It's weird; this was one of those stories that you start, and then you file it away and don't come back to it for a couple of weeks, and then when you try to finish it, you have no idea where you intended to go with it. So. If I could've remembered how I planned it out, then maybe this'd be a better addition. Maybe it would be worse. The world will never know.
Also, I kind of know that Rolo is gigantically out of character in this, in and of the fact that he's being mean to Lelouch. This is set, maybe, right after Lelouch tells Rolo that he's still "his 'brother'" even though he got his memory back (maybe... r2 turn 3 or 4? I can't say for sure), so Rolo isn't very used to it yet, which is why he's questioning it. Rolo and C.C. are neck and neck in the contest of who's harder to write! They're both just... so unique! So again, let me know if I'm getting it. (Besides, like I said, the fact that he's questiong Lulu.)
Fiction Rating: K
Characters: Rolo and Lelouch
Summary: Rolo is just a pawn in Lelouch's vast chess game, to be used and discarded when he becomes useless. He could never bring himself to harm Lelouch, even though he's aware of this. For the time being, Lelouch is safe, but he still needs to know that, should the need arise, Rolo has a foolproof shortcut to checkmate that works every time.
Rolo's eyes stayed fixed on the chess board as he heard the door slowly creak open. The light that entered the dim room as the door was open was nearly blinding to Rolo's eyes, adjusted to the dark. He winced away from the glare as a darkened, lanky figure slipped into the room and graciously closed the door behind him. How long had Rolo been just sitting there, waiting? Even he himself wasn't sure.
"Rolo? What are you doing, sitting in the dark?" Lelouch asked. Rolo shut his eyes tight as Lelouch clicked the light on.
A few quiet clomps told Rolo that Lelouch was crossing the room. "I told you I'd be out late, and to go to sleep, didn't I?" Lelouch's voice was filled with a pained concern. It sounded sincere enough, but you could never be sure, especially not with Lelouch.
"How long have you been sitting there?" There was a click as Lelouch turned on a nearby lamp, illuminating the rest of the room. Rolo opened his eyes.
"I don't know." He hadn't said anything so honest in ages.
Lelouch sighed fatherly. "It's late; you should—" His voice stopped short as his eyes fell over the chess board. His eyes, now slightly narrowed and suspicious, flicked back up to question Rolo's.
Rolo nodded. What else could he use but chess? What else could illustrate his thoughts so avidly? Could demonstrate his concerns? Chess, with its mind constricting mental battle of wits, and it's sharp and sneaky moves… well, it was a metaphor of their lives.
"The king…?" Lelouch's voice trailed off in an unfinished question.
Rolo looked down at the board. The black king was in the exact center of the board, lying between the black and white pieces. It was almost as if it were challenging the other pieces to try to stop it. To dare to oppose it.
"I thought it would be obvious; that one is Zero."
Lelouch's eyes widened only slightly, his violet irises locking onto Rolo's identical ones. They engaged in a silent contest of will, staring at each other, waiting for the other to crack. But momentarily, Lelouch slid into the chair across from Rolo, who blinked and looked at the board. Maybe the contest had just been in his head.
Lelouch looked up again to stare at Rolo, wordlessly asking him to proceed.
"We are all just pawns in your scheme, Lelouch."
Out of nowhere, Lelouch gave a chuckle, a new, bemused expression on his face. "Who is 'we'?"
Rolo had anticipated that question.
He raised his hand over the white pieces and reached the black ones on the side Lelouch sat at. With a flick, he knocked over the first black pawn. "Euphemia."
Lelouch winced, the smile falling off of his face. He looked down, shame coloring his cheeks faintly.
Rolo went on.
"The Black Knights." Flick. "Kozuki." Flick. "Shirley, Milly, and Rivalz." Flick, flick, flick. He hesitated only briefly, but soon continued.
"Rolo," he concluded, giving the final pawn a flick, sending it toppling over.
Rolo stared at the pawns lying there. They seemed lifeless, although he knew they were never at any point alive. His eyes passed over each in turn, matching a name to all of them. He soon raised his eyes to look at Lelouch. "Need I go on?"
Lelouch wasn't listening to him. His hand was balled up into a fist.
"Euphie was never a pawn." His eyes were contorted in anger; this was the anger that Rolo felt Lelouch eternally felt for him, without letting it show. Lelouch, master of deceit and sleight of hand.
Rolo could feel a small smirk tugging at his reluctant lips. He felt that, with this anger that had shone through so quickly, he had began undoing Lelouch. Picking at his mind. The real Lelouch… Zero.
"I am saying what I know to be true," Rolo said simply.
Lelouch's voice quavered, like he was either on the verge of tears, or on the verge of punching Rolo in the face. "There is a fine line between truthfulness and cruelty."
"Some of us prefer to look at it a different way."
Rolo watched Lelouch. The young Britannian's eyes were fixed on the chessboard, flickering rapidly from one emotion to the next. Confusion turned to anger, and anger to pain. The ghosts of his mistakes made constant visits.
Lelouch looked up as Rolo cocked his head questioningly at him.
"I hate to see you being so weak, Lelouch."
It was certainly strange to see Lelouch acting as such. Normally, around Rolo at least, Lelouch acted like an ideal older brother: loving, caring, looking out for him. Never questioning his ideas, and only correcting him when necessary. Sometimes Rolo caught himself buying into Lelouch's bag of tricks.
Sometimes he wished he always bought into Lelouch's bag of tricks. Things would be so much easier if he could believe that his 'older brother' actually was ideal. But in truth, Lelouch was probably the opposite of ideal.
Rolo's contemplation was interrupted. Lelouch, offering no response to Rolo's previous jibe, was slowly setting his black pawns upright again, slowly, one by one. Rolo could tell, with each pawn, a different person was flashing through his mind. After setting the last pawn up straight, Lelouch picked up the black king from the middle of the board and put it in its proper place.
He looked up at Rolo, a challenge flashing in his eyes.
"White moves first."
Rolo's retort caught in his throat.
Lelouch's mouth tugged into a satisfied, arrogant smirk at Rolo's response and baffled expression. Rolo knew that it was obvious that the way Lelouch responded to him had not been anticipated. Rolo had not prepared a response to this, and yet, his ever working mind was quickly fabricating a solution.
Lelouch cocked his head at Rolo in the same way Rolo had cocked his head at him, only moments before.
"Or do you not play chess?"
Rolo recovered, friskily shaking it off.
"I play." Rolo hesitated. "…Well enough."
With a firm, decided hand, Rolo moved one of his white pawns onto the board.
Without a second's hesitation, Lelouch moved one of his knights into the game.
"Risky," Rolo commented quietly.
"I know what I'm doing."
It was as if the burdens of their previous conversation had simply melted away. The two collapsed into silence as the game progressed, not once looking up to meet the other's eye. As Lelouch's pile of captured pieces piled up, a smirk slowly grew on his face.
The game didn't last long; it was obvious who harbored the skill. Yet the familiar sensation of undoubted defeat never reached Rolo's awareness. He knew what he was doing as well.
Rolo spotted the move that he needed, the one that would bring the game to an end. He moved his bishop and captured one of Lelouch's several remaining pawns.
Lelouch didn't hide his grin as his hand moved towards his black queen. He was moving in for checkmate.
The familiar, almost-invisible red haze of Geass bled throughout the room. Lelouch's hand froze in mid air, hovering over the queen he was about to use to destroy Rolo.
"You again get ahead of yourself, Zero," Rolo murmured, blatantly aware that the man he was addressing was completely incapable of hearing a word that he said.
He turned the chessboard around. Now his pieces, the black ones, were in the lead. The Geass evaporated just in time.
Rolo watched Lelouch's expression morph from smugness to confusion with a sense of contentment, and instead of saying anything, picked up the black queen that had, at one time, been Lelouch's, and moved it so that it was directly in the path of his white king.
"I believe that's checkmate."
It didn't take long for Lelouch to realize what had just been pulled.
"I believe that's ridiculously immature, Rolo." Lelouch looked up from the board. Instead of bearing a disgruntled frown, like Rolo had accepted, Lelouch was sporting a rather brotherly grin. "I like to believe that I've taught you better than that."
Something flickered inside of Rolo. For a moment, he wanted to grin along with Lelouch, apologize for being so unfair, and then move on like nothing had happened. But that wasn't like Rolo. Rolo never grinned. He left the grinning to the ones who led the naïve, yet unfairly simple and pleasurable lives.
The weak, faint flicker died out nearly instantly. No, Rolo wouldn't grin.
Instead, he pulled from his pocket the beautiful, glimmering switchblade that he kept on his person at all times.
The sharp, deadly weapon seemed to weigh a ton in his pocket every day. It felt wonderful to pull it out once again. As the blade caught his reflection briefly, he stared at his blank eyes. Would anyone, if told, believe someone as innocent looking as him had taken more lives than one could count?
The fact that, no, they wouldn't believe the statement, in itself made Rolo an indispensible ally to whatever side he happened to be on at the time.
Lelouch eyed the knife cautiously.
"I'd be generously rewarded for singlehandedly taking out Zero…" Rolo's voice trailed off.
There was a pause, a lapse in conversation, when neither dared to say a word.
"But?" Lelouch finally prompted.
"What led you to think there's a 'but'?" Rolo challenged.
"That would be fratricide," Lelouch explained calmly, unperturbed by Rolo's gaze being fixed on the knife. "The killing of a brother. Which would be morally unjust."
"After all I've done, you think I still have morals?"
Lelouch smiled warmly. "In some cases more than others."
Rolo looked down at his knife, allowing the blade to dance, glinting, grazing over his hand. He cried out quietly as the tip of the blade pricked his index finger. Instinctively, he put the wounded finger in his mouth to stop the blood from getting everywhere.
Lelouch's eyes said, clearly, Is that what you want?
Rolo closed the switchblade.
"For the time being, we'll have to live with that," he allowed, and then paused as if deciding on how to word his next statement.
"But if necessary, you must remember that I have an infallible route straight to checkmate."
The black king's clink against the glass chess board was the only sound in the room as Rolo flicked it over.