Pairings: Athrun/Cagalli and Kira/Lacus at the background, hints of Kira/Cagalli, subtle hints of Kira/Athrun, even subtler, you-have-to-squint-your-eyes-to-see hints of Athrun/Lacus. Subtle, by the way, is relative for each people's standard. Don't blame me if this doesn't meet yours.
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine, neither is half of the situation.
Warning: Spoilers to Gundam SEED Destiny up to episode 14. Also beware of grammatical mistakes and OOC-ness. See pairings label for further warning.
Notes: I fall in love with episode 14, especially Kira and Cagalli's reunion. Somehow, I feel like I'm seeing the old SEED Cagalli there. As for the fic, I took my liberties with Kira's character since he looked awfully serious in Destiny and it... well, let's just say it made him less interesting to be written. Sorry if this dissatisfies anyone.
Sometimes his dreams were really weird.
It was not a dream though. Cagalli in a dress was not a new thing for him – he had seen her twice in such state, each lovable in a way he had never imagined possible, that not even his beautiful Lacus could pull. However, seeing her in a fluffy white dress, wearing quite excessive make-ups for probably the first time in her life, ready to take the weight of the world through a wedding she did not desire was downright too weird. For a moment Kira wondered if he knew this girl – no, young woman – standing next to him.
Perhaps it was something in her eyes, the angry but wistful kindling in them as she stared at Freedom wordlessly, or perhaps it was the fact that he had just kidnapped the most prominent figure of a crucially important country. He inwardly winced at the idea. To deal with said figure would not be easy, especially since she still had that burning-holes-into-your-skull gaze on.
In the most tentative tone he could afford, Kira bridged the silence. "Still mad at me?"
When the golden eyes turned and now were shooting daggers at him, he knew he should not have given too much hope. Despite the wedding gown and all, it was still Cagalli standing next to him. "I'm furious, Kira."
Somewhere during the staring contest, he managed a hesitant smile. "For kidnapping you?"
Cagalli narrowed her eyes before turning to continue her fuming stare on Freedom, muttering sarcastically, "This is my very wedding day in case you don't know. Never seen this kind of dress before?"
Something took hold of his tongue and the sharp retort that had been hovering on its edge was bitten back. The anger surprised him. For a while, Kira wondered in astonishment what he was actually being angry about. Firmly telling his temper to quiet down, he followed his sister's gaze to his Gundam and started once again, "The wedding, It's not what you want, is it?"
"That barely matters," her voice was hard and dry. "We're not kids anymore, Kira. We have to learn taking responsibilities of what we are and what I do is but a minor sacrificing."
Compared to the many lives of people at Orb and so on and so forth. Even without her finishing the sentence verbally, Kira could practically hear its complete version in his head. He had listened to the speech only too often, but Cagalli was plain stubborn, especially when it came to act martyr-ish. For the briefest moment, he allowed himself to question if her father had known what he would be putting her through when he had set the responsibility to live on her. Or if he had thought about her happiness even just a little.
But of course, anyone who had such vast range of responsibility was seldom happy.
"The wedding is something I need to do," her rigid voice told him that they had yet to finish. Kira blinked at her. Surely she didn't expect him to give her back to that awful purple-haired man, did she? They had only been siblings for two years but Cagalli was important for him. Sacrificing herself to meet other people's demand was something he wouldn't have. Not if he could still help it. No one should sacrifice their happiness for others' sakes.
That was the word. Sacrifice. Probably it was the reason why he had chosen to retire, to leave his sister and his best friend to face the world on their own. He had fled.
Suddenly it felt difficult for him to look at her in the eye.
"It's not right," the pilot of Freedom still found himself arguing despite his breeding guilt.
"It is politically correct and I have given my formal consent about this," her stiff reply came swiftly, as if she had been preparing it. "The decision is mine to make, Kira. Mine alone."
Exactly after she had finished her words, Kira risked a sidelong glance at her and was told from the flame within her eyes, that it took a heavy toll from her to maintain that level of voice. People surely matured in time. The old Cagalli would have been punching, kicking, throwing a hissy fit at him, or at least doing something more drastic and less civil. Or maybe, he reminded himself grimly, she was just too unhappy about the marriage despite her steadfast decision. If it was the case... Kira gritted his teeth and turned to face her. The challenging look was still there flaunting her defiance, but his voice was calm when he spoke. "I'm not going to argue with that, but you are clearly forgetting something."
Cagalli raised her eyebrows, daring him to continue.
"No one is going to marry you without my permission."
As silence took its throne, there were myriads of expression shifting on her face – humiliation, anger, joy, misery, embarrassment, love; you name it, it was there – and playing different colours to her golden irises. Cagalli opened her mouth at one second only to close it again on the next second, unable to decide whether she had to yell, cry, curse, or none of the above, and the process was repeated again and again that Kira was no longer able to hold his grin off. She eventually settled for an indignant scowl at his ill-concealed amusement and growled, "You're such an ass."
"But you love me," her brother countered with an even wider grin.
"You're still an ass," she shot back but not denying his statement, her last word holding a shaky note. Kira felt his grin falling into a gentler smile and he reached forward, removing the thin translucent veil to reveal her pastel skin to the pale light in Archangel's hangar. He bit his lips, his smile withering as tanner fingers made their way to caress damp traces of dried tears.
"I don't want to see any of you cry."
There was a small hitch in her intake of breath, almost unnoticeable, and he noticed her lips quivering slightly when she tried to craft audible words. "Do you think he would cry?"
Long silence followed. Kira stared at her, violet eyes wide and unblinking in shock, his fingers frozen upon soft skin. It was...unexpected, even horrible to hear the questionfrom her. Doubts and trepidation were the companions of frailer, weaker loves, but to have them enough to voice the question was in itself awful. The love they had, he thought, supposed to be much stronger, or probably it was simply his own thought and ignorant guesses. But looking at his sister now, her visage repressing any sort of expressions, Kira was forced to fight his rising anger, mixed with disbelief and – unexpectedly but not surprisingly – guilt. Athrun would not. Athrun should not.
He would not. He should not.
The faintest touch of a wry smile trickled onto Cagalli's lips, leaving the rest of its traces clearer in her voice. "You think he wouldn't."
It was an affirmation, not the slightest bit a question. Kira was ready to scream at what looked like budding certainty in her. She didn't suppose to believe that, not even if every edge and corner of his treacherous countenance said it was so. Because it wasn't true, at lest he was sure of it. He knew without doubt that only two among the living that still could make his best friend cried. Only two, and she was one of them.
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Kira obliged every cheerful nerve he had left to weave their way into his answering voice. Just for her, he knew he could do it. He tried to grin. "I'm not sure I'll be able to find out. He will kill me first for not stopping you."
His voice was light – as light as epigraphs covered in lead – and he almost winced, almost allowing the chaos raging in his inside to slip plainly and blandly to his face. With infinitely more self-reproach, he withdrew his hand, waiting for her judgment. But she smiled instead, if a little strained it was, and her tone was gentle and unassuming when she replied, "Liar. He loves you too much to kill you."
To that, Kira had utterly nothing to say, his normal eloquence fleeing at the impact of his sister's words. Sometimes it was hard to follow her delicate track of thinking and for this one, he would rather stop right where he was than try to discover what it was at the end of the thread. His uneasiness told him that it would hurt Cagalli and Athrun, also himself and Lacus if he kept pushing and prodding the last knot. To want more – or even less – than what they already had might destroy all they already had, the peace they had fought for.
Something akin to understanding dawned on her face and the smile weakened, waning into a remorseful one. Then, it was her turn to reach out, both of her hands touching his cheeks. "And do you think you will cry, Kira?"
That, he thought silently, somewhat amused, was rhetorical. He locked his fingers with hers and smirked for probably the first time in his life. "I'm a crybaby, remember?"
"You admit it," she stuck her tongue out, evoking even a wider smirk on her brother. They stared at each other and she clasped his wider hands tighter, her whisper brave and clear despite uneasiness in her eyes. "Will you forgive me? Both of you?"
Very slowly, Kira unfastened her hold on his face and let the long graceful hands to drop at her side. There was a certain amount of solemnity in his deep amethyst eyes when he spelled out with equal degree of sincerity, just a little tremble beneath his tenor, "I don't have what you're looking for, Cagalli, but I know you can find it somewhere else. Be careful though, if you want to ask him."
But she just smiled, a lovely wistful smile framed by her golden strands. And he closed his eyes, pulling her into his arms as he whispered quietly for her ears only to hear, "I'm not going to runaway again. That time, I was afraid to know– I refused to see that my effort had gone wasted, that another was coming in spite of what I had done at the last. I've left the two of you alone for too long, but now I'll stand up and fight. We will make it together. Four of us will."
There was a short sob coming from her, the cold shoulders under his chin convulsing faintly before she fought it back, telling herself to stand proud and tall even if in his arms. It was, Kira reflected quietly, his arms easing her stiffness a bit, her vow to appear strong in others' presence. He loathed the idea of her not letting him see past behind her mask, but if it made everything easier for her, he had little to argue. His decision proved to be right when she pulled back, her tears-brightened eyes held his gaze unwaveringly. "Break your promise and I'll hunt you to the end of the universe, Kira Yamato."
Yes, not wrong at all. He gave her an affectionate smile and leant in, kissing the singular droplet that had slid down from the corner of her left eye. "You're beautiful."
"What are you talking about?" It certainly wasn't the reaction he was expecting, but Kira still felt himself grinning at the scarlet tints rising on her cheeks. It earned him a small slap across the arm that did close to nothing to his thick pilot suit but so much more to his humor. That was the girl he knew, one that he loved – carefree, slightly reckless, always shouting at him, easily teased, and above all, being herself. "I'm just getting serious here and there you go and destroy it all! Seriously, Kira, do you have to be such an annoying git?"
"The privilege is exclusively yours, my dear sister," he replied in mock-solemnity, eyes twinkling in humor he thought had been lost since the war. For a moment he regretted of not coming to her sooner.
"Which is so incredibly uncalled-for," she hissed back at him, not missing a beat.
"Yet wanted nevertheless," Kira readily parried with complacency written all over his face. Eloquence sure was the finest blade and good thing his was by a long way sharper than hers. Blessed the genes of Coordinators.
Cagalli put up her hands in desperation, shooting her accusing looks. "I'm NOT going to win this, am I?"
"Not in the next fifty years," Kira agreed cheerfully, not bothering to hide his wide smile. Yes, it was so much better than brooding in melancholy, which he had been enough doing for the last two years. Of course, Lacus gave him a sense of wholeness, peace, contentment, and so much more than he dared to ask from anyone, even as close as Athrun. But only his sister, with all of her qualities he knew for sure no one else would ever retain, could bring that smile out of him, that sense of being truly happy.
"The utter injustice of the world," she muttered under her breath – apparently still stubborn despite her other maturing sides – followed with further less intelligible curses.
Kira didn't pursue the issue – after all, a stalemate was good enough for his reintroducing to sense of humor. There was something much more important than petty dispute right now, like an oath he had made to himself to ensure that two of the most important people in his life were happy regardless the era they had to live in. He steadied his gaze and caught her sour one.
"Not done yet with your incoherent comments?" she said dryly.
Either she was really tactless or just trying to annoy him with all her might, given that she hadn't won their last debate, it was his turn to frown. "I'm trying to be serious now."
"You reap what you sow, Brother," his sister answered smugly, her voice coated with sweet taste of victory.
Kira's frown deepened. He didn't see that one coming but – oh well, not that it was anything important. Heaving a deep sigh, he tried again, now furnishing his voice with a warning tone. "Cagalli."
It worked, he congratulated himself when she eventually decided to set him a solemn look. "Yes, Kira?"
For a moment, he stared, searching in her eyes as if he would be able to find in them a way to deliver what he needed to convey. A short message, or maybe a warning, or just a thought at its most bizarre, something to give them a reason not to cry if they still couldn't smile. Of course, assuming his judgment was right. He merely didn't want to see anything that looked remotely like tears on their faces.
Or on his own. Or Lacus's.
His hand sought forward and found the flimsy transparent fabric of her veil, fingering its edge with something close to apprehension. The pilot of Freedom looked up, his fingers grasping a handful more of the material as he said somberly, "You may only wear this dress for one person, okay? For one person only. Promise me." He bit his lips hard, leaving a red evident mark, and his voice lowering slightly. "Don't let him sacrifice his happiness for something really stupid. That kind of happiness, no one should forfeit it if we still can try to find another way less painful."
When she said nothing in response, Kira stepped closer, releasing his grip on her veil. "There is always another way. Trust me," he emphasized each word, making sure that she would understand. She had to.
Cagalli did not move from her spot. She regarded him calmly, hands determinedly set at her sides. "Is there, Kira? For you?"
Her question took him aback for a second before he shook himself mentally and returned her blank stare. "There always is for everyone," his answer was neutral and so was his tone. Kira could see Cagalli's eyes narrowing, spelling clear disbelief, and impulsively he took her hands in his. Before she could articulate anything, he gave the hands a light squeeze. "Promise me?"
There was a glint in her eyes, bitter and calculating, something he was not used to see in her. Obviously he didn't know her that well. Her voice when she finally spoke was of an astute politician and Kira realized that he had really spent the last two years not by her side, not witnessing that change taking place. The wave of guilt hit him hard – again.
"Only if you promise no one is going to marry you without my permission either." But then, the momentary menace vanished from her face and she laced their fingers together, her voice softening. "And promise me, Kira, that you will be happy no matter what."
Kira felt himself smiling. That moment, he thought he understood why he was born as her brother.
Notes: No, they were not behaving like normal brothers and sisters but I've warned you, didn't I? Actually I was going to write an Athrun/Cagalli piece, so how it turned out to be this I have no idea. Now, if only I can write something not so ambiguous...