Written on a whim, because my stressed self needs it. Feel free to shoot me with the absurdity of this idea. Originally a 10k word, unpublished oneshot but I feel it lacking in the emotional department so I have decided to expand it. A little bit.
This is an attempt to write a fanfic projected to have a tone reminiscent of eating cotton candy - sweet and fluffy, but a little rough in texture at times. No, it won't be mushy, despite my love for mushy peas. And since this is completed (refer to above), updates will come anytime between 3-7 days. Length wise, the whole story will compose of twelve chapters, with an overall word count that of a novella, 20k-ish.
Timeline: Present era, university, but the names of places are that of the ones in SEED. The way in which university works is to be patterned after the British educational system.
Disclaimer: If GSEED/Destiny were mine, Destiny would have never existed. Sadly, it did.
Mind the Gap
Two old flames chance upon each other, in a journey that may well be their first and last chance, to arrive at one conclusive destination. Athrun, Cagalli and the twelve station stops that conquered the gaps in between.
Chapter One: January
The second term of his penultimate year in university came as innocently as a child tugging the hem of his mother's skirt, cooing for ice cream. On paper and on screen, his exam timetable looked forgiving, with only four exams sparsely marked across the timetabling grid. Having completed the entirety of the coursework set over Christmas holidays, Athrun Zala basked in the knowledge that he could spend his free days (in between his exams), in a relaxed and calm manner.
How wrong he was.
He should have known better, that no matter how cliché it sounded, you should never judge a book by its cover. Because by the time the invigilator had announced, "Time's up," during the final moment of his last exam, not only did he say goodbye to his answer booklet, but also to his most trusted Calculator (whose battery died after the many attempts of dealing with i) and the remnants of his fried brain.
And just when he thought he could finally breathe fresh air upon leaving the exam hall, in came pollution in the form of Yzak Jule's usual, post-exam tirades.
"So Zala," sneered Yzak, "judging from your expression, the exam was crap." He angled his head into a haughty tilt that demanded for a white flag to be waved in front of his face.
"No, quite the contrary, actually," he lied, through the mask of a good-natured smile. (1) Yzak's face immediately darkened at this, and Athrun could only revel in the sudden but expected change in his friend's facial expression.
Even as Yzak lunged at him and grabbed him by the lapels of his coat, Athrun's sentiments remained the same. There was a form of contentment and entertainment in hearing the range of Yzak's vocabulary - Zala, you bastard! You idiot! - and in watching Yzak's blue eyes burn with a fire he had set ablaze on himself. However, much to Athrun's horror, his moment of victory was short-lived when the roguish smile of a tanned blonde sent him and the silver haired madman, in a sea of roaring students who smelt of booze, cigarettes and piss.
Post-exam celebration, the students called it. Although for Athrun, the only humane kind of celebration he could think of at this moment was to go home and sleep. But alas, Luck wouldn't let him have his way, for he just received a call from his father who had requested for his presence pronto.
Athrun cupped one hand on the side of his mouth, in a feeble attempt to speak amidst the raging cacophony of the speakers and cheers. "Dearka, ugh, I'm leaving now!" he shouted, while prying the arms of an unknown girl who had latched herself over his shoulders.
"Athrun, my man," said Dearka, raising a pint of what Athrun assumed could likely be a concoction of vodka and urine. "You have to loosen up! Averaging a consecutive first would not do your manliness any good. Look at Yzak there!" He followed the direction of Dearka's pointer to the dance floor and was surprised to see that the breadth of Yzak's dance moves was not limited to Macarena. "He had been looking for a good lay since the day I lied about your nonexistent virginity!"
Athrun just shook his head and vacated his seat. There was no point trying to drill even the simplest of statements to Dearka's head, when he was running on a drunken 8-bit microprocessor.
"Hey Athrun," Dearka purred. He grabbed onto Athrun's right leg and rubbed his cheek against the knee. "You have to forget about Cagalli."
Like the imaginary anvil that had fallen on his head when the strange, familiar name was uttered, Dearka Elsman fell to the floor, dead drunk.
And that was how he found himself frazzled in an almost deserted train station, itching to catch the last trip bound for Aprillius, where his father would unmercifully bombard him with questions of why he was late, when he was expected... three hours ago?
He sighed. The hollowness of the place brought little peace inside him. Circular puffs of wintry mist escaped his mouth, as he breathed through his set of chattering teeth. He flipped up the collar of his black trench coat and skipped lithely on the spot.
"The next train to depart from platform one, will be the twenty three fifteen, Southern Line service to, December. Calling at, Februarius, Martius - ." The voice of a woman pleasantly resounded in the air. Twenty three o' one, the clock read. Fourteen minutes before the last southbound train would depart.
"Good thing it's in platform one," Athrun murmured to himself. No need to scramble all the way up to the overbridge to get to the next platform.
Athrun frowned. He had been queuing in front of the self service machine for a full ten minutes now and yet, the person before him, he noticed, had been repeatedly drawing his card in and out and punching the keypad.
He leaned forward, still keeping a polite distance. "Excuse me?" he said. His query was met with silence.
The clock flashed 23:05. Nine minutes and a half left, since the train door would close thirty seconds before the scheduled departure time. Sighing, he counted numbers in his head: a minute and a half to buy a ticket, and if the turnstiles were in good shape, another minute to catch the train. It still left him plenty of time to choose another entry point if the first barrier mockingly rejected his ticket. All was good.
Twenty three o' six and still there were no signs of movement in his queue.
With newfound determination, he gathered his voice and said, louder this time, "Excuse me?" Thinking that the hood of the person's bomber jacket hindered his hearing, he poked the guy's shoulders, hurriedly repeating, "Excuse me mate, but do you need help?"
Fiery amber eyes turned around sharply, boring into his green ones.
"What?" a female growled.
A moment of surprise and a spark of familiarity lapsed between them.
He blinked. "Cagalli?"
Pointed blonde fringes came into disarray, as she jabbed an accusing finger to his chest. "Got any problem with that, Zala? Last time I checked, the train is a public transportation!"
Athrun didn't hear the curses she threw at him, or felt the growing pressure on his chest. Twenty-three o' nine. Roughly five minutes to spare.
He caught her wrist in one swift motion and pushed her gently to the side. And before she could retaliate and exhaust her extensive list of profanities, he beat her into it. "In which station are you getting off?"
Cagalli inhaled sharply at his question. "And why the hell should I tell you that!"
He raised an annoyed hand to dishevel his hair. "I'm getting you a ticket, why else? Your debit card is rejected and you don't seem to have any cash either."
"I am not a beggar!"
Exasperated, he groaned. "For the love of god woman! Just tell me where you're going otherwise we'll freeze to -"
He regarded her for one moment, startled at her sudden submission, then recollected his composure at once. "Two adults, single, Aprillius" he grumbled, poking various boxes on the screen. He withdrew his card from the machine slot almost immediately after he had inserted it.
With a hand outstretched towards his female companion, Athrun offered, "Here. Your ticket."
She whipped her head to the side. "You're still as arrogant as ever."
"Save your comments for later, love."
Without much of a warning, he entwined her right hand with his left, and dragged her through the turnstiles, towards the train in a hurry.
"Zala!" Cagalli demanded, going ballistic. "I shall have you arrested for sexual abuse!"
He ignored the outbursts and ran to an empty carriage, with the shrieking, hyperventilating woman, whose fingers are still interlaced with his, behind him.
"Doors closing. Beep beep beep beeeeeeeep."
He buried his face into his free hand and rubbed his temples. "What now?"
Tiptoeing to his eye-level, she screamed, wringing her imprisoned hand free, "My hand! I need my ha-!"
The train screeched to a start. A sudden gust of force sent him tumbling down towards her. Horror spelled in her face as she noticed the compromising situation she and Athrun were in.
"Geroff me!" she said, barrelling her hands forcefully on his shoulders.
Arms high up in defeat, Athrun surrendered. "Okay, okay!"
Swatting his helping hand away, she got to her feet and breathed heavily, with a look of unapologetic indignation burning deeper into her face at an alarming rate. Athrun brushed her off, and walked past her, slumping into a nearby seat opposite the train direction.
Stomping to his side, she leaned forward and ordered, "Zala! Move there!" She pointed to the end of the carriage. "I don't want to sit anywhere near you."
Athrun looked at her through half-lidded eyes. "If you find my presence so scarring, you are free to," he angled his chin upwards, "walk over there." Then, he motioned his left thumb behind him. "Or better yet, move to the next carriage."
She fumed. "And who do you think you are to order me around?"
Exhaustion tainted his voice as he lifted a palm in his defence. "Cagalli, please."
"The next station is Februarius. Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge. Upon departure from Februarius, this train will call at Martius, Aprillius -"
Closing his eyes, he let his head fall against the stark coldness of the window. Footsteps echoed within the carriage, as people from the adjacent one, scrambled to their feet. He didn't bother to open an eye to check if a certain blonde woman had successfully made her way down towards the opposite end.
It was normal for her to walk away, Athrun thought, just as normal as it was for him to let her go.
But maybe, if he wasn't so much of a coward, he would see that she sat not more than three rows from him and that, she had her eyes set unwaveringly on his exhausted state. -
"The next station is Martius -."
She watched him sleep, watched him from a distance so near but not close enough.
Although for Cagalli Yula Hibiki, seeing him from a distance where she could pinch his cheeks should she wish to, was more than enough.
"The next station is Aprillius -."
She sprung to his side and nudged his shoulders. "Hey Zala," she called out. "Hey Athrun, we're in Aprillius. Wake up, stupid! You'll end up sleeping on this train overnight if you don't wake up now!"
- And maybe, if he wasn't so much of an idiot, he would wake up in time for the right station stop.
Squinting his eyesight to the light, the first thing Athrun noticed was the absence of yellow against the purple backdrop and fittings of the train coach. He jerked up and tried to distinguish between the jarred sound of the train's wheels clanking against the steel tracks and the absolute darkness looming from outside the window.
Worriedly, he asked the train conductor passing by. "Excuse me sir, where are we now?"
"Maius, young lad."
Athrun Zala banged his head on the window sill.
(1) I don't think the rivalry between Yzak and Athrun is on Yzak's part alone. In a drama suit CD, where both compete in chess, you can see that Athrun can be just as competitive as Yzak. The only difference between them is Athrun can put up quite a calm front… and only voices out his frustration once out of earshot.
Anyways... I repeat. This was written on a whim and lightly edited, hah. Unlike The Puppet Show, the majority of the words used were not chosen as carefully. And as you can see, I have big issues with one, the flow and two, the narrative voice.
Ermmm... review? Thanks much!