SUMMARY: "Oh my god, I am my father," Athrun gasps softly in horror. He had repeated the same mistake. He had become the person he loathed – his father. (post-GSD)(Athrun's POV)
PAIRINGs: Athrun x Cagalli, (implied: Kira x Lacus, Shinn x Luna)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Gundam Seed Destiny or any of the characters
NOTE: There might be/are typos, grammar mistakes etc. This one-shot is merely written out of hours of torture physics... So, yeah, Athrun might be OOC but for a good reason...
- May 18, C.E. 75, Orb -
You might just say I'm the happiest man on Earth. Or PLANT. Or the whole Universe. Yes cheesy line, I know, but it's truly how I feel. Now, I really understand the meaning of 'bliss'. After years and years of suffering, pain and sadness, this joy tastes sweet and elating.
That's right, I'm getting married to Cagalli Yula Athha today.
She's the love of my life. Seriously, I can't imagine my life without her. I met her in the First War; burdened by the killing, I found comfort in her company. Her contradictory personality and fiery spirit inevitably attracted me to her. Every second with her was exciting yet soothing at the same time. By the end of the war, she was already one of my dearest friends...and something more as well.
Then the Second War came. We never pursued a relationship more than simple kisses here and there, especially because of her status as the Representative of Orb. When I left for ZAFT, I knew I'd hurt her deeply; she'd hurt me, too, by almost marrying that Seiran.
'There are things I can understand, but can't agree with.' Because of our differences, because of our stubborn pride, we were torn apart even further.
Finally, by the end of the Second War, we finally broke apart. She no longer wore my ring, and I enjoyed Meyrin's company. But the 'happiness' was different; Meyrin was my friend, just as Lacus was, someone I couldn't feel more than affection for. It was then I realized - my heart belonged Cagalli, and it always will be. I did everything I could to try to mend our broken relationship.
Which brings us back to the present.
"Are you okay? You seem, well, kind of zoned out," Kira, my best friend and best man, whispers. Blinking, I give him the giddiest grin I could muster, "Nope, I'm just happy, that's all. You'll understand on your wedding day," I smirk, giving him a knowing look.
Kira blushes and glances at Lacus, the maid of honor. She tries not to make eye contact with Kira, knowing that she wouldn't stop blushing. Ah, how cute. I find it ironic that Lacus only blushes whenever it concerns Kira, and she never does that even when we were engaged. Oh well, like I say, it's cute.
Oh yes, it's the twins' birthday today. Not only do we celebrate that, we can also celebrate our wedding anniversary from now on, on the same date. Kira throws me another curious glance as I smile widely once again. Hmm, he'll get it.
Seeing that the crowd has stood up, I hold my breath in anticipation. My heart threatens to jump out of my chest when my eyes fall upon her slim figure.
Her blonde hair is styled prettily, and she is wearnig this magnificent wedding gown that Lacus had helped her pick out.
Indeed, Cagalli is truly a princess. She is breathtaking. Even with the veil covering her face, I can still see her stunning eyes. Her beautiful amber eyes shine with absolute confidence, yet blushes adorn her cheeks demurely. I manage to suppress my chuckle; yes, that's the woman I love.
Kisaka gently leads her to the stage right beside me, and the priest starts his speech. It's quite long, really, but I am a patient man. I can wait a few more minutes, can't I?
"Do you, Athrun Zala, take this woman, Cagalli Yula Athha, as your lawfully wedded wife?"
"I do," I reply steadily.
"Do you, Cagalli Yula Athha, take this man, Athrun Zala, as your lawfully wedded husband?"
"I do," she smile lightly.
Giving her a tender gaze, I try to not let my hand tremble as I slip on the ring onto her fourth finger while she does the same thing.
The priest gives both of us a fatherly smile and announces heartily, "With Haumea's blessing, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
A loud cheer abrupts, followed by thunderous applause. Unable to contain my excitement anymore, I lift the veil and we kiss for the first time,
As Mr. and Mrs. Zala.
Several catcalls rise above all the other noises and music, and I could only guess Dearka is the one doing that. Holding my wife in my arms, I look around the place with a soaring heart.
Kira, my best man; Lacus, her maid of honour; Shinn, Yzak and Dearka, my groomsmen; Meyrin, Lunamaria, Mwu, Murrue, Miriallia and countless other people are all here, cheering for our union. Granted, there used to be a lot of disapprovals, due to Cagalli's status, and the fact I'm a Coordinator, and there were issues to resolve with Meyrin and Shinn's hatred for Orb etc.
But we've managed it. This is what peace and harmony is all about. As she leans in and puts her head against my chest, I just know this is the happily ever after we both deserve.
I can't wait for us to start our live together, as a family.
May 18, C.E. 89, Orb
"Come on, Athrun, it's time to go."
Sighing wearily, I literally drag myself out of the bed and quickly wash my face. I never let anyone see a single tear ever since that day...
Straightening my suit briskly, I walk out of the room and find Kira waiting for me. Seeing his solemn expression, comforting words almost leave my mouth. Almost.
"Are we visiting Aunt Cagalli again?" An innocent voice asks, and my heart clenches in pain at hearing that name. Kira must've noticed my hardened expression; he quickly leads his daughter out towards the car.
A grim atmostphere settles in the limo, as it has done for the past 4 years. Kira's shoulders sag tiredly and Lacus gently strokes his arm in support. My heart clenches in pain again at that bitter reminder, that I no longer have anyone to do the same for me...
Their daughter, Hikari, is only 6 and barely has any memories of ...her aunt. Hikari is busy chatting away with Alex...her cousin. Alex's face is calm as usual, no emotions, nothing. Good. I remember teaching her to be in control of her emotions. She looks like an exact replica of me - same green eyes and same blue hair. There is nothing that resembles...her mother. Good. I don't need any reminders at all.
Lacus glances at me worriedly; she opens her mouth as to speak, but then she decides not to start any conversation at all. That's fine with me, since I don't really feel like talking anyways.
When we arrive at the cemetary, Hikari is the first to leave (or, rather, jump out of) the car and runs towards that particular tombstone. Kira and Lacus follow their daughter quietly, leaving me and Alex alone.
After awhile, Alex speaks softly, "Aren't you going to go and visit Mother?"
"I'm busy, Alex. You know I have a lot of work to do," my voice comes out rather harshly. Alex, used to my tone of voice, sighs sadly and gets out of the car. Immediately, I order the chauffeur to take me to the Parliament.
Currently, I'm the Representative of Orb; funny, isn't it, that a Coordinator, or better yet - son of Patrick Zala, is Orb's current leader? I slam my fist down on my desk angrily. Yes, that's where all the problems start. The very fact I'm that man's son.
The hateful name 'Zala'. If she hadn't insisted, Alex's surname would've been 'Athha'. Curse you, Father.
I can never escape his shadow, never. After the first war, I had to live under a fake identity; after the second war, I had decided it was no use to keep hiding. After I got married to her, we shared her job equally, since I didn't want her to stress out too much since she was expecting a child.
I should've seen it coming. Resentment still lingered because of our union. True enough - 4 years ago, when Alex was only ten, several snipers were hired to assassinate me. That's right, me, not her. Yet, she was the one who died...
That's right - on the day of her birthday and our 12th wedding anniversary, Cagalli was killed by a bullet that was meant for me.
None of us had seen it coming - on that day, I was supposed to give a speech at the Parliament, but I had a fever at that time and Cagalli wanted me to keep resting. Apparently, the snipers were only told to kill whoever made speech that day - it didn't matter whether it was me, or her. It seems that whoever hired the snipers has been a victim of my father's ideals. The mastermind wishes for my death, but resents Cagalli as well for her country's neutral state and for marrying me.
Therefore, she died in my stead. I was supposed to die that day.
The sound of the door opens, bringing me out of my reverie. My eyes become sharp and hard as I speak coolly to Colonel Kisaka, "Any leads yet, Colonel?"
"Still none at the moment, Representative. The only lead we had committed suicide before we were able to question him."
"Right. It's been four years, and we have absolutely no suspects!! The bastard's still free, laughing, even after killing my wife!!" My voice rose and I glare at him.
Kisaka's expression softens and his voice is almost pleading, "Yes, it's been four years. We've been trying so hard to find any suspects but, Representative, you should allow yourself to relax sometimes. Cagalli wouldn't want you to-"
"Don't mention her name!" I grit my teeth in anger, hardly registering that the snarling voice is actually mine.
Kisaka is about to say something when someone knocks on the door.
Needless to say, I'm surprised to see Alex standing there. Glaring at the officer besides her, I speak threateningly, "what are you doing? This place is strictly for government or military personnels. If I recall correctly, she is neither."
The poor officer stammers, flinching under my intense glare, "B-but s-sir, y-your daughter would like to speak to you s-so I-I thought-"
"You thought? It's not your job to think," a sneer appears on my face. Playing sadist is a great way to vent out my frustration these days.
"Father, I need to talk to you," Alex's soft voice causes me to lose my concentration momentarily. For a moment there, I think I'd heard Cagalli's voice.
But Alex had called me 'Father'.
"What's with the informality?"
Hurt flickers in her eyes and she bows her head lightly, "Forgive me, Representative Zala, sir."
Kisaka and the officer exchange helpless looks and they quickly excuse themselves from my office. I rub my head tiredly, "What is it that you want to speak to me about?"
"Do you still think about Mother?"
Totally thrown off by such question, I stare at her in confusion. Reality quickly rushes back into my mind and I snarl in annoyance, "Why do you ask such question, Alex? There is no longer any need to think about such matter. You don't need to think about such matter. All you should worry about is your school work, and I'll be working on catching her murderers."
Alex bites her lips, her eyes wavering, "Then what? Then what are you going to do?"
I scoff, "What a ridiculous question, Alex. I'm going to punish them, of course."
Unable to hold back anymore, Alex yells, "This has to stop, Father!! You let hatred takes over you too much!!This isn't like you. This isn't like you at all!!!"
I stand up furiously, "Don't take that tone with me! This is justice!!! It's only right if they get what they deserve!!"
"No, Father, do you even remember what you told Uncle Shinn? That hatred can only bring more misfortune? Or what Mother told you long ago? To kill someone because they kill, and be killed because of kill-"
"Shut up!" I can't take it anymore. No, no more reminders of her. It shouldn't still hurt this much. My heart had died long ago with her. So why, why does it still hurts so much?
Alex trembles and looks away, "I'm very disappointed in you, father."
"And I'm disappointed in you too, Alex. I thought I'd taught you better."
"Taught me what? Be cooped up in my room like you do? To hate everything around you? To disregard friends who care about you? To ignore your own d-" She clenches her fists and breathes hard.
Her words hit home, but I refuse to believe it. I want to believe what I've been doing the past 4 years is correct. I want to believe that distancing myself and discard my emotions are the only ways to maintain my composure. Otherwise, I would've cracked long ago.
"Leave. I still have a lot of work to do."
"I hate you!" Tears slid down her cheeks and she leaves the room without even bothering to close the door.
Out of frustration, I hit the desk again and a photo falls off, the frame shattering into pieces.
Normally, I wouldn't bother to pick it up but something in my heart tells me to. A sense of deja vu hit me and it's not a good one. Carefully, I pick the picture up and my eyes start to sting at the sight of the image.
It's a picture of her. And Alex, my daughter. Who I had stopped referring to as my daughter for 4 years. Who I had completely ignored. Whose feelings I had been completely insensitive to.
A sudden realization hit me and I cover my face in horror.
"Oh my god, I'm my father," I whisper softly, almost not daring to breathe.
Memories flood my mind at once. My father didn't talk much, but he was a gentle man. He was always so kind around me and mother, that is, until the day she died. My bond with my father completely snapped. I couldn't connect with him at all. He had stopped treating me as his son altogether - I was just a ZAFT soldier, no more.
Exactly the way I'm treating my daughter right now.
Like my father, I grew distant from my friends and became solely focused on finding my wife's killer. Why couldn't I see that? Cruel as his methods were, my father had loved my mother deeply and wanted to avenge her. Hn, I had no right to call him cruel anymore. After all, I am cruel myself.
I've been trying so hard not to become like him...it seems that I cannot leave his shadow at all.
Despair and regret begin to drown me and I can only put my head in my arms in futile attempt to stop the pain. For the first time in 4 years, I cry and my body shakes with silent sobs.
"Oh, hey, Athrun," Shinn scratches his head and shows me inside his house rather awkwardly. We aren't really on the best of terms after Cagalli's death. But if I recall correctly, Kira and Lacus would bring Alex over to the Asukas since Alex is pretty fond of little Stellar and Rey.
"Thanks for finding her," I mutter wearily, "Where is she right now?"
"Um, she's in the backyard, telling stories to Stellar and Rey," Luna replies hesitantly.
Feeling myself nodding at her words, I walk there quietly. I quickly hide behind the tree when I hear my daughter's voice.
"And what happens next?" Little Rey asks excitedly, jumping up and down in anticipation. Alex pats his head, making the the three-year-old smile. Little Stellar seems to be content just snuggling against the older girl sleepily.
"Their first meeting had left quite an impression on both of them. They were both starting to waver in their perspectives of war. Their second meeting didn't start off so good - after all, she believed that he had killed someone dear to her heart, and he'd believed he had killed his best friend."
She's talking about Cagalli and I, I'm quite surprised that Alex is telling the children about us.
"Not wanting to anybody else to die anymore, Mother gave Father a protective amulet-" Alex pauses abruptly. She closes her eyes sadly, "does he still have it, I wonder? Mother always kept the ring Father gave him. Even after she took it off, she still kept it with her."
"Of course he still has it! Uncle Athrun looks mean but I think he loves Aunt Cagalli very very much!" Rey says in a serious voice, yet he has a huge puppy grin. Stellar nods in agreement.
Alex gazes at the twins in wonder, and hugs them with tears sliding down her face.
"Yeah...I think so too."
My heart breaks just by looking at my daughter.Yes, I didn't take the time to understand her feelings after Cagalli's death. No, I was too raptured by hatred.
Sagging against the wall tiredly, I ask the Asukas to let Alex stay overnight.
"I think it's better for her to stay here for now...I-I can't face her yet. Stellar and Rey might cheer her up.Besides, she told me that she hates me, which she is completely entitled to."
Shinn and Luna exchange looks, and Shinn nods, "Of course, Athrun. You should, um, rest too. Alex will be fine. You do know that she doesn't really mean it, right? Alex doesn't hate you."
"Thank you, Shinn."
Shinn and Luna exchange looks again in astonishment. Well, I think it's the first time I thank someone in four years.
Yes, I have many things to mend, especially my character.
"Athrun!! We've been looking all over for you! We can't find Alex!" Kira runs up to me as soon as I get off the limo.
"It's alright, Kira. She's at the Asuka's, I just checked."
I sigh inwardly; we used to converse easily with each other. How was I so blind not to take notice of our gapping friendship? Kira is still hurting too; Cagalli was his twin after all. Today is their birthday.
"Well I uh, I'll take off," Kira mutters uncomfortably. I quickly stop him before he leaves.
I exhale heavily, "Thank you, Kira, for remaining my friend after...after Cagalli passed away. Thanks for being there for Alex."
He stiffens slightly, then he turns around and smiles painfully, "Of course, Athrun. That's what friends are for."
Watching his car leaving the estate, it just occurs to me how cold and empty the mansion is.It is just so vast and desolated; there is no life. There is no light.
There is no Cagalli.
Her presence brightens up everything. Like my mother.
And now, I'm the one responsible for the unwelcoming atmosphere. Like my father.
Perhaps I should've tried harder. A genocide he was, but my father was a nice man. He might've opened up more if I 'd tried harder...
"Father!!" Blinking in surprise, I turn around in time to catch Alex in my arms. She's still gasping for breath...has she run all the way from the Asuka's?!
"Are you alright? What's wrong?" I mentally slap myself for asking such a stupid question. Of course she's not alright.
"Uncle Shinn told me you were there," she looks up at me with hope in her eyes, "So I just thought ...I mean, I need to talk to y-"
She closes her eyes in sudden fear when I bring up my hand up. Oh dear god, does she think I was going to slap her? Sighing in regret as I've been doing all day, I take off my necklace and gently slide it on her neck. She gazes at me in confusion.
Smiling lightly, my voice breaks as I speak, "I'm sorry Alex. I know nothing I do would ever make up to you. But I want you to have it. The amulet will protect you, even from me."
She fingers the red gem in silent fascination. "Is this Mother's-?"
I nod. She looks at me with tearful eyes and hugs me again. I hug her back hesitantly.
"Father, you don't have to...I mean, why do I need something to protect myself from you? You're my father. This is what I need to talk to you about - I want to apologize for what I said earlier...I really didn't mean it. I still love you, Father."
"Alex...I should be the one to apologize," I know my words are barely coherent due to the tears leaking out of my eyes, "You're my daughter, Alex, and I'll always love you."
I don't know long how long we just stand there, at the mansion's gate. All I know is that it feels good - it's like we're finally a family again. A father and his daughter, not Representative Zala and Alexandria Athha-Zala.
"I'm so glad you're back, Father."
Ruffling her head playfully, I grin, "I'll always be here for you from now on, Alex. What do you say we take a few days off?"
Her eyes lights up in excitement and she nods feverently. Despite having my eye color, her eyes are exactly like Cagalli's - full of light and fire. Of course, Alex is our daughter after all.
It just isn't fair; why did Cagalli die? These are the questions I've been trying to answer.
But now I know better.
I must look to the future and protect it.
A chance to redeem myself, and perhaps bring light upon my father's shadow.
End of One-Shot
A/N: Okay, okay, you're probably wondering why tragedy isn't one of genres. I feel that if the ending's...sort of happy, then it's not a tragedy, yes? Although, it's painful to write that Cagalli had died and Athrun's problems with Alex. If you think it's crappy...well, this is a production of getting brain-fried by physics(gag), as mentioned above.