Aurora Borealis: 01:
A/N: Please be aware that this is rather an old 'fic. I've been meaning again and again to go through it, editing out errors etc., but by now there has been so much time since I originally wrote it that my style of writing, ideas of characterization etc. have changed enough that a beta-ing would turn inevitably into a complete re-writing. Seeing as I've fallen out of the GS/D fandom, I find it unlikely that I will take the trouble to do this. Rather, the best course of action seems, to me at least, to be to leave Aurora up in its present form, as a story I was satisfied with at least when I wrote it, and that many people have been kind enough to let me know they enjoyed.
For Kira, it has always been Athrun. It's so obviously true, on so many levels.
Siting up in bed, arms clutched around his knees, he can't stop shaking. He's sweaty all over, hair and nightwear clinging to his clammy skin, and his eyes are wet to match. Waking up in the impersonal dark room, in silence except for the eternal rumbling of the Archangel's motors, is nothing new, nor is the cause. He spends a lot of nights dreaming, after all, endures his sleeping mind cooking up all kinds of scenarios.
Tonight they've been especially bad.
Idyllic images from Orb and Heliopolis, running around laughing and playing like he did as a child. His mother hugging him, his father teaching him to ride a bike.
That's not so terrible though. Kira has become more accustomed to pain than he dares to think about, and the memories aren't that emotionally loaded. A mostly happy childhood that was lost to him long before now. He's not overly close to his parents, and anyway, he never liked trying to bike. It just wasn't worth all those scraped knees, and he rarely ever uses the skill he eventually acquired. If it were only this that nightmares meant, he could deal.
But in the middle of the night there's battle, horrible explosions that make the sky bleed, fire raining over him. He's slashing and cursing and with every move he makes he kills a person. Already the second time he fought with Strike he took the life from someone, stole the light away from a nameless stranger's eyes forever. Now he murders countless people with every sweep of the Sword Striker, hears the metal scream as he slashes through the units, then the pilots as the damage reaches them, tears their flesh apart. And he stops, aghast: and as fast as he does, so fast as he gains enough breathing space to wash the blood off his hands, even more people start dying. He's not doing anything, but endless numbers of little girls are being murdered and he knows it's all his fault, so he takes firm hold of the Sword Striker again and forces himself to keep killing.
Distantly he recognizes them as renderings of his halfway subconscious feelings of being trapped and forced and sinful. It helps little, because he is trapped and forced and sinful.
Those are the bad dreams, bad enough to have him moaning in distress, tossing in a futile attempt to escape. Nevertheless these scenarios are soon forgotten, for next comes the really bad one. The battlefield is a little taste of the unpleasant, but true horror calls to him from a road between trees that weep cherry blossoms into the wind.
At first he watches from outside the picture, sees two boys standing face to face. They both have sad eyes, though they are also both attempting to smile. The blue-haired one speaks: the words make reality lurch, and the next moment Kira is looking through his younger self's eyes, staring at Athrun. They're so close it hurts, the brief contact when his friend hands him Torii makes his skin burn. Kira's cold, he's so very cold: he reaches out, desperately, crushing Athrun's hand in his.
He hangs on to it as the dream changes, is still holding it when the scenario has stabilized. There's only him and Athrun now, no background to distract, and they aren't so small anymore. Athrun looks like he did that time in Heliopolis, taller than he used to be, dressed in a red military suit though without the helmet. Kira doesn't have to check to know that he too is wearing battle garb, his one blue and white. But Athrun has one arm around his waist, pressing them together, giving comfort and warmth. Kira sighs with contentment as the other's free hand, the one still entwined with his own, reaches up and strokes his face. They're very close, so close that Kira can taste Athrun on the air he breathes in, can feel the other's exhalations against his mouth. He's not freezing anymore: in fact, the comfortable warmth has developed into heat racing up and down his body, and he tilts his head, just slightly, and…
…and wakes up. When he's dreamt of fighting and hurting and blood that's a good thing, the best part of the entire day, because then at least reality, right now, is a little less horrid than what he has just been through. He can calm down, then, and appreciate that there are soft sheets around him, and quiet, relief.
Having dreamt of Athrun and the flowers and the touches he can only curl up, contract himself into a little ball of quivering human flesh and try not to scream: he doesn't want to wake anyone up. He can't quench the sobs though, the thick noises of weeping that run through his throat, or the silent tears. He cries until his eyes are so dry they burn, presses his fingers into his arms and chest, drawing bruises: longs for Athrun so much it hurts, wants for his presence. He yearns for him to sit down at Kira's bedside, as he did so many times when they were roommates at the prep school, yearns for him to lean forward in that sweetly hesitant manner, stroke a shook of brown hair away and whisper everything good: yearns for him to nudge Kira aside and slip under the coverlets with him, yearns to hold and be held by Athrun.
Kira needs Athrun, he has for as long as he can remember. It's as though his life began when they met, the time before that constituting merely a bleak transport to that one important instant. Kira's time stopped when Athrun disappeared away to PLANT, and it didn't start running again until that terrible moment in the factory in Heliopolis, on the machine with the injured woman and the familiar stranger with the gun whom he was confident would never fire at him.
He whimpers painfully, wishing there were some way to turn back time and make things different: that there was some way for him to have stopped Athrun, talked to him, then at once or at any point up until now, or even better, he wishes they had never been separated, that his friend had never left for PLANT.
But none of that is possible, and Kira is very well aware of this. When the previous weeks upon weeks of nightly hoping hasn't changed a thing, why should now be any different?
Instead he tries to focus on the people aboard the ship, the crew and his friends and Fllay Allister. She gets a category all to herself because she's not a part of the Archangel team and she's not exactly a friend of his. More than her low esteem for his kind, he knows that Tolle and Miriallia think that this is due to him having a crush on her, and maybe in a way he did. At least he tried to, as one of many attempts to find something in Heliopolis to truly distract him from the missing Athrun and the huge parts of Kira that he'd taken with him.
Kira can clearly recall the exact second his supposed interested in Fllay began. It was at a party in the beginning of summer held by a rich kid from school. Tolle had somehow managed to convince Sai to bring him and Miri, and had dragged Kira along as well. The evening had been all right. Kira felt weird and a little apprehensive around the noise and alcohol and flashing lights, but it was fun too. Shortly after midnight Tolle grabbed his arm, saying he had to meet Allister's daughter. Kira shrugged and let himself be pushed through the crowd: froze, when they'd left the hallway and entered the living room and Fllay was there. She was pretty, but not exactly in a delicate way, and rather tall for a girl. Her hair was done up on to of her head, and she had a suit jacket that her boyfriend had probably lent her over the dress. And, though her father doesn't like her using contacts, she had to, simply had to, you get that, right, Miri, cause this is like the greatest party of the season and I just had to look my best, and with this hair… Her eyes were green. Athrun-colored, like wet grass.
Kira stared at her until Tolle nudged him in the ribs, amused and teasing. From that moment on his friends have been convinced he has a crush on Fllay Allister, and he tells himself that they're right, that he's sneaking glances at the spoiled girl he doesn't know because he's interested in her and not because there were pale flowers all around her green eyes and he was looking for Torii on her shoulder.
Tolle wasn't wrong when he claimed that Kira's expression was that of a guy who's just realized he's in love. But Tolle doesn't know that this universe was created as background for Athrun Zala, so of course he doesn't know with whom.
Kira gives a sound that's somewhere between a sob and a sigh and a whimper. Even without the added complications of daytime, such as Athrun being on the enemy side, fighting against him, it's evident that he has reason to miss the simple time when they were best friends, no more and no less.
Though perhaps that was mainly because the concept of 'something more' did not exist for them. By now it's clearer than Kira really wants it to be that the childhood cuddling he remembers with such longing isn't even close to all he wants. He's had dreams in which they do considerably more than almost-kiss. Considerably more, and if he weren't so despaired he may have blushed. He chokes down a sob instead, biting at the lower lip Athrun's never kissed in reality, which feels this its innocence as a physical loss.
Now he isn't dreaming anything at all, and he can't cry anymore either and he realizes that he feels sick. Not only as a psychosomatic reaction, but really, genuinely physically ill. He's also still trembling and cold: odd, that, since he's still sweating. His throat is sore and raw, matching his stomach.
There's barely enough time for him to lean over the side of the bed before he hurls all over the floor. The vomit makes a splashing sound upon hitting it which, combined with the smell and aftertaste, makes his insides heave again.
He's probably retched up what he ate last week when the alarm goes off.
Not now! he thinks desperately as he staggers to his feet, leaning weakly against the wall, treading carefully so as to not step in the mess he's made. His eyes fall shut in pain as the light blinks on, but he forces them open again and struggles into a pair of pants.
The way to the machine hall where Strike is, through the too-bright corridors with one arm against the wall for support and Torii fluttering worriedly about him, feels like a thousand miles. When he finally arrives at his destination he's about to black out, has to pause in the doorway because there are so many black spots fluttering back and fro in front of his eyes that he can't properly make out where the Gundam is. The mechanics are yelling at him, but he can't comprehend what they're saying, is just grateful that they stop when he floats to Strike.
He has to close his eyes against the dizziness when they launch, and the abrupt movement forces him to bend over and heave again. He really isn't in any condition to fight, but he has no more choice now than ever, and his head feels a bit clearer after the latest throw-up session.
Surprisingly, this time it isn't the Le Klueze Team. Instead Kira finds himself facing about ten GINNs whose pilots are obviously not remotely as skilled as his normal opponents. Any other day he and La Flaga, aided by the Archangel's cannons, would have polished them off without trouble.
Tonight, however, Kira's too occupied trying not to faint to give them a proper match. He barely manages to activate the phase shift armor in time to avoid decapitation. La Flaga is having an upset monologue over the radio frequency, but Kira finds himself unable to respond. How could he, when he can't even keep his eyes open anymore? He doesn't remember ever feeling this sick in his entire life. Being a Coordinator, he's almost never been ill, but when he is, as though in penance for his usual health, he's always in extremely bad shape.
"Athrun," he moans, feverish and incoherent. "Help. Athrun, please. I need you."
The voice that answers him is a girl's and sharp with worry. "Kira!" Miriallia cries. "Come back at once!"
"Right," he mumbles, somehow managing to steer Strike in the right direction. The Gundam practically crashes on the deck of the Archangel.
He's safe now, then, right?
That's what he does wrong. And he supposes that, sick or not, if you're stupid enough to relax in the middle of battle, then you've sort of brought disaster upon yourself. And disaster comes for Kira Yamato in the form of two enraged GINNs, accompanied by shouting over the radio and too little time to avoid. He's too weak to scream as fire from gun and sword bears into Strike, heat and sparks exploding into the cockpit. If he were lucid, he'd probably have time to think something along the lines of, So this is how I end, or so he believes, before his hand hits the only button that can save him now, mostly by mistake.
Next thing he knows he's being catapulted out in a blast of energy.
Yzak is not a kind person, nor would many describe him as patient. The latter is wrong, since Yzak has plenty of dedication and can rather easily become all but obsessed with things, but fact remains that it's a bit strange for him to be walking around on this old satellite, for all appearances looking for survivors.
He has thought more than once that if you can't make it back on your own, then perhaps you'd better just remain where you are so as to not burden your betters, but that was before Miguel and Rusty. With that damnable legged ship and its cursed Gundam around they can't afford to waste even halfway decent pilots. Besides, there's no way whatever idiot Natural fights in Strike can be better than ZAFT's elite forces. Luck shouldn't matter, but if it didn't Miguel and Rusty would live and the last G-unit would be theirs.
And a few hours earlier the captain received a report that some fighting appeared to have taken place here, possibly against the Archangel, and with the current shortage of personnel he asked one of them to go take a look. Yzak and Athrun were the only ones currently present, and of course Yzak refused to let Athrun steal any of his glory.
Pretty stupid move, he admits to himself now, since this is the kind of boring task his rival can deal with.
The asteroid-like satellite was abandoned years ago, and the rough grey asphalt-surface is littered with trash. It appears there has indeed been battle recently, as a majority of the junk consists of dismembered limbs from mobile suits. Some of the remnants are human, but he has yet to find anyone alive when one of the attendants he's brought with him for the search calls for him.
Yzak hurries over and finds the man squatting next to a boy of seemingly the same age as the Le Klueze Team who looks extremely out of place here. If the satellite didn't have an atmosphere he'd be dead, because the helmet he appears to have been wearing is cracked beyond recognition. Still, if it weren't for that one piece of space suit it would've been an even more incredulous sight: a slender boy with a mop of brown hair, dressed in what appears to be tatters of a T-shirt and a pair of sweatpants.
He's pale and littered with bruises, but Yzak doesn't think his condition is life threatening and is about to let the others take him away to the closest proper military hospital when he stirs. Yzak crouches down beside the unfamiliar boy, staring fixedly at his face as one bleary, unfocused purple eye blinks open.
"Ath…run," the stranger murmurs, "Athrun, please…"
"What?" Yzak demands, leaning forward over him. "You know Athrun Zala? Who exactly are you?"
As he should have known, it's useless in the sense that the semi-conscious stranger doesn't provide him with an answer. He does, however, give Yzak access to some rather startling information of a different kind: "Please, Athrun," he mumbles on, "I love you."
Yzak doesn't like Athrun and would never do him any kind of favor, so he tells himself he's only doing this because he'd like to win a certain bet against Dearka and to embarrass the blue-haired git who is, after all, engaged.
"Bring a stretcher," he orders. "I'm taking him back with me immediately."