series: code geass: lelouch of the rebellion.
pairing: schneizel/suzaku, schneizel/ladies.
warnings: idk right now.
notes: being suzaku is pain and suffering.
It starts off innocently enough: the subtle, but comforting brush of fingers against the back of his hand, and then the silently offered shoulder for the rest of the day.
But before Suzaku knows it, he has a year’s worth of just touch me properly already built up in the back of his head, tugging incessantly and reminding him so much why he hates physical contact. It frequently reminds him that he is just as human as everyone else around him, and can easily be caught and manipulated while he’s like so – and he can’t have that. The Knight of One’s duty is to protect the Emperor of Britannia at all costs, no matter how much damage he must do to his own body in the process.
It goes without saying that he must protect His Majesty’s honor, as well as his body. In this case, it’s of the utmost importance that he keep his mouth firmly shut –
“Sir Kururugi, what do you think of this?”
-- looks like the most he’ll be able to do is entertain the thought of keeping his mouth shut, because he can’t exactly ignore the questions that Her Majesty asks him, even if they might be a little off kilter with reality. Certainly he has never bothered to dream of becoming Schneizel’s first wife’s confidant – or anyone’s confidant for that matter, given the circumstances – and he’s still a little uncomfortable with it.
(Well- more than a little uncomfortable. He feels like he’s drowning in a sea of gossip that just won’t stop coming until he drops to the bottom and gets crushed by the pressure.)
Realizing that he’s being stared at like he’s grown another head, Suzaku settles his expression into something blank and lowers his head slightly. “I’m afraid that His Majesty’s tastes might not be the same as my own,” he has to pause because he’s getting giggled at, “however, I think that light colors suit you more than dark colors, Your Majesty.”
Which is both a compliment and an insult, because Suzaku’s taste in fashion is pretty black and white, considering that he doesn’t have a taste in fashion at all as long as his clothes are comfortable.
But, it makes the woman before him beam like he just gave her a new ring courtesy of His Majesty.
He takes it in stride, and sighs from his seat on the bed, waiting for Schneizel to come out of his meeting with the EU’s representatives. Suzaku doesn’t like being sent away by him – but, he can’t just talk back to the Emperor in front of others- or even at all – so all he can do is deal with it, move on, and do something to pass the time.
In this case, that ‘something’ is accompanying Schneizel’s first wife on a trip through the Residential Quarters and all the way to the Emperor’s room, where the Empress is currently picking out what to wear for the ball later that night. Suzaku is her designated go to guy, and she had him deciding between a light pink dress and a darker blue dress; he ultimately chooses the light pink one, of course, and she seems happy about it.
“I wonder if it would still fit me,” she wonders aloud idly, turning the fabric over with her hands and sighing.
To quell anymore sighs, Suzaku steps forward, takes one look at the Empress, and one look at the dress. “M’lady has nothing to worry about. I’m sure it will fit just fine.”
Anything to get out of this room and back to standing in front of the doors leading to where Schneizel is. He should be at the Emperor’s side, not dawdling with the Empress.
Fortunately for him, she seems to take pity on him because of his kind – and somewhat empty – words, twirling on her heel with that beam on her face again. “Sir Kururugi is always so kind to me,” she says as if he isn’t there and she’s talking to another person in the room.
Aforementioned room is devoid of people, which is one of the reasons why Suzaku is uncomfortable; word spreads fast, and this wife especially seems to have taken a liking to him. It’s not as if his insight is helpful (to him) or that he’s an especially interesting person (to himself), but she doesn’t seem to mind so much that there will be rumors.
She must take delight in his pain and suffering. He isn’t entirely sure; as long as he doesn’t have to deal with it, then he doesn’t care. Whatever floats her boat.
Which may just not float Schneizel’s boat, because as soon as he and the Empress are done and Suzaku is returning to the door, Schneizel is Not Pleased. It’s just the subtle creasing of his brow, but Suzaku recognizes it all too well and immediately dips into a bow, head lowered, “Your Majesty.”
He can feel probing eyes on the back of his head, but his spine doesn’t straighten until he hears a smooth, “Knight of One.” His eyes land on a familiar smile stretched tight across Schneizel’s face –
“Would I be correct in assuming that it didn’t go well, Your Majesty?” Because, that’s the only explanation he has for that look at the moment, and it grants him a flash of surprise before the smile thins into something more amused, more natural on him.
“Would I be correct in assuming that you are a mind reader, Suzaku?”
Absolutely not. “No, Your Majesty. I don’t like parlor tricks too much,” he bites back (except with less bite and more guarded and safely worded wit), eyes closing briefly to ingrain an amused Emperor into his memory. Life is hard, yes, but it’s nothing that he’s not prepared for. Besides, he hasn’t had to do much thinking beyond the moments where he’s alone and he can’t help thinking about everything. In those moments, he probably does enough thinking for the both of them.
“That’s too bad,” is what’s tsk’d before his king turns and walks away with added flourish, reminding Suzaku too much of a certain exiled Prince. “However, your assumption is correct. They seem to enjoy making this harder than it already is.”
Suzaku has no snide comment to combat that, instead letting a bit of a frown break his apathy. "I should have been in there with you," he says, eyes narrowing when he sees Schneizel start to chuckle. "May I ask what's so funny, Your Majesty?"
A hand waves in the air -- more than enough to silence him -- and Schneizel's head shakes. He won't be answering Suzaku's question any time soon, keeping the reason for his amusement to himself.
Two years hasn't yet dulled the fact that Suzaku's overprotectiveness is somewhat overbearing. It's endearing though, so he doesn't completely mind.
"I imagine that would cripple their will more than help it -- the elusive white demon, in person and standing stiff at the Emperor's side," a pause for dramatic effect and damn it Suzaku feels the outrageous urge to laugh at him like he did when Lelouch would do it. "You would be quite the sight."
"I'm... nothing spectacular," Suzaku mutters to himself as a wave of bashfulness overcomes him. "Your Majesty."
He completely misses the fondly exasperated look he's given, eyes focusing on his surroundings for potential threats mostly out of habit. Miraculously, there has only been two assassination attempts -- both of which failed because Suzaku is never far enough not crush the attackers -- and after the last attack failed have happened.
Schneizel has been a kind ruler, nothing like his father's regime even if the fear of the potential is still there.
And, Japan -- Japan is free, and that's all that matters. As long as his people are free, (Knight of One and Prime Minister of Japan) Suzaku wishes for nothing more.
There's a gentle touch of gloved fingertips against the skin of Suzaku's wrist and he can't help but snap back to attention when he actually feels it. The third time, he notes dimly somewhere in his head. Idly, he wonders if Schneizel is trying to beat his personal best -- five times in one day -- but he banishes that thought the minute he realizes that he's assuming about physical contact.
"I see that someone is spending too much time thinking when he should be watching me," is what's chided. "Not that I'm unused to it, but you let your mind wander too often in public, Suzaku."
"I- apologize, Your Majesty. I'll do my best to keep my mind off of needless things," he replies automatically, feeling more than seeing Schneizel move away from him.
He has no choice other than to helplessly follow.
His mind is not wandering when the Knight of Two's Knightmare malfunctions.
It doesn't wander when he realizes that there is a tingling sensation on his side and back; and, he definitely does not let his mind wander when there are hands on his face, fingers in his hair, and arms carrying him to the sick bay because they just don't have the ability to get the stretcher to him in time.
His attention stays fully on the concerned face on Schneizel el Britannia.
"No, Suzaku. No."
Twitching, Suzaku curls in slightly on himself, attempting to not hold his side and show weakness under Schneizel's ever so watchful gaze. Honestly, who is the more overprotective one now?
Trying again, he opens his mouth and grunts, "Your Majesty, it's my duty to protect you." You can barely protect yourself, Suzaku wants to say, knowing that while Schneizel may be particularly proficient in the use of a whip (and, more recently, in the use of a gun), he can't take on someone who has probably been trained for years and years in the art of killing.
He would offer to train Schneizel, but that has already proved redundantly impossible if their fencing match has any hold in the matter.
"You look like you have something else to say, Knight of One."
Oh. Schneizel does not sound the least bit pleased. Bringing up the fencing thing would probably make his mood worse, so Suzaku decides against it. Instead, he shakes his head and keeps his mouth firmly shut like a good soldier, because a soldier he remains no matter what title he is awarded.
The Emperor prompts him again, this time with a deepened frown, and he ponders the merits and demerits of being a giant bastard.
In the end, he knows the punishment will be too great so he vetoes the idea before it has the chance to grow anymore.
"No, Your Majesty," he starts with a frown, "I have nothing more to add. My point stands, however: it is my duty to protect you."
Watching His Majesty sweep his eyes over his concealed wounds like shocks of lightening, Suzaku takes special care to sit still. Schneizel is just as punctual as Lelouch, but less quick to anger and less thunderous (but still very, very effective); so, he doesn't see the king visibly irritated when he shifts to show the part of his front that's bandaged.
"I'll be fine, Your Majesty," Suzaku says quietly, the worry apparent in his own voice as he tries to get Schneizel to speak again. He doesn't quite understand why Schneizel is so concerned about him because, quite frankly: "I have to live."
At this, Schneizel's eyes narrow in silent comprehension before he moves forward and sits on the bed next to Suzaku, letting out a heavy sigh as the storm starts to pass. "It seems there will be no ball tonight; with you the way you are, I don't want to risk injuring you further or leaving you behind in here."
Suzaku can't stop his hand from shooting out, setting lightly on Schneizel's shoulder -- a shoulder strong enough to hold its burdens without faltering -- eyes wide and incredulous.
"Things like that- I'm not broken, Your Majesty," he stutters out, thinking back to Her Majesty and that pretty pink dress waiting to be put on. He's not broken -- not on the outside, never on the outside, because he can't ever be in a situation like that -- so, "You could cancel it, but what good would that do? I'll protect you- no matter what. Please, don't cancel... Everyone is already here and getting ready, and I know that your wives are looking forward to it."
He wants to protect them all and their interests: the first wife, the second wife, and Schneizel el Britannia, so he can't help but attribute -- just a little bit -- Schneizel's cancellation of the ball to his failure as the Knight of One.
Failing Schneizel like he had failed Princess Euphemia (and Princess Nunnally and Prince Lelouch) is not an option and he refuses to include such a thing in his vocabulary.
He does not get his answer; instead, Schneizel sets his eyes on him again, lips in a thin line, but not an entirely displeased line. Surely if his opinion as the Knight of One doesn't hold much of a candle to the Emperor of Britannia's, then perhaps his position as the Prime Minister of Japan will be enough to--
A hand reaches up and takes his own from the Emperor's shoulder and curls around it, bringing it to pale lips.
And, so God help him, Suzaku feels the blush crawling across his skin even before his blank confusion is able to catch up with the part of his brain that screams blasphemy and too intimate too close too everything stop stop stop. He can't exactly pull away in his current position, but he could at least voice his protests.
"Suzaku," the other male starts as he brushes his lips across Suzaku's bare hand, making Suzaku's blush deepen a bit. "Keep in mind what you have said: you have to live. Whether it be your duty or no, never forget."
(Never forget the Geass pulsing in his veins and behind his eyes, always making him livelivelive.)
"I want to."
"To die for you- I want to. If it's for duty, I--"
Lips move from his hand to his own, just pressing in a light kiss that is not allowed to be a kiss as he lets out a flood of wishes, wanting and wanting and never stopping until the comfort is sufficient enough that he can calm and stop leaning on Schneizel for support.
The ball is not canceled, per Suzaku's second wish.
And, in Suzaku's honest opinion as well as Schneizel's expressed opinion, the flowing pink dress that the first wife wears there makes her the spotlight of the party. In Suzaku's eyes, he sees a happy woman dancing with her husband, so very, very in love.
Suzaku stands off to the side, spine straight, eyes attentive and forward, and side burning from discomfort. He notices for another time in his life that Schneizel seems right in his element, twirling his wife in a dance and charming the nobles and guests.
All the while, he keeps watching and waiting.
He is pulled to the Residential Quarters again the next morning by a different person than the day before: an Emperor who has cleared his morning schedule, all to eager to take Suzaku to one of the private bathrooms. His body is quickly pushed to the edge of the bathtub by impatient hands and sharp eyes.
Suzaku's confused eyes follow Schneizel around the bathroom, mind fishing for reasons why the other male would want him in here with him in the first place. Did he smell? He sees gloved hands grab the first aid kit and acknowledgment dawns on him. Ah, he understands now; but, why is he grabbing that? Does he plan on changing his--
"Knight of One, take off your shirt."
-- yeah, he guesses so. There isn't much he can do about it if Schneizel wants to do it himself.
Mechanically, Suzaku unclasps his cloak and unbuttons his jacket, pushing them both off into the dry bathtub. His shirt is next and easy to unzip, but harder to get off because it brushes up against his bandaged side and irritates the still fresh wound under it. Once the fabric hits the marble, the 99th Emperor is at his side with his gloves off and the new bandages ready.
He does not ask if his knight cleaned it, knowing full well that the other would be hard-pressed if he didn't -- but, he cleans the wound again for the sake of sanitation and carefully places bandage over the wound again. It's not as if Suzaku did a bad job dressing it to begin with and, surely, he would know more about dressing a wound than any Prince of the Empire, but...
(He just wants to make sure for himself that Suzaku is okay.)
And Suzaku is compliant under his too careful hands, unflinching even where Schneizel is slightly disappointed in himself when his fingers accidentally brush against the burnt skin (twice, Schneizel counts). There are no complaints, not even a single word at all. Suzaku keeps his gaze on his face and it turns out to be more of a comfort than anything Schneizel can imagine.
When he finishes, it is to the sound of a satisfied stretch of fabric and he has to lean back to survey his work. Apparently Suzaku has the same idea and Schneizel immediately decides to get it over with: "How did I do?"
Green eyes blink and raise to Schneizel's face and lips part, "Well enough, Your Majesty."
"Be honest with me, Suzaku. Is it to your liking? Do you approve?" Does it hurt?
"Well," the other starts with a thoughtful frown, knowing that Schneizel is just probing for pain. "I do approve."
Schneizel doesn't smell a lie, but he has to make sure. "Are you sure? It looks a little loose from here," he observes because it's true and there's nothing that he can be told to negate that.
Suzaku rolls his eyes and snorts before setting his hand over the bandaged part. "That's only because you're actively looking for something to criticize. I couldn't have bandaged it better myself," he maintains, keeping to his opinion with a bland tone and a soft expression. But, they both know that is far from the truth, even if it soothes Schneizel's worry.
Ever indulgent, the Emperor pulls away and lets Suzaku go about putting his clothes back on. It's a shame, really, that it would indecent for his knight to walk around with clothes on the upper half of his body because it truly is a sight to behold. Which is why he doesn't stop his hand from reaching out to curl in Suzaku's shirt, helping him pull it on as he more intentionally brushes his skin against Suzaku's own. Knowing that his hisses are now because of pleasure instead of pain makes Schneizel feel better.
Except that when the tip of his index finger trails up the middle of Suzaku's chest, fingers close around his wrist to tell him that he's tread too far on thin burial grounds. The only consolation that he has on him is the reassurance that he will be more careful next time, and Suzaku is wary but goes with it. His hand lets go of his wrist and he finishes zipping his shirt up, moving to help him fit into his jacket (one arm, two--) before tugging his cloak over his shoulders and smiling at him.
"Trust me to take care of you, Suzaku. You know I would never do something that you didn't approve of," he comforts, standing up and holding out a hand to his knight. "I'll support you. Don't doubt that."
Slowly, Suzaku nods and reaches out -- vividly remembering, imprinting this new memory into his mind -- slipping his hand over Schneizel's still-bare one cautiously. "Are you sure you can handle it, Your Majesty?" He quips, letting Schneizel pull him to his feet and then some. His front presses close to the other male's own, and he can't help but wonder if he's being seduced by a man who has no desires.
A free hand makes him yield as it brushes against his jaw and tips his chin with two fingers. (Hnng, god he can't take it.) He tries to pull his hand away and step away from the warmth of His Majesty's body, but Schneizel stands strong and squeezes his hand before interlacing their fingers together. Again he feels the blush working its way across his skin, embarrassment and confusion high in his mind. He's never been particularly fond of people touching him, but Schneizel has managed to worm himself a special seat in the 'tolerate' section.
However, there's a big difference between tolerating it and actually accepting it, liking it, and returning it. It has to stay one-sided or there is going to be more pain than necessary when the time to part comes. Suzaku has played this game before -- and still continues to play this game -- with Gino Weinberg, and Gino isn't missing out on anything by not being touched back. Tireless affection isn't exactly something that Suzaku can commit to giving wholeheartedly.
That goes without saying if Suzaku has any affection left in him for someone he doesn't consider a friend. (Granted, the closest thing he has to a friend is Schneizel, so he supposes that it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.)
"Oh, I do believe that I can handle it, Suzaku. You should know that as well as anyone. I am, after all, the Emperor of Britannia," he says just to say it, closing the proximity between their faces and--
-- meeting the soft skin of a cheek. Well, he can work with that.
He knows this won't be a romance with pretty white lace, ivory towers, or white unicorns with sharp pink horns like in the fairytales. But, he hasn't exactly let Suzaku in on the 'romance' part yet. Suzaku will understand soon enough; they have been together like this as Emperor and Knight for two years, and certainly he trusts Suzaku enough with that part of him, too.
But, he does wonder why Suzaku hasn't pick up on his intentions yet. So far, the Knight of One has been able to deny Schneizel - most of the time simply for the sake of it all - and has alternatively been the only one who has gotten away with it without giving him a reason so far.
Still, Schneizel sighs against Suzaku's cheek, tenderly kissing it again and deciding to just roll with the punches for the moment. Suzaku is, after all, his knight before Area 11's (no, it's Japan now and has always been) Prime Minister (and subsequential king in itself).
That does not put to ease the doubts in Schneizel’s mind, and it must reflect on his face because Suzaku’s fingers finally curl against his.
"Alright. I'm counting on you then, Your Majesty," the other offers quietly, giving something of a crooked smile to him and finally sliding away. If Schneizel wants him to trust him, then he'll do that; there is, however, no reason to actually spill his entire being out to him, so he doesn't really plan on doing that anytime soon.
The things that he wants to tell Schneizel are very simple things, while the things he can't and refuse to tell Schneizel are the more complicated, serious matters of his heart. 'Lelouch is still alive,' 'I know where Lelouch is,' 'I killed my father' -- the types of things one doesn't tell an older brother, let alone an Emperor of the Empire.
But, it's enough to bring a soft smile to Schneizel's face, so he supposes he'll be sacrificing a little more of himself for this thirty-year-old white king. Suzaku will continue to don the colors of the white side while his king breaks little hearts to try and open his rather big, but dark one. He isn't pretty, and he doesn't have anything left to offer. And, while Schneizel and Lelouch are alike, Schneizel does not yet know what his best shot would be to put Suzaku in a place where he can more freely convince him to do as he wishes.
Right now, his king is content enough to make Suzaku mildly content; he's alive and well, and ruling the Empire like he said he would after Odysseus handed down the throne to him - something which should have rightfully gone to Princess Guinevere first because she had been born after Odysseus and before Schneizel, but the system they are using is just too weird for Suzaku to try and put logic in it - so Suzaku has nothing to complain about. He has told Schneizel himself that he'll protect him as long as Schneizel wishes, and if Schneizel wants to do away with him then that's fine.
He has to live, after all; and, he's used to Schneizel trying to kill him in roundabout ways. Granted, it hasn't happened in three years, but -- Suzaku always keeps a look out for suspicious things.
Like, for instance, the lips moving against his. Hm. Those had not been there a minute ago, and he barely has enough time to inhale sharply after they pull away before they are back again at a deeper angle. Meanwhile, his brain scrambles for something like sense, but finds that incredibly difficult with the hand that had tilted his chin now cupping his cheek and moving his face at every which way it needs to whenever he goes in for another kiss.
All that Suzaku knows is that he needs to stop this, and so he uses his free hand to reach up and push gently on Schneizel's shoulder.
It's effective enough and accented with a wet noise, and he's left to hang his head against the shoulder he hadn't touched. "Honestly- I've no right to tell you what to do, but you shouldn't surprise me like that," is what he ultimately chooses to say, hearing Schneizel chuckle smoothly.
"If I had told you that I was going to kiss you the next time you spaced out, you would have found a way to stop me. I did, however, tell you that you needed to focus on me more."
"So was this just teaching me a lesson?" Suzaku snorts, disconnecting their linked hands and pulling away with a somewhat self-deprecating smile on his face.
Schneizel meets that smile with one of his own, slight, as if he's chiding him for something. "Perhaps it was. You are my knight, Suzaku; and, as my knight, you must stay focused."
Suzaku does not tell Schneizel that something bad happened when he focused on him, but he just nods his agreement and stares at his king who stares back at him in turn.
"Is something the matter?" Schneizel questions, eyes endlessly probing when they really shouldn't have to. Suzaku should trust him this much, but his knight has proven to be resilient to things that are not knight-and-Emperor appropriate - and when the knight before him frowns, he can't help but reach out and brush his thumb over his down-turned lips.
It makes him look much more older than he actually is - twenty, and going on twenty-one soon if Schneizel is remembering correctly - and it's not a facial expression that he wants to see on his knight's face. He remembers a time when Suzaku would smile at the simplest of things, before Euphy became the Massacre Princess- but, that time seems to be long gone now, weathered by three years of keeping everything bottled up and to himself.
There is a rather bold nip to his fingertip that has him backing off and blinking, before he hears Suzaku say, "Nothing is wrong. Don't worry about it." And then Suzaku is just pulling away and heading for the door, and Schneizel has to reach out to stop him with a hand on his arm. "Your Majesty--"
"My morning schedule is completely clear."
"-- Your Majesty, we can't-"
"I have no where else to be."
"Damn it, Your Majesty, listen to me already!" Except that Suzaku's mouth snaps shut and his eyes look to the side. Geez, he almost can't believe he did that, but it's necessary - like holding Lelouch's face to the floor and curling his fingers in his hair mainly to twist it, like punching Lelouch in the jaw in the World of C after forcing the truth out of him - so, like everything else, he can't let himself regret it.
Even if he has dangerously skirted the line of formality like an idiot. He's not this man's friend; he's his knight, and that's the end of it.
... it's easier not to regret it when Schneizel gives him a rather owlish blink. "I'm listening."
With a sigh, Suzaku relaxes his posture as much as he can and pulls his arm out of the grasp that Schneizel has it in. "We can't stay in here all morning. You have- other duties, too."
"Of course," a pause. "However, there is nothing that needs my immediate attention. Until there is something that does need it, I can do as I please." Suzaku feels that Schneizel should have added 'because I'm the Emperor of Britannia' at the end of that sentence, but that would have probably given him the impression that he has a bigger head than he originally thought.
That would still be something that Lelouch beats him at, though. No one is more pompous than Lelouch.
Suzaku also feels that he probably won't win this argument, so he sighs through his nose and leans against the bathroom door.
"What are you going to do, then?" And, he raises a hand that passes through his own hair. "I won't zone out anymore, so don't worry about doing that. I'm alright." Which is - mostly true, now.