Merry Christmas, Lulu Lamperouge!
T'was the day before Christmas, and the Student Council Clubhouse was bustling with holiday spirit. The Lamperouge siblings had been busy preparing with help from their friends: Milly and Lelouch took charge of the kitchen, baking and cooking up a storm in anticipation of the many hungry mouths invited. Shirley and Nunally handled decorations indoors. Years of practice made Nunally an expert at dressing up the tree, and by touch alone she was able to arrange the pieces to her satisfaction. Shirley managed where Lelouch's sister could not reach, including mistletoe, which she hung liberally over every doorway in hopes of reaping great dividends later on.
Rivalz helped outdoors, scaling ladders and stringing Christmas lights over and around their beloved Clubhouse under the direction of Lloyd Asplund, the self-appointed Christmas Effects Engineer in Chief. The locations too dangerous to reach were delegated to Kallen, who neither cooked nor possessed the feminine touch essential to interior decoration, but was as steady and surefooted as a cat. Wrapping the last of what she guessed to be 2400 feet of stringed lights around the chimney, she wiped her brow and shouted down to scientist standing next to a brown van. "All done!"
"Excellent!" Lloyd looked towards Rivalz, who stood astride a two-story ladder. "Are we set, Mr. Cardemonde?"
Rivalz flashed a thumbs-up. "Good to go."
"Power her up, Cecile."
The lady in uniform switched on the Sakuradite-powered generator loaded in the back of the van, which spun to life with an ominous hum. Kallen became alarmed when she saw both grownups don heavy sunglasses and quickly scrambled down to ground level. Lloyd licked his lips, holding up two industrial power cords. "Mind the brightness."
Rivalz craned his neck backwards. "Excuse me, Mr. Asplund? I thought I heard you say…"
Lloyd connected the power and the Clubhouse lit up like ten-thousand flash bangs, startling tourists on the observation deck of Tokyo Tower twenty-five miles away.
"Aaahhhh! My eyes! It burns! It buurrrns!" Clutching his eyes against the multi-colored lights which he saw through his thickly-gloved hands, Rivalz toppled from the ladder and fell, landing squarely on his ass. Luckily for him a foot and nine inches of powdery snow broke his fall. He continued to scream and writhe around until Cecile quickly made her way over and blindfolded him with several layers of comforting duct tape.
Shielding her face, Kallen ran up to the grinning scientist. "Are you nuts?"
"Yes, but I can explain: When I was eight years old the hottest toy around was a transforming Macross Gun-Zaku Ball. I wanted it so bad I behaved for the entire week leading up to December. Have you tried behaving for a week as a kid? It's like joining a monastery."
Kallen stared; Lloyd continued. "Anyways, Christmas Eve saw fog thick as molasses, and I did not get my Gun-Zaku Ball. Clearly, I thought, Santa must have gotten lost in the inclement weather. It was a traumatic experience. It changed me as a person. Since then I vowed that no child would ever go through what I went through, Christmas without his Gun-Zaku Ball. "
Lloyd dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief and winced proudly at his blinding handiwork. "And with a setup like this, Santa won't have any trouble finding his way here. No ma'am, he'll see us when he's cruising at 30,000 feet through snow and heavy overcast, I guarantee it."
Kallen was about to tell him, but changed her mind.
Milly loved being in the kitchen. This had little to do with her view on the Role of Women at home or at the workplace, but had much to do with her childhood friend. She enjoyed watching how engrossed he was when he was cooking, and the sight of him with a black apron and his white shirt-sleeves rolled up to his elbows. She loved it when they sampled each other's food and compared notes afterward.
"Ah~" She closed her lips around the silver spoonful of cookie dough and made a noise of happiness. "Perfect!"
Lelouch wiped his hands on a towel and grinned; chocolate chip was simple, but like terrorism and rebellions, success was all about doing the simple things well.
"I'll get that." Lelouch unfastened his apron as he left the kitchen. When he opened the door he saw that the first of his guests had arrived.
It was Nina and Suzaku. "Merry Christmas, Lelouch!"
Lelouch glanced over the odd couple; Nina wore so many layers she looked fat, whereas the threadbare sight of Suzaku made Lelouch shiver. "Aren't you cold?"
"Not at all. My body is hardy and I've never caught a cold in my life."
Nina clicked her tongue and Lelouch caught a look of disgust on her face; he didn't blame her. She held out a heavy dish to him. "I made apple pie."
"Thank you." It was only after they were indoors that Lelouch noticed the peculiarity of Nina's contribution. "Um, you said you made pie, right?"
"But this dish is rectangular."
"What's wrong with rectangles?"
"Well, nothing, but it's just that pies are supposed to be round…"
"And who made up that rule?"
"It's not a rule, I just…"
"That's precisely what's wrong with this world, conformist thinking like that." Nina finished shrugging off the last of her heavy clothes; she was starting to warm up. "Centuries ago the masses accepted that Earth was flat and the planets revolved around us. Now they accept that pies are supposed to be round. It's like the Dark Ages all over again, where's the progress? "
Lelouch was beginning to feel nervous; he never dreamed that Nina—or anyone, for that matter—would feel so strongly about the shape of pies. "Look, I didn't…"
"Just because Earth is round doesn't mean pies have to be. You have to liberate your thinking from the circular confines of the status quo! Rectangles are superior to circles in everyway: They provide more volume for surface area. They are cheaper to build and shape. They fit with no waste of space. Take pizza for instance, for the same diameter a rectangular pizza provides more value than a round one…"
"I'm sorry Lelouch, but I'm going to have to side with Four-Eyes on this one."
Lelouch leaped when the green-haired girl appeared out of nowhere. "C.C.! Where have you been?"
"Upstairs, playing Rock Band Hero, waiting for the food to finish."
He crossed his arms. "And you couldn't bother to lend a hand?"
She patted his cheek tenderly and condescendingly. "We've gone over this before: You do the cooking, washing, and cleaning while I eat and sleep. This way we both do what we're best at; synergy! One of those big fancy words you love to bring up at planning sessions."
A visible vein appeared in Lelouch's temple. Not only was she abusing one of his favorite words, C.C. had become even more of a sloth since the Holiday seasons. Nina continued to drone on about the virtues of corners over curves. A migraine began to form in the back of his head. "All right, all right! Pies can be square, okay? I don't care."
Milly finished putting the cookies in the oven and was beginning to wonder what was taking Lelouch so long when he returned to the kitchen with a tired look on his face. He set Nina's pie on the counter and lifted the foil, and frowned at what he saw. Curious, she walked to his side. Lelouch tilted his head to one side, then back to the other side.
"… I wonder why all the corners are crumbled?"
To be Continued.
Author's Notes: This was actually written for last Christmas, but not completed in time... and I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it by Christmas this year either, but I'll do my best. For those of you waiting on Lelouch of Britannia; I'll be on that as soon as I finish this last take home exam. I'll be writing this winter, job searching in anticipation of graduation in May, and applying for LLM schools.
Of course, if any of you have a friend or relative at a nice law firm in the California Bay Area and can hook me up, that's more time for me to write. *Wink* May you all have a safe trip home and happy holidays!