Title: Just a Friend (part 6 of 6)
Author: the Black Rose
Pairing: Athrun x Lacus
Fandom: Gundam Seed
Theme: #17, kHz
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Seed. This fanfiction has no commercial value and I am not making any kind of profit or income off of this story, or the use of characters owned by Sunrise and Bandai.
AN: As always, flashbacks are in italics. Thank you so so much to those that will read it. Much love, Rose
PS - Warning: fluffy bunnies ahead.
Just a Friend
Lacus caught my arm before I could escape. Warning sirens went off in my head. The world shifted to a strange angle beneath my feet.
"Athrun…" Her voice sounded quiet, musical. It reached inside my chest and squeezed the air from my lungs. She tugged on my arm, but I didn't want to turn around.
And then, she was in front of me. Everyone else was gone… She stared up at me with those eyes. The ones I knew. The ones I couldn't get out of my head for a single moment over the last three years.
My hand moved to touch her cheek; she smiled. Before a single rational thought could surface in my brain, I was leaning forward in what felt like slow motion… My heart hammered in my ears. A gust of wind picked up and swept frozen air into the space between us.
And then it was gone. She was in my arms, my mouth pressed against hers – reckless, crushing… Like I had been given only a short window of opportunity, and I – for once in my life – seized it with both hands. We broke for air and then I kissed her again. Her arms wrapped around my neck and my lips left her mouth to sample other places.
She trembled in my embrace. I tried to pull her closer…
"Athrun? Are…are you going to answer me?" She plucked a crumpled piece of paper from my hand. I blinked and wondered where it had come from.
Dearka's eyebrows formed questions marks over his eyes. "Tell her it was the alcohol."
I shook my head. "I can't do that."
"Seriously, Athrun. You'd had way more than I'd ever see you drink before. Even if you don't think—"
I wanted to choke him. "You don't understand, Dearka."
"What don't I understand?" He stood up from the bar stool and paced back and forth. I continued nursing my cup of coffee.
"I know you've had a 'thing' for her for quite a while. But, she's never known. And you know how girls get when they're around a guy who—"
I took a sip of my coffee. It had already turned cold. "It doesn't matter."
"It does matter." He clapped a hand on my shoulder, and jerked me out of my seat.
"I'm tellin' ya. You're going to lose her."
"Lacus. I never wanted to be your friend."
He heard her gasp and her hand tried to withdraw from my wrist. I grabbed her arm before she could get away.
"I-I wanted…" I turned to face her. Her eyes were wide and filled with hurt. And tears. Her arm twisted in my grasp, but I held on.
"I wanted… "
She stopped struggling. But she still looked at me like she did that night…
"Athrun." Her voice sounded stern in a way it had never been before.
I opened my mouth to…say anything that would diffuse her anger, but I… "Lacus, I didn't mean—"
"I think you should leave," she said and turned away.
Turned towards 'him'.
I had to labor to breathe. "Ever since we met. I—"
She gently removed her arm from my grasp but moved closer. She reached one hand up and moved pieces of my hair to one side. Did she finally understand what I was trying to say?
"Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht." Someone hissed. I heard something clatter in the distance. I blocked it all out and tried again to tell her….
"I wanted to be more—"
"Mr. Zala. Miss Clyne." The professor's voice brought me hurtling back to a reality I really really didn't want to be living in right then.
"Talking is the same as cheating."
I think Lacus actually groaned. Or maybe it was me.
"So, the good news is, you've both failed."
I couldn't tell if it was Professor Azreal's sarcasm or the actual words that was causing my stomach to turn. He continued up the aisle towards our row; every student in the class had temporarily abandoned focus on their tests.
I think I broke out into a sweat.
"Would you like to hear the bad news?"
Lacus stared at me and I was reminded of a little girl looking at her father, waiting to be punished. I have an odd sense of déjà vu, and I briefly flashed on a much much smaller girl with her mother's hair and eyes calling me 'daddy'.
I could only wish…
I sighed and plunked down on the steps to the fine arts building.
'All these years...' I lay back on the top of the steps and stared up at the sky. All the studying to make top grades in all my classes, and somehow, I missed basic "Humanities" and had to squeeze it in to graduate. And that one class managed to be my downfall. I grumbled as I envisioned the misery of summer school.
"Are you mad at me?"
I sat up and looked at where she stood - a few steps further down. "Define mad."
Her face crumpled before she glanced away. "That feeling you get that as it festers…grows to become hate."
All the energy in my body fled. I lay back again – or I think 'flopped to the ground' would have been more appropriate. "I couldn't hate you, Lacus."
"But…you're angry." Her voice moved closer.
"I'm not happy." I managed to sit up, again. She had climbed back up the stairs and stood just a step or two away.
"Couldn't we have talked after the exam?"
She moved up the remaining stairs and sat down next to me. "You would have finished before me and left."
Dammit. I had to admit. She was probably right. I buried my face in my hands.
She touched my shoulder. "Athrun."
"What were you trying to say? Earlier…"
Oh. Hell. That. I think I lost the energy to feel nervous. "I… Uh, that is… Lacus, I just— I just meant that… I always wanted to be…more than a 'just a friend'. To you."
Her features relaxed and her head tilted down – like she was staring at the bottom of the steps. I think my heart was somewhere down there….
"You…see?" I stared at her. My hands were trembling and my insides were a churning mass of nerves. "That's all you have to say?"
"No. I…" She stood up and turned away. Giving me a good look at how tight her pants were… I swallowed – it probably wasn't the best time to be ogling.
"But, Athrun, why?" She spun back around. I had to stand up as well, I couldn't argue with her kneecaps.
She came closer. Her hands came up to clutch the front of my shirt. "Why didn't you say anything? Why didn't you tell me?" Her blue eyes looked glassy – like she might…cry.
"Because." I pulled her hands from my shirt and held them. "Because the first time you ever told me you loved me. You said it was just 'as a friend'. I felt like—"
"That was a long time ago." Her lips trembled a bit before they managed to smile. "Athrun…"
"I'm just a regular guy." I forced a laugh. "One who couldn't even match my socks."
Lacus giggled. It sounded like the tinkling of a bell.
"I felt lucky…" Her eyes met mine. "…enough the way things were." She was closer, but I couldn't, for the life of me figure out which one of us had moved. I bent my head forward and rested my forehead on her hair. My eyes slid shut. "I've been afraid for a long time of what my life would be like without you."
"It was…me? The one…that night?"
"Yeah." I opened my eyes again and lifted my head.
Lacus pulled her hands from my grasp and leaned into my chest. I didn't move. I don't think I even breathed.
"I'm…I'm glad. I really wanted it to be me."
I know I told my arms to move – to hug her, but— "Past tense?"
My arms finally moved around her shoulders. "Even though I cold-cocked your boyfriend?"
She lifted her head up to look me in the eye. "That…" She frowned. "…was a bit excessive."
I cringed. "Can I blame the alcohol for that but not the kiss?"
"I don't think so. But, you could say you're sorry. And I can forgive you."
I nodded. "I'm sorry."
"I forgive you," Lacus said and smiled.
I sighed again and released her. She shot me a grin and started down the steps.
"Wait." I called after her. "Aren't you supposed to be sorry for making me fail the class?"
She giggled, but stopped three steps down. "I'm sorry. Can you forgive me?"
"Nevermind." I sighed and started after her. "I'm…I'm just glad we're talking. And that you're not going to marry that creep just because he asked you." We hit stair four together, then I stepped and she wasn't with me.
I stopped. "Yeah?"
"When…" Her fingers fit and twisted together where she held them in front of her waist. "…when did you know?"
She smiled and it reminded me of something I could break. "How…you felt about me?"
"I think it was the point where you were enrolled in a Physics course." I stuffed my hands in my pockets and took another step.
"Oh?" She caught up with me.
I glanced at her from the corner of my eye. "I think you were the prettiest girl I'd ever seen enrolled in that class."
"I had to take science, and that was the only class I could get into with my schedule." She tilted her head up as she walked beside me. "You'd think with a last name like Clyne, I wouldn't be too far down the list to register, but apparently not."
I chuckled as we reached the bottom of the stairs. "Try having a last name of Zala."
Lacus looped her arm around mine. I looked her way and that little smile that I could never figure out if it was meant to seem innocent or downright devious (and sexy) appeared on her lips.
"That might be nice…."
Epilogue…Written months later
I managed to graduate. I explained things to the professor, but he didn't exactly let me off easy. Apparently, the man has no life and loves student gossip (part of why he became a teacher, I guess). So, I basically had to tell him the whole story. Of how I had almost lost her to the boyfriend who wanted her to marry him. Of how she'd turned him down, but didn't really know why. Of how the recent ex had gotten angry when he saw me kissing Lacus a mere couple of hours after she told him she was in love with someone else.
Of the fight we had.
And the way she sounded when she told me to get out of her life…
My GPA, though, took a hit. D's apparently do that…
Once that ordeal was over, I was faced with a problem of a different kind. I couldn't find anything in my field too close to the college, so I stayed and worked for the university another year – so Lacus could finish up her education. It wasn't long after our infamous but very temporary 'suspension' for academic misconduct that she moved in with me – into a new apartment, since I'd already packed and turned in my notice at the old one. This one, we picked out together. And it has little 'touches' that are Lacus in almost every room.
Like the way my socks are folded in my drawer – in pairs, and with little separators between the white ones, which are apparently only to be worn with jeans and tennis shoes, and the non-white ones that are supposed to go with my slacks. It's in the way my shirts are separated by color in the closet and hung specifically with pants that I've been told 'match'.
It's her long strands of hair in my brush in the morning when I stagger out of bed – long after she's gone to class. And the note next to the remaining coffee in the pot that tells me what time she'll be home, today – because I can never remember her schedule.
I think the most amusing 'touch', however, is the Physics book from her freshman year. The one she says she could never part with. The one she swears she'll keep in the same box as our wedding album (as soon as it arrives, that is).
Because it was how we first became friends.