The bleach marker borrowed from Dorothea removed the red splatters to his Knights of the Round uniform within a few minutes.
That had been the painless process. The hand soap from the dispenser he had rubbed raw into the side of his face, cleansed away the bloody gore flecks that had been drying on his skin on the way back to Britannian Embassy. As the only sink in the tenantless bathroom drained of remaining fluffy suds, Suzaku calmly spread his fingers across its porcelain, icy edges and threw up into it. His color upon returning to the common room had been that of a diseased oatmeal color and yet none of the other members of the Round raised an eyebrow at the new recruit. Rather, they were preoccupied by the flat television screen on the wall.
Dorothea complained from the perch of an armrest, swatting someone else's hand holding the remote control, "Turn it up, will you?"
"—wind chill going to be high around eleven this evening. So bundle up. I am here right now on the main avenue outside the Tokyo settlement's Britannian Embassy where the public execution of Nunnally VI Britannia is to commence shortly—"
(commotions— voices— men— women— shouting— at her?— for her?)
Nunnally kept her hands in a tight, lumping fist in her lap as a man she did not know at all pushed her wheelchair up a platform ramp.
At the feel of the leveled incline, at the feel of his momentary struggle with her weight, one of her dove-white hands reached up to tap his wrist with all aspects of a genuine politeness. "Excuse me…" She said courteously, with a heartfelt smile, "I can go from here."
"—she has been held accountable for numerous strikes against the Britannia government, including conspiring against the country and crown. Nunnally VI Britannia is one of the daughters of Charles di Britannia, deceased Emperor of Britannia, and of blood relation to the infamous traitor known as Marianne Lamperouge—"
Suzaku's nauseated stomach lurched again as the teenage girl in a white-and-magenta-overall dress began rolling her own chair up the ramp leading to the leveled platform, where a pleased-looking Schneizel and Clovis were surrounded by their personal guard and the executioners waiting for her.
This was wrong… he was fighting for peace… not slaughter…
"…I'm not sure if they can officially allow her to do this… but she seems to be wheeling herself to her execution spot…"
Bismarck caught Suzaku's arms powerfully as the Japanese man sprinted for the exit, and then shoved him back into the room with a leering grin. The rest of the occupants of the room kept their eyes trained to the television screen, ignoring Suzaku as he yelled at him.
He became a Knight of the Round to protect what remained of the Imperial family and of Britannia's loyal citizens…
"…this is certainly a sight to behold, ladies and gentlemen… let me see if I can get a word…"
The crowd on television — right outside the doors of this building — hushed in anticipation of her rolling form. She moved like a queen, with her carriage and spine erect in her wheelchair, tall, graceful, proud though she was visibly crippled.
…what had gone horribly wrong…?
Amidst the growing silence, Nunnally could hear someone dear to her in the distance call her name, sobbing furiously. Her insides cringed at the noises Rivalz made and her own eyes began to well up. Fighting back that childish urge, she pressed forward, startled suddenly by the sense of someone crawling onto the rickety incline and security swarming them.
"I have every right to be on this public street and talk to this young lady!" What sounded like an angry woman, thrashing in the arms of security and managing to thrust a microphone directly in Nunnally's face, "Miss! Is there anything you would like to say to the audience before your sentence is carried out? Anything at all?"
"…Yes." Nunnally replied after a moment of thought, leaning cautiously into the object and half-frightened by how placid her own voice sounded in her ears, "A plea to everyone here today. No matter what country you are from, please… follow your hearts. Do not give into others when they ask you to do harm. I know you will all do what is best for the people you love."
"…T-those are some inspiration words, Miss…" The woman said, taken off-guard by the young woman's gentle, innocent smile and "thank you". Nunnally did not complain as security decided to wheel her the rest of the way up and as delicate footsteps approached her.
"Nunnally VI Britannia… you are aware of the accusations held against you…?"
"Is that you Big Brother Clovis?" she asked, laughing a little out loud at his muted, choked noise behind a gloved hand. "Yes. They just informed me this morning on the ride back into the settlement."
Clovis made a haughty noise, rustling papers in his hands. "Nice try, little girl. How do you plead?"
"Guilty for the charge of being of my mother's blood… but no more than this, I am afraid." Another choked noise. Nunnally had to smile widely at the mental image of an older Clovis turning red in his feminine-like cheeks and pouting his lower lip as he had when he was teased mercilessly by their other siblings.
He really hadn't changed at all…
"You heard her. Guilty." The end of his cape brushed her knee as he marched away, heatedly. "Ready arms, men!"
Vaguely, for a moment, in her consciousness — as it refused to process that she was to die here now — Nunnally wondered how much it would hurt. Being shot through with bullets. Would it be painless? Quick? And in front of all these cheering people…? Rivalz…?
She waited. She waited for what seemed like hours. Her heart thudding like a frightened deer. Another ruckus around her…? Nunnally jerked in place as an unusually loving hand placed itself on her trembling shoulder, accompanied by an all-too-familiar baritone, "I'm here, Nunnally…"
This had not gone as planned. The executioners found themselves being held at gunpoint by their own guns as several of their fellow comrades accosted them from the platform, leaving only the girl and… Zero…? The crowd both booed and applauded wildly as the renowned and mysterious man stood tall beside the teenage girl, gripping her shoulder with a leather-gloved hand comfortingly.
"I have a question to address this nation…" He glanced towards the downwards direction of a nearby news camera. "…Can you trust your government? Do you trust them to tell you the entirety of truth regardless if it will look poorly upon them?" His voice boomed like magnification with his blood-smeared helmet's voice-modifier, "Or is it possible for them to be lying? That they have been? Tell me what this crippled girl could possibly be blamed for… 'going against the crown'… how absurd…"
He chuckled as if somewhat amused by the impossible notion, slowly letting Nunnally's captured shoulder go. "Your government has lied to you. And every fiber of my being is ashamed to be of royal blood ties to it…" As Lelouch lifted off his own helmet, the crowd roared in response.
"Lelouch VI Britannia is the traitor," he explained, raising his human voice to be heard over them, "not his victimized younger sister! If anyone is to die here today, it is to be me and I will take along with me on my journey into hell this hoax of a government building…" Lelouch dramatically threw off his gold-lined, black cloak, handing it to one of the supposed 'executioners' who obeyed without question. A pink-glowing bomb blinked repeatedly, strapped to his torso.
"Question your government! Why would they lie about my death?" A fierce grin formed over his lips.
"Well, they need not worry about my interfering… if the citizens of the blood-thirsty Britannian country do not take heed and leave this damned area, I am prepared to detonate this sakurite bomb… like the terrorist they have rumored Zero would be…"
Lelouch added thoughtfully, running his hands over the handle of his drawn sword at his hip, "If Marianne Lamperouge — the 98th Empress to Britannia's legacy — if her blood ran with witchcraft then warlock blood is no better and must be spilled along with hers…" His violet eyes softened on the only man allowed by the 'false' security to crawl up the platform, his brow dripping with sweat as Suzaku appraised him from one end of the structure — horrified; betrayed; relieved; scared…
"You do not disappoint to make a perfect appearance," Lelouch addressed him, tossing him the sword. The brunet caught it with both hands with little difficulty, shaking his head as if disbelieving, "Go on then. For our beloved countries. Kill me once again."
When the other man did not acknowledge the order, Lelouch sighed with a disillusioned air, and walked forward. Suzaku's hand flinched as Lelouch quickly (kindly) raised it upright, directing the sword to point at the spot of Lelouch's chest were the bomb glowed and flashed dangerously bright. And just like that… it was over...
A pool of blood formed at their feet.
Awestruck, Suzaku viewed with wide eyes as Lelouch rammed the sword through the ticking bomb and his chest, effectively shutting down the detonation. To everyone else, it had looked like the Knight of the Round had saved them from impending death. Suzaku's name soared from the lips of both Japanese and Britannian as Lelouch's shaking hand on Suzaku's pulled the sword deeper until the hilt pressed sweetly and tightly to his shuddering ribs.
The black-haired man gasped lowly, blood flowing from his open mouth, his breath ghosting to Suzaku's lips inches from his.
"Vivus," Lelouch murmured before collapsing, before both old and "false" security started swarming up on the platform, fighting each other and around the body. As Suzaku backed away, someone slammed into him and seized his arm… with their helmet visor up ,he could make out a pair of reddish-purple eyes. Something pressed papery and crumpled in his hand before human warmth disappeared…
The fourth level of the Britannian Embassy… five minutes…
"Vivus"… to live…
A word in Latin, of course — Lelouch had been a quirky riddle of a philosophy teacher — but what had it meant?
What could it mean now that he was…?
Suzaku could still hear the chaos of the outside world… could still hear Nunnally crying for her big brother…
Up on the fourth floor (so says the note slipped into his hand three minutes ago), the "false" security that hung around in the corridors glanced at him momentarily with their faces exposed by their removed visors and then went back to chatting amiably to each other — even with his numbed expression, with the caked point of the bloodied sword dragging on the carpet behind the Japanese man. One of them broke away from the group to approach him.
A smallish boy with familiar reddish-purple eyes.
"Suzaku Kuruugi. I thought it was you." Rolo smirked, motioning him to a heavily guarded, separate room. "Come." Suzaku hesitated in the doorway as he was greeted by the sight of Clovis la Britannia and Schneizel el Britannia, bound and gagged, and kneeling to the carpet. "We've recorded their confessions of treason against the nation. What would you like us to do with them?" He planted a boot to the back of Schneizel's bent back as the older man twitched angrily.
"…Why ask me?"
When the young assassin walked past him into the room in silence, Suzaku glanced into periwinkle eyes. He shrugged, feeling nothing really at all for his once capturer. "...Do whatever you want with him." Suzaku stepped around the chuckling 'security' men who dragged the ex-Imperial family out by the collars. "Why did you tell me to come here?"
"You'll have to bring that up with my superior. He should make his appearance soon. He would like me to express his thanks for your patience." Rolo's expression became wistful and his eyes narrowed slightly. "…You are very lucky to know him as you do."
With that, a sharp rap came from one of the solid, sliding interior doors to the sitting room. Rolo answered it with a similar rap with his knuckles. A man in a loose, indigo-colored robe entered from that sliding room, leaning languidly with one arm over his head on the entranceway. His longish, black bangs slipped around his cheeks and obscured a beautifully violet eye. "Make arrangements for Shanghai." The man never took that eye off of Suzaku. His bloodless chest rising and falling. "Rolo, you can take your leave now." The boy murmured in agreement, bowing low, and shutting the door behind him securely.
Suzaku gulped audibly, vision blurred (by tears…was that the burning he felt…he could feel again…?). At the noise, Lelouch said with mild disappointment, still smiling, "Kuruugi-kun… what did the Stoics say about mourning? If you loved them, there is no need to be upset. You will see them again."
The blood-stained sword dropped muffled by the carpet fibers — Lelouch's blood; in achingly heavy, possessive hands — as the Japanese man rushed forward. Lelouch's arms were not warm in sensation but nevertheless welcoming as they hooked around Suzaku's broad shoulders, pulling Suzaku in closer to him as their lips crashed against each other, violently, profoundly, lusting for a touch that had denied them for months.
Suzaku's hands searched him every inch for proof that this all was real, up his spine, his thighs, his unmarred chest, his neck… they settled to holding Lelouch's slim, pale face as Suzaku expressed his disbelief, "I thought you… but… Zero was… you…"
"There is so much to say and not enough time for explanations, I'm afraid." Lelouch said sincerely, allowing Suzaku's thumb to settle lightly on his bottom lip, "Cee-Cee gave her life for me to aid my fight against the people who murdered my Mother. Now I am to walk this earth forever without the cycle breaking. The Black Knights have done their best for my cause."
"I've already told you that there is no time for explanations…" A mysterious grin touched Lelouch's features. "…but there is on the boat ride into Chinese Federation."
"…the twelve year search for the missing ambassadors of the Britannia nation "Schneizel el Britannia" and "Clovis la Britannia" has been temporarily disbanded due to rising concerns about—" A scoffing grunt as the television screen went dark.
His enormous, intelligent violet eyes drifted over instead to a glass bowl of two goldfish swimming intently around each other. Which was a small lie. The new goldfish "Cee Two" which was tinier than Suzie still ended up being the bully as she chased the other goldfish. He felt the name choice had been mildly appropriate.
"Where did you go?" came a cheerful voice from the kitchen nook.
Lelouch poked his head in to see his casually-dressed lover lounging at the foot of the nook's countertop, fresh newspaper opened.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing." An older Suzaku smiled over the top of the newspaper. "I just missed you."
"…I was gone for eight seconds…" Lelouch's indignation was interrupted by the screeching of the overflowing teapot behind Suzaku on the oven-top. He hurried over to shut it off. At his lover's snicker, Lelouch fumed with a furious blush, smacking the back of his curly head unkindly. Suzaku only laughed harder, rubbing the raw spot briefly as the immortal man went back to pouring tea.
"It says here that Nunnally was finally elected to be Empress," he informed a snorting, unimpressed Lelouch.
"Hrmph… so they still can't get out of the old regime… She'll have her hands full certainly. I hope Jeremiah upped security for her."
"The people love her. It would become a mess if anything went wrong at her coronation." Suzaku asked as a steaming cup of tea was handed to him with a free hand, "We're watching it tonight, right?"
"Planned on it."
"It's not the only thing apparently she is going to be busy with." At that peculiar statement, Lelouch raised a suspicious eyebrow as he fetched a stirring bowl for his new dish, dipping a clean wooden spoon in. "It says here that she's sporting a new engagement ring from one… "Rivalz Cardemonde"…"
The contents of the stirring bowl went slopping onto the floor as the bowl itself took a tumble onto the floor.
Lelouch's face twisted up livid and a quick-thinking Suzaku seized him around the waist from his chair, (fairly certain that if he had let Lelouch out the front door… that the next newspaper would be commenting on the circumstances of Rivalz's unexplained and messy death…). He tugged the now surprised man into his lap, pressing his mouth wetly into the cold, white column of neck in front of him.
"Are you jealous of her…?"
Lelouch muttered, squirming as if uncomfortable by the whiskers of hair under Suzaku's chin. "Too itchy…"
"Don't avoid the subject," Suzaku said with a frown, running his fingers through Lelouch's long, dark ponytail with careful movements.
"You are going to get older every year, Suzaku. I won't."
"That's true. I will get old and wrinkly while you get the benefits of staying as the young and gorgeous piece of ass I married all those years ago…" (But we're not...) Now very wide violet eyes blinked around at him as Suzaku smirked up at him. "What do you say, Lelouch? You never answered me properly back at the chateau…"
Lelouch reddened immediately at the sexual memory.
"Idiot…" He breathed, burying his face into Suzaku's front, "All of you belongs to me…"
"I do like the sound of that…" Suzaku said impishly, burying his own face into the soft top of his lover's hair.
Lelouch's fingers tightened into the cotton fabric of Suzaku's white, sweet-smelling tee shirt. "I will find you again… Suzaku…"
"…I'm looking forward to it, Lelouch…"
AAAAAAAAAND. It is over. Over a year to finish? This is what happens when a college student starts a multichaptered fanfiction story. x3 THIS HAS BEEN HELLA FUN. I consider this story one of my babies. A lot of love and time and thought went behind this final installment (for me, anyway) of Diamond Mask and I's collection of Teacher!LelouchxStudent!Suzaku. On behalf of both of us... we thank you all for joining the ride for these stories and being so support like you were. I know I LOOOOOVED hearing from my readers because you all are so insightful and it excited me to no end. -squeee-
And my reviewers: Midnight x Poker, Suffocated Entity, Asami-chan37, Blackrose2005, animewiccan725, yueHOLIC, manganime-hime-sama, MoonlitxAngel, Lusca Luna, Diamond Mask, Shield-Wolf2426, dhyetaX1999, julia, kyouruhi24, Satiah, Atheist1, luckless-is-me, RiseofaRebellion, Faith Ciel, Sir Banana six-tea-phoar, Altair718, 2stupid, KarimaTinCan, Syaoran's Sakura, xXxSebastianXCiel4everxXx, OrlandosLover2009, my name is paper YAH, iceley11, Bramblerush, Riku's-Way-to-the-Dream, irmina, MeLaNch0lYdreams, Diana Prince, Princess Sin, .line, HisaAngel, Rightside Reflection, Cheerful-Pessimist, Ryoyoku, Legendary Chimera, Blueninja89, and Anonreader!
... there are no proper words in the English language other than me keyboard smashing that can contain all my amusement and admiration for you this past year.
Please continue to be amazing, dear reader, and I will see you again at the next story... you sexy beast, you.
All my love, Miss Val~
"I will find you again…"
"So, how is dealing with the eighth graders? Little monsters, aren't they?"
His coworker (Karen, he successfully searched out of his memory at the introductory teacher's meeting last week; she had thrown a fit befitting her outrageously red hair about the broken coffee machine) joined him on the bench on school grounds with a open smile.
He smiled along with her, for once, feeling that someone else on the staff was finally accepting him. He was a tad shy by nature when it came to Britannian affairs but working as a gym teacher and the kids was gratifying once he had been established in the Britannian education system as "honorary" regardless of Japanese blood.
"Nothing I haven't worked with before."
"They aren't giving you a hard time then?"
"Not at all." He found himself crossing his index and middle finger behind him on instinct (what a nasty Britannia habit).
"I'm glad to hear it," she replied, patting his shoulder consolingly.
His emerald eyes watched her walk down the white-stone walkway leading towards one of the main buildings of the Academy. She couldn't have been more than twenty-five (three years his senior). At least someone else wasn't shy. He sighed, propping his arms on his legs as two teenage girls passed the stretch of lawn.
One he recognized as the headmaster's daughter with her blue, blue eyes and wavy, golden hair and the energy vibrating around her (—it was TOO eerie how much she resembled her parent with their identical physical attributes and bursts of glee that reached into their smiles).
Alongside her… another girl with straight, lush black hair that brushed the middle of her back like a living veil. A girl he was sure he had never seen in his classes. She must have felt his eyes on her because she gazed at him, her right eye bandaged completely and another eye so vividly a shade of purple that it weakened him.
Though it had been obviously a dirty look she was giving him… it was so dense with… intensity.
It brought the strangest fleeting ambiance fluttering wildly in him and… he couldn't get a firm grasp on why…
"Is there a reason you are glaring so hatefully at Mr. Kuruugi?" Milly tilted her head curiously. "What, did he try to sneak into the locker room while you were changing? Mr. Weinberg tried that, didn't he?" Her companion shuddered at the recollection of 'that annoying, blond pervert' and continued to try fiercely staring down one of the newer teachers.
"Don't be stupid. He just keeps staring at me. I don't like it."
"You are so popular here at Daddy's school, Lulu… I'm not surprised all the men aren't after you." Milly teased lovingly, leaning forward to kiss both of her porcelain-smooth cheeks as the other girl leaned away from them, "Well, don't glare too hard then, darling. You never know… your face may get stuck on that mean and lovely expression of yours."
Lulu rolled her eye as her best friend went the opposite direction towards the Academy gates. She gripped her textbooks tighter to her chest as those (adorably innocent, her subconscious whispered and she batted it away) emerald eyes remained lock on her. Her insides gave a small flutter.
She began walking a little faster away—
—without paying any mind to who else was on the sidewalk.
"Damn it all!" Lulu swore, taking a tumble onto the stone-path as another girl in their goldenrod uniform jolted backwards by the force of slamming into her. "…S-Sorry about that." She scrambled on her knees for her skewed textbooks, wincing at the small cut on her exposed knee.
"It's no problem." The girl above Lulu, her thick, lime-green hair done up in braided pigtails, then asked, a queer smile appearing on her face, "Actually, could you help me get around? I just registered for class today."
"Sure." Lulu rose slowly to her feet. "Though you could have picked up a map at the register's office… what's your name?"
But her green-haired classmate ignored that request and made an 'hmmm' noise in her throat, peering over at Mr. Kuruugi sitting in the quad.
"…He hasn't stopped staring at you since we bumped into each other. I wonder why this is?"
A frustrated blush worked over Lulu's cheeks as her good eye glanced back at him, momentarily.
She said, grumpily, "He was hired here last semester. I don't know what his problem is."
"He seems to like you. Look, he's even blushing a little, too. Maybe you should go for it."
Her own blush deepened to an ugly, accusing color.
"Says you…" Lulu murmured, shifting her books to her other arm and walking towards the administration building, leading the other girl, "You still haven't answered my question about your name…" A warm hand touched her shoulder reassuringly, leaving a lingering squeeze on Lulu's left shoulder.
"Don't worry. We'll get to that later. First, pizza."