Finding Alex Dino

by beaple leone michaelmas

Chapter Nine: The Impatience of Time and Circumstance

A/N:

[2 February 2011] The last chapter, finally up! ::D Not the end yet, though. The usual warning: Tons of talk, very little action – generally unremarkable chapter. ::)

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for reading FAD!

Disclaimer:

I do not own Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny.

The whole concept belongs to Sunrise. This fic is based on SEED and Destiny.

Previously:
Chapter Eight: Black Hole

The Minister bent to a crouch, sought to level himself with the younger man's lowered, glazed gaze. "Perhaps it was selfish of me to do this for you," he began, voice softer, more compassionate than Alex ever imagined. "But I only did it because it was best – not for me, not for your mother, but for you-"

He raised a hand – slowly, almost hesitantly, placing it on Alex's knee. "This isn't for me, Athrun… This is for you…"

Alex could only stare.

Chapter Nine: The Impatience of Time and Circumstance

Monday – 11:56

"The latest report from the Navy confirms that Patrick Zala has escaped via the Onogoro port-"

Assistant Junior Defense Secretary Tolle Koenig looked up from the documents in his hand, peering at the Orb Sovereign over the edge of the sheets. Uzumi Nara Athha sat on the far end of the conference table, expression somber, eyebrows meeting. Seated around him were the highest-ranking members of the national cabinet, his daughter Princess Cagalli Yula Athha to his immediate right, none of them particularly happy. To complete the image of stifled chaos in the face of a massive catastrophe, the entire conference room of the Residence was packed with other government officials standing at attention with worried faces, rigid hands. Sighing inwardly, Tolle returned to his papers – there would be no good news to report this morning.

"Due to the presence of a foreign dignitary, there was hardly any gunfire – because the two sides were reluctant to shoot," he gestured, immediately feeling stupid for describing the obvious. "There are casualties, yes – two from our side and five from Minister Zala's personal guard – but altogether, the confrontation was minimal-"

"They shot first, so we shot them back," the Interior Secretary reminded the table. "Up until Onogoro, our forces were concentrating on subduing them, not attacking them-"

"Nevertheless, due to diplomatic immunity, Patrick Zala has escaped," the Justice Secretary cut in. "There is no point denying that…"

As the meeting ended abruptly, the Cabinet members rising to corral the fiasco, Alex Dino shut his eyes, pained. He lurked on the corner of the room right next to the door, his friends and the Sovereign's private guard right beside him, discussing the unimaginable events of the day. Patrick Zala demanding an early morning meeting – Patrick Zala kidnapping Alex Dino – Patrick Zala leaving his son behind! Alex ducked his head and forced the voices out. He would not listen. He didn't want to listen. He didn't want to hear anything about Patrick Zala – Patrick Zala – right now…

"There will be repercussions." The rich baritone of Ledonir Kisaka was impossible to ignore. "The blood of PLANT soldiers has been spilled on our soil-"

"Will we go to war?" Shinn Asuka asked.

There was a pause, and Alex could almost see Kisaka pondering the question. "I'm sure we will do our best to avoid that. But if war is what Patrick Zala wants-"

"Then war is what he will get."

Alex's head shot up as the Sovereign of Orb approached. He stood straight, chin high, but it was apparent how severely the developments were affecting him. There was a certain strained quality in his eyes, a resignation people seldom saw on the Lion of Orb…

Uzumi Nara Athha was merely waiting to see how things would play out, powerless just like the rest of them.

"What do you mean, Sir?" Heine Westenfluss asked, manner expectedly brisk. "You mean you'll allow us to go to war if PLANT instigates it-?"

"What he's saying is that Patrick Zala always gets what he wants," Cagalli rebutted, looking fiercer and more serious than anyone had ever seen her. Unlike her father, the Princess was less adept at concealing her feelings – predisposed, in fact, not to bother hiding them. "That man has enough clout in the international community to cause chaos – it will be difficult to avoid falling into his traps…"

She suddenly ceased speaking, face tightening as she envisioned what schemes the Prime Minister of PLANT was preparing under his sleeve. Seeing her angry face, the hate in her eyes, Alex tore his gaze away from the group, fists clenched.

"This is all my fault," he whispered, oblivious to the shocked gazes that were turned to him. Raising his head with effort, meeting the Sovereign's eyes, he said, voice shaking, "Uzumi-sama… I'm truly sorry. This wouldn't have happened if not for my mistake-"

Shinn jumped in. "No, Sir, Your Excellency, Alex – Agent Dino – he didn't want to go to PLANT. It was my idea, I forced him to do it-"

"Shinn, be quiet!" Kira Yamato spoke for the first time since they entered the conference room, placing a firm hand on Shinn's shoulder to keep him still.

"But Kira-!"

"What difference will pinning the blame make now?" Lacus Clyne said in her low, crystal voice, her eyes unnaturally sad. "Things are as they are. Nothing will change that, not even atonement." Inclining her head, she smiled at Alex, meeting his turbulent eyes, and said, "All we can do is strive to change the future. That is within our power."

Uzumi smiled softly. "The young lady is right. We must not dwell on past mistakes, on things we cannot change." Squaring his back, smiling a little wider, he continued, "There is much to be done, much that lies ahead of us. It is during times like these when we need the strength of a collective, a heart of one. History is not made by a few great men, of individuals alone… For all we know, the people of PLANT may see their leader's villainy just in time."

With mischief in his eyes, his face turned to Alex, Uzumi asked, "You remember my favorite historian?"

The young guard sobered. "Constantino? Yes…"

Uzumi – hands in his pockets, a sure sign he was thinking deeply – directed his gaze upward, and spoke, "The fundamental cause of mass action is not the utterances of a leader; rather, these leaders have been impelled to action by historical forces unleashed by their social development…"

"We must therefore," Cagalli continued, walking close to Alex, smiling softly, "… not fall into the error of projecting the role of the individual to the extent of denying the play of these forces as well as the creative energies of the people who are the true makers of their own history." [1]She raised a pale hand, lightly touched his arm. "Right, Alex?"

One's life is dictated by one's destiny… Immortality, Son, is what I have written for you…

But Uzumi was still smiling at him.

"Your Highness," Tolle Koenig reentered the room suddenly, looking mildly harassed, his dark hair in disarray. Behind him, visible through the open double doors, Junior Defense Secretary Natarle Badgiruel was prowling the corridor, searching. "Is this a bad time? Only, a horrible development has taken place-"

"What is it?" Cagalli asked before her father could speak. Her grip on Alex's arm had tightened.

"The Duel and the Buster are moving back toPLANT at alarming speeds," Badgiruel interrupted, stepping in front of Tolle. With a brief salute to her superior, she continued, "The Blitz has disappeared from our radar; it was last seen in the Pacific twenty-five minutes ago."

"Duel, Buster and Blitz – PLANT warships," Heine, whispering so only the civilians could hear, stealing a quick glance at Uzumi. "This is bad."

"Call for a meeting of the Armed Forces," Uzumi instructed calmly, as everyone straightened up – even administrative personnel positioned several feet away. "The Morgenroate Headquarters, Natarle. And have the Strike and the Aegis ready. PLANT is moving faster than we have anticipated…"

"Shall we deploy Impulse as well, Your Highness?"

Uzumi paused. His eyes, blank and empty, were trained straight on the Commandant, who seriously returned the gaze blink per blink. "No, Natarle…" he decided finally, exhaling an barely audible sigh. "Not until the circumstances demand it…"

Badgiruel's eyes narrowed. "Very well, Your Highness."

A succession of salutes and the Defense officials disappeared, steps purposeful, strides long. As they stalked down the corridor, heads turned, whispers were exchanged, before the rush to find something to do, something productive, something to combat this threat of disaster. Feet flew as Heine turned to Kisaka, gritting his teeth.

"Sir, shall we have the Umbrella of Artemis installed then?"

"Yes, that would be the most prudent course of action," Kisaka mulled aloud. With a brief nod at his superior, he had walked distractedly to the hallway, the civilians right behind him. "Call for the Vanguard to gather at Headquarters in 10 minutes, but you and the next three highest-ranking surveillance personnel should stay in the Tower-"

"But, why?" Heine remained looking puzzled as Kisaka stopped walking to stare at him. "I mean, wouldn't we be more useful if we joined the Patrol Division? We all know the enemy's outside-"

"All the more we should concentrate on not letting the enemy in!" Kisaka barked, making Heine jump. "Westenfluss, think!"

Shinn stared openly, jaw slack, as Heine cursed and shook his hair to clear his head. "Kisaka-san, what can we do to help?"

Kisaka frowned. "You're civilians," he replied gruffly, walking on. "There's nothing you can do-"

"But we want to help!"

"Then go home, and don't cause trouble for anybody-"

"But Kisaka-san-!"

"Alex-kun."

He turned and saw Uzumi down the corridor, beside the conference room, Cagalli beside him. There was an undecipherable meaning in his eyes, as though he was trying to convey a message to Alex without anyone noticing. Blinking, the guard hesitated. What was the Sovereign trying to say?

"You go on ahead," he said to Kira and Shinn, who were watching him almost nervously. "I'll meet you in the Tower." To Kisaka, he added seriously, "They can be very persistent, Kisaka-san. I suggest you give them something to do because by doing otherwise you'll only waste your time."

As he approached Uzumi, Cagalli stepped forward, gliding in her pale blue dress. It was the gown of light silk that Alex had seen only half-finished for weeks, the gown she should have worn as she made her rounds of the city, in preparation for the night of the Turnover Ceremony… With the dress and the sapphires in her hair, she looked so sylphlike it pained him that no one else could see her this way.

And it was all his fault.

They met halfway down the corridor and she smiled. Alex didn't even bother to smile back; he merely lowered his gaze and apologized in silence, hoping she would understand, knowing she would and hate him for it. He walked on, his feet knowing where to go, before coming to a stop in front of the man who had raised him. Behind him, he heard Cagalli forcing the onlookers onward, herding distraction away for his sake. He almost broke his resolve, almost smiled… She knew them both so well.

"Alex." The Sovereign placed a mild, steady hand on his shoulder, searching his eyes. "Are you sure you're all right?"

"Yes, Sir, I assure you I'm fine." Alex paused, averted his eyes, as he considered telling the truth. "There are many things… I wish to ask you. Many questions that I know you have the answers to. But…" He shook his head, willing his thoughts away. "Now is not the time for me to be selfish. You must put Orb first, before anything. There will always be another day for us to talk…"

Uzumi smiled. "Such noble intentions," he chuckled, patting Alex's shoulder. "You never change, do you? Always thinking you're worth less compared to everyone else…"

As Alex flustered and mumbled incoherently, Uzumi shook his head. "You matter to me, Alex." He turned grave, eyes deep. "Whoever you may have been born to, whoever may share your blood – none of these matter to me. You are my son. I have always treated you as such, and I will always treat you like so."

Whatever happens, you are still my son… Nothing matters more than that.

"Thank you, Uzumi-sama." Alex smiled faintly. "I… thank you… so much."

Grinning, Uzumi shook Alex slightly, jerking his shoulder. "Have faith, Alex," he declared, eyes dancing. "Only you can write your destiny."

A/N:

The final chapter down! It's crazy, right? ::D I guessed all the stuff about 'pre-War preparations' – that's why all the lines sound silly. Sorry 'bout that. 0.o [2 February 2011]

Revenge of the Footnotes:

[1] Renato Constantino. Esteemed Filipino scholar. The line Uzumi and Cagalli invoke comes from one of his publications/lectures, Veneration Without Understanding. It's a kick-ass monograph, so if any of you are Filipinos or interested in learning about our national hero, Jose Rizal, please try reading it. ::D