Gundam SEED Destiny

Another Beach, Another Dawn (15/R)

Seeing Cagalli Yula Athha, representative of ORB, in a dress was a rare occasion. But there were times when it - in Cagalli's own words - was unavoidable. And the evening had been one of those times.

If Cagalli wasn't too fond of those social occasions, Athrun was even more uncomfortable with them. He always ended up feeling like the third wheel. Granted, the ORB uniform he now was wearing at least made him somewhat less of a foreign bird in the hierarchy that comprised the state elite. It changed him from 'who the heck is that'-status to 'just another of those junior officers'-status. However, it still did mean he was very much invisible at a banquet like this. Too insignificant to be bothered with. He could live with that of course, Athrun had never been the kind of person who liked being in the center. And, he admitted for himself, in gatherings like this, it was definitely better being regarded as a nobody than as the son of Patrick Zala.

But he could have coped with it much better if he hadn't been forced to watch how people swarmed around Cagalli. He knew that it was a stupid thing to be jealous over. After all, most of the people surrounding her did it because they saw in her the head-of-state, or the influent leader of the Athha family clan. And that was very far from Athrun's view of her.

He wished that Kira had been present. Then he at least had had someone to speak too. But as it was, he ended up spending most of the evening alone in the background, looking at Cagalli from a distance.

* * *

"So, how was your evening?" Cagalli asked.

Athrun hesitated for a moment before answering. "Okay, I guess." It was a lame answer, he knew that as soon as he had said it. And he was certain Cagalli wouldn't be fooled by it.

The banquet had finally ended in the early morning hours and the guests had left. But the night was warm and neither of them had really felt like going to bed, instead they had ended up at the beach below the state mansion. A long, flowing gown with lots of lace wasn't the most suitable clothing for a beach walk, but that didn't seem to bother Cagalli much. She might have to dress in style now and then, but no way that she would let her clothing dictate her movements!

They slowly started to walk along the beach. Both relieved that they finally had got away from the formality of the evening. Even if it was for very different reasons. Cagalli wasn't talking much while they where walking over the white, fine sand that made up the beach. Most of the time she seemed to be in deep thoughts. And Athrun didn't really mind. He was happy being able just to be there beside her. Without a crowd surrounding her. Watching them. Here on the deserted beach he finally could be with the girl Cagalli and not the official representative of ORB.

Suddenly Cagalli stopped and looked at him.

"Remember the first time we stood at a beach together?" she smiled. "Things were a little different back then."

He nodded quietly.

"Would you have been able to kill me back then?" Her question was plain and straightforward and took Athrun by total surprise.

"I..." he hesitated, thinking about the odd question. Others definitely didn't have to cope with such questions in their relationships. "I don't know," he finally admitted. "Maybe. You were a potential enemy after all."

"But you didn't." Her statement was simple. "And don't try to say that you didn't had the chance. We both know that you wouldn't had any problem doing whatever you had wanted back then."

He didn't knew what to answer to that, so instead there was an awkward silence, while they both stood staring out over the ocean. No one really daring to meet the eyes of the other.

Athrun knew exactly what they were doing. It was the same thing they had been doing for a long time now. Too long time. Moving in circles around each other. Neither of them daring to take the leap forward.

He glanced at Cagalli. She stood looking out over the ocean, apparently deep in thoughts. The first sunbeams of the new dawn played in the deep-red lace on her gown, making the fabric shimmer slightly while moving in the soft morning breeze and he could faintly smell her perfume.

It had to stop. He took a deep breath, turning toward her.

"Cagalli," he started.

"Yes?" Her eyes met his expectantly.

"I don't know if I could have killed you back then, but I'm happy I didn't. Because you are a wonderful person..."

She smiled, but it was clear that she wanted something more. He wouldn't get away without saying it.

"And I love you." There, it was done. Athrun waited for the reaction, still unsure what it would be.

She stood there, turned toward him and just looked at him. Silent. Making him fear that he had made the most foolish thing in his life.

The kiss that followed was a pretty clear hint that he had done the right thing after all.

For once, they were free to do what they wanted. And they both seemed to have the same idea.

The battle with their clothes became an uneven one. While Cagalli had little problem with the buttons on Athrun's uniform - she had after all been wearing one herself for years - he had a much harder time with the unfamiliar zippers and hooks on her dress. But after a while they finally lay side by side, feeling the soft sand through the thin fabric of her dress, which in lack of a blanket had to serve as protection from the fine sand.

Cagalli curled up close to him, eager to feel his warmth, burrowing her face in his embrace. The smell of her perfume was stronger now, and mixed with the flowery smell of her hair, but most of all she smelled Cagalli. A soft, reassuring and soothing smell.

He let his hands caress her hair and shoulders for a while, before carefully letting a hand wander lower, exploring new areas of her body. Her response was to cling even closer to him, embracing him hard and at the same time turning so that he got on top of her.

His eyes met hers, and Athrun wasn't too surprised to see that her golden eyes spoke of determination. Even now, they signalled that here was a girl who knew what she wanted, and would see to that she got it. But there was also an underlying hint of need, belying the strong-willed appearance Cagalli usually carried. Another, softer side, that was in desperate need of someone to be close to. Someone to trust. Someone to love.

And Athrun was fully prepared to try to give her all that.

* * *

They were still lying on the dark-red fabric, now pretty messed up by their movements. Athrun was on his back and Cagalli still at his side, toying with the haumea stone resting on his chest and glittering in the light from the sun, now well above the horizon.

He felt like he could be content with just staying where he was right now forever. Just looking at the wonderful girl lying beside him. But apparently Cagalli had other things in mind, as she rose from the makeshift bed, pushing herself up on her knees.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"I thought I go for a swim."

He smiled deviously. "Just watch out for the crabs."

Cagalli pinching him in the side was a small price to pay for seeing the expression in her face.

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Bit Alchemy Revolution © 2005 Tonakai Studio. Image of Kagari from Gundam SEED © Hajime Yatate, Yoshiyuki Tomino, Masatsugu Iwase, Sotsu Agency, and Sunrise