AN: This chapter contains material that may exceed the T-rating. I attempted to tone it down as much as I could to make it acceptable, but it still may be a bit too much for some readers. You have received fair warning.

As Dearka had predicted, it only took one take for the necessary sound to be recorded. The band was able to complete the recording by the time evening rolled in and with Andy and Natarle being their usual selves, the record company would get their songs completed on time.

The sky had darkened when Yzak stepped through the door to the Breath Easy and into the parking lot adjacent to it. Cool, dry air had replaced the heat and humidity that had been present earlier in the day and there was no breeze at all, despite the studio's close proximity to the ocean.

Yzak lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. The day had been a lot harder than it should have been; Dearka had allowed his personal problems to get in the way of his job and that was what had made Yzak mad. Bands had been destroyed in the past by members not being able to deal with their own problems and bringing it into the group itself, causing disenfranchisement and dissent amongst the members. Yzak wasn't about to let that happen to Iron Fist; this band was what he was. In effect, this band was his life and Dearka had been perilously close to steering it onto a dangerous course.

That was why he had done what he did.

"I can't believe you did that, Yzak."

Yzak blew smoke out of his nose and barely glanced behind him at the speaker. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Behind him, Nicol shook his head. "Typical Yzak. Even when he helps a friend with love problems, he still won't drop his own anti-love crusade."

Yzak snorted. "You watch too many movies."

Nicol stepped beside him and folded his arms. "So did Dearka tell you what had happened?"

Yzak removed the cigarette from his mouth and sighed. "I pretty much figured it out on my own," he admitted. "He'd been acting like that all week before we got here. I didn't say anything because I wasn't sure at first; he wasn't even telling me what was up initially."

"Then how did you figure it out?"

"I asked Miriallia."

Now it was Nicol who snorted. "Well, that worked."

Yzak nodded. "She didn't tell me directly, but when I invited her to come see us at the studio one last time, she was reluctant at first. I couldn't figure out why, but then when I mentioned Dearka, she got really quiet."

"That makes sense. I can see how would come to the conclusion that they had had a falling out," Nicol said.

"All of us had seen how close they had gotten during the tour, so I was curious as to what made them do that. That's when I started snooping around and I eventually was able to discern that there could be something in her contract forbidding her from entering a relationship with him."

"But since you couldn't get a copy of the contract yourself, you couldn't be sure."

"That's why I had Kira get it. When I asked him, I was assuming that that was the reason for this whole thing."

Nicol frowned. "What would you have done if you had been wrong? If it had been something else entirely that caused it, what would your solution have been?"

Yzak puffed on his cigarette and closed his eyes. "I was going to try to force them back together again."

Nicol couldn't help but laugh. "Nice, Yzak. It's probably a good thing that you were right."

"I know, I know. So when's the wedding?"

"Two weeks from tomorrow," Nicol answered, his voice carrying traces of excitement. "I can't believe it. I can't believe Krystal's going to be my wife."

"Believe it, Nicol. It's right around the corner."

"Are you going to be there, Yzak?" Nicol asked. "At the wedding, I mean."

Yzak glanced quickly at him. "I'm assuming you're going to want us to play at the reception, right?"

"That would be nice."

Yzak sighed. "Alright, I'll be there. Just the reception though…I hate weddings."

"I know, I know," Nicol repeated. "We'll look forward to you gracing us with your presence, Yzak. Who knows…maybe by being there you'll realize that there's hope for you, yet."

Yzak waved his hand nonchalantly at him. "Get out of here, Nicol." Nicol took his leave, still laughing as he did so.

Yzak himself remained outside for a few more minutes. He hadn't planned on bringing up the wedding, but when he did, he couldn't tell Nicol that he wouldn't be in attendance. Despite his bleak past when it came to romance and love, Yzak could not bring himself to say no to attending the wedding of a dear friend.

The mention of the wedding had also caused Yzak to think of someone else. Someone who miraculously had done the impossible and begun to warm his heart from the deep freeze that he had self-imposed upon himself. Just thinking of her now and recalling Nicol's previous statement about the upcoming wedding made Yzak wonder.

Maybe it's time, he thought to himself. Maybe it's time I let myself feel like that again.

Athrun returned home and parked his car in the driveway of the house that he shared with Cagalli. He retrieved his bass, secure in its case, from the trunk of his car and slammed it shut, perhaps as a last means of ridding himself of all the bad energy that had gripped the band earlier in the day.

As he walked toward his front door, he saw Myrna, Cagalli's hand-maiden and servant, approaching from the opposite direction. "Evening, Myrna."

"Good evening, Master Athrun."

Athrun rolled his eyes. "I've told you, you don't have to call me that, Myrna."

"Yes, Master Athrun."

Athrun sighed. "Is Cagalli home?"

Myrna nodded. "She's upstairs, I believe."

"Thank you."

"Did the recording sessions go well?"

Athrun managed to smile. "Well enough."

Athrun opened the front door and stepped inside. He set his guitar case down against the wall in the next corridor and removed his shoes. "Cagalli?" he called.

"Athrun, is that you?" he heard her respond.

"Yeah, it's me. Where are you?"


Athrun trundled up the stairs onto the upper level of the house. He found Cagalli in their bedroom, sitting on the edge of their bed looking over a stack of paperwork.

"Evening, beautiful," he said.

She smiled at him. "Evening yourself, handsome." They kissed shortly and sweetly. "How was your day?"

Athrun paused. "Uneventful," he eventually said, plopping down on the bed beside her. "So…what are we doing now?"

Cagalli glanced at him and then back at the document she was examining. "Typical government stuff." She handed the paper to him. "This is the outline of the proposal the Council is going to be looking into next week."

"Ah…fascinating," Athrun said, feigning interest as he looked at, but didn't bother reading, the document.

"And then, we went over the budget," Cagalli continued, retrieving another set of documents from the mass beside her.

"Oh, that sounds fun."

"Oh, it was," Cagalli said sarcastically. "Would you like to look?"

Athrun accepted the large stack of paper from her and leafed through it. "You went through all of this today?"

She laughed. "That's what I'm going to have to do this weekend."

"Oh goody," Athrun answered. "Was this all you did today?"

"Pretty much."

He snorted. "I'm beginning to understand why Kira became a rock star."

"What, you mean he wouldn't enjoy this?"

Now he laughed. "I really don't think so, Cagalli."

"Whatever you say. Oh…by the way…there's something else I should probably show you."

Athrun sighed lightly. "More paperwork?"

"Not exactly."

"Ooh, suddenly I'm excited."

"I hope you are," she said lightly.

"Well, let me it see whatever it is, then," he maintained. "Don't make me wait all night."

"Okay, if you want to see it that badly."

"Believe me, I do," Athrun said, his voice still containing traces of sarcasm.

"Here you go."

She handed him something else besides paperwork for once. Athrun took hold of a small item, barely bigger than his thumb. He held it before his eyes and frowned. "What the…?"

The device was plain white and had an oblong shape to it. It was so ordinary-looking that Athrun wondered what could possibly have caused Cagalli to think he would be interested in such a thing. The only other distinguishing feature the device had were two black lines in the center…

Wait a minute…

Athrun's mouth dropped when he realized what it was. He snapped his head toward Cagalli and found her smiling excitedly back at him.

"Cagalli…a-are you…?"

She nodded and murmured an affirmative, making no effort to hide her excitement.

Athrun brought his hand up to his forehead, his body going completely numb with the realization of what all of this meant. He breathed shallowly as he stood on shaky knees and took a step forward.

"Athrun?" Cagalli asked nervously. "Are you okay?"

Athrun slowly clenched his free hand into a fist. "Yes…" he said in a hushed voice. Adrenaline flowed through his body as a smile crept onto his face. "Yes…Yes!" he shouted, dropping down onto his knees and raising his arms up as high as they would go.

Behind him, Cagalli's worry evaporated and she smiled. "Athrun…"

He turned around quickly and scooped her up in his arms. "Cagalli…I…I can't believe it…I'm gonna…I'm gonna be Dad, I…I'm so happy!"

"Oh, Athrun, I'm so happy too," Cagalli squealed as he twirled her around ecstatically.

"When did you know? I mean, when did you find out?"

"This morning," she admitted. "I went to the doctor this afternoon to make sure and they confirmed it."

"Really? How is it?" Athrun asked, dropping down onto his knees again and pressing his head against Cagalli's belly. "Is it a boy or a girl?"

Cagalli laughed. "Athrun, I'm only two weeks into it," she said. "We won't know that for a while, yet."

"Oh…" he said, sounding dejected. He stood up and took her into his arms again, holding her close. "I'm so happy, Cagalli."

"I'm glad you are," she responded, burying her face in his chest. "Athrun…we're going to be parents…"

Athrun could hear the disbelief in her voice. He couldn't help but give in to disbelief as well, but that was overshadowed by the sheer joy that had come over him.

"I'm so sorry."

After leaving the studio together, Dearka and Miriallia had returned to her apartment, the scene of their heated argument and falling out the week before. But now, their relationship rekindled and themselves newly engaged, they huddled close together on her bed, Dearka holding her hand in both of his.

"I'm such an idiot," he whispered to her, stroking her slender hand in between his own. "I should've realized before how much you meant to me."

"Don't think you were the only one who was stupid," she responded. "I'm the one who was an idiot for letting something like my job take precedence over you. My job…" Miriallia sounded like she was mad at herself.

"No, I don't think you were stupid at all for what you did," he answered. She raised her head, eyes brimming over with tears, and looked into his own. "From what you've told me…I wouldn't have been mad at all. Instead, I would've been sad…sad that I probably wouldn't get to see you again."

She smiled. "I tore myself up all this week thinking about that," she admitted. "I was so mad with myself for what I did to you…how I broke your heart…"

He wrapped his arms around her. "You didn't break my heart at all," he whispered into her ear. "You saved it."

She looked at him again. "What?"

"If I hadn't met you that day…" he said, referring to the first day he had opened the door for her at the studio, "I would never have known what true love is." He reached forward to stroke her cheek. "I know I'll never meet another girl like you, Miriallia…you're one in a million…a single jewel amongst a mass of sand."

Her return smile made his insides turn themselves inside out. "Thank you."

He smiled back at her. "You don't have to thank me for-."

"Not that," she interrupted. She took his hand once again. "For saving me. Dearka…before I met you…I didn't think I would ever fall in love again. I had promised myself that I wouldn't put myself in that situation again…where someone could break my heart. But then I met you…and I couldn't keep that promise..." She was crying again.

Dearka took her in his arms and kissed her forehead gently. "It's okay…it's okay…" he soothed her. "I love you so much, Miriallia."

She drew back to look at him. "I love you too, Dearka."

Their lips met, awkwardly at first, but then relaxing and drinking in the taste of one another's lips. It seemed all in desperation; as if they were afraid that this would be the last chance they would have to be with one another, instead of being the first night of their engagement. Their hands roamed each other's bodies, covering every inch in a matter of seconds without breaking the kiss which was becoming more passionate and more intense by the second.

Finally, it was the need for air which caused them to reluctantly break the kiss. She was kneeling before him on the bed, arms wrapped around his neck with his own arms draped around her slender waist.

"What are we doing?" she asked, out of the blue.

He leaned forward and pressed his forehead against hers. "I don't know," he answered bluntly. "But whatever it is…I think I like it."

They kissed again, his hand reaching behind her to stroke her back, feeling how her body curved beneath his touch.

She pressed her hand to his chest and smiled. "Me too," she breathed.

She stood up and unbuttoned his shirt, blue eyes bugging at the sight of his muscular chest. He placed his hands on her hips to draw her close and kiss her lips before moving to her jaw line and neck. She moaned sensually as she felt his fingers slowly unzip her fly.

"Uh-uh," she murmured, stopping him.

He drew back, confused, wondering if she wanted to stop, but she simply took him by the hands and pulled him to his feet.

She rotated herself around so that she was up against the bed and sat down it. She lifted her right leg up, pointed it at him, and he nodded in understanding. He took hold of her heel and slipped off her boot and sock before repeating the process with her other foot. She lifted her hips and he removed her trousers, her legs appearing, the smell of roses enveloping him.

He divested himself of his own pants and straddled her. She looked up at him with wide, but approving eyes. He kissed her lips, her shirt-tails sliding up revealing her petite middle, which he kissed.

He moved upwards, her nipple hardening in his mouth as he traced cool, wet circles around it with his tongue. She squirmed beneath him as one of his hands kneaded her other breast gently, his thumb flicking across her sensitive nipple, while his other hand snaked down her side, beneath the soft fabric covering her waist and slipped inside her.

He slipped her panties off and buried his face in her mound, licking. Miriallia's reaction was louder than she meant it to be, but she couldn't help it; he was making her entire body swell with ecstasy. His tongue penetrated deep inside her and licked her clean, her juices flowing out onto his chin which he lapped up excitedly.

They switched positions and her lips encircled his penis and sucked him in hard. She ran her fingers up the inside of his shaft and licked every inch of him. Dearka clenched his jaw shut and panted through his nose as she sucked on him. His body was drenched with sweat.

He couldn't believe how satiny she felt when he pressed inside her, her walls tightening around him as he pushed deep inside her. She wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck as they moved, her hips bucking upwards in motion with his own. He grunted when he felt her nails dig into his back and she cried out his name as she climaxed, her body going limp beneath his own. He released shortly thereafter, his breathing deepening to a heavy sigh.

Time passed as their energy slowly returned to them. Miriallia lay on her belly, her chin resting on top of one of the soft pillows. She had never intended to go that far with him this soon, but once it had begun, she couldn't bring herself to stop. The feeling had been too intense and too overpowering for her to resist. She realized that she had wanted this, or more precisely, she had needed this.

She closed her eyes and moaned passionately as she felt him gently kiss the small of her back, making her shiver. He traced kisses up her spine and between her shoulder blades before nuzzling his face in her hair. "You okay?"

She hummed in satisfaction as she turned herself over beneath him and snaked her arms around his neck. "I'm better than okay…" she murmured.

He smiled. "I'm glad." He kissed her again. "So this is how it feels…"


"To love someone this much."

She smiled back up at him. "It only gets better from this point," she answered.

"I look forward to the rest of our lives then," he said. He kissed her. "I love you."

"I love you." They spent the rest of the night in each other's arms.