AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for SandyRain of Livejournal.
I do hope this turns out well.
CAUTION: This fic contains slight spoilers for R2, a bit of angst and introspective stuff, and Anya's cellphone.
"Arthur…Arthur, wait, come back!"
Anya Alstreim looked up from where she was photographing a burgeoning rose bush beside her to see a black cat run towards her. It stopped at her feet, and with her cellphone, she snapped a photo of the animal rubbing itself affectionately against her legs. Out in the distance, someone kept on running – someone who definitely looked nothing like a cat.
She nodded as Suzaku Kururugi reached her in record time, but instead of a customary hi or any similar greeting, or even an attempt to pick up Arthur, he asked curiously, "Why are you taking a picture of Arthur? Is it for your diary?"
The Knight of Six answered with a nod as she pressed a few keys. The cat meowed softly, as though it knew that it was being talked about.
"And…is it me, or were you also taking a picture of those flowers?" He pointed to the bush beside the bench Anya occupied, wondering if that question was a lot less stupid than the first. After all, it was one thing to post a cat with a taste for the Knight of Seven's fingers on her blog; it was another to post a stationary rose bush.
"They're a nice color this season," the young girl replied, watching Suzaku finally bend down to scoop up his beloved feline, which instantly nipped at his fingers. He winced, but that didn't make him put Arthur down as he sat beside Anya. Perhaps the biting was just Arthur's own unique way of expressing its affection…but why only Suzaku? It never sank its teeth into Anya, or Zino, or…
He derailed his own train of thought in order to ask his comrade yet another question, but before he could ask it, Anya spoke again, more to herself than to her fellow Knight.
"Maybe when they see roses like these…they'll remember me."
Suzaku stroked Arthur's furry head and nodded absently.
This time, she didn't add anything more and everything was silent save the faintest sounds of a cellphone's buttons being pushed. His thoughts began to wander…he went through images of Ashford Academy and his friends on the student council, remembering each person whose face flashed in his mind and whose words echoed in his ears, as though he could hear them all the way from Area 11.
And then he thought of Shirley.
One of Suzaku's first duties as part of the Student Council was to take care of paperwork that Milly was too busy to care about. As he went through tedious document after document, Arthur sat on the table, watching the boy and seemingly drawing entertainment from watching Suzaku work.
He wondered what Milly Ashford had been planning that required a whole lot of paperwork, and reached out for a pen in order to mark something, making a mental note to ask why the council was suddenly swamped…
"Hey, Arthur, give that back!"
The cat had grabbed the pen before Suzaku, and vaulted off the table. It looked back, obviously taunting him, and ran.
Suzaku ran too, but he had to put on the brakes earlier than he had expected as someone else walked into their meeting room. He nearly bumped into this particular person, but two people of different sexes bumping into each other is a very clichéd idea, so thankfully he managed to stop in time and at the same time retain his dignity; his cheeks managed to retain their normal color despite the fact that he knew whom he faced.
Shirley Fenette's arms were full of cat, and she took the pen from its mouth before passing Arthur to Suzaku, who braced himself as his right index finger was bitten.
"There you are," she said. "The president sent me here to tell you that she wants the two of us to go out for a bit and buy something for her – "
"Don't tell me," Suzaku held up a hand – the hand Arthur had nipped – and added, "It's for the upcoming Gender Reversal Festival. Milly-san always comes up with the strangest ideas."
"She even made a list!" Shirley crowed, waving it in his face. Arthur reached up and tried to bat it, but she put it away in time before a single claw could touch it. "Let's go!"
And before he knew it, Suzaku Kururugi found himself at the nearest mall – alone with Shirley Fenette.
It gave him a little frisson of excitement that was instantly quelled by the fact that she seemed to care more about Lelouch Lamperouge (a.k.a. Lelouch Vi Britannia, but Shirley didn't know that). Now, Suzaku wasn't jealous of his childhood friend – in fact, he could see why Shirley seemed to like Lelouch a lot.
"Come on; let's go to that shop first!" Shirley said, grabbing his hand.
"Umm…okay," he managed to answer before he was dragged off.
Once again, time flew quickly as they lugged bags that got heavier and heavier with every item they crossed off Milly's list.
"Thank you so much for coming with me, Suzaku-kun," said Shirley as the two of them flopped into a bench for a well-deserved rest, their shopping bags crowded around their feet. "I mean, you could have said no and stayed with the paperwork…"
"It's nothing. I can see why the president wanted two of us on the job," said Suzaku, and was pleasantly surprised to see Shirley laugh at his little crack.
In fact, he never realized just how cute her laughter was, or that she was at her most beautiful when she smiled. It was probably because he was more focused on the fact that Shirley Fenette was one of his first – if not the first – friends in Ashford Academy, definitely one of those who left his personal possessions alone, which was definitely something bigger than the sound of her laughter, or the sight of her smile.
"Would you…like something before we go? Maybe…we could stop by somewhere to eat?" Suzaku found himself asking out of impulse. Then again, he did have some extra money, and the council would reimburse him for the expenses – that is, if they remembered…
Her green eyes lit up. "You don't mind…do you, Suzaku-kun?" At this, he shook his head.
"Not at all."
And with that, he stood up, and Shirley took his hand. There was just something different about her holding his hand now and when she had grabbed him at the beginning of their shopping spree…
Or maybe she was just hungry.
Somehow, a very dominant part of Suzaku's brain doubted she only wanted food.
Suzaku blinked. A camera snap had snapped him out of his reverie. Lowering her cellphone, Anya stared intently at him.
"That's a new look. I've never seen you with that face before."