Author's Notes: Okay, sorry for the somewhat short chapter. Another shameless plug: please check out my new fic, 'Athrun and the Green-Eyed Monster Called Jealousy'. It's a one-shot AC humor for all those suffering from Phase 45. Thanks to all those who reviewed!
About the story: It's getting quite long for a parody, huh? Sorry about that. But as you may or may not notice, I try to insert some plot along the way. I won't end this with a 'what-the-hell?' kind of ending. This has a point. Well, a -semblance- of a point at the very least. Anyway, I have all the chapters plotted out and we're about midway now! Thanks everyone! I hope I'm not boring you for drawing out the events!
Chapter Six – When Lost, Look for the North Star!
Kira could see Athrun's face getting nearer and nearer. His mind went blank and only one thing remained in his mind. 'There's no way in hell I'm going to kiss a guy!' It was as if his thoughts forced their way on his clenched fist. Then –
Athrun stared at him in shock. Kira sighed in relief and glared at Athrun. He cleared his throat and waved his fist threateningly. "Touch me again, and you'll get more than that," Kira warned in a high-pitched voice. Athrun just stared at him and with each passing moment Kira began to feel slightly anxious. 'Did I punch him too hard? What if he called off the wedding? What would Lacus say? Would our cover be blown? Would Lacus ever talk to me again?'
He was panicking mentally when he heard a few chuckles from Athrun. At first Kira thought that the young king was going insane. Athrun stood up and bowed in front of him.
"Forgive me, Princess. I guess I should've seen that one coming," he apologized in a sincere voice. He looked up and gave Kira a smile which could make a lot of girls go crazy (but which could send shivers down his spine). "Will you forgive me?"
Kira had half a mind to say no, but thinking about Lacus, he forced himself to smile. "Of course. But please, never do that again."
"Never again?" Athrun echoed in a teasing tone. "What about when we get married?"
Kira felt a lump form in his throat. 'When -we- get married? I think not! Let's just hope that Cagalli makes an appearance by then!' he thought disgustedly. He forced his vocal chords to produce a laughing sound. "Let's cross the bridge when we get there, hm?"
Athrun regarded him with his piercing green eyes and smiled once again. "You never cease to amaze me, Princess. You're not like the other girls that I've met." He touched the forming bruise in his cheek and he winced. "Your punch is also unlike anything that I've experienced."
Kira fought the urge to roll his eyes. 'Well, of course I'm not! Take the fact that I'm a -boy-, for starters!' he thought sarcastically. "I hope you're not hurt too much," he muttered.
Athrun brushed the thought away with a wave of his hand. "Oh, don't worry! I'll live. It was my fault, anyway, for treating you badly. I apologize."
'Is this guy for real? It's either that or he's blissfully unaware of the hatred that's emanating from me in waves! Well, at least I didn't mess anything up, the wedding's still on and if it was possible, I made him like Cagalli even more! I hope Lacus appreciates this… Speaking of which, I wonder what she's doing right now?' Kira thought apprehensively.
At his side, Athrun's smile became wider at the look on Kira's face.
One thing that Lacus Clyne realized today was that she would make a very good spy. She had been following Rau Le Creuset for about two hours now, unknown to the latter. So far, Rau had bought a new mask, had eaten some ice cream, gotten a trim and tried on a few clothes. He was either stalling or just plain playing hooky that day.
Lacus sighed and adjusted her hat and eyeglasses. It was a miracle she managed to squeeze all her hair in that itsy-bitsy cap! She definitely needed a haircut. They were inside a restaurant, a very posh one at that. She was sitting on the table directly behind Rau's. She fought the urge to just march up to him and demand what in the blue hell he and his silly mask were up to.
But of course, she was always the epitome of serenity and endurance so she settled on just sipping her tea and calming herself. If she wasn't stuck following Rau around, she would most probably be back at the castle, spending time with Kira and watching over him.
Or if everything was perfectly alright, she would be back in the castle, tutoring Cagalli. At the thought of her best friend, she sighed. Where in the world could Cagalli be? It wasn't like her to just run away from her responsibilities. She knew Cagalli. No matter how impulsive she seemed, she would never do anything like this.
Sitting at the table in front of her was the key to all her assumptions. There was definitely something behind his surprised look when he saw Kira.
She felt really guilty at just leaving him in the castle after getting him into this mess. Remembering her very bold move that morning, she blushed. 'I wasn't thinking properly! Well, I was, but – I just – um… why am I even defending myself when no one's scolding me for my un-ladylike actions? I like Kira…'
That was the understatement of the century.
Sure, they'd only just met. But in fairy tales, love at first sight exists, so, no complaints here. Lacus sipped her tea and forced herself to focus on the situation at hand. 'Stop thinking about Kira for a while, Lacus!' she reprimanded herself mentally. 'Think about Cagalli…Cagalli's safety…Kira's beautiful eyes…No! Cagalli's whereabouts…Kira's cute smile…Rau's plans!'
Her mantra was interrupted by the shrill ringing of a phone. She sat up straighter, and even more so when she saw Rau took out a slim cell phone. Lacus leaned forward and strained to hear Rau's conversation.
"Hello?" a sneer. "Dearka? I don't care about Nicol. Where's our little visitor?" another sneer. And then the smirk was completely wiped off his face and he stood up abruptly, tightening his grip on his cell phone. "WHAT!"
Lacus almost fell out of chair at Rau's sudden outburst. The whole restaurant was looking at him curiously. A waiter hovered near him, unsure of what to do. Rau ignored them all, he looked livid.
"I don't f(bleep)ing care! Find her! Search every goddamn corner, every goddamn hiding place! I'm going there now! You better hope that you find her before I get there or all three of you are -DEAD-!"
'This is it!' Lacus thought excitedly. 'I'm on to something!'
Rau threw a couple of bills on the table and immediately rushed outside. Lacus followed suit. Rau got on his car and revved forward, as if the devil was on his heels. Lacus got on her car and followed Rau at a safe distance. They drove for a while until they reached a forest-like area near the mountains. 'Figures. Trust Le Creuset to construct his hide-out in the middle of nowhere.'
Lacus parked at a farther distance and watched Rau storm up the log cabin and furiously kick the door open. After making sure that no one was around, Lacus quickly went near the house and chanced a peek at the windows. There, she could see two boys, one silver-haired and the other blond, squirming under Rau's angry stare.
"You morons! How could you let her out of your sight?" Rau's voice was loud and clear even through the thick wall.
"Blame Dearka! He was the one who was watching the blonde she-devil!"
"Well, you told me to let her do what she wanted!"
"I told you nothing of the sort! I told you to make her shut up!"
"Well, it's practically the same!"
"Why you –"
"SHUT UP! You bastards ruined everything! EVERYTHING! I COULD KILL YOU BOTH AT THIS INSTANT!" steam was practically coming out of Rau's ears.
Lacus' eyes were growing wide with each passing minute. It didn't take an idiot to formulate what Rau was up to! 'It's Rau! He kidnapped Cagalli! I have to tell King Uzumi!' She was ready to make a run for it when she bumped into someone.
"Hello," a pleasant voice greeted her from behind.
Lacus turned around slowly, her heart beating against her ribcage.
"You know, eavesdropping is rude," the green-haired boy smiled at her.
Lacus forced an apologetic smile on her face. "I'm sorry. I was just passing by."
"Oh! Are you lost?"
And then the kind-faced boy went into the details on 'how NOT to get lost in the forest.' "You know how to find the North Star? They say that when you find that you won't get lost. And well, you also have to…"
Lacus stared at him blankly. 'Is this guy for real?' "Um, well, thank you for that information. I guess I'd better get going now." She let out a nervous laugh and waved at the guy. The boy waved back and flashed her another smile.
She was half-running, half-walking towards her car. She couldn't believe it! She got away! Out of sheer dumb luck! She got in her car and was about to start it when her door opened and Rau Le Creuset sneered at her. "Just where do you think you're going, Miss Clyne?"
Lacus swallowed hard and smiled nervously. "T-to the castle?"
Rau sneered once more and shoved a suspicious looking ball on her face. The last thing she remembered before everything went black was someone saying, "Yzak's socks works wonders…"
On the contrary, Athrun -did- feel 'Princess Cagalli's' hatred emanating in waves, he just chose to ignore it. Cagalli sure was feisty… and she punched harder than all his self-defense instructors put together! He touched his cheek once more and winced. 'It's probably getting all purple-like. I just hope that Arthur won't make a big deal out of this.'
He wasn't copping a feel or something when he tried to kiss her. It was just the Princess looked so adorably stiff that he felt like he needed to do something to make her show her true self. After all, that was the entire point of their meeting. He just felt a little disappointed that he wasn't able to accomplish his goal.
Well, he at least had dinner left to think about it.
Their day together would end in a simple dinner for two at the veranda. Thankfully, the elders (meaning King Uzumi and Arthur) didn't bother them for the rest of the day, whether intentionally or not. He felt like the Princess became even more stiff and subdued in the presence of other people.
He chanced a glance at the quiet lady beside him. "Are you quite alright, Princess? Or are you still mad at me?"
A grimace, then a funny-looking smile. "There's no need to fret. I'm alright. And please…call me Cagalli."
Athrun flashed her another of his winning smiles. "Well, if that's the case, then please call me Athrun."
She flashed him another of her constipated-looking smiles. "Alright, Athrun."
Athrun fought the urge to sigh. She just couldn't take a hint. Or she was choosing not to. Either way, she was making it even harder for him. Their conversations merely revolved around formalities and the like or smiles from him and grimaces from her. It was a sadistic cycle!
'I better do something before things get out of hand…' Athrun mused. 'But I'll pore over it after dinner. I'm hungry!' He felt his stomach rumble in agreement. Thankfully, it didn't produce any embarrassing sounds along with its confirmation. He watched Cagalli at the corner of his eyes looking straight ahead, a stiff expression on her face.
Athrun cleared his throat and Cagalli fixed him with a slightly wary, 'what-now?' look. He fought the urge to smirk. "Cagalli? Would you mind terribly if I ask you a question?"
Cagalli shook her head, blonde hair swaying softly from side to side. "Not at all."
"Are we near the veranda yet? Because I'm afraid that my stomach is telling me to get some food in it."
Kira blinked at what Athrun had said. 'If he wasn't flirting with me, I'd say that he's a pretty funny guy,' he thought amusedly. He abruptly stopped on his tracks as he recalled Athrun's sentence. Athrun stopped walking as well and gave him a curious look. "Um, Athrun, am I supposed to be the one -leading- you to our dining place?"
Athrun's curious expression turned into a puzzled one. "Yes. This is -your- house, is it not?"
Kira wanted so badly to slap his hand on his forehead, but that might loosen the wig so he restrained himself. 'Okay, Kira. Don't panic. Don't panic. Don't panic! I'm lost in my own home! Where are we? Is there a map here somewhere? Come on, Kira, think! Should I look for the North Star? Or maybe I should ask instructions from a passing guard! Argh! That's stupid!'
"Er, are you alright, Cagalli?"
"For the final time, I'm quite alright!" Kira answered through clenched teeth. He didn't need any of Athrun's 'are-you-quite-alright?' litanies right now. He was lost. He hadn't heard zilch about Lacus. He was wearing a blonde wig. He was wearing a dress. He was with someone of the same gender who thought he was his fiancée. He was NOT alright! Kira wanted so badly to tear off his wig and scream himself senseless. This was NOT his day…
Athrun sighed. "Are we, by any chance, lost?" he asked softly, with a slightly amused tone.
"What do you think?" Kira snapped. Then realizing what he just did (and after wondering whatever happened to his meek and gentle nature), he took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "I'm sorry for being such a jerk, Athrun. It's just that…you caught me in one of my bad days, that's all."
To his mixed surprise and horror, Athrun regarded him again with one of his annoyingly love-struck looks. "You don't need to apologize, Cagalli. I told you, I liked you because of that."
Kira mentally counted from one to ten to calm his frazzled nerves. 'It isn't Athrun's fault. He doesn't know that I'm not Cagalli. The least I could do is -try- to be a -little- friendly. Hmm… maybe I could take pointers from him on how to court girls! Cool!'
Having found another motivation, Kira smiled sincerely. "Okay."
Athrun smirked. "So, we're lost, aren't we?"
Surprised at the sudden change in his companion's attitude, Kira could do nothing but blink stupidly at him. And then he let out a nervous laugh. "That's funny! Maybe they rearranged the rooms! They always do that to me! It's sort of a…bonding…thing! It helps, uh, boost our staff's morale!"
Athrun raised an eyebrow at that. "You got lost. On your own home."
"It happens to everyone!" Kira amended. "Besides, I'm, er, not hungry! Why don't we just, um, go back to the garden and, uh, talk! Yeah! That's nice!"
Athrun gave him a rue smile. "I wish I could say the same. But I'm feeling terribly hungry. I'm not used to skipping meals."
Kira could feel his eyebrow twitch and his ire rise. Again. 'Well, what do you want me to do? Find a map?'
"Princess Cagalli! There you are!"
Kira stopped his slightly violent train of thought and turned his attention to the young maid running towards them. "Sir Kisaka sent me to get you."
'Kisaka? Oh! The tall, dark man with the ponytail.' Kira silently thanked the big man up there, as well as kind-hearted Kisaka for saving his butt. "Thank you very much. Please, lead the way."
She was -this- close to giving up. Yes, Cagalli 'winners-never-quit-quitters-never-win' Yula Athha was about to throw a life's worth of morals into the dust bin and just -give up-. She so wanted to just throw a tantrum and stomp her foot on the forest floor so that it would just swallow her whole and maybe spit her out in a different place.
She had been walking since god-knows-how-long. She had half a mind to just march back to her captors and demand that they tie her up at once. She didn't know for how long her sanity will still hold her in one piece.
'Where the heck am I! I wish I'd listened to that training camp and stuff about finding the North Star when you get lost… It's getting dark! Argh! How do I find a freaking star out of millions and millions of identical stars? Even if I did find it, what the heck am I supposed to do with it? Maybe I could just scream until someone decides to come after me to shut me up.'
She was muttering curses here and there, kicking grass and dead leaves everywhere and generally just throwing a tantrum while walking when she saw something that made her stop dead in her tracks.
She was saved!
Cagalli quickly ran towards the light and was very much feeling ecstatic. When she got nearer, she saw that it was a car pulled over in the side of an abandoned highway. When she realized where she was, she could almost feel her face heating up in embarrassment and in rage.
There, standing beside the said car, was no other than Rau Le Creuset, sneering away and scolding three boys that she recognized as the ones who kidnapped her. Why was she feeling so particularly murderous?
It didn't take an idiot to figure out that Rau was behind all these
She could clearly make out a cabin behind the dense trees, she was back were she started!
It turned out that she had been walking around in circles, for a whole freaking day!
Well, there were more reasons why she was so pissed off, but she no longer had the patience to list it one by one!
Cagalli pulled her hair in frustration and ducked behind one of the bushes. She took a deep breath and slowly counted from one to ten to calm her nerves. Well, it was clear that the morons did not see her. All she had to do was to wait for them to go away then she could hot wire the car and get the hell out of there. Or PLAN B, if Rau decided to use the car, would be to follow the gray asphalt road and walk the rest of the way home.
None of those seemed very appealing, but hey, if it could bring her one step closer to her planned revenge, then so be it.
Next Chapter: Is this the sign of a beautiful friendship for Kira and Athrun? What will happen to Lacus? Will Dearka, Yzak and the newly-revived Nicol mess up Rau's plans again? Will Athrun finally succeed in his mystery plans? Will Cagalli push through with her Plan A or Plan B? All these and more in the next chapter of 'The Princess and the Pauper'!
Phase 28 – Kira
Scene where Birdie lands on Athrun's hands.
Athrun: (looks in shock, but instinctively lifts his hands)
Nicol: It's a mechanical bird!
Yzak: (rolls eyes, snorts) Gee, how did you -ever- know?
Dearka: Oh, I don't know Yzak, maybe because the thing has -wings- like a real bird, a -beak- like a real bird, -flies- like a real bird, -looks- like a real bird…What do you think Athrun?
Athrun: (scratches head and sighs) Ah, Dearka, stop asking me the hardest questions!
Nicol: Okay! That was a very dumb thing to say!
Yzak: Yeah, well, thanks for pointing out the obvious – again!
Director: Cut! Stop bullying the kid!
Scene where Athrun hands Birdie to Kira.
Athrun: …Is this…yours?
Kira: (takes Birdie)
Athrun: (turns and starts to walk away)
Kira: A…a friend!
Athrun: (stops and looks at Kira)
Kira: It's a very special gift…from a very special friend…
Athrun: (snorts) Well, of course it's special! You got that for free, didn't you?
Director: Cut! ('what-now?' look) Athrun!
Athrun: Well, I wasted two months' allowance on that thing and then I gave it to him for free instead of selling it! How would you feel if that happened to you? (sulks) And then, all I ask for in return is a little alone time with his sister and he does everything in his power to separate us!
Kira: Well, I -am- the hero of this show.