Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam SEED or any of its characters.

The Necklace

March 15, CE 72

Birthdays were fun. They were days to be surrounded by family and friends; to eat good food; to receive gifts. They were days when your life was celebrated.

At the heart of it all, birthdays were days to really know how it felt to be loved.

At least, that was how it was supposed to be.

Fllay Allster shifted on the bed, trying to feel better about today. She did have a lot to be grateful for, after all.

It had been almost six months since the war had ended. The Copernicus trials had resulted in the purging of nearly all suspected Blue Cosmos members from the ranks of the Earth Alliance, and while there was still tension between Earth and the PLANTs, it was far from wartime levels.

While most people wouldn't see it as such, the fact that Fllay was currently lying in a bed in Asira Memorial Hospital was also something to be grateful for. If her rescuers had taken just a little longer to get to her after the explosion…

Fllay shivered slightly, and then brushed the thought away as the door to her room opened and the last thing she had to be thankful for walked in.

"Hey," Kira said with a smile. "The doctors say that you can go home in a few days."

"Great," Fllay said, sounding as happy as she could. She should be happy, after all. It was just that the Allster family estate here in Orb was very large; very spacious.

Very empty.

Fllay sighed a little. She didn't have anyone to go home to. Even here, the hospital room was relatively empty. There were no flowers; no balloons sent by well-wishers. A metal stand was located to the left of her bed, holding a bag from which an intravenous drip ran into Fllay's arm. On the right, a small bank of monitors kept watch over her vital signs. Two chairs rested against the far wall, just below a large window that provided a view of the cityscape. A television was mounted in one corner of the room, up near the ceiling.

It was very comfortable for a hospital room, but it still felt cold and unsympathetic somehow.

Back before the war, Fllay's birthday parties had been big events. Her father had been able to pay for great food and lots of friends from school would come to the mansion. They would tell jokes and trade gossip, and of course there would be presents. In spite of the stereotype of the materialistic, shallow popular girl, Fllay didn't just value the gifts for how expensive they were or how nice they looked. What really touched her was knowing that she mattered to someone, enough that they would spend the time and money on buying her something.

But this year, there was no party. Her father was gone and her friends were all still back in the Atlantic Federation. No presents had been sent to her. No one had even wished her a happy birthday.

"Fllay?" Hearing Kira say her name pulled the redhead from her thoughts. She looked up and found his amethyst eyes staring worriedly at her. "What's the matter?" Fllay looked away.

"It's nothing," she said quietly. "My arm just hurts a little from the procedure." It wasn't exactly a lie. The doctor had been using guided cell growth to repair the burns and scars on her right arm. In addition to the surface burns, most of the nerve ending in the arm had been seared shut by the heat of the explosion, so some surgery had been performed to reverse the damage. Her neurons were firing as they came back online, resulting in a rather unpleasant prickling sensation in her arm.

So she wasn't exactly lying to Kira. She couldn't tell him about how saddened she was that he hadn't brought her a present. It wasn't really fair to him. He'd forgiven Fllay for trying to get him killed, after all; asking him to buy her something expensive for her birthday was more than she deserved.

"Well, do you want me to get a nurse and see if they can give you something for the pain?" Kira asked softly, reaching up and brushing Fllay's bangs out of her face. She smiled and shook her head.

"No, it's okay. I've got a call button if it gets too bad." Kira nodded reluctantly and opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by his cell phone ringing. "Um…"

"It's okay," Fllay said. "Go ahead and answer it." Kira nodded in thanks, flipping the small device open and stepping out of the room to talk.

Orb Military Training Center

"Hello?" Cagalli sighed with relief when her brother's voice emerged from the phone. This had been a stressful day.

"Hey, Kira," she said. "How do you get the OS to compensate for the loss of a mobile suit's arm?" There was a moment of questioning silence on the other end of the line, and then Kira hesitantly responded.

"The suit should have balance sensors. You just have to reset the base values for weight distribution across the structural frame, removing the lost arm. What are you doing over there?" Cagalli sighed and shook her head.

"One of the Astray pilots tried to do something weird to his beam rifle and it ended up backfiring and blowing the M1's arm off. He's getting a lecture from one of the officers, but Athrun figured it might be a good opportunity to use the suit to show some of the trainees how to compensate for a lost limb. Of course, I had to know how to do that in order to show them." Running a hand through her short blonde hair, Cagalli decided to change the topic. "How's Fllay doing?"

"I don't know," Kira replied uncertainly. "She seems upset about something. I want to help, but she doesn't seem to want to tell me what it is." Cagalli felt pretty bad for her brother, but she didn't see what the problem was.

"Maybe she's just having a bad day," she suggested. Kira started to reply, but he suddenly stopped, setting off Cagalli's internal alarm. "What's the matter?" When Kira replied, his voice was low, as though he didn't want someone else to hear him.

"I just remembered that today is her birthday," Kira said worriedly. Cagalli slapped her forehead.

"You have got to be kidding me."

"I haven't bought her anything," Kira said, guilt evident in his voice. "I didn't even tell her happy birthday. Maybe I should—."

"No," Cagalli cut him off. "Just meet me at the mall in half an hour." She hung up and turned to Athrun, who had entered the staff break room during the conversation and was giving her a quizzical look. "I have to go rescue my idiot brother."

"What about the balance issue?" the blue-haired soldier asked.

"He said that you have to reset the weight value for the missing arm," Cagalli replied, grabbing her keys and heading out.

"I don't know about this," Kira said, looking around the store.

"Trust me," Cagalli replied. "Jewelry is a good idea." She held up her left hand, displaying the silver band, inset with a small violet stone, that sat on her ring finger. "I remember that I loved it when Athrun got me this, and I'm sure you can find something in here that Fllay will love." Kira hesitated.

"I just don't quite know what she'd want," he said softly, a little nervous. After a moment, he felt a soft hand on his arm, and looked over to find his sister smiling warmly at him.

"I know you can think of something," she said encouragingly. "I haven't eaten lunch, so I'll be waiting in the food court when you're done."

"Okay," Kira said, still a little uncertain as Cagalli departed. There was a lot to choose from, and while he had plenty of money, he didn't just want to get Fllay something expensive.

He moved about the store, going from display case to display case for nearly an hour. He looked at several rings and a few sets of earrings, but nothing really stood out. It was only as he was heading back toward the exit that he noticed a silver amulet in a case near the door. The small metal disc was something like a yin-yang, divided into two interlocking halves. In one half of the amulet, a ruby had been set. An amethyst was fitted into the metal of the other half.

In the past, more than one person had remarked on his striking violet eyes, and when he thought of Fllay, one of the first things that came to mind was her fiery personality, along with her vibrant red hair. Kira smiled as he headed for the checkout counter. Hopefully, this gift would mean something to both of them.

Fllay smiled as Kira came into the room. Reaching over, she turned off the television. While the nighttime talk shows hadn't interested her, having some sort of noise in the background had been comforting. Composing herself as best she could, Fllay smiled at Kira.

"Hi," she said. Kira leaned down and kissed her forehead. Fllay smiled and leaned into the contact. Kira pulled back gently.

"I got you something," he said, reaching down to the side of the bed. Fllay heard a bag rustling, and then Kira pulled up a box, which he popped open. "Don't give me too much credit," he said with an apologetic look. "Cagalli practically had to drag me to the store." Fllay laughed somewhat at that.

"I think I can forgive you," she said jokingly. Truth be told, she was very grateful. Even if his sister had to drag him to a store, Kira had still brought her something, and that meant a lot. "So what is it?" Kira hesitated for a moment.

"First, can you please tell me what's bothering you?" Fllay started to answer, bit her lip when she felt tears start to well up, and then pushed through it and managed to speak.

"It's just that none of my friends are here," she said. "Miriallia went off for her photography job, Sai doesn't really talk to me anymore, my other friends all still live in the Atlantic Federation and Daddy…I just felt really alone."

"Fllay," Kira said, somewhere between relief and sadness, "why didn't you tell me?" Despite Fllay's best efforts, one tear managed to escape.

"It wasn't fair to ask you for anything after all you've done for me," she said. Kira just smiled, looking relieved.

"You don't need to feel that way," he said, kneeling down and embracing her. "You should always tell me about stuff like this. No secrets, okay?" Fllay smiled and nodded.

"Okay," she said, feeling as though a weight had been lifted off of her. "So…what did you get me?" Kira laughed, reaching back into the box and lifting out a beautiful silver necklace, which bore a small medal set with an amethyst and a ruby. Fllay reached out and gently took the gift in her hand. "Kira, it's beautiful." He blushed and smiled bashfully.

"I figured that was us," he said. "Just so you know, even if your friends live elsewhere, as long as I'm here, you'll never be alone." Kira gently placed the necklace around Fllay's neck, and then leaned down to press a soft kiss against her lips. Fllay smiled and thanked Kira again. The brunette moved away for a second, pulling a chair alongside her bed and sitting down in it. "Happy birthday, Fllay."

"Thank you, Kira," she said. He leaned his head on her shoulder, and she leaned back against her pillow. As she drifted off to sleep, Fllay thought again about just what today meant.

Birthdays were usually times for good food and lot of presents and friends. But at the heart of it all, they were really just days to know how it felt to be loved.

The End.

Author's Note: I know, I know. I should be working on the next chapter of Evolution. It's just that the thought of writing this little oneshot struck me a while ago (pretty much as soon as I put that necklace in Evolution, in fact), and I wanted it to be up today. I know it's fluff, but I hope it's still enjoyable.

Happy birthday, Fllay!