dirtybirdie: (♠ i commend your courage but i shall)
BULLETPROOF ([personal profile] dirtybirdie) wrote2012-03-25 11:46 pm

stagnant | cgkinkmemeii, complete

title: stagnant.
series: code geass: lelouch of the rebellion.
rating: r?
pairing: suzaku/lelouch/suzaku, one-sided euphemia/lelouch and shirley/lelouch, mentions of suzaku/kanon (/gino and /schneizel).
warnings: assist masturbation, and. language? maybe? no idea.
notes: prompt.

Between being a teacher at the local college has given Lelouch Lamperouge the ability to meet and observe plenty of people, most of which easy enough to diagnosis psychological disorders too if he ever feels particularly sadistic that day.

Today is one of those days.

There is a student sitting near the front and another in the back during lunch time - having gotten stuck in this classroom because the entire school is quarantined for another hour due to suspicions of some rare, life-threatening disease. Honestly, this is a college, not a hospital; Lelouch suspects that it's nothing and that the CDC has nothing to worry about.

The students seems rather attentive during class, are eagar to raise their hands and answer questions, but right now it seems as if something is off.

Kallen's legs are pointing towards the door and Shirley's hands are near her ears - one would rather not be here at all, and while the other would be fine being here, they aren't really too eager to listen. Foolishness on both of their parts because Lelouch isn't feeling benevolent today.

"Before Gordan Exner died," a slight pause to see if he has everyone's attention and, surely, he does - even Kallen has her eyes on him, hands crossed over her chest in a defensive posture. She doesn't look like she'll be doing anything any time soon. "He left one last thesis; can anyone tell me what that is?"

It's Shirley's hand that goes up first, followed by Milly Ashford's. It is only Milly who actually speaks up, "All humans are unique?"

He shows an amused expression, his lips quirking at one corner. "Well, that was certainly one of his thesises - unfortunately, it's not the one that he made before he died," and then he looks up and right at Kallen, "Ms. Kouzuki." She straightens up, surprised at being called on. "You studied this last semester, did you not? Please explain to us what his most famous and last thesis' were."

Cautiously, she gives him a bit of a glare and answers: "His most famous is the one that says that there are more than six billion people in the world, which means there are six billion different personalities, tendencies, and states of mind - and that every human is unique. But, his last one changes that view and states that really that's just six billion ways of expressing a person, so every human is the same."

Exactly. Every human is the same; that includes the first girl who had raised her hand. In comparison to Kallen, she's rather shy one-on-one with him, but very kind, and very easy to embarrass. It's kind of cute in a way, but Kallen is the same when it comes to that; they both embarrass easily.

Kallen reacts more actively, though -- even violently sometimes if hitting a professor wouldn't get her expelled -- and it's just cute. Red suits them both well.

And, Kallen has aced the pop quiz; he tells her that in an indifferent tone, and gives her extra credit points. He even gives Milly and Shirley some too, to which all of the other students - the ones who did not raise their hands or put much effort into the discussion while the quarantine is going on - and those three students's spirits are uplifted a bit.

(Still, every human is the same. He can never forget that.)

He gets a new student today.

She has a pretty smile, wears pretty dresses, has pretty eyes - and is pretty much the personification of pretty. When Lelouch learns what her name is, he understands; he also knows immediately that she has an overprotective older sister in the east wing of the college teaching Fencing to anyone who wants to learn - and some who don't. Like Lelouch. He doesn't remember how many times she has tried to pull him aside to teach him.

His new student is almost nothing like her, and without the added viciousness he doesn't find himself disliking her quite as much. Which is really saying something about her, seeing as there aren't many people that he likes enough to admit that to himself, let alone someone else.

"If you touch my sister..."

Rolling his eyes, Lelouch snorts and taps away at his laptop at a speed scary enough to be considered godly. One gets used to it after so much grading - and after StudentConnect. You have to get used to it after that. Regardless, there's an angry, domineering woman sitting in front of him and glaring holes into his forehead like she's ready to whip out a gun and threaten him at gun point.

"Now, when have I ever touched any of my students?" He asks, sounding thoroughly disgusted; which he, of course, is. As if he would even think about touching the perfect little princess.

Cornelia's eyes do not soften, instead directing to the table as she tries to think of a time when he has touched one of his students. (Never. He would never.) Her eyes don't meet his, but her mouth opens - and right at that time, Euphemia opens the door to the staff room and smiles sweetly while she bounces over to her sister's side.

Their confusion is unimportant, therefore muted when it reaches his ears - something about not taking any kind of physical course that isn't gym because of some reason that he doesn't care for - and is still muted when Euphemia directs her attention and smiles to him. He manages an easy smile back at her, then deciding that perhaps he doesn't like her at all. He has every reason to, but Lelouch had never been one for conforming.

"Professor Lamperouge, I wanted to ask you something," she says finally as she rounds the desk to stand next to him, perhaps a little too close because he feels her dress brush against his arm. He hates that. "Do you know any good studying techniques? Flash cards really aren't working for me..."

She sounds like she's really having trouble, so he decides to take pity on her. "Have you tried a group study? It's troublesome to get together, but everyone would benefit from it if you're really planning on studying with them and keep them on track," he tells her, still not looking at her as subtley moves his chair away from her. They have had a professional student-teacher relationship for all of one week and she already thinks that she can stand that close to him.

But, she has always been like that; she probably doesn't even realize that she is doing it, so maybe he can forgive her a little bit for that. Still, that does not negate his discomfort from the fact that he just hates being close to anyone.

Her hands fold in front of her as she shakes her head. "No, I haven't tried that yet. But, would anyone want to do one...?"

Are you kidding me? "Naturally. I know that Kallen Kouzuki and Shirley Fenette would be interested in one; it would be good for all three of you. If you're persistent, you could even get them out during their spare time on the week days." He doesn't know why he's telling her this. "You're kind. They would like you. Kallen might need some time to warm up to you, but that shouldn't stop you from asking her."

Lelouch only then realizes that he's actually trying to comfort and console her. It is his honest opinion that new students need to learn how to branch out by themselves, and while Euphemia has certainly branched out it's only because the guys are all chasing her skirts and dresses like dogs in heat. Again, she's pretty, but Lelouch doesn't care to date students - or her, for that matter. But, down that path lay madness, so he doesn't entertain the thoughts for long.

It seems like even Cornelia has realized it - Euphemia graciously taking it with a bright, genuine smile as she expresses her gratitude with a big hug around his shoulders - but Lelouch can't take his eyes off of Cornelia's soft smile and look of approval.

It bothers him, but he does not get to say anything about it because Cornelia soon follows Euphy out.

This does not change anything; he still hates being touches, still doesn't like it when Euphy tries to hug him, still deflects Cornelia's challenges - but, it makes his world a little bit brighter, and a little bit bigger. It doesn't happen each and every time he sees them or Kallen or Shirley - that doesn't mean it isn't happening.

He ends up helping Euphemia, Shirley, and Kallen with their group study session. Milly and Rivalz had ended up joining in as well, passing jokes around the table about psychology that Lelouch actually understands and gets - if the telling quirk of his lips is anything to go by, Shirley points out while laughing - and, in the end, perhaps even he has benefitted from this.

Still, it's a wonder why he had been dragged into this. He's their teacher, so he understands that they want him there; but, for shy Shirley to come up to him and ask him on behalf of everyone else, he really couldn't say no.

... it had been the eyes. Definitely the eyes. That, and Milly is actually quite scary when she's leering at him like she wants to dress him up. After the last dress mishap, Lelouch thinks he'll pass on that.


Dress mishap?

(He can see why it's just six billion different ways of looking at a person. Static and cold, he continues in his unmoving world.)

The new teachers roll by soon after that: Schneizel and Clovis.

He looks at Clovis and sees panic written on his face sometimes, and Clovis never seems to know what he's doing with himself. He's always going to his older brother for advice and, maybe just a little bit, Lelouch knows why. That man has never been particularly subtle about his views on people, and even less so on his views of his brother. He holds him in high regard.

It's a flash of anger (and jealousy, and admiration, and a whole bunch of other shit that he doesn't get), then, and he realizes that he can't look at Schneizel at all when they're introduced.

Schneizel just smiles at him - something he can tell from the corner of his eye, which just infuriates his further - and says that he looks forward to working together. Six words is all it takes for Lelouch to cool his head and expression and smile back at him, saying that he, too, looks forward to it. Unfortunately for him, Schneizel does not seem to exhibit the signs of a liar, looking like he does want to be in the room with Lelouch and the others.

His hand slides away and the tension in Lelouch's shoulders release. He didn't know he had gone stiff like that; Lelouch has to work on his public facade more if he's fucking up this bad.

Two weeks is how long it takes for Lelouch to buy a chess set and relearn how to play. He has not played since his mother died, so he knows that he's a little rusty - but, things like this are easy to learn by the able-minded like himself, and he takes it down to the park that weekend to play with the people there.

It's the first time that he sees that boy with the curly brown hair and bright green eyes, playing with his younger cousin; but, he tries not to note how much he wants to cry when he sees him. That boy has never been particularly good at chess, so he doesn't bother to ask even if he's convinced that he wants to anyway.

By the end of the week after that, he and Schneizel are playing a match in his home while Clovis sits by and watches. Again, strangely enough he trusts them not to do anything stupid like take something out of there; thankfully, they seem more interested in playing with him rather than the pictures on the wall or the filing cabinet with the arcane (OCD-styled) filing in it.

Lelouch lose and while he's unnaturally angry, he isn't surprised either. His brother has always been better at this than he has and that calms him down. (Except that Schneizel isn't his brother, and he really needs to stop whatever is making him think like this.)

... not enough for him to say no when Clovis takes Schneizel's place. And, definitely not enough for him to not completely crush Clovis in less time than Schneizel had crushes him. Yes, he's actually a rather petty person and a very sore loser, but at least he isn't upturning the table in anyone's face. Schneizel has the nerve to laugh at that story about his childhood when he had still be flipping things in people's face when they beat him, and tells him that he is thankful that Lelouch has matured passed that point in time.

But, really, Lelouch has not matured passed that point. As a matter of fact, if it were not for Schneizel and Clovis being his guests and co-workers (that he just met and why are they in his home again?) then he would have already began tossing chess pieces at Schneizel. It is a childish urge to revert back to when he had been eight and fiery, but it is there none the less and he doesn't get why he wants to do it.

What he does not get either is why when Clovis and Schneizel leave, he feels like he is being abandoned (again, some part of his mind whispers).

Returning to the school is an easy task, but seeing them in the halls is arduous and makes him feel like a fool. He has to surpress the shaking of his hands and he is constantly exhibiting signs of nervousness - and signs that he doesn't want to listen to them when they talk. There is just too much that does not make sense and Lelouch hates that more than he hates being touched. He has to have control in his life, or -

(or he'll be betrayed again with his face pressed to the floor and his hands twisted behind his back, another hand keeping his down by his hair)

"Professor Lamperouge?" Is the curious and concerned voice of Euphy bringing his out of his thoughts. His eyes snap up and he sees that she's with Shirley and Kallen again, all three of them looking nothing short of worried. "Are you alright?"

Always. "Y-yes, I'm fine," fuck he stuttered, "Don't worry about me. You were all heading home, weren't you?"

A hand brushes against his and he finds that he doesn't care to pull away - not because it is Kallen's hand and he knows that she wouldn't hurt him for anything in the world, but because he's too tired to hate it.

"You know, you have to communicate with us if there's something wrong. We're worried about you."

They want to understand him.

But, isn't that the problem right now? It is communication - them feeling as if they have to understand him so that they can empathize, but empathy is just an illusion. In order to convey how they're feeling, they want him to help him, but he doesn't know if he cares enough to do that. He owes them no explanation.

Shirley's eyes on him make him minimally cave.

The definition about empathizing and understanding each other does not exist anywhere, he knows very well. (Even so- even so.)

"I know someone who knows things about people that he shouldn't, but he doesn't understand why," is his simple explanation. "For example... he met a sibling that he didn't know he had, but somehow he knew what that sibling liked for lunch." Shirley, when he first saw, had been the first: tomatoes for lunch, a different colored lunch box bi-daily. "Another time, he saw someone as they were passing them on the street and could deduce certain personality traits by looking at them." Kallen and Euphemia: loyal and kind.

"Is he a patient of yours?" Euphemia asks, soon after that and backtracking to the desks to start pulling chairs out for herself, Kallen, and Shirley. Looks like he will not be leaving this conversation any time soon.

He supposes that he is his own patient, though. "You could say that."

Kallen takes her seat and actually snorts at him in an obvious attempt to smother her laughter. "Someone that not even the famous Lelouch Lamperouge can't diagnose? Someone call Guiness," is her dry, dry joke as she turns her attention back to him. "This isn't another pop quiz, is it?"

"Hardly." Maybe it had been a mistake to divulge this information to his students. His problems are not theirs, after all, and he does hate to lie to them for some reason. "I wouldn't use this particular person's problems as a pop quiz for any of you."

Euphemia's hand settles under her chin as she's thinking while Shirley closes her eyes to do the exact same thing. He is troubling them, he knows, but - this bothers him horridly.

However, nothing bothers him as horridly as Clovis and Schneizel walking into his classroom with smiles on their face. Some treacherous part of him can do nothing but scowl like there's no tomorrow; someone save him please.

"I know that you might not support this idea, but - it... sounds like he's subconsciously trying to piece himself together."

Othmer's analogy about human psychology, then. It makes sense, though; it would make more sense if Lelouch actually approved of it. It probably shows on his face because Shirley's face is quickly covered in a blush and she starts rambling nonsensical things, making him raise an eyebrow. So difficult.

Schneizel is coerced by Euphemia into pulling a chair up as well - naturally, Clovis follows suit - and suddenly Lelouch is surrounded by people that he doesn't entirely mind being around. They swap theories on what this person could be going through (Kallen says something about insanity, and maybe it's somewhat true), and Lelouch can do is sit there and wonder.

He can observe, too: no one is closed off from the conversation, all their knees are pointed to him, and their arms are open for an open-minded discussion. Clovis is the most expressive as he moves his hands when he talks while Schneizel is the most reserved, keeping himself calm and composed but still pleasant and ready to speak when the time calls for it. Kallen is as passionate as always, going from 'insanity' to 'maybe it's reincarnation' - which is absolutely absurd, but there are a lot of absurd things in the world - something that Shirley agrees on, but Euphemia disagrees with. To reject a possibility based on absurdity is an amateur move and she is very right for pointing it out to them.

Meanwhile, Lelouch is the only one completely quiet with crossed arms and legs, the latter of which are pointing to his students and colleagues. He can never get tired of a heated debate, even if three of the five people debating are still naive - and maybe four people if he counts Clovis.

Is he subconsciously trying to piece himself together? Is he trying to find the pieces of himself that he seems to lack no matter what he does?

(This won't make him human; the world is not a kind place, but maybe his world is a little bit more open now.)

The little girl in the wheelchair and the boy pushing her around at the hospital make him cry.

Like everything else that has happened in the last half year, he does not understand why his eyes tear up as he spots them in the hallway on the way to visiting his mother in her room. After he accident last year, his mother has been stuck in her hospital bed with multiple breaks, most of which are healed up; he should be able to get her home soon.

Never the less, he sees them on the first floor. They are twins - he can tell that about them immediately - and the boy is on his guard with his shoulders and elbows locked up, his hands clutching his sister's wheelchair's handles like they're his life line. Same hair, same eyes... Lelouch shouldn't have picked them out in the mid-afternoon rush, but he did.

And, he saw her in her wheelchair with her curly brown hair tied over her shoulder, falling in her lap. Her lips are turned up in a cheerful smile as she chatters with her brother about something or another, her small hands animated and moving as fast as her mouth. Her eyes are closed, but she looks really happy.

It makes his heart ache like he's just realizing that everything is hopeless and the world is filthy and corrupted. When they get close enough and she opens her eyes, he realizes he's crying and immediately raises one of his hands to cover up that fact, but she's already staring right at him with a concerned expression on her face. One of her own hands raise as she waves her brother his way. Lelouch really doesn't want her to see him close up.

Two names and countless apologies come to him around the time he crouches down and wails, her hands reaching out and cupping his face and pushing his hair behind his ears to comfort him and her brother rounding the wheelchair to stand by his side as his own form of rather awkward comfort. Even some of the people around them are starting to come to him and he really, really doesn't want anyone to see him like this.

But, by the time he gets done crying his head is already in her lap and his embarrassment and shame are at their all-time peaks. Lelouch has enough dignity to try to pull away, but she just pulls him back and holds him.

By the time that is over, he has invited Nunnally and Rolo - the two siblings who have him their names - up to see his mother with him. He realizes his own ridiculousness by the time they reach the fifth floor by elevator; and, his eyes hurt from crying so much. It must be so obvious to everyone who sees him that he's been crying.

His mother can certainly tell.

She immediately grabs him up and asks him what's wrong and who made them cry so that, as she says, she can 'beat them up'. It makes Nunnally giggle and Rolo look away, and it's only then that she notices them after embracing her son in a familiar bear hug.

"Oh? Are the two of you my son's closer friends?" She asks with a smile on her face, still keeping Lelouch in the confines of her protective arms. There has never been many times that he has been particularly thankful for his mother's overprotectiveness, but this might be one of those times. He loves his mother, certainly, and he loves that he's loved by her, too.

He loves even more than she assumes that he has more friends than the two teenagers nearby.

Nunnally raises a hand over her mouth and smiles behind it. "Actually, we just met today!" She says as she looks over at Lelouch, watching him flush a bit under her gaze.

Marianne is more surprised by the fact that her son and the sweet twins had just met this morning; her son doesn't usually go that red when someone looks at him, even though she knows it's just embarrassment.

What Lelouch does not tell his mother when she asks the girl why she's in the wheelchair - a delicate matter if the way Rolo tenses is anything to go by - is that he already knows what happened. ("It's alright. They say that with enough rehab, I should be able to walk in the future!") God, the way his heart squeezes when he hears that is something that he doesn't surprise him; she has always been like this, and he just - doesn't know how to handle it beyond the (instinctual) strangely sympathetic reaching out of his hand.

Her hand is small and clammy in his, but he smiles at her and watches her face brighten after the confusion fades. It's strange that he is put at ease by just that - and, like so many things in his life recently, he lets it go.

The nurses usher them all out two hours later, telling them that his mother still needs her rest and that they'll be in the way and keep her up if they stay any longer. As if his mother needs any more sleep; to Lelouch, it had just looked like Marianne had been ready to jump out of the bed and start dancing and twirling like a madwoman.

Somehow, that mental image slaps half a smile on his face as Rolo tells him that he needs to take Nunnally home. It is right then that he feels like his heart clenches again, but he doesn't move to stop them from leaving. He doesn't tell Rolo that he needs air, food, and shelter, and he doesn't care much to correct Rolo.

The most that he does is exchange numbers with them and allow Nunnally to grab his hand again.

He still hates being touched; nothing has changed, but like this - he doesn't really mind. He doesn't mind it when Euphemia and Clovis hug him, he doesn't mind it when Schneizel places a comforting hand on his shoulder, he doesn't mind when Milly and Rivalz take to putting an arm around his shoulders - and he does not mind when Kallen and Shirley accidentally brush against him. And, most certainly, Lelouch does not mind when Nunnally takes his hand, squeezes it, and smiles up at him.

(And still, there is something missing. There are more than six billion people in the world and he still feels like he hasn't obtained that one piece of himself that he absolutely needs like he seems to need Nunnally and her brother.)

(You are the last.)

The first time it happens, he lets it roll off of his back like the odd weather that day because he's grown used to this feeling.

He means, it's not like he hasn't seen this particular person do it before: there is a stray in a box outside near his one bedroom apartment and there is a high school student shielding it from the rain. It's kind of dumb, but he imagines that it's normal for a cat lover like that boy. The fact that the student is out after hours is what really catches him off guard.

It has been a while since he's looked at someone like him, but it's fine. As long as he stays on the other side of the street, soaked to the bone from the rain because he doesn't have an umbrella -- far away from Lelouch's space -- then Lelouch feels that it is fine to watch him for just a little bit longer.

Overall, 'a little bit longer' might be three weeks, but hey- it's not like this is the first time that the brown-haired student has crouched across the street and hovered over that cat so that it didn't get wet during a particularly long rainy season. He comes by and feeds it every day too, a normal routine.

The next day, Lelouch walks right out of his apartment early in the morning and takes the cat home with him. The forecast said that it would rain again today, and he doesn't want that kid wasting his time when he should be studying for his exams or doing his homework. Perhaps, if he spends a little more time at home, his situation with his father would not be so tense and he would be able to smile a bit more genuinely every now and again.

Besides, the cat needs a bath and after Lelouch feeds him and throws the cigarettes that Clovis left over out, he takes the cat and gives him a gentle bath. Strangely enough, the cat doesn't fight with him; but, that is just the way that boy's cat is, always biting him and no one else.

He can hear his new neighbors moving in next door and can't help but grimace. He had known that they were going to be loud about it -- women are clingy creatures, and this is the cheapest place near the college that isn't the more expensive college dorm -- but not quite this loud. Then again, there were a lot of people moving in recently. It's just the season for the new students to try and get their bearings and budgets together before actually attending.

Honestly, Lelouch should have moved out last year. Why did he trust his gut feeling again? He's a man of logic, not instinct or feeling- and it's getting a little cramped in here for him when his business is growing and teaching has become too much of a pain. If he's taking in a cat, it'll just be worse. There's cat food to stock up on, milk to buy, cat toys and bedding to invest in...

He puts a towel over the cat and listens to him purr as he dries him off with it, toweling him more gently than he bathed him and carefully going through his fur while doing it. Lelouch didn't know about that kid, but he wasn't taking the risk of fleas; it is due time that this cat be taken to the vet. The only problem is that Lelouch doesn't know if he has time to do it today.

As it turns out, he doesn't have time. As a matter of fact, the time that he has is spent looking online for information of taking care of cats. Nevermind that if that boy comes by, he's going to make him take responsibility for him.

(Lelouch has always been too soft when it comes to the people he cares about.)

He does not leave the house that day.

However, that boy with the forced smile rings his door bell six hours later -- right at lunch time, which confuses Lelouch. Isn't he a student?

He's carrying the stray with one arm when he answers the door, unlocking it and opening it with a twist of his fingers. What he first sees behind his glasses is the brunet's ruffled countenance, his eyes wide and bewildered as he spots the cat under Lelouch's arm. He sees that the other is torn, then looking between Lelouch's face and the yowling cat's own.

"Ah... I - someone said that they saw you pick Arthur up today, and..."

Watching him look for the words proves itself a complete waste of time so he gives the boy one good look up and down - soaked to the bone again, flustered, and flushed - before he pushes his door open the rest of the way and sighs, "Come in. It would be better to talk about this in here."

"B-but... I just - Arthur -- I wouldn't want to intrude."

You never do. "It's not intruding. The only thing that you're doing is being rude," and he pauses as the other male's shoulder jerks back as if Lelouch had just burnt him, "so just accept my invitation. We need to settle the matter of the cat, after all, and I would rather do that in a warm place. He's yours, isn't he?"

Slowly, oh so slowly, his new acquaintance comes to terms with the idea and moves forward with a quiet 'excuse me', giving the cat - 'Arthur' as he calls him - a half-affectionate, half-tired smile. It must be rough at home.

The first thing that Lelouch does is close the door after the other is fully inside; it is cold and rainy outside and warm in Lelouch's apartment. He does not want the temperature to lower. The second thing that he does is get the boy's name - 'Suzaku Kururugi' (of course) - and then he makes him take off his shoes. There is absolutely no way that he's going to let Suzaku track mud through the apartment.

The third thing consists of him leading Suzaku through the apartment and all the way to the bathroom near his room, opening the door and looking pointedly at Suzaku's confused face. "Take a bath. You're soaking wet and I don't want you to get my furniture wet because of it - adding to that, you can catch ammonia if you stay like that for long. I don't know how you survived seeing that cat everyday like you did."

Sputtering, green eyes widen again, alert and so very, very confused. "I... don't have a change of clothes."

"I'll let you borrow some of mine until yours dry. Don't try to make excuses."

His voice leaves no room for anymore arguments and he leaves Suzaku in the bathroom by himself before he can protest any further. His legs are quick to carry him to his room where he lets Arthur go and he quickly slides over to his dresser, opening drawers and pulling clothes out as he goes down.

Vaguely he notes that he can hear the shower being turned on. He had told Suzaku to take a bath, but - he supposes that the method is unimportant as long as the results are the same.

Suzaku's shoulders are broader than his and his thighs are befinitely more muscled and... large - he would have to settle with sweat pants and a t-shirt three sizes too big that Lelouch uses as a top layer for his pajamas. He'll let Suzaku wear the only pair of boxers that he owns, and a pair of socks, naturally; he can't have a male as young as him walking around his home without them on. Maybe he should turn the heat up a little, too.

With the clothes in hand, he slips away to do just that, glad that the thermostat is in the same hallway. That way, he doesn't have to go too far; he hits the arrow pointing up a few times and then moves back to the bathroom door, seeing that Suzaku has set his clothes on the floor outside - and the exchange is easy enough as Lelouch picks the wet clothes up and sets the dry ones down nearby.

A speed walk to the dryer he had coerced the landlord into buying for him (along with a washer, thank god) has the clothes in for an hour and ten minutes. Good. That gives him time to make tea for them and perhaps some lunch if Suzaku is up for it.

He gets halfway through making that lunch when Suzaku's head peeks inside the kitchen, hair still wet but adorably messed up. He has to smile a little fondly at that, motioning towards the table in the kitchen.

"You can sit down if you'd like," is what he tells him, met with only slight resistance as the brunet reveals that he's holding Arthur in his arms - a bitey Arthur, too, that makes Suzaku flinch. Fondly, Lelouch strides over to him and takes the cat away from him, tilting his head towards the table for Suzaku to just move on over to. "Are you sure you want him? He doesn't seem to like you much."

Suzaku's face flushes a bit, but his lips keep to a thin and slightly unfriendly line while his words are stubborn and strong, "I'm just not good with cats."

Snorting, Lelouch nods his acknowledgement and sets Arthur on the counter, moving back to the food. "I know. That's why I asked." And, the food doesn't seem to need his attention right now; so, he turns his back to it and has enough time to watch the strong line of Suzaku's back as he moves over to his chair and sits down.

"I..." Suzaku hesitates and looks off to the side as he sits down, not quite able to look at Lelouch straight now that he's out of the shower. "I can't... take him home with me."

I know. "Is someone in your family allergic?" Lelouch already knows that isn't the case - Genbu (why) is just strict.

"Oh- no, uh," his best gaping fish expression, "I- well, you know - something like that." And then, he tries to play it off with a scowl - that part obviously not fake - and looking at Lelouch again. "What are you going to do with him?"

Getting right to the point, I see. "That depends. I work as a teacher at the college nearest this complex," a thoughtful pause as he gauges Suzaku's expression, expertly eased into a neutral one, "and often times I come home later. I don't have the time to take care of both myself and a cat." Suzaku's expression falls. "However, I would be willing to keep him - on a few conditions." And then it's back up! Lelouch doesn't find it all that surprising that Suzaku can go from down to up and back down all under fifteen seconds.

"What are the conditions?" Suzaku asks as his eyes watch Lelouch - Lelouch finding that he doesn't mind the attention being focused solely on him.

He holds up one finger, then. "One, that you come here every day to take care of his needs - whether it be bathing him, feeding him, or playing with him," a second finger, "And two: that you work diligently to make sure that I never think about giving him to the Humane Society."

Gulping, Suzaku nods and fidgets in his seat a bit - before bare hands clench and he gives a determined, resolute look, "Yes, Lelouch! I promise to come here every day and work hard!"

And Lelouch is hit with a wave of painful nostalgia that he can't quite keep off of his face, so he turns away and focuses his eyes on the food he's preparing.

Suzaku keeps his word: for the next month, it's in Lelouch's apartment at five and out at eight - he tells Lelouch that his home is a thirty minute walk away - everything seeming more like fun than a chore whenever Lelouch catches a glimpse of Suzaku's unguarded smiles. Of course, those smiles are usually directed at Arthur, but every now and again Lelouch finds that Suzaku is letting his hardened exterior fall away piece by fragile piece around him.

He knows this because when Arthur bites Suzaku twenty seven days in, he doesn't try to hide it from Lelouch. He lets Lelouch disinfect it and put a bandaid over it, and thanks Lelouch like a good boy when he's done. Suzaku still won't accept the spare key, telling the other male that he's fine with waiting for Lelouch to get home. Lelouch takes that as more of a blessing than a curse, understanding with a nod and telling Suzaku where the key will be should he need it for anything.

His door is always open for Suzaku - they're friends, after all.

"We are?" Suzaku asks one day as Lelouch lets it slip while grading papers. Euphemia, excelling as always.

He does stop to spare a glance Suzaku's way, seeing him on his usual spot on the floor with Arthur in his lap and cat nip in his hand. Most of the time, it keeps Arthur from giving him any nasty bites; whatever keeps him happy, Lelouch makes sure to stock up on.

"That depends, I suppose," he says, and he means it.

"Ah," the other acknowledges before turning his attention back to Arthur and taking a minute to think about that. He spends every day with Lelouch lately, sometimes staying until after eight recently, and he doesn't dislike the thought of being Lelouch's friend. It's - really as simple as that: he doesn't dislike it. "I- yeah."

"'Yeah'? I'm afraid that I'll need a more eloquent response."

He doesn't dislike that, either. "Yeah, Lelouch, we're friends."

And then there's a knock on the door that has Suzaku jumping a bit and Lelouch rising from his seat. The door is just around the corner so he has Suzaku stay where he is as he goes and answers it, face smoothed into a neutral expression before his eyes land on a sweet girl in her wheelchair with her twin brother behind her. Immediately Lelouch is giving a smile that poorly masks his happiness.

Nunnally likes Suzaku; he can tell by the way she's charmed immensely by his reserved, timid smiles and his sweet words, his considerate nature - and Rolo likes him too, just to a lesser degree. He isn't quite as taken, but sits with Lelouch on the couch, somehow managing to earn himself a seat between the graded papers and the ungraded pieces with Lelouch on the other side of the ungraded ones. He's a good enough helper, attentive while Nunnally and Suzaku chatter with Arthur pawing at his toys.

(It's strange, but - Lelouch has it now.)

Lelouch does not breach the subject of Genbu Kururugi even two months later.

He'll admit that maybe he has spent too much time watching Suzaku play with Arthur, too much time watching Suzaku's body language - and, even now, he catches himself looking at Suzaku like a project. Suzaku catches his gaze sometimes, and Lelouch knows that he is well aware of the heavy weight of Lelouch's eyes on him. He tells himself constantly that it's fine.

It's fine because whenever Schneizel comes around, Suzaku always does well to be near him. Usually, Lelouch finds a comfortable weight against the couch next to one of his knees - never touching, but always there - and, sometimes, he finds calloused fingertips brushing over the back of his hand.

He does not hate it. It goes without saying that he doesn't like it either, because it's something he isn't familiar with, is not accustomed to beyond his mother's overzealous affections. But, he doesn't ask Suzaku to stop, and maybe that is just a step forward.

Or, maybe Lelouch read too deeply into it. Either way, it doesn't changed his feelings on it. Schneizel is smart enough to pick up on it - that much his paranoia picks up - but doesn't go so far as to point it out, instead giving a bit of a smile, tone all sorts of amused when he speaks. Lelouch feels that he knows Suzaku, too, and that Suzaku completes him just as well as anyone, but lets those thoughts slide away.

"So, Suzaku, how old are you?" Schneizel asks, making pleasant conversation into a display of curiosity.

A brown head of hair bobs a bit at that and if Suzaku had dog ears, Lelouch suspects that they would have perked up. "I'm twenty-four- and turning twenty-five this year," is his completely honest, completely blunt answer, and it makes both Lelouch and Schneizel blink, obviously having not expected that. "How old are the two of you?"

Schneizel's answer is twenty-eight and Lelouch's is twenty-seven. There's something deathly wrong with this picture, and only Lelouch voices it.

"You- ah, you look so... young..." And that is the only eloquent way that he can put it. He wouldn't have ever guessed that

Raising an eyebrow, Suzaku shrugs. "Thanks." That's it, nothing more - 'thanks'. Something in Lelouch stirs at that, taking an ant hill that shouldn't exist and making it a mole hill. You look eighteen, so why are you--

"Well then, Suzaku, have you gone to college?" This question makes Lelouch snap out of his daze and back to attention, eyes sliding down to Suzaku.

He lets it slide. After all, there are a lot of people who look younger than they actually are, Lelouch included.

"Yeah, I have. I'm just finishing up my Master's - why do you ask?" Obviously because he looks so 'young', as Lelouch put it, but still. He's not sure if he should like the sudden rapt interest the two genuises were looking at him with or be irrevocably wary. He's no one's science experiment - after the first time letting Gino and Kanon use him for a few (to disasterous effect), he's not sure he'll be willing to be one ever again (but, Kanon knows him better than that) - and he's just a little worried for his own safety.

He supposes that some part of his self trusts Lelouch, but Schneizel is - no, actually.

He trusts Schneizel, too.

Schneizel who blinks at him and then slips back into his mask, smiling politely and answering, "Call it 'curiosity'." Oh, Suzaku would call it a lot more than that, but whatever floats Schneizel's one-man boat.

It's strange. All of it is too strange. It's almost as strange as knowing to come to apartment number 11 when Arthur vanished, or getting sick every year on the twenty-eighth of September.

Lelouch, on the other hand, is starting to slide a free hand through Suzaku's hair again, and that feels rather nice. "What is it?" He asks, eyes glued to the top of Suzaku's head as the other leans (melts) backwards.

Lelouch must have noticed that he had been tense. Which - with all due respect - is a sign that he's being watched. None the less, "It's nothing. I was just... thinking." Oh, heaven help them all.

This is enough for him, he thinks. Lelouch's fingers smoothing against his scalp, Schneizel's eyes warm with the cracking of a mask, his father not lighting up his phone and trying to get him to move to Kyoto to marry Kaguya - this is all enough. Suzaku would never dare ask for more.

It is why he's not quite sure when 'enough' became 'not enough' for Lelouch.

Lelouch knows when it happens. As a matter of fact, he's the one who points it out after Shirley, Euphemia, and Kallen leave his apartment three months later. They had come to study, seeking him out - for reasons that might include seduction if their body language spoke high enough volumes, Euphemia's attention flitting to Suzaku more often than Lelouch had liked - and had left with smiles on their faces.

Suzaku is delightfully attentive once the door is closed, and - and he smells like metal, so Lelouch narrows his eyes at the other as he tells him to go and take a shower. He follows that candid order and slips away down the hall, yelling back that he'll need those clothes from last time again.

The psychologist frowns, but heads to his room to go and gather those clothes with a single-minded determination.

Ten minutes later, he's huffing and shaking his head - where are those clothes?

"Is everything alright in here?" Comes a voice from the open doorway, and Lelouch can almost hear Suzaku's knee pop from where he is with his nose buried in his drawers. Suzaku being there reminds Lelouch vividly of how much he didn't like the look that Euphemia gave him on the way out; still, it's just the sort of feeling that one gets one someone touches something of his.

Not... that Suzaku is his, it's just a stupid, childish thing that he is mature enough to ignore.

"Everything is fine, Suzaku," he lies right through his teeth, moving on to the next drawer with a huff. How annoying.

"Are you sure? You look like you're having a bit of trouble over there," and then Lelouch hears him walk over and set his hand on his shoulder (something that does not make him flinch violently, he finds), "Do you need some help?"

Moving the shirts out of his way, Lelouch sneers a bit and slams that drawer shut, looking up and behind himself to see that Suzaku is standing there with a towel around his waist. His brain inserts a description of Suzaku's somewhat breathtaking physique, matching that of the personal erotica of someone who was attracted to him - which Lelouch is most certainly not, of course, so there is no problem when he stares at Suzaku longer than necessary. There is also no problem his cheeks flush and he stands, face-to-face with a curious cat lover.


He walks around Suzaku - pretending that he does not glance over his shoulder to see if anything is as defined as his chest and abs - and to his closet on the other side of the room, opening it and giving the clothes on the hangars a look over. "Just - sit on the bed, and I'll be with you in a minute. I might have misplaced the clothes you usually wear," he confesses with a frown, starting to dig through the clothes.

Meanwhile, Suzaku watches his very anal friend work through his clothes with a frenzy of hands. Sitting on the bed is an easy task to complete, but he's still a little wet; he doesn't know how well Lelouch would take to him drying off really quick, so he deals with it.

Until Lelouch makes a relieved noise and pulls those pants out and throws them Suzaku's way. It's a weak throw and Suzaku catches it easily enough - he just takes his towel off in time for Lelouch to turn around and see him. He is not ashamed of himself, but when purple eyes widen he starts wishing he had been able to magically materialize clothes onto his body; at least, enough clothes to cover below the waist.

Lelouch catches the awkwardness of the situation before it falls on the ground, opening his (dry) mouth and saying, "It's fine. We're both men; just... right." His hands raise and he settles on waving them, shaking his head as Suzaku puts his towel to the side. He watches him turn away and shimmy into his pants, inwardly cursing himself for getting too lost in Suzaku's toned ass to stop the part of his brain that wants companionship from sizing Suzaku up while he's not looking.

Brown curls swish a bit when the other male turns back around, a satisfied smile on his face. "Better?" He asks, eyes shining in mirth. "We might have to turn the heat up."

Breathing out, his eyes roll and- he catches the wrinkles going down Suzaku's legs, fighting the impulsive urge ot fix it and instead turning away and walking off. "Much better. I'll turn up the heat right now," he says briefly, turning as soon as he can when he is sure that Suzaku is following him. The thermostat is easy enough to turn up, the tip of his finger tapping it once as he exhales when it clicks on.

Suzaku immediately gives a contented sigh, leaning against the wall next to the thermostat and chuckling, "You have nice friends."

"'Friends'?" He questions, raising an eyebrow at his visitor. "If you're talking about them, they hardly count as friends. They are students of mine - nothing more, and nothing less."

"You put up with them enough for them to be friends... I mean, you and I are friends."

"You're not my student," is the matter-of-fact statement that he hopes ends the conversation right there. He would rather not go about admitting to Suzaku that he even remotely cares for Euphemia, Kallen, and Shirley as anything more than his 'students'. That attachment isn't there.

Unfortunately for him, the conversation continues: "Schneizel could count as a friend then, right?" When Lelouch looks appalled at the very notion of it, Suzaku smiles a bit and keeps on, "He couldn't just be a coworker - I mean, the two of you get along well enough, and he seems to keep you entertained well enough. He's pretty nice, too."

You don't know him, some part of Lelouch's brain screams as he fights off another urge: the urge to shake Suzaku and explicitly order him to never speak to that blond devil ever again. The extremity of that urge has his hands grabbing Suzaku's very bare shoulders, pinning him against the wall as Lelouch glares heatedly at the boy-man he has in front of him.

Slowly, interestingly enough, the younger male's lips twitch upwards more while Arthur meows from the next room over. Lelouch goes to question Suzaku's look, but feels a hand cup his cheek while another grabs his own shoulder and instead pins him to the wall.

It is when a thumb slowly slides back and forth against his cheek that he finds the voice to answer, "Ah... no. Schneizel is a coworker. Nunnally and Rolo count as friends more than he does, I assure you." And, his words stop as that thumb makes a daring dash across his bottom lip. Lelouch tries again, "We should... wash the dishes. You helped me prepare, so you should finish the job with me."

Green eyes darken and Suzaku's face leans in until Lelouch can feel his breath against his lips, his eyes sliding closed as the warmth of Suzaku's body presses close. He feels Suzaku's hands slide from his face and shoulder to settle against the wall on either side of his neck, his breath traveling down his chin and the column of his throat. Lelouch would be hard-pressed to say that he doesn't enjoy it, just a little bit, if the way he shivers is anything to go by.

He catches himself saying Suzaku's name too late, his head turning to the side as Suzaku moves his nngh breathing to just below his ear. He's finally able to raise his hands and smooth them over Suzaku's bare chest then, pushing gently.

At least Suzaku abides by this, looking embarrassed but not quite like he regrets it. "Sorry. We have to wash the dishes, after all," he mutters with his expression schooled to a shy look, eyes closed as he smiles. "It won't happen again, I promise."

And, just like that, it's all not enough.

"That's- not what I meant," Lelouch says as he. Awkwardly pats Suzaku's chest, knowing better than to let his hand linger longer than necessary, his eyes narrowing slightly. Do you like me, he wants to ask, even already knowing the answer.

"Don't worry about it."

And, with that, the younger is off to the kitchen to do chores.

Lelouch doesn't get his answer even two weeks when a condom falls out of Suzaku's wallet. It is an embarrassing discovery, one of which he laughs at and scratches his head about. But, Lelouch doesn't suspect that anything is up - correctly, of course. Suzaku is a perfectly healthy young man and it's only natural that he would want to date people, and similarly throw their legs over his strong shoulders and nail them to the bed.

He pretends that he didn't visualize Suzaku doing that to him - and he pretends that he doesn't enjoy that thought, tantalizing as it is.

He is able to hand the other that... lubricated condom without shaky hands or a blush high on his cheeks. Lelouch is old enough now that things like this don't bother him as much. What does make the blush appear - just slightly - is the brush of Suzaku's fingers against his when he takes that condom.

It's in July that Lelouch has enough of Suzaku sauntering around his house, his eyes always open and honest - and it's in July that Suzaku stops coming over every day.

And, Lelouch is suspicious of that. Initially, he worries about who will take care of Arthur, because he honestly feels no inclination to take care of him; he doesn't like cats, let alone cats that bite visitors (see: Suzaku) for attention. He would rather give the troublesome furball away than keep him in bed with him - where he goes to to sleep, pointedly ignoring the bed that Suzaku bought for him - simply because he doesn't like to wake up to a fluffy tail in his face.

The fifth day that Suzaku doesn't come and Lelouch has to refill the cat's bowls, Lelouch worries about what he will tell Nunnally when she comes by to see him. He very quickly regrets not asking Suzaku for his number; he always figured that the other would be there when he needed him to, whether it be to pick up the cat poop with the scooper or to use those sinful hands of his to massage him. It seems that Suzaku won't always be there - obviously.

He has other things to do, other people to see - and he, like any other normal adult male, has other friends to go out with. Perhaps he had went clubbing before he met Lelouch, and had to stop because he cared about Arthur so much. Or, maybe he has a girlfriend and wants to spend a few days with her because she's feeling neglected.

Maybe Suzaku is just sick and tired of spending every day with him...? His paranoia is rarely right, but that does not stop him from glaring at Arthur as if it's his fault.

And now, on the tenth of July, Lelouch finds himself taking a cab to the base of Mt. Fuji. The stairs up to the Kururugi Shrine are daunting and do nothing but make him visibly grimace; how Suzaku works his way up and down those every day isn't really anything he's sure he wants to know. On one hand, his terribly neurotic side wants to know if there is a safe way to get up there without the fear of dying half way up. His more reasonable, manly side knows that he can suck it up, and with luck he'll die at the top of the steps where someone will hopefully see him.

Either way, he is going to die today. All to see Suzaku. That man had better be thankful that Lelouch is willing to die for him - or at least willing to require the use of an inhaler in the depressingly near future. How did someone get asthma again? He's pretty sure he will have it by the time he's done with this all. If he's extremely lucky, he'll be able to get Suzaku to carry him down the stairs and all the way home.

That... sounds oddly good, looking at these stairs. Lelouch has better get started before he decides that it is futile to try and tackle this task and hog tie it efficiently. He doesn't even know how to hog tie. Though, he expects that Suzaku knows how to hog tie - maybe he will ask him when he gets up there. If it's not too hard, he might even try to learn how just so that he has another thing to hold over his student's heads - just in case they act up, of course.

Then, he'll take everyone on a field trip to the hospital to get individual brain scans while they tell him about their childhood. Especially Euphemia. There is absolutely no way that her life is all sunshine, rainbows, gold pots, and robot unicorns, and Lelouch is determined to find something wrong with her.

By the time he realizes it, Lelouch is already a third of the way up the stairs. It seems that thinking helps him focus more on other things than on the fact that soon he won't be able to breathe, let alone inhale enough oxygen to think properly. If Schneizel had come with him, he imagines that he would be laughing at him all the way with a smug look on his face. He had called before Lelouch headed out and asked him about one of his students, but Lelouch had been in a hurry so he just came out and told him that he didn't currently have time to talk and that he would call him after he got home from visiting Suzaku.

If Schneizel had come, Lelouch would have probably killed himself in the cab - that, or he would have killed Schneizel, and then killed himself- with the right tip of his reading glasses. Probably, at least, because as long as Schneizel isn't talking, Lelouch can bear with him.

At the top of the stairs he can do nothing other than feel the intense urge to collapse right then and there, but somehow he resists it in favor of wheezing and bending over, his hands on his knees as he tries to catch his breath. There's some audible shuffling coming from in front of him and Lelouch thinks that he hears someone say Mr. Kururugi. They sounds alarmed.

Lelouch finds that he doesn't really care anymore. The only thing that he is concerned with is his oxygen intake, which is very low right now.

"Lelouch!?" Ah, he recognizes that voice. "Lelouch, are you okay?" There is the frenzied panic in that voice and he feels a hand on his back while another rights him and pulls him against a (strong) sweaty shoulder. "Breathe in, breathe out... take your time."

The sweat is tolerable and Lelouch's head lulls to the side, his eyes closing as he hums his alright. Once he's able to breathe properly again, he notices that Suzaku is shaking - with laughter. "How did concern morph into amusement, Suzaku?" He asks, a frown deep seated on his face.

"Sorry! You're impossible," Suzaku says as he turns his head and presses a kiss against his temple. "I've only ever seen my grandma and cousin get tired from walking up those stairs." It takes him a moment to pull away even when he feels the other tense in his arms, slipping away and stepping back.

Lelouch resembles a ruffled kitten. It is absolutely adorable and it makes Suzaku beam.

"Come on. I'll make us some tea," he starts, taking Lelouch's hand and leading him away from the top of the steps, and into the shrine. Lelouch catches sight of a dojo, but doesn't pay it much mind beyond the (glare) glance that he gets from a tall man over there.

(And then, he remembers: Suzaku Kururugi is the Head of the Kururugi Administration.)

How could he have forgotten? The young businessman who took his father's place for the week that Genbu Kururugi was sick because of his severe cat allergy, and after that had been chosen by the Administration as the new Head - something that Genbu begrudgingly allowed - is Lelouch's friend. This boyishly handsome, dashing cat lover that holds his hand and rights any glares that anyone throws his way has the time to visit him every day?


He makes sure to dump enough sugar in his tea to make sure that he can keep up with any information that Suzaku will potentially give him. And, hopefully, it will be a lot of information. Because... if Lelouch does not get information soon, he thinks he's going to end up strangling the little lying weasel. There is absolutely no way that he juggles college, the Administration, visiting Lelouch, and walking to and fro all in one day.

This is the reason why he regards Suzaku with a cold look as he sits down with one last righting. His smile is genial, however, and it throws Lelouch off for a moment.

"I didn't think that you would come and visit me. It's... an unforeseen role reversal," Suzaku admits with on a more detached note, his smile falling into a more blank look. "The people here - well, they don't like Britannians, but I think they're trying to. I apologize if they were rude."

"Evidently," Lelouch says as he matches the blank look with one of his own, initially unsure of how to handle this. On one hand, he could approach this callously and come out and call Suzaku a liar, assuming that he didn't have a reason to lie in the first place. And, on the other hand - he could come at this situation gently, and try and urge Suzaku to just spit out whatever he seems to want to say to him.

Gently approaching the situation ends up winning. The psychologist in him is not yet tired of Suzaku's reactions.

So, he continues, "I wanted to call, but I couldn't be sure who would pick up the phone, or if they would be alright with letting me speak to you. The decision to come out and see you unexpectedly was my own; their reactions are understandable in such a case, even without taking society today into view." Lelouch wants to come off as understanding, seeing as there are two maids behind the door to his back listening in on his conversation with Suzaku.

Suzaku nods empathetically, eyes drawn to the surface of his own tea. "Of course. Thank you for forgiving them, in that case. As for the reason for your visit," he still does not look up when his voice softens as if he's unsure of what to say, "it would be nice if you told me."

"Don't worry... nothing happened to Arthur. I was just wondering what had happened to you," he says before tilting his head and pursing his lips. "You haven't come to visit in a few days."

At this, the other male blinks and looks up at him before asking, "Were you worried about me?" Because, that's the only conclusion that he can come to; he and Lelouch are friends, after all, and friends worry about each other. Suzaku knows that under these circumstances he, too, would be worried about Lelouch.

Then again, he has begun to think of Lelouch as a little bit more than a friend. That in itself might be a little dangerous, given who they are. Lelouch may be a simple teacher who teaches at a college where it's almost common to see the occassional Japanese, but he's still Britannian where as Suzaku is well on his way to being Prime Minister.

He watches Lelouch start ("As if I would ever-"), the customary denial quick to set in before he calms back down and stares Suzaku down across the table stubbornly. Suzaku gives it ten seconds until his composed Psychologist gives in: five, he averts his gaze (tatami never looked so good); seven, he closes his eyes; and, nine, he opens his mouth.

"I thought something had happened. I didn't take into account the fact that you were the new Head of the Kururugi Administration and would be so busy with your duties." His eyes open, but he doesn't look at Suzaku yet. "I jumped to conclusions; I... apologize."

It takes all of Lelouch's being to gulp down that pride lodged into his throat, but he does it and Suzaku is supremely impressed - and even more moved. He ends up reaching across the table in the spurn of the moment, brushing his fingers across Lelouch's cheek as a silent thank you.

"It's alright. I should have called to begin with," Suzaku starts, fingers pushing Lelouch's hair over and behind his ear, "Did anything happen while I was away?"

"Arthur ran out of cat food."

Nodding, green eyes close and he leans on his free palm, twirling a little bit of Lelouch's hair around his finger. "I'll take care of that when I visit tomorrow. Anything else I should pick up?" He asks, feeling Lelouch's breath against his wrist when he exhales. So cute.

The fingers travel across his cheek after slipping through that piece of hair and Lelouch barely manages his next sentence, "Bread and milk." And, there is a thumb sweeping across his lips again. He hates this: Suzaku, charming enough to just touch him and reduce him to a banana-flavored Lelouch smoothie at the other end of the table.

He hates being attracted to Suzaku and not knowing what to do to resolve the issue.

"Consider it done," and Suzaku retracts his overly affectionate actions in favor of opening his eyes and taking a sip of tea with both hands around the cup, Lelouch mirroring his actions quickly. When he sets it back down, his eyes are on Lelouch, once again distant while Lelouch tries to regain some semblance of control over his emotions. "To be honest, I expected you to blow up on me."

... which reminds Lelouch: "I was planning on it. You lied to me."

"Unfortunately, this is you jumping to conclusions again," the brunet counters, shifting on his cushion and planting his hands on the table in order to push himself up. "I've never lied to you, not once. We've just never talked about my family much beyond my father, and even then our conversation was brief. You knew my last name, too, so I thought it was pretty obvious who I was."

Because Suzaku Kururugi is the lone son of the Prime Minister of Japan and, redundancy aside, the Head of the Kururugi Administration. According to the news, he had been quite the ambitious fighter when he was younger, holding several different kendo championships and a few belts, if Lelouch is remembering correctly. He must not have had time for much when he was a kid beyond the training he had been put through by his trainer. It explains the line of muscles below Suzaku's clothes.

God, Lelouch is in trouble isn't he?

Still... "How do you have time to coordinate between visiting me, going to college, and managing the Administration? The last two are easy to understand, but the first - you don't have much time to yourself."

"Do I look like someone who wants time to himself?" He asks with a tired smile working its way across his face, his expression opening. "I'm happy enough being able to hang out with you when I can. If that means that I have to help you grade a few tests or papers while playing with Arthur, then so be it - sometimes, I even get to see Euphy and Schneizel, or even Kallen and Shirley. I have fun when I'm with you."

He says it likes it's the easiest thing in the world to say, and it makes Lelouch's face heat up a bit.

This manchild has everything he needs in the world right here in this estate with its bustling birdlife and green plantlife; Lelouch thinks that he had seen a traditional garden somewhere during the walk in, too. There is absolutely no doubt that the place Suzaku lives in is ravaging itself with the amount of activity in it, if the amount of people working is up to par and saying anything about it.

I have fun when I'm with you.

"You have... fun when you're with me, Suzaku?"


That is more than any of his students can ever say to him.

Now, by all accounts, Lelouch is not a fun person to be with. Nunnally and Rolo may enjoy his company; Kallen, Shirley, and Euphemia may want to study extensively with him to get good grades; and, Schneizel, Clovis, and Cornelia may enjoy talking to him from time to time as fellow coworkers - but, he is most definitely not fun to be with.

He's an ice cold prude with a penchant for cleaning and cooking and getting everything up to his high standards. He is all about being on time and looking clean cut, too engrossed in his own world to give half a damn about anyone or anything else.

And yet, the words echo in his head as if Suzaku had just confessed his love to him, making Lelouch want to crawl under a few - maybe three or four - thick blankets and hide away in that warm place for a week. Suzaku makes him feel too much, his words doing more external harm than internal good.

"Do you have fun with me too, Lelouch?"

"I..." He doesn't really know what fun is beyond a good book in the library. It shouldn't be this easy to look up at Suzaku, who walks around the table and over to stand next to him, and tell him, "Yes. I have fun when I'm with you, Suzaku."

Suzaku smiles and kneels down in front of him, leaning over and it's the whisper of lips across his, soft and chaste as they brush their way across his lips and cheek. They reach his ear and he's already reaching up, pressing his hands over Suzaku shoulders and listening to him chuckle warmly against his ear.

"I'm glad."

It is not particularly hot today, but he feels every part of his body heat up when Suzaku's breath ghosts over his skin. This is almost the exact same position they had found themselves in in his own apartment, just with tongue when Suzaku runs that wetness under his earlobe. His mind screams danger, but he just can't move beyond squeezing Suzaku's shoulders; he is not entirely revolted by the other male's actions, either, so - he allows it to continue.

If only it did continue.

The other pulls back and takes his warmth with him, his smile more kind now that Lelouch has let him do as he pleased. "I promised that that wouldn't happen again, but - I'm glad that you let me do what I wanted. As I said, I'm glad that you have fun with me. I hope that you don't grow tired of me," he confesses softly, eyes squeezing shut in his delight.

"I want you to prove it." Confused, Suzaku tilts his head in inquiry. "I am a man of science - prove to me that you have fun with me, and that you were not lying."

Easily, Suzaku stands again and holds his hand out to him. "Alright, come on. I think I can manage to do that in just one room."

Lelouch does not regret taking Suzaku's hand that day.


Sighing, Lelouch runs a hand through his hair and shakes his head.

In front of him, Kallen, Shirley, and Euphemia chatter away happily about their next class - their physical education class with Jeremiah Gottwald, that is - all three waiting for Lelouch to get done grading their sample tests. He had agreed to give them one and ended up asking them to stay behind as he would grade them when they finished, but ten minutes in and his head has already started to wander.

Everything has returned to normal: Suzaku comes and visits every day again and they are back to their normal life. The only change is that Suzaku has migrated from the side of his leg on the floor to the side of his thigh on the couch. His arm is now almost constantly around him, their sides usually pressed together as they talk about their day, and even when they do not talk at all. He admits that he loves listening to Suzaku talk - it's too bad that he doesn't want to be a teacher. Then, Lelouch could listen to Suzaku talk all day and just not care about most things anymore.

He also admits that, yes, he is attached, and he doesn't dislike it. What he does dislike, however, is that his mother has taken it upon herself to contact Cornelia and Euphemia's mother to arrange a marriage between himself and Euphemia. Of course, it won't be until Euphemia has graduated, but Lelouch has a strict moral code to uphold to. It might not have many rules, but there are certainly enough to make Lelouch immediately tell his mother hell no.

His student is not someone that he wants to marry. As a matter of fact, he doesn't want to marry any of his students, not graduated or graduated. Lelouch does not know how his mother got Cornelia to even agree to it, but somehow she managed.

("I refuse."

"Lelouch, you don't have any other-"

"I do have a choice."


"No. Not now, and not in the future - I will never marry someone that you have arranged for me to marry, let alone one of my students. I understand that you want grandchildren, but I have absolutely no interest in having children with anyone... much less her.")

It had been harsh enough to make Euphemia meet his eyes and then look away in shame now. She must think that there is something wrong with her - really, there isn't.

The one who has something wrong with them is him. To him, it isn't strange that he doesn't want children, or a wife - he just wants to live his life freely, without ties to anyone who would be capable of holding him down. It isn't how it's supposed to be - as his mother has told him recently, dejected and not quite understanding why he won't settle down - but he doesn't care.

He doesn't care because there is a light knock on the door that signals the arrival of a guy who might as well live with him with how frequently he visits. His eyes immediately raise, met with the amused expression of Suzaku Kururugi.

Thankfully, he doesn't have to explain; Suzaku walks in in a black suit and black and red scarf, carrying nothing but a smile on his face and it makes Lelouch smile thinly in return. The other takes his usual seat beside Kallen - why, he can't fathom (they've never gotten along before, not well anyway) - obviously waiting for Lelouch to finish up with what he's doing.

He will finish soon. All the more if he can return home with Suzaku and get him out of that suit. Suzaku has never really liked formal wear, besides his loose-fitting hakama that is currently sitting out on Lelouch's bed for him to slip into when they get back; that is just another reason for them to return home quickly.

Honestly, Lelouch is getting a little impatient these days. He isn't quite sure why he is getting impatient, but every time he sees Suzaku's smile it just gets worse and worse. It's a gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach that does not go away no matter how close he presses himself against Suzaku, and no matter how many times he finds himself nearly in Suzaku's lap. It doesn't matter.

He can't get close enough to make it vanish.

It's like no matter how many times he chases after Suzaku's warmth, Lelouch will never be fully satisfied. It is only when Suzaku initiates touch that he can finally relax, whether it be the brush of his fingers over his face or the comforting weight of his arm around his shoulders.

Vividly, Lelouch remembers that he had fallen asleep once while Suzaku ran his hand over his hair. That day had been the day that he had woken up to find himself next to Suzaku with Suzaku's arms around him and the blanket he had brought in the living room with him over them both, squished together on the couch. Suzaku's body against his really made him think until he fell asleep again with his face pressed close to Suzaku's neck.

His heart is easily moved by Suzaku's adoration, and Lelouch finds that he does not mind at all. If there is anyone who can accept his unaffectionate, downer attitude and straight-laced way of doing things it's Suzaku. Suzaku, who can take an order as well as Kallen can; Suzaku, who has shown just as much devotion as Shirley has; Suzaku, who -

"Do you want me to help you with that?" The other male pipes up, a hand covering the white of Euphemia's mock test and sliding it towards him while his other hand steals a red pen - one that Lelouch commonly uses to grade papers with - out of the pocket of his dress shirt. "Don't worry; I pretty much memorized the answer key for this one, so it should be fine."

Leave it to Mr. Kururugi to take things into his own hands; it's a good thing that Suzaku is on his good side, or he would have chewed him out right then and there for assuming that it's okay.

His contentedness isn't very long-lived. Shirley starts asking Suzaku questions, Euphemia perking up and chiming in when Suzaku starts complimenting her neat handwriting. There is a red circle in his peripheral vision, a splatter of blood across the white of perfection, and some small, insignificant part of him is chuckling.

The entire affair takes all of the next ten excruciating minutes.

The three beautiful women leave soon after, ready to tackle their winter vacation with diamond eyes. Lelouch takes note that his would-have-been-fiancee looks back at Suzaku and then over at him, her eyes shy but bright. It's an entirely too hopeful look and makes him frown a bit.

Changing his mind is out of the question. Now that he has said no, he will not take it back. That thought solidifies itself as the door closes, leaving himself and Suzaku alone in the room. His hands are immediately moving to smooth out any and all wrinkles that he sees on Suzaku's suit, smooth fingers on smooth fabric as the other male chuckles and leans over a bit, pressing his lips to the top of Lelouch's head to show his overaffectionate gratitude.

"I'm happy to see you, too," he whispers, his hands moving to grab over Lelouch's shoulders and squeeze. "May I have the honor of escorting you home this evening?"

He smiles, satisfied that Suzaku feeds his bloated ego. "Yes, I think that I would like that," Lelouch hums quietly, moving his hands away. He doesn't want to let them linger longer than they have to, needing desperately to sever a little bit of the attachment that he feels towards Suzaku.

Not, of course, that he does not awkwardly pat Suzaku on the shoulder once or twice when he pulls away and turns so that he can gather up his things. Thankfully enough, Suzaku doesn't take it to heart - as a matter of fact, he takes it in stride and opens the top left drawer of Lelouch's desk, fishing out the car keys with a smile on his face promising only devious things if he actually finds those keys and starts the ignition of Lelouch's car.

Lelouch is quick to deny him - making Suzaku's face the prime destination for his frown - taking his keys back and - immediately stopping right in his tracks.


"Sorry! I just wanted to drive the car for once."

"No, it's not - that, but that's something else to talk about when we get back to the apartment," he says as he rolls his eyes, only continuing after he starts moving again. "Have you ever looked at someone and thought that they were familiar?"

Raising an eyebrow, Suzaku's expression otherwise thins. "As in...?"

"As in... like you've seen them before." Waving his free hand in the air, Lelouch grabs his coat and tugs it on slowly. "You know random tidbits about them and don't particularly know why you know those things; something like that." He catches Suzaku look off to the side before the other nods, notably reluctant before he continues again, "Whom?"

(He has not played since his mother died. But, his mother is alive and well, albeit in the hospital, but well enough to be out in a few more days. She isn't dead.)

Time ticks by, the only thing moving when Lelouch halts as he waits for Suzaku to answer him. As is, Suzaku not saying anything just raises his suspicions: is it someone that he knows? Someone he's close to?

"Suzaku," he repeats, his brow furrowing in frustration.

He's surprised when Suzaku looks him straight in the eye and tells him, "I felt like that when I saw you playing chess at the park." And, his body moves closer. "Is that going to be a problem?"

Immediately Lelouch is on guard, eyes wide for a moment - to think that it's him Suzaku feels like that around makes his fingertips tingle - as he raises his hands and shakes his head. It has a positive enough effect: Suzaku stops moving closer and gives him half a smile, turning away soon after to walk towards the door again. Lelouch finds it hard to catch his breath, not liking that such a thing gave him a quick shot of adrenaline.

He does not think that he will make it through the night without prying - or, worse, without placing himself in Suzaku's lap and making sure that he cannot speak for the next hour as his impulses tell him to. That, or he can always talk Suzaku's ear off for the next few hours; lord only knows how much he likes to jibber-jabber.

In the end, they make it to and into his apartment without incident on either of their parts.

Suzaku is blissfully quiet and Lelouch thinks that he sees him start to doze off a few times. He must be tired from the transition between school, Lelouch, and work. They had not even been halfway to his apartment before Lelouch had started making plans to put Suzaku in the guest bedroom tonight for some well-deserved rest. He would hear absolutely no protests from the other male.

To his surprise, Suzaku does not fight him much. He asks about clothes, which Lelouch says that he will take care of, and pretty much lands face first on the bed when he's guided into the room. Arthur is quick to join him, too, and Lelouch supposes that the cat notices how tired Suzaku is because he does not immediately bite Suzaku in an effective bid for attention. Lelouch tugs the covers from under Suzaku and lets the other move around to lie on his back before he sets them over him, giving him a fondly exasperated look when he friend calls him a mother hen.

"Someone has to take care of you and protect you," he ends up telling him, taking a moment to sit down on the bed next to his lying form. "You don't ever seem to do it well enough yourself. Sometimes I wonder how you lived until you met me."

Snorting, Suzaku rolls those sleepy green eyes and puts an arm over his forehead. "Perseverance... and a whole lot of rice."

"I think you have the wrong ethnicity, but if it is as you say," Lelouch concedes, deciding to indulge Suzaku for the while. "You know where I'll be if you need me."

By which he means that he is leaving an open invitation for the brown-haired sleepyhead to join him in the kitchen or in his room if he feels so inclined. It is more the former than the latter place, of course, but Lelouch finds that he does not completely mind the idea of sharing a bed with Suzaku.

But, aforementioned man just shakes his head and turns on his side, still facing Lelouch with closed eyes.

"I'll see you in the morning, Lelouch."

"Of course. Good night, Suzaku," he bids politely.

"Night, Lelouch."

When he goes to get up he feels a warm hand take his and squeeze it gently. His eyes find that Suzaku is smiling up at him, and he can't help but smile right on back. It doesn't hurt to have him close; at least, if it's Suzaku, Lelouch feels that he can trust him.

After squeezing Suzaku's hand back, Lelouch pulls away and leaves the guest room. He makes sure to turn off the light and shut the door, too; he may not be feeling it for dinner and might want to head straight to bed himself, but he has to make sure that Suzaku has enough leeway to sleep seeing as he doesn't seem to care whether or not there are things impeding him. Again, he isn't sure how Suzaku survived so long without him. Maybe it was the rice.

His bed is cold when he climbs in it, but with someone he's missed for so long across the hall Lelouch falls asleep easier than he had been able to ever since he started knowing things.

Suzaku doesn't wake up until the afternoon.

It would actually be sort of funny if Lelouch had a sense of humor. His companion stumbles into the living room at three looking adorably ruffled and evidently having not taken the time to fix his bed head; his words are less articulate and his eyes are bright as he drags himself over to the couch and collapses next to Lelouch. He is a far cry from the alert, well-kept male that Lelouch has come to know.

He supposes that it is still a little funny - heartwarming, too, and Lelouch smiles to let Suzaku know that.

"What time is it?" Suzaku asks, reaching up and rubbing his hands over his face and eyes. Waking up has never been so hard.

Lelouch gives a glance to the clock on the wall near the window. "A little after three in the afternoon. You must have been really tired," he drawls, flinching when he feels an unexpected pressure against his arm and shoulder. His eyes quickly move to see what it is that is touching him while he tenses, only bothering to calm down when he sees that a still-sleepy Suzaku has donned him suitable to rest against.

"Yeah, I was. Sorry for crashing at your place."

"No harm done, Suzaku," he starts, closing his eyes and leaning his head against Suzaku's. "You are more than welcome to stay over as many times as you want."

Suzaku just hums, already starting to doze off again but trying to valiantly fight it off. He doesn't want to fall asleep on Lelouch; the other will go numb in less than thirty minutes and he will not hear the end of it when he comes back to reality.

The hand running over his own isn't really helping him. He's glad that Lelouch is comfortable enough with him to initiate touch on his own, but he is really tired right now and the touching is making him even more sleepy. Granted, it would be worse if Lelouch were petting his head and running his fingers through his hair, but the gentle rubbing against the skin on the back of his hand is still enough to make him go to his happy place.

So, he turns his palm up so that Lelouch's fingers are tickling against the skin of his palm, smiling when Lelouch twitches. But, he says nothing and continues the light touching, inevitably making Suzaku squirm until he settles his fingers in between his.

It had been easy to ignore that his attraction to Lelouch after he rejected his advances a while back; now, with Lelouch's hand in his, he isn't sure he will be able to. Normally, Suzaku can take the mixed signals, knowing that most of the time Lelouch really isn't hitting on him because he acts as asexual as Suzaku's teacher, Tohdoh - but Suzaku wants to turn his head and kiss Lelouch.

He really want to turn his head and kiss Lelouch. There is no denying it. He's not fully awake and Lelouch's side is warm and - Lelouch is far from the first guy that Suzaku has been attracted to. There is Lelouch's (friend) coworker, Schneizel; his childhood friend, Kanon; and, in the past, he thinks that he had been attracted to Gino. Intelligence is always something that Suzaku has looked for in the people that he likes and the only person that comes close to Lelouch is Schneizel.

He's met with Schneizel a few times before. But, that isn't something he is willing to share with Lelouch just yet; Lelouch doesn't like Schneizel as is, even if they are friends.

And so, Suzaku turns his head up and nudges Lelouch's jaw with his nose. "Hey," he mutters with a frown, "Lelouch?" The other looks at him with eyes that can only be described as expectant. Okay. Maybe Lelouch isn't as asexual as he had originally thought. "Is it alright now?"

Arching an eyebrow questioningly, Lelouch implores him silently to continue. Suzaku just laughs and shakes his head, deciding against it, eyes shining for a moment before he pulls away and off of the couch.

"Nevermind. It was just a joke," he tells him, moving away and slinking towards the kitchen. "Can I get something from the kitchen? I'm hungry."

Jerking upwards, the teacher follows him and peeks into the kitchen with a frown as he trails closely behind Suzaku. "No. Not until you clarify what it is you were asking about."

"I said that I was just joking."

"You didn't sound like you were joking; don't lie to me, Suzaku. That is the last thing that I want from you."

"What's the first? It isn't obedience, is it? I thought that was more Schneizel's thing than yours, but maybe I was wrong."

Listening to Suzaku bite back has Lelouch's anger coiling deep in the pit of his stomach. He doesn't like it when people talk back to him; defiance isn't something that he wants, not from Suzaku. Not right now, anyway.

But, when he opens his mouth to speak Suzaku beats him to it and apologizes, "Sorry, I'm... that was out of hand. I just wanted to kiss you."

Oh. Well. That definitely makes Lelouch feel a little tingly. "Why didn't you?"

"The last time I tried, you pushed me away."

Lelouch vividly remembers the night that Suzaku pinned him to the wall and gave him goosebumps when he breathed across his skin. Kissing may have been the aim, but the breathing had been what made him squirm; he didn't reject Suzaku then because he didn't want him. He had rejected him because there was no way that he would let Suzaku fuck him against the wall when they had chores to finish first.

Right now... it's a little after three, the chores are done, and there is nothing to do that needs his immediate attention. That is, Suzaku withstanding; he would be happy to give Suzaku his immediate attention, especially now that Suzaku has apologized.

"I pushed you away because we had other, more important things to do. We don't right now," he says matter-of-factly, taking long strides towards Suzaku and pressing close against his back. They are lined up perfectly and Lelouch finds that he doesn't want anything else in the world right now more than he wants Suzaku.

He pushes that point home by placing his hands over Suzaku's chest and leaning his forehead against the back of Suzaku's head. There is the natural surprised stiffening, the even more natural calming, and then he feels hands over his. He is pleased enough to press a kiss over the curly hair at the base of Suzaku's neck, feeling Suzaku shiver a little against him; and, that pleases him too so he starts sliding his hands down that clothed chest, imagining how it would feel to touch the skin underneath the clothes. Suzaku's backside feels soft enough against his groin when he gives an experimental grind, so Lelouch knows what he is in for once he gets those clothes off of him.

Suzaku's head turns and Lelouch is able to kiss at his jaw, fluttering, gentle things that suit his current wants just fine. He figures that Suzaku agrees with him anyway, so he continues down Suzaku's jaw to the line of his neck.

Lelouch gets as far as unbuttoning Suzaku's suit jacket and touching Suzaku's dress shirt before his hands are pushed away. The body pressed against his moves away, but he doesn't stay passive; his hands return to Suzaku's body and tug that jacket until it comes off enough for him to throw it to the side, and Suzaku jumps under his hands when he tugs Suzaku's shirt up and out from his pants.

"Lelouch -," Suzaku starts, turning around to face the other and laughing nervously, "- you don't have to make excuses; I get it. You don't like men. I mean, it's obvious when you see those girls you hang around."

Purple eyes widen. Did he just really - "Suzaku, I may not be necessarily attracted to men, but I'm attracted to you," he says as he gets close again, managing to get the other up against the counter. "What part of me seems like it doesn't want you?"


Suzaku's immediate reaction is to look down, feeling something press against his thigh as Lelouch presses a knee in between his legs and uses the other leg to give himself a straddling position around one of Suzaku's legs. It is almost like Lelouch had asked him to go take a walk after delivering mail all day, except a little less unpleasant.

His eyes blink a bit. Is that Lelouch's cock pressed against his thigh? Is that Lelouch starting to grind his cock against his thigh? A flush settles itself nicely on his face.

"Sorry," he apologizes weakly, shifting as much as he can with Lelouch in his space.

And, he raises his hands and cups Lelouch's face, tugging it towards his so that he can place a hard kiss against the other's lips. Lelouch actually moans against his lips and grabs at his shirt, encouraging Suzaku to be more aggressive to get what he wants.

He does become more aggressive: he starts plucking the buttons of Lelouch's shirt, starts plucking the button of Lelouch's pants - and laughs a bit as he earns a throaty groan when he his fingers wiggle their way into Lelouch's black underwear. It is just pure heat when he manages to get his hand all the way in, meeting wiry black hair on his way down and, finally, hardening flesh.

It isn't as if Lelouch stays still, either. As a matter of fact, he has already begun to push Suzaku's shirt off of his shoulders and down his arm, having gotten it skillfully unbuttoned in their frenzy. Lelouch wanting him had been no joke, Suzaku knows; finally he's able to wrap his hand around Lelouch, laughing breathlessly when Lelouch lets out a long breath and leans his head forward. Their foreheads press together and Lelouch's hand travels down into his pants, groping for Suzaku before fitting his hand around him.

Suzaku lets himself think - for just a moment - that he may be moving a little too fast even if they've known each other for a while now, but Lelouch chooses that moment to start fisting him, so that idea flies right out of his head. God, does he ever want Lelouch - really, he would have been alright with just a kiss, but this is just as nice.

Sex helps with stress, he has heard. It works it out before it can peak, and- he thinks he needs this. He promises himself to stop Lelouch before they go too far, finding himself wondering if he can keep that promise. Lelouch's hand and cock feel really good.

It really doesn't take him very long to feeling himself getting close, something that Lelouch finds amusing as Suzaku's facial expression shows nothing but pleasure - evident in his smirk - even if it doesn't take him very long, either. He seems to sense that Suzaku does not want to take it that quickly and - eventually - a peak is reached and Suzaku is able to kiss Lelouch to muffle his moan.

It's humiliating, but Lelouch does follow close behind when Suzaku's efforts in pleasing him become languid - teasing - and slow, quickly escalating into something that makes Lelouch groan into his mouth.

Suzaku expects Lelouch to start complaining about the mess they made in their pants, but he doesn't. He takes Suzaku's hand, the soiled one in his own, and takes him to the bathroom for a shower.

And, a bath when they get done cleaning themselves. Lelouch plays it off as wanting to relax, and Suzaku gives him the benefit of the doubt; he even lets him lay back against his chest and rest his head on his shoulder. Lelouch, in turn, lets him wrap his arms around him and nuzzle his neck.

This is a big step for Lelouch, who doesn't really even like being touched by other people.


Tilting his head to the side, Suzaku hums and leans his forehead against Lelouch's shoulder. "Hmm? Something wrong?"

"No - I was just wondering what you think about when you look at me."

Silence. "Well," he starts, smiling, "that came out of no where."

From there, Lelouch just scowls and moves a hand underwater to pinch Suzaku's thigh, listening with half-satisfaction to Suzaku's pained laugh. As if. "Just tell me, Suzaku."

Lelouch can almost hear Suzaku thinking from where he's at in front of him and he's more than tempted to look back at him. Does it really take that long to tell Lelouch something as simple as what he sees? What else could be going through that boy's mind right now?

(Schneizel, Euphy, and a lot of other... things. People. Places. Feelings.)

He wants to monopolize that.

Thankfully enough, Suzaku shifts behind him and makes it seem like he's ready to speak.

When he doesn't, it's Lelouch's turn to shift, and it gets Suzaku's immediate attention.

"I see someone who doesn't want to let people get close to him - I don't really know why, but I know not to take it for granted," he says slowly, fingers moving from Lelouch's arm to gently comb through Lelouch's hair from the front to the back. "I see black hair and purple eyes, and someone who needs to exercise."

Lelouch scowls at that and pinches Suzaku's again.

"Exercise n-"

"And, I see someone that I love a lot," Suzaku states smoothly, gritting through the pain with a smile and feeling Lelouch tense in the arm still holding him. He presses a quick kiss to Lelouch's neck and sighs. "But, I... I also see..."

(Blood on his hands, on a sword, on a mask in a box in his room under the floorboards with a suit that still haunts him to this very day - telling him that there is really no hope left for him to be happy.)

Suzaku goes quiet.

It concerns Lelouch and makes him twist under Suzaku's arm and idle hand, brows knit together.


He decides that it doesn't matter right now. It doesn't matter if - in the past, maybe - Lelouch was the Demon Emperor, or if Suzaku killed him on an order given to him directly from Lelouch. They are happy now, aren't they? If they're not, then they can make their own happiness from here.

Maybe. Suzaku will think on it. Right now, he smiles again - nothing genuine, but something to calm Lelouch down - and kisses the tip of Lelouch's nose.

"I see you, Lelouch."

Next Sunday, Lelouch is out with his study group - plus Schneizel, Clovis, Cornelia, and (unsurprisingly) Suzaku - at the bookstore. He doesn't mind being out with them, but they're all so demanding - with the obvious exception of Suzaku, who has gotten quieter (solemn and somber) than he had been before since that morning in his apartment. But, they had reached a consensus that, yes, they're together, so Lelouch is... happy.

Kallen and Shirley pull him aside when everyone else is busy talking to each other and takes him outside, giving him a worried look. "Hey... are you okay?" Kallen pauses to cast a look off to the side, then to Shirley - who nods - and finally back at him, unsure of what to do. "Did something happen? I mean- you seem a little out of it. More than usual. Suzaku seems out of it, too."

Immediately one of Lelouch's brows shoots up and he goes on the defensive, crossing his arms over his chest. He understands that she might be worried about them, but, "I don't see how that should matter to you. My business is my own; as for Suzaku, I'm sure he would tell you if he felt like it." That is the dividing line, really. It's one that he doesn't appreciate them trying to cross - or anyone trying to cross it, for that matter. "However, I'm fine."

He sends a glance to inside the store, seeing Suzaku looking at him. His expression softens and he gives that boy a smile, watching the corners of Suzaku's eyes crinkle a bit when he smiles back.

Yes. He and Suzaku are just fine and that is all that matters.

Something clicks, then, and the sudden sense of a presence nearby has him turning his head to the left to see - a green-haired woman with a small pizza box in her hand. (Okay.) Her posture is lazy and her steps forward are dragging; he wrinkles his nose a bit at the assault of smell and nostalgia and turns his head a bit back to Kallen and Shirley who are now prattling on about 'being his friend' and 'being concerned about him'. Honestly, he really just does not care.

"Well, isn't this an interesting sight... two Black Knights and a lovestruck girl," she drawls from his left, eyes looking between himself, Kallen, and Shirley. Kallen's frown is apparent and Shirley looks at him questioningly; they want to know if he knows her, and he can't say that he does.

"Not really. Are we in your way?" He asks as he turns away to start walking back into the store. Suzaku looks like he's seeing a ghost and, briefly, Lelouch wonders why. "Kallen, Shirley, don't stand in front of the door."

She follows them inside, taking her sweet time looking around. But, even Clovis can tell that she isn't interested in the books and his manner is jumpy again as he tries to get to the side of the bookstore that the green-haired woman isn't on. Schneizel offers to pay for their books and, in his apathy, Lelouch lets him.

And, after they walk out of the store, he notices that Suzaku is gone.

His eyes snap around, panicked, before he looks at Schneizel with a sense of urgency. "Suzaku is-" He can't really get the words out enough, wanting someone to tell him where the hell his boyfriend went so that he doesn't have a heart attack in the middle of the sidewalk.

"He'll be back," Schneizel reassures him with a bit of a smile. "We'll wait here for him. Trust him a little more."

When Suzaku turns up again, he looks relieved. Refreshed. As if a weight has been lifted off of his shoulders, he smiles at everyone and waves.

Lelouch feels like he could cry from seeing Suzaku so obviously okay. He has changed around a lot of things for Suzaku - he made his study into a makeshift guest bedroom, shut his business down to have more time for him and the cat - that actually taking a lot of stress off of his shoulders - and he's turned over so many of his own life rules that it might just be impossible for him to go back to them.

To see Suzaku visibly looking better than he has before is something that he takes as a blessing. But, there is still one matter at hand, and Lelouch makes it apparent that he's displeased with Suzaku for disappearing without even a single peep to him.

Suzaku just smiles a little more and kisses him.

"Sorry. I just wanted to make sure of something - I won't do it again," he states, taking Lelouch's hand and tugging him to the middle of the group. They're all different versions of expectant and Lelouch finds that he doesn't mind it so much.

But, it's still no one's business what he does so he scowls something mighty and makes Shirley laugh at the look on his face.

(And, he thinks, that maybe every person in the world is more unique than the last. He knows that this was all worth it in the end.)