"We've lost another one," Dearka grumbled quite loudly after Athrun who had taken to leaving promptly after work to go spend time with his girlfriend.
Athrun responded with nothing but an extended finger to convey his carefree sentiment, not losing a moment in the process.
"Why the hell does he leave work only to go home and work?" Yzak asked with his usual undertones of anger.
"Because Cagalli is there," Dearka explained.
"I don't get how that matters. Unlike Lacus, Cagalli really doesn't add value to what we do."
"And you probably never will." Dearka's insult was lost on Yzak as they returned to work.
By the time Athrun got home, Cagalli had begun channeling her inner Yzak. Her eyebrows were furrowed and she was silently screaming at the piece of paper before her.
"I told you to intersperse the smart ones in with the bunch so your head doesn't explode," he chided as she swallowed the last of her coffee.
"Yeah, yeah, my plan didn't work," she conceded, slouching into harsh edges of his coffee table. She had developed this strange work space for herself in his living room where she sat on the floor with her legs crossed half the time and her knees under her chin the other half, using the couch as her table and the coffee table as an occasional backrest and constant reminder not to slouch.
"Well, you have too few truly good papers to really build enough momentum to propel through the rest of them," he reminded her prosaically.
"I don't know if the content of that sentence is sadder than the cold technical delivery of it." Cagalli shook her head, reaching her empty coffee mug towards him.
"I'm switching you to decaf," he informed her as always, not a fan of her caffeine-addled energy swings. Sometimes she would get within a hair's breadth of a raving conspiracy theorist who draws on walls for no sound reason. Those rants were the most painful so far.
"I'll get it myself," she quickly rescinded her mug, shooting to her feet. She preferred her coffee to have caffeine even at the expense of taste. While Athrun could work his very fancy coffee machine, she could work her spoon well enough to stir instant coffee mix into water.
"I regret my off-hand comment that introduced you to the existence of instant coffee." Athrun sounded defeated at the recollection of the many times he'd lost the caffeine argument. It was five-to-he'd lost count, so far, in Cagalli's favour.
Cagalli smiled smugly as she turned her spoon in the large mug with a disproportionate sense of accomplishment. "Hey," she said, taking a seat on the island that separated the living room from the kitchen, watching Athrun remove his boots. "Should we talk about the fact that I live here now?"
"I still have one of my boots on, Cagalli." She had noticed his hand slip during his very routine task as she had finished her question. And now, did she detect panic in his voice?
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize that changed the situation at hand," she retorted sarcastically.
"Well, it makes it an odd time to talk about it!" He began to sound frustrated.
"Well, this is a good time for me to talk about it!" she huffed in return, crossing her arms.
He walked over to her, standing across from her, wrapping her hands around her hips. "Maybe, once in a while, you could wait to have these talks when it's good for both of us?"
"That seems like we're scheduling things. Life does't happen to a timetable Athrun." Cagalli often vented her frustration about work at Athrun when it became unbearable.
"Well, as a military member, a large part of my life happens to a time table," he pointed out.
"Okay, when's a good time for you then?" she conceded with a pout.
"Sometime after I take off my uniform." Suddenly Cagalli felt silly at the overwhelming obviousness of her bad timing.
"Yeah fine," she surrendered.
"You know Cagalli, many relationships around the world begin their evenings with a 'Hey, how was your day honey?' and then indulge in a little chit chat before really excavating the foundational subjects... Just saying." Athrun teased.
"Well, look at who wants to have a normal relationship now, Mr. Normal-Relationships-Are-Boring," Cagalli mocked him, referencing an earlier are-we-moving-too-fast conversation what was much better timed.
"Your god damn selective elephant memory." Athrun rolled his eyes, having acquired Cagalli's bad habits.
"How long does it take to change out of your uniform soldier!?" Cagalli barked her best imitation of a drill sergeant.
"You know, if you exhaust all the difficult topics within the first six months of the relationship, what will be fight about in our later years?" Athrun teased.
"We can fight about my caffeine addiction, dear," she teased in a slow drawl, a satirical rendition of the sweet widow that lived down the corridor.
Athrun resigned and swiftly departed to change. In the two months following their dinner with his mother they had tackled a wide range of topics from the superficial to the serious - home decor preferences, printed books versus electronic readers, was their relationship moving too fast, thoughts on children, thoughts on parenting, where would they want to live - the ideal and realistic locations. Any effort to defer the conversation would be met with a firm "I don't casually date." Athrun hadn't thought about how he felt about his girlfriend actively pursuing reasons for incompatibility. Had he the wisdom of foresight, he might have realized the consequences of such a girlfriend finding no reasons to end the relationship. But, his ignorance saved him from that worry.
By the time he emerged from the room Cagalli had returned to her work with a furor. She scribbled notes in the margins of an unfortunate student's paper, the red ink mimicking the remnants of a bloodbath following an unmatched sword fight. Athrun knew enough about these mid-semester papers to write one himself but he dare not utter the complaint in case Cagalli follow through and make him write one. While the Cagalli that was his girlfriend was quirky, somewhat flighty but mostly rational, the Cagalli that taught and, more importantly, graded brought about a terrifying side to her - a rage fuelled by the apathy and disenchantment she faced daily and, of course, caffeine. He decided to quietly sit in his armchair and harmlessly tap away at the keys on his laptop to finish the work he had brought home.
They didn't encounter each other until Cagalli's mug ran dry again.
"I fucking give up!" she exclaimed tossing the paper into the pile and leaning back with a force that was unwelcome by the edge of the coffee table. The first resignation of many. "I tried to make it interesting for you fools, but you fools are too foolish to even realize it!" She chastised the papers before her.
"They can't hear you," Athrun reminded her, handing her a bottle of water.
"I need coffee," she insisted, delivering one final glare to the pile before her.
"Water doesn't have caffeine."
"This water could have caffeine, you never know until you try it."
"Schrodinger only had a cat, Athrun," Cagalli retorted in her best do-you-really-think-I'm-that-stupid voice.
"This is water from work. You don't know what it could or could not have. They are always looking for ways to keep us awake longer."
"Grasping at straws," she rolled her eyes, "And not very well I might add." She critiqued.
Athrun sighed. "Drink this entire bottle of water and I'll give you wine."
The argument stopped there and the water disappeared within the minute.
"Okay," Athrun started to the kitchen to fetch an appropriate glass. "You are not allowed to do that with the wine."
"I'm not allowed?" Cagalli challenged.
"Just... don't do it. Geez, you know, I shouldn't be graded on my word choices."
"Words choices are important!" Cagalli educated him. "Sometimes the wrong ones lead to war."
"Yes, but I'm not in high school anymore nor am I in the high council. Don't scold me like I'm one of your students!"
"Would you rather I just threw my shoes at you instead?" Cagalli teased.
"Oh god, and since you live here now, you have so many to throw." Athrun countered with mockery of his own.
"Oh, look who's found time to have an important conversation all of a sudden." Cagalli rolled her eyes.
"Oh, look who has the pathological need for the last word." Athrun mimicked her eye roll.
"Well, in this case, it seems to be you!"
"And somehow, you're still the one talking."
"Okay, fine," Cagalli conceded the battle by stomping over to the foyer and emerging with a shoe which she promptly flung at him.
He agilely dodged for he had learned at their first encounter that her girl's throw was a powerful one. "When did you get hit with the epiphany that you now live here?"
"Today, after work, when I ran out of ink in my favourite pen and I could find a box of duplicates. And then, I needed my extra large coffee mug and it was here. My comfy sweater and loose jeans are here too. Pretty much everything I use on a regular basis is here. So, I live here."
"I see. I guess it was inconsiderate of me to buy a box of your favourite pens. I could have spared you the worrying."
"Why, when did you notice?" She asked, sulking at his misplaced attempt to make light of the conversation yet again.
"I noticed it 23 days ago when your shampoo made it's way into my shower. Then I checked and my closet is significantly littered with clothes I cannot wear."
"You noticed it 23 days ago?"
"You noticed that I live here 23 days ago?"
"Why didn't you mention anything?"
"I don't know," Athrun shrugged, "We were too busy talking about how many children we wanted, I suppose."
"Are you mocking me?"
"About the serious conversations?" Athrun said with bated breath, "No!" He concluded with sarcasm.
"...don't casually date. I know. But then, shouldn't you be less upset that I didn't make a big deal about you living here?"
Cagalli pursed her lips and drummed the island's countertop. "It's not making a big deal to talk about stuff."
"It's a bit of a hullabaloo," he pointed out, emphasizing her last word.
"Really, hullabaloo?" She raised an eyebrow, fighting a smile.
"A very important person in my life has cited, numerous times, that words are important."
"Oh yeah? Exactly how important a person?"
"Well... she lives with me and can kill me in my sleep. Possibly with shoes, which sounds painful."
Cagalli merely rolled her eyes.
"Your reluctance to talk about things freaks me out," she finally confessed, breaking the stalemate of silent stares.
"Your necessity to talk about things like how many kids I want freaks me out," he countered.
"Well, these are important things to know when evaluating compatibility," she argued.
"Not this early on," he countered.
"Well, clearly if one of us wants kids and the other doesn't this isn't going anywhere."
"That's stupid. People change their minds all the time on these things."
"I'm not stupid!"
"I agree. You are smart. But you sometimes say very stupid things."
"Sometimes, people don't change their minds."
"Okay, but we can cross that bridge when we get to it. What you are proposing is we discuss today what we feel about whether there is a bridge and if it is in good repair so that we may cross it when we get to it without actually getting to the bridge and seeing what it is really like. It could be in disrepair now, but, you know, construction and maintenance can take place between now and when we get there!"
"You and your long drawn out analogies based on idioms. At the very least these numerous talks should be teaching you how to communicate more efficiently." Cagalli scoffed.
"All right. We talked about our opinions on kids for over an hour only to conclude that we are neither looking forward to nor opposed to having kids, but if we do have kids, you want twins, which is really out of our control, and I just want to have more than one. So, while we don't agree on a number, we agree that one is a bad number so we will either opt for zero, or two or more. I just think it's premature to be having the conversation before consummating our relationship. Also, the conversation effectively accomplished nothing because despite our differences in our indifference, we are still dating. In fact, we now live together - supposedly."
"Consummating, hullabaloo, you're really going all out with this word choices thing, aren't you?"
"Don't mock me for appeasing your crazy!"
"What do you mean supposedly?"
"You said, 'we now live together - supposedly'. What do you mean supposedly."
"Well, technically to live together, we have to move into a communal space and have mail delivered to the same address, report it on our taxes, etc. All that has really happened is that your creature comforts have migrated here because you spend so much time here. But, technically, you still live over there."
"I guess if the government says so, it much be true." There was that eye roll again.
Athrun kissed his teeth. "I'm just saying, you can rationalize it either way, so choose the way that freaks you out less."
"That requires that I think about what I would want my living situation to be."
"So, see, you need to have this conversation with yourself before you can manhandle me around it to get your way."
"Hey! I respect your opinion."
"I know. You just respect yours more." He punctuated with a smirk.
"That's only because I'm right way more often than you are."
"Your delusions are part of the reason I like you. After a conversation where I clearly disarmed your neurosis with calm logic, you proceed to tell me how you're better at being right."
"Just because the most recent evidence isn't in my favour doesn't mean my point isn't supported by the aggregate of empirical data." Athrun looked baffled at her statistical response. "What? You're not the only one capable of mimicking communication style. I speak fluent technical jargon especially now that I supposedly live here." She stated with childish triumph, sticking her tongue out at him. "Maximum Athrun-bot exposure."
"Just trying to balance the emotional rollercoaster you are, dear." He teased, referencing Cagalli's earlier satire.
Cagalli scoffed with the roll of her eyes and declared she had to get back to work.
Yzak's concern about Cagalli's stealthy follower had infected Dearka, which concerned the blond all the more. Usually Yzak's concerns were a lot more random and trivial. Yet, here he was browsing a newspaper stand in the night, his eye following a spectacularly well dressed Cagalli and Miriallia, waiting for the hooded shadow to enter his field of vision. Taking a less extreme approach to reconnaissance than Yzak, Dearka stayed current on Cagalli's activities through Miriallia's schedule. He leveraged the small connection he made with the best friend during the kidnapping chapter in Cagalli's life. It didn't take long for Dearka to learn that the unspecific "We're going out" meant you can find us dressed up and swinging at the underground Jazz club that nobody is supposed to know we frequent.
Over the last six weeks, Dearka found himself at this newsstand following every such text waiting for the stalker to rear his head.
The one advantage that Dearka had over his friend was that the stalker didn't know his face. So, when he saw him browsing magazines at the same newsstand a week and a half into his surveilling, he made a habit of lingering there on his occasional night runs.
"See something you like?" the owner of the newsstand teased him with a thick, regional accent. Dearka's eyes snapped back to the conversation with a faint blush. He was rarely caught in the act. "Who is she?" He turned to catch a glimpse but thankfully the pair were out of sight. "Co-worker?"
Dearka shrugged. "Friend of a friend. Sorry, didn't mean to get distracted. What were we talking about?"
"No, my friend, get distracted. It's good for business!" he grinned.
Dearka smirked, pulling a neatly folded bill from a zippered pocket in his running shirt.
"Make's sense now why you buy a newspaper at night in the middle of your run," The owner continued, making change.
"Keep it," Dearka waved his outstretched arm away. "Along with my little secret."
"Good luck man," the owner called after him.
Dearka jogged slowly, following the bounce of shocking orange hair as it had run past.
It's always easier to keep tabs on someone when you know where they live; and Dearka didn't want to leave so much to chance anymore.
"What's going on here?" Dearka asked cautiously as he entered Miriallia's apartment. All the furniture had been pushed against the walls of the living room or piled into the kitchen. The situation was reminiscent of scenes from Athrun's past relationships, but Dearka's experience in deescalating crazy was entirely vicarious. He wasn't certain why he'd even shown up; he wasn't in the habit of responding to a woman's call before happy hour.
"Do you know how to dance socially? And I will do you the courtesy of letting you know that I don't mean normal what-people-dance-these-days-socially dances, I mean the archaic social dances, like the waltz." Miriallia's rare stress was apparent in her voice.
Dearka couldn't help but indulge a smug smirk. Over the weeks he'd been acquainted with and, by proximity to Cagalli, followed the brunette, this was the first time he's seen her flustered. He took a moment to relish the absence of her grating, clam and composed personality. "Yes."
"Can you help me practise? Unsurprisingly, it's not a prevalent skill in the circles I run within." Miriallia's duress was slowly manifesting as colour in her cheeks.
"You want to practise ballroom dance?" Miriallia nodded. "On a 12 square metre dance floor?"
Miriallia rolled her eyes, "It's not like I have access to an actual ballroom."
"Do you have access to the roof?"
"I'm not supposed to."
"That's pretty irrelevant. Let's go to the roof. Bring heels. Nothing crazy, the shortest most stable ones you have. Oh and change into a dress."
"Why?" Miriallia's eyebrow furrowed curiously.
"Because, I have better ways to spend my days off, so the least you can do is look hot." Miriallia scoffed at Dearka's reasoning, but he cut her off before she could initiate feminist diatribe. "I'll meet you on the roof."
Dearka was smoking to the tune of upbeat classical music when Miriallia emerged with two cups of coffee. She sported head-to-toe velvet which had been fashioned into a track suit. A stylized, cartoon wink drew the eye to her ass. He wasn't sure how she did it, but she twirled and curtsied with sarcasm.
"That's the most repulsive outfit I've ever seen on a human being," Dearka's vomited the sentiment of disgust with his words.
"Next time, you should let a girl finish her feminist rant so that she feels guilty and gives you what you want to compensate for that guilt. Nothing good comes from trying to silence us." Miriallia coyly advised.
Dearka's began to miss the flustered young woman. "You're seriously trying to teach me about women?" He succeeded in part in keeping his incredulity hidden.
"Only because you seem like you could stand to learn a few things," Miriallia smiled with strategic sweetness.
"You certainly have an interesting way of thanking people who go out of their way to do you a favour."
"You haven't actually done me a favour yet," Miriallia pointed out.
Dearka agreed. He successfully shot the remnants of his extinguished cigarette at a garbage can in the courtyard and promptly gathered the brunette into a swift waltz as it begun. Three hours had passed with only brief pauses for succinct direction in the form of, "when I do this, I expect you to do this - see?" When they stopped, Miriallia's calves were ready to give out under her. She stepped out of her shoes and took a seat to stretch them.
"You're not that bad," Dearka evaluated, lighting a cigarette and sipping at his cold coffee.
Miriallia smile genuinely for the first time that day. "I had a good teacher."
"Why the sudden requirement for ballroom dance? Doesn't sound like something you want to do."
"Cagalli asked if I wanted to take a dance class, and I agreed. It didn't cross my mind that it would be ballroom dancing. And, it's shocking how good she is at it. Seriously, the woman with clumsiness coded into her genes is somehow a graceful ballroom dancer."
Dearka chuckled. "You're not good at being bad at stuff, are you?"
"I'm fine with being bad at stuff if I'm honestly bad at it. But I'm not good at not trying to be good at stuff."
"That's a narrow distinction."
"But an important one."
"How long are these classes going for?"
"I don't know. But, it's not as awful as I originally thought. It makes a huge difference if the guy knows what he's doing. The first couple of classes were so frustrating. First of all, not enough single guys, and the whole concept of ballroom dancing by yourself is sad on a whole new level. And when the guy doesn't know what he's doing it difficult to figure out if it's me or him that's the issue."
Dearka laughed. "Thanks for recognizing that I'm awesome."
Miriallia didn't miss a beat in ignoring Dearka's narcissism. "It's also probably easier for Cagalli because she's working towards being better for the Summer Ball. Goals help."
"If you promise not to wear anything even half as vomit-inducing as that uniform you're wearing, I can ask you to accompany me."
"That's sweet of you, but I don't think I'm that pitiable yet."
Dearka shook his head. "Why do women do that?"
"Do what?" Miriallia cocked her head to the right, curiously.
"Take consideration and turn it to insult." The blond looked unimpressed with the sudden turn in conversation.
Miriallia thought about it for a while. "I can't speak for women, but I thought you were being polite, and that the polite thing to do was give you a gracious out."
Dearka scoffed. "It's been so long since I've strayed from the group that I almost forgot this is why I don't socialize."
The brunette chuckled. "I believe because of the same circumstances that I've forgotten that people other than Cagalli can be straightforward."
"Well, that's a high standard to compete with. She's practically stupid with how brazen she sometimes is."
Miriallia laughed. "Yeah, if the invitation is still open, I think it'll be fun to put my newly acquired skills to good use."
"If you're accepting my invitation, we have a lot more work to do," he informed her seriously. "And I need you to explicitly enter into a verbal contract that you will look stunning."
She rolled her eyes. "Have a reputation to uphold?"
"I don't care about such things." Dearka shrugged, "But Yzak and I have a bet going on who gets better girls and we're tied right now."
"You can't get better girls than the psychotic kidnapper?"
"Turn that smirk around, girl. I'm not of the gender with an affinity for projects that they can fix."
Miriallia sank her face into her palm.
"Okay," Dearka arbitrarily decided, "Let's grab a quick bite and then regroup for more practice."
"Thats good. That's when the muscle memory starts to kick in."
For the first time, Miriallia regretted indulging her curiosity for what this new part of Cagalli's life looked like.
"Hey, how serious are we?"
Cagalli heart stopped momentarily in her chest. "Are you messing with me?" She paused the episode and promptly sat up straight.
"Your posture is freaking me out. Can you mellow a little?" Athrun asked politely un-slouching ever so slightly.
"No, not really. You never bring up serious relationship questions. I believe the word you use to compartmentalize them is icky."
"Could you at least try to conceal your derisive judgement?"
"That would just be lying."
"Yes, a nice white lie to spare my feelings. How evil."
"Whatever, stop getting distracted. Why are you talking about how serious we are?"
"It's terrifying how high you are right now because of an innocent question."
"Innocent. Really? I'm pretty sure there is a fight on the horizon. At the very least some bickering."
"This whole mature-relationship Cagalli who surfaced after dinner with my mother, I'm not so sure about her."
"Oh yeah, you liked always-running-away-from-you-and-never-talking-about-anything Cagalli better?"
"You know, there must be some magical, parallel dimension somewhere where actual moderation exists between two extremes."
"That's just science fiction brother. Better stop dreaming now before you end up looking for that telephone booth that can travel through space-time."
"You know, sometimes, I get scared that we're not joking about this."
"You know what they say about perception babe..."
"I'm joking. Seriously, seriously, I'm joking."
"When did we start using terms of endearment?"
"Somewhere between living together and you no longer understanding me."
"Okay, I'll control myself. Even though it's kind of fun not being on the anxious, paranoid side of the conversation. I feel like I understand your side of things better now."
"Except I'm not a sadist."
"Oh come on, we're all a little sadistic on the inside."
"It's sad when our conversations are harder to keep up with than a Coen Brother's movie."
"You were asking...?"
"Remember the Summer Ball..?"
"Lacus' big party?"
"Yeah. Well, Kira can't make it."
"Are you sure Kira exists?"
"Perception is reality," Athrun shrugged.
"What does fictional friend's RSVP status have to do with how serious we are?"
"Well, in Kira's absence, I am usually Lacus' escort."
"Lacus knows we're dating. I'm sure she won't mind if you go with your actual girlfriend."
"She'll mind, but I can work on that. That's manageable."
"Why would she mind?"
"Because a big part of Lacus is her public image, which stands to be tarnished if she attends her own event unescorted or if she's escorted by just anybody. One makes her appear damaged, and the other attainable. She's not going to be fine with either of those."
"Anyone who thinks that an unescorted lady is damaged goods is just heinous."
"We all agree, but upper society is essentially a collection of heinous people who are ignorant of their own ignorance."
"Why does she pander to such people?"
"Because it's the price she pays for a significant endowment of power and influence."
"Okay, so you manage. Do I need to do anything?"
"Yeah. Actually, you need to decide how serious we are."
Cagalli shrugged. "Somewhere between a six and a seven on the Richter scale?"
"You're serious - about me figuring out how serious we are?" Cagalli raised a quizzical eyebrow. "What unit of measurement are we using for the very serious analysis of seriousness."
"Okay, I want you to remember and preserve this lighthearted sass you have going on as you process this: When my very real best friend Kira is not at the Summer Ball and I'm not escorting Lacus, it's going to make a very profound and almost permanent statement about the kind of relationship we're in."
"Its safe to assume that people will expect us to get married."
"I'm pretty sure I can count the weeks we've been in this relationship, and talking, on my fingers."
"Yeah, my neck of the woods is populated by traditionally minded people who can't mind their own business."
"Your mother hates me."
"Well, the good news is, if we go to the ball together, she will have to pretend, at least in public, that she does not."
"Oh goodie," were her words smothered in deadpan sarcasm.
"We could always cancel."
"You mean, I could cancel and you can escort Lacus?"
"It's either we go together or you go wth Lacus. Because the statement isn't about whom you go with, it's about why you wouldn't go with Lacus. That question will inevitably lead back to our relationship whether I'm actually there or not."
"Hey, now, don't make it sound like it doesn't matter at all whether you go. I do care, quite a lot, whether you will be there or not."
"That's not what I mean. I know you care. Incidentally Miriallia will care as well."
"You invited Miriallia?"
"No, Dearka did. Something about a competition with Yzak."
"Dearka is taking Miriallia to the Ball?"
"Yeah. He didn't tell you?"
"I haven't really seen him around lately."
"That's because he's sinking a lot of time into teaching Mir how to ballroom dance."
"What is going on!?"
"I conned Mir into taking ballroom dance classes with me to prepare for the Summer Ball. Mir asked for Dearka's help to practice because we're literally only each other's friends and don't know anyone else. Dearka entered into some pseudo-contract with Mir exchanging an invitation to the ball for rigorous dance training and a promise of being the hottest woman in attendance."
"That doesn't sound romantic at all."
"Oh it isn't. I had both parties explain it to me. Dearka actually 'accidentally ran into me' on one of my runs to explain the whole situation and ask for retroactive permission."
"Well, Yzak's going to lose this round. Miriallia is way hot."
"And she's mine," Cagalli reminded.
"Exactly why I can say that without feeling weird about it."
"What do you want to do?"
"Nothing. Seriously. Miriallia is like a sister who joined the convent. There is really nothing but aesthetic appreciation there."
Cagalli chuckled. "Glad that you're wound up so tight, and nice try keeping the threesome fantasies under wraps. But I was talking about Summer Ball attendance."
"I think it's up to you."
"I'm pretty sure it's up to you."
"No, that seems like a trap. At some point, I'd have past the horizon of the blackhole and not even realize it. I'm going to opt to escape while that's still an option."
"First of all, you're being a tool. Second, it's your circle that's going to infer. In many ways, logically, it doesn't affect me at all except in the capacity that it affects you. So, you should decide."
"What do you want to do?"
"I want both of us to stay home, eat ice cream and watch a Doctor Who marathon."
"But your dance classes, which, side bar, I think it's really awesome that you care so much about an event that you practically hate the idea of."
"I like hanging out with you. Plus, you know, our first unofficial date started at a similar event. Fond memories."
"You were quite drunk."
"Fond memories indeed."
"I don't know."
"What did you do when you were with Audrey?"
"I went with Lacus. Audrey would go with Yzak. That is not an option for you."
"Why not? Oh! Miriallia and Dearka, competition, good call."
"No, you idiot. Excommunication, Kidnapping. Need I remind you that Yzak is no friend of the healthy progression of this relationship."
"He says, as they discuss whether they are ready to be thrown into a persisting conversation with the anonymous public about their imminent wedding."
"You'll be on page six, Cagalli. This will affect you a lot more than you think it will."
"Really, you're that famous."
"No. But my family has a crest. And that's the page engagement announcements come out on."
"Okay, time out. Are we joking about the seriousness of this or is this literally what's going to happen?"
"It's literally what's going to happen."
"How can you announce an engagement that hasn't happened yet?"
"You take a page ad out in every prominent newspaper's lifestyle section and send your son the ring you want him to propose with."
"Well, then, you better go with Lacus."
"What about you?"
"I'll get Seiichi to run a fundraiser at school so we can buy our own table."
"You don't have to do that. I'll have Lacus invite you."
"Then the page six news might be about Cagalli: Athrun's pitiful whore."
"That's just not true Cagalli. Nobody thinks you're my whore."
"Of course. I forgot page six never prints anything unless it's fact." Her eyes rolled.
"Walked right into that one."
"Seriously, I'd rather just cover my bases and not be anywhere near page six news if possible. Seiichi has been chomping at the bit for a shenanigan anyway."
"Are you sure this doesn't bother you?"
"Oh, you have it wrong. This bothers the hell out of me. I'm not actually going to be okay with this for probably a week, maybe more. But, it bothers me a lot more to be in the lifestyle pages. I enjoy privacy and it's one of the few things I'm willing to sell my soul for."
"My god, is Cagalli Yula pandering to the public!?"
"Principles are overvalued stock right now. Good time to sell."
"How fiscally responsible of you. When can I expect you to get weird about this?"
"No earlier than bedtime today, no later than noon tomorrow."
"It's refreshing dating someone who is so acutely aware of their special brand of crazy."
"Just remember and preserve this lighthearted sass when you're actually dealing with the crazy."
"Okay, unfreeze time on our intergalactic adventure."
Cover art by Xiao Saio
I totally indulged my inner AC banter bunny. Cagalli's taken pretty significant turn as a character from her inner angst and turmoil to outer neurosis and quasi-superficial worrying. It's deliberate. I see her as a character who is in flux in terms of her current EI, so I see her as a person who is in control of how she feels, but not all the time. She's fun to write that way and her interaction with all the boys is more interesting, so I'm rolling with it.
As always, thanks for sticking with me, reading and reviewing. See you soon.