Disclaimer: Gundam SEED/Destiny belong to the people who own them... and sadly, I'm not one of them.

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Walk Forward

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If I could, I would've ripped my feet off of my body once I realized where it had brought me. Of all the places that I could've gone to, it had to be this one. And for the love of spam, isn't this place supposed to be located on a damned island?

I muttered a curse under my breath and was about to stomp back to wherever I came from when a soft voice suddenly floated up to my ears, calling me.

"Mr. Asuka? Is that you?"

I was tempted to blurt out a rude 'No' but something stopped me. That something being the thought of what Luna would say when word gets to her about how I snapped at dear, sweet Lacus Clyne. I faced her and managed to hiss a not-so-polite 'yes' through gritted teeth.

She was standing there, wearing a pink (surprise, surprise) dress, and holding a child on each hand. Her hair was being tossed around by the wind but she didn't seem to care. With hair that long, it's no wonder she has enough patience to tolerate brats. She had this serene smile on her face. To summarize it all, she looked the same as the last time I saw her, which was probably a couple of months ago.

Except for the fact that she wasn't hanging off on one of Yamato's arms.

"Please, come in. You're just in time for lunch."

I shrugged. But deep inside, I was a bit puzzled by her actions. She didn't even ask me why I was there. It was as if she knew exactly what things to say. She had so much…tact. The image of blonde hair and fierce, amber eyes appeared in my minds eye and I almost snorted out loud. Hmp. So much tact. Unlike some people I know.

She tilted her head to the side and looked at me with those penetrating eyes of her.

Now, this must be what they call the 'Lacus Clyne effect'.

I put my hands in my pockets and casually looked away. Might as well get over this. "Is Mr. Yamato around?" Mister. That certainly left a bad taste in my mouth. Why the heck am I using honorifics anyway?

"I'm afraid not, Mr. Asuka. He went out for some errands."

"Oh," I answered. What I really meant was, 'And you were just about to eat without him. How rude'. But of course, my damned conscience (or Luna, take your pick; I'm not choosy) wouldn't let me say that to her out loud. There was something fishy going on. Did she take me for an idiot? I've seen this type of scene on television many times.

Character A goes out to meet Character B at his house. Character B's not home, only his girlfriend/wife. Girlfriend/wife invites Character A and A gets a glimpse of B's normal, mundane life. A hesitates to kill B and by the time B gets back, A is long gone, repenting for his sins.

Not bloody likely.

For one, I'm not here to kill Kira Yamato.

So, why the heck am I here if I'm not here to kill Kira Yamato or perhaps exact revenge from him? Beats me. I blame it all on my two feet. Why'd they bring me here anyway? They could've brought me somewhere nice. Like Luna's place perhaps. Heck, I'd even take Zala's place over this…this…this orphanage. She led the way, not because I didn't know where the house was, but because I was being polite and she was being hospitable. (Me? Polite. Snort.)

The wooden house that was destroyed in 'Break the World' was rebuilt. Guess who funded it. Yup, Athha the do-gooder. I guess it held some sort of sentimental value for all of them or maybe she wanted to do something nice for the blind priest that ran the place. Either way, I'm not sure. You expect me to figure out how her mind works? (If she had a mind, that is.)

Don't get me wrong, though. I don't hate her as much as before. There is still a part of me that hates her, but… you can say that I'm only being rude to her out of habit. Shh… don't tell anyone.

Or else.

Moving on…

"Please sit down first, Mr. Asuka. Lunch will be ready in a while," Lacus broke into my thoughts. She smiled and gestured to an empty seat near the huge television set.

"Please call me Shinn," I muttered. Somehow, even after all that's happened, I still felt that I was a bit too young to be called MISTER Asuka. That's a title reserved for when I get much older.

She just smiled in response before heading off into the kitchen. I watched her back and was tempted to close my eyes to rid it of all the pink-ness that it just had witnessed. Unsure of what to do, I leaned back and stared at the blank screen of the T.V. Whisperings caught my hearing (enhanced by my military training, not by being born a Coordinator).

"I wonder why he came here!"

Giggle. "Maybe to get free food!"

"I heard he's the one who hates Cagalli."

"Hmp. I'm sure Kira-nii and Athrun-nii kicked his butt for that!"

My nostrils all but flared at that particular comment. FYI, you little brats, I was the one who almost killed your Kira-nii and Athrun-nii! I beat them! Kicked their collective asses! Outclassed and outran them by miles! Wiped the floor off of them! Creamed them! Got the better of them!

Those brats!

I wanted to let them be the subjects of my infamous glare, but I'm sure it would upset Lacus. Not that I was afraid of Lacus and Kira, mind you. A sad Lacus was just something I couldn't bear. Tougher soldiers have crumbled under those puppy-blue eyes. So I settled on glaring at the blank T.V. screen.

"I'm surprised the T.V. screen hasn't melted," an amused voice said behind me. I turned my head to look at the person, curious who the new-comer was, but the brats' annoying, whiny voices beat me first.

"Aunt Caridad!"

"Auntie!"

"Auntie Cari!"

I fought the urge to roll my eyes at the brats' actions. So it was Kira Yamato's mom. I quickly stood up and bowed at her in greeting, dreading what my mom would say if she saw me being impolite at someone else's house. Of course, immediately after that thought, I almost rolled my eyes again. Forgot my whole family was dead and they really couldn't do anything if I was rude.

Caridad Yamato smiled at me, not unlike how her future daughter-in-law did, and gestured for me to sit down. I felt slightly uncomfortable at the thought of her looking at my back but, thankfully, she sat down on the couch in front of the one I was sitting on.

"Do you mind if I call you Shinn?"

Yes. "Not at all, ma'am."

She chuckled. "Oh! Please, just call me Aunt Caridad, everyone else does."

Not a chance in hell. "Sure, Aunt Caridad."

She stared hard at me, as if reading my thoughts, and for a moment there, I had a feeling that she was. The look she gave me was a mixture of pity, of curiosity, and of a motherly one. It wasn't very pretty to look at, let me tell you. Finally, she sighed and stopped her study of me. "I'm sorry for staring. It's just that…" she trailed off.

"Just what?" I echoed dully. "Just that you can't believe I'm the one who almost killed your son?" I knew I struck a nerve. Score one for Shinn! But it didn't make me particularly happy. One thing I hated above anything else was being pitied. Being pitied by the mother of the person who killed my almost-girl friend, most of all. Okay, I still hate Yamato's guts with a passion. So sue me.

"Just that I can't believe someone so young could be so bitter," she answered softly.

Hmp. Score one for Yamato.

I shrugged, polite façade now brushed aside. Why should I be polite to her? To any of them? I'm naturally an ass, thank you very much. "Well, I do believe your son, and his friends, also participated in the war at this age. Plus, you'd be bitter too; if you saw your family get blown to bits in front of your eyes. In fact, some would even go insane."

It's a damn wonder I didn't.

"So you think my son has wronged you." A statement, not a question.

Pfffft… Duh? What kind of a credo are you observing, lady? I fought the urge to roll my eyes. She's still older than me. And this is still her house. Meaning she could kick me out before I even get the slightest idea of what I want from this place. "Yes."

"From what I heard, your friend was on a killing spree," she said matter-of-factly. She did not waver in the glare I sent her. How such a seemingly mild woman could withstand my stare was beyond me.

I scoffed. "And from what you haven't heard, if your son hadn't intervened, she would have surrendered willingly."

She sighed. "I see that these wounds are still far too fresh to heal."

I bowed my head, my bangs covering my eyes in the process, and rolled my eyes. Honestly, couldn't these people get through a conversation without using figurative speech? Wounds, scars, healing… Gods, didn't they know how to use normal language? I'm a soldier, damnit, not a linguist.

"My son… also lost many loved ones in the war," she confessed sadly.

Confessed. Yeah, right. As if I didn't know it already. "That's hardly something that should surprise me," I replied truthfully.

She smiled humorlessly at me. "Yes…" she stared at me with an unreadable expression on her face that made me what to…fidget. "…And you remind me of him."

If there was anything surprising that should happen while I was here, it was that particular sentence. I could swear my jaw dropped a little. I gave her an incredulous (I tried to inject some indignation in it as well) stare.

"Maybe the only difference is he isn't so…"

I regained my composure and felt slightly insulted at her loss of words on how to describe me. I snorted. "Rude?" I finished for her.

She laughed and brushed the comment aside. "I was going to say, 'expressive'." The solemn look was back. "My son… ever since the First War ended, seems so… distant – detached. He never did tell me all of the things that happened. Most of what I know came from his friends… and they still weren't enough to let me know of what exactly he went through."

I still did not see how that killer and I could be so alike, but I refrained myself from speaking it out loud. Mrs. Yamato's – I refuse to call her Aunt Caridad for the second time – revelation had piqued my interest, to be quite honest. Maybe if I shut my mouth, she'll humor me and get on with the damn show.

At least, she did not disappoint me. "He used to be so cheerful and carefree, and now, whenever I see that haunted look in his eyes, I can't help but think that I am a failure as his mother."

I lifted my eyebrows to show her my incredulity at her statement. "That's a bit… extreme. No need to blame yourself for something that wasn't even your fault."

She shook her head sadly. "No… I was supposed to protect him."

That particular sentence invoked various emotions through me. Sadness… Regret… Betrayal… Hopelessness… Anger. My hands were shaking, and I didn't even know why I was angry at her. If this was some way, some plot, for her to make me willingly forgive her son, then it wasn't working. I clenched my fists in an attempt to stop them from shaking, but all it did was to make it look more menacing.

She didn't seem to notice the myriad of emotions rushing through me, though. Hmp. Oblivious woman. She chuckled dryly, without emotion. "I don't even know why I'm telling you this."

I glared at my hands. "Maybe to make me sympathize with your son?" I asked sarcastically.

She sighed. "Yes, maybe," she admitted softly. "Did you know that… I'm not his real mother?" she asked in a somewhat shaky voice.

Okay, scratch what I said earlier. This is the surprise that I'm talking about. I felt my eyes widened in disbelief. Good thing they're covered by my bangs. Okay, so… Kira's mother…is not his mother after all? I lifted my head to give her a questioning look. "Erm… then, uh, who are you?"

"I was the one entrusted to take care of him. His real parents died when he was still just a baby. Even if he wasn't our real son, my husband and I loved him very much. He was supposed to grow up as a normal teenager. We vowed when we took him in, that he wouldn't be subjected to the harsh reality of the conflict between Coordinators and Naturals."

Despite of my earlier reservations, I found myself empathizing with the woman a little. (Hey, I said 'empathize', not 'sympathize'. There's a big difference.) I know exactly how it felt – how it felt to fail in protecting someone very important to you. Heck, almost everyone involved in the war knew how it felt.

She sighed once more, and let out a forced laugh. "But I think we're getting a bit off topic."

"Yes, I think we are," I muttered dryly. I'm not sure if she heard me or not; I could care less.

"I'm not asking you to forget about what my son did. But understand, that there are many people who have experienced the same thing as you did, and that you must learn how to move on. There is no need to isolate yourself from everyone else."

She stared hard at me, and I'm glad to note that I did not waver in her stare. Tch. Another one of those sad smiles. It was getting quite predictable. "Actually, that's what I wanted to say to my son, but never got the courage to. I guess I was afraid that he'd start blaming me for making him live a lie."

I snorted. I wasn't wrong into thinking that this woman is oblivious. "And you were the one telling me to move on. I suggest you listen to your own advice. That way, it would sound more convincing."

She laughed – a genuine one this time. "You're right."

I was expecting some sort of revelation, realization or breakthrough when my feet led me here this morning. I was expecting that Lacus Clyne would be the one to give me the 'move on' speech. What I wasn't expecting was to sit here with this not-so-stranger, and to actually enjoy talking to her.

Hey, weirder things have happened.

Maybe someday, in the course of our conversations, we'll both learn how to move forward. But if that were to happen, I have to go here regularly. At least I have something to do everyday.

As I said, weirder things have happened.

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Author's Notes: I wanted to write the typical Shinn-talks-to-the-good-guys type of story, but I wanted it to be different. So I made him talk to Caridad, Kira's mother. That character needs to be fleshed out anyway. I still don't know what happened to Kira's dad though… I hope everyone's in-character.

For those waiting for updates for my other fics… erm, yeah. Sorry. I'm suffering from writer's block. Still. All I can seem to write are new stuff. (sigh)

I seem to have developed a knack for writing conversations between two unlikely characters…