Disclaimer: I make no claim to the series, characters, or ideas of Gundam SEED.

Author's Notes: Today's agenda: Let's see how well I can completely butcher Athrun's character. Honestly though, OCCness is intentional, but I tried my best to keep slight bits of Athrun's character intact while showing my view of the deep-down, pessimistic side of our favorite Gundam pilot. As always, all reviews are appreciated, and constructive criticism is worshipped. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy.

Keep the Change

By Adam Lakewood

Things change.

Yet I have no idea why.

It's widely speculated that change is sometimes for the better, but I know from experience that most of the time it isn't. If I've learned anything from the past few years of my life, it's that you should go against change whenever possible.

Take for example when you live happily with a family. Growing up, your family is just like anyone else's. Then, one day, some aspiring genius decides that he's going to do something to change the universe. In consequence, a nuclear bomb is sent to your home-colony, killing your mother along with nearly everyone else you were close to.

The next thing you know, this has resulted in your joining a military in order to change what has been changed. Not to mention, this same grieving has caused your father, a man of great political pull, to become borderline certifiable. So, he seeks out to change the world that you want to change that was originally changed in the first place because, come to find out, someone didn't like the previous changes.

Soon after, you're arranged to marry someone that you love dearly who doesn't have the same feelings toward you… all in the name of 'change'. Did I fail to mention that said person will support the change that took place and be against the idea of you seeking to change that which has already been changed? That's when change gets even more complicated.

Next, you find yourself being blindly led by someone's idea of change that calls for you to do such things as attack a neutral colony for seemingly no other reason than 'just because'.

…What a change.

Arriving and aptly smiting said neutral colony in the name of the change in which you really should be opposing, you conclude the long day by finding yourself getting ready to knife your childhood friend. "When did things change this drastically?" you ask yourself, but you can't think of an answer.

A few days later, you're causally fighting against you childhood friend somewhere else. This time, he's oddly piloting a mobile suit that your allegiance sees as a threat. Not only that, but said childhood friend is a part of the military that opposes you and is being as blindly led as you are, but neither of you have noticed this despite screaming the same exact thing to each other over a public comm. line while engaging in causal combat. Change of plan… try to get your friend to change allegiances.

Of course, by the unstated law of the universe that things can never be that simple, this sort of desired change is impossible. So you both continue to oppose each other from seemingly day to day, saying the same thing over and over. Same old song and dance, but for the first time in a while, nothing's changing. But… this time you want change again. That's when you begin to question things and wonder when things started to get so crazy. When did things start to change?

Then you're stranded on an island overnight with some girl you captured that you keep having the sneaking suspicion would bludgeon you to death if given little more than half the chance. During this time, you guys hold each other at gunpoint, prepare to duel with knives, initiate a judo throw out of necessity, attempt to initiate a judo throw on a loaded gun, get half-naked, drown, spout philosophy to each other, talk about change, accuse each other, laugh about crabs, prepare for another knifefight, and flirt without shame despite already having a fiancée… and not in that order.

After that bit of fun, your childhood friend kills a good friend of yours. You grieve, mourn, and in retaliation, kill a good friend of his. For a change of pace for once, you both get really pissed and decide it to be the best thing to engage each other in a childhood-friends-casual-duel-to-the-death-in-Gundams type of ordeal. So you rip each other to shreds until finally you come up with the better strategy and decide to attach your Gundam to his like something straight from a Godzilla movie… and self-destruct. Unfortunately, you don't bother to take into consideration how either of you are going to survive this little ordeal. But, you really don't care. You're sick of all this change by now. If there's going to be any more painful change taking place in the universe, neither of you will have to be around to have to deal with it.

Surprise, surprise.

Things, of course, don't turn out as planned. You survive. So now your best friend is dead, you're still alive, and you have to deal with the fact that you killed him. Not only that, but the chick you were flirting with on the island barges into your room and does everything short of slapping some sense into you. You find out that things have changed drastically since the last time the two of you met. You now find out that this chick is actually your dead childhood friend's sister that you never knew about. You also find out that she's actually the princess of the neutral country you had attacked one of the colonies of and where you had originally almost knifed your childhood friend not that long ago who you have just recently killed.

In just a few minutes, she's crying; you're crying; and everything's all weird. A few words later, you're on friendly terms with the girl who just wanted to kill you minutes ago since you killed her brother, and she's changed your whole outlook on change. Now, you're starting to question everything you've been doing for the past few years.

Wow! What a change!

Then things change again and your best friend's back from the dead. Not only that, but he's also got a really cool Gundam, he's fighting for a completely different cause that you are actually quite jealous of, and he's somehow managed to seduce your fiancée.

Somehow, all of this is just fine with you. Later, you change your mind about attacking the neutral country that your childhood friend and his sister are trying their best to protect. And since it seems as if everyone is changing allegiances and flocking under the banner of this neutral country, you decide to do the same. Now, things can finally change since the two best mobile-suit pilots in the universe are gathered in the same country that has several other great pilots in it as well as a surprisingly strong military reserve.

Of course, things don't change, and you guys loose but manage to escape with your lives by hitching a ride on a capsule being hurled into space as the ruler of Orb, perhaps one of the coolest people you've ever met, goes down in a literal flame of glory.

Now, everyone's pissed.

You decide that, after abandoning your military and squadmates, now is the best time to have a father-son conversation with your lunatic dad.

You arrive there trying to talk some sense into him, and you are aptly shot. By your own father. Yeah, that's a bit of an unexpected change.

I mean, what… the… hell!

So someone else shoots him… end of story. Now, in this strange bit or irony, you find yourself missing both parents.

Later, your childhood friend and his awesome Gundam are facing off against that crazy ex-commander who, like the previous aspiring genius that started all of this, wants to change the world. … except this one is clearly insane.

Meanwhile, you have every intention of blowing yourself up along with your father's James Bondish weapon of mass destruction. Of course, as you should have learned by now, nothing like this ever goes your way. That princess of Orb chick comes in and yells at you for being a coward and effectively makes you feel about three inches tall, so you decide not to blow yourself up after all.

Then… that's it. Things changed, and now you've saved the world. Now, you and your best friend can go back to Earth and enjoy the lives of heroes.

As shown several times before, things can't work out that easily.

Your best childhood friend is despaired by all of the killing, so he basically retreats from the world… hermit-style… and with you fiancée. Strangely, you're perfectly fine with this.

You end up going back to the neutral country with the other chick. You change your name in order to get rid of any connection you may still hold to your psycho-father, you believe you might be falling in love with this other chick that you are now the personal bodyguard of, you're actually able to have a normal friendship with your childhood friend, you're stinking rich, and everything actually seems to be looking up for you.

Then, things change again…

Oddly, everything seems like it's already happened before. It's almost like the world is caught up in a time warp, like some strange, twisted, spiteful higher being has it in for you… or like a creativity-neglected producer is recycling material and plot-devices.

Some mobile suits are stolen by some people wanting to upset your hard-earned peace. This is, of course, after you meet the chairman of PLANT, who really doesn't seem to completely like the idea of universal peace and keeps talking about change. You should have seen that one coming from the first time you met him. But, as irony would have it, you'll go and fight for him and his diabolical ideas; all the while, abandoning your previous ideals, becoming your best friend's enemy again, breaking the heart of your loved one, and repeating the process of confusion, strife, and ironic continuum that you had juststepped out of two years ago.

However, there are some fun parts during this unneeded ordeal. You get put into a place of very high power in the ZAFT military. You are able to meet this really cool captain of this ship that seems oddly familiar to you as well as another soldier of ZAFT that is of equal rank as you who you come to see as being totally awesome. You are able to become James Bond for a time and make nearly every female you come into contact with fall for you. Of course, at times you find yourself unconsciously flirting with everything that moves, so…

Ah! And the best part of all! You get to haul off and royally bitch-slap and sucker-punch some egotistical, big-mouthed, self-centered, spoiled punk-brat for disobeying his master… er… I mean… you… his commanding officer.

But perhaps the coolest thing of all is when your childhood friend completely wrecks the wedding of your love interest and her weasel of a fiancée in perhaps the coolest way ever in the history of the world. Of course, said best friend will go on to claim doing this for very deep reasons… but you know deep down that he really only did it for shits and giggles.

But… guess what. That fun is not able to last. Yeah, what a surprise.

At some point during this time, everyone who previously loved you ends up hating you. Your pride gets trampled when you find out that the chairman is leading you by the cheek and has, come to find out, tried to have your fianc… ex-fiancée assassinated. You and your best friend are forced to fight against each other once again. Any emotional threads that bind the hearts of you and your love interest are completely severed. You find out that you've been fighting alongside a clone of that previous sick bastard of a commander that you, your best friend, and nearly everyone else worked so hard to bring down. The previously mentioned totally awesome ZAFT elite is killed in battle. The respectable captain of the familiar ZAFT ship dies in the explosion with the chairman for reasons that you'll never figure out. And in the end, it isn't you who gets to put the bullet through the putrid, black, vile heart of the chairman.

Again, everything comes to an end. But deep down, you can't help but feel that as long as things change and people want change, things will never truly end.

And once more, I find myself as a hypocrite, because I want change.

I want the world to change in a way that there is only one group of people: human. I want this world to change so that way things can stop changing, if that makes any sense.

I want a change so that happiness, as difficult as it may be to attain, will at least be attainable. I don't want anyone to have to fight anymore; I don't want to fight anymore.

I want to be friends with Kira, not on-and-off enemies. You know, the kind of friends that meet each other at home in order to watch the game and eat something off the grill instead of meeting each other on the battlefield, fighting for hazy ideals that neither of us know how to define.

I want Lacus to take care of him; if she can take care of me, she can take care of anyone. Ha… I guess that's what comes with being the perfect specimen of the female… or human race. She doesn't deserve to have to carry on her father's legacy; that's another change I would make. She deserves to lead a simple life with someone like Kira who will always do the right thing, not simply try to do the right thing like me. She, the ultimate-individual, and Kira, the ultimate-coordinator, need to settle down somewhere away from conflict and get with making some ultimate-offspring. Hey, natural selection at its best.

I want the name "Zala" to completely disappear along with everything it implies. I don't want that name to be remembered by anyone.

Personal changes: I want to go fishing. I want to raise a family. I want to watch television. I want to take a hammer to Haro when Lacus isn't looking.

I want to attain a stable group of friends.

I want to see Cagalli again… and apologize… I at least owe her that much. I want to see if we can start again, because I think… at one point… we really had something, you know?

I, Athrun Zala, want to start over and make sure I don't mess up again. …It's happened way too much.

I suppose there should be a moral to this story…

If I'm not simply rambling, and there truly is a moral to this story, it would be this:

Don't change. Don't change a damn thing.

If change rears its ugly head, goes against it with everything you have, because in the end… it will probably not turn out as well as you want. If other people want change, try to talk them out of it. Hold on to what's stable. For if you don't, change will shake the foundation.

So, the next time you start thinking about how you would like to see change, please reconsider… or get ready to loose your family and knife your best friend… one or the other.

And, for the love of all that is just, the next time the vending machine eats your dollar, let it keep the change, for you sure as hell don't need it.

… Do not accept change…

… Do not change…

… Reject it…

… Rage… against the dying of the light…

I need another drink.