-Dedicated to a loved one lost in ambivalence-
*No, not the story*
A year has passed since Lelouch Vi Britannia's demise, and the world experienced a drastic change for the better. Nations experienced absolute peace on a global scale with the absent threshold of the former Britannian aristocracy. Large scale violence remained unheard by the public's ear with the strengthened resolve of the United Federation of Nations (U.F.N.), and the goodhearted justice left to democracy overseen closely by Nunally, and secretly by 'Zero.' Truly, the world achieved the blissful peace that Lelouch dedicated his life towards.
Japan especially flourished under the new era. Its inhabitants were no longer burdened by the discriminating label of 'Elevens,' and became their own country once more. Through thorough reconstruction, many of the landscapes scorched by bloody warfare were restored to their former glory. In fact, people would have a hard time believing mecha's once stormed through streets and barraged buildings under heavy fire, had they not have knowledge of or experienced the inhumanity first-hand.
The populace nearly tripled since that horrid time a year ago; streets were flooded with citizens, tourists, businesses, and students traveling to and from home to school. Education became more focused over time, profiting in funds for building more facilities. Although each division within Japan housed at least one school of its own, many applicants would still clash for the chance to attend Ashford Academy.
Was the academy achieving such prowess through the fact that it offered the finest detail regarding the previous war, that several significant occurrences happened right in the very yards of its establishment, or that the former tyrant attended there unbeknown to everyone and used its facilities to holster his coup d'états? Whatever the reason, this year provided it bragging rights for the highest enrollments and credentials throughout the world. Despite it all, the atmosphere around the property remained peaceful.
Activity remained stable and active as always through the stressed dignity that has always been enforced. The courtyards were not as heavily occupied as the surrounding areas seem to influence, but several students occasionally take the chance to stroll down its scenery. In particular, a young man seemed lost in its beauty as he stood alone looking up at the tree lines. Did he have a case of nostalgia, or just really enjoyed the view? An observer wouldn't have time to propose such suggestions for the moment before a young girl came rushing into view, ignorant of the man's presence as she focused on fixing her attire.
"Oh man, I'm so late! I'm so lat-"
Physics proved powerful as both collided and promptly fell to the ground. The toast hanging from her mouth flew in the air, and landed on her stomach as she plopped on her back. Blinking casually at the sky above her, she realized that she had run into someone as she scrambled to pick herself up.
"Oh man, I'm so sorry sir! I wasn't looking where I was going, and I'm late for my class and-" She stopped her sentence midway to look at her attire; the toast slumped down her jacket leaving behind a light trail of butter, "ooh no, my breakfast! The teacher's going to kill me for looking like this!"
The girl blissfully disregarded the young man hunched over on his knees nervously scrambling to pick up the loose papers that fell out of her books. She finally managed to recognize his generosity, and hastily joined to recover her things.
"Y-You don't need to do that! It was my fault anyways; I'm such a klutz today!" She scorned herself as she scooped up the majority of the sheets, and slung her backpack on the ground to jam all of it in. The young man gently handed her the papers as he retreated into his own space.
"D-Don't w-worry about it; I wanted to help since I was i-involved."
The girl becomes curious as she listened to the nervousness wrecking his voice and the meager demeanor of his appearance. She deduced that he must be an upcoming freshman: his face was entirely young, his physique suggested a scrawny build despite how he scrunches his body inward, his rather long, unruly black hair attempted to cover his eyes as he looked away from her, his black suit assigned to him through the academy, his introvert personality and speaking behavior.
'Yeah, definitely a freshman,' she thought to herself as she patted him on the shoulder to which he shrugged against.
"Hey, don't be so nervous. You must be a freshman, yeah?"
"U-Uh huh." The young man shrunk into himself farther as he tried to respond to her.
"Come on, perk up a bit! No one likes a closet case who hardly speaks for himself!" She pointed her thumb at her chest as she bulked herself with air. "I would know, I use to be a silent type like you. Now I'm not afraid to show my true self and openly engage with others."
"R-Really? How did you do that?" The young man seemed interested as he looked up at her. The short red hair parted at the front brought his attention to the bright smile on her face as she sought to cheer him up. The illustrious blue of her eyes radiated against the reflection of the sun above as she grinned at him.
"Simple! Friends of course! Friends who will assist you through anything, even if you have a –uh- dangerous past. Back in the beginning of the war, I tried to keep myself unknown to everyone around me. Because I was a soldier, I didn't want to drag others into the affairs. Despite that and having my external identity revealed, my friends continued to support me and maintain our friendship, even though I was a mass murderer."
Suddenly, that vibrant smile lessened as she thought. She looked down a bit, probably in remembrance of some event. "Also, I have to think 'him' for a bit of it. After all, he did sacrifice himself so that someone like me can live in happiness."
The young man remained silent for a bit before asking his question. "By him, you mean Lelouch Vi Britannia?" His comment brought her back to the conversation as she pointed out her finger.
"Oh yes, that's the guy. So you already know of him- well, of course you do. Obviously." She smacked herself on the head. "However, back then he was a friend of mine, Lelouch Lamperouge. And of course there were others like the former class president Milly Ashford, current class president Rivalz Cardemonde, and the vice president Shirley Fenette."
The girl smacks herself on her head again as she brushed against her uniform and gathers her things. "Oh man, I almost forgot! I'm still late!" She skipped on her toes to hasten her move, twirling past the young man as she made her way towards a nearby building. "That's all just another story really, but I wouldn't mind tell you later! I'll see you around new guy!"
Despite his personality, the young man smirked, "hope you do well, Kallen." Her name mentioned brought her to a halt as she turned around to him.
"K-Kallen? I don't remember giving you my name. How do you know-" She was silenced by his finger pointing at her bag.
"Y-You have it on your bag, so I assumed that was your name." She looked at her bag, seeing that he was right. She laughed as she continued her pace.
"Haa, you're right! Now that you know me, you can find me and I'll ask for your name! Bye!" As soon as she spoke, she was already disappeared around the corner. The young man scratched at his head and he walked the other direction.
"I'm glad you could find happiness, Kallen."
Hours later after the final classes were over, the young man took his time walking down the hallways towards the location of the student council room. The structure of the facility did not experience much change or improvement over the year, but that's trying to desperately ignore the overwhelming attention of the decorations everywhere. Banners, flyers, posters, carnations, brochures; anything that could be hung from the wall or the ceiling was available at every square feet.
After the former class president's graduation and retire of her position, the current president strove to maintain that very presence. However, he totally bit off more than what was necessary. He even went as far as to leave her name still printed on every sheet to ensure that people remembered her. The young man had heard the rumors of how Rivalz continued to attend to Milly nonstop after she left, and managed to hook up with her. The latest gossip seemed to point to him proposing a week ago, but she had yet to provide her answer. Knowing her personality, she was purposely milking the attention for all its worth as well as his (which…wasn't that much).
Perhaps the festivity wasn't absolutely outlandish, considering the fact that this was the last day of school. The current senior class would be graduating and almost all of the top-ranked members of the student council would have to resign. The signs themselves even mention certain phrases like "Goodbye forever, Worthless President!" and "Go Get a Backbone, Rivalz!" A chuckle escaped the young man's lips as he continued to scrutinize his surroundings.
The young man found navigating to the student council very easy despite the sometimes elaborate turns and detours that were required to avoid entering certain classrooms. Most students wouldn't take the time to think of such shortcuts, but that's just what to expect out of some people (i.e. Rivalz). The fact that he drew near the room became evident as he heard humming growing louder with his approach.
The entire academy was completely empty, the young man observed as he traversed its halls. This is the lone person who chose to remain behind and finish up the last of her duties, Shirley. Most people liked to brag, apparently, that their vice president was the brains behind all the activities around the school, having the president act as scapegoat to better his reputation to Milly. Shirley was worshiped as a gentle soul who always looks out for others, the best outlook for why she allowed others to take credit for her achievements. A current dispute carried on about who did more progress in their term: Lelouch or Shirley. From what the young man understood, it had not been resolved yet.
Another amount of rumors suggested that numerous suitors tried to ask her out on dates, but she would vigilantly decline with the phrase: 'I'm already taken.'
Needless to say, he could understand why she was so broadly respected after he peeked his head into the room. At the front, she sat at the desk, diligently attending to a tall stack of papers which he assumed were requests and budget reports over the past month.
The somewhat dull spectrum of light coming from the distant horizon's shine enhanced her stock beauty. Her smooth hair pinned up in the same fashion as always shined brilliantly with the sunlight in that bright orange unique to her. Those emerald eyes sparkled as she stared at the paper in front of her. Her lips glistened with a sweet flush of red as if to emphasize her mature age. Although she had always been beautiful, the year that passed by only improved her by such an unbelievable degree.
Timidly, the young man knocked against the door to get her attention. As soon as she heard, she turned to him and greeted him with a wonderful smile. Shirley finished writing a sentence on one piece of paper before brushing it aside to focus on him.
"Good evening, can I help you?" The young man scuttled into the room, carefully hunching himself over as he bowed to her.
"Y-Yes, I'm the new student that requested a t-tour of the academy, m'am." At his response, she giggled before standing and walking up to him. She looked at the time shown on her silver wristwatch, so fancily decorated unlike any other watch, before shaking his hand.
"I almost forgot about that! It's a good thing you came to remind me." The young man tried to lessen the grasp of his hand during the shake, but her grip wouldn't allow it.
"Don't feel so afraid; you'll really like it here, I promise you." She smiled at him again as if to lessen his burden. Ultimately, he could not refuse such a kind act. He curtly smiled at her before withdrawing to himself.
Shirley grabbed at the sleeve of his shirt gently to get him moving. "I'll go ahead and show you around while we have this great opportunity. It's not every day that the entire school is only to yourself." She looked back at him to ensure that he followed. She continued to smile despite the hunched position of his stance. "As you already know, my name is Shirley Fenette: the current vice president of the student council. Though I suppose I will be saying 'former' in awhile," she chuckled as she tried to brighten up the situation.
An inquisitive look settled on her face before getting too far into the hallway. "Actually, I haven't gotten your name yet. Would you mind telling me?"
The young man looked her in the eyes before he avoided his glance to the nearest wall, "…Hcuelel."
A curt hum rescued the awkward moment as she looked at him in more depth. "Hcuelel… that sure is a unique name you have. Somehow it reminds me of a particular person," she wonders aloud as her fingers stroke the face of her watch. The young man did not ignore such a gesture as he continued to walk with her.
All the while she talked about the various facts of the academy, the young man took note of her demeanor and her physique. Her stride was very strong as she paced herself to match him, and she always sought to engage in talk to make him comfortable; to become familiar with him so he could feel at ease when speaking up. Although her appearance wasn't too lanky, her build wasn't too bold either. She obviously kept in shape through the swim team she was active in. She fit well into the uniform she wore.
The young man started to remember the appearance of the uniform after seeing Kallen. The attire hadn't experienced much alternation over the year, but it seemed that the shade had become a bit darker than the original beige. The manner at which her hair contrasted the appeal of her clothes really worked well with the alteration.
His attention was brought back to their tour as she opened the door to the chemistry room. Nostalgia hit the young man hard as he took in the strong scent of various chemicals.
"This is one of the many homerooms that we are assigned to depending on year and class. Please try to ignore those heavy aromas; I see that some of the students were too busy to get out of here before properly attending to their duties."
Shirley sighed as she walked over to the cabinet at the far end of the classroom. The young man walked over to a particular desk and slid his finger across its surface; memories flashed across his mind in an instant. She fastened the lids of each container which helped lessen the stench in the air.
"I swear I don't know what this school would do without me," she whispered in an oddly calm voice as she finished up the correct procedure.
"…Tell me about that particular person; the one you mentioned earlier," the young man suddenly asked as he looked out to the dull horizon. As if confused, she looked at him before drawing her attention to the watch on her wrist.
"That guy? Well, where to start?" She chuckled to herself as she closed her eyes.
"He was a kind and caring person, despite how everyone else saw him. He skipped class a lot, choosing to dabble in illegal gambling instead. A very smart boy, viewing the world like a chessboard… always a step ahead of his opponent."
She breathed in as her hand rubbed against her chest.
"He was a good friend- no, that's not right. Honestly, we were more than that. Lovers I suppose, though we always kept that hidden- even from our friends." She chuckled once more as she looked to the young man. "But that's all in the past-"
"Did he give you that watch? It's definitely something of a jewel; something one would give to a loved one." She felt a bit disturbed at his questions and how abrupt he brought them up, but she responded anyways. She had kept all of her thoughts to herself for an entire year, after all.
"Yeah, he did. The morning he departed, he left me this as a gift. Though..." she hesitated for a while, longing at the watch as a frown crept on her face. "This watch wasn't necessary, just knowing that he loved me was enough of a present. And… those words he left for me. Somehow I still believe he'll fulfill his promise to me, even after a year has passed. I suppose you would think me a fool for such, hu-"
"'Wait for me.'" The young man spoke aloud as he continued to gaze at the world outside. Instantly, those words he spoke stabbed her heart as she stared at him.
"What? How do you-"
"'Wait for me,' is what it said right? On a little slip of paper underneath that watch within the small box." The young man sighed as he stared at the desk below him. If he looked at her, would she be utterly shocked?
Of course she would.
The young man scratched his head as he breathed in. "A year has gone by, and the world has done so well. Peace realized by every man and woman without any more bloodshed. I'm glad it worked out."
He heard her step towards him, and he looked to her. Her hands quivered against her chest, her eyes wide as she observed him. Her breathing struggled to remain calm as she took in his words.
"I-It can't- be… Le…louch?"
A disgusting few seconds of silence filled the air between them before the young man smirked. His hand slipped up to the edge of his face as he tore into its surface, "I guess I'm found out, huh?"
Strangely enough, his fingers ripped into his skin and slipped into the space underneath it- no, it would not be accurate to say his skin. The distinguishable sound of plastic scrapping away would be more plausible than a fleshy sound one would expect. The realistic mask easily peeled away under his fingers pulling against its edges, revealing the true face that pained Shirley more than anything: the real face of Lelouch. Her Lelouch.
She managed to take a few steps despite her erratic demeanor. She sought out the confirmation that this person in front of her was not an illusion; not just another dream she has experienced constantly since he was 'killed.'
"How? How can you be- I saw you get killed, that day at the-"
Again he smirked as he stepped toward her. The small amount of distance between them agonized them both as they desired each other's warmth. "Don't you know? They once said I was a miracle-worker."
Tears pooled at the edge of her eyes as her hand reached for his chest. As she drew near, he reached out to cup her cheek and her hand, leading it closer to his heart. The beating of his heart confirmed his existence to her.
"Lulu." That name he so desperately needed to hear was muffled as she buried her face in his chest. Her cries fought against his surface as he held on to her, embracing her to make up for the missing year. Her hand tightly clutched his shirt as her legs gave out underneath her. This time around, holding her was much easier on his body.
She pulled back a bit to take in his appearance. He was no longer just the lanky person she had known as the student Lelouch. Endeavoring through a year of survival provided him the means to bolster his body, building muscles on the once pathetic limbs. His initial demeanor misconstrued his bulked shape through the hunch in his stance. His face had aged as well, pulling off an older image than the face she was familiar with. Through the longer hair that covered his face, she recognized those velvet pools that she longed to stare into.
Before he knew it, she pulled him down into a long-ignored passionate kiss. Her arms slung around his necks as she pressed into him, wanting to remember his feel engulfing her. Obviously, the feeling was mutual as he deepened the kiss.
The moment they separated was filled with regret for the need of oxygen as they endlessly stared into each other's eyes. The tears kept rolling down her face as she took in the fact of him being there.
"Why didn't you come back to me sooner? Watching you get murdered like that," she fought back the urge to break into a raging fit, "didn't you know how I would feel?"
Lelouch expected her to slap him as hard as she did when he confronted her at the airport (even harder, actually), but no intent seemed to arrive as he looked at her. He sighed as he pulled her head into his embrace.
"I'm really sorry Shirley, really I am. I could not afford to let the world know that I still existed, so I had to stay in isolation. Only around this time would I have been given such a narrow window of opportunity. Hence the incognitos."
Shirley seemed to understand, though she tightened her grip around him to unbearable amounts as she took in his words. "You better not be insinuating that you plan to leave me again, Lelouch." She looked up at him with a fierce anger in her teary face. "I won't forgive you another time."
Lelouch smirked. He loved this sure attitude of hers, especially seeing it again after such a long period of time. "Au contraire, it's just the opposite." He freed his arms from around her though she didn't budge an inch, and reached into his pants' pocket to pull out a concealed folder.
Curious to its insides, she loosened her hold to look at the folder. Her fingers worked at its tie to pull out its contents.
"You'll find out."
She lost the patience to free the tie as she hastily tore at its edge. Inside were two slips of paper which seem to have the same layout of an airplane ticket. Lelouch gave her enough time to look over the information on it as he pushed her to arm's length to observe her reaction.
She stumbled to speak the information printed on them. "Tickets to… Venezula, South America?"
He smiled down at her. "Change of scene."
He resurrected a line from their past conversation a year ago to spark the intent behind his gift. "I'll be able to live in peace with you over there without bringing up any suspicion."
Despite her eyes tearing up, she giggled as she looked into his eyes. "For Mrs. Shirley Fenette and… Mr. Lelouch Fenette."
He rubbed his neck as he chuckled at her mixed reaction. "Not like I can live as Lamperouge or Vi Britannia anymore. Plus with—well, you know…" He tried to maintain the sincerity of his intention through the embarrassment he felt from thinking of 'it.'
Simply, she smiled at him while embracing him. "Thank you Lulu, all I ever need is you." She smeared her watered expression against his shirt to sober her demeanor. Wiping the remainder of her tears away, she reached up to kiss him on the lips.
"Although," she chuckled a bit as she looked at the tickets once more, "I know not to expect the norm out of you, but I did kind of expect a ring to accompany such a moment."
Suddenly, Lelouch broke into a befitting laugh. Well, perhaps it was not so befitting to Shirley since she was confused by his outburst. She patiently waited for him to calm down before squeezing him for an explanation.
"I see. You truly did 'wait for me.'" He rubbed his eyes to rid the tears brought on by laughter. Utterly, Shirley was even more confused by his wording.
"What do you mean? This watch?" She looked down at the watch to analyze its figure. The royal crest upon its face, the fancy design upon its décor, the synchronized movement of its tickers: the confirmation of his surname Vi Britannia, the rise in power to the throne, the underlying meaning of them being together forever. Were these not the symbolisms she was suppose to see?
He guided his hand to the edge of the watch where she thought the dial adjustment knob was located. She didn't think to ever thoroughly inspect it, since it was nothing more than the dial adjustment-
With the simple turn of the knob, Lelouch exposed a hidden compartment within the bulk of the watch. With the slightest degree to the right, the well-hidden fold on the left side gave in, and a filled tray slid out with two items placed inside.
"Look underneath the underneath." He mused as he watched her tear up.
Inside the tray were two thin rings laying upon one another, shining brightly against the overhead light above. Though they were of the same shape and size (though fitted for their respective fingers), the appearances were much different. One was predominate in the color of gold while the other shined with silver. The true differences between them were the spectacular reflecting shades of emerald and velvet each respectively had against the shimmer of light. Truly, Lelouch thought out their engagement with full intent long ago.
"Oh Lulu…" She gasped as she took in the sight. She was already on the verge of tears once more as she looked between him and the watch. She knew that he loved her, but not to this overwhelming extent. Lelouch took advantage of her stall to take out the rings and slide the tray back.
Almost like he had practiced this moment for the entire year away from her, he bent down on one knee with her left hand in his hands, her ring hovering beside her finger beckoning for the answer she already knew, and his faces searching her expression for the inevitable.
"Quid pro quo, Shirley." He smiled at her. She smiled back as she hugged his head close to her.
"Yes. Yes endlessly, Lulu."
After a prolonged hug, he slipped the ring onto her finger as he stood back up. The ring fit perfectly around her slim finger, as he expected as he leaned in to kiss her. This time, both of them relished in the asphyxiation from the lack of oxygen.
Minutes after they were pleased enough with the amount of kissing, Lelouch entwined his hand with hers as he pulled at her to follow. "We better get going. Don't need to be caught around here."
She smirked at his late recognition of the dilemma. "Do we have to? I'd rather have everyone learn of our marriage right here." She cuddled against his arm as she followed him down the hall.
"I'm sure you would, but I would rather not ruin the fruition to a long planned execution." Inside, Lelouch regretted a bit of his declaration after realizing that he'd be living on in his new dream whereas Suzaku had willingly pledged to carry on their requiem as Zero.
I'm sorry Suzaku, but her happiness comes first before my torment.
To rejuvenate the moment for him, he pulled at her again as he quickened the pace. "Besides, there's something we must do to celebrate the occasion," Lelouch smirked at her to further emphasize his point, "something I haven't done in a year with my wife."
Despite blushing, Shirley tightens her hand's grip as she obediently followed him. "The smooth talker as always, Lulu. I suppose you can be on top this time."
Lelouch didn't need to think about the future that the two would share. Despite the consequences to obtain this future, he promised to live this path with Shirley in surety.
A/N: Thus, Surety is complete. Rather nice way to wrap up a good couple (much better than the original, surely). Thank you for staying with me all the way to this chapter.
The last line was the most frustrating portion of this story. I ended up with 15 different wordings and conclusions, but deleted them all in agitation; not good enough for how I transitioned to the two proposals. I ended up choosing the pun end though I think the real ending should be where she makes the reference. Oh well, it's there right?
First, I sincerely thank DreamScene for this perspective which inspired me to create Surety. Second, a sincere thanks to you, the reader, for reading and [hopefully] enjoying the story. An ESPECIAL thanks to you reviewers who encouraged me to continue writing. Finally, sincere thanks to me for writing this novel. Thanks me.
Over the course of the weekend, I'll run through each chapter and improve each one for wording purposes which might have been overlooked over time. As for the next entry, judging from your votes I'll be writing the alternate path for Dormant Ambitions. Though I really think I was going to do so anyways. Either case, keep your eyes for it within the week for yet another story to read. Thank you.