This is, honestly, a crack-fic, and rather AU-ish. Obviously. As much as I love R2 (and Gino), I've chosen to believe it didn't quite happen here. In my mind, angst does not exist. So yes. I own nothing someone else does. Enjoy!
"This is all your fault," Kallen said.
"I'm not supposed to be talking to you," Zero said. Kallen was sure that, behind his mask, he was smirking, although to everyone else, he looked very much annoyed with her, turned so that Kallen had to resort to scowling at his shoulder. "I'm jealous, remember."
Kallen was not turning pink, and if she was, it was only from frustration. Besides, there was nothing for Zero to be jealous over. As usual, Lelouch was just playing to his audience. He always did love the theatrics.
And the audience was lapping it up, which horrified Kallen to no end. They were The Black Knights! They were a resistance group to be feared and respected!
And yet… they were all staring at her as she tried to reason with (more like berate) their esteemed leader.
Frustrated, Kallen finally stepped away from Zero. She couldn't deal with him right now. Genius he may have been, but mature he was most definitely not.
"I think Kallen broke my buddy's heart," Tamaki stage-whispered as Kallen walked past him. She glared at him but didn't stop. As she left the room, she was almost certain she heard Zero chuckle.
It really was all Lelouch's fault. After all, it had been Lelouch who brought C.C. to school. It had been Lelouch who bought C.C. her new digital camera and taught her how to use it. It had been Lelouch who asked her to help him count money from the Student Council's latest fund-raising disaster.
Kallen hadn't wanted to do it, of course, but she had thought that Zero wanted to speak to her in privacy, so she agreed. She hadn't realized until too late that it wasn't Zero, but Lelouch who so desired the pleasure of her company.
It had been Lelouch who silently counted out the money. It had been Lelouch who knocked over a stack of change so Kallen had to lean down to pick coins up from the floor around her feet. It had been Lelouch who leaned down with her, and it had been Lelouch who kissed her.
Although to be fair to him, it had been C.C. who caught it all on camera and, as soon as they returned to base, showed it to everyone who would pay attention. And, as it turned out, a lot of people were interested in Kallen's love life.
Ugh. It made Kallen mad just thinking about it. It made her madder to think of Lelouch, probably laughing behind his mask as he watched his normally-professional Black Knights act like a pack of schoolgirls!
Kallen walked into the kitchen, looking for a glass of water. It wasn't empty, and Kallen stifled a groan when she saw Ohgi glowering at her. He had The Picture in hand – it seemed C.C. had made copies.
"Who's this?" he demanded, waving the picture around.
"Dunno," Kallen said warily, opening a cupboard.
Wrong answer. Ohgi gaped at her for a moment, then sputtered, "Then why is he kissing you?!"
"Ask Zero," Kallen muttered under her breath.
"Nothing." Kallen flipped on the faucet and took a deep, calming breath. It didn't work. "He's just a guy, okay? From school."
Ohgi frowned at the picture. "I don't like him," he announced.
Kallen snorted into her glass. Oh, if only he knew. "It's okay," she said, rinsing her glass and setting it in the sink with a dull clunk. "I don't like him much right now, either."
She turned around, and saw not only Ohgi scowling at her, but Zero, standing behind him with his arms folded across his chest, leaning back against the fridge. Kallen frowned. Why was he in the kitchen? It wasn't like he would eat in front of them – C.C. was always taking pizza to his room for him.
Ohgi obviously hadn't noticed Zero yet, since he went on, "He looks like a pansy. Why would you kiss him?" He lowered his voice. "And what about, you know…"
Kallen blinked, uncomprehending.
"Zero," Ohgi finished in a near-hiss.
Zero cocked his head, watching her from behind his mask, and Kallen ran a tired hand over her face. What had she ever done to deserve this?
"Ohgi-san," Kallen said through clenched teeth. "Please look around before saying unnecessary things."
Ohgi blinked, then looked around – and caught sight of Zero. Immediately, he flamed red, stumbling back a step in shock. "Zero! I, ah…" He glanced at Kallen for help. She turned away from him and back to the sink.
"Ohgi," Zero said in his deep, calm voice. "Please call a meeting for me in an hour."
"Ah, absolutely," Ohgi stammered, clearly flustered. Served him right.
Kallen heard his quick steps against the tile as he left, and then the kitchen was silent, and she exhaled.
So, Kallen," Zero said conversationally, and Kallen jumped. She hadn't realized he was still there. When she turned, he was examining an apple he had plucked from the fruit bowl, not looking at her. "What was that Ohgi was saying about me?"
Kallen glared at him. "Stop following me," she huffed.
"I'm just getting a snack," Zero said. But then he stepped closer, leaning over her to wash his apple so she had to press back into the counter in a futile attempt to put some space between them, and she heard a distinct chuckle.
"I hate you," she informed him.
Zero pulled back. "Funny, that's not what I've been hearing."
Kallen pushed her hair back from her forehead. This conversation was giving her a headache. "This is driving me insane. Can't you make them stop?"
"And ruin the fun?" He sounded positively delighted, and Kallen made a face.
"You kissed me," she said. Her voice shook, and she prayed he hadn't heard. "Why should I suffer for it?"
"'Suffer'?" Zero echoed, feigning a wince. "I'm hurt, Kallen." He paused for a moment, then asked gently, "Was it really so painful?"
"No, but this attention—" Kallen cut off when he made a small, amused sound in the back of his throat, then blushed as she realized what she had said. "I didn't mean it like that."
"Then how did you mean it?"
Kallen frowned at him. "Don't you have to go make a speech or something?" she snapped, moving to shove past him.
"No," he said, spinning around to grab her just beneath the elbow with long, gloved fingers. "I'm quite free, and I believe a conversation is in order, Kallen."
Kallen could tell by the way he was speaking that someone was listening in. sure enough, when she strained, she could hear a shuffle, a rustle of clothing, and an "Oh, crap," obviously from Tamaki.
Lelouch's grip was insistent. Obviously, he didn't want the fun to stop just yet. Kallen remembered when he found out that Sayoko had given him the reputation of a playboy at school. He had been horrified then, but now, with Kallen in the spotlight, he was more than willing to pursue the so-called love affair between them.
Kallen wouldn't give him the satisfaction.
"Sorry, Zero," she said with a sneer no one but Lelouch could see. "I have nothing to say to you."
She made to flounce off, but again he stopped her, this time with his words.
"Tell me, Kallen," he said, "Do you love this other boy?"
Kallen could see the black uniforms of the people spying on them from around the corner. Thank God no enemies knew that the Black Knights were a group of scandal-loving, gossiping slackers.
She didn't know how to answer his question. She had an audience, and Lelouch knew that. She couldn't walk away, or she would look like a coward. She couldn't tell him to get over himself: that would look disrespectful. She definitely couldn't say yes – that wasn't true! Of course, she couldn't deny it, either. She knew just how Lelouch could twist her response.
Instead, she said, rather lamely, "He kissed me."
Zero nodded grimly. "I see. We'll have to take this boy out, then."
Kallen's jaw dropped.
"The Black Knights are defenders of justice. A sexual assault is the greatest of injustices," Zero explained passionately.
Kallen was still staring at him, absolutely baffled. Was Lelouch honestly suggesting that the Black Knights attack… him?
Behind them, Tamaki all but fell through the doorway. "I agree with my best bud," he said with a nod. "No one touches Kallen but Zero!"
Kallen bloomed red, opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of water. She couldn't find words.
"Perhaps you could get together a team, Tamaki," Zero mused, one hand under his chin.
Kallen shook her head. Zero couldn't actually go along with this. Even he wasn't that stupid—
Kallen eyed him nervously. Zero seemed to be serious. She wouldn't put it past him to push this attack, just to prove a point. Whatever his point might be.
"What are you doing?" she hissed, so that only Zero could hear.
"Is there a problem, Kallen?" he asked smoothly.
Kallen blanched. So that was what he was up to. Trying to get her to somehow admit to feelings for Lelouch! Well. She wouldn't let that happen.
"He's just a stupid teenager," she said, more loudly this time. "A bag of hormones. We can't punish him for being what he naturally is – how are we better than Britannia if we do?"
Zero's stance was still relaxed. "Good point, Kallen," he said, sounding amused.
Tamaki frowned. "But he kissed your girl."
Kallen twitched. This was getting annoying. Since when was she Zero's – anyone's – property?
She spun on her heel, cracking her knuckles. "You wanna take this outside, Zero's pet?"
Tamaki swallowed, paling and shaking his head wordlessly.
Kallen nodded. "Thought so."
She stalked out before anyone could try to stop her again, not slowing even when she heard Tamaki say, "She sure is scary. How do you deal with her?"
Two days after the picture had been spread around, Milly asked her to go to the Student Council room with the excuse of a package sitting on the table for Kallen to retrieve for her. So Kallen went, leaving the president to supervise the hanging up of posters advertising some dance or other that she had decided on, probably the night before. Kallen didn't know, nor did she care. She was just glad that The Picture hadn't gotten around school yet.
So she headed for the Student Council room with little protest. Of course, she began cursing herself for her gullibility as soon as she stepped inside the room.
"Kallen," Lelouch said, pulling her into the room before she could walk out and slamming the door behind her. "You're avoiding me."
"That's hard to do," she said sourly, crossing her arms over her chest and eyeing him. "You're everywhere."
He smiled at her disgruntled expression, and Kallen didn't know why she didn't just walk out, except that she needed to deal with this problem so that she could return to her real life. This was Zero, after all. Without an audience, he could be reasoned with.
But before she could even open her mouth, Lelouch spoke:
"I'm sorry." His voice was solemn, his expression apologetic – but his eyes gleamed with amusement. Kallen stepped back from him, lifting her chin and looking away.
"And I'm no fool," she reminded him. "Take your apology and shove it." She would never speak to Zero in such a tone, but she was speaking to Lelouch now, and she could—
Crap. She was starting to treat him like two people, too. She was just as crazy as he was.
Kallen picked up on a soft rustle of fabric and snapped her gaze back to Lelouch, who had shifted to stand directly in front of her again. They were nearly toe-to-toe, and he reached out to grip her loosely by the wrists so she couldn't back away.
Kallen furrowed her eyebrows, immediately suspicious. "Wha—"
"Kallen," Lelouch said, looking entirely serious now, "Forgive me. You were entirely right – the Black Knights have been immature and unprofessional lately, and I have only encouraged their behaviour. I promise you, I'll deal with the matter. They won't speak of that picture anymore."
Kallen relaxed. The firm, steely note of his voice reminded her of Zero. Zero was nothing if not driven. He wouldn't allow them to waste any more time discussing Kallen's love life.
"Thanks," she started to say, but Lelouch dropped one wrist to hold up a hand, silencing her.
"Another thing," he said, shifting his weight and locking gazes with her. He looked deadly serious, and Kallen felt herself tense with eager anticipation. Were they making a move? Did she have a special assignment?
"Lelouch?" she prompted when he didn't continue. She rocked back on her heels, getting restless. "You were saying?"
"Tell me, Kallen," he said, settling into the tone of voice Zero used and sounding just like he had the last time he confronted her, "Do you love Lelouch?"
"Zero, then?" he pressed.
Still, Kallen remained silent, baffled. How was she supposed to answer? And why did he care? This didn't matter – nothing mattered but the war now. Was this all he had to say?"
"Lelouch," she said firmly. "What do you want me to say?"
"Kallen…" he said in a low voice, staring at her intently. "I—"
Too late, Kallen realized he was ducking his head towards hers. She tried to step back, but he jerked her wrist, still in his grip, to pull her closer.
"I care about you," he told her. "You are my Q-1, in every sense. Mine and Zero's."
Kallen's breath hitched, and she didn't protest when Lelouch pressed his lips firmly to hers, didn't resist the gentle flutter of his fingers on her jaw line, didn't flinch away when he coaxed her mouth open.
She didn't react – until the flash went off.
"They were at it again?"
"Is that – is that tongue? This kid's gonna get it. Kallen!"
"Ouch. My buddy Zero is never going to get over this one."