A/N: In the facebook "Asucaga Forever" group, there was a mention that it would be nicer if Athrun were the one to save Cagalli from her wedding with Yuuna freak. I felt too that it would have been more romantic if that would happen, so writing it now.
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Seed/Destiny.
Phase 14: Flight to Tomorrow
I'm sorry. I wanted to go talk to you myself, but I'm no longer free to move around anymore. Of course, you should know by now that ORB is joining the World Security Treaty Organization. And I'm waiting in the Seiran house until the wedding ceremony with Yuuna Roma. It's sudden, but with things as they are, it can't be helped. It certain that right now the country needs stable leadership and a system that everyone can rely on.
From now on, I don't know what will happen in the world or how ORB will act, but no matter how useless I may be, I have to fulfill the duties expected of a Representative of ORB. I will marry Yuuna Roma.
The enclosed ring is something Athrun gave me, but I can't wear it anymore, and I don't want them to take it. But, right now I don't think I can bring myself to throw it away, so… I'm really sorry, but when he comes back, could you return it for me? I really hate doing it like this… without telling him properly. I'm sorry, but please help me with this.
I'll keep working hard to make this country one where everyone can live in peace and happiness.
Marriage, as she had always imagined when she was younger, was something that was very memorable to the bride and groom. It was a special ceremony for two people that loved each other deeply and wanted to spend their lifetimes together. It was also a time when both of their loved ones would be there to show their support and to witness as the lovers give out their vows.
Today was the day she would be marrying Yuuna Roma Seiran. On her body, clung the pristine white wedding dress that she had dreaded to wear ever since she saw the mere sight of it. One shallow reason that did not even cross her mind was that she was a tomboy and she disliked those frilly things. She dreaded it for a deeper reason. It wasn't like the dresses she wore for parties and events. It wasn't like the one that Aisha had forced her to wear when her clothes were smeared with yogurt and chili sauce. It wasn't like the dress that Mana forced her to wear when she fetched her on the Archangel when it landed in Orb back in the First Bloody Valentine War.
This dress was something she had to wear to symbolize the start of the unhappy days, the end of her freedom and of her very cherished relationship with Athrun Zala.
Everything was sinking in.
Weddings weren't all happy endings.
As she sat down in her room in the Seiran mansion and waited for the ceremony to take place, her mind couldn't help but wander. It wandered to all those thoughts that she wasn't allowed to think on the day of her wedding.
Her mind floated to that first time that she met Athrun.
On that uninhabited island, they both tried to kill each other. She shot him as he escaped. She thought that there was no way that she would lose, because the ZAFT soldier had no gun on him, while she had two. But due to his superior coordinator abilities, he managed disarm her and pin her down in a position that was advantageous for him.
She would have died back then. She knew she would, seeing that he was about to stab her with his knife. The only thing she could do was to scream for her life that was about to be lost.
After a few deep breaths, she opened her eyes, surprised that she was still alive. Before her was blue-haired ZAFT soldier, unable to plunge the knife down her throat. The expression on his face, especially his striking emerald eyes were rather one of stupefaction.
After sparing her life, he was pretty decent to her, more than what she had expected him to do. He helped her get up when she fell into the sea. He freed her from the ropes he tied her with. He provided her a blanket to cover her naked self while her clothes were drying. He gave her food to eat when the sea washed her food pack away. He even saved her when she carelessly threw the loaded gun. Everything that he shouldn't have done to an enemy, he did, which at that point made her wonder. How could this refined man be her enemy?
"I'm Cagalli! You?"
She then thought about their second meeting, which was unlike their first.
That time, she was mad at him for taking Kira's life. All the more when she found out that they had been friends for a long time. He was angry too, at himself perhaps. But he defended his actions, saying that Kira was an enemy and that he killed a number of his friends that were only trying to protect the PLANTs.
It was the only option, he said. She badly wanted to shoot him back then, but refrained from doing so. She really wanted to because he killed a very nice guy. She thought that if maybe she had shot him when they were still in that island, this wouldn't have happened. Pointing the gun at him, she wanted to shoot him.
But she didn't.
A part of her didn't want him to die as well.
Gazing at her left hand, the ring that he gave her wasn't there anymore. It felt so wrong to not have it adorning her ring finger, but it couldn't be helped. She was getting married to another man.
There was a knock on the door, which cut her bubble of thoughts.
"It's time, Cagalli-sama."
She wanted to escape from this situation. Run away from Orb like what she did two years ago. Maybe Kisaka would accompany her again?
She knew she could not. Things were different now. She was no longer the sixteen year-old brat of Uzumi Nara Athha. She was now the Head Representative of Orb with duties to fulfill for her country and her people. She had to forget that selfish desire to only care about what she felt because every decision that she now made included her people, even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness.
For Orb. She was trying to justify her actions. I will not let Orb burn for the second time.
Her body stood up and moved towards the door, even if she was hearing a million cries to not do it.
Athrun Zala was on his way to Orb with the mobile suit that was entrusted to him by the chairman. He couldn't help but feel excited and nervous at the same time. And this was not because he re-enlisted with ZAFT and was stationed at the Minerva.
It was because of Cagalli.
He was excited to see Cagalli again. His trip didn't really take that long, but he missed her so much. He was so used to seeing her everyday that it was so hard for him to be apart from her, especially now that the creep named Yuuna Roma Seiran was always sticking so close to her. To think that they would really be separated from each other now that he joined the military again.
And of course, he was nervous to know what her reaction might be with his decision, and when she sees him in his red uniform. Will she get mad at him? Will she stop talking to him if she finds out?
He felt so guilty, having to make this decision without even consulting her. Even during the time that he was in PLANT, he never contacted her and tried to discuss with her his plans. He had told her that he just wanted to have a talk with the chairman, but she had no idea that he was now a part of ZAFT again. It was unforgivable enough to leave her now that another war was erupting and with the emirs were pressuring her with the World Security Organization Treaty. Now he was coming back, not to be by her side, but to say goodbye again.
Once he rendezvous with the Minerva, he definitely would rush to see Cagalli next and to talk to her. He hoped she would understand, since they all had the same dream. They all want a world wherein everyone could peacefully co-exist with another. He wanted to see her.
Boosting the thrusters of his mobile suit, he had to get to Orb as soon as possible, before it was too late.
The orchestra started to play as she trudged in the hallway and made her way down the carpeted stairs. She was thankful that there were maids that were assisting her as she in her every step because the dress was so hard to walk in, otherwise she might slip and injure herself in the process.
But wait! That could also be a viable option! After all, who in the right mind would continue a wedding while a bride was badly injured? But of course, the wedding needed to take place as quickly as possible. It was for the citizens, to reassure them that Orb will be all right.
As she walked down the stairs, her eyes scanned the room. There were a lot of people, almost all of them she did not even personally know. The people here were Yuuna's relatives, politicians and influential figures she saw at some of the parties when she was younger. Kira and Lacus weren't even there. She had no friends or distant relatives present. Even Mana and Kisaka weren't there. Her heart ached so much at this realization, she was all alone.
Nearly all had a happy expression plastered on their faces. Were they happy for her? For this wedding? It was really ironic that everyone else, except for herself, was beaming. Even with the cheery atmosphere, she could not bring herself to smile. She just looked down and avoided everyone's eyes, as she didn't want to be obliged to change her gloomy expression into an ecstatic one.
She stopped in her tracks, as it was her husband-to-be's cue to escort her out of the house. By just hearing his voice as he examined her, sent shivers down to her spine.
"You look very pretty, Cagalli. How wonderful." She continued on staring at the ground. Yuuna was the person that she least wanted to see right now. Normally, a bride would at least acknowledge her husband's presence and compliment him that he also looked dashing, but she just couldn't. Aside from the gay ruffles and ribbon on his neck, and that stupid white flower pinned on his chest, he wasn't the person that she dreamed of celebrating this moment with.
His lifted his hand and made its way to touch her hair, which surprised her a bit. Deep down, she wanted to slap his hand away and accuse him of sexual harassment, but she knew she couldn't do it. Not right now, with a lot of people watching them.
"But it's a shame about your hair…" He continued talking with that irritating look on his face. "From now on, you should let it grow out." The heck! To say that in front of so many people! They weren't even married yet and it seemed like he was already trying to control her, exercising his male dominance upon her.
She couldn't help but think about what would happen to her once they were officially man and wife. Would he force a lot of things on her just because he was the man in the marriage? Would she be unable to say 'no' because she was the woman in the marriage? She didn't dare think of the specifics.
She shifted her head away, so that it would be out of Yuuna's reach, even just for this while.
Before she knew it, she was being escorted to the white car that will take her to her life sentence. To amuse herself in this sorrowful day, she picked on the car inwardly. The white car looked so ridiculous, with its weird shape. It was like a giant bug. So this was Yuuna's poor taste in everything at work?
As soon as the both of them were settled, the car moved. So soon? She thought. The faster it gets to the altar, the sooner will she be called 'Cagalli Yula Athha-Seiran'.
Now that they were inside the car, she could at last express what she really felt like as of the moment. A while ago, she was trying to keep a straight face, but now that no one could observe her closely, she just wanted to wear this joyless and sorrowful look, even if it's just until they get to the altar.
But of course, she forgot that Yuuna was also inside as well.
She felt that Yuuna's eyes were on hers, but she kept looking down. She didn't want to face him, not right now, not ever actually. "Want something to drink? Are you getting nervous?" He asked her. She refused to respond to him as she wanted him to bug off.
At last, he averted his gaze to the people outside the car. "And you haven't said a word this whole time." So he wasn't that much of an airhead to not notice that she doesn't want to talk to the world.
Forcing a reply out of her mouth. "No, I'm fine. Don't worry." She hoped this would make him get off her back.
He scoffed. "Hmm. 'No, I'm perfectly all right. Please don't trouble yourself,' Correct?" He opened the compartment and got a glass and the bottle of rum for him to drink.
That startled her, so much so, that she finally looked at him. What a sudden change of expression.
"Get a hold of yourself." His tone changed into a very stern one, which frightened her a bit. He was showing his true colors… That gentleman demeanor of his was just a hoax.
Just imagine that she would have to spend the rest of her life with that kind of man.
"Look, the press is out in droves." He said before taking a sip from his alcoholic drink. "Put a smile on your face."
But she just couldn't.
"But would that really be the right thing to do?" Murrue asked Kira Yamato, as she leaned on the elevator on the way to the Archangel. She was unsure, whether what they would be doing is right or wrong. Kidnapping Cagalli from her wedding, interfering with her actions in joining the World Security Treaty Organization. Of course she knew that Cagalli tried her best to stop it, but still, she couldn't do it alone, while everyone else was against her.
"Yes." As expected of Kira, his answer was unwavering, free of doubt. "Either way, there is nothing else we can do." He sure changed a lot.
She sighed. So they were really going to do it after all.
They exited the elevator and she followed Kira as he continued speaking. Lo and behold, the unsinkable ship from the Bloody Valentine War was here, ready for launch. "Although we don't know what would truly be the right thing to do, but if we gave up, that would be wrong, wouldn't it? Keeping quiet even though we are aware would also be wrong, wouldn't it? We know very well what the results of that would be."
Murrue looked at Kira, with sadness in her eyes. Yes, she completely understood what he meant. She didn't want the world to be engulfed in a never-ending cycle of hatred and revenge for the second time.
"That's why we have to go… Before something like that happens again."
"Yes." She smiled, realizing that he was right.
Her husband-to-be kept waving at the citizens outside. She knew that she had to do it as well, but she couldn't help but feel selfish. Just for these last few minutes of her freedom, she wanted to be honest with herself, with what she felt about all of this.
Clearly, he didn't care about his feelings at all. He turned her attention to her and nudged her shoulder.
"Come on, Cagalli."
Raising her head, she remembered something very important. This wedding wasn't about her. This was for the people of Orb. This was for their happiness, not for hers. It was for them. Entrusted to her by her father, she vowed to give her all, when it came to Orb.
It would be a sin to think that she was very unlucky to be in this kind of position, just because of her personal and childish wishes.
"The things we can do, want to do and should do, are the same for all of us, right? For you, for Kira, for Lacus and for me."
She almost forgot.
Forcing a smile to grace her face, she raised her hand to wave at people who even put the effort of seeing her off to her wedding. Her hands felt heavy, but she continued on.
"Does the Atlantic Federation really wish to split the world in two, no matter what? Drawing a line between enemies and allies and throwing away her ideals and laws, will ORB become a country that simply takes orders and fights the enemies she's given?"
Her father's words haunted her. By doing all of these, she was going against their ideals. She didn't want the world to be split into two factions. She didn't want Orb to interfere with other nation's business. She didn't want other nations to fight Orb. She didn't want her country to enter into battle with the PLANTs just because they are ordered to.
And yet, here she was, entering the Treaty to become enemies with the coordinators.
But… For Orb to burn again… She couldn't allow that.
"My family was killed by Athha!"
She remembered the way Shinn glared at her. Those frightening red eyes of his focused on her, full of resentment against Orb. His wounds still fresh, and it was because they couldn't protect him and his family.
"How long are you going to dawdle here? Hurry up and go! We have our duties and you have your duty to fulfill. If there is no one to carry on our ideals, everything will be over. Why can't you understand that?"
"You know nothing at all. Don't talk as if you know everything!"
Was she even doing the right thing at all? Maybe Shinn was right, she still does not know anything at all.
She was so powerless.
"I am happy to have been your father." She remembered her father saying to her. But will he still be happy if he knows about this decision of hers?
Thought after thought flashed through her mind, even though she tried hard to concentrate on waving at the people outside. This saddened her even more. Her tears kept pouring down her eyes. She didn't expect this to be so hard. She was hurting so bad.
"I'm glad that I met you, Cagalli."
The moment of their first kiss before their last battle suddenly resurfaced. How could she even forget that? She recalled it clearly, too clearly maybe, like it just happened yesterday. But being able to reminiscing that blissful moment only broke her heart more.
The warmth that she felt when he surprised her as he enclosed her in his muscular arms, the urgency and boldness of his action, the way he lovingly gazed at her with his captivating emerald eyes, the longing and affection in his voice when he said those four special words to her, and only her.
"I will protect you."
She swore to herself, that it was the happiest moment of her life.
When he just closed his eyes and started to kiss her, she reciprocated and met his lips with hers. Their feelings were the same. She was overjoyed to have someone like him. How long they had locked their lips with each other? She didn't know. She was lost in the trance.
Everything would be all right. No matter what lies in the future, no matter how hard it would be, she would be just fine. She would have the courage to face the future, just as long as he was beside her. She would make it through, because he would be there, walking with her on the same path.
She couldn't ask for anything more. He was everything that any woman could ask for.
He would be her strength and she would try her best to be his pillar as well, to share each other's pain and to remove each other from the pit of solitude.
And she thought that everything would stay the same.
Pretty soon, the car had stopped in its parade. Cagalli managed to wipe the tears and convince herself not to cry anymore. Yuuna exited the car first, reaching out his hand so he could make her way out as well. As expected, they were greeted by a swarm of citizens, screaming and hooting in excitement for the bride and groom.
"Of course those are tears of joy, right?" He had an evil grin on his face, and she couldn't help but feel sorry and scared for herself at the same time. She was about to be bound with a man like this.
He was taunting her, which made her infuriated with the kind of situation she was in, even more.
The horrific orchestra music played in the background. Instead of being a wedding melody as the two of them walked to the altar, it was background music as she neared her death sentence. Yes, the music convinced her more of her impending life as a prisoner in the hellhole they call the 'Seiran Mansion'.
Her steps felt heavier as if there were weights on her feet, prohibiting her to move around so much. She didn't want to walk this path; she didn't want to go up that altar. She kept her eyes closed, going up the stairs. Maybe this would be just a bad dream if she opened them later.
The priest stood before them, completely oblivious that she didn't want to go through all of these as he read from the Holy Book of the Sacraments. "You who have stepped forward today to come before this altar," It's not like I wanted to…
"…to announce your true feelings…" My true feelings? Well, okay, I do not even like Yuuna Roma Seiran, and yet I'm going to get married to him. If I had a choice, I would have chosen him instead! My true feelings? I love Athrun Zala, not this jerk beside me!
"…and to seek the approval of Haumea." Please, dear Haumea, do not approve of this relationship. I beg of you.
"Are your names Yuuna Roma Seiran and Cagalli Yula Athha?"
"Yes." Her inner self was being so difficult, and she wondered how she even answered the priest properly.
"Unknown approaching! Unknown approaching!"
"Freedom, you may launch." Lacus angelic voice was the only signal that Kira was waiting for.
"Kira Yamato, Freedom, launching!"
At last, he reached Orb.
First things, first. He had to dock with the Minerva. Then off to his most important agenda, which was to see Cagalli and to apologize to her.
He clenched his controllers, heck he was becoming more nervous as the sight of Orb was getting larger and larger.
Pressing the transmitter, he began to relay his message."
"Orb Control, this is the ZAFT mobile suit approaching your country in order to rendezvous with the ZAFT vessel, Minerva, which is currently docked in your port. I am requesting clearance to enter your airspace." He said in the most collected voice he could muster as of the moment.
He got really impatient when there was no response from the other line. He had to see Cagalli and he couldn't wait a bit longer.
"Orb control, are you receiving my message? Orb Control-"
His attempt to communicate with Orb Forces was interrupted by his own machine that buzzed, a warning sound that he didn't really like hearing. Looking at his radar, he was surprised, there were two mobile suits approaching him, at a fast pace at that!
"Murasame?" Were these mobile suits going to escort him?
Without being able to answer that hunch, his mobile suit buzzed again. This time, its fast and repetitive buzz meant that these two Murasames weren't here for friendly relations.
"They've locked onto me?!"
They fired consecutive missiles at him, which he managed to avoid without so much effort. But he was really taken aback. Why were they fighting with him?
"Orb Control. What is the meaning of this?!" He tried to convince himself that it wasn't what it seems like, that this was just a mistake.
Without even acknowledging his attempts to talk to them, they fired a new batch of missiles at him.
Maneuvering to avoid the explosives targeted at his mobile suit, he continued to talk to them. "I have no intention of attacking your country. Why are you firing at me?"
Damn it, they still refused to listen to him.
"Orb Control!" He was losing his patience.
Finally a response came from the Murasames. "Stop talking as though you're half-asleep! Now that Orb will be joining the World Security Treaty Organization, PLANT is our enemy."
This surprised him greatly. To think that it already came to this.
The voice of the commanding Murasame pilot continued. "Even though our troops haven't engaged ZAFT in any battles yet, there's no way we can approve of you entering our country."
He dodged every attack that they gave him. Every second that passed, he felt his anger welling up. How could Orb do such a thing?
"Orb has consented to ally with the Atlantic Federation? That's… Cagalli must not have been able to keep the Emir Council in check..."
He couldn't help but to blame himself, it was all because he left her alone at the time like this, without anyone to support her.
Damn it! All the more that he needed to see her, right now!
He tried to communicate with Orb Administration again, completely forgetting the instruction to dock with Minerva. "Administration, this is identification number 2500474-C, Alex Dino of the House of Athha. Please connect me with the Representative." Desperation mixed with impatience was evident in his voice as he tried his best to evade every attack the Murasames were throwing at him.
"This is the Administration. We cannot comply with your request."
"I'm requesting it because it's urgent! Please!" Just connect me with Cagalli, damn it! He remained calm, but every part of his body wanted to forcefully make his way into Orb.
"I'm sorry, but this isn't possible." With that, the transmission was done.
Now the two assaulting mobile suits were firing lasers at him. This was bad, really bad. He really was an enemy now.
"I don't know what strategy you have in mind," The commanding unit spoke to him again. "…but to use the Minerva, which is no longer docked here, as an excuse to attack is stupid! Don't look down on Orb!"
Minerva is no longer here?
"Damn it." He cursed under his breath while transforming his mobile suit. The Murasames were about to fire at him again, before he gets the chance to do attack them first. Locking on to him, they were ready to eliminate this aircraft was threatening their country.
But before they could finally hit his red mobile suit and take him down, the unexpected thing happened. A laser beam from some other direction hit their guns before it was able to fire at him. As for Athrun, he was surprised that someone was there to help him, though he really didn't have to because he could dodge the attacks anyway. Searching the sky as to where his helper came from, his eyes widened in shock.
It opened his wings in its entire splendor and went in front of his mobile suit, blocking the two Murasames from attacking him any further. He was in shock as it continued to release its red particles.
It was the Freedom!
With a few swift moves, the legendary mobile suit managed to disable all the functions of the two Murasames. He cut off their heads, arms and legs. Leaving only their cockpits so they could retreat back to their base.
He pressed his communicator and tried to reach out to him.
"Kira! Kira Yamato!" His voice reflected a man who was on the verge of desperation. What was happening? Where was Cagalli?
A few seconds seemed like a very long time to him, but his best friend on the other mobile suit finally responded, his face appearing on Saviour's monitor. "Ath…run?" So he had no idea that it was he who was inside in the first place, typical of him to rescue people that didn't want to instigate a fight.
"Kira! It's me!" He felt relief overtake his whole body when Kira recognized him.
His voice still seemed unsure, but the Freedom turned around and faced him. "What are you doing in that mobile suit?" But he didn't point a gun at him so that made him feel a bit better. "And why are you back with ZAFT?" The tone of his voice demanded for an answer.
"We can talk about that later! More importantly, I need to see Cagalli. I need to talk to her about the situation in Orb and-"
"The reason I'm here…" Kira cut him off, which was very unusual. "…is to rescue Cagalli."
Did he hear him right?
"Rescue Cagalli?" He heard himself repeat what Kira told him, still unable to understand what he meant. Looking at his best friend, it looked like he was really ticked off.
Orb joining the World Security Treaty Organization…
Cagalli being strongly against with the idea…
The Emir Council…
Then it hit him. His body froze and his eyes widened at this realization. Something bad might have happened to Cagalli!
"What do you mean?" He refused to succumb to what his thoughts were telling him and looked at the Freedom, searching for an answer. "Where's Cagalli? What happened to her? Is she hurt?"
"She's fine…" His response relieved him a bit, but he still wanted to know why Cagalli needed to be rescued.
"But in this current situation, even Cagalli is being made to do something foolish…" He continued.
"Something foolish?" He couldn't help but feel impatient all the more. He wanted Kira to get straight to the point.
"Right now Cagalli is about to marry Yuuna Roma Seiran against her will to strengthen the people's faith in their country as they ally with the Atlantic Federation, believing that it would really be beneficial to Orb. And I… I can't let her do something that foolish."
"Married?!" It was all that registered in his mind. Resentment surged within his veins. This was why he didn't like Yuuna Roma Seiran in the first place! Aside from trying to pry Cagalli away from him, he also tries to brainwash her into doing what he wants.
"I don't want her to fight with the PLANTs or any other country." His voice trailed off, but then he spoke again. "I know that there are a lot of things that we still don't know about. But, we still have a chance of doing something in time. You understand right?"
"Yes..." He could only agree with his best friend. He then remembered what they talked about two years ago. What should one be fighting against? He still didn't know the answer to that.
"Let's go there together, Athrun." Kira then gave him a smile, completely ignoring the fact that he was in a ZAFT uniform. "This time, we really have to find the right answer for sure."
He didn't even have time to think about what he should respond to him as there was a beeping sound that interrupted their conversation. Looking at his radar, there were 8 mobile suits approaching them again. So the Murasames called reinforcements.
"Athrun, go." Kira told him, while readying himself to intercept the mobile suits. "I'll take care of everything here, you go and rescue Cagalli."
His decision was swift. "Got it." His mobile suit transformed back into a fighter plane and sped up to Orb, following the coordinates that Kira just sent him.
Clenching his hold while he flew to his destination, he realized that he wanted to finally find the answer to that question, right beside Cagalli and Kira.
The ceremony was dragging on, and it pained her more that it had to be this way.
The priest continued on. "If you yearn for this wedding from the bottom of your hearts…" No I abhor that I have to undergo this hell of a wedding from the bottom of my heart.
"…and vow to love each other sincerely forever…" I doubt that will ever happen.
"…Haumea will surely grant your wishes." So I guess there won't be any blessing from Haumea to us…
She really couldn't help but have a little demon whisper in her ear from time to time about its dislike with this ceremony. She never felt so torn in her life. Now she couldn't focus on fulfilling her duty. The little demon kept reminding her that sure, she was the Head Representative of Orb, she may be Cagalli Yula Athha, daughter of the lion of Orb, but she was Cagalli first.
She was Cagalli, a girl who liked chili on her kebabs. She was a girl who didn't really like to wear dresses and preferred to wear boy clothes. She was an impulsive person and sometimes said things without thinking it through. She was a person that would rather play with the children at the orphanage instead of attending cabinet meetings. She was a girl who liked indulging in ice cream in the wee hours of the night.
She was Cagalli, a girl who was in love with Athrun Zala.
"Now, I shall ask you again." She couldn't tell whether the priest was really talking to them or just stalling, because she just couldn't wait to get this done with. There really wasn't anything that could be done about this anyway.
"Do you vow that no doubts reside in your hearts?" DO I LOOK LIKE A PERSON THAT IS COMPLETELY SURE ANF HAPPY ABOUT WHAT SHE'S ABOUT TO DO? OF COURSE THERE ARE DOUBTS RESIDING IN MY HEART! IT'S TOO MUCH AND I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF I CAN HANDLE IT. Was what she wanted to tell the priest, but managed to keep her mouth shut.
"Yes." She heard Yuuna answer quickly. Was this man really that eager to be her husband? Husband, oh how that thought sickened her to the bone.
The old man looked at her for an answer. She just didn't have the courage to face him and continued to look down. She knew that she had to give an answer. She had to! It was for her people, right? She agreed to this right? They even got her a dress and applied make-up on her! She just had to say what Yuuna just said! How hard could saying that three-letter word be?
Yet she couldn't bring herself to even let the word out of her mouth. She didn't want to say it. Every part of her mind and body were contesting to it. Her lips trembled, and she could not help but to keep it in a thin line.
She could not say it.
She should say it.
She'd rather not say it.
Athrun, save me.
"It's no good! The interception from Military Headquarters can't make it in time." An Orb soldier disturbed her inner debate.
"Evacuate!" Another soldier said. Seconds later, she heard a whistle blow. It was a sign for everyone to stop what they were doing and completely clear the area.
"What is it?" Yuuna turned around the moment that she did, also wondering what the problem was. "What happened?"
Military interception? Were they under attack? Someone was planning to sabotage the wedding? Looking down from the altar, she saw that Yuuna's parents were being asked to leave the place, along with the other guests as well.
"Hurry! Protect Cagalli-sama." Said another soldier. She didn't know if she should feel happy or not with their current threatened situation.
The mobile suits that were stationed near the wedding area started to fire their beams, but the pursuing unknown carrier already beat them to it by shooting at their guns.
As the fighter plane got nearer, Cagalli's eyes widened in shock. It was a red craft that she had no idea of. A new model perhaps? Clearly this was a hostile attack. But from whom? From the PLANTs? From the Chairman? From terrorists? She had no idea.
Within seconds, the red craft took a sudden transformation. It spun around a few times before it exposed a head and a body. So it was a mobile suit! It looked like a Gundam too, Cagalli thought to herself as it hovered above them and proceeded to slowly descend to the ground.
Violent winds flew around her, and she felt that her dress was becoming too much of a burden for her. Her veil was all over her face and she wanted to remove it so that she could see the Gundam clearly.
She felt Yuuna cower behind her in fear. She couldn't help but be annoyed at the actions that he was displaying? Whatever happened to the proud male dominance that he was exerting on her a while ago? Did it all go down the drain? She couldn't believe that she was about to marry a controlling, pretentious and arrogant yet, a cowardly jerk! Wasn't he supposed to go in front of her and even just pretend to protect her from this mobile suit that could wipe them to ashes? Like what he did to her when Lunamaria and the other people from the Minerva pointed guns at her.
But in truth, Yuuna really didn't need to do that. She was calm and collected, ready to face this situation. In the past she had been taught to remain composed during these life-threatening circumstances. And for some other reason, she did not feel endangered even with this red Gundam in front of her.
"C-Cagalli!" Yuuna, on the other hand, resorted to cringing behind his bride.
Everyone was running around, the guests that she didn't really know started to scramble and panic. Most of them were already clearing the area, not noticing that they have been messing the venue that took a lot of people a lot of time and effort to prepare.
The red mobile suit finally landed on the ground, and it was right in front of the two 'supposed-to-be-wed' pair on the altar. There was a short pause before the Gundam started to move again. Cagalli seemed to have figured out that she was the target of this mobile suit, but stood fearless in the face of it. Whatever the people behind this attack want from her, they should only involve her, not the people of Orb.
Its metallic hands started to move and neared her. It appeared that it was really trying to capture her as it enclosed its palms on her body. Yuuna now ran and left her behind, and for a moment, she thought that it was better than being stuck with him for the rest of her life.
Her curiosity got the better of her. "Who are you and why are you doing this?" She had on the façade of Head Representative that wasn't scared of her death. No response came from the pilot of the suit and he slowly ascended to the sky, bring her with him. So this was a kidnap after all.
Yuuna was damn frustrated. Who the hell was that? How dare he interfere with his wedding with his honey! He turned to the other people around him, who also were in awe of what was happening. Gritting his teeth, he couldn't help but to get angry with everyone who just let that stupid robot take his bride away. "What are you guys doing? Fire at him, you idiots! Quickly!" He didn't care if he was the mastermind or was someone who was just ordered to do it, but he wanted that person to die.
"Cagalli is… Cagalli…" He was desperate to get her back. He couldn't afford to postpone the wedding. How would he face his parents now? The people of Orb? He would now be branded as the guy who was ditched by his wife-to-be. He couldn't handle all that humiliation!
"But if we miss, we might hit Cagalli-sama." The soldier retorted.
Oh right, Cagalli was just captured by that mobile suit.
He could only freeze on the spot while the unknown red mobile suit took his princess and bride-to-be away from him. Damn it! He was just about to be wed with her! Now he had to bear all the embarrassment from this! Balling his fist, he whimpered in frustration that the wedding was now cancelled until further notice.
The mobile suit didn't thrust as fast as it could away from the scene. It was moving very slowly, as if it was just breezing through Orb's territory. Cagalli felt very much relieved at that. If it was moving faster than that this, she might have fallen off to the sea.
"Hey you! Put me down!" But nevertheless, she also didn't want to be in this position. She couldn't help but feel mad and happy at the same time. Of course she was rejoicing that she didn't have to marry Yuuna Roma Seiran just yet. But she couldn't help but worry about the situation in her country. What would happen to the people of Orb?
From afar, she saw two blinking lights. Those were probably crafts that attempted to pursue this red Gundam. She instantaneously began to fear for her life. This might get messy. What if this mobile suit just dropped her to the sea, or what if the crafts that were after the accidentally shot her? Her blood and body would be splattered all around the Orb Sea and it's not a good sight.
"Cagalli… Get in…" She heard a voice coming out of the mobile suit. It was the pilot, talking to her. She then felt the hands of the red Gundam were moving towards the cockpit.
Did he just say Cagalli? She felt her heart skip a beat. Surely that voice…
She recognized whose voice it was straight away. It was too familiar, too familiar to be forgotten. That husky yet gentle voice, that deep yet comforting tone, it was Athrun! It had to be him! She couldn't believe it.
The time it took for the cockpit to open then seemed like a long time for her. Even with the rusting of the wind, the mobile suits, the red Gundam's thrusters, and the doves around them, she was certain that her heart was pounding wildly that she could almost hear it.
Finally the cockpit opened, revealing a man in a violet pilot suit. She couldn't make out if it was really Athrun, for her veil was in the way, making her vision blurry. But it had to be him! He reached out his hand to her, which she took almost hurriedly. This wasn't because she was scared about the fact that there were pursuers after them, but because she wanted to be able to finally see whether it was really Athrun.
A pair of worried yet mesmerizing emerald eyes met with her hazel ones.
She leaped at him once she saw that it was really Athrun. Her hands got a hold of both of his shoulders and held it as tight as she could as she buried her face in his chest. Excitement and relief was rushing in her veins when he finally held her, his arms encircling her waist so as she wouldn't be blown away by the strong winds.
At that moment, she was happy that this wasn't just a dream.
Wrapping his arms around her firmly, he proceeded to descend back down his cockpit. He was still unable to believe that she was right in front of him. He knew he had to move away from this area soon, but there was something about her, which made him always revert his eyes back to hers. He feared that if he averts his gaze from her, even just for a few seconds, she might disappear and be forced to marry that Yuuna Roma Seiran.
"Athrun… You…" Cagalli already pulled her head up to face him; he could clearly tell that confusion and shock was all over her face. Her hazel eyes compelling him to give an explanation about what just happened, and probably why he came back in a ZAFT uniform. He knew that she just couldn't bring herself to speak because she was way surprised that this even happened.
He didn't blame her if she was, for he was also in a loss for words. He could only gape at her and admire this rare sight. She looked very ethereal in this white gown, forgetting that it was a dress worn for another man. And for her face, way more beautiful without makeup, to be very near hers, he could have kissed her right there.
"You're wearing a dress…" Were the words that he managed to say to her, which was frankly was quite unthinking of him. He knew he would get a slap or a punch with that kind of response, but he was too speechless to be able to see her again, to be this near to her when he thought he had lost her forever.
He noticed that annoyance slowly crept up to her face. He knew she hated it when people give her that kind of reaction when she's all dolled-up, like she's an alien or something. But she contained her urge to do violent things and inhaled deeply before speaking again. "You, how come you're-"
That warning buzz from Saviour stopped her from speaking and reminded him that he needed to escape this situation at once. The two Murasames were now getting ready to retrieve Cagalli, even pointing their guns at him.
"Cagalli, sorry, but hold on tight first." It was more of an order as he shifted his attention to the controls of Saviour. Whatever questions she had to ask, he promised to answer them later. They had a lot of time on their hands. Right now, he needed to take her to the Archangel.
He piloted away from the Orb mobile suits, maneuvering to avoid being in contact with the two Murasames, while keeping Cagalli in check. He didn't want her head to bleed like last time.
As he picked up his pace, he felt Cagalli tightened her grasp on him. He heard her whimper as it became more difficult to hold on to him while they escaped from the military. For some reason, even if she unintentionally was suffocating him with her arms around his neck, he didn't mind. This actually comforted him, that she actually needed him, even if it was just for this.
His machine passed by the Orb fleet, which to his surprise, didn't fire at them. Confident that it was because they thought that Cagalli was being held captive, he took this chance to safely escape Orb and flee to the rendezvous point that Kira sent to him.
She clung to him like a lifeline, afraid to be escorted by the two Murasames to the wedding that was waiting back in Orb for her. She fervently hoped that the two mobile suits wouldn't pursue them any further. She didn't want to go back to and say 'I do' to that jerk Yuuna Roma Seiran.
It felt like she was committing a very grave sin against Orb, letting herself be taken away given the current situation. How dare she even run away from her responsibilities? The wedding wasn't just for the sake of benefitting the Athha and Seiran families; it was for the people's sake. Yet, she was still here, not even exasperated that Athrun was now flying away from the very place she vowed to devote herself to.
"Well then, are you planning to abandon your country and responsibilities and run away? While still bearing the Athha name?" Yuuna's words were playing inside her head.
Guilt was suddenly overtaking her body. The citizens, what about them? She couldn't just leave them behind. Their union had a good purpose after all! It was to show that the Emirs are united and have the will to protect Orb.
She buried her head deeper into Athrun's chest.
Words that she wanted to tell Athrun, to turn back and return her to Orb, wouldn't come out of her mouth. Her throat felt dry and they refused to come out of her mouth. She cursed herself, why must there be opposing wills inside of her?
In spite of that, just by being this close to him, just by being able to feel his warmth, she didn't even dare say those words. By merely looking at him, she didn't want to go back just yet.
She always wanted to be with Athrun.
Oh dear Haumea, everything that she brainwashed herself for the past few days was vaporizing into thin air. Right now, she felt that everything was just falling into place. She wanted to be here with him, not in that wedding.
Why must she be always honest to what she felt?
But her feelings do not necessarily point her to making the right decisions. She knew that perfectly.
"Be it him or that coordinator brother of yours, it's impossible to have them at your side, by the side of Cagalli Yula Athha, the current Representative Emir of the United Emirates of ORB."
It was unfair. All of this was just so unprejudiced, absurd and irreparable.
Why can't she have them on her side?
Why must the world always be a divide between Naturals and Coordinators? Why can't there be a world wherein conflict is necessary? Why did she need to get married to that Yuuna Roma Seiran?
Why couldn't she be with Athrun?
Questions were starting to pile up on her mind, one after another, begging to be answered.
Emotions were building up inside her yet again. Frustration, guilt, anger and despair were all mixing up within her. Having all of those emotions all at the same time was not a good thing to feel. She felt herself tremble and about to cry. Her lips were quivering yet again, her eyes starting to feel warm and blurry. Didn't she already cry enough for one day?
So as not to worry Athrun, she concealed her face from his view and leaned on him all the more. Trying to stay unnoticed, her chest was tightening from all the negative feelings and it was becoming harder for her to breathe.
"Cagalli…" Athrun finally said after a long while, his comforting voice, cutting her daydreams. Her eyes blinked, wondering why he just called her attention.
"We're already at the Archangel." True enough, they were actually inside the ship. His Gundam was in the hangar along with the Freedom. She wondered how they even got here without her even noticing.
The caring look that he gave her, along with the smile on his face was just so gentle and warm that she suddenly felt another wave of remorse overtaking her. As she continued to look at him in bewilderment, his emerald pools still showed no signs of resentment towards her, only understanding and affection.
She removed the ring.
She almost got married.
She couldn't take it anymore.
Her face suddenly felt warm all over, that she figured that she wasn't able to control the tears from falling down her cheeks.
"Athrun, I…" She was shaking from all the pent-up feelings. She figured that she might have looked like a horrible mess right now, her make-up smudging with the tears that didn't want to be held back. "I-I'm sorry…"
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry! Forgive me! I nearly got married, without even telling you…" Her head was facing down, like what she had been doing all day. Hours ago she did this to shun herself from the world, now she was doing it because she felt utterly ashamed by looking at him straight in the eyes.
The number of times she apologized, she couldn't remember. She was sobbing like crazy, feeling really guilty with what she did. For a moment, she was grateful the two of them were alone.
Just like a groom would do to a bride, Athrun gently lifted the veil so that he could see her face clearly. He managed to remove all the pins keeping it in place on her blonde hair and dropped it to the ground.
She could only close her eyes and inhale sharply as his hands caressed her cheek, wiping away the tears that kept falling on her face.
Before she knew it, Athrun already enclosed her into a hug. She loved it when he held her this way. She felt safe and loved as he squeezed her a bit closer to him.
"You wanted to protect it, didn't you? Orb, that is." He said as he held her in his arms, not wanting to let go just yet. She kept on sobbing, but she managed to answer him by nodding. If it weren't for Orb, she wouldn't even say yes to that wedding!
After a few minutes, she was able to muster a reply. "I was worried about everything… About Orb… That's why I thought that marriage was the only way… I'm sorry." She couldn't help but continue on apologizing to him.
"Cagalli…" He could only gaze at her lovingly and waited for her to continue with what she was saying. He perfectly understood her, which is why he just couldn't get mad at her, even for what she almost did.
"I didn't want to go through with that hell of a wedding, but I felt like… I didn't have any other choice… So, forgive me." She was mumbling the words in between the hiccups and tears.
"I know." He stroked her cheek, which she leaned on for support. "I understand, Cagalli. I'm not angry with you. How can I even be?" He gave her a tender smile.
Relief was just starting to overwhelm her, but his expression changed into a more serious one, which made her heart drop. "Besides, I'm the one who's supposed to be apologizing…"
"What… do you mean by that?" Her body stiffened when he mentioned that, drawing herself away from him, she examined his features and everything around them. He was in a mobile suit with this clothes she knew were not Orb Uniform.
A ZAFT logo.
"You…" Her eyes widened in disbelief and a hint of betrayal. She was unable to believe what she was seeing.
"I re-enlisted with ZAFT…" Now it was his turn to look away from her. She knew that he Athrun Zala only couldn't face her whenever he did something that was very cheesy or when he did something that he knew that she would not like.
She was beyond shocked, she didn't even know that he was a part of ZAFT again. When did this happen? All she knew was that he would be going to the PLANTs to talk to the Chairman. Maybe this was the conclusion of his visit.
Even though she also understood the reason behind his actions, she couldn't help but feel the resonating ache in her chest return. But she waited for him to explain his actions.
"I hated it, not being able to do anything… When you were living each day, frantically trying to carry the heavy burden of the entire country." He said to her, but this time he was able to look her in the eye and she could see sadness, regret and shame was evident in his. "Not only that, I even let Junius 7…" His voice trailed off when they touched that sensitive topic.
"Athrun…" She didn't even have the heart to be mad at him. Not when she knew that he also had good intentions. Like her, they both wanted to do everything that they could so that the world, naturals and coordinators would live in peace. It would be selfish of her to ask him to always stay with her.
He re-enlisted with ZAFT not to be away from her, but to be with her when this war ends.
He had his own ways of protect the people he cared about.
"I wanted to do something."
So they were just the same. They both wanted the same thing.
She was never really good with words, especially at a time like this. She had a knack of talking without thinking, which always leads her to trouble or unintentionally hurting others. But more importantly, she felt that this comforting silence was more than enough. They already said what they needed to say.
Soon enough, she already was hugging him. It was sad that they would be apart from each other, so at least for now, she could feel him very close to her. She would miss him terribly.
The Chairman was a good man, she saw him as the kind of man that never liked conflicts as much as they did. And he was doing everything that he can to protect the Coordinators, and at the same time, avoid as much casualties as possible. Unlike the Atlantic Federation who wants to eliminate all the threats as much as possible, the PLANTs, under the Chairman Dullindal's rule was the opposite. If Athrun re-enlisted to help the Chairman achieve his goals and ensure that the war would end faster, then so be it.
They all had the same dream. No matter how different their paths were, they would always find a way back to each other, because they were headed at the same destination.
Inwardly, she rejoiced when he hugged her back even tighter.
"Come back, okay?" She told him, while still cuddling with him. "When everything is over."
He was surprised that she took this all lightly, that she was not even twitching into a frown with what he told her. "Cagalli…"
"I know that everything won't be easy… But I'll do my best, along with Kira and Lacus to prevent the hatred from becoming worse. I can go back to Orb and talk them into changing their decision about the treaty. That's why you have to promise me that you'll also do what you can, even if you're not fighting along with us." She was worried about the fact that Athrun would have to fight with Orb, but that was why both of them, on their respective ends, would try their best to prevent that from happening.
"Of course I feel really sad that you won't be with us for now, but we'll be together again, right?" Cagalli smiled at him, encouraging him to stop doubting his decision, as he really felt guilty and she could tell that he wanted to fight along with them. "But, there's no need to rush things? Am I right?"
"Wait for me, Cagalli." He buried his head into her neck and held her again as tight as he could, savoring the scent of her hair and her body. With the pace of things, he doubt that he would see her anytime soon and that pained him so much. He always wanted to be by her side, but he had a lot of things to take care of right now. "I'll come back soon."
She was forcing herself to hold back the tears. Athrun would be away from her yet again, even if she wanted him to be by their side. Just the thought of that was making her lonely. Yet, she knew that she had to stay strong.
He lifted his face up to lock his eyes onto hers, cupping her cheeks gently. "And then let's go back to where everyone else is." His emerald orbs were sparkling, full of hope for the future.
For their future as well.
She nodded, slowly closing her eyes as Athrun's face neared hers. She couldn't really tell how much she longed for this moment to finally happen.
When his warm and gentle lips finally landed on hers, her insides were completely overjoyed. She got lost in a world of her own, with only him. She was happy that she didn't marry Yuuna or else she might not be able to experience this wonderful feeling with him. The kisses they shared always felt so magical that she just couldn't imagine herself being with someone else.
If Coordinators and Naturals weren't meant to co-exist with each other, then why did this feel so right more than anything?
"What's taking them so long?" Murdock sighed heavily. They were in the hangar, waiting for the ZAFT kid and the Skygrasper girl, as he referred to them before, to come out of the mobile suit. Frankly, he was already getting impatient. Were they doing something rowdy inside?
"They're just talking." Kira gave Murdock a smile. He was also waiting for them to come out. He knew they had a lot to talk about.
Finally, the cockpit of the red mobile suit started to open and Kira saw her sister and his best friend, descending down to them. Athrun was holding Cagalli so protectively that he figured that they were able to talk things out.
"Athrun." He finally straightened from his relaxed position, looking so serious.
"Kira." Athrun also mentioned his name and the tension was rising. His sister stayed behind Athrun, feeling the cloud of anxiety surrounding them.
A/N: Left it hanging. But more or less, the two best friends would talk about the war then Kira would talk to Athrun about his doubts about the Chairman then… TADA! Athrun won't go to the Minerva anymore! Hihihi. Then they get to spend more time with each other, even in the hot springs (excuse my perverted mind). And Athrun wouldn't be surrounded with so many annoying girls (Meer, Luna, Meyrin). Cagalli also wouldn't have to remove the ring for a second time. HAHAHA. Gundam Seed Destiny AsuCaga Remaster!
Sorry for the burst of thoughts and scenarios. Was just pretty thrilled to have it done. Anyway, read and review. :)
Also, do read my other fics when you have time.