I think it's a good thing I set myself a limit of one month, or I might have continued to go over this chapter again and again for another year or so before posting it. It wouldn't be so sad if I had made any major changes, but I just kept getting stuck on minor issues, and even now I have to forcefully restrain myself from obsessing over Evil Details of Doom.

Anyway, here it is - enjoy!

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Chapter Title: Delectable Ventures

Rating: M

Additional Warnings: To celebrate its revival, the randomness has invited the smut over. Together, they shall take down the plot or die (again) trying!

Amongst other things, their armory contains Guilford, ice-cream and first dates; only two of which are connected. Beware!


Pleasures of Art
- Chapter 11

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The ceremony held to welcome Cornelia to Area 11 was highly formal and impersonal, a mere spectacle for the media to feast upon. As neither Euphie nor Lelouch and Nunnally were planning to make their presence in the territory known, they remained absent, and even Schneizel was kept busy elsewhere, filling the Emperor in on what had transpired during the conflict with the Chinese Federation and probably discussing with him how to proceed.

While Clovis didn't abhor occasions like this the way he did so many others of his duties as a governor, they weren't particularly interesting, either, and all he could do was to wait for the event to end.

It took several hours, but eventually, it did, and Clovis was glad to finally be able to greet his sister properly. "Aneue," he said. "It's good to see you."

"Clovis," his sister acknowledged. And immediately added, "Still with the ungainly clothes, I see."

Clovis smiled, unruffled. "It would seem that way."

"It was not an advisable choice of a attire before, but it's not acceptable for the governor of an Area such as this one," she told him coldly. "People like you are the first to die in battle."

"How unsparing, for someone I haven't seen in a while," Clovis countered, still smiling. "You never change, either, sister."

Cornelia's gaze softened somewhat. "You should at least learn how to pilot a Knightmare Frame," she said, but it was an empty suggestion he had successfully ignored for almost a decade.

"Maybe some day," Clovis replied easily. "I hear there were no problems taking out Sawasaki?"

"The storm delayed us, but there were no significant losses. As expected, Schneizel's plan was flawless."

"But?"

"But," Cornelia said, her voice becoming sharp, "I'm not happy that an Eleven was involved."

"You mean Kururugi?"

"He may have the skill, but he is still just a Number. There was no need to rely on a non-Britannian when the Glaston Knights could have easily taken care of the matter."

"Wouldn't we have sustained considerable damage that way?"

"Not enough that the Chinese Federation would have dared to do anything stupid."

"I see," Clovis said. "Technically, he's a citizen of the Empire, though."

"Semantics," Cornelia told him, unimpressed. "The Honorary Britannian system is distasteful to begin with. The line between rulers and subjects should not be blurred."

Now that was slightly radical...

"You do realize he's a friend of Lelouch's and Nunnally's?"

"So Euphie keeps telling me. It's highly inappropriate, but from what she has told me, there's not much I will be able do about it."

Clovis tilted his head slightly. "Is that all?"

"What else would there be?"

"Oh, I don't know. Perhaps a sentiment along the lines of, 'It's a wonder Lelouch has friends at all, so let's not interfere and be happy he still remembers how to socialize'?"

"That's ridiculous," Cornelia scoffed. "He can make friends in the appropriate circles. There is no reason for him to associate with a Number."

Except that the Number has a very nice ass, Clovis thought.

"...Why are you grinning?"

"Ah, forgive me. I was merely remembering something."

Cornelia gave him a curious look, but didn't ask. It was probably better that way for both of them.

x x x

"Cornelia," Lelouch said.

"Lelouch. Is Nunnally here, too?"

"No, she's at Ashford – it will be a while before she's able to come. She asked me to relay her greetings to you, though."

"I see," Cornelia said. "Have the two of you been well?"

"Quite so. I believe studying in Area 11 was the right decision. Nunnally has made a lot of friends."

"So I hear."

Something about Cornelia's tone was off, and Lelouch could guess what it was. He inquired anyway. "Is there something wrong?"

Cornelia wasn't one to beat around the bush. "Why a Number, Lelouch?" she asked. "You should know that the distinction between those who rule and those who are ruled is important. It may only be a private matter now, but if it ever becomes known that a Prince of Britannia considers an Eleven his friend, people might forget their place. Even more importantly, it could damage your standing in the court."

In a stern voice, she added, "You should think of Nunnally." Lelouch had calmly listened to her until then, having expected something like this, but it was that last remark which got to him. All his carefully prepared words crumbled to nothing - the audacity!

"What standing, sister?" he demanded to know. "There is no such thing for me and Nunnally. Or did you forget? How the Emperor himself discarded us. Don't try to tell me what is best for Nunnally – we've been doing fine on our own the last eight years. It's a bit late to try and control our actions, don't you think?"

"I didn't mean-"

"Of course you didn't. If you'd excuse me, I believe Clovis wanted to talk to me."

With that, Lelouch walked past his sister, leaving her to stare after him in bewilderment.

x x x

"I still think you're just being paranoid."

"You mentioned as much."

"And it doesn't make a difference to you, does it?" Clovis placed his hands on the back of the chair Lelouch was sitting on, looking over his brother's shoulder. As usual, the documents lying on the table didn't particularly interest him, and the only thing he noted about them was that they seemed to be dealing with finances. "You don't care that Cornelia could never have brought herself to do it, or that of almost all the members of the court, Schneizel has the least of a motive."

"Couldn't have brought herself to do it?" Lelouch asked, ignoring the last part. "We're talking about the Witch of Britannia."

"Who was visibly shaken by the incident," Clovis pointed out and then sighed. "You weren't there, Lelouch. You should have seen her – during the time you and Nunnally were gone, she was barely herself. Her facade was good, but not perfect."

His brother scoffed. "And I'm sure you're going to tell me that Schneizel was completely heartbroken next."

"Schneizel...," Clovis said, a bit more reluctantly. "You know he's not easy to read. But he doesn't do anything without a reason, and there's nothing he would have gained from killing her." And he had seemed regretful, not that Lelouch would want to hear that.

However, it seemed Clovis had already said too much. Lelouch whirled around, his face twisted in anger and contempt. "If you're so sure, then why did you say they knew something?"

Clovis blinked. "I did?" he asked before it dawned on him. "You never mentioned that," he said – not accusingly, or even as an expression of surprise; it was the simple stating of a fact.

Lelouch didn't react, and Clovis wondered if his brother truly wanted an explanation or was merely waiting for him to make a wrong move – to give away the game, whatever that meant considering they had already established that he hadn't been involved in Marianne vi Britannia's murder.

"Since I can't remember, I don't know what exactly I said and why, but considering the circumstances, I'm pretty sure I meant it literally." Clovis hadn't intended to sound so haughty, but found that he couldn't help himself. "If I indeed told you that they know something, then maybe you should leave personal interpretations out of this and remember that Cornelia did look into the matter herself. I was there when Euphie mentioned it to you. And if you spent a bit more time around her and Schneizel, you would have noticed that they talk about a lot of things I am not privy to. They're mostly political matters, but I'm almost certain there are other things they do not tell me simply because they don't think it concerns me. If you take that into account, it should occur to you just why I find it to be rather likely that they 'know something'."

"Are you done?"

"Actually, no. Have you ever thought about asking them? I understand why you would not want to go to Schneizel with this, but Cornelia? I'm surprised she never attempted to discuss with you what happened that night. Then again, I can see why she wouldn't want to be the one to approach the subject. In any case, I highly doubt her reasons are sinister."

"Then why did she order the guards to be removed?"

Clovis looked at his brother in astonishment. "What?"

Lelouch snorted. "Oh, now that's rich. You preach to me about this when you have really no idea. I should have known."

"Well, if you would actually talk to me, then maybe I would not offend you with my ignorance!" Obviously this whole Zero thing was getting to him, because the words had left his mouth before he so much as became aware of thinking them.

Lelouch seemed even more surprised at his outburst than Clovis himself. It was a cold comfort.

He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "Look, I'm not telling you what you should do. Maybe I'm wrong and they are guilty. And perhaps imagining Euphie's face if it turned out you were right about Cornelia doesn't exactly help my already non-existent objectivity. But I am trying to help – just... try to keep that in mind?"

He slowly lowered his head onto Lelouch's shoulder, giving his brother the opportunity to make it clear if he was too angry to tolerate the contact. But even though Lelouch still didn't appear overly amiable, he neither stopped him nor moved away, and Clovis had to admit he hadn't really been expecting so much civility.

"Do what you want," Lelouch said – quite coolly, but coming from him under the given circumstances, the tone really didn't matter.

Clovis wondered if hugging him now would be pushing it.

x x x

"A ball?" Lelouch asked.

Euphie nodded, smiling. "Since it's a masked ball, it will be all right for me to go. I think that's why Clovis picked the theme." She giggled. "He even managed to rope in Cornelia."

Lelouch stared. "How did he do that?" he asked, slightly impressed despite himself. Cornelia hated grand festivities - nearly as much as Lelouch himself did. Not only did she almost end up decapitating whole swarms of suitors and bootlickers every time, she positively despised how long it usually took her to get ready. She deemed putting on make-up and lavish dresses a waste of time, but wasn't quite willing to break with custom.

"He kept asking."

"That's all?"

Euphie's eyes shone with amusement. "He really kept asking," she explained. "When she left her room in the morning, during breakfast, when she looked into how Area 11's military is doing – even when she returned from the toilet."

"I'm surprised she didn't do anything lethal to him."

"She might have," Euphie conceded, "but he knows sister can't stay angry at him for long, so he just kept disappearing for a few hours afterwards."

Lelouch snorted. That sounded like Clovis.

"Do you want to come, too?" Euphie suddenly asked. "We could go together."

Lelouch shook his head slowly. "I'd rather not risk it. It's very unlikely that anyone would recognize me, but the media will be there. If any of the nobles realizes it's you, they'd wonder who your partner is, and things could become complicated. Besides, I have to help Milly clean up after the school festival."

"I see," Euphie said, clearly disappointed. Lelouch felt a stab of guilt.

"I'm sorry."

She shook her head. "I understand. It's just... I can't spend time with Cornelia in public, so I'm a bit nervous. I've never been to a ball all on my own."

"I see," Lelouch said, unsure how to proceed. Where was Clovis when you needed him? He wasn't good with these things.

Euphie seemed to notice. "It's all right!" she assured him. "It's not like I'll really be alone. Clovis will be there, and if I know my sister, she won't let me out of her sight for even a second."

Euphie was smiling at him, but that only made Lelouch feel slightly better. Suddenly, an idea came to him. "Why don't you ask Suzaku?"

His sister blinked. "Suzaku? But... wouldn't it be bad for him if anyone recognized him, too?"

"They probably won't," Lelouch said. "No one would expect you to be attended by a 'Number', and it's unlikely you'll be recognized in the first place. I'm just being cautious – to be honest, I'm surprised no one at Ashford has figured it out on their own by now."

Euphie nodded, her face lighting up. "I'll ask him," she told him. "Thank you, Lelouch!"

Her bright smile made Lelouch feel both warm and strangely ill at ease.

x x x

"Are you still worried about Cornelia?"

"She's messing up my plans," Lelouch said. "I intended to wait with my next move until Schneizel is gone, but now it won't make much of a difference. She's going to plunge into battle, and for Euphie's sake, I can't harm her... not until I know for sure."

"If you're so suspicious, why don't you just use your Geass on her? It might come in handy with Schneizel later on, I give you that, but you hardly need it to gain an advantage over Cornelia. Are you really that afraid the Emperor could find out?"

Lelouch snorted at the inane question. "We have no idea how much he knows, and if he gets wind of this power I've obtained, it will be over. I can't take the risk until I have at least secured Japan."

Clovis sighed. "Then why don't you just stop over-thinking things? Just tell her you have everything under control and she will leave in a few weeks at most. I know you think everyone is out to get you, but she's only worried. She probably believes I will make a fatal blunder eventually and get us all killed, so if you tell her you're handling the situation, she'll be reassured. She has a fairly high opinion of you, you know?"

Lelouch remained silent for a while. "Even if that's true," he finally said, "I don't think that will be possible anymore."

"What do you mean?"

"We had a... disagreement."

"A disagreement? About what?"

"Suzaku."

"Well, that was to be expected, wasn't it? It can't have gone too badly, though. She didn't really seem angry when I talked to her before."

"Maybe she wasn't," Lelouch conceded. "But I... lost my temper."

Clovis blinked at him. "Lost your temper? What did she do to warrant that?"

"Nothing," Lelouch ground out. "I overreacted, all right? She brought Nunnally into it and I just-" He broke off, biting his lip. How could he have made such a stupid mistake? Regardless of whether he could have talked Cornelia into getting the hell out of Area 11, what he had said wouldn't exactly help deflect any suspicions she may begin to foment in the future. It also had the potential to make things extremely awkward for Nunnally and Euphie.

Worst of all, though, it had been completely unnecessary. He'd been playing nice for years – he would only have needed to keep up the act a little longer and it wouldn't have mattered anymore.

"Why is it that every time you're emotionally invested in something, all your logic and foresight go to hell?" Clovis asked, shaking his head rather dramatically. "That's why I keep telling you to take it easy. With all this stress you're putting yourself under, it's no surprise you get cranky – more so than usual, that is. Even my nerves have gotten torn to pieces recently, and I'm not even doing anything."

"That's because you're a whiny idiot," Lelouch told him.

"Maybe," Clovis replied, shrugging his shoulders languidly. "It's more healthy than being an emotionally repressed genius, though. We definitely should do something about that. Oh," his brother suddenly exclaimed, clapping his hands in delight, "I have the perfect idea!"

Lelouch got a very nasty feeling.

x x x

"Relaxation exercises?" Nunnally asked, tilting her head.

"Yes," Clovis affirmed cheerily, ignoring his little brother's glare. If looks could kill, he'd have dropped dead on the spot. "You see," he continued in a more serious tone, "it seems Lelouch has been having some difficulties with his teachers-" that wasn't really a lie- "and I have reason to believe recent events have been getting to him more than he lets on. It's nothing serious, of course, but these things can lead to migraine, mood swings and all kinds of other unpleasant experiences, so I thought it'd be better to take care of it now rather than later."

Nunnally nodded thoughtfully. "Brother has been acting a bit strange lately."

The look of horrified betrayal on Lelouch's face almost had Clovis burst out laughing, but he forced the amusement out of his voice as he resumed talking, "That's why I need your help. Lelouch, being his usual stubborn self, will pretend he needs no such thing; so if he refuses to cooperate, I will inform you - in which case you will have to give him a stern talking to. Would you do that?"

"Of course!" She turned to Lelouch, smiling. "It's nice of Clovis-oniisama to help you with this, isn't it?"

Lelouch returned the smile, but it looked incredibly strained. "Yes, Nunnally, very nice." He glanced at Clovis. You're dead, he mouthed.

Clovis just joined in on the smiling.

x x x

"I'll kill you."

By now, Clovis was quite used to that particularly threat. "I think that would count as 'refusing to cooperate', though, wouldn't it?"

"No one will ever know. I will make it appear like an accident. A tragic, gruesome accident."

"I see," Clovis said. "I'll be watching my back, then. While I'm still amongst the living, however, let's not disappoint Nunnally. I've got everything prepared already!"

Lelouch crossed his arms. "I'm not going to partake in your ridiculous scheme."

"Don't be that way - it's for your own good! Besides, it's nothing terrible. You'll thank me later. Well, if you ever regain your manners, which you probably won't... but you get the idea."

"Why do I doubt that?"

"Because you're a miserable little pessimist?" Clovis suggested. "Now come." Lelouch snorted, but didn't resist when Clovis steered him towards the bed.

His little brother's obligingness wasn't all that unexpected, despite his words. Clovis was fairly sure that if Lelouch had really been planning to refuse outright, he wouldn't have shown up at all - except to murder him in his sleep, maybe.

Now that he thought about it, his little brother had been oddly complaisant since their slight difference of opinion the other day.

"And now?" Lelouch wanted to know.

"Now," Clovis replied, grinning, "we'll get you to relax. Take your shirt off and lie down, would you?"

Lelouch gave him a dubious look, and Clovis rolled his eyes. "I'm not going to do anything you don't want me to – I like my limbs, thank you very much. Just play along a little?"

Remarkably, his brother did. After holding Clovis' gaze for a few seconds longer, he casually unbuttoned his shirt and, once he had put the by then neatly folded piece of cloth aside, lowered himself onto the mattress with the same deliberate lack of haste. When he caught Clovis' eyes again, it felt almost like a challenge.

Clovis smiled. "You know," he said, selecting a paint-brush from the many utensils positioned on the bedside table, "while painting you is incredibly entertaining, I always thought painting on you would be even more of a stimulating experience."

"...You can't be serious."

"Oh, but I am. And you know what the best thing is?"

The expression on Lelouch's face made it clear he was dreading the answer already, but he asked nonetheless, "What?"

Clovis grinned brightly. "It's edible!"

His little brother groaned, but not quite in anticipation. "I thought we'd established that therapeutic sex is not going to make it on my to-do list? Ever?"

Clovis widened his eyes. "But Lelouch, it's therapeutic painting! It's right up there with therapeutic massages and therapeutic cooking, only that it's much more sophisticated!"

"You're an idiot."

"And you're not saying no. Though if you're really averse to the idea, no doubt I'd be able to think of something else that would enable me too keep my promise to Nunnally. It would be a shame, of course, but - ah well. I could always lock the paint in a room with Cornelia and Guilford and see what happens."

Lelouch grimaced. "Don't. Just... don't."

Clovis gave his brother a brilliant smile. "So you're agreeing?"

A short pause. "On one condition," Lelouch finally said.

"What is it?"

"You're going to sort out this mess with Cornelia for me."

Clovis felt his jaw drop. "What? How am I supposed to do that?"

Lelouch shrugged, smiling in a way that would make Satan himself seem like a cute little lion cub at best. "That's your problem."

"You... you planned this!"

"Congratulations on your noting of the obvious. If it makes you feel better, I'm sure not having to deal with her will prove very beneficial to my stress level. Now?"

"You... you... spawn of the devil!"

Lelouch raised an eyebrow. "That's one I haven't heard before. I'm sure the vast majority of Japanese would agree, though. Of course, you'd have insulted yourself in that case, but I won't even consider the alternative, because then I'd have to kill you in earnest."

"Brat."

"I'm still waiting for an answer."

"Oh, all right," Clovis said. "I can try. I won't guarantee anything, though."

"Not good enough."

"What? Who do you think I am, the Wizard of Oz?"

"Now that you mention it, I suppose it would fit - only that you will need to get the Witch's broomstick yourself."

Clovis adopted a thoughtful expression. "You want me to kidnap Guilford?"

Lelouch gave him a blank look. "What?" He asked. Then, "You're disgusting."

"And you're lying half-naked in my bed, so I'm not sure what that says about you."

"If you don't make up your mind soon, I won't be for much longer."

"All right, all right," Clovis said. "I'll come up with something." If it went badly, he could always bring in tragic childhoods... and perhaps missing puppies. Missing puppies always worked.

What had Lelouch said to her, anyway?

Lelouch smirked. "Good."

"In return," Clovis said, his lips mirroring Lelouch's, "we're going to do this my way, though."

"Suit yourself," Lelouch retorted simply. "I'll be sure to let you know if you displease me."

"...That sounded incredibly hot."

Lelouch snorted. "So easily contented."

"Only by you," Clovis told his brother and dipped the paint-brush he was still holding into one of the body colors. "Let's see..." He paused when he noticed Lelouch's less than thrilled expression. "What?" he asked, brush hovering over his brother's stomach, which, pale and soft and smooth, seemed like the perfect canvas to Clovis.

"Why does it always have to be pink with you?"

"You're supposed to relax, not play art critic."

"It's hard to ignore your inadequacies when it's my body I have to watch being turned into some hideous abomination."

"Well, you will just have to close your eyes then, won't you?"

It didn't take long for Lelouch to realize he'd meant that literally. "What?"

"My way," Clovis reminded him happily. "Unless you want to deal with both a crestfallen Nunnally and a potentially murderous Cornelia?"

Lelouch looked seriously conflicted, and Clovis realized that while the body paint wasn't that big a deal to his little brother, the prospect of keeping his eyes shut the whole time was.

It was only natural, Clovis supposed. Lelouch didn't like feeling vulnerable, and being unable to see what someone else was doing to him would certainly have that effect on him. He could always simply open his eyes again, of course, but that would be the same as admitting that he was uncomfortable – from Lelouch's point of view, a display of weakness all in its own right from.

After debating the matter for a moment, Clovis decided to at least try. He put the brush aside and leaned in to kiss Lelouch, who reciprocated after a second and allowed himself to truly focus on the action after another.

"Close your eyes?" Clovis coaxed when they parted.

"I...," Lelouch began, at once looking terribly tense again, and Clovis sighed softly.

"Forget I said anything – it was a stupid idea."

"Well, at least you realize it," Lelouch said after the briefest of silences. And then, sounding as if the words would have been accompanied by a casual shrug had he been sitting upright, "I don't really mind, though."

Clovis looked at him in surprise. "You don't?"

"Stay away from the eye-sore and we have a deal."

Clovis broke into a grin. "Done."

x x x

Lelouch found that relaxing wasn't as hard as he had thought it would be.

The strokes of the brush, while feeling somewhat cool against his skin at first, weren't unpleasant, and Clovis, ever the artist, was too absorbed in what he was doing to make an annoyance of himself. Of course, if it came down to it, Lelouch had no doubts that his brother would be easily distracted by the possibility of more exciting activities, but for now, the movements of his hand were continuous and determined, as they had been for the past fifteen minutes or so.

Considering that, and in the light of the fact that his brother had focused his attention on his stomach and not strayed from that area even once, it wasn't all that hard to keep his thoughts from wandering too far in that direction, even when the bristles came in contact with his navel and made Lelouch feel more than just ticklish.

Not being able to simply observe had taken a while to get accustomed to, but Lelouch had agreed to the self-imposed restriction of his senses exactly for that very reason – because his instinctive reluctance was utterly illogical, and he refused to be tied down by laughable sentiments. If he could sleep in the same bed as Clovis, he could do this. It wasn't like he distrusted him, per se. He just hated no being able to predict his actions half the time.

Still, he couldn't help the strange mixture of unease and anticipation when the brush paused in mid-stroke at last.

"Well," Clovis said after a moment. "I think I have just proven to myself that body colors can rarely be found at exhibitions for a reason."

"Glad I could be of assistance," Lelouch told him snidely, more irked by the anticlimactic announcement than he had thought possible.

Clovis didn't even seem to notice. "Maybe I should try mixing it with the blue one..." He actually sounded serious.

Lelouch slowly sucked in air. He was calm. He was completely, entirely calm and certainly not about to-

...Oh, for god's sake!

Lelouch snapped his eyes open and, with the most expressive glare he could muster, grabbed his brother's hair. Clovis was too perplexed to react, even as Lelouch pulled him into a rough kiss.

A few seconds later, it was his brother who was lying on his back, Lelouch on top of him.

Clovis blinked. "I guess I should have tried body colors sooner?" he asked cautiously. Then, "Don't you at least want to get cleaned up before you ravish me? I rather like my clothes." Lelouch just kept looking at him. Finally, "My clothes are doomed, aren't they?"

Instead of answering, Lelouch used his tongue to silence his brother.

Clovis didn't seem like he would have complained, anyway.

x x x

"Ahh, could you please just-"

"No."

"At least-"

"No."

"Oh god, I hate yo- ah."

"Shut up."

Clovis did.

x x x

Lelouch decided he could get used to this.

While he felt that needlessly encouraging his brother in his usual advances was beneath him, he couldn't deny that there was something very appealing about the way Clovis threw his head back as Lelouch's fingers finally hit that spot, abandoning himself to pleasure without a second thought. Suzaku was always so much more reluctant to let himself go, as if he would somehow do Lelouch a disservice by not focusing his complete attention on him for even the blink of an eye.

Paradoxically, Clovis was also quieter than Suzaku, perhaps because he knew very well that many of the walls in the government building were thinner than they looked. Regardless of the reason, though, it thrilled Lelouch - the knowledge that a simple touch from him could extinguish his brother's usual chattiness in an instant.

Most importantly, however, there was no underlying agitation: no nagging doubts at the back of his mind as to how long this could last, no feeling guilty for keeping too many secrets, and no burning frustration due to either – only the satisfaction of having Clovis at his mercy, unable to do anything but gasp and writhe beneath him.

He retracted his hand, ignoring his brother's whine of protest (could the idiot ever stop being dramatic?), and lapped at Clovis' still-exposed throat, enjoying the hitch in his brother's breathing at the simple act.

Slowly, he made his way up Clovis' jugular, teeth nibbling, taunting. He wasn't planning on giving his brother an opportunity to try and rush him again.

Clovis moaned, just loud enough to send a wave of excitement through Lelouch. He bit down on his brother's shoulder, hard, and Clovis gasped, the sound one of pleasure even as his face contorted in pain.

Lelouch captured his brother's parted lips in a hungry kiss, but it only lasted a few seconds before Clovis broke away abruptly. "Would you just fuck me already?" he snapped.

Lelouch couldn't say he had been expecting that; however, he quickly overcame his surprise. "Oh, I don't know." He smirked. "I find this is helping my stress level quite a bit."

"Screw your stress level! If you don't get this done within in the next five minutes, I swear I'll moan your name so loudly everyone in the building will fall out of their bed."

Lelouch stared at his brother. "You're bluffing."

"Try me."

Lelouch almost did, but then he remembered that Euphie and Nunnally were sleeping only a few corridors away and wordlessly went for the lube.

Not long after, Lelouch was happy to discover that under certain circumstances, Clovis was a lot less inclined to be difficult. Needless to say, his brother soon regretted shooting off his mouth.

x x x

It was several hours later that Clovis picked up the brush again.

Lelouch stared at him in disbelief.

"I didn't get to finish," Clovis told him, as if that explained everything. Since Clovis was Clovis, Lelouch supposed it did. "You don't mind, do you?"

"I don't care," Lelouch said, "but I'm not going to move even an inch."

His brother beamed. "That's fine!" he exclaimed and reached for the colors.

Lelouch decided to do the reasonable thing and go back to sleep.

x x x

His plans got canceled when he realized it was not his stomach Clovis was concerned with this time.

He also discovered that his nipples and paint-brushes did not go well together. With both him and Clovis devoid of any clothing and the covers thrown back, his arousal was quite visible - which was kind of embarrassing considering the circumstances.

Clovis just smiled at him in amusement, said something about a minor flaw in his masterpiece and proceeded to correct it. With his tongue.

The following thirty minutes mostly consisted of gasping, hip-bucking and claims that the body paint was delicious and that Lelouch just had to try it. He never did, but that certainly didn't stop his brother from demonstrating in great detail how incredibly tasty he found those colors to be, the red one especially. Since "the red one" just so happened to come into contact with Lelouch's hand, another round of demonstrating, gasping and hip-bucking followed.

It was an interesting night, to say the least.

x x x

"What's that?" Lelouch asked, eying the items his brother had pressed into his hand.

"What does it look like?"

"A joke."

"And why is that?"

"Do you really have to ask? What the heck am I supposed to do with tickets for an amusement park?"

"Let's see... how about go and have some fun?"

"Fun," Lelouch said.

"Fun," Clovis confirmed, smiling at him. "It's about time you took Kururugi on a proper date."

Lelouch spluttered. "Date?"

"Don't tell me you've never been to one before." Lelouch just stared at his brother. "Oh god, that's sad. You do know how that kind of thing works, though, don't you? Please tell me you do."

"Of course I know how it works - it's not like it's that big of a deal!"

A long, scrutinizing look. "All right, just humor me here: what is a date, in your opinion?"

"That's a stupid question. It's a common form of courtship with the purpose of assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship. However, I really don't see how such a thing is necessa-" Lelouch broke off when he noticed that his brother had buried his face in his hands. His shoulders were trembling and he was emitting muffled sounds of... were that sobs or was it laughter?

"I... oh my god... you're..."

"What's so funny?"

"Nothing. It's sad. So sad. You poor, antisocial thing without any knowledge on basic human interaction whatsoever."

"What is your problem?"

"My problem," Clovis said, still actively stifling gasps of laughter, "is that you sound like an alien who has attempted to study humanity and failed. You were going to say that because you and Kururugi get along well enough and spend lots of time with each other in school, there's no need to 'assess each other's suitability as a partner' anymore, weren't you?"

"So? ...Stop giggling!"

"All right, all right. I'm fine. But see, the kind of date I was talking about is not about," his brother made a vague gesture with his hand, "evaluating each other."

"Then what's the point?"

"The point," Clovis said, "is to have fun. And maybe kiss. And perhaps have some steamy sex on the Ferris wheel."

"What? People go on dates just to have sex on the Ferris wheel?"

"Sometimes. And sometimes it's the toilet of a cinema. Or a boat. Or the backseat of a car."

"That's... completely absurd!"

"Yes," Clovis agreed, giving him a bright smile. "Imagine, some have been known to do nothing more than hold hands all day!"

"Hold... hands?" Of course Lelouch had seen people do it before, but as he tried to picture himself spending several hours holding Suzaku's hand, the concept just seemed incredibly ridiculous to him.

"Don't look like that. It's not a requirement. Just go and amuse yourselves, will you?"

A part of Lelouch wanted to snort derisively and tell his brother to go himself if he was that desperate. Another part of him, though, was strangely intrigued by the prospect. He glanced at the tickets.

And paused. "You called it Clovis Land?"

"Yes. Doesn't it sound dignified?"

"It sounds like the work of a self-loving idiot whose supposed creativity only exists in his own head. I can't believe you criticized me for choosing Zero."

Clovis nodded pensively. "True, I have wronged you – I can see that now. Obviously, you couldn't have picked 'Clovis', so everything else just had to pale in comparison. I apologize for what I said back then. It was highly insensitive of me."

"...Just shut up."

x x x

"Lelouch, that's..."

"You're not going to tell me you have to work, are you?"

"No," Suzaku said, shaking his head as he continued to stare perplexedly at the amusement park ticket. "I actually would have had to, but it suddenly got canceled."

What a coincidence, Lelouch thought dryly. Clovis was so pathetically obvious. "You're free, then?"

"Yes. But... shouldn't you go with Nunnally?"

"She already went with Euphie to the opening ceremony. I was busy, though." He snorted. "Clovis is handing these things out like candy. I wouldn't be surprised if he sent a set to Lloyd and Cecile, as well."

Suzaku smiled. "Prince Clovis is very considerate, isn't he?"

"Well, I suppose that's one way of putting it." The other, more accurate one being 'an obnoxious, meddling idiot who doesn't know how to leave people in peace'. "Let's meet in an hour at the gate, then. I have to tell Nunnally and grab some things... or do you want to come along?"

"No. Lloyd won't care, but I should probably let Miss Cecile know."

Lelouch nodded. "All right, then."

x x x

"...Why do you keep glancing at my hand?"

"No reason," Lelouch quickly said, looking around frantically for a distraction. "Why don't we get some ice-cream?"

"I thought you don't like sticky things?"

"Ice-cream only becomes sticky if you don't know how to eat it correctly."

Suzaku smiled. "I see."

x x x

Lelouch cursed and shifted the cone to his left hand, watching the pink fluid trail down his index finger.

This was Suzaku's fault - no normal person ate their ice-cream like that!

"Are you all right?" his friend asked, concerned until he noticed what the problem was. He seemed distinctly amused then, but rummaged through his pockets in what Lelouch guessed was the search for a handkerchief. After a while, he gave up. "Sorry, I forgot the tissues in my other jacket." He grasped Lelouch's wrist. "Wait a second."

Suzaku stepped closer, lifted his hand and... Lelouch stared. He couldn't be serious!

But he was.

Suzaku slowly took his finger into his mouth and did exactly what had caused Lelouch to become inattentive in the first place, only this time, he couldn't only observe that dexterous tongue, but was quite literally witnessing its effects first hand. And if the resulting sensation wasn't bad enough on its own, the memories involving body paint that were suddenly flooding his mind certainly did the trick.

Lelouch pulled his hand away. "Suzaku!" he hissed. "We're in public!

Suzaku looked at him in confusion at first, but then he finally seemed to get it. "Oh," he said, grinning sheepishly. "Sorry."

Lelouch huffed.

x x x

There was no sex on the Ferris wheel.

.

"That's strange... have you lost weight?"

"Suzaku."

"What?"

"You're feeling up the skeleton."

"Oh."

.

…Only in the haunted house.

x x x

"Do you think... do you think it could happen again?"

Clovis turned to Euphie, confused. "What?"

"Lelouch and Suzaku," she explained. "Working together."

"Well," Clovis began, "I certainly hope so. Lelouch's constant brooding was beginning to get annoying." He kept quiet for a few seconds before reluctantly adding, "It doesn't look like Kururugi is planning to switch sides any time soon, though."

Another silence. Finally, his sister asked, "Isn't there any other way?"

There was something strange in Euphie's voice. "What do you mean?"

"I just thought... wouldn't it be great if things could get back to the way they used to be? If Area 11 became peaceful, Lelouch and Nunnally could just stay here and be happy, like before. He and Suzaku wouldn't have to fight, either – they could work together to make things better for everyone."

"It's a nice dream," Clovis said.

Euphie didn't reply, and Clovis decided to leave her to her musings. It must be hard for her – having to watch those whose smiles meant so much to her bring pain upon themselves and not see any way to stop them.

Later, when he realized how gravely he had underestimated her, he would look back on this moment in time and wonder if things would have gone differently if he hadn't failed to understand the most essential thing about his sister.

x x x

"The Purist Faction is being unusually quiet," Lelouch noted. "They haven't even complained about Suzaku recently. You should keep an eye on them – even if they are still recovering from the incident at Narita, I expected them to at least try and bring the matter to Cornelia's attention while she is here. They might be planning something."

"I don't think so."

Lelouch blinked, taken aback by the certainty in his brother's voice. "And why is that?"

"Because I have reason to believe that their motivation for remaining silent is a bit more, ah, personal than that."

"...What did you do?"

"Well... I might have slept with Kewell. And Morgan. And then there was this really cute-"

"Are you telling me you go whoring now?"

Clovis gave a self-satisfied little smile. "It was a very subtle kind of whoring, if I may say so myself." He twirled a strand of his hair. "It was also rather fun."

"You're hopeless."

"M-hm. You should be nice to me, or I might wake up one day with the irresistible urge to seduce your followers. After making them fall madly in love with me, I will turn them into an army dedicated to protecting the artistic wonders of this world from unappreciative philistines like you, and found a new superpower all on my own."

Lelouch snorted. "I'd like to see you try."

"Voyeurism? Now that's a new one. Do you just like watching or do you also enjoy being watched?"

"I prefer watching," Lelouch replied without missing a beat. "It'd be interesting to see whether Kallen would manage to castrate you before you get shot by Tamaki."

"Kallen? Now where have I heard that before..."

"Kallen Stadtfeld. She's on the student council."

"Wait," Clovis said. "Are you telling me the heiress of the Stadtfeld family is a terrorist?"

"I am. So when you hold that ridiculous ball of yours, you might want to make sure you don't run into her in some dark corridor. Not that I'd mind being rid of you, but the last thing I need is to draw the attention of the media by having to attend a funeral. I'd pretend to be afflicted with something, but I have a feeling Nunnally would want to be present – she's too charitable for her own good."

As always, Clovis seemed to have heard something completely different from what he had said. "Worried about me? Aw, you're such a sweetheart! I promise to be extra careful."

"...Did you just call me sweetheart?"

"You don't like it? Hm... how about darling, then?"

"No."

"Honey-pie?"

"I'm full, thank you."

"Sparky?"

"That literally sounds like a pet name."

"Sunshine?"

"..."

"You're right, that was one step away from an oxymoron. Sexy kitten?"

"Sexy ki-... how the hell do you come up with this stuff?"

Clovis shrugged. "Practice. Usually, I'd go for sex kitten, but, well, we scratched 'sunshine' off the list for a reason."

"If you ever call me 'sexy kitten', I swear your life is going to be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

"Why are you randomly quoting things now?"

"I have my reasons."

"Well, that's reassuring, " Clovis said. "I was going to suggest gorgeous, but I'd only end up confusing the two of us, so I suppose I'll just stick with smart-ass. It usually gets the point across pretty well."

"If anyone were to confuse me with you, they would not live to regret their folly, so that's probably a wise decision for someone who has the intellect of a horny ape on booze."

"Is that how you learn to speak at an exclusive private school? That's kind of... fascinating. Maybe I did miss out on something, after all. Oh well. Help me with these documents?"

x x x

Lelouch had known that Clovis' unusual interest in paperwork wasn't likely to last. He had, however, not counted on his brother's interest shifting.

"You do realize that Cornelia could come in any second?" Lelouch asked when Clovis broke the kiss and pushed him against the wall. Having Milly walk in on him and Suzaku had been bad enough.

Clovis paused, humming. "You think making out in the governor's office would count as improper conduct?"

"That, too."

"So..." Clovis tilted his head curiously. "You want to stop here?"

"I didn't say that."

"Oh?" His brother smiled slyly and leaned forward again, this time to assault his earlobe. "Now that's interesting. Are you sure you prefer watching? Maybe it excites you," he breathed, "the thought that she could walk in and see you like this any second."

"Actually, I was going to suggest you go and lock the door," Lelouch said, voice almost level even as a pleasant shiver ran down his spine.

"But I'd have to stop doing this-" Lelouch gasped slightly as his brother's lower body moved against his, "-for that, wouldn't I?"

"I see the problem," Lelouch admitted. "However, if you chose not to comply, I'd have to do this."

Clovis yelped. "Not again! What did my hair ever do to you?"

"It offends me just by existing – like its owner. Now go lock the room before I decide paying Suzaku a visit would be faster."

Clovis gaped. "You're threatening to replace me?"

"Don't flatter yourself," Lelouch said, smirking. "You are the replacement, and I have to say, you leave a lot to be desired." Clovis just kept gaping. "Now? I'm waiting."

"I swear," Clovis said as he finally walked over to the door and did as asked, "if not for my boundless generosity and Kururugi's unnatural placidity, you'd never get laid in your life."

"I don't know. People are desperate enough to put up with you, after all."

"Oh, quiet."

And they resumed where they'd left off.

x x x

Sadly, they had to stop only ten minutes later, when a very much irritated Cornelia demanded to be let into the room.

As Lelouch scrambled for his shirt, Clovis hastily brushed his hair with his fingers. His little brother could claim otherwise all he wanted - he obviously nurtured a grudge against those beautiful golden locks of his.

x x x

"Why does Cornelia keep giving me odd looks?"

"It was to be expected. She does think you have the hots for Guilford, after all."

"She what?"

Clovis shrugged. "What better way to explain a teenager's strange behavior than hormone-induced jealousy? You never said I was to solve the problem in a manner that would leave you with your dignity intact. Not that there's anything unsavory about wanting to get it on with Guilford, of course..."

"What's wrong with you?"

"It's the glasses," Clovis said and nodded to himself. "Definitely the glasses."

"Glasses? What do glasses have to do with anything? "

"Though I have to say," Clovis continued as if he hadn't heard him, "that hair... and then there's his voice, oh my. Whenever he says 'Princess Cornelia', it sounds like he's about to-"

"Ugh! Talking to you is like talking to C.C. early in the morning, only instead of pizza, it's-" Lelouch made an elaborate gesture with his hand.

"You can say it, you know? I promise I won't giggle." A pause. "Wait, did you just compare me to-" a vague wave- "her?"

"You can say her name, you know?" Lelouch mimicked. "I promise she won't appear out of thin air."

"I'd rather not take the chance."

"Then you know how I feel."

"Don't equate the beautiful art that is sex to her-whose-name-must-not-be-spoken-lest-she-stares-us-all-to-death. It's unappetizing."

"All the better. That's your, what, fifth of these chocolate muffins already? It's no wonder no one wants to see you in a bathing suit. Why can't you eat something normal, at least?"

The muffin stopped half-way to Clovis' mouth. "Did you just call me fat?"

"You started it, didn't you? If even you have noticed as much, you can hardly blame me for stating the truth."

Slack-jawed, Clovis kept staring at him for a few seconds longer. Then he shrugged, finished the muffin in two bites and grabbed another one. "I'm fat and gorgeous, then. That's fine. Next time you go looking for ways to excuse your attraction to Schneizel, try to pick something a little less unbelievable than supposed flaws in my appearance."

"What?"

x x x

"I'm not going to have sex with Schneizel!"

Andreas Darlton paused.

Then he slowly turned around, vowing to walk away from that door and never look back.

.

.

End of Chapter


I think Darlton needs a cookie now.

The idea of Clovis and Lelouch having fun with body paint has been stuck in my brain for some time now, planted there over a year ago by the original requester. The scene actually played out very differently in my head, but then Lelouch and Clovis decided to be even more random than usually and things didn't exactly go as planned - not that I'm complaining.

The person Lelouch is quoting when he threatens that Clovis's life could turn out to be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" is Hobbes, who uses those words to describe the "natural condition of mankind". No idea how well-known that line is or isn't, so I thought I'd explain in case anyone was curious. Oh, and there were some references to Stage 0.884! (Then again, there always are. Awesome Clovis SD is awesome!)

So... muffins, anyone?