Just a Theory

At last the fighting was over and the curtain had fallen on the first part of the saga. The battlefields of space became a place of mournful contemplation for the survivors. That was until:

"Well, I think I'm ready," Athrun said, breaking the reverential silence and slapping his knee and rising. He looked meaningfully at Kira. "I guess we should get to it and get this over with, eh, Kira?"

Kira, Cagalli and Lacus, who had joined him in this lounge-like observation area aboard the Archangel, stared blankly back. "Er, what are we doing?" said the former with a heavy sense of foreboding.

"Come on, Kira, you know. My father just died . . ."

He left the sentence hanging, gesturing unintelligibly in the hope Kira would catch on.

Needless to say, he didn't. "So . . . ?" he said in the same voice.

"So . . . I've been patient this whole time, standing aside as you take my girl. I think I more than deserve to claim my dues."

"Your dues?" said Cagalli with that same tone of voice she used when Kira questioned her womanhood. The hands placed firmly on her hips seemed to dare Athrun to continue with the sexist statement she was sure he was going to make.

Athrun shrugged. "Yeah. It's my turn to do Kira."

Kira started. "What?"

Lacus looked equally surprised, and Cagalli frowned. "Come on, Athrun," she said, "quit joking around. Can't you see we're trying to commiserate here?"

"Hey," said Athrun in his defense, "same here. All I'm trying to do is commiserate over the loss of my father. Doing Kira just happens to be a central part of that."

"And by 'doing,' you mean . . . ?" Kira started nervously.

"Whatever gave you that idea?" said Lacus.

As if to say, Glad that you asked that question, Athrun immediately took the studious pose of a lecturer as he began to pace the small area before the sofa.

"It's a theory I have," he said. "Just stick with me, here. I don't know how it's possible, but it seems that Kira possesses some sort of innate biological, sexual magnetism that attracts young women whose fathers have recently been killed. It's like a pheromone he exudes that only they—in their heightened state of grief, or something—can detect. And when they do, they find it irresistible. The first to be exposed to it was Flay. If I remember correctly, she hated Kira's guts right up until the moment her dad bit it. After that, she couldn't get enough of him."

"That's true, she was all over me," said Kira distantly, as though fondly recalling that far-off time, causing Cagalli to mutter to herself, "Wipe that stupid grin off your face."

"Lacus," Athrun said, "when your father was murdered it was Kira you went to, not me. He even had you for a while, Cagalli—until you two found out you were twins, naturally."

"Hm." She thought for a moment before finally nodding, "That is true."

"And then you went SEED, too," said Lacus helpfully, in her usual sweet voice of reason, "which was fucking awesome."

Cagalli nodded. Then she yelled dramatically at the ceiling with clenched fists, "Father! The sleeper has awakened!"

"Fuck yeah!" said Haro quite inappropriately.

"But while I was attracted to Kira after that," said Lacus to Athrun, "I never slept with him."

"Well, no, not yet. But if things keep going the way they sure seem to be headed, you will eventually, right? See," Athrun tried, "this may be the only chance I get—"

"No way!" Kira seemed to suddenly snap out of it and realize the gravity of the predicament he was in. "We may be friends, Athrun, I'd even go so far as to say BFFs. But I draw the line at friends with benefits!"

At the very moment that he was saying that, Dearka and Miriallia entered the room with Yzak and Sai in tow. They started when they saw Kira cowering in the corner, trying to keep the sofa between himself and Athrun, and Cagalli basking in the glow of a soffit light.

"What the heck is going on?" said Sai.

At that Cagalli returned to normal. "Athrun just asked Kira to have sex with him," she said, pointing with her thumb.

Kira thought he would die of embarrassment when Yzak laughed out loud at that. Leave it to that tactless broad to spill the beans that were nobody's business, he thought.

"See," Athrun began once again, "I have this theory—"

"It's just a theory!" said Kira.

"Oh man," said Dearka, looking genuinely sympathetic. "I'm sorry, Athrun. Your father passed away, didn't he?"

Kira and Cagalli gaped.

"Yeah," Athrun said.

"How did you know?" said Miriallia.

"It's like a rule," Dearka explained for her. "Whenever some chick's dad dies she feels compelled to jump Kira's bones."

"But . . . isn't Athrun a guy . . . ?" Miriallia began, confused.

Cagalli folded her arms over her chest. "That's preposterous. I did not 'jump' his 'bones.'"

"But you wanted to."

"Well . . ." Cagalli scratched her head. "Yeah. Kinda. Okay, pretty much."

Athrun nodded. "I've carefully documented each instance of the father's death equals jump Kira's bones reaction, and my findings couldn't be more accurate. Of course, further testing with other subjects would help to lay those doubts that remain to rest—"

"Hold on a second," Kira interrupted. "What's this about documentation?"

For the first time, Athrun suddenly looked as though he had said too much. "Uh, about that, there's something I must confess . . ."

"You were spying on me?"

"I wouldn't exactly call it—"

"Don't try to backtrack now, Athrun Zala. Out with it!"

Instead, Yzak stepped up to the plate, accusing Athrun with a condescending pose: "You've been using that annoying robot bird to take naked pictures of Kira and email them back to you on the Vesalius."

Kira gasped. "Not Birdy!"

"How did you find out?" said Athrun bravely.

Yzak shrugged. "It wasn't hard. Your room was right next to mine, you know, and those walls weren't exactly soundproof. That and that damn bird tried to take pictures of me in the shower just now."

"Impossible." Athrun bit his thumb, panicking. "My programming was flawless. . . ."

"In any case, I found out soon enough when I discovered the hard copies in your sock drawer."

Dearka fixed him a curious stare. "And what, pray tell, were you doing in Athrun's sock drawer?"

"Only digging up the dirt on my greatest arch-nemesis of all time. What do you think?" said Yzak, sticking out his chest. "You have to know your number-one rival's weak points inside and out if you are going to humiliate him soundly. Golden opportunities like this don't grow on trees. Come on, this is just elementary stuff. . . . Plus," he said much quieter, "I missed laundry day that week and needed a clean pair."

Athrun sighed deeply. "It's all true," he confessed to Kira, who stared back horrified. "I put a camera inside Birdy. And a modem. I used it as practice for my later work on Haro."

"You what?" said Lacus.

Athrun pretended not to notice her steadily rising ire and continued, "Well, that's not exactly true. The camera was in Pink. I hid the modem inside one of the Blues. Thought I'd go for streaming video that time. —What I'm trying to say, Kira, is that I was going to give you the sweater I had knitted with my tartan on it as a farewell present, but when I thought of the possibilities I couldn't help myself. I mean, what was I going to get out of a sweater? So, I went to the dark side of science a little—"

"You knit?" said a stunned Dearka and Cagalli at the same time.

"Damn! I wish I'd uncovered that one," said Yzak to himself.

Athrun glanced between them. "It's just something I do with my hands."

Just then the door opened once again with a whoosh, and their captain, Murrue Ramius, stepped through. She appeared all set to crash on the couch with a bottle of peppermint Schnapps when she saw the other eight already gathered there. "Oh," she said a bit flustered. "What the hell is everyone doing here?"

"It's a bit complicated," Sai tried explaining to her, "but it appears Athrun's been trying to convince Kira to, er, ah, sleep with him, and was using Birdy to take compromising pictures of Kira this whole time."

"You mean that mechanical bird that's been in your possession these last couple months, Mr Argyle?" the captain said pointedly.

"Um, er . . ."

"You kids have my blessing!" she said loudly and tipped the bottle back, taking a very generous swig. She came up for air with a satisfied smack. Then she noticed no one was moving. "Well, what's the hold up? Hop to it."

"I'm not doing my best friend," protested Kira. "That's gross."

"Aw, quit'cher bitching, Kira, you two have been making googly eyes at each other since day one. The war's over now, so kiss and make up already. Put us all out of your misery, and clean up some of this UST that's been cluttering up the place." Ramius waved the hand not preoccupied with booze about. "That's an order."

" 'UST'?" Miriallia asked Sai, who shrugged.

"Unresolved Sexual Tension," said Waltfeld, whose face—jovial even in the midst of commiseration—suddenly appeared on the monitor. "Like the kind between me and Captain Ramius."

"Feh. In your dreams, Mister . . . Desert . . . Muttonchops— Damn, I can't come up with a good comeback with this guy," said Ramius. And mumbling something to herself about needing to sit down, she did.

"You've got quite a nice rack of lamb yourself," said Waltfeld, punning excellently. Then to the group: "So, who's got this UST problem I've been hearing about?"

All fingers pointed to Athrun and Kira.

"Oh, right." He didn't sound surprised. "Zala's son, correct? Yeah, I heard your pop just bought the farm—"

"Of course," Athrun told Cagalli, "this doesn't mean I don't still dig women."

"Naturally."

"Gosh darn it!" swore Kira. "Why the heck am I the last one to know about this condition I supposedly have? Okay, if this is just a big joke you're all in on, I get it now, all right? Am I being punk'd?"

"I don't know why you're so upset, Kira," said Sai unexpectedly. "Two out of three ain't bad."

"Yeah!" Athrun jumped in. "And one of them was your sister, so, technically, that's almost a hundred percent."

"I hate to admit it, Kira," said the other with a shrug, "but ever since Flay met such a tragic and cheap-ass end, even I've been starting to feel a little attracted to you."

Kira took a step back. "Sai . . . they got to you, too?"

"Yeah, er . . ." Yzak raised his hand. "I've been thinking, the stuff my mother was involved in, I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't make it too far into the next season. She's actually quite a delicate person, contrary to . . . Well, anyway, I was wondering if this theory applies to people who've lost their mothers, too."

"I don't know," said Athrun as he pondered the question seriously. "Under my hypothesis, the susceptibility to the particular pheromones is triggered by the loss of a stern paternal figure."

"Jesus, it's just a theory!" Kira reminded them.

"I only ask 'cause my mother's what you might call, er . . . ballsy," said Yzak self-consciously. "I'd like to be prepared if I might be at risk for falling for my number-two arch-rival. . . ."

"How 'bout if your boyfriend dies?" said Miriallia.

"Or girlfriend," put in Waltfeld—to which Dearka and DaCosta, the latter of whom could be heard off-screen on the Eternal, said at the same time: "Don't encourage him!"

"This is ridiculous!" said the young man in question as he was all but hiding behind Lacus. "I don't want any part of your stupid stages of grief! Can't you just cut these pheromones out of me or something?"

"I'm afraid," said Ramius with more dramatic gravity than was probably necessary, "if we did that . . . you would die."

"Then good riddance, I say. Coordinators with this kind of strange, sexual power over people shouldn't exist." And with that he made for the exit—albeit a little uncertainly, as he was suddenly very uncertain about his standing with half of them.

Athrun caught up with him in the hall. "I didn't mean that to become some public display," he said by way of apology, "but now you have to admit there must be something to my theory.

"Lacus, you explain it to him," he said to the young woman who was being pushed toward them by Cagalli.

"You spied on me?" she said instead—obviously to Athrun, who got anxious. Despite her gentle nature—or perhaps because of it—Lacus could be quite unpredictable and thus a little scary when provoked. "I don't know whether to be flattered or deck you right here."

"Ka-boom! Splat!" said Haro bouncing out with them, with way too much enthusiasm for an unassuming little machine.

Cagalli nodded furiously in agreement.

"Which is why you're with Kira now," Athrun said, grabbing Kira's wrist. "He's a much more decent person than I. I just need to borrow him for a few hours. All right?"

Kira started. "A few hours!" He pulled his sleeve away. "Forget that. Besides." A lightbulb suddenly flashed on in his head. "Since you're more or less with Cagalli, and since it's pretty much a given we're long-lost brother and sister now, it's high time I put my foot down and claimed my sibling rights, here."

Cagalli looked on in anticipation while Athrun shrugged. "Okay."

"Damn right," said Kira, who was obviously grasping at straws, "so . . . As Cagalli's big brother, I have to tell you, Athrun, that if you ever do anything to hurt my sister I will have to kill you. And I'm pretty sure my doing it with you would hurt Cagalli. Because she'll be jealous."

"Not really," said Cagalli indifferently.

Athrun shot him a look as if to say, Told you so—except, he hadn't, so he couldn't say it.

"And what's this big brother crap? I'm obviously the eldest, here. Which is why I think I should be claiming my sibling rights. Athrun," Cagalli said, turning, "if you ever make my little brother cry . . . well . . . more power to ya. I would say take pictures, but seeing as how Kira's my bro now that would be somewhat inappropriate."

"Look, all I'm asking is for a little fooling around," Athrun said to a Kira looking more dejected moment by moment. "Otherwise, you know this isn't just going to go away. If we don't resolve this thing it'll follow us around forever, hanging over our relationships and our careers like a dark shadow, popping up at the worst moments . . ."

"I know," said Kira, lowering his eyes. "Somehow . . . I've always known."

"Hey, how bad can it be?" said Cagalli, trying to cheer him up. "And how do you know you won't like it if you don't try it?"

Needless to say, that wasn't helping Kira. She seemed a little too happy about the whole thing.

"Thanks, Cagalli," Athrun mumbled. "You've just managed to compare me to brussel sprouts."

Kira sighed. "All right, already. I give in. Let's just hurry up and get this over with before I change my mind."

At that, Athrun grabbed him in a headlock and rubbed his head, with a grin on his face so big it was almost more creepy than endearing, saying, "Now that's the Kira I know and love! A real go-getter!"

"Okay, you're pushing it," Kira gasped.

Athrun released him instantly.

"Don't worry so much," said Cagalli with a wave. "You'll be fine. Besides, Athrun's really more of a bottom."

"Wait, how do you know tha—" Kira tried to ask, but he didn't get a chance to finish—or hear Cagalli's answer—as he was yanked away down the hall.

"There he goes," Cagalli said fondly as she put an arm around Lacus's shoulders, "our little Kira, all grown up."

"My oh my," said Haro.

"Just between the two of us," she began again a little self-consciously, "that theory of Athrun's was a complete crock, right?"

"Oh, I should say so," said Lacus. "He's been after this for years. I suspect half the reason he likes you as much as he does is because you're you, but the other half is because you're a socially-acceptable, female version of Kira—um, no offense, Cagalli."

"Nah, you're right." She sighed, then got an idea. "Hey, you wanna make them jealous?"

Lacus actually pondered the possibility for a moment. "It is tempting," she said, "but I can think of something a little more pressing."

She and Cagalli exchanged knowing looks.

Feeling the chill of a descending shadow, Pink turned and looked up to see two young women looming ominously over it with screwdrivers in hand and wide grins that could only mean one thing. It managed to say, "Uh-oh. Will I dream?" before everything went black.

The End