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The Brothers Zala Chapter 2: Replacement

November 26, 2014

A lone figure stood under the grey sky as a chill blew through the rustling, street-side beech trees. The figure shivered from the cold, but was otherwise silent and still.

The figure was dressed in a tight pair of low-cut jeans that stopped a little above her ankles, showing the pink, cotton socks that grew up her long, thin legs like stalks. A purple hoodie covered her torso, coming down well past her hips. Seeming too large for her, the raised hood obscured much of her head, exposing only the lowermost portion of her exquisite, pale face.

A small nose, almost the colour of milk; and thin lips, tinted with the slightest trace of pink. Arms crossed her torso and hands gripped covered elbows in a futile attempt to defy the nippy bite of the evening weather.

The girl; no, the young woman: Tall, lithe, and thin, stood at the edge of the road, looking out at the emptiness, watching for the pedestrians and vehicles that would not show themselves. She was waiting. Waiting for something, for someone. For the first car that would stop for her. The first car that would traverse the deserted road of this ghost town. The car that would take her away. The car that would take her far away from this place. The car that would take her home.

Slowly, shrouded and surrounded; from the hidden, distant mist it came; hurtling toward her as surely as it would stop, coming to a halt a small distance away.

The silent figure stooped to pick up the semi-abandoned suitcase and backpack at her feet, swinging the latter over one shoulder. Her left arm struggled slightly with the weight of the bulky case, so she transferred it to her other hand and walked toward the now stationary sedan.

It was a brilliant red, even in the evening twilight. Five doors, including the boot.

Without so much as a sound, the driver’s door opened, and out stepped a man. He was tall like a tree. Blond hair, brown eyes, and a thick moustache. He wore a dark blue suit that seemed to blend in with the dark sky above. His stern eyes gazed upon the girl before him. He was silent.

For the longest moment, the two stared at one another, neither speaking, and neither making a move. The night was still, the air tense around them as though it were wire. They remained motionless, until finally, the man smiled. Moustached upper lip curled. Stern mask cracked.

Dropping the suitcase, the girl rushed at the man, leaping into a tight embrace that was warmly returned.

“Lacus,” he spoke, voice solemn.

In response, the girl simply rested her head against the tall man’s chest as she felt his hand on the back of her head.

“It has been too long,” the man stated. “I am sorry.”

“Otou-san,” the girl replied. Reaching up, she removed her purple hood, revealing her face to the man.

“Can you forgive me? I know I haven’t been much of a father to you lately.”

Lacus looked to the man uncomfortably. Her eyes were drawn past him, to the red car in which he’d arrived. It was so unlike him. Even the colour seemed odd. “I don’t remember this car,” she voiced, hoping to change the subject.

“Yes,” the blond man replied, allowing his daughter to control the conversation and move it to where she liked. “It’s new.”

“So it’s yours?”

“Well, it’s a family car. We can all use it. No one single person owns it.” Lacus nodded. “Your sister picked it out.”

Lacus’ eyes widened in shock. Sister… She had thought many things of Meer Campbell. She’d known many names by which to call the girl. Sister however, was not among them.

“Lacus, is something bothering you?” The pinkette was snapped instantly out of her reverie. Periwinkle eyes searched those of her father. “If there’s anything, you can talk to me about it.” What was it? Something in his eye. A look Lacus had never seen before. It scared her.

What was wrong? Perhaps Siegel Clyne was the one who needed to talk.

“You do want to return home with me, I suppose?” he asked.

Lacus’ brow furrowed. How could he ask her that? There was nothing on earth she wanted more than to return home. She’d thought of nothing other than this moment for the past two miserable years of her life. How could she not want to return home with him? The only thing to equal her desire of returning home was her desire to see her old friends again.

“It’s perfectly understandable if you don’t. I mean, it’s my fault, all of it.”

“What is?”

“Sending you away. Bringing you here. It was your mother’s idea—“

That woman is not my mother.

“But I never should have let them go through with it. I should have been there. I should have done something.”

“It’s okay,” Lacus argued.

“I was busy, and Elizabeth… your mother was adamant. I should have been more assertive, but I never thought she’d go through with it.” Siegel’s hand was drawn to his daughter’s face. He beamed down at her, brushing the stray bangs from her eyes. “And then came the day that you left, and I did nothing. I should have acted, but…”

“By then it was too late,” Lacus spoke, finishing the blond man’s sentence for him.

“I’d convinced myself that you would be back in under a month. Then one month passed, and then another. Not for a moment did I think you’d be gone for all this time. Two years… and you’ve grown so much.”

“Lacus smiled at the compliment. “At least you’re here now. Better late than never, right?”

“You don’t resent me for what I did? For my inaction? Not even a little?”

Lacus shook her head. “Never.”

Siegel found he could not wipe the wide smile from his face. “I didn’t expect you to be so forgiving.”

“How did you think I would act?”

“I’m not sure. I thought you’d be… different.”

“You thought I’d be… difficult, didn’t you?”

“Perhaps that is the word for it,” Siegel chuckled.

“It’s been a while Otou-san, but try to remember. I’m not Meer.”

Siegel smiled once more. “I’ll keep that in mind. Shall we go?”

Lacus nodded and clasped her hands in excitement when the blond reached into his pocket and withdrew something. Square, plastic, and laden with different coloured buttons: A remote control of some kind.

Siegel pointed the remote at the red car and pushed a button on the device. Nothing happened. He pushed another, and the back of the vehicle swung upward, revealing a large, spacious storage compartment.

The man motioned for his daughter to place her things inside, and she did so, stepping back when she was done, and the door swung downward without a sound. Checking with her hand, Lacus found the door to be secure.

Siegel pushed two more buttons, these situated next to one another, and the front doors opened: One for the driver, and the other on the passenger’s side.

Once the two had boarded, Siegel pushed the same two buttons, and the doors silently swung closed. A green button caused the various gadgets on the dashboard to light up for a second, then fade. A red button next the green one caused an icon on the dashboard to light up, though this one remained illuminated.

Siegel placed the remote in a secure compartment, raised a lever behind the steering wheel to indicate right, and pulled into the road. Astonished, Lacus couldn’t help but voice her surprise. “It’s perfectly silent,” she said.

“Yes,” Siegel replied. “I told you this car was new. It runs entirely on electricity. No combustion required. That means no exhaust, and of course, no noise. Feel free to turn the radio on if you don’t like the silence. It took me a while to get used to it too, but now I’ve grown to enjoy it.”

Lacus declined the offer. She’d spent a lot of time over the past two years alone in her room. Over that time, she’d come to appreciate the silence and the solitude. She’d come to enjoy the quiet thinking time they offered.

The pinkette caught herself staring out the window for most of the journey. The trip was certainly extensive. In fact, she didn’t remember the journey away from home taking nearly this long. It must have been an illusion or misperception of some kind. Her memory, or even perhaps time itself, playing a trick on her.

Finally, they arrived at their destination: a house Lacus had been dreaming of for the past twenty months.

That had been it, once the girl had left, she hadn’t been allowed back home again. Not even for holidays. Most of the students at that school had gone home to spend summers and Christmas with relatives, but not Lacus.

The pinkette hadn’t received so much as a letter or phone call from any of her friends or family the entire time she was gone. Her friends, she could forgive. She hadn’t been able to tell them where exactly she was going anyway, but not her family.

Did they really miss her at all? Were they happy to have her back? No contact, no invitation to spend the summer at home. Lacus nervously caught her father’s eye as she retrieved her luggage from the back of the car.

“What is it,” he asked. “You look as though something is troubling you.”

“Just… anxious to be home,” the pinkette replied.

Siegel nodded and retrieved the remote control from his pocket. Pushing several buttons on the device, he killed the vehicle’s electric engine, closed the doors, and locked them; simultaneously engaging the vehicle’s alarm.

Placing the device back in his pants pocket, he retrieved his house key and moved ahead of his daughter.

“Otou-san?”

“What is it?”

“Did…” Lacus trailed off, feeling foolish for asking, though she had to know. Why had she been brought back? Why now? Why not last year? Her hopes had been so high. He had told her it wouldn’t be for long. He had promised.

“Go on, what is it?”

“Did you… miss me… while I was gone?”

“Lacus…” Siegel replied, taken aback by the question. “Of course I did. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t lament your absence. Not a day that I wasn’t totally distraught. Not a day that I didn’t detest myself for sending you away. Lacus, I love you, and I always will. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t miss you.

“Not a moment went by that I didn’t want you back, and not a moment goes by now that I don’t regret what happened. There’s not a single moment; now or in the future that I won’t cherish with you here, where you belong. Not a one.”

Once inside the house, Lacus felt the rush of familiar sights and memories flood over her. She placed down her bags and proceeded to look around.

It had been so long, and although the house was so familiar; like the blood in her veins, it had changed so much. As Lacus had grown taller, this house had grown diverse. It was so different, but she wanted it. Not every memory of the place was warm, but she loved it. It had been so long, but she needed it. This was hers. This was where she belonged.

After so many months, She had finally made it. Lacus was finally home.

Suddenly, her very blood ran cold.

She froze, reaching for it: Hands trembling, fingers closing around the embroidered, golden frame. She brought it to her moistening, luminous eyes.

She’d only noticed it on a passing glance, but now it had possessed her: this picture; a family portrait.

A tall man, short golden hair, neatly combed and slick with oil. Clothed in a dapper, blue suit with burgundy tie, he stood a full head above the women he had been photographed with.

Beside him stood an elegant looking woman. Long, dark, thick brown hair trailed down her back. The extravagant gown and make-up she wore belied her age. Though her companions smiled, this woman’s expression seemed formal, ceremonial, stern. Rather than smiling, her lips appeared to be pursed in a way that seemed so familiar to the pinkette. In fact, Lacus doubted if the woman had ever actually expressed any real joy in her entire life.

What really got to Lacus, however, was the third and final subject in the portrait. Standing between the other two, slightly in front of them. Unlike the older woman, this teenage girl wore simple attire. A plain, white t-shirt that looked a little small for her, as it clung to her snugly and didn’t quite reach the top of her tight, blue denim jeans.

Her lips were coated lightly in pink, and purple eyeshadow complemented her deep, blue orbs. Long, strait tresses of pink hair flowed down her back, down past her waist.

Lacus switched her focus to her own waist-length waves of bubblegum pink. Somehow, they didn’t quite measure up to this model’s example.

“Otou-san?” Lacus called out.

“Hmn?” replied the distant voice from behind her. “What is it?” Siegel asked as he approached.

“When was this taken?”

“Oh, that was a while back. A couple of years ago now.”

Lacus’ eyes widened. So they had waited for her to leave before taking a family portrait?

“How long did you wait?”

“I’m sorry? I don’t understand.”

“How long after ejecting me from the family did you wait before getting a portrait taken?” The girls eyes were determined as they stared her father down. Her voice, speaking volumes, barely contained the inherent swirling whirlpool of emotion that bubbled just below the surface.

“Lacus, please,” the blond man replied, attempting to calm his daughter. “Don’t think of it that way.”

“Tell me.”

Siegel sighed. “I don’t remember exactly.”

He was lying. “And who is this?” Lacus pointed out the girl in front.

“That’s Meer, of course.”

“Of course,” Lacus seethed. Pink hair. The last Lacus had seen of her so-called sister, her hair was more akin to her mother’s. When had it miraculously changed colour? Her hair, her eyes, her make-up. Meer had changed so much. She looked just like Lacus… almost. She may even have surpassed her and made a finer example.

“Her hair…”

“Do you like it? Meer wanted her hair to be just like yours. She’s really missed you, you know.”

“I’ll bet,” Lacus scoffed, her voice thick. Mother, Father, and Daughter. The happy family. Lacus wasn’t needed. This picture made that message perfectly clear, as did the Campbells: Particularly Meer and her new choice of appearance.

Lacus had been replaced.

X

The first thing Cagalli noticed as she regained consciousness was warmth. This bed was much more comfortable than she was used to. Much more comfortable, so much cozier than her bed at home.

As she woke, she felt the bizarre sensation of something pressed against her. Like a pet, only larger. A body, curled up against her own. It was a feeling that would normally leave her shocked. She’d normally have jumped out of bed at the realisation, but she was still so sleepy. The previous day had left her sluggish and lazy.

Plus, she felt so comfortable. She shouldn’t, but… she had to get up, even though she didn’t really want to. What day was it? Sunday?

No, it was Monday. The realization washed over with all the subtlety and grace of a trumpeting elephant, and she sighed, the sound escaping her more like a groan than anything else. Another week, another morning, and another day of school.

To be fair, this was the start of a new year, the first day of school, but Cagalli felt none of the excitement that she perhaps should. Nothing would change. It was always the same damn thing. Her holiday was over, and the monotony of school life had once again returned to claim her defenceless soul.

The girl slowly opened her amber eyes.

As they adjusted to the light, she was able to take in her surroundings. White sheets, white pillowcase, pink blanket that covered her, and a golden mane that was not her own.

Cagalli shifted her gaze to the form beside her, and her eyes met magenta. Staring up at her, head resting on her shoulder, body pressed against her own, injecting her with warmth. The proximity was too great. Unbearable, but at the same time, so comfortable.

“Stella?” she croaked, her voice hoarse and low, barely sounding.

“Hmn?” the other girl replied.

“How long have you been there?”

“Stella slept here.”

“I was afraid of that,” the amber eyed blonde lamented. “We should get up now.” If Stella’s mother caught them like this, she’d never hear the end of it. Or maybe she would. Maybe she’d be banned from the house for life. That woman had to be bipolar or something, and she just loved jumping to impossible conclusions. Cagalli wasn’t entirely sure what went through the woman’s mind, and she didn’t particularly want to, either.

“Something wrong?”

“Shouldn’t you head back to your room?”

“Why?”

“I’ve caught your mother giving me odd looks all weekend. I don’t want to make things worse. Um… she doesn’t know you’re in here, does she?”

Stella looked away thoughtfully. “No,” she replied.

“Then head back to your bed before she checks up on us. I don’t want her seeing you here, jumping to the wrong conclusion, and throwing me out.”

“But… Stella slept here all night.”

Cagalli’s eyes widened. Releasing a heavy sigh, she pushed herself away from her friend. “Whatever the case, I’m going to have a shower.” She made for the bathroom, halting after a few steps and catching the other girl’s eyes. “I’ll meet you downstairs,” she said, a certain amount of firmness in her voice. She knew how the affectionate blonde was, and she could never be too sure where she’d pop up next, not after this.

Cagalli could only prey that the other girl took the hint.

X

 

Kira released an unresponsive sigh as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. He’d arrived at school too early, probably due to his new home. The Zala’s house was much closer to the school than his old one had been. That was something he’d have to take into consideration.

Kira really should have paid more attention to Athrun this morning. The way he slept in. The way he wasn’t up while Kira was scrambling to get ready. The way he lazed around like a billionaire on a Sunday morning, without a care in the world.

The bluenet hadn’t bothered to inform him of course, but he should have known something was up with Athrun’s blasé attitude.

He’d passed Cagalli on the way in. They’d walked together for most of the way, them and a few of Cagalli’s friends. Stella, he knew. The other guy however, Kira had never seen before in his life. He was tall and lanky. Thick, green hair. He wore the school uniform in such a way that it almost looked casual. The tie hung loosely around the unbuttoned collar of his untucked, short-sleeved shirt. Whoever this person was, they had no sense of pride.

Just by the look of him, Kira could tell that he was a number of years older than they were. How many years, he didn’t know.

Just who was this scruffy someone, and how did he know Cagalli? Was he really a friend of hers? And if so, how did they meet? They can’t possibly have been classmates; the unprofessional looking young man had to be at least two years her senior.

Whatever the case, Kira very much doubted that their mother would approve of this person. He doubted that Patrick would approve even more. It was sad to see, but Cagalli must have been going through her rebellious phase this year.

Kira pushed the thoughts from his mind. They had separated some time ago. Now, Kira walked alone throughout the school grounds. Where was Sai, Tolle, Kuzzey? Nobody was here. That was odd. Then again, his friends normally had a habit of strolling in just as the bell for class rang. So did Kira, so he wasn’t used to this solitude.

Did people often come to school this early? Cagalli’s friends must. Stella, and that other fellow. Why? What did they do to fill in the time?

Kira was about to resign himself to the boredom, when he suddenly froze at the sound of his own name.

He turned around. That voice: High, sweet, and feminine.

He knew that voice, didn’t he?

His eyes locked onto that feminine form. That pale skin, periwinkle eyes, long pink hair trailing behind her, bangs held back with a golden clip in the shape of a crescent moon.

Was it her? No, it couldn’t be. What would she be doing here? It was a trick, that was all. A trick of the mind. He was seeing things, imagining things. She’d moved, over a year ago. There was no way she could have come

back. She’d been sent away, to some boarding school miles off, in an entirely different region of the country. What would she possibly be doing here? Why would she have come back? How could she have come back?

But she was. Here she was. Running toward him, long, pink tresses flowing behind her.

She had her face, her voice. She even knew his name. This girl was the spitting image. He knew that face, that hair, those eyes. He would never forget. They were etched into his brain, as though by a laser beam.

It was her. It had to be. She had come back.

Kira felt feint. His stomach was in tangles. He could scarcely believe it. She was back.

“Kira,” the girl repeated as she impacted the brunet, her arms wrapping tightly around his body. Her cheek came into contact with his and the warmth—

He felt her hair brush against his face.   It was so soft. It felt like the most exquisite silk, and her scent, her scent—

Kira was lost. It was all he could do to remain standing. Somehow, his arms found themselves wrapped snugly around the girl’s back, like they belonged there. He felt the back of her school jersey. The material—

Her skin—

So smooth—

Soft—

Warm—

He opened his mouth to speak. To ask, but nothing would come. finally, he managed to choke out the girl’s name. “Lacus, what—Why—“ Damnit, why was he like this? It was pathetic.

Lacus giggled, her sweet voice heavenly to the boy’s ears, her body reverberating against his as she did so. “Kira, I… I came back.”

 

After their touching reunion, the pair had taken to touring the school. While familiar, Lacus still needed to become reacquainted with the grounds and conversation had turned to current affairs, for their personal lives, anyway.

When questioned about the past year of her life, Lacus had remained annoyingly tight lipped, so Kira filled the silent void as best he could.

Before long, the conversation had turned to his mother’s impending marriage.

Lacus nodded slowly when the subject came up. Her mind wandered back to when she was in this particular boat, to when her father was marrying and she was the one facing a new family.

Lacus didn’t know what to say. She wondered, was this how Kira felt when they’d discussed her situation those years ago? She could only hope beyond hope that Kira’s experience would turn out to be nothing like her own maternal nightmare.

“What’s he like,” the pinkette asked, “this guy your mother’s marrying?”

After a long moment of silence, Kira looked to Lacus, and finally spoke one word: “Old.”

Lacus’ pink eyebrows raised in surprise at that remark. “How old?”

“I don’t know. It’s more the way he acts than his actual age, although his hair is going grey. I don’t really know him, but he seems really old fashioned… and strict.”

“What’s his name? Does he have any kids?”

“His name? It’s Zala.”

Abruptly, Lacus froze in place, eyes wide in horror. If her bangs hadn’t been held in place by her hairclip, they’d surely have devoured her pink, candyfloss-like eyebrows by now.

Not noticing his friend’s distress, Kira kept walking. “He has a son. He goes here, apparently, though I’d never met him before. He thinks he’s some kind of big shot, but… between you and me, he acts like a bit of a spoiled brat.”

“Did you say… Zala?” No, it couldn’t be. Lacus was no friend of fate, but life couldn’t possibly be so cruel… could it? No, surely not. “Not… Athrun?”

Kira turned around. “You know him?”

Lacus opened her mouth to reply, but for the longest time, no sound came forth from within. “You… could say that.”

Well, that answers that question, Lacus thought morbidly. Yes, life could be that cruel, and yes, Kira’s new family would turn out to be every bit as horrible as hers had been.

The corners of her lips pulled up of their own accord, as though directed by invisible hooks on strings.

Dispite herself, Lacus did the only thing she could.

She laughed.

Fate was such a cold, cruel countess.

X

Cagalli was bored. There was no way around it. This place was boring as hell. To make matters worse, that feeling from last night was beginning to surface once more. She felt like such a third wheel, sitting in one of the school hall’s Pew-like seats with Shani on her right side and Stella on her left.

With nothing better to do, the threesome had decided to come in and sit down. They might as well, there was nothing else for them to do. Not with Cagalli tagging along, anyway, and what those two might get up to when she wasn’t around… the Blonde simply didn’t want to know.

So here they were, and there they sat, near the back of the hall as they waited for the uncomfortable, hard, wooden seats to be occupied and for the stuffy, unventilated hall to fill with people so they could take up space, breathe all the air, and eventually, find out who their homeroom teachers would be.

It was official. Cagalli hated the first day of school. She always had, and always would.

For some people, a new year meant excitement or anxiety. Not for Cagalli. Seriously—

“What’s the point?”

The unruly blonde suddenly stopped thinking as her internal complaint was suddenly uttered by the masculine voice beside her.

“This is such a waste of time,” Shani complained. “If they want to keep us out of class for an hour, fine. Just have us show up an hour later or something.”

“I know,” Cagalli replied. “I could be sleeping right now. Why do they make us all come in here and listen to the headmaster’s annual boring, half-assed speech to find out our class assignments? Why can’t they stick them all on the wall outside, or better yet, just send them through the post?”

“Got that right,” Shani approved, turning to face the girl, whose eyes widened at his proximity and interest. What was it? What did he want with her? Should she have kept her mouth shut? The silence drew on, and Cagalli’s cheeks began to redden. If Shani had been anyone other than present company, she’d have slapped him away, but somehow, she didn’t think she’d get away with it here.

“What?” She asked, her voice lacking its usual bite.”

“You know, I think I had you all wrong, Blondie.”

X

The casual, lythe form of Athrun Zala leaned back into his seat. Positioned at the back of the hall next to his friends, his eyes were ready to glaze over as the principal took to the stage. On one side was seated the blond jokester with the slick hairstyle, Dearka Elsman. Clearly the most laid back of all the members of the group, and probably the only person that wasn’t dead set against this assembly.

“I really don’t see what you’re problem is, Athrun. If we weren’t here, we’d just be in class anyway. Personally, I’d rather kill time in here than sit in a stuffy classroom for an hour studying who knows what.

“It’s a waste of time!” Yzak retorted, sitting on Athrun’s other side.

The outspoken young man had piercing blue eyes and silver hair. He was the tallest among them and, as evidenced today, had the least patience.

“I’m glad you agree with me,” Athrun smirked.

“What about this brother of yours?” Dearka changed the subject.

“Kira… something. I don’t remember his last name. What about him?”

“Well, what’s he like?”

“About what you might expect for an average student at this school. A boring looser. He seems like a bit of a pushover to be honest.”

“How much of a pushover?”

“To the point that he’d probably actually let me push him over. I tested him last night when the parents were out, just to see what I could get away with.”

“So, how badly did he fail?”

Athrun felt a familiar smirk creep its way up his face. “He basically agreed to do all the household chores as long as I don’t touch his precious sister.”

“And, are you going to lay off her?” Yzak asked.

“I might,” Athrun answered slyly. What onii-san doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right?”

“Wait,” Dearka interjected, “you’re going to have a little sister? I’ll have to check her out… how old is she, anyway?”

“Haven’t met her yet. Do whatever you want, I don’t care. If she’s anything like her brother, she’ll be bland as fuck anyway.”

 

The principal, as well as the deputy and assistant had all come and given their respective start of year addresses, and now was time for the teachers to come up and claim students for their classes. It wasn’t the most important or interesting assembly of the year, and they all played out exactly the same, but Kira supposed that they were necessary. How else were they to know their home rooms?

Various teachers took the stage, each reading about twenty or so names from a list they all carried on clipboards.

It seemed that Kira and Lacus would be together with Mu La Flaga. The pair shared a delighted exchange at the revelation. They would be together. Even if they had different timetables, at least they’d still be able to see each other every day. The pair couldn’t believe their luck. It was too good to be true. Kira didn’t think he’d ever see the pinkette again. Now to be sharing at least one class with her, even if it weren’t a full one, it was more than he could have hoped for.

La Flaga wasn’t too bad of a teacher to get. Kira had never had him before, but had heard that he ran a fairly casual classroom, unlike some of the more… disciplined teachers in the school.

As the tall blond teacher departed from the stage, Kira supressed a sigh of relief that Athrun wouldn’t be joining them in La Flaga’s class. Unseen and unnoticed by the brunet, Lacus secretly did the same.

Athrun, as it turned out, was to be with the assistant principal, Rau Le Crueset. The man was largely a mystery. Other than the blond hair on his head, nobody knew what he even looked like. His face was obscured by a mysterious white mask.

The one downside to note, however, was that Kira would be isolated from his other friends. Sai, Tolle, Kuzzy, Miriallia; they were all grouped together in Murrue Ramius’ class. Kira had been in that class with them last year. He had no idea the teacher would be moving up with their year. If only Kira could have stayed with all of them once more.

After a quick glance to the pinkette beside him, Kira’s despair quickly dissipated. After all, La Flaga was a rather popular teacher too, and with Lacus near him, how could he possibly complain?

The brunet relaxed into his seat, keeping a casual ear out to learn of Cagalli’s placement. Apparently, she would be with Stella and the rest of their group again, in Erica Simmons’ class. It seemed as though everybody would be sticking with their friends this year. Nobody would be separated, except for Kira, but strangely, the brunet was perfectly fine with that. The trade-off was completely worth it.

Upon reviewing their timetables, Kira and Lacus were astonished to find that they were almost identical. Lacus had one extra class, while Kira had a free period, and Kira had PE while Lacus had Music, but other than that, they were in all the same classes. It was almost as though some Divine force had intervened, as though the universe were acting to keep them together, as if to make up for lost time, as if to ensure that school didn’t get in the way.

Kira shook the idiotic thought from his mind, laughing it off.

Still, it was an amazing coincidence.

“Kira, what is it?” the pinkette walking beside him asked.

“It’s nothing.”

“It looks like you were laughing at something.”

“No, it’s nothing like that. I just… I never expected us to share so many classes.”

“Great minds think alike, don’t they? It’s just a fortunate coincidence. Don’t question it. We should just consider ourselves lucky and move on.”

A fortunate coincidence? Kira supposed it was. Still, he couldn’t help the smile that crept up on him as the girl phrased it that way. “It’s too bad the others couldn’t have been in home room with us though… not that I’m complaining,” the brunet quickly added.

“Hmn, well, since we share so many classes, we may as well stick together. That is…” Lacus looked away, “if you don’t mind being stuck with me all day.”

“If I don’t mind?” Actually, that was what Kira had been looking forward to. That was to be the best part of this arrangement. “Of course I don’t mind.”

“Day in and day out. You and me. Promise you won’t get sick of me?” She asked, extending her little finger, releasing a small giggle as the brunet entwined her finger with his own.

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