Author's Notes- Every so often while writing I Heard The World I have ideas for scenes that are simply incompatible with the main story, and yet fit somewhere in the canon. And since relentless pounding out chapters has a tendency to leave my creativity a little dry, this will be a dumping ground of sorts for those scenes and snippets I come up with in my spare time that don't go anywhere else.
"What happened that day hurt him more than it hurt you, I would think," she said slowly, her tone one of cold fury, "I'm the one who had to forge him from the shattered child you left behind, after all."
Forging A Family
In her centuries of life, C.C. had learned how to deal with any number of unusual situations, ranging from humorously absurd to monstrous tragedy. She had once helped a blind doctor stitch a wounded woman's arm back on, and in a later century had spent an eventful decade accompanying a traveling troupe of performers learning how to perform before kings and beggars alike, and used that skill to escape persecution time and time again.
She could have handled anything, except this.
Lelouch did not cry. He did not sulk. He did not even speak.
He simply sat, unmoving, uncaring, as dead to the world as the corpses they had left behind in the palace.
C.C. looked away, unable to bear the sight of such a despondent, broken doll that was once a lively young boy, taking in their chosen refuge for the night instead. They had taken up residence in an abandoned house well outside London- barely livable, but it was only a temporary hiding place anyways.
Her eyes flicked over to the windowsill, where Jeremiah sat, keeping watch outside, his features such that he might as well have been carved of stone.
Jeremiah was of no help either. He was (understandably, she had to admit) cold to both of them, a professional soldier to the core, dedicated to his final duty of keeping the young prince safe- and a matter as delicate as this was unsuited for a man used to dealing with problems with fists and guns. Add that to the truth which Jeremiah knew, and C.C. was positive help would not come from this corner.
Not that she was much better, C.C. was willing to admit, glancing downwards towards the ground.
Taking care of a child wasn't exactly something she was interested in, but unfortunately it was her own 'duty', in a way.
Where to start, first of all? How did she even begin to breach the walls that Lelouch had understandably brought up around him to shield himself from the horrifying reality of what he had done.
But something had to be done. If this continued, the boy would become a useless shell, content to wither and die.
"You need to eat," C.C. found herself saying, as she stood over Lelouch's unmoving, unresponsive form.
He said nothing.
C.C. sighed, and reached into her pocket, fishing out a lone bar of chocolate that she had scrounged from the kitchen.
"It's just a bar of chocolate, but for someone who hasn't actually eaten in a day..." she trailed off, feeling foolish. What was she doing? She had always strived to remain aloof, disconnected from humanity.
Well… not always. But time and experience had taught her that those ideas were foolish. Even someone like Lelouch would one day grow old and die, and she would remain utterly unchanged.
What was the point?
She turned away, and a small part of her hated herself for it.
In the end, Lelouch ate nothing, and was put to bed. Jeremiah remained utterly silent during the whole affair.
"If you were just going to stand by and watch him die of starvation, I shouldn't have bothered grabbing you to escort us," C.C. remarked, a tad icier than she intended.
"My charge is to defend his life from his enemies. What he does to himself is his business," Jeremiah replied, his tone equally frosty, remaining as he was, still as a statue at the windowsill.
"He made a mistake, Jeremiah," C.C. all but snapped, and even as she spoke, she wondered why it was so important to her. "Even you can see he's paying for it."
Jeremiah looked away, and said nothing.
"I guess there are no true knights left in the world," C.C. muttered, shaking her head as she turned away.
"What is a knight without a liege lord?" Jeremiah shot back bitterly, crossing his arms. "What good is chivalry and honor when your country lies in ruins?"
"Your honor is determined by you and your actions alone, Jeremiah. And you still have a lord, one who is starving himself to death," she responded tartly, glancing over her shoulder with a baleful look. "He made a mistake. Does that mean you should too?"
Jeremiah said nothing, and as she walked away, C.C. kept wondering why it was she even bothered.
Somehow, she found herself standing over Lelouch's blanketed form, still wondering why it was this boy's situation was affecting her so badly.
A part of C.C. couldn't help but see a different child when she looked at Lelouch, a child whom only chance and cruel fate had saved from a life of ignominious slavery. Someone had saved her, cruel as the intentions had been.
Of course, that begged the question of why it was worth saving Lelouch. There was of course the reason she was given the task of watching over the boy till the appointed day, but the two could be seen as mutually exclusive.
You just need to fix him enough for our purposes.
C.C. could almost hear the voice of her previous partner in her head, though at this point the Geass was too weak to allow for such an advanced communication through the World of C.
The boy couldn't stay as he was, that was for sure. Yet even the words of a saint wouldn't be enough to salve the wound, and C.C. was far, far from being that altruistic.
But you're all he has.
"I know you're awake," C.C. said softly, seating herself on the bed, close enough to the boy that their individual warmth would intermingle. "You need to say something, Lelouch. Anything. You cannot go on living like this."
"Maybe that's for the best." Lelouch's voice sounded hoarse and weak from disuse. "Why should I live on?"
"Because you must," C.C. urged, even though she herself didn't believe in such a thing.
"Why?" Lelouch was looking up at her now from his blankets, his face still blank and dead.
"Because…" C.C. felt trapped in a lie- wasn't she herself seeking a way to die, a way to finally be free of all the sadness she bore? Who was she to tell one person to live when she herself wanted the opposite?
"Because there are still things you need to do," C.C. said finally, and wondered exactly who she was referring to. "You need to live on, Lelouch. If you die here, how can you repent for what you've done?"
"Repent?" Lelouch repeated, turning over the word in his mouth. "How can I make up for what I did?"
The words were the honest, simple pleading of a child.
"I don't know," C.C. murmured softly, and gently stroked his cheek in a comforting gesture.
"Will you help me?" Lelouch whispered desperately.
I'm all this boy has.
Is he all I have as well?
C.C. smiled, and for the first time in a long while, it came out of the bottom of her heart, not out of sardonic amusement or as a mask against the world. It was genuine, and C.C. wondered at the warmth in her heart.
"I will be by your side," C.C. vowed quietly, and slowly, delicately wrapped her arms around his small, skinny frame, pressing her lips to his hair in a gentle kiss. "Until you find your answer."
"Thank you," Lelouch whispered.
C.C. felt a drop of wetness against her shirt, and her features softened.
Lelouch had finally let his walls down, and began to cry. He sobbed for what might have been hours, his words incoherent, but all the while, C.C. simply held him and gently stroked his hair, shielding him from the judgment of the outside world for a little longer.
"C.C.-san," Jeremiah said softly, as she stepped into the kitchen. Outside, the sun was just beginning to peek through the curtains of their makeshift refuge. She had spent the whole night simply holding Lelouch, letting him cry himself to sleep in her arms before quietly slipping away to change her shirt and tuck him in.
It was all so motherly that C.C. briefly wondered if she had somehow suffered a disastrous head wound that was affecting her actions.
"Yes, Jeremiah?" C.C. asked coolly, picking up a cup of coffee he had left for her on the counter.
"I was… out of bounds, yesterday," Jeremiah said hesitantly, glancing away in embarrassment. "I've been letting my emotions get the best of me."
He took a deep, regretful bow, one that was usually left only to be shown to those far above your station. "Thank you for reminding me of my true duties."
C.C. said nothing, mostly because she really wasn't sure what to say. Thank you was not something people generally said to her, but she had heard it twice now in less than twelve hours.
I must be getting soft, C.C. thought sardonically, but a part of her admitted it was not necessarily a bad feeling.
A creak at the bedroom door caused both of them to turn around to see a slightly embarrassed, puffy eyed Lelouch stumbled out of the bedroom, rubbing his eyes.
Before anyone could say a word the unmistakable sound of a growling stomach filled the room, and Lelouch shuffled his feet, embarrassed.
"Can I… get something to eat?" he asked nervously.
Jeremiah smiled. "I'll have a plate ready for you immediately, my lord."
As Lelouch scrambled up onto one of the chairs (it was just a little too tall for a child of his height to get onto easily), and Jeremiah quickly brought forth a plate of steaming bacon and eggs, C.C. suddenly realized she was watching some kind of makeshift family being forged.
"C.C.-san?" Jeremiah questioned, interrupting her thoughts. "I have a plate ready for you as well."
"Thank you, Jeremiah," C.C. said smoothly, covering up her surprise, shaking her head as she took her own seat.
Somehow, she had become part of it as well.
And in the back of her mind, she didn't mind it at all.