"Where the hell is everybody?" Kallen frowned darkly, gazing around yet another deserted corridor, peering curiously into every corner, trying to find anyone. They had just arrived in the Chinese Federation late last night and she had fallen deep asleep afterwards, well into the day.

And now she found herself totally alone, unable to locate her fellow Black Knights.

"Hello?" she called out yet again. "Is anyone here?"

"I'm here."

Kallen shrieked, leaping backwards, fists raised instinctively to pummel whomever had managed to creep up directly behind her-

And came face to face with the featureless mask of Zero.

"Le-Zero!" she corrected, remembering they were in a rather public, if deserted, area, and thus there could easily be plenty of people around to overhear. "Don't do that!"

"Did you just wake up?" he asked amusedly. "It's nearly noon."

"I-I was tired!" Kallen said defensively, crossing her arms with a huff. "If there was something you needed me for, you could have woken me up!"

"But you were resting so peacefully," Lelouch responded easily, and she could tell there was a wide, patronizing smirk beneath his mask. "How could I disturb you when you seemed so comfortable?"

"What, did you go inside my room and watch me sleep?" she demanded, face flushing at the mere idea of him doing so.

"No, no, C.C. told me," he answered, the smirk, if possible, even more evident in his tone now.

"C.C.?" though she was a relieved that her accusation had proven false, the idea of the green haired girl sneaking into her room to report on her sleeping face to Lelouch was only a tiny bit less embarrassing.

"Why!" she nearly yelped, cheeks a clear cherubic red now.

He chuckled, and she resisted the urge to take a swipe at him- if he had the mask off, she might have done it, but here, with him firmly ensconced in his Zero persona, doing so would only invite a number of questions she really didn't want to answer.

Instead of answering, Lelouch instead said, "Come with me." Without waiting for her response, he turned on his heel and started down the corridor, never once turning around to check if she was coming.

Despite the suddenness of the demand, Kallen found herself falling in line a step behind him, figuring that, as long as he was Zero and not Lelouch, she could stand to be ordered around like this.

"Where are we going?" she asked curiously, peering up at him, wishing he didn't have the mask on- it was so much harder to tell what he was thinking, what he was feeling.

"You'll see," he answered evasively.

Kallen frowned again. She hated it when Lelouch kept secrets from her, but again, since he was still currently Zero (at least in appearance), then she couldn't really justify complaining about it, and thus followed behind him obediently, albeit slightly miffed.

As she stared at his back, she remembered the last time she had really talked to him- in Shinjuku.

"Comfort me."

A soft gasp escaped her lips as, yet again, she blushed furiously at the memory of his hand tipping her chin, his warm breath tickling her lips, violet eyes boring into her own, threatening to swallow her up. Luckily for her, Lelouch didn't seem to notice, continuing to stride forward without looking back.

Why did he do that, she wondered, trying in vain to discern an answer by staring at his back. Was it because she was just there? Because she was one of the few who knew who he truly was beneath that mask and why his previous failure had hurt him so?

Or was it because he wanted to

"No!" she yelped, half panicked at the very thought of Lelouch wanting to do that with her.

This time, Lelouch did notice, stopping and turning his head to glance back at her. "Is something wrong, Kallen?" he questioned, sounding oddly concerned.

Ducking her head and wishing the redness in her cheeks wasn't so obvious, Kallen mumbled sheepishly, "Sorry. It was nothing."

He stared at her for a few more moments, clearly not buying her words, before he shrugged and turned on his way again.

Kallen sighed, shaking her head. Mulling it over wouldn't do any good- despite it all, she never could figure out what he was thinking.

And then, suddenly, Lelouch stopped at door, opening it and beckoning her inside. As soon as the door closed with the slightest hiss, he removed the mask, shaking his head.

"Now will you tell me?" Kallen pressed, feeling a bit more bold now that they were obviously alone and he was sans mask.

"You're so eager," he pointed out amusedly, arching his eyebrow as he freed his mouth from the confines of the under mask, stepping forward until he was immediately in front of her, staring down into her eyes with his own- one eye its usual violet, the other lit up with the unnatural light of Geass.

"W-what?" she stammered, uncomfortable at his sudden closeness, especially after her previous thoughts. After pondering that for another moment, she straightened, and stared back at him determinedly. "Answer me, Lelouch- why did you ask me to do that, back in Shinjuku?"

For his part, Lelouch looked contrite, and a hint of color rose in his cheeks. "Ah. Forgive me for that, Kallen. I was out of line."

She bit her lip and glared slightly. "You didn't answer me," she said pointedly.

To her surprise, he chuckled yet again, looking at her amusedly. "You're always so very determined, aren't you?" he murmured huskily, and the tone in his voice sent shivers down her spine.

"Tell me," she insisted, despite the rising heat in her face.

" and why does it matter why?" Lelouch countered slowly, a smile playing on his lips. "Are you wondering about the nature of our relationship, Kallen?"

She shivered again, even as she exclaimed embarrassedly, "Don't word it like that!"

He laughed out loud this time, and she glared at him furiously, hating the fact that he could so easily embarrass her like this.

"Just answer me already!" Kallen demanded irritably, crossing her arms determinedly.

Lelouch paused, and looked almost uncomfortable?

Despite herself, Kallen felt her pulse quicken, and wished her heartbeat didn't sound so loud right at that moment.

He opened his mouth to answer-

When his phone began ringing.

"What the-" Kallen sputtered, but Lelouch suddenly looked relieved, picking up the phone hurriedly.

When she tried to protest the fact that he was still dodging her question, he merely raised his hand to shush her, listening intently to the muffled words. After a moment, he nodded.

"Very good then. We'll be arriving shortly." And without another word, he shut the phone, turned on his heel, and opened a door opposite to the one they had entered.

"Wait, arriving where?" Kallen questioned, falling into line behind him, but he ignored her, gesturing for her to follow him into the other room as he placed the mask back over his face.

Suspicious, she gave him a searching look for a moment, before giving up and heading towards the door, which led into a completely darkened room. As she took the first step inside, she turned back towards him with a severe look, angrily complaining, "Oi, you haven't answered my-"

And suddenly she was barraged by a horde of noise and sound and light, immediately sending her into combat mode-


And then her eyes adjusted to the light, and she was presented with the faces of her fellow Black Knights, who were standing next to a number of tables piled on with plates of traditional Japanese food, save for a generously proportioned cake on the center table.

"Happy birthday, Kallen!" they chorused, and the exact date suddenly hit Kallen like a lightning bolt.

My birthday I'd completely forgotten it. Her eyes crinkled warmly. Last year, Millay and the student council held a party for meshe felt a pang of sadness over that thought, but shook herself out of it quickly, not wanting to look pained at this happy gathering.

"When did-" Kallen began, before a gloved hand laid itself atop her shoulder and she turned to look back at Zero.

"Just enjoy it," he murmured warmly, and, as he removed his hand, added huskily, "Oh, and happy birthday, Q-1."


"Happy Birthday, Kallen-san!" Kaguya said cheerily, grasping Kallen's hands with her own, shaking them excitedly.

"T-Thank you, Kaguya-sama," Kallen said profusely, untangling her hands from the younger girl's to bow deeply. "Especially for the gift."

"Ah, I really hope you like it!" the self-proclaimed goddess clapped her hands together. "Open it, please!"

After some more urging on Kaguya's part, the Guren's pilot finally complied, opening it as delicately as possible, jaw dropping a little more as it was exposed.

"It's I'm sorry, Kaguya-sama, what is this?" Kallen questioned, holding up what appeared to be a bottle of pills.

Kaguya leaned in close, standing on tiptoes to reach her ear, "Fertility drugs!"


At the startled looks of some the Black Knights around her, Kallen blushed harder, if possible, and mumbled, "Sorry," before turning back towards Kaguya, trying her best to make sense of things.

"Um Kaguya-sama"

"I'm not yet old enough to bear children," Kaguya interrupted, looking mournful, "But I'd like to help you bear Zero-sama's children!"

Kallen choked on air.

"Do you not like it?" the younger girl asked, suddenly looking sad.

"No, no, I love it!" Kallen managed, lying through her teeth.

"Oh, I'm so happy you do!" Kaguya cheered, grasping her hands, pulling Kallen close enough to whisper, "If you'd like, you can try them out! I can make excuses"

Luckily, Kallen was saved from having to blatantly lie yet again by the most unexpected of allies.

"Ah, Kaguya-san, Zero looks rather lonesome other there," C.C. chimed in suddenly, gesturing towards their masked leader lurking in the corner, "Why don't you try and get him to dance?"

After Kaguya had taken off, Kallen turned towards the green haired girl, mumbling, "Thanks C.C."

Instead of answering, C.C. smirked. "So, another year older," C.C. commented airily. "My, my, soon you won't be so youthful anymore..."

Kallen glared back, all gratefulness forgotten. "I've got a long way to go before I catch up with some people," she shot back pointedly.

"And yet I don't look a day older than seventeen," the other girl said mirthfully, glancing at her through hooded eyes. After another moment, she stepped forward, and removed a package from behind her back, and pressed it into Kallen's hands.

"Enjoy," C.C. smirked, and the Guren's pilot gave her a suspicious look.

"It's not pizza, is it?" she asked skeptically.

"No, no, it's something that you and everyone, can enjoy," the witch replied easily, playfully.

Kallen continued to look at the other girl warily, before opening the package just a tad-

And found a rather scandalously thin, lacy red panty staring back at her.

Half of the Black Knights assembled were suddenly startled by their ace pilot's shriek, and the rest of them easily noticed the fact that Kallen was beating C.C. over the head with a package, all the while screaming, "Pervert!"

Luckily, Ougi managed to pull her away from the green haired witch, who smirked one last time and whispered into Kallen's ear, "I'm sure that Lelouch might like it too."

The sounds of Kallen's embarrassed shrieks of protest followed C.C. all the way over to the other side of the room, where Zero was standing off to the side, having managed to distract Kaguya with the idea that he might be hungry.

"What was that all about?" Lelouch questioned.

"Oh, just some girl talk," C.C. answered offhandedly. "Now, where's that pizza?"

After a few moments of reminding Kallen that it was both her birthday and a gathering of their fellow Black Knights, Ougi managed to get the angry redhead back under control.

"Sorry about that, Ougi oh, and thank you so much for all this," Kallen mumbled, hugging the older man gratefully.

As Ougi pulled away, he scratched his head, looking embarrassed.

"Ah, it was nothing actually," he leaned in close, glancing around surreptiously, "It was Zero who gave us the idea, to be honest."

"Zero!" Kallen gave a start, gaze automatically flicking across the room to where their masked leader leaned against the wall, politely declining Kaguya's determined attempts to get him to dance, all the while verbally sparring with C.C., who mercilessly teased him over it.

She stared at him for a moment, smiling softly, and, as if sensing her gaze, he glanced up.

"So, why'd you do it, anyway?" C.C. questioned, barely audible as she leaned against the wall next to him. "It's not like you to be so thoughtful."

Lelouch gazed back at Kallen's smiling face, and felt a smile of his own tugging on his lips.

"This time, be Zero... perfectly."

With a tone of amusement, he glanced over at the witch and spoke.

"I owed her something, I suppose."