Disclaimers: I am not a going-on-fifty year old man with a bandanna fetish. 'Nough said.

Beta-read by: Misty Nite

Characters: C.C., Lelouch, Nunnally

Pairings: none

Summary: The second time around, C.C. won't let Lelouch make the same mistake she did.

Second Time Around

Nunnally's room was beautiful. She couldn't see it, but even so, Lelouch made the best of efforts to make it pretty and pink and decorative. Her large queen bed was centered in the middle of the room, with a sculpted headrest, in the silhouette of a blooming flower. On it laid matching sheets and two pillows, decorated all over with pink and yellow and light blue flowers. It was a wooden bed, glossed over with a smooth, white finish. Much of the room's furniture was the same way. He wanted to give her glass, maybe lightly tinted with pink or sky blue, but he was too worried that she could end up being hurt if something broke or chipped. The only glass that remained was the doors and shelves of her bookcase, although it was used to store all sorts of pretty little figurines and china instead. Not that she could see those any better than books. But every once in a while, she would go over and run her hands over the items, feeling the smooth handiwork, and wish otherwise.

Thin and translucent white satin curtains that always seemed to threaten to rip and fly off at the slightest breeze, hung over her large glass windows. When people ask why give a blind girl so much light, Lelouch would always reply that it was because it was natural, organic heat; much better than anything humans could make. But everyone who knew him well, and that included Nunnally herself, knew it was because Lelouch believed, with all his heart, that even if Nunnally could not see the light, she could surely feel it.

Today, Nunnally sat in her wheelchair next to her bed, and Lelouch stood near her, one hand holding the handle of wheelchair, and trying to coax her into going to physical therapy. "I'm not feeling well today, brother. Can I please not go? I think...I think I may be coming down with a bit of a fever," Nunnally coughed and slowly placed her brother's hand on her forehead.

"Well, it does feel somewhat warm," Lelouch muttered. "But you've already missed the last appointment. If you keep on missing them, you may never..."

"It'll be fine. It's just one day," she assured him. With a worried expression reserved only for her, Lelouch was about to argue, but Nunally cut him off. "Brother," she squeezed his upheld hand. "Does it really bother you that much? That I can't walk or see?" He quickly denied it, telling her that he didn't mind either way, but he knew that it was best for her. That she would be happier that way. She refused to believe him. "Am I—Do you think I'm a burden to you?"

"No!" Almost pleadingly, Lelouch grabbed both her hands in his and knelt down by the wheelchair, now a bit shorter than her, "That's not it, Nunnally—"

She sharply cut him off, her lashes beginning to moisturize. "It is it, isn't it? You can't stand it, having a pathetic, clingy little sister hanging onto you. I'm annoying and will never be enough for you, because...because…" Her voice cracked, and he could see her lips trembling, the beads of water forming at the edge of her eyes.

"Stop it! You know that's not it!" He roughly brushed her tears off her face, and she pulled back in response. Hurt, he dropped his hand, and a small pout appeared on his face. "No matter what, I'm your brother. I'll always take care of you, I'll always love you, and you will never be a burden to me. Do you understand? If I have to be your eyes and legs, I'm fine with that! But…no matter how hard I try, I can never replace them. That's why I want you to go to therapy. I don't want you to just hear about a beautiful world I see and walk for you, I want you to see it and walk upon it yourself! I want to be able to give that happiness to you!"

"Brother..." Nunnally reached out to him, her hand landed on his shoulder and she moved down his arm until she held both his hands in hers. "Promise me…promise me that you'll stay with me forever."

"I promise," he firmly squeezed her hands.

"And in return, I'll…I'll…" she fumbled for words, not quite knowing what her brother, always strong and selfless, could possibly want.

Lelouch smiled, "Promise me you'll love me forever?"

"Forever. And even after that." She leaned forward from her wheelchair, and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"No pinky promise?" Lelouch asked, smiling. One hand was slowly stroking her hair, while the other lay on her back.

"Don't tease me. This is a promise between our souls. And souls don't have pinkies." Lelouch laughed softly. As long as you're happy, Nunnally. Anything, I'd do anything for that.

He caught a flash of green by the door. He scowled and waited. She knew he saw her. Her face appeared a second later. Apathetic yellow met passionate violet. He glared at her. 'I don't have time for you. Get lost.' She remained standing on the doorway, staring at him and Nunnally. His arms tightened around his sister, almost instinctually protecting her. She ignored the hint. It was then that he noticed she looked almost nostalgic.

"Nunnally?" His arms loosened around her. "Do you still want to go to physical therapy?" He asked softly.

She mulled for a while, loosely playing with the cloth of his jacket. "Alright. I'll go. For you." He smiled and got up, wheeling her out of the room. They passed by C.C. and he gave her a glare telling her to not try anything. She usually took it as a signal to embarrass him one way or another, but she remained silent and solemn today. He wheeled his sister across the smooth wooden floor, and caught C.C. taking a step out of the corner of his eye. His neck whipped around to glare at her – she should know full well that Nunnally could detect the faintest noises. "Brother?" the girl's head turned upward, an instinctive habit even though she hadn't been able to see for years.

"Uh, nothing. Just thought I heard something. Must've been a cat." He continued wheeling her out, and C.C. followed them with padded footsteps to the door. As Lelouch pushed the wheelchair along the smooth cement walkway, he cast a glance back, finding it very odd for C.C. to be in the doorway, seeing him off.

They came back two hours later. Nunnally said she was tired from the therapy, so Lelouch wheeled her into her room, and helped her onto her bed. "Well, I'll be going now. Get some rest."

"Brother," Nunnally grabbed his hand and kept him kneeled there. "Why do you have to go? Do you have a date with C.C.-san?"

"A— With— No! I've told you before, we're not dating. Besides, this has nothing to do with her. If you'd like, I'll stay with you until you go to sleep. Or even until you wake up."

"Will you?" she asked. He nodded solemnly. Smiling, Nunnally fell asleep. Smiling, Lelouch held her hand.

When she woke up, Lelouch was dozing off next to her, still holding her hand. Sayako was in the room also, dusting the shelves. She apologized for waking her up, but then suggested that the two of them leave Lelouch alone to rest, and Sayako would teach the girl more origami. Grudgingly, Nunnally let go of her brother's hand and let her maid help her into the wheelchair.

A few minutes later, while Nunnally was downstairs feeling the texture of the origami flower Sayako had made, Lelouch drowsily woke up and found C.C. at the doorway, watching him. He sniffed and found the faint smell of pizza, but she wasn't holding any. She must've finished them off already. "Nunnally's downstairs with Sayako," C.C. said before he could ask. He yawned, stretched, and stood up to walk back to his room. C.C. followed him along the hallway.

It was a stark room. He had the money and a spacious room, but the room was still black, white, brown, and entirely spartan. The walls were bare without any sorts of adornments, except for a heavy, dark green curtain over the single window in the room. A twin bed (only gotten because Sayako had noted his room would be too empty otherwise), a desk with a computer and a chair, an endtable, an armoire. Kept as simple as possible. The only object in the room that wasn't plain was the state-of-the-art desktop, useful for gathering information for the Black Knights. Lelouch came into the room and flipped on the light switch, leaving the curtains closed. He couldn't be bothered to have someone seeing C.C. in his room.

Lelouch settled into his usual swivel chair, typing away on his computer, and C.C. took her usual position on the bed. It almost bothered him that he couldn't smell cheese and tomato sauce. He wasn't about to complain, though.

She started, uncharacteristically formal, sitting upright on his bed without eating anything. "I've told you before –haven't I?—that you should stay as far away as possible from the people you care about. And I don't say things for my health."

"She's my sister. I'm not going to leave her. Whatever past you have, I don't care. I won't make the same mistakes as you did. I'll protect Nunnally, I'll keep her safe. I...I'll create a perfect world for her."

"That...will only lead to her ruin. Both of yours. Leave her before she becomes completely reliant on you. Force her to walk on her own two legs. Only then, when she is her own person, will she be able to find happiness."

"You talk like I'm amputating her. She's already learning to walk again. Until then, can't I even just help her? My own flesh and blood?" He snapped at her, the irritation evident in his frequent typos, which only served to aggravate him even more.

"You're only hurting her that way. Leave her alone."

"You just don't get it, do you?" Lelouch cried out, standing up and sending the swivel chair crashing into the wall. "No matter what fate throws at us, I won't ever abandon her! Nunanlly and I…What we have—"

"I understand it perfectly," she snapped at him, and he would've been relieved if not so angry, "I know you're more than just siblings. When you witnessed Marianne's death, you were together. When she was in the hospital, you never left her side and you were together. When you were kicked out of your homes and into a foreign country, you were together. When you saw the effects of war firsthand, you were together. You have survived all the harshness the world has to offer together. And a bond like that can never be severed. But…making a person momentarily happy is not the only way to love them."

Lelouch crossed his arms, and condescendingly sneered back, "And what do you know about love?"

Her eyes flickered to meet his for a moment and he bit his tongue. For once in a long time, the room was wordless. No criticism, no snarky comments, no complaints about pizza. He didn't like it one bit. He could hear her calm rhythmic breathing, see her chest rising up and down. It completely unnerved him. Even if she didn't slap him, even if she didn't give him a biting retort, she had to, absolutely had to, at least get up and walk out and slam the door in his face.

"I loved a little boy once. I gave him a geass, but he couldn't handle his ability. And he couldn't be around humans because his geass would torture him if he was. So I took him away, into the countryside where no one lived except for the two of us. He was happy, completely happy. As long as he had me, he said. I was all that mattered to him. I was his very life and soul. But then, he found a village. A village with the humans he wasn't used to. Do you know what he did? He murdered them all. I realized then, as much as he was clinging to me, I was also clinging to him, and this dream of a peaceful, happy world. Do you know what happened in the end? You should – you ordered fifty policemen to shoot him. Point is, if you love Nunnally, you can't continue to pamper her like this. You'll only be leading her to her demise."

"Don't compare Nunnally to that psycho! Nunnally...Nunnally would never do anything like that! You don't even know her, so don't speak of her like you do! She's the kindest, most gentle—"

"Then don't speak of Mao as if you knew him either. You've never seen his kind, caring side. Everything he did was always for me. The lopsided crayon sketches, the wreathes of flowers. He killed for me, as you are killing for Nunnally." Lelouch opened his mouth to protest, but C.C. cut him off. "To kill thousands and change the world for the sake of just one girl, is just as terrible as killing hundreds for a witch. There's no need to justify yourself. I don't care, I don't judge. I am not telling you to not change the world, or to change the world for a different reason. As long as you can grant my wish, it's fine with me. I'm just giving you facts. You can change the laws, you can change the government, you can change the military. But you cannot change human nature. Even if she does not see the fire, she will still be burned by it. The only way that she can truly be happy is if she accepts the world for what it is. Don't delude her. Show her the fire, and the escape path. That is all you can do."

"I thought you weren't going to order me to do anything." He sneered, his arms crossed in front of his chest.

"I lied." She shrugged nonchalantly. "You know that doesn't change what I said in the least." She got up from his bed and exited his room, leaving him to think to himself. She stood and paused outside of his room, her hand barely having left the doorknob. "It wasn't for you, or for him." Another pause later, she grudgingly replied, "You're welcome."