Rating: T / PG-13

Summary: AU after episode 34 of GSD. What if Kira wasn't found on that fateful day by Cagalli? How will Athrun, Cagalli, Lacus and the others react to his death? But...is he really dead? Gilbert Dullindal's chess game is ever changing as a new fate awaits the Ultimate Coordinator.

Main Characters: mainly focused on Kira and Athrun, but also Dullindal, Cagalli, Lacus...

Pairing(s): none yet.

Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Seed/Destiny.

Summary of the previous chapters:

At the same time the Freedom was destroyed by Shinn, Gilbert Dullindal –thoughtful as ever – sent a very restrcited team on the fields, feeling that something or somebody could be found. And indeed he did find someone: Kira Yamato. For Dullindal, this was surprising yet pleasant discovery for he liked playing with Destiny. So he took care of the boy, the Ultimate Coordinator. Dullindal was determined to use his potential fully this time, and Kira's memory loss was simply the occasion: Fate was on his side. While looking after him, a web of truth and lies was created. Kira Yamato was no more, Kira Hibiki, son of Ulen and Via Hibiki and nephew of the Chairman Dullindal was reborn.

Kira is very fastly healing for a Coordinator, and soon met the Minerva's crew, which he would be part of. Lunamaria and Shinn, both feel like a sense of déjà-vu when meeting him, but dismissed that quickly. They seem to get on with Kira quite well. On the contrary, Rey, the only one besides Dullindal who knows the full truth, has difficulties to be very nice with Kira. But he had and will always follow Gil's orders: watch him as his childhood friend, or rather rival.

After discussing with Gil about politics, Dullindal manipulating each of his words to convince Kira of the righteousness of their fight, Kira met with the fake Lacus, Meer, and was given a Mobile Suite : Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Athrun managed to escape with Meyrin, after Kira's so-called death. Last time we saw him, he was meeting with Cagalli in the infirmary. Both torn, filled with regret. And here we are, back on the Archangel.

Warning: I'm very sorry for any grammar or spelling mistakes, I'm just too tired and haven't got time to check it very seriously.

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Gundam Seed: Another Path, Another Destiny

Phase 12 : Understanding and Discoveries

"Athrun..."

A cloudless sky with shining stars. Shadows standing on the beach. Unknown lips moving, a familiar voice.

"Athrun... I have to... tell you something..."

Stirring from his sleep, the blue haired boy opened his eyes slowly.

It had been a week he was either asleep or vaguely awake, too tired to move, a week since Cagalli came into that pure white infirmary with that sorrowful, angry and desperate look.

Yes... it had been a week since Athrun Zala's world had completely turned upside down. Since that fateful day, horrible nightmares would plague him every nights, making this sick feeling inside his stomach, as well as his own guilt, increase endlessly. Nevertheless, Athrun knew he had to go on, to protect what he had left in this world, and what he had wanted to protect – Cagalli, the Archangel's crew, Orb.

He still had a reason to live, a chance to correct his past mistakes, even if he couldn't repent for the unforgivable. Everything was not lost.

Emerald eyes blinked a few times to adjust themselves to the light of the room. For the first time, the blue haired boy felt he had enough strengh to get up by himself. He pulled himself slowly into a sitting position on his bed and gazed at the sleeping blond "prisoner" on the other bed.

Miriallia had vaguely explained the situation a few days ago, though he was not very attentive, much too tired to listen. Anyway what he did understand, and by what he could see, Mwu La Flaga was definitely not dead.

But things could never be that easy, Mwu wasn't this friendly Major who defected the Earth forces to Orb anymore, but a coldless Earth Alliance soldier named Neo, captain of the Phantom Pain and responsible of so many deaths.

Athrun wondered how Murrue was dealing with that situation. Mwu was alive but didn't recognize her, or anyone. Maybe his amnesia was much more painful than his death, especially when she had begun to heal from her loss. Yet, the mere knowledge that a loved one is alive, might be enough to feel content. Athrun sighed heavily with a repressed shudder. He really hoped he would never have to live such conflicting feelings as Murrue Ramius.

Slowly and quietly, Athrun got up and exited the room on his tiptoes. He didn't wish to confront the older man, was he to wake up. He walked down the familiar corridors, and decided to visit Meyrin. Cagalli had told him she was also badly injured, another thing to add to his already great amount of guilt.

After knocking softly at her door, and given permission to enter, he sat on a chair near the bed where she was sitting, a kind smile on her face.

"Athrun, I'm so happy you've recovered," she said sincerely with a slight shy look in her blue orbs.

"Thanks, I'm still not entirely fit, but I'm alright..." he smiled wanly at her. "I'm ... I'm sorry for all the trouble, Meyrin," he looked down on his folded hands, before forcing himself to raise his gaze again. "Everything is my fault, I shouldn't have let you help me." He looked at her sadly, before averting his eyes again with guilt.

"No, no don't be sorry Athrun," she quickly said with a laugh and a dismissived hand, as if it was only a small matter and nothing very serious happened.

The blue haired boy looked uncertainly at her again, and saw determination mixed with something he couldn't quite pinpoint in her blue eyes.

"Don't be sorry," she repeated, holding his stare firmly, with a maturity Athrun didn't know she possessed. "I have made my decision, and I will keep to it. I don't intend to change my mind, nor do I regret my choice." Her gaze softened. "I wanted – want – to help you, Athrun."

A small silence ensued. Athrun didn't know how to react, didn't know what she really meant, what she expected.

"What ..." he hesitated slightly. "What about Lunamaria?"

A shadow crossed her eyes before disappearing quickly. "She must be dead worried," she admitted, her eyes closed. "She must think I'm dead..."

"She surely wants to kill me..." Athrun muttered to himself and the red haired girl had to laugh.

"Maybe... But I don't think so. Big sister knows me, she knows I have made a choice, even if she doesn't like it," she said softly with a smile, her hands over her chest. "She would understand..." She looked up staring in front of her with a fierce conviction. "I know she understands."

Athrun simply nodded, acknowledging the bond between the two sisters, something he didn't share with anyone except maybe... He shook his head mentally, he refused to think about that, to think about what he had lost. Instead he thought about how relieved he was that he didn't create a cliff between the two sisters.

After a short silence he said : "Thanks, Meyrin."

He really was thankful. A little less guilt on his shoulder was always welcomed thought.

"That's what friends are for !"she grinned.

And yet, I didn't even speak to you that much..., he thought bitterly.

A soft click made Athrun turn around, as the door opened revealing the young Orb General and Murrue. The blonde haired girl stared at the two with a frown.

"Oh, we can come later, just wanted to see how Meyrin was," Cagalli muttered curtly with a sharp narrowed look in her golden eyes, while Murrue only sighed at her antics.

The blue haired boy quickly shook his head vehemently, catching what she was implying, maybe unconsciously, even if they were separated for a long time, even if their feelings were in turmoil, and they didn't know how they feel. She had always been like that, always jumping to conclusion, Athrun thought with a fond smile. He was happy that Cagalli seemed to be back to her usual (even though aggressive) way. He just conveniently dismissed the thought that it might be a mere façade.

"No, no, it's alright," Meyrin said with a smile as she motioned for them to sit down too.

"So, how are you, Meyrin ?" The brown haired Capitain asked softly, she really was motherly to everyone.

"Fine, thanks." A thin blush covered her cheeks, she still wasn't use to the fact that the Archangel crew was that friendly.

Athrun glanced at Cagalli in an uneasy silence, before deciding to break the ice.

"So...Anything new?" he asked.

Murrue shook her head. "Nothing... everything seems so... calm..."

"That it just seems wrong," Cagalli continued with a dark voice, one that she used even more since that event, one that Athrun hated. She shrugged slightly. "I don't know... but I really have a bad feeling... We all feel so helpless right now."

Athrun understood the hidden meaning, fears behind her voice. She felt helpless. She didn't know what was right or wrong anymore, he wasn't here to guide her anymore as he was used too. The unbidden fear that Orb might be attacked while they were doing nothing but hidding taunted her every day. Athrun found that he too shared the same feelings, except that he knew he was doing the right thing this time.

He covered her folded hands with his, and squeezed them lightly, showing his understanding. Her golden gaze lifted to meet his, and she nodded briefly at the gesture with a wan smile of acknowledgement.

"There is nothing we can do right now, Cagalli," he said aloud, even if words were unnecessary right now, "The Archangel still has to be into hidding for its reparation, and the probability to be found are quite thin."

Her body relaxed slowly at his reassuring words while Murrue smiled gently at the two, and Meyrin observed the scene with interest.

"Thanks...I guess you're right..."

Athrun smiled softly, he would do anything to protect her, but also the Archangel, Orb, Meyrin and so many others. He would do this, he could do this, for himself, for the world –for him. His fist clenched sightly with resolve. He wouldn't let his sacrifice be in vain, he would do everything in his power to honour his friend unspoken will.

His chest tightened slightly at this thought – the sign of guilt – as something horrible dawned upon him. The premice of sweat could be felt on his palms and he repressed a shudder.

"C... Cagalli," he stuttered with livid face, as she looked at him worriedly.

"D...Did you tell L--Lacus ?"

She immediately understood what he meant and tensed. Her face and Murrue's paled too, while Meyrin had a questioning look.

"I..." she looked down and finally muttered, "No... I couldn't."

"Lacus is right now in space," Murrue explained sadly, "We don't communicate often..."

She sighed softly and pressed briefly her hand on her forehead. "Moreover... I... we couldn't bring ourselves to say that to her, not while we couldn't look after her. She is a strong girl, but I just fear this might be the last straw..."

Athrun nodded. Lacus wouldn't take that piece of new well, he knew it. He was also afraid how she would react. Would she blame him? He shook his head slightly, no, Lacus was too kind to put the blame on someone. Meyrin's voice took him out of his fears :

"Huh... I'm sorry for interrupting," she said shyly as if she was a little girl caught into doing something wrong, "I don't really understand what's going on..."

Meyrin couldn't hold her curiosity it seemed, but Athrun could understand that. They did speak as if she was not here. Moreover Cagalli and Murrue didn't seem to mind the sudden turn of attention. Athrun sighed.

"I guess you must be confused Meyrin, sorry... Well... in fact," he looked for his words and simply decided to be bold. "The Lacus you know is a fake."

He waited and watched as her grey eyes slowly widened with surprise. "W... What?! B...But you were always with her!"

The blue haired boy sighed again, ignoring the slight golden glare. "I know... I thought it was a good thing at them time, I thought the Chairman had his reasons..." he trailed off bitterly.

Meyrin frowned as she tried to process what he told her. "So... the Lacus I know is not Lacus, but a fake made by the Chairman?"

Athrun just nodded.

"My God," she slapped her hand on her forehead. "That's... That's unexpected..." she finished lamely at loss of others words.

The three others looked at her and thought she was taking the news quite well. Maybe it was because Athrun told her.

"But," she finally added, "Why would Miss Lacus hide? Why would she be shoked?"

Athrun shifted uneasily on his chair, and Murrue answered first. "That was Lacus and Kira's choice..." Meyrin didn't miss Athrun and Cagalli's flinch at the name and frowned slightly. "You see," Murrue went on, "Lacus was attacked while she was at Orb, by a special ZAFT unit, and since then, they could not trust the Chairman."

"By ZAFT?!" the blue grey eyes widened once again. "T... That just doesn't make sense, all PLANT loves Miss Lacus...oh!" she placed a hand on her mouth with realisation. "That's the Chairman's plan, isn't it?"

"We are not completely sure," Cagalli admitted with a shrug, "But basically that's it."

Meyrin nodded slowly, and realised her second question wasn't answered, and said before she could stop herself:

"Who is Kira?"

She immediately regretted her question, when she saw their face darkened, and berated herself for her loud mouth.

"My brother." The blond General answered curtly.

"My best friend," Athrun slowly said with an unusual low voice, and added : "The Freedom's pilot."

And the red haired girl was surprised for third time in a few minutes at the revelation. Athrun saw the dawning understanding in her eyes, how the pilot's death had affected their lives. His escape, his newly found mistrust for the Chairman, his recent depression, everything began to make sense to her.

After a short tense silence, where Meyrin didn't dare utter a single word, Athrun explained one last thing.

"K... Kira is...was very kind and always did what he thought was right." He paused. "Lacus and Kira were very close, they shared the same believes, and the same qualities : an unwavering determination, and the most accurate sense of justice..." He tried as much as he could to steady his voice. "That's why... we're afraid telling her..."

She nodded mutely. Cagalli was looking at her shaking hands, but Athrun continued nevertheless. He had to be sure.

"Cagalli, Murrue... Is Lacus safe right now?" he asked seriously. She had to be. Without her, everything would then really be lost.

"Don't worry, Athrun," Murrue said gently with a soft smile. "The Eternal is safely hidden in space, with a very effective camouflage. Everything should be alright, they are near Colony Mendel."

Before Athrun could sighed with relief, Meyrin suddenly exclaimed:

"What?! Mendel?!" Her eyes were wide, and a bad feeling began to creap all over his body.

"Yes, what's wrong, Meyrin?" Murrue asked with concern.

"It... It can't be..." she muttered as she shook her head fiercely.

"Meyrin?" Cagalli said, now beginning to feel worried too.

Athrun wanted to asked her what was on her mind, when she quickly grasped his forehand tightly with a panicked look.

"Athrun! It's not safe!" She breathed loudly. "Colony Mendel is under surveillance!"

To be continued...

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Author Note: An update finally!! I'm so sorry for the wait once again! Well it's better now than never, isn't it? Please don't mind all the mistakes, I guess I should write more in English now that I have an incompetent teacher... When I think that I was actually better in English a few years ago...sigh I really hope this chapter was still readable.

Anyway, as you can see, we're now back on the Archangel! This chapter was really hard to write, returning to Athrun's point of view... I hope I didn't write Meyrin out of character, it was my first time writing her... Her character is not that easy to grasp. I know some don't like her, but I think she can be quite nice once she's gotten over her crush. And moreover, just as I have always said, this story is not focused on romance, but rather friendship. There are no real official pairing, except the obvious Mwu/Murrue.

Lacus is also finally mentioned, the real one! She will soon get into the picture too.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Thanks again to keep reading!

Thanks for the reviews to: r, anonymous, Wolven Spirits, Disturbed Insomniac, furin-a, frogger666, SuperAl ChenChong, RuByMoOn17, link2143, Hiyami, choclatbandit, Green.on.Black, blueflamesofsadness, Stella Solaris!!, TheDisruptiveOne, Isenheart, animefav, SexxyPadfootMoonyProngs, Roscoe, x000a-dreadnoughtH, dark galaxy, Anemosys, Darkness in Life.

Next Chapter: Will Lacus manage to escape the trap set for her? Athrun and Lacus will finally meet again, as the war moves to Orb.

Comments are always welcomed!