Title: Mobile Suit: Gundam SEED Sojourn (24/?)
Disclaimer: Mobile Suit: Gundam SEED Sojourn is based on characters and situations that belong to Sotsu Agency, Bandai Studios, and TV Asashi (and other production affiliates that have the right of ownership). No money is being made, and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Considerations: Similarities to other stories/events/passages are purely coincidental unless otherwise cited.
"Because things are the way they are,
things will not stay the way they are."
- Bertolt Brecht
Dearka wasn't known to avoid anyone because, firstly, he didn't normally care about the people he bumped prides with, and secondly, those he had disagreements with were usually the ones who avoided him, unless, of course, they were pulling an Yzak. So it was a new feeling for him when he found himself dreading his next class, the one he shared with Miriallia. The memorial was one heck of a success all right, but his already non-existent relationship with Miriallia would probably never have the chance to see the horizon, not when he'd acted like a jerk the last time they spoke. It had been half a week since then, and the others hadn't caught on despite their tendency to get nosy simply because there weren't many chances for them to get together since the memorial as Miriallia kept to her home with the excuse that she was taking care of her sick father: If that were true, well, he didn't quite have a way to find out.
He rubbed the back of his neck in an almost defeated fashion before he opened the door and stepped inside the classroom. If Miriallia had been a boy, they'd probably go on treating each other like how they usually would, but since that wasn't the reality he was faced with, he knew how strained their meetings would be if they stopped all communications between them. If only he hadn't asked what was bothering her back then, and if only she hadn't talked about her deceased boyfriend, maybe he wouldn't be walking to his seat, which was right beside hers, with feet as heavy as lead. However, despite knowing that things would most likely be better if he apologized, he felt no compunction over his treatment of her. He supposed it was because although he wronged her, she had hurt him first.
If that was the case, he sighed, he was more of a bastard than he thought for being vindictive.
Having reached the row where he sat, he somehow felt stupid worrying over having a conversation with Miriallia because she wasn't even looking at him, and he was sure it wasn't because she was unaware of his presence for another classmate had loudly greeted him the moment he'd come in. And judging by how rigid she sat while chatting with her other seatmate, he was sure she was trying her hardest to ignore him, which was pretty understandable given the way he'd walked out on her the day of the memorial. Dearka had never felt weirder than he was feeling right now.
It was midway through the class when the professor asked them to partner up with their seatmates for an activity. Their seats were arranged in neat eight columns, and being in columns five and six respectively, it was clear that they had to pair up. He almost winced at how unfortunate their situation was, but he wasn't about to insult Miriallia by doing so — he wanted to believe that he was a much better person than that, and even if they currently weren't on very friendly terms, that didn't mean that they stopped being friends. He fervently hoped so.
It was an awkward moment before Miriallia spoke, and Dearka was almost startled to realize the breath he was unconsciously holding. He finally looked at her directly, but he wasn't surprised that she was avoiding meeting his eyes.
"You answer the third and fourth questions. I'll do the first two," she succinctly said, pulling a fresh sheet of paper from her bag.
He stared at her for a second, like he couldn't understand what she had just said. Her tone and her words were like a quick dismissal that stopped him short, and he couldn't quite explain the disappointment that bubbled in his chest. He hadn't wanted to talk to her, and now that she was unwittingly honoring that by turning away, he was put off, his sudden upset bewildering him.
Dearka opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again when there were no words that strung themselves together. Taking a claming breath, he started working on the two questions she left for him to answer, and if he thought to look around, he'd notice that they were the only ones who hadn't pushed their seats closer to each other's.
They hadn't even begun, yet they were already falling apart.
Dearka inked his paper more sharply than he initially intended.
Kira planted his feet on the sandy ground to stop the forward motion of the swing he was sitting on. The sun was sinking low in the horizon, and the park was empty of children who, earlier on, were running around and making so much noise. He sighed at the emptiness and stood up, dusting imaginary lint off the pants of his uniform and hefting his bag from the ground. It was now or never, he supposed. He'd already put this off long enough.
Walking the short distance out of the park and the equally short distance to the corner of the street, Kira unconsciously gripped his bag tighter in his hand. Just around the curb was the familiar house he grew up in, and inside would be his parents. The same parents he'd refused to meet back in the war, and the same parents who didn't deserve that kind of treatment. Then and there, Kira felt small for what he had done. He'd thought he was acting mature when he'd chosen to do what he did, but now that the pressure of war was over, he couldn't help but think of how childish he had acted.
He swore he could almost hear the weight of his footsteps falling on the pavement as he neared the simple house with a white picket fence. It was the very picture of old comfort, of fond memories, of a normal family who cherished the people who lived inside, and the pang Kira felt pierce his heart was a painful reminder of his mistake. He loved this family, more so than he could ever love his real parents, because Caridad and Haruma Yamato were the parents he saw the first time he opened his eyes and learnt that he was part of a family. How could he have treated them so crassly during the war?
Placing a hand on the wooden gate, and noting the chipped white paint, a rush of emotions assaulted him with so much force that he felt his throat tighten at the very idea of crossing the threshold. He was almost lost in his own world when he heard the front door creak open. There stood his mother, surprisingly looking the least bit surprised, like she had been expecting him all along. The corners of her eyes crinkled as a smile made itself comfortable on her lips, and with only two words leaving her mouth, Kira felt relief and forgiveness wash over him.
Cagalli drummed her fingers impatiently on the table, her chin propped on the heel of her other hand. It was thirty past seven, thirty minutes past their usual dinner time, and Kira was still nowhere to be found in the entire Athha estate. Her stomach was protesting loudly, but what aggravated her most was that Kira did not even leave a message to inform them where he was. What if he were abducted and they were just sitting pretty there thinking he was just out with his other friends? What if he were trapped in a basement of a deranged criminal? What if…what if…
"No, Cagalli, I doubt Kira fell off a cliff and is now limping pathetically towards a ranger's station where he can beg for help," Athrun put down another of Cagalli's scenarios, the amused smile he'd had on earlier never leaving his lips.
"Maybe he was abducted by aliens and is now being probed up his—"
"Do not finish that sentence, Elsman!" Yzak piped in, annoyed at how Dearka was finding it funny to fuel Cagalli's already wild imagination.
Cagalli sighed heavily and turned to look at Lacus. "Didn't he tell you where he'd be? That inconsiderate git."
Lacus smiled ruefully and shook her head, just as clueless as the rest of them. "I'm afraid not. I haven't seen him since the last subject we shared together."
Huffing, Cagalli crossed her arms. "Fine, if he wants to play like this, then it's fine. That stupid, stupid, inconsiderate git! We won't wait for him. His loss!" Cagalli unceremoniously gripped her cutleries and declared that those who wouldn't be eating dinner with her this night should think about how they would like to sleep outside tonight. Everyone pretty much started dinner after that, even Lacus who seemed worried still.
There was a fine crack on the white ceiling, just off where it met the wall and where a lizard was currently stuck. The floor by the door creaked just a little whenever stepped on, and the different beats of two second hands of two different clocks, one sitting on a wooden study table and the other hanging innocently on the wall, floated clearly in the air-conditioned room. The bed wasn't as soft as the one he was provided with at the Athha estate, but Kira had never felt more at home than he was currently feeling.
The neighbor's dog was as noisy as ever, and given the location of his room in the house, all the noise was directed at him, but even that didn't bother him like it used to. This was home, this was the place he'd always come back to after every semester in Heliopolis.
Just as he turned to get more comfortable, a knock sounded before his door was opened. He sat up and saw his mother by the entrance.
"I guess you can't sleep, Kira," Caridad smiled, asking permission to enter his room.
He moved up the bed to give his mother space to sit, silently giving her permission. He shook his head, sighed, then smiled, almost self-deprecatingly. "Hey, mom," he started when she gracefully sat on the space he provided, "why didn't you just yell at me and promptly kick me out? I would've, if I were you." Really, he didn't deserve to be welcomed this eagerly, not after his little stint of insensitivity during the war.
His mother laughed that twinkling laugh he would never have a hard time placing. "That's why you're the child and I'm the parent."
There was silence after that wherein the child wondered how to progress and the parent allowed her son to group up on his own, and the dog outside didn't cease to bark, reminding both of them that in this home where memories were created, there was no such thing as an unwanted child and a spiteful parent.
"You know, mom, I wondered why you made me a Coordinator," Kira picked up the conversation again, still half-wondering if the topic he chose was what he really wanted to say and what she wanted to hear from him. Then he paused.
"I'm not going to scold you, Kira, and ground you or give you a time-out. Might as well come out and say it," Caridad prompted, a small smile on her lips belying the tone she used.
Kira saw her reach out a hesitant hand, as if afraid to find out that her touch was unwelcome when before it was warmly received. His heart squeezed. Just how much had he hurt this woman?
It was almost disappointing when Caridad finally chose to keep her hand to herself.
"Mom," he cut her off, "We don't want to spend the rest of the night talking about it at length, do we? Let me just…let me just lay it down the simplest way I know how." He removed the sheets that was tangled with his legs and went to sit beside his mother. "I know, mom. I know who I am. I know who made me who I am. And no, I'm not blaming you for not telling me. I'm not blaming you for treating me like how a real family would treat its members. And if you thought otherwise, mom, it only means you've been watching too many soap operas."
Caridad couldn't help but laugh at Kira. If there was anything that she was the saddest over during the war, it was the loss of Kira's easy disposition. Even if she hadn't been a witness to how Kira was when he was fighting in the war, the simple act of refusing to meet with her and her husband that time when they first landed in Orb more than told her that her son wasn't the same man who left home to study in Heliopolis. Now that she had the chance to talk with him again without the pressure of political dissension, she was relieved to note that maybe he'd retained something from the old Kira.
"I'm sorry, Kira. I'm sorry for not telling you. All this time—"
Kira shook his head. "Don't be sorry, mom," he interrupted again, the title rolling easily off his tongue. He'd been saying 'mom' in almost every sentence, as if once again familiarizing himself with the term. It felt good to say it — it felt good to address her as 'mom,' to bring back what the war had deprived him of. "If anything, I should be the one apologizing, prick that I was back then."
To his delight, Caridad reached out her hand once more, this time bringing herself to brush the hair away from his eyes, and it was the ultimate sign of welcoming him back — that familiar gesture, that familiar touch, that motherly affection that was directed at him and him alone. It was…exhilarating.
"You're not too grown up to get away with using such a vulgar word, Kira," Caridad patted his cheek, her tone suddenly austere.
For a second, Kira froze at the reprimand. And then he noticed the twitch in his mother's mouth, giving her away. It wasn't more than a moment later that Kira found himself laughing. Laughing so hard that his stomach ached. And it wasn't entirely because of how funny things were turning out.
Kira laughed with his mother until he was almost crying, panting for breath that evaded him not because of the adrenaline that surged in his veins when he was inside the Strike, but because of how good it felt to laugh without worries, how good it felt to laugh in his own home.
With just touch, a simple mock-reprimand, Caridad had given him a gift, and within the confines of his room, within the limited exchange of words, Kira, assured of his parents' love, of the friends waiting for him back at Cagalli's estate, of Lacus' support, felt he'd been given the world.
Later that night, Kira found himself waiting for his call to be connected to Cagalli's private line, the one in her room that was known only to those she considered worthy enough to bother her — or whatever it was she called him and the rest of the gang. With his nerves set on edge the whole time he'd been debating on whether to visit his parent or not, he'd forgotten to inform anyone from the Athha estate where he was, and going by how he knew Cagalli wasn't inclined to feel charitable towards those who neglected telling her anything, he was a little afraid to call her. If his mother hadn't mentioned that he should be responsible for keeping his friends and his sister unworried, he probably would have flat out chickened out of calling.
"If this is you, Dearka, you better stop calling and disturbing me or I'll show up in your room one of these nights and make you pray to whoever you worship to save your soul because when I'm done with you, it's not gonna be pretty. And if this is you, Kira, better be goddamned prepared when you come back, you friggin' git," Cagalli's voice travelled along the circuit, the threatening quality only slightly dimmed by hoarseness that came with being abruptly woken up.
Kira had to fight from swallowing in fear, and he almost found it funny that he was more afraid of Cagalli's threats than of the cannons of enemy mobile ships. "Good evening to you, too."
There was a slight pause where he heard the rustle of sheets from the opposite line and then a silent string of curses. Kira could almost imagine his sister struggling to free herself from her blankets.
"Kira? Gods in tutus, where the hell are you? Don't you know that you've got half the country worried about you being abducted by frucking aliens? You friggin', inconsiderate git!"
Kira had to move the phone away from his ear lest he go deaf. "Calm down, Cagalli. I'm sorry, okay. I'm sorry, really. I didn't mean to leave without notice. Breathe. And how did aliens get into the mix?"
"Dearka," she replied, as if the name alone provided the answer, and judging by how she didn't care to elaborate, he supposed she thought her answer sufficient enough. "So where are you? You're not…hurt, are you?"
Kira shook his head before he realized it was a useless gesture. "No, no, I'm fine." He heard her sigh in relief, and it made him smile to think about how she could go from being completely irate to completely concerned.
"Hey, Cagalli, listen. I'm…I'm at my parents' house…" he let his words hang in the air, reluctant to say more because he felt selfish discussing family issues with Cagalli when she had lost her only family in the war. He had two perfectly healthy parents while she was technically an orphan who had a brother she only recently discovered. Not much of a family, really.
Kira rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly uncomfortable. He'd been the outcast, the one people would have loved to see killed during the war on the grounds of his race alone — she was the one who had a whole country waiting on her on hand and foot. She had the love of a whole nation, while his share didn't even make a tenth of hers, yet he had come out the luckier of the two of them. Their lives, it would seem, was a one cruel joke after one cruel joke.
"You've made up? Kira…that's…that's real great news!"
Kira winced. Cagalli sounded honestly happy for him despite faltering for a heartbeat.
"Well, I guess, that's one less mouth for me to feed," she let out, trying to sound jesting and just barely succeeding.
Absentmindedly unraveling the knotted phone cord, Kira leant against the wall from which the base of the phone was hanging. He couldn't stand the defeated note he'd heard in her voice, and if he was going to do something about, now was a good time as any to brush up his non-existent acting skills.
He made a vague noise in the back of his throat, as if offended at what Cagalli just said. "Well, guess what, Athha. I think I'd still be returning there. You guys are all staying in one place, wouldn't want to miss out on anything, you know." Kira tried not to cringe at his paltry performance and prayed that he sounded convincing enough.
"You're returning here?"
Kira had to try not to sigh in relief when he heard Cagalli's hopeful tone, which she was attempting to hide behind a snort. He had never really doubted that they were siblings, but the little fact he discovered — that he and his sister had lousy acting skills — all the more solidified his belief. Kira would have laughed silly if it didn't mean he'd be giving himself away.
"Asking me to let you leech off me, Yamato?"
"I would say 'please and thank you,' but you'd probably go and ask who I am and what I had done with Kira," he replied breezily, remembering her earlier comment about aliens.
"Oh, ha ha, alien reference from a while ago. Very funny. I told you it was Dearka!"
This time, Kira laughed.
"You know, I'm really happy for you, all kidding aside."
There was another pause in which Cagalli hummed a vague reply as though she was thinking of what else to say. It didn't take long for her to admit that she didn't enjoy talking on the phone much and that she only kept her private line because of Kisaka and Mana's persistence. She told him that even though he was her brother, she could only stay on the phone for so long before feeling awkward at the thought of having nothing more to say, to which he openly chuckled.
"We're family, you and I," he said, voice barely above whisper. He heard her deep intake of breath.
"…I know." A pause. "Good night, Kira. I'll see you tomorrow." And before he hung up, he thought he heard her say thank you.
Dearka closed the library doors behind him, aware of how late it was and resentful of the fact that he still couldn't feel the tug of sleepiness. He was a thorough and conscientious soldier, but he'd been a lousy student back in his military academy days, cramming homework and bullshitting his way out of detentions, and if his instructor hadn't been impressed with his performance in the field, he'd never have graduated. He just didn't take to classroom learning, and the fact that he had just finished his homework — one that included a fair amount of secondary research — in advance tonight spoke volumes of how restless he was feeling: He needed to occupy himself with something or his excess energy would keep him on edge.
From the library, he descended a flight of stairs, planning to detour to the kitchens only to be drawn towards the living room when he passed it. He stood by the archway, feeling the familiar bitterness creep up his chest at what the room reminded him of: This was where Miriallia had had unconsciously broken his heart, and this was where he had knowingly broken hers when he didn't even have the right to do so.
Moseying towards a couch onto which he dropped gracelessly, he fancied letting his ill-will brew. Dammit. But despite himself, despite his resentment, he knew, in some obscure part of him, that he really wished everything between them would be right again. They had just become friends, and it burned to think that they were back to being strangers. He couldn't explain it, the longing to know her better, but it was there, and it fought not to be ignored.
Not a minute had passed before he was back on his feet again, pacing back and forth to allay his restlessness. He had no trouble functioning on what little could pass for sleep, but since peace had settled, he'd kind of enjoyed the privilege of a full night's rest. However, seeing as how he just couldn't stay still long enough to lie down and sleep, he knew wouldn't be getting his rightful seven hours. Not to mention that it was almost four o'clock when he checked the time before leaving the library, and in four more hours, he'd have to be in school.
Feeling irritated at his predicament, he maliciously entertained the idea that he shouldn't be the only one still up at this ungodly hour. Striding purposely towards an antique, detailed princess commode on which a vase with white flowers and a phone sat, he easily called to mind a seven-digit phone number, and in seconds, he was distracted from his problem and was trying not to laugh as he spoke on the phone.
"Goddammit, Dearka, you inconsiderate bastard! This is the second time I was awakened by a phone call tonight! You better have a decent reason for disturbing me or — God help me — I'll take away your chances of ever fathering children!"
-To Be Continued…
"No, Cagalli, I doubt Kira fell off a cliff and is now limping pathetically towards a ranger's station where he can beg for help." – This is inspired from Kill Bill: Volume 2, the diner scene after the coffin escape