Unyielding, Unwavering Unraveling

Disclaimer: Gundam Seed / Destiny owned by BANDAI.

"Athrun, love, you're cheating," groaned Cagalli.

She does not need this — this distraction. The Peace Conference was due in two weeks with mountains of preparations still underway. Being neutral and a major participant who fought in both wars on the side of peace, Orb more or less agreed to host the series of talks to strengthen alliances and seal treaties for peace between nations on Earth and Plants — for good this time, she hoped.

Cagalli witnessed how the peace they fought hard to achieve easily crumbled. It was futile, she supposed. They were naive to think they've won the war then. Both sides merely fell back under pressure and gathered their forces patiently waiting for the time to strike back. No, not coercion, they have to want peace for themselves. It would not work otherwise. When people learn to accept, only then will true peace begin.

And this time it'll be different. She wasn't going to let that happen a second time. She needed to make this work.

So his coming into her study late at night when she's buried deep in paper work with sandwiches and his wicked vanilla concoction, WAS cheating.

"I'm aware but, Cagalli love, take a break," Athrun returned the endearment.

"I'm busy, go away." She tried to shoo him as a final stance, but it was another battle lost. She surrendered as soon as he laid her mug in front of her. She cleared the table a bit to make room for the rest of the food tray.

"You were supposed to say 'Welcome back'," said Athrun. He left the tray on top of Cagalli's desk and leaned lower to kiss her on the forehead. She rolled her eyes back at him and pulled on his collar to give him a proper kiss. That lasted for a couple more minutes.

"I missed you." she said in earnest, "Do you need to leave tonight?"

"Is that an invitation?" he teased. He knew she was asking if he had to report back at the base. "I already sorted things out before coming here."

"Hmm... that's good then," replied Cagalli, before they started kissing again.

"Why aren't you wearing my ring?" He asked afterwards when her lips were red and swollen. He gently took her left hand which was gingerly smoothing out invisible creases on his uniform and kissed it — one, two, three.

"I threw it away," she answered. "I don't need it anymore." He cocked his eyebrows over her hooded eyes.

"Oh, did you?"

"Yes." She wanted to turn away from him, but he was still holding onto her hand. His eyes were monopolizing hers. It was embarrassing to admit, "You're here now, so I locked it away inside my drawer."

"Hmm..." his only reply. He resumed kissing her hand; he wanted her to continue talking, but she won't let him. She snatched her hand back and stood up.

Her drawer sat at the far end of the room. This is where she kept all her treasures. The second drawer had her diary from when she was younger and a locket she received from her late father. An heirloom he used to say, passed down to all females in the family. It was a simple golden piece in the shape of a rose. Inside lied the family crest — the proud and majestic lion. It last belonged to her grandmother. But she passed away long before Cagalli was born so she didn't have the chance to ask how it was worn.

His ring waited alone at the topmost drawer.

"It's here," she turned back surprised to see him suddenly infront of her.

"I was always anxious after you left." She took his hand resting on his side and placed the ring on his open palm. "Can you hear it crying?"

Indeed, it was. It was painful to his touch — searing. He can feel her sorrow, anxiety, despair and hope melded in together.

"You're stubborn and stupid and would not let me stop you. All I can do is wait, and pray you'll be safe until you return. And I fear, even until now, that there will come a day when you won't. And that scares me the most, Athrun."

"I wanted to see you badly I agreed to marry because I thought you certainly will come back to take me away. I waited, and even hesitated when Kira came wishing it was you instead."

Just the memory sent him seething in anger. He wanted to kill the bastard for taking advantage of her. He was lucky he was dead. For the longest time he wanted to beat the prick senseless for picking on Cagalli's insecurities — and himself for letting that happen. He crushed the ring on his hand. Now wasn't the time to be consumed with anger.

She frowned at his whitened knuckles and reached for them, slowly coaxing them to relax. "But that's no excuse for my lapse in judgement. I was so foolish. You already told me once that you couldn't, so don't you dare say you'll forgive me. Ever."

Tonight she was fighting and looked very beautiful. He never told her, but he silently admired her in the midst of battle. Her form was good and her movements were precise albeit a tad clumsy. But it was her burning eyes that held his heart captive. And tonight, they were burning, pleading, earnest. How can he stop from being drawn in?

"I know," he said, and leaned closer to kiss her forehead. "I won't," he continued before turning to her eyelids, kissing left and right which were brimming with unshed tears. He quietly followed one that escaped down her cheeks. "Never," he said finally, and kissed her trembling lips.

And while it was easier to blame and scorn for the choices she made, he realized, they were not enough to keep him away. His yearn was almost unbearable, and by her side he learned to fear death.

"I will never let that happen again," he promised. Far too late, their feelings ran too deep to simply undo. "I'll protect you, Cagalli." He repeated the vow he made years ago when he was naive, not fully realizing what those words entail. Although the future may still be bleak, he wanted to continue fighting beside her. So they both decided to work harder.

"I want you to stay." she said, even if she didn't have any right to insist.

"I intend to." he said, even when if he had every right to refuse.

She replaced the ring back on her drawer and held his hand, her left on his right, while sharing the sandwiches he prepared.

"Honestly, I can't believe how slow Kira was. I was asking him to go look for you when I handed him the ring. Our twin-telepathy doesn't work, I suppose." Cagalli paused. "But I guess, you're kind of slow too. Makes perfect sense why you two are good friends."

"Oh? Let's see who's the slow one." And so Athrun chased Cagalli around the manor that night to the delight (and dread) of those pretending to be asleep.