Chapter 1: Deal
Author's Note: After all the work on Redivivus I decided to write some light while working on its sequel at the same time. I've been wanting to write a YzakxShiho fanfic for a while, so here it is! I hope you all enjoy it and don't hesitate to let me know if you do by clicking that wonderful review button. ;)
To say that Ezaria Jule was suffering from the court's sentence was to go way beyond exaggerating.
While it was true that she had been one of Patrick Zala's strongest supporters in the council, she had been too much of an important figure to ZAFT to be publicly disposed of. Given that, after the battle of Jachin Due she had been forced to resign and now spent most of her days in house arrest. House arrest was an exaggeration as well, seeing as Ezaria was only confined to her ten acre property, which included a fifteen bedroom mansion and a small lake. There was a large lawn between the lake and the mansion, perfect for all the spring parties that Ezaria loved to throw for her friends and former colleagues. Confined wasn't the right word to describe her current state either, as she was allowed to visit other PLANTs and leave her home as long as she stayed under the supervision of the guards the council had assigned her.
In short, Ezaria Jule lived a very luxurious life in being allowed to do whatever she wanted with guards that had more of less become her bodyguards that she didn't even have to pay for. That being said, Yzak could in no way understand how his mother could be suffering from such a simple thing as boredom.
One warm Monday in June, the first day of his five day leave, Yzak visited his mother on her request and watched her pour up a steaming cup of tea for him.
"You have gotten so thin, Yzak… you have to start taking better care of yourself," Ezaria scolded but in the mild tone Yzak was used to hearing her in. She put the teapot down and gently lifted his chin a little. "You've become paler since last time I saw you… but I guess that is what being in space does to you."
With a sigh she released her hold on his chin and sat down in her favorite armchair right across the sofa where Yzak sat. She picked up her teacup and it only took one look from her to convince Yzak that he had to do the same. He automatically brought the cup to his lips, ignoring the burning sensation on his tongue as he tasted the tea.
"The tea is delicious, mother."
"Thank you," Ezaria smiled after sipping from her own cup. "I guess that is what boredom does to me… I've had my chef give me cooking lessons. You should have seen the way he compliments my crepes!"
As difficult as it was for Yzak to imagine his mother in the kitchen, he suspected that it was not far from the truth. His mother was the kind of person who excelled in everything she tried her hand at, whether it was in learning languages, politics or even cooking in this case.
"I'm happy you have found a new hobby," he said, whereas Ezaria sighed again.
"Yes, yes… considering how things are I'm going to need my fair share. But I didn't ask you to come here to talk about my hobbies."
She set down her teacup on the glass table and folded her hands neatly in her lap. Yzak nearly dropped choked on his tea. Now he knew something was wrong.
"Yzak, as you know I am not getting any younger."
The words "middle age crisis" coming to his mind, Yzak opened his mouth to protest.
"Mother, that's not true! You are…"
"Let me finish, Yzak," Ezaria cut off sternly and Yzak silenced himself immediately. " What I mean by that I'm not young anymore, is that I'm not going to wait until I'm almost dead to get everything in order. I would like to see the most important person in my life happy, you."
Yzak felt a faint blush rising to his cheeks.
"Therefore, I have spoken to Commander Hahnenfuss and he has given his consent for you to ask his daughter's hand in marriage."
Hot. Something was very hot. It almost felt burning, actually. It wasn't until his mother stood up and exclaimed something that Yzak looked down and realized that he had dropped his teacup and spilled the warm tea all over his pants.
"Yzak!" Ezaria exclaimed. "Don't move, I'll get the maid to…"
"No mother, I'm fine."
Forcing himself not to wince over the mess he had made, he grabbed a box of tissues from the table and started the futile attempt at cleaning himself up. In the corner of his eye he could see his mother sitting down again and sigh for the third time.
"I know this is a bit sudden, but I've come to the conclusion that it is for the best," she went on. "Seeing as you are twenty-two and still haven't found a girlfriend on your own…" Yzak winced again. "…and Commander Hahnenfuss's daughter is from what I heard very respectable. I think this would be a wonderful match."
Yzak had never bothered to check up on Shiho's background, but the little he knew about was that she came from a family of military background. There couldn't be that many female Hahnenfuss around in the military, especially if she was his age. Hiding his hand from his mother's view, Yzak crushed a nicely folded tissue into a wrinkled, pressed ball.
"Mother… does this happen to be the same Hahnenfuss who is stationed at my ship?"
He looked up to see Ezaria smiling.
"Yes, and I was glad to hear it when I spoke to her father. I guess that means that there won't be any problems since you already know her, right Yzak?"
One thing was certain. Although Yzak was more than content to return to the Voltaire for duty he was not enjoying the sudden amount of curious looks and muffled snickers that he noticed every time he walked by. At first he thought that it was just his imagination and a voice bearing an uncanny resemblance to Dearka's told him that he was just being paranoid. But something was clearly wrong when he happened to approach the mess hall and found a young technician sitting and doing an impersonation of Ezaria to a group of laughing crew members.
Well, he's not laughing now, Yzak thought to himself, having recently exited the mess hall after a decent amount of yelling and ordering everyone in there to take over all the cleaning on the Voltaire seeing as they seemed to work so well together.
Two female crew members came half floating around the corner and greeted him with a salute. Yzak gave them a barely noticeable nod because passing them but as he could swear that he heard one of them sigh and say something starting with the words:
He straightened his collar slightly and raised his chin slightly as the doors to the sliding doors to the bridge opened before him. Upon entering the bridge he was met with salutes and serious faces. No one stared at him strangely, no one was snickering or whispering. Yzak settled in his chair. Perhaps he had just been mistaken and he began to think that there was nothing out of the ordinary going on at all.
That was, until Dearka casually floated over to his side and took the liberty to slap his friend and captain on the shoulder.
"Hey, how's the future groom doing?"
Dearka flashed a broad grin, one that did nothing but make Yzak feel that at that moment it was perfectly alright to want to kill your best friend. In the corner of his eye Yzak noticed how at least a dozen pair of eyes had turned towards him. Scowling, Yzak stood up abruptly.
"What the hell are you talking about!" he hissed, reaching for Dearka's collar but the latter dodged his hand just in time.
"Whoa, take it easy," Dearka said, still grinning much to Yzak's frustration. "I'm just repeating what everyone else is saying."
The fact that his heart beat a thousand times faster and felt like it was threatening to explode was becoming more and more clear to Yzak.
"What is everyone saying!" Yzak shouted angrily.
"Just that your mom arranged for you and Shiho to get married," Dearka answered with a shrug, having been around Yzak long enough to feel almost immune to his temper. "I heard it from someone in the hangar... geez, so much for telling your friends first, Yzak."
Yzak reached for Dearka's collar again, this time he managed to grasp it and gave Dearka a rather violent shake.
"That's because mother was supposed to keep it a secr...!" he started but stopped abruptly the middle of the sentence.
Looking slightly towards his left he could see the captain of the ship staring curiously at him. When he turned his head a little more and got a full view of every crew member on the bridge he noticed that time seemed to have stopped and everyone was staring at him and Dearka. Scowling, Yzak let go of Dearka and turned to the crew.
"What are you all looking at!" he yelled angrily, startling everyone on the bridge. "This ship won't launch on its own, get back to work!"
Not wanting to invoke more wraths from the commander, the captain nervously mumbled an order and all the bridge crew quickly went back to doing whatever they were supposed to. Almost feeling Dearka's amused look in the back of his nice, Yzak ignored him and approached the communications center. The officer in charge of it quickly backed off as Yzak pushed a few buttons and then brought the headset to him.
"Attention, this is Commander Yzak Jule speaking!" he hollered through the communications system, not caring about the fact that he spoke so loudly. "All ship personnel are to immediately continue with their assignments! If I see ANYONE standing about and talking I will personally see to it that the officer in question will receive a fitting punishment!"
With that, he threw the headset back to the communications officer and marched out of the bridge. As the sliding doors closed behind him, silence fell upon the entire bridge. Everyone there looked at Dearka with confusion, as if they expected him to give some sort of information. The latter simply shrugged and that was all he managed to do before the doors opened again and revealed that Yzak was back already.
He avoided everyone's looks and said nothing until he reached the communications center again and snatched the headset.
"Also, pilot Shiho Hahnenfuss is to report to my office immediately," Yzak murmured quickly into the microphone, then threw it down the moment he was done.
With that he quickly left the bridge and the crew members sat there in silence once more. Then suddenly, a quiet chuckle was heard from Dearka. The chuckle spread to the captain and then to the rest of the bridge crew.
Just outside of the bridge and on the other side of the door, Yzak's face turned scarlet red as he trudged towards his office.
The silence and tranquillity in his office did nothing to sooth Yzak's nerves. His face reddened with anger each time he even thought about the fact that his own subordinates were laughing at him for letting his mother decide such an important thing for him. His face wrinkling slightly into a frown, he instead decided to try and think of the best way to fix his current situation.
He could tell his mother that he was not going to do as she said, he was not going to get married.
He could refrain from telling her anything at all and just silently refuse.
He could pretend to comply with his mother's decision but not go through with the actual wedding ceremony.
He could get married and then divorce.
He could defect from ZAFT and flee to an abandoned colony in L4.
All of those options sounded wonderful in Yzak's head but he knew better than anyone that if he dared to go through with one of them it would turn his bored, loving mother into a full fledged son eating dragoness. One had to think carefully before wanting to anger Ezaria Jule and despite being her son Yzak was no exception to that rule.
A quiet knock on the door brought him back to reality and he automatically pressed the button the control panel, causing the door to slide open. When Yzak looked up, he saw Shiho walking over the doorway and saluting once she was inside.
For being the girl he was supposed to marry she was awfully unbridelike, if that was a word. A few years ago he had caught a glimpse of Athrun and Lacus together when they were engaged. Lacus had been the very image of someone who would become a perfect bride, beautiful, graceful and with feminine looks like a fairytale princess. Shiho, however was not.
When Yzak looked at her he remarked to himself that her nose was too pointy, her lips were a little too thin and her eyelids seemed heavy. There was nothing soft about her face and from experience Yzak knew that if one got on her wrong side the look in her eyes would be anything but warm and kind. Back when Shiho had been made a redcoat there hadn't been a female version of the uniform designed, but now that there was she still wore the male version of the uniform. Why she did that, he did not know.
"I don't mean to be rude, but I believe that generally you're supposed to tell me to be at ease by now," Shiho spoke suddenly, startling Yzak out of his thoughts. "My arm is starting to cramp up."
"Perhaps you should be doing more physical training then," Yzak scoffed.
Shiho rolled her eyes and dropped her arm. Aside from Dearka she was the one on the Voltaire he had known longest and though she knew when to be respectful, she was not deathly afraid of Yzak like everyone else on the ship. He had known her ever since she was placed in his squad a few years ago and she had been under his command ever since. Yzak almost felt strange looking at her the way he did, examining her as his future wife rather than just looking at one of his many subordinates.
"I'm not the one who's been locked behind a desk and in a chair for the past few years," Shiho retorted with a smile tugging at her lips when she saw Yzak's eye twitch slightly. "With all the paperwork you have to do... no wonder you already have gray hair."
"Careful you don't end up demoted," Yzak warned.
"I'm sure Dearka could use the company."
"And what kind of company were you planning on giving him!"
The words slipped out of Yzak's mouth before he knew it. Luckily Shiho did not seem to have taken any offense, but instead she just looked strangely at him. Frowning, Yzak opened a drawer in his desk. He pulled out a clear white envelope and lazily put in on the desk before him.
Shiho gave him another weird look and reached for the envelope. She quickly opened it and pulled out a neatly folded letter. She read through the letter quickly, Yzak could tell by the way her eyes went back and forth whenever she would change lines. After less than thirty seconds her eyes turned away from the letter and instead to him.
"Well... I guess it's all set then."
Now it was Yzak's turn to stare at her strangely. His eyes widened and he stood up so abruptly from his chair that it almost fell over.
"ALL SET!" he exclaimed. "We're engaged! Engaged! My mother wants to see grandchildren! What the hell are we going to do about that!"
Shiho took a step back but soon retaliated with her voice raised.
"We can't do anything about this!" she countered, emphasizing the first word. "With your mother and my parents, do you really think we have a say in this!"
"So what do you suggest we do!" Yzak snapped. "Get married, have a bunch of kids just to make our parents happy!"
"No..." Shiho crossed her arms. "Just because we don't have a say, doesn't mean that we can't do anything about this. We get them to call off the engagement. Convince them that we're so bad for each other and make such an awful couple that they'll hate the idea of us getting married. They call everything off, end of story."
Yzak frowned for what felt like the hundredth time that day.
"You really think that will work?"
Shiho reached out her right hand.
"It will if you work with me on this... partner."
Yzak looked at her hesitantly, then forcefully grabbed her hand and shook it.