.x.

.x.

.x.

"What the HELL is this!"

Glancing over at an unmistakably hysterical Rivalz flailing his arms comically in circles to emphasize his aversion, and then back down at the black, silky soft mass that had been placed in his left hand by a giggling Shirley, Lelouch had to mentally inquire as well.

The Student Council president flipped her legs flirtatiously across one of the classroom's desks, scratching an ankle with the end of her shiny leather May Jane's as she responded prettily through her teeth, "It's hair." The teenage boy ceased his flailing, jaw dropping open as he stared horrified at his own blue-colored mass.

"This is hair? Like hair hair?"

Milly chuckled, dark blue eyes slitting with pleasure, "Like hair hair."

"OH DUDE— NOT COOL! NOT COOL!" Rivalz's tan face twisted up in disgust as he threw the hairpiece as hard as he could against the opposite wall, causing the blonde girl to taunt him about how much of a baby he was, and it was just hair, as Lelouch continued to inspect his own critically.

"Well, you did manage match the colors."

A mixed chorus reverberated in the meeting room of Rivalz's irritated: "DON'T ENCOURAGE HER, MAN!"; Milly's smug: "That's my darling Lulu; taking it maturely and with stride."; and Shirley's impatient: "Can we please stay on topic, guys?"

"Indeed. Let's continue," their president announced, nodding importantly, slapping a rolled up newspaper on the side of the desk she remained perched on. "We are having this meeting today to discuss any last minutes preparations for the Cross Dresser's Ball."

"Question!"

She rolled her eyes as Rivalz shot his hand upwards. "Yes?"

"It was just going to be the whole school's deal and we were just hosting the event. You never said ANYTHING about us — the MEN — having to crossdress."

"What example would we be setting to the student body if you weren't in proper attire? It's mandatory for the Student Council members to dress up and participate avidly in order to raise money for funds. We are helping out the athletic teams like the Swim Team as well."

Milly brushed off the front of her skintight yellow uniform, ignoring the annoyed groan.

"I predict this to be a huge event."

Rivalz elbowed Lelouch in the side, playfully, muttering out of the corner of his mouth, "Here she goes again with that glare in her eye." As she batted him on the noggin twice and sharply, he flipped her a vulgar gesture that she blatantly ignored.

Lelouch had to make one thing very clear. "So we'll be wearing dresses?"

"The boys, yes, I already have your sizes. You just show up to this room before the ball starts and we'll get you fitted into everything."

"What about Suzaku, does he get a dress?" Rivalz said this with visible glimmers of hope in his coffee eyes for his fellow male to endure the same humiliation and did not find it the least bit reassuring as the bespectacled girl beside Karen echoed airily, "I think once he shows up. He said he may be late tonight."

"WHAT? NO WAY IN HELL IS HE GETTING OUT OF THIS!"

Raising her paper-made bludgeon threateningly, Milly frowned at the rest of them.

"Don't you worry about what Suzaku's doing and start worrying about your own butts showing up at eight. I want no stragglers, got it?

.x.

.x.

.x.

"Are you leaving already, Lelouch?"

Clutching the strap of his extra book bag to his shoulder, he felt the intimacy of a comforting smile melting his normally aloof exterior. Only Nunnally.

"Yes. I won't be gone for very long now. Suzaku promised to stop by for a late dinner with us after the dance ends. But just in case, have Sayoko make you something." His little sister's warm smile matched his in strength as she grasped his forearm with her little fingers, insistently.

"I'm very sorry I'm missing out. Be sure to have fun with everyone and take lots of pictures for me, big brother. So one day you and I can look at them together."

He bent down on one knee, placing a tiny devoted kiss on the back of her hand. "I've got Karen on the job." he told her. "We'll get them printed out tomorrow as soon as possible." Lelouch nodded in acknowledgment to their maid who led Nunnally away.

In the world I will create for you Nunnally when you at last open your eyes, the kind world you desire, we will.

.x.

.x.

.x.

He couldn't say he was particularly enjoying this experience.

"THIS IS BULL—!"

"You watch your mouth, Rivalz Cardemonde!"

Someone stormed out of the Student Council meeting room, fuming red in the face, and slammed the door behind him. This someone also happened to have a floor-length, cobalt blue plait down his back and sporting a very slimming, pink cocktail dress with gold Persian floral embroidery.

As soon as Rivalz spotted the other boy in the hallway, he gawked shamelessly.

"Lelouch, buddy, it pains me to say this to ya… "

"Then don't say it—."

"…but you seriously look like a girl. At least you can tell I ain't got any up top, you know what I mean?" In similar crude fashion, he invisibly groped at his chest.

In a way Rivalz was correct, maybe Lelouch had been a bit more feminine and delicate in his facial features (longer, darker eyelashes; cheekbones more prominent; his thin arms slimmer and milky white without a blemish) but merely in appearance. He didn't take delight in any physical aspect of himself. If anything, it was bothersome (weakest in every year and unable to keep up with regular exercise).

His long, elegant fingers encased in soft, silver-white gloves clenched in themselves. Lelouch stared hard into his mirror's reflection.

Including the brilliant purple of the full-skirted ball gown, the ornamental rose pattern printed on the ruffled train, and the neckline cleverly cut to keep attention away from his lack of 'assets' — he looked female. Lelouch was just thankful he was spared wearing anything along with high heels.

"It's really creepy," Rivalz gave him an appreciative overall look with bright blue shadowed lids. "If I didn't know you were a guy, I would totally talk to you."

"You can shut up now."

.x.

.x.

.x.

Needless to say, Lelouch quickly became very popular with the student body of Ashford.

Both cameras and camera phones were boldly whipped out for this juicy photo opportunity to be spread among those who had not gotten the chance of setting their eyes on the dark haired beauty. And at the beginning he looked so pathetically miserable that earlier on that evening, Shirley (with a top hat) took pity on him and offered her richly red-colored wool cloak to cover up for about five minutes before Milly in a royal blue shirtwaist snatched it away.

The regulations were bidders would be able to dance with the cross dressing Student Council members. The favorites were Milly and of course Lelouch.

The girls (the majority of them favorable of the spirit) either got one dance in with him or talked eagerly to each other, and boys (the majority of them just wanting to scope out the hotties like the healthy males they were) mostly pretended to swoon with their friends.

A couple could not resist seriously gazing for too long in lustful emotions. Those boys oddly found themselves several minutes later compelled to breaking into the pool house and when that wasn't successful, attempting to run full force without clothes on instead through the outdoor marble fountain.

Somehow, he was just glad that no one of great significance would discover that the great and prideful Zero had been forced into this petty charade.

Just as Lelouch was finished commanding two girls who got too close for comfort to find more interest in each other, an overly excited Milly seized him by the wrist and dragged him off towards the dance floor. "Stop trying to hide! You've got another bidder. I like this one, Lulu; he's all mysterious-like!"

There were two problems with that sentence. One started with a "HE".

Already contemplating about what form of innocent-like, public degradation his Geass could perform on his next victim if he got too handsy, Lelouch unfortunately tripped on the ruffled hem of the ball-gown as Milly shoved him forward.

He fully expected the excruciating crash face-first to the unforgiving floor and instead was caught swiftly by a pair of heavily tanned hands clasping him at his shoulders. His rescuer, donned in the traditional school boy uniform and with a velvet, ivory-colored winged mask, smiled cordially.

Lelouch stared outright at the mask.

Oh.

"Are you the person Milly was talking about?"

Wordlessly, and still smirking, the masked teenager slipped his warm hand into Lelouch's, urging him into a moderately fast waltz. The steps were easy enough. In spite of having the female role, Lelouch by no means stumbled ungracefully from rhythm or broke focus from vigilantly watching his partner.

Somehow reassured by the fact that his bidder was at least keeping a good distance between them (good manners, how reassuring), and that the other hand on his waist was light, he ventured with a skeptical tone, "You must be very secure in your sexuality to ask about another guy to dance, even if they do look like a girl. I know Karen has been taking pictures all night, did she put you up to this?"

"You look pretty good in that dress, Lelouch."

Realizing immediately that he had heard that deep, gentle voice from somewhere before — Lelouch stopped craning his neck to search for the so-called perpetrator and glanced up wide eyed at his dancing partner. "Suzaku?" Undoing his mask and letting it fall soundless to their slipper-feet, the brunet flashed a stunning grin at his oldest friend, emerald eyes softening in memories.

"Of the old photos you showed me... you could almost be identical to your Mom, Lu."

Cautiously, Suzaku's fingers caressed the fake black curls, his large forefinger running briefly over the silver pearls sewn into the hair piece. The other teen imagined blurrily that if it had been his real hair, Lelouch would have felt the very roots tingle.

"IT'S TIME FOR THE 'BEST DRESSED' CONTEST EVERYONE!"

As Shirley's cheerful voice ricocheted over the youthful company of the ball room, as the audience cheered on, Suzaku asked a little concern, taking note of the beads of sweat forming rapidly on his companion's brow, "You are breathing heavy, Lelouch. Are you alright?"

"BUT FIRST, THE MEMBERS OF THE STUDENT COUNCIL WOULD LIKE TO THANK EVERY PERSON WHO PARTICIPATED IN TONIGHT'S EVENTS! YOU'VE DONE A WONDERFUL JOB SUPPORTING OUR SCHOOL TONIGHT!GIVE YOURSELF A ROUND OF APPLAUSE!"

Instead of answering as he would have liked to, Lelouch bowed his head forward and shut his eyes. Feeling the sensation of his friend's head slump onto his chest, Suzaku pulled him closer, nerves panicking but voice steady, "Lelouch, talk to me! What's wrong? Lelouch!"

"THE RESULTS ARE IN!"

" Damn it…" He muttered furiously, scooping him up bridal-style and making for the doors with only a few spectators gazing after them, apprehensive.

"AND THE WINNER IS… LULU! WHOO! GET YOUR BUTT UP HERE!"

.x.

.x.

.x.

"Anemic?"

"The school nurse thinks so."

Fiddling shakily with the fancy, shining hairpiece in his lap, Lelouch rolled his shoulders — thankful to be out of the sight of others and dressed in his own clothes. He leaned forward in his desk chair. "I sometimes have difficulty breathing. It hasn't been this serious in a while…"

"Can they do anything for you?" Suzaku asked, from another desk, eyes trained on him.

"They have."

Taking that as all the confirmation he needed, he proceeded with: "So… is this something you're doing to yourself?"

Silence.

"You've been eating less? Sleeping less?"

Needing to surrender suddenly to the urge to leave, Lelouch rose, heading for his closed bedroom door. "I need to check on Nunnally." The highly trained soldier raced from the opposite end of the room in record time, clutching one of Lelouch's wrists tightly to stop him.

"No, you are not avoiding this—!"

Grimacing, Lelouch's breath became erratic and tight.

Noticing this, Suzaku let go as if electrocuted, helping him sit on the carpet as another fit racked him and without much pause for the sake of personal boundaries, the brunet held his companion's face between his hands, urging him. "Look at me, Lelouch. Concentrate on me. You're fine."

Faint digging sensations; the backs of Suzaku's fingernails on his skin helped keep him alert as Lelouch regulated his breathing to a normal pace before slowing it. His voice lowered. "Did you mean what you said… about my Mother…?"

"About...?"

"…people have said that I act like her… she stood up for what she… believed in… loved her family…"

The soldier smiled dimly at rather useless endeavor to keep himself awake, no matter Suzaku would excuse himself for staying over for the night, explain to Nunnally that the dancing wore her brother out, and that they would all have lunch together outside tomorrow.

After all, it was suppose to be a beautiful afternoon.

"…maybe it's not so bad…" Lelouch mumbled.

"What?"

"…looking like her. I use to hate… looking feminine…"

"You look like Lelouch. With long hair, you almost look female." With sleep-laden eyes, Lelouch hazily watched him come forward to place a kind kiss on the top of his head, an action he expected Suzaku would perform on Nunnally as well. "But I've known you as no one else but my best friend."

With a snort, he closed his amethyst eyes, resting a smiling cheek against the thickened shoulder fabric of Suzaku's gakuren.

Sentimental fool.

.x.

.x.

.x.

end.


I don't own CG…blah, blah, don't sue. I hope you enjoyed the crackness. LittleBro was very upset by the fact that we never learned anything about the Cross Dresser's Ball in the show- so, that left me with one option. Heh. He gets credit. AND MUCH LOVE to my wonderful beta reader Kina-chan who edited this out for me (…I love you! -glomp-). Definitely tell me if you thought this was how the ball should have gone. Ha.