A/N: Soon, we won't be calling Lelouch Kamui anymore =) But I just realised that this fanfic might contain too many elements of X/1999 for some people's liking. If you don't understand anything, just ask and I'll answer them, kay?

Chapter 5: Rendezvous

Kamui froze.

Cornelia narrowed her eyes. "…What does it mean?" Her half brother had done something to cheat death again, didn't he?

"This kiddo's DNA contains codes that cannot be matched to any existing living creature. Anyone's wildest guess is mutation," Lloyd shrugged and placed something that was shaped like a thick metal helmet with myriads of coloured wires connecting it to a mainframe. Kamui was so out of it he didn't bother trying to make the job difficult – questions like, 'I am not human, either?' swirling in his head, messing up the awareness of his surroundings. 'Am I a mutant? Is that why S.S. hides me?' (A/N: No, Lelouch, this is not X-men!)

"But," Lloyd added, as though it was an afterthought, his grin almost positively feral. "I know better."

Cornelia didn't like the predatory, wild gleam in those pale blue eyes, but she couldn't decipher it. "…What's that?" The Britannian Princess eyed the machine sceptically. "What are you going to do with it?"

"Some kind of a mind reader," Lloyd answered absently, his concentration solely on the gears on the side of the helmet, "the device is able to detect one's brain activity, translating electrical synapses to pictures. If kiddo's really him, the images he remembered will be transmitted…" he ended impatiently with a dismissive gesture.

But Kamui didn't remember anything. "I'm amnesiac," Kamui growled through gritted teeth, fiery amethyst eyes glaring at his captors. "This is useless. You have no right to keep me here, no prove that I'm the deceased Emperor."

Kamui didn't like the manic expression on the scientist's face. Not one bit. Even Cornelia was wary. Lloyd wasn't exactly famous for being ethical either, with that record of assigning a human being to be the pilot of an experimental Knightmare frame with no safety hatch system installed. Granted, Kururugi Suzaku's extraordinary abilities enabled him to survive that highly risky ordeal and even rose through the ranks as the 'white Shinigami', but dumb luck (was it a misfortune after all?) don't happen that often.

"There are many kinds of amnesia. To cut the scientific explanation short, most of the time, the memories are not lost, per se," (1) that condescending tone entered the researcher's voice again. "You just lose the access. The beauty of this missy here is," Lloyd caressed the machine as though it was a person, a lover. Cornelia always felt that the man had his priorities backwards. "It can break apart any barrier to those memories and force you to remember."

Kamui gulped and shivered, despite the fact that he was sweating from the heat of the lighting. He imagined it wasn't going to be pretty, that 'breaking apart of barriers'. He began to fight against the bindings in his earnest, the look of a hunted animal clear in his irises. "Let me go! This is violation of human rights!"

His cries seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Lloyd adjusted the setting on the mainframe happily, humming tunes under his breath. The magenta-haired loyalty was looking at everything else but him.

Kamui utilised whatever scarce information he'd gathered, betting his shots on this plea. "Nee-san," (2) he begged, "Please…"

Cornelia was startled. The battle of emotional responses was very apparent in her façade – anger, hatred, sadness, affection, regrets– her reaction was so strong-

Lloyd didn't allow Cornelia's doubt to fester and hinder the implementation of his experimentation. "Here we go!" He pressed the button with one definitive sharp move almost gleefully.

Electrical impulses triggered Kamui's brain. His spine tensed from the pain, eyes closing as the lights began to prick his sight, his face scrunching from the beginnings of a massive headache the machine was inducing. Other senses – whirring noises of the machine, the texture of grains of wood under his fingers, the coppery tang in his mouth – slipped away, trapping him in his mind. Photographs flitted across the back of his eyelids, images of the rooms of the cottage he'd spent his last couple of weeks in, the foods he cooked, the strange crane-like mark on his palm, S.S., smiling at him, staring pensively at him, throttling him, the grave he climbed out of – visual information rolling like rewinding a movie.

Then, there was emptiness.

Lloyd frowned at the monitor.

"Stop it!" Cornelia saw the boy's clenched knuckles – so white, crescent-shaped nails clawing helplessly on the chair. "The machine is ineffective! You're causing him unnecessary pain!"

"No, it's not!" Lloyd defended the invention. "We just need to up the conditions…" he turned a knob to a maximum.

The scream that tore out of Kamui's throat was bloodcurdling. "STOP PLEASE!" the teenager began to babble, pleas and cries of Japanese and Britannian languages melding to a string of incoherent shrieks. His head felt like it was banged against a hard, blunt object and pierced by forks, repeatedly. Beads of tears leaked out of thick black eyelashes, threading down curved, pale cheeks. He bit his lips so hard droplets of blood and saliva dripped down his chin. His limbs struggled so hard to curl into himself, Cornelia feared that he was going to snap his own bones.

"LORD ASPLUND!" The regent tried to get herself heard above the noises of torture. "THIS IS OUT OF LIM-"

A picture flashed on the screen of the computer.

It was that of a city, destroyed. Ghosts of structures of skyscrapers littered the place, along with corpses of various stages of decomposition, flaky brown colour of dried blood covering shards of broken glass, steel and concrete. The city was Tokyo, Cornelia and Lloyd realised belatedly as they saw the Tower and Tocho, the only buildings which remained standing.

In 1999 a.t.b., Tokyo (and, by extension, Kanto) had been hit by short, frequent bursts of earthquakes. The capital had been rendered inhabitable, the economy in shambles, stock index and currency plunging, so many lives and technology lost. Japan's administration had been moved temporarily to Kyoto until the natural disasters finally stopped in December 1999. Even then, Japan could only crawl back up slowly, usage of resources concentrated in restoring the capital.

Britannia had utilised this golden opportunity to strike. And won. The rest was history.

Another picture replaced the previous one, zooming in the Tower. Amongst the scene of carnage there were caped figures, standing at opposite sides with a wide berth between them. One of the figures was a tall boy with spiky hair and mocking brown eyes. The lens of his black sunglasses reflected the face of the person whose eyes were capturing the image: a young boy whose appearance was eerily similar to Lelouch – pale and thin, with delicate features and stunning amethyst stones for eyes, fires of fury and innumerable other multifarious, passionate, confused feelings dancing on his irises.

After that, images flashed at a more rapid rate: Tokyo at diverse stages of destruction, blood on one's hands, unfamiliar faces, a young beautiful woman with long, silky straight hair and a stern countenance, a carefree young monk with a sunny grin, a bubbly short-haired girl who was always accompanied by a greyish dog, a bespectacled middle-aged man with a gentle smile…more of the tall boy with spiky hair…but the person who seemed to dominate the pictures was a beautiful young man in his early twenties, his painfully emaciated body swathed in monochromic clothes and trench coat, his hair and long, long lashes black as midnight framing the soft curve of his cheeks and his dull green eyes. The latter seemed perpetually melancholic. In some photos he were blind in one eye, in others, he had mismatched green and gold ones.

"SU-SUBARU…!" One bandaged hand jerked out to reach out at an imaginary figure. Kamui gave a heart-wrenching sob when fingers curled around thin air. "Ta-tasukete (S-save me)…"

Cornelia's frown deepened. "That's enough," she told the researcher. "From his memories, we know he can't possibly be…" her voice broke and she clamped up. She couldn't say the name of her sister's murderer out loud, still.

Lloyd clucked his teeth and shook his head. "You're wrong," he stated firmly as he looked through the pool of images previously flashed on the display (new ones were still flashing), and clicked at one to enlarge it.

Cornelia couldn't mistake the landscape it depicted. She was just there a few nights ago. "The graveyard at Kururugi Shrine…"

The 'pudding baron' nodded. "See the mount of fresh soil?" he tapped the screen with the capped end of his pen. "Someone dug it out for him and let him climb out."

Cornelia was alarmed. "Who? Why? How can he be alive at all?" We saw him killed. I saw his corpse up close. There was so much blood gushing out of his abdomen. She covered her mouth when bile rose to her throat.

"I have a theory," Lloyd grabbed the outstretched wrist, pressing down hard on clammy, tense muscles. Violet petals blossomed almost immediately on the canvas that was the boy's pearly, nearly translucent skin. The older male's other hand clawed at the bandage, pulling stripes of white gauze apart and turning the boy's palm upward.

Under the harsh lighting of the laboratory, dark red Geass symbol gleamed almost menacingly across the lines of the boy's hand, a stark contrast to the lack of colours of the limb it was etched on. Fingers twitched futilely before curling in like the leaves of a mimosa pudica (3), nails digging to flesh, unconsciously hiding a secret. The ivory-haired scientist pried the appendages apart and wedged them between the armrest and another leather strap, tied so tightly the tips turned blue from lack of blood circulation.

"How much do you know about the Geass, Your Highness?" the researcher asked sweetly before turning to a cabinet by the wall and looked into the second drawer.

Butter wouldn't melt on Lloyd's tongue. Cornelia shot the question back. "How much do you know about Geass?"

The scientist thought of C.C., V.V., Jeremiah Gottwald's Geass Canceller and further individual investigation which had led him to remnants of the Geass Order database. He never expected that an in-depth research on Ganymede could open Pandora's Box (4). "Enough to know that it can grant its user immortality." Only if the user's strong enough to withstand the madness of Geass.

Lavender eyes rounded in comprehension. "B-but-" they darted between the insignia and the aristocrat. "Are you sure-"

Lloyd shrugged. "We can find out…" He turned back with a gun in his grip. An unregistered 9 mm Sig-Sauer SAS.

The bullet had pierced through the boy's chest by the end of Cornelia's choked gasp.

Everyone jumped to their feet in shock.

Only the Minister of Defence remained on his seat. "Ohisasiburi desu (Long time no see), Sakurazukamori-san," he straightened his back and gave their guest a respectful nod.

Behind the tinted surface of the mask's lens, Suzaku blinked. He certainly didn't expect the bogeyman to be a petite teenage girl whose wrists were nearly half his size. The image in his mind had been a tall, intimidating man, with arms that could snap a neck in a blink of an eye. But years spent in the army had taught Suzaku better. No one is what s/he seems. For all he knew, may be the Sakurazukamori could pack a punch like Kallen, or perform miracles on a Knightmare like Anya.

"Likewise, Kyou-kun," the shadow assassin bent her head forward, "Or…should I call you boei-daijin (Defence Minister) now? You've rose through the ranks quite quickly. It's not without its price, I'd imagine."

"Call me as you wish, Sakurazukamori-san," the former general remarked neutrally before he finally rose to his feet as well and gestured at Ohgi, who looked like he was on the brink of getting an aneurism. "This is Kaname Ohgi." Toudou gave the perfunctory introduction.

"Ha-hajimemashite (How do you do)?" he gulped and offered his hand.

"Soori-daijin (Prime Minister)," The Sakurazukamori stood and bowed slightly. "Do forgive me for not shaking your hand. I have just performed a job." Ohgi paled when the implications of her words sunk into his brain.

"Before I forget," the small woman interrupted the boei-daijin as he was about to introduce Villetta. Everyone tensed when the Sakurazukamori slipped her hand into her breast pocket, and sighed in relief when the object retrieved was only a nondescript brown envelope. "You will find evidence of the elimination of GT inside," the sleeve of her white shirt was exposed when she passed the envelope to Toudou – stained dark, dark red, as though soaked in blood – and the tension returned. "I trust that you know where his body has ended up by now."

But the rest didn't know. And the morbidity of the notion of a corpse, disappearing without a trace, made them anxious.

Toudou gave a small nod of acknowledgement before continuing his obligations, disregarding the heightening need to fight or flight in the atmosphere. Villetta's attempt at pleasantries failed another time.

"Don't bother with the introductions. We know each other already," Kaguya spoke snappishly and glared, her pride still smarting from the insult. "Can't you take off those sunglasses? It's rude, not to mention pointless, to wear it indoors."

"In our line of business, one should know the significance of concealing one's identity. Why, a man had managed to kill another with just a name and a face." (5) The Sakurazukamori threw Kaguya's lack of knowledge of the arts to her face, the assassin's tone positively acrid. The two ladies hated each other's gut and were content to show the detestation to one another.

Toudou took a seat and cleared his throat. "If Sakurazukamori-san would like to commence the discussion…?"

Everyone followed the Minister of Defence's example, smoothing creases of clothes caused by a change in position. "Generations of Sakurazukamori had worked under the National Public Security Commission in dealing with people who abused spiritual powers in perpetrating crimes, before the invasion. Likewise, I would like to re-offer my service to the NPSC." (6) The elfin girl was straight to the point. "You've tested my efficiency. I believe the results are satisfactory."

"I don't doubt that, Sakurazukamori-san," Toudou gave Kaguya a warning glance. "Your capability is not the issue."

The assassin tilted her head, posing a question silently. 'So, what is the issue?'

"Anata wa Nihon wo uragimashita (You betrayed Japan)," Kaguya unheeded the reproach and exclaimed heatedly, her large green eyes fiery and accusing, "You, who are supposed to be Japan's shadow protector, abandoned her when she needed you most! Have you no shame? We can longer trust you with her safety!"

The young assassin seemed unabashed, had the audacity to flick dirt off her nails, as though asking, 'Are you done?' before looking down at the black-haired girl "Boku wa Koute Heika to Nihon ga chuusei wo chikaimashita (I pledged my loyalty to the Emperor and the Empire of Japan)," her lips curled to a sneer, "Area juu-ichi jyanai (not to Area 11)!"

It was peculiar that the young woman referred to herself as a boy (7), Suzaku noted. What could have given rise to that?

Kaguya rose to her feet in outrage. "Burei na (Such rudeness)!"

"Ja, oshienasai (Then, tell me)," the Sakurazukamori crossed her legs flippantly, "Who was supposed to represent the Emperor during the colonialism? General Katase from Japan Liberation Front? Kirihara from Kyoto Six? Zero from the Order of Black Knights? Definitively speaking, the leader of Japan that time was the Governor, right? Should I have lent it to Clovis, Cornelia, Callares or Nunnally-Sootoku, then, this power of mine?" she harrumphed and crossed her arms.

"That's no excuse! You could have acted on your own. As sword-of-the-shadow, (8) I know you even possess the authority to judge the Emperor. You ignored Japan's plea based on your own negligence!" Kaguya raised her voice and stepped closer to her Clan's enemy.

The Sakurazukamori met the stream of admonitions with utmost calm, crossing her arms and leaning on the back of the couch. "Who's to say that Britannia's invasion was catastrophic for Japan?"

Ohgi flinched and clenched his fists, fuming at the insinuations hinted by the question, losses of lives – precious, irreplaceable lives – dismissed. The fifteenth Sumeragi Toushu turned red on the face. "Are you implying that Japan n-needed t-that-"

"Stifling, overused seniority based conventions which were no longer effective and had given rise to apathy amongst youths, ergo rising numbers of suicides, NEETs and hikikomori. (9) Persistent devaluation and low birth rates. Competitions for power amongst elites who didn't give a damn about the rest. The general populace didn't care much for each other either." The Sakurazukamori ticked her fingers off, one by one, and sneered. "You're one of the elites, I bet. Have you ever walked in the city – on feet, not by car, mind you – and watched the faces of people stampeding across the streets? Saw their bone-deep weariness, the lingering depression, or the sad, sad indifference?"

"Sonna Nihon wa sukuwareta kunai datou omou (Do you think that Japan didn't want to be saved)?" The assassin lifted her chin and challenged.

"I-" Kaguya was at a loss for words. She had, indeed, been born with a silver spoon in the mouth, spent her childhood never having a taste of desolation. Likewise, Suzaku and Toudou had been born with privileges. Ohgi was the only one who could vaguely remember. The reason Naoki founded their group in the first place was to find an escape from the harsh world who didn't care about them, to find support and friendship in youths of similar fates. People like Tamaki and himself had no place in the Old Japan.

Suddenly, Kaguya looked smug. "How can you possibly know these? You must be too young back then! Don't assume that Japan needed salvation!"

The Sakurazukamori stared at the green-eyed girl for a while, leaving uncomfortable silence in its wake, before she laughed. Truly laughed, not a polite chuckle covered with the back of her hand. "I'll have you know that I'm well into my thirties. Right, Kyou-kun? You've worked with me before the invasion."

Toudou's response at Kaguya's inquiring gaze was a short firm nod. "Since 2004 a.t.b., to be exact."

Everyone else blinked. The assassin appeared way, way younger.

"Daitai (Anyways), look how much better Japan is, now." The Sakurazukamori capitalized on the momentum to emphasize her points. "The people are more bonded. Birth rates are through the roof – as is the trend with post-wars – and the apathy, outdated conventions and elitisms are gone." She turned to the prime minister. "Forgive me for saying this, Ohgi-san, but I don't think you could be made Soori-daijin in the Old Japan."

'Probably wouldn't have met Villetta as well.' The diplomat waved his hand dismissively. "It's all right. I agree with you."

Kaguya shot the former leader of Black Knights a betrayed look before arguing again. "How could you be so sure that Japan would be able to defeat the colonization?"

"Don't underestimate the yumemi (dream seers).They had seen everything. Of course you're also partially right. I couldn't be bothered to participate in the rebellion." She shrugged, "You're out of luck. My predecessors might have been wiling to. For all his love of western music, clothes, literatures and culture Seishirou-san considered Japan his, and believe me, he would have defended anything he considered his to death. Subaru-san's sense of duty was far too much to be considered healthy."

After listening to tales the priestesses recited to him in his childhood and reading terror-inducing myths from the archive, Suzaku imagined the Sakurazukamori a ruthless demon, the sort of monster adults told children to fear because it would punish them once they were out of the line. Seeing this Sakurazukamori and hearing her talk about previous Sakurazukamori made the figure more human, that the word was merely a title, and the person carrying that an icon that deterred crimes and care about Japan's wellbeing.

Much like he was.

One day, Suzaku would have to pass the title 'Zero' to someone else, an icon who would preserve peace and justice after his long awaited death.

"Don't you dare praise Sumeragi Subaru's sense of duty!" Meanwhile, Kaguya became more aggravated. "Ano kata wa chuujitsu dewa arimasen (That person wasn't dutiful!)! He was a shame to the Sumeragi Clan!" The petite young woman nearly bellowed, her fair cheeks flushing impossibly redder.

Suzaku saw the Sakurazukamori flinching, knuckles turning white from gripping the armchair, before her lips moved silently, mumbling some words. A mantra, he realised, when a large eagle materialised next to her head, majestic in its metaphysical form, grey-gold eyes gleaming maliciously before it screeched, a high pitch, angry sound, and spread its wide, strong wings before lunging in Kaguya's direction, sharp claws extended.

"Abunai (It's dangerous)!" Suzaku reverted to his native tongue reflexively, throwing himself to Kaguya's front and shielding his cousin behind his back. He thanked the Gods for the protection of Zero's all encompassing mask as he raised his arms away from him to protect his torso, unsure if he could catch an incorporeal bird...

"Nandaro!" (10) the Sakurazukamori cried, her fingers slipping to her pocket to retrieve a slip of black paper, a crimson inverted pentagram sketched on the centre, and aimed it at the eagle. Once they collided a spherical ward was formed around the beast, imprisoning it. Enraged, the eagle screeched again and went berserk, charging against the wall of its cage repeatedly. Another winged creature appeared on the onmyoji's shoulder, slender, beautiful and almost fragile, yet the three-headed bird emanated strength and tranquillity as it flew to the eagle and enveloped both in a flurry of white feathers.

"Ikinasai (You may go)," the Sakurazukamori told the Shikigami (11) when it gave her inquiring looks. The eagle had stopped flailing about but was puffing its chest up, now, hooked beak tilted upwards as though indignant and pissed at the assassin. The pale bird hooted softly and hovered back to the girl, one of the heads rubbing against a proffered hand. "Don't worry about me. I can summon Shizuka in times of need."

The three heads nodded simultaneously before the ward was dissolved with a swish. The eagle gave one last disgruntled howl before disintegrating to nothing. The ivory beauty took off to the spot his companion disappeared from, but deflected halfway, one swan-like wing caressing Zero on the shoulder as three pairs of green-grey eyes stared at him affectionately before the breathtaking creature was gone from this realm.

Shaken and puzzled, Kaguya dropped to the couch, her legs wobbling, and glared at her nemesis. "What have you done?"

The Sakurazukamori looked unrepentant. "Someone who cannot see a shikigami is unfit to be the sword-of-the-light." The brown-haired woman turned and gave Zero a long, hard stare. "On the other hand, Zero-sama, here seems to possess some talents for the arts. My Shikigami seemed to recognise you. Are you related to the Sumeragi?"

The amethyst-eyed boy slumped backward like a marionette whose strings had been cut abruptly, long black strands cascading down the back of the wooden chair like vines, a trail of life's essence leaking out of the corner of thin, fine lips. Another pool of blood spread out on the fabric covering his chest, soaking his white shirt dark red. His eyes were wide open in shock, brightness fading from the exquisite colour.

"LORD ASPLUND!" Cornelia dropped to her knees in front of their prisoner and pressed her hands against the wound to stop the blood flow. The regent froze when she realised that the boy's chest was still, and there was no heartbeat under her palms.

She'd let someone murder a person who could be an innocent civilian before her.

"Lord Asplund!" The magenta-haired royalty hissed and turned her head. "You-"

"Ssshhh," the ivory-haired scientist interrupted, his pale blue eyes staring at the corpse raptly. "Watch," he breathed.

Cornelia couldn't believe her senses. 'He just killed a person and all he could say was-'


'Thump, thump,'

Cornelia retracted her hands away from the dead body so fast, as though they were scalded by fire. Lavender eyes rounded at the sight of smooth unblemishedchest, unmarred by bullet wounds, rising and falling with each breath-

A violet glow encased the pale young man, intense and blinding. Cornelia took a step back, shielding her eyes with her arm, as the light tore each of the leather constraints binding the body to the chair, blowing back furniture and completely destroying the machine attached to his head. Lloyd wasn't covering his face at all. He had a wild, excited grin instead, like an overgrown child on Christmas day.

The boy rose to his feet and hovered above the ground, his eyes unfocused, as though he was in a daze. The glow had subsided to a faint buzzing, most vivid at the vicinity of the Geass insignia.

"…Subaru…" he murmured, approaching the nearest window like a zombie. In a drunken haze, the boy opened the latch and climbed the ledge.

Llyod shared Cornelia's terror this time, only for an entirely different reason (his experimental subject was getting away!). "Is he insane? This is the seventh store-"

Jaws dropped to the floor when the young man who had just been self-resurrected leapt off, jumping in one flawless projectile motion before landing on the roof of the Medical Library on his feet like a cat. 'Could C.C. or V.V. do that?' Lloyd could only blink profusely as their former captive was making clean arcs in the air, heading to a certain place, indifferent to stunned faces below him.

Cornelia was the first to recover. "What are you gawking at?" she snapped, "Call the authorities! We need to capture him!"


Suzaku tried to handle the question as diplomatically as possible, while keeping any trace of emotion out of his voice. He sucked at acting – not like Lelouch – and was forever grateful for the mask and voice synthesizer. "I'm sorry Sakurazukamori-san, I think I deserve the right to protect my identity." Like you, was unspoken, but evidently suggested.

"Fair enough," thankfully, the assassin understood and let it go. She turned to Toudou. "I think we've deflected from our main point. Shall we-"

The rest was alarmed when the Sakurazukamori gave a sudden cry and doubled over on her seat, one hand clenching the side of her neck, her sunglasses clattering to the floor. Ohgi stood up reflexively and moved to help, but he was stopped by Toudou, who shook his head silently.

Suzaku froze when he saw the hint of a mark he was too familiar with glowing red on the pale column of flesh over her collarbone. Not again, he thought, please not again.

They must have looked like they were making an action movie, Cornelia thought wryly as a troop of police cars were chasing a boy who could jump over 10 metres of distance across rooftops, light poles and highways. Time and time, cars and pedestrians stopped in their track to point at the anomaly, causing the roads to be jammed. Some even took out their cell phones or cameras to record the scene.

The boy seemed to know his way around despite his proclaimed amnesia. Tokyo, to the former second Princess, had transformed beyond recognition. Gone was the Ghettos and Britannian districts; Tokyo was rebuilt (again) according to how the city was before the invasion. As though people wanted to forget that nightmare ever existed.

But Cornelia doesn't want to forget.

"Moving from Chiyoda-ku to Shinjuku-ku," the police officer driving the car Lloyd and Cornelia were in reported to his walkie-talkie, keeping one eye on the moving dot at the horizon. Amazement and disbelief were etched on his face, still. "Judging from the direction, the target seems to be moving towards Tocho."

S.S. was talking to the bunch of hopeless idiots – well, not every one of them, just one person she particularly loathed (how dare she talked about Subaru-san that way!) when pain overloaded her senses.

S.S. had been careless. Had not doubted Kamui – no, he's not exactly Kamui, nor was he Lelouch – when he was acting somewhat strange last night. S.S. should have erased his memory of that curtain-cutting incident, but she had been too afraid. Kamui's mind was complex. His recollections as Lelouch might have been sealed by C.C. in the Museum of Memories, but it was possible his soul remembered his former life as Shirou Kamui, since he was reincarnated just moments after his death. Throw the Code into the mix, and S.S. thought she could be pardoned for being wary of what her tampering could result in. Doesn't change the fact that she should have.

Because the daft genius (is that even possible? Shirou Kamui was rather stupid, but Lelouch was too smart, anyways) had just died, and as a fellow Code Holder who wasn't shielding herself – another miscalculation of hers – she could feel his Code activating in the most unpleasant manner.

S.S. closed her eyes and let herself be immersed in the extensive network of Eden Vital. Her vessel was somewhat vulnerable at that moment, but she needed to find the troublesome brat – he's close and approaching-

The lobby of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building was subjected to chaotic chatters when a strange, ethereal, beautiful long-haired boy landed in front of the door from the roof of Keio Plaza Hotel, leaving dents and cracks on the tiles but remained unharmed. The security guards were too bewildered to stop the boy from walking past the entrance. The crowd parted like the red sea when he made his way to the lift, managing to occupy the box nearly by himself. Still in a stupor, he reflexively uncovered the hidden button and pressed it, ignoring the shock on the face of the elevator lady.

The partition between the doors of the device revealed a horde of uniformed officers barging into the lobby before sliding close.

After taking several deep breaths, the Sakurazukamori rose to her feet and opened her eyes.

Suzaku couldn't help but stare. Not because those eyes were large, round and single-lidded – those were typical in Japanese people – but because they were mismatched, gold and green, the contrast in colours vivid even through the tinted lens of Zero's mask. They were captivating and unnerving; each seemed to possess a character on its own, the amber iris mocking, but the green was dull – much like his eyes, Suzaku realised with a jolt – and melancholic.

Those eyes were turning hard, now. "An emergency has come up," the shadow assassin stated and bowed briskly. "My utmost apology, Soori-daijin, Boei-daijin, Zero-sama, Ms. Villetta, Sumeragi-san. I will be waiting for your decision."

She walked to the door without even listening to their reply. Ohgi stood up and ran after her. "Sakurazukamori-san, we have a few more issues to clarify-"

"You're not allowed to pass through!" a low growl could be heard from the corridor – it must belong to the Prime Minister's bodyguards. "Step back!"

"But Subaru is inside-"

Suzaku couldn't breathe.

He knew that voice. Had been haunted by it for years. Had missed it so much it hurt, during endless sleepless nights after Zero was released from conferences and other duties to retreat to his room, and the man behind the mask emerged, lying on an empty bed wishing, wishing-

The Sakurazukamori wrenched the door open in haste. Just as the petite woman was about to rush outside, a figure threw himself onto her in a flurry of long black hair, slender arms wrapped around her waist, white sleeves stained dark red against the dark grey of the business suit. "Subaru," he sighed.

Rooted to the ground in astonishment, Suzaku stared at the profile of the figure, the curve of the jaw and the luscious lips he'd memorised with his own lips and the tips of his fingers, those regal cheekbones, the line of his nose, those soft, silky locks black as spilled ink.

There was no mistaking him. His former enemy. His former best friend. His former lover.



A/N: I guess my dislike of Kaguya's really clear here, huh. Well, I'm sorry to those who like her. I cannot find her significance in the series other than someone for Zero to use in political discussions. She has her moments…but again, I just don't like her.

1. It's unfounded. Just my guess, really.

2. Nee-san: One doesn't necessarily have to be another's older sister to be called that. There are times one can refer to an older female that way. I think. (Point at Sorata who likes to call Arashi 'Nee-san')

3. More commonly known as 'touch me not'.

4. Can't help myself from borrowing the idea from RobinRocks' The Ghost in the Machine. Check that awesome fic!

5. Light Yagami from Death Note, of course XP

6. NPSC: its function is to guarantee the neutrality of the police system by insulating the force from political pressure and ensuring the maintenance of democratic methods in police administration. It is believed that it watches for extreme nationalist activists as well. Liberals have long criticized the secrecy of the commission and have cautioned that it undermines the rights of the Japanese people.

7. Boku: also means "I". Used by males and rarely females (boyish), in giving a sense of casual deference, uses the same kanji for servant (shimobe), especially a male one, from a Sino-Japanese word. Can also be used towards children (English equivalent - "kid").

8. Sword-of-the-shadow and sword-of-the-light – the ideas borrowed from akk's Family Matters.

9. Hikikomori (literally means "pulling away, being confined,") are reclusive adolescents and young adults who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement.

10. From wikipedia: Subaru and his twin sister Hokuto, as well as Seishirō, were first conceived by series creator Ohkawa for a dōjinshi novel about an onmyōji who hunts elves, of which only the beginning exists. In the dōjinshi, Seishirō's shikigami was named Nandaro ("Just what is this?"), and CLAMP privately still refers to it by this name.

11. Shikigami (式神) is a kind of spirit summoned to serve a practitioner of onmyōdō, much like a western familiar.