The Art of Planning
Pairings: Shinn x Cagalli, Kira x Athrun
Warnings: Some OOC-ness, grammatical errors and curse words
Disclaimer: Gundam SEED and Destiny characters belong to Sunrise. I only own the plot.
Summary: Kira wants Cagalli to wear a dress. Chaos ensues.
I'm in love with Shinn/Cagalli. I don't know why, I just am. That is the reason why this story exists beside the fact that exams depress me and render me incapable to write anything as serious as 'Crossfire' for probably a week or two. As for the story, it's supposed to set after 'Crossfire' but seeing that I haven't finished that one, this pretty much stands alone. I also use a somewhat different style from my other writing because of the amount of conversations here, and so the narration will undoubtedly be less descriptive.
For a side note, in this story, Cagalli, Kira and Athrun are 25 while Shinn is 23.
Dedicated to every Shinn/Cagalli fan out there. Enjoy everyone!
Cagalli glared and Kira matched it with another frown of his own. She narrowed her eyes, not relenting, and so he sighed and stepped down from the scowling competition.
"Oh, come on, Cagalli," he tried to wheedle his way once more. "I don't understand why you have to be so difficult. You'll look beautiful in this, trust me."
The ORB Head Representative put her hands on her hips and continued to glower. "Do you know how disturbing this is? I am currently being forced by my brother – my very male twin brother – to wear a stupid lacey, frilly gown!" She added another degree to her glare. "Of all outfits, why that gown? One will think that you have a thing for laces and frills."
"But I don't have anyone else to wear gowns for me," her brother whined. Yes, whined. Cagalli had never been more disturbed in her entire life.
"You have Athrun," she growled.
"Athrun will kill me if I dare give him a gown," he pointed out with a rueful sigh. "A real pity, that is. He will look good in dress, especially since he has started growing his hair out again."
Cagalli suppressed a shudder. Athrun in a dress. Must stop thinking about that. Immediately. Because she started to find the mental image increasingly attractive with each passing second.
When the disturbing image refused to fade from her mind – which did nothing to help the process and only continued to drool at said image – Cagalli shot a sour look at her brother. "This is your fault," she muttered.
As if they could read each other's mind, Kira's face was lit up with a smirk and Cagalli grimaced. She hated being his twin, especially now. As a matter of fact, she hated being related in any way to this insufferable man at this very moment.
And the bomb was dropped without a moment's hesitance. "But you think so too, right?"
Kira was chuckling on the bed and Cagalli had the urge to throw him out of her window, their previous subject of argument forgotten for a moment – and hopefully forever. "Finally I get my sister to agree that my boyfriend is pretty in dress," he said between his continuous chuckles. "Not that he isn't girly enough without one though."
Aware that a perfect blackmail material had just been shoved into her hands, she suddenly smiled predatorily, a sadistic glint in her eyes. "Right, girly. Does Athrun even know what you think of him, my dear little brother?"
Kira quickly sobered and fixed her with a solemn look. "Look, Cagalli, I spent perhaps one-third of my pay to buy this for you. If I'm really your dear little brother, you will wear this gown tonight."
Her scowl returned full-force. "You are so not using that against me."
"Oh, yes. I will use every mean necessary to get you wear this gown," Kira's prompt reply was confident.
"No is no, Kira," she deadpanned.
"And you said I'm your beloved little brother," he pouted, something that made Cagalli want to tear her hair out in frustration. No grown-up man, and most certainly not the fearsome High General of ORB, should be allowed to have that look! It was a disgrace for every sense of manliness! Not to mention an impending doom to every soon-to-be victim who had that look staring back at them!
Steeling herself, she shook her head violently and declared, "You can say what you want, but my answer is no. I have to be sufficiently out of my mind or dead drunk first before wearing anything like that."
Kira frowned and got up from the bed only to, she belatedly realized, wave the dress under her nose. "Do this as a gift for me."
"For your information, dear little brother, your birthday, which is mine too, is in May and today is without question the twenty-ninth of September," she stated matter-of-factly, jabbing a finger to his chest. "I signed hundreds of documents with today's date written on every each of them since morning until afternoon and you tried to fool me with that? Are you a moron?"
Cagalli should have realized by now that her brother was very bad at giving up.
"Christmas gift then."
"Kira, this is stupid!" she screamed in frustration, this time really tearing her hair out. "This is only the usual dinner party! No one will even bat an eye if I appear with my red tank top!"
"The more reason to make them bat their eyes," he said, his voice nothing short of serious.
"I am not wearing that thing," she declared through gritted teeth.
His frown deepened and Kira returned to the bed – her bed, damnit, it was her room – the obnoxious dress draped over the embroidered coverlet. "Then we won't go to the party," he said firmly, arms crossed in front of his chest.
"Fine!" she snapped and pulled a nearby chair to sit on, challenging her brother to another glaring match. They remained that way for a good five minutes until Cagalli realized that not only that Kira was more patient, he was also the more stubborn one when he had his mind set to something. From past experiences, she had never won this kind of battle and it wasn't as if she actually could bear sitting there for the rest of the night without moving or speaking.
And she knew very well that that stupid brother of her could. Oh yes of course. The list of what-the-mighty-Kira-Yamato-couldn't-do practically didn't exist.
Except resisting Athrun perhaps, but that was not the point.
But that disgusting dress! The aesthetic part of her mind shrieked and she found herself back at point one.
Seconds ticked away slowly and Kira still had that stupid god-awful calmness pasted on his face. The wheels in Cagalli's mind began to reel. She was going to lose if they continued this game, but the outcome wouldn't be so certain if she put up a fight in a different stage. And that meant a stage which involved not silence but a lot of arguing. She was very good in that.
"Athrun is going to kill you if you don't come to the party," Cagalli pointed out, hoping that her brother might be dissuaded with so grave a matter as his boyfriend's wrath.
Kira released a long-suffering sigh. "He's going to kill me all the same if you appear without the gown," he said miserably.
That statement made her jaw drop. "He wants me to wear this?"
Her brother nodded, suddenly looking a great deal livelier than a moment ago. "We chose it together for you. It was last March. I went on vacation to PLANT with Shinn, remember?"
Of course, how couldn't she? She had been left alone, fuming at the injustice of this world – okay, so Fllaga had been there to share her fate, but still – because her brother and boyfriend could afford a leave and she, weighed by the impossibly huge responsibility of a head representative, couldn't. She shot him a dirty glance and he smiled sheepishly.
"Anyway, there is a very good reason why you should wear the dress," Kira quickly said, changing the subject. "People like to see that Her Highness can appear beautiful too, not only efficient and menacing."
"What people?" she retorted. "There are only our close friends in the party. It isn't like the King of Scandinavia is invited."
"But the Chairman of PLANT is and you know he is going to be there," he pointed out with a very sugary smile. "Come on, Representative Athha. You don't want to disrupt our diplomatic relation with PLANT, do you?"
There. That was the trump card. It was not as if she believed the plainly concealed threat in the first place, but the insinuation that there was something she wouldn't do for her country was exceptionally insulting. And her intolerably atrocious little brother knew it, knew it very damn well that he kept it as a trump card.
"I'm going to kill both of you," she vowed in a dangerous voice, grabbing the dress roughly from Kira's hands.
"As long as you wear the dress," he replied cheerfully and Cagalli resisted the urge to punch her brother square on the face. How she ever had thought that having a little brother was a wonderful surprise was beyond her at the moment. It was better for the world – well, not exactly right, because Naturals and Coordinators might have destroyed each other by now, but she couldn't bring herself to care right now – and for her personal mental state if he had never existed.
"Get out," she ordered venomously.
"Gladly," Kira replied still with the same sugary voice. "I'll call Mana to help you with the dress."
Cagalli threw her jacket at his direction but only managed to irk herself further since the target had disappeared behind the door with a ringing laughter. She continued to glare at the door for a long moment, spluttering colourful curses in every language she knew because no one, not even the most sinful mortal in this corrupted world, should be punished by having that wicked devil as a brother. Of all people, why her?
The lacey, frilly dress was her next glaring victim. Perhaps it wasn't that frilly, but she absolutely refused to wear anything which contained more than one tiny ribbon and this one had ribbons all over it. ALL OVER IT. Small, barely noticeable ribbons maybe, but that wasn't the point. And the laces. It never failed to amaze her how so many members of her sex could endure the itchy feeling coming from wearing so many laces and apparently she was going to experience the same torture. The things he let her brother talk – or threaten – her into.
She was still scowling at the dress when Mana came in with a very delighted face. "Are going to wear the dress, Hime-sama?" she asked, her voice excited, her eyes sparkling at the prospect.
"You are in it with them both, aren't you?" the representative accused, feeling even more betrayed. Even the one she had trusted for her whole life was in league with her brother!
"I know nothing of it," the older woman defended herself indignantly. "But when Kira-sama said that he had a dress he wanted you to wear, I couldn't agree more. You should wear dresses more often."
"Being a woman is so stupid," she muttered under her breath.
"Oh, don't say things like that," Mana reproached her and reached for the dress. "You are beautiful, Hime-sama. I will make sure you realize that after I'm finished with you."
Cagalli wanted to reply with something perfectly sarcastic like 'yeah, right' but the look the other woman sent her shut her up properly. And so she resigned herself to fate and let her person being stripped away from her beloved tank top and trousers.
The scowl had not abated when Mana dragged her before a full-length mirror after the long, wearisome process of putting on the dress. It had surprised her how said dress had fitted her perfectly – no idea how Kira managed to obtain information as personal as her body size, but then again, this was the Ultimate Coordinator they were talking about – but she was even more surprised to find how good it looked on her. Okay, perhaps not that good, because the Lioness of ORB and dresses were nowhere near compatible, but at least it didn't look as hideous as she had dreaded.
The fact that it was a dress still continuously prickled her consciousness though.
At least it was red, Cagalli consoled herself, not anything horriblypink although she definitely would prefer the usual soft green colour dominating the dresses from her earlier years. And the neckline – or she should say, breastline, because no sane person would call those two mounds peeking from the top of her dress a neck – was too low, way too low to her comfort. Those guys must have been laughing like mad when they picked the dress, she fumed to herself. It seemed like something Lacus would wear, but the mediator looked good in anything so there was basically no problem. On second thought, maybe Lacus was in it too. Maybe it was her who had chosen the gown, if the style was anything to go by.
Her to-kill list quickly obtained another name.
"You look utterly ridiculous," she muttered to her reflection.
"You're beautiful," Mana cut in firmly before pulling her to the barely-ever-used dressing table. "Now sit down here so I can polish you properly."
Cagalli stared at her in horror. "No. Way. I'm not wearing any make-up."
Mana clucked her tongue impatiently. "Why are you being so difficult, Hime-sama? It will look rather unbecoming if your face isn't appropriately beautified because after all, you are wearing a gown."
"You just have to remind me of that fact, don't you?" Cagalli grumbled sourly.
"It wasn't my slightest intention," the older woman said with a sigh and gestured at her unkempt hair. "Besides, your hair needs some arrangement too. I am not letting you go before we do something about it."
Again, Cagalli was forced to resign to her cruel fate and sat down, scowling mightily at the mirror while her maid took care of her hair with practiced speed. If looks could kill, her reflection would have died several times by now.
"This is easier now that you have stopped insisting for a short hair," Mana made a comment during the process.
"I am not growing out my hair," she quickly contradicted, horrified by the implication that she could endure a longer hair than the current length. "I only haven't gotten the time to have it cut."
"I'll say it's better to let it grow, Hime-sama," Mana suggested, a disapproving note in her voice. "After all, you are no longer a girl who still can afford to be tomboyish."
To this, Cagalli couldn't say anything. Well, it was true that she was already twenty-five of age and those free, enjoyable days with a red tank top and baggy trousers were already nine years far behind. To grow up definitely sucked, she arrived at the conclusion as Mana gave her hair a final tug before keeping it up there with a glittery pin and giving it a suitable dose of hairspray so its irregular ends jutted at the top back of her head.
"Well, what about this?" the older woman inquired, stepping back to admire her handiwork. "This way, you don't have to worry that it will fall covering your neck during the party."
"Why should I care if it falls to my neck?" Cagalli growled but couldn't help but to admit that yes, it looked nicer than the usual mess her head was crowned with. She heaved a deep sigh and muttered, "But I guess it looks better now. Thanks, Mana."
"You're welcome, Hime-sama," she smiled, quick to cover her initial surprise at the rare expression of gratitude. "Now sit back a bit. We are done after this."
"No heavy make-up."
"Of course not," the older woman scoffed. "You are the princess of ORB, not a glamour movie actress. I know the difference."
Disliking this part very much, Cagalli kept her eyes closed throughout the whole process except when Mana demanded her to open them, which she hated the most because that thing she did with the eyeliner always made her cry. After lots of hissing and protesting, Mana finally let go of her face but not before slapping away a hand which tried to rub at her eyes.
When she finally looked into the mirror, however, Cagalli almost attempted to rub her eyes again. The reflection which was staring back at her was so pretty that she felt her cheeks heating up already. Mana did something that made her golden eyes look bigger and brighter and the soft red colour her lips had gained did make her look different in more ways than one.
"This is so humiliating," she whispered, barely aware that her voice was unnaturally faint.
"What are you talking about?" Mana sounded aghast at such reaction. "You look incredibly beautiful!"
"Yeah, and that's exactly why," she mumbled to herself.
Her humiliation, however, had not ended with her leaving the mirror because her brother, already changing into a fashionable tuxedo himself, was waiting outside her room. His face was lit up with a grin when he saw her struggling with a pair of high-heeled shoes which came with the gown.
"Do you believe me now?" he asked and added a short, appreciative whistle. "You look ready to kill in that."
"I hate you so much," she muttered, loud enough to let her brother know that she was letting him know that she was pissed. "And tell your boyfriend that I'm after his ass once the party is finished."
"No way, Sis," Kira's reply was prompt as he took her hand to rest on his arm. "You can go for the rest but the ass is mine."
Cagalli sent a murderous look his way. "I really hate you so much."
Kira smiled sweetly. "You're welcome."
"She is not coming."
Athrun hissed and kept his friend's hand from destroying what immaculacy left of his dress shirt. "Stop that, Shinn. And don't be silly. She will come for sure."
"No, she won't," he moaned miserably and Athrun resisted the urge to smack the younger man on the head. Love tended to make people stupider and he was thankful that no such thing happened to him. Appearance-wise at least. What happened behind his bedroom's door was no concern of anybody but him and Kira, really.
He was about to reply when a very pretty woman with long pink hair and a peach-coloured gown approached them. Lacus was carrying with her a handycam and her beautiful face was once in distress.
"Athrun, did you prepare a spare memory card?" she inquired, her voice anxious. "I've just realized that this one is almost full."
"Yes, Meyrin has it with her," he indicated toward the general direction of the long buffet tables. "She is getting a glass of cocktail for this miserable man over here."
Shinn shot him a sullen glare which he returned with a matter-of-fact look. Lacus smiled and made her way toward the slumping ORB officer, patting his shoulder sympathetically. "Are you worried, Shinn?"
"Only the most idiot of idiots won't be worried when they are about to humiliate themselves in front of this many people," he grumbled, sparing a hateful glance toward the attendees of the party before shooting Athrun an accusing look. "I know you're inviting Jule and Elsman and your whole leadership squad only to make me feel more miserable."
Covering a grin, the Chairman of PLANT only shrugged his shoulders. "At least you're doing it for her."
Shinn groaned and buried his face into the palm of his hands. "Why did I ever let you talking me into this?"
"Because I'm just that good," Athrun responded with a smirk. "Just wait until she comes and gives you lots of kisses when you do that and you're going to thank me endlessly."
Lacus suddenly brightened up. "Ah, you use that."
"Kira is forcing her into it as we speak," he answered with a gleeful chuckle, sharing a knowing look with her and generally trying to make Shinn feel like he was left out somewhere in the dark.
"Are you doing something to my girlfriend?" he asked suspiciously.
To that, Athrun just had to raise his eyebrows. "Getting very possessive, are we?"
Shinn's face turned into an unnatural shade of red, which luckily didn't last long courtesy to Lacus. "Oh, Shinn, Athrun is only provoking you," she said with a sigh. "We prepare a surprise, yes, but it is nothing dangerous or harmful, don't worry."
"Apart from to her temper, we mean," Athrun added with an innocent smile.
From behind black fringes, Shinn was shooting death glares at the other man. "You are so dead when this is over."
He only grinned at the threat. Well, he was used to that, and after all he would certainly get more from Cagalli later. To buy the dress was a fantastic idea – he and Kira had Lacus to thank for that. Both of them had been cackling like mad when they had chosen the red gown – particularly because Kira had repeatedly said things like 'it's the colour of his eyes, HIS eyes!' – and fortunately had been saved from the shopkeepers's further suspicion by Lacus and her charm. Well, it was hard not to gape when the beautiful songstress was trying ball gowns after ball gowns.
"They sure took their time though," he muttered, glancing at his watch.
"Because they know you don't mind," Lacus replied with a smile. "Had it been the other heads of nation, it would already be considered grave impertinence. But don't worry. Kira does need time to persuade Cagalli if we want to go with the plan."
"I guess so," he sighed and looked around to the rest of the guests, most of them smart enough to keep themselves at a good distance away from the dark corner where Shinn was steadily emanating a murderous aura. The usual state dinner which should take place when the Chairman of PLANT came to visit was modified into a full-blown party since the chairman brought with him a very large entourage. Even he himself wasn't exactly sure why. Perhaps because it would be a big event – and a very entertaining one at that, and he was never one to deprive his people from free entertainment.
And of course, to see his younger friend sulking and throwing a hissy fit had always been a great source of entertainment for him in the last six years.
"Athrun, they've arrived!"
He whipped his head toward the voice and saw Meyrin pacing quickly toward him, aforementioned cocktail swaying dangerously in the glass between her fingers. He nodded and pulled a horror-stricken Shinn to his feet.
"Pull yourself together," he muttered and shoved the cocktail glass into the other man's hand. "Remember your promise. You are going to do it."
"At least give me thirty mi–"
Shinn's jaw suddenly dropped, the rest of his protest abandoned and forgotten. Athrun followed his line of sight and found himself also stunned by the dazzling couple who had just entered the room. Yes, his boyfriend was good-looking, everybody knows that, and in that tuxedo he had just been admitted to the drop-dead-gorgeous club, but that woman beside him was...
Athrun wasn't even certain if he had ever seen her before. That woman? Cagalli?
It wasn't until they had come close and he had noticed the mighty scowl on her face that he knew for sure and broke into a grin. Of all strange phenomena, women and their looks were indeed one of the most astonishing. Brushing invisible dirt off his suit, he approached the couple with a charming smile, leaving Shinn who seemed to still have some difficulty in closing his mouth in the capable hands of his secretary.
He was immediately bequeathed by the glare of doom.
"Don't you dare say a word," the beautiful lady said in a low, threatening voice.
Athrun raised his eyebrows, smirked and then took her hand to bestow a kiss unto it. "Good evening, Representative Athha," he greeted pleasantly, innocently. "You look enchanting tonight and your dress, oh my. It is absolutely fabulous."
"I'm so going to kill you, Athrun Zala," she retorted, her voice dripping venom and sharp, pointy objects. "Take my word on it."
He gave her a disarming smile. "You're welcome, milady."
With a final glare, Cagalli left him in the company of her brother who was currently giving him the look of an injured puppy.
"And good night to you too, Chairman Zala," Kira said, sounding very much like the impression he had been trying to make upon the other man, "although my lowly presence doesn't seem to be worthy enough a sight to your noble eyes."
"Oh, come on, Kira, you know I noticed you," Athrun replied, more amused than apologetic at this exaggerated display of hurt – or inane jealousy in that matter. He glanced at Cagalli who was making her way toward the awed crowd still with a deep scowl on her face, and felt himself smiling at the sight. "I just didn't quite expect that she could... well, transform that drastically. Women are mysterious creatures."
Kira immediately stepped forward and circled a possessive arm around his waist, voice lowering into a quiet growl. "You're mine."
To this, Athrun just couldn't resist a chuckle. "Is there ever any doubt to that to begin with?"
Kira looked thoughtful for a moment before responding with an affectionate smile, "No, apparently not."
Athrun rolled his eyes but leant closer and gave his boyfriend a light kiss on the cheek. "I guess it's the time for us to save Shinn," he nodded toward said young man who had yet to stir from his trancelike shock.
Well, it must be traumatizing to see your tomboyish girlfriend suddenly wearing a gown and evolving into a princess from Neverland. He could understand that.
They soon managed to drag Shinn out of his dark corner to mingle with the crowd who pretty much had been able to accept the fact that yes, Cagalli Yula Athha was indeed a woman. And a very beautiful woman at that. Some of them who did not particularly fear Shinn's ability to kill someone with his glare made it clear to him that they appreciated his influence on his girlfriend, particularly in the term of behaving and appearing womanlier. Fortunately, the young man's usual sharpness was still blunted by the shock that he failed to provide a more offensive response than a small snort and a little blush at each comment.
On the whole, the party went smoothly except for one accident when Cagalli almost tripped over her dress, but luckily Shinn was nearby to catch her before she could seriously hurt herself which resulted in some people – including two very conspiratorial males – whistling after them and a red, embarrassed couple. However, Athrun was beginning to feel anxious as the night deepened and Shinn had not showed any indication of going with the plan.
"Why hasn't he done anything?" he mumbled to Kira who was debating about desserts and various degrees of sweetness with Lacus. "Do you think he forgets?"
The Ultimate Coordinator shook his head. "No, I doubt that very much."
"Maybe he's just nervous," Lacus said uncertainly.
"But the party will end in an hour," Athrun pointed out, his frown deepening.
"Well, I can always threaten to demote him," Kira pondered, for once sounding serious in his usual joking material. And at that very moment, as if he suddenly felt some evil intentions directed to him, Shinn looked up from his conversation with Fllaga and glanced at them.
It might be the look of utter desperation on his face because Kira suddenly found himself suppressing a hard laugh. One might think that he was facing a scaffold and not something which might be the beginning of his lifetime happiness.
"Oh no, you're not going to back down now," he heard Athrun muttering next to him. However, the message seemed clear enough for Shinn who slowly heaved a deep sigh and mumbled something to his fellow coworker. Fllaga patted him on the back with a huge grin and gave them a thumb-up.
"He's going to do it," Kira stated.
Lacus nodded. "I'll tell Meyrin-san to ready the video camera," she said, sounding much too excited, and sauntered off to find the young woman in question.
Now left alone, Kira stared at his boyfriend, suddenly feeling nervous now that the execution of the plan loomed in front of him. "We are doing the right thing, aren't we?"
"I think we know her well enough to be sure about that," Athrun answered without sounding too certain, his expression still solemn. They both shared a long anxious look, before returning their gaze to Shinn who was downing his last glass of champagne so quick that it almost seemed like he was trying to make himself as drunk as possible before executing the plan.
Which might be the case, Kira realized with a wry smile. This was, after all, Shinn.
The whole episode must have not taken more than a few minutes, but it felt like time had slowed itself down several times. They watched, breathing suddenly becoming a labour, as Shinn made his way toward the Head Representative who was talking to one of her subordinates, Lacus and Meyrin hovering nearby with the handycam ready at hand without looking too conspicuous. Cagalli concluded her conversation and turned toward the lieutenant general with a questioning gaze.
When Shinn dropped to one knee, Kira suddenly grasped Athrun's arm.
When Cagalli's eyes widened and Shinn produced a red-velvet box, almost everyone had ceased speaking, their attention being held prisoner by the scene before them.
When Cagalli's face was undergoing a dangerously quick change of colours and Shinn looked ready to die, Athrun tried his hardest not to burst into an inappropriate fit of giggles while supporting a hyperventilating Kira, many including the two young women at the other side of the room apparently going through the same process
When Shinn asked the question, everyone simultaneously held their breath, the ballroom suddenly becoming quieter than a graveyard.
For one minute. And then two.
But no answer came.
Some of the guests started to shuffle uncomfortably but Cagalli had yet to utter a word despite the rapid alterations of her expression. Athrun felt the grip on his arm tightened painfully and Kira was muttering in front of his ear, his voice panic, "Why doesn't she say anything? Is she going to refuse him? Why didn't we think of that before?"
"I don't think it's the case," he answered doubtfully but his mind was currently running its own series of conjectures.
"You think it's the ring?" the brother was still whispering in distress, his voice steadily becoming more and more frustrated. "I already said to him that he should have chosen something less–"
"Hush, Kira, I think she's going to answer," Athrun squeezed his hand, diverting his attention back to the couple in the middle of the room.
"I..." Cagalli started, already redder than the colour of her dress although it was nothing compared to the purplish hue of Shinn's oxygen-deficient face. "You and I...well, it's...I mean..."
"Say yes, damnit," Kira muttered to himself and his hold of Athrun was already tight enough to make the other man wince.
"Are you sure?" she finally blurted out.
Shinn looked like he wanted to strangle something. "I won't ask if I'm not sure," he growled in a low voice which only rang too loud in the silent room.
"Well, then I..." she paused again and looked down at her intertwining fingers, hardly aware that the audiences were already holding their breath again. She opened her mouth only to close it again and Athrun felt a frustrated growl bubbling up his throat. It wasn't supposed to be that hard. She loved Shinn, didn't she? Or maybe, they had read it all wrong?
But then a confident look settled on her face and very slowly, as if savoring the moment, she nodded.
No one was certain who started it first but a roar soon erupted. Athrun felt his own breath choking him when Kira pulled him into a tight hug, and couldn't help but to break down into laughter himself, the tightness in his chest bursting.
He didn't remember when the last time he had felt so happy.
"She accepted," Kira whispered, what suspiciously looked like tears brightening his violet eyes, and at the next moment Athrun felt himself being kissed. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Cagalli giving her boyfriend-turned-fiancé a proper kiss and felt himself smiling at the sight.
It was perfect.
Cagalli was the first to notice them when they made their way through the ecstatic crowd and she immediately ran into her brother's arms.
"You stupid, insufferable brother!" she accused, torn somewhere between shouting and sobbing. "Why didn't you say anything? My heart almost stopped there!"
"Eye for an eye, Cagalli," Kira answered with a grin. "You were also very close to successfully stop my heart because I thought you were going to refuse. What took you so long anyway?" He kissed her forehead and asked softly, "Does it worth the humiliation?"
"Hell, yes," she whispered, once more engulfing him in an embrace. "Thank you, Kira. Thank you so much for putting up with an ass like me."
He laughed. "No problem. I will be glad to do that every day, but I guess it's going to be his job soon," he glanced at Shinn who had not succeeded to completely remove the flush from his face and was struggling to free himself from Fllaga's arm.
"And you the stupid boyfriend whose ass I was going to after," she turned toward Athrun, a glint in her golden eyes. "I'm so going to kiss you long and hard if I haven't said 'yes' to Shinn."
"Then let me do that for you," he replied smoothly and landed a soft kiss on her cheek. She smiled and put her arms around him as he whispered in front of her ears, "I'm so glad, Cagalli. You deserve, more than anyone, to be happy and I'm going to personally kick his ass if he dares to make you as much as lose this smile. If I can get to him faster than your brother, that is," he added in amusement, indicating with a slight tilting of his head toward Kira and who was currently absorbed in a very serious conversation with Shinn.
"And you will tell me when my stupid brother dares to make you shed even one tear," she fired back, giving him a light punch on the arm and another reason to smile, before adding with a wink, "except for when you beg for sex, of course."
If he were a little less dignified than he was, Athrun would already have choked at the comment. But he laughed and mocked a bow. "Your wish is my command, Ma'am."
The softly coloured lips curved into a smile and Athrun vowed to himself that this beautiful, proud smile of the woman he loved the most in the world would never vanish as long as he still could breathe. He would make sure of that.
Because for the moment, the world was perfect.
A/N1: Mana called Cagalli 'Hime-sama' as is shown in episode 25 of Gundam SEED, and although it later changed into 'Ojou-sama' in episode 14 of Destiny, I decided to go with the first.
A/N2: At first, I intended this as a multi-chaptered fic and I would write all the way until their wedding, but some things made me reconsider. But if there is anyone who wants me to continue, please say so because I'm so in love with this pairing that I'm very willing to write more about them. Yes, I keep contradicting myself, I know... Thanks to everyone who is reading. Please review!