to tell him he'd gotten home okay and wasn't buried in an unmarked grave in the backyard. And pry some details out of him about that cute Chinese guy he'd disappeared with. He wasn't sure he'd tell him about the coin though. Zechs did try to keep the peace between his best friend and his sister as best he could.

He skipped down the hall, whistling and ignoring the disdainful looks he got from some of Relena's guests. He doubted he would ever step foot in Wayne Manor again after this incident, but he wasn't weeping at the loss. He bid a fond farewell to Relena's butler as he retrieved his jacket from the coat room. Zechs would just have to find someone else to drag to these parties in the future. He was, at last, done with monkey suits and museums.

[part 2] [back to Caroline's fic]