SUMMARY: After her brother was gravely injured from an attempted murder, Cagalli lost faith in the police forces, determined to seek out the serial killer herself. Athrun, a promising young policeman was ordered to protect her, yet it proved to be difficult as the protectee herself blatantly refused the police's offer. Both of them were oblivious to the sinister plot brewing in the unknown killer's mind, ever so patient and watchful. Who will catch who first?

MAIN PAIRINGs: Athrun x Cagalli; Nicol x Meyrin

A/N: By main pairings, I mean those two will be the two relationships I'll try to focus on, but not necessarily the characters themselves.

DISCLAIMER: This is a story based on characters and situations from Kidou Senshi Gundam Seed and Seed Destiny.

WARNING: Text and all related materials are rated PG13/T There are/might be some grammatical errors and typos, spelling mistakes, even after rereading it many times. This story will not be fluffy. I'm trying to keep this fic as realistic as possible, and just as harsh, even. There will be several OCs, but they hold no real spotlight in the plot.

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Prologue: The Hostage

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"Here it is."

Barely moving, a figure concealed by the darkness shifted anxiously. His brown eyes flickered to the right, waiting for the signal to take action. He swallowed nervously, willing for his breathing to return normal. All he could hear was the oddly comforting beats of his own heart, as if reassuring that he would be fine.

To his right was another man leaning against the tree, patient and alert. His sharp green eyes were trained solely on the battered undercover van, which was flanked by two other vans, manned and idling in the vast parking lot.

The place was filled with a countless variety of cars, anonymous and ordinary. Yet, Athrun Zala's eyes were locked on the beat-up van only, ignoring everything else. He knew he had the right target; the van's windows were tarnished expertly, too peculiar for a rather scruffy car.

His suspicions were confirmed when a figure hoisted a large equipment bag out of the van, and started to drag it across the parking lot. More people got out from the other two vans and walked besides the first one casually, looking as if they were just going to play an early morning game of baseball.

But Athrun knew otherwise.

As the dawn light was casted upon the moving figures, Athrun's partner lowered his periscope with practiced calmness. "Yes, it is Kevin Stewart, Athrun," his whisper flowed smoothly with the wind, quiet and undetectable.

"Are you ready, Shiho? Rey? Yzak?" Athrun's lips moved silently. Without waiting for a reply, his gaze caught his partner's, and he nodded.

"Understood," Nicol Amalfi's fingers closed over the gun's metal frame with a sense of familiarity. His eyes were weary yet piercing, staring at the laughing Kevin with absolute confidence. Athrun smiled lightly, approving his partner's attitude, and he left his hiding point gracefully.

His arms rose steadily as he levelled his gun with the target's head. Kevin and his subordinates froze momentarily, but relaxed at the sight of only Athrun and Nicol.

"Down to the ground," Athrun commanded evenly, never lowering his guard.

"Now, now, we don't want any trouble. See here? We're just here for a friendly game of baseball," Kevin smiled affably, gesturing at the other men and the large equipment bag.

But his actions belied his words; he stepped backwards and put his hands in his pockets warily.

"Down to the ground," Athrun repeated, unfazed. He knew what were in those pockets, but he was well-prepared.

"Look, kid, who do you think you are?" Kevin growled churlishly, all the pleasant facade vanished. His men gathered around him, drawing out their guns as well. One of the more bellicose ones shot at the ground near Nicol's feet, who flinched in surprise but otherwise remained unmoved.

"I warned you," was all Athrun said before shooting at one of the men's leg, disabling him.

Gunshots sliced through the air, and Kevin dove for cover. Athrun and Nicol, likewise, hid behind one of the cars, waiting for the signal to rejoin the fight.

Smoke slowly drifted towards the sky as bullets ignited the vehicles around them. Men yelled in pain, grunting and screaming curses, trying to discover the origin of their attacker.

"Go, Kevin and two of his men are running away with the bag!" Lunamaria Hawke came up besides Athrun and replaced his position. The blunette went after the target without a word, followed closely by his loyal partner.

From his periphel vision, Athrun spotted Yzak taking down one of the men with a swift kick to the stomach, making the latter groan in utter pain. In a feckless attempt to retaliate, another man charged towards Yzak with rather gauche movements. Dearka, Yzak's partner, quickly aimed a blow at the man's head, knocking him out cold.

Shiho and Lunamaria were exchanging shots with the two men hiding behind a pickup truck. Shiho frowned at their distance; she nudged her partner's arm, and Lunamaria, understanding Shiho's intention, dove for the car besides her while firing wildly at enemies. As the men concentrated on Lunamaria, Shiho swiftly leapt onto the car's ceiling and took aim within a second. The two men gasped in agony as bullets slammed into their ribs, and were immediately silenced by Lunamaria's consecutive rounds.

More men came into Athrun's vision, but he had expected it; he continued to run forward, mindless of the bullets brushing by his cheek and arm. Nicol ran behind Athrun and fired at one of the men, successfully disrupting the enemies' barricade attempt. Seeing they were determined to stop them from chasing Kevin, Athrun leapt sideways, pulling Nicol with him.

Panting harshly for breath, Athrun peeked up from the car he was hiding behind and fired randomly. Nicol smiled grimly, knowing his partner's mind as if it were his own, copied Athrun's action. It was only a matter of time.

The stalemate was finally broken when Shinn recklessly jumped in front of the line of fire and pulled the trigger. The bullet found its way and the unfortunate target fell backwards lifelessly, his face full of blood. The other man also went down with a gurgled choke, and Rey lowered his gun with a cold glare.

Using the moment's distraction to his full advantage, Athrun quickly took out two more men, and resumed the chase. He didn't even flinch when Kevin's two followers turned around and tried to hit him. He and his partner's teamwork was flawless, that Athrun knew; Nicol cleverly disabled the two men when they were too concentrated on Athrun, who played decoy.

Kevin ceased running, knowing it was futile to drag the heavy bag by himself. He pulled something out of his pocket and swung backwards, using the momentum as a source of strength.

The sudden change in speed surprised Athrun and he couldn't stop in time. His gun flew out of his hand when a knife slashed diagonally across his fingers. He glanced at his bleeding hand almost angrily, cursing inwardly for his laspe in reflex.

Wasting no time at all, Kevin swung the balisong knife again, intending to cut his opponent's throat open. Athrun's head leaned back, and his hand shot up at the same time, earning a yelp from Kevin. Locking his uninjured hand around the other man's wrist, Athrun twisted around in a circle and threw Kevin over his shoulder by momentum.

Kevin landed on the ground with a painful thud. Nicol, who caught up, quickly handcuffed the heavily winded man and kept him still on the ground.

"Kevin Stewart, age 32, known for his chicanery with lawsuits and connections with local illegal trades, you are hereby under the the custody of Carpentaria Police Force."

Athrun exhaled in relief when he heard the distant sound of more police cars. Yzak and the rest seemed fine, with a few scrapes here and there. It was a wonder Shinn never got hit, with the way he charged headfirst into battles; Rey really knew how to cover his impulsive partner efficiently. Shiho's long dark hair swished back and forth as she jumped down from the car's ceiling. She patted her partner's shoulder, who nodded simply. Yzak huffed and folded his arms, and Dearka patted his holster and gave Athrun a grin.

"You alright?" Nicol knew not to worry about his friend too much; Athrun was too stubborn to let himself appear weak.

"I might not be able to hold a gun as effectively for awhile, but-"

"You're ambidextrious, I know," Nicol smiled lightly, and Athrun couldn't help but smile back. Sure his hand stung, but the bleeding had stopped long ago, since it was a shallow cut.

Their mission was a complete success; a barely injured hand was a worthwhile price for it.

His good mood quickly sombered, his green eyes swept over the once peaceful parking lot with a hint of regret. Now marred by the dark stain of blood, the cement was littered with bodies of Kevin's bodyguards. Even thought they were granted the permission to kill if they were fired upon first, Athrun still felt it inhuman to resort to 'killing'. Necessary, yes, but it still felt strange, even after all those years.

He glanced at the younger man besides him. Nicol was a valuable, irreplaceable partner, but it was obvious tonight's brutal fight had a visible effect on him. Nicol's eyes were shielded with unreadable emotions, but Athrun understood his partner's feeling.

"Athrun, I'll handle the other guys and the clearing up, you go take a look at the bag," Miguel Aiman, their boss, walked out of the police car and nodded to Athrun and Nicol.

Knowing Miguel will take care of everything else, Athrun walked towards the bag, fairly certain what to expect. After all, Kevin was often convicted of illegal dealings of weaponry and drugs, but he always wiggled out and had gotten away... until now, of course.

Bags of marihuana, cases of magazines or maybe even several newly-modified rifles, yes, but Athrun Zala did not expect to find an unconscious girl inside the huge bag.

"...Wh...," for the first time since his career as a policeman, Athrun Zala could only blink rather stupidly at the girl. But he quickly gathered his wits and gently pulled the girl out of the bag.

Her blond hair was messy and stained with dried blood. Her oval face was scratched and her shirt was dirty with mud. She looked so pale that he thought she was dead. His heart started beating again when the girl's chest rose slightly with a faint breath.

"Get an ambulance, Nicol."

The younger man nodded and left quickly, also concerned for the injured girl. Athrun tried to loosen the girl's collar more; who knew how long had she been shut inside of the bag?

Just what was Kevin doing with the girl in the bag? I was not informed of this hostage at all, or was it an impulsive kidnapping? Who is this girl? Athrun gently laid the girl's head on the bag, noting from the crusty feel of the blood on her head, the wound had been inflicted awhile ago.

Her eyes suddenly shot open and she sat up abruptly, only to hiss in pain at her muscles' protest of sudden movement.

"Miss, don't move around that much, you're badly hurt. An ambulance is on its way," Athrun tried to sooth the girl as kindly as he could, assuming that she was probably confused and scared of this unfamiliar environment.

He was surprised yet again, when the girl looked up and glared at him resentfully. "Yes, I know I'm hurt!" Her blazing amber eyes looked over his uniform, and narrowed in contempt, "A cop huh. I should've known. If only you guys hadn't interfered, I would've known what that Kevin was up to... you ruined my plan!"

Athrun stared at her dubiously, not believing what he was hearing.

The blond girl glared back, not a hint of gratitude was apparent in her eyes but frustration.

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End of Prologue

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A/N: It's some idea I have in my mind since long ago. I've decided to upload this chapter anyways even though I haven't finished/updated my other fics.

I know in my other fic, As Guilty as Innocent, Athrun was also a policeman. But this fic will be much darker than the other one, as Athrun isn't just a prison guard.

This story will center around Cagalli, Athrun, Nicol and Meyrin, and their attempt to catch a serial killer before he/she kills them. The serial killer could be some of the stereotypical antagonists, or it could be someone completely unexpected. Who knows?

This fic will also have a lot of OCs, either as antagonists or victims (since sometimes I don't want to kill off a 'real' character). Not to worry, the OCs will not have any spotlight but they will be mentioned here and there, like this Kevin Stewart for example.

So, what do you think? Please leave an encouraging review or constructive criticism! Thanks.

Athyra