Author's Notes- I've got nothing. I cannot explain this, except it popped up because of the last scene.
"Your voice sounds wrong," is the first thing she says to him, after the end, in those secret hours between the ending of Lelouch's world and the beginning of theirs.
"I'm sorry?" he apologizes, uncertainty in his tone.
"You probably shouldn't talk with it on," she continues blithely, half mad, her mind a jumble of mixed feelings and disbelief- after all, only a few hours ago she had been on the execution block, only a few hours ago everything seemed dark, and only a few hours ago Lelouch was the only Zero. "You'll give yourself away."
Suzaku suddenly realized he hadn't yet wiped away the bloody fingerprints on the mask, and nodded in understanding.
"I miss him too," he murmured softly.
Some days, when she looks at the television and sees him on it, she wonders how anyone could possibly believe this Zero was in any way similar to the original. Gone were the so called miracles of old, the demagogic speeches that stirred flames of war, but the little things were what really made the difference.
Lelouch had worn the mask as a combination of theatrical deception and a crown; Suzaku bore it with stoic acceptance like a man being flogged. Lelouch always made sweeping gestures and movements; Suzaku was a minimalist, afraid the slightest gesture might give him away. The manner in which they walked was even different- Lelouch had walked with a slow, measured grace that expected the world to bow before it, while Suzaku moved with determined strides that would bash through any obstacle with nothing but sheer egomaniacal determination.
The reaction she got when she mentioned it to Tamaki and Ougi was not one she expected.
"Not all of us have a thing for masks and capes, you know," Tamaki informed her cheerfully. "So it's kind of hard for us to notice."
Tamaki's insurance agent was informed afterward that the damage to the bar was not, in fact, caused by a small, localized hurricane.
Kallen shifted uncomfortably, feeling ridiculously exposed in this backless gown, wishing for the umpteenth time that she had resisted Nunnally's invitation to her birthday. As much as she adored the poor girl, high class functions were not something she was comfortable with.
And the Empress' birthday was most definitely at the top of the list of high class functions.
And as an added bonus, Kallen also had to fend off a veritable horde of the lecherous members of high society, whose behavior was apparently the same as a hormonal teenage boy, only in fancier dressing and with better hygiene.
Refusing the fifteenth offer for a drink (after reminding the leering man sternly that she was not even twenty yet, the legal age in Japan), she ducked out onto the veranda, desperately needing a break from the stuffy atmosphere. Behind her, she can still hear the band (which was headlined by Rivalz, of all people- who knew he could play the piano so well) playing out a fast, cheery beat.
"I'm surprised," came a voice, sounding vaguely amused, "I half-expected you to hit that man."
Kallen turned to face Suzaku- er, Zero, who stood on the other side of the veranda, watching the partygoers with an annoyed look.
"Nunnally would have been upset if I went on a killing spree at her birthday party," she muttered. "And you're awfully coy today. Isn't Zero supposed to be a mysterious protector of justice?"
Suzaku chuckled beneath the mask. "Nunnally told me to take the night off. If I didn't, she would assign me to work with Kaguya for a month."
"You're afraid of her?" Kallen blinked. "She's like… five feet tall. And you can dodge bullets."
"You didn't have to grow up as her play toy," Suzaku muttered sulkily. "Trust me, don't underestimate her. How do you think I got to be so fast?"
Kallen laughed at that. The mere thought of Suzaku, her greatest opponent and only rival in the world of Knightmare combat, terrified of the diminutive self proclaimed 'goddess' brought her nearly to tears.
Suzaku said nothing, but she imagined he was wearing a rather petulant look beneath the mask.
The band switches songs, a softer, slower alto.
Zero froze up, noticeable even when his entire body was concealed beneath black and purple and gold.
Kallen, however, is lost in her own thoughts. "I know this song," she said thoughtfully, eyes widening. "My brother loved to play this on the piano… I would try to dance along to the melody sometimes."
She was distracted as she suddenly realized Suzaku was shaking. Blinking in surprise, she turned towards him with a concerned look. "Are you alright?"
He nodded, though the movement was unsteady. "Yes… it's just that this was her favorite song too. She loved to sing it, when she thought she was alone…"
His back was shaking, remembering the touch of a woman who had lost her life, innocence, and place in history as a peacemaker to the fires of Lelouch's war.
For Kallen, it was the first time she didn't have to remind herself who was really behind that mask, and not have to replace violet eyes with emerald ones.
"Can you dance?" she said suddenly, on a wild impulse.
"Dance," Kallen repeated. "Can you?"
His confusion was apparent just through the slackening of his muscles and slight movements of his head. "Well enough, I guess, but I haven't really danced in a long while," he answered, still trying to follow how the conversation got here.
"Then let's." She held her hand out in offering.
"Why?" Suzaku asked, tilting his head to the side.
"Because we're alive," Kallen breathed softly.
Without a word, he took her hand.
"I only know how to waltz," he warned her. At her questioning look, he added, "Kaguya wanted to learn when she was eight."
She tried her best not to laugh at the unconscious shudder that pulsed through his hands as they held her (strong, secure).
As they glided across the balcony, one step, two step, over and over to the melody, Kallen suddenly chuckled, and he paused, midstep.
"What?" he asked.
"It's funny," she murmured, "To think that you and I would be dancing like this after… everything. Definitely different from what I thought would happen in the future."
"Should we stop?" Suzaku asked, sounding concerned.
"Different isn't bad," she said softly, and leaned a little closer into the embrace.
"Sometimes different is nice."
Not really understanding, he nodded, and they continued.
He even smells different than Lelouch did, Kallen thinks absently, and blushed so hard afterward that Suzaku had to stop again.
Fits of pique, Kallen decided wearily, were something she should stop listening to.
"I am not Zero's lover, Ougi-san," she droned tiredly, rubbing her forehead as she held the phone to her ear, seated at the familiar Student Council table at Ashford Academy. "And I have not been having secret meetings with him. I'm the Student Council president of Ashford Academy. I think someone would have noticed me leaving campus every night."
"You're sure? Because, I mean, as Naoto's best friend, if he is, I think I should really have a talk with him if he is. And who knows how old this new Zero is anyway? He could be an old pervert or something-"
"One more word," Kallen said slowly, her tone akin to a gunman fingering a trigger, "And I'm telling Viletta that Tamaki really did throw you a bachelor party and the reason why you were limping at the wedding."
The phone clicked off faster than a bat out of hell.
But just as she was setting the phone down, it chirped happily, indicating a text message.
Flipping it open, Kallen groaned audibly.
Don't worry Kallen. Every woman has a weakness, even if yours is dark, mysterious masked heroes. You're just like the love interests of Saturday morning cartoons!
"I hate you, Kaichou," she said, and buried her head in her hands.
The next person to ask about me and Zero is going to get a Guren sized footprint on their skull, she thought murderously.
Rivalz coughed nervously in the corner, having wisely by Nina to not try to talk to their irate president about the issue. Nina herself had buried her nose in a book and wasn't coming out until Kallen's temper had abated, like how some animals can sense incoming natural disasters and flee to the nearest shelters.
On the other hand, some people weren't quite so wise.
"You know, if you're really into that cape and mask thing, I bet I'd look pretty good as Zorro…" Gino said jokingly.
Lacking the Guren to step on his head, and figuring Gino was just being Gino and not any kind of malicious gossiper, Kallen opted to throw him out the window for his trouble instead.
After all, it was only a two story drop.
When she saw the announcement of a guest speaker coming to Ashford by order of the Chairman, Kallen was only mildly confused, considering they'd never had such a thing before.
When she saw exactly who the guest speaker was going to be, and realized she, as the Student Council President, was going to have to work with him to produce the event, Kallen went from confused to suspicious.
When she asked the Chairman, Milly's grandfather, why that man in particular was coming to speak, she got a nervous cough and a murmured name.
Nunnally, Kallen thought bitterly, is just as devious and cruel as her brother.
"I'm sorry about all the rumors," Suzaku apologized softly, after he'd finished his (admittedly awkward, because exactly what could Suzaku teach the student body of Ashford- don't commit patricide or you'll become suicide happy, or don't become best friends with a possible megalomaniac or at least don't let him near your girlfriend?) guest lecture, ducking his head close to hers so other people wouldn't catch his words (not realizing it was putting their faces- well, her face and his mask- closer than normally proper). "I've tried to get them to stop."
"It's okay," she lied through her teeth, trying to pull away before she could catch that distinct musk that signified his difference from Lelouch.
"Are you mad at me?" he asked, and the question was so out of place with the mask he was wearing that Kallen stopped and laughed yet again.
"I'm not mad," she assured him quickly, before he could assume the worst from her laugh. Nervously, she added, "It's not like we were doing anything, anyways. Just dancing."
"That's true," Suzaku agreed, and moved to turn away.
"It's just stupid," Kallen continued on blithely, "Why can't two friends dance together without people assuming they're having secret meetings to do perverted things in seedy hotels?"
He nodded in acknowledgement to her statement, though that last statement gave him some pause.
"It was a song we both liked, and we were both free, and… oh screw it," Kallen muttered angrily, and then shot him such a sharp look that Suzaku's military training kicked in and he straightened into attention. "When do you get off?"
Suzaku blinked, his rigid posture faltering. "Um… never?" he answered confusedly. "I'm kind of stuck with this mask."
"Well then I guess you're cooking me dinner tonight, because I'm not going on a date with you while you're wearing that get up," Kallen declared, grabbing him by the hand and dragging him off.
Nobody's ever going to let me live this down anyways, so why not, right?
"Is it the mask?" he asked one day, out of the blue.
She punched him in the arm.
"That," she declared irritably, "Is the dumbest thing you have ever said."
And they all lived happily ever after, or as close to it as they could, anyways.