So this is just a little thing I have been working on for some time. I was hesitant to post it, but decided to give it a try. It is for light reading and is not meant to be long at all. Would be wrapped up in two to three chapters at most. Hope you'll enjoy it :-)
Of Summer Days, Tan Princess, Avocado Shakes, and Jealous Admirals…
Part 1: Of Avocado Shakes & Jealous Admirals
It all started on a summer day with a glass of avocado shake!
Avocado, as legends go, was a heavenly fruit bestowed to mankind some thousands of years ago by Aztec gods. The first time Athrun Zala came across with this divine fruit, he was four years old. He found its crushed look and buttery texture repulsing and the smell and taste too blunt for his yet unripe and young olfactory sense and taste buds. Worse was its green color. Athrun loved green but not when it was served on his plate, and definitely not Avocado Green. Mint Green became his permanent favorite shade of green years later for some personal reasons. The experience was traumatic for little Athrun Zala. So nothing remotely green appeared on his plate, until he reached fifteen and green became part of his daily diet at ZAFT Military Academy. Still he never approached the fruit, not until after the end of first ZAFT-Alliance War, when his then girlfriend, Cagalli Yula Athha, reintroduced him to the fruit, but in silkiest, creamiest, and most sensual of ways, called avocado milkshake. He fell in love with the fruit, head to toe, as he did for the girl who introduced it to him, and sat looking so eagerly at his expression as he took the first sip of the heavenly drink. He found his expression, in the picture they took later, like Cagalli eating spiced kebabs.
When he officially became a permanent resident of United Emirates of Orb, Avocado shake became Admiral Zala's secret guilty pleasure. Now Avocado was a fruit that Athrun Zala found to be the most nutritious and dietary complete of all fruits on Planet Earth -even for coordinators. He had science to back him up. One would not wish to argue about this with the handsome Admiral, as he would –possibly- fetch Justice if point was not taken in the most civil of manners.
Orb seemed to have gone in a state of national limbo during a weeklong holiday. It certainly was not a national holiday, rather a week of a blissful suspension of government activities to give way to Orb Union's first Transnational Tech Expo. It was a totally civil event, if one was to disregard the casual presence of state officials of PLANT and Alliance in the event. Having been reconstructed from ground zero with the blessing of its wealthy emirs and aristocratic families, and brought to life by the loving hands of Earth's best civil engineers, Orb seemed to shine like a diamond in midst of endless blue blue azure seas. Olofat, the nation's capital, a paramount and rich city had risen high once again to boast the country's highly advanced military and industrial technology in mockery to two super powers, that in turn had trampled its lands to desolation and dust no less than five years ago. Five years after the end of the Second Alliance-PLANT War, relative peace seemed to have blanketed Orb Union quite satisfyingly. And this Transnational Tech Expo was the first major effort of the pacifist nation to assemble friends and allies under one flag.
The city was filled with life under the midday summer sun, making even the most workaholic members of the state seek some moments of peaceful respite away from the stoic walls of the government halls and offices. Admiral Athrun Zala was one of the aforementioned government officers who had taken advantage of this opportunity. The navy-haired green-eyed first-in-command heartthrob coordinator was seldom seen in daylight. He had not yet transformed to a full-fledged blood sucking creature of the night, although his tasks, while trying to save the world, every now and then, resembled one. His usual toxic and heavily booked schedule gave him little time to socialize with daylight mortals. As such, he was only seen in the evenings, frequently accompanied - or rather pulled and dragged- by an army of succulently dressed pretty females of the high society to celebrate and mark the end of another day remaining remarkably human. That is of course if one was to markdown his superior genetic makeup that blessed him with ultra-human capacities to survive the most excruciating of circumstances. He had in fact survived one last night in arms of the ladies, to happily see the light of this day where he could idly relax and enjoy thinking of nothing but a glass of deliciously creamy avocado milkshake laying on a glass table at a fancy juice bar, across the one-hundred-and-fifty story skyrocketing Olofat Luxury Tower & Hotel at the Bay of Olofat. Little he did know that the sweetness of the heavenly drink would do little to distract his mind from ogling his long-time obsession and finance-in-hiatus Cagalli Yula Athha, the Chief Representative of Orb Union.
They seldom saw each other those days, and talked even less. Their minute-chats were either forced or out of necessity and barely significant in context. Sometimes, it made him wonder if they ever knew each other. The wall between them was high and its thickness as dense and wide as the entire body of the beloved Infinite Justice minus the color-if that counted at all.
The only thing that validated their history was the enduring and constant thought of her day and night. Their interactions always took place within the confines of the board rooms and as needed. At most times, they would sit meters apart from each other, with her seated at the head of the long table, and him somewhere near the end with officers of his rank. It was highly impossible for him to sit any closer given the number of delegates, councilors, and -gods knew how many needed- representatives, who sat surrounding her during the meetings. Those days usually were the worst days for Athrun Zala, and admittedly had broken his resolve several times, dragging him to the little bar at the roof deck of the ninety-story condominium tower he resided, or in bed with some nameless face, preferably one with a blonde hair and hazel eyes, to forget that she was so far and beyond his reach. But none of the two solutions, sensibly, had helped suppress his growing loneliness and eroding patience.
He could no longer read her or understand her thoughts. When she would look at him, there was nothing he could read behind her eyes. It was crushing, really.
Right across from him sat Dearka Elsman, in a loose T-shirt -with most outrageous prints of lilac and pink colored flowers to befit the ex-Buster pilot-, a pair of khaki shorts, and a pair of annoying neon orange slippers. Having tucked his sunglasses at his collar, he was nosily gulping a glass of chilled guava juice, trying his best not to get tired of sitting there in company of the curiously discrete Admiral, who seemed intent on spending his morning browsing through gossip magazines. Of all things! But he tried to give the man a break.
The vivacious man had showed up at his place after three years, with no invitation or mere mention of his visit - which Athrun Zala adamantly really tried to impress- a week before the eve of the grand opening. He did not even want to guess how the ZAFT pilot found his address and contact number which he had so carefully concealed and marked out of all public service and residential records of Orb. That was the least of the problems, because in matter of an hour Dearka Elsman made himself comfortable in his bedroom, and began rummaging inside his precious refrigerator. Not finding his diet to his liking, the Buster pilot went straight to the supermarket across the street and filled the Zala's fridge with a month's supply of assorted beverages and junk food. This act of generosity greatly amazed the Justice Pilot, as how he, Dearka Elsman, could still be possibly alive and devoid of any cardiovascular illnesses. Dearka was greatly fortunate that his host seldom visited the house and took his liaisons downtown, otherwise he would be locked out of the apartment on the second night.
Oddly, he had received a piece of the blond man's mind for not visiting his place often –as if his secretary at office was enough. From that point on Athrun dutifully stayed at home and began realizing that he enjoyed late night movies, most especially ones that involved Mobile Suites and Ace Pilots who'd save a princess's day in the end, and a bowl of barbecue flavored popcorn –thanks to Dearka. It even encouraged him to pay a visit to Onogoro, under the guise of Admiral Athrun Zala – looking despicably handsome in white and azure uniform- and woo the Murasames that were being pampered daily under tender and loving supervision of Chief Engr. Erica Simmons.
All-in-all life seemed a little less secluded with a clown in town and things that involved Mobile Suites in movies. That new found distraction, however, was about to turn unfavorably dull at that very moment, when a brilliant blue sports car stopped at the driveway of Olofat's Luxury Tower & Hotel.
"Say Athrun, you think you can call Miri? She is surely in town." Dearka tried his best to sound very very casual.
"She doesn't want to see you!" Athrun said without looking at him, "you blew it up last time Elsman!"
"Fine! Give me her number, I'll call."
"No, I really don't think that would be necessary. I don't want her over with you there."
Athrun was willing to bet Dearka had her number on his phone right then -most probably set on his phone's speed dial- in case he wanted to confess his love in nick of time before something dramatic happened to him between Earth and Space.
"Why?" The man whined like a donkey.
Orb was equivalent to Miriallia Haw for the Buster Pilot. He had been shamefully dumped by the girl twice. Still, no other women had been able to turn Dearka Elsman's world upside down the way Miriallia Haw did. Sometime after the second war he came to realize that he was unconsciously, really, comparing his dates with her. Any short-haired brunette made his head turn. It was pitiful really, because he was searching for a feisty and teary blue-eyed girl in all of them -Athrun didn't want to know if he even tried to make them cry to see they looked like her or not-. It was more or less then, that Dearka Elsman realized somewhere deep-down –as he never wanted to admit it or worse show it before Yzak- he had fallen for the Natural girl. Coordinators and wars be damned the girl had rocked his world. He was willing to be a prisoner again, her prisoner to be exact.
"She said she will haunt my soul, after killing me measurably good." Athrun took a large sip of his drink.
'With a surgical knife I assume' Dearka thought, 'Miriallia Haw's first weapon of choice! Before she tries to save you from a possible gunshot by some crazy girl.'
He tried to recall if he saw any girl with auburn hair in Athrun's company. Unfortunately, he could not recall one.
Chance of death with the first method was highly possible!
Gods he missed her.
"Just invite her, I'll stay in my room."
"Your room, Elsman? The nerve of yours! As if… And where am I supposed to entertain her? On my bed –which happens to be the coach? I want to live a little longer." Athrun said.
By now, Athrun Zala was absolutely sure that his end would come by more earthly things than Gundams.
"Besides, she seems to have brought a date, asked me specifically not to inform you that she was in town." He added.
"WHAT?!" Dearka exclaimed, "Who's the guy?
'You didn't even ask how she knew you were in town.' Athrun thought.
Dearka could really overlook details when things mattered.
Miriallia Haw no matter how furious she was with the Buster Pilot, cared deeply for him. She knew he was in town. That little knowledge had come straight from the horse's mouth, when she called him at his office and asked him if she could pay a visit at his place. Having been on his nerve's end, the Justice pilot said the truth, that his apartment was under siege! The girl had gone silent for a long time before asking him not to tell Dearka that she was around. Her voice had been solemn and –if he could put it- emotional. She cared or maybe more. But, he decided not to indulge the blond man and put his hopes high.
"Some American journalist writing on the Expo. Didn't bother to ask."
"I cannot believe you kept this from me."
"I didn't. I just told you!"
"You wouldn't, if I hadn't asked actually! Sometimes I just want to knock you good." Dearka's eyes flashed with annoyance.
"No can do." Athrun said rather smugly and thought of Freedom Pilot.
Even Kira didn't get it easy with him.
He had to pay a visit to him. He made a mental note to ask his secretary to open a schedule on his timetable next month.
"After all things I did for you."
"Pray tell" Athrun smirked.
Dearka tried to find one that merited him the price in the eyes of Athrun Zala.
"I saved your girl some years ago!"
"She is not my girl! And it was Yzak not you." Athrun countered.
"That was Yzak again! He wouldn't like hearing you baiting me into this. But I thank you for that! In fact I surrendered my apartment with everything attached to repay you." Athrun smile was genuine and with ease.
That soured Dearka's mood.
He looked at the navy-haired coordinator from the other side of the table and thought of three possible ways to avenge him. It started with taking as hostage the outrageously expensive tackle box Athrun had bought on the first day of Expo –it cost half of his salary with ZAFT which made Dearka wonder how much exactly Athrun Zala was receiving from his employer- the list continued with stealing his precious cars –which is what he had been doing for his rendezvous around the town all week- and dumping them into deep space, and ended with visiting Athrun Zala in a –preferably stolen as he got attached to it better- Murasame or Buster –whichever came first- at his office the following week.
He was angry.
But life was good and kind to the kind-hearted tanned pilot, when the ultimate weapon befell on his lap in form of two long tanned legs attached to a pair white laced wedges. They stepped out of the very blue sports car that had stopped at the driveway and went to reveal a certain blonde female that could make Athrun Zala -preferably fatally- bleed to death. If he weren't that familiar with her, he wouldn't have recognized her. But that was part of the privileges that came with his risky job, to cross path with VIP in-disguise and occasionally make friends with them.
It was her!
Dearka Elsman had received the keys to heaven!
Unlike Miriallia, this feisty girl was in good terms with him.
"Hey!" Dearka mentioned surveying their surroundings, "is that princess?!"
"Is there another girl you saw now? How many is it that you got in Orb?" Athrun asked skipping between the pages of a gossip-magazine he was holding in his hand.
'Says the man who has a woman hanging by each arm every night!' Dearka thought.
"I got in Orb?! I thought there was only one of them here in Orb!" Dearka viciously eyed the navy-haired coordinator from across the table.
He was still not aware.
"I thought we are talking about Miriallia. Is she the princess to you now?" Athrun closed the magazine.
'It will end with her, but no!' Dearka thought.
"This is totally nonsense." Athrun huffed and threw the magazine back on the table.
'What were you expecting?!' Dearka thought and raised an eyebrow.
"I am talking about your lady love." Dearka said.
If only all chief representatives looked like this, there would be no use for Mobile Suites and Pilots like them. He wondered why the world was still in conflict.
"There is none that I can think of Elsman. I don't have time for this." Athrun muttered, leaned back, and drew his sunglass before his eyes.
Being aware of the little history Athrun shared with a certain blonde princess, Dearka raised an eyebrow in surprise. He knew that the man was still somewhere sulking over the girl having removed his ring from her royal finger. Athrun was really bad in leaving his past behind. But who was he to judge when he was begging the man to fix him a date with a girl whom he met about the same time that Justice Pilot was involved with the princess.
"You don't?!…" Dearka asked wickedly and smiled, "Then I'll take the liberty of saying that I enjoy the sight!" He leaned back.
Athrun frowned. He hated that impish perverted look on his friends' face and felt sorry for any girl who was presently the subject of his dirty fantasies. Craning his neck, he followed his gaze only to stop short and let the straw slip from his mouth back into the glass. His mouth went slack for few seconds before he got to compose his expression, but that did not go unnoticed by his companion.
Dearka sank deeper into his seat, laughing like a hyena. The look on Athrun's face was worth a million. Too bad Yzak Jule had chosen to stay in space, it would pay for half of the bitterness the man had with the Justice Pilot since their years in the Academy.
There stood Cagalli Yula Athha, dressed in nothing but an incredibly short white shorts and a loose flimsy shirt, with the whole world seeing her tiny yellow bikini top right through it. Her arms, sculptured seemingly out of some shiny stone, were struggling with a knitted bag filled with whatnot's. Her hair had been pulled up into a bun with effort with streaks of gold strands rebelliously escaping and curling back about her round face.
She looked ravishing and fresh. He looked at her the expanse of the long flawless neck and full bust that had tormented him in many of his dreams. From behind the dark sunglasses she could be little recognized. But Athrun knew it was her. Tanned, breath-taking, and incredibly sensual in a tiny bit of clothing that she liked to call as decently dressed. He suddenly realized that he might need to inject a little bit of swimming into his itinerary for that day. Making a mental calculation, he noted that he could make to short tour for swimming to coolest parts of earth, Atlantic or Antarctica perhaps. He thought the latter would do better.
'What is she doing here?' Athrun asked himself.
It felt incredibly hot suddenly. Was she wearing wedges?! Cagalli never wore wedges. His eyes went to the curve of her long and slim legs, making him wonder how it would feel like, to have them wrapped around his hip.
"Didn't know she stays here." Dearka said thoughtfully.
"She doesn't stay here Elsman. She has her own place some thirty minutes from here!" Athrun answered, his voice was thicker than usual.
'Good!' Dearka thought noticing how dark Athrun's face was becoming.
"She's got a nice car!" He was hitting the right spots. Speaking of knocking Athrun Zala good.
Athrun's frown deepened. There was only one person who owned the best sports car in that Island and his name was Athrun Zala.
"Zala! Is that Asuka?" Dearka leaned forward to survey the driver's seat. He knew the flash of those eyes even from behind the smoky tint masking away the driver's seat.
"Don't be ridiculous Elsman." Athrun quickly muttered and tried to divert his attention elsewhere.
Athrun really tried hard not to look at the Chief Representative as she, so sexily, bent toward the window of the passenger seat to talk to the driver. No it wasn't Asuka. He mentally repeated to himself. Cagalli and Shinn hated each other's guts.
"Zala that is Asuka! Didn't know he has a thing for blondes!" Dearka muttered as if trying to annoy him further.
He count to ten, otherwise he would have choked the man to death, right there.
Admittedly, Cagalli Yula Athha seemed to harbor a natural attraction towards coordinators, especially lost, incredibly misguided, indecisive, and impulsive coordinators who were amazingly good with piloting MS's, and the best ones at that. She would go to the extremes for ones that went suicidal. The last time however, a particular coordinator, who fit with all the descriptions, had rubbed her off her patience and made her remove his ring. Choosing her country seemed to have been a more bearable option then. Athrun could not possibly frown deeper. Despite of the sun, the clouds in his head were already roaring with thunder. That couldn't be good.
'No it isn't Shinn Asuka' Athrun reasoned and went back to enjoying his Avocado Shake.
Cagalli had the liberty of enjoying her day like any other resident of this island, and he wouldn't for a moment deny her of that. She deserved a break. He was a rational and sensible man, an Admiral, Infinite Justice's ultimate pilot, ZAFT Military Academy's best, one of the best pilots on Earth Sphere and PLANT, the veteran and hero of the first and second war, who strived hard to bring happiness and peace to the world and especially life of the beloved Chief Representative of Orb. This high and mighty colored musing in his mind stopped with a shrill break as the driver's door opened and a very casual and smiling Shinn Asuka stepped out of the car to save the princess's day. He took the extra shopping bags –marked with the Expo's five petal fire flower- from the back seat, and began chitchatting with the blonde girl.
She giggled at something he said.
Her smile was as bright as sunshine.
That broadened Dearka Elsman's smile, 'Serves your right Zala! I think dying in Miri's hands is the better option now.' He thought.
Trusting the keys to the valet, Shinn smiled his most innocent and boyish of smiles. Cagalli stood by the entrance, waiting for him to return to her side and accompany her through the revolving doors inside the lobby. Her close proximity and the way the boy reached for the small of her back to lead her, did not go unnoticed by the Admiral.
"Where is Luna?" Athrun asked trying very very hard to sound casual.
"Haven't seen her with him for some time." Dearka shrugged but took note of the other pilot's undertone.
He really did answer honestly.
He hadn't seen the girl with Shinn.
That was it!
The holiday was officially over as Athrun Zala stood up and began crossing the street toward the entrance of the hotel.
'You've got to be kidding me!' Dearka thought and sat up in alarm 'Fuck!'
Now, he hadn't meant to tease the boy that bad, but when had Athrun Zala's emotional threshold become so low. He dropped some cash on the table and chased after the jealous Admiral inside the Hotel.