Yet We Will Have Cloven, Chapter One
It was very dark on the command deck of the G-1. Clovis had watched in awe and terror as a single soldier ordered everyone off the bridge without any protest; now the same soldier turned silently to face him and removed his helmet. He was shocked to find that he found the face almost familiar; he looked into the man's eyes.
"You will order an immediate end to hostilities against the Japanese in Shinjuku, as well as immediate medical treatment for all the injured without prejudice at Britannian facilities. Do this immediately."
Lelouch smiled as Clovis complied with his command, hopefully in time to save the members of the resistance who had so considerately followed his advice. He watched as Clovis fell out of his geass-induced trance and turned to face him, a fearful expression on his face.
"Who are you?" He whispered, a frightened tone in his voice.
Lelouch bowed calmly. "Son of the late Empress Marianne, seventeenth in line for the throne, Lelouch vi Brittania, brother. I have returned to change everything." He straightened and leveled his pistol.
Clovis began to shake and tried to back away. "Lelouch! We thought you and Nunnally dead in the invasion!"
"Shut up, Clovis." Lelouch had difficulty keeping the venom out of his voice. "I only want to know one thing, and you must answer me." He activated his geass once more. "Answer my questions! Tell me who murdered my mother!"
Clovis looked at him, still terrified. "I don't know, Lelouch! I didn't do it!"
Lelouch frowned. The command hadn't worked. He tried again. "Tell me who was responsible, Clovis!" He ordered angrily.
Clovis swallowed and stared at Lelouch's pistol. "Lelouch, I swear I don't know anything! Only Schneizel and Cornelia would know anything about it - I swear to you that I'm not the one! Please, we may not have the same mother, but we're still brothers!" He stepped back again, his back to the wall now.
A frown crossed Lelouch's face. Apparently geass only worked once on a person. Just once, he thought. He stared at Clovis for a long moment, both of them silent, Clovis still shaking. "I'm sorry, Clovis, but you can't change the world without dirtying your hands." He stepped forward and fired.
He heard Clovis's scream die in his throat, watched his body fall to the ground with a horrible smear of blood and brain matter on the wall. Lelouch clutched his mouth to avoid vomiting on the floor of the command deck, and walked out the pathway he had already cleared with his geass. On the way out he hurled the gun away, disgusted and ill. He saw the refugees of the Shinjuku ghetto being guided into medical tents, with more being erected as he looked.
Lelouch made it almost all the way to the highway before he finally threw up, tears in his eyes as he thought of Clovis's terror, of the green-haired girl's anguished plea for his life, and finally of Suzaku's kind smile, the absolute assurance that he could never fight his best friend, his last expression before the commander of the royal guard shot him in the back.
He stayed there for a long time before making his way home.
The next morning was overly warm, at least in Lelouch's opinion. He had left for class as early as possible to avoid having to talk to Nunnally; he was not sure whether he would be able to mask his emotions, especially if anything had come out about Clovis' death on the news.
So far, though, that had yet to happen. A few students were watching a news report that seemed to imply that Eleven terrorists had deployed poison gas and inflicted a large number of casualties among their own. As they walked into their own classroom, lost in his thoughts while Rivalz prattled on, he suddenly noticed a girl with a wan smile and red hair.
She was sitting in his classroom, wearing the Ashford uniform.
Yesterday, she had been in a Glasgow in the ghetto, fighting against Clovis' troops. Hearing her voice as she spoke with the group of girls surrounding her, he was almost certain.
"Like what you see, Lelouch?" Rivalz asked with a sly grin. "Kallen Stadtfeld, only daughter of the wealthy Stadtfeld family, gorgeous, soft-spoken, with aristocratic manners … you've got pretty high standards, buddy!" He laughed and nudged Lelouch's shoulder.
"I'm just interested, Rivalz. She hasn't been in class at all this semester, has she?" Lelouch asked while facing deliberately forward.
Rivalz continued gently ribbing him until class began. Behind them, Shirley watched with a worried expression.
As the lunch period drew near, Lelouch was doing his best to formulate a plan of action. If it was the same girl - and he was almost certain that it was - then Kallen would be a valuable ally. She would be able to get him in touch with the other members of her resistance group. Before that, though, he wanted to know what she was doing in a terrorist cell to begin with.
He cast his eyes blankly at his notebook, considering. He wanted to refrain from using his geass, since he could only use it once. If she wasn't the girl, he could always order her to forget his inquiries. If she was, then she might be able to trust him; she must have her own reasons for fighting Britannia. If he needed to, he could use his geass, but if possible he wanted to sway her without it.
In order to do so, though, he would need to have her trust him, and that meant confiding in her. For the longest time Lelouch had told no one of his and Nunnally's true identities. If they were to come out, he was certain that they would be used as political tools in someone else's game, subject to sacrifice or manipulation. He could not allow that to happen.
If he could let himself trust Kallen Stadtfeld, even a little, then perhaps she would trust him as well. She had proved her willingness to follow him in Shinjuku, and now it remained to be seen whether that same loyalty would apply if she knew who he was.
He was willing to bet that he could count on it for now.
He didn't follow her to lunch, but instead escaped his friends and observed her quietly. She was playing the sickly bit quite well, if she was playing.
Just then he heard a shout. "Aaah! A bee! Kallen, watch out, it'll sting you!" Kallen's three companions scattered. Lelouch noted her lazy unconcern, and then watched a little alarmed as she escaped over his way. Hidden as he was by a pillar on the walkway, he saw her hide behind a shrub.
"What's a bee doing here anyway?" He heard her grumble. He saw the bee move right next to her face. Her expression didn't change. He hardly saw her arm move, but then it was stretched out to her left, and the bee was sliced in half on the ground.
Lelouch blinked in amazement. "Mou! Stupid Britannians! This sickly act is killing me!" He watched Kallen straighten as she spoke, her posture forward and not at all demure as it had been a moment before. He decided that now was the time to strike.
"Kallen Stadtfeld?" He queried politely, approaching her.
The young woman quickly schooled her expression and recovered her half-lidded gaze. "Ah, yes?"
Lelouch smiled softly. "I'm glad to see that you're well enough to attend classes again."
Kallen tried not to react. His voice! It had to be the same, the voice from Shinjuku. How could she be certain?
"Me too," she began quietly. "I don't want to fall too far behind everyone-"
She was interrupted by a shout from the second story. "Lelouch! Kallen! You have to get to the science lab, don't you remember?" Shirley watched with some relief as Lelouch remembered that he had to set up the equipment and ran off, leaving Kallen to follow slowly. She wasn't quite sure how to feel about Lelouch's interest in the redhead.
"Maybe he like sickly girls?" Shirley reflected to herself. "But wait! What does that mean for me?" She shook her head and walked toward the science lab, still uncertain.
Classes occupied the remainder of the afternoon. Lelouch was already convinced that Kallen was the Glasgow's pilot. Kallen was becoming more and more convinced that Lelouch's voice was the one she'd heard come over her communicator with such confidence the day before.
Each resolved to confront the other once school was out.
As the last class of the day ended, Shirley approached Lelouch. "Lulu, would you like to go somewhere today?" She grasped her bag nervously.
Lelouch replied without looking at her. "Sorry Shirley, not today." While Shirley was still processing his rejection, Lelouch strode over to Kallen, who was surrounded by her friends.
"Kallen, would you come with me? I'd like to speak with you."
"Yes," she replied while looking him in the eye, "I'd like that."
As the girls around them emitted a collective gasp of astonishment, Lelouch took Kallen's hand and they walked out the door together.
"Let's go somewhere we can speak and not be disturbed, all right?" He asked as they exited the building.
"Certainly," she replied. What else could be the reason, she reflected - he must want to talk to her about Shinjuku.
They were silent as they walked into the Student Council annex. Lelouch stopped and turned to face her. He waited a moment, then spoke. "I was in Shinjuku yesterday."
Kallen's mouth opened in astonishment, but before she could say anything they both heard a noise on the upper landing.
"I've got it!" Rivalz stood up. "Is this it, Nina?"
"My lab data! Thank you Rivalz!" The girl smiled happily.
"Nice job, Rivalz," commented Shirley.
Just as they finished speaking, Milly burst into the room with a catering cart. She stopped, seeing Lelouch and Kallen across the way, and grinned. "Lelouch, thank you for bringing Kallen to our little celebration! How did you know?"
Lelouch stared. "Celebration?"
"Of course, my grandfather asked me to let her into the student council, so this is the welcoming party!" Milly began setting out her trays. Rivalz, Shirley, and Nina came downstairs to introduce themselves. Kallen smiled gratefully and kept glancing at Lelouch. Shirley was on the point of saying something when a door opened and a young girl in a wheelchair emerged, carrying a tray of confections and two pizzas.
"Milly, can you help me put these out?" Nunnally sounded a little excited by the preparations.
Kallen looked over at Lelouch. "That's my sister, Nunnally. Nunnally, this is Kallen Stadtfeld." Kallen looked closely at the girl and realized that she had yet to open her eyes.
"Kallen? It's wonderful to meet you." Nunnally smiled with an earnest sincerity that touched Kallen, and she smiled warmly in return.
"It's very nice to meet you as well, Nunnally."
At that moment, Rivalz produced a bottle of champagne and placed it on the table. "For a special occasion, right?"
"Rivalz!" Shirly said angrily. "We can't have that!"
"Why not?" He replied playfully, lifting the bottle away from her grasp. "It's a party, right?"
"Rivalz! You're such a bad influence!"
"Here Lelouch, pass!" He tossed it over to Lelouch, who caught it only to have Shirley in his face a moment later.
"Lulu! Give that here!"
Kallen watched in amazement as Lelouch fell backward. Then the cork flew out of the bottle straight for her, and she swatted it aside without thinking. She had no time to be concerned, though, since a moment later she was nicely drenched in champagne from the agitated bottle.
"Ah, sorry?" Commented Rivalz.
The shower felt nice after her impromptu bath. Milly had laughed, then apologized, and finally hustled her off to the shower promising to wash her uniform. Her clothing was the least of her concerns, however.
"I was in Shinjuku yesterday."
It was him, she was sure. It was maddening not to be able to confirm it. At least she could be reasonably sure that he wasn't reporting her to the police; he must, she reflected, be used to keeping his own secrets.
She heard a knock at the door. "Kallen? It's Lelouch. I have a change of clothes for you. May I come in?"
She took a deep breath before responding. "Yes, thanks." She heard the door open, then close. When he drew near the curtain, she spoke again. "You were at Shinjuku yesterday?"
The voice was the same. It was him! As amazing as it was that the voice belonged to this Britannian boy, it was perhaps more amazing that they had run into each other so readily.
"Are you disappointed, Q-1?" She heard him say.
"No!" Kallen replied hastily and moved the curtain aside to look him in the eye. "No, I'm just surprised. Why are you fighting Britannia?"
"I could ask the same of you, Kallen." He forestalled her protest with a gesture. "You saw my sister, right? My father is a Britannian nobleman. My mother was assassinated and Nunnally was crippled and blinded in the attack. My father refused to investigate the matter at all." Kallen saw him shaking with rage. "He used us as political hostages, and now he thinks we're dead. The Ashford family took us in, and protects our identity. That's why I live here, in the Student Council annex." He let out a frustrated sigh. "And you?"
"I'm half-Japanese," she replied. "My brother was in the resistance, and he was killed. I'm fighting for both of us now." She pressed her lips together, trying not to become emotional at her memories of Naoto. "What are you going to do?" She asked honestly.
"Well," Lelouch turned his head aside, blushing hotly. "Ah, I'd appreciate it if you got back behind the shower curtain. I can see you."
The redhead let our a small sound of embarrassment as she pulled the curtain to, blushing as well.
"In answer to your question, I intend to fight. Will you fight with me, Kallen?"
She paused a moment under the hot shower. Did she trust him? She trusted his results, certainly, and his story was plausible. She found it hard to deny it at the thought of his sister's smile. He was commanding, yesterday. Confident. He had said that they could win.
"Can we win?" She asked hopefully.
"Absolutely. We can win, but winning means more than you think it does. Winning means winning a war against Britannia, not terrorism."
Her eyes widened in shock. "War? With Britannia?"
"Yes." It was the confident voice from yesterday again. "Together, we can do it."
Kallen stood and let the water run over her. She closed her eyes, opened them, and stared out at the small window. "I'll fight with you, Lelouch."
On the other side of the curtain, Lelouch smiled. It was not the kindly smile of his sister, but neither was it cruel. Lelouch was genuinely happy - he had an ally, a confidante. Kallen trusted him.
And for his part, he was beginning to trust her.
"I'm glad, Q-1, Kallen," he replied. "Let's talk more later, though. I'll wait outside." He walked to the door.
"Thanks," she replied.
Out in the hallway, Lelouch was still smiling.
On the way to rejoin the council members, they agreed that Kallen would ask her compatriots for a meeting. They also agreed that Kallen should remain a while after the other council members departed. Lelouch was a little nervous, but he found it to be quite a relief to share his story, even if only part of it, with someone else.
Kallen was very happy; during her phone conversation with Ohgi earlier that day, she had been irritated at the thought of hiding out and having to go to school, to associate with the enemy, to pretend to be someone she was not. But Lelouch changed all that. Now, someone knew who she was, and she did not have to pretend around him. Even around the others, she would know, and he would know. It was a secret for the two of them, and it was liberating.
She was even feeling rather positive about the other jovial members of the student council, but then she felt herself growing angry when they walked in on the others watching the news. The broadcast showed Jeremiah Gottwald demanding that the Elevens pay for their crime. The subsequent announcement by the anchor was even more shocking - an Honorary Britannian had been arrested for the crime of killing Clovis.
She looked over at Lelouch, who had a terrible expression. He shook his head negatively a her inquiring glance, and they proceeded into the room. Milly leaned over and looked at the two of them.
"Thick as thieves, aren't you?"
"Madam President!" Shirley interjected.
"It's fine, Shirley," Lelouch announced. "Let's just finish Kallen's welcoming party, shall we?"
The gathering wrapped up after about two hours. Kallen did her best to enjoy herself, but kept glancing over at Lelouch, who seemed totally composed. The others finally left; Kallen stayed behind ostensibly to change clothes and wait for a ride home. Lelouch advised Nunnally that he and Kallen were going to chat for a while in his room, and commended her to Sayoko's care.
Once they entered Lelouch's bedroom, he turned immediately and apologized. "I'll be right back. I've got to tuck Nunnally into bed. I'll bring some chairs." He left, and she took a moment to look around.
The room was well-appointed, but bare of personal possessions. A chessboard was set out by the window, the game not yet begun. Kallen wondered idly whether anyone had ever played with Lelouch across that board.
Her musings were interrupted by Lelouch's return. He placed the chairs next to the chessboard and gestured for her to sit down. Once she had, he sat as well.
She started. "What do you think about Kururugi Suzaku?" Kallen generally had no love for Honorary Britannians, but she imagined that he had not been responsible for Clovis' death.
"He's innocent; I killed Clovis." Lelouch frowned as he looked at his hands. Kallen gasped, surprised that he had done it, and surprised that he had admitted it so readily. Lelouch looked up at her. "We need to rescue him."
"Rescue him? How could we possibly do that?"
"I have a plan, Kallen. Also," he paused, weighing his options. "Also, Suzaku is a friend of mine from before the war." He trembled a little. "I had thought he was dead." Kallen was again unable to conceal her surprise.
"You lived here before the invasion?"
"Are you sure you can rescue him?"
"With your help and the help of your friends, I believe I can. In fact, this might be the best way to convince them to trust me." He leaned forward a bit. "Kallen, I cannot tell them that I'm a Britannian. They would never trust me to lead them."
She looked away guiltily. "I think they might, but I understand. Maybe once they've decided to trust you, we can tell them."
"Maybe. But for now what's important is rescuing Suzaku. If we play it correctly, this could be a great opportunity for the resistance."
"All right. What should I tell them?"
"Just tell them that I contacted you and told you to go to the Old Tokyo Tower tomorrow at 1600. Meet them there, and I'll do the rest."
She looked at him with wide eyes. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"
He caught himself and sat up straight. "Well, Kallen, we'll have enough to do tomorrow. I'll tell you the rest of the plan then. For now, get some rest." He cleared his throat. "And thank you, for today. Believe in me, and we can win."
Kallen blushed and stood up. "O-of course, Lelouch. I'll see you tomorrow then, all right?"
He nodded and walked her to the door. "Good night Kallen."
"Kouzuki!" She blurted out. "Kouzuki Kallen is my name."
"Good night then, Kouzuki-san." He smiled.
Kallen smiled back before leaving. Her heart was beating a little faster than usual. She couldn't quite say why.
The next day was busy for Lelouch - so busy in fact that he did not sleep. Instead, he hashed out his strategy for the next day, trying not to dwell on the hope he had given to both Nunnally and Kallen with regard to Suzaku.
In the morning he used his geass to commission his disguise. Later he managed to determine the itinerary of the procession for the next day. Later still he located the parts necessary to complete his scheme. Early in the afternoon he made sure of his speech for Kallen's associates, packed up his new costume, and headed off to buy a few new cell phones.
"Miss Kallen Stadtfeld, Miss Kallen Stadtfeld, a lost item has beet returned for you at the information desk."
Ohgi and the others glanced over at her. Kallen paused a moment, then headed down to the desk. Convincing the others to come had not been difficult. She was worried about what Lelouch would say, and how they would react. She was especially worried about what they would say about his idea to rescue Kururugi Suzaku, which was about as impossible as anything she could imagine doing. But that confidence of his was infectious; she was somehow willing to believe in him, in Lelouch.
She retrieved "her" phone from the attendant. It rang a few minutes later.
"Hello?" She asked hesitantly.
"Q-1," she felt relief as she heard Lelouch's voice, "be on the West outbound loop in twenty minutes."
The line went dead. She turned to leave, and the others followed.
The train was mostly empty, as it was just four-thirty. The phone rang again. "Zero?"
"Come to the forward car."
She started walking.
In the last two cars, the passengers looked down as though they totally ignored both her and her companions. She made her way into the forward car. There they all gasped at the strange sight - a man wrapped in a black cape with a featureless mast. The door shut behind them, and all went black as they entered a tunnel.
When they exited, the figure spoke. "Did you enjoy my tour of the two cities, that of Britannia and that of the Japanese?"
"Who are you?" Asked Ohgi. "Are you the one from Shinjuku?"
"Yes, I am. You may call me Zero."
"Yes, Zero. I am the man who killed Clovis."
Kallen's companions began to mutter among themselves.
"Why did you show us those cities?" Kallen asked.
"To show you the difference."
"We know there's a difference! That's why we fight!" Exclaimed Tamaki.
"But you are wrong. You will never defeat Britannia with terrorism."
"What did you just say?" Tamaki replied hotly.
"To fight Britannia you must fight against Britannia itself, not against its civilians. You must wage a war."
"A war …" Ohgi sounded stunned. "Do you mean to say a war with Britannia, one that we can win?"
"If you follow me, you can win." He sounded absolutely confident.
"Why should we believe you?" Kallen ground her teeth in frustration.
"I suppose it is too much to ask. If I perform a miracle, will you follow me then? If I rescue Kururugi Suzaku?"
"Impossible! How could you?"
Ohgi tried to silence his companions. "Yes, Zero, how?"
"I will leave you to discuss whether you want to trust me or not. Call me when you are resolved." With that, Zero was silent, and a moment later the train stopped. He exited onto an empty platform, and then the train moved on.
"So, it is just you two?"
"I'm sorry, Zero," Kallen began, "They just can't believe it."
"Are you sure you can do this, Zero?" Ohgi asked.
"Yes," he answered unhesitatingly. Then he produced a photograph. "I need this for Kururugi's procession. It only needs to look like it on the outside."
"That's all?" Kallen asked.
"I will do the rest," he said. "Trust me."
"All right, Zero." She turned to Ohgi, and they began to work.
Kallen was feeling considerably less confident as they approached the motorcade surrounding Kururugi. They were surrounded by Knightmares and hostile Britannians on live television. She held to her trust, but it was hard to remain calm.
As his curtain burned theatrically away, Lelouch was himself feeling the pressure. This was the moment. If he could carry through with this, he would have all the support he needed. The trust of Ohgi's resistance group would be assured and Suzaku would be safe.
And he would have told the truth to Kallen and Nunnally.
"I am the man who killed Clovis! My name is Zero!" He announced to the astonished shouts of the crowd. He depressed the button to reveal his decoy capsule.
He waited for the Knightmares to finish surrounding him before responding. "I think you know what will happen if you kill me. I propose a trade. This," he gestured to the capsule, "for Kururugi Suzaku."
"Ridiculous!" Shouted Jeremiah from atop his Knightmare.
"Perhaps you should reconsider. You don't want everyone to know about 'orange,' do you?" He paused as he gauged the crowd's reaction.
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Jeremiah yelled angrily.
Lelouch tapped his foot, and Kallen swallowed heavily as she drove forward. "I'll make everything public about 'orange,' if you don't comply." He stared at Jeremiah and uncovered his left eye. "Let us take Kururugi and escape, let us go with all your might."
It took one agonizing second of uncertainty, but then Jeremiah demanded that the prisoner be released. Lelouch smiled under his mask, while Kallen got out of the car amazed.
Suzaku tried to speak, but his collar prevented him. "I didn't think they would let you speak," Lelouch commented.
Meanwhile Jeremiah was busy turning his subordinates aside from their attempts at disobeying him. "Viletta! I said let them GO!"
At that moment Lelouch released the fake capsule and panic reigned on the bridge. In the confusion, they leapt off into Ohgi's net. One of the Knightmares opened fire, but Jeremiah came to their rescue screaming. Lelouch laughed as they all drove away, unscathed.
Tamaki, Ohgi, and the other members of the resistance group were more than amazed. As much as Tamaki tried to nay-say Zero's tactics, the truth was that they were all impressed by his bold and successful plan. So far as Ohgi was concerned, Zero had made good on his miracle, no matter who he was.
On the far side of the building in a burned out classroom, Zero stood by as Kallen removed Suzaku's restraints. "You're free, Suzaku. The Britannians and their false accusations cannot harm you here. Britannia must be removed for something better to take its place. Will you join us?"
Kallen watched for a long moment as Kururugi Suzaku looked carefully at the featureless mask before him.
"I cannot do that. I believe that terrorism is wrong, no matter how good your intentions are."
"We will never endanger civilians."
"What about tonight?"
"The capsule was a fake!" Kallen called out angrily.
Suzaku looked at her in surprise, then turned back to Zero. "What about Clovis?"
Zero turned away for a moment, then looked back. "Is killing the enemy commander not the swiftest way to end a battle? I had to do that, to force him to order the cease-fire."
"You ordered that?" Suzaku was shocked. "Why should I believe you?"
Kallen growled angrily. Zero cut her off with a negative gesture. "I was not the one who ordered the wholesale slaughter of civilians in the ghetto."
Suzaku looked pained. "Nevertheless, I don't think I can trust you. I would prefer to go to my court martial now, and if I am acquitted, I can make Britannia a better place from within."
Kallen could not conceal her surprise. "How can you possibly think that you can make any difference? They were ready to execute you with no evidence at all!"
Lelouch was sweating under his mask. This was not going as he had intended; Suzaku's stubborn streak was something he well remembered. To break him out of it, he would need to offer something more.
"Q-1," Zero asked quietly, "Is there anyone nearby?"
Kallen scouted for a moment before replying in the negative.
"All right, Suzaku," Zero began. "You've forced my hand."
And he removed his mask.
Suzaku's eyes went wide. "Lelouch! You're alive!"
Lelouch smiled, then turned to Kallen with an apologetic expression. "Sorry, Kallen. I had to."
Kallen shook her head, exasperated, but with a small smile on her lips. "It's all right, Lelouch. I trust you."
Suzaku listened to their exchange, still amazed. "I don't know what to say, Lelouch."
"Do you trust me, Suzaku? Do you trust me when I say that I am committed to building something better, for Nunnally?"
Suzaku looked thoughtful. "I do, Lelouch. But I don't want to be a part of the resistance."
Kallen made an angry noise. "Why not? We risked everything to save you!"
"It's because I'm Kururugi Suzaku, the son of the last Prime Minister of Japan." Kallen's expression fell. "If I were a part of this, I would not be able to control what was done in my name."
Lelouch looked bitterly at the ruined city outside the bombed-out building. "You're right, I suppose. Your identity would only make you into a political tool, wouldn't it?" Just then his eyes brightened, and he stepped down to clasp Kallen by the shoulder.
"What do you say about helping us from within Britannia, then? No one needs to know except the three of us." Kallen looked surprised at this idea, but as she thought about it it began to seem more appealing. She looked over at Suzaku, who was obviously thinking hard.
"I think I can do that, so long as you abide by your promise not to harm innocents." He smiled, then he took a step back as if recalling something very important. "Lelouch, were you the command unit in Shinjuku yesterday?"
"Yes," Lelouch had a pained expression. "I was."
"I was in the Lancelot, the white Knightmare Frame."
"What did you say!" Kallen beat Lelouch to the punch. "That was you? How the hell did an Honorary Britannian get to pilot a Knightmare?"
"Yes, how Suzaku?" Lelouch's mind was already alive with possibilities.
Suzaku smiled a little self-consciously. "The head researcher found me in a medical truck. I was shot, but the bullet was deflected. Lloyd - that's the researcher - he asked me to pilot it, and I took the chance. That's why I thought I might be able to make a difference now."
"Well, that makes things a little clearer," Kallen commented.
"Indeed it does, Suzaku. With you in the military and me in the resistance, we can make a better world for everyone. Will you work together with me?" Lelouch extended his hand.
Suzaku stared at it, then took Lelouch's hand in his own. "For the Japanese, and for Nunnally."
Lelouch grinned. "Kallen, this is Kururugi Suzaku, my friend. Suzaku, this is Kallen, my ace."
Kallen blushed at the praise, and shook Kururugi's hand. "I'm glad we're on the same side," Suzaku commented, smiling.
"Thank you both for rescuing me." He looked over at Lelouch, who was holding the Zero mask in his hand. "Thank you for trusting me, Lelouch."
"No need for thanks, Suzaku. I'm just glad you're alive."
"Likewise!" Suzaku laughed. "I'm leaving, then. I'm going to my court-martial. Hopefully they'll not convict me with you on the loose."
"If they try, we'll come again." Lelouch's expression was firm.
"Good luck, Kururugi," Kallen said.
He turned back as he walked outside. "Suzaku, Kallen. Call me Suzaku." And he left.
Kallen turned to Lelouch, who was putting his mask back on. "Are you sure you can trust him? He did become an Honorary Britannian."
Zero turned to regard her. "I trust him. He is the same as he ever was."
Kallen smiled, cheered by Lelouch's confidence. "What are we going to tell the others?"
"I'll handle it," he said, and patted her on the shoulder. He walked off to announce Suzaku's departure to the Ohgi and the others, and Kallen followed.
Lelouch was beyond exhausted when he returned home with Kallen in tow. They had left the other members of the resistance separately, but elected to use the rumor of a date as alibi by arriving together at Lelouch's residence.
Plus, it would make a good excuse to Nunnally.
"Once we drop off your things, I can escort you home, all right Kallen?"
"Sure, Lelouch," she responded. She hesitated as they entered the hallway. "Should we pretend to be, well, dating?" She was sure he could see her red face clearly in the low light of the hall.
"Well," he temporized, caught off guard, "Let's not say that quite yet." He glanced over to check her reaction - she appeared to still be embarrassed, which he took as an encouraging sign. He opened the door as she nodded.
"Welcome home, onii-sama!" Called Nunnally pleasantly.
"Welcome home, Lelouch," called out an unfamiliar voice. "Who's your friend?"
AN: Thanks for reading! I still plan to complete Wait and Hope, but I was overcome with this story while setting up my new website, liked on my profile - check it out if you get the chance, although it is still under construction.
I never thought I would write a divergence fanfic myself, but I am really having fun making alterations to the existing plot. Although the changes early on may seem small, their impact will be very significant. I hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I did writing. And don't worry - C.C. is going to make her appearance next!
Please review if you get the chance - I love to hear comments or criticism.