Disclaimer: Code Geass is the property of Sunrise, Bandai et al. No money is being made from this fanfic and it will be removed if the above parties so request. All your base are belong to us.
Important Note 1: Chapters 2 and 3 have been revised in response to the many helpful comments I got from reviewers, including adding scenes from Lelouch's POV to keep him in the limelight and addressing the issue of Nunnally learning what Cornelia knew about Marianne's assassination (which I had meant to include but stupidly forgot about).
Important Note 2: This is just the first two scenes of Chapter 4, to satisfy the seemingly quite large number of people following this fic while I finish the remainder (and to let everyone know about the changes to Chapters 2-3). I'm sorry it's so short - a third scene between Nunnally and Suzaku was originally going to be in here as well, but I got hopelessly bogged down in it.
Code Geass: Children of the Revolution
Chapter 4: After School Special (Part 1)
Kallen lay face down on her bed, too tired to move but too excited to go back to sleep. The mission last night had gone flawlessly as always - the Black Knights had descended on a platoon of military police who had been terrorizing the Japanese population in Harajuku ghetto. By threatening people picked up for curfew violations with prosecution for worse crimes, they had been collecting all manner of 'favours' depending on the age, gender and attractiveness of their victims. Seeing their faces when she popped up from a supposedly rubble-choked subway tunnel in the Black Knights' new Knightmare had been well worth the long and boring wait in the dark.
Earlier that day, they had also handed out the supplies liberated from the smuggling ring in the ghetto. Zero had made a point of having the distribution filmed to show people that the Black Knights were about more than just shooting bad guys, taking care to blur out the faces of the community leaders to prevent reprisals, before uploading it to the Internet.
The only thing spoiling her mood was her failure to get anywhere in following up on her suspicions about Lelouch Lamperouge and his sister. She had had ample opportunity to observe them at the student council planning sessions for the upcoming Eyes Festival, and even to talk to Nunnally alone when she took a break from decoration-making 'to catch her breath', but so far she had found nothing much to contradict her initial impressions of them. Lelouch was laid-back to the point of apathy except for his intense devotion to his sister, and Nunnally was sweet and mild-mannered, childlike in some ways and surprisingly mature in others. She did seem to have become more talkative since her sight had returned, making the odd incisive comment and joining in the council's bantering conversation where before she might have remained quietly in the background, but that was hardly evidence of anything sinister.
A loud crash from outside interrupted her fruitless musing. Hastily throwing on her dressing gown, she opened the door and looked out into the hall. One of the chandeliers had come down in a spray of crystal fragments, and a familiar, unwelcome figure in a maid's uniform was standing over the debris wringing her hands. She looked up from her handiwork, eyes teary and unfocused.
"Oh! Kallen...Miss Kallen, I mean..." her mother stammered.
"Clean this up! I have to go to school soon."
"You've been going to school a lot lately. Have you made any friends?"
"I hardly think that's any of your business!" Kallen snapped, turning away and slamming the door behind her. She slumped against the wall and groaned. Why did her mother have to be such a weak, pathetic doormat? And why couldn't she make herself not care anymore?
Shirley observed the intensity with which Will Keating sketched his portrait of Nunnally with a certain fellow-feeling. His eyes flickered back and forth between his model and the paper while his pencil worked to capture the line of her cheek. At his nervous direction, she had parked her wheelchair in a quiet part of one of the school corridors below one of the high windows. Her face was half illuminated by the golden afternoon sunlight and half in the shade as she rested her chin in one hand, elbow on the windowsill and looking pensively out at the central courtyard beyond. She (or Sayoko) had brushed out her long hair a little straighter than usual, and it caught the light like warm honey. It must have been a fair bit of work, Shirley guessed - her own hair was trouble enough to manage with all the swimming she did, and Nunnally's was much thicker and wavier - but worth it.
Will was obviously very talented - Shirley would have said so if she had been willing to break his concentration. Lelouch had been very reluctant to let his precious sister be stared at by a boy for an hour or more, and wanted to chaperone the sketching session himself. Nunnally had vetoed the idea, however, pointing out that Lelouch would probably scare the wits out of the poor artist and put him off. Shirley had offered her services as an alternative, and been delighted when Lelouch had accepted. She knew how important Nunnally's safety was to him; it was gratifying to know that he trusted her with it.
Not that there seemed to be the slightest chance of anything untoward happening. Will seemed to be a perfect little gentleman, and obviously thought the world of Nunnally - he couldn't have been more courteous and deferential to her if she had been an Imperial princess. He was positively apologetic when he asked her to shift or adjust her expression, and he blushed and stammered when she smiled or laughed. It was terribly endearing, although she had the impression that Nunnally was innocently oblivious to his admiration. It must run in the family, Shirley thought wistfully. She wondered if she should at least drop Nunnally a hint or two, but decided she had better not. It would be horrible if someone told Lelouch about her feelings for him before she was ready to tell him herself.
Whether or not to put her name down for his chess team was something she had dithered over for days. Half the girls in the high school division had signed up almost immediately the game was announced; there had been outright fights in the corridors over who was going to be his queen. What was the point of being lost in a crowd of a couple of hundred silly fangirls who knew him even less well than she did? But if she didn't, would he get the wrong idea? In the end, cowardice had won out, though she had felt better about doing nothing when Lelouch showed almost total indifference to the process of selecting his pieces from the list of candidates. The student council were due to meet for the final costume fitting for the king and queen pieces today, but she still had no idea who his queen was going to be; Milly was keeping it a secret.
"All done," Will said at last. "You can relax now, Miss Nunnally; sorry to take so long." He set his pencil down and blew gently on the page to keep it from smudging.
"It's fine." Nunnally looked round, flexing the arm she had been leaning on a little. "Can I see, or would you rather..."
"I-it's just a bunch of sketches at the moment." Will hastily closed his notebook. "They're kind of a muddle...I'd prefer to wait and show you the finished portrait, i-if that's OK."
"All right. I'll look forward to it."
"Oh, the costumes for the chess game arrived. They're really elaborate; did the President have them made specially?"
"I think she keeps the Fashion Club in the high school division busy turning out clothes for her pretty much all the time," Nunnally explained. "Did they fit all right?"
"Yes, although...I think we only got the pawns, knights, bishops and rooks. Do you have a king and queen?"
"My brother and I are playing the kings, and our friend Suzaku agreed to be my queen. I didn't think you or any of your friends would want to dress as a girl..."
"President Ashford wanted to combine Nunnally's event with the cross-dressing festival the high school had last year," Shirley put in. "Be glad we persuaded her not to make Nunnally's whole team wear girls' clothes, to match with her brother's." The entire group would probably have run a mile at the prospect; boys their age were very insecure about that sort of thing. "Now it's just the kings and queens." Lelouch had recruited Suzaku for Nunnally's team straight away when the human chess game was suggested and 'volunteered' him as her queen, probably to keep all those middle school boys from getting any ideas.
Will nodded but looked a trifle disappointed; she guessed he was weighing the thrill of playing Nunnally's consort against the humiliation of wearing a dress in public. "Well...thank you very much, Miss Shirley. I'm sorry to have taken up so much of your time."
"It was nothing," she assured him. "I enjoyed watching you work."
"I'll see you in class tomorrow, Miss Nunnally?"
"Certainly." Nunnally smiled up at him as she pushed her hair behind her ears, and Shirley felt another pang of sympathy at the pole-axed expression on his face. He bobbed his head to them both again and hurried off.
"Will seems like a very nice boy," she prompted.
"He is," Nunnally said, nodding.
Well, Rome wasn't built in a day, Shirley thought. "Oh, he left one of his pencils." She picked it up from the bench where he had sat - it was definitely part of the set he had been using, a large soft-leaded one for shading. If she gave it to Nunnally to hand back to him tomorrow, she thought deviously, it would be an excuse for him to talk to her, or she could go after him now herself and take the opportunity to give him some encouragement. "I'll catch up with him before he gets to his dorm," she decided. "It won't take a moment, then we can go to the clubhouse."
"I'll meet you there," Nunnally said with a smile. Shirley mentally slapped herself - of course she could find her own way now. Nodding, she took off after Will, heading for the middle school dormitories on the other side of the campus. When she rounded the corner of the science block, she caught sight of him, and her eyes narrowed. Two other boys were accosting him in an obvious parody of friendliness, the taller and burlier of the two draping an arm round his shoulders while the other leaned into his face and said something that made him blanch angrily. She quickened her pace and approached them.
"C'mon, Willy, we just want to see your picture of your girlfriend," the thinner boy said in a wheedling voice as she came within earshot.
"Only because you're too chicken to make a move. It's not like she's going to run away." The large one snickered at that, and the speaker made a grab for Will's bag, which he was hugging tightly against his chest.
"Hey!" Shirley called. "Stop that this instant!"
The three boys looked up; the large one opened his mouth, then closed it again and hastily let go of Will.
"Just kidding around, miss," the thin boy said with an insolent grin. "Let's go, Karl. You're quite the ladies' man these days, Willy." They hurried off as she glared at them.
"Thank you, Miss Shirley." Will opened his backpack and carefully inspected the precious sketchbook.
"It was nothing," she said firmly. "You should report those two if they keep bothering you."
"Right..." Shirley sighed inwardly at his closed look - boys could be so stupid. No doubt he would rather let those idiots make his life a misery indefinitely than admit he couldn't deal with them by himself.
"Oh, this is yours." She remembered the pencil and handed it over; he took it with another thank-you. "Listen, Will...you've been a good friend to Nunnally, and I appreciate that. I know she does too."
That seemed to cheer him up. "I'm happy to help. I wish I could have done more, before."
Shirley understood. "Things have been difficult for her, even though she always tries to be strong and not complain."
Will emphatically nodded agreement. "I could never understand why people called her weak, when she had to deal with...all that, but could still be so calm and cheerful all the time, and be nice to everyone even when they were being completely unhelpful or rude. I'd..." He trailed off.
"Sounds like you really like her." She smiled gently to show that she wasn't mocking him, but he flushed and looked at the ground anyway.
"I-I guess so..."
"Have you told her how you feel?" Shirley asked impulsively, guessing the answer.
"No..." The poor boy looked terrified at the suggestion, though she could hardly criticize. "I'm no good at explaining things in words. That's why I wanted to do a portrait of her, to show her..."
"That's a great idea!"
"Well, assuming her brother doesn't have me beaten up in an alley or something. Is it true that he has gangster friends who owe him money?"
She laughed. "I don't think so. That sounds like a rumour that's been through the gossip mill a few times. No, Lu- Lelouch isn't so scary when you know him, he's just very protective of Nunnally. I'll be sure to tell him what a gentleman you were today."
Will took his leave with more profuse and painfully earnest thanks. Shirley wore a bright smile as she walked back across the campus. It faded a little as the thought crossed her mind that perhaps she was being selfish in hoping that Nunnally would get closer to her admirer. If Lelouch could be persuaded to let his sister out from under his gaze a little, then perhaps he would be more open to a relationship of his own... No, she thought sternly, she wanted her friend to be happy; Nunnally was a lovely girl and it was wonderful that someone her own age recognized that. Still, she resolved not to push her into anything. She would just observe, and be around to support both of them, and hopefully things would work out.
TO BE CONTINUED
Notes: I've posted a poll on my author page asking about people's favourite among my other Geass fics, partly in the hope of encouraging people who've only been following this one to read them as well. I assume Children is more popular because it's more Lelouch-centric and closer to the canon plotline, but I consider Nunnally of the Liberation and Nunnally of Britannia to be just as well written and more creative, especially the latter. (Pretty Magical Revolutionary Knight Nunnally is obviously more in the vein of light relief.) I'd urge those chafing at the bit for more of this fic to give my other works a try if they haven't already.