Ah, finally. I wanted to post this here for a long time now, but somehow, I never really got around to it. The first six chapters should appear rather quickly, as they have already been written - the only thing I need to do now is make them fit here (mostly layout-wise); however, I'll be busy for about six days after this weekend, which means there will be a pause in the uploading process. If you have encountered this story before, you might know me by the name "Alycra".

I thought about this for a long time, but in the end, I decided to leave the genre at "general" for now, as this fic really has a bit of everything. It gets largely humorous during the course of the second chapter, but also has quite a bit of angst and drama hidden underneath, some romance, friendship and family moments to last a decade - heck, there are even some attempts at deeper character analysis to be found amongst the apparent randomness. It's not "gen", obviously, but as I see it, picking romance or humour or whatever else from the list just wouldn't fit. Maybe "Drama/Humor" would work, but I'm not sure about that yet.

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This piece was originally written for the kink meme, but quickly turned into a multi-chapter fic. It actually has a plot, even though said plot has to stand up to smut, fluff and randomness.
The kink, as you might or might not already have guessed, was "art supplies".

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Pairing: ClovisxLelouch (order actually relative). Also has LelouchxSuzaku, a whiff of SchneizelxClovis and some others.

Rating: M

Summary: What if Lelouch had returned to Britannia after the invasion of Japan? The answer is simple, and it involves chess, less than sane family members and the unconventional use of art supplies. Next time, maybe Lelouch will think twice about heightening the stakes.
Then again, maybe not.

Warnings: Besides M/M smut, incest and the unconventional use of art supplies? Semi-con (or something like that) and randomness, I guess; the former probably just applying to the first chapter. Also, a plot that may be a bit shy in the beginning - don't startle it!

Note: Apparently, the site ate pretty much all the section breaks in this story. Should have fixed this, but, uh... if something seems off, that might be why.


Pleasures of Art
- Chapter 1

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Lelouch couldn't believe he had actually lost.

Granted, there were the circumstances to consider: it had been a match originally started years ago, one that he had discarded from his mind as soon as it had been interrupted half-way through, and he supposed things had indeed not been going in his favor at the time. However, at the end of the day, that really shouldn't have mattered.

Lelouch had a quick mind – it had not taken him long to recall every little detail from back then, and he should have been skilled enough to eventually make the tides turn, no matter how bad it might have looked for him that day more than seven years ago. He had, after all, gotten much better since then, and even if that hadn't been the case... he had never lost against Clovis.

Never.

There were some things there simply shouldn't be a first time for.

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But to his great misfortune, neither whatever accursed higher powers found pleasure in watching him suffer nor his obnoxious older half-brother seemed to care about his opinion on the matter, and so Lelouch could only try to grasp the absurdness of the situation as Clovis pushed him down onto the mattress and gave him that small, unmistakable smile of his – the one that only replaced his overly charming demeanor on special occasions and never failed to make anyone with more of a temper than Schneizel namely, every person in the entire Empire other than the epitome of calmness and reason himself - want to sink their fist into that infuriating pretty face of his.

It was typically Lelouch who found himself with that barely containable urge long before anyone else, and it was also Lelouch who was always the first to realize that giving in to it, tempting as it may be, was not an option. Not because he was so good at keeping his temper in check or, even more ridiculously, because he thought that violence could never serve as a solution for one's problems (violence might not be the cure for all diseases, but it definitely had solved many issues in human history in favor of the ones using it, and anyone who claimed otherwise was either lying or a fool), but because it would simply not be logical. Clovis may not exactly have been an athlete, but Lelouch was probably the one person whose physical capabilities he surpassed by far. Thus, attempting to punch his brother would have stayed exactly that – an attempt, and a rather pathetic one at that.

So as usually, Lelouch smothered the urge to make a fool of himself, and even though he didn't find a crushing verbal retort to make up for his severe lack of muscular strength this time, the sudden need to hit something had at least snapped him out of his mental stupor.

As a slightly more promising alternative to the reckless use of violence, Lelouch gave his brother a rude shove and tried to sit up - in vain, as it turned out.

Instead of backing down, as Lelouch had hoped, but admittedly not really expected, Clovis didn't even do so much as blink before he simply grabbed his younger brother's arms. For a moment Lelouch thought he would put them behind his head to keep him in place, in which case he would have found himself in an even worse position, one far too defenseless for his taste, but Clovis merely placed them to either of his sides and then leaned over him again - entirely unbothered by his resistance, it seemed. Not that that did much to improve Lelouch's mood.

He glared at his brother.

Clovis only smiled. "Now, dear little brother, you really shouldn't offer things you are not willing to give. It's not very sportsmanlike. Then again... sports never really were your thing, were they?"

Lelouch made another attempt to free himself – he never even expected it to be more successful than the first one, but he felt rage burning inside him at his brother's casual words, and if he couldn't hit him, he at least wanted him to know that he was far from being defeated.

When he finally stopped his useless struggle again, his eyes were all but blazing.

"Ah, don't be that way. It's not my fault you set the stakes too high this time." Lelouch's gaze only darkened, and Clovis smiled. He let one of his brother's arms go in order to touch a strand of his hair and lightly, as if by mere coincidence and not in a deliberate act of seduction, caressed Lelouch's cheek with the back of his hand while doing so. "Just relax," he said in a voice just as coaxing as his touch. "I promise you will enjoy it."

Lelouch used his free arm to slap the intrusive hand away. "Don't touch me," he said icily.

His brother didn't seem fazed. "So you go back on your word?" he asked in an unconcerned voice. "You lose for once, and suddenly, the deal is off because you were too sure of yourself and are now unwilling to pay the price for your imprudence since you deem it too high? I would say I am disappointed," he continued in the same airy tone, "if I didn't know that you are both too proud and too stubborn to just take the easy way out."

Lelouch's glare didn't lessen, but both he and Clovis knew that his brother was right.

He wouldn't back out of this, regardless of whether he managed to free himself somehow or not, and no matter how much he didn't like where his own arrogance had gotten him. He would simply curse his carelessness and grit his teeth while Clovis had his way with him, and the only thing he hated more at that moment than his own lack of sense was his brother – mainly because he couldn't deny that this was indeed his own fault.

Ever since Lelouch had returned from Japan almost seven years ago, it hadn't been a rare occurrence that there was something at stake when they played one of their usual matches. It had started out harmless enough, with money on Clovis' part and an agreement from Lelouch not to call his brother an idiot or anything else that implied a lack of intelligence for a whole month in the unlikely case that he lost. It had then evolved into making Clovis aid him in his plans for revenge for his dead mother and crippled sister without openly telling him so, and Lelouch being forced to proclaim what a great, admirable older brother he had and how he had always looked up to him should the other prince ever mange to get the better of him.

Since Lelouch didn't have as many resources at his disposal as most of his siblings ever since he had narrowly avoided being officially disinherited, and seeing how the only thing Clovis had ever managed to achieve against him on the chess board for the longest time had been a single stalemate right after after his return from Japan all those years ago, it had been a very useful arrangement – for Lelouch, in any case. He didn't know why Clovis had gone along with it. Maybe his brother was a masochist as well as a sadistic bastard, or maybe he had really just been patiently waiting for a chance to get back at him this whole time. With Clovis, you never knew - he rarely made sense.

But regardless of what his brother's reasons were, it had been a favorable agreement... until this afternoon, when Lelouch had decided to raise the stakes considerably by trying to make Clovis become the new governor of Area 11 and take Lelouch along with him to secretly pull the strings.

Apparently, their father wanted to keep an eye on him – he had graciously allowed Lelouch to even take his sister with him should he ever want to move to one of Britannia's many territories outside of their home country, but only on the condition that he quietly finished school there and left the largest part of the politics to someone else.

Seeing how the vast majority of his siblings really wouldn't appreciate his company, let alone give him any kind of power if they didn't have to, that didn't leave him with too many options.

What he had done had been grasping for straws, really - he never seriously expected Clovis to agree, and he had already been trying to find other ways to get what he wanted; without much success. So when his brother had suggested that they finish a match from long ago, telling him that he merely wanted a prize of equal worth should he manage to beat him against all odds, Lelouch had been all too ready to let Clovis decide the rest of the terms.

Only once had he taken into account the eventuality of failure and intervened, more out of healthy paranoia than because he had thought of it as a real possibility, and that had been a special case: his brother's first pick had been all of Lelouch's secrets on a silver plate, and that was something Lelouch wasn't willing to give, not even in theory.

He would have agreed anyway if he could have lied should something have gone wrong due to some unknown variable he had failed to consider – proud or not, his priorities had always been clear -, but Clovis was already suspecting something, and Lelouch had no idea how much he really knew. Looking back, he was glad he had at least been careful with this particular issue, because apparently his brother understood enough to be well aware that the only thing Lelouch would protect more fiercely than his secrets was Nunnally, as he had not seemed surprised so much as disappointed when Lelouch declined.

And he hadn't even needed five seconds to come up with something else.

"One night," he had said in his usual flippant manner. "If I win, I want one night to do with you as I please."

Lelouch hadn't managed to refrain from staring at his obviously mental older brother in sheer disbelief, but he had caught himself quickly enough and accepted with condescending words and a casual shrug of his shoulders.

He would never have guessed it would turn out to be the miscalculation of his life.

It wasn't that Lelouch hadn't known what his brother meant. He might indeed be pretty oblivious to those kinds of things, as certain people never ceased to point out, but that was because he usually had other things on his mind - he was certainly not thick, and there had been some touching before that. Not that Lelouch would ever have let Clovis cross a certain line, but that probably was part of what had gotten him into this situation in the first place.

His brother had never seemed overly put off by how easily Lelouch changed his mind for no specific reason other than to annoy him – in fact, Clovis had seemed pretty amused by it most of the time -, but apparently, even with the Royal Family's most eccentric artist, you could only push so far before something snapped.

In the end, it was because Lelouch had never considered the option that he might not win that he now had no other choice but to submit to whatever his brother had planned.

That, however, didn't mean he had to do it quietly.

"Just shut up and get it over with. You might not have anything better to do, but I would appreciate it if you didn't waste my time."

"You know, sometimes I wonder if you left your manners in Japan that year. But since you seem to be so eager..." Clovis casually slid a hand under Lelouch's shirt to caress his chest, and Lelouch couldn't suppress a shudder at the cool touch. When his brother proceeded to slowly push the black cloth upwards, he tensed.

"Relax," Clovis said and gently moved his fingertips down Lelouch's sides. "I won't do anything I know you won't find enjoyable."

His brother continued to touch him – his stomach, his sides, his shoulders -, but apparently, he had been serious about wanting Lelouch to be more at ease, because he didn't start pulling off the shirt again for quite some time. Instead, he soon focused on Lelouch's nipples, which were still half-hidden below the dark fabric. He stroked and pinched them lightly, all the while smiling slyly and never taking his eyes off his younger brother's face, and even though Lelouch tried his best to glare at him, he had to admit that it became harder with every second that passed.

He was so busy concentrating on not letting anything other than anger show on his face that he didn't notice what Clovis was doing with his other hand until he felt it slip into his pants and stroke his left hip. It grazed his thigh and finally came to rest on a spot where only the thin fabric of Lelouch's underwear separated it from his more precious parts.

Lelouch had barely grasped the implications of that when the hand suddenly closed around his balls and started massaging them through the soft texture. For a moment, he completely forgot about glaring as he let out a sound somewhere between a surprised gasp and a muffled moan.

"I knew you would come to see things my way eventually," Clovis said, his tone colored with amusement. He also sounded like a cat that had just discovered where its owner had hidden the canary and knew exactly how to get there.

x x x

Without giving his brother time to recover, Clovis slid his hand into Lelouch's underwear and once more encircled his genitals before squeezing lightly. This time, it was definitely a moan that escaped his brother's lips.

It wasn't very hard to convince Lelouch to give up his shirt from there on, nor did he protest much when Clovis pulled down his trousers and underwear – in fact, he seemed to have lost most of his composure for the moment, and Clovis shamelessly took advantage of that. He made sure to get his brother into a properly aroused state before changing tactics and making his touches as light as those of a feather, and he enjoyed himself immensely watching Lelouch writhe beneath him, desperately trying to retain some semblance of self-control.

He was remarkably successful, though.

Hardly a sound left his brother's mouth, and although he obviously had some trouble keeping still, he never forgot to shoot Clovis a dark look from time to time. Despite the state he currently was in, it was a most impressive dark look.

Clovis had no doubt that Lelouch was capable of exceptional restraint, and that if he really wanted to, he could deny himself any pleasure he derived from his touches in favor of simply looking at him in contempt for the rest of the night.

That, however, was exactly what Clovis counted on.

Despite the undeniable delight he took in tormenting his younger brother, he had no intention of overstepping certain boundaries. For one, it would not do him well to have Lelouch holding a personal vendetta against him – it was bad enough that he would probably be in one of his foul moods for the next few weeks -; and even if he had been suicidal enough not to care about that, he still wouldn't want to hurt Lelouch's pride.

Well, or maybe he wanted to, if he was completely honest with himself, and he supposed that was exactly what he was doing right now, but there was a clear distinction to draw between landing a fairly harmless blow on his brother's over-sized ego and trying to do some serious damage.

He wouldn't have backed Lelouch into a corner and then practically jumped him if he hadn't been sure that he would be able to tell the difference between spending some unconventional quality time with his brother and actually harming him, and if one knew Lelouch well enough, the line in-between really wasn't a fine one and indeed pretty hard to miss.

As long as his brother shot him angry glares now and then, everything was fine. Should the glares turn into a murderous stare at some point, however, he might want to reconsider, and in case that his brother showed any kind of negative reaction Clovis hadn't anticipated, it would be high time for him to back down.

For now, though...

Clovis ran his hand up Lelouch's inner thighs and smiled.

For now, he would enjoy himself. He deserved it, considering there would be hell to pay afterwards – his brother would hold this against him for at least the next several months, and Lelouch with a grudge was never a good thing. If he would have to live with the consequences of his actions, Clovis wanted to at least be able to look back at them and have no doubt whatsoever that it had been worth it.

Lelouch jerked his hips slightly when Clovis' hand finally reached its destination and started stroking it lightly, and Clovis decided that the point where he wouldn't have any regrets might already have been reached. He became even surer of the accuracy of this estimation when his brother moaned quietly and pressed himself against him.

Until that moment, Lelouch's glares had only slowly been growing weaker; now they disappeared completely for an instant when Clovis squeezed slightly and Lelouch closed his eyes with an unmistakable sound of pleasure.

"I take it you are having fun?" Clovis asked amusedly and began massaging his brother's testicles again.

Lelouch opened his eyes, and even though they were still slightly hazy, the dark look had returned to them. "I will pay you back for this, Clovis," he promised him, his voice surprisingly even.

Clovis smiled. "Only one more reason for me to enjoy myself while I still can."

x x x

That damn infuriating smile of his still in place, Clovis once again bent over him.

While he put one hand on the mattress to support himself, the other continued to play with Lelouch's balls, its movements growing faster and more forceful by every second, until Lelouch gave up on his hard-regained self-control once more and succumbed to the pleasure. He jerked his lower body upwards and groaned audibly when he was rewarded by an even firmer touch between his legs.

"Turn around."

Lelouch, slightly dazed from his aroused state and the skilled fingers still stroking his balls, needed a moment to understand what his brother wanted of him, but not nearly as long to catch the implication behind it. Although he knew he should have expected this, he felt himself tense.

He was angry at himself for letting his guard down, and he couldn't believe he had given in to his brother's coaxing so quickly and entirely that he had forgotten what this would eventually lead to. And even though he had no intention of resisting (he wondered if his pride would be his downfall one day), he found that he really wanted to wake up now and discover that all this had only been a dream – a bizarre nightmare caused by a lack of sleep and an overdose of caffeine.

He had never done this before, and he didn't think he wanted to. Not this, and not when his pride and own foolishness had robbed him of any real choice on the matter.

He felt Clovis' fingers gently trail down his hip.

"I told you, Lelouch. I won't do anything you dislike." His brother lowered his head, and before Lelouch realized what was happening, soft lips slowly pressed down on his own, in a kiss strangely chaste for this kind of situation. "I would tell you to just trust me, but I guess that would be too much to ask. So... humor me?" Clovis' head was tilted to the side playfully, and there was a faint gleam of amusement in his blue eyes when he looked down at him expectantly, in a way disturbingly similar to a puppy waiting for a treat.

Lelouch hesitated, but in the end, he really didn't have a lot of options. So he eventually did as his brother had asked him to, rolling onto his stomach without a word of protest, and tried not to let it show how uncomfortable he was with that position.

It felt open, vulnerable, and that was a feeling Lelouch wasn't exactly accustomed to. He couldn't see what was happening without twisting his head and looking stupid, and even though he knew that technically, the situation was no different from before, it didn't seem that way.

It felt like he was giving up control, and Lelouch hated not being in control.

He tried to appear unconcerned, but he couldn't help the way his shoulders had stiffened, or how his every muscle constantly wanted to tense so that he could impossibly force them all to relax at once. And maybe his brother noticed, because he didn't do anything more than run his hands over his back and lightly caress his sides and shoulders for a very long time. So long that eventually, Lelouch relaxed enough to enjoy the touches, if not the situation, and even felt himself twitch as his member hardened again as soon as Clovis' fingers grazed his rear. He moaned into the pillow when his brother began kneading his buttocks only a heartbeat after that.

For some time, Lelouch managed to keep still and hold on to whatever was left of his ability to reason, but in the long run, he couldn't help squirming slightly and soon discovered that the friction caused by the movement only made things worse.

He gave a muffled groan.

"I see you are enjoying yourself," Clovis commented lightly. "But I am afraid it will be some time before you get your release." He stroked Lelouch's rear. "However, I wanted to try something you might find to your liking. Do you mind?"

It was a pointless question Lelouch didn't bother giving an answer to, and Clovis turned towards the bed table without waiting for one. Apparently he wanted to get something from there, and while he was looking for it, one of his hand remained firmly on Lelouch's rear. When he finally turned back, he immediately proceeded by pulling Lelouch's cheeks apart.

Lelouch couldn't say he was entirely comfortable with the situation, but he was also in no state to complain or even think clearly, and in the end, need and anticipation clearly won over reluctance and wariness.

He felt something touch his anus – something soft, bristly, and he flinched slightly in surprise. But just a second later, the object in question started moving, caressing the sensitive area around his hole, and Lelouch barely stifled a moan. He didn't care what it was that his brother had picked up to torment him with – he just didn't want him to stop.

Luckily, Clovis didn't seem inclined to do that any time soon, and it wasn't long until Lelouch was writhing in sweet agony.

Then the thing between his cheeks finally touched his rectum, and Lelouch didn't bother with restraint anymore - he gasped.

Instead of being pushed in deeper, however, the item went back to merely caressing the outside of his hole right afterwards, and for a short, cruel moment, Lelouch felt like crying.

Apparently, Clovis noticed his disappointment. "Now, now, little brother," he chided mildly. "It would be most crude of me to deflower you in such a manner." Had Lelouch been in a slightly less dire state, he would have made sure his brother never used the word "deflower" in relation to him ever again. The way it was, he could only do his best to keep from screaming in frustration.

His lack of violent reaction didn't escape Clovis - and even though he didn't comment on it, his awareness of Lelouch's silent desperation became all too clear in the way the movements of the object cycling his hole and sliding into it by barely a few millimeters from time to time became definitely teasing, so that it soon proved impossible for Lelouch to keep even remotely still.

Then, suddenly, the object touching his anus was gone, and the hand that had been stretching apart his buttocks until then slid below his belly and moved downwards from there while the other started oh-so-harmlessly stroking his back and rear.

Lelouch lifted his hips almost without thinking, and he didn't bother holding back his moan when he felt his brother firmly grab his balls and hardened member. He slowly started massaging them – enough to torment Lelouch, but not so much that he would have been able to come from it, which would have been difficult to achieve anyway due to the mattress interfering. Lelouch, moaning slightly and burying his head into the pillow, pressed himself deeper into his brother's hand, but only managed to increase his own need for release.

For the first time in his life, Lelouch thought he understood what it meant to experience unbearable pleasure. What he felt was so intense that it was almost painful, like someone had filled a bottle with carbonic acid, sealed it and then given it a throughout shake. And no matter how much he squirmed and moved his hips, he only managed to worsen his situation – until the only thing he knew was that he wouldn't be able to endure this for even a second longer.

"Please..." The word had left his mouth before he had realized he was going to say it, and he needed a moment to comprehend that it was his own voice he was hearing. When he finally did, he couldn't believe how incredibly pitiful it sounded, and he wanted nothing more than to make his brother curse the very day he had been born.

x x x

"Please..." It came out soft, slightly hoarse and muffled by the pillow, and held a note of barely contained desperation.

Clovis looked down at his brother in surprise.

He knew he had been giving Lelouch a hard time, but for his brother to give in like that meant he had already pushed further than he had been planning to – or, to be more precise, would have thought possible. He didn't think he had ever heard Lelouch direct the word "please" at him before, and for him to do so under the current circumstances, when he probably wanted nothing more than to throttle him on the spot, must really mean that he was on edge.

He thought that Lelouch would probably be irresistible being a bit more eager making requests like that, but he also knew that the day someone would get his brother to actually beg would be the day hell froze over and shiny dancing pigs flew through the skies. It was almost a miracle he had gotten this one word out of him, and it probably had been a slip of the tongue that wouldn't happen again any time soon.

Not that it made much of a difference. Because then there always was the tiny little fact that despite Clovis' love for driving his little brother up the wall, he had some serious trouble saying no to him - he just didn't have the heart. And he considered himself lucky that Lelouch had never been civil enough towards him to realize that, as there was no doubt he would have used this information to his advantage.

Clovis tightened his grip on Lelouch's crotch and was rewarded by an audible groan and a jerk of his brother's hips. "Ah, how could I refuse when you are asking so nicely?", he commented quite honestly and pulled his hand out from beneath Lelouch. When his brother once more started squirming at that, he gently caressed his rear. "Just turn around again and I will be happy to oblige."

This time, Lelouch didn't hesitate.

As soon as he was lying on his back, Clovis pushed his legs apart and settled himself between them, proceeding to give delicate attention to his brother's genitals. Lelouch arched his hips towards him with small, yet definite noises of pleasure, and Clovis took the time to properly appreciate them before he closed his hand exclusively around his brother's erection, moving it up and down the hardened length in slow, deliberate motions until Lelouch jerked his lower body upwards once more, his eyes firmly closed and most delicious sounds escaping his lips.

Eventually Clovis leaned over his brother, speeding up the movement of his hand while doing so, and felt a satisfied smile grace his lips when Lelouch opened his eyes to look at him. For once, there was no trace of anger visible in them - only dazed, all-consuming pleasure.

He watched his brother's face until violet eyes closed again, a look of sheer ecstasy overcoming his features when with an appealing moan, he came into Clovis' hand.

x x x

After he had ejaculated, Lelouch's breathing slowed down slightly, and he lay completely still while Clovis carelessly wiped his hand on the silken sheets that covered the lower end of the bed. When he was done, he rested his fingers on top of his brother's chest and idly let them trail up and down the boy's upper torso.

He enjoyed seeing Lelouch like this – unguarded and too exhausted to move, his pale skin slightly flushed and a strand of dark hair veiling his still closed eyes. It was like looking at a beautiful painting.

A beautiful painting depicting the calm before the storm, but Clovis could live with that.

He also didn't mind that he himself hadn't gotten any pleasure out of this other than that of watching his brother. As far as he was concerned, seeing Lelouch give in to his desires and relax for once was more than enough. It was not as if he had wanted to take him, anyway – he had no doubt that technically, his brother was still a virgin, and from his point of view (he had always been a bit corny that way), that was a fact that should only be changed by a lover.

Whatever he and Lelouch were, "lovers" was not the word for it.

Oh yes, there was some mutual sexual attraction, no doubt about that. But at the end of the day, Lelouch did not exactly regard him tenderly, and even Clovis had to admit that whatever feelings he had for his brother, they were not of romantic nature.

He sought the challenge, he loved trying to get a rise out of Lelouch and effectively gnawing on his nerves, and he genuinely cared about him, maybe more so than he did about anyone else. But he also tried to hook him up with random pretty girls whenever he got the chance, and oh wouldn't it be cute if his adorable little brother got himself an adorable little girlfriend? Or boyfriend, of course – Clovis didn't really care, as long as they were fun to mess with.

So yes, Clovis was more than happy with the way things had turned out. And when he thought that Lelouch had somewhat recovered, he spoke up again, his hand still caressing the softness of his brother's skin.

"I will become governor of Area 11 anyway," he told him casually.

"What?" Lelouch's eyes snapped open. "What for?"

"You ask the strangest questions, little brother." Clovis' lips curled into an amused smile. "Then again, it is no secret that my political ambitions are not exactly hard to surpass. And indeed, there is nothing I despise more than the responsibilities of a leader and the tedium of endless talks about minor issues I could honestly not care less about."

"Then why?" Apparently, Lelouch was still not completely himself again – otherwise, he would have sounded a lot more suspicious. Not that he didn't sound suspicious, but he mostly looked like he was trying to comprehend what Clovis could be thinking instead of just assuming he had some secret plan to take over the world and turn it into a gigantic museum of art. Still, he certainly hadn't lost that nasty habit of his to always look for a hidden agenda.

"It's important to you, isn't it? You would never have agreed to this otherwise, bottomless arrogance or not."

Lelouch narrowed his eyes. "What do you want in return?"

"Ah, but little brother, why would I need to have an ulterior motive to do you a favor? Maybe I don't want anything."

Lelouch snorted. "Try that on someone who isn't your intellectual superior."

"You know, I never noticed how compelling you look when you are being a smart-ass..."

Lelouch's eyes became slits. "This was a one-time thing, Clovis. If you think I would-"

Clovis didn't let him finish. Before his brother could react, he was leaning over him again, his face only centimeters away from his. "The night is not over yet. In fact, we still have several hours." Lelouch's eyes widened, but he didn't try to move away, and Clovis reached out to lightly touch a strand of his hair. "However, I have no intention of abusing that fact, just like I would never suggest what you are implying. Please do not jump to conclusions."

He sat back up, his tone becoming flippant again. "Of course, the politics would be entirely your responsibility. Otherwise, I am afraid that poor country will be going to hell, seeing how I have absolutely no intention of putting up with economical problems and barbaric terrorists."

Lelouch simply stared at him uncomprehendingly. "Why?"

"Because they bore me, of course. And because despite what you may think, and even though you certainly are the paradigm for why they say little brothers are a pain, I happen to be rather fond of you." He idly twirled the strand of Lelouch's hair he was still holding around his fingers. "You could just have asked, you know."

His brother looked at him like he had grown a second head, but still rather blankly, and Clovis thought he might have broken him. Oh well - at least he had died happily. If he appreciated his older brother's generous words, of course, which he probably didn't; but that was his own fault for being an ungrateful little brat.

So Clovis didn't dwell on it and merely patted Lelouch's head. "Sleep now, before you stay like that forever. It looks rather undignified."

And apparently, Lelouch really had been exhausted, because it was not long until he followed that advice. He didn't even take the time to make a snappy retort first, though Clovis supposed that might have something to do with the look Lelouch had given him instead – the one that clearly said, "I will not bother replying to this," and that also seemed to imply that he preferred talking to people he at least deemed somewhat sane.

So Clovis had simply given a mental shrug and kept stroking his little brother's hair affectionately, all the while wondering what kind of tea he should serve in the morning.

x x x

"A paint-brush." The sun had barely appeared on the horizon when his brother made this rather worrying observation. "You took a paint-brush and stuck it into my-" Lelouch broke off, just to suddenly notice something else: "And you were fully clothed the whole time! You actually-"

Clovis decided to flee the room before his brother got over his shock enough to become aware of certain pieces of furniture around him.

It would be most unfortunate to be killed by a flying bedside lamp.