So, please enjoy this although I believe it falls into my crack genre... considering I really didn't plan it out TOO much, but then discovered that I had to do some thinking... so, I suppose it's what I'm calling "intelligent crack." Please enjoy and why don't you leave a review if you want another chapter? Perhaps let me know if you would want in the next chapter? This story can really go in several directions...
The Chess Match
Light slid the mask of minor interest over his face, hiding his bored expression from the professor. His first day at the Britannian private school Ashford Academy, and it was hardly more interesting than school had been when he was Japanese.
The only aspect that made the academy more appealing than his previous schooling experiences was the other students. They were so naïve, and because of that, easy to manipulate… as Light expected to be doing. He glanced around the room, checking the clock as an excuse to check Ryuk's position. The hulking death god was still present at the back of the classroom, and he gave a little wave to Light, snickering, although Light was forced to admit that he sounded more like he was choking. He sighed, turning to face the teacher again, who was mumbling something about mathematics and etching pictographs onto the whiteboard.
Pretending he was still listening, Light's eyes slid over the other students, their bright hair colors of varying lengths catching his attention. He supposed that Ashford Academy was certainly diverse, if only because the majority of students were European and he was regularly accustomed to Japanese people. He caught himself then and supposed he should get used to calling them Elevens. Inwardly, Light gritted his teeth.
After all, he may be Kira, a name often found to be synonymous with Justice, but the Royal Britannian Family used false names. Of course, Kira had gotten to a few of the careless Nobles, but he also knew that a great many of them were simply European families who did not necessarily support the Empire out of their own free will, but were coerced. He couldn't be hypocritical; Light himself had been forced to become an Honorable Britannian to be sure of his own survival. He shuddered for a moment realizing that his fate could have been far different had he been forced to live in the Shinjuku Ghetto. Luckily his father had supported Britannia when it had still been the faction of European territories intent on stopping Kira as one of their primary policies. It wasn't until after the Japanese had allowed the Britannians into the country that they realized it was a full assault on Japan and not simply the promised help to stamp out Kira. But by the time the government realized what was happening, it was too late. The Prime Minister had been killed, and the Britannian Army was securely ensconced in Tokyo and Osaka. Of course, few of the now-Elevens supported Britannia's hostile takeover, but Souichiro Yagami had played on the longstanding common goal of catching Kira to save his family, allowing them to become registered as Britannians instead of Elevens. An unspoken rule it may be in the Yagami household, everyone in the family was aware of how ultimately the trust in Britannia had been betrayed.
Light released a calming breath, unnoticeable by his classmates. Forcing his body to relax again, Light felt better knowing that here he would be able to bring about his perfect world. One that did not include the Britannian Empire. Light looked back to the teacher, his eyes drifting over the board and then back around to the rest of the class.
Fluid purple eyes looked up from class notes, glancing in his direction. Light didn't look away at once, instead meeting the other boy's stare directly. Light offered a slight smile so it didn't seem quite like a confrontation—it was important to at least seem friendly to the Britannians—but his classmate just blinked, long lashes raising again to reveal that his attention was now focused elsewhere. He hadn't even acknowledged Light's presence.
Light pretended not to notice, but he suddenly felt his blood running hotly through his veins. Of course, the real Britannians would continue to view Light as an Eleven, even though his family had always publicly supported the Emperor. It was as obvious as the darker color of his skin and slanted eyes. He should have known better; he was an outsider….
But then again, on a closer inspection, didn't that disinterested boy seem Asian as well? His hair was darker than Light's own, his eyes as well if one could compare purple with brown. Half perhaps? Light guessed, watching from the corner of his eye as the boy brushed a stray strand of hair from his eyes, leaving his hand on his forehead to prop himself up. Yes, there could be no mistake that he was Asian at least partially and Light would make an educated guess that he had been half Japanese. It irritated Light that this boy looked down on him.
He supposed it was still the first day of school. His fellow students had no idea that Light Yagami, a former Eleven who was actually Kira, planned to be first in the class, proving ultimately that Japanese people were not inferior.
"Lulu! You can't be skipping again!" Shirley called, as Lelouch and Rivalz walked down the corridor past her. He sent her a nonchalant smile to which she frowned. "At least don't take Rivalz with you…" the girl pouted, her brows furrowed.
"But Rivalz offered to take me to the game," he replied, still smiling and without breaking stride. He looked ahead to the doors, letting his voice drift past his shoulder. "If he doesn't take me, then he won't get any money when I win."
Lelouch didn't bother turning to look back at Shirley's expression. Of course she would be upset, but he had never let her stop him. Besides, even if he didn't continue to keep his daily patterns the same as before he had become Zero to chase away suspicion, Lelouch found the games relieved his unconditional boredom. His affable expression changed however, as he noticed Suzaku standing with his arms crossed by the door. The sunny light outside beckoned for students to leave their studies, but the shadow cast by the Lancelot pilot blotted out that particular daydream. Lelouch forced the grimace off his face, noticing that for once, Suzaku wasn't alone; Light was looking out the window, distracted, as if he couldn't care less about what anyone else did. Although Lelouch had the distinct feeling that Light was specifically ignoring him, he didn't let it bother him, instead reflecting on why the two would be found in such close proximity. The answer was simple.
Naturally, the two Japanese-turned-Elevens-turned-Britannians would become friends because of their shared heritage. Not that Suzaku was really capable of not trying to make everyone his friend, but he supposed those two had more in common than the rest of the school. And because of that, Lelouch found he pitied Light… he knew Suzaku was nice, but if both of them became close friends, the rest of the school would certainly avoid them. They simply stood out more together, as if they were some kind of posse of Elevens. And Light… there was a sudden sharp distaste in Lelouch's mouth as he remembered that Light was now the number one in their class, stealing away Lelouch's coveted position of genius. The small feeling of pity left Lelouch abruptly and his eyes found the door.
"Lelouch," Suzaku began, his eyes narrowing slightly in an attempt at being commanding as Lelouch and Rivalz drew nearer.
"Not now, Suzaku," Lelouch cut him off, and keeping his momentum to the door and using Rivalz as a shield between him and the green-eyed rain on his parade. He pushed open the door, the windows embedded in it sparkling as the sunlight struck their surfaces.
"Lelouch!" Suzaku shouted, trailing after him, "Gambling like that is illegal. You could get in lots of trouble for that! Aren't you listening?"
"Just pretend you don't know what I'm doing, Suzaku, then you won't be in trouble," came Lelouch's cool reply.
Lelouch turned, wondering why Suzaku's tirade had suddenly ended. Light was standing to the pilot's left, holding his elbow. Lelouch turned back and headed towards the exit with Rivalz, but he could still hear Light's smooth voice echoing across the lawn.
"Let him go… if he wants to waste his life gambling, let him. I know I have better things to do."
Better things to do? Lelouch thought to himself, scoffing inwardly. For a moment, he allowed himself to imagine Light sitting in the library, studying to keep his grades up as if his very life depended on it. Perhaps Light actually believed that? A smile graced Lelouch's sculptured face… oh, how little that particular student knew about the important things.
"He plays chess, doesn't he? Against Nobles?" Light asked Suzaku after Lelouch and Rivalz had exited the school grounds. The noise from the motorbike was fading into the distance.
"Yes," Suzaku sighed. He looked up at Light, his green eyes—odd for a Japanese boy—meeting Light's chocolate ones in a look that was almost pleading. "It's not the specific game though. I mean, there's nothing wrong with chess; it's that he gambles on it, and skips classes."
Light looked thoughtful for a moment, staring out across the manicured lawns of Ashford Academy. He recalled Lelouch's face to the forefront of his mind, the half-Britannian's expression in its familiar 'I-can't-decide-if-this-tastes-bad-or-if-I'm-utterly-bored' look. As much as he didn't really care for Lelouch, Light found himself sympathetic to his cause. "You have to admit that he hardly needs to attend classes at all…."
Suzaku looked at him sharply. "That's no excuse."
"Of course," Light replied smoothly before turning back to the other Honorable Britannian. Suzaku Kururugi had been the only student eager to make his acquaintance when he had first arrived a week ago, which Light had initially been grateful for, but he was now beginning to see that Suzaku took a hard line to following rules and was quite the pet of the Britannian Empire. Neither of these attributes really fit well with Light's personality, unfortunately, and Light was also beginning to notice looks of disgust from the other students whenever they were together. And if they weren't full blown looks of disgust, there certainly was the all too common 'bad-taste-in-mouth' sideways glance. To Light, the ability to give this look on whim seemed to be the only thing that really separated the Nobles from the working class. Naturally, he had already mastered it. However, Light perceived Suzaku would never reach the point of picking up on the slight social cues. The two of them together would only look like they both still clung to their former nationality, and if Light wanted to be able to use the students here to decipher the true names of the Nobility, he couldn't afford to look like he missed being Japanese. He would have to avoid Suzaku for a while… not because he necessarily disliked him or thought he was smart enough to discover that Light was Kira, but because Light could not depend on Suzaku alone for information.
Besides, it seemed as if Lelouch was quite popular… and if Light wanted to have the student body in the palm of his hand, he needed to be as well-liked as Lelouch. And if skipping class and retaining high marks didn't say for itself that the boy found school boring and unnecessary, it was the rumors of his illegal chess matches that piqued the interest of the entire student body. Perhaps if Light could show him up in some way? Girls, once attracted to him, were certainly the easiest kinds of people to manipulate, and as much as he had never needed or wanted to participate in popularity contests before, now it would be necessary to achieve Kira's goals.
"If you're so worried about Lelouch, Suzaku," Light said, returning to the task at hand and beginning to formulate his plan, "Then something here at the school needs to be more interesting than his chess matches. He won't listen to you patronizing him; he has to want to be here.
"And frankly, I don't blame him. This school is boring…" Light trailed off, sounding wistful. Suzaku looked surprised, but then hid it with a self-conscious smile.
"Well, maybe it is for you, Light," Suzaku said, looking at the ground. He started to walk back towards the school, scuffing his shoes. "But not everyone is as smart as you and Lelouch. Some people even find Ashford challenging, you know."
"I know." Light tried to act like he was a little ashamed. He had to be careful here, and not seem to be actually driving Suzaku away, but just enough…. "I didn't mean it as an insult to other students, just that everyone, no matter their abilities should have a reason to be here."
Suzaku reached the door, turning around before he opened it. "Maybe you should ask the Student Council President about it? Milly's really nice and she'd listen to you."
"Suzaku, aren't you on the Student Council?" Light asked dryly. Honestly, Light's new plan revolved around being daring and taking the initiative, not taking the safe route and asking the Student Council to make his schoolwork challenging. That would only make him seem more like a suck-up and less like someone worth knowing. Obviously, simply being smart wasn't good enough. He needed to look like he was smart without trying—which he was—so much that he could skip classes for leisure activities. Popularity at Ashford Academy firstly depended on being a Noble, but since Light could never achieve that, he had to settle for being intelligent, charming, and unbelievably interesting. He brought his attention back to the brown-haired, green-eyed boy in front of him. Suzaku looked sheepish.
"Well, I know I'm on the Student Council, but that doesn't mean that you…" he trailed off, and Light guessed Suzaku's idealistic nature was finally catching up to reality. It wouldn't fly well with the rest of the school for both of the Honorable Britannians to show up at Student Council meetings. Light sighed, realizing that Suzaku was definitely one of those people benefiting from Kira's work.
"Don't worry about it, Suzaku, I'm sure I can figure something out that can keep everyone entertained," Light said, stepping past the other boy. He flashed a smile without fully turning his head as he opened the door.
Indeed, as his plan unfolded in his mind, he saw that it might even be enough to keep himself entertained… as long as Lelouch agreed.
Lelouch looked up from his book, a slender finger holding the page. Light Yagami was standing over him, a friendly smile on his face… and yet, he looked too casual, almost smug, the way he had his weight securely over his heels, leaning against the library table opposite from him. A gnawing, creeping feeling wormed its way into his stomach. He blinked it away, and looked Light directly in the eyes.
"Yes?" he drawled, careful to seem apathetic. He figured he wouldn't be very interested in whatever the teenager had to say.
"I am challenging you to a game of chess. If you refuse, you forfeit the match." Light delivered it in a voice that was nearly loud enough to echo across the library. As it was, the handful of students present all focused their attention on Lelouch, awaiting his answer.
Lelouch felt his stomach drop for a highly unpleasant moment. Challenging him? Lelouch glanced around to realize how well he'd been set up… there was no way he could refuse such an open challenge in front of witnesses. It didn't matter if he knew he would win like always, and therefore it was pointless to play; Light had made the stakes clear, using Lelouch's own reputation.
But had he done it on purpose? Or was it simply coincidence that he had come upon Lelouch while he was in the library? Light was certainly smart enough to do it on purpose as far as his test scores proved, but only if he had a motive…. Lelouch shook the thoughts out of his head, coming back to the moment. He had only one option.
"I can't see how you could possibly hope to win," Lelouch said, condescension dripping from his rich voice. He hoped Light would back down now, but the brunette only smiled again.
"Then you have nothing to lose by playing against me," he replied.
And that was when Lelouch realized he had everything to lose. Everyone expected Lelouch to win, so if Light lost, no one's opinion would change. But if Light won, Lelouch would no longer have the support of the student body. If the Ashford populace believed he was losing his matches, most likely they wouldn't help him escape the teachers and the school grounds. But it was too late to wonder about that now; he suppressed the urge to curl his lip, instead twisting his mouth into a smile that he hoped was convincing.
"If you insist, Yagami." He tried not to bit the words off too viciously. While he didn't like the idea of a match-up against an opponent not of his choosing, Lelouch would not offend another student. "When are you available for this match?"
"It seems to me that you aren't very busy now, am I correct?" Light asked and Lelouch wanted to curse him. He couldn't very well say he was busy… he was currently skipping English. Did Light Yagami know this as well?
Lelouch looked back down to his book, but obviously the answer wasn't written in the slim novel's pages. He sighed, closing it. "You would like to have the match now?"
"Yes. I think it could occupy the time for both of us much better, don't you?" Light's delivery was perfect. No one would think there was anything more than Light wondering whether Lelouch would play a game of chess against him. And even Lelouch himself couldn't detect anything strange, other than the very fact that Light had issued the challenge.
"You could be right, Yagami," Lelouch responded, feeling a wave of loathing pass over him. Had he been manipulated? Or was it all in his head? He could use the Geass to force Light to change his mind—no. Lelouch quashed the thought immediately. Using the Geass to opt out of a game of chess? It was ridiculous… and yet, was he really afraid of losing to Light?
Lelouch stood, setting the book firmly down on the table. This was a direct challenge, and he would defeat Light decisively. There could be no other outcome; Lelouch was a master at chess. Even if Light had managed to coerce him into the match, there was no guarantee that Light could win on the chessboard, the plane on which Lelouch thrived.
The exact same that Zero lived off of as well.
His confidence regained, Lelouch gestured to his left, offering Light a seat. Light sat as Lelouch walked to the other side of the table. Students hushed and gathered closer as Lelouch pulled a briefcase from the feet of his chair. He placed it squarely on the surface in front of him, releasing the catch so that it gently clicked open. The library was perfectly silent as the amethyst-eyed boy lifted the briefcase open to reveal the gleaming chess pieces cushioned in black fur next to a crimson and black chessboard. Lelouch took out each piece reverently, setting them up in among the hushed whispers.
"Then I am the white side, and you are the black?" Light asked the moment everything was in place. The ivory pieces were spread out in front of Light facing off against the ebony ones Lelouch always used.
"Ah, that's correct, Yagami," Lelouch replied. He was in his element, calm and cool, his chess pieces arranged before him like the Order of the Black Knights before Zero. Light Yagami would regret the challenge he had issued.
"Your move first," Lelouch told him, looking across the chessboard. Light nodded, and moved a pawn two spaces forward. The atmosphere crackled with enough force to bring a Knightmare to a halt. Lelouch smiled, presiding over his chessboard like a king, and brought out a black knight without breaking his line of pawns.
The game was on, and Lelouch found it more strenuous than his usual chess matches, Light matching him wit for wit, move for move, and piece for piece. The minutes ticked by slowly, almost unnoticeable under the force of concentration the two geniuses were exerting on the chessboard. Lelouch found his ears picking up the sounds of the crowd during Light's turn, but then his focus prevented him from noticing anything other than his next move to thwart Light. Several times it seemed as if Lelouch was finally gaining a decisive upper hand, Light would manage to discard some offending piece to the growing piles of rejected figures. Then Lelouch found himself scrambling on the defensive, throwing his entire mind into strategic plots to overthrow Light's plans. The crimson and black battlefield was slowly clearing, more opportunities for success and failure opening up as the game progressed.
He didn't know how long the game has lasted, but upon scrutinizing the board carefully, Lelouch realized it was now the beginning of the end. Light was a more than decent chess player, yet Lelouch's masterful skills lay in his ability to be unpredictable and his philosophy on the chessboard. His fingers grazed the black king, moving it to a diagonal space forward, while looking Light directly in the eyes and smiling. The game wouldn't last much longer and Lelouch could feel the tide of conceited satisfaction rising from the depths of his abdomen at the thought.
"Moving your king? That seems like such a vulnerable position… you leave me wondering at your strategy," Light said, quirking an eyebrow.
"A king must always lead his people, isn't that right?" Lelouch asked, tilting his head and displaying a disarming smile while using his king to take a white pawn. He held the pawn effortlessly between his fingers for a moment before dropping it to the side of the board where the rest of Light's captured pieces lay.
"But a king needs to be protected," Light countered, his voice persuasive and genial. A dark-skinned hand took the remaining white castle, setting it down firmly four spaces away in a direct confrontation with a black pawn. Lelouch nearly let a small chuckle escape his lips; Light had obviously learned chess the classical way, which spelled out his demise to Lelouch in gleaming white statuettes. Light continued firmly, seemingly unaware of how Lelouch's lips curved upwards ever so slightly at the corners. "You won't win the game if you send your king recklessly into battle."
"We'll see who wins the match, Yagami," Lelouch reminded him haughtily, pausing for a moment until Light looked up at him from the chessboard. "And if the king doesn't lead, who will?"
The Britannian prince looked back to the board and placed a delicate finger on the black queen, moving it diagonally until it neatly pushed a white knight out of a crimson square. The knight fell directly into the discard pile on the side of the board, clicking against the other pieces.
Lelouch instinctively found Light's eyes with his own and discovered them fiercely intense in their defense of his words. The liquid fire of his opponent's eyes blazed heated superiority and a belief in his own unrivaled power, the force of which knocked Lelouch's breath away. The word that came unbidden to Lelouch's entranced mind was hubris, Greek for unbridled arrogance with a dash of violence, and found only among the heroes of ancient texts….
"God?" Lelouch repeated, unblinking, unable to look away from Light's eyes. That quick and firm response had shocked Lelouch and his mind couldn't scramble fast enough for a neat response when faced with the strength of Light's vision. His question of leadership had been rhetorical, and yet Light already had an answer. Eyes were so often said to be windows to the soul….
"Yes," Light said, his eyelids lowering until he was focused solely on Lelouch. It felt as if the entire world was made only of the two of them and their ideals… everything else disappeared as the former Eleven nearly whispered, his voice velvet slinking across the table. "For who do you think directs the king?"
Lelouch couldn't answer, his breath trapped in his throat strangely dry and his eyes still captive to Light's amber ones. His mind whirled in a maelstrom of thought, his philosophy pushed too far… didn't the king direct himself? Wasn't that why he was called the king? Why he, Lelouch, was Zero? The pawns needed someone to lead them; God wasn't a part of the equation. Lelouch broke the eye contact, finding it much more of a struggle than he had anticipated, and moved his knight forward. He took a deep breath, calming his nerves and didn't look back up. When he wasn't looking at him, Lelouch could persuade himself that it hadn't been so serious, that he had been overreacting, his mind overactive. All Light was really suggesting was that they were like gods to their chess pieces, and it had nothing to do with reality… right? Light's hand snapped Lelouch out of his own thoughts as it landed on the white bishop. He slid it along until it reached Lelouch's knight, a sacrifice Lelouch had foreseen, and yet... Lelouch calculated the next few moves in quick succession. They were nearing the end of the match, although Lelouch couldn't foresee the winner yet. He had to be careful… he could see his win, as long as Light continued to play classically. Even if he didn't, Lelouch could still easily have his victory.
Lelouch pushed his hair out of his eyes, realizing he was sweating slightly, as he again set the black king forward. The collar of his school uniform felt too tight and his eyes were beginning to hurt. This wasn't right, he thought suddenly. He wasn't supposed to feel this way, not with the match drawing to a close, not to another student… he glanced up at Light quickly without raising his face.
He was smiling again, his face a mask of affability… but somehow Lelouch could tell it was only a mask. Underneath… underneath it lived something terrible, he knew instinctively. Something terrifying yet exquisite … and Lelouch found that he needed to know what it was, what made Light Yagami so enthralling. And as much as he suddenly realized he feared the student sitting across from him, Lelouch was drawn inexplicably to him, his inquisitive mind having no less of him than the truth.
Light's statement caught Lelouch off guard and he looked down to the chessboard with a growing horror. Purple eyes wide, searching the checkered plane, racing through scenarios, it couldn't be true, but—
The black king had been caught, trapped from every side, no move available except those which would result in disgrace and defeat. Lelouch Lamperouge—Zero—had lost the match.
So, I don't have a beta for this story, so if anyone finds anything wrong, please let me know.:) I really only wrote this so I could pair Light/Lelouch, the most sexy, arrogant, and self-righteous bishies I've come across so far, so the next chapter may not be yaoi-free. Surely, they can feel a dark attraction to each other...
Please drop a review and let me know how I've done with the cross!