Athrun rested his head against his pillows with a deep sigh. Meer lay to his side with her bare body pressed against his. A thin layer of sheets encased the couple. They had just finished their latest copulation, which had become an almost daily occurrence after much urging from Meer. Athrun initially found the beautiful songstress's advances to be most awkward, but he had worn down under her persistence and eventually decided there was nothing wrong with having a single devoted woman take his worries away after each day. If anything, it aided his confidence and gave him an additional edge on the battlefield. This time was different, however.

Meer was currently keeping herself occupied by tracing tiny circles on Athrun's chest with her index finger. She playfully nuzzled one of her slender shoulders in the crook of his arm before she noticed there was something worrying in his expression. Her eyes gazed into his before she quietly spoke.

"Mmm... Athrun?"

Athrun wandered out of his clouded thoughts and into Meer's gaze. Her eyes were small blue ponds looking toward him with curious interest. Months of plastic surgery had given her a complexion and a head of long pink hair that made her an almost perfect replica of the girl who had once been arranged to marry him: the famous musician, diplomat, and political heir Lacus Clyne. Even her voice was a tonal match, despite how she normally spoke in a more carefree manner than Lacus. The only obvious difference, barring having a polar opposite personality, was Meer was much more curvaceous in form, and she was never shy in incorporating her natural attributes into her concerts.

When Athrun used to look into Lacus's eyes, he never doubted her bubbly public persona was a facade for something deeper. There was always some ulterior motive hiding in the back of her head. Some may even describe what he found in her stare as being cold and conniving. When he looked into Meer's eyes, however, he saw a much simpler girl who never hid her intentions (most likely because she lacked to cunning to do so) and a held genuine interest in being humanity's cheerleader.

And, sometimes, simplicity was all a man needed.

Athrun continued to offer Meer his attention as he replied.

"Yeah?"

"Are you still worried about having to fight your friends?"

He nearly winced at his lover's question, as she had struck his darkest thoughts with perfect accuracy. She always had a way of deducing what was bothering him, as if she shared some unseen connection with his soul. He responded to the inquiry with the simplest battle assessment he could think of.

"Saviour is technically a more powerful machine than Freedom, but power doesn't mean anything if the pilot doesn't have the will to use it."

Meer's mood soon changed to a pouting one as she considered Athrun's words. The tone of her response floated somewhere between impatience and encouragement.

"You're still on the fence over that Kira guy. You're the one who said he's the reason Heine got killed, so how much longer are you going to wait until you say he's gone too far?"

One of Athrun's hands clenched into an angered fist as he peered to the side, searching for a reason for his own hesitation.

"It's not that simple. He..."

He struggled to finish his statement, uncertain of how Meer would take it.

"He has a reason to believe Durandal tried to have Lacus offed."

The young woman blinked in thought as she continued her investigation.

"And what reason would that be?"

Athrun paused again, but his resilience faded as he melted in Meer's arms.

"The assassins were using ZAFT Mobile Suits."

All of this information was new to Meer, but she reacted with only slight surprise. Instead, most of her effort was concentrated in casually shrugging and making a short rebuttal.

"So does he."

Athrun was astonished by the swiftness of the girl's response. He looked down toward the top of her head before speaking in uncertainty.

"Meer?"

She calmly explained her rationale as her hand left the invisible circle on Athrun's chest and began massaging his cheek.

"Everyone in this horrible war uses ZAFT technology to some extent. The only difference is whether they were given it or stole it. What makes Kira think he's so special that he has to be the center of some big conspiracy?"

Her voice lowered in voluntary defeat.

"Besides, for argument's sake, let's say he's right. Let's say Gilbert is an awful person and is just using all of us. There's still a difference between fighting for the girl you love..."

She stopped to reposition her head against Athrun's side and purr briefly, then continued.

"... and randomly attacking both sides like some wacko and just making a bigger mess of things. He even makes my job harder when he frightens the colonists."

Her nose curled in disgust during the last part of her statement, and Athrun couldn't help but find the tiny gesture to be cute. However, he quickly brought himself back to grim reality and alerted her of the facts.

"But Gilbert IS using you, Meer. He knows how much you idolize Lacus, and he uses that to get you to pose as her."

The singer giggled softly before making an unexpected reply.

"Not any more."

Athrun gasped slightly, but Meer cheerfully continued.

"Once I realized you liked me for who I am, I stopped trying to be her. Now I just do it for the sake of the people, because they need a Lacus to rally them."

She sighed in relief before speaking again.

"It's a good thing, too. I probably would have driven myself crazy if I had kept telling myself I was her."

Athrun was now staring straight toward the ceiling of his quarters in wide-eyed confusion. He stumbled through his next question.

"But... he still put you up to all of this, didn't he?"

He could feel a curtain of pink silk brush against him as his mate shook her head and replied.

"No. I don't think he planned on us actually falling in love."

Meer then lowered her voice into a faux masculine tone, undoubtedly mimicking words the ZAFT Chairman had once said to her.

"Do with Zala as you will. I don't mind our separate ideologies as long as they reach the same goal."

As Athrun considered this revelation, he positioned one of his hands between the back of his head and the pillow underneath him to scratch his scalp. After a few moments of thought, he moved to his next question.

"Then... don't you feel bad for lying to everyone?"

Meer lifted her head to show she was smiling.

"A little, but it's only to help them. It's not like the real Lacus has any interest in them."

Athrun was taken by the bluntness of her words, causing him to weakly object.

"That's not true..."

Meer frowned slightly before she began poking into his thoughts again.

"Really, Athrun? From the way you've described things, it sounds like she abandoned everyone at the end of the last war just so she could hang out on some beach with her boyfriend."

She offered him a reassuring smile.

"And I know you're better than that. You spent all that time trying to act as a peacekeeper between Orb and ZAFT. Her disappearing act ended up working against you."

Athrun glanced away from Meer for a few seconds, searching for a response just as he had for her criticism of Kira. Finally, he replied with a bit more strength in his voice.

"She didn't know things would come to this."

"So? If she's some great leader or whatever, then she should have had the patience to wait and see if ZAFT needed her help. Instead, she ran off to make herself happy while Gilbert picked up the slack."

Meer's response caused Athrun to lose the rest of his momentum, and he now clearly struggled with second thoughts. A happy smirk crossed Meer's lips when she quietly claimed her victory in the debate.

"I may not be as smart as her, but I can still tell when someone's being incredibly shortsighted."

Athrun responded by exhaling in his loudest sigh yet. He mumbled as his eyes returned to the ceiling and his mind fought with itself.

"None of this is helping me decide what to do about Kira."

He could feel Meer curling further into him after he made his complaint. He found himself nearly frozen when he shifted his eyes toward her and met her hopeful, serene gaze. Her next words softly pressed him into action.

"If he shows up tomorrow, get him for me, okay?"

It was impossible for him to say 'No,' especially to something so precious. Instead, he tried to skirt around the issue after a moment of troubled thought.

"I wish you didn't put me in this position."

Meer closed her eyes and answered with another giggle.

"But I didn't. You put yourself here when you started questioning which side you should fight for."

She moved her head so she could whisper into his ear.

"I'm just trying to help you make the right choice."

Athrun's spiraling thoughts were gradually settling thanks to Meer's assistance. After a few more seconds of doubt, he moved his arms to protectively envelop his love. For the first time in a great while, a confident grin appeared on his face.

"All right, Meer. I'll take him down if I have to."

The couple turned their heads in unison so they could meet in a passionate kiss. When they separated, they closed their eyes together and spent the night in peaceful sleep.


Several hours later, Saviour Gundam and Freedom Gundam were engaged in bitter combat over the open ocean. Athrun heard Kira's voice screaming at him over static as the sparks of beam sabers colliding off each other flew across his cockpit screen.

"Why aren't you listening to me, Athrun? Cagalli is crying!"

He snarled at the ridiculous excuse Kira used for his continued antics, then shouted into his own communication system with even more resolve.

"So is Meer!"

The ferocity in Athrun's response seemed to take Kira by surprise, if only for a second. The tiny window Freedom Gundam created in its brief display of wavering strength, however, was enough to seal its fate. With a single swing, Saviour Gundam cleaved the cockpit hatch of the rival mecha and vertically sliced the entire unit in half. Freedom Gundam instantly exploded into a ring of debris that plunged into the seawater below. All that remained of Kira was a charred corpse trapped inside a waterlogged chunk of molten metal.