Chapter: 02 - Pinky Promises
Summary: In which Athrun and Cagalli talk about friendship, love, faith, and pinky-promises. Also, Athrun finally meets the siblings behind the scenes.
Author's Notes: Umm, basically this is chapter two of this gasp multi-chapter fic of mine. Hopefully, I'll have the incentive to keep this going but school is not making it easy considering the free time I don't get often.
Disclaimer: The characters used in this fic aren't mine. They belong to Sunrise, Bandai, and whatever other company has a say in their fate.
If you're alone, I'll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I'll be your shoulder. If you want a hug, I'll be your pillow. If you need to be happy, I'll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I'll just be me.
It suited him, Cagalli thought.
The plush carpet felt good under her feet as she lay next to the couch with her feet propped up.
The room was a reflection of its inhabitant.
Cagalli had been able to tell that Athrun was a little worried on the way over here, probably wondering if she would like it or would be bored or some stupid thing like that, but looking around for a second, the bookshelf had immediately struck her fancy. Strangely, most of the books were a perfect compliment to her own; all the books were ones she was missing from most of her favorite series. And he didn't have books that she knew she owned.
She took her cellphone and made a quick call to her siblings letting her know she wasn't coming home anytime soon and the approximate time she would be back. Knowing both Kira and Stellar would question her not only because of concern being the protective siblings they were but surprise that she was even out with someone, and a boy no less, considering her past acquaintances with other people she hung up on them and turned off her phone before they could inquire any further.
Not that she didn't appreciate the concern from them but sometimes it was overwhelming to the point of being restrictive, even at times controlling, though she understood they did it because they love her. Both of them were one of the few to know the reason for her acute isolation from relationships/friendships, and while she was grateful for the both of them being there to help carry her when she couldn't herself she made it point in the past year that she could do personal things herself without the worry of breaking down.
So here she was reading on the carpet after picking some random book while Athrun was typing up something. After the first three times he had asked if she wanted anything, Cagalli had practically bitten his head off. He'd smirked in what she interpreted in a knowing manner and shrugged in response, not saying a word since.
Feeling uncomfortable on the carpet she went to the bed to lay down so that she was flat on her back, but able to see both Athrun's face and the screen.
Cagalli could see that he was uncomfortable in that chair, but something else seemed to pull at the corners of his eyes. They were focused on the screen, on the words he was writing.
Cagalli saw that on one side was a list of works, stored on the desk itself, while the other side was a window for a message board post. It was a small writing, as opposed to the lengthy things that seemed to be on that list.
What did she know about him? He was intelligent. He could be funny…in a dorky kind of way. He had been hurt. He was strong and not only in the physical sense. Something was plaguing the back of her mind like a hive of bees, but she wasn't sure what it was.
Looking around, she found that his room spoke more of being Athrun's from a personality standpoint than what he could tell her right now.
A world map on the wall, some framed pictures of starships that might have been hand drawings but were so good it was hard to tell. He must have been some artist; she mentally noted to ask him later about it. The bed was a little bit messy, as one would expect on the first day that a guy was required to wake early after two months. A desk with scraps of paper all over, pinned up, post-it notes stuck on the sides, each with something on it, scribbled illegibly. Mostly probably little reminders that he eventually forgot he put there.
Cagalli felt bad right after she did it, but found the top drawer of his desk filled with manilla folders, each holding works that read at top 'by Athrun Zala.' The second held a bunch of materials; paper, graph paper, empty notebooks, construction paper. The third was all magazines, Newsweek, Time, Discover, and other stuff like that. Respectable stuff. Political magazines. Informative articles. Nothing more.
By the bed was a clock/radio with an LCD display that was large enough that it could be read a hundred feet away. Looking around again, Cagalli felt angry at herself, but also felt that she hadn't gotten what she'd come for. Not the books, probably his favorites, she'd passed by those. It was disconcerting.
Well, what was she supposed to find: a journal or diary spilling his deepest and darkest secrets waiting for her on her lap? It wasn't like that and she immediately felt guilty and yet at the same time frustrated.
For all that, she just gave up. Cagalli lied down on Athrun's bed, as comfortable as her own, probably more so because it didn't bring to surface memories of the nightmares that plagued her dreams more often than not. Ick, she didn't want to explore those thoughts.
The ceiling caught her eye. The ceiling was strange. Warm. Cagalli felt as though she could do this for the rest of the day. Just laze away in thought.
She didn't notice time pass by swiftly, until twenty minutes later Athrun looked up from the computer, finding Cagalli staring up in the way that had become so familiar to him when he just wanted to lay there and think and not think at the same time. It was odd, finding someone doing that where normally you would find yourself doing it; it was like looking into a mirror image of yourself. Normally, he would find it slightly disconcerting to see someone else other than himself doing that but for some reason he felt a strange sense of relief knowing it was her.
He padded silently across the room, even using a bit of his 'training' to sneak up on her from the left. Kneeling down so that he could put his elbows on the bed, he broke the silence with, "Whatcha thinkin' 'bout?"
Athrun didn't think it was possible considering she was lying on his bed but Cagalli jumped a foot in the air, then looked frantically over at him. "Please don't do that! I'm so used to knowing where people are around me..."
"Don't worry, I do that a lot, too. I like my ceiling."
"I like it, too."
Silence fell for a minute. Then, "What were you thinking about?"
"Strange things. Well, not really strange, just about life in general. The future. Tomorrow."
"It's a school day."
Cagalli gave him a look. "and friendship..." she finished.
"Oh," Athrun said quietly.
Silence descended upon them and despite the question asked it was not uncomfortable as one would think. It was calming in that despite meeting each other just today they were already comfortable in their instant rapport to be too concerned about pushing each other.
Cagalli raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "About what?"
"Give me a second. How about...faith."
"I think it might be interesting."
"Okay. What is faith?"
"Faith is when...you trust in something without proof."
"That's why religions are called 'faiths'."
"So what about faith?"
"What do you think of faith?"
"I think that it's an interesting concept. I have faith in love," her eyes met Athrun's for a second. "Faith in the soul. Faith in the fact that we do exist, that the proof of everything we don't take on faith really is proof. I guess."
"Why did you say 'I guess'?"
"To defend myself against my answer."
"Everyone does that too much. I do that too much."
"If you don't, then you're considered a know-it-all. Or a quack."
"Anyways, what if I said that faith is stronger than knowledge?"
"You? Don't you know too much to be allowed to say that?"
"Okay, seriously. Hmm, how?"
Athrun yawned. It was getting late. "Faith can create."
"Faith is trust."
"Okay. I mean, if I imagine that there is a flame in my hand and I can see the flame, then does the flame exist?" He held his hand out to emphasize his point.
"That's just a visualization."
"What if my hand begins to get warm? Logic says that it must be blood rushing to the capillaries in my hand, but why would they do that unless they believed that there was a reason for the heat? So I must be doing it myself. And that means that belief in the flame made my brain try to create the heat with blood and that faith can change something in my body that I don't have control of normally."
"That angle makes sense. But faith didn't create. It controlled."
"I suppose. Where did all this come from?"
"I dunno. Just occurred to me."
"Interesting. So if I have faith that I can, say, fly, then what about my suicidal jump from the seventh floor?"
Athrun smiled. "Wouldn't that just be evidence that you don't have enough faith?"
"What's the difference?"
"Concede sounds like the person that does relent gives up to the person in question."
Cagalli raised her hand towards Athrun. "Stop while you're ahead."
A smirk was the only response she got.
"Y-yes." Shaky answer.
Or just a blind assumption?
"Have you ever been in love?"
"Once." And she gave him a shaky smile to finish her answer. It was…upsetting to see that kind of expression on her face but he pushed forward with his questioning.
"Are you still in love?"
"Athrun..." she looked away from him, any direction but his eyes.
Not now, her whole body said to him.
"Sorry." He looked away. "I don't know where that came from." Plus, he thought he already knew that. Well, there was reaffirmation.
…of what he had no clue.
"I have an idea." His smile was bright. Athrun raised his hand so that the pinky was sticking out. "Promise me that we'll always be friends."
She looked up at him with large eyes. Athrun could see a lot in them.
How can one human being trust another?
After only one day they were promising to be friends forever?
What else could there be that was already there between them?
Wasn't there always pain when you got close to someone?
Except in those very special cases, very true cases.
There was that, too...
Cagalli saw someone who she seemed to have an unspeakable, unknowable bond with. She decided to have faith in who it was who was asking her to pinky-promise something like this, the way little children did who unknowingly took a step to strengthening an already strong bond. If their hearts were going to touch ever, even if they never did, it would all start with this connection.
A true friend.
No matter what love was or is or could be.
A second after she saw his hand, she locked her pinky around his and shook it. Her smile was of the kind that could make the cluster of a thousand stars at the center of the galaxy seem dark.
Sensing that their relationship for the time being was for the time being established they spent the rest of the late afternoon just talking about random topics, conversation concerning family and past experiences not talked about on unspoken terms and before long night was rapidly approaching.
Rather sleepily, Athrun asked Cagalli, "Do you want to go home?"
Rather sleepily, Cagalli said to Athrun, "No. But it's already eight something and I'm gonna fall asleep. I shouldn't fall asleep here. I wouldn't want to give my brother and sister the wrong impression my first day out with you. They both might just kick your ass," she said with a sleepy grin.
"I guess not," Athrun said with a note of nervousness in his voice.
Cagalli laughed at the scared expression on his face. "Don't worry about them. If worse comes to worse I can just use the eyes on my brother and he's putty in my hands, and my sister I think will understand enough all things considered," she said with a sleepy grin plastered on her face.
He would have asked what she meant when she said "understand enough all things considered" but she yawned again and Athrun realized she had to get her home before she did sleep…on…his….bed.
Run away bad thoughts.
"Shush. You're tired enough to babble, so I think we should get you home. Good thing it isn't far away."
"Okay," Cagalli mumbled.
Bathtubs are great places to cleanse the body and the soul. Lose yourself in my bubbles, child, they cackle like an old crone out of a fairy tale. Athrun's mind easily turned from thoughts he didn't want to think, about everything had turned out, lunch with with her when the guys were wondering who he was hanging out with. His mind went to Cagalli.
She had just started talking, half-asleep, on the way there, her head on his shoulder while his arm was around her waist trying to steady her tired body back home. "Remember when the English professor," she said, slightly slurring her words, "called on me to recite that one silly little passage from the book. I hate when people think they're better than everyone else. Plus, I hadn't been able to figure out what the conversation was about most of the time." Stupid, miscellaneous memories. All of sudden she tripped over her own feet, Athrun's quick reflexes barely catching her before she fell onto the ground.
"I think it would be better if I carried you," he said with slight trepidation wondering how she would warm up to the idea but to his immediate surprise she agreed with a quite "k." Having her mutual consent he slipped an arm around her neck and shoulders and proceeded.
…all while stoutly ignoring the way she felt in his arms, ignoring the way she gently grabbed his t-shirt in an adorable manner, the way she pressed her face to his chest with her breath making his breath catch.
…and failing miserably.
Once they'd reached the house Athrun made a move to ring the door bell but before he could even do that the door opened and two people appeared looking part concerned, part amused, and part murderous. Well, maybe not murderous per say but pretty damn close.
Both looked around the same age, the brother with slightly shaggy brown hair that fell over amethyst eyes while the sister had somewhat short blond hair with purple-red eyes that went along great with the hair. Even though Cagalli mentioned they were both sick they looked healthy for the most part. The only signs of sickness you could tell from both of them was the slight redness of their eyes and their distorted clothes wrapped in a robe.
The one thing that bugged him is that despite trying to look for it there was seemingly no similar characteristics physically between the two of them to even consider them sisters with the female. Oh, he could see it between Cagalli and Kira was it but none between her and Stellar except perhaps the blond hair.
He could only guess how…compromising the situation looked right now: him carrying her, her snuggling up against him, both with dishevelled clothing.
And her next words didn't help either.
"Athrun," she murmured into his shirt, "you mind bringing my bag with you to school tomorrow? I think I left on your bed and forget to get it."
Both raised a single eyebrow in response to that statement.
"Just leave him alone. He brought me back here since I was getting tired," she mumbled while temporarily looking up to them before plunging her head back into the front of Athrun's t-shirt.
"I'll show you where to put her," the blond said.
Honestly, she was awake, but unconscious. With Stellar leading the way Athrun took the sleeping girl with him to her bed where he gently let her down. Cagalli hugged him, making some garbled noise that was probably 'thank you', and then fell on her bed, dead asleep.
Boy, that was nice hug.
Boy, what a beautiful girl.
Boy, I'm head-over-heels, aren't I?
Athrun sank into the bubbly, warm tub and let happiness flow over him.
…but was quickly interrupted by the clearing of Stellar's throat. Athrun slightly blushed and stepped back from the bed.
"Thanks for your help but I can take it from here."
Athrun backed out of the room in silent understanding. "Umm, sure."
A smile. "By the way, don't let my brother get to you," she said indicating to Cagalli. "He's just worried about her just like me, that's all."
She smirked as she went over to take off Cagalli's shoes and put a blanket over her prone form on the bed. "I bet she was a handful today." Her crimson eyes glinted with amusement.
"You have no idea," he deadpanned.
Another smirk. "Oh, I think I do."
Before he could walk out of the room Stellar said, "Athrun?"
"Hmm?" Athrun questioned with a look over his shoulder.
He was going to ask why but she silently indicated to the small smile that was Cagalli's face. Despite the many reasons why Cagalli would be smiling unconsciously Stellar could only guess as to what caused it herself.
He could hear the many meanings behind that sentiment; he wasn't THAT stupid. He nodded and with a small smile walked out.
Walking back to the front door he found Cagalli's brother leaning against the doorway with what could be described as having a pensive expression on his face. Athrun
"So, you're the one my sister talked about earlier," Kira said in a casual tone.
"Yeah," Athrun simply stated. Feeling the need to properly introduce himself he extended his hand. "I'm Athrun Zala."
Kira took the offered hand and shook it. "Kira Yamato."
A puzzled frown took over Athrun's features as his hand fell back to his side. "You look like her sister."
"She is. We're twins."
"Stellar. While she's not exactly…blood related she's family for the most part in every way that counts."
"Ah." Despite the answers he got he knew when not to pry any further. "Listen, I have to get going. Have school tomorrow after all."
"I understand. I'll guess I'll be meeting up with you tomorrow. Seems like you have a friendship with my sister already."
"Yeah," he said nervously while scratching the back of his head. "She was new to the school so I offered to show her around and give her the tour. We actually have all of our classes together so it was really no trouble."
Kira gave a small smile. "I'm sure it wasn't."
Now he was pretty sure he was playing him. Needing to make a quick exit before he could embaraass him anymore than he could he started leaving. "See ya later."
"See you tomorrow." With a small wave he closed the door.
Despite it taking a few minutes before he knew it he was back in his room practically tumbling down onto his bed. He looked at the ceiling for a moment before turning over face smothered in his pillow. He took a deep breath and could still smell Cagalli's presence permeating in the pillow. A hint of strawberries, vanilla, and something that was just…Cagalli made him sigh for a moment before looking back the ceiling.
"You are so fucking head-over-heels, Zala," he said to himself.
The ceiling had to agree.
to be continued…