Oh I shouldn't be doing this. If there's one thing in this world I shouldn't be doing, it's writing a new story, dammit! I already have another EIGHT on the go, just adding one more is asking for trouble! ...Never mind. Here I am.

So, the basis behind this story. For one thing I love the Athrun x Shinn pairing and there just aren't enough, so I thought I'd give it a go. And then I was thinking the other day, while I was supposed to be thinking about something else, about the similarities between Athrun and Shinn, and how Athrun was the more mature and calmer version of Shinn. Hence, Athrun is the gold to Shinn's silver. Get it? That's me being clever with words - a rare event I can tell you.

Never mind. On to the story.

Category: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny (GSD) - I'm not going to write the whole frigging title every time.

Rating: T.

Pairings: Athrun x Shinn. Kira x Lacus. Possibly more...

Genre: Drama/Romance.

Summary: The threat of war is upon them, Lacus Clyne has been kidnapped...and yet the only thing Shinn Asuka can think about is his old superior.

WARNINGS: Foul language. Violence of a war nature - or at least, the attempts there of. Yaoi (nothing too graphic). Possible grammar errors.

Disclaimer: I do not own GSD, nor any of its characters.

Enjoy!


Silver And Gold

Chapter One: Behind The Peace

There were many reasons why Athrun Zala was not enjoying himself at this particular meeting, one was because the primary speaker sounded something akin to a dog on heat with a rod stuck up its backside – unpleasant to say the least, but the prime reason for his lack of interest, in the affairs leading after the two great wars none of them would forget, was that…for the past hour…the old man beside him had been…well…farting.

Silent deadly farts that would kill you in an instant.

Who needed nuclear weapons when they had this man on their side.

It wasn't that Athrun hadn't come across flatulence before, it was just he didn't think he'd ever met a man who could let rip a fart more deadly than Genesis itself. It was distracting to say the least and the topic of the day, peace for all nations and a complete end to all wars between Coordinators and Naturals, seemed to take a back bench in Athrun's mind as, for the fourth time in the last ten minutes, the fragrance rivalling the potency of a pigsty filled his nose. Sighing inwardly he picked up his mug of coffee and let the wafts of caffeine drift over him; if his neighbour beside him kept this up Athrun was going to find himself needing the smell of coffee more than he needed oxygen.

"And so we move on to topic 3.A" said the announcer cutting through Athrun's befogged brain "Peace Treaty Negotiations Point number 235, passage rights for Coordinators in to lands belonging to the Earth Alliance"

There was the flurry of paper as everyone readjusted their notes to compile their speeches on this particular topic; Athrun looked down at his own sheets, being the lead spokesman for ORB, a place that allowed both Coordinators and Naturals in with the proviso that no weapons were used on their land, he didn't actually have that much to add to this discussion, Cagalli had made it quite clear over and over in every speech she made that the old ideals of ORB were the ones she was sticking by with her very life. All that was required of Athrun during this debate was to recite her very words…

…That was hoping of course that the companion to his left didn't decide to let loose another of his killer whoppers.

If that happened Athrun was convinced he'd fall over.

On his other side Kira sat calmly, listening to every given word with intensity, apparently oblivious to the torture Athrun was under; in front of him were notes he'd carefully written out the evening before with the help of Lacus who sat quietly on his other side waiting for her opportunity to speak.

"No-no! The Earth Alliance cannot simply just allow ANY random Coordinator in to their lands, there has to be papers! Documents proving existence and the right filed claims that the Earth Alliance can then pass judgement over!"

"A process which will take the grand total of three months by which time the little old lady who wanted to see her grandson one last time has died of a heart-attack and rots in a box somewhere, sure, that's a great idea!"

"We cannot allow strangers behind our borders! We could be attacked and serve us right for being so stupid!"

"But we're at PEACE now, remember! Last time I checked, most Coordinators do not randomly attack people"

"May I remind you of Junius Seven perhaps"

"Tha-That was a attack made by a few terrorists who were angered and crazy, they believed in Patrick Zala's crackpot ideas and acted out on their own! This has nothing to do with that!"

"It has everything to do with that! That's what I'm talking about!"

"They were a few people out of thousands and thousands! We as a population do not believe in what Patrick Zala decreed, that's why one of his MEN shot him down!"

"And how can you prove that the rest of your population is not like that, are really telling me that all of Patrick Zala's followers are dead now!"

"We cannot officially prove that and you know it, you're being out of line!"

"Of course you would say that, wouldn't you! YOU'RE a Coordinator after all!"

"And do you have a problem with that! What are you? Blue Cosmos!"

"How DARE y-"

"Gentleman, please" Lacus rose from her chair swiftly and held up her hand "lets not accuse each other of being dark things that are our past, these meetings are to look to the future, not remind us of our sad wars" there was a pause in which the new Chairman…woman…gave her nod of approval and a reprimanding look to her subordinate who had good enough grace to back down "now then, lets please return to the topic at hand and discuss the rights of way we each have in to each other's lands-"

It was then that a sigh filled the room, a long bored sigh that floated across to them from behind Athrun and Kira both of whom straightened in their chairs somewhat consciously.

To Athrun's left, the old man turned in his seat to glare at the perpetrator who didn't even have the decency to look ashamed "are we boring you, young man?"

Athrun and Kira shared a glance.

"It's your turn" Athrun muttered.

Kira blinked "I did it last time, didn't I?"

"He's your subordinate"

"But he responds so much better to you"

Wondering how Kira could have possibly worked that one out, Athrun gave in and stood up from his seat; absently he saluted "please excuse me" giving a small bow to Lacus, whose face was carrying a look of gentle amusement, Athrun slid from the table and pointed out the door.

Rolling his eyes to the heavens Shinn turned on his heel and marched out the room; on the other side of the doorway, Lunamaria stood smiling a little meekly as all eyes came to rest on her, clearing her throat she looked to Kira for aid and was much relieved when Kira gave her a smile and motioned Lacus to continue.

Outside, Athrun joined Shinn in the hallway and calmly shut the doors behind them so they could not be overheard; then, with a expectant glare on his features, he turned to the younger Coordinator with his arms folded.

"Is there something you'd like to say, Shinn?"

"Yeah" said Shinn obstinately "why are you here? Captain Yamato's my superior now"

"Apparently…" replied Athrun testily "it's my turn to deal with you"

"Why? I haven't done anything wrong"

"Shinn! You've distracted the Council meeting twice!"

"It's been going on for HOURS!"

"That is not the point, you were told to attend the meetings and you're supposed to finish your duties without grievance. Do you think you could possibly achieve this without complaint – just this once"

"Oh come oh, all I'm doing is standing by door making things look pretty, I've never done anything so pointless!"

"It's not pointless, you're there to guard the meeting"

"So we're keeping them imprisoned in there until they agree to all our terms, are we? Well, that's a brilliant start to world peace!"
"That's enough sarcasm" Athrun told him sharply "you were told to do a job by your superior and you will do that job without question"

"I never did that for you, why should I start now?"

Athrun opened his mouth to give him further reprimand, but closed it again with a sigh "don't you have any respect for your superiors?" he asked with exasperation "me, I can understand. We don't get on and I accepted that a long time ago, but surely you can obey Kira…can't you?"

"I'm in there aren't I?" Shinn retorted "or at least I was until you dragged me out. I obey my orders, I haven't refused Captain Yamato once!"

"Obeying his orders and obeying them without question are two different things, you seem incapable of achieving the latter" Athrun gave Shinn a hard stare "why are you so determined to disobey orders?"

"I'm not!"

"Well that's what it looks like to the rest of us! Have you even given Kira a chance?"

"How did we get on to this?" asked Shinn in protest "I thought you came out here to have a go at me about sighing"

"I did, but this is the second time you've disturbed the Council and I want to know why!"

"I told you, I'm bored!"

"Lunamaria's probably bored too, but she seems able to keep that to herself" Athrun glared "you are not high enough in the ranks to decide which orders you find interesting and which ones you don't"

"Maybe I should be" Shinn snorted with derision "geez, I could do a better job than half the jerks in that room"

Athrun gave a gasp of surprise "really? Why didn't you say so?" he held a hand out to the door "if that's the case then you can take my seat"

Shinn looked somewhat alarmed "what?"

"Clearly I'm one of the half that doesn't know what I'm doing, so why don't I just stop wasting everyone's time and get out of there, that way you can take my seat and tell everyone what they need to do in order to achieve world peace"

Shinn snarled, "you're doing that thing again! I hate it when you do that!"

"Only because you're acting like a child" Athrun snapped back "these meetings might not seem important to you but if this world is going to get along then they need to happen, a balance needs to be found so everyone can agree, they might find that a little easier to do if the brat in the background keeps his mouth shut!"

"I'm not a brat!"

"Is that so? You're making a good impression of one" Athrun gave him a cold look "you know, part of me is disappointed, I would have thought you of all people would have seen the importance of what's going on in that room. Don't you want peace?"

Shinn let out a growl and for a moment Athrun actually thought he was going to get a punch in the face, but Shinn seemed contented enough to yell at him instead "of course I want peace!" he shouted throwing his hand to the door with accusation "but that's not peace in there, it's just a bunch of stupid morons bickering! If you ask me, they're the ones that don't want peace!"

Athrun glanced at the door and hissed, "keep your voice down! Any more comments like that could be seen as treason. Of course they want peace, that's why they're here at all"

"So why don't they stop arguing and get on with it then!"

"Because it takes time, these people have been at war with each other for years, it'll take time for them to regard each other as allies"

"Ha!" Shinn let out a harsh meaningless laugh "and you call me a brat"

Once again Athrun was about to release his next cutting comment, but he stopped himself just in time; this was getting them nowhere, and he was supposed to be the superior officer, he was hardly being mature about this. He paused and bit back his next remark; glancing at the guards who stood either side of the door and halfway down the corridor, he released a sigh and let his temper cool "look, this is just going round in circles" he responded, hoping his lack of attack would calm Shinn's temper "I think you'd better just go and cool off"

Shinn looked for a moment as if he was going to reply with another insult, but even through his red fog he could see that sparking the fight again when Athrun was backing down really was childish, and he hated to be called childish…especially by Athrun Zala. He huffed and folded his arms sulkily "what are you going to do?" he demanded not giving Athrun the satisfaction of looking at him.

"Nothing, I'm no longer your superior or a part of the Zaft army, I have no authorisation to give punishment, that's Kira's job now" lucky old Kira, Athrun mused quietly, he nodded over to a door part way down the large spacey corridor "look, that room should be empty at the moment. Why don't you stay in there for a while, I don't think it's a good idea for you to return to the meeting itself. When it's all over I'll tell Kira where to find you"

There was a silence between them, uncomfortable but Shinn seemed unwillingly to turn away; he stood there stubbornly, arms still folded crossly, not looking at Athrun but glaring hard at the wall as if it offended him in some way. The older Coordinator looked at him for a moment, and then sighed again; it hadn't been easy for Shinn, he knew that. An unsteady peace may have started, but a lot of people had paid a heavy price, most with their lives; Shinn was one of the lucky ones, though, with the loss of his best friend and the girl he'd grown attached to so strongly, it didn't seem that way.

Peace may have been what Shinn wanted, but he'd lost seemingly everything and he was hurting on the inside. For that simple reason Athrun just didn't have it in him to stay mad – that had always been the problem between them; they were so similar, had suffered the same in many respects and sometimes Athrun just couldn't decide if he was a version of Shinn, or if Shinn was a version of him.

"Go on" Athrun prompted in a softer voice, feeling calmer "just go and relax for a while"

Shinn looked at him quickly, taking his gaze from the wall, and wondered if Athrun was going to say more; dread filled him, the last thing he wanted to hear from Athrun Zala was understanding sympathy, the idea made him cringe. But Athrun said nothing, whether it was because of the look on Shinn's face, or the fact that he simply knew not to say anymore, was unclear. He just stood there quietly, face impassive, waiting for Shinn to make the next move.

Shinn snorted, as if he didn't give a damn, then turned on his heel "whatever"


Back in the meeting Kira looked up when Athrun rejoined him; his friend smiled at him and slide back in to his chair "it's done"

"I hope you weren't too hard on him" Kira whispered under the voice of the spokesman who was announcing that a break should be taken.

"Sometimes you just have to be hard on him" Athrun replied "I learned that the difficult way" around them the different members began to rise from their seats, grouping together in smaller parties to discuss the latest developments "what have I missed?"

"Not that much, they're deciding the regular papers to be used when travelling" Kira leaned back in his chair with a soft tired sigh "it's slow work, but I think we're making progress"

"At least they're not pointing guns at each other" Athrun answered his mind still half on Shinn "that's got to be a step in the right direction"

"That's true" Kira looked sideways at his dark haired companion who seemed to be drifting off in to his own world "have you spoken to Cagalli today?"

"Hmm? Yes, this morning before I came here. She's giving a public speech this evening if you want to watch it"

"Sure, what's it about?"

"Something to do with helping those who suffered during the war, it's the usual compulsory announcement that goes with the help but the sentiment behind it is sincere" Athrun looked absently down at his papers vaguely aware that the dreadful smell about him had faded away now that its source had gone off to debate with others.

"Athrun?"

"Hmm?"

"Are you alright?"

"What?" Athrun looked up with a start "yes, of course. What makes you think otherwise?"

"Nothing much" Kira answered still resting back in his chair and looking up at the ceiling that lifted far above their heads "you were just out there a long time, that's all, I was starting to think something was wrong"

"No more than usual when it comes to Shinn" now it was Athrun's turn to look at Kira "I've been meaning to ask, how are you two getting along?"

"Alright, I suppose"

"Is that the truth?"

Kira looked back at him in surprise "I'm not in a habit of lying to you"

"That's not what I mean" Athrun elaborated, "I just know from experience that Shinn can be…difficult to handle"

"We don't fight if that's what you mean" again Kira looked back up at the ceiling thoughtfully "and he never complains when I ask him to do something…"

"But?"

"…I don't know, on the surface everything is fine, but…" releasing a soft sigh and rubbing the back of his neck Kira shrugged "maybe I'm just being too sensitive, I just feel sometimes that inside his head there's a block, something that's stopping him from…connecting with me properly…"

The memory of a girl with bouncing blonde hair floated in to Athrun's memory like a silken cover "I could probably take a guess as to what that was" he said without emotion in his voice.

"The girl that used that Destroyer, right?"

"You know about her?"

Kira nodded slowly "Lunamaria was kind enough to fill me in" he answered "…but if it was just that, I'd be alright, I feel bad that I killed someone who obviously meant something to him but I never met her and she was planning to attack again, to stop innocent people dying I had to destroy that machine, there was no other way of looking at it"

"If you're alright with that then what's the problem?"

"I don't know…I suppose it's just I catch his expression sometimes when he's thinking about her or his family and I swear it's like looking in to your face…" now Kira trailed for a moment and looked away "…you and Shinn have the same expression on your face when you're thinking about the people you've lost, like when you're thinking about that friend of yours, Nicol, and I have a problem with that because it implies that everything is not alright between us…and I'm not alright with that"

Athrun looked at him in surprise "I don't understand"

"I'm the one that killed your friend, Athrun. I can handle it if Shinn secretly hates me for killing his friend, but if you secretly hated me…I'm not sure what I'd do"

Athrun blinked at him slowly and then shook his head "you're hopeless, how long have you been harbouring that silly idea?"

"Is it silly though?" Kira's large violet eyes tried to see through Athrun, they almost succeeded "you and Shinn both get that same look on your face when you're thinking about the friends you've lost, the friends I killed. Is it so silly of me to think that feeling might be…resentment?"

"…I see your point…" Athrun hesitated, wondering how long it was he could hold on to the deep dark truth, he'd managed this long, right? Surely he could talk his way out of this "don't you think…its just sadness?"

Kira thought about this, not letting Athrun break their gaze; he knew if he did that he'd lose whatever it was he was about to gain, something was wrong with the way Athrun looked when he was thinking about Nicol and he didn't realise Kira was watching. It wasn't until Kira had seen that same look on Shinn's face that he'd realised what it was that bothered him "I'm sorry, Athrun, that's just not good enough anymore"

Athrun cleared his throat "I see…" he too thought, but his thoughts were filled with how he could escape this. He didn't want to talk about it, and to talk about it with Kira seemed the worse thing of all; it was his burden, his sorrow, it wasn't supposed to be passed around like a parcel "may I ask what's changed? I thought we had settled this…"

"So did I" Kira affirmed "but then I saw the same thing in Shinn's face and I realised that's it's not settled at all"

"Look, you killed my friend, then I killed yours. We're level as usual"

"No, we're not, Athrun" now Kira leant forwards on the table, the passion in him making his voice more fevered "because as sad as I am about Tolle, I don't get that haunted feeling that I see in Shinn's face, that I see in your face when you think I'm not watching"

Athrun nodded. He knew now there was no escape, Kira had latched on to something and their friendship decreed no secrets between them, not ever. Kira was the one person in the world Athrun truly opened up to; Lacus could read him like a book but he'd never freely talked of his feelings, and with Cagalli it was all about the future and the battle of life that they took together, but again she had to drag his feelings out of him with a magnet.

Kira knew that, knew he was the only one who knew all about Athrun; it was something he was sure never to let go, as far as he was concerned that trust and faith in each other cemented their friendship. After all this time, there was no possibility that Kira was giving up without a fight.

Athrun sighed "that's because…you don't feel guilt for Tolle's death, you're sad because he was your friend, but you don't blame yourself…"

"But you blame yourself for Nicol's death?"

Athrun faltered, but there was no going back "…I do"

"Why? He was coming to your aid as Tolle was for me, there's no difference"

"That's not quite true, is it?" Athrun cleared his throat before continuing "Tolle was coming to help you, but Nicol was coming to save me, that's a very big difference" he looked away from Kira for the first time in a while "my point is, I would be dead right now if Nicol hadn't come when he did, at the time Tolle showed up I was nowhere near defeating you because you still had more than enough power to fight back, where as I…I'd run out of power and I was completely defenceless, Nicol saved me…that's the difference"

Kira was silent, taking this in slowly as he weighed what he'd thought to what Athrun had told him.

Taking advantage of that quiet, Athrun decided to change the flow of conversation slightly "I imagine that Shinn is going through the same thing, the circumstances aren't the same, Shinn had a chance to keep her, but she was dying and he thought he was doing the right thing, so he gave her back to Earth Alliance who put her straight back on the battlefield"

Kira didn't dismissed this, but he knew that it was Athrun's avoidance technique and so he put this information to one side in order to return to the pain Athrun had been holding on to "you weren't going to tell me, were you?"

Athrun shook his head "It's my burden, Kira, mine to hold alone"

"Only because you insist on blaming yourself, that's something you don't have to do, Athrun"

"I think I do…"

"Why?"

Athrun didn't know what to say, he didn't know how to put in to words that Kira would understand; true, he didn't have to hold forever on to his guilt about Nicol, maybe one day he could let go, but was it right to even do so? His chest heaved a heavy silent sigh and he tried to understand at what point this conversation had centred so heavily on him. Hadn't they been talking about Shinn? It's what Athrun had planned to do, but somehow Kira had managed to turn his plan back on itself.

Still deep in thought, Athrun's eyebrows lifted to ceilings above.

All these years he'd known Kira Yamato, and yet, to this day, he had no idea how Kira always managed to wheedle out of Athrun the things he wanted to know. It seemed an impossible task to keep a secret from Kira when you were one Athrun Zala.


"So Captain Yamato didn't say anything to you?"

Shinn shrugged "he seemed to think Athrun had chewed my ear off enough"

Lunamaria nodded as she linked her arm in to Shinn's "he's probably right, you and Athrun still seem to clash even though he's not our superior anymore"

"That's hardly my fault"

"You were the one that sighed in the middle of that meeting! Honestly, Shinn, there's no hope for you"

"I was bored!"

"So was I, beyond words! But I refrained from making that known, if it had been Commander Joule who had put us there, he would have probably locked you up and thrown away the key"

"Yeah, well it wasn't him, was it? And as usual it was Athrun who gave me the lecture…if I'm honest I'm surprised he didn't hit me again"

"That's probably because he's given up on you, there's no point in trying to make you see sense, you just won't" Lunamaria dug at him "you're a lost cause, Shinn Asuka"

"Thanks" said Shinn flatly.

"Hey, don't be like that!" she pressed herself closer to him in a half hug "I like you just the way you are"

"But you think I'm a brat too"

"Well…yeah" she admitted ruefully "but when you're not being a brat you're actually a cool guy"

"Try telling that to Athrun" Shinn grumbled, he hadn't meant to, but it was bugging him. He'd only sighed in one lousy meeting, he hadn't even intended for anyone to hear it and yet Athrun had accused him of not wanting peace; of course he wanted peace, more than anything, too many innocent people had died and Shinn hated that. All those families that had been torn apart and would never heal, Shinn didn't want any more of those to happen.

And then there was that thing about Kira Yamato; he couldn't stand it that Athrun seemed so determined to make Shinn like his new Captain, just because he was Athrun's best friend didn't mean he had to become Shinn's best friend. Shinn already had a best friend, just because Rey was dead it didn't mean it made him any less of a friend and Shinn didn't WANT to be friends with his Captain, that was just weird anyway. Sure, he knew the guy was the pilot of the Freedom and that he was one of the best, a Captain to be proud of…but that didn't mean they had to be FRIENDS. He just didn't understand why Athrun was so desperate for Shinn to approve of Kira so much.

And why was he getting so mad with Shinn anyway, it wasn't his fault the meetings were so boring and the guy that had kept farting had made breathing impossible on more than one occasion. Athrun had been sitting right next to the guy: Shinn was genuinely amazed his former Commander was still alive.

"I'm not a brat" he muttered under his breath.

Lunamaria heard him speak and looked sideways at him "he really got to you, huh"

"No!"

"Why do you let him twist you up like this? You never used to, I thought you didn't care what Athrun thought of you"

"I don't"

"So why are you taking it so to heart? It's not as if it's the first time Athrun's given you grief, you two were always at each other's throats"

"I'm not taking it to heart!"

Lunamaria lifted her eyebrows "you could have fooled me"

Shinn growled inwardly and clenched his fist in his pocket "I just hate being called a brat! Athrun knows all I want is peace and he knows why! Those people in that room weren't discussing peace, they were just making up rules and regulations to make things stick together! They were the ones being brats, pretending they were all friends when in reality they're just there to everyone else believe in their ideals! If there's anyone Athrun should be shouting at, it's them not me!"

Lunamaria stopped and pulled Shinn to a halt in the middle of the street, waiting until the small group behind them had passed she turned to face him and looked at him closely "why is this affecting you so badly? Is it because it's taking so long, or because of something else?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, is this about the peace discussions, or about Athrun?"

"Why would anything be about HIM?" snorted Shinn.

"Because you haven't stopped talking about him ever since we met up tonight" Lunamaria replied simply "are you mad at him for something?"

"You mean apart from giving me lip as usual!" Shinn huffed "he's not even my superior anymore and yet it's still him who gives me the lectures, geez why doesn't he just let Captain Yamato alone and let him deal with me if I'm such a bother"

Lunamaria frowned "what makes you think you're a bother, Shinn?"

"Because I'm always a bother to Athrun! I always have been!"

"That's because you keep picking fights"

"No I don't, Athrun just takes offence at everything I do! If he's so offended then why doesn't he just pack off back to Orb and leave me alone!"

"Don't you think that'd be kinda sad?" asked Lunamaria.

"Ha, no!"

"I do" she sighed and looked down at the pavement "I never told you this, but, before Athrun was classed as a traitor, I talked to him about you"

Shinn's eyes widened "what? What did you say?"

"I told him that if he stopped trying to be so nice and trying to find common ground with you he might have more of an effect. You know, if he stopped being so nice. I guess he's taken my advice now…I'm sorry, I didn't think it would effect you this badly"

"Wha-" Shinn spluttered as he tried to make sense of what Lunamaria had just told him "I'm not affected!"

"Yes, you are, Shinn. For the first time Athrun didn't try to reason with you, he just ticked you off and left. I have to say I'm amazed by the result it's achieved"

Now Shinn folded his arms "I don't know what you're talking about!"

"Face it, Shinn, he hurt you"

Shinn laughed, a dry laugh filled with pretend humour "Athrun? Hurt me? That's funny!" he laughed again "I don't give a damn about that guy and I certainly don't care what he thinks of me, and if he wants to call me a brat then he can go right ahead"

With that Shinn walked passed her and marched on; Lunamaria sighed as she watched him walk away, his back was proud and his shoulders were strong, but she knew Shinn better now. When he was bluffing, trying to conceal his emotions, he hid behind anger and boasts sometimes he was just too passionate for his own good. She hurried after him, running slightly to keep up and trying to catch his arm again.

He stopped and let her, her hand grabbing at his sleeve as they came together; absently he sighed and looked at her "it's getting late, you know, didn't you tell Meyrin you'd be back early?"

"She can wait a while longer"

"No, you'd better get back" he shook his head and looked away again "you got her back, Luna, you should spend as much time with her as possible"

"But-"

He smiled and gently took her hand from his arm "we're not together anymore, remember, you don't have to worry about me now"

"Except I do, Shinn!" she furrowed her eyebrows "you're important to me whether we're together or not!"

"And you mean a lot to me" he replied "but really, I'm alright"

Lunamaria frowned but let go of his arm; he gave her another nod and a smile and she took a step back "alright, I'll go" she said "but only if you promise me one thing"

He blinked "what?"

"When Athrun was our Commander, and even when he was fighting against us, he was always trying to talk to you, warn you about Chairman Durandal and make you understand the truth"

"Yeah, so?"

"There was always a part of you that wanted to listen, right?" she looked in to his crimson eyes earnestly "always something inside of you that wanted to hear what he had to say, you were always battling between what he was telling you and what the Chairman was telling you"

Shinn tightened his lips; Chairman Durandal was a subject too close to Rey "what of it?" he asked shortly.

"Well…maybe it's about time you let that part of you have a chance" Lunamaria replied; she smiled at Shinn, a smile filled with all the care and warmth she felt for him even though they were no longer paired as one, silently she took his hand in hers and unclenched his fingers "it's ok, Shinn, it's ok to like Athrun, so stop fighting yourself"


The sushi shop was packed at that time of evening, the families had all drifted away to leave it free for friends, lovers and a suspicious pair of old people who looked as if they might have actually died and not noticed just yet. Athrun sat in the corner of his clove with Yzak beside him and Dearka opposite; currently Yzak and Athrun were watching Dearka dig in to his third main course, which was looking like it was going to join the previous two in a bottomless black hole.

Yzak had been starving Dearka again; the poor guy had been looking forward to another night of no food until Athrun had taken pity on him and paid for his food.

Sometimes Yzak was just mean.

"So any updates from Orb?" asked Yzak biting down on a pair of chopsticks; he'd finished his meal some time ago, and was now amusing himself by biting down on the pieces of thin wood.

"Didn't you watch Cagalli's speech?"

"Why would I? I have no interest in the goings on in Orb" Yzak sighed watching Dearka slurp down a mouthful of noodles with about as much dignity as a blood thirsty vampire "besides, you are my updates announcer"

Athrun sat back against the wall and leant his head back next to a painting of some type of food dish "Orb is helping out with the refugees as much as they can, helping the homeless even in countries outside Orb"

"How charitable of them" Yzak commented.

Sometimes, even Athrun found it difficult to tell if the Commander was being sarcastic or not, he continued nonetheless "they've also been rebuilding a lot of their buildings, I hear the Plants have offered to aid with the funding"

"Huh, fools"

"Oh?"

"We have enough damage here to deal with" Yzak replied callously "we should be spending the money on ourselves and repairing the Plants, not giving the money to Orb which, lets face it, isn't exactly known for its poverty"

"It's all in the name of peace, Yzak"

"Sounds like bribery to me"

"You sound like Shinn"

"Who?"

"Shinn Asuka, he was the pilot of the Destiny"

"You mean that new mobile suit that you took out? The hotshot who sighed in the meeting?"

"Yes, you have met Shinn actually" Athrun reproached "it wouldn't do you any harm to remember, he's working for Kira now"

"Oh, as part of the peace club committee? I don't know who I feel sorry for more, Yamato or the hotshot"

Athrun released a sigh "have you got a problem with what Kira's doing?"

"No, I have a problem with what he's not doing" Yzak answered.

"And that is?"

"I would have thought it was obvious to anyone who wasn't blind"

"Well it's not"

"Hmm, you surprise me" Yzak looked up from his chopsticks and gave Athrun a thoughtful glance "I suppose it's because he's your friend, that's why you don't see it, Kira Yamato's your one weakness" he returned to his chopsticks and pulled the menu towards him, looking down at it languidly while over on the other side of the table Dearka finished his last meal and sat back in his seat with a sigh and a pat of his stomach.

"I don't understand what you're saying" Athrun persisted despite Yzak's growing curiosity in the menu.

Yzak shrugged no longer interested in the topic of discussion "maybe it's me being over sensitive then"

"Yzak" Athrun was annoyed, most of the time he could put up with Yzak's little games; it was Yzak's way of getting one over on Athrun every so often, a way of reminding Athrun that one day Yzak would surpass him. But peace was important to Athrun, and the well being of Orb came under that; he couldn't simply let Yzak's comments just float away in to forgotten conversation.

"All I mean is you're so one track minded and that's not like you" Yzak replied "you've let Yamato and Miss Clyne dictate to you, not to mention the ideals of Orb, you've all become so enthralled with the idea of peace that you're not looking at what's happening"

"And that is?" asked Athrun again; he looked over to Dearka to see if he could offer assistance, but the off duty soldier only gave him a nonplussed expression.

"Alright, I'll ask you a question" Yzak continued to stroll down the menu, carefully deciding his dessert as if it were a battle yet to be planned "when did the war end?"

"Fourteen months ago"

"And how long were you initially planning to stay in the Plants before returning to Orb?"

"Eight months to begin with but we never expected-"

"And in that time what has been decided?"

"I don't understand"

"No" Yzak agreed "clearly"

"If you just spit it out then we would" Dearka replied leaning his head in his hand, elbow on the table "I hate it when you play these games"

Yzak looked up from the menu at last and rose from his seat "fine then, one last question" he fixed his gaze on Athrun and fell silent for a moment, prolonging Athrun's reaction for as long as possible "why is everything taking so long?"

Having said his piece he turned from their table and slipped in between other tables still full with people and plates; Athrun watched him go thoughtfully and mulled over the last question, Dearka on the other hand snorted, "taking so long? What did he expect? World peace isn't made in a day"

"You're right" Athrun agreed "things have been difficult, meetings have been distracted by the destruction the war left behind, there are still thousands and thousands of people suffering from all the tragedies and supplies have taken time to be delivered to where they were needed…still…" he paused still thinking on Yzak's last words.

It wasn't anything to consider; people wanted peace, all of them, even Durandal in his strange way wanted peace. All the tyrants had been killed, destroyed; there wasn't anyone left in the world, Logos had been eliminated and no attacks had come from any side.

He looked up at Dearka "do you think he has a point?"

"I think Yzak wants everything to happen now" Dearka replied.

"So no one else has questioned the length of time?"

"Not that I've heard of"

But now Athrun's thoughts moved to Shinn, who had been bored in the meetings…but that had been because he'd found the meeting uninteresting not because he thought things were taking too long…wasn't it? He was impatient, just as impatient as Yzak could be; surely it was the simple lack of visible progress that was making them restless.

"Look, you know Yzak" Dearka interrupted his thoughts and Athrun looked up "the guy demands everything yesterday and gets mad when it doesn't happen, he doesn't see the subtle and sometimes has to be bullied in to believing something that goes against the grain. Yzak's a man of action, all this talking is just getting to him, that's all"

Athrun took this in and nodded again "I guess you're right" he answered as the door opened behind him and cool air rushed in with the new customer "he always was one to attack and then ask questions"

"Exactly" Dearka chuckled to himself as he glanced over at his Commander "you're the one being over sensitive, stop looking for conflict when there isn't any"

"I do tend to over analyse things" Athrun admitted "but issues are tender at the moment, the worst thing we can do is turn a blind eye just because we're desperate for peace, all that'll do is lead to conflict and rebellion"

"Talking of rebellion" Dearka nodded his head over Athrun's shoulder "your number one fan's just arrived"

Athrun turned and looked back over his shoulder; there Shinn stood in the doorway, waiting for a waiter to take him to a seat. Athrun lifted his eyebrows in surprise; he hadn't expected Shinn to come to a place like this, he'd assumed it was a little out of his price range, unless Kira had sneaking extra payment. The younger Coordinator was on his own it seemed, which also took Athrun by surprise; it was rare Shinn was on his own these days, either he was with Lunamaria or other members of the old Minerva.

"You wouldn't think he was a killing machine, would you?" he said to Dearka "he looks so normal"

"So do you when you're not uniform" Dearka replied "I figure we all look pretty ordinary when we're not playing soldiers…except Yzak of course…the guy looks like a mugger half the time" he sniggered only to find Yzak standing next to him with a glare plastered on his face "uhh…I say that with a great deal of affection and love…"

"How about I lock you in a cell somewhere and throw away the key?" Yzak suggested icily "see how much you love me then?"

Dearka laughed.

Yzak didn't.

Athrun slid out from his seat before the Zaft Commander had time to sit back down and handed a wedge of money to Dearka so he could pay for his food "I'll see you later"

"Why? Where are you going?" Yzak demanded.

"To see Shinn"

"But he doesn't like you"

"I know"

"The guy's a sucker for punishment" commented Dearka lazily flicking through the money.

"So are you" replied Yzak in a deadly voice "if I catch you calling me a mugger again I'll dismiss you from Zaft so quick you'll fly faster than a mobile suit"

"I'm…sorry?"

Yzak glared.

Dearka cleared his throat meekly.

Athrun passed through the tables to the other side of the restaurant, pausing only to allow the little old lady passed – apparently she had decided she was indeed alive, her husband on the other hand was looking more like a zombie every passing minute: he kept moaning. Athrun smiled politely and continued on completely oblivious to the table of teenaged girls who all turned their heads, one of them letting out a whistle of approval.

Shinn was sat by himself against the wall on a high stool by a bar; along to his left there were others who had come in alone, but the chair beside him was empty for which he was partly glad. He hated to be on his own, but right now company just seemed too much: it was times like these that he missed Rey, his friend had always known when to be quiet and what to say when it was needed.

He pushed these thoughts roughly and refused to think on it anymore, he didn't want to think about his family either…though the pink phone burned a hole in his pocket; there was a small part him that wished he'd left it at home, but he hated to leave it behind.

It was then the stool next to him moved back and someone sat down next to him; thinking it was a stranger Shinn ignored it and continued with his 'not' thinking until he felt as if he was being watched.

He looked up.

"You?"

"Hey there" Athrun smiled.

Shinn scowled "what are you doing here?"

"In a restaurant?" Athrun thought, "well, I'm eating…or I was"

"Oh" said Shinn without interest.

"The better question would be why are you here?" asked Athrun "I would have thought it was a little out of your price range" he looked at Shinn sharply "you haven't started stealing I hope"

"No!" Shinn snapped, irritated at the very suggestion "I've been saving up!"

"Ah" Athrun looked around as if to find someone else he would recognise "are you here on your own?"

"Don't you see the invisible man standing right next to me?"

"So you are on your own?"

"Yeah! Gotta a problem with that!"

"Not at all, it's just not like you"

"I'm sure you'll be able to handle the shock"

Athrun took the sarcasm with a pinch of sugar and turned to face the bar in front of him "I take it you're mad with me"

"What gave you that idea?"

"I think it was the deathly glare that clinched it for me"

"So what if I am mad!" Shinn growled, "no one likes to be called a brat!"

"Ahh, so that's what's got to you" Athrun looked sideways at the head of raven hair, Shinn's hair was all he could really see for the simple fact that the Coordinator was refusing to even turn in his direction. Athrun sighed, "you did distract a very important meeting, Shinn"

"I didn't know one sigh was going to break the whole conversation! If you ask me they were all too easily distracted anyway! Most of them spent more time drinking coffee and eating biscuits than talking! How does that resolve anything?"

"That's not true" Athrun answered "some decisions were made today, with the new laws that were granted today it shouldn't be long before Coordinators and Naturals will be able to mingle in places other than Orb"

"I'll believe it when I see it" replied Shinn stubbornly. He still wasn't looking at his unwelcome companion; the word 'brat' kept floating around his mind like a buzzing fly.

"Anyway, whether you see progress or not, it doesn't give you the right to announce to the whole world that you're bored" Athrun said "and I stand by that"

"So you're not going to apologise?"

"I don't see why I should"

"Calling someone a brat isn't nice!"

"Maybe, but I think you'll find you've called me things a lot worse than that"

"You're not my superior anymore, I can talk to you however I want"

"I'm a guest to the Plants and an Admiral of Orb, don't you think it'd be polite to show me a little respect? Surely I would deserve that much" not that Athrun would expect that any time soon.

"What you deserve is to locked in a room with that farting guy and left there to rot" replied Shinn.

There was a pause.

And then a chuckle.

Shinn looked around; Athrun was laughing at him, his shoulders shaking a little "what's so funny?"

"Oh, it's nothing" Athrun cleared his throat "I think I've already been through that punishment, however" he laughed again quietly "I knew they were powerful, but I didn't realise the smell floated all the way over to you"

"Are you kidding me! Every time he let one off I thought I was going to pass out in disgust! And do you know the guy is married? I don't know how his wife is still alive!"

"I'm sure it was just something he ate"

"Lets hope for the sake of peace you're right, we can't create a peaceful world if all the Council members die of flatulent gasses"

Athrun smiled as Shinn perused the menu slowly deciding what he wanted; at first Shinn ignored him, hoping his stubborn silence would make it clear enough that he almost wanted to be alone; it was stupid, he whole heartedly wanted Athrun to get up and leave, but at the same time he knew that, as soon as Athrun left, Shinn Asuka would be all alone again.

Alone, like the time when his family were torn from him.

And when Stellar had died in his arms.

The moment he was told his best friend had been killed in action.

And the moment that same friend had called to him to tell him that Athrun had been classed a traitor; yes, he'd felt alone then too, the feeling of loss, that he couldn't even have a superior that didn't leave him, the shock. Yes, that had all scarred him too; it was then made worse when he'd destroyed them. That had been the worst feeling of all; the thought that he killed Athrun, and Meyrin, had made him feel as if he'd had nothing in the world. The dreams had been horrible.

"You've gone very quiet"

Shinn started and looked quickly at Athrun "what? … I was just thinking, that's all"

"That's unusual for you"

Shinn opened his mouth to bark another insult in return, but when he caught the look on Athrun's face he found that the Coordinator from Orb was only smiling gently. Clamping his mouth firmly Shinn scowled back at the menu again.

"Can I ask what you were thinking about?"

"The best way to get rid of you"

"Ah, I see" Athrun teased lightly "permanently or merely temporarily?"

"I'm not planning to kill you, stupid, I'd go to prison. That'd be a perfectly good waste of my life"

"True, but are you expecting me to believe you've never wanted to kill me?" Athrun lifted an eyebrow "not even once? I find that difficult to believe"

"No matter what you think, I'm not into killing people for no reason, even if I don't like them!"

"You just like giving them a hard time instead"

"You deserved everything you got!"

"Oh?" Athrun gasped, "why didn't I see that? Of course I earned every verbal insult, didn't I? I was always so mean to you"

Shinn growled, "would you STOP BEING SO DAMN SARCASTIC! I HATE it when you do that!"

"Would you prefer it if I were flippant?"

"No! I- ah! JUST GET LOST!"


And there ya have it. A nice long chapter to get your teeth in to. I'm trying to keep in character as much as possible, so please tell me if you don't agree. Also, any spelling mistakes you see it would be good if you just pointed them out.

I'm also trying to get the relationship between Athrun and Kira across too; partly because I love the friendship they have, and partly because it creates later friction between Athrun and Shinn. Who doesn't love a good bicker? I do, a good natter with someone you love to hate is the thing I love writing most. It's probably why I love these two so much.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed and return for some more when I update. Please a review with any comments or crictics.

Thanks for reading!

Kiki

Kizzes!