I own none of this.

"Is this...yours?"

Kira Yamato, ace mobile suit pilot, swallowed hard. The young man on the other side of the fence held a green-feathered robotic bird in his outstretched hand. It wasn't the robot that affected Kira so deeply, however, but the youth who held it.

"Yes," he said at last, extending his hands. The bird robot hopped lightly into his grasp. Seeing the other start to turn, he spoke hurriedly. "An old friend gave it to me." He looked down, feeling his throat constrict. "It's a very valuable gift, from a valuable friend." Kira knew without looking that his words had struck a chord. A valuable friend...no, he's my brother in all but blood.

Athrun Zala felt tears sting his eyes. "I see." Kira, even after everything that's happened... He couldn't afford to say anything more; the risk of giving himself away was too great. Nicol, he was sure, would understand, but Dearka and especially Yzak would not be so sanguine. The two of them disliked him as it was; learning that Athrun Zala, soldier of ZAFT, son of Patrick Zala, claimed an enemy pilot as a friend would be the last straw.


Athrun turned, recognizing the princess he'd encountered on that island almost a month before. Somehow, it didn't surprise him the spunky girl had become a close friend of Kira's. Kira had a knack for inspiring trust.

I can't think about that right now. Athrun resumed walking, not bothering to answer Yzak's annoyed yell. Images flashed through his mind; confronting Kira and that Earth Forces officer atop the Strike; trying to get Kira to the Gamow, only to be thwarted by the Hawk of Endymion; pleading with Kira to abandon the Earth Forces and come with him... Athrun paused at the car, and looked back one last time.

Kira had to force back his own tears as he met that gaze. Why, why did this have to happen!? He couldn't afford to show emotion any more than Athrun could; of his comrades, only Sai and Miriallia knew of his friendship with the pilot of the Aegis, and even they didn't know the pilot's name.

He swallowed again, finally turning away from the fence. Athrun...

Two pilots faced each other across what had once been a pristine shoreline, but now was a battlefield. One wore Earth Forces blue and white, but now fought against them, the other the red of a ZAFT Elite. Two months had passed since Kira and Athrun had last met face to face, and much had happened. Athrun's friend Nicol Amalfi had died at Kira's hand, followed a mere two days later by Athrun killing Archangel helmsman Tolle Koenig.

Athrun had gone on to almost kill Kira, pinning down the Strike with his Aegis and setting the red machine to self destruct, but Kira had by some miracle survived.

Today they had fought together for the first time, and for all that both hated war, it had been somehow exhilarating. It had just felt right, the two of them battling the Earth Forces side by side, coordinating their moves to the second. It had also befuddled the three newcomers, to the point that they had been forced to retreat.

Now, ignoring the onlookers (which included Dearka Elsman, of all people), they gazed at each other silently. Then, almost simultaneously, they moved, crossing the distance between their quiescent mobile suits. Neither wavered, neither spoke; when several Orb soldiers leveled their weapons, Athrun spared them a look, then ignored them.

Kira didn't. "He's not an enemy!" he said, raising a hand.

Athrun felt his chest constrict slightly, hearing those words. Kira, does that mean you're willing to talk? Maybe...maybe we can make things right again.

Athrun, Kira thought, as the two came to a stop just a meter apart. This was something he had longed for ever since Heliopolis. After the destruction of the Blitz and Tolle's death, he'd feared they would be enemies forever, but now... Athrun had come to his rescue when he needed it most.

For a long moment, no one moved. The Archangel crew weren't too surprised that Kira obviously knew the ZAFT pilot, as he was himself a Coordinator; Murrue felt a jolt as she realized he was the same one who had nearly killed her at Heliopolis. Perhaps the Kira had been the reason the ZAFT pilot had hesitated.

Dearka, for his part, wondered how Athrun Zala could possibly know someone who had until recently been an Earth Forces pilot.

"Birdy!" The familiar green robot swooped in, landing on Kira's shoulder. "Birdy."

Kira smiled. There were so many things he could have said. He could have apologized for killing the Blitz's pilot. He could have expressed regret for the GINN pilot he'd killed at Heliopolis. He could have expressed his joy at the two of them being able to meet again as friends.

Instead, he just said, "Hi, Athrun."

Athrun clenched a fist briefly. "Kira," he whispered.

Cagalli burst into tears. "Oh, you guys!" She ran forward, grinning ear to ear, and threw an arm around each pilot's neck, pulling them closer together.

"Uh, Cagalli?" Kira said, taken aback.

"You're, you're both idiots!" the princess said, almost sobbing.

Kira and Athrun looked at each other, smiling, unable to suppress a chuckle at Cagalli's outburst. Suddenly, it was like they were back at Copernicus again, two friends without a care in the world. It was almost as if their battles had never happened. For a brief moment, everything was all right.