Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny or any of its characters.

A/N: When I started this story, I was leaning more towards the typical romance-humor from the bad girl's pov. I didn't expect I'd be writing so much angst hahahaha. Big thank you to everyone who read, reviewed, and added this story to their alert and fav list.

PrideViola - all I can say is- Kira has been sincere since chapter1 in spite what Flay thinks.

nightdreamerms - good point. :D Now onwards!

A Terrible Beauty: Chapter 9: A Touch of Fall


Smiling softly, "I believe you," Miriallia said.

"Thank you," Flay replied quietly.

"Stellar believes Flay too! If Flay said she did not frame Lacus then she did not do it!" Stellar added, her face seeming to enlarge on screen as she leaned-in closer to her camera.

"Thank you, Stellar," Flay said while deciding to leave out the part where Cagalli had attacked her in the washroom. Because even if Cagalli had withdrew from her circle, she had been her best friend and there were just some things best kept between certain friends... No matter how bad it hurts.

"Don't worry, Flay, we got your back," Lunamaria grinned.

"Err... Can we move to another topic now, please?" Meer said. And so that had been the end of that via chat.

Flinging aside the eight inches tablet, Flay laid on her back and stared blindly into the arch folds of the bedroom ceiling. Other than her friends' voices reverberating from the small device, the house remained quiet and empty like usual.

It's going to be okay, thought Flay. She can still go to school tomorrow. All she had to do was thicken her face. Even if the entire school hates her, she'd still have friends like Miriallia, Meer, Stellar, and Lunamaria there to rely on.

About twenty minutes later, at around six pm, Sai gave her door a cautious rap.

"Oh, I hear dinner time," Meer giggled causing Flay to roll her eyes. She turned the microphone off from her end and lowered the volume without getting out of bed.

"Flay, dinners ready."

Turning to her side, Flay clutched a pillow in her arms and dug her chin into the downy plumpness of its surface, while thoughts clattered through her mind. "Sorry Sai, can you tell your mom I already ate dinner? I'm not really that hungry."

Showing her face to people she knew was just out of the question today, especially to those who actually cared for her. To put it simply, she looked hideous, red dry eyes and puffy eyelids. She would just cause auntie, Sai's mom, to worry.

"I can do that... But are you all right in there? Is it okay for me to come in?... I heard what happened at school... I didn't tell mom and dad yet though..."

"I appreciate it, Sai..."

But Flay remained still and the door stayed locked.

Silence and silence...

"I know you didn't do it..."

"How would you know?" replied Flay.

More silence, until, "I just know... We literally grew up together... And you could say- I know who you are, better than anyone. ... But to be honest, you've been acting strange lately and I want you to know I worry about you... so please, talk to me whenever you are ready..."

All the more reason, she couldn't tell Sai what she had been up to. Flay dug her chin deeper into cushion. She couldn't tell him. The truth was too dastardly. And if Sai were to know, he would never look at her the same again.

At her request, Sai went back home without her. Flay heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs; doors being closed. She dozed off on the bed until red and purple clouds that came through the half-closed curtains were replaced by shafts of moonlight. A quiet sound awakened her, and she stirred reluctantly.

Opening her bleary eyes, she glanced at the clock. Nine pm. Not even morning. She was sure this was going to be another one of those sleepless nights.

Flay pressed her hand to her grumbling stomach. Hungry too. But there was nothing in the kitchen because her dad was rarely home and she usually ate at Sai's.

Seeing no reason to starve herself, she tossed on her grey trench coat, grabbed her purse, and walked out the house. Even though it was dark, she slipped on her rhinestone sunglasses in case she ran into one of the neighbors. She couldn't bear the thought of anyone seeing her like this— a complete mess— without makeup, hair undone, plain pink tank top, a pair of ratty shorts, and worn out sneakers under a Canaver trench coat.

She hurried around the corner to an all-night milk tea place. As she reached the counter with her order, she saw them. People she knew. Dearka, Orga, Shani, Clotho and four very pretty enthusiastic girls from some other school. They sat at the end of the shop obviously on a group date.

It was impossible to mistake them— other than Dearka, Shani was also from the soccer club while Orga and Clotho, she recognized through Stellar who also followed school basketball.

Three out of four girls there clearly had eyes for Dearka.

Shani looked bored, then suddenly lifts his face to her direction.

Failing to react immediately, Flay ultimately turned her head away nonetheless, hoping, Shani wasn't looking because he recognized her despite looking not like her usual self.

Not good! Not good! If Shani saw her... Being Dearka's public girlfriend who caught him playing-around, what's the girl to do? Cause a public scene? Should she head over there and haughtily crash their date and introduce herself to those girls? Was that the only way out? But it's not like she wanted to do it and it's not like she and Dearka were truly dating. Plus, wouldn't it ruin their perfect couple image?

Damn, this was bad. She needed to get out of here pronto! What was taking her order so long!?

"Spicy chicken chops and peppermint milk tea for Ms. Flay."

Having already paid earlier, Flay quickly grabbed her order to go, and then rushed to the exit. And while outside, she stopped dead to wonder in disbelief, how the hell she missed Dearka's prestige GAT-X 103 red parked on the driveway before heading into the shop in the first place.

Trying to calm down, Flay told herself to hope for the bright side. She exhaled a deep long sigh, her shoulders slumping forward.

Anyway, so this is what Dearka does on his free hours, Flay thought. ….. Flirting with other girls… When he's not on a date with her. ….

Flay shook her head. Hell, what's she feeling depress for? It wasn't like Dearka's her real boyfriend. She did agree that he should be able to secretly see other people when he's free. Yet here she was, leaving the area, feeling a little envious, a bit down, with the sudden urge to go late night shopping.

00000

Right after G.S Red had won their third elimination, Flay had immediately insisted to meet with Yzak and Dearka behind an empty corridor inside the town's multi-purpose stadium.

It had been a long, hard day's work for both players. An hour of running should have left them exhausted, sweating and trembling with strained muscles, but as the two separately arrived at the designated meeting place, Yzak was looking neither. In fact, he was all-packed, showered and perfectly dressed-to-go in butter-soft pants, a dark polo shirt, and a watch on his left wrist that Dearka, who was still in his soccer suit, couldn't believe it.

"Dude, when did you get the chance to shower!?"

That was a big question mark. With the game ending only a few moments ago and in between all the mini celebrations, and then Flay suddenly calling them out like this. Who had the time to look good?

Yzak shrugged. "It's none of your business."

It would have made no difference to Flay if the guys showed-up in their smelly boxers, but she wordlessly appreciated that Yzak had put in the effort.

"Here. I did my homework," Flay said dryly but not without a smile as she held out the paper to Yzak that had gone slightly crumpled in her hands. It was a list written with her sadness, anger and determination. Kira's phone had already punched a dent on her good reputation in spite being innocent; so might as well put what context she had dug from it to good use.

Anyway, today was the deadline of her and Yzak's agreement. The decisive day- whether or not she would be able keep Dearka so they could carry-on about their business... And she was keeping him, damn it!

At this point, Yzak's face showed disappointment, but he accepted the paper from Flay nonetheless. He scanned it quickly while Dearka offered the only girl a congratulatory high-five.

"Good job! Way better than Yzak at snooping! I knew you could do it! Yeah, we're back in business!" Dearka laughed and Flay beamed along, receiving his clap.

"Your forced smiles are really sickening."

"Huh, did you say something Yzak?" Dearka turned together with Flay, looking confuse.

"Where did you get these dates from," Yzak aimed at Flay, referring back to the paper a bit too seriously.

He wasn't trying to accuse her, was he? Flay stopped. Yzak's remark could hardly be construed as anything else, but something in the way he looked at her seemed unfamiliar.

Determined to shield Flay from the lingering abuse ready to strike, Dearka intervened quickly. "I don't think that really matters so long as they're legit, right? We can easily confirm the dates on—"

Before Dearka could finish, Yzak intervened. "That's not what I me—"

"No, it's all right." Flay interrupted. She fought to conceal her upheaval with a calm, offhand smile and glanced at Dearka meaningfully. "It's all right Dearka, you don't have to protect me."

Yzak gritted his teeth at this. "I said, I wasn't trying to accu—"

"Yes, I got those from Kira's phone," Flay confirmed, breaking the sudden tension between them, and leaving both male suddenly speechless. "I know this is a little hard to believe but... Kira had misplaced his phone and I found it on the floor of our classroom by chance. So, I took the initiative to read through his emails, and then left the phone on his desk when I was done and that was it. Yes, I get that I'm such a bitch— for not respecting his privacy! But I did not try to frame Lacus... Who ever moved his phone to her bag, it wasn't me! ... Everyone who knows nothing can say and point all they want! My friends believe I didn't do it and I believe them... and I suppose that's enough. I don't need both of you to believe me either," Flay paused, taking a strained breath before finishing, "I just need you to keep your word and let me continue to date Dearka."

Flay's words trailed into silence as she watched Yzak and reflected on how little it would take for him to annihilate her resolve. Dearka tried to reassure her with a smile.

"Well, I think Kira's partly at fault here for losing his phone in the first place, don't you think so too, Yzak? Anyone else could have easily stolen his phone due to his carelessness. I'd say what we have is practically free data," Dearka commented, veering for a way to convince his friend that she wasn't pure evil.

Yzak hesitated for a long moment, his brows drawing together before turning to look at his best friend, and glancing away again.

"Fine!" Yzak's shoulders twitched in the barest of shrugs. "Whatever! If the two of you want to keep this up then what do I care!?"

Flay did not hesitate in her reply. "Thank you,"

Yzak actually blinked at the quick gratitude. "I still expect to be informed when and where the two of you will be going!"

"Okay," she said softly.

"No funny business!"

"Definitely," Flay nodded before tucking a strand of long red hair that fallen on her face behind her ear. "Oh, this is so great! I was starting to worry I wouldn't have the chance to wear all the clothes I bought the other day, but all's good now. I'm so excited! Who cares about petty rumors? I'm going to turn so much heads; girls in school would wish they had spread more bad gossips about me when they had the chance," Flay laughed off.

"Hey, now you're making me curious," Dearka added carefully.

"Shopping, right, ..." Yzak said to Flay scrutinisingly while inserting a hand into his pocket. "Gossips are a waste of time and don't stay put as long as truth. If people have so much time on their hands, why not go find something productive to do! Stupid things aside, you don't have to act so damn happy all the time around us. I'm sure it's exhausting."

Yzak and Flay's gaze held as quick as her eyes overflowed.

"Wooahh Flay, you okay? Yzak, what did you do to her?" Dearka quickly came forward, holding Flay's shoulder in a comforting gesture. "Come on, don't cry. Forget what he said. Smile! Smile if you want to! Smiling is always better."

"Fuck, are you blind!? I didn't do anything!"

Flay sucked in a sob. No, she was not okay! And she couldn't help it! Yzak's words were was so unexpectedly blunt, so tender and kind, to her heart that tears spilled from her eyes. Oh why does she have to be such an emotional wreck lately?!

"Yes! Yes, I'm fine." Her voice cracked. "Sorry. I think I should just head home for today."

"Yeah, good idea... You do look kind of tired,"

"We can continue things tomorrow,"

"I'll be at your service," Dearka said sweetly, smiling then lifted the female's free hand to kiss the points of her knuckles like a true gentleman. "Take care on your way home."

00000

"You know you don't have to act like her boyfriend if no ones around," Yzak reminded Dearka, crossing his arms, and making no effort to hide his animosity as Flay took her leave.

Dearka shrugged. "No harm done. I'm sweet to all ladies, especially to ones in distress."

"Another reason why you keep getting into trouble," Yzak scoffed.

"Say Yzak," Dearka began thoughtfully as he and his buddy started walking the other direction, back into the building.

"What?" replied Yzak simply, his face expressionless.

"What do you think of Flay?"

"I don't know. Why?"

"You're… how can I say— surprisingly lenient when it comes to her… Not even Shiho seems to come close; so, I was just thinking... Do you like her or something? Because if—"

Thanks to his hard-earned goalie reflexes, Dearka had caught the bottle that was split seconds aimed at his face. And it was only later did he realized it was shampoo.

"Dude, I was only asking if you like her. Don't start getting angry at me all of the sudden, geez," Dearka said with spark of annoyance.

"Hit the showers, Dearka. You stink."

As Dearka sniffed himself to confirm, his irritation vanished, and he let out a long, taut sigh. Now Yzak wasn't being fair. The only reason why he still smelled like sweat was because he had been busy accommodating the lady fans. He was overwhelmed with the need to shower first before seeing Flay, but unlike Mr. high-and-mighty here, their respected and good-looking captain who's surprisingly not very popular with the females, there was no time.

"So is that a yes?" Dearka grinned teasingly.

"Of course not, idiot!" Yzak scowled, swinging his bag over one shoulder. "You better not lose that bottle. I want it back tomorrow!"

The friends parted in front of the changing room.