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Metal Gear Solid 2 :: Bittersweet Torture
Metal Gear Solid 2 :: Bittersweet Torture
Reviewed By: Lunar Love

PLOT: 3/5 (For a self-claimed PWP, Gentle Reader, quite nicely plotted indeed.)
WRITING: 4/5 (A pleasure to behold, if not quite a joy.)

ERRATUM: Gentle Reader, it has been most vociferously brought to my attention that Lucifer's Dark Angel is, in point of fact, of the male gender. I am, of course, shocked and horrified at my mistake. How could I have been so obtuse as to ever assume that someone with the former screen name 'IrkenPrincessZela' was female?
At any rate, I am properly humbled and shall scourge myself thoroughly at my earliest opportunity.

Now then, on to more amusing matters.

Gentle Reader, in your ear I shall murmur four little words that cause fangirls and fanboys all over the world to pause, and betimes shudder.
Those words are, of course, 'Metal Gear Solid slash'.

Spoilers for Metal Gear Solid 2 will abound in the following review, Gentle Reader, so if you have not yet played the game and yet still wish to, might I suggest the archives to your left? Certainly there is something in there with which you may entertain yourself until such time as you are ready to proceed.

Now, Gentle Reader, having played the games, it is crystal clear to me where the writers find their ammunition. And I - yes, even I, Lunar Love - am not averse to the occasional well-written Snake/Otacon. It can be done well, after all, if one is careful. (However, if one's idea of fun is watching Lunar Love twitch like a grasshopper in a skillet, well, one need only bring up the idea of Otacon/Snake.)
It was this very non-aversion that led me on a lengthy and gentle arc through the World Wide Web a month or so previously. On a whim, Gentle Reader, nothing more, I skipped lightly through hundreds upon hundreds of Metal Gear Solid fics, some good, most awe-inspiringly terrible.

The fic I wish to bring to your attention today is - well, it's really quite good, Gentle Reader. Most of the fics on this particular site are, although accessing them is a tad difficult (a note, Gentle Reader, if you are by chance a prospective web designer: in your URLs, always use the slash (to the left of the shift key) rather than the backslash (above the enter key). Please do keep this in mind).
However, with some perseverance, I was able to access the fics in question, and I found myself enjoying most of them, although, as is usual, certain turns of event and phrase found me wrinkling my nose at the monitor.
Ah, well. Certainly I am allowed my own personal tastes in word usage, Gentle Reader. Are my reviews not adequate proof of this?

But I digress. On to the meat of the review!

Immediately upon reading the summary of the fic in question, Gentle Reader, I was struck by the couple that the author had chosen to work with. No mere Snake/Otacon, although the author has those by abundance; nor Otacon/Snake, although those exist in these environs as well. (I twitch.)

No, Gentle Reader. Vamp/Raiden. Vamp/Raiden.

If you are like me (and I am by no means suggesting that you are, Gentle Reader) your reaction was something akin to this: "WHA... wait. Wait. Well, granted, Vamp is canonically bisexual, thank you Pliskin, and Raiden is a fey and beautiful young blond man with pert buttocks, so all right, but... when? When during that one single day could this have happened?"

It is entirely to this author's credit that she not only found the 'when', but writes it in such a way to make it curiously plausible.
To quote the author's own summary:

Vamp x Raiden, PWP (Almost non-con, but this was irresistible). Just how did Raiden get naked on the torture machine? My twisted view... from Raiden's POV.

In many, many ways, Gentle Reader, this story is a triumph. The situation is reasonably believable, and the author's skill and conviction are (in my humble opinion, you understand) enough to carry the tale where my own doubts might once have set in. Both Vamp and Raiden seem to be decently in character, and just for the extra challenge the story is written in first person, from Raiden's viewpoint. And the tale is fairly dark and twisted, just as promised, as well it should be. And all from a sixteen-year-old girl, Gentle Reader. Imagine my joy.
So far, so good, Gentle Reader. In a web filled to bursting with dreck and nonsense, this fic is a find...

... or it was, Gentle Reader. It was.

You see, towards the end of the story (once again in my own humble opinion) it all quite abruptly falls apart.
I shall quote you the place at which the story lost me, Gentle Reader:

"I lo...v..."
Vamp suddenly took his hands away from my throat like I was on fire.
"No," he said softly. It seemed like he said it to himself. His face gazed far away. "No..."
"I... love... y-you..." I said shakily. "I couldn't admit it... I'm not meant to, I was never meant to... but I do..."
His eyes fixed onto mine. "Raiden..." he whispered distantly.
I couldn't keep up the eye contact. I felt a sense of shame - I was willing to confess my feelings to a man who had just tried to kill me, and I was supposed to kill him. I was also naked, which didn't help.
"I'm sorry," I heard him say.
"Sorry?" I looked up, and he was already towering over me.
"My heart will always belong to one," he softly whispered, running a hand through my hair tenderly. "I can never love again..."

... excuse me, Gentle Reader?

It is here, Gentle Reader, that a formerly dark and grim fic dissolves away into sunshine and puppies and ice cream and naked little blonde cherubs scampering about... oh, my mistake, Gentle Reader, that was Raiden.
I exaggerate wildly for the sake of metaphor, of course. I also digress.

Here, you see, we have bumped up against one of Lunar Love's basic pet peeves.
A quick tour through the site, while certainly revealing this author's basic skill and command of the English language, will also confirm one other thing: as far as this author is concerned, where there is sex, there will also always be love. Expressed love, furthermore.
Therefore, even in the handsome consensual Snake/Otacon fics, there will be tender professions of love... and while I am not so terribly convinced that Snake is one for gentle sex and cuddling and pillow-talk after, well, I suppose that I must say 'to each his own'. I do not believe it, not for a second. But I can forgive it, and when the author is skilled enough, even enjoy it.

But here I cannot, despite her obvious skill. Even should Raiden find himself enjoying his treatment, this attempt to inject love (however unrequited, however thwarted) into a dark story feels facile at best and false at worst. It is a dark, dark fic based around a dark, dark idea. Let it remain dark. Do not bring the light of love to shine on these two hapless collections of polygons; they neither require it nor enjoy it.

The only explanation I can conceive of is this: while Raiden was naked and unconscious on the table, someone slipped him some Ecstasy.

I will not lie to you, Gentle Reader. I enjoyed this story, unnecessary emotional attachment or not. But I would counsel the author, and you as well: there are times when one should divorce 'love' from 'sex'. In the real world, and in realistic fics, the two need not have anything to do with one another.
Indeed, in dark fics, they should not. Let sex roam wild and free and dirty, untrammeled by its weaker thinner paler cousin love! Make war, not love!

... gracious. Your pardon, Gentle Reader. I don't know what came over me.

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Hello, Lunar. I was randomly searching the net with the boolean phrase "'Metal Gear', yaoi, slash" and I came up with the review site/journal. I had read your review for Bittersweet Torture. You are deep and honest in your analysis and have a favor to ask... I was wondering if you might give me a full and honest opinion on my Metal Gear fanfic. You can find it at:
It's the top story on the page, Metal Gear Solid: Elements of Destruction. Thanks for your time.
An Otacon Groupie,
(The Ice Goddess)

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