Chapter 15- So Cold, Part III


"Please! We're still brothers!"

Clovis had never been known for his courage, and he shook with fear as the gun jolted in Lelouch's hand, brain matter instantly spraying the floor... a sound similar to the vomit befouling a pristine porcelain sink Lelouch was bent over, the contents of his stomach stolen from him. Eventually the painful heaves subsided, leaving the bitter aftertaste of memories and acid.

Haven't had that one in a while.

The groggy Emperor washed his hands, face, then hands again for good measure as he surveyed the mess he'd made. After a few good swishes of water everything looked fine, and he realized the remaining evidence would support the story of C.C's pregnancy. If I missed anything I'll say that C.C had morning sickness or something. Don't want them to know about these stupid nightmares. Their regular arrival already made themselves known by the seemingly permanent shadows under his eyes, set off by angular cheekbones that were only getting sharper.

Padding silently as to not wake the ghosts, Lelouch returned to his bed; the hulking shape unfamiliar except for the form of his sleeping partner. He was careful not to trip on that gaudy dress he'd given her; limp and abandoned on the floor. After crawling across the massive expanse of mattress the Emperor waited until the sun had risen to wake her, using the name he alone had been trusted with. A secret between the two anchoring the more important ones. That name was probably the closest he'd ever get to conveying such inane emotions he couldn't afford to have.

Dying a virgin had not been preferable. his calculating mind concluded, as if he needed an excuse for such desires.Sex is just a act. There's an underlying...attraction, no doubt, and now seems like the best, if only time to indulge. He grudgingly admitted to himself she fulfilled the very basic human want, even deeper than the ones that naturally came with being a teenager.

To be understood.

But Lelouch promised himself, their lips meeting, biting, insisting, he would never say or think the exact word for what they might have. The word that would only make the end of everything so much harder. Better keep this kind of stuff under control. He felt at loss from his usual tact, and discipline was the very thing he would need today. A sliver of loneliness forced itself between their intertwined bodies, growing when a light knock sounded on the door. It was no longer their silent sanctuary punctured only by the sound of their breathing; two castaways just barely afloat in a sea of hatred. Ignoring it, Lelouch tugged Cheese-kun from C.C's sleep-weakened hands, dully wondering what this new bond meant now, and more importantly what it would mean when it was all taken away.

"That's mine..." She mumbled, rubbing her eyes and trying to snatch it back.

Feeling a smile pull on the corners of his mouth, Lelouch attempted to throw the plushie across the room, but it hit the ground after half of his intended distance. Eyeing it warily he said. "It kind of freaks me out that it was with us."

C.C closed her eyes, hugging a pillow in place of Cheese-kun. "I don't think it cares..besides this bed is big enough for an army. You're just jealous."

"So I'm jealous of it.." He tried not to turn away from the pizza breath.

She caught on. "Oh. Sorry."

"No no, it's cute."

Cute? I must have missed more sleep than I thought.

Deciding to throw all caution to the wind, Lelouch slid his hands to her chest from where they had been resting on her shoulders and traced the bird-shaped scar. "Very cute." Another obnoxiously loud a knock on the door later the cloying feel of whatever seemed to overcome him passed, and quickly putting on a bathrobe Lelouch answered the servant in his best Emperor voice. "Well? What are you waiting for...come in and be quick about it." After entering the servant's eyes bulged when she saw C.C's clothes on the floor, and blushed at his gold-trimmed ensemble and the sheet that had been hastily wrapped around the witch. That evil sovereign was back in the room, suffocating Lelouch Lamperouge and making anyone who stood in the way tremble at his feet.

"The p-preparations for the ceremony have been in order since nine this morning. When you scheduled it. Should I tell everyone you are on your way?" The servant didn't seem too keen on coming near him and stayed as close to the door as she could.

Lelouch inspected his nails. "Actually you should get me an C2 some breakfast...why are you still standing there..hurry up! Thank C2 for putting me a good mood...I'd normally have you thrown out for interrupting as you did. Now get lost, for as you can see there are better things I could be doing." That was enough of an incentive for her to evacuate his lair and return ten minutes later with two heaping trays of food.

After she quickly left Lelouch gave his breakfast to C.C in favor of a few swallows of coffee, and the scalding liquid sloshed around in his uncomfortably empty stomach. One of the annoyances of being so damn sensitive. While she ate everything in sight he asked something that had been bothering him since waking.

"Precautions...are we ok...?"

The witch cut him off before he could finish."How many one-thousand year old mothers do you see any running around? Sorry, I can't continue your bloodline."

"Good. I'm sure we've kept everyone waiting long enough, so I better go get ready."

Years of abandonment had served Lelouch well, for changing into the robes he had made with Suzaku's help the good craftsmanship was visible. Made especially for the occasion, the outfit was almost the inverse of his usual garb; consisting of black and silver fabric with deep purple gems. He didn't care how ill-fitted it now was in several places, namely around his waist and shoulders, and because of the excess space the arm sashes dragged around his feet. Folding them up as he sifted through a pile of C.C's clothes, one caught his eye. The fabric of this one was as bright as the sunshine her face reminded him of, a happy colour she wouldn't be allowed to wear while in mourning.

Mourning for me.

Ignoring those thoughts he held it up to for C.C to take a look. "This would look good on Nunnally, don't you think?" he felt himself smiling once again as he pictured his sister, the wound of suffering he had inflicted on her starting to fester. He handed her another dress, skintight and black.

She grabbed the one he had picked out and got a good look on how risque it was. "Dunno...but are you just playing the part of the Emperor or do you really want me to wear this?"

"Just put it on C2. I'll be waiting in the front hall."

After yelling at people to get out of his way Lelouch made his way to the front entrance and the armoured cars that waited to escort him to the graveyard. Hesitating a little, and giving a prolonged bow the driver approached him, not even acknowleding C.C's arrival. "Is his majesty bringing the whor... I mean, concubine along?" He wrinkled his nose at her, who looked away. A small group formed around them, sensing some drama from their favorite actor. Perfect.

Lelouch felt his face snap into a hostile expression so fast it almost scared him."Yes, the 'concubine', as you put it, will be coming...I find her nice to look at. But if it makes you feel any better I won't let her hang around after she serves her purpose." and poking C.C's stomach he didn't even care about the the disturbed glances that were passed around as he laughed. The driver reached into the crowd, pulling out two other women.

"Might I suggest these two for companions as well?" Lelouch felt them brush up against him like a pair of cats on a particularly satisfying corner; tension flooding his body when they touched him.

"Let us help you relax, your majesty..." they crooned, clearly not noticing his disgust.

He was so thoroughly repulsed that he shoved them away. This is just getting ridiculous. A bit lost on what to say all he managed was "No thank you", and turning his back on their confounded faces ducked into the armoured car, patting the cool leather seat beside him.

"Get your ass over here! You know I hate waiting." Before the door was closed behind them C.C made she that everyone saw her curl up in his lap, and catching on Lelouch asked for the wall between them and the driver to be raised. When they had privacy C.C slid off of him, and trying to get settled in the seat right beside him asked. "Will you have me tortured, your majesty?"

"Of course not. I have special punishments for a witch." Lelouch snickered, taking an edge off the growing nervousness he was trying not to show. And noticing her struggles added. "Namely uncomfortable clothes." He didn't know how long they sat like that, the steady engine hum in place of conversation. A whole street had been cleared for him and his escort, half a dozen other vehicles containing a private guard and soldiers for protection. And if that weren't enough, two Knightmares sidled along, always watching for danger. The already small space seemed smaller, and the blacked-out windows didn't betray him whisper an almost inaudible apology. "I'm sorry I have to be so cruel."

She seemed a little surprised by this admission and took her time responding, letting her hair fall over her melancholy expression as the car came to a stop. "I know that's not you ."

When he brushed C.C's hair off her face he kissed the exposed sigil on her forehead, not sure about the nervous electricity that wormed into his stomach from their arrival.

The witch let him see her pink ears. "That isn't like you either."

The bulletproof door was opened for him the Emperor walked out first, holding his head high as C.C was dragged behind. Everybody in the crowd turned his direction, standing before he sat in the front row. At the head of the empty coffin was a small platform where two officials stood, a Brittainian flag draped over where Suzaku supposedly lay. Lelouch had made everyone come, and looking at some random person's watch realized he was exactly three and a half hours late. He was vital to the ceremony and it had been unable to start without him, a fact that no one was happy about.

As they droned on about the Elysium fields Lelouch examined the frost coating every surface, a reminder of the coming winter which he tried not to miss being able to see. After eventually unveiling Sir Kururugi's plaque he was called upon to speak the closing words, thinking about one person in the crowd and another locked away in the palace. Walking through the aisles and the clouds of putrid cigarette smoke he could hear his subjects whispering and regretted wearing sunglasses, almost positive that people would think he was using them to hide tears.

"Consummate...nice word choice-"

"...Suzaku were strangely close-"

"-unsure around women. Except for C2, and-"

"-he totally shot down their advances.."

Taking his place on the rickety platform before the polished box weighed with stones, Lelouch drily began the speech he'd written about the man who was supposed to be dead. The officials naturally kept their distance.

"Sir Kururugi's valiant service to this empire will never be forgotten." He was about to continue when...there it was again. That evil stab of pain that tore through his chest, worse than it ever had been. Taking a deep breath Lelouch must have looked terrible, for scared and questioning faces looked at him from every angle, millions of eyes intent on tearing him apart. Scratchy embroidery rubbed his next; every scrap of the material seeming like a cancerous lesion that was sucking him dry.

When someone laid a concerned hand on Lelouch's arm it was accompanied by a low. "Are you alright, Your Majesty?"

His Majesty tore the constricting fingers off of him, having wished no one had noticed his pause.

"GET AWAY!" he thundered, frustration surging into his hand as he struck one of the man across his face, flinging him off the platform to the ground. A bead of damp rolled down his pallid face, the sign of an adrenaline-spurred brain whipping into panic mode. You're making a scene, you fool..fix it NOW! He was confused as to why no one could see how the groud was moving in nauseating waves, and squaring his shoulders and ignoring the torture he tried to continue his speech, but his tongue felt leaden in his mouth and after a particularly violent undulation lightning must have struck, for bursts of camera lights exploded as he tripped forwards, unbalanced from the blow and stepping on the overlong sashes. The other man cringed away when his superior scrabbled for any kind of support, making sure to claim later that he was just too surprised to do anything.

Lelouch's sunglasses splintered as they hit the coffin, falling off his face shortly after he hit the curved coffin lid, cutting his fingers on the glass pieces. Luckily sticking out an arm in time had kept him from being seriously hurt, but the momentum carried him into a clumsy roll, coming to rest the on the flagstones. As shocked as a toddler that had tumbled off the playground, Lelouch felt moisture bud in his eyes but quickly blinked it away.

The floor.

The floor was that cold, rough thing his palms was pressed against. Lelouch kept his eyes closed so the inklings of water wouldn't flow, and from what he heard the only ones jumping into action was his private guard, and shortly hands were stupidly trying to find a pulse on his neck.

Smacking those hands away he stood up, startled as more flashbulbs went off. His guard had formed a tight circle around him, the crowd of attendees pushing each other to get a better look at the unfolding scene. C.C was struggling to free herself from the chokehold she was in, no doubt from trying to rush to her partner's side.

"Let her go!" Lelouch vi Brittania was back, brushing the nonexistent dirt off of his sleeves and seizing C.C out of the soldier's grasp. "She's one else touches her!" His eyes flashed when he seized her arm and practically marched her down a path that led farther into the burial grounds. They were alone here, nothing but a few naked trees that were sparse amongst many a stone monument. Sitting on one of the flat , squat ones Lelouch put his hand on the snout of a cement gargoyle. "I'd like one of these." he thought out loud. "For my gravestone that is." He knew she would bring up what had just happened, and braced himself for the question he knew would be asked. She leaned against the ugly statue and their hands joined, catching each finger as if they were five years old.

"Did you faint back there? Take better care of yourself and that won't happen."

"How can you act so blasé about it? I looked like an idiot...a weak idiot. That's the exact opposite of everything we're going for. And I lost my balance!"

C.C pulled her hand away, sitting on the paws of the frozen beast. "Maybe you are weak...and that's a good thing. You shouldn't be immune to all of the horrible things you've done."

The next phrase should have been shouted, but instead sounded like a surrender. "You know I'm paying for it in the end. With my life, and that's something you don't understand."

She allowed enough time for the trees to rattle their branches in the wind; an indication that they were listening too. "But how is your one life more valuable then the thousands you've taken?"

At least she can always get hers back.

Roaming the dark labyrinth of palace halls Lelouch didn't stop his silent journey until he passed the room Nunnally was locked in, and was rooted in place by the most horrible sound imaginable. Her muffled sobs were shards of broken glass that nearly demolished everything Lelouch had built up; knowing it was because of him making it all the more unbearable. His hands itched to smash down the door, rip off the chains and tell her the end was near.

That this deadly game of suffering was almost over.

And his forfeit would make everyone forget how to play.

Reaching the rooftop the Emperor surveyed the small corner of his dominion; a grass field that's scent was no longer soothing. A glass dome overhead reflected an illuminated lake meant to resemble the one at the Imperial Villa of Aries; an eerie effect over starry skies. He revelled in the cloak of darkness, surrounded only by marble columns turned grey with shadow.

Allowing a quick goodbye to Suzaku he thought how when they met again that One: I will be Lelouch and him Zero, not able to exist along with the other. Two: Nunnally's reign would relinquish the hold of tyranny over the world and she'll finally be able to live without fear.

Countless accusers were cartwheeling through his mind, dispelling an notion of sleep. Lelouch didn't know where C.C was but figured she'd be just fine without him. Rolo...Euphie..Shirley. The list would go on forever if I knew the name of everyone who's life I've taken. This ceaseless attack of disapproval, I know it's exactly what I want...He steeled himself after realizing the path that these doubts were taking, resorting to the logical explanation of this. I guess it doesn't matter if I can live with myself or not ... I do only have a eleven days left.

The monster-Lelouch, once a shadow in his mind seemed to be becoming the real him, the other part wanting to save the world for his sister strangled out by a mask he tried so hard to fake. Lelouch Lamperouge the docile schoolboy will die and so will vi Brittania the Emperor. So that doesn't matter either.

Frigid lake water didn't leave any room for thinking, and taking slow steps he went ankle-deep, not wanting to ruin something handmade. The red lines on his palm strained as the Emperor clenched his hand in a fist, watery remanents of blood on the fingertips that picked at them. The small movements were a manifestation of inner turmoil, as he couldn't let word of the incident get out lest people think he's some fainthearted pansy who got upset and fainted over his dead boyfriend.

I control those tabloids that will run the photos...and a gag order should be enough to silence any witnesses.

Artificial bedrock was smooth under his feet; the chill spreading everywhere a different kind wasn't already. He was defenseless against the end, and pondering his demise the lake water didn't feel so bad to one who was so cold, yet somehow still alive.

Reviewer of the week: anime-lyric. Glad you liked my crappy chapter:)

Is it weird that I picture the characters as real people instead of anime? Thanks to everyone who wished me a fun vacation, it was good to get a break from everything as I felt like I'd been forcing this a bit. It's strange how I love reviews (as u can probably tell from all of the begging) but they add lots of pressure *sweatdrop*. Here is your maple syrup (hands jar). While I was editing this chappy apparently a bunch of people were reading over my shoulder. Awkward. This has been the most work changing/editing but the most enjoyable to see published. I re-did the first chapter because it was hard for me to read.

Got another story out which will be mentioned in this one, and another in the works called Forced Obedience. The next chappy covers how Suzaku escaped the Damocles and where he went to hide and that fun stuff. It irked me how it was never covered in the anime.

Looking at what I've written for the next chapters Lelouch always manages to steal the spotlight...why oh why does he have to be so interesting. I wish to add this to a Community or something, but don't know where it would fit.

Part IV next.