Code Geass: Lelouch of the Complete Non Sequitur
Chapter One: Something Rotten in Area 11
or: More puns than you can shake a spear at
The Britannian youth, Lelouch, had memorized two soliloquies. The first was Hamlet's "To be or not to be speech" - an obvious and hamhanded choice. The second was from Macbeth, which he planned to whip out if anyone was on the fence. Under his own name, Lelouch worked to get the lead in the school play and show these privileged Ashford bastards how Shakespeare should be performed. At this point, only the director knew what the result of his audition would be.
Of course, the director being Milly, said result could not possibly stay secret for more than, oh, three seconds. "You get the part!" she bellowed into a rolled-up tube of cardboard marked "Director."
Lelouch tilted his head back and started, "Of course - "
But Milly wasn't finished: "...Is what I'd be saying if you hadn't sucked so hard. Next!"
There are times when someone hears something so outlandish, so preposterous, that his or her brain will actually block out the nonsense. Thus, Lelouch stood there, and blinked at Milly, and honestly believed that she had said nothing at all.
Milly, however, made sure he didn't hold onto that illusion. "Sorry, Lelouch. I'll be the first to admit that it'd be pretty comical to give you the lead, but I have a certain level of quality to ensure. So shoo. Go take over the world or whatever it is you do in your spare time."
"I don't understand," Lelouch said, blinking at her.
"SHOOOOOOOOOOOO!" she bellowed.
But Lelouch just looked at her and said, in a very very small voice, "I don't understand." He drew himself up, cleared his throat, and threw his arm out to the side. "I'm an excellent actor, President. An excellent actor."
She winked at him maliciously. "Didn't see much of that, did I?"
Lelouch ground his teeth. "I'm very good, you know. To the point where I could hypothetically maintain a double life in which I am simultaneously a clever, well-liked, slightly arrogant and slightly apathetic young man and a notorious masked criminal constantly sought both by the police and the military of a crushingly powerful empire, all without tipping off either the finest detectives the world has to offer or those close to me." He paused. "I mean, if I wanted to."
Milly leaned back in her chair, crossed her arms, and shook her head. "Whatever, MasqueDeMasque, I'm sure you could, but in the meantime I have twelve more renditions of 'To be or not to be' I have to hear, and you're kind of in the way. So shoooooooooo!"
"Wait," Lelouch begged desperately. "I have more."
"Next," Milly called.
"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow - " Lelouch bleated desperately, then turned to Rivalz as the other boy caught him by the arm. "Unhand me, traitor," he growled, and tried to jerk free. This being Lelouch, that was about as effective as spitting on the Lancelot.
"I'll let you know the results when they're finalized," Milly called after him, then bellowed, "Next!"
"How did it go?" C.C. asked boredly as Lelouch wrenched his jacket off his shoulders.
"Oh, fantastic,"Lelouch gritted. "The best. How was your day?"
"I consumed two pepperoni pizzas and yet am still a size 0," C.C. replied, "and have a sexually ambiguous relationship with an incredibly beautiful, rather tortured, and appealingly batshit young man. Two of them, if you leave off the 'beautiful' part. Also, I get to dress in cute fanservicey outfits and be mysterious and talk to dead people and pilot giant robots and - "
"I can't believe her!" Lelouch growled, sitting down at his computer and resting his head on his fist. "I'm an excellent actor, you know."
She stretched out atop her army of Cheese-kuns that were just waiting, waiting, waiting for their collective opportunity to strike. "Of course you are," she said.
Lelouch looked at her, unsure whether or not she was patronizing him. "You know that I am. You've seen me leading this double life that I've managed to keep secret from everyone." C.C. looked at him, and he shrugged. "Well, almost everyone. Everyone but you, and Shirley, and Suzaku, and Kallen, and that one scary dominatrix Britannian who shot Ougi, and Mao, and Euphemia, and maybe Nunnally, and probably Arthur, and Cornelia, and..." He cleared his throat. "Well, none of that matters. What matters is that I'm an excellent actor."
"Sure," C.C. agreed. "But I have a question for you. Why does this matter so much to you?" When Lelouch didn't respond, she elaborated. "You normally don't care a thing about the festivals and giant pizzas and what-have-you. So why is this so important?" Tauntingly: "Maybe you want to get close to someone?"
"But that's just it," Lelouch replied. "I want to get close to someone, indeed: the greatest writer the English language has ever known."
C.C. tilted her head to the side. "Cassie Claire?"
"Shakespeare," Lelouch announced.
"Oh, thatqueermo. I was an inspiration for one of his characters, you know."
C.C. shot him a look. "No." Then she stared up at the ceiling. "No, wait, which was the monstrous unloved one?"
"Oh. Then it was Caliban, sorry." She turned over onto her stomach to look at him. "Why is it that you like Shakespeare so much, anyway? The incest? The melodrama? Or maybe the way you hear yourself talk for ten minutes straight?"
Lelouch grunted in irritation and ground his teeth, but finally found himself compelled to answer, "All of those."
C.C. chuckled contemptuously. Lelouch looked at her, then turned his head away and sighed. "I wouldn't expect you to understand, anyway." Quietly: "No one understands me. No one." He turned to see C.C. rolling her eyes at him and spread his hands. "I thought you liked the tortured types!"
"Yeah, quietly tortured. If I wanted emo I'd call up Suzaku."
"Suzaku..." If this whole play thing held true to the pattern, it was certain that Suzaku would get the role of Hamlet. And it would, of course. His life tended to be strangely predictable - almost like there was some silent God to be found in the sunrise who had say over all the events surrounding him.
"Say, Lelouch," C.C. asked idly, "why is a Suzaku cake better than a regular cake?"
Lelouch considered this. "Because it's very sweet, very attractive, and probably filled with delicious cream?" he suggested.
"Wow," C.C. said, sitting up. Lelouch shook his head.
"What?" he asked, blinking at her.
"Very sweet, very attractive, and...Wow."
"What?" he asked, shaking his head again. "I don't get it. I was just answering what I thought it would probably be like."
"I had a different punchline in mind, but I think I like yours better," she said. "I'm writing that one down and pulling it out when you hit puberty."
"When I hit...?" He thought about that one long and hard, then finally shook his head. "I don't understand."
"You will," she assured him, "one day, when it's most embarrassing to you. In the meantime, I believe you have a phone call to take."
Lelouch's phone started ringing. (He'd put it on silent, which was good; bad shit goes down whenever someone doesn't put their cell phone on silent. Bad shit, moviegoers!) He looked at C.C.
"Thanks, River Tam, I'll remember that you can do that. Hello?" he said, answering the phone. Then he paused. With urgency in his voice: "I'll be right over."
He threw on his jacket and stormed out of the room without so much as a good-bye. C.C. stared at the ceiling.
"Maybe I will go, just for laughs," C.C. said, seemingly to herself. A pause. "No, I most certainly will not videotape it. Where would I get a video camera?" A pause. "I assure you that Charles will not want to see it, even if it is Lelouch's very first play." A pause. "Well, at this rate he won't be having any children, and - " A pause. "Hmm. Good point. I dolike humiliation. I'll think about it."
Lelouch caught up with Milly and her entourage just outside the student council room. Rivalz grabbed at his elbow as he went past.
"Hey, Lelouch, Lelouch!" he cried. "Guess what part I got!"
"Nobody cares, Rivalz," Lelouch said, shaking off his grip and stalking past him towards Milly.
She turned and smiled at him flirtatiously. "Well, well. If it isn't our very own Sir Lawrence Fishburne. How's your pride holding up?"
"Pride?" Lelouch said, tilting his chin upwards. "My pride has nothing to do with this. My embarrassment over how terrible your production will be, on the other hand..."
"Concern for us!" she cried, reaching out to tap him affectionately on the nose. "How cute! Isn't that cute, Shirley?" There was no response, and Milly looked around. "Say, where's Shirley?"
"Oh, when she heard that Lel - " Rivalz started.
"Nobody cares, Rivalz," Milly interrupted. "And I think our production will be just fine."
"Oh?" Lelouch asked, crossing his arms. His mouth was set into a judgmental line. "I'd be very surprised. First off, you're serving as director, which always bodes ill."
"Boy, Lelouch gets nasty when he gets - "
"Nobody cares, Rivalz!" called a passing freshman.
"And I cannot imagine, given your taste, that your Hamlet will be anything more than a lightweight with a poor understanding of the material."
"You don't even know who I cast," Milly said.
"But I know!" Rivalz trilled.
"Nobody cares, Rivalz," boomed God in the sky above, slurping up delicious delicious data.
"It doesn't matter," Lelouch said, then paused. "Who did you cast?"
"Oooh, since you're asking, it was - "
"Nobody cares, Rivalz," Milly said, "and since you're curious - here he comes right now."
To the surprise of no one at all acquainted with irony or how this show goes, every effing time, it was Suzaku, singing a happy song as he skipped up to them. Lelouch pressed his lips together and glared at his friend darkly. Suzaku beamed and waved in return.
"I see," Lelouch said darkly. "So this is who you choose to go with?" He considered that a moment. "With whom you choose to go...No, wait. This is you with whom you choose..." He frowned. "With..."
"It's 'who you choose to go with,'" Rivalz said. "'Go with' is a single verb, so the 'with' acts as a particle rather than a preposition - " He paused when his phone rang, then answered. "Hello? Oh, hey, Ma!" He listened, and his face fell, then hung up and returned the phone to his pocket.
"Listen, Milly," Lelouch was saying. "You don't know Hamlet. I do. Hamlet is...He is a man tortured by his thoughts. No offense, Suzaku - "
"None taken!" Suzaku chirruped.
"But Suzaku doesn't have any. Ever."
Suzaku shrugged. "That sounds about fair."
Milly sighed and brushed her hair over her shoulder. "What can I say? We decided to go with someone even more Oedipal than you."
"More Oedipal?" Lelouch repeated, shaking his head. "Than me? President, let's be honest here. Suzaku."
"Just how Oedipal are you?"
Suzaku stuck out a finger and stared at it intently. "Well," he said after great thought, "I'm made of meat, so yeah, pretty edible."
Lelouch looked at Milly. Milly looked at Lelouch. Lelouch spread his hands. Milly crossed her arms. Lelouch crossed his arms. Milly raised her eyebrows. Lelouch clenched his fists. Milly tilted her chin down and raised her eyebrows further. Lelouch started shaking and finally burst out with, "President!"
"Cutest Hamlet ever," she replied quickly.
"Hamlet," Lelouch said, enunciating every letter, "is not cute. Hamlet is a young man bound by duty, conflicted, torn between his love and his desire for revenge. He is the sort of man who would pursue his goals even if he has to resort to terrorist acts to do it, hint hint hint hint hint."
Suzaku held up a finger. "Sorry, if I can interrupt, the Lion King version, or...?"
"Whichever," Milly shrugged. "I'm the director, Lelouch. It's my vision." She rolled her eyes, though, and shook her head, and said, "You can be Horatio."
"Horatio?" Lelouch breathed in horror.
He shook his head. "I just...of all the...Horatio? The best friend?"
"Hey, best friends!" Suzaku cried happily. Everyone ignored him.
"Not even...You don't even want to give me the slightly more thematically-appropriate Laertes?"
"I would, but you, lifting a sword?"
"I can lift a sword," Lelouch said defensively. "Suzaku, brace yourself. I'm going to punch you."
Suzaku nodded, tensed his muscles, and closed his eyes. Lelouch punched him with all his might in the solar plexus.
"You can go any time, Lelouch," Suzaku said.
Lelouch scowled and stared resolutely away from Milly's triumphant gaze. "I'm going to go have some prisoners executed," he muttered, slinking off.
However, he'd hardly gotten twenty steps away when his phone buzzed. (Again, it was on silent, thank God.) He opened it to see he had a text message from Shirley. He briefly considered throwing his phone in the lake, then braced himself and opened it.
His heart leapt. "So i herd u liek Shakespeare," the message ran.
He messaged back so fast he would have broken a nail, were they not as perfect and perfectly cared-for and refined as Lelouch himself. "I looooooooooove Shakespeare," he texted back.
"Kewl kewl," ran Shirley's response, "bc were putting on our own play."
"Oh?" he wrote, and then drew in some ASCII art of him crushing the Emperor beneath his heel, because it seemed a terrible waste to spend the fifteen-pence text-message fee on a one-word response.
"Yup & we want u 2 b the lead."
Ahh, his heart was in his head, it had leapt so high! No, this wouldn't be Hamlet. But it would still be Shakespeare, and he would be so motherfucking good in it that Milly would see him, and promptly fall to her knees, blubbering and apologizing and begging him to play Hamlet, would in fact delay her production a month just so he'd have the full rehearsal time, and he'd look down at her, and smile gently and say, "The rest is silence." Except not that line. That didn't make any sense, especially not with Hamlet's word count. He'd have to go on Sparknotes later and pick out a better quote.
"It would be my pleasure," he texted back with satisfaction, and whispered aloud, "Checkmate."
"AWESOME!!!!!!!" ran Shirley's reply. "1st rehearsals 2morro 2 in the SC room."
Lelouch smiled and prepared to drop his phone back into his pocket, when suddenly, another text from Shirley. His face dropped as he read it:
"O yeah, & do u know where we can find winged horses?"
His heart started to beat fast. His fingers shook so hard that he could do no better than, "Shirley are y6u putuing on Romeo&Julit?"
Not since Milly had tied him to a chair and forced him to watch the end of School Days - she claimed it was for his education, though he suspected it was just some sort of revenge that inexplicably called for misogyny and characters that acted erratic simply to move the plot along - had there been a text message so full of menace.
"Yup yup!" Shirley wrote back.
Lelouch stopped breathing altogether. He could see it now:
Opening night. He'd lean in as the script called for and kiss Shirley, who'd be playing Juliet. She'd pull back and turn to the audience.
"That was a really bad kiss!" she'd announce. "Though this boy, Lelouch Lamperouge, commonly known as Lulu, whom many of you pass in the hall every day and therefore have ample opportunities to ridicule and mock, seems cool and collected and knowledgeable and handsome, and seems like he knows what he's doing, he is actually clearly quite inexperienced. I suspect he has never had sex, nor even kissed anyone before, and constantly worries that he's doing something wrong which is ironic because he has a compulsive need to be right in everything."
And he'd try to protest. "That's not actually what 'irony' means - " he'd try to say.
But he'd be drowned out by Shirley's voice. "Let's all point and laugh at him!" she'd say, and the audience would all point and laugh, except for Nunnally, who'd just shake her head in shame and then go off and marry some pimpled kid who had a voice like a donkey and wouldn't know Chaucer from Virgil. And the Black Knights would be there, and realize they shouldn't follow him, and his mom would turn out to be alive but would at that moment die from shame and -
Lelouch was, as ever, quick-witted and quick-thinking. He whimpered and threw his cell phone in the lake.
"So what are you planning?" C.C. asked. Lelouch stared out at the field, his hands clasped loosely before his face.
He growled in annoyance. "Don't interrupt me while I'm thinking, woman."
"There's a simple enough solution, you know," C.C. said, looking down at a Cheese-kun (and the Cheese-kun looked into her). "Use your Geass on her."
But Lelouch shook his head. "She's decided that a director is supposed to wear big mirrored sunglasses." Then he looked over at her. "What's with you, anyway? You say mean things when I use the Geass and mean things when I don't use it."
"Maybe I'm just mean," she said. Lelouch pulled a face, but then shrugged at the very real possibility.
Lelouch looked up and smiled and shoved a sock in C.C.'s mouth. "Hi, Nunnally! Please, come in."
"I..." She looked at him with tears just starting to trickle out from underneath her eyelashes. "The bird onii-sama bought for me..."
Lelouch leapt to his feet, the devastation obvious in his face. "What happened?"
"It...It died," she whispered, and sobbed into his shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her. "It was grabbed as it fluttered around its cage, full of longing for something greater but also joyous at the happiness it had found. It was pinned like a butterfly against a desk, and each feather was wrenched terribly from its skin until all happiness it had ever experienced in its life was lost in a harrowing yet somehow glorious and intoxicating desire for death. Only then was it put out of its misery." A pause. "I think that kitten you got me did it."
"That godda - " Lelouch looked down at his innocent little sister. "I mean, goshdarn cat." He scowled and hugged Nunnally a little closer. "I'm sorry, Nunnally. I'll make this right, I promise."
"Promise me you won't be mad at the cat," Nunnally said. "It was only doing what its instincts dictated." She smiled a cold smile that neither of them could see. "We all have our instincts, don't we?"
"Fine," Lelouch sighed, shaking his head. "I just don't think that we should keep an animal around that...But if it means that much to you," he said, pulling back to see the sad expression on her face.
"It does," Nunnally said, nodding. "Please."
"All right," Lelouch said, then ruffled her hair. "In the meantime, I have some things to deal with. Will you be okay here?"
"I'll be fine," she assured him, then smiled and waved as he left the room. That smile dropped away the moment the door closed behind him. "Yes, enjoy your freedom, onii-sama, while you keep me here, locked up like that very murdered bird. But there will come a day when I, little Nana-chan, shall be potent, and you, with the rest of the world, shall tremble before - "
"I'm still here, just so you know," C.C. said.
There was a moment of silence.
Then Nunnally tittered sweetly. "Oh, C.C.-san, I didn't hear you there! How are you?"
"I'm all right," C.C. said.
"How many points do you have now?" she asked. "I hope lots and lots. I hope you have plenty of Cheese-kuns; they're so nice and squishy!"
"Yes," C.C. agreed, "they are."
A long silence.
"I'm going back to my room now," Nunnally said.
"All right," C.C. said.
Suzaku's phone was on silent when it rang (thank God), so the others looked over as he answered it.
"Hello, Lloyd-san," Suzaku answered cheerfully, then paused. "Uh, let's see, pants, a shirt, my shoes, my socks - Oh, Cecile-san!" he greeted. "Huh? Really?" He blinked. "That seems a little precise - " A pause. "I actually have a bit of a conflict those days, truth be told, but - " He nodded. "Yes, I'll see you there." He hung up and pulled a good-god-I'm-sorry face at Milly. "I'm afraid I have some bad news."
"Suzaku baby doll," Milly said in her best director's drawl, "don't hurt me like this, don't make me suffer. What's going on? Talk to me."
"We've received intel that the Black Knights are going to be attacking on April 10th through 13th and 17th through 20th at precisely 8:00 P.M. each evening with additional attacks at 2:00 P.M. on the 14th and 21st."
"That's a month in advance!" Milly cried.
"Apparently, the Black Knights have organized," Suzaku said, "or maybe justgotten organized, or maybe just bought a day planner. But that's all the performance dates, isn't it?"
An ominous chuckle sounded from the doorway. "My, my," cooed a mysterious voice. "It seems there's a dilemma facing the cast and crew ofHamlet." Lelouch stepped out into the light, throwing an arm out to his side in a gesture that was curiously reminiscent of the wanted terrorist Zero. "Perhaps I can be of assistance?"
"Oh thank God," Milly sighed, pressing her hand to her chest. "You've saved us."
"Yes," Lelouch said, tilting his chin upwards and smiling slightly. "It appears I have."
"Rivalz, take over the part of Hamlet," she said. "Lelouch, you get to be Horatio now."
Lelouch looked ridiculous with his arm at a ninety-degree angle. "I don't understand," he said in a very small voice.
"Yes!" Rivalz crowed. "Now I get to have incesty subtext with - "
"No one cares, Rivalz," Milly and Lelouch said simultaneously.
"Oh, well screw this, then," Lelouch said, stalking off again.
Two classrooms over, Shirley was staring forlornly at the door.
"I guess he's not gonna show," she said quietly, "as per usual." But she was an upper-class post-adolescent girl of the modern era: if she'd been taught anything by social mores, it was how to swallow her sadness and compress it into a little ball in her stomach that would slowly corrode her from the inside out until she was no more than a desiccated husk unable to feel a thing but convinced that numbness was an improvement over pain.
"Well, I guess that means more cookies for us!" she chirped. "Now, we need a Romeo."
She looked at the assembled girls, each of whom shifted uncomfortably and looked at each other. Shirley sighed.
"Well, how about a Juliet?"
Again, no one raised their hands. They'd all been anticipating Lelouch's soft and probably fragrant lips.
Shirley sighed again. "Okay, well, fine, then. I guess for the time being this table can be our placeholder Romeo - "
"Oh," Nina said softly. Her hand shot up into the air. "I'll play Juliet. Wait wait. I can do it. I can be Juliet." She blushed when everyone looked at her, but stared at them defiantly and crossed her arms. "I can do it. Let me do it."
"Wow," Shirley said. "Nina. I've never known you to get so into it."
"Don't judge," Nina said quietly.
Meanwhile, Lelouch had returned to his room.
"I'm out of alternatives," he admitted. "C.C., I'm going to need your help."
"Finally," C.C. sighed, smiling. She, and the army of Cheese-kuns, stared at Lelouch with unnerving eyes, and he wondered, not for the first time, if making deals was the most prudent thing ever to do. Indeed, she smiled and asked coyly, "And what do I get?"
"You'll be richly rewarded," he assured her. "Now listen closely: this is a plan that requires precise timing. You must remember every part of this plan."
"Of course," she said with a careless smile.
Lelouch watched from the back of the theater as one of the rehearsals ran. It wasn't going very well.
"Why, look you now," Rivalz was saying, "how unworthy a thing you make of me. You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery - "
"Nobody cares, Hamlet!" bellowed someone in the audience.
Lelouch took that as his cue to walk up to Milly and tap her on the shoulder. "May I speak to you privately?"
Milly rolled her eyes behind her giant mirrored sunglasses and sighed and said, "All right. Guys, take five."
She followed Lelouch into a side room.
"Now, C.C.!" he called. C.C. walked up, took Milly's sunglasses, and walked off. Milly looked at her, looked at Lelouch, and shook her head.
"Give me the lead in the play," Lelouch ordered her.
Milly sighed and shrugged. "Jeez, if you want it that much, have it. We'll go for a post-modernist interpretation, by which I mean 'bad.' It's cool."
"Good," Lelouch said, nodding in satisfaction.
"What's my reward?" C.C. asked later.
"You get to keep the sunglasses," Lelouch answered.
"They're tacky," C.C. said.
"They're probably expensive."
"They're ugly," she whined.
Lelouch sighed and reached into his breast pocket. He'd been saving this for an emergency, but...
"Order any large one-topping pizza and get a second free on Tuesdays between the hours of six and eight," Lelouch said, handing it to her.
C.C. examined it and nodded. "I suppose that will do."
The next day, Milly had posted up the revised playbill. Lelouch read it and looked over at everyone who approached, expecting them to offer congratulations. What he didn't realize was that people only offered congratulations to people who didn't act like horses' asses.
It was as follows:
LAMPEROUGE as Hamlet, Prince of
MILLY ASHFORD as Gertrude, His Mother
A BOX WITH THE EMPEROR'S FACE DRAWN
ON IT as Claudius, His Uncle
RIVALZ CARDEMONDE as Whoreatio
"That's not how you spell..." Lelouch frowned. "Oh. Never mind. I get it."
ARTHUR THE CAT as Polonius
"Arthur?" Lelouch asked, looking up. But then he looked at Arthur, who looked at him with canny, canny eyes, and went back to reading.
SUZAKU KURURURURUGI as Laertes
A SHEET, SOME FISHING LINE,
AND A STICK as The Ghost
"Ooooooh," said the ghost via a sophomore.
ZOMBIE EUPHEMIA as Ophelia
"Euphie?" Lelouch asked, looking around. And indeed, in the gathered cast, there she was! He felt grateful tears spring into his eyes - yeah, it was nice to have her there and everything, he guessed, but mostly it was so damn thematically appropriate to have her playing Ophelia. Damn! The funeral scene was going to rock. Also, incest.
"Arrrghhannnnnenrrrrreeaaaahhnhhaaaa!" Euphie called back, waving so hard her arm fell off at the elbow.
KALLEN STADFELD as FortinBRAs
"Cause she has tits. Geddit?" Milly asked.
KALLEN as Rosencrantz
KOZUKI KAREN as Guildenstern
KAREN STADTFELD as First Gravedigger
KAREN STATFIELD as Second Gravedigger
"Hold up," Lelouch said, shaking his head. "I don't think you seem to understand how differing romanizations work. Or aliases."
"Hush," Kallen said. "I get out of all sorts of P.E. credits this way."
"But - " he started. She elbowed him so hard in the side that he was pretty sure one of his ribs cracked, which was less the fault of her force and more the fault of a conjunct of Avian Bone Syndrome and scurvy. He decided to say no more on the subject, for fear of a compound fracture.
JEREMIAH GOTTWALD as Osric
"Orange-kun?" Lelouch asked. "I didn't know he went here."
"Yeah, he's in our math class," Suzaku said in surprise. "You didn't notice?"
"I guess not," Lelouch said, frowning.
(Which was surprising, because of how outstanding he was in the class. He was, as a matter of fact, outstanding in a number of classes:
(Calculus: "The limit is as x approaches what?" the teacher asked.
("ZEROOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" bellowed Orange-kun.
(Chemistry: "Water freezes at what temperature?"
(Philosophy: "According to the Nihilists, life held how much meaning?"
"I never knew he was so smart," Suzaku said brightly, then grabbed his chin in thought. "Of course, I never really got the time to know him. Most of our interactions involved him kicking me in the face."
"Or as I like to call it, 'the money-maker,'" Milly said.
Suzaku nodded, then sighed. "I guess I just wasn't a good enough person. That was why he always kicked me in the money-maker." He looked down, the corners of his mouth dragged downward by the dark cloud of his depression. "So many things could have been prevented if only I'd been a better person."
"Ohhh, because itcuts itself!" Lelouch said, slapping himself in the forehead. "That's why Suzaku cake is better." When everyone else looked at him, he waved them off. "Sorry. Aspect of my sinister double life. Don't mind me." Everyone was still staring at him, and he cleared his throat. "What?" he snapped.
"On that note," Milly said, "let's skip the tedious rehearsal process and flash forward a month to opening night!"
"That was effective. Okay, guys. We've done the rehearsals in such a way that if this were a movie, there'd have been a montage. We've learned our lines. We've all been belittled in one way or another by Lelouch."
"Except me!" piped up the freshman playing Mutey, the Courtroom Attendant. Lelouch fixed the boy with a piercing gaze.
"You can talk when you have a line," he said, then clapped a hand to his chest. "Oh, sorry. I forgot. You didn't get any lines."
Mutey burst into tears.
"Lelouch has a funny way of working through his nerves," Kallen muttered to Zombie Euphemia.
"Gaaaaahhh," Zombie Euphemia said in defense of her incesty half-brother. "Aiiiiiiiii ahhhh greeeeehhhnnhan - " Then one of her ears rotted off completely, and she sighed. "Graaaaaaam." She'd liked that earring.
"But now," Milly said, "it's opening night, and we're the only show in town."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?" asked the kid playing Rosencrantz, or maybe Guildenstern.
"Oh." Milly shrugged. "Apparently, the acting is a little wooden." She crossed her arms and smirked. "If you know what I mean."
"Juliet being played by Nina, I'm not surprised," Lelouch muttered bitchily, then scoffed and shook his head. He was not, however, actually in on the joke, and Mutey reveled in this knowledge, and resolved to write about it later in his LiveJournal.
Lelouch, however, realized with enormous panic that he was having difficulty recalling all his lines, and he really had to poop, really bad. (Which was weird, because he hadn't eaten anything in eleven days - a new record for him.) So he started pacing, back and forth.
"Stop it, you're making me - "
"Nobody cares, Rivalz," Lelouch snapped. Then somebody bumped into him. "What are you, blind?" he snarled as he turned around, then stopped and cleared his throat. "Oh. H-hi, Nunnally."
"Hi, onii-sama," Nunnally cooed. "I just came here to wish you...Ah, what is it?" she wondered cutely, putting a finger against her lower lip. "A broken leg?"
Just looking at his little sister allowed all the tension to drain out of him. The nervous energy that had kept him going without sleep for five days just melted away as he smiled gently down at her, petting her hair. "It's 'break a leg,'" he corrected affectionately.
"Ah!" She beamed at him. "Then break a leg." A pause. "Also, somehow that kitten you gave me ended up disemboweled, its entrails used in rituals to summon a minor demon that certainly wouldn't ever kill, just inflict eternal suffering of body and soul upon its target." She smiled innocently.
"Was it Sayoko-san?" Lelouch asked, shaking his head in irritation. "Should I get rid of her?"
"No, don't get rid of Sayoko-san!" Nunnally cried, sweetly devastated at the very thought. "She's compatible for the Ritual. It would take me a long time to find another person so suitable for..." A pause; then, slowly: "For being my friend." Another pause. "Most beloved onii-sama."
"All right," Lelouch sighed. "And I'll buy you another kitten. Don't worry." He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead, and she reached up to hug him. "I just want you to be happy."
"I know," she sighed, and hugged him tighter as Milly said, "Showtime, Lelouch."
"You're going to be so good," Nunnally said, letting him go. Then, softly, as he opened the door to leave: "And enjoy these moments while you have then, onii-sama. Because soon, so soon, they'll be consumed in the fires of Hell that I bring to the - "
"Did you say something, Nunnally?" Lelouch asked.
"Love you!" she squeaked, then laughed nervously and raced her wheelchair to the other side of the room before resuming her sotto voce soliloquy.
Outside, Suzaku was speaking with Zombie Euphemia. Lelouch beamed. This was the opportunity he'd been waiting for.
"I lov'd Ophelia:
forty thousand brothers
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum," he said, and it boded ill that Suzaku squinched up his face as he tried to remember what came next. Lelouch just skipped ahead:
"Swounds, show me
what thou'lt do:
Woo't weep? woo't fight? woo't fast? woo't tear thyself?
Woo't drink up easel? eat a crocodile?
"Uhh, that's great, Lelouch," Suzaku laughed uncertainly. "Mostly I need help stapling her cheek back up, though."
"Oh," Lelouch said, looking at Zombie Euphemia. "Sorry." He walked away. Milly caught him by the arm.
"You okay, Lelouch?" she asked. "You don't look so good."
"I'm fine," he answered. "Just a little tired, because I stayed up the past five nights going over lines so I absolutely wouldn't forget them." He waved her off. "I'm fine, just fine."
The lights were blinding as he stepped out on stage. He opened his mouth and looked at the audience. The audience looked at him. He looked at the audience. The audience looked at him. He looked at the audience. The audience looked up at him.
"Oh God," Lelouch whispered, his mouth dry.
There was a bit of tittering from the audience. Suzaku stole over from where he was standing, off to the side, and whispered into his ear, but for some reason he was speaking some sort of moon language and Lelouch couldn't understand a word he said.
"Oh God," he whispered again.
There was a commotion in the audience, and someone stood. It was Ougi. "This is the person we're following?" he demanded. "How absurd! I'm a big old pussy and I'm still a better leader than this guy!"
"Yeah!" agreed Diethard.
"I was going to have sex with you," said Laksharta, "but now I won't."
"Same here," said Kallen, walking off-stage.
"Wait," Lelouch whispered, without even enough voice to do better.
Someone in heavy skirts with a giant hat stood up.
"Mom?" Lelouch asked, tears springing to his eyes.
"I can't believe this, Lelouch," she said, shaking her head. "I was waiting until this moment to reveal myself as being actually alive, but the shame is just too much. Good-bye forever, Lelouch," she said, and grabbed a hanging noose and killed herself.
"Wait," Lelouch whispered, "no - "
"It's okay, Lelouch," Rivalz said, clapping him in the shoulder. "I'm still your - "
"Nobody cares, Rivalz," Lelouch muttered.
"Onii-sama, I'm getting married!" Nunnally chirped. "To Rivalz!"
"No," Lelouch whispered.
And there was a red flashing light. Lelouch realized that C.C. was videotaping the whole thing.
"No," he cried, "no, no, no - "
"Lelouch," came a gentle voice. A hand shook him softly, and he slowly opened his eyes.
"Suzaku?" Lelouch shook his head to clear it and blinked. Then he looked up at his friend and laughed at himself. "Sorry. I've just had the worst dream."
"What happened?" Suzaku asked sympathetically.
"Oh, it was...long, and unpleasant, and quite derivative of earlier in the story." Lelouch blinked again. "It's very bright, isn't it?"
"Oh, yes!" Suzaku said, nodding at him. "Sorry, I should have mentioned this earlier: You fell asleep on stage."
Lelouch looked down, slowly, and saw that he was indeed in his Hamlet costume. Then he looked up, slowly, and saw that the lights were on full blast. And then his eyes, adjusted, slowly, and he saw that the audience was full and staring at him.
"Ah-hah," he said, "this is one of those dreams where you think you've woken up but you're actually still dreaming."
"No," Suzaku said. "No, it's not."
"Ah." Lelouch pinched himself but felt nothing; Suzaku reached over and pinched him and it hurt a goddamn lot. "I see," he said.
So he cleared his throat, and nodded at the audience. They nodded back. He turned away and dialed in a code on a transceiver hanging from his belt.
In the audience, someone's cell phone rang. They hadn't put it on silent. Ergo: disaster.
Dozens of heavily armed terrorists burst through the doors, shouting and brandishing their guns. Several audience members stood up and were instantly shot and killed.
"I know I should be upset about this," Milly said, ducking behind some stage furniture, "but this bloody terrorist attack is probably an improvement over how the play would have turned out."
"And at least it's better than Romeo and Juliet," Lelouch shrugged.
"Too true, too true," Milly agreed. "Say, Lelouch, if we make it out of this alive, next term we're doing The Importance of Being Earnest.Would you want to maybe - "
"Fuck no," Lelouch said.
"I'd like to, President," Rivalz said.
"Nobody cares, Rivalz," Milly replied.