Author's Notes: Before those of you with presumptuous minds start thinking that this is a romance Flay-Yzak fic, let me make it clear: IT IS NOT.

Disclaimer: Characters not mine.

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Stockholm Syndrome

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There were many mysteries in life that Yzak Joule found mystifying, mind-boggling, and just plain confusing. Like why his grandmother loved silver so much that she had her daughter's hair color altered thus, resulting in his unusual silver hair – that particular mystery cost him countless detentions when he was still in pre-school (not because of racism, but because his classmates commented about his "graying hair"). Or perhaps, why on God's green earth ZAFT boots had heels. Or why Commander Rau Le Creuset always wore his funny-looking mask. Not that he'd say the last bit out loud, mind you. Compared to the mystery at hand, the above-mentioned mysteries were much constructive and beneficial to ponder about.

And what exactly is the 'mystery-at-hand' that oh-so-high-and-intellectual Yzak Joule found particularly repulsive and annoying?

The Mystery of ZAFT's Hospitable Treatment to a Prisoner of War, in more precise terms.

Yzak had tried to ask his commander, but all the masked man said was about a bunch of doors and keys and shit. He growled low on his throat and it made a couple of green coats on the table beside his to whimper pathetically and jump several feet from the air. The mess hall was one of the things that he hated about Vosgulof-class submarines – that, and his teammates' absence.

Before, meal times were always considered as a time for him and Dearka to gang up on Athrun, for Nicol to reprimand them gently, for Rusty to bet on him and Athrun, or for Miguel to tell them stories of his battles. Meal times at the mess hall were like that. Yzak didn't care much for the other soldiers, because of his, dare he say it, friends. Of course, he was irritated by his friends' presence at times, but at least they didn't whimper when they saw him. Of course, things would be much different now that his teammates were all conveniently either dead (Miguel, Rusty and Nicol), M.I.A (Dearka), or reassigned (Athrun).

Taking the wary looks he was receiving as a sign that meal time was over, Yzak stood up and went to the bussing station to put his dirty dishes. Afterwards, he grabbed a new meal tray and walked out of the mess hall.

'Talk about special delivery,' he thought sulkily, as he was stomping his way in the corridors that led towards the officers cabins. Not that he was admitting that he was indeed stomping any time soon, because stomping was such a childish act.

He stopped at one door in particular – a door which led to one of the most annoyingly perplexing persons in this lifetime. He pressed the call button and waited for a few minutes. By the time a sleepy voice answered, Yzak's patience was already running thin (assuming that it wasn't even thick to begin with).

"Who is it?" the female voice asked and ended it with a yawn.

Yzak felt his eyebrow twitch in annoyance. 'You mean to tell me, she just woke up? By gods! What kind of a soldier is she?' He gritted his teeth before answering. "Who do you think? The hotel manager?" he retorted sarcastically. He growled low before continuing, "I brought your lunch with you." He put emphasis on 'lunch' to let her know that the rest of the world was already halfway with the day.

"Oh," she answered in a small voice. "Just a sec."

Yzak rolled his eyes and tapped his left foot in irritation. He made sure that it reached through the thick doors so that the prisoner would realize just how close he was to maiming her. "Hurry the fuck up!" The thought of what his commander (or worse, his mother) would say if he heard him swearing in front of a girl. 'A girl hostage,' he thought darkly.

After a few more grating moments (boy, he was running out of synonyms for 'annoying' here), the door finally opened. The red-headed girl gave him a scared look and hastily moved out of the way. Yzak raised an eyebrow. "What?" he asked incredulously. "You think I'm going inside? Just take your damn food already!"

The girl, as always, was startled at his snappish manner. It amazed Yzak to no end that she still wasn't used to his temper. She bowed and took a deep breath before speaking up, as if to steel whatever nerves she had. "T-thank you," she said in a small voice.

Yzak snorted. He couldn't find the words to tell her how much he appreciated that.

'Yeah, right.'

"Look, can you just eat it already so I can take the tray and go back to my military career?" he grumbled instead. He thrust the fully-laden tray towards her for added effect.

The girl took it with amazingly steady hands and without a word. She entered the room and sat on the bed. She took the fork, but did not take any of the food. She sighed and looked at him with weary eyes. "What do you really want from me?" she whispered.

From his position leaning outside the open doorway, Yzak muttered a curse under his breath. "Me? I don't want anything from you," he answered truthfully and, for the first time since their prisoner-captor relationship started, without sarcasm decorating his words.

"What about your Commander?" she asked in a, he was quite happy to note, scared voice.

Yzak shrugged, then immediately felt foolish afterwards as he was out of view. And Yzak, short-fused as he was, couldn't keep his annoyance at bay any longer. "How the hell should I know?"

"My dad held a high position in the E.A." He heard her sigh before speaking up once more, and when she did, her voice was even more strained. "But he's dead now, so I don't see why…" she trailed off, words finally failing her as she burst into tears.

"You know, if you were a normal Coordinator girl, I'd have panicked, simply because I do not know how to deal with situations such as these." Yzak sneered, and he hoped it was those types of sneers that could be heard. "But since you're not a Coordinator and you're a hostage, I guess I can just act like the asshole that I really am."

Yzak heard a sharp intake of breath and he knew he struck a nerve.

Not that he cared in the slightest.

"Look, if you want to talk to someone, I'll send in the resident shrink," he said nastily. He moved from his position beside the doorway to look at the girl's pathetic state. What he saw was something that he should have seen coming, but still shocked him. She was staring at him with such hate-filled eyes that made him flinch inwardly – a glare shooting knives at him with the force of a thousand Blue Cosmos supporters.

"I was trying to be civil," she said coldly and, wonders of wonders, for the first time since her stay there, with her voice steady. "I was starting to doubt my belief that Coordinators are monsters, but you just confirmed them for me."

That comment made Yzak bristle in indignation. "Hey, watch your mouth, you filthy Natural."

"Filthy? Between the two of us, I wonder who's filthier? You, whose hands are stained with blood, or me, a mere victim of circumstance?"

Yzak snorted at that. Yeah, right. Her, innocent. If his memory served him correctly, the girl boarded the ship wearing an Earth Forces uniform. Only one word summarized his thoughts – and it wasn't even a word. 'Pft.' "I'm a soldier, dimwit, and if my hands are stained with blood, that's actually something that I should be proud of."

"You killed my father!" she accused him. She was beyond furious, that was for sure. Her lunch – the sole reason why Yzak was there – was lying neglected and forgotten on top of the slightly rumpled bed sheets.

"Hey, my father and my friends died in the war as well, but you don't see me yelling at you!"

"I hate Coordinators! They killed my father! The destroyed my home! They killed my friends! They went against the laws of nature and made themselves superior to others! So why did I fall in love with one?" The moment those words left her mouth, she clamped it shut with her hands, and her eyes grew wide as big as possible.

The girl sat back down limply on the edge of the bed and buried her face in her hands, sobbing softly in them. Yzak just stared at her indifferently but deep inside, he was stunned. For one, he did not know what in the blue hell the hostage was talking about. Another thing was the shock that a would-be Blue Cosmos supporter would fall in love with Coordinator 'scum' like him.

Needless to say, he immediately felt sorry for whoever the redhead girl fell in love with.

The moment Yzak laid eyes on the redheaded girl, he knew she was trouble. Trouble with a big, fat, capital 'T'. She seemed prissy, and had that snobby air that all daughters of rich politicians seem to have. It did not help that the Commander seemed intent on not treating her like the prisoner that she is. Commander Le Creuset insisted on giving her one of the best rooms aboard, on feeding her food the same as the ones he himself ate, and even on not locking her up.

The list on the reasons why he found her presence so infuriating was growing longer by the minute.

And she still hasn't stopped crying.

"Are you going to stop that or are you waiting for me to send in the shrink?" Yzak asked her flatly, and tapping his foot in the process to show his impatience. He crossed his arms as well, just in case.

To his added surprise – and annoyance – the girl spoke up, but not in the way that he was hoping that she would. She began to talk about her life. "My friends told me he had a crush on me, but I brushed it off. I wasn't too fond of Coordinators and he was one. And I was engaged to Sai. I knew him – casual acquaintances, common friends… Miriallia introduced us once. I found him cute and nice – but not really my type," she paused and bit her lip, unsure on how to continue.

Nope, even worse, she began to talk about her love life. Only one thought entered Yzak's mind. 'Shit.'

The girl took a deep breath – steeling herself perhaps – and continued. "I saw him on that day – the day Heliopolis was destroyed. Just before everything went wrong. The next time I met him, it was inside the Archangel. I was relieved to see him but the relief that I saw was because of his familiar face. The fact that someone I knew was there with me was a respite after being in a life pod full of so many strangers."

Yzak was trained to be a soldier, not a shrink or an advice columnist. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself from losing his temper once more.

"He promised me that my father would not be killed, because he was going to be there. I saw my father's ship explode in front of my very eyes. I blamed him for it – even more so when I learned that he had a friend from ZAFT. He said he was going to protect my Papa's ship… But he didn't."

"Maybe he couldn't," Yzak muttered under his breath, disgusted by the girl's one-sided reasoning.

But she didn't seem to hear him, as she still went on with her ramblings. "I made up my mind that I was never going to forgive him. I wanted him to die fighting, die trying to protect me. I used him." Her voice began to break and she grew teary-eyed once more. "He pitied me, when he should be the one pitied. He said we were wrong for each other. Maybe we were. I should've been at least happy that I've managed to break him, but I wasn't. I wanted us to still be together. He said I was the only one who understood him, who was there for him, who comforted him when he cried. I wanted for us to talk, to set things right, but…" the tears turned into full blown cries.

"He died," Yzak finished for her in his matter-of-fact voice.

"I didn't even get the chance to say that I was sorry!" the girl cried. She buried her face in her hands once more, her shoulders quaking with long pent-up emotion.

"So you're telling me all of these because I'm a Coordinator like him?" Yzak rolled his eyes. "You're confessing to the wrong person. Go up to his grave and cry over his dead carcass for all I care." He was beyond irritated now, after he had to endure listening to her talk. But the girl was so out of it, that she did not even notice his anger. Either that, or she was just determined to drive him nuts.

"What use is there apologizing to a dead person?"

"Then don't apologize."

There were a few awkward moments on the girl's part before she spoke up once more. "Thank you," she said in a small, abashed voice but the sincerity was evident.

"What for? For being rude?" Yzak muttered as he grabbed the untouched food-laden tray on the bedside. He walked out of the room, but just before the door closed, he got a glimpse of the girl's face.

He felt a wry smile curl up his lips as he made his way back to the mess hall.

It was a complete waste of time for him.

But not for the girl.

The look on her face told him that she needed that – even more so than the food that he brought for her.

Nevertheless, meal times for Flay Allster still made his perfectly straight hair curl in infuriation.

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Stockholm syndrome is a condition experienced by people who have been held as hostages for some time in which they begin to identify with and feel sympathetic towards their captors.

In layman's terms, when the hostage begins to bond with his/her captors.

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Author's Notes: I wrote this fic after reading someone's 'comments' about Flay. I just wanted to prove that there are more conducive ways on how to make people understand that Flay isn't 'all bad'. And calling Flay-haters "fucking idiots" who should "get a life" is not one of them, I'm afraid. I am not easily angered but such arrogant words coming from someone who doesn't even seem to know the difference between a story and a forum post is enough to make me come out of my very roomy writer's-block-closet.

The ending seems abrupt. That's the way how it should be. Flay just wants to be heard, not be paired up with Yzak. I respect canon. Despite how foolish it can be sometimes. This story may turn into a multi-chaptered fic…if I get inspired. I still have my other 'villains' to defend, after all (coughREY,SHINN,RAUandGILcough).