People Like Us
Title: People Like Us
Fandom: Gundam SEED
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Kira/Cagalli, others mentioned
Rating: MA Overall
Summary: post-Destiny, Kira is in Orb helping with a global clean-up effort while Cagalli is still trying to settle into her role as leader. However, when a sibling moment is captured on film completely out of context, things quickly get complicated for both of them. In this chapter, Cagalli protests all the wrong things.
Notes: Beta'd by: the wonderful guety, thanks! Contains eventual graphic twin m/f sibling incest.
Judging by the loudness and frequency of the pounding at her bedroom door, something was either on fire or war had broken out. Considering the ZAFT forces on the premises, as soon as Cagalli was awake enough to recognize the noise, she immediately feared for the worst.
Instead of soldiers, however, it was Iolana outside her room, holding a copy of the morning newspaper.
Cagalli blinked, trying to breathe. "Iolana?"
Iolana's eyes were huge. "Why didn't you tell me so I could prepare for this?!" she asked as she held the paper up for Cagalli to see the front page photo.
Grainy, blurred by the rain but unmistakable - somehow her dinner with Kira had been captured on film, most notably the tiny playful kiss on the cheek that she'd given him.
Cagalli's stomach dropped for a second before she recovered enough to ask what she desperately hoped was the correct question.
"What does it say?"
Iolana gave Cagalli a stern look and slipped past her to sit at a small table in the nearest corner of the room.
"Come sit," she said with a little sigh. "We'll go over this together."
Cagalli moved slowly, panic rising in her chest. Not even knowing how to answer anything - or protest - was nearly overwhelming. Even though she knew she could trust Iolana, to a degree, not knowing what had been discovered was terrifying.
But she sat, finally, and took a deep breath and waited.
"You didn't tell me your ZAFT Commander friend is Freedom's pilot," Iolana said flatly. "And by 'friend', I apparently mean..."
"Ah..." Cagalli started to interrupt, but at that exact moment, the bedroom door flew open again, revealing a half-panicked, somewhat rumbled Kira.
"You're okay!" Kira said quickly before rushing over to her. "Someone came and told me to get here quickly and I was afraid something had happened."
"I'm fine," Cagalli replied before looking at Iolana. "I think?"
"You're Freedom's pilot," Iolana said, momentarily ignoring Cagalli to instead look over Kira before gesturing that he should really go back and close the door.
Nodding and mumbling what sounded like an apology, Kira took care of the door and, lacking an empty chair, settled on the near corner of Cagalli's bed. He looked nervous and hesitant and only then did Cagalli realize that he just really didn't know what was going on.
"This," Cagalli said as she tugged the newspaper away from Iolana and held it out to him.
Kira stared a moment, obviously going through all the same reactions that Cagalli had, before blushing a deep red. "That's..." And like Cagalli, he couldn't quite find the right, 'safe' question to ask.
"It's probably completely out of context," Cagalli finished for him. "Maybe."
She looked back at Iolana once she realized that she couldn't help Kira any more than she already had. "What does it say, anyway?"
Finally Iolana smiled. Cagalli hoped that it was just at their presumed innocence instead of their hidden guilt.
"That you were caught snuggled close to the same ZAFT Commander that you were seen on the beach with earlier in the day - who happens to be Freedom's pilot and the man who kidnapped you from your own wedding," Iolana explained before her expression settled into a chiding frown. "Did you not think that was worth mentioning?"
Cagalli winced. "It's not... well..."
"We're..." Kira took another turn at trying to explain, but lacking an explanation that he could say out loud, he just trailed off and stared at Cagalli for a long moment. And then promptly took off his uniform jacket and walked over to settle it around her shoulders - she was still wearing only her nightgown.
Blushing, Cagalli pulled it close and then reached to grab Kira's hand before he could go back over to the bed. She squeezed and he squeezed back.
"We've known each other for a long time," Kira said finally, to which Cagalli nodded. It was a good safe response until they could talk privately about what good, safe responses were.
Nodding, Iolana opened her mouth to speak but was immediately interrupted by the beeping of her PDA. She snatched it up and began poking through messages.
The twins gave each other a quick worried glance before turning their attention back to Iolana.
"Well?" Cagalli questioned. "More... news?"
Iolana nodded, nearly beaming. "People love you," she said proudly, and seemed to almost instantly relax.
"Eh?" Cagalli questioned. "People like us?"
"Love us," Kira corrected, before the idea really sank in. "Wait..."
Cagalli finally let go of his hand, but he stayed close and settled for resting a hand on her shoulder.
Iolana nodded. "The world seems to love the idea of Orb's widowed princess kissing the man who stole her away from her own wedding."
"But... we were not officially married!" Cagalli objected, knowing full well that was not the part that she should be objecting to.
"So figure out where you two want to go for your first public date and I'll work on a press release," Iolana said after a pause.
"Date?" Cagalli questioned before thinking. "We can't!"
"Why not? Iolana asked. "Dating an Orb-born Coordinator ZAFT commander is perfect... Unless there's some other reason?"
Kira squeezed Cagalli's shoulder.
"No," he said firmly. "It's okay. We're just... a little shocked by how this all came out. And... if you need to know, we weren't together back... when... you know."
Wanting to retort, because it all just seemed wrong, Cagalli took a deep breath and kept quiet. She was going to trust Kira, for now.
"Wonderful," Iolana said, beaming now as she glanced back and forth from them to her PDA. "And glad I can mention that little fact, even if most people won't believe it. You two do look so good together."
Before Cagalli could think of anything else to say, Iolana was gone, leaving the twins staring at each other in a long, awkward silence.
Finally, Cagalli stood and walked over to the bed, flopping back on it and sighing.
"What are you thinking?" she questioned as she reached to pull a blanket over her bare legs. She didn't let her gaze leave the ceiling.
"It's going to work," Kira said softly. A moment later, Cagalli felt his weight on the bed. "Really. All we have to do is go on a couple of dates and break up because we don't want a long distance relationship."
"But what about everyone who knows...?" Cagalli didn't even want to consider what they'd be thinking. It made her ache.
"I'm sure they'll play along," Kira replied. Cagalli closed her eyes when she felt his hand in her hair, stroking softly. Comforting. "They have so far."
"Fine," Cagalli said after a long moment. She knew that Kira was right. And then she had another thought. "I wonder if Athrun has seen..."
"Probably," Kira replied. He pulled his hand away, but he was still close. "He's probably laughing."
"Yeah... maybe..." She felt Kira's weight shift and when she opened her eyes she wasn't too terribly surprised to find herself staring up at him.
"So where do you want to go for our first date?" Kira asked softly, but smiling. Yet there was still a bit of an odd waver when he spoke. Cagalli chalked it up to awkwardness, because that's what she was feeling.
"I don't know, you pick," Cagalli replied. She pushed him back so she could sit up, though she kept his jacket close around her. Iolana really should have given her the chance to get dressed - this probably never happened to any of the other Orb government. "Or let Iolana pick," she continued. "Somewhere that isn't romantic."
There was a long silence between them, again, as everything threatened to sink in. Years before they'd started growing far too close for siblings, no that they'd known they were. But even considering that, again, even as a ruse...
"Hey..." Kira reached to pull Cagalli into a tight hug, thankfully distracting her from her own line of thought. "We can do all the stuff we didn't get to do together as kids."
"Sleepovers with Athrun?" Cagalli suggested, unable to resist and giggling just a bit. "I have done that."
"I was thinking more like mini-golf and hot dogs and the beach," Kira replied. He paused. "You're not mad at him?"
"No," Cagalli said with a sigh. "Being mad at Athrun for being Athrun is like being mad at water for being wet. It's just how he is."
"I'm sure he'll come back." Kira hadn't let go at all and reached to stroke Cagalli's hair again.
"I know," Cagalli said softly. "I know."
After breakfast - after sending Kira on his way and getting dressed - Cagalli settled into her office to take care of everything she'd read over the night before while it was still somewhat fresh in her mind. She would get down to the shore as soon as possible, but she didn't want to seem too eager. Besides, this was important, too.
But curiosity was getting the better of her as the morning progressed. She had her laptop open and set to refresh on the news feeds, which had gone crazy after Iolana's press statement was released. As a distraction, the situation was formidable. And though Cagalli was trying to focus, it quickly became a losing battle. Eventually she just read, taking in opinions from around the world and from space.
Not long after that, a welcome distraction from her distraction finally appeared. Though she was carrying a Morgenroete envelope, Murrue Ramius quite obviously hadn't arrived at Cagalli's office in the name of official business. Cagalli made a mental note to send Erica Simmons an e-mail of thanks.
But it was only after Cagalli had closed her office door did she even whisper a word.
"We have a plan," she said as she circled around to sit at her desk.
"I assumed that much," Murrue admitted with just the barest hint of a chuckle. "But how are you and Kira going to..."
"Really good acting," Cagalli said quickly. "And modesty and closed doors and curtains. We can play cards for all the paparazzi will imagine us doing."
"There hasn't been an official response from the PLANTs," Murrue commented as she eased into one of Cagalli's visitor chairs. They weren't terribly comfortable for a reason, but Cagalli really didn't think Murrue would stay long anyway. "That's what Andy is waiting for."
"Lacus will understand," Cagalli said firmly. "It's not like I can keep Kira, after all. We figure a month or so will be enough to play this mess out."
The look that Murrue was giving her was not quite the one Cagalli was hoping to see. Yes, there was sympathy, but...
"I want you to be careful," Murrue said softly, not actually articulating her concern though the hesitation in her voice was more than enough.
Murrue had been there for most of her early days with Kira and there was little that had truly escaped her when it came to the Archangel 'family'. And considering how close she and Kira had gotten before they learned they were related -- Cagalli understood Murrue's concern completely.
The thought had crossed her mind, of course. More than once. But she'd pushed it back away with paperwork as best she could.
"Murrue, we know nothing can happen," Cagalli said softly, looking half-away. "I... well, that's really it."
Because her feelings for Kira had never really changed. Faded a bit in intensity, yes, but not changed from attraction to what she assumed a sibling fondness should feel like. It had made a lot of things difficult and she'd been thankful for Athrun and the love they'd shared, because it took away the awkwardness that could surface when she and Kira were around each other. But she'd never told anyone and she'd certainly never asked Kira about it.
Which, she knew, led to playful kisses, little gestures, and generally not knowing how to feel the correct feelings. And she'd had Athrun...
She would always love Athrun, too. But she couldn't be what he needed and she understood that.
Athrun, the last time anyone had heard from him - something that grew quickly infrequent - was somewhere in Europe, repairing and maintaining equipment being used for rebuilding efforts. Cagalli wasn't sure if Athrun had resurfacing guilt or what had prompted his decision, but if what he was doing helped him find peace, well, he had her blessing.
Murrue's voice snapped her back out of her thoughts.
"Then have a good time," Murrue said, mustering a smile. "And tell Kira to come visit us before he leaves."
"And be careful, Cagalli."
Murrue was, in so many ways, the older sister Cagalli had never had. And she knew that Murrue had her best interests at heart.
Smiling, Murrue handed her the folder. "It's empty," she admitted. "But it'll look weird if I return with it."
Cagalli nodded as she accepted it and tucked it onto her 'to-do' pile.
"And if you need to talk..." Murrue smiled as she stood to see herself out.
Murrue offered a small wave, that Cagalli returned before leaning back in her chair and sighing once her door was closed again.
The fears she'd been trying to keep at bay - that this little farce would be far more difficult than she'd imagined - were suddenly very real.
Hours later, Cagalli was happily - as happily as she could given the situation - scooping debris from forty feet of water courtesy of a borrowed Astray. She'd offered to let Iolana, who was still whipped into a one-woman frenzy, ride along with her. But that had apparently been a bad suggestion, judging by the green color that Iolana had turned just from looking at the mobile suits.
At least, aside from the constant com chatter in the background, she had some peace and quiet.
And she hadn't seen Kira yet.
Which was starting to make her very curious.
However, the work took over her thoughts completely, quickly, and she stopped worrying about anything aside from what she was fishing up. Mostly she'd been finding metal panels, likely from warships. At first she'd been overwhelmed by sadness, but after the first dozen had been dumped onto a waiting barge, there wasn't really any reason to keep dwelling.
A sudden direct message nearly startled her - "Red to Rouge--"
Cagalli blinked once before answering - and realizing who 'Red' was. The sudden appearance a moment later of a repaired and recolored Impulse beside her confirmed the identity of the voice.
"This is Rouge."
"Thanks for the change of clothes..." There was a pause. "But... I really can't believe you're dating the commander."
Cagalli reached for the button to respond. She's actually managed to hit it when she wasn't thinking about it, but now she wasn't just going on instinct. Astrays had never been her forte - and damn she missed Juri, Asagi and Mayura...
"I mean," Lunamaria continued before Cagalli could respond, "the rumors last month that he and Chairwoman Lacus split... Well I never would have believed it but..."
Cagalli didn't even hear the rest - Kira had said that he'd have to explain his relationship with Lacus, but...
"Anyway - I spotted what looks like most of a Dagger about four-hundred feet south. Give me a hand?"
Cagalli finally hit the button. "Yeah... Of course."
Though what she really needed to do had nothing to do with debris. She needed to talk to Kira.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!