A/N: Posted earlier than expected. Thank you Moop-chan!
Warning: Fantasy, cross-dressing, slight OOC-ness due to hybrid personality, and AU.
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam SEED.
The hand twitched, animation gradually overtaking the said appendage.
He murmured incoherently, his senses becoming more acute and aware.
The stifling heat was felt and the raging sun boiled through his eyelids.
"Where am I?"
Athrun Zala slowly clenched his fingers towards his palm, feeling grit grind against his skin. He steeled himself ready and opened his eyes, only to meet and see bright indigo skies, clear and cloudless. He felt around, stabilizing himself to sit up, and as he did so, his world twirled in his vision.
He looked around, his drugged eyes wincing from the amount of light; however, it was soon forgotten when he saw his sandy surroundings. He cupped a handful of the golden dust, watching it funnel out of his hands through the cracks of his fingers. He was truly intrigued. "I'm in a desert? But how? I thought I was at-" He clutched his head, feeling a sharp pain pierce through his forehead when he tried to remember.
Blinking back the tears of pain, he observed blearily in front of him the details to the new environment. As far as his eyes could see, it was a flat plane of sand with honey-yellow dunes creating an uneven surface. Although there were sparse growths of desert vegetation, the dry surrounding was mostly empty and untouched. He spotted the tiny beetle that had woken him up earlier with its excited chirrup-ings, and upon further inspection, it looked as if its hard back was decorated with a sapphire jewel. He watched as the tiny creature buzzed out a loud, "Chhhii-iiiruup!", and hop onto his sand covered knee. It fluttered its back, the cerulean color vibrant.
"What a strange insect…"
Athrun sat on the ground for a while as he marveled the creature that skittered passively on his leg, the jewel-like shell glinting in the red sun. And finally, with one last cry, the beetle-like bug jumped off of its perch and flew over Athrun's shoulder. By instinct, Athrun trailed his gaze on the beetle by turning around, his eyes following the hypnotic blues as the bug dove through the air.
That was when he saw the other presence.
He gazed at the oasis now in front of his vision, the water sparkling in a clear blue but he also spotted a strange figure kneeling in front of the pool of liquid. The person seemed to be swathed in layers of silk, pinks and yellows, and when Athrun squinted his eyes long enough, he could see a long brown appendage swinging back and forth, like an extension of the person's back.
He got up carefully, trying not to disturb and kick up the soft sand beneath his feet, and made his way towards the person, whom he assumed was female due to the flamboyant colors of the attire. Maybe she would know something, more specifically, like where they were.
"…Rii…you say he's awake…I can hear…coming…"
Athrun's eyes narrowed slightly, hearing snippets of conversation coming from the lone person. He was curious as to who she was actually talking to, for as far as Athrun knew, there was no one else with them, except for a large camel at the other side of the watering hole.
When he was at a fairly good distance from the stranger, he coughed faintly, making sure that he wouldn't be approaching her by surprise, and spoke up, "Excuse me."
"I'm glad you're awake." He watched, faintly interested, when the person got up gracefully in a poised manner. The silk clothing that she wore - consisting of pale blush crop pants, and a loose fitting cut-sleeved top - shifted slightly against her tan skin. She was also carrying many shawls in translucent yellows, peaches, and purples that fell around her skinny figure. And when she turned around to face Athrun, he immediately stumbled back in shock.
"K-Kira!" He ogled his best friend in disbelief and gestured towards the clothing. "Why are you wearing that? Better yet, where are we?"
Kira stared back at him, a perplexed expression on his face, "How did you know my name?" He wrapped his tail around his leg insecurely and his feline ears twitched back in confusion.
"I know you because you're my boyfriend?" Athrun was bewildered. "But then again…my lover doesn't have cat ears or a cat tail last time I checked."
"Then maybe it's just a coincidence…?" Kira seemed a bit relaxed again, and then promptly answered Athrun's other questions while eyeing him curiously with a vague blush of discomfiture. "Uhhh…the clothing…well I was wearing this because I was disguising myself as one of those human gypsies in order to escape from the bandits. As to where we are…we're in the desert east of the Grand City."
"So I really am in a desert. Great…" Athrun blinked slightly, "You're being chased by bandits?"
Kira nodded, a low growl forming in his throat, "They think it's fun and games trying to catch members of our tribe. We're part cat, you know."
Athrun didn't have a response to the blunt comment and instead began walking towards the oasis to quell his thirst. "You said tribe. Why are you alone?"
The feline-human followed his movements, daintily making his way towards Athrun while responding, "I was separated from my tribe when I tried to protect my sister from the bandits. I'm trying to get back to them now…and I'm not really that alone. I have Torii with me." He gestured towards the sapphire-shelled beetle sitting on his arm and Athrun frowned slightly at the other 'accidental' coincidences. Sister. Torii.
He asked casually, "So, do you know where they are?" Athrun reached the edge of the water, and kneeled down, peering at the calm surface. He saw Kira's reflection over his shoulder before dipping his hands into the cool liquid.
"Mmm…I have a hunch." Kira flicked his tail, letting it rest on Athrun's shoulder. "Though, I'm beginning to think I shouldn't go back. What if I lead the bandits to the whole tribe? I mean, they're still chasing me."
Athrun looked up at Kira, probing the wide violet eyes, "Wait, aren't you afraid that I'm a bandit too?"
"You look and smell harmless enough…" Kira knelt down beside Athrun and shrugged languidly. "Bandits are usually big, wide, loud, and obnoxious. Besides…you fell from the sky."
Athrun sputtered out what was left of the water in his mouth. "I fell from the sky?" Inwardly he winced, "Well this explains the growing pain on the back of my head."
"Mmhmm…" The brown-haired youth traced a finger through the water. "I nearly trampled you with Sheina, the camel who was kind enough to help me." He nodded towards the lone camel with them.
"So…you brought me here to this oasis?"
Kira licked the water off his finger much like a real cat would and smiled brightly at Athrun, "Yes."
"I see." Athrun had a disturbing impulse to grab Kira's wrist to stop him from licking his hand after he had moved his tongue from his finger, but refrained himself in doing that, opting it would seem rude to do so. "Thanks."
The young feline's ears twitched, "No problem."
The azure-haired youth watched slightly uncomfortable as Kira began to groom himself and as his tongue continued to glide firmly against his arm, Athrun coughed lightly, "…uhhh…Kira?"
"Hmm?" Without looking up, Kira removed the shawls and began licking his shoulders.
"This Kira's not the least bit shy, is he?" Athrun looked away and dipped his hands into the water again, "Nevermind."
"If you're sure," muttered Kira between licks and he flicked his tail into his mouth, trying to loosen the knots in his fur with his teeth.
He could barely breathe in the silence, not with the constant flicks and twitches from the cat-boy beside him. He formed the first words he could think of into a sentence, "Uhhh, what are you going to do now?"
"Hmmm…no idea…though lying in the sun for awhile might be nice…" grinned Kira sweetly, his mouth clamped on his tail. "Come to think of it…" He swaggered the appendage in front of Athrun's vision. "Would you mind untying the knots near my back? I can't reach there without a mirror…"
Athrun could just about imagine the strange scene in his mind: him, brushing Kira's tail while said feline nudged him impatiently to hurry up. He couldn't help but grin at just how preposterous that is and it was really going to happen. He ran a finger nervously along his tail, watching it twitch from the contact.
"Oh, before I forget, would you not grip my tail hard? It's a bit sensitive," murmured Kira hauntingly.
"Uhhmm…of course," nodded Athrun. A bit caught off-guard when Kira lifted the back of his top, revealing the tail that extended from his tail bone, he quickly fell into step and combed tenderly through the tangles. He weaved his fingers around the soft fur, trying to remove the sand near the base of his tail that had caused many scratches along his back.
Kira coyly dropped his head towards the ground, and repositioned himself so that he was curled up in the sand while Athrun continued to brush his tail. His ears were pressed down in content, all signs of trust shown.
The former Gundam pilot blinked calmly, his tongue stuck on the roof of his dry mouth, even though he just had a drink of water. He undid the knots to the best of his ability, watching Kira's tail quiver from the contact. "I-ahhh…uhmmm…"
"…Yes?" purred Kira. He swished his tail once, batting it against Athrun's hand.
"I'm done," muttered Athrun, his fingers tingling from the contact with the soft fur.
The feline flicked his tail a few times, watching it in delight as the fur could easily span without clumping together. He got up, crawling on his hands, and he padded towards Athrun, violet eyes gazing at him innocently.
The azure-haired youth stumbled onto his bottom, trying to put distance between himself and his seducer. "K-Kira?"
Kira purred and rubbed his head against Athrun's arm, before placing a lick or 'cat kiss' on his cheek. He breathed on Athrun's cheek, "Thank you", and pulled away. Promptly, he sat on his haunches and began grooming his left hand.
Abashed, he cleared his throat, his hand hovering over Kira's head as the other continued to lick his own hand, "Uhh…Kira, would you mind if I-?"
"Huh?" The feline ears twitched and the amethyst eyes swiveled onto the other boy, "You want to…? Oh! Go ahead. I don't mind. Lacus, the girl that helped me escape, did that a lot."
"Lacus is here too…?" Athrun nodded and placed his hand on Kira's head, scratching the back of his ear. He watched Kira's tail sway in reaction to the petting and he smiled at the other.
A low rumble erupted from Kira's throat and he pressed his head against Athrun's hand, forcing him to pet his other ear. The feline smiled, eyes half-lidded, and he rested his chin on Athrun's thigh, still busy licking his own arm.
A tender blush touched each of Athrun's cheeks, and a satisfied grin painted his face. "This is…kind of nice."
After a long while, Kira paused his grooming and spoke up, "It's a bit…strange but, do I know you? It feels as if I'm already quite well acquainted with you even though I know we just met."
Athrun opened his mouth and closed it. "…How am I supposed to answer him?"
Kira continued, "It's probably nothing…"
"Probably," added Athrun reassuringly.
His fingers continued to pet Kira's head, and as they both rested there in each other's company, a subtle chattering broke their peace.
The beetle-like insect trilled around Athrun's head before landing on Kira's outstretched palm. The feline sat up, staring intently at the bug, listening to the consecutive chirrups.
"Are you sure?" Chiiiir "Of course you are…" Chiiirup-Chhhhhir
Athrun watched the exchange with slight fascination, muttering to himself, "He can actually talk to insects." He stared at Kira's face, studying the darkened expression. Troubled, he asked, "What's wrong?"
"…" Kira growled, swiveling his head to the horizon, eyes dilated angrily. "They're coming. Good thing we're downwind from them. Their stench was carried by the breeze."
"What? The bandits?"
He inclined his head, and got up. "Come, let's leave now." The feline grabbed Athrun's hand and they both dashed across the oasis towards Sheina. While running, Athrun had the chance to glimpse towards the direction in which the bandits were supposedly coming. He spotted the growing dust cloud almost immediately.
Kira stroked Sheina's nose before leaping onto her back, quickly gripping onto the golden hairs. "Athrun. Hurry, get on." The blue-haired youth felt Kira nudge him on the arm.
He bit his lip uncertainly, and nodded, "I-alright." Athrun looked up the towering camel, the sun shining directly overhead of Kira and Sheina, and he had to wince. He saw the offered hand and was about to grab a hold of it when a javelin skimmed right above their arms.
"Oh-! Let's go, hurry." Kira eyed warily at the approaching strangers as he dragged Athrun onto Sheina.
Athrun grabbed onto Kira, his gaze trailing onto the large men across the oasis. The leader of the pack raised his falchion, catching the sunlight and reflecting it into the water. The other bandits followed suit, their weapons lifted brazenly over their shoulders.
"Hold on tight, Athrun," muttered Kira, his ears flattened against his head.
Athrun wrapped his arms tightly around Kira's waist, and stared at the advancing warriors. The half-feline took out a crude sword and handed the other boy a dagger. "For protection…I'm sorry for getting you into this mess."
He gazed at Athrun, a small smile twitching at the corner of his lips, "But it's going to be alright."
The bandits on the other side of the water charged towards Kira and Athrun, their weapons brandished dangerously towards them…
Athrun's eyes flew open, emerald eyes gazing at the white, plaster ceiling. "What…?"
A face accentuated by violet eyes creased with worry hovered above his face, "Are you alright, Athrun?"
"Kira?" The azure-haired youth looked at his lover's face calculatingly before questioning, "What happened?"
The other boy sat beside Athrun near the edge of the bed. "Well, you fainted from the heat."
"Uh huh," nodded Kira. "While we were walking back from the beach, remember?"
Athrun pressed a tired hand on his forehead, feeling a cool cloth on it. "Sort of…"
"Don't think too much about it anymore. We're home, aren't we?" smiled Kira kindly as he brushed Athrun's cheek.
Athrun nodded tiredly in agreement, eyes closing, but as soon as he saw darkness, images of a kitty Kira flashed in his head. Quickly, his eyes opened again, and out of comfort and reassurance, Athrun reached upwards, and brushed away Kira's hair. He found normal, human ears.
"What are you doing?" asked Kira uncertainly as he clasped his hand around Athrun's.
"Kira, would you mind getting up and turning around?"
"…Okay…" The brown-haired youth picked himself off the bed and did what Athrun bade him.
His nimble fingers lifted the back of Kira's shirt, much to the said boy's shocked, embarrassed protest. Athrun saw only bare back with no tail. "You don't have a tail…"
"Well of course I don't have a one…" He cast Athrun a strange look while trying to fix his shirt. "Are you sure you're okay, Athrun?"
"I'm okay," murmured Athrun and he embraced Kira in a hug. "And you were right; it really was going to be alright."
Kira awkwardly returned the hug, "Uhh…of course. Maybe you should rest a bit more though. You sound quite confused."
The azure-haired boy dragged Kira onto the bed with him. "Stay with me until I fall asleep."
Complying, the other youth snuggled up against Athrun, placing his hands protectively around his chest. Athrun stroked Kira's head gently, his hands remembering the tingling sensation after touching Kira's fur…
Thank you for your valuable time readers.
Constructive criticism is definitely welcomed.