Two Divided By Zero
by Lasha Lee

The first thing that Shan noticed when waking up was that the sunlight hitting his closed eyelids was much too bright.

The second thing was that his head felt like it had been used for a game of Flashball by a group of overly-caffeinated 8-year-olds.

The third was that someone was sleeping on top of him.

He forced his eyes open. His eyes protested this vehemently, and his head agreed with them. His stomach, not wanting to be left out, began shouting at him as well.

He twisted his head to look down, swallowing hard.

An arm was wrapped tightly around him, and a pale blond head was using his chest as a pillow. Shan frowned. What was Gage doing in his bed? What was he doing in this bed, for that matter? He might feel like crap right now, but he could definitely recognize the fact that this was not his room.

He tried to think back... Gage had taken him to the rave and they'd danced. It had been fun. Then Gage had bought him something to drink, and they'd danced a little more, and gotten thirsty again. They'd repeated this cycle several times before agreeing that the walls and ceiling seemed to be dancing as well.

Then Shan remembered getting a little hysterical at the thought of going home, and had suggested throwing themselves on Jazz's mercy...

"Oh god, we didn't..." Shan groaned.

"Didn't what?" Gage muttered, snuggling closer.

"Come on man, wake up." Shan shook Gage's shoulder.

"Take a rain check. Too hung over to move."

"Gage Drummond, if you don't get off of me right now I swear I am going to puke all over you."

"I'm getting, I'm getting." Gage rolled over his back. "You don't need to shout."

The blond boy opened his eyes, and looked around the room. "Where'd Duo's house go?"

"We're in Jazz's spare room? Remember? We got drunk and came here? Oh man, he's going to murder me! I hope he does murder me. Death has to be better than feeling like this."

He suddenly turned pale. "Be right back." He jumped out of bed and ran for the bathroom, just making it to the toilet in the nick of time before his stomach completely rebelled.

He knelt in front of the toilet, shaking, a few minutes later. He was dimly aware of someone else in the room with him, and water running, and then Gage was kneeling next to him, rubbing a cold wash cloth over his face.

"Feel better?"

"A little."

Gage paused for a moment. "Are you mad at me?"

"For what?"

"What do you mean for what? For getting you drunk."

Shan shook his head. "I got myself drunk. You just gave me the motivation." He shifted on the cold floor. "The morning leaves something to be desired, but... last night was the most fun I've had in ages. Thanks."

"Think you can stand up now?" Gage tossed the cloth back into the sink.

"Maybe." Shan wobbly got to his feet with Gage's help.

"Your friend is up. I heard him in other room. We should get this over with."

"Think he's going to be mad at me?"

"Maybe." Gage offered. "I don't think he liked the song."

"Well, see if we go out of our way to entertain him again." Shan huffed and the boys grinned at each other.

Shanny Boy, Gage thought with regret, if I didn't have this morning breath, I'd kiss you senseless right now. He filed the idea on his "to do" list and sighed. "Let's go."


"Sit!" Jazz pointed at the sofa as the boys entered the living room. They plopped down, and noticed Linra had come out to watch the show. Gage waved at her. "And how are you doing this morning? You are a vision, my dear. The Madonna herself could not look more radiant."

"Can it, Blondie!" Jazz snapped. "And you stop laughing." He pointed at Shan. "He's not funny."

Shan bit his lip and gave Jazz his best "I'm REALLY sorry" look.

"And that's not going to work."

"It used to work." Shan pointed out.

Jazz stood up and began pacing. " Do you have any idea what your father will do to me if he learns that I lied to him? Do you have any idea what MY parents will do to me? Where did you get the alcohol?"

Neither boy replied. Gage looked especially defiant.

Linra and Jazz exchanged knowing glances. "The rave." Linra commented, and Gage's jaw dropped.

The young woman laughed. "Honey, you've been here a week. We grew up on this planet. Believe me, we know all about the rave."

"Excellent. Would you like to come with us next time?" Gage offered graciously.

Jazz slammed his fist into the wall and the boys jumped.

"I covered for you." He waved a finger at them. "I lied to my father and my godfather to cover for your sorry asses! Pops told me that everyone is entitled to one 'Get out of Hell Free' card. Well, you've used yours up!"

"Ow." Shan grabbed his head.

"Good! I'm glad you're in pain right now." Jazz yelled. "You deserve to be after something like that. And don't think I'll cover for you again. Next time you're on your own!"

"Jazz..." Linra touched his arm. "Calm down."

The young man tried to get himself under control. "I can't yell at you for going to the rave without being a hypocrite. I don't have a problem with you going to the rave. Linra and I went all the time. But we were never dumb enough to get drunk there. Do you know what could have happened to you? Anyone could have taken advantage of you. You could have miskeyed the teleporter and ended up anywhere."

"I'm sorry..." Shan tried to interrupt.

"Yeah, you looked pretty sorry last night. And you don't look much better right now."

Jazz sat back down in his chair. "Shan, right now I feel taken advantage of. You used the fact that I love you against me. You knew I wouldn't rat you out. That sucks. You're better than that. Maybe he's not, but you are."

"Maybe you don't know me as well as you thought you did." Shan blurted out.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Jazz demanded.

"Jazz, I had fun last night. Do you know how good it felt to stop pretending to be so god-damned perfect for just a few hours. You're not mad at me for getting drunk, you're mad because I wasn't following the rules you and everyone else laid out for me!"

"Those rules are there to make sure you don't get yourself killed!"

"I don't mean about the drinking. I mean about me! I'm not perfect, and I'm sick of trying to be."

"Shan, no one expects you to be..."

"Yes you do!" He stood up. "You all do! And I'm not."

Jazz wheeled around to glare at Gage, who was applauding loudly.

"Well, you must be pretty damn proud of yourself."

"Of myself? Absolutely not. I'm a deplorable human being, and as such have no room for self pride. However, I do find myself very proud of the young Mr. Chang here.

"Leave him alone." Shan ordered. "He didn't do anything. All he did was make me wake up and realize a few things."

"Shan... what your feeling right now, that's normal. I've been there, believe me. One day you wake up and you suddenly realize 'Hey. I'm not my dad! I don't have to live my life the way he does!'" Jazz stood up again and walked over to Shan, sitting on the floor at his feet and looking him in the eye.

"Sometimes that feeling... well, it's like being drunk. It hits you hard, the knowledge that you've got all of these different choices in front of you. It doesn't mean, though, that you've got to prove how different you are by making the wrong ones.

"Do you think it was easy growing up the son of the great Shinigami? I spent the first 15 years of my life kicking myself for not being able to live up to that, and then when I was your age, it hit me that I didn't have to. He certainly didn't want me to. Any more than I want my kids to be like me. They'll have their own scars; they don't need mine. I didn't need Duo Maxwell's. You don't need Chang Wufei's."

He suddenly rapped Shan on the head lightly with his fist. "And you don't need to go out and get drunk to prove what a rebel you really are at heart. Hanging around with the Boy Blunder over there will get your point across very nicely." He jerked his head at Gage.

"And you." He turned to the other boy. "I'm putting you on notice. I'm about the nicest guy you'll ever meet, but where my twins are concerned I can and will commit grave bodily harm to protect them. I like you; please don't make me break your knee-caps."

He looked back at Shan, and ruffled his dark hair. "No more getting drunk? Promise?"

"I promise." Shan smiled.

"Good boy. Now we can discuss your punishment."

"Hold up." Gage protested. "Who said anything about punishment?"

"I did, Blondie. You staggered into my house, you know."

"What are you going to do to us?" Shan asked warily.

"Well, neither of you clowns are up to it today. But one of my best workers has the day off tomorrow. We're laying in some new hybrids in the Southern corner. You two have been drafted to help with the planting. You'll show up after breakfast and work till sundown. After that, we're even and that's the end of it."

"Jazz..."

"Would you rather I call your father?" Jazz raised an eyebrow.

"That, sir, is blackmail!" Gage paused. "I'm impressed."

"Fine. We'll work for you tomorrow." Shan said in a defeated tone. "I guess we deserve it."

"Speak for yourself. I deserve nothing less than sixty lashes with a whip and a night of barbarous sodomy from pirates for my heinous actions." Gage blinked at Jazz. "Any chance of that?"

"Sorry, my pirates are all on vacation. And you need a shower. Neither of you can go home smelling like that. We'll wash your clothes while you're getting cleaned up."

Shan stood up, and smiled at Jazz again. "You really are the best, you know that?"

"Get."


Shan was afraid that his parents would be able to take one look at him and tell what had happened, but neither of them seemed to notice. As far as they were concerned he'd been with Jazz the entire night.

Meishel had decided to spend the next couple of days with her friends, so he could put off facing her for a while. She, he knew, would be harder to fool. Still, he wanted to keep the knowledge of the rave between himself and Gage as long as he could.

He was still nauseous, and spent the day reading and relaxing. Still, he couldn't stop thinking about what had happened, and how gentle Gage had been with him when he was sick. He was like so many different people crammed into one body, and you never knew who he was going to be. But he could be kind when he wanted to be. And he'd looked like a little boy when he'd been using Shan as his teddy bear...

Shan scowled at his book. "I am not attracted to him! I am not gay!"

The book did not respond.


The woods were cool and the air was sweet and untainted here. Birds circled overhead, and squirrels chattered from the branches above as the boy walked down the dirt path, a giant lion at his side.

They reached a clearing and the lion laid down in the sunlight. The boy sat down cross-legged in front of him.

"You are troubled." The lion noted.

"Aslan, it wasn't supposed to be like this."

"Like what?"

"Me. I wasn't supposed to be like this." He shook his head. "I don't want to be. But it's like I'm on a runaway train sometimes, and I know I need to stop but I don't know how. And I'm scared that I'm never going to be able to. I don't want to crash and burn."

"What really frightens you?" Aslan asked gently.

"Shan."

"Why Shan?"

"Because... I don't know why. But he does. He's scaring me to death."

"Are you afraid of him, or for him?"

"Both, I guess. If I crash, I don't want him crashing with me. Maybe I should do what his father wants. Maybe I should just stay away from him."

"Why don't you, then?"

"I don't think I can." He stared at his hands. "And you know what? That's what scares me more than anything else."


Gage had expected the following day to be one of mindless misery but to his surprise he had fun. Jazz, he learned, was not the kind of boss to sit contented in some air-cooled office while his underlings worked in the sun. He was right there beside them, digging into the soft ground and gently transferring over the baby plants from their tiny pots.

The men were a rough, good-natured lot. They teased each other and the younger boys as they worked, especially delighted that the son of the Earth Tren, as they thought of Relena, was getting his hands dirty with them. And Gage had them all in stitches as he related one outrageous tale after another. He was disappointed to see the sun disappearing over the horizon and the workers packing up their tools.

As they left, Jazz headed over to Shan and Gage. "You two did a great job. I appreciate it."

"Like we had a choice." Shan grumbled, but he couldn't help smiling. His muscles hurt like crazy but he felt good.

"Well, I can always use the extra help. You decide you need a little more spending money, come talk to me. For now, just relax."

"Hey." Shan glanced over at Gage as Jazz headed for home. "You want to head down to the lake and cool off?"

"Sure."

The last of the sunlight was gone as they reached the edge of the lake. They stripped down to their underwear and waded out to the center. It wasn't very deep; only up to their necks, but it was icy cold and felt fantastic after the hard day of work.

Shan flipped over, floating on his back and staring up at the stars. The world was silent and he was totally at peace. Nothing could faze him right now, he decided.

Suddenly hands were around his waist, dragging him down under the water. He broke free and resurfaced, sputtering.

Gage stood a few feet away, laughing hysterically.

"You're going to pay for that."

"Gotta catch me first." He started swimming quickly toward the shore.

He'd almost made it when Shan grabbed his ankle, pulling him back and dunking him under. He made a grab for Shan as he went down, taking the younger boy down with him.

They wrestled in the shallow end for several minutes, laughing and splashing each other, and Shan suddenly felt the wall of the shore against his back. Gage was pinning him into place. The other boy had stopped smiling, and his face was serious.

"What's wrong?" Shan asked.

"God's in his heaven." Came the reply. "All's right with the world."

And before Shan could respond, Gage's mouth was pressed against his own.


On to part twelve. Back to part ten.