Born a Girl
Miya's Note: Hello, everyone.
First off, to those of you still waiting on Twisted Religion/Parallel Threes/The Mannequin Garden: The ending chapters to TR are being written as we speak. TMG's 3rd chapter is mostly done, but I just need to get it wrapped up. Parallel Threes is, sadly, currently in hiatus, because I honestly can't take on another BAU-sized fic right now. One day, though. One day. :/
About THIS story: This was written as a birthday gift to my dear Matti (MRS-Jeevas on Mangabullet and DeviantART, Matilda on Adult Fanfiction), who held a contest for her birthday where you can mix a song from one of her favourite bands into something involving Mello and Matt. I decided not to formally enter the contest, but still write her the fic for her b-day. Much love, Matti. This is based on the Manic Street Preachers song "Born a Girl".
This fic contains a controversial subject. If you've never heard of bigender, it's best to look it up to better understand what's going on here. For a quick definition, Bigender is a subset of transgender where, instead of relating completely to Male or Female, you experience shifts between feeling like a man and woman. My Mello is bigender, and this fic is directly from his eyes, experiencing what that's like. That, itself, comes deeper, from my OWN experiences as a bigender (Which I related to Mello later, after seeing similarities in his character to the shift I experience in myself.). If you don't like the idea of one of your favourite characters being bigender, please just click the back button, because you won't enjoy this fic.
The rest of you, enjoy!
Other warnings: Mello/Matt, shounen-ai.
I wish I had been born a girl, instead of what I am.
Yes, I wish I had been born a girl, and not this mess of a man…
When most people look in the mirror, they expect to see the same face reflected back at them as the day before. That face, and the body beneath it, are expected to be the same as the days, weeks, and with some small changes brought on by age, the years prior.
That was never how it was for me.
Some days, the face that looks back at me is chiseled, hardened, the eyes sharp and deep set, and the jaw line squared. The hair around will hang ragged, leading down to my neck and shoulders, through sinews and the lean, protruding shapes of muscle. My Adam's apple juts out like a bone. The box of my chest beneath is squared and strong on these days, the angle extending down to the thin shape of my hips, and even farther down my legs. On these days, the scar that mars the left half of my face--yet another change to my visage, I realise--is a battle mark; a survival sign. It is a symbol of my failure, but also of my power. I came face-to-face with death, and I won.
However, that's not the face I see today. No. Today, I am changed.
My eyes are the only part of me I really recognise, each time I look at my reflection. The expression changes, but the soul behind them--if you believe there is a soul--is the same. I think that's one of the reasons for my faith. If I don't have a soul, then what defines who I am, if I can't even consistently recognise the face in the mirror?
But beyond my eyes, radiating out, there's the careful black lines of my eyeliner, defining that vital part of me. Beneath that, the curves of my cheeks look softer, somehow, than on those other days. They've gained a rosy tint that they don't have a lot of the time, especially lately, and I find myself turning my head so the light catches how that blush plays on the good side of my face. My scar, today, disgusts me.
Perplexing, I realise, how the scar can stay the same when the rest of me is so changed. Even more perplexing how little of a comfort that is; so different to my eyes. I think, briefly, that it has to do with soul again, the scar a mark of my transgressions and my sins. It's not just my face that's burnt, but it goes deeper, cutting into the very being beneath the skin.
The being, not the man.
I turn my gaze from the scar and catch my nose. On those other days, the length of it stands out; the sharpness. But today, there's a delicacy to it, a hint of a curve, the end slightly upturned, but still pointing like an arrow to the shape of my lips. Those stand out full and plump, and a slight smile curves them upward. The fingers that rise to touch them look more delicate today, thin and gentle, and the smile grows wider. My jaw and chin look more rounded, softer, and from them, my sight wanders down the length of my neck. I leave my hand to cover the tell-tale bump on my throat, instead concentrating on the long and slender shape of it, framed by the slightly curled tips of my hair.
Somehow, inexplicably, when I look down, my whole body seems to have become less angular. My shoulders seem thinner, my chest less squared, my waist visible, and my hips gaining a curve they didn't have before. I know the structure couldn't have changed from the days before, and yet it looks as it if has. It's an odd impossibility, and I wish I could capture it on film. I wish I could take pictures on the different days, so I could show the rest of the world, "Look at me. How are these both pictures of the same person?" but I know that I can't take the risk of having photographs of me in the world.
I step back, and I stare. I am not looking at a man in the mirror. Slowly, I take off my clothes, and I look again. What I see confuses me, because this is the same body I've resided in all of my life, with all of the same parts and nuances, and yet I can somehow see a man's anatomy, but not a man's body.
And on days like this, I wish the girl I saw reflected back at me was real.
It's been so long since I've had a day like this. In a way, I hate it, like going back to the skinny little feminine boy I used to be at my home in Croatia and at Wammy's house; like going back to the graceful and manipulative creature I'd been in my Mafia days. But at the same time, there's a comfort in it, and I almost have the temptation to say "Welcome back." There's a calmness in me, despite the battle between what I'm seeing and what's really there. There's a confidence, despite the conflict between my anatomy and my mind, that I don't have when my strength is rooted in sheer power and tenacity.
There's a beauty to femininity that I've missed while I've been rooted in my male side lately. During the rush of inglorious failure, during the constant fight to dig out of the hole I found myself in after the explosion, there was no time to stop for beauty. It takes time, and a lot of energy to maintain this side of me, because fiction does not become real on its own.
She's real to me, this woman I see in the mirror. However, there's a yearning in me; a painful stabbing kind of need to reach in and pull her out where those around me can see her, too. She appears in traces, draining me to uphold that careful transformation, but at times like this, when she shows herself, stark and beautiful in the glass, I can feel hope that, maybe, one day, someone else will understand.
I sit, still naked in the chair in front of the mirror, hiding my waist behind the table so I don't have to stare at the glaring contradiction there, and I reach for the round sponge in front of me. A dab into the foundation, and then another on my face, and the horrible devil's mark on my cheek begins to disappear. I'm covering the natural tinge of rose on my cheeks, but I replace it with one made of powder. More powder to accent my eyes even further, to bring out the soul in me and say, "Yes, this woman you see is real, too. You can see her spirit."
As I paint my lips in ruby sheen, I can see traces of my mother in the glass, memories flooding back of her and her gentleness. She had a beautiful spirit, Mama. She was a good Catholic woman, and somehow, in the same way as I can be both male and female at once, my lips can both smile and frown, because I can see her face again right now, but I know that if she could see mine, it wouldn't be the face of a son she could be proud of.
I add the finishing touches on my makeup and look at myself again. Matt doesn't know I bought all of this, or the dress laid out across the meager mattress behind me. I stop and listen for a moment, to hear the sound of his games. It's a bit of a comfort, even though his orders were to watch the monitors. I know he can't be paying full attention to them, and I couldn't get him to if I tried. I know, even more, that even without his games, it'd be the same. He'd just find something else to amuse him. When Matt doesn't want to do something, he doesn't, and I take it as a compliment that he's humouring me in watching the monitors at all.
I chuckle a little, thinking of Matt. I probably could have picked someone better to watch the monitors for me, or done a better job myself, but Matt has something a lot of others don't: My trust. Other than being a lazy git, he's also blindingly intelligent, which is a plus. But more than anything, he's fabulous at pulling me off the ceiling.
My life, since leaving Wammy's, hasn't been my own. I've lived for everyone but myself: To avenge L, to catch Kira, to beat Near, to please God. But, because of Matt, I'm finally taking time for myself. Granted, when he said, "Mello, you need to calm down for a bit, stop worrying about Kira and take a break," it's doubtful that he suspected dressing like a woman was on the agenda.
Granted, Matt's always made jokes. Even when the other kids at Wammy's stopped for fear of getting beaten up, Matt kept it up, and I think he knew, to a degree, that it didn't really offend me. He's dropped hints that he knew I enjoyed my androgyny. However, I'm not sure if I'm ready to reveal just how deeply my femininity runs.
Slowly, tentatively, I walk over to the bed and raise the dress. With a sigh, I hold my rosary and pray. Great, yet another thing to add to the list. Of course, the murder's taking me straight to hell, so a little crossdressing on top of it can't hurt. I'm sorry, Mama.
When I put it on, there's a strange feeling that runs through my body. It's an odd sense of fulfillment, and something that I didn't expect. I turn to look at myself in the mirror, and I can't hold back a gasp. They say when a man dresses in women's clothing, that it's grotesque, but what I see before me isn't a transvestite. The woman that, before this moment, has only existed in my head is tangible. I can see her, without having to imagine. She's there, in front of me.
I'm still staring, awestruck, as the sounds outside shift. I only register briefly that the music outside has grown softer and slightly repetitive, and that what I'm hearing now is pause music. The fact doesn't hit me completely until Matt's barging straight into my room without a knock. I don't look at him, but God, I can feel him staring at me.
I'm frozen, staring at myself in the mirror, suddenly feeling guilty and slightly afraid. What if Matt can't see what I do? What if all he sees is the disgusting figure of a man in a dress and makeup? My reflection looks back at me, suddenly childlike, and I feel like I've been caught playing dress-up in Mama's clothes. I realise, with even more horror, that this is almost exactly what I'm doing.
I hear Matt moving closer, until he's standing between me and my reflection. I feel naked under his gaze, covered as it is by his goggles.
What he says to me isn't what I expected at all.
"If I kiss you, will it ruin your lipstick?" Like he wasn't surprised at all.
I stare, blinking in a flurry of mascara-coated lashes. I try to talk, but my lips won't move, remaining pursed at him in shock. He laughs, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me in a bit closer. I don't resist.
The way he holds me is like you'd hold a woman, and I find myself wrapping my arms around his neck, resting them on his shoulders. He smiles a bit at that.
"I wondered when I'd find you like this. Still a bit of a surprise to actually see it, but….you look really pretty, you know that?" I feel his gloved hands drawing lazy circles on my lower back. It seems so simple, so small--almost anticlimactic of a reaction--compared to the things, mostly horrible, that I imagined would happen if he saw me like this. I find myself relaxing in his arms when nothing more comes of it.
I wonder, briefly, if I'm dreaming. No hatred in his voice, or disgust. If anything, there's a bit of amusement there. He watches me for a bit, as if waiting for a response that I can't force my lips to give, and then when he's decided he's bored with waiting, kisses me. At that moment, it all falls into place, because I can believe he understands. He is my best friend, and he understands.
There's no scar, no harsh power trips, no anger, no battle in me right now. There's peace. Somehow, I've found balance in this conflict with my own body. There's memory of a quietly strong, confident, beautiful woman, who taught her son about right and wrong. Here, in the body of this other person inside of me, I can almost believe I can be saved. There's a modesty in me now, a gentleness lost when my masculine side is showing. It is softer, even, than the cold and manipulative half-woman apparent in my Mafia days. The knowledge of what's to come still hangs in the air, and I know to make it in the world, I can't keep this feeling forever. What I need, to win, is power, but at this moment the responsibility that drives me to the brink--that will one day probably kill me--slips away.
This girl I saw in the mirror today could go to heaven in his arms.
And in this state of peace, I hold him, and I smile, and I whisper in his ear, "Do I look good for you tonight?"
All he does in response is he kisses me again.