There's a small house on a mountain, and that small house is exactly sixteen days walk from any other kind of civilization. There's water, yes, in streams and it rains and such, but were someone to walk, it would be highly unlikely they would survive. There's wild animals there, sharp rocks, huge drops with nothing but a death at the bottom.
In the house, two people live. One is a simple doctor. She goes by the name Miss M (it's easier to say when you're sleepy and drugged and anything longer than a few syllables is impossible) and has short blond (brown was too similar they said, pointing to the blonde girl-- yes, that one, because she won't be in danger) hair, pretty hazel eyes. The other is a princess who doesn't always remember her name or what's happened, only knows that she's in a house where the doors are all locked, and she won't ever leave.
He finds out quite simply by accident.
They're going through Schneizel's files, documents about FLEIA, documents forged here and there about the Elevens, and they carefully remark each name as Japanese until all the files are awash with red pen. Nunnally goes to bed at eleven, at Zero and Kallen's insistence, while they continue to pour over documents left and right until there's only the files marked classified.
"What dirty little secrets does he keep here, I wonder," Kallen drawls lazily, glancing over at the tall figure sitting next to her, opening up a folder. "Think it's anything we'll care about tonight, or is it better left for tomorrow?"
"Tonight," Zero says, and they both knew that was what his answer would be either way. She snorts, flipping open a folder, skimming through things with too-tired eyes, until a name catches her attention.
Six paragraphs later (resuscitated after two attempts) and she's convinced (declared insane; recommended she be transported to...)that her heart is pounding loud (too unstable for visitors, recommended wait time is six months) enough for him to hear; quietly, she tries to close it and move it aside before he notices, knowing that he will anyway. "Kallen, we need to document that; we're not finished."
She's not Lelouch. She can't think up intricate lies to make people feel better; she's straightforward and too blunt, and Suzaku deserves better than that.
Silent, she hands the folder over, and leaves the room, listening to the door hiss closed. Kallen doesn't go far; she sinks down hard against the wall, head in her hands, and listens to the silence of the room, jumping when there's a loud crash-- the coffee cup probably thrown against a wall. From there, she gives him another few minutes, then hesitantly opens the door again, startled, stopping in the doorway when she sees his mask removed, head in his hands.
"I can go," Kallen offers quietly, eyes flicking from him to the ground where there's a shattered cup; she debates picking it up, but ultimately leaves it alone and simply stands there, feeling more useless than she's felt in years. "Suza-"
"Don't," Suzaku chokes out, and all she sees is the seventeen year old boy from before, angry and lost and fighting because it's all he remembers how to do. A moment later, he fades back, and it's him again, nineteen and cold, the mask of Zero weighing as heavily on his shoulders as Euphemia's pin and title of Knight did on his heart years ago. They're silent for a long time, until Suzaku finally shakes his head, bangs falling shaggy and messy in his eyes, covering them. "I don't know what to do."
She wants to laugh, wants to scream, wants to grab him and demand that this Zero--no, Suzaku--go away and give the real Zero back, but that's her own fear talking and she's learned by now to not listen to it. Instead, she takes a few steps forward, resting a hand on his shoulder and squeezing hard enough to hurt, to ground him. "You take those files up to your room, and read them. Then you decide what to do," she says quietly, watching his head lift, and her chest aches when she sees the tears in his eyes (Zero doesn't cry, give Zero back).
"I don't know if I can read them," Suzaku says softly, and he's terribly, terribly glad that Nunnally went to bed when she did, because if she had seen this--
And then there's that nagging little voice in the back of his mind that wonders if she knew already. The Empress of the world would know these things, wouldn't she?
But he won't think about that, not yet, not right now. Instead, he'll focus on the way Kallen's nails dig into his shoulder through Zero's outfit, tiny pinpricks of pain that anchor him to this world once more, doing what words can't for him. "I have to read them," he breathes, and then laughs, broken and angry, head lolling forward. "I don't know if I can, but I have to. If she's still…"
There's not much she can say to make things better, to make them right. Once upon a time she never even would have considered such a thing-- not for Suzaku, not for that bastard who made their lives hell as the Black Knights, but that was a thing of the past, and barely anything remained of the boy who had followed (and loved) his princess and her country. "We'll figure something out," Kallen says suddenly, and her tone is softer than the two of them expect. Her nails dig in just a little bit more, and he nods silently, head still bowed, not questioning the substitution of "we" for "you".
Miss M has a small black books that lays out each day in careful, precise detail. Never once does she deviate from this book, never once does she allow anyone else to see it, not that there is ever anyone to do so. She pities the girl, of course, kept away from everything, from civilization, from radios, from televisions, from any kind of communication. When Suzaku Kururugi, Knight of Zero had died, she had felt a pang of pity for the girl, sitting quietly on her bed, eyes just a bit glassy from sedatives, holding a book with tiny, pale hands.
She never told her what happened to Suzaku, only assured her charge that everything was alright.
Ultimately, Suzaku knows he doesn't have to tell anyone about what he's discovered. Kallen won't talk about it; he doesn't even have to tell her not to. It's just understood. He doesn't have to go visit, he doesn't have to pretend he has those files-- all it takes is a lighter, and for him to hold those papers over the flames, and he can forget about everything.
He won't do it.
No, instead, he reads every goddamn paper in that stack, curled up in bed, lights dimmed. There seems to be no end to the list of things, detailed reports of her progress (though, really, it's lack thereof), of what she eats and what she doesn't eat (why is this Miss Malowell giving her cabbage when she likes zucchini ) what time she gets up, if she throws a fit, what books she reads-- everything about her life, all printed neatly on sheets of paper.
Suzaku stops on page twenty-seven, and staggers to the toilet, retching helplessly until there's nothing left in his stomach, and his cheeks are wet with tears. Then, he flushes, washes his mouth out with water, brushes his teeth, and walks back mechanically to his bed and makes himself read every last word until it's all done.
Then he does it again.
Cornelia dotes on Nunnally whenever she can, save for when they're in the eye of the camera or in front of reporters. A soft touch on the shoulder, a flower tucked into wavy brown hair, an offer to sit with her until she falls asleep.
Nunnally knows why she does it, knows why the flowers that Cornelia picks are never white lilies (Nunnally's favorite), but always pink roses with the thorns shaved away (Euphie's favorite). She knows why Cornelia watches her every move, knows why Cornelia takes off work without notice to just sit with her while she pours over papers and goes to meetings, knows why Cornelia sometimes doesn't look her in the eye.
Nunnally knows all of that, and yet never says a word, just smiles quietly when Cornelia tucks a smooth rose stem behind her ear, thanks her when Cornelia shows up at noon to just sit with her while she does paperwork, and squeezes Cornelia's hand when the woman avoids looking her in the eye. She understands.
"You wished to see me, Zero?" Cornelia says as she steps in the door, frowning a little bit when she notices it's empty. Was it the wrong room?
The door clicks shut, and she leans against it, watching a chair turn around slowly, heart thudding oddly when she sees who is in it. "I did," Suzaku answers softly, eyes hidden by his bangs, hands resting limply in his lap. It's partially a gamble to do this-- too many people knowing the identity of Zero is a liability, is dangerous beyond all reason. Not just for him, but for Nunnally as well. At this point only Nunnally and Kallen know for certain-- others suspect, of course, but there's no proof. Cornelia deserves this truth, at least.
"I'm not entirely surprised," Cornelia says stiffly, and locks the door with a careful, precise movement, before walking over to take a seat in front of Suzaku, still a little disbelieving. It's then she wonders for what he's summoned her, what purpose she could possibly serve when the man practically rules the world at Nunnally's side. One hand still rests on the hilt of her sword, but she's quiet for a while, letting him speak when he needs to.
Surprisingly, he doesn't. Instead, he reaches into a drawer, lips twisting into a slight grimace (or maybe it's a smile; she's not sure) when she moves to draw her sword like she expects him to pull out a gun. Instead, he pulls out a thick folder, and her hand goes more relaxed. "There's someone I think you may want to see," Suzaku says quietly, and Cornelia's startled to hear the tremble in his voice, the hoarseness that she now knows comes from hours of crying.
Distantly, she wonders what could possibly provoke that reaction from a man who has done so much evil, and then understands in a quick moment as she stares at the picture paper-clipped on the inside of the folder. "Kururugi," she bites out, and refuses to look at it a moment more, slamming it shut and circling around the desk, hands trembling. He just looks at her, silent, face blank and makes no move to block the fist that slams into his face; he just takes it and then lifts his head again, cheek bright red. "I ought to run you through."
"She's six hours away on private jet," Suzaku says quietly, looking away from her, pulling the file over, opening it up. He flips to a page, wiggling it out from the paperclip, and neatly printed on the line are two names. Charles and Schneizel. There's other names- scientists and psychiatrists, nurses, all manner of people left and right, but it's the two signatures that catch Cornelia's attention and make her sick. "Six hours, Cornelia."
He doesn't make any move to catch her when she staggers back and slides down the wall, eyes wide, hands trembling. Instead, he turns, gives her a moment under the excuse of straightening the desk he's borrowing for the moment, and then turns back with the files in hand. "Thus far, only you, Kallen and I know. All of the scientists and doctors associated with the project were killed along the way by Zero, though for other reasons as far as I can tell. She's been completely cut off from any kind of contact with anyone besides this Malowell person. No information on current times, nothing," Suzaku relays quietly, voice as blank as his face, though the start of a bruise is already forming, and he can taste blood in his mouth from a split lip. "Cornelia, I'm offering this, but if you say no, you leave, and this never happened."
She's silent for a long, long time, hundreds of curses and words coming to mind, wanting to yell and scream at this boy for talking down to her, for manipulating her like this, but somewhere in the back of her mind she understands. The military-minded bit of her understands why he's doing this, and it's the part of her that is Euphemia's sister, that stands, back straight.
"How soon can the jet be ready?"
The file is given to her on the way, and the jet is prepped within fifteen minutes. Besides the pilot, she's the only one on it, the only one with direction to where they're going. Zero gives the pilot specific instructions where to land, what to do, and they both know that he'll do nothing but obey with his the Geass cast on him when Lelouch was originally in power.
She reads every word on the page, ignoring the smudges here and there that she realizes after the first few, are tear drops that have dried-- they aren't from her, they're from Kururugi. Some part of her wishes that her father was still alive, and that her brother wasn't a puppet any longer, so that she could punish them both over and over again.
They land a quarter of a mile away from the house, in a patch of grass that's overgrown from a bit of no one visiting. All of the reports must have been hand-delivered, she realizes, slicing away grass and thorns in her path, until she sees the house. Cornelia doesn't hesitate, she walks up the wooden stairs, and knocks sharply on the door, waiting for the woman to answer. When she sees the blonde hair, she understands why they picked her (I have to kill all the Japanese-!).
"I'm here to see Euphemia," Cornelia says firmly, and for a moment, the mousey woman looks like she wants to object, but ultimately doesn't, stepping aside instead when she sees the reports that Cornelia holds.
"She's taking her midday nap right now," Malowell says quietly, closing the door shut, bowing after a moment of hesitation. "Forgive my surprise, none of my superiors said anything about Your Highness visiting, so-"
Cornelia snorts, tone mocking. "Yes, I do imagine it would be hard for dead people to contact you," she says, and pushes past her to find her sister, heart beating a mile a minute. Malowell doesn't object, just quietly leaves to a different side of the small house while Cornelia opens every door until she finds the right one, breath catching at the sight of Euphemia sleeping in a plain white cot, wearing nothing but a simple white dress. There's a desk, with books- mostly children's books, she realizes after looking at them; for someone as heavily drugged as Euphemia is, there's no doubt they couldn't understand the more complex books.
Silent, Cornelia makes her way to the bed, sitting down on it, reaching out to tuck a few stray curls behind Euphemia's ear. The girl shifts, breathing in deeply and then snuggles into Cornelia's side, instinctively seeking warmth that the light white sheet doesn't provide. "You've gotten older," Cornelia whispers, peeling off her glove so she can brush bare fingers against Euphemia's cheek, light. For the moment, she refuses to cry, though it's a close thing, mostly enforced by the fact Euphemia opens her eyes, and smiles, though it's not right around the edges. Time hasn't worn away the memory of what Euphie's smile looks like-- this... this isn't it. "….Euphie?"
"Hello," Euphemia slurs quietly, and there's no recognition in her voice, in her eyes, just the drugs in her system.
Head bowing, Cornelia allows herself to cry, just a little.
Cornelia returns early in the morning, almost three AM. Part of her just wants to go to bed, while the rest of her knows that she should talk to Zero-- no, it's Suzaku, now. Back from the dead as much as her little sister is.
Silent, she stalks down the hall and raps three times on his door, waiting for him to answer with impatience mostly caused by exhaustion. The woman doesn't care if he's asleep or trying to get to sleep, she wants to give her report and then leave, go to her room, or maybe even Guilford's, depending on how the talk goes.
Suzaku answers the door, dressed as Zero, and lets her in, closing and locking the door when she's through. "How did it go?" Suzaku asks quietly, taking off the mask after a moment, sitting on the edge of his desk, looking as if he hasn't slept in a day or two.
Distantly, some part of her is glad that he's given her the first chance to see Euphemia, out of the two of them. Later, she might thank him, when she swallows her pride and her anger at the situation, but right now she just straightens her shoulders, voice low. "They've got her sedated as the reports said. Sedated heavily enough where she barely recognizes anything that's going on around her. It... took a few attempts but she realized who I was, or at least seemed to after a few attempts at reminding her." A pause, as she tried to organize her thoughts into something other than the mess that they are in right now. "I want her home, Kururugi."
Suzaku says nothing for a long moment, then stands up off the desk,
"I do too," Suzaku says quietly, putting on the mask once more before he walks over to the door, opening it. "We'll speak more later."
"Do you really think it best, Lelouch?" C.C. asks lazily from where she's sprawled out on the bed wiggling her toes in the air, debating on painting them out of sheer boredom while Lelouch finishes dressing. The black-haired teen just looks at her for a long moment, face blank as he pulls on the drab clothing, brushing his hair back out of his eyes. "I suppose it doesn't matter, does it."
"You'd suppose right," Lelouch drawls lazily, pulling on a black hat to complete the outfit, well aware he looks awkward, but at least he'll blend into a crowd better, if needed. He's planned no less than eleven escape routes, planned for ambushes, booby traps, everything he can possibly think of, not that it matters with being immortal. It's something he does anyway, mostly out of sheer habit any longer and because he feels useless if he doesn't do something that involves a plan. "I'll return later."
"Yes, yes," C.C. drawls and flips onto her stomach, snuggling further into his bed, reaching for his card with one hand, the phone already beside her. "Maybe I'll save you a slice of pizza."
He snorts, walking away out to the Knightmare. "Maybe you will."
Lelouch arrives and knocks on the door, giving her a simple look that speaks volumes; she doesn't question him. Once it's done and heading straight for Euphemia's room, knowing the house by heart from the blueprints he and C.C. had found when they had destroyed the Order. He doesn't knock, instead he opens the door and moves into the room, closing it quietly behind him. Euphemia's sitting on her bed, a children's book in her lap, hair brushed straight, barely looking at him when he enters.
"What have they done to you, Princess," Lelouch murmurs before he can help it, taking off the hat and jacket, folding them over a chair as he sits on the bed next to her, facing her. "Euphie?"
She smiles, and Lelouch's heart sinks, realizing just how far gone she is under the influence of the drugs at this point. "Hello," Euphemia greets, the word almost mechanical with the way it is uttered. She doesn't lean into the touch of his hand on her cheek, doesn't move away either. Euphemia just sits there, a blank smile on her face, holding a book she can barely make sense of in her condition.
It's settled then, he realizes, tucking some hair behind her ears, unaware of the fact that Cornelia had done the same just a few days ago. "I suppose there's nothing to do but wait, isn't that right, Euphie?" Lelouch murmurs quietly, and doesn't look at her when she nods, still smiling.
Thankfully, the drugs do wear off after a while.
Lelouch expects Euphemia to break down and sob, to demand to know what's going on, to do-- something other than snuggle further against him, quiet for the most part. "I'm glad I'm able to have visitors," Euphemia says softly, smiling brighter, not so hindered by the sedatives. "They said eventually I would be able to when I was done being sick."
Sick? The older boy watches her for a long moment, then curls his fingers in her hair, toying with it gently. "Euphie? Can you tell me what you remember?" he asks softly, keeping up the soothing touches to her hair, knowing that it was something she had liked when she was a child.
Euphemia nods, fingers tracing absent designs over his knee gently, her head pillowed in his lap. "I was going to announce the SAZ, and ask you to work on it with me," she begins quietly, voice still soft and unsteady from disuse. "But then I got sick, before I could do anything. I was told it was contagious, and that I almost died. So I had to be sent here, where Miss M would make me all better, and it might take a long time, but…"
From there, Lelouch barely listens, jaw clenched, hand stopping its soothing motions in her hair. Charles. Would the man never be done tearing apart lives, even though he was dead? On one hand, it was fortunate that Euphemia didn't remember, because it would give him more time to think of a plan, some way to help her acclimate back to society, to become normal once more. It would take time, he had no doubts about that, but it could be done-- he was the maker of miracles, after all.
"--visited, once," Euphemia says lazily, smiling at him. "He said he was your brother."
Lelouch looks down at her slowly, startled. "Who, Euphemia?"
Once, V.V. brings someone to visit her. Other than his occasional visits, where he just watches her, no one else has been permitted for some time. This time, however, there is a slender boy trailing after him, wearing a school uniform. Distantly, Euphemia realizes that she knows it from somewhere, knows that black and gold design, but it's too foggy in her head for her to remember. Instead, she gives them a blank smile, murmuring her greeting to V.V. while the door closes with an audible click of the six locks.
"I've brought you a visitor," he says lazily, and nudges Rolo forward, not missing the mildly disgusted look on the boy's face at the way Euphemia just... doesn't respond, save for that same, docile smile.
"Why am I here," Rolo asks quietly, eyes fixed on the girl, noting the way that she resembles Lelouch just a little bit, disliking every damn inch of her from her long hair to her small smile, fake as it is.
V.V. just laughs, waving a hand and turning to the door. "You're to stay here a few days with her. She's got a Geass too, now, though hers is actually useful," he says, smiling prettily while his words sting Rolo like knives, reminding him of his own failures to the Order. "I want you to teach her how to use it."
Rolo says nothing, just watches V.V. go, the door closing behind him, leaving the two of them alone. He knows better than to kill her-- he'll be terminated if he does, but it doesn't stop the dull rage from building up when he just watches her, watches the way that her hands smooth over her skirts, and he briefly entertains the thought of breaking her fingers just to get some kind of reaction out of her. Maybe that would get her to use her stupid Geass.
Day three, he loses his temper with her, and that damnable woman watching her. He makes sure that the pills are switched with placebos, and then knocks the woman out, stuffing her body in a closet for a while after feeding her a sedative of her own. You slipped on some water I spilled, he'll tell her when she wakes up, giving her a sad, sorry look, and everything will be fine.
In the mean time, he's tired of dealing with this doll and getting nowhere. She takes the pills with a small smile, and then gradually, he watches her wake up. Gone is the blank, barely-there girl; instead, her eyes are sharper, and she's more alert-- better, he thinks.
"We're going to-" he starts, standing up and in front of her while she sits on the couch, holding her head in her hands, silent up until he opens his mouth. It's then that she looks up at him, licking chapped lips.
"He said your name was Rolo?" Euphemia asks quietly, voice rough, barely there, but she tries all the same, and offers a hand to him to shake.
His face twists into a frown and he shakes his head, jaw clenched. "...shut up. I was saying that we're going to--" and he pauses, then grabs her hand. As far as he knows, no one touches her at all, and that might be why her Geass has yet to activate. If the don't know what kind it is, it could be anything at that point, triggered by touch. "You have a power. Use it."
The look she gives him is pure puzzlement that has nothing to do with the drugs slowly fading from her system, so he changes his mind and drops her hand, shoving a pill into it instead. "Take that," he mutters, and waits until she does and her eyes go blank once more, glassy.
He tries again the next day, watching her wake up again, confused and disoriented. "I'm going to break a finger for each five minutes that it takes to make you use your Geass," Rolo says abruptly, and grabs her hand, jaw clenched.
Euphemia says nothing for a long moment, just closes her eyes, opening them after a pause, holding his hand a bit firmer, tugging him close. "You seem lonely," she says after a moment of hesitation, tilting her head to the side. "And you've been watching me like you know me, which doesn't make sense. I can't imagine I'm very good company like this, sick as I am."
"I'm not lonely," Rolo bites out, angry, squeezing her hand hard enough to make her let out a soft noise, jerking when she lifts her other hand up and cups his cheek, one violet eye lighting up red with Geass.
"Come on, Lelouch!" Rolo says in a rush, waiting for his brother to catch up, a smile lighting up his face at the tired but fond look the older boy gives him, shaking his head. They're older now, in their twenties, maybe, though Rolo still looks terribly young with big, violet eyes and a childish face.
Lelouch just smiles, sliding an arm around skinny shoulders, tugging his brother to his side. "I'm coming, little brother," he assures, and together they walk down the street to a house, small and cozy. There's other houses around, but there doesn't seem to be anyone in them; there's no flowers in the gardens, no children playing in the grass, nothing to indicate anyone else lives there but the two of them.
He jerks back from her with a gasp, shoving her back hard enough that she hits the wall with a thud, dazed for a moment, the Geass fading from her eye. "Don't ever touch me," Rolo hisses, voice cracking, and he grabs her chin before she can stop it, pressing his fingers against her cheeks to make sure she keeps her mouth open, and shoves the pill into her mouth, making sure she swallows it, ignoring how she fights weakly against him.
Eventually she slumps against the wall again, nothing left of the girl, just the little doll left behind, and Rolo slams the numbers into his phone, seething. V.V. answers, demanding to know if he's made progress. Rolo hesitates (it was a house that was theirs, only theirs) and swallows, listening to V.V.'s short hmmmm? from the other end.
It's the first time he lies to the Order.
It's the beginning of the end.
"I can't make her use her power. I would give it up, she's useless," Rolo says evenly, and rests his forehead against the wall, mind made up at the disappointed, but amused noise that V.V. makes.
Lelouch wants to hit something when she finishes, speaking as if this is something totally normal, acceptable, but instead he just gives Euphemia a small smile, and curls a strand of hair around his finger, tickling her cheek with it. "I'm glad you helped him, Euphemia," he says softly, and kisses her forehead gently. For a moment, he puzzles out why her Geass doesn't hurt people, then realizes a moment later. V.V. assumed that with the Geass cast on her, her heart's desire would be to kill the Japanese. Instead, it's something different. And Rolo..... "You're very kind."
She just laughs quietly, lifting a hand and cupping his cheek with it, looking confused for a moment. "You look sad, why?" Euphemia asks softly, stroking her thumb over his cheekbone, not quite sure why her older brother seemed so tense and uncomfortable as she spoke about Rolo and other things. Was he unhappy? "Let me help-?"
"Geass doesn't work on me, Euphie. Save your kindness for someone who isn't a demon," Lelouch murmurs softly, covering her eye with his hand, sighing softly, only to freeze when the door opens.
The woman doesn't look surprised at yet another visitor, though she hesitates visibly over letting Zero in. While she's heard the news about him working with Britannia, the blonde stands there for a moment, decidedly uncomfortable. "I'm... under orders not to let anyone visit right now," she says uncertainly, disliking how she can't see his face, only able to see her own reflection in the polished surface of his mask.
"My orders go above any others that you have at this point," Zero says sharply, not apologizing for the way she flinches and nods shakily, ducking out of the way to let him in. Silent, he goes to the room Cornelia explained, and opens the door, heart stopping at what he sees.
Suzaku had thought that after Euphemia's death, his would never fall apart so completely again.
Lelouch sitting on the bed with Euphemia's head in his lap, his fingers playing lightly through her hair, his other hand covering one of Euphemia's eyes oddly ends up doing it all over again, leaving him sagging against the wall.
"Isn't this ironic," Lelouch murmurs quietly, uncovering Euphemia's eye, nudging her to sit up, helping her when she wobbles just a little bit, still a tad unsteady. "I suppose we members of the Britannian family are rather terrible at staying how you last saw us, no, Suzaku?"
Suzaku doesn't miss the subtle avoidance of "dead", in order to keep Euphemia in the dark for the moment. Some part of him is grateful, but the rest of him is just sick with confusion, staring at the two of them from behind the mask, wondering if this is nothing but a bad dream or perhaps a fantasy gone terribly strange.
"Suzaku?" Euphemia echoes curiously, head tilting to the side as she looks at Zero, not making the connection.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Lelouch is furious that Charles has eliminated so much of Euphemia when he had rewritten her memories. This Euphemia is just a shell of who she had been; a pale, barely there version who had spent far too long drugged up and kept away from human interaction besides that maid. They could make it better, he knows, but it will take time.
Silent, Suzaku slips off the mask, walking forward on shaky legs to kneel before her, not missing the way her face lights up with a smile, hands reaching out to touch him when he is close enough. "Euphie," he chokes out, helpless and both sad and confused, pressing his cheek against one of her knees, holding onto the bed hard enough to hurt his hands, while Euphemia just laughs, soft and delighted, stroking her fingers through his hair. "Euphie…"
Lelouch stays silent, above such petty things as jealousy (or at least, he would like to claim such), watching the princess and her knight, not entirely surprised that Suzaku hasn't done more than give him a glance. He wouldn't leave, however- jealous, he might not admit to, but greedy, yes, he would. This is just as much his time with Euphemia as it was Suzaku's, and he wouldn't leave, not yet.
"I must be doing better to get so many visitors," Euphemia says happily, stroking his hair like Lelouch had been doing just moments ago, sending Lelouch a smile bright enough to blind. Everything will be okay now, she thinks to herself, smoothing her fingers over Suzaku's cheek, soft, curving down and trailing to his neck, splaying her fingers over it, only to have Lelouch catch her hand and tug it back up to his hair, making her glance at him with confusion, eyes glowing red dimly.
"No, Euphie," Lelouch whispers quietly, jaw clenching as he tugs her close and kisses her temple, making certain to hold her hand while Suzaku stays kneeling, breath hitching because he knows; he'd felt that hand curving around his neck, soft and delicate. "No, Euphie. No. You're stronger than this."
Euphemia just makes a puzzled noise, leaning into Lelouch when he tugs, hand tightening slightly in Suzaku's hair because it isn't right -- he's Suzaku, he's Suzaku and she loves him, and that's all that matters. She can't--
"We need to find Lord Jeremiah," Suzaku whispers quietly, still pressed against her legs, eyes burning, unable to look up at her face, keeping his gaze on the ground, still holding the bed tight. It's just one name, but Lelouch understands, rocking Euphemia gently back and forth when she makes a strangled noise, hands starting to shake. With his free hand, he moves and strokes Suzaku's hair gently, sliding to his shoulder to squeeze it, even if it's only for a moment.
"It won't be that easy, but yes," Lelouch murmurs over the sound of Euphemia's sob and Suzaku's choked breath. They'll figure this out, he promises them without speaking, holding onto Euphemia's wrist hard enough to bruise, while she shakes against him, fighting a Geass that hasn't surfaced for over a year and Suzaku just leans against her, silent.