Finding Alex Dino

by beaple leone michaelmas

Epilogue: Complete, Not Whole

Penultimate A/N:

[3 February 2011] Before anything else, I'd like to say thank you to flutter, moi, , and leyax for reviewing FAD! Thanks so much guys! *shining eyes, Mogami Kyoko fairy mode style* I dedicate this story to the four of you, for your inputs that have pushed me to finished this fic faster than I would have without your support. Thanks! [Thanks, too, to everyone else reading this – hello, lurkers, if you exist. ::)]

Reflecting on the entirety of the fic, I realize the ending is a bit 'choppy' compared to the rather fluid introductory chapters, and I'll admit that's my mistake. ::( In the plot draft, there were smooth transitions [Chapter Eight supposedly opens with Alex in a limousine, being taken to where Patrick Zala is; Chapter Nine used to have a short intro where Alex is rescued by Kisaka and Co. after his father escapes] but I gave them up. I can't even remember why – for drama, probably. 0.o In any case, I'm relying on you, dear readers, to figure out what I've failed to explain. I believe in you! ::D

Again, thanks so much for reading FAD! Despite the horrible writing of the not-so-ending, please allow me to present to you my favorite chapter of this humble story: Complete, Not Whole.

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.

Epilogue: Complete, Not Whole

Friday – 09:11

He sat on the couch with his eyes on the road, taking in the sight of pedestrians trickling by, the slow movement of vehicles crossing his vision. It was a lazy Friday morning – a week to the day he first met Kira and Shinn, a week to the day he snapped and packed to go to PLANT, a week to the day he made a decision that changed his existence forever. Sighing, closing his bloodshot eyes, Alex Dino buried his face on maroon furniture fabric, taking steady breaths to ease his palpitating heart. He had not slept well the previous evening, though he had been temporarily taken out of guard duty. These past few days he had developed a fit of insomnia – from stress or something else he did not know…

He wondered how long he would have to endure sleepless nights.

On the wall beside him, standing slanted, was the middle piece of the painting that had started it all. Wrapped in brown packaging paper, Alex did not need to see what lay behind the covering to envision the image that had mesmerized so many without intending to. Raising his face almost languidly, his eyes aching from exposure to light, he looked at the clear blue skies of the world outside – fat, white clouds floating amidst a pale blue expanse of heaven, twin reflection of the little parting, greeting gift his mother had sent him. For the millionth time in the past few days, he pondered why his mother had chosen to paint the sky, of all things…

Why the sky, when he felt so confined by the knowledge of his real identity?

The door of the Le Creuset Art Gallery suddenly opened, the bells above it making a gentle racket to alert those concerned of a guest's arrival. Rising to his feet, Alex had blinked to wake his tired eyes just as Kira Yamato and Shinn Asuka walked into the room, packages wrapped in brown paper held safely in their hands. They were laughing at something Shinn had said – Shinn, who had taken his signature hat off and was clutching it in his fist. With a final chuckle, Kira, sensing the movement of his other friend, met Alex's eye and smiled-

"Oh, it's just you."

The three of them turned, surprised to hear someone else speak. Mu La Flagga and Murrue Ramius were standing by their office, adults observing children in their care with differing expressions on their faces. He was leaning against the wall, glasses askew on the tip of his nose, a pout on his lips, as though he was ambivalent about a meeting taking place in his territory. But she was all smiles, beaming with eyes bright, as Shinn raised a hand at her in greeting, as Kira made a short albeit respectful bow.

"Those are the other two pieces then?" she inquired, gesturing briefly at the two in question.

Kira, mouth opened slightly as he hesitated to answer, turned to Alex for confirmation. "Uh… yes. These are all the pieces…"

Murrue's eyes softened. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes, actually." Alex had a feeling she was asking him, although her eyes remained on Kira. "We think it should remain here, because now all of us have memories attached to it…"

There was a moment of sound skipped, as the three young men exchanged a look full of meaning, their resolve firm. Watching them, sensing that they had thought about this carefully, Mu sighed and touched his partner's sleeve to regain her attention. "Come on. They're old enough to know what they're doing…"

Arms around a retreating Murrue, he shot one last knowing glance at Alex, who merely sighed at the unabashed display of the man's juvenile tendencies. Shinn and Kira were making a racket, finding enough stretch of wall to set their paintings, free space in this lobby filled with elegant trinkets of art.

It was Shinn who plopped beside Alex first.

"So. How have you been?" A week ago, Alex would have been shocked to hear himself taking the first stab at conversation. "What's going on?"

"Nothing much, actually," Shinn acquiesced, as Kira occupied the seat on Alex's other side. "Although, my family seems to be considering evacuating to Carpentaria – can you believe that?" He shook his head, apparently disgusted. "My father thinks there's going to be a war, with the two must powerful countries like this."

"He might not be wrong," Kira slurred, morose. "Did you hear PLANT's actually sent the Minerva out? That thing's practically just as well-equipped as the Archangel-"

Shinn impatiently waved the talk of military equipment aside. "Enough of that for now. Comparing military capabilities won't change what's going on." Turning to Alex, he snorted, and suddenly smirked. Quirking an eyebrow, he teased, "Don't you think you should ask Kira what he's been up to?"

"What?" Alex directed his gaze at Kira, who promptly reddened at all the attention he was receiving. He didn't look any different – perhaps a bit more well-fed, but otherwise- "What've you been up to?"

"W-well…" He fidgeted with the tips of his fingers. Clearing his throat, eyes darting everywhere, he conceded, "Lacus and I have gotten engaged-"

"Wow!" Alex felt a strange happiness bubbling in his chest, bliss the color of bright light, the taste of tangy summer. "Congratulations! This is… unexpected. When are you getting married?"

"As soon as possible," Kira replied sheepishly, still flustered. "Her father still thinks I'm the reason she quit school so he's not very welcoming at the moment…"

Alex's mood dropped. In the midst of the current catastrophe, he had forgotten the situation of Kira's girlfriend. "Listen, Kira. About that. I'm really sorry about Lacus' scholarship-"

But, in a manner reminiscent of Shinn, Kira merely waved his apology aside. "You keep blaming yourself. It's not your fault, you know. Really, I just think we're both glad to have a reason to finally stay together…"

"And you, Alex?" Shinn intervened, worried, sensing that Alex didn't look pacified at all. "How are things in the home front? You look like you've been staying up all night again," he observed wisely, peering at the red corners of Alex's eyes.

Alex sighed heavily. "Athrun has started talking-"

"No way! At two months?"

He merely shrugged, unsure of what to say. He didn't think adding the bit of trivia that he had roughly the same record would improve things. "His baby sitter is driving me insane."

"Oh yeah, that Flay woman," Shinn recalled with a faraway look, the name odd on his lips. "Knew she had the hots for you-"

"More like she wants to chop me to death and bottle my remains for experimental purposes-"

"Disregarding that," Kira said sternly, ignoring Shinn's suppressed guffaw. Regarding Alex with a serious gaze, he asked, "What's going on at the Residence? How are Uzumi-sama and Cagalli-sama?"

Alex took his time. There was no clear way to describe how both of them were, and Alex would be damned if he tried to accurately illustrate the hell they were going through. "They're both pretty busy… Cagalli has altogether bypassed the Turnover Ceremony." Although he spoke naturally, he felt both Kira and Shinn stiffen at this update, their expressions somber. "And even though Uzumi-sama is technically retired now, both them are working hard as horses." A sigh, one more frown. "It's all my-"

"Shhh-"

"Stop it."

But Alex merely stared at his hands. "No, seriously. I wonder… if I hadn't been born – made – would any of this have happened?"

"Yes, it would have." Kira smiled sadly, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder. "It would have happened, one way or another…"

Shinn sighed heavily. "Humans will always strive to be better, to outperform themselves, to reach perfection." He shrugged. "Desire is a natural way of life."

There was a moment of silence as the three of them stared at each other.

"Wow, Shinn," said Kira, sincerely impressed. "That was really deep."

"I know – I've been thinking so much lately it's disturbing-"

They burst into laughter at the odd pronouncement, Kira actually reaching out enthusiastically to mock-punch Shinn's shoulder. Alex laughed, unable to control himself, for once relieved he could let himself go like this. From the far corner of the lobby, however, an ominous sound could be heard, and Alex felt himself slowly surfing back to reality. It was the familiar deep rumble of a newscaster's voice, a crisp monotone from a distant TV… Always the same tone when declaring some fresh disaster.

"Tensions between Orb and PLANT escalated today, 08:47 Western Standard Time, as sightings of an unidentified vessel were reported from Orb's Onogoro Military Headquarters." Alex could hear the woman's voice as though she was right beside him, standing but a foot away, speaking calmly into his ear. "The unidentified vessel, coded Bogey-1, is allegedly part of the PLANT fleet, one of the newly developed armament-carrier submarines directly under the command of Prime Minister Zala. It must be noted that-"

"Alex."

He turned to Kira and Shinn; both were observing him sternly. Alex hadn't realized he had been tuning out to their conversation. With a quick smile, he hastily tried to explain, "Sorry – it's just… I've been wondering why no one's yet realized how flimsy Zala's excuse for imposing aggressive self-defense is. Orb attacking – open-firing – at a foreign dignitary – how stupid can they get?"

Sticking a hand into his uncharacteristically messy hair, Alex exhaled heavily. "And to think PLANT believes all that trash about Orb planning to take over Aprillius – that's just the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Why do they believe that so easily?" He straightened up with difficulty, meeting Kira and Shinn's eyes. "Can't they tell this is Zala's way of retaliating against Uzumi-sama? It's just a misunderstanding between two people, there's no need to bring anyone else into the conflict…"

It's just a tug-of-war game over me – us.

"Are you going to tell everybody then?" It always disturbed Alex how spot-on Kira's assessments were. Shinn was one thing, but Kira… "Are you going to tell them? That you're a Coordinator, I mean-"

"If it comes to that, I'll have to, won't I?" Alex frowned, looking away, staring past the lobby window. Outside, on the other end of the near-empty street, a mother was wiping her child's face, scolding him lightly as ice cream messily trickled down his chin. The boy merely laughed, licking his fingers – bright and sticky and sweet. "I'm only sorry that I can't give Athrun a normal life… At least I lived somewhat normally – once."

Suddenly, the door bells clanged for a second time that morning, interrupting Alex's musings. Three young men slowly walked into the room, scanning the lobby before their eyes fell on the three by the couch. Feeling suddenly wary, Alex took stock of their civilian clothing, their dark glasses, and – above all – the rigidity with which they carried themselves. Even with the disguise, Alex could see it in them… military training. These men were no ordinary citizens.

"Can I help you?" floated Murrue's ever-peaceful voice from the office, as she and Mu emerged from their little sanctuary. Alex tried to warn them, tried to tell them something was definitely wrong about this scene, but the strangers beat him to it.

Casually turning to the curators of the gallery, the one standing nearest them – a tall, blond youth clad in leather and denim – opened one side of his jacket to show them the gun on his belt. "Careful," he warned, tone light, an adult speaking to a little child. "We're not here to hurt you, but if you interfere…"

He trailed off, turning his attention back to the Alex, Kira and Shinn, who now crouched below their seats, bent close to the tiled floor. Alex could feel Shinn tense beside him, his muscles contracting in agitation. But it was not the same tension Alex had felt from Shinn days ago – it was anger, pure anger, the desire to inflict damage, the desire to engage in a fight…

Beside them, Kira cursed under his breath.

As Murrue and Mu fell to a half-bend near the door of their office, silent and frozen in a mixture of fright and bewilderment, the remaining two strangers exchanged a long glance. The burlier one, with his seemingly bleached hair and golden tan, shrugged nonchalantly, as though to say, "It's your call." His comrade – lean and lithe, with white hair past his ears – stiffly turned to their captives and demanded-

"Alex Dino. Come with us."

Blinking, Alex shot a quick glance at his friends. Kira was looking pale and stricken; crimson hate was raging in Shinn's eyes. Murrue was clutching Mu's hand in desperation, as the latter looked placidly, calmly at Alex, who was wordlessly gaping back at him.

The submarine outside Onogoro… spotted thirty minutes ago… It all began to make sense. But Uzumi and Cagalli were in Morgenroate right now, and Kisaka was with them. Which meant - there was no one in the Residence with Athrun…

Alex paled visibly. Did Patrick Zala plan all of this?

Will this conflict end if I leave with them…?

"Don't do it."

Stunned, Alex jerked to the side, outbalanced, pulled by the pale, clammy hand that was gripping his arm tightly. Kira's deep purple eyes were looking back at him, begging him, pleading him… He could see himself reflected in them-

"Whatever it is you're thinking of – don't do it."

A flash of gunfire and a sharp, piercing crack. Alex could vaguely sense Murrue falling to her knees, Mu cursing as he fought to keep her steady. Kira was bending on the floor before him, shivering, paralyzed with fear – there was no blood and yet Alex felt an odd lightness rushing to his head. Shinn was clutching their friend's limp body, shaking Kira by the shoulders, demanding to know what was hurting. And vaguely, like shapes taking form behind a cloud of smoke, Alex saw the two blond men approach, their leader calmly, slowly, putting his gun back in its holster.

It was that moment, ultimately, that decided Alex's fate for him.

The world spinning fast around him, his head feeling empty, an odd throbbing in his ears – Alex fell forward, clutching the nearby coffee table for support. He could feel the heat in his fingers, the blood pumping in his veins – every pump, every beat, every footstep approaching. He was feeling lightheaded, and the blood was leaving his head and rushing to his head and leaving his head again. And he dimly remembered how everyone… how everyone had spoken about his power, his strength to change the world. How much strength he had within reach…

He had never felt it for himself before.

Power, he recalled, as a firm hand gripped his shoulder, shaking him. What is power?

There was a heavy feeling building inside him, overwhelming in weight and magnitude. He could hear someone shouting his name, someone shaking him roughly to wake him from his purgatory. At this moment, in his world, he was detached from everything else. Nothing made sense. Nothing else mattered.

He felt the sudden urge to laugh.

Green eyes shooting straight back up, he grabbed the rough hand holding him, gripping him. It was the blond man in leather, and he appeared so disturbed and shocked at his prey's sudden movement that he allowed panic to flash past his face. It must have been something in Alex's eyes, something on his face that compelled that horrified silence. But Alex didn't have time to think about it – he didn't care to think about it… not now.

Whatever it is, it is strength. It was the stirring of emotion – purpose – resolve… It is power.

Slowly, Alex Dino stood up.

Final A/N:

Sorry 'bout all that drama. ;;X Cameos care of Miguel Aiman, Yzak Joule and Dearka Ellsman. Again, thanks so much for reading FAD! My first and last foray into GS-dom. ::D [3 February 2011]