Title: Christmas Spirit
Author: Becka
Pairing: 2-centric, with mentions of 1x2 and 5+2
Warnings: Duo-POV. Duo playing Mr. Grinch. Angst. AU? Dark. OOC? Songfic? Violence. Yaoi. What can I say? I'm not in the mood for holiday cheer.

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing does not belong to Becka; characters are used without permission for a non-profit purpose. No infringement is intended.


/You better watch out; you better not cry;

You better not pout, I'm telling you why.

Santa Claus is coming, To town!/

God, I hate the holidays. Christmas especially...

At least, that's what I tell myself as a jolly, fat man in a red suit with a bunch of puffy, white frills hustles me out of the way. Two women wearing green spandex with little jingly bells strategically attached to various parts of their bodies follow him, alternately flirting with me and the other pedestrians and hitting us up for money.

I don't even need to try to muster a smile for them. It's already there as I drop a twenty into their collection hats. Supposedly it'll go to a charity group for children who've lost their parents in the war. I only hope it reaches them and doesn't end up molding in the pockets of old Saint Nick.

Aw, hell. The hustle and bustle of this festive season is making me physically ill. Here I am, weaving my way through one of Earth's sleaziest suburbs, and brightly colored lights flash at me, reflecting and refracting off of generous wads of tinsel and other tacky decorations. I swear, a couple of more minutes of this and they're going to send me into epilepsy-like seizures.

Smiling, happy faces of both the poor and the soldiers bombard me, and I suppress the urge to quietly empty the contents of my stomach in some darkened alleyway. A couple of bums share a bottle of liquor (probably pilfered) in the street and laugh as though they haven't a care in the world, and I grit my teeth, using the stunning self-control I never knew I had to _not_ stalk over and yell at them.

I have a thousand things I could say to them. I could remind them of the brutal, bloody war being fought for them. I could spout the sacrifices made by brave OZ soldiers who will never see their families again. I could point out that millions of citizens don't have shelter to survive the bitter cold that comes with winter. I could pull any one of a hundred orphans off the street, children with dead eyes and wide smiles, who are going to whore themselves out tonight to earn a fistful of money, or get a loaf bread, or even just sleep in a clean, warm bed.

Sure, I could do all that, but what would it matter? They'd just laugh at me, shaking their heads with

pitying little smiles and chorus, "What are you talking about? It's Christmas!"

Christmas. A time for laughing, and joking (and being blinded by those damned twinkling lights). A time for giving and receiving. A time for gifts.

No one's ever given me anything. I choose not to dwell on that as I bully my feet into motion, and drop another twenty into a passing elf's collection bin. Pausing, I add a second bill. The boy reminds me of Trowa, and to see a laughing smile on his lips lifts my heart a little.

/He's making a list, and checking it twice,

'gonna find out who's naughty and nice.

Santa Claus is coming, To town./

As I make my way back to the safe house where I'm staying with the other pilots, I sense someone close behind me. Several someones, actually. They must have seen the money I'd been donating so casually and decided I was giving it to the wrong cause. At the moment, I'm too tired and sick of the season to refuse them, so I continue walking, eventually leading them to a secluded alleyway.

There are five of them; well-dressed, respectable gentlemen on first glance, but the smiles on their faces practically scream, "evil." Oh, well. No worries there. I loosen my grip on the soldier in me, a mirroring smile on my own face. Except my smile is a whole lot scarier. My smile promises death.

One of them steps forward, a big man with black hair that's been slicked back, and hard, brown eyes. He's saying something and making a couple of rude gestures, but I don't hear him. The screams of the dead echo in my ears, drowning out each word, and the red haze of battle covers my eyes like a film. It's a residual effect of my time on the Zero System.

They're not men anymore. They're targets, and enemies, and they're in my way.

I don't know how it happened after that. I think one of them reached out to grab me, but it's possible I made the first move. Either way, the end result was the same. One by one their bodies fall, with broken necks or broken spines. One by one their blood runs like water, and one by one they drown in it. I have to sympathize. I'm drowning too.

Quatre once asked me why I wear black. I couldn't tell him because I knew he would never believe me, but it's for nights like this. Nights when I have nothing to loose, and I walk through the crowds and hope that someone will try to take my money, or my life. Because there's something in me that cries out for release, something that's satiated only by the sickly scent of blood and decay, and something that I can't always control.

Ever spilled ketchup on your shirt? It's a bitch to get out, but at least you know the only thing that died on you was a tomato. Bloodstains are a whole other story, and I haven't found anything that can wash them away completely. God knows, I've tried.

So I wear black, and even though I know they're still there after two hundred cycles in the wash, at least I can't see them. Smell them and feel them, sure. But it helps a little that no one else knows they're there.

I glance down at the cooling corpses, then at my stained hands. I don't know why, but I lean down and use my thumb to draw a cross on each of their foreheads. Almost as an afterthought, I pull out my wallet and drop a twenty on to each of them. Shinigami's blood money. Maybe it'll be enough to save them.

/He sees you when you're sleeping;

He knows when you're awake;

He knows if you've been bad or good,

So be good for goodness sake!/

Stepping out of that alley and into the light seems a sin, but I should probably get back. Who knows, Heero might even be worried about me.

Of course, I have to bite back my laughter at that thought. Heero? Worry? He might, but certainly not for me. For Relena, his Queen of Peace, sure. But Duo Maxwell, pawn of this war? Never. I'm good enough to threaten, good enough to fuck, but to worry for? Hell'd freeze over first.

Though I must concede that seems more and more likely with each passing moment. It's fucking _cold_ out here.

So I keep walking, and each step brings me closer to the safe house. Every time I leave there, it takes me longer and longer to return. It was only an hour or two at first, but now I disappear for days at a time. Sometimes I hope that I never find my way back.

Because it's hard to keep smiling. It takes so much to laugh, and joke, and brush it all off. We're fighting a war for people who don't care, and we're loosing. But I have to play my part. I have to keep the other pilots sane. It's not my choice anymore.

My destination looms in front of me, and wraith-like, I slip through the back door. Dropping my coat on the floor, I make my way through the house. No one's home at the moment. It figures. The night before Christmas, and all through the house, loneliness crept, silent as a mouse. Then again, it probably would have been worse if they were here. I prefer this to being alone when we're together.

Moving along the hall, I pause in front of the only mirror in the house. Not even the bathrooms have one. And a bright-eyed boy with an impish grin stares back at me, the smile both comforting and mocking at the same time.

I stand there for a long time, just watching, and I realize that there's something I want for Christmas. Something that I'm going to have to work for.

Slowly, and carefully, I relax the muscles of my mouth, the perpetual smirk fading into nothing. The next part's a bit trickier, though. I stare into my eyes, and I loathe the laughter reflected there. It's what I usually want everyone to see, and it's hard to dispel. I raise one hand to my face and remove my mask, or at least, I try to. It's easier said than done. I've lived like this my whole life.

So I think of the father I never knew, and the mother whose face I can't remember. I think of Solo and the boys, and of Maxwell Church and Sister Helen. I think of G's training, and the men I've murdered. I think about Heero, and the bruises he gives me, and about how I'm probably going to die in the coming months.

One by one my barriers come down. And staring at my reflection, I see Shinigami. I see death, and blood, and fire. I see hate, and discrimination, and the thief and slut and street rat I still am. I see a little boy who never got a chance to have a childhood. And what I see, I don't like.

There is a soft noise behind me, and I turn to its source. Wufei stands there, raven tresses damp and snowflakes scattered across his jacket.

We don't say anything for a long moment. He glances at my stained hands, and the broken glass littering the floor by my feet, then holds out a small, wrapped parcel to me. His voice doesn't even waver as he speaks.

"Merry Christmas, Maxwell."

I almost believe him.

But he doesn't meet my eyes.

/You better watch out; you better not cry;

You better not pout, I'm telling you why.

Santa Claus is coming, To town!/




Notes: This was written in response to a fic-challenge issued on SDDI. The challenge was to write a songfic about one of the G-boys using a Christmas carol, and Duo's suggested song was "Santa Clause is Coming to Town." For reasons unknown to me, this popped into my head.