Author's note: No, not the last chapter yet. Again, so sorry for not updating for over a year, and enjoy!
'Miss Hawke is here to see you, sir.'
"Let her in."
The intercom beeps for the last time, and the door slides open, revealing Meyrin. Her hair is down today, and she hesitantly takes a step into my office.
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting, Meyrin," I turn around to grab my coat, "I've reserved a place at--"
Her voice is hoarse, and for the first time that day, I take a closer look at her face. She has been crying—as dense as I get, I can tell when something like this happens.
"You mean, you can't go? It's okay, I'll make the necessary arrangements so we can go next ti--"
"No, Athrun. Not today, not tomorrow, next week, or any other time."
I manage not to sigh, and walk towards her. "…What's wrong?"
"It's me. It was me, all along. It was foolish of me to think that this," she actually takes a step back, and gestures at the wide space between us, and I'm pretty sure she doesn't mean the carpet. "could work."
"You mean us," I suggest.
She put up one hand, trying to stop me to come any closer. "The distance between us."
"There's none if you let me closer."
There's that remorse chuckle again, as if what I'd said only reopen old wounds. "…She told me to take care of you."
It is the first time I've heard of it, but there's no surprise. I don't even need to wonder who is 'she'.
"But she didn't tell me to stay," she shakes her head, and I realize she has been pondering and training this conversation for too long. "so I'm leaving you."
She leaves the room without even looking back, and I slink into the chair, releasing a sigh that I've been holding.
I don't go after her to ask why.
There was no need to.
Athrun, day 15
"Rise and shine, Councilor Jule!"
Yzak shielded his eyes desperately with one arm as I opened the curtains of his hotel room, and he gushed out a torrent of rude words about uninvited intruders as morning sun flowed into the otherwise dark bedroom.
"Language, Councilor," I clucked my tongue impatiently, "Just because the office hours hasn't started yet, doesn't mean you could disregard me as your superior officer. We have that visit to the Morgenroete at nine. Chop chop!"
He stole a glance at the alarm clock beside his bed, and grumbled something rude. "It's only six in the morning!"
"Precisely. It's already six." I walked to the door, and paused before stepping out. "I'll see you there too, Shiho."
There was a shuffling on the bed, and Shiho Hahnenfuss meekly emerged from under the covers beside Yzak, grinning at me sheepishly. "Yes, Chairman."
What's left when you forcefully drag a man out of his honeymoon earlier than schedule only to start working on a hectic, boring schedule?
A bitter and homicidal man, that is.
The guards assembled behind me and announced my arrival at Morgenroete, their uniforms crisp and shiny in the morning sun. The heavy gate hissed and trembled as it slid open, revealing a blonde woman in a red jumpsuit.
She smiled and saluted me. "Welcome back to Morgenroete, Chairman Zala."
I shook her hand and saluted back. "Thank you, Erica. It's good to be back."
Erica Simmons turned around to show me the content of the factory. "We will begin the tour for the Morgenroete immediately, since Chairman Zala's schedule is packed for the day."
"I don't suppose you can tell me why Lacus is holding this Concert for charity so suddenly."
Councilor Jule shot me a look from behind his silver bangs, fixing eyes that say 'are you an idiot' on me, his superior officer.
I shrugged, and regained my pace along the hallway leading to the concert grounds. "No, I suppose you don't know the reason."
"Because she's Lacus Clyne, and she has a tendency to do surprising things," Yzak's grip on the CD was getting tighter. "As Chairman, you're entitled to participate, even with the minimal security and chances of assassination."
"Wonder when I'm gonna get myself a little piece of nice and quiet," Muttering to myself, I waited as the guards pushed the large double doors that lead to the concert hall, and the roar of the mass that was muffled until now instantly amplified. We have a vantage point of the concert hall, at the balcony located ten meters from the stage.
On the stage, Lacus was dancing in a glimmering white dress, throwing her hands extravagantly in the air, captivating her audience and urging the mass to sing along with her.
'I wanna know if there could be anyway'
Cagalli turned around as we arrived at the large balcony, taking her eyes off the stage, and stood up to offer her hand to me. "I'm glad you could join us, Chairman Zala."
I returned the shake quickly, and took the seat beside her. "Ah, she'll do something unthinkable if I actually miss this one out, Representative Athha." I yelled, raising my voice above Lacus' song.
'That there's no fight, and I'm safe and sound with you'
"For the war orphans and victims, nobody could attract this many people as Lacus Clyne." She leaned closer to the balcony's railing, ignoring her bodyguards' complaints.
'And every time I look, I thought you were there,'
I could make out Kira's shape somewhere behind the stage's curtain, an entranced look on his face, as if he's only seen Lacus done her magic for the first time. "Your brother's keeping guard down there. Now, I couldn't imagine anyone who would want to harm Lacus Clyne."
'But it was just my imagination'
She almost snorted—it took two years of being her bodyguard that made me realize sometimes Cagalli held a cynic laughter somewhere in there. "Let's not talk about the last war, shall we."
Behind us, our bodyguards stood guard. Yzak had retreated outside to communicate with the head of security, yelling something inaudible to his ear piece. I crept my hand to hers very slowly, and surprisingly, she didn't pull back at the touch. There was a fluttering in my chest that felt out of place, quickening when Cagalli slowly cast a look on what I did, and returned her attention to the stage.
'And I search more, right before my eyes I become aware'
"What will you do after this?" I almost couldn't hear her, muted by the gathering's excited cries, the melodies that override our voice.
'that tomorrow the wind's direction will certainly change'
"I'm going to review about the new MS policies with your Foreign Affairs Minister, and then-"
"I meant about us, Athrun," The last word was said under her breath, and this time, she turned her face to look at me squarely. The 'we need to talk' look.
'But I always remember that I still don't have a place to return to'
Somewhere on the stage under us, Lacus was bending down to reach her fans, accepting the bouquets and various gifts from her fans. She threw her head back, enticing long oohs and aahs from her onlookers, sending her pink long mane into an eye catching array. Beside her, multiple color of Haros danced and bounced along with Lacus on the stage.
'I wanna go to a place where I can say'
"I need an answer from you." She wiped her eyes with her free hand and focused on Lacus again.
'That I'm all right I'm staying there with you'
Yzak had planned us to leave in an afternoon shuttle, along with some diplomatic envoys. My unplanned visits had threw his schedule in to chaos, the only reason he hasn't killed me yet was the fact that there were too many witnesses and a mountain of paper work that follows in the case of public assassination and high treason.
I looked up the sunset sky, watching as the stars that blinked as PLANTs that I'm returning to. Too many times I've done this before, most of the time it was from a cockpit of an MS.
The space station was packed with soldiers and envoys, my supposed to be secret visit had been revealed at Lacus' concert. Cagalli was there, lined by Kira and Ledonir Kisaka at her side, wearing her official Representative suit.
"It's been a wonderful visit, Representative. I wish to meet again when we're not under severe time constraints like this."
She returned my bow by the delicate craning of her neck, hiding her eyes momentarily from my view. "The pleasure is all mine, Chairman. This visit very well signifies the peace we've been trying to maintain all these years. I wish you a safe and pleasant journey back."
"I'm looking forward to come back soon."
This time, she didn't return my smile, and inserted her hand into the suit's pocket, and when she pulled it out, she was holding something in her fist.
In her hand, she held out a ring. It was a simple silver band, with a small ruby in the middle. My separation gift, that once promised a quick reunion.
"I'm returning this to you," she said casually, almost like she's only talking about the weather.
Staring at the ring, I managed not to cringe. She was expecting me to put on a business smile and claim the ring from her palm as if it meant nothing. "So you could return it to me on one knee next time," she said again, and I was pretty sure I misheard her the first time.
I blinked. "Sorry, I didn't catch that."
"You heard me," the beginnings of a sly grin were creeping up her face. "On one knee, Chairman Zala."
"So, no matter how long it takes?"
"Only if you're fast enough," Behind me, Yzak was tapping his shoes in a rhythmic motion that will pick up the tempo. It was his way of channeling impatience. Or in my case, 'hurry up or I'll be sure to leave your sorry ass behind.' In front of me, Representative Athha—Cagalli Yula Athha-was holding out her hand, just asking me to-
"I accept the challenge," I answered, slowly closing my hand on hers, reaching for the ring. As I did so, she leaned closer, and I used the chance to pull her into me, brushing my lips against hers. I was aware of the eyes of the entire people at the space station were on us. Somewhere from beside us, I heard Yzak's annoyed mutter of 'gah, get a room already' and Kira's grumble of mild protest.
Despite our overly public of affection, most of the soldiers remained calm in their façade when I pulled off for air, but Lacus, Lacus' giggle was ringing endlessly in the background.
"Don't think that'll make me a patient woman, Athrun." She whispered against my lips.
"I have never proposed the notion that you're patient, my dear."
The Space Station grow visibly smaller by the time I watched from my seat inside the shuttle, the lines of Orb soldiers only consisted of white stripes now, but Cagalli was there, keeping her blonde bangs from shuttle-launching disarray. Watching the shuttle leaving her for God knows how many times.
But despite the physical distance that slowly emerged between us, I could clearly see what she was mouthing at me the entire time:
'No matter how long.'