Chapter Five - Psychic
After they had finished eating their lunch, Athrun had invited Cagalli for some afternoon coffee – or tea if she preferred it – but she had politely declined saying that she had "…stuff…" to do. Athrun had walked her home for the second time, accompanying her until they reached Shinn's door. But unlike the first time, she immediately went inside after a muttered "thanks", not even bothering to see him off.
And now, here she was in Shinn's living room, doing the "…stuff…" that she planned to do: burn a hole through the carpet with her pacing. Her mind was racing. Her heart was thumping. Her stomach was fluttering. Her breath was heaving.
Yes, she was distraught.
Yes, it was because of -Athrun-.
But what was making her even more distraught was -why-.
According to Shinn, she had been feeling happy because of Athrun. And now, she was feeling upset because of the same man. But then again, why the hell should she trust what Shinn said? Only an insane person could do that! And even though she had been extremely moody and downright murderous for the past days, she was still perfectly sane, thank you very much.
At least that was what she thought so.
'Maybe the spaghetti and meatballs that I ate had gone bad… Ugh. Maybe I should call up the management or something…' she thought with a groan. Suddenly she felt her legs go sore – probably because she had been pacing for close to an hour now. She decided to rest for awhile, get her bearings in check – preferably in the comfort of the couch.
She lay on her back and stared at the ceiling, with her hand on her forehead. What was happening to her? As far as her sanity was concerned, she was sure that something was messing up with her brain. She closed her eyes and willed herself to clear her mind.
After a few minutes, she wasn't sure if she was asleep or awake anymore, what mattered was that she was finally relaxing.
She felt her subconscious sink deeper and deeper…
…closer and closer to the waiting arms of a smiling blue-haired, green-eyed, young man.
Her lips curled up in a happy smile. "Athrun…" A blissful sigh escaped her lips.
Then, her eyes snapped open. She abruptly sat up and knocked her hand on her head for a few times. "Where the HELL did that come from!"
She stood up and started pacing the floor again, her mind (not to mention, her heart) racing. 'This is absurd! I've only met him! In fact, I've just stopped hating him! This isn't possible! This can't be happening! I refuse to admit it!'
She clenched her fists and let out a huff of frustration. 'He smiles all the time! He has weird, blue hair! He likes boring, black coffee! He used to be a snotty brat! He… He…'
She racked her brains for more reasons why Athrun wasn't all that. But unfortunately, she came up with nothing. Well, something, if you counted the headache she felt after forcing her brain. She muttered several curses that would make even sailors flinch and stomped angrily on the floor.
Ironically, for someone as frank as she was, if there was one thing that Cagalli was good at, it was denial.
'Okay. So, he's nice. He has a nice smile. He's a gentleman.'
She stopped her pacing and sat back down on the couch.
'He makes me smile when I feel frustrated. He makes me laugh when I want to kill someone. He makes feel happy when he smiles. He makes me feel giddy when I see him. He sort of understands my feelings… And just now, I felt…distraught…when he said he 'met someone very special'.'
It couldn't get any more obvious than that! Her gaze fell on her reflection in the TV screen. She was wearing a silly smile on her face! And that was when, finally, realization sank in.
"Oh. My. God." She muttered, eyes growing wide. "I like him!"
After her very recent discovery about some developments to her love life, Cagalli had spent the better of the past three hours doing what she did best: ceiling gazing. She had relocated to the comfort of Shinn's bedroom, her mind amazingly clear and light-headed, her heart now beating to a slow rhythm and her stomach forgetting about dinner.
It was so…surreal.
She just admitted to herself that she liked Athrun. As in, liked -liked- Athrun, the ex-snotty-brat. In the span of two days, Athrun had endeared himself to her, Cagalli Yula Athha, picky dater from hell.
And she didn't even know how the hell it happened!
Maybe Athrun put something in all the food that he gave her…
Like some sort of 'love potion' or something…
'Or something…' She sighed. 'What a great way to realize that I like someone! Perfect timing! Just when my father arranges for me to get married, I find the guy that I like! How's that for irony!'
She grabbed a pillow and buried her head with it. Well, what should she do now? Tell Athrun that she liked him? Go back home, marry the jerk and forget about Athrun? It wasn't like she loved him anyway! Was it?
Her eyes grew wide. 'Hell no! Love is such a strong word! And a very long leap from hating him! Better take things one step at a time!'
The silence of the room was then replaced by the annoying ringing of her cell phone. She groaned and rolled onto her stomach to reach for it on the floor, where it lay. She glanced at the screen and rolled her eyes after knowing who it was.
"What do you want?" Cagalli snapped through the receiver. She was in no mood for any of Shinn's antics.
"What do I want! I want you to go home Cagalli!" a familiar voice replied angrily.
Cagalli abruptly sat up, her face going white. That wasn't Shinn. That wasn't Shinn's irritating voice! She felt a lump form in her throat and she swallowed it nervously. "K-Kira?"
"I'm glad you still remember me!" Kira commented sarcastically. "Where the hell are you? We've been worried sick!"
At least they didn't know where she was. She would have to give Shinn credit for that, at least. But Cagalli, unused to being shouted at, felt her sudden fear being replaced with her usual anger. "Why the hell should I tell you where I am? That would ruin the whole point of running away now, wouldn't it!"
"Cagalli! Grow up!" Kira snapped harshly.
Finally, Cagalli saw red. "Grow up? Grow up! I -am- grown-up, if you haven't noticed! Very much grown-up to make my -own- choices!"
"If you're talking about the marriage…"
"I -am- talking about the goddamn marriage, damn it!" she interrupted. "Why the hell would I run away if it weren't for that! I don't care for whatever twisted reasons Father has, but he should've asked for my opinion first! It's not him that's gonna be living with some jerk for the rest of his godforsaken life!"
"Cagalli…" This time, Kira's voice sounded just like the gentle one that she was accustomed to.
She felt tears form at her eyes and she wiped them off quickly. "Don't 'Cagalli' me! Just because you found your princess charming through an arranged marriage doesn't mean that I will, too!"
Kira chuckled. "Of course not. I'll be mortified if it's a 'princess charming' you'll end up with."
"Don't kid with me!" she retorted. "You know what I'm talking about."
She heard Kira sigh. "I know, Cagalli. But will you please go home? I promise we'll talk about it with Father."
"I don't want to talk about it. I want to cancel it," Cagalli answered as she hung up. She turned off her phone and lied back down. She glared at the ceiling, and growled in annoyance. It wouldn't be long before her Father found out that she was staying at Shinn's apartment. She didn't know how Kira managed to use Shinn's phone, but she was too tired to think about it.
The whole afternoon had been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride and she was ready to call it a day. She was about to close her eyes when she heard soft knocking from the front door. She was sure that it was Athrun.
Cagalli wanted so badly to just ignore it and go to sleep but she felt a sudden urge to tell someone about her problems. Someone that would listen… Athrun wasn't a boyfriend, but he was still a friend.
After checking her reflection to make sure she looked decent, she made her way towards the front door and opened it. There was Athrun, with the usual smile on his face. But the smile was quickly replaced by a worried look.
Before he could say anything, Cagalli butted in. "What do you have there?" she asked, pointing at the brown paper bag that he was holding.
Athrun lifted it up. "Oh, this? Chocolate chip cookies. I remember you said you liked them so I decided to buy some for you."
"That's very nice of you!" Cagalli beamed. 'Is this guy for real?' she thought incredulously. She opened the door wider and gestured for him to come in. "I hope you drink instant coffee because that's all Shinn has," she commented as she went inside.
"You're really intent on treating me for coffee, huh?" he asked laughingly.
She pointed at the chair on the kitchen. "Sit there and wait for the coffee. The living room's too messy."
"Yes, ma'am," he mock-saluted as he made his way towards the proffered chair. He sat down and placed the bag of cookies on top of the table. "Hey, do you have a plate?"
Cagalli approached him and took the bag. "You sit down, okay? I'll re-heat the cookies and make some coffee for you. Or…" she trailed off thoughtfully. "Do you want some milk? Since it's cookies and all…"
Athrun let out a soft chuckle. "You read my mind!"
She grinned. "Well, it was kind of a wild guess. I didn't think you'd be willing to say 'no' to your beloved coffee." Then, she turned her back to him and proceeded to prepare their snack.
After a few minutes of silence, Athrun finally spoke up. "Have you been crying?" he asked in a small voice.
Cagalli thanked the heavens above that she was just arranging the cookies on the plate. If she was holding the glasses of milk instead, she was sure she'd have dropped it. She took a deep breath before she answered. "What makes you say that?" she asked in a casual voice.
"Your eyes," he answered simply.
Cagalli chose not to answer at the moment and walked towards the table holding a tray with the cookies and milk. She placed it on top of the table and sat on the chair opposite Athrun's. They were now facing each other but Cagalli couldn't bring herself to look at Athrun directly in the eye.
'Minor briefing, Cagalli. The only thing you're telling him is the marriage thing, okay? No more, no less. Find some other time for your confession!' she reminded herself. She sipped some of her milk and cleared her throat. "To tell you honestly, I'm here because I ran away."
Athrun blinked. "You ran away? Why?"
"Well, you see…" Cagalli felt her cheeks heat up. "My Father arranged for me to get married," she finished in a small voice.
Athrun stared dumbfounded at her for a whole minute. He shook his head, as if to make sure that he wasn't dreaming. Then, his jaw actually dropped!
Cagalli started to feel the familiar beginnings of annoyance. What was up with this guy? Was it so hard for him to believe that -she- was getting married? A scowl found its way into her face. "What the hell? You don't believe me?"
The opened jaw finally snapped shut and Athrun blinked. Then, he grinned apologetically. "I'm sorry. I was just…surprised."
"Obviously," she muttered dryly. She took a deep breath and reached for a cookie. "Anyway, Kira called me up and that basically ruined my day." 'Aside from the knowledge that you're probably taken', Cagalli added in her mind.
When Athrun didn't reply, or even showed signs of doing so, she glared at him. He continued to stare in space, expression completely unreadable. In fact, if it weren't for his deep breaths every now and then, Cagalli could swear he already bit the dust and passed on to the great beyond.
Cagalli could feel a vein ticking in her temple. "What the heck is the matter with you?" she finally erupted. "Is it so hard to believe that I'm actually getting married?"
That sudden outburst finally snapped Athrun out of his mysterious thoughts. "Um… not really. I was just er, thinking," he explained weakly.
Cagalli raised an eyebrow, but otherwise (and surprisingly) said nothing.
Athrun forced a cough, and looked away sheepishly. "Just wondering who the guy is."
Cagalli shrugged. "What's the point in telling you? It's not like you can do anything to solve my problem. You asked and I just answered your question. End of story." She rolled her eyes. "Now, could we please change the topic? You're supposed to make me forget about my problems not make me think about them." Right. So much for telling the truth! What does she get? A sympathetic gesture would have been fine, but no! She got a jaw-drop! She sniffed, completely miffed.
Athrun's lips curled up. Now, that was what she was looking for! The usual smile finally graced his features. "Sorry. So, what would you want to talk about?"
'What about your special someone?' Cagalli thought moodily. "Oh, I don't know. Your life as a campus idol, I guess."
Athrun frowned. "I'm not an idol."
"Sure you're not," she replied dismissively and quite unconvincingly, while dumping her cookie in her half-filled glass of milk. "You're one of the easiest persons to read!" Cagalli mentally rolled her eyes. That was the biggest lie that she had ever told – aside from telling Shinn that his pet hamster died because of cancer.
Finally, Athrun did something that Cagalli had never seen him do – ever. Fidget. "Er…" he began nervously. "Actually, I want to ask your opinion about something…" he trailed off uneasily.
She swallowed her mouthful of cookies and milk before answering, "Shoot." How she managed to keep her voice calm despite her immense curiosity, she didn't know. If Athrun Zala was fidgeting, it had to be about something big – and juicy.
Athrun's cheeks turned red. "What did you think of me when we were kids?"
Cagalli blinked. "Do you want me to tell you what you want to hear or what you need to hear?"
"Need to hear."
"Okay. Well, I thought you were one stuck-up little brat…" 'A -cute- stuck-up little brat.'
Now, it was Athrun's turn to blink. "You did?"
She nodded as she sipped some of her milk. "I did," she confirmed for more effect.
There was a stunned silence from Athrun's side…which Cagalli found totally annoying. Did he have to make it seem like she was the bad one by sounding so harsh? It was the truth for god's sake! And he was asking for it! She opened her mouth to tell him exactly what she thought as of the moment, but Athrun beat her to it.
He was laughing.
Hard, she might add.
Cagalli reached for a cookie and watched him make a weirdo out of himself. After Athrun had managed to finally gain his composure, he gave her an apologetic grin. "Sorry about that. But did you really think I was cute?"
Cagalli's eyes grew as large as dinner plates. She dropped the cookie that she was holding as she clapped her hand in her mouth, horrified. GOD! Athrun Zala wasn't just cute and smart! He was also a mind-reader!
(Amazing just how much in denial she was)
'Or worse…' (And much more embarrassing, might I add)
Ah, finally realization.
Did she just speak out loud that Athrun was a CUTE stuck-up little brat?
Author's Notes: You gotta love the subtle art of cliffhangers. Yes, it is an art. Still curious about the mysterious 'girl-friend', I see. Cagalli's mouth has a life of its own. You'd be surprised; it even has a driver's license of its own!
Kidding, of course.
Well, this story is just for laughs so don't delve too deeper into the plot. No hidden mysteries or dramatic pasts or angst-ridden flashbacks. Just what a romantic-comedy should be. Oh, and this chapter will be the closest we'll get to drama.
For those wondering what happened to Shinn's hamster, just imagine Cagalli petting the hamster when it suddenly bites her. You get the picture.
So, for this chapter's questions: Did Shinn finally crack under pressure and tattle on Cagalli? Will Cagalli's revelations about Athrun's cuteness result to them getting together much earlier than scheduled?
What do YOU think?
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CrimsonSkies, CelicaChick, purple1, Yukimi
noh Daiomoru, MiyuCagalli, Eternally Asuka,
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Oh, and out of curiosity, will all the Filipinos please stand up?