The characters of Gundam Wing do not belong to me. They belong to cool people, who are fabulously wealthy by the merchandising rights alone. The song, Living in Sin, doesn't belong to me either. It belongs to Bon Jovi, who is from New Jersey. FYI. I have taken a few liberties with the lyrics, but nothing much.

by: Shoori

Living in Sin

Well, it's official. Absolutely noone approves.

"I'm sorry," Heero says with finality. "It's not right."

"Why not?" Duo presses, his violet eyes filled with hurt. My face remains expressionless, but inside I wince. I wish he wouldn't push for explanations like that. In the end, thy only hurt him. So what if Heero doesn't approve? At least Duo and I have a relationship based on caring and trust, which is more than Yuy can say for his own righteous, moral, legal marriage.

I don't need to license
To sign on no line
I don't need no preacher
To tell me you're mine

"I hope you know what you're doing," Quatre says in a hard voice.

I look up at him, surprised. We are alone at the table - Wufei and Heero have left, and Duo is across the room battling with the old juke box. The lights in this dingy little bar that Duo and I chose for the great revelation are one step past dim, but Quatre's eyes are so blue that they stand out in any light. I've never heard Quatre use that particular tone before; at least, that is, without considerable build-up. Obviously he interprets my look as the inquiry that it is - that, or he doesn't care whether or not I am interested in what he says, because he continues.

"I think that this is a mistake. You and Duo are too…different. He's so…outgoing. One day, he's going to need more than you can give - more than you want to give."

I remain silent. What exactly can you say when someone who you believe is your friend outlines for you the inadequacies of your character that are dooming your relationship to failure? After a moment, Quatre's angry expression softens.

"I'm sorry. I…I didn't mean to sound like that. It's just…I know that opposites attract and all that. But I think that you'd both be happier, in the long run, with people who can give you each what you need. You don't need someone who will always be pushing you. You need someone who can give you understanding and space and time. I think that I know you well enough to say that, and to tell you that Duo won't be able to give you that, not indefinitely."

Shows how much Quatre knows. Duo has given me all of those things, in more abundance that he ever did. And Duo has given me more - he's given me acceptance.

Quatre stands up and looks solemnly at me. "Think about what I've said," he urges seriously. He tries to smile, but fails miserably. "Just - think about it."

Turning, he walks toward the exit, stopping to talk to Duo. Duo tries to speak several times, but Quatre doesn't give him the chance. Finally Quatre stops talking, claps Duo on the back, and leaves. Duo punches a few more buttons on the machine, then walks back to me. He sits across the table from me, rather than beside me, like before. My chest aches. Has the reaction of the others affected him already? He had obviously not expected them to react the way they did. Sadly, I had. Expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed. Duo never did, though. Despite everything - his years on the street, the war, his tenure as Shinigami - he somehow always expected everything to work out the way he wanted it to.

I don't need no diamonds
Don't need no new bride
I just need you baby
To look me in the eye

After a moment of totally uncharacteristic silence - a moment wherein I try to force myself to realize that it is all over - Duo suddenly raises his eyes to me, and his face breaks out in a grin. He reaches across the table and takes my hand in his.

"I guess it's just you and me," he comments ruefully, his thumb rubbing gently over my fingers.

It took me a moment to find my voice. "You mean…." I stop and clear my throat. "You mean, you don't mind?"

He shrugs, his smile fading slightly. "Of course I mind. But…." He pauses. "They'll come around. And if they don't…" He shrugs again. "As long as we have each other, nothing else matters, right?"

Oh, Duo. You'll never know how 'right.'

I know they have a hard time
Other people don't approve
But I don't need other people
Telling us what we should do

"I wish to be just. But still…"

I nod. At least Wufei is trying. It's more than some others are doing. Oh, noone has cut us out completely. But there are….little things. We still get invitations to Heero and Relena's parties. But we each get separate invitations, mailed in separate envelopes, with separate stamps to the same address. Noone ever asks Duo how I am, or asks me about him. We are never, ever referred to as a couple, or a pair, or even as roommates. We are the nasty little secret than everyone knows about, but noone discusses.

It hurts Duo. It hurts me too, but I am more used to that type of subtle rejection, of being ostracized for some small deviation form the norm. he has always been perfect - everyone has always loved the happy, popular, flirtatious facade that he nurtured so carefully for so long that even he himself almost came to believe that that outer casing was all that there was to Duo Maxwell. Almost the first time he let anyone see beyond that facade, those select few reacted with horror and disapproval.

For awhile, I was afraid that that affront would drive him so far into himself that noone would be able to find him again - not me, not even himself. But it hasn't. The strain he feels shows sometimes in the hollows under his eyes, the slightly forced quality in his smile and the forced note in his laugh. But only sometimes. Through it all, we remain together.

Now there's a million questions
they could ask about our lives

"I wish to be just," Wufei repeats. "But I don't understand."

I nod. How could he understand? Half the time I don't understand it myself. How has it happened that I find myself in so intense a relationship with anyone, much less another soldier…another man.

After I 'escaped' from the mercenaries who raised me, I never wanted to be involved in a sexual relationship again. Not for all the hackneyed, melodramatically emotional reasons that certain people have attributed to me. Certainly that was an unpleasant period in my life, and not one that I recall with fondness. But what I concluded about sex after that time was that it was a method by which people attempted to convince themselves that they were in control of their lives, by asserting control over others. If they were powerful enough to force another person's physical being into the position they wanted, or even to coerce a response form that body against the other's will, then they were certainly powerful enough to control themselves, their actions, and the problems that rose up in the course of their daily lives.

However, having been the recipient of those attempts, I knew that at no point did any person ever have any true control over me. It seemed that they did, they believed that they did, but they were wrong. As I grew older, I determined that I too would control my own life. But the lessons of my youth had shown me that control can never be externally obtained. It must come from within, and be focused on the self. So, as far as I knew, I had no need for sex.

Quatre was the first to ever alter my views on the act. He offered warmth, he offered companionship, and most of all, he offered oblivion from the daily horrors we both perpetrated in the course of the war. Quatre was escape, pure and unfettered.

But of course no human relationship can stay in that state of mutually undemanding stasis for long. Eventually, it must develop or die. Quatre began wanting more. He began to demand answers - Where had I been? Who had I been with? Soon, his questions probed deeper - How did I feel? What was I thinking? It was then that I realized that all this was just a different verse of the same song that had played throughout my childhood. If Quatre could know my thoughts, my feelings, my soul, he had some measure of control over me, and therefore over himself. Sex was, for him, just the first battle in his campaign - knowing my body would lead to knowing my mind.

So I ended it. Quatre was hurt, and I was sorry. He told me again and again that my fear of physical intimacy was causing me to fear emotional intimacy as well. He insisted that I shouldn't shut him out because of that irrational fear, and so on. But that isn't true. I don't fear physical intimacy. I like it. I just can not be the object through which someone creates their own safe, false allusions about their lives and selves.

"So, what is it?" Wufei asks, drawing me from my musings. "Why are you in this…relationship with Duo?

But I only need one answer
To get me through the night

I stare at him, unable to frame an answer. Quatre always accused me of hiding my emotions, or even, later, of not having any. I do have emotions, of course. But I don't vocalize them well. Emotions are to be felt, not discussed.

Wufei looks at me, patiently waiting for my answer. Wufei is the most patient of all of us, I think. Duo says that I am, but my seeming patience is actually just a lack of impatience. I don't expect people to make sense, or have answers, or behave rationally, so I'm not disappointed whatever their behavior. Wufei believes that he is doing people an injustice to judge them before they have adequately expressed, defended or explained themselves.

"I…" My sentence dies before it even takes shape inside my mind. How can I explain what happened between me and Duo? How can I tell Wufei how this relationship that began as a repeat of the one with Quatre developed into so much more? How to tell of how Duo had given without taking, how he gave control of himself to me, rather than demanding control of me for himself. How to describe the look in his violet eyes at the moment I realized we weren't involved in a battle for individual control, but instead were helping each other know ourselves by knowing each other - the moment he showed me….

That's it. I feel the corners of my mouth move upwards in an expression that on anyone else would probably be called a grin. Wufei looks startled; it's not often that such an expression crosses my face.

"I love him, 'Fei," I say slowly. "Do you understand?"

Wufei stares at me for a moment, then nods. He does understand - understands the many layers of meaning I invest in that word, that word that careless people drop casually onto anything that meets with their approval from poodles to broccoli to blue jeans, that word that I have never before said aloud.

There is a sound from the doorway. My head turns sharply toward it. Duo stands there, a look of amazement on his face. I see that there are tears in his eyes.

I am aware of Wufei moving past me, past Duo and out the door. He stops on the threshold, and looks between me and Duo. Neither of us is looking at him - we are still staring at each other. "I do understand," he says aloud. "I….I wish you joy. I am happy for you." And he is gone. Later, we will remember what he said, and it will be enormously important. But now, nothing matters besides us, and the momentous declaration I have let fall.

So I say
Baby can you tell me
Just where we fit in
I call it love

Much later I lay sated in out bed, luxuriating in the warmth of Duo's embrace. His chin rests on the top of my head, while his hand lazily rubs my bare back.

"I can't believe you said it," he murmurs into my hair.

I smile against his chest. "It's true," I mumble, feeling, amazingly, rather shy.

He chuckles, and I know that the sound is one of happiness, not mockery. His hand trails lightly over the curve of my buttock and down my thigh. I draw in my breath sharply, feeling myself grow hard against him. He feels it too, and gently rolls me onto my back. He moves over me, holding himself up on one elbow, and leans down to kiss me. He lifts his head after a moment and stares at me, his eyes dark with passion.

"Thank you for the words," he says softly. And, "I love you, too." Then he lowers his mouth to mine again and words - even words of love - are soon far from our minds.

They call it living in sin
Is it you and me or just this world we live in
I say we're living on love
They say we're living in sin

"You must know that it's against your own interests to be so…obvious in public," she finishes, her diplomatic public smile beginning to falter.

"Our interests?" Duo repeats. His smile is holding up better, but his eyes are angry.

"You know," she says vaguely, he hands nervously smoothing the already pristine perfection of her skirt. This gown is pink, I notice idly. Not so long ago she always wore blue, for Heero. She believed it to be his favorite color, and besides, she said, it matched his eyes. Married just over a year, she is no longer thinking about matching his eyes.

"Of course you know that I have no problem with the…alternative lifestyle that you have adopted," she asserts frostily. "But there are people here who are very traditional. And those same people are very…powerful."

"So what?" Duo says tightly. "I'm not trying to impress them."

"Of course you're not," she coos. Her dislike is more obvious now; it's nearly palpable. "But these people are in a position to make difficulties for Heero and me if they believe…."

"Oh, I see," interrupts Duo, sneering. "You're afraid that since his friends are obvious perverts, people will think that Heero's preferences lie on the other side as well."

She draws herself up regally, and looks down her nose at Duo. That's quite an accomplishment, considering that he is nearly a foot taller than she is. "People would believe no such thing. After all, Heero is married to me."

Duo's eyes gleam with an unholy light and his mouth opens, ready with, no doubt, at least a score of replies to that little remark. Though I acknowledge that the temptation is extreme, and the results would be most gratifying, it is best that Duo doesn't get into a nasty shouting match with the Queen of the World at one of her garden parties.

"Don't worry, Relena," I interrupt in as neutral a voice as I can manage. "We'll behave."

"I know that you at least have enough decency to behave properly in public," she says with a hideous parody of graciousness. She leaves unspoken the rest of the sentence - 'unlike this hentai' - barely. She rakes her eyes over Duo's form, her upper lip curling slightly. Turning, she sails away, not noticing the hurt looked that flashes across Duo's face, or the way he shoulders slump slightly. Nor would she care if she did.

Someone else notices, though. Heero's lips compress themselves into a thin line. He crosses to the group his wife has joined, neatly cuts her out, and pulls her aside. Winking at Duo, I pull him casually along the path until we are located so that we can see them, though we're too far away to hear what they're saying.

Is it right for other people
Who fight it out most nights
Then pray for God's forgiveness
When they both turn out the lights

Relena still has that fake social smile pasted on her lips, but there is a line between her brows. Heero is scowling openly. She does most of the talking, but he appears to be disagreeing with whatever she's saying, for he keeps shaking his head vehemently from side to side. Finally, she slashes the air with one hand. The gesture is unmistakable - the conversation is over. She steps closer to Heero, and straightens his shirt. Resting both palms on his chest, she lifts her face to his. The demand is obvious, and he submits to it. He lowers his head, and kisses her lips. He lifts his eyes in the middle of the caress, and his gaze meets mine. In his eyes are the answer to any questions I might have had about this particular marriage.

Or wear the ring of diamonds
When your heart is made of stone
You can talk and still say nothing
You stay together but alone

Relena pulls away, ending the kiss. She is smiling complacently, convinced that she has once again tamed her truculent husband. She slides her arm through Heero's, and rests her hand on his forearm. Determinedly, she steers himself back toward the milling guests. Heero allows himself to be pulled from group to group. Relena chatters brightly to each person. Heero nods stiffly, speaks when necessary, and even forces himself to smile at several people. To me, the effect looks horribly forced, but noone else seems to notice. Through it all, Relena maintains her firm grip on his arm. Duo and I stand on the fringes of the group and watch.

Two old ladies, en route from the punch table, stop and chat near us. Their voices are shrill, and they speak with the utter lack of concern for privacy - their own or anyone else's - that only loads of inherited money can bring.

"Would you look at the Queen and her Prince?" one old biddy demands.

"See how he dotes on her?" the other asks rhetorically.

"They are absolutely the prefect couple," the first one declares.

Duo makes a choking noise. "Let's get out of here," he mutters. "I can't stand any more of this.

I nod, and follow him. I glance over my shoulder as we're walking away, for one more look at the 'perfect couple.'

Relena looks smug, and rather relieved that the potential social disasters are leaving her party before they do anything embarrassing. Heero looks…jealous.

Or is it right to hold you
And kiss your lips goodnight
They say the promise is forever
If you sign it on the dotted line

I trace Duo's cheekbone with one fingertip, then idly follow the line of his jaw down to his chin. He opens his eyes and smiles at me, his breathing still ragged and uneven from our recent lovemaking.

He lifts his arms and wraps them around me, pulling me against his chest. "I love you," he whispers, his voice already heavy with sleep. "I always will. I will never leave you."

This nighttime routine has become almost a litany. It is an oath, a vow, a promise that Duo reiterates for me every night. I don't think that he can understand how perfect a promise it is. 'I will never leave you.' Not 'Don't you ever leave me.' No demand. No attempt to control. Just a promise. I sigh softly, and drift away to sleep.

Baby can you tell me
Just where we fit in
I call it love
They call it living in sin
Is it you and me or just this world we live in
I say we're living on love
They say we're living in sin

As I wake up, I'm immediately aware that Duo is already awake. We lay quietly for a long time, neither of us speaking. Finally, he sighs.

"Did you see Heero's face at that party?" he asks.

I nod.

"He looked…"

"Miserable?" I supply when Duo's voice trailed away.

"Yeah," he agrees soberly. He's silent. "Why did he marry her?" he wonders aloud after a moment.

I shrug. "He was supposed to. It's what everyone wanted to see - the perfect fairy tale ending to the war."

Duo thinks about this for a moment. "But in the fairy tale, they live happily ever after," he objects finally.

I pull myself onto my side and smile at him. "Well, maybe the fairy tales are wrong. Or maybe - maybe the rich princess and the victorious prince - the 'perfect couple' - aren't always the heroes of the fairy tale."

He snorts and raises a skeptical eyebrow at me. "Who is, then?" he asks doubtfully.

I shrug. "Maybe it's the Fairy Godmother and the coachman. Or Granny and the woodsman. Maybe the most unlikely pair of all, the one that noone thinks will make or even cares if they do, are the ones that get the happy-ever-after."

He smiles at me even as he shakes his head at my fancy. I bend down to kiss him good morning. It just seems a good way to start the day.

Living in sin
I don't know here to begin
I don't know where we fit in
Living in sin

~owari

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