EDITED: 091405

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Yahoo! I'm so happy! I was feeling a bit depressed because I wasn't able to upload my other fics like I promised. I didn't know how to continue it… but I've found my inspiration! I was finally able to watch Gundam SEED Destiny! Although, I must say I was pretty disappointed in some things, the fact that I was able to see Athrun again made me jump in joy! And I'm feeling inspired so I might update my fics this week…

Anyway, here's a one-shot to calm my frazzled nerves…just a warm-up before I get started on my other fics… It's not that good and it's kind of plot less. But hope you find it interesting just the same.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Gundam SEED.



One look at the La Côte Basque and one will notice just why it was considered one of the most popular restaurants in Orb. With its elegant interiors and authentic French cuisine and staff, no doubt it was also regarded as one of the most expensive. It surely suited his host, if he were to judge by appearances only.

But, if one was to evaluate Jona Roma Seiran, they would be terribly disappointed to find out that the promising young man was nothing but hot air underneath all that purple garb.

Athrun Zala shook his head and mentally reprimanded himself for thinking such bad thoughts about Cagalli's childhood friend. He knew he shouldn't be doing that to Jona, but he couldn't help it. It wasn't like him to be so hostile towards someone he's just met. But judging from Jona's reaction earlier when they met for the first time, he was quite sure that the feeling was entirely mutual, if not much, much shoddier.

Jona had a way with words. He knew were to hit the hardest. He had a way with his actions, too; making him jealous with all the hugging and touching he did to Cagalli. It was a miracle that Jona was able to come home in one piece and even manage to invite him to this 'courtesy call.'

He felt the tissue paper that he had been clutching tear in his hands. He sighed again and kept his emotions in check. It would not do to be angry with a person when said person wasn't even there to begin with.

But the fact that Jona I'm-a-high-and-mighty-pain-in-the-ass Roma Seiran still hadn't shown his prissy butt yet was one of the reasons why he was feeling a little irritated at the moment. He was spending his Saturday night waiting for some guy to show up instead of playing 'bodyguard' to Cagalli.

Jona forced him to agree to this 'meeting' to discuss Cagalli's safety. Being the Representative of ORB wasn't exactly a walk in the park and Jona appointed himself to orient Athrun with the finer points of securing the Princess' safety.

Athrun glanced at his watch and took a deep breath to calm his frazzled nerves.

45 minutes.

The maître d' was shooting him odd glances every now and then. Three waiters had come by his table to refill his glass of water and to ask him about his 'companion'. He had been waiting for forty-five – make that forty-six goddamn minutes for Jona to show up.

He took a deep breath once again. Five minutes. He'll give Jona five more minutes and after that, Athrun will consider it an incentive that he didn't get to have the honor of being able to see Jona's face for the second time that day.







He closed his eyes and slowly let out a breath of frustration. Jona either thought of himself beyond pleasantries or that Alex Dino was not worth a show of manners and etiquette. Athrun decided that it had to be both. 'That's it. I'm out if here.'

As he was about to leave, he saw the maître d' curtsy to someone in the front door. It didn't take a genius to know who it was. Four towering hulks of flesh serving as Jona's bodyguards entered the room and surveyed the area. When they saw him, they nodded to him in acknowledgement and Athrun nodded back rather stiffly.

He remained standing to show respect as he waited for his generous host. The strict military discipline that he learned in the academy and in the Zala household forced him to do so. Curse his ethics and principles!

Jona emerged from behind the M.I.B.'s and smiled smugly at him.

"Alex! Good to see that you bothered to turn up after all. I wasn't sure if you were familiar with this kind of place," Jona said sitting immediately and motioning for the waiter.

Athrun ignored the subtle insult and forced a smile on his face as he sat down. He waited for Jona's apology, or an explanation as to why he was late.

It never came.

But the waiter did, handing them the menus and immediately reciting in an excited tone, "Tonight's special includes Asparagus timbale with hollandaise, cheese soufflé, and smoked Alaskan salmon served on a French baguette with peppers and sun-dried tomatoes."

Jona looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded his approval, "Yes, I think I'd like that." He turned to Athrun, an amused expression on his smug face. "What about you, Alex? Or don't you -"

"I'll have the truffles, please," Athrun interrupted. He wasn't exactly a fish person and he'll be damned if he ordered something like escargot.

"Excellent choice, Monsieur. Would you like some wine?"

"White wine would be fine," Jona answered.

The waiter bowed once more and made his graceful exit.

Athrun leaned back on his seat and regarded Jona with a poker face. Jona was grinning like the Cheshire cat and it made him suspicious, if not even more irked.

Athrun decided to plunge in. "I suppose you'd like to tell me the real reason behind this fancy dinner?"

Jona's smile became wider, if it was possible. "Of course, Alex. As you know, I'm a very busy person, what with me being a council member and all. My Father, Unato Ema Seiran, who's also a council member, wants only the best from me," he explained airily.

Athrun felt his eye twitch. 'Well, la-de-da. My father was the Head of Z.A.F.T. and Chairman of the Supreme Council of the P.L.A.N.T.s. I have an Order of the Nebula and am considered as one of the military's ace pilots. But do you hear me mentioning it every minute or so?' Athrun thought. Aloud he said, "I can imagine."

"You bet you can!" Jona exclaimed and roared in laughter. "You make me laugh, Alex."

'Really? What I said was about as funny as the Bloody Valentine incident. Not.' he thought darkly.But he wasn't Athrun Zala at the moment. He was Alex Dino, Cagalli's bodyguard. So he chose to remain silent.

Jona, however, refused to do the same. He continued to survey Athrun amusedly. "Unbelievable."

"Excuse me?"

Jona laughed gaily. "Well, I had my doubts about inviting you to a place such as this. I wasn't quite sure whether or not you'd fit in. I assumed you'd be more of a – ah, what's the phrase? – a cheeseburger-and-fries kind of guy. Clearly, I was wrong."

Athrun narrowed his eyes. He was sure as hell that wasn't a compliment. Jona's face turned into a more serious one. "But then again, you do have a knack for fitting in, don't you, Alex?"

Athrun winced inwardly. He hated that name...and the way that Jona said it made it sound like an insult of sorts. But he kept his temper in check. Even if he was Alex at the moment, Jona Roma Seiran was still Jona Roma Seiran. He leaned casually on his chair and looked directly into Jona's eyes. He forced a highly puzzled look into his eyes for effect. "I don't know what you mean, Mr. Seiran."

Jona smirked. "Don't you?" He sat up straighter (if it was possible, given that his posture was always ridiculously straight). "When I first saw you hanging around Cagalli, I knew then and there that you were bad news."

"You talk as if I'm a juvenile delinquent, Mr. Seiran."

"Let me make this clearer," Jona said, his voice full of controlled anger. "I don't like you hovering over Cagalli."

"I'm her bodyguard, Mr. Seiran," Athrun replied politely, but with a hint of coolness behind his words. "It's my job to hover over her. I think it's quite clear that you dislike me. I must tell you that the feeling is entirely mutual."

Their glaring match was interrupted by the arrival of their food. Athrun turned his attention to the dish in front of him. It looked delicious, but he had already lost his appetite. "Have you said everything you wanted to say, Mr. Seiran?"

"No, I'm not quite finished with you yet," Jona said quietly. He looked up from his food and smiled sardonically. "I think it would be proper to end this 'rendezvous' with a warning. Before Cagalli's father died, he and my father had already arranged that she and I be married after her 18th birthday. I think you know what that means."

Athrun felt his mouth run dry. 'Cagalli is getting married…? To this jerk? Why didn't she tell me?'

Jona's smile grew larger as he caught sight of the thunderstruck look on Athrun's face. "Well, well, well, it seems that I had the honor of being the first to tell you."

Athrun ignored the happy look on Jona's face. His mind was on other things. 'Why didn't she tell me? Maybe she didn't know about this? Yeah, right. Of course she knew!' A small bubble of hope rose in him. 'Maybe she wasn't planning on telling me because she was finding a way to weasel out of this. Yes, that must be it.'

But even in his mind, it sounded idiotic and highly impossible.

"Who are you really, Alex Dino?" Jona hissed menacingly. "You suddenly barge into our lives and act as if you know everything. You Coordinator scum don't belong to the company of the likes of us."

"Who ever said anything about wanting to belong to the likes of you?" Athrun questioned with as much hatred.

"Then why the hell are you still here?" Jona asked coldly. "Why don't you return to space or whatever hellhole you came from?"

Athrun suppressed the urge to bash Jona's face in. He wasn't particularly proud of his bloodline but he had his pride to keep. Jona didn't have the right to step on him and treat him like dirt. "You want to know who I really am, Mr. Seiran?"

Jona smiled evilly at him. "Why would I ask the question if I didn't want to know the answer?"

Athrun looked at Jona long and hard. Then suddenly, it hit him. He let his face fall into an unguarded and rare, peaceful smile. "My identity…doesn't matter. I know Cagalli accepts me whoever I might be. We feel the same for one another and I know that such trifle things will not get between us.

"You can marry her and get all the glory that comes with being a King. But at the end of the day, I will still have Cagalli's affections and you'll have your position. I think it kind of works for both of us, right?" Athrun explained. He understood that Cagalli must marry Jona for the stability of Orb…and he was willing to hold back for a few more years for her, for her responsibilities.

Jona continued to regard him in that haughty expression of his. "Maybe so… but for how long will you be able to hold back, Alex?"

"For as long as she wants me to," Athrun answered simply.

Jona smirked. "Then I'll just have to do something about it. But…I like challenges, Alex. I think you just proved your worth as my rival. I look forward to future interactions with you."

"You may look at this as a game, Mr. Seiran," Athrun said slowly. "I don't."

"Games are fun," Jona told him dismissively. "But who are you, Alex? I think you owe it to your contender to tell your real name, at the very least."

Athrun took a deep breath to calm his nerves. He reached into his wallet, took out a credit card and motioned for the waiter. The waiter immediately came to his side and Athrun gave him his credit card. He flashed it in Jona's direction, making sure that the purple-haired prick caught sight of the name embossed in the plastic card.

Jona's eyes went wide.

Athrun Zala...

Jona remained wide-eyed and speechless as Athrun waited for the attendant to return his card. Afterwards, he stood up and bowed mockingly. "Thank you for the honor of having dinner with someone as lowly as myself, Mr. Seiran. The pleasure was all mine. And for telling me a particularly important piece of news, please consider this as my treat."

He left the table without a backward glance. 'I'll wait for Cagalli to tell me in due time, and I'll wait for her until all this is finished. After that, we have the rest of our lives to catch up on lost time…'



AUTHOR'S NOTES: So what do you think? Only one way for me to find out, please review!