Spoiler Warning: This takes place after the end of Phase 50 of the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam Seed. The spoilers aren't too strong, in my opinion, but the story may make more of an impact if you've finished the series.

Author's Note: This is a companion piece to my other fic, "Sleeping With the Enemy", which is a piece about Sai and Athrun's interactions on the Archangel. The fics stand alone, in my opinion, but it may be interesting to read both. (Certainly, the title of this fic makes more sense if you've seen the other one.)


Sleeping with Friends: Stay
by Kuonji

1. Docchi ni itemo onaji dakedo / どっちに居ても同じだけど / All the same

It was over.

The fighting, the war, the weapons. The pain. The emotions. Everything.

The open port to the docking bay of the Archangel welcomed them and Cagalli piloted them inside, her movements expert despite having only the limited visual to guide her.

Once they had manuevered the heavily damaged Strike Rouge into its designated spot, Cagalli started the power down sequence and sat back, yanking off her helmet in one flurried jerk. She put her face in her hands and burst out crying.

Kira regarded her -- his sister -- with a sense of supreme surrealness. He felt sure that he should be reacting somehow, but he couldn't think how.

Athrun took one of Cagalli's hands from the other side, pulling her wrist until she drew it away from her face, wet. He squeezed her hand rhythmically, but Kira couldn't tell if Cagalli was even paying attention, and when he met eyes with his best friend across the sobbing girl, nothing was exchanged between them. No emotions, no thoughts -- nothing.

That had never happened before, Kira realized with the same sense of apathy.

It was Athrun who finally pulled the door release, and it was Athrun who coaxed Cagalli with soft words and tugs to get out of the pilot's seat. It was only as Athrun moved with Cagalli to exit the MS that Kira felt emotion for the first time since he had woken up, weightless in the midst of the debris of the end of the war. The emotion slammed the vacuum inside him like an explosion.

Panic.

"Wait!" he cried out. The noise was muffled and he realized he hadn't yet taken off his helmet. He grappled it free and let it go, not caring where it went, and cried again, "Athrun, wait for me!"

Athrun paused. He stood, strong and collected. Cagalli was leaning into his chest. He held out his hand and Kira clung to it.

"I'm sorry, Athrun," he blurted.

Athrun frowned. "For what?"

"I..." What was he sorry for? After the moment of panic, the numbness was again infusing his brain. What was he even talking about? "I..."

"It's ok, Kira," Athrun said, pulling him towards the exit. "C'mon."

Kira shook his head. "No, it's not. I..." Nothing made sense. Was the war over or wasn't it? Why was he here? Why were any of them here? Had it all been just a dream or maybe he only wished it was, or wished that it wasn't, he couldn't decide. "I killed him," he said.

It was only after the words left his mouth that he realized whom he was talking about.

"What?"

"Your commander. I killed him." Tears were running down his face -- but he didn't feel anything.

Athrun's familiar green-blue eyes did not change. He stook stock-still. Cagalli was silent; she looked like she was holding her breath.

Finally, Athrun spoke. "It's ok, Kira," he said again. Kira nodded, grateful for the words even as he disbelieved them. It didn't matter either way what the truth was.

They climbed out together.

2. Ii kara... Iro tte / いいから…居ろって… / Stay

Luckily, there was a boarding stairway. Cagalli didn't think all three of them could get down the cable together, and she didn't feel together enough to attempt moving by herself.

She never once let go of the other two. From the cockpit to the floor of the docking bay, she clutched the front of Athrun's uniform and a fold of Kira's sleeve. She realized that she must look like a terrified child, but she didn't care.

"I want to stay," she declared as soon as her feet touched the floor. Kira stared at her with disturbingly empty eyes. Athrun looked confused.

"What?"

"Here, with you two. I'm not going back." She squeezed the front of Athrun's uniform to emphasize her point. Athrun's gaze shifted to Kira's face. He didn't seem to find any answers there, and he turned back to hers.

"O- Okay," he said.

Kira seemed to come to life only when Athrun began leading the way out of the docking bay. "Wait," he said. Spurred by the trembling in that voice, Cagalli released Athrun and turned back. She caught her brother in a full body hug and began stroking his hair.

"We're here, Kira." He calmed and hugged her back.

"Don't leave," he said. Cagalli nodded against his shoulder, breathing in his scent and trying hard to wrap Kira up in safety.

Athrun led them down the hallway, into an elevator, and then out down another hallway, finally reaching an empty bedroom with four bunks on either side. Kira followed with the look of an automaton. Once they reached the room, he stood in the middle of the floor.

Feeling like she should be feeling embarassed about it, Cagalli helped Athrun to undress her brother and put him to bed. He protested when Cagalli moved to draw the privacy curtain closed. Still enveloped in the glow of shock-exhaustion-something, it seemed natural for Cagalli to ask Athrun for an extra t-shirt to sleep in before slipping into bed with Kira, who immediately took her hand and then passed out.

Feeling that something was still slightly off, she was unable to settle down herself. She realized what it was when she noticed Athrun hanging outside the bed, uncertain. "Come on," she said, inviting him to join them. Athrun stared at her and then at the floor but his feet did not move.

"What's the matter?" The answer came upon Cagalli, and she smiled through her tiredness. Making soothing noises to Kira as he stirred next to her, she got up and switched places with him, squeezing herself in next to the wall. "Come on," she said again to Athrun.

Athrun hesitated for a few seconds longer, but with Kira between them, he finally sat down at the head of the bed, and then shifted to remove his shoes and raise his feet as well. He pulled the curtain shut.

At that moment, Cagalli finally felt her hazy lack of emotion bleeding into actual relief.

Kira seemed to have settled again. After a few minutes, even Athrun looked like he was dozing off.

Cagalli curled around her brother, comforting even as she was comforted by his warmth and presence, and the presence of the one whose life she had saved twice -- once willingly and once not quite -- and who had saved hers.

She reached across her brother and took ahold of a piece of Athrun's uniform.

She was sleeping on a strange ship entangled in bed with two boys. As she slipped into slumber, she wondered with a smile what Mana would think.

3. Futago / 双子 / Twins

Athrun watched the sleeping faces of his best friend and his... his best friend's sister. It was now when the two were asleep that they looked most like twins, he realized, warmth and amusement sliding through his exhausted brain.

He was completely worn out. Both mentally and physically. He felt like taking care of the other two was the only thing holding him together. He needed to... he needed to get out, check in with the bridge, find Lacus and Yzak and Dearka, make sure they were all truly out of danger... But he wondered if he would fall apart if he moved away from this pleasant cocoon.

When he had found himself still alive after Jachin Due self-destructed, he had been numb. He had stared at himself with a feeling of wonder. I am alive, he had realized. I am not dead. He had flexed his fingers and pressed his hands to his body in shock. It seemed a long time before he could feel not just wonder, but gladness that he was alive.

The feeling of awareness had spread out slowly, first from himself to Cagalli - snap, then to Kira - a glow, and to the Archangel and the Eternal and the Kusanagi - individual flares of relief, and finally to PLANT, and to Earth, and the rest of the human race left standing. Opening the cockpit and staring out across the vista of destruction had been aweing.

He and Cagalli and Kira were three of the few participants left alive after the tremendous battle to bear witness to the twisted rubble of it.

He still wasn't sure what he felt, aside from the vague pervading gladness for the people who were still alive.

Kira stirred, and one hand flexed restively. Athrun took it, and he heard Kira murmur something.

"What?" Athrun didn't think he was even awake, but he hoped to soothe him with his voice. "It's ok, Kira, go to sleep."

Kira's frown smoothed out and he relaxed. He would be fine. He and Cagalli could take care of each other. It was time for the outsider to leave. Athrun slipped his hand out of Kira's now lax grip and shifted to go. He felt a pull on his uniform and he looked back.

"Wait, wait." Cagalli was peering over her twin brother's shoulder, eyes not quite focussed yet. "What are you...? Don't go."

He hesitated, one hand on the curtain. "I..."

In the silence, he heard Kira say, only slightly muffled by sleep, "Athrun, stay."

Two pairs of eyes stared at him with identical pleading expressions.

He should check in with the bridge... he should see how everyone else was... he should get back to his own bed... he should...

"Please?"

Athrun closed his eyes, and the amorphous gladness seemed finally to coalesce within him, becoming a real and a specific emotion, and -- he stayed.

And he felt peace.

And she felt happy.

And they felt...

Omae wa hitori dewanai. Kyoudai mo iru. / お前は一人ではない。兄弟もいる。 / You are never alone, because you have siblings.

End.


Explanations of the Japanese (not necessary to understand the story but may be interesting to Japanese buffs):

The three title lines are all taken from the conversation in Phase 41 when Cagalli shows Kira and Athrun the photograph.

1. どっちに居ても同じだけど -- "It's the same wherever of the two we are." -- Kira says this to Athrun after they have helped to complete the reconstruction of the Kusanagi and are preparing to return to the Archangel. I chose to take the quote out of context to mean in general nothing matters anymore.

2. いいから…居ろって… -- "It's okay... if you stay..." -- Cagalli says this to Athrun when he makes to leave her and Kira alone together.

3. 双子…? -- "Twins...?" -- Athrun makes this surprised, perhaps even incredulous, deduction upon seeing the photograph.

お前は一人ではない。兄妹もいる。 -- "You are not alone. You have a sibling." -- Uzumi says this to Cagalli at the end of Phase 40, after handing her the photograph and just before sending her into outer space. Note: Kyoudai here does not indicate singular or plural. Although in the series the photograph makes it moot, I chose to take the quote out of context to apply to all three of them. The kanji for Kyoudai can be written in different ways to show the gender of the siblings, and the script I found online wrote it as older brother(s) - younger sister(s), which I chose to change. The 兄弟 that I used is technically older brother(s) - younger brother(s) but is also used for gender-neutral situations.