Spoiler Warning: This takes place before the beginning of the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam Seed. There's a spoiler for information divulged in episode 5, but otherwise should be spoiler-free.
Yaoi Warning: Technically some yaoi, but mostly in the context of guys being idiots.
"Will you stop that?"
Yzak was pacing again. The cell they occupied was no more than a glorified shower stall, barely two by two-and-a-half meters. Yzak's continuous back and forth, accompanied by angry mutterings, was getting on Athrun's nerves.
As far as Athrun could tell, they'd been here for the better part of five hours. Some renegade ship, unallied with either PLANT or the Earth Alliance, had managed to catch them unawares. Yzak and Athrun's MS units had been shot by a beam that somehow forced them to lose consciousness, and they had apparently been taken hostage.
Since they had woken up here, no contact of any kind had come from the outside, and no food or water brought in.
Athrun was still unable to figure out what exactly had happened, or what their mysterious captors wanted. But one thing was clear. They had to escape soon.
Because if they didn't, Athrun was going to murder his cellmate.
White-tipped red pilot boots stopped in front of Athrun's vision. "How can you stay so calm?" their owner demanded.
Athrun looked up from where he sat against the wall. "Is your swinging around and cursing like an idiot doing any good yet?"
In a flash, Yzak's fists were entangled in Athrun's uniformfront. They'd been allowed to keep their pilot suits, although their wrists had been bound by steel fiber restraints. "You little..."
Although on a short fuse himself, Athrun nevertheless did nothing more than push Yzak away. They couldn't afford to turn on each other in this situation.
The size of the room being what it was, Yzak rebounded heavily off the opposite wall and came back, face contorted in rage.
"Get ahold of yourself," Athrun warned.
Seeing that Yzak seemed more than ready to disagree, Athrun moved his eyes towards the ceiling corner then back. His green-blue gaze bore into Yzak's ice blue one. Yzak quieted, his fury still very much present, but controlled.
There in the corner, its recording light glowing steadily, was a single video camera.
On their first inspection of their prison, they had attempted to communicate with their captors through the surveillance device with no result, after which they attempted to destroy it -- with an equal lack of result. The black dome cover around it was indestructible with their bare hands.
Athrun flexed his numbing fingers, wishing that his knife at least had not been confiscated. He knew it would do little good in this cell, but he wished for it just the same.
The fight temporarily out of him, Yzak dropped to the floor where he stood.
Athrun regarded the floor of their cell in silence. He found little enough to talk about with Yzak even under normal circumstances. Now, there was nothing at all. Even discussing escape plans was a waste of time. The walls and floor of the room were seamless except for the door, which no amount of prying, banging, or cursing was able to budge. In the ceiling there was only the silent camera, a row of welded-in air vents, a single dim light fixture -- and one other structural break in the bare chamber.
Yzak gestured with his finely pointed chin. "You saw the gas ducts?"
Athrun glanced ceilingward and nodded. He had. No doubt Yzak, like himself, had been aware of the innocuous pitch black holes since they had first awakened in the room. Yzak had awoken first, and his face had been grim as death when Athrun, shaken unmercilessly, had come to.
Whether they had been placed here as a psychological ploy or some other reason, there was no denying the goosebumps Athrun felt whenever he thought about the use this room had been built for: An execution chamber.
After five hours in mutual silence, this was the closest they had come to any conversation about what might happen to them.
Athrun Zala, Klueze squad, confirmation number 285002...
The words ran through Athrun's head. As long as he didn't think too hard about why he was confirming this information to himself, the mindless stream of words kept him calm.
"Dammit, I don't want to die here." Yzak smashed his bound arms into the metal wall next to him. "This is not how Yzak Jule is going out, you hear me!" he bellowed at the camera. As expected, there was no response.
It was as if they had been caught and thrown into this room just to be watched. Bugs in a box.
Being the sort of person who thrived on others' reactions, Yzak was taking it harder than Athrun was. He pulled his legs up to his chest, clenching his fists tightly. Athrun felt almost sorry for him, but he hadn't the energy or the know-how to do anything to help.
Another half-hour went by.
Yzak began pacing again.
Athrun did his best to ignore him until Yzak tired and reseated himself.
More time went by.
Athrun was wondering how soon he would be able to meet his mother again when Yzak sprang to his feet for the umpteenth time. Feeling irritable, Athrun warned the other boy, "You'd better save your energy."
"Why?" the other boy snapped.
"To escape from here. Why do you think?"
"Escape," Yzak scoffed. "And how does the great Athrun Zala propose we do that?"
Athrun did not deign to answer. He'd dealt with bullies before in his 15 years of life. He knew that any response at all would only egg Yzak on. Already, he was regretting having said anything at all.
"What's the matter? No words of wisdom for the dumb masses?" He hmmphed at Athrun's silence. "That's right, all talk and no action. Not unless there's somebody to kiss up to, that is."
Athrun fisted his hands in silence, determined not to react.
"You're a real poster child for the obedient soldier, aren't you? No wonder Commander Klueze likes you so much. I'll bet you're a real mama's boy at home, too."
"Shut up, Yzak."
Yzak seemed to sense that he had struck a nerve, and he pursued the advantage with the ruthlessness of a hyena.
"Tsk, tsk, such language. Didn't your mother raise you to be courteous, Athrun? Didn't she read you enough bedtime stories and teach you to be a good little boy?"
A fire seethed up and before he knew it, Athrun was on top of his cellmate, the fine bones of Yzak's arms practically grinding in his grip. He glared down at Yzak's shocked face. "You talk about my mother one more time..." he threatened.
Yzak tensed, seeming ready to fight back. But Athrun stared him down, and it was Yzak who finally looked away first.
Athrun let him up, at the same time scolding himself for over-reacting. Not everyone knew about his mother; his father had rightly felt it beneath him to use her memory in his political campaigning, and otherwise they kept their private lives private.
The two boys sat within their own thoughts for a long while before Athrun heard Yzak mumble something. "What?" he snapped, tired of Yzaks complaints and insults.
"I said I was sorry, you ass." Athrun looked up in time to see Yzak whip his head away, avoiding Athrun's eyes.
Athrun wasn't about to forgive him. But, at least Yzak had made the overture. "Sure," he said.
The ice between them thawed somewhat, and this time when Yzak spoke it was with almost a tone of camaraderie.
"Did you hear about that Wallace guy in class B-3? Turns out he was sent to the Dropout squad. No surprise there."
Commander Dropper's squadron was jokingly known as the 'drop-outs' of the elite. They usually took care of the back lines and the less favored tasks.
"I heard he only graduated elite because Nicol tutored him with the homework every night."
Athrun shrugged. It certainly sounded like something Nicol would do.
"I heard his father was a Natural." This was said in a clearly snide tone.
Athrun shrugged again. "He's fighting on our side, isn't he?"
Obviously disgruntled with Athrun's ambivalent reponses, Yzak shifted to more neutral topics.
"The mess hall food is pretty terrible, isn't it?"
Athrun's stomach protested its emptiness even as he gave the expected answer: "Yeah."
"Dinner last night could have been rubber -- and not even flavored rubber. My mother cooks better than that."
Athrun's mother's cooking skills had been average, with the exception of some fantastic soups. Athrun hadn't yet been able to find a replacement for her beefshank stew.
"Good thing we won't be eating that crap anymore"
Athrun flinched. Indeed.
"They're probably going to gas us as soon as they figure out we won't tell them anything."
Athrun made no reply. He was deciding that being on speaking terms with Yzak wasn't necessarily an improvement.
For ten unsettled minutes, they stared at the walls, not-thinking about food, and about less pleasant things.
"You won't tell them anything, will you?"
Athrun looked up, offended. "Of course not." Yzak always acted as if he were the only person in the group with the right to wear red.
"Are you sure?" Yzak pressed, a malicious grin on his face. "You sure you wouldn't squeal, even if they cut off your ----?"
Athrun did a double-take. "Even if they what?" He realized belatedly that he was reacting exactly as Yzak hoped.
"Oh right, you didn't have Ziefler for your interrogation trainer." Yzak said it as if not having Ziefler meant you were not quite as worthy. Ziefler was puportedly the toughest instructor in the academy; taking his course was an ordeal to remember. Rumor had it he kept vomit bags in the classroom. "The whole first week, he did nothing but talk about different ways to cut off your wanker."
Athrun felt a little sick. "Really...?"
"Yeah. Ziefler said they'll hack off your toes first, so you can't run. Then they'll break all your fingers, and then cut out your tongue so you can't scream. And finally, they'll take your thing and slice it like a cucumber while you watch." He seemed to take perverted glee in watching Athrun's face turn green.
"He said they'll probably rape you, too," he added, in a tone that suggested it was a deliberate afterthought. "With sharp objects."
Athrun let his head drop back against the wall. He wished desperately to be anywhere but here -- and not just because he may die soon.
Having apparently exhausted even his own tolerance for the subject, Yzak turned to others.
"Have you gotten laid yet?"
"C'mon, you're engaged."
"She's only fifteen." Athrun wasn't about to take advantage of Lacus. And he would never cheat on her.
Yzak looked disdainful. "Right. The good little boy."
"Why, have you?" Athun challenged.
Yzak looked a little uncomfortable. "Well, no. But not because I haven't had offers."
"Yeah, and what have you done with Lacus Clyne? Held hands?" he sneered.
"We've... kissed." It wasn't a lie, but he regretted saying it as soon as the words left his mouth. He was only inviting trouble.
Sure enough, Yzak snorted. "Where, on the cheek?"
Athrun kept quiet, vowing not to pollute Lacus's name anymore with this ridiculous conversation.
Yzak made a rude sound.
"God, you really are a greenhorn."
"And you're an expert, I take it?"
Yzak scoffed. "You know any girl would give her life to be in your position right now, alone with me in a dark room..."
Athrun considered Yzak Jule with a critical eye. Yzak was good-looking enough, tall and fairly well-built even before their training had hardened his muscles to a predator's edge. With his clean features, metallic white hair, and arresting blue eyes, he undoubtedly had no trouble attracting attention.
Still, Athrun thought, he was so very... Yzak. In short, not someone Athrun could imagine anyone wanting to spend his or her last living moments with.
"Thanks for the offer, but no," Athrun said, purposely misunderstanding Yzak's boast.
As could be expected, Yzak exploded. "You damn bastard...!" He seethed for a moment, then sat back, smirking. "You couldn't handle me anyway. Just a kiss and you'd die of shock."
With a valiant effort, Athrun resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Not interested. In you or anyone." There were other things to think about -- such as how to get out of here alive.
Yzak snapped his fingers. "The truth comes out. You want to die a virgin, don't you? It'd be some great Zala sacrifice."
Athrun made no reply.
"War hero, Athrun Zala. Died at fifteen, pure of body."
"It'd be better than Yzak Jule, lived in celibacy because no one would touch him with a ten foot pole."
"Why, you little punk!"
They glared at each other for several long seconds. Finally, Athrun sighed. There wasn't much to be gained from pissing off his teammate, especially since he was currently the only person who could help him escape from here. "All right, I take that back," he said.
Yzak glared for a long moment before sitting back in disgust. "Yeah, forget it," he said.
Athrun couldn't help muttering, "I'll bet you're a horrible kisser, anyway."
Which turned out to be a mistake, he realized as soon as the words were out of his mouth, for the next moment, Yzak was again snarling in his face. "What did you say?"
Athrun came to the end of his rope with a definite snap. He was getting tired of playing the cool-headed one. They were in a life-and-death situation, and Athrun did not have time to cater to Yzak's temper.
Taking care to enunciate carefully, Athrun repeated, "I said that I bet you're a horrible kisser."
The next moment, as expected, he found himself up against the wall. He was becoming almost accustomed to it.
"You...! You think you're so great, you arrogant..."
"Better than you, at any rate. At everything." He had never before rubbed in the fact that he regularly outperformed Yzak in every category at the academy and on the field, but today felt like the day to do it.
"There's nothing I can't do better than you, Athrun Zala."
"Prove it," Athrun said.
Yzak stared at him, shaking in outrage, caught between his own words and Athrun's cool challenge.
Athrun stared back. It was ridiculous that a pilot with Yzak's credentials just never knew when to shut up. He let the tableu stretch on for a while longer before he shoved the other boy away. "All right, that's enough--"
Athrun was taken aback. "What?"
His shock allowed Yzak to slam him up against the wall again. The other MS pilot leaned close with a sly smile.
"Pucker up, princess."
"Wha--!" Athrun jerked away, his head banging into the wall.
"Don't be such a sissy." Yzak scowled.
Athrun wanted to point out that in some respect that was exactly what Yzak was doing. Yzak was too quick for him, however, lunging forward to press his lips bruisingly to Athrun's.
Athrun had only time to register pressure - heat - wet - blood - before Yzak pulled away with a look of outrage. "You bit me!" he said.
Had he? Athrun supposed he had. Running his tongue inside his mouth, he determined that the blood he tasted was not from any wound that belonged to him. "Well, what did you expect," he responded, angry and more than slightly embarassed. "If that's your idea of a kiss, then it's no wonder your mother hasn't been able to beg a fiancee for you yet."
"Why, you...!" Yzak's lips pressed in a thin line. "Stay still," he ordered, reaching out to grab Athrun's front again.
Athrun dodged to the side, cursing his own big mouth. "Yzak, stand down."
Not to be dissuaded, Yzak took the expeditious route of sweeping Athrun's legs and throwing him to the floor.
"C'mon, Athrun," he said, straddling the other boy. He leaned close, taking obvious pleasure in Athrun's discomfiture. "You asked for it, didn't you?"
"Yzak, damn it...!"
Athrun wasn't sure what would have happened next if, at that very moment, there hadn't been an eardrum-shattering explosion followed by the roar of flames outside. He supposed, when he thought back on it, that one of them would have wound up with a broken jaw.
At any rate, they automatically threw themselves into lock-and-hold positions at the sound. A moment later, the beep of a card swipe and the rattle of the electronic lock bars receding preceded the entrance of three very familiar and welcome faces.
"Dearka, you bastard, what took you guys so long!"
They climbed to their feet and allowed their comrades to unlock their hand restraints. Athrun flexed his fingers and rubbed his wrists, getting the cirulation flowing again. He noted with a certain satisfaction Yzak's grimace as he did the same.
"Do you have weapons for us?" he asked. Nicol gestured toward the dead bodies on the floor behind him. It was obviously a case of choose your own.
Wasting no time, he and Yzak seized the nearest suitable arms. Athrun hefted his laser edge knife, feeling much less vulnerable.
"All right, let's get out of here," Yzak said.
"Wait," Rusty interjected. "We still have to get that surveillance tape."
"Tape?" Athrun frowned.
"Yeah," said Dearka. "The tape of your cell. We don't know why the hell they wanted to tape you guys sitting on your asses, but Klueze says we'd better analyze it for clues."
Athrun exchanged a stare with Yzak, horrified. For once, Yzak seemed in total agreement.
But then the silver-haired boy calmed. "Well," Yzak sniffed. "At least I was on top."