I believe this will be my first contribution to in about five years, since I was in sixth grade.
It's my sincere hope that my writing style has improved since then. ;;;
Anyway, this is my first submission under the new-and-improved profile of Koeji. This oneshot was originally two oneshots, the one following the dividing line being the beginning of the (originally) second installment. Under my friend's suggestion I fused the two into one. Please tell me if it was a good decision. ;;
The original idea came to me one night when I was undressing in my room and thought I heard someone at the window. I got really scared and threw myself onto the floor. When I looked outside it was just some kids playing hide-and-seek underneath my windowsill. ;; I thought to myself, "Man, when did I grow to an age where some kids playing games turned into the fear a peeping tom? ;;" Of course, Lelouch probably has bigger worries than peeping toms, and that's how this fanfiction was born.
Thank you to Karima813 for suggesting this title and for always encouraging me to write about this couple. Also, thank you for being my surrogate mother and typing these up for me because I'm too lazy to do it.
Without further ado, thank you for reading this. I hope it is to your liking (and thank you for dealing with this long author's note ;;).
A slight rustle during a windless night had distracted Emperor Lelouch vi Britannia from his endless paperwork in the palace library. A staccato set of footsteps soon joined it, then whispers from across the courtyard. As the brush below the sill of the grand window shook with a human burden, the emperor nervously leapt to his feet and doused the lights. A shout of a man's name only heightened his anxiety. The last time something like this had happened, there had been a vigilante attempt on his life; but this time, Suzaku wasn't here to save him.
A conspicuously strident chorus of shoes on pavement reached his ears. If they are assassins, they're not very good ones, Lelouch thought. He hesitantly broke the curtains and cupped his hands around his face to peer outward. After all, even without Suzaku, he could always use Geass to command them not to kill him, right?
What Emperor Lelouch saw silhouetted in the radiance of lining streetlamps were the shapes of four or five children scampering about, some lying on the ground facing upward. From the servants' homes emerged several additions until over a dozen were rolling about the courtyard. All at once they all broke away from one in the center, who was left counting against a streetlight. He couldn't help but smile; when had come the time when he took the antics of children for an act of terrorism?
As he continued observing the competition, he discovered the source of his initial flight; a small boy, no more then, protruded his hiding visage from the shrub below the sill of the low, gilded library window. The young boy reconnoitered around stealthily and accidentally met Lelouch's gaze. Not quite sure what to do, the emperor merely smiled, and the child's eyes became saucers of fear. He bolted from the bush and was promptly tackled by two of his playmates, who also looked in the direction the boy pointed and ran away as fast as they could.
The junction faded the smile from Lelouch's face and ushered in a wave of almost nostalgic melancholia. He mourned the day when he was particularly liked by children, probably as a result of the gentle touch he had acquired from caring for Nunnally.
"Feeling nostalgic?" An alarming second apparition presented itself in the window's reflection as Suzaku wrapped his arms around Lelouch's waist.
Lelouch shook his head. "There's nothing to be nostalgic about." He lowered his violet eyes in the window. "I never did things like that when I was little."
"Ah, right," Suzaku said breathily. "Prim and proper Lelouch. That's why you can't run to save your life."
He laughed under his breath half-heartedly.
"…Do you want to?"
"Do you want to go outside?"
The Britannian laughed scornfully and pulled the drapes shut. "You know I can't do that without having a dozen guards following me."
"Then we'll sneak out." The corners of Suzaku's mouth turned up.
"I can't do that!" Lelouch reprimanded.
"Says the one who led a multi-level coup d'état against the empire of Britannia." He was encouraged by the low chuckle that spread out like a thin smile across Lelouch's lips. "Come on, we can sneak out. It's what normal teenagers are best at, right?"
Lelouch nodded slowly in collapsed concurrence, much to Suzaku's glee. The knight unhinged the centerfold of the two windows and pressed his hand against the glass, both cringing at the screeching hinges unyielding to their escape. Suzaku whirled around to survey the landscape for patrollers before ushering Lelouch's descent from the sill. He held up the corners of his gaudy white cape as he taciturnly stepped through the brush below. The children who had been frolicking about now scampered into their waiting mothers' arms as the courtyard's lights were doused without warning, and the only illumination to guide the emperor and his knight remained the few lit windows of the palace and the servants' quarters and in the chilled refraction of Orion's belt.
They made a wide semicircle around the courtyard and the public garden to the gazebo in the rear of the palace's domestic wing, where Lelouch's bedroom loomed judgmentally on the fourth floor. Sprigs of hydrangea swayed around the base of the slender gazebo, and drooping roses terraced and twisted threateningly around the pillars. A short set of stairs ushered downward into the lake bed, a small floodplain away from the palace. In the afternoon sun it shimmered beneath the surface with visions of rare koi and vegetation. Now the bed became a hyperbolic saucer of moon-tinted milk, overflowing with distorted shadows of queer structures and obscuring the true boundary between it and the land. Circling the shore the grasses grew high, giving the lake the mask of a paradisiacal lagoon as well as a luxurious air of false purity.
"I don't think I've ever come here at night," Lelouch confessed. The chilled atmosphere, despite its lack of actual flow, seemed to form a mask over his skin, thinly coating it with an aesthetic of cool sheets in the summer.
Suzaku tapped Lelouch on the shoulder. "You're it," he muttered as he shuffled away.
"It. You're it."
He brushed his hair back. "You said you wanted to play like when we were kids, right? Then let's play tag."
Lelouch chuckled and looked away. "You know I could never keep up with you," he mumbled passively.
"I'll go easy on you."
The emperor smirked. "Fine, then." By the time he had lifted his eyes, Suzaku had sprinted halfway to the tree line, leaving Lelouch dejected before the game had even begun.
"You said you'd try," Suzaku taunted.
He sighed and threw his cape into the grass. The brunette had already changed positions in those few moments, but that uncharacteristically failed to discourage the emperor's pursuit, and he sprinted into the distance in competition. The cold sting of air on the back of his throat was a negligible opponent when compared to the Britannian's sudden surge of energy. Suzaku egged the emperor to the edge of the woods, where a carefully timed evasion sent Lelouch's body tumbling forward.
Suzaku halted harshly and approached Lelouch's limp body. He remained motionless in a prone position. Suzaku squatted to the ground and for a moment the only sounds were the restless cicadas.
"Are you okay?"
The emperor turned his neck to shoot his knight a dismal stare. He lifted his arm and hovered it in front of Suzaku's face. A finger met with the brunette's forehead.
Lelouch scampered to his feet. "I win," he said in an overly satisfied tone.
Suzaku chuckled in his throat. "Are you reverting back to your childhood tactics?"
"Is there something wrong with that?"
He shook his head. "It's just that it's useless now." Suzaku moved with such precision that Lelouch scarcely had time to react before he felt the base of Suzaku's hand between his shoulder blades. "Looks like you're it again."
Lelouch vi Britannia's superiority complex was on the rise. "Get back here!" he shouted hoarsely, eyeing the apparition of Suzaku's figure near the lake. As the distance between the two closed, the knight circled around his pursuer in an awkward display of bravado. Lelouch's posterior was positioned parallel to the forest when Suzaku let out a shout reminiscent of Lelouch's name, and the emperor found himself submerged.
The sound was almost ethereal combined with the muffling façade of the water; a pang, as if the glassy surface of the lake were reverberating with effort to keep the emperor afloat, quickly followed by a concurrent stream of pangs, five, ten more. Suzaku's weight was pressed upon him, holding Lelouch's wrists to the sandy bottom and anchoring him with his bodies. His face contorted into a grotesque expression of anguish, and a red fog polluted the space. Facially instructing Lelouch to stay down, he gripped his own shoulder and left the Britannian languishing in the dark abyss.
Lelouch's small eyes emerged within the brush at the edge of the brisk embankment, adjusting to the suddenly tenebrous world above. With his vision blurred and thoughts growing hazy, he could barely grasp Suzaku's harsh but incoherent voice. Another voice joined him, equally hoarse and malicious. A piercing snap rang throughout the courtyard along with a forced cry. The haunting and nostalgic sound of a slipping safety accompanied by a hollow execution silenced the discord.
Suzaku's swift sequence of footsteps came to a halt before Lelouch's hemisphere eyes. He dropped to his level. "Are you alright?" his voice crooned softly.
"Y-yes," Lelouch confirmed. "What…"
"A man," The knight replied taciturnly. "He was aiming for you."
Assassin. The emperor mulled the thought over in his mind. It had happened numerable times before, but each time Suzaku had been by his side. It was by no means an alien thought, but until a few moments ago it had seemed so intangible, so abstract, so unthinkable in this night that almost rewound a decade.
"Did you kill him?" he asked flatly.
"I'm sorry if that went against your wishes. When he was about to shoot me, the 'live on' Geass just…"
"It's fine." Lelouch extended his hand to Suzaku in a request for assistance. His waterlogged clothes hung with the weight of another person against his body. He tenderly brushed the back of his hand over the wound on Suzaku's shoulder. "You need to take better care of yourself," he whispered.
"It just grazed my shoulder."
"It might go further next time. Be careful."
"Yes, Your Majesty," Suzaku chuckled. "We should get back inside. It might not be safe out here anymore."
Lelouch nodded solemnly but didn't move. "It's just like when we were kids, right?" he muttered.
"What do you mean?"
"I couldn't be separated from you even back then, or some kids would try to beat me up. Eventually we stopped trying to go outside and just played in the shed with Nunnally."
"Oh… I'm sorry about that."
Lelouch shook his head. "It's not your fault. The time for child's play has simply passed."
The air about the silver lake was set ablaze with countless colonies of fluttering stars, dimming in and out with ethereal magic and haphazard proposals. The wind through the grass summoned even more living stars underneath Suzaku and Lelouch's feet. They swam into the sky and flew in waves throughout the dark night sky.
"Fireflies," Suzaku whispered.
Lelouch's eyes remained fixated on one lingering in his face. "When we were you, Euphemia once told us…" He blew and sent it spiraling away. "…That if we caught a firefly and gave it to someone, that person would marry you."
They watched the fireflies cast their negligible reflections in the black of the lake and circle around each other forcibly until they seemed to have all but disappeared, returned to their hiding places against the blades of grass. The emperor taciturnly announced his return to the palace and reluctantly left Suzaku behind, as per his request.
The next morning, Lelouch awoke to find that a small jar of fireflies had manifested itself on his nightstand.
The miniature family of fireflies was promptly and emotionlessly released into the frank morning sunlight. Their small silhouettes spotted the sun forebodingly before spiraling downward in suffocating confusion.
"You're throwing them away?" Suzaku placed a freshly laundered set of Lelouch's white emperor outfit on his bed.
"They're not happy being stuck in a jar like that," Lelouch commented. The next sound was one of a squeaking faucet and a torrent of water filling the tub. The knight, after ascertaining that he wasn't completely violating the emperor's privacy, slipped into the room and plopped onto the countertop.
"So?" he said over the dull roar of the shower.
Suzaku grinned. "According to you, you're obligated to marry me now."
"Right. You'd better get cracking on that." The amount of sarcasm Lelouch was able to put into his voice never ceased to amaze Suzaku.
"I didn't think you'd give in so easily," he replied with equal sarcasm.
"Knowing you, I almost thought you were serious," Lelouch laughed.
An ironic silence overpowered the force of the shower.
"You're not serious," said Lelouch's small voice.
"I wouldn't joke about something like that."
Suzaku laughed out loud. "Since when has the illegality of your actions ever hindered you, Zero?"
"Tch. Pulling a trigger is a lot easier than swindling a marriage license."
"We don't need one of those."
"Then it won't be real!"
"All the more reason for you to not qualm over it so much." Suzaku smirked in self-satisfaction. He valued his position as one of the few people able to defeat Lelouch in a game of roundabout logic, if only pertaining to trivial subjects. He could practically see the gears in the emperor's mind turning in overdrive. In a minute he would probably try to change the subject (futily, Suzaku might add).
"J-just get out of here."
The knight would grant him at least that much. There was a frustrated slam of the bedroom door which left Suzaku leaning against the wall outside. It wasn't long before the question arose once again.
"You're still riding on that?"
"Only because I know you only get angry like this when you don't have a definitive answer to give."
"You're such an incessant little… Isn't there supposed to be a ring or something?"
"You're so old-fashioned," Suzaku shot back, "What about the fireflies?"
"I didn't expect you'd actually do that!"
He laughed to himself. "I should have known your mind isn't oriented in the way of dropping these kinds of hints." Lelouch emerged from the room fully clad in his pompous emperor outfit, save for his dripping black hair and a towel hanging around his neck.
"Can I be the minister?" The monotonous, melancholy voice of C.C. entered the room obtrusively. She luxuriated the L-shaped sofa with an austere majesty broken only by the stuffed Cheese-kun held to her chest.
"How long have you been there?!" Lelouch boomed.
"Long enough," she replied flatly. "I was amused, so I stayed. I want to be a part of this."
"Can I be your maid of honor?"
"I said no!!"
Suzaku laughed heartily. "You're free to be the minister if you want, C.C."
Lelouch snarled. "Don't undermine my authority like that!"
"Quiet down Lelouch," C.C. scoffed. "Don't you want to do something fun for once? Don't you want to experience something like marriage before you die?"
A heavy silence attached itself to the room. Somewhere in the distance a clock chimed eleven times. In reality, both the emperor and his knight had been thinking the same forlorn thought, but the knight had not the courage to voice it. To utter it meant the permission and absolute definity of the Zero Requiem, and that was too much for either of them to stomach.
"…I'll accept," Lelouch muttered.
"Huh?" The statement thrust Suzaku out of his induced fog.
"I said I accept," the emperor repeated, a scorn of irritation in his voice. "I'd probably sound like an ass if I found a logical counterpoint to a statement like that."
"Good." C.C. swung her legs to the floor and stood accusingly close to Lelouch. "I trust you will be wearing a wedding gown?"
"How rude. You think I'm joking."
"Excuse me?" With that tone of voice, it was definite that somehow, someway, C.C. possessed such an object.
"Milly gave me the one from the school festival," Suzaku confessed. "She said she didn't have room to store it, so I should make some girl happy with it."
Milly… she and her incessant cosplaying haunt me from overseas, Lelouch thought. "Wait, why am I always the bride?"
"Everything about you physically suggests it," the two answered in unison. C.C. firmly grasped the Britannian's hand and tugged him to the bedroom, despite his violent protests.
Sometime later there came a backhanded knocking at the bedroom door. Suzaku's muffled voice requested permission to enter.
"No, you can't. Its bad luck for the groom to see the bride before they reach the altar," C.C. replied with a hint of amusement in her voice. It was a rare occurrence, but she seemed to be actually having fun with this. A twisted, Milly-esque kind of fun, but fun all the same. "Alright, we're done!"
The girl swung open the door, pulled Lelouch forward and pushed him out. The gown, unfortunately for Lelouch, still fit perfectly; the corset bodice clung to his torso and delicately curved outward at the bottom, giving way to a waterfall of precious silk and crushed velvet roses. The head of the train collected in shimmering pools around his ankles, obscuring his feet and forcing Lelouch to daintily hoist the material when he walked. Bunches of taffeta cascaded down his back, originating from a floral-accented gold crown on his head. The absence of the traditional long black wig, Suzaku assumed was probably something dictated by Lelouch, in a futile attempt to retain at least one shred of masculinity. The Britannian's eyes darted every which way around the room, occasionally meeting Suzaku's, only to dart away even faster with a nervous wringing of hands. "S-stop staring at me like that, you jerk," he stammered.
"My, what a fitful bride," C.C. commented.
"What are you wearing?" Lelouch gestured with his eyes.
"Oh, this?" Suzaku brushed his hands over the lapels of the princely uniform. "It's just my old Knight of Rounds uniform. It's been a while since I last wore it."
"Why do you still have it?" Lelouch pondered in an accusing tone.
"Why? Because I really like it, I suppose. And it looks good with the dress, doesn't it?"
Lelouch shrugged. "Hurry up and get rid of it after this is done."
C.C. chuckled in her throat. "It appears our emperor is a little insecure about where his knight's loyalties lie."
"If you weren't a girl, I'd hit you."
"Is that any way to speak to the one who is about to join you as a lovely couple?" She cleared her throat. "We…. Or rather, no one is gathered here today in the face of…God?"
"Are we truly going through the entire proceedings?" Lelouch asked dismally.
C.C. shot an annoyed glance his way and sighed. "Suzaku Kururugi, do you promise to love and protect Lelouch, even though he completely betrayed you, shot you multiple times, killed Princess Euphemia, and condemned you to a cursed life, for as long as you live?"
"How can you say that so casually after that terrible monologue?!" Lelouch said incredulously.
Suzaku shrugged. "I'd already acknowledged and accepted it when I became your knight. The concept isn't new to me."
"And do you, Lelouch vi Britannia, promise to love Suzaku Kururugi, even though he also tried to kill you, captured you, and did everything he could to work against you, for as long as you live?"
Lelouch swallowed hard. If Suzaku could do this it was a piece of cake, right? "I-I…uh…do," he muttered.
C.C. smiled icily. "Good. Then I now pronounce you the most dysfunctional man and wife I've ever met. You may now kiss the bride."
And with that, from a feigned marriage came forth one of the strangest hybrids of newlyweds the world has yet to know.
After all, there was no reason the two could not forge happiness in the present.