I own none of this.

Athrun stared at the Chairman of the Supreme Council in disbelief. Is he actually asking me this? Images flashed through his mind; Kira fighting to protect his friends, Cagalli defending her homeland, and Lacus, rallying people to the cause of freedom. The real Lacus, not this cheap imitation.

He finally found his voice. "No."

Gilbert Durandal raised an eyebrow. "No?"

"I'm not going to help you lie to your own people, sir," Athrun said, struggling to control his voice. "There might be some short term benefits, but it's not worth it."

"Even if it calms the people down, and helps them act rationally?" Durandal asked mildly.

"That's no excuse,"Athrun said. "The ends don't justify the means, sir, and your means are no better than Earth Forces propaganda."

Durandal blinked at his vehemence. "No better? The Earth Forces are trying to incite violence; I am trying to do the exact opposite."

"That doesn't matter," Athrun shot back. "When this is found out -and it will be, sir, you can count on that- it could lead to a civil war."

He leaned forward, feeling a spike of white-hot rage as another thought came to him. "And that's not the only reason. With both of my parents dead, Kira, Cagalli, and Lacus are all I have left, and you're asking me to betray them!" He clenched his fists. "I won't do it, sir. Not for you, not for anyone else."

The chairman shrugged. "So be it. I take it you won't return to ZAFT, then?"

"No sir. Not now, not ever." Athrun trembled with barely suppressed rage. "You've shown yourself to be nothing but a common criminal."

Durandal ignored the insult. "What will you do now? If you won't return to ZAFT and help defend your homeland..."

"For now, nothing. And I wouldn't be defending my homeland if I helped you, I'd be making things worse." Athrun turned to leave, then paused and looked back. "However, I should give you fair warning. If Kira is drawn into this war, then I will fight by his side. No matter what."

Durandal smiled thinly. "Perhaps. There is Shinn Asuka to contend with."

"Shinn doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of defeating Kira," Athrun countered, and was gone.

Too angry to watch where he was going, Athrun almost collided with Yzak and Dearka. "Sorry, guys."

"Don't worry about it," Dearka said, brushing his red uniform off. "What's got you so steamed, anyway? I haven't seen you this mad since Nicol died."

Athrun hissed through clenched teeth. "I was wrong about Durandal." He quickly sketched out his meeting with the Chairman. When he'd finished, both ZAFT officers looked outraged.

"So he's got someone pretending to be Lacus Clyne, and he asked you to help him keep it up," Yzak summarized. "Who does he think he is?"

"Bastard," Dearka muttered. He'd come to know Lacus well in the last war, and the thought of someone impersonating her, whatever the reason, turned his stomach. "What are you going to do?"

"For now, I'm going back to Orb," Athrun said. "I don't think Reverend Malchio will mind if I drop in. But if Kira does get involved, then I'm going with him."

Yzak and Dearka exchanged glances. "We're with you," Yzak said.

Athrun blinked in surprise. "Yzak, are you sure? If anyone finds out, you'll be charged with treason."

"Durandal's the traitor," Yzak growled. "Lying to his own people like that."

Dearka clapped Athrun's shoulder. "Besides, Kira's my friend, too, and he did help save the PLANTs."

Athrun managed a smile. "Thanks, guys."

None of them knew what their destiny would be, but they were ready to face it.

Author's note: First, I should mention that while I've only seen snatches of Destiny, I do know a fair amount of what happens from other sources. In my opinion, Destiny is substantially inferior to SEED, and the canon version of the events depicted here is one of the biggest reasons. The idea that Athrun Zala would even consider going along with something as self-evidently immoral as the Meer Campbell fraud doesn't even rise to the level of idiotic. After the later events of the previous series, his ONLY believable place is with his friends on the Archangel.

Before anyone questions my having Dearka in red, let me say that I'm well aware of canon in that regard, I just think it's silly. Yzak and Dearka were both sentenced to death; if they were both pardoned, having Yzak promoted and Dearka demoted defies all logic.